Hopefully, you should all be glad to hear that this is a very, very geeky episode. The episode is called Time, so it should be obvious to all reading this just why that is.
A large group of the team arrive on an alien planet to find food to restock Destiny with, but when one of the team falls sick the team become stranded on the planet by their own protocol. When most of the team die in a brutal alien attack, we learn that these events were recorded onto a Kino and that the same team are safe back on the Destiny, watching it all unfold. Of course, they aren’t dead, and they’re very confused.
Considering the episode title, we can guess what happened, as do they, quickly, and the episode shifts back to the emotional resonance that the events on the alien planet caused. As they watch the situation unfold via the Kino, the sickness starts to affect people on board Destiny who came into contact with the team who collected the device from the planet.
As the Kino is very much Eli’s pet, we get a lot of chances to see him in the spotlight, getting a lot more information of his mother’s condition and his character’s back-story. David Blue shines in his reaction back on Destiny at hearing himself talking about very personal things.
Slowly, Blue is more and more becoming one of the defining reasons to watch Stargate Universe and truly showing his full potential. If there was any doubt, a bedside performance later in the episode becomes one of the most touching scenes in the past seven weeks of SGU, and a pivotal moment in Eli’s character.
He’s not the only one who lets their character grow, though, and in many respects all involved get a chance to shine. I may say his name every week, but it’s worth pointing out that Robert Carlyle continues to stride ahead with every episode, using this week’s to let some of his lighter side through, to great effect. Brian J. Smith, too, gets a good chance to show himself for the first time since Air Part 3 and pours his performance into every emotional scene he can get his hands on.
What’s great about this episode is that it shows how the showrunners have learned how to make something that is heavily leaning on a sci-fi plot seem like it’s not just that. It uses elements of horror and drama to create its own inventive plotline that feels fresh in a way that other Stargate series had started to take for granted. It shows real growth on the part of director and writer Robert C Cooper, who also uses the episode to explore the new camera technique provided by the Kino (he talks about that in our inteview with him here).
In the final few moments of the episode, you would expect everything to die down as the storyline comes to an end and we see the characters return to their quarters, weary from the day, as we have seen in a good few of the previous instalments. Instead, the action and story is ramped up, and the end leaves you with almost no resolution of the plot, leaving you to work it out for yourself.
It’s smart, because it shows the respect for its fanbase that may have been overlooked previously, and it left me with my heart in my mouth, fearing the worst.
Truly, I’ve never felt like any of the characters in previous Stargate series were all that vulnerable, but with this incarnation, I feel that at any given time, someone could be killed off. This has given the show an edge over a lot of shows which put their characters in harm’s way every week with no real intention of ever killing them off and it means there’s a lot more to care about with SGU and its cast.
In every possible way, Time is the strongest episode of Stargate Universe yet. It has everything in spades: it has the drama that has been building since the pilot, the horror that we have only seen glimpses of so far, the humour in the face of danger that has been sorely lacking, the balls that have so far been hiding just out of sight and the emotional resonance that every character carries with them on their faces.
This week, everyone involved in Stargate Universe handed in a stellar performance, and Time is truly a defining episode for the series that will be a very difficult one to top.
Check out our review of episode 7 here. Stargate Universe is showing in the UK on Sky1 and Sky1 HD every Tuesday.