What happens when a long-time Stargate fan finally watches SGU for the very first time? Join Sara Kehoe on the adventure and see Stargate Universe through fresh eyes!
In the first installment of this column Sara jumped (with both feet) into the 3-part series premiere, “Air.” Now it’s time to move on to some power problems as Destiny plunged toward a star in the next two episodes …
I’m usually the type that fast forwards through the “previously on” bit of TV shows. But I have a feeling that with SGU I will need these recaps!
Fresh off the victory of finding the necessary lime to clean the air scrubbers, there is no rest for the weary. The poor crew of the Destiny, having finally gotten their life support sorted, is now facing a new crisis: power outage. Dr. Rush (I still think he’s going to be our main antagonist) is in a temper because only he seems to realize that they are running on very limited power and they must tread carefully.
Colonel Young has dispatched teams all over the ship to see what they have to work with. Their semi-trained button pushing is draining the reserve power even further by trying to turn on lights, play with systems, and reconfigure Ancient technology to work with their Earth gadgets.
Dr. Rush is running around the ship not stopping to tell people why he’s upset with them … just yelling as he power-walks past them. Rush is like all the worst parts of McKay with none of the redeeming qualities and adorable quirks. He’s just an arrogant jerk who knows better and expects blind followers. He’s intimidating to the other civilians on the crew, but Colonel Young is having none of it. I am with Young on this one. Frack Rush and his ego. He can’t do it all himself, he knows he can’t, but he refuses to let people help.Somehow the crew has gotten it in their heads that Eli knows more than they do. It is unclear why the enlisted personnel and civilians actually hired to the Icarus project believe random college drop-out computer hacker (sorry … M.I.T. drop-out) math boy is “in the know.” But they stage this intervention to demand the information from him. Lt. James lures him to the observation deck, where there are a good two dozen crew members — like some sort of 80s movie locker-room beat down.
Luckily, Eli just has to super-pinky-promise to let them know as soon as he finds out, and the football team goons let him go.
We see the kino balls in action as the crew members take turns filming video confessionals. They’re nice little glimpses into the characters as we’re still trying to figure out who is who and what the heck it is they are doing there (hopefully, I’m not alone on that score).
I’m really digging the use of the communication stones to take us back to Earth every now and then. But I am a little worried about how many people are being let in on this not-so-little secret the government has been keeping for the world for over ten years at this point. The more civilians that find out, the more likely it is for someone to slip up and say something that snowballs. I guess they could be signing NDAs …
Young gets to go home in the body of Lou Diamond Philips and see his estranged / ex / tense relationship wife and let her in on what’s happening and say his goodbyes. Turns out the relationship is pretty dang one-sided, and she’s not too interested in hearing him out. It’s hard enough on her to have a husband that left her for his job (as admittedly awesome as his job is). I still like Young, but throwing all this at his ex was an obnoxious move on his part.There is a nice little cameo from director Peter DeLuise in the standby room. I love how they didn’t bother to get him into wardrobe or even name the character. After seeing his name in the credits as director, I was expecting a funnier episode. Stargate is known for its humor and while there is a large part of my brain that knows SGU is not that type of Stargate, but I’m still having to remind myself that this is the “dark” Stargate. Apart from Eli and his Planet of the Apes references, there’s not much by way of funny going on.
The overall tone and pacing of the show are taking some getting used to. I can do dark, brooding drama but there’s still that Stargate disconnect. The very character driven aspect of the show leads to some slow pacing and not much by way of driving tension. Conflicts between the characters as we develop their individual personalities more will definitely help on that front. And the kino diaries will be useful, as there are a lot of characters to get to know and keep straight.
Oh yeah, and now they’re headed straight into a red dwarf with no power and no steering … so there’s that! With so many characters to try to keep straight, I’m not really at the point where I care if they live or everyone flies straight into the sun.
