Stargate Universe: Space

Immediately after the mid-season cliffhanger, I was really looking forward to seeing the next episode of Stargate Universe. But as the months wore on and teaser information started leaking about the second half of the season, I started getting a little apprehensive. The producers were making a lot of statements about how the back ten were going to kick up the action and sci-fi elements, and address many of the complaints people had about the initial run of episodes. I was a bit concerned this uptick in action would come at the expense of the character focus that I enjoyed. I like the whole “the enemy is us” aspect of the series, and am not really bothered by the slow pacing. And I was pretty sure they didn’t plan to eliminate the communication stones or Chloe (my chief complaints). So I went into ‘Space’ with a certain amount of wariness.

But even though ‘Space’ was a lot more action packed than previous outings, and they did give the Destiny crew a new external enemy, I don’t think they lost sight of the “enemy within” or the character tension that they spent so much time establishing in the first half of the season. My favorite part of the episode was watching Young and Rush maneuvering in their unending chess game. I loved the confrontation between them at the end. Like two cats in a stare-and-pace match. Although I admit I’m a bit confused about Wray’s part in the conflict. When exactly did she know that Rush tried to “do something” about Young being dangerous? After Rush failed to return from the planet? When she started suspecting Young of killing Rush? Because she sure seemed to be genuinely sorry that she’d accused Young of murder in ‘Justice.’ That's why she gave him back his command, yes?

Speaking of Wray, I really want to like her character. I do. I’m sure that’s obvious from my previous reviews. Maybe it’s because she’s played by Ming Na (who I think is fantastic), and I just want her to have a cool character to play. Or maybe it is because I want at least one woman on the show to be defined by something more than a romantic relationship with a man. But unfortunately, the writers are taking her back into “completely unlikable bitch” territory. Which is a darn shame, because I think her character has legitimate concerns about Young’s actions and the military power structure on the Destiny. But her confrontations with Young in this episode just made her seem nasty and power hungry. It is almost laughable. After what Young did to Rush, how is it that Wray manages to look like the bad guy when confronting him about it and expressing concerns to other crew members? Sigh.

And while I’m on the subject of the show’s female characters, I want to once again vent about Chloe. You know, for a Stanford graduate, Chloe can be hella stupid. Why on earth would she start wandering the corridors when the ship was under attack? Why just stand there while something penetrated the hull? And even worse, she WALKED INTO the circle of light! Hello!!! Has she never seen a sci-fi movie? That is a one-way ticket to alien abduction, my friends. My husband and I were so perturbed by her incredible stupidity that we started rooting for Scott and Greer to shoot down the shuttle. I REALLY wish they would do more with her character than the “damsel in distress”/ “excuse for Scott to disobey orders” thing. Maybe whatever the aliens did to her will lead to interesting story possibilities for her. I’m probably just kidding myself, huh?

Other Thoughts

I thought the Stargate ‘verse’s newest aliens were pretty interesting. The CGI effects for the insect-like creatures were pretty good when they were shown at a distance or in profile. Suitably otherworldly and creepy. But in the close-up head-on shots, the effects looked a bit cheesy. I think I read that these were designed by the same folks who did the aliens for District 9. These aren’t nearly as effective, but not too shabby, for what I’m sure is a smaller budget.

I did like that both Rush and Chloe still seem deeply disturbed by what happened to them on the alien ship. Not that I’m glad upsetting things happened to them, but I do a little mental dance of joy whenever we get to see the lingering psychological effects of traumatic events on a Stargate show. I hope we see more fallout for those two.

Similarly, it is good to see recent events having an impact on Eli. Particularly his role as Young’s spy. He’s clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing, and is developing reservations about just what kind of man Young is. I look forward to seeing where this all leads his character.

On the other hand, I’m not digging what they are doing with Lt. James. Yet another unfortunate female character defined by her relationship (or lack thereof) to the male characters. And her rather large, ahem, assets.

I’m also disappointed that what seems to be yet another obvious problem with the communication stones will likely be viewed as a benefit by the characters, because it allowed them to get onto the alien ship and create the circumstances under which Rush and Chloe were able to escape. Yes, I’ve got some bitter cynicism on this topic.

We got our first mention of Riley in forever. I’m glad to hear he’s alive and may be putting in a return appearance somewhere down the line. And Franklin wasn’t mentioned as one of the dead, so I guess he’s still in play, too. Someday soon we may learn what that Ancient chair did to him.

I was a little weirded out by new guy, Kane (or King?). Have we seen him before? He seemed very prominent all of a sudden, and I kept expecting him to be some kind of undercover alien.

Final Analysis: A solid return for the series, with a scary new enemy and a good balance of action and character-based conflict. Now, if only they could start doing a better job with the women on the show!

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


Billie Doux said...

Good review, Jess, and you definitely have a good point about what they're doing with Wray. I was thinking about you when they were doing the stuff with the stones and the aliens. :) Which I did like better than the Earth stuff, which has always bothered me. I also liked the Young/Rush face-off.

Mark Greig said...

Hey Jess, great review.

This was a decent enough episode but it didn’t really connect with me. Might’ve been something to do with my silly decision to sandwich it in between a breathtaking episode of Fringe and an absolutely, spine-tinglingly brilliant episode of Doctor Who (all hail the Matt Smith!!!!).

Fun as it is to have a new alien menace personally I’m looking more forward to the mutiny that seems to be brewing on Destiny. Long as it’s not one of those ‘one episode then everyone’s mates again’ mutinies Voyager used to give us ever so often.

Agree with everything you said about the female characters on the show. Some need to be developed a lot better (Wray, TJ and James) while some need to be shown the way to the nearest airlock (guess who). Actually, when Chloe was taken I couldn’t help thinking of one of my favourite Red Dwarf moments:

Soldier: “They’ve taken Miss Armstrong, Colonel, they’ve taken Miss Armstrong!”
Young: “Quick, let’s get out of here before they bring her back”

Anonymous said...

After all this time, didn't like this one too much.

Stupid question: how did Rush and Chloe get their clothes back?. Did the aliens conveniently clean them and had them ready in their shuttle?

Jess Lynde said...

You know, I had similar thoughts about the clothes while watching. I think at the time I reasoned that whatever bags they brought on their initial trip included some spares, and then promptly forgot about it. Maybe Rush wasn't even wearing his regular outfit under whatever away team clothes he was sporting when Young ditched him. And Chloe was in some pretty basic jammies when she got grabbed.

But I like the idea that the aliens did some dry cleaning and left them waiting in the shuttle. :)

Thanks for the comments, guys! Seems I enjoyed it more than some of you, but I agree that I'm definitely more interested in the brewing mutiny than the new aliens. I, too, hope it isn't a one-and-done, let's all be buddies again kind of thing. Given the attention they've given to ongoing consequences thus far, I'm optimistic it will get better treatment than that.

WhyMe said...

I didnt like this one, it felt like a forced way to return rush into the series. In any case, I would think that the alians would take more time in scouting the destiny before attacking. Also, why would alians keep them clothed anyways? And the water tanks? Did anyone else get the feeling of "Chloe as a tropical fish"?

But, since I did the same as Mark - watching Dr. Who Prior to SGU (Which is of course a very very big mistake. Mental note: always watch Dr Who last) - I think my opinion is tainted.