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Review: SGU’s ‘Justice’

Monday - December 7, 2009
Category: OPINION | Tags: , ,


SGU "Justice" - Young and Rush fightFrom 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.

SGU "Justice" - Wray and ChloeThe 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!

Reviews represent the opinion of the author, and not necessarily that of GateWorld or its owner.

Julian Landau Brown is a GateWorld contributor and a former writer for He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and fellow Stargate fan, Karyn. (More)

COMMENTS (46):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • I largely agree again with your review. And, most definitely, I thought JUSTICE was the best of SGU to this time – an excellent episode, with events very well orchestrated throughout; and with an ending that makes me wish the next episodes were tomorrow rather than in March orApril.

  • *spoiler* This review was spot on. I believe that the ship at the end of the episode was the ship that took off from the destiny in an earlier episode and Rush will use it to get back.

  • I was totally expecting Young to be dragging Rush back through the gate. But I was blown away!!! (can you really blame Young after all.)

    You expect a tidy storyline but this isn’t Atlantis, and that’s a good thing.

    When Rush makes it back (I’m assuming he does) he’ll know Eli lied about the file corruption. That’ll be interesting too.

    Also please don’t compare Ronon to Greer. Greer is ten times better.

  • I really liked this episode. “Time” was my favorite episode so far, until this one. This one blew it away and that’s saying something to me. This is one of only a few episodes so far that you could tell was stargate if you removed all of the scifi elements from it, and that’s an excellent thing. I can’t wait for the next half of the season, 2010 better come quick!

  • It be kindda funny if all Rush had to do to get back to Destiny was dial the Stargate and not need a spaceship to do it.

  • I can not believe the writers had the guts or even the ability pull this one off. I did not believe it was going to end that way, not a chance. I’ve been a huge, unwavering critic of this series, and this one moment doesn’t redeem it all, but it is a HUGE step in the right direction. SGU, you have my attention.

  • Fantastic episode – While the previous shows in the season ranged from pretty good to a bit boring, this one was brilliant for a mid season cliffhanger.
    I wonder what they have planned for the season finale? =D

  • OK. May be it’s a good episode.
    May be not.
    I don’t know I stopped watching a few weeks ago.
    But one point if it’s really a good one then it’s coming too late.
    This should have been one of the first episodes of the series just after the series premiere.
    BTW take a look at the ratings – 1,340 million viewers, that’s a nearly half million drop from Life.

  • 100% agreed with this review. If this episode is an indication of what’s to come then I am glad to of stuck by SGU from the start. I could just feel that really good episodes where coming and ‘Justice’ more or less just confirmed that.

  • @Tonton Beber judging by ‘Time’ a good episode can lead to a ratings increase. ‘Justice’ has been the best episode of SGU yet in the eyes of most fans (Basing this on the Gateworld poll).

    The next episode ‘Space’ (That will most likely air in Apri) if what Mallozzi says about it on his blog are true then it will also be an amazing episode. If that is the case then I could see the ratings going up again every easily.

  • My brain couldn’t handel the banging against the wall so i stoped watching since 1×5.
    But like i see the ratings for Stargate 90210 are hilarious for a show that coste two times then SGA or SG1.

  • It was alright. I think Earth has way too much sway on the crew and eventually they are going to have to make a choice of either continue to let people several billion light years a way play with their lives or cut off communication and find their own way home.

    As for Rush, this is obviously going to bite Young in the ass. Surely he had a gun, he should have used it (would have assured Rush wouldnt figure out how to get the ship to fly and in many respects would have been merciful).

  • “Justice” was definitely one of the 2 good episodes of SGU this season but keep in mind people there were 8 others that it seems in lot of fans opinion hit somewhere on the scale between crap and mediocre. Chances of the second half of the season of this show being much different probably are not great considering that all of these episodes were written and shot about the time of the season premier. I don’t think “Justice” was a lot to get excited about for those who were about ready to write this show off. Though I am still reserving judgment someone correct me if I am wrong but the Mid season and season Finale are suppose to be two of the better if not best episodes of the season. And compared to the run of relatively boring episodes these writers came up with for 8 of 9 previous episodes it would have been hard for them look much worse. I mean if you have all Cs, Ds, and a couple Fs for grades then a B+ looks pretty damn good especially when that B+ came right after an F. I think the closest comparable season in Stargate history to this one of Universe in terms of what the writers wanted to do was Season 1 of SG1 and that season was far superior to what has been seen so far from SGU.

  • Hmmm. This episode was the best we’ve seen so far, however it was still very very clumsy. I don’t understand why Young is so adament to be in charge when he blatently doesn’t want to and already knows that he’s not the guy for the job. You would have thought he would be relieved not to be in charge anymore and let someone else do it. Obviously he would have still been in charge of the military side of things. The military should not be in charge at all, they so far demonstrated a lack of understanding and jepodised everyone in which Rush has had so save their asses several times over. Of course he’s gonna see an oportunity to dispose of Youngs command when he sees it. I’m not convinced though of youngs logic in getting rid of Rush. This bit seemed to be out of character, if we had more of a build up of Youngs totally unsuitablility to command over several episodes then it would have worked better, rather than just the previous episode of punching Telford.

