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Stargate Universe: Hope

... in which Chloe makes an unexpected connection through the communication stones.

I should know better than to get excited for an episode of SGU based on the preview. I’ve been burned repeatedly by misleading teasers for this show, and yet I still can’t stop myself from (1) watching them, and (2) developing expectations based on them. After seeing that Julie McNiven was going to be back and that Ginn maybe wasn’t quite as dead as we thought, I was super psyched for ‘Hope.’ Unfortunately, despite a very cool concept, the execution left something to be desired.

I’m not really sure what I would have preferred, really. The basic plot progression made good sense, and the various character reactions rang true, but it all felt rather flat to me. Quite frankly, watching Eli and Scott fret over a gasping or confused Chloe/Ginn for the better part of an hour just wasn’t that engaging, and as a result, I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in the story resolution as I would have expected when the episode started.

That said, I was delighted that Dr. Perry’s consciousness also survived, and was quite moved by her slightly disbelieving joy at becoming one with Destiny. Kathleen Munro’s delivery of “Free” was so spot on, managing to fully convey the weight of Amanda’s life experience to that point and the wondrous enormity of this change for her. I loved the juxtaposition of her reaction to this new existence with Ginn’s. While Destiny represents freedom for Amanda, for Ginn it is prison. Almost a fate worse than death. It’s no coincidence that her last vision before being uploaded is the memory of being strangled to death. Even though she’s trying hard to convince herself and Eli that it is enough, it was painfully evident in those closing moments that for Ginn, this altered state of being may be life, of a sort, but it is not living.

We got a similar type of juxtaposition with the closing moments on our B-plot this week, contrasting Volker’s reaction to the transplant with that lingering shot of Greer as T.J. goes to get him a new bandage. For Volker, the transplant is a new lease on life, but for Greer, it’s got to be kind of like a small death. He seemed to be feeling a sadness or maybe a sense of loss in that moment alone; he certainly wasn’t “fine.” I doubt he regrets giving his shipmate a chance to live, but I’m guessing some part of him is wondering if he’s the same guy he was before the surgery, or if he’s somehow now “less.” Less tough. Less resilient. Less whole.

Certainly an interesting closing note for that subplot, but I’ve got to admit that overall I didn’t enjoy the story about Volker’s renal failure. I found the whole thing utterly unbelievable, despite the introduction of a new Ancient procedure for attempting to stave off organ rejection. I know that’s crazy, given that I was fine with Chloe being inhabited by dead people’s consciousnesses, but I really had trouble suspending my disbelief on the kidney transplant. It just strikes me as completely ludicrous that T.J. would find not one, but two kidney matches for Volker, given the limited crew size. Moreover, the notion that she and that group of people could perform a kidney transplant with equipment they didn’t quite understand under less than ideal operating conditions is patently ridiculous. I don’t care if the pre-Big Bang architects, themselves, were guiding T.J. I just don’t believe it is a feat this crew could pull off on that ship. There are limits to what I can buy, even on a science fiction show.

Other Thoughts

Although the tale of how they got there was somewhat underwhelming, I’m certainly looking forward to having Ginn and Dr. Perry in Destiny’s memory bank going forward. Well, not Ginn, so much. She’s smart and a good intellectual partner for Eli --- and I like Julie McNiven --- but her true feelings about her situation seem bound to lead to depressing stories. Dr. Perry, on the other hand, is freaking brilliant and obviously pleased to be helpful anyway she can. I hope we get to see more of her. And more Franklin and Gloria, please! (I guess now we’ve confirmed what really happened to Franklin. Maybe.)

I kept wondering if Ginn’s gasping was the memory of being strangled to death or the memory of her first moments in Dr. Perry’s body.

Robert Carlyle sounded more Scottish than usual this week. His accent just seemed more pronounced.

I was amused by Young’s matter-of-fact suspicion that Rush was voicing concerns about the transplant because he was a compatible donor. “I’m just checking.”

Loved Rush’s extremely emotional reaction to Amanda’s return. “I wondered if you were in there. Any chance that you survived.” Very moving. And Eli’s and Matt’s obvious discomfort with him hugging “Chloe” was amusing.

Young (to Rush): “Always the chair with you.”

Nice shout out to the Asgard and their cloned host bodies!

Despite my dislike for the Volker subplot, I did enjoy seeing the secondary characters get a bit more to do than fix things and provide comic relief. We still got plenty of comic relief, of course, but it was nice that those moments were largely used to underscore the strong relationships that they have developed, especially Volker, Park, and Brody. I loved Brody playing Also sprach Zarathustra for Volker, and his little iPod mishap when trying to change the music was hilarious. (He’s wrong about no one knowing the real name to that song.)

