Stargate Universe episode 5 review

Stargate Universe continues to thrive, as co-creator Brad Wright takes on scripting duties...

5. Light

I’m not a fan of ‘previously’s in the first place, but it’s just struck me how annoying the one for Stargate Universe is currently. It’s the same 30 seconds played every week, followed by a miniscule title sequence that pales in comparison to the previous series’ epic efforts. I know it may seem a bit unfair to pick these little things out as faults when the rest of the series performs so well in other aspects, but for me it seems unfair not too.

In Light we pick up where we left off in Darkness, with the crew heading into the heart of a sun. All other options seemingly considered, it appears that the only thing left to do is fill the one remaining shuttle with as many members of the crew as possible, and take off for the one habitable planet in the system. With the shuttle only able to take seventeen people, a lottery is taken for the fifteen seats leftover, after a pilot and medic are chosen.

This being the fifth of a twenty-episode run, I don’t imagine it’s a spoiler telling you that they manage a way out of it. However, it’s the way that Brad Wright writes this instalment that captures your imagination, as each person deals with the inevitability of their death in their own way. This episode continues to show us the entirely character driven show that was promised to us, and delivers a high quality script to do it with, too.

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True enough, that there is a fair bit of science involved too, for those who have been missing out on that element of Stargate for the first month of the show. One of the best parts about the episode is that the science isn’t even what saves them. It’s the biggest character of them all that finally saves the crew, and it makes for an interesting turn that, by all rights, everybody on board should all be dead at the end of the hour.

Now, by any heroic standards I can see the readers out there saying ‘Hold up, why is that?’ but that is exactly the reason. The crew aren’t exactly G.I. Joes and super geniuses, and they shouldn’t purport themselves to be, either. Which means that it’s superb that they don’t, and are, in fact, scared and ill tempered about dying, making most of the characters a lot easier to connect with.

At this point it’s fair to note that the show doesn’t just throw all its cards down at once, and is, in fact, playing off the emotional storylines slowly, letting viewers digest the nibbles they get each week. It might sometimes feel like the showrunners are teasing you into watching 10 seasons before you find out someone’s middle name, but in truth, having the series play out like this gives you a lot more chances to determine what each character is all about.

Take, for instance, Dr Rush, whose character seems to not only take the news rather well, but actually uses the opportunity to repair bridges which he may have already burned. It’s not even what he does that’s important. It’s more likely why he does it, and it’s something that will probably be picked up on in later episodes, showing great cause for this storyline to be shown so early on in the series.

With great close-ups on the sun and the exterior of the ship, we, yet again, get to see where the budget is getting thrusted into, as the special effects team have outdone themselves once more. It’s admirable work, and really helps you to take what you’re seeing as a matter of fact, not fiction.

What also truly helps the show seem like reality is the matter of makeup, which may not seem like a huge element at first, but when you take into account the sun damage a fair few of the crew endured in the third episode, it really comes into play. The characters still have the sunburn healing on their faces, and not in any way that makes it attractive or wanted, but that makes the shows continuity of obvious importance to the showrunners. Add that to the deliberate documentary style camerawork, and it seems like you are truly more involved in this Stargate series more than any other.

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While there are still some major elements of the show yet to be explored fully, including a little bit of adventurism, I think we now know enough to say that this experiment has paid off in spades. Don’t get me wrong, it could all go horribly awry in the rest of the first season’s run, but I think that Stargate Universe has done more than enough to deserve it’s lofty numbers thus far.

Check out our review of episode 4 here. Stargate Universe is showing in the UK on Sky1 and Sky1 HD every Tuesday.