Stargate Universe episode 18 review

After a weak episode last week, Stargate Universe returns to form with style in its 18th instalment, writes Carl…

Spoilers ahead.

18. Subversion

After last week’s rather disappointing output, I’m hoping that Stargate Universe will pick up again and resume its usual high quality. From the looks of the opening, it seems to be back on form. The Lucian alliance get their first mention since the debut episode in which they attacked the Icarus base, leaving the crew no option but to dive through the Stargate.

Dr Rush is having trouble sleeping, and it would seem it’s not a dream that’s keeping him up, but a memory. Not his own memory, however, as Col Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) has been selling secrets to the Lucian Alliance, and a little bleeding over has occurred from his memory to Dr Rush’s. When Col Young (Louis Ferreira) is told of what Dr Rush saw, he jumps at the chance to catch him in the act. After all, who wouldn’t go after the man who slept with his wife?

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen Col Telford, and it’s actually quite nice to have Diamond back in the game. While he was appearing the first half of the season, I wasn’t too convinced at his abilities, but when he disappeared for the majority of the second half it seemed like something was missing, and now that he’s back it just feels right.

A ruse is planned. When Col Telford is due for a visit to Destiny, Dr Rush makes the swap with him, in order to find out the truth behind the memory. Unfortunately, Dr Rush doesn’t play it right, and he is found out very quickly. The Lucian Alliance takes him hostage, and tortures him. There are some interesting scenes to be had here, and it’s clear that Dr Rush is way out of his depth.

Meanwhile, aboard Destiny, Col Telford comes under some heavy pressure from Col Young to talk about what he knows. There are some great scenes here as the two butt heads brilliantly, and Lou Diamond Phillips truly brings his best acting to the table in them.

In the background, Eli Wallace (David Blue), Dale Volker (Patrick Gilmore) and Adam Brody (Peter Kelamis) are suspicious about what’s going on, and use the Kino to spy on the goings on in the Ancient Communications room, which includes a great scene that introduces a familiar face into the proceedings.

This episode is really excellent, and uses its best actors in many great scenes, which drive it to be a whole lot better than last week’s. The inclusion of elements that are synonymous with Stargate SG-1, including the Lucian Alliance, and their use of Goa’uld technology, are interesting, to say the least.

At first these took me by surprise, as we have only seen a glimpse of them in the first episode, and then nothing until this episode. Stargate Universe does it justice and, in fact, makes them look better than they ever did on SG-1. The Lucian Alliance seemed like pompous, power-drunk, egotistical fools in their original outings, but here they seem like intelligent and incredibly evil people. In a sense, they’ve gone from idiotic to a real threat, and it’s a testament to the attitude that Universe has over Stargate‘s previous outings.

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Stargate Universe has finally taken a grand step into Stargate‘s rather large history and mythology, and maybe this is how it will win over viewers who hadn’t originally warmed to it. However, I don’t believe it is a direct move to simply boost their numbers, as this seems to have been their plan from the beginning, and one that has only resurfaced now. I take this as the first part of a three-part finale, as the cliffhanger it leaves us with will continue on into the next two episodes, Incursion parts one and two.

The effects here are incredible, and while Stargate Universe has been pretty drama-heavy for a while, here it uses its effects and creative teams to huge degrees of success. The inclusion of new ships and as yet unseen technology, as well as floating displays, gives them a lot of chances to prove their worth in ways they have been unable to do for at least a few weeks.

Avid Stargate fans may notice guest stars who have been re-used throughout the three series in a few different roles. For instance, Mike Dopud has been in SG-1 and Atlantis in various guises, and now brings his talents over to Universe as Varro, who is set to appear in at least a few episodes.

The storyline continues into the next two weeks, so all I can say right now is that this is a good, interesting episode that sets up the season finale pretty well. As for what they do with it, all we can do is wait until next week.

Check out our review of episode 17 here.

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

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