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Stargate Universe: Divided

With a focus on the fallout from Rush’s and Chloe’s abduction and the military/civilian tension, ‘Divided’ was a very strong outing. From the opening nightmare sequence to the unresolved power struggle at the end, the episode delved right into the deep end of the “ongoing consequences” pool, and I was pretty much doing my mental dance of joy throughout.

I’m thrilled they continued to focus on the psychological aftereffects for Rush and Chloe. For maybe the second time ever, I wasn’t completely annoyed by Chloe. I actually felt a pang of sympathy for her after that harrowing nightmare sequence and her midnight talk with Rush. How ironic to see her now aligning herself with the man she blamed for her father’s death (and going against her lover). Hopefully, this represents some kind of permanent shift for her character, especially since her mutinous behavior is likely to affect her relationship with Lt. Scott. (I’m not sure I should really be wishing for relationship drama with those two, but it could be more entertaining than their current dynamic. Possibly.)

I think my favorite aspect of the episode was that arguments for both sides of the power struggle have merit. Wray’s position that the civilians need a voice in the choices affecting their lives certainly seems valid (especially when they have reason to suspect that the military commander is a loose cannon). At the same time, T.J. has a legitimate point that in a time of strife decisive leadership is more desirable than putting things to a committee vote. Both sides also take questionable actions during the episode. Staging a mutiny --- basically “declaring war” on the military personnel --- probably wasn’t the best way to effect change. And the military’s harsh response really wasn’t an effective way to get the rebellious civilians to see the light (the looks on the scientists’ faces as they grudgingly returned to their quarters were pretty telling).

The whole situation actually led to some spirited debate between my husband and I (the result, I suspect, of our conflicting liberal and conservative leanings). I found myself rooting for the civilians,* while my husband was pretty firmly in the military’s camp. I recognize that military leadership is necessary in a lot of the situations the Destiny faces (such as thwarting an alien attack), but I firmly believe that the civilians need to have a role in the power structure since everyone is likely going to be living on the ship for a good long while. Moreover, after Young’s actions with Rush, I honestly think Wray and the others thought they had no choice but to try to take control. They strongly suspected their “leader” murdered someone he believed was a troublesome inconvenience, and with the other military personnel trained to support him and his command without question, they likely felt their backs were against the wall. My husband thinks the civilians acted foolishly and that the military should clearly be in command of the operation. The ship is basically a hostile environment, not a comfortable living space. Plus, this is what everyone signed on for by being at Icarus Base (regardless of whether this particular group was supposed to be on the mission or not). He also thinks that Young recognizes the error of his ways with Rush, and no longer presents the danger that Wray and the others fear.

*Which doesn’t necessarily include Rush, as he’s not really on anyone’s side but his own.

No matter which side of the debate viewers fall on, I think it is pretty exciting that the writers have created a scenario in which there are no clear or easy answers. Usually with Stargate, they go for the simple “our military heroes are in the right” formula. But not in this incarnation (at least in my opinion). It reminds me of the heady days of Battlestar Galactica when the military and civilian government would face off and, depending on the circumstances, you weren’t quite sure for whom to root. These characters are a far cry from Bill Adama or Laura Roslin, but the ambiguity is still a refreshing change of pace for Stargate.

Other Thoughts

As usual, I was a bit perturbed that they went to the communication stones to solve the alien tracking device problem. Especially given the potential risk with the aliens in proximity (I’m assuming they still have the stone Rush had in his possession when captured). This time my irritation stemmed not from the ethical issues I have with the things, but from the “easy out” they give the writers when local expertise is lacking. It just seems to me the storytelling would be stronger if the Destiny crew was more isolated. I was really glad when the stones failed half way through the operation, and the crew was forced to solve the problem themselves.

That said, I did like that the doctor they sent was actually a recurring character in the Stargate ‘verse and not someone completely new. This past week, I just happened to catch an SG-1 rerun from early Season 8 that featured Dr. Brightman (same actress and everything), so it was kind of neat to see that continuity here.

I was surprised to see Eli align himself with the military folk. Young is forcing him to be a spy, and he knows what Young did to Rush, so why play ball with him? Of course he also knows what Rush did to Young (the murder frame up). On second thought, maybe he didn’t choose a side at all. Perhaps he was just taking the actions necessary to ensure no one got hurt or killed after he got caught in the middle of the power play.

