Stargate Universe episode 14 review

Robert Carlyle steps into the spotlight as the latest episode of Stargate Universe, Human, starts digging into his backstory...

There may be mild spoilers ahead, if you’ve not yet seen this episode.

14. Human

From the opening of this week’s episode it seems entirely obvious that we are to be focussing on Dr Rush (Robert Carlyle). This is something I’ve wanted to happen since day one, so I’m glad that we will get a good chunk of the 40 minutes to peer into his rather interesting backstory.

We start with Dr Rush waking up at home, next to his wife, in bed. Now, we don’t know too much about Dr Rush’s story thus far, but we know that he feels terrible when he thinks of his wife, so obviously something tragic happened to her. We seem to be in for a rather depressing episode, but not exactly what you think you’re getting when you walk in.

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We see Dr Rush go about his life for a while, teaching at a school, working in his study and being his arrogant self to everyone around, including his dying wife. All the while he has symbols running in front of his eyes, a running interpretation of his mind, perhaps?

Meanwhile, back on Destiny, the ship drops out of FTL in front of a planet. One that Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) of SG-1 fame would absolutely love. A labyrinthine maze presents itself to the team on the planet and while Sgt Greer (Jamil Smith) and Lt Scott (Brian J Smith) are sceptical of what exploring it could give them, Chloe (Elyse Levesque) and Eli (David Blue) are rather convincing. Let’s just say, it doesn’t exactly bode well for the team, as they become trapped.

Running out of air and with another team from Destiny unable to get them out, it looks pretty dire for our friends on the new planet. But back in the flashbacks, Rush is still burying himself in work. His wife Gloria, played wonderfully by Louise Lombard, is getting worse and worse, and he is helpless to do anything about it, so he doesn’t. The answer to his big equation slips further through his fingers towards the end of the episode, mirroring the struggle he went through with his wife.

Their relationship isn’t perfect, but the scenes that involve the two of them together are brilliant and sometimes, even heartbreaking. It explains a lot about Dr Rush’s character and he wonderfully fulfils the role yet again. He remains the best character in the show, and this 40 minute trip into his past is perfectly executed.

The story on the planet isn’t exactly overwhelming with brilliance but it’s where the story eventually takes us that makes it wonderful. It’s such a damn good ending and it means a whole lot to the series as a whole that I’m sure we’ll be feeling the ramifications of it for a while.

Of course, the best part of this episode is Robert Carlyle, and while it may have been a while since I’ve said that, it’s only because the focus hasn’t been on him for a good few episodes. With this Dr Rush-heavy episode, he comes back to the forefront of SGU and Carlyle proves himself yet again to be the best actor the show has to offer. His arrogance, his almost unshown love and his spitefulness are all hidden in his eyes. They alone could play out almost his entire character, and that’s what pushes him to be the best actor in the show.

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That being said, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the cast are bad at their jobs. In fact, there is a brilliant scene in which Eli and Chloe are trying to prove their worth to Col Young (Louis Ferreira) and the back and forth between the three is superb. Every subsequent scene involving the team on the planet is as well acted as I’ve come to expect from the series, and that can be no bad thing, right?

There have been some incredible episodes this season, but unfortunately, because of the switching between the Earth scenes and the planet scenes, this episode will not be joining them as the best of the season.

If this episode had focused entirely on Rush’s relationship with his wife and the entirety of his storyline, this wouldn’t have been the case, but as it is, the scenes on the alien planet drag it down a little, as the lack of emotion held within do not play well against the heightened emotions of Dr Rush’s storyline. The detrimental effect of the double storyline is not huge, but it does make the story lag a little.

The ending of both storylines, however, and, indeed, the episode, are a joy to behold, as both leave us in such an incredible place that we could never have imagined prior to the episode beginning. I, for one, cannot wait to see how they deal with this next week, as the episodes are beginning to gear up for the finale in six weeks time.

Check out our review of episode 13 here.

Stargate Universe is showing in the UK on Sky1 and Sky1 HD every Tuesday.

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