The second episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE’s second season was a marked improvement over the season premiere – even though the opening installment was quite good on its own terms. SGU is building on strength.
Two startling developments dominated this episode: Dr. Rush found Destiny’s bridge (but refrained from sharing that news with anyone else), and Col. Young smothered a fatally injured Hunter Riley to death.
I’m guessing that there’s one aspect of this week’s STARGATE UNIVERSE episode that will be garnering the most opinions, and that is Ming-Na’s portrayal of a quadriplegic person. I am going to avoid the political aspects of the storyline – there are many people much better equipped to address those issues – except to say that I think the episode reflected positively on the differently-abled community.
The story saw Camile Wray (Ming-Na) used the long-range communication stones to swap bodies with hyperdrive expert Amanda Perry (Kathleen Munroe) after one of Destiny’s FTL drive units was destroyed by sabotage. Perry is a quadriplegic person who uses a wheelchair, and in her body Camile insisted on going home, where her partner, Sharon (Reiko Aylesworth) could lovingly care for her. (“You’re here,” Sharon said, patiently. “That’s all that matters.”) I thought Ming-Na was very subtle and sensitive in her portrayal. When I interviewed her about it last fall, she explained how she took the time to research the details (not all quadriplegic people have the exact same abilities) and come up with a portrayal that is true-to-life. And it shows. My impression was that she played the role wonderfully. I had the honor to meet Christopher Reeve several times, and based on that experience, I think Ming-Na captured the essence of someone in that situation. Her breathless speaking style was very similar to the late Mr. Reeve. (I bring him up not to drop names, but because he is the only quadriplegic person I have met in real life.) And there is another aspect to Ming-Na’s work in this episode: the brief snippet in which she portrayed Amanda in Camile’s body, and called Eli “Math Boy.” I thought she captured Amanda’s almost childlike thrill and bubbliness perfectly – a contrast her otherwise restrained work in the rest of the episode.
Greer\’s long, dark night of the soul
Okay, I do not believe anybody saw the end of this episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE coming – I mean, Scott, Eli and Chloe left behind again? And this time, Destiny is leaving whichever galaxy it was in…
This was a great episode for Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith), as viewers really got a peek inside his head. It was also a significant episode for T.J., as she finally told Col. Young that he is the father of her baby.
Setting the stage, Riley helpfully explained via kino that Destiny’s stargate is much more primitive than the gates used in the Milky Way (or Pegasus), which is why each time Destiny drops out of FTL, it is only within range of a limited number of other stargates. Unlike the gates viewers are familiar with, the Destiny’s does not have the capability to dial any desired gate in the galaxy. That helped set the stage for the race to locate Lt. Scott, Sgt. Greer, Eli and Chloe before Destiny moved out of range. But then it was determined that the ship was leaving the galaxy – meaning no more gates at all for possibly a very long time.
Am I blue?
STARGATE UNIVERSE returned to our screens with a taut, action- and emotion-filled episode that revealed Dr. Rush’s surprising fate — and the torment experienced by Col. Young over marooning the scientist on a wasteland planet.
TJ (Alaina Huffman) tried to get Young (Louis Ferreira) to talk about what happened, but the commanding officer was understandably hesitant to expound on his feelings. Young claimed that Rush (Robert Carlyle) was killed in a rock slide, but the truth is Young beat Rush unconscious and abandoned him in the midseason cliff-hanger. Two points made this scene significant: It demonstrated that Young felt remorse, and showed the Young/TJ relationship ran pretty deep. We know it was not just a sexual fling; the pair clearly care for each other.
With each successive episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE, I like the abrasive characters more and more.
This week’s episode gave us a closer look at perhaps the most abrasive, Dr. Nicholas Rush, who appears to be a literal mad scientist. Robert Carlyle is best known on U.S. shores for starring in The Full Monty, but I last saw him in the horror sequel 28 Weeks Later, in which he also played a character that was difficult to like. But nothing like Dr. Rush. While the rest of the crew stranded on Destiny tried to joke about their terrible predicament – witness the cracks about Eli’s and Scott’s personal hygiene – Rush was rushing about, snapping at people. He even threw Riley up against a wall for daring to “interrupt” his work. Col. Young is willing to try to work with Rush, but Rush acts like every word he is forced to share with someone else costs him in blood or life-force. Rush recognized the cascading power failures are a dire threat, but he could not be bothered to explain it to the others, who thought the blackouts were just annoying. Rush thinks that if no one else can understand the scope of a problem, they should at least accept his assessment without question. After all, if the great Dr. Nicholas Rush thinks it’s important, then it is important. Volker, the astrophysicist, tried to help, but Rush shouted him down and belittled him like a child. I think the key to Rush was encapsulated in his rant to Young, in which he charged: “It was your reckless, pointless attempt to dial Earth that robbed me of the time I needed to solve this problem!” There it is: Rush is personally offended by all the others acting as if they might save the day. This should be his moment. After all, as he also pointed out, “I’m the only qualified person!” But then he passed out due to the combination of stress and caffeine/nicotine withdrawal, so… so much for that super brain. What a guy!
For me, it’s a toss-up between Rush and MIT-dropout Eli (more on him later) for favorite-character honors.