Stargate Universe: Intervention

After a cold open that briefly left me wondering if the writers decided to gloss over all those pesky cliffhangers from ‘Incursion,’ the Stargate: Universe Season 2 premiere delivered a plot-heavy, fairly intense tale that threw us right back into the action and moved things forward in some interesting new directions.

Somewhat surprisingly, our Destiny crew quickly regained control of the ship, with relatively light losses. I actually thought we’d see the Alliance maintain control for awhile, with our crew in a less perilous, but still compromised, position. It makes sense that Rush would be willing to risk death for everyone rather than surrender the ship, but I expected the others to force him to back down, ultimately resulting in an uneasy truce with the Alliance under Varro’s kinder, gentler leadership. Of course, with several recognizable faces amongst the captured the Alliance personnel (notably, Robert Knepper and Julie McNiven), I’m guessing this conflict hasn’t been entirely resolved. A tenuous coalition could very well be in the Destiny’s future, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

So, how about those cliffhanger resolutions? I’m shocked --- shocked, I tell you --- that Scott and Greer weren’t fried, the SGC military personnel weren’t executed, and Chloe survived to annoy another day. OK, not really, but I’m mostly going to roll with it because this is the way these things work. The “rescue” for Scott and Greer was pretty weak, as was Varro’s reasoning for keeping the military personnel alive (why would they need the military’s cooperation to operate the stones?), but I’m intrigued by Chloe’s miraculous recovery. Does this mean the blue aliens did something to her? And by extension, did they do something to Rush beyond the tracking implant? Are those two going to turn into aliens or hybrids or something else freaky? I’m actually curious about Chloe’s fate for a change.

As for the cliffhanger involving T.J., the writers sort of tried to resolve it both ways. They went through with having the baby die on Destiny, but they also made it seem like the baby still has a corporeal existence elsewhere. I guess we’re left to decide whether the baby really does continue to physically live with Kane back on the planet from ‘Faith.’ The appearance of the Northern Lights nebula at the end seems to indicate that T.J. had a real experience, not a fever dream. But was it a real physical experience? Did she really encounter Kane and the others, or were the planet’s creators simply using familiar forms to appear to her subconsciously in an effort to give her peace of mind? I tend to think the latter.

Initially, this turn of events felt like a bit of a cop out. Like the writers were too afraid to actually kill off a baby. They want to be dark and edgy, but not that dark and edgy. However, after re-watching the episode and pondering for a bit, I’ve decided that even if “hedging our bets” was the primary motivation for this twist, I’m OK with it. Ever since escaping Icarus Base, T.J.’s life has pretty much consisted of relentless misery. Even the potential joy of a new baby was a source of major consternation for her, because of the anxiety about revealing her pregnancy and about what kind of life she could offer her child given her circumstance. Now, life has dealt her a crushing blow by having her lose her daughter in a horrific tragedy. T.J.’s a strong woman, but after everything she’s been through, this likely would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. There’s only so much a person can endure. So, if the advanced aliens or the Divine want to reward her for her selfless decision to return to the ship back in ‘Faith’ by giving her a small shred of hope that her child is in a safe place, I’m all for it. Even if we choose to believe Carmen isn’t a physical reality, T.J. needs to believe in the possibility to keep going. And seeing the look on her face at the end made me realize that regardless of any writerly equivocation, from a character perspective, this ethereal experience was a desperately needed blessing.

Other Thoughts

Why does the Alliance want Destiny so badly? It certainly seems as though they know more about the ship’s purpose than the Earth contingent. “You know why we came here. You know what this ship means.” I wonder if their knowledge explains Varro’s hesitance to kill everyone. Because color me extremely puzzled as to why they wouldn’t just kill everyone except those they needed. Varro seems to have no trouble brutally killing when required. Did he think letting the “nonessentials” live would make those the Alliance needed easier to control? It doesn’t really make much sense at this point.

So Kiva is dead, and Telford survived. I’m sorry to see Rhona Mitra go, but an alliance between the two sides never would have been possible under Kiva’s leadership, and her death leaves Telford in a potentially interesting situation. No one knows that he shot Kiva, so will Young and the others continue to play it like he’s Alliance? I didn’t see him in the “brig” at the end. How long would he be able to play double agent anyway? Especially with Robert Knepper being suspicious.

Scott showed some good thinking by obtaining a kino before weapons. Much better to get the lay of the land before going in guns blazing. He may not be completely hopeless after all.

Riley survived to fight another day! Yea!

We’re still left wondering if the ‘Faith’ planet was the work of the most incredibly advanced aliens ever, or the Divine. And I’m still not entirely convinced that Kane isn’t an undercover alien (or an angel).

I was really thrown by Robert Knepper’s voice during his scene with Telford. After getting to know him as T-Bag on Prison Break, it weirded me out when he sounded normal and not oily and skeevy.

Eli: “Splitting up never works! Everyone knows this.”

I’m wondering about Julie McNiven’s real motivation for taking out Dannic. Was she still smarting from his brutal attack on her after he deemed her useless? Did she just want to protect the mission? I guess it could be both.

Kane: “Out here on the edge of the universe, who you are and what you believe is everything. So it’s up to you to decide if this is a blessing or a curse.”

Final Analysis: An intense start to the season, despite some rather easily resolved cliffhangers. I’m looking forward to delving into the aftermath and discovering the new status quo in the weeks to come.

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

5 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Welcome back, SGU! And great review, Jess!

I was similarly torn by the TJ baby non-resolution resolution. It didn't come out of nowhere because the benevolent aliens were set up previously, but it still felt like a bit of a cop-out. And I'm not sure what to think of Chloe's miraculous recovery, because it was too good to be true. But I liked Rush saving the ship, because I didn't expect it. And I liked Julie McNiven's character because she didn't hesitate to kill, and her motivations are a mystery.

A promising start to the season.

Josie Kafka said...

Great review, Jess. It was your reviews of Season One that got me to start watching this show (which, in turn, was part of the reason I finally joined the 20th century and got cable.)* Your passage on the baby thing was gorgeously written.

I, too, was freaked out by Robert Knepper's voice. I kept expecting the mysterious Heroes accent--odd, since I only watched two episodes of Heroes with him in it.

(Yes, I know what century we're in.)

Mark Greig said...

Terrific review, Jess.

Although I found the resolution to all the cliff-hangers a little lacklustre and think they could’ve got a little more mileage out of the idea of the crew being marooned on the planet with the super lightening this was still a strong start to the new season with enough intriguing new developments and characters to keep me hooked for a another year.

I’m certainly going to do the dance of joy now that Julie McNiven and Robert Knepper are going to be sticking around for the foreseeable future. It’s always great when actors you like turn up in the shows that you love.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks, guys! Ratings for the first Tuesday outing weren't very good. The total viewers were pretty low, but I have no idea what SyFy's expectations are for a Tuesday airing during the full swing of the fall season. Especially for a show who's audience probably has a high propensity to record and watch later. Oh well. Even if the show doesn't get a third season, at least we can be assured we'll get to see all of season two. Wouldn't it be nice if broadcast networks worked the same way?

WhyMe said...

History would predict that Julie McNiven is the angle.

.. Just stating the obvious.

:)