I wonder which side of “the line” the infirmary fell on. Aren’t people like Riley, Franklin, and the injured from last week’s episode still being treated there? Did they make sure the infirmary was on the military side since T.J. is military? Were the civilians going to try to treat the injured themselves? Or were they just hoping the standoff would be resolved quickly? (Probably the latter.)

Final Analysis: One of my favorite episodes so far, and I’m loving that this division in the crew seems far from over. If anything, the military’s response to the mutiny seems to have reinforced several of the civilians’ concerns about the current power structure. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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


  1. Excellent review, Jess. I was waiting for your review of this one.

    I loved this episode. Loved it. I kept thinking about my disappointment with Star Trek: Voyager and how it should have been like this between the Maquis and the Federation crew. I couldn't help siding with Young -- not that I didn't sympathize with the motives of the civilians, but they're in a dangerous situation in space and it just doesn't feel like a committee should be deciding what to do. And mutiny? That tends to be a real no-no. :)

    I also kept wanting Young to explain to everyone that Rush framed him. I wonder if that was another reason why Eli took Young's side (other than the probable one that he didn't want people to get hurt).

    I hope there are more episodes like this one. Four stars.

  2. Like that you compared this to BSG, Jess. I was thinking the exact same thing after it aired. Young is obviously a poor man’s Adama, Wray is a wannabe Laura Roslin and Rush is clearly a less randy Baltar. Which also means that Scott is Lee, Chloe is Dualla, Eli is Geeta, Greer is Tigh and TJ is… Kara? Okay, the analogy is starting to fall apart. Shut it down.

    I was a little disappointed that the mutiny was wrapped up in only a single episode but I loved that it all made sense, not one second of it felt false or contrived. The civilians jumped the gun before they were ready and paid the price for it. Rush and Wray’s passive mutiny was never going to succeed against highly trained soldiers with guns. Neither side is willing to cross the line into armed revolt that will inevitably leads to casualties. They need each other too much. The military need the civilians to find a way home and the civilians need the soldiers to protect them when aliens are shooting at them.

    So far I’m finding it hard to sympathise with either side. They both have valid arguments. But Greer is right, this isn’t over. I hope the writers take the time to seriously look at the aftermath of this failed mutiny and everyone’s reactions to it.

    10 out of 10 in my book.

  3. I was happy enough that the mutiny was wrapped up so quickly. This was a bunch of scientists up against the military. They were bound to lose, and lose quickly. I was more dissappointed at the speed the BSG mutiny was wrapped up, and I absolutely loved that show. SGU seems like there'll be more repercussions next week as well.

    To me, the hight point of this episode was that Chloe, TJ and Wray had moments that actually made them feel like real people for once. I love being able to absolutely hate a character, because that means that they've at least been well drawn, but up till now these 3 have been irritating at best. All of the characterisation in this episode seemed very human, with everyones motives being very realistic. To me, thats the hallmar of good drama. Aliens and spaceships, thats just the icing on the cake.

  4. Wow, I have the feeling that I saw a different episode than everyone else. To me, this episode was pathethic. The worst of all the episodes of SG1, SGA and SGU, and I've seen them all (and there are big turds amongst them). They managed to make me hate or despise half the cast in just one episode:

    - Young: ok, he had crossed the line already, but this is way too much. He's so the wrong person to be the leader, he's so the wrong character for this show. First we get "let's leave Rush in the planet", then "let's destroy the ship with Chloe before anyone notices that Rush is there" and now Macho Man is doing his worst possible Starship Mine Picard impression just when the aliens attack?.

    - Scott: more bland acting, following Young without questioning his orders despite the fact that he's constantly going overboard and that he abandoned a man to die without even asking why. I barely can't stand his scenes now. And he's second in command?. Ridiculous.

    - Eli: I was liking him, but in this episode, more than in any other, he was saying way too much, in the worst moments, and always doing what the wrong person told him to do without so much as a protest or asking for an explanation.

    - Rush: confiding in Chloe?. Really?. And why the hell would aliens that had him in a tube in their own ship implant a chip like that in him?. Next to the heart no less?. Payment for cleaning their clothes and leaving them in the shuttle last week, perhaps?

