From a step in the wrong direction with “Life” to an extremely large step in the right direction, “Justice” was quite possibly the best episode of the first half of SGU‘s freshman season. It had everything a great Stargate episode has to offer: a suicide masked as a murder, the I.O.A. leaping at the opportunity to put one of their own in charge, and of course … an abandoned alien ship. Last Friday’s mid-season finale lacked every bad aspect of the series that “Life” was full of — namely, the lack of a plot line with a real “Stargate” feel and needless over-dramatization. Instead, viewers got treated to a program that had excitement, shocking moments, and originality.
Most of all, “Justice” gave lead characters who hadn’t had the chance to grow yet — like Camille Wray and Chloe Armstrong — a great opportunity to come out of their shells and shine.
While “Justice” had a lot going on, the characters of Wray and Chloe really blew me away. The last thing anyone was expecting was for Colonel Young to ask Chloe to be his defense attorney, let alone that she would pull it off. But as it turns out, Elyse Levesque took charge of her character and gave an outstanding performance alongside Ming-Na during the tribunal scene.
Ming-Na also gave a stunning performance, adding more depth to the character of Camille Wray. From her strong feelings about Sgt. Greer to her almost emotional breakdown after realizing her faults, Wray finally felt like a character and less like filler.
Greer was another character who came into his own in the mid-season finale. If there was anything that I would have changed about this episode, it would have been to give him more screen time. His loyalty to the people he cares about — Colonel Young in particular — really came out. Greer is not afraid to speak his mind, whether it is with Wray or Lt. Scott. While I hate to make comparisons to other Stargate characters, he is becoming the Ronon of the show — and that is a compliment.
The evidentiary hearing was one of the highlights of the episode. “Justice” brought me back to the Battlestar Galactica episode “Litmus,” in which an independent tribunal took place. It’s been said that SGU tries to hard to be like Battlestar, and if they are, they took a good page out of its book with the “trial” scene. This one was done in such an original way. On most other TV shows, when trials take place, they are conducted by professionals (like Sgt. Hadrian on BSG). In this case, while Wray has H.R. experience, neither she nor Chloe have a real talent in law, making for some excellent drama as each tries to push her case.
The Rush/Young schism finally reaches its boiling point, making for the best part of the show. The way in which their conflict was written to coincide with the discovery of the abandoned alien craft was extremely clever. From the minute the two of them were alone on the planet, it was obvious that Young was going to throw down. The whole episode builds toward that scene — first with Rush having no care for rules and regulations during the room searches, then the manipulation of his science team, ultimately leading to Dr. Franklin sitting in the Ancient chair and being left in a catatonic state. This was all very well executed, making Young’s breaking point that much more believable.
The fight at episode’s end was a great way to both bring the conflict between the two to a climax, and to end the episode. With the alien ship as the backdrop, it couldn’t have been much better. Definitely the best quote of the season came from Rush when he said, “We’ll never be done!” leading to a knockout head-butt and his abandonment on the planet by Young. Such a climactic ending. And while it may have been just a touch predictable, it didn’t stop me from saying, “He won’t … holy crap, he did!”
If you are going to do a mid-season finale, “Justice” was the way to do it. It left me wanting so much more at the end (which was obviously the point). If SGU was in need of viewers after this shocking finale, it shouldn’t need anymore after such a terrific episode. It may be easy to say that Rush will find a way to get the mysterious alien ship working when the show comes back in the spring … but you never know on Stargate. It will be interesting to find out who that ship belongs to, and just what Rush’s reaction will be if he does, in fact, return to Destiny. One thing is for sure: there will be words between him and Young.
Of course, this is all pure speculation — but that’s the sign of a great mid-season cliffhanger. It will keep us talking for the months ahead. My faith in Stargate Universe is restored!
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