EPISODE REVIEW: Stargate Universe: “Darkness (Part 1)”

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And suddenly - bang - just like that, I’m totally in love with this show, and I totally get what they’re doing. Granted, just like the rest of you, I was underwhelmed with the premier, but now that I see the direction they’re taking, it all begins to make sense! All those people - folks obsessed with SGA mostly - who damned this show before it entered production, swearing they'd never watch it, and claiming it was gonna' be Stargate: One Tree Hill can kiss my surprisingly hairless ass - the show is good! It's actually kind of a breath of fresh air in the gateverse, though, of course there's still a jillion ways they could screw it up...


It’s a week or so after the last episode, as everyone’s sunburn is better. The ship has somehow produced 90,000 liters of drinkable water, so things are getting better, despite shortages of food and what have you. An increasingly jittery Rush warns that they’re really low on power, and have squandered most of what remains on attempts to dial earth and whatnot. Young warns the crew to stop screwing around with ships systems until the situation stabilizes.

Meanwhile a gaggle of 20 or 30 people take Eli aside, and sort of intimidate him in to telling them what’s really going on. He doesn’t know, but promises to tell them when he figures it out. Scott, Greer, and TJ, meanwhile, are trying to figure out how to run the shuttle, and Eli is ineffectually hitting on Chloe, who gets him to show her how to use one of the ancient’s bathing mechanisms.

The power gives out, and when confronting Rush about it, Rush - awake for several days - freaks out and collapses. The scientists all say they’re doomed and give up, but Eli continues to search the ship with kinos, looking for anything useful, and he’s also trying to figure out how to use the shuttle to power the ship, at least somewhat. Young sets the eggheads to working on that, and then uses the communcations stones to report in to earth. Eli, meanwhile, is recording people’s statements ‘for posterity.’

While on earth in Telford’s body, Telford is on the ship in his body, and again attempts to usurp leadership. (The “Use the crutch” message was funny). Meanwhile, Young goes to visit his significant other, who’s freaked out by the whole thing, doesn’t understand why she’s talking to a guy who doesn’t look like Young, and basically says ‘we were broke up when you left, we’re broke up now, but I hope you don’t die.’ Young zaps back to the ship.

By this point, Scott has figured out that Destiny bringing them there was their…eh…destiny: The ship can aerobrake off a superjovian planet, and end up within shuttle range of one of three habitable planets in the solar system they’re approaching.

They balute through the atmosphere, and everything seems fine until they realize they’re off course and heading in to the local sun…

To Be Continued…


Actual science! Actual science in a Stargate show, who would have ever thought? The whole discussion on the orbital mechanics of habitable planets in a red giant solar system was astoundingly detailed for a genre show, and while the bit about tectonic instability in tidally locked planets was…ehm…not likely, the rest of it was dead on. They also used an atmospheric braking maneuver, which was cooler than hell, though given that the ship was moving at “A bit slower than light” when it lost power, I’m assuming realistically that planet should have had most of its atmosphere converted to plasma, and zapped off in to space by the exchange. But still and all, pretty damn cool! Science! On Syfy! Wow!

Evidently, Chloe’s luggage made the trip: she had a change of clothes. She’s curious, as characters go. Her not wanting to be alone was kind of touching. I assume she’s going to have some kind of awakening later on in the series, but at the moment she’s terribly weak.

Lt. Scott is a bit older than I thought. I was guessing he was 22 or 23 last week, but he’s 25. Also, he’s qualified to fly an F-302, but has never done so.

The Destiny was launched “the better part of a million years ago,“ before the Ancients started using gene-activated machinery.

Scott, Greer, and TJ have some kind of a shared history, though we don’t know the details yet. TJ was supposed to ship out to earth, having resigned her commission for unclear reasons a few months before, and Greer and Scott seem quite shaken up that she’s still around. What’s going on there?

R2 pointed out that the actor who plays Greer - Jamil Walker Smith - is the grandson of Greg Morris, from “Mission: Impossible.” Certainly he looks like him. While I found two references to this when he pointed it out, both of them have since disappeared, so now I’m not so sure. Anyone know? In trying to find it out, I discovered that Greer is a master sergeant, but the actor‘s only 27. That seems a bit young to me. It's interesting that Young values Greer. It's also interesting to me that of the three characters that seem to like him/loyal to him, they all know he's got some kind of anger management problem, and they just kind of accept that and work around it. [EDIT: It turns out that Mr. Smith is not in any way related to the Morris family. We don't want to spread rumors, now do we?]

Man, Colonel Telford is a jerk, isn’t he? This is the second time in a row that he’s tried to usurp the mission.

I’m liking Colonel Young more and more. I love his dry humor and deprecating nature, such as when he found out Telford was trying to have him removed, his reaction was “He’s probably right about that.” I also like the way he’s looking out for his people (“I need everyone away from the walls”) and he’s got an interesting motivational style. (“You’re going to let the computer hacker dropout save our asses?”) and his attempts to keep Rush reined in and functional. It’s all very believable, very realistic, very well-thought-out. This could be, potentially, the best portrayal of a career military officer in a leadership position on any TV show ever (Not that there’s much competition there). I particularly liked the way he’s handling the morning briefings, very low-key and informal and jovial, and I love the way they filmed and blocked that scene.

I’m liking Eli more, too, he’s not a complete idiot or loser like we thought, and his excitement and quick-wittedness are growing on me, even if he’s primarily comedy relief. What’s with the Planet of the Apes fascination?

Scott said a prayer for the crew! How cool is that? A rare positive, non-insane portrayal of religious faith on an SF show!

Rush’s freakout/meltdown was very well acted. They made a reference to “How he’s been treated,” probably referring to the six months he was on Icarus. What happened to him? I also thought the scene of him interacting with the astrophysicist was well done as it drove home exactly why Rush is arrogant. It played out nicely. I got to wondering - we've all speculated that Rush is not on the level, and that he's up to something he's lot letting the others in to. It was really odd that the Lucian Alliance attacked Icarus. I got to wondering if, perhaps, Rush somehow instigated that in order to force the evacuation to Destiny and move his plan ahead, whatever it is. Thoughts?

There’s a major continuity error between this episode and the last one: Last ep ended with a shot of a shuttle leaving the ship. In this episode, they haven’t gotten it running yet. That’s pretty damn sloppy, I don’t know what to make of it.

The gaggle that buttonholes Eli for information is not a good sign: we’ll undoubtedly be dealing with a mutiny before too long.

One last question: They're traveling at near-light speed when they come out of FTL - shouldn't time dialation be a problem?