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Stargate Universe: The Hunt

... in which the crew attempts to rescue T.J. and Corporal Reynolds after they get captured by a wild creature. Meanwhile, Rush, Brody, and Eli continue exploring Destiny.

After being hoodwinked or otherwise screwed a number of times by the previews for SGU, I’ve been trying not to watch them these last few weeks. All I knew going into this week was that there would be some planet-side activity and Varro would be involved in the action. I was initially excited by the prospect of finally getting some more Varro, but then quickly became concerned that this increased face time would be a prelude to killing him off. So, despite pretty much avoiding the previews, I went into this episode with some expectations and not a little trepidation.

Happily, my fears were for naught. It was a strong episode for Varro, who managed to survive and get the girl --- almost (T.J. may have been having second thoughts after Young interrupted their near kiss). Actually, this was a solid episode all around. The various threads were entertaining or engaging on a character level, and the resolution to the main plot managed to surprise me. I was expecting T.J. and Reynolds to use a fear of fire to keep the creature at bay until Greer could show up and kill it. It was a nice change of pace for the fire to signal to the creature that its prey was intelligent, allowing them to effectively reach a d├ętente with it by choosing not to kill it when they had it dead to rights. It was especially nice that the one making that choice was Greer.

This was also a strong episode for Greer, as we learned that his post-surgery “I’m fine” was, indeed, a big fat lie. I originally speculated that Greer was feeling a profound sense of loss and harboring doubts about whether he was still the same man. It turns out his doubts stemmed not from a sense of loss, but from a sudden, near-paralyzing fear of death. After semi-regaining consciousness following surgery and finding nothing but darkness, Greer became convinced that he got a glimpse of the afterlife and it wasn’t at all what he had always believed it to be. Now he’s struggling with how to be the consummate soldier when he’s terrified of returning to that darkness. Heavy stuff. Especially for the guy we once saw stark naked and calmly waiting to greet death.

I really liked that it wasn’t the usual suspects who helped Greer start to heal. You’d think maybe Young or Matt would be the ones to help him get his head right, but they just made him more determined to deny he even had a problem. It was Lt. James who got him to open up about his experience, then attempted to reassure him and restore his faith (“I can’t claim to know for sure what death is, but I know in my heart it isn’t that”). And it was Varro who helped him to see that fear makes you a better soldier, not a weaker one (“In those situations when the odds are stacked against you and you’re looking death in the face, it’s fear that keeps you, and the people around you, alive”). In the end, Greer was able to embrace his fear and rescue his shipmates, and he certainly seemed to be in a better, more confident place back on Destiny, spending time with Park and enjoying BBQ space deer with his shipmates. He even put in a good word for Varro, who is now a free man.

I’m really happy Varro has finally proven his trustworthiness and value to the others. Even though he came in as part of an invading force, he’s always struck me as an honorable man, who could be a useful ally. And quite frankly, Mike Dopud has a tremendously compelling screen presence, and I just want to see more of him. Plus, I really like Varro with T.J. Those two have clicked for me from their first meeting, and I’m hoping that T.J. was just having a brief moment of sadness over the end of her previous relationship and is ready to forge ahead with Varro. Especially now that I’m convinced he honestly cares for her and isn’t working some angle in service to the Lucian Alliance agenda.

Other Thoughts

The planet-side action also gave us a nice reminder that T.J. is a tough, smart leader. It was nice to see her quickly assessing their situation, refusing to allow Reynolds to give up, and calmly doing what it takes to survive. She was also the one to realize that the creature was holding back because it recognized their intelligence (a nice way to loop back to Park’s insistence that they shouldn’t kill the space deer because it might be an intelligent life form).

Varro very effectively worked Scott when requesting to join the rescue team. “When this is over, you’re gonna wanna know that you did everything in your power to save them, right?” He’s a very smart, capable guy and a strong commander. I wish we had more time to see how he fits into the crew. Young should totally sideline Scott and let Varro lead the away missions.

It was really nice to see Lt. James in a more substantial role this week.

The assorted bits on the ship were fun, except for the sad ending for poor Volker. He and Eli are two of a kind when it comes to the ladies. “The good friend type, obviously. The trusted confidant. The guy who’s always there with the, uh ... the shoulder to cry on.” Maybe there’s a Ginn in Volker’s future. In the meantime, I’m glad that his attempt to woo Park didn’t work out. I like the current dynamic with Brody, Volker, and Park as friends. The B-team wouldn’t be quite the same if two of them were in a relationship.