Honest opinion: At this point I’m not quite getting “into” the series. But then …
Then I watched the next episode. This may be the episode that officially sucks me into this show. This episode has exactly what I have felt was missing so far: tension! This episode has tension and plot and character development, and it is glorious.
I watched “Darkness” a couple days ago so the “previously on” segment was a nice refresher. I’ve also just now noticed the format they are doing it in, and I think it’s a nice smooth introduction. It’s less abrupt and exposition-y than the traditional blurb most shows do. I’m surprised shows in production now haven’t adapted this style. It’s really nice.We cut straight to Greer’s kino diary and get the first hint of vulnerability from him: “I can’t think of a better way to move on from — from this world into the next, or whatever comes, than to fly into the most powerful thing in all creation: a star. Out in a blaze of glory. I like that. It’s beautiful.”
That line alone made me have the feels for Greer. He’s now more than just the anger issues guy. There’s a bit of a poet in him, and I want to see more of that side of him. Even if it is only in kino diaries.
Young gathers the troops to give them a run-down of what they are up against: no power, no steering, and they’re going to fly straight into that STAR OF IMPENDING DOOOOOOOM in less than a day.
The plan is to have a lottery to select 15 random people from the group. Young will hand pick another two, because the shuttle can only hold 17 people plus supplies. They are going to send the Surviving Seventeen to one of the three possible planets in range … and everyone else is S.O.L.
I swear I see James acting sketchy as the crowd disperses, but nothing comes of it in this episode. Maybe she was reacting to what Eli runs into in the hallway: Scott and Chloe making out in the hallway, which leads directly to what I think may be the longest sexytime scene in all of Stargate. (Was the Daniel / Vala scene this long? I think they just got a few seconds spliced into the montage in “Unending” …)
(Also, for the record, my ship is Eli / Chloe. Do they have a cute name? Chloi? Eloe?)
Meanwhile, in grown-up land, Camille Wray (our I.O.A. representative) confronts Young about his plan for how to choose who survives. She gives it to him, all but calling him a coward and demands he “do [his] job.” Wray is of the mind that the survivors should be picked based on their skill set, age, and gender to best help the collective survive and — presumably — populate the planet they end up on. The right people should be selected to go to the planet.Young reminds her that “they are all the wrong people,” and that gently reminds the viewer that none of these people are supposed to be where they are. Even though they were all hand-selected to be on P4X-351 for the Icarus project they are not likely to be the people who would have been selected for this type of mission — be it exploring the universe on the Destiny or trying to survive on a planet like a bunch of intergalactic Pilgrims.
Rush, during all this, is in the shuttle gathering data from the three possible planets. One is too hot. One is too cold. And before I could make a Goldilocks joke, Rush did it for me. The third planet is in the “Goldilocks zone,” on the other side of the STAR OF IMPENDING DOOOOOOOM … so no data can be collected. The Surviving Seventeen will have to take their chances on the mystery planet.
And then, when he is filling in Young on his discoveries, and lack of discoveries, Rush does the most un-Rush thing ever. He selflessly takes himself out of the lottery and tells Young not to pick him for the Surviving Seventeen. Young tells Rush that he’s picked Scott and Johansen (a pilot and medic). The rest will be pure chance. Then, Rush snaps to his senses and suggests that Young rig the lottery … and we’re back to the Rush we all dislike and kinda hate.
The scene where we actually witness the lottery is amazing. The music is gorgeous. The tension is palpable. MSgt. Greer and Lt. James are standing guard to prevent a riot while Young pulls names out of a box. It’s a nice mix of people we care about and people we don’t care about, both going and staying.
Wray and James join Scott and Johansen in the shuttle along with some background characters and a couple of vaguely familiar faces. Eli, Chloe, Young, Rush, and Greer stay on the Destiny with other non-vaguely familiar faces. With the splitting up of the core group we are left with three options for how this is going to shake out:
(1) Destiny lives / Shuttle dies
(2) Shuttle lives / Destiny dies
(3) Everyone lives
When the shuttle takes off, a vaguely familiar face leaves a kino floating in the airlock. So when the shuttle disengages the kino floats off into space and sends video back to The Doomed, so they can see the outside of their tomb — er, the Destiny.
