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Stargate Universe: Pathogen

Another week, another episode that was not at all what I expected. I should really stop watching the previews, because this week they had me believing we’d get a story focused on what’s up with Chloe. Instead, her issues were just a small part of what initially felt like a very overstuffed, slice-of-life tale. Fortunately, what at first seemed like a scattered mess, gave way to a series of smaller stories exploring the theme of coping with loss or finding the strength to endure when something you love or need is slipping away.

As you all know, I’m not a big fan of the communication stones, and stories that show our characters visiting their loved ones are usually the kiss of death for me. But ‘Pathogen’ ended up surprising me, by confronting the emotional difficulties for those left behind and for those counting on “the homefront” to keep them sane. The strain of Camille’s and Eli’s absence was very clearly starting to break Sharon and Mrs. Wallace. Eli and Camille do get to visit, after a fashion, but it isn’t the same as being able to see, hear, and touch your loved ones, and in many ways it makes their absence even more keenly felt. I loved the moment when Sharon confessed that even though she knew Camille’s consciousness was inside, she missed her face and her voice. Similarly, I was rather affected by Eli’s mom saying he was all that she had and wondering if she’d ever see him again. And damn if I didn’t get choked up when they brought her to the ship so that she could see Eli’s face and hug him.

Camille really impressed me by pulling off Mrs. Wallace’s visit. “You know what? I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. You make this happen.” Especially, since I was a bit perturbed with her for begging Sharon to hang in there because it was the only thing keeping her going. It struck me as a horribly selfish thing to do, but, at the same time, I completely understand. She does need the idea of her life with Sharon and the hope of returning to keep on keeping on, just like Eli needs to know that his mom is OK and not giving up on life. This situation isn’t easy for anyone involved, and all they can do is hang on to each other to get through. I was very happy to see Sharon show up in Mrs. Wallace’s hospital room. Here’s hoping they can help support each other as the ones left behind.

Meanwhile, back on Destiny, Scott and Chloe are dealing with similar issues, as she’s slowly slipping away because of whatever the aliens did to her. What Scott feels for Chloe, and the relationship he’s developed with her, is stronger than anything he’s experienced before, and no doubt, what he’s found with her is part of what’s keeping him going. I’m not usually a big fan of Scott’s, especially when it comes to the Scott-Chloe dynamic, but I found myself getting caught up in his angst this week as he watched Chloe steadily becoming more distant. Brian J. Smith underplayed the emotion well, but he absolutely sold me on Scott’s pain and fear at feeling the woman he loves slipping away from him and his desperation to get her back.

On the flip side of things, we got Dr. Rush coping with the ability to control Destiny slipping from his grasp. His solution? Lies, subterfuge, manipulation, and more lies to turn Chloe’s crisis to his advantage. Man. I’ve been at pains to defend Rush’s actions of late, and this just goes a step too far. Before this, I could always reason that while his actions certainly protected or furthered his own interests, they usually coincided with the best interests of everyone on board the Destiny. But now his secrecy has led to Riley’s death and the loss of Telford, and he’s using Chloe’s condition to cover up his own tinkering and essentially blackmailing her into helping him. Permanent lockdown or fake cure? Not much of a choice really. I actually feel very bad for Chloe. The poor girl is slipping into oblivion, and instead of helping her, Rush is using her for his own ends. At first, I thought he was putting her in the chair to fuse her with the ship, believing she now had the brain power to control it. But, it turned out he just wanted the others to believe she was cured, so he could continue to use her in his own quest to control the ship. Damn. That’s almost worse. He’s certainly no better “leader material” than Young at this point.

So what do we think is going on with Chloe? Is she turning into an alien? Or just working as an unwitting reconnaissance drone? Do they hope to recapture her somewhere down the line and download all the information she’s gathered? Or do they hope she’ll take control of the ship and bring it to them? And how disturbing is it that, when lucid, she doesn’t seem overly distressed by her condition?

Other Thoughts

In other developments, the Lucian Alliance prisoners are finally free to mingle with the crew. A precious freedom they are desperate to cling to. I’m still puzzling over Varro’s angle. It seems that everyone but Simeon has been feeding the SGC real intel. Does that mean Varro just wants to learn to live together because he doesn’t want to end up locked down or stranded on a planet? Is he hoping to gain the upper hand somewhere down the line, or just protecting some measure of freedom for his people? Simeon clearly thought they were playing a game with some ulterior motive in mind, but Varro quickly disabused him of that notion. So is he being straight? I sort of hope so, because T.J. is clearly finding herself drawn to him, and I don’t want her to get hurt again.

Simeon is a very odd duck. He seems very sneaky and sinister much of the time, but he seemed very submissive and even a little desperate in his scene with Young. I may be letting Robert Knepper's previous roles influence my opinion, but Simeon doesn’t seem entirely stable. A real loose cannon. I can’t wait to see where they are going with his character.

Once again, we saw that Franklin and Gloria are serving two very different functions in their interactions with Rush, and I’m still wondering if they are entirely different manifestations. Or if Destiny is just using different images to appeal to different sensibilities in Rush, depending on what it is trying to communicate.

Young still appears to be drinking. Or was that coffee he was downing during his discussion with Greer about releasing the Alliance personnel? I tend to think it was booze, or else why bother showing it?

Brody, Park, and Young are finally on to Rush. He’s still deflecting, but it is just a matter of time before he’s completely exposed. Can’t wait to see how that unfolds.

Eli: “As far as she’s concerned, the military took her son away, won’t even tell her where he is, won’t let him talk to her … I would give up, too.”
Camille: “Eli, no one is giving up.”

Camille: “It’s just, emotionally, this is all starting to take its toll.”

Loved the closing shot of Chloe’s blank eye. Very unsettling.

Final Analysis: Not as strong as the first three episodes, but they managed to pull most of the disparate stories together thematically. Plus, we got some plot progression on a few fronts and new developments on others.

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


  1. I agree with pretty much everything you said in your review, Jess. I felt so badly for Eli and his mother, and having her visit the ship was a moving little surprise. I liked Camille more than I ever have before just for making that happen. And I'm getting so frustrated with Rush.

  2. Really enjoyed this one. Some great acting, especially from David Blue. The final shot was a cracker.
    Interested to see that it was directed by Robert Carlyle. Think he did a great job.


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