Rush: “On the bright side, a life free of romantic entanglement, well ... it certainly benefits the pursuit of science.”

I’m kind of bummed that all the Lucian Alliance folks except for Varro are dead now. By the way, was it only Alliance personnel that died, or did the creature get some of the SGC personnel, too?

Rush’s little trick on Eli and Brody was pretty hilarious, but I couldn’t decide if it was just about showing them who’s boss. His look right before saying “That’s that, then” was kind of ominous. Was he testing Eli to see if he could figure it out, and ultimately disappointed when he couldn’t?

I wonder when the stasis pods are going to come back into play.

Final Analysis: I’m always happy when they effectively balance action with character development and humor. A solid episode, for me, and a definite improvement over the last several weeks.

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

7 comments:

  1. Young should totally sideline himself and let Varro be the leader. And James is so much better than Scott. I wonder if they give promotions like lollypops at Starfl... Stargate Command.

    At the bottom, this episode did not make sense. How many people did they lose to rescue TWO?. Five?. Six?. Granted, one was their only medic, but the ever present stones would remedy that.

    Still, better than last week's ep.

    4 to go.

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  2. Ha! I can't deny I had that same thought about Young. But that one would never happen. Varro replacing Scott in some capacity has a slim chance of occurring, so I went with that choice. I actually think Varro, James, and Greer would make an awesome away team. Especially now that Greer and Varro have reached an understanding, of sorts.

    I'm going to defend the mission this week (unlike last). It makes absolute sense that they would try to rescue their people --- especially their medic --- and when they started, they had no way of knowing they would lose so many lives. The original attack didn't kill anyone, so far as they knew, and they thought they were dealing with one non-intelligent animal. By the time the situation became clear, the damage was done and it was too late to turn back. Sure, on balance, they lost more than they gained, but I don't fault them for making the attempt.

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  3. I liked this one, too, and I especially liked the "intelligence" twist. Although I was sort of hoping that Greer would also identify with the space deer and not kill it in the end.

    Even though it was very much the B plot, I loved Rush manipulating Eli and Brody. I also liked that he used reverse psychology to push Volker. Too bad it didn't work.

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  4. I thought the episode was interesting and thought-provoking but not outstanding. I thought there was some great character development, esp. Greer and Volker. I agree that TJ showed herself to be a very excellent leader (again).
    Also I thought Lt James was great too. Her quote "Hope for the best but prepare for the worst" are words to live by.

    The "intelligence" scene with the fire was very suspenseful and I enjoyed that storyline. Also I was happy in the end they all did finally get some much needed protein!

    I didn't like Rush's statis pod lesson. It was risky and dangerous and I didn't think it was in keeping with Rush's usual behavior.

    So, overall another thought-provoking episode, but not a "WOW" (which I come to expect now!).

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  5. I might be a bit cynical here... but based on what we've seen from Rush before, my take was that he was reverse-psycologically pushing Eli and Brody to play with the stasis pods ('cause he knew they couldn't resist the temptation), and took advantage of that to run his own analysis of the pods while someone was in them (something Young would probably never have let him do).

    I was definitely happy with the action involving Greer, TJ and Varro. I much prefer them to the lead characters (other than Rush who is still intriguing).

    Each week I'm sadder that the end is coming near! Especially knowing that they had wrapped up filming by the time they had received the news so there's no way we're going to get a satisfactory ending. :s

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  7. @CrazyCris --- I don't think we can ever be too cynical when it comes to Rush. I like your idea that maybe he wasn't just messing with them, but using their inability to resist temptation to do a human trial. I certainly wouldn't put it past him.

    @zob --- I think many of us here at this site suffer from "maybe I watch too many TV shows" syndrome. :) Also, I can see where you are coming from on the filler thing. Personally, I feel like time spent advancing the characters (even in predictable ways) is time well spent, because that's what I care most about. That said, as we come down to the wire, I completely understand how any episode that doesn't address the larger mythos of the series might feel like wasted time. I, too, would like to get some more on that front before we say goodbye for good. Hopefully the last four episodes strike a better balance.

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