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Review: SGU’s ‘Earth’

Sunday - November 8, 2009
Category: OPINION | Tags: , ,


SGU "Earth" - Telford & Stargate“Earth” was the first episode of SGU that finally felt like a real episode of Stargate. While the episode still focused heavily on character development, it also examined the science and politics of Stargate that keep fans coming back for more.

“Earth” also dealt with the issue of body swapping and how it has become a problem. There are a lot of fans who don’t watch the show specifically for this reason, but this week’s episode brought up some of the problems and ways in which it could be misused — and dealt with them very well. While “Earth” may have been the best episode of SGU aired to date, there were a couple of issues with the show that should be addressed.

Martin Gero is probably one of the best writers Stargate has, but in my opinion, the scene with Eli and Chloe in the nightclub should never have been written. People feared that the show might become to 90210-like and, this week, it did. The scene was actually alright for a good portion of it. It’s understandable to want to go out and release some of your burdens.  But then Chloe went all Brenda on her best friend after she found out she was sleeping with her ex. Just writing that scene description sounds like an episode of a really bad teenie-bopper show. That one scene took away any importance the rest of the nightclub may have had.

Apart from that part of the episode’s story, “Earth” was amazing. Very quickly we get to see that the I.O.A. is up to their old tricks and always scheming. It was nice to see that Camille Wray got some character development in this episode. While she is a member of the I.O.A., I will be curious to see whether she remains a puppet or not, because she is clearly unhappy with the way they have been treating her.

It was also interesting to see Colonel O’Neill working closely with the I.O.A. and actually backing them up. So far, this is a different Jack then we’ve seen on SG-1 or Atlantis. While it probably comes from age and rank, it was a little unexpected to see him not back up Colonel Young’s reservations about the rescue attempt.

SGU "Earth" - ChloeThere seemed to be a bit of an inconsistency between this episode and prior Stargate series. On one side you have I.O.A. scientists who viewers have never seen before in their lives, yet you also have Jack trying to comfort Colonel Young by saying, “If it makes you feel any better, Colonel Carter save my ass dozens of times using all kinds of wacky science I didn’t understand.” This is where it could have made sense for Jack to say, “Plus, she’s (or McKay for that matter) gone over the data and thinks it’ll work.” While SGU is trying to cater to a new audience, there should also be some consistency left in place. You have two geniuses on Earth — Carter and McKay — and Dr. Rush on the Destiny. If you wanted to come up with a brilliant plan, you’d sit those three in a room together and do it. Obviously, they weren’t going to have the plan work either way because it’s the show’s first season, but it could have been refreshing to do it the old way.

The way in which the body swapping was handled in “Earth” was very well written. It’s quite evident that the writers are trying to factor in what happens when someone on board the Destiny body-swaps and then takes advantage of the body they are in. There were a few occurrences of this, the biggest being Young and Telford. When Telford is in Young’s body, he takes complete control of the Destiny, disregarding everything Young has tried to build by throwing Greer back in detention and pretty much going about things with a “my way or the highway” mentality. The way in which Telford’s character has been written as this really not-nice-guy is incredible to watch.

Then you have Young in Telford’s body, who takes complete advantage by sleeping with his (Young’s) wife. Again, while it is understandable, it’s not necessarily the right thing to do — and by the end of the episode, you see the obvious repercussions as Colonel Telford finds out and shows up at Emily’s house.

Next week it will be interesting to see if SGU focuses on some of the story arcs that were mentioned this week and not fully developed. Colonel Young confirmed that he was having an affair with T.J. after the dream he had about her, and then talking about it with his wife. And then, there’s the question of where Wray fits into the T.J./Young situation. There’s also the Chloe/Scott/Eli love triangle that left Eli pretty upset. And it’s going to be very interesting to see where Young and Telford go from here, as well — as Telford definitely has it out for his rival.

As for this week, barring the deleted scene from 90210, “Earth” was definitely the best episode of SGU yet.

Julian Landau-Brown is a writer for He lives in the Philadelphia area with his fiance and fellow Stargate fan, Karyn.

Episode reviews represent the opinion of the author, and not 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 (62):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • Even though this episode was more stargate related, I have not seen a universe episode yet that reaches SG1 or SGA quality. I do not hate this show or wish it to fail but I do have some problems with it and if they are not corrected my continued veiwing will not be garranteed. If anyone would like to share there opinion with me wheather or not you agree with me my e-mail is [removed by moderator]

  • I completely agree – “Earth” has been the best episode of SGU so far. If they keep up with stuff like this SGU could beat out SG1 in my book pretty soon.

