EPISODE REVIEW: Stargate Universe: “The Hunt” (Season 2, Episode 16)

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Just four episodes left until the third consecutive “Unending” of a Stargate series; and quite probably the last one for quite a while as well.

PLAY BY PLAY

A landing party is contemplating killing some space deer. It’s been 10 months since anyone’s had any meat. Greer and Scott go, but Greer can’t take the shot. A six-legged Cat/Bear thing attacks and injures a whole bunch of people, and drags off TJ and a redshirt.

Young leaves Scott in charge of Destiny, and heads the rescue party himself. He quickly realizes that Greer is not himself, and tells him to get a grip. Greer does his best, but he really isn’t himself, so it comes to little use. Varro, leader of the remaining Lucien Alliance POWs, suggests that his people may be better at hunting the beast than the USAF and USMC types, simply because most of his people were rural hunter types before they were press ganged into the service of terrorists and criminals. Young agrees. The hunt goes better this time, right until they’re attacked again. Young and several others are issued. He leaves Greer in charge, and instructs Varro and the Luciens to continue the hunt.

James asks Greer what the hell is up with him, and he confesses that he’s pretty sure he died on the operating table, and the experience was terrifying. Suddenly he’s afraid of death, he doesn’t want to go back there. James tries to talk him through it, but it’s unclear how much use she is. They set up a trap to kill the creature, but it turns out they’re pack hunters: there’s more than one. A whole bunch more people die.

Ultimately it comes down to Varro and Greer trying to rescue TJ.

MEANWHILE, TJ and Cpl. Redshirt wake up in a cave and quickly realize the beastie wants to eat them. They try to figure a way to escape while Redshirt hobbles around and freaks out. Ultimately TJ fixes her radio and calls for help. Greer comes to rescue her, but finds the beastie staring at the fire she built, recognizing it as a sign of intelligence.

The monster lets them go.

On the way back to the gate, Greer comes across another space deer…

MEANWHILE, IN THE MORE-OR-LESS COMPLETELY UNRELATED SUBPLOT, Rush, Brody, and Eli discover hundreds of stasis pods. Eli wants to start poking buttons, but Rush advises caution. This pisses Eli off, so Eli and Brody go back and start pushing buttons at random. Up in the control room, Rush is watching them on various monitors, and deliberately traps Brody in a stasis pod, then freezes him. Eli freaks out, and tries for a day to figure out how to release him, then gives up, then gets Chloe to help him. She’s no good either. Bored with the game, Rush releases Brody by remote control. The next day, Rush announces the fun part has come: time to go randomly push buttons, but both Eli and Brody agree that caution is probably the wiser course. Rush leaves, smiling, knowing he’ll not have any problems with them screwing around for quite some time.

MEANWHILE, IN THE MORE-OR-LESS-ALSO-COMPLETELY-UNRELATED C-PLOT, Volker has the hots for Dr. Park, and has somehow missed the fact that she and Greer are knockin’ boots. Chloe somehow doesn’t appear to know this either. Rush tells Volker to consign himself to life as a science monk. Later on, when Volker realizes Park already has a beau, he’s visibly very crushed.

MEANWHILE, for his part in the rescue, Varro has been freed, and is now a passenger, not a prisoner.

MEANWHILE, the crew eats barbecued Space Deer.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

Well, it’s not as good as last week, and I’d anticipated being disappointed. It’s a bit frustrating to be this close to the premature end of the series, and have them screwing around with non-arc stories like this. And of course a Monster-on-planet-Cascadia story is still just another Monster-on-planet-Cascadia story, even if you film it through a filter and fade out the colors in postproduction. Still and all, you know what? Just like every other thing on this werid-ass “Little show that couldn’t,” I find it really won me over.

There’s some interesting parallelism/foreshadowing in the A-plot: Greer contemplates killing a space deer, but agrees that he won’t do it if someone can prove to him that the creatures are sapient. Later on, the six-legged bear-cat thing makes the same agreement once it realizes the humans are sapient, and not just - I dunno - space monkees. This was nicely set up by how easily the creatures escaped traps, turned the tables on their pursuers, and the nice reveal that they were pack hunters. (Pack hunters - such as wolves, and lions, and dolphins, and humans, are generally a whole lot smarter than solo predators like bears and snakes and whatnot). I like that the monster made a very clear *decision* to let them go, though I’d imagine it’d change its mind quick once it realizes how many of its babies they killed.

Greer’s sudden fear of his own mortality was very nicely done, and I like how the actor delivered it without any artifice. It would have been an easy scene to milk for pathos, but just having him say it, matter of factly but with some regret, was a good choice. Greer is such a stoical badass, it’d be easy to ruin that by having him break down crying or whatever. Having him still maintaining some control, even when admitting he’s lost it, worked really well.

They’ve been on the Destiny for 10 months. This means that SGU is the first Stargate show not to take place in more-or-less real time, where one season on the air equals one year in the story. In fact, if my calculations are correct, tonight’s episode took place somewhere in August of 2010. Weird, huh? I wonder why they decided to do that.

There appeared to be about 12 Luciens alive at the start of this ep. It’s unclear, but Varro may be the last one now.

TJ and Varro clearly have a thing for each other, and Young clearly has a thing for TJ still. Whatever was between them, it’s clearly done now, and she’s not interested. I doubt this will develop into anything plot-wise beyond some sorrow on the colonel’s part, but it was an interesting nod to throw in there at the end. Here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure that Young gave Varro a gun *not* because he trusts the guy, but because he knew Varro would do anything to save TJ. Common interests, not faith.

So what were the stasis pods for?

I have to say seeing Rush screw with his subordinates was oddly fulfilling. In the case of Eli and Brody, it made sense, and was funny, and completely accomplished his goals without him having to appear as the bad guy. In the case of Volker, well, it seems to have had less of a direct goal, and more of a long-term “You should trust me because I know what I’m talking about” kind of manipulative benefit. Volker now thinks of Rush as a judge of character who sees things others don’t, when in fact Rush has simply been in the room with Park and Greer when they’ve been talkin’’bout stuff, making googoo eyes at each other, etc.

How will his fear of death affect Greer’s religious faith? Also interesting that Lt. James said very earnestly, “I don’t claim to know what death is, but I know in my heart that it isn’t that.” As I said, it’s unclear how much effect she really had on him, but that line seemed to have more to do with him pulling it together than anything else in the episode.

Young is a really good commander in this ep.

Really fake CGI aliens.

How many people died here tonight? Seems like a lot. Any idea how many people are left on Destiny at this point? About 80 were implied in the first episode. They must be down in the 50s by now. Their cook appears to have survived the whole thing, though. Remember those people who bailed out of a stargate and abandoned the ship in like episode 3? I always figured we'd see them again in some capacity, but I guess it's unlikely now, huh?

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Of course! Master Sergeant Ronald Greer loses his killer instinct due to a trauma, blasts his way through adversity, and learns to kill again. What’s not to like?

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