EPISODE REVIEW: Stargate Universe: “The Greater Good” (Season 2, Episode 7)

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I’m a little concerned about the ratings on this show. The Season 1 (And series) high was 2.4 million (For “Air”) and the season 1 low was 1.17 million (“Incursion, Part 1”). In general, the ratings seemed to hover between 1.3 and 1.4 million viewers. Stargate Atlantis seems to have held around 1.6 million viewers on average per ep, just by comparison, so that’s respectable, if a bit disappointing.

Anyway, since the show came back, ratings have ranged from 1.2 million (“Awakening”) all the way down to 960,000 for last week’s “Trial and Error.” The average is 1.06 million for the season thus far, which represents a pretty massive dropoff - 1/5th overall - and there’s clearly a declining trend.

My concern is that the show might be in danger of cancellation.

This performance began with the 2nd season, and is in the same ratings range as Caprica was, before it got killed. This really bothers me, since SGU is a great(ish) show. Curiously, the massive ratings dropoff for both shows started when they came back from the summer hiatus. They’ve both been moved to Tuesday nights, which might have something to do with it, but at the same time I’d wondered if Syfy’s viewership overall is down. I checked: Nope. Warehouse 13 picked about 2.3 million viewers/Episode and Eureka was in the 2.5 range.

Now, when SGA got prematurely cancelled (Specifically to free up money to make SGU), there were a huge number of fans - fat chicks, mostly* - who felt betrayed, and refused to have anything to do with the new series out of protest. They may actually be having an effect http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/11/07/are-angry-stargate-sg1atlantis-fans...

Anyway, on to the review:

PLAY BY PLAY

Man oh man oh man, was this a game changer! After 16 episodes of frustration, questions, meandering interpersonal politics, and strife, we *suddenly,* finally know everything. You want me to spell it out for you, or do my normal recap? Well, I don’t suppose it matters how I tell you:

The Destiny comes out of FTL near another abandoned alien ship. This one appears to be Ancient, but not a Seed Ship. There’s evidence of alien pods, but no life, and the pods are empty. Young and Rush go over, but Rush screws up, and the ship’s engines fire, taking it away from the Destiny. The only way to save them is to steer the ship. Rush can’t let his secret out, so he talks them in to bringing the crippled doctor lady from last season back. After knocking boots, Eli’s girlfriend agrees to be the host. They wanted her for debriefing on earth anyway.

Rush feeds info to the doctor lady, secretly telling her where the bridge was. She goes, talks to him on a closed channel, and steers the ship. Realizing something is up, Eli, Brody, and Park play back Rush’s video communications and figure it out, find the bridge, and start screaming. Young hears this and beats the living hell out of Rush. While the doctor lady steers the ship to them, Rush confides everything to Young, and promises to work with him from now on. Young doesn’t believe it.

Doctor lady is a bad pilot, and rams the alien ship. The alien ship starts spinning, so Eli has to calculate falling spinning trajectories to Destiny as the guys jump. It’s like a Starfury leaving a Cobra Bay, and man oh man is it cool. Young blows his jump, but Rush saves him.

Back on the ship, Rush puts the moves on the doctor lady. Eli walks in and sees them making out, sends Rush away and reminds her that it ain’t her body. She looks aghast at the realization. The crew fiddle with the control room.

Simeon comes in to the doctor lady’s quarters. She looks scared. The doors close.

OBSERVATIONS

There’s a constant background microwave noise in the background, anywhere you look in space. It was first discovered in 1965, and was quickly realized to be the echo or noise or reverberation of the Big Bang, if you believe in that sort of thing. (I do) The Ancients, of course, knew about this, and in studying it they discovered a clear pattern where there should be only randomness. It was therefore artificial. They didn’t know what it was, or what it meant, but they were fairly certain it was a message.

A message sent down through the ages from the very beginning of the universe!

Destiny was built to go to the edge of the universe and find out what the heck was up.

This is huge! This is amazing. This is like The Hand we see every time the DC Universe visits the Big Bang. This could be God’s Fingerprints. I’m sure they’ll find a way to backpedal - like it’s a message sent out by the inhabitants of the previous universe when it went big crunch, and isn’t divine at all - but it certainly *Seems* Godly. More to the point, this tracks nicely with the show’s occasional religious flourishes. It also tracks with the Lucian Alliance’s belief that if they possessed the ship, they’d gain the powers of a god.

Rush’s advice to Young - “Stop saying we’re not supposed to be here, stop looking backward, embrace the mission” - is actually really good, and will no doubt revive the series as a whole. We’ve got direction now, a purpose, something more than a mere accident, something more than survival, something considerably more noble than the “Run away and hide” ethic of *both* versions of Battlestar Galactica. This is huge. The series basically begins today. Assuming it’s got the ratings to continue beyond the next 13 episodes and get a third season.

And on top of that, everything was just a little bit better tonight, wasn’t it? The dialog was tighter, the characters were a little better. The lighting was a little brighter, the peril was a bit more perilous. This was basically the show we were promised, the show they’ve been flirting around with, but never quite hit until now. I’m excited. And full of dread. Every show I’m suddenly impressed by dies a quick death.

Rush’s change of heart in the middle struck me as a bit false at first, but now that I think about it, I think he realized he’d painted himself into a corner. He needed help, but couldn’t ask for it, so he invited the doctor lady in, knowing full well that the others would probably figure it out, deliberately being sloppy, hoping they’d find out, and be able to help. Once the paranoid cat was out of the bag, he was surprisingly willing to embrace the new order, and *finally* explain things.

Poor Eli. You just know the thing with his girlfriend is going to end in tragedy.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Social Conservatives will hate, hate, hate this, owing to mention of the Big Bang, despite the fact that it’s an even money proposition at this point that the Big Bang will end up strongly suggesting God exists.

As to the rest of us, and such SoCons as can suspend disbelief, there’s nothing here to dislike.

*- No, seriously: every single outraged person I met when SGA died was an overweight woman. Skinny guys, skinny chicks, fat dudes, homosexuals of varying body types, all were annoyed, all were disappointed, but the only ones who were outraged and demanding a boycot of SGU were chicks, and, y’know, kinda’ on the Lane Bryant side of the spectrum.

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