    I think thats one of the things that is wrong with this series. It doesn’t build up to things, it just throws it out there, so the character development is unbelievable. I mean just look at Scot and Chloe for example “we’ve been growing close” erm no you haven’t, you’ve been on the ship five minutes. And Young commiting what he beleives to be murder by leaving Rush to die all of a sudden. A build up would to it would have worked, whilst this just destroys the suspension of disbelief.

    It will be interesting in how the writers get away with it next epsiode when Rush gets back. Which is another problem because we all know Rush is going to figure out how ti fix the ship and fly back.

  • I agree with bluecat, that the major issue with the show is that they don’t build up to things. The Cloe/Scot Relationship is a very good ecample. Everything looked like a Cloe/Eli thing was building up and then that o_O

    Back to the topic: I also think that “Justice” is one of the best epiosdes of the season so far, but “Time” is still my favorite!

  • “I don’t understand why Young is so adament to be in charge when he blatently doesn’t want to and already knows that he’s not the guy for the job. ”

    This episode easily answered that question. Because no one belongs on this mission, and idiots like Rush could cost people their lives. The military needs to be in charge to keep order, since so many people on this mission aren’t qualified to be there in the first place.

    “I mean just look at Scot and Chloe for example “we’ve been growing close” erm no you haven’t, you’ve been on the ship five minutes. ”

    Really?? It seems to me that the episode “LIFE” finally showed that a substantial amount of time is passing quite regularly, you just don’t seem to notice it.

    Rush is a loose cannon. His actions in “JUSTICE” showed this unequivacolly. Rush has no real interest in going home. He wants to study the ship. It seems to me that you might be missing the point of the series.

  • 1st time posting so bear with me.
    SGU-Great addition to the SG world
    down to business.
    Justice has been building up all season lone. cant see how someone can say theres no build up to that one. have to agree about Cloe/scott deal. then again not interested in seeing him put the moves on her anyway. life and death situations in the beginning, thinking their going to die father dies, good looking guy with a shoulder to lean on, yeah thats believable, dont need the build up, lets move on.
    that ship cannot be the same (highly unlikely) as the one that left the ship. that was how far back?
    this ship completely alien not even the same material. cant be one of the advanced ships sent out.
    i wouldnt be surprised (i was that Rush got left there) if Rush doesnt come back right away. he would have to know where the ship was heading, which to this point he never mentions. ok thats not saying much considering his past.
    Rush was willing to sacrifices another Human to better his understanding of the ship. he doesnt care about getting home, and has actually been working against that if its not on his terms.

    cant really agree with bluecat regarding Young. his character has on several occasions as being not the right guy for the job. And no he doesnt want to be there, none of them do. he’s got a bunch of crap happening back home and its really his own fault. which is a huge distraction from leading. i think it really show cased his popping point. couldnt take all the crap that has been going on and just leaves Rush. However, lets not forget he walked out of shot toward the ship before they flashed back to destiny. he did something over there. he wasnt walking back to the ship right away…

  • For the first time since SGU aired I am pleased to say I really, really enjoyed an episode of the show. I have been very critical of the show and in fairness I feel I should give the show some praise for this episode.

    This episode is what SGU should have been like all along. Drama between characters that builds upon itself, a plot focused on the Destiny and a feeling that this is still Stargate.

    My hope is that this signals a change in how the writers are going to portay these characters and that we’ll start to focus on the Destiny and less on earth.

    My fear however is that once the show returns we’ll be back to original formula of body-swapping all the time, too much time focused on earth and character drama that feels forced and not natural.

    The writers got my attention with this episode and for once I feel there is a hope this show will be successful. I hope my faith is not misplaced. Spring 2010 will tell.


  • I disagree with bluecat and Corin. This whole show is one giant build-up. The biggest problem with it often is the lack of ‘stuff going on’ because pretty much all the airtime is being eaten up by things building up.

  • @mistergroenevingers:
    That’s an interesting way of putting it. I defintely agree that there should be more “action”. But I don’t think that’s a contradiction to the “no build up” theory. I.e. of course there’s some build up going on, but is it always plausible?

  • @Corin
    I’m not sure if all the building up going on is plausible. But I’ve seen all the episodes more than once now and I think a lot of things between episodes connect. Some things seem obsolete in my opinion but may yet prove to be vital in later episodes. The Scott-Chloe relationship is something I could surely do without. As far as I’m concerned those characters get scrapped completely. But getting back to things being plausible. Is the stargate itself plausible?

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