As they watch the shuttle depart from the observation deck, Eli shows off the kino video livestream. Based on Rush’s reaction to the video I found myself scouring my screen for clues, and the only thing I can think of is the Destiny is vaguely boomerang shaped — which just screams “sling-shot maneuver!” It’s a sci-fi staple right up there with reversing the polarity.
By the way, if you’re curious about how The Doomed are going to die, Rush sums it up: turbulence, heat, G-force, and “hopefully it’ll be quick.”
There is a great montage of how everyone is reacting to their current situation. On the Destiny we have the gamblers, the prayers, Chloe and Eli (Walstrong? Armace?) getting in platonic snuggles on the observation deck, Greer alone — and shirtless because dude is jacked, and we need to see that — Colonel Young alone (and finally letting go of the wife that is no interested in him anymore), and Rush reading a dime store paperback novel.
The Surviving Seventeen on the shuttle discover that survival might be harder than they anticipate as there is very little CO2 on the Goldilocks planet, which means little to no plant life and super-cold temperatures. The shuttle is a somber place full of conflicting emotions: they are relieved that they were chosen, guilty over those left behind, and dread of what the future may hold.Among The Doomed, Rush finishes his book and realizes that IMPENDING DOOOOOOOM should have happened by now. He goes to the control room of the Destiny where he glances at the control panel, laughs and runs to the observation deck, where he interrupts Chloe and Eli’s semi-romantic death watch. Because if they were going to die … well, they would have by now.
Around the ship, lights start to come back on and the poker players and prayers and loners are all popping out into the corridors going “Dude, we have light?” (Ah-ha! The episode title! I get it now!) The Destiny just flies right into the STAR OF IMPENDING DOOOOOOOM like a boss and soaks up all that Vitamin D-cell recharging her batteries (battery jokes a pun too far?) — because the Destiny is literally solar powered. Everything boots back up: lights, shields, life support, toilets, showers .. and the countdown to the next F.T.L. jump.
The Surviving Seventeen don’t know that the rest of the crew is no longer doomed, but still feel as though they very much still are. Their new planet sucks only marginally less than the dying ship they just escaped from. Tensions are high when Young’s voice comes from above ordering them back to the ship. To quote Scott: “Sir, how the hell?”
Everyone lives! But we’re not done because now we must figure out how to get the shuttle to catch up to the going-much-faster-than-the-shuttle-can-manage Destiny. I’d assume that the shuttles have some sort of built in homing sequence, but either it doesn’t, or we don’t know about it because re-docking is an ordeal. The auto-pilot feature just shrugs at Scott and says, “Sorry, can’t do it!” (Rodney McKay style).
But, Math Boy is there and after some beeping and booping on his console, he calculates the exact course needed. Using the trusty sling shot maneuver (ha! I knew it!) the shuttle makes it back to Destiny and pulls of a perfect crash re-docking.Cut to the core group of characters we care about, who are celebrating their brush with death with some protein powder sludge and reminiscing about the good old days when Scott crash-docked the shuttle. Rush comes in to be his usual downer self.
“Celebrate what? That we are back where we started?”
Young tries to give him reasons to celebrate with the group — to become part of the team. But Rush brushes him off at every turn, not even really making eye contact. Colonel Young points out that Rush was right about the power problem, got subspace communications working to contact the shuttle, and even volunteered to remove himself from the lottery. Rush shrugs it all off (looking more and more uncomfortable as Young praises him). And Young realizes something: he thinks Rush knew all along that the Destiny would be fine.
Every choice he made was calculated, conniving … there’s the Dr. Rush I thought I knew.
Read more about “Darkness” and “Light” in GateWorld’s SGU episode guide.
Sara is watching through Stargate Universe for the first time! We’d love to read your comments below … but please don’t spoil future events for her.