Stargate Universe season 2 episodes 2 & 3 reviews: Aftermath & Awakening

We play catch up with the second season of Stargate Universe, as Carl looks back at episodes two and three...

These reviews contains spoilers.

2.2 Aftermath

I’ll be upfront about this. There’s not much point tuning in to Stargate Universe this week. Not a lot happens. Well, not unless you count some of the biggest moments in the show so far, culminating in one brilliant episode.

It opens with a major event that was almost destined to happen since the show began just over a year ago, as Dr Rush finds the ship’s bridge. He quickly becomes familiar with a few of the ship’s systems, including how Destiny picks the planets it stops within range of, with a little help from his friends.

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His dead wife Gloria and the missing Dr Franklin appear to him and help him figure out what to do now that he has found the controls to Destiny’s key systems. I think this is key to understanding how the show will progress, and what Destiny, as a character, brings to the table. Is the appearance of these characters onboard just something that is in Dr Rush’s head? Is the ship manifesting these people to help him? Is it a more physical appearance, or are they, in fact, ascended beings?

Whatever it may be, they help him to try and figure out what to do with the new powers he has found. In fact, he uses the ability to stop Destiny wherever he sees fit and decides to have the ship stop in shuttle range of a planet that may be the answer to their low food supplies.

The stargate that was placed on the planet is not functioning and the computer shows a big red x along with the information Destiny has about it. As Gloria says, “Big red X generally means danger, don’t go there, doesn’t it?” As such, the shuttle that heads down to the planet is in for a dangerously bumpy ride.

Meanwhile, the remaining Lucian Alliance members are being held like prisoners on board, and the way they are being treated is not exactly filling the Destiny crew with confidence. They begin a fight with their guards and, as you may have guessed, many of them don’t make friends with the guys we’ve come to know over the past year. However, Varro and Ginn continue to make a good impression on the viewer and it’s clear they are being groomed for a possible main cast role.

There are a lot of good things going on during this episode, but the main thing to note here is the wonderful characterisation and writing that fans of the show should be well accustomed to now.

Robert Carlyle has some great scenes to get to grips with, as Dr Rush struggles with his own conscience as to what to do with his newfound control over Destiny. His final scene on the bridge in this episode is a character defining moment, and one that contains a decision that puts him in the role of the crew’s protector, no matter how undeserving of it he is.

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However, Louis Ferreira has the best scene of the episode, possibly of the entire series so far, to deal with. His character goes through a lot in this episode in quite a few scenes, but trust me when I say that the events of this episode will come back up in his story again and again. He plays the scene and the entire episode perfectly, and helps create a pivotal scene for his character. Everything about it is entirely perfect, the low lighting, the empty spaces of sound and the reaction. It is, without a doubt, the scene that everybody will be talking about for weeks to come, and is not only a character defining moment, but a series defining moment too.

The background characters of Destiny get more work here too. Patrick Gilmore’s Dale Volker and Peter Kelamis’ Adam Brody are brilliant as the shows ‘other guys’ and shoulder a lot of good scenes together, while Jennifer Spence’s Dr Park gets a few scenes to explain a bit more about her character and what she is thinking, and, of course, the always brilliant Haig Sutherland absolutely shines in his scenes as Sgt. Hunter Riley.

It’s always good to see these characters get bits and pieces to do, as it gives weight to the idea that this is a real situation, with consequences to people’s actions far beyond that of the few in the main cast, and here is no exception.

The effects team have a few things to prove here, too, and they more than rise to the occasion. When the shuttle heads to the planet, we get to see them do their best work, and it is truly stunning. When the shuttle has a little collision with the side of a mountain, it’s clear that they relish these kinds of scenes, as every second of it looks beautifully produced.

As for the more physical elements of the effects team, the creation of the bridge is something that was an obvious money drainer for the show, but is truly well spent. From the intricate double doors, to the smallest details on the consoles, the bridge design has been well thought out and lovingly executed and I look forward to seeing Dr Rush toiling all over it in the coming weeks.

All in all, Aftermath joins Time as one of the outright best episodes of the series so far, and if the quality level can keep hitting as high as this episode, Stargate Universe is a show which will only continue to impress, and I will continue soaking in it’s brilliance for a long time.

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2.3 Awakening

The prior episode of Stargate Universe ended with our beloved vessel heading straight for an unknown object. After leaving you guessing for a whole week, it’s quickly determined that it is a ship, much like Destiny, of ancient design and age. In fact, it is one of the heavily referenced seed ships which were sent ahead of Destiny’s launch to plant stargates on every planet in the solar system.

The ships automatically dock with each other when in range, and Dr Rush jumps at the chance to explore it, but when Col Young finds out that the ships are exchanging data, he uses it as an excuse to keep him on board.

An away team of Lt Scott, Sgt Greer, Adam Brody and Dale Volker head over to the ship to explore it. The slightly creepy tone of the music in the exploring scenes should tell you that something interesting, if not odd or bad, is going to happen, and as the ship’s systems come online, that very thing occurs. When it intersects with the main storyline, it’s wonderfully executed, prising the overall arc of season two wide open.

Of course, Dr Rush makes his excuses and shuffles off to the bridge to monitor the ship much more closely, and makes an interesting discovery that puts him in the role of decision maker yet again. By the end of the episode, it’s clear this role lays heavy on his shoulders, and most folks should be able to see some kind of explosion of character in the weeks ahead for Dr Rush.

Meanwhile, Chloe’s leg wound is rearing its ugly head again, or rather it isn’t, as it is now completely healed. It hasn’t been focused on a lot in the first three episodes, which leads me to think the writers are going to continue building on the story until it all blows up in the crew’s faces. As well as this, the episode manages to fit in a little time for a few scenes with of the Lucian alliance.

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While they have taken a bit of a back seat in this episode, we do see Ginn, Simeon and Varro interacting with the Destiny’s crew and ,while it might be a few weeks before the two teams get fully integrated, it’s good to see that they haven’t already been forgotten about.

Robert Knepper’s Simeon, who has spent a lot of the last two episodes hidden, gets some well-deserved screen time to expand his character, especially in a scene with Lt Johansen. Let’s not forget that, when the Lucian Alliance came through the gate, they brought the previously stuck on Earth Col Telford, who has already integrated well with the Destiny’s crew, and signs himself up to be one of the few to head over to the seed ship, although he may end up regretting that decision.

The new ship scenes look brilliant, and add a whole new sense of depth to an overall story that brought this entire show to fruition. Obviously, the ship is of older design than Destiny and, as such, has a more steam-driven design that looks fantastic on screen. It’s something that the effects team have clearly taken a lot of pride in and created something brilliant and new for the show that still fits within the parameters of the world.

While I’ve never touched on it before, I’d like to give a special nod to the sound department, who do a good job here of keeping suspense up. They also give a great little homage to the original Stargate SG-1 theme when we see the many stargates hanging up in the manufacturing part of the seed ship. It’s just a little thing, but it’s a great little nod to the show that made this all happen in the first place.

It’s a fantastic episode that serves to further steep us into the murky past of Destiny and its sister ships, as well as introduce us to a new alien species, and give us gentle nudges in both directions of what to think of them. It also broadens the world of Stargate altogether, while not getting too deeply imbedded in an hour-long Stargate history lesson.

All in all, it’s a great episode that is brilliantly executed and sets up a few strong story threads that will most likely be re-visited in the coming weeks and months.

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