The title of this installment of STARGATE UNIVERSE probably should have been “The One in Which We Finally Learn What It’s All Been About (so far,” or maybe “The Fit Hits the Shan,” because this is the episode when we found out what Destiny’s mission is. Rush was busted and had to admit he’s been working on the bridge for weeks now. And Dr. Amanda Perry made a return visit. And Eli got busy with Ginn.
Let’s take that last one first, as the others are all tied together. Poor Eli (David Blue), devastated by recent events during which redheaded bombshell Chloe (Elyse Levesque) made it clear that he will never escape the Friend Zone (in fact, she would literally rather kill herself than be with him), found a kindred soul in Lucian Alliance techie Ginn (Julie McNiven), another ginger beauty. One who actually understands and admires Math Boy – one might almost call her a groupie for his equations. After all her shameless flirting Eli finally opened his eyes. Good for him. Good for both of them.
After weaving a pretty interesting story out of last week’s nirvana cliché, this week STARGATE UNIVERSE busied itself telling a pretty compelling tale around the apocalyptic vision cliché. You know the trope: someone repeatedly foresees a future that ends in disaster no matter what measures are taken to head it off.
The basic scenario had an overwhelming force of blue aliens arrive and demand that Destiny turn over Chloe (Elyse Levesque). No matter which course of action Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) took – fighting, powering shields or placidly surrendering Chloe – the blues end up destroying Destiny. Most of the impact of the disaster comes from the repetition of the doom, with each detonation amplifying the hopelessness of the situation. But I give SGU major credit the first time around, because the scene of Scott (Brian J. Smith) getting blown out of the observation deck made me shout, “Holy frak!” at my TV – before I realized what was going on, of course. (BTW, the effect looked really thrilling, with Scott tumbling amid shattered glass…)
No, the “Cloverdale” episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE was not a tribute to the monster movie of the same name, but rather a reference to Scott’s idyllic home town, which he visits in a vivid alternate-reality dream spurred by alien parasites.
I usually don’t go in for the nirvana/heart’s desire dream stories because I’ve seen it so many times, and the tale always ends the same way: the person in the idyllic alternate reality picks up on little errors, senses something is wrong and figures out it’s a dream. I usually find it very frustrating waiting for the character to put the clues together.
Eli and Camile got another chance to go home on STARGATE UNIVERSE this week, and once again their personal stories proved to be gripping. Eli and Camile have the most fully fleshed-out family backgrounds.
When Eli (David Blue) got word that his mother was ill, he rushed to use the stones to return to Earth. We learned that Mrs. Wallace (Glynis Davies) is HIV-positive, and suffering from depression ever since the military took her son away. And a visit from Eli’s consciousness in the body of “Airman Tracy” was no comfort. It was heartbreaking to watch Eli in such pain while his mother wasted away before his eyes. Blue really excelled at showing Eli’s anguish and frustration at being unable to properly comfort his mom.
So what (or who), exactly, was “awakening” in this week’s episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE? The new aliens? The seedship? Rush? Young? Telford? How about “all of the above.”
Picking up from last week’s cliff-hanger, we discovered that the mystery “object” was another ship – one that looked almost exactly like Destiny. The ship was clearly of Ancient design; it was one of the many craft sent out ahead of Destiny to seed worlds with stargates. Brody (Peter Kelamis) theorized that it had suffered some kind of breakdown, enabling Destiny to catch up. The sister ships docked, and Brody, Volker (Patrick Gilmore), Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) entered the other ship with a kino to explore. Meanwhile, the ships automatically began transferring data.
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.
“Out here, on the edge of the universe, who you are and what you believe is everything.”
– Robert Caine
STARGATE UNIVERSE set itself quite a task: resolve not just one cliff-hanger, but several, featuring different types of tension. I am happy to report that SGU pulled off this stunt in stellar fashion.
When last we saw our friends, Destiny had been boarded by the Lucian Alliance, a loose conglomeration of criminals and terrorists looking to plunder the secrets of the Ancients hidden aboard the ancient ship. The scientists had been separated from the Stargate personnel, who just about to be executed; bullets were flying, leaving pregnant T.J. (Alaina Huffman) bleeding out; Eli (David Blue) and the wounded and delirious Chloe (Elyse Levesque) were isolated at the bow of the ship; and Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) were outside the ship, desperately trying to outrun a deadly pulsar radiation burst.
STARGATE UNIVERSE ended its first season with “Incursion, Part 2,” which saw Destiny invaded by the Lucian Alliance that resulted in a hostage standoff. This week’s installment added another wrinkle: an outside threat that forced the two factions to try to cooperate to avoid death.
The episode kicked off with a death, however, as Kiva callously killed recurring character Cpl. Rivers. Camile (Ming-Na) wanted to continue negotiations, but Kiva (Rhona Mitra) is a classic “kill somebody when frustrated” baddie straight out of the Darth Vader school of command, so she was not as willing to chat as some STARGATE baddies. The outside threat came in the form of a binary pulsar, which was emitting deadly bursts of gamma radiation every 46 minutes, forcing Destiny to drain power from other parts of the ship to periodically boost the shields. We learned that the unfortunate Alliance soldier who was melted by that weird light last week had been exposed to pulsar radiation through a gap in the shielding. Well, so much for my Franklin-as-ghost-in-the-machine theory. (I’m confident the-powers-that-be will return to this story thread next season.)
STARGATE UNIVERSE is wrapping its surprisingly strong first season with a two-part finale that pits the Destiny crew against the Lucian Alliance, the baddies responsible for the expedition being trapped on the Ancients starship to begin with.
The Lucian Alliance has never been one of my favorite foes from the Stargate mythos – I just can’t get excited about a conglomeration of interstellar thugs, smugglers and assorted criminals. (I do, however, find the Genii to be even more boring.) They seem somehow “beneath” our heroes in the Stargate program. It’s the same feeling I get whenever Superman would go up against bank robbers in the comics; this is supposed to be a threat?
Well, in my book, the Alliance has now graduated to the big leagues and become a legitimate threat. I still don’t like ‘em, but at least they are a real challenge. Led by Rhona Mitra’s Commander Kiva, the Alliance located another Icarus-class planet and set to work with stolen ninth-chevron tech fed them by the brainwashed Col. Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips). That’s showing some initiative, Kiva. With the help of Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), the Alliance dialed up Destiny and invaded. In a very real sense, the series has come full circle, with the return of the Alliance, and the destruction of another planet used to power a stargate. Only this time, the goodies were attacking the planet, trying to stop a mission to Destiny. It’s almost like the-powers-that-be planned it or something…
Honestly, I dreaded the approach of this week’s episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE because the previews made it look like the silly old “alien makes you face your worst fear” cliché was in full effect. Sooner or later every show gets around to this hoary chestnut, and I figured SGU better just get it out of its system. To make it seem even worse, the fears glimpsed looked to be standard-issue dull; I mean, claustrophobia? Really? Why can’t some alien force somebody to face the terror of…speaking in public? Supposedly most people dread that more than dying!
Happily, the actual episode proved to be much more enjoyable than anticipated. Not stunningly original, but at least well-executed. As usual, the excellent cast stepped up with some terrific performances (special kudos to Elyse Levesque for her conflicted Chloe), and the direction kept the story moving at a good enough pace that the audience did not have time to linger over the overly familiar plot points.