  • @Tom not sure its wise to post your e-mail as a comment, could get a lot of spam.

    Anyway I like this review. It wasn’t just pro SGU and actually brought up both the good and the weaker aspects of the episode. As a fan I’m fine with that as long as it doesn’t come across as completely insulting which this doesn’t in the slightest.

    I liked this episode but I will admit that the Chloe scenes on Earth were a little too long and I was like “Okay can we get back to the Destiny now”. But the scenes on the Destiny itself were fab.

    Just to note for others some have came up with the idea that the “shaky cam” is to show the the possibility that the crew are being observed by aliens and that the cam is there perspective (Like when a character looks directly at the camera it like hides round a corner etc). This would go some way to explain the shuttle leaving at the end of Air Part 3, what if the aliens are still there?

    I’m tired of arguing btw can we please just act like mature people and have a civil discussion.

  • Julian Brown

    @Tanith Thanks very much! I hope that my reviews over the past few weeks have been as fair as possible.

    @brian577 You are absolutely right. I’m just so used to him as Col. O’Neill :)

  • Overall, I liked this episode as much as the premiere, which was a lot, and is tied for my favorite so far. Could have done without Chloe’s whining (again), but I get why it was done. This was the first episode that actually felt like Stargate though, and it was a welcome change. And this episode settled it for me: I’m a Dr. Rush fan. He’s a devious little sh*t, but he knows what’s going on, and he had the crews back, whether they liked it or not.

    Oh, as a side note, we’ve all heard the Stargate BSG comparisions…well I had a friend over who had never seen anything Stargare, and, five minutes into the show, she says the following: “Oh, it’s like Battlestar Galactica, right?” Hahahahahaha There’s amusement to be found in the truth;)

  • Generally, it was better than I thought but not quite my taste. I much prefered the previous episode “water” as it had more elements I could indentify with such as the non-humanoid alien entity, but this one was pretty decent. The next ep sounds even better though!

  • Interesting review as you made me re-think several aspects of what went on in “Earth”, which is yet another episode that I liked again – though so far, my favorite has been the one just before: Water.
    As for Gen O’neil’s support of the Homeland group, I didn’t see that as in itself being incompatible with his previous character. It’s not as though he has to be against everything they try to put through, and if he really believed the plan would work, I can understand why he might support it. I do agree though that it might have been interesting if Carter had set up the plan … but then, since it didn’t work, she’d be in the position of failing there. So…

  • I agree with the review.

    As for those whose support is wavering- apparently the next three are supposed to be pretty good, at least according to JM quite different than the past couple episodes.

  • I like Julian Landau-Brown’s reviews, but was curious, who is she?

  • @Xenomorph: LOL, I know they sound similar, but have different meanings:

    Julian: Male. ie., Julian Bashir (ST:DS9), Julian Calendar: from Julius Ceasar

    Julianne: Female. ie., Julianne Hough (CW singer, DWTS Pro)

    Julienne: Cutting Vegetables into long thin strips

    Julian is probably From Philadelphia, PA, Graduated from Johnston State in 2005. Also may have attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Married to Karyn Ruark who graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2006. (she likes indian food). LMAO, but then, I could be totally mistaken.

  • One of the worst SGU episodes yet (just I can’t decide if its worse than Light or not). Actually, might be the worst Stargate episode of all times. So far, SGU is like a rollercoaster (in a bad sense): average,average,good,bad,horrible,good,horrible. Shame.

  • @altairantares JM might be right there, the trailer for next weeks episode looks interesting.

  • I think it will be interesting how they handle the moral implications of the body switching. Telford seemed quite disturbed by what had happened, as evidenced by him playing with his wedding band in one scene after knowing how his body was being used.

    I do have a question for all those who want to see Carter and McKay solve all the problems of the Destiny. Isn’t it safe to assume that in the Stargate reality that they are currently facing their own dilemmas? Carter was the commander of the “General Hammond” I believe. We know that there is a legit threat from the Lucian Alliance from episode 1 SGU. McKay is probably not on extended shore leave.

    To think that the entire Stargate program constantly waits for two people to pull their collective asses out of the fire is not realistic. If the writers had wanted this to be the case, then they would have set those characters up in research and administrative positions which they have not done. Just as in the real world, it appears that in the Stargate world there is a division of duties and the fate of the universe does not hang on two individuals.

