Contributor: Gregg Wright
I don’t know why, but the writers of “Stargate Universe” are still having trouble living up to the standard set by the first season. The difference is not all that dramatic, and I still get the sense that there’s an amazing show in there, just barely under the surface. The majority of the writing is still pretty close to season 1 quality overall, but I’m not getting the same sense of daring and intense storytelling I felt in season 1, and there seem to significantly more noticeable flaws in the writing than before. This season has presented us with such tremendous potential, and the show seems to have been strangely dancing around this potential, delaying it or subverting it altogether.
After the powerhouse season 1 finale, I expected a hell of a lot more to occur with the Lucian Alliance members onboard than we ended up with. I’d hoped to see that conflict play out heavily over the course of the season. I liked “Malice” quite a bit for showing us a more emotional side of Rush and for the murderous actions of Simeon. But that was about the only real conflict seen between the Lucian Alliance and the Destiny crew after the season 2 premiere. Varro started out as an extremely brutal and intelligent man who quickly became little more than a background character; a matter of much disappointment for me. I was pleased to see him take a slightly more prominent role in this episode (and it’s about bloody time they got back to that potential connection between T.J. and him), but it’s not yet enough to undo the damage that’s been done.
I also liked that the episode finally brought us back to the rumored Lucian Alliance attack on Earth. I wasn’t really expecting a botched terrorist attack, but at least it was something. I hate to say it, because I used to be against this idea, but I really think they need to disclose the Stargate program to the public soon. I think the fallout from that has a lot of story potential, and it would allow for a full-scale Lucian Alliance attack. Maybe this is something the writers were considering for future seasons. The idea seems almost tailor-made for the edgier style of “SGU”.
I like both Camille and Greer; Greer probably a bit more so than Camille. As I believe I’ve said in a previous review, Jamil Walker Smith has impressed far more than I expected him to in the role. I was glad to see a more grounded, character-oriented episode again, but some of the dialog between Camille and Greer felt a bit too forced and unbelievable. And as is the norm on “SGU”, both actors put forth valiant efforts to sell it as best they could. I’ve said that I’m a bit more of a fan of Greer, so I might be biased in saying that I think his acting went a little further in making up for the writing than Ming-Na’s did. But both should be commended.
I think that the guest stars both worked out fairly well. French Stewart played “the slimy bastard” to great effect, partially because he succeeded in appearing respectable and intelligent when he wasn’t being slimy. I liked Covel’s scenes with Rush. The part where they discuss Rush’s discovery were particularly interesting. There’s been no mention of Earth’s reaction to this discovery until now, and Covel made some good points about the kind of reactions there could be to the discovery, though I’m not sure if he was referring to public disclosure of the discovery or not. But I suppose that even if the discovery was relegated to top secret government circles it could still very easily have a dangerous effect on policy. I can’t imagine who would want to cover up a discovery such as this, unless it was religious politicians (like our old friend, Senator Robert Kinsey) that didn’t want scientific discovery interfering with their beliefs. I would expect the majority of scientists to embrace the discovery of any potential alien intelligence. But maybe Covel knows something I don’t.
I may have mentioned this before, but I’m liking Chloe a lot more than I used to. She’s matured a lot as a human being and developed some serious inner strength during her transformation ordeal. I still think that the full potential of that storyline may have been sabotaged. But it at least resulted in some positive growth in the character. Chloe is finally beginning to realize the significance of the mission, and her new-found intelligence gives her an actual role on the ship. Before now, I didn’t think she contributed much to the story other than good looks. But she’s an actual character now, and a reasonably admirable one at that, as was evident in her conversation with Senator Michaels. And I suppose the intention may have always been for her to undergo this character transformation, in which case it may have been unfair of me to be so critical of her to begin with.
Perhaps my frustrations with this season’s perceived lack of focus has something to do with the cancellation. If I knew that there were three seasons left after this one, I might be able to take some comfort in the fact that there’s still plenty of time for story issues to work themselves out and for payoffs to occur. And being that episodes were completed without the writers knowing that they could be the last we’d ever see of “SGU”, one can hardly blame them for not rushing things. That doesn’t solve some of the deeper story issues and the general feeling that “SGU” has lost its edge (and perhaps that it isn’t as intelligently written as it once was), but it does contribute to the possibility that I’m not being as patient or forgiving with the show as I would have been had it not been canceled. I will continue to hope against hope that those movies will happen and we’ll get to see the planned 5-season story arc play itself out in a potentially bigger-budget fashion. But there will always be a certain amount of disappointment stemming from the fact that “Stargate Universe” was intended to be a 5-season TV show from the start, and anything else could potentially compromise the true vision for the story.