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Stargate Universe: Light

I liked this one. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it. I’m guessing it may spur comments that the show is too slow-paced and that nothing happens. Honestly, very little did happen in this episode. They realized they couldn’t fix the problem, so they tried to save as many people as they could and the others resigned themselves to their fate. In the other Stargates, the entire hour would have been spent desperately trying to find a way to solve the problem, probably failing several times, and then Carter or McKay would pull a miracle out of their bums at the last minute (the typical House formula). For this series, they decided instead to focus on how the various characters faced and coped with the desperate situation, and I really liked the change of pace.

On a continuing basis, the relative lack of action and more introspective style may lose its appeal, but at this stage of the game, I found it very compelling. We really got lots of interesting character insight, particularly in the ways those left behind on the Destiny chose to face their deaths. We had the group playing poker and the group praying (sinners and saints?), several characters choosing to wait for the end alone in their quarters, and Chloe and Eli choosing to sit together and watch the end come. Greer stripping down, presumably to leave the world as he came into it, was especially intriguing.

The kino diaries also continued to provide insight. I’m now assuming that all the entries we’ve seen over the last two episodes were filmed after this week’s scene in which Eli discussed the idea with Riley, Scott, and Chloe. In other words, each entry was shot after the crew knew the ship was on an unalterable crash course with a star and these very likely were their last messages. Puts some of them in a different perspective.

So, as several readers predicted, the Destiny was purposely heading for the star to repower. In fact, there was never really a power crisis at all. The arrival of the Icarus Base team increased the energy demands on the ship, so Destiny shut down most of its systems to keep the shields at full power while recharging its batteries via the star. I thought this was a pretty cool idea for a long-term power source; a perfectly logical way to power a ship journeying through the far reaches of the universe. It could be dangerous from a story-telling perspective for the ship to always “know what it’s doing,” but it worked for me this week and didn’t feel like a complete cop out (particularly since we sort of suspected that’s where things were heading).

Character Beats

Camille Wray got a lot more material this week, and I found her various reactions very interesting. Practical and stoic, yet still fearful and overwhelmed by the emotion of the situation. Her tears after being selected to go on the shuttle were very effective. I completely related to how conflicted she must have been. Glad to have this chance at survival, but at the same time devastated by survivor guilt. (That was my interpretation anyway.) Good stuff.

I actually started liking Greer this week. His handling of the crazed marine immediately following the lottery was exactly the right move, and I liked the way he said “Now, I don't wanna have to do that to anybody else ... but I will.” He’s definitely a guy that isn’t shy about doing what needs to be done, no matter how awful it might seem (e.g., the shooting of Franklin on the sand planet). But what really made me gel to him was his goodbye sequence with Col. Young. Especially learning he was in the brig for decking Telford, who according to Young had it coming (i.e., striking a superior asshole, or as I like to call it “Starbuck Syndrome”).

On the other hand, I’m liking Scott and Chloe less and less. Scott is a big slut. You could argue that Chloe was the initiator of their encounter, but he was certainly pouring on the post-coital “You mean so much to me, I don’t want to be without you” crap. You just met her, dude. And it probably hasn’t been more than a week since you were banging Lt. James in the supply room on Icarus Base. Maybe I should be more understanding given that very stressful, impending death situations can push people into each other’s arms, but he is coming across as a sleazebag to me and for the moment I don’t like him very much.

I’m also kind of ticked at Chloe for the way she deals with Eli. She’s obviously not a stupid girl. She was smart enough to know that she shouldn’t be picked for the shuttle just because she’s a senator’s daughter. It can’t really be any secret to her that Eli is crushing on her in a major way. So why keep offering him small signs of “encouragement” by resting her head on his shoulder and holding his hand, etc. Maybe she just sees it as “sisterly” affection, but to me it feels horribly unfair. (Again, perhaps I should be more understanding given that they all believed death was imminent.)

Rush was a lot calmer and more compassionate this week. Was it just a false front to protect his secret knowledge, like Young believes? I don’t think so. I think maybe he suspected that Destiny knew what she was doing, but wasn’t 100 percent sure. If that's the case, did he really do the wrong thing? If he had shared his suspicions with Young, what would have changed? Young likely still would have sent the shuttle to try to save some people, in case Rush was wrong. Would it have done any good to give those left behind the small hope that maybe they would be alright, or was it better to let them make their peace? Maybe it would have changed people’s desire to be in the lottery if they knew that staying behind may not mean certain death; I don’t know. Interesting issues to ponder.

Final Analysis: I’m not sure I’d want to see this kind of story every week, but I really enjoyed it this time out. And now that I’m starting to like more than half of the main cast, I may be in it for the long haul with this show.

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


  1. Nice review, Jess. We're clicking on the same cylinders, because I liked this one, too, and for the same reasons. It wasn't the usual "huge, fatal problem that you know they'll fix by the end of the episode" (even though technically it was) because it was terrific character development.

    I liked the way nearly everyone showed true courage. I liked how Eli used a certain death situation to find a way to see what the Destiny looked on the outside. I liked Greer for the first time because of what he did with the coward and because of the way he decided to meet death. And I really liked that Rush probably knew the whole time. I doubt that he would have allowed all of that life and death drama to occur if he was sure, but he must have had an inkling. And I think his decision to keep it to himself and not give anyone false hope was the right one -- because everyone was so *happy* in the end. Even though they were still stuck in the same hopeless situation, this experience gave them hope and brought people together.

    We're getting a definite Battlestar vibe from this incarnation of Stargate. If they can keep giving us stories with depth, like this one, it's fine with me.

  2. Week by week I’m starting to like this show more and more. I know the more introspective less action tone might alienate some viewers but I prefer it and hope the show continues to do well.

    Greer and Young make a great double-act. I love that Greer was in the brig for punching Talford (bet he did deserve it) and the way he suppressed a possible riot with a single punch. It was also nice that he found something beautiful and poetic in their possible fate.

    It’s a given that everyone figured out last week that the sun would recharge the ship’s power but I didn’t think they actually fly into the frakin’ star! Gotta commend the FX people, everything always looks stunning on the show.

  3. I can't understand why someone didn't suggest the "slingshot round the planet" solution right away. They do it in just about every sci-fi show. I know nothing about spaceships, but if someone had asked me for ideas on how to save the shuttle I'd have said right away... "Has anyone tried the slingshot thingy yet?" Pah...amateurs ;o)

  4. Paul, my husband said the same thing. As soon as they realized they didn't have enough speed, he says "Slingshot around the planet. Duh." It was pretty funny.

    Eli, being the geek that he is, totally should have suggested it. :)

  5. I totally agree with Jess about the Chloe business. Its really unfair to dangle him like that, and she is too smart and not enough of a geek to be oblivious.

  6. I tried giving this series a chance years back, and now im having the same problem as before...Chloe. She embodies so many of the worst tropes...Damsel in distress uses emotional and sexual vampire to comfort herself. Plus she's a pretentious whiny bleep...reminds me alot of Shannon on Lost.
    Otherwise, alot of this series so far is good...introspection is a great thing if its done well...sci-fi is at its core an examination of the human spirit.
    Still, Chloe (and others like her) should be viewed as a villain as much as any headstrong army grunt who puts himself above everyone else.


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