  • An excellent review, and well thought-out comments as well. This has made up my mind – I’m definitely going to add GateWorld to my list of regular sites :) Have been looking for a good stargate website.

    So, onto the episode. I agree with pretty much everything written above (review + comments), except this:

    One of the worst SGU episodes yet (just I can’t decide if its worse than Light or not). Actually, might be the worst Stargate episode of all times. So far, SGU is like a rollercoaster (in a bad sense): average,average,good,bad,horrible,good,horrible. Shame.

    If anything, Earth was one of the best episodes so far. I liked the pilot a lot more than I liked SGA’s pilot, and I also enjoyed Water and Earth.

    Sure, they’re not necessarily the best Stargate episodes ever shown, but that takes time and I’m sure Universe will eventually push out a great episode that everyone will raving about. It might take a few seasons… but I can wait as long as things don’t get too unbearable with constant relationship arcs all of the time.

    One of my favourite episodes was SG1, season 9, episode 20. The fight against the Ori had me on the edge of my seat :)

  • I agree with this review. This was the best (and closest to Stargate feeling) episode of the series to date. Yes, it was well below my expectations for the previous series’, but it was notbad at all.

    I even have to say I disagree with the 90210-esque nature of the Chloe scenes. Chloe even explained why that part was relevant: she lived most of her life in ‘drift’ mode and was trying to rise above when catastrophe struck and now she finds herself pulled back into old habits. The character development available to her far exceeds anyone else on the show. I happen to like her character because she is REAL: chance has put her in an exceptional situation and her success or failure depends on her ability to project her father instead of her mother.

    The scene with Eli and his mother was the most touching thing I’ve seen in Stargate since SGA’s “The Shrine” though it continued his character’s disservice by the writers. Once more Eli must contradict his earlier positions in order to remain ‘plain’ by audience standards. The Eli of “Water” would not have lied to his mother, and the Eli of “Air” would not have played the situation off so coolly.

    Greer and Rush are even growing on me, though given the uneven writing of this series so far I have low hopes that they won’t become despicable by next episode. In this episode we got the great payoff to Rush’s advice to T.J. in “Water” to ‘always consider the greater good.’ Here he accomplishes that while preserving his agenda – which is doubtless to stay on Destiny forever.

    Still waiting for them to come together like the old Stargate teams have – even if there are still trust issues and anger issues. But this is the first episode of this show I am going to rate above 7. I think 9.

  • Great episode. My only gripe is the body switching stuff. To me the moral implications of what was happening is wrong, and I would probably not trust my wife if what happened in this episode happened to me. In fact I feel so strongly about this kind of stuff I’ll probably stop watching this show if this keeps up.

  • I mean to say, the sexual intercourse. It’s just disgusting. What happened with Eli was funny. Tone it down on the sex.

  • The body switching was a pointless and distracting. This is like the sci-fi version of the bold and the beautiful.

    I don’t get how SGC and the IOA would allow people to wander around in other people’s bodies like that.

  • “Colonel Young confirmed that he was having an affair with T.J. after the dream he had about her, and then talking about it with his wife. And then, there’s the question of where Wray fits into the T.J./Young situation. There’s also the Chloe/Scott/Eli love triangle that left Eli pretty upset.”

    I’m sorry, but is this Stargate or All My Children? These are “story arcs that were mentioned this week” that the reviewer is looking forward to? Why not just switch to Dr Sexy and his gang of weepy, but sexy, nurses over on Grey’s Anatomy or try an eppy of Gossip Girl? Unbelievable that THIS is being proffered as a viable, improved addition to the formerly venerable Stargate line.

  • Earth : The Final Episode. The Mo Ryan article in the Chicago Tribune sums it all up for me and I expect a great number of other former fans. Sorry Julian, this fan won’t keep coming back for more. Might have a look at V in its place though.

  • To everyone who is lacking faith in SGU, read this from Mallozzis blog (not any criticism):
    “DasNdanger also writes: “Therefore you are assured of my continued viewership through the first half of the season. And yup, though I can see straight through you and your devilish, tricksy ways, I am still gonna jump right into your little trap…just ’cause you set it!”
    Answer: Nope, no. No trickery here. Just saying – if the next three episodes up to the hiatus don’t do it for you, I’ll be surprised – and sad you won’t be watching any longer. Especially since the first episode back after the break is mine, Space, and it’s filled with all sorts of action and aliens and ship to ship battles.”

    So if you want more action and battles just tune in to the next few episodes. “Time” sounds good and we will at least get some action in Space if not sooner

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