Stargate Universe episode 6 review

The first 'standalone' episode of Stargate Universe is the weakest to date, but still damn fine television...

6. Water

This week, we get to see our first standalone episode of Stargate Universe. It’s been a month since the series started but we’ve been on a bit of a constant journey so far. Call it a good or a bad thing, but this episode doesn’t break that journey off just yet.

With water reserves dropping rapidly, worry and questions arise as to who is responsible, as every system works as it should. When searches of the ship bring up nothing of the water, they start looking for other causes, including something that we may have seen before. When the ship stops in range of an ice planet, described by resident geek Eli Wallace (David Blue) as ‘Hoth’, it seems an ample opportunity for the crew to replenish some of their supplies.

As the two stories evolve, it’s clear that on one side of the Stargate the crew is breaking apart, while on the other, they are growing closer. It’s a good comparison of two ways the entire crew can go within the series, but it brings a few more important spoiler-filled things to the foreground. Things that, no matter how hard the creators try to get away from, will always crop up in a show set in space. It’s important, then, that the showrunners get it right, and to a certain extent, they do, really showing how much they have learned in 12 years in sci-fi.

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However, they must have forgotten to keep learning, as half of this episode is nicked from Air Part 3 from just a few weeks ago. While looking for clear ice, with no nasty chemicals in it, they need to go further and further from the gate to find it. Sound familiar? Well it feels it too, as re-hashing a plot from not too long ago would do. It’s kind of upsetting that they would do so at all, let alone this early, especially with such a high quality rate so far.

Which brings me to another annoying part of this episode. It could just be an irritating fanboy thing, but I noticed something that annoyed me to an even greater degree than the story element. The suits that the two crew members are wearing on the ice planet looked awfully familiar. So familiar, in fact ,that I knew exactly where from. In a double episode of Stargate Atlantis in its final season, we see people wearing these suits, and it turns out that they were made by the Asgard, an alien race who are, in the main, completely separate from the alien race who built Destiny. How they came to be there is odd, to say the least, and confusing to say any more than that. However, it may tell something of an unfortunate tale behind-the-scenes.

The re-using of plots and props could mean some cut corners in the series, or simply just a sign of the drop in money the show was given. It could simply be a future plot point, maybe even a link to the reason why the ship was so heavily damaged, but for now it seems lazy.

Whatever the reason, the show still deserves its dues. The dramatic elements still work well, and the continuous theme of survival still holds up, too.

Even if this is the weakest instalment yet, it is still a highly enjoyable watch, and if you haven’t seen any of Atlantis, the suits are brilliantly made and hold up well in the setting of Destiny. To be fair, with the superb set pieces probably costing a lot of the already chopped budget, it’s understandable that they’d use suits that are already made, and expertly done, at that.

While this episode is a slight misstep, it shows what is true to the show at heart, and that’s quality. Even on a bad day, Stargate Universe is still worthy of watching, which is more than I can say for some long-running series on TV these days. Of course, it is still early days. Who knows? it could all go downhill from here…

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Check out our review of episode 5 here. Stargate Universe is showing in the UK on Sky1 and Sky1 HD every Tuesday.