Stargate Universe season 2 episode 4 review: Pathogen

Carl continues his catch up of Stargate Universe's impressive second season...

2.4 Pathogen

Episode 3 left us with Col Telford abandoned by Dr Rush, who has more control over Destiny than anyone else knows. Although by now, more people than just Col Young have started to notice that Rush has been running off at odd times and keeping himself to himself. Both Dr Park and Adam Brody remark on how weird he has been acting recently, and how tired they are with it.

This episode also gives a chance for members of the crew to interact with the Lucian Alliance, who have been given the opportunity to mix with the crew. While most of them seem to get on with each other, Robert Knepper’s Simeon quickly runs into conflict with the not only his own crew but that of his own team and gets re-confined to the brig.

However, this episode, without feeling too heavy, manages to fit in much, much more stories than you’d think they’d be able to. Eli has to deal with his mother, who has stopped taking her HIV medication because of her depression in not seeing her son for over a year and a half. Camile deals with her partner’s overly obvious drinking problem, and her lack of faith in seeing her ever again.

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Not only do Eli and Camile have their trip home to deal with, but also Chloe’s life has taken an awful turn that will surely affect the upcoming episodes. She has begun sleepwalking, and waking up in different parts of the ship, unsure of how she got there. As soon as someone realises it’s happening, it’s almost as if they are tugging on a string, and they can’t stop themselves until Chloe is a completely different person.

There is a brilliant balance of story here that is handled excellently, and if you were to compare a story like this to what you would usually have gotten in SG-1 or Atlantis, you would see a massive shift from one main story strand to many at a time.

In the case of this episode, you have five concurrent threads overlapping and intersecting here, there and everywhere, and in the hands of a less capable crew it would seem very messy. The Stargate Universe team prove that they can handle much more than you would think, and juggle the storylines to an excellent effect, without losing anything from either story.

There are some brilliant scenes here, too, which help to define each one outright from the other storylines. For instance, there is a particular scene with Eli and his mother which was just a delight to see from start to finish. Whether it’s the camerawork, the expressions on their faces, or the way David Blue plays the scene, everything about it shines perfectly.

In addition, there is a scene in which Dr Rush confides a little in Chloe, and shows her a secret he has been keeping from everyone. Everything within the scene is great, the incidental music, the lighting, the way Robert Carlyle’s Dr Rush manipulates Chloe ever so subtly.

Simeon also slips himself into a few great scenes too, one with Varro that defines his character’s stance, and one with Sgt Greer that gives fuel to the snaky ‘bad boy’ angle Robert Knepper seems to fit so well.

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It’s also time for a first here on Stargate Universe, as Robert Carlyle steps into the director’s chair. At first, it’s quite subtle, and you’d be forgiven for not noticing much of a difference, but in certain scenes it’s easy to pick up his experimentation with the camera.

There are some brilliant uses of the camera in a few scenes, including one which has Dr Rush hand over responsibility of Chloe to Lt Scott and another which ends in the final shot of the episode. This is not only a first for Universe, but also for Robert Carlyle, as this will be his first paycheck as a director. As an experiment, it’s highly successful and should hopefully garnish him with a few more IMDb credits.

It’s clear from the outset that this is more of a dramatic and story pushing episode than usual, further setting up storylines that will be coming to a head in the next few weeks. Where this will take us, is the most interesting question yet to be answered, and finding out will determine if current fans will remain as such for the rest of the season.

As fans of Lost know, setting up questions for you to ponder over for weeks and months, may not yield the answers you were hoping for.

Honestly, this is an episode which has a lot of brilliant moments held within it, but isn’t perfect. A few little pieces of editing don’t hold up well, and occasionally the camera angle may make you think something different is going to happen than what does, but from a writing and story point of view, this is as good as it gets.

Not only does it weave the emotional storylines into a very sci-fi concept, it does it with style. Stargate Universe continues to deliver every single week, and while not reaching perfect, this episode comes very close to it.

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Read our review of episodes 2 & 3 here.