    - Chloe: why is she in the series again?. Why was she the one receiving Eli (for the food exchange), or speaking with TJ in the cell?. Was she some kind of sub-leader of the fit? (I refuse to call that thing they did a mutiny). And let's not speak about the "surgeon of the 3 minutes" thing (or the convenient awakening for that matter).

    - TJ: was that speech really necessary?. You were doing so good when you got the other guy to drop the gun...

    - James: I liked her, but between last week's crying for an idiot and this week's completely unnecesary butt strike to the scientist with the rifle, she went down the hole in my appreciation.

    - Greer: same as James with Volker. A "please get down to the floor" would have been perfectly fine. Why the macho man look?. As they said, in one of the very few tolerable lines, "we have to live with this people tomorrow".

    - Volker: either take a stand or don't. Don't just look like an idiot.

    - Brody: completely ridiculous. I don't believe for a moment that he would stammer like that in that moment, or that he wouldn't take a bathroom break to use the radio in half an hour, given the supposed IQ of scientists in the Stargate project.

    - The scientists in general: going to their quarters like sheep, not taking a stand. Terrible bunch.

    - The military in general: hey, if Young says it, let's follow orders, despite everything that's happening and seeing that he's clearly out of control and thinks he's in the west.

    Wow, looks like that's almost all the cast. It's hard to follow a show when you dislike, no, deplore what they're doing with all the characters.

    I said it before, I'll repeat again, when I'm siding with Rush and Wray (given what's happened up until now), it means that this show is going down the drain.

    SG:U had promise. Now, all I see are enormous plotholes, ridiculous decisions and really bad acting, with a couple of exceptions. I don't know if I can even finish the season. I thought that Brad Wright was on Rick Berman's path before SG:U. Now, he really is the master. After all, Berman didn't manage to destroy Star Trek (although he certainly did his best), but Brad might be doing a much better job with Stargate. And the ratings are showing the results accordingly.

    Don't know if it's me, I expected to see a rain of despise over the net and everyone is saying they loved it. Perhaps I should move to Dancing with the Stars or something like that.

  5. Noooo! Not Dancing with the Stars! Anything but that!

    Everyone's mileage varies. I thought it was probably the best episode we've seen so far, but that's just me.

  6. Great review, Jess! I really liked this one, too (sorry anonymous). I was never too enamoured with the SG franchise. I watched SG-1 for a while, but was never really that impressed with it. I did enjoy the original movie... but just how much mileage can you get out of a dumb Stargate? The answer is, what... 16 seasons, an animated series and numerous TV movies?

    Similarly, I watched SGA but was, again, uninspired by the show. So it was with some trepidation that I started to watch SGU. The first ten episodes I liked. But these last two I've loved . So much so that I'm considering trying SG-1 and SGA again, in an attempt to discover what it is I'm missing. Maybe they're just different shows, and I'll never really like them. But I'm a fan of broken characters... maybe that's why I like SGU. Everybody just seems so crap... making mistakes all over the place. It kind of reminds me of my own life. I can relate, you know?

  7. As always, thanks for the great, thoughtful comments everyone.

    Paul, based on what you've said you like about SGU, I don't think you'll really enjoy SG-1 or SGA. Those were always more about our main characters being heroes, despite a little baggage, and not at all about them being broken. That (and the cancellation of SGA) is why so many Stargate fans have not taken to the new show. It really is a departure in terms of character development, tone, and story-telling techniques.

    Mark, I can't buy Young as a poor man's Adama. He's way too shifty and volatile. It seemed to take a hell of a lot more to rile the Old Man. Or maybe that's just my misty, water-colored memories.

    Anonymous, thanks for the detailed breakdown on your issues with the show. It is good to get different opinions. I enjoy the ambiguous morality for some of the characters, but I definitely agree I'm not digging Scott or James these days (or Chloe most of the time).

    Even if I hadn't liked this episode so much, I would have to disagree that this was the worst Stargate episode ever. I've seen SG-1's 'Space Race' and SGA's 'The Tower' and 'Inquisition.' Not to mention the absurd and offensive Lucius episodes during SGA Season 3. And I'm sure I'm blanking out on some of the real stinkers for SG-1. But, as Billie said, everyone's mileage varies!


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