There may be spoilers ahead, if you’ve not yet seen this episode.
The Stargate TV franchise has a history of giving out good small background roles to be continually filled throughout the shows run. Who can forget Walter, the gate technician or Sgt Siler, the senior engineer on SG-1? When it came to Atlantis, the showrunners went a little further, giving Dr Zelenka purpose and story and Dr Grodin a hero’s exit in the show’s Season 1 finale.
Now, in Universe, we have a whole slew of background characters, each being given a chance to break out of their own shells and take on a role within the show’s story.
This week we welcome back Sgt Riley (Haig Sutherland), who has been out of action for a few episodes, but takes on the role of annoying people a la Eli Wallace (David Blue) while he is stuck on the planet from the last episode. At least he’s not alone, as he has Chloe (Elyse Levesque), Lt Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Sgt Greer (Jamil Smith) to keep him company until they find a way to reunite with Destiny. However, things go from bleak to bleaker when Sgt Greer is trapped in a cave in.
We get a good chance this week to delve into his backstory, as being trapped alone brings him back a lot of memories. As the rest of the team look for a way to free him, they realize they could end up being trapped too, and they have to leave him behind.
When they eventually get out of the cave’s labyrinthine tunnels, Eli comes up with a plan to use the gates to link up to where Destiny would be now. The plan is full of problems, including unseen dangers on the planets and possibly missing out on any rescue mission Destiny itself might send. And, as you might expect, the problems become very real all too soon.
In fact, the rescue mission mounted by Dr Rush (Robert Carlyle) and 2nd Lt James (Julia Benson) turns up less hopeful results than wanted, due to the team having left the planet already.
Back on Destiny, Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman) decides that it’s time to tell Col Young about her pregnancy. She talks about it with two more of the background characters that have become a good part of the story so far, 2nd Lt James and Dr. Park (Jennifer Spence).
While she frets about the decision, it turns out that he takes it quite well. Of course, that will probably just turn out to be putting up a front to seem calm and accepting of this huge problem, but only time will tell on that one.
What the main story gives us here, is that there are many unseen planets that stargates have been placed on by the automated starships which were sent ahead of Destiny’s launch by the Ancients. We see a wide range of habitable and inhabitable planets, each with its own set of properties. If nothing else, that gives the Stargate franchise somewhere further to go, either in future seasons of Universe, or a fourth series in the future.
But that’s not all. It would appear they’ve given this galaxy all the attention it needs, as Destiny is about to travel from one to another. The systems on the ship start to shut themselves down or run on low power during the episode to prepare itself for the long distance between the two galaxies. Apart from being a pain in the ass to the people on Destiny, it also makes the return to the ship a lot harder for Eli, Chloe and Lt Scott.
This is a particularly good episode that takes us from one place to another without feeling contrived, with a lot of little plot points and hints that could feature in later episodes. What’s good, too, is that it gives us a chance to get to know Sgt Greer and why he is the way he is, showing his relationship with his parents and the obvious affect it had on him.
Riley is given the job of teacher, to the fans of the show who may have missed out on the circumstances in which the stargate works on Destiny. This may be a good clarification to some who may have underestimated just how bad the situation for Eli and co is, but smarty-pants may feel like they are being talked down to.
Again, the episode ends on a pretty dour note, and leaves us with questions waiting to be answered by next week’s instalment, which, for me, is somewhat of a perfect ending. Always leave them wanting more…
Check out our review of episode 14 here.
Stargate Universe is showing in the UK on Sky1 and Sky1 HD every Tuesday.