The characters got to laugh and goof around a lot in this one, particularly at the potential erectile dysfunction side effect, Greer’s fake scream of agony, and the “relaxing music” debacle. Nice change of pace, if a little jarring, at times.

I wish they hadn’t intercut with the chair scene with the graphic surgery scene. I kept having to look away and I was concerned about missing something.

Was anyone actually concerned that Homeworld Command and Washington, DC had been destroyed by the Lucian Alliance bomb? That plot point held no suspense for me at all. Of course Earth would reestablish a connection eventually! The writers clearly don’t want to give up their precious communication stones, and there’s no way they’d be bold enough to nuke DC (except in an alternate reality or timeline). It was just a question of how long re-establishing contact would take.

Final Analysis: This episode wasn’t terrible, but it completely failed to live up to my expectations. I’d blame the previews, but I think the opening teaser alone would have gotten me completely excited for something this episode didn’t deliver. So I’ll blame poor execution of a cool concept.

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

6 comments:

  1. I think maybe it was the previews' fault - I didn't see them and I thought this was a pretty good episode. Although it wasn't without problems. I too had great trouble believing that T.J. could successfully perform a kidney transplant. In fact at one point I was worried that the writers would have the story follow to its logical conclusion, where T.J. gives it her best, desparate, shot and ends up killing both Volker and Greer. I'm glad it didn't happen though, and the timely assistance of Dr. Perry made the success almost believable, if you squint hard enough.

    I also thought that the Chloe/Ginn/Dr. Perry story had some wasted dramatic potential. I expected more conflict in the theme of "helping Ginn vs. protecting Chloe", especially from Scott. Instead everyone just concentrated on saving Ginn (and later Dr. Perry) with some concerns for Chloe's well-being voiced but never acted upon.

    But all in all, although it wasn't quite as good as it could have been, I thought it was still pretty good. And hey, it had "Also sprach Zarathustra" and erectile dysfunction jokes - if that's not good TV, what is? :-)

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  2. I LOVED this episode (I didn't see a preview for it). I was constantly shocked and surprised over and over, and I loved the comic relief throughout too. I thought the final scene with Eli and Ginn was very well done and thought-provoking...would it be enough just to see each other and never touch? And in general, the idea of consciousness being uploaded to the ship, is that something I would prefer to death? Very thought-provoking. Great ep!

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  3. I also felt the kidney transplant was just too difficult to believe, but I rather liked what they did with Ginn and Dr. Perry. I liked both characters and was unhappy when they died, so at least they have a chance now. And Dr. Perry in particular was enjoying her new existence. Sad for Ginn, though, since she definitely wasn't enjoying it.

    Why did Greer say yes so quickly? It was very good of him, but was there a reason? There was a point when I might have been in a position to donate a kidney to a family member and it's not like giving a pint of blood. There are health repercussions.

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  4. Thanks for the comments, guys! I definitely agree that the ending was thought-provoking, and I'm glad that Dr. Perry and Ginn are characters we can continue to revisit. I just wish they had done more along the way to that conclusion. I wanted to feel more emotionally invested in the whole journey, not just the resolution. Maybe, as michael says, if there had been more concern or conflict over Chloe's well-being, or more tension between Eli and Scott, it would have worked better for me. It's too bad they didn't bring Dr. Perry back sooner, because I found her interactions with Rush to be very resonant. Eli and Ginn just fell flat for me.

    Although, now that I think on it, the episode did play out an interesting contrast between Rush's reaction and Eli's. Those two bring very different life experiences and maturity levels when it comes to relationships, and I like that that was reflected in their scenes with their ladies.

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  5. Surgery and not even masks over their mouths? i dont know, i guess once you're in scifi land (just next door to la-la), a little reality is a waste of time

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  6. The poison of expectations...watching this without spoilers, I predicted you would LOVE this episode. Per the B-plot, Im sensing sort of a offense from you, were you or someone close to you in this perdiciment? Nothing wrong with it, but it would explain that. I agree with you on the surgery part...I dont need to see "it" to believe it. I agree with you also on the Ginn part...can see it being torture for her and heartache for Eli. You said that Eli and Ginn fell flat to you...I agree...I was like...it was without any actual substance (wiggles eyebrows to try and make the joke work).

    BrianN

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