Stargate Universe: Visitation

... in which the crew members left behind on the obelisk planet mysteriously turn up on Destiny’s doorstep.

‘Visitation’ was a fascinating and, at times, profoundly moving exploration of the process of coming to terms with death and moving on. A small part of me wonders if the episode was conceived as a way for Destiny to get a “brand spankin’ new” shuttle, but even if that’s true, I think the writers were wise to use this unlikely “miracle” to revisit the planet from ‘Faith’ and T.J.’s experience in the season premiere. Since learning about Destiny’s mission in ‘The Greater Good,’ it’s been hard to ignore the possibility that the creators of the planet in ‘Faith’ could be linked to the supposed intelligence behind the creation of the Universe. This episode didn’t really give us definitive answers to that particular question; however, it does seem to have resolved the question of whether the planet’s creators were The Divine or the Most Incredibly Advanced Aliens Ever, in favor of the latter. The white light at the end of the shuttle’s kino video was, perhaps, supposed to be open to interpretation, but I have trouble believing The Divine would answer Kane’s prayers by restoring everyone to life, soulless, only to die again as their memories returned. Rather, it seems that the aliens were attempting to help Kane and the others, but were unable to recreate an essential component of human existence. I like that this answer still allows for the possibility of The Divine, by recognizing that humans have a core spiritual essence that is beyond the control or grasp of aliens with capabilities far beyond anything we’ve seen before. “... beings who can rebuild a man’s body ... but not his soul.” At least, in Kane’s view.

In general, I’ve been really pleased with how the show is leaving room for interpretation when it comes to questions of The Divine. When Rush finally revealed Destiny’s mission, many in the audience let out a collective groan about yet another sci-fi show becoming about “The Search for God.” But, thus far, I think they’ve done a good job of counter-balancing that notion through Rush.

Rush: “I’m a scientist. I’d go so far as to call it evidence of an intelligence having existed prior to its own potential to exist.”
Kane: “You just can’t bring yourself to call it a miracle, can you?”
Rush: “No, actually.”
Kane: “Well, I’d like to hear more.”
Rush: “Oh, why bother? Call it God’s will and you needn’t give it another thought.”

While some, like Kane, may believe the hunt for a message or “fingerprints” from the moment of the Universe’s creation is a search for The Divine, Rush believes it is a scientific endeavor to find a higher intelligence, not God. So, it could end up being the search for God, but not necessarily. I like the ambiguity.

While I was intrigued by the A-story this week, it was the B-plot with Chloe’s ongoing transformation that really got to me. I was incredibly moved by her attempts to say goodbye to her friends and loved ones, and her scene with Greer just killed me. “I came to ask for your forgiveness for when the time comes.” His request for her forgiveness caught me completely off guard and unexpectedly reduced me to a puddle of tears. A beautifully written and performed scene. Overall, I’ve been really impressed with this storyline this season. A major character turning into an alien enemy isn’t the kind of tale for which you’d typically get the slow build. Yet Chloe’s slow but steady transformation and everyone’s reaction to it has been a fascinating thread for the first half of this season. Elyse Levesque is doing a bang-up job showing Chloe slowly slipping away. She and the writers have managed to accomplish something I’d thought impossible: I’ve grown to care about Chloe and will be sad to see her go, if it comes to that. More than that, I care about those she’s leaving behind and what her slow demise is doing to Eli, Scott, and Greer. Who would’ve thought?

Other Thoughts

I’m tempted to say that they’ve definitively answered the question about T.J.’s experience from ‘Intervention,’ but once again, I’m not sure. This episode seemed to confirm that she was subjected to a vivid simulation, courtesy of Destiny, to put her mind at ease. And yet ... as noted above, the writers have done a good job leaving the existence and role of The Divine relatively ambiguous. Now that we know the crew left behind on the ‘Faith’ planet all died, I can’t help but wonder if T.J.’s experience was her connecting with some kind of “space between” this life and the next, where the souls of those who passed greeted and welcomed her child. I think the Destiny explanation is more likely --- especially since it appears that Kane died just before they were reanimated and returned --- but I like that there’s room for interpretation.

Alaina Huffman was great in this episode. I nearly started crying when T.J. went into the shuttle, desperately searching for a sign of her daughter, only to be crushed when nothing was there. Her scene telling Kane about her memory was very powerful, as well.

I was very amused by the aside with Brody trying to fix the still, and his later defensiveness with Colonel Young about smelling like booze. “Uh, no, I wasn’t drinking. I was fixing it.” Brody and Volker have really been bringing the funny lately. Good thing, too, because Eli, our go-to humor guy last season, has unfortunately spent much of this season in the depths of despair.

Eli: “OK, trust me: these aliens built a planet from scratch and can just throw a shuttle between galaxies. I’m pretty sure they could impersonate Kane if they wanted to!”

Chloe (to Matt via kino): “And forgive Ronald. He did what he had to, and if it was going to be anyone, I am glad it was him. OK?”

Kane: “May I be allowed to see the stars one last time?”
Young: “Yeah, of course. Go ahead.”
Kane: “I would like very much not to be alone.”

Final Analysis: A surprisingly moving episode that revisits some lingering threads and nicely explores the painful process of saying goodbye.

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

6 comments:

zob said...
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Dr. Alice said...

Thanks for the review!

In regards to the Chloe storyline:

I wanted to be emotionally invested, but instead was continually reminded about the conversion of Fred to Illyria on Angel. That conversion was soooo well done and sooo heart-wrenching, that this Chloe conversion just could not compare. I think part of it is character development. As much as they've tried, they just have not gotten me to care about Chloe, so her conversion just doesn't have as much impact. In comparison, I loved Fred, and was devastated by the loss of her character.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Jess Lynde said...

As always, thanks for the comments, all!

Zob, your notion that the aliens purposely re-animated Kane and crew, just so they would die all over again is interesting. I don't think I agree, but you gave me something to ponder. Hmmm ...

I don't think they've rejiggered the Scott/Eli/Chloe dynamic. She clearly views Scott as her love interest, and Eli as her best friend. I didn't interpret her saying Eli would be the hardest one to say goodbye to as a change in her romantic leanings.

As for the mid-season breaks ... that just seems to be the way Sci-Fi likes to do it with their 20-episode shows. If memory serves, they've been doing it that way for at least 6 or 7 years now.

Dr. Alice, Chloe is certainly no Fred. I'm actually just surprised to discover that I will care at all. And while the devastation will not be remotely the same, I do think they've done a nice job showing Chloe *slowly* slip away, bit by bit, which is a stark contrast to what happened to Fred. I actually think the slow loss is having a greater impact on me than the loss might have if Chloe had just changed in the course of a single episode.

Of course, now you've made me hope that Chloe actually does finish her conversion and that we get to live with a new and different version of her. Could be a much more interesting use of her character than what we got in Season 1. And could lead to some juicy story for Eli and Scott.

zob said...
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zob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.