EPISODE REVIEW: Stargate Universe: “Divided” (Season 1, Episode 12)

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It’s seeming more and more like the long slow burn of the first half of the season was justified!

PLAY BY PLAY

Chloe has a bad dream set to a vaguely grungy minor-key song that probably would have seemed really edgy and impressive circa 1996, but it’s just dated, manipulative, and kind of slow now. Afterwards she has a talk with Rush, who’s also been having the same alien-related nightmares.
“Everyone thinks it’s over, that we’re safe, but it’s not over is it?”
“No, it’s not.”

Rush informs Young that there’s a tracking device on the hull, so Eli finds it with a Kino, and Young and Scott go out in the shuttle to blow up the alien ship stuck to the hull (Not so entirely clear on the wisdom of that. Seems it might have been a better plan to try and pry it off, rather than risk damaging the already-falling-apart derelict they’re living on) While this happens, Rush and Camille stage a mutiny. They lock out all the control access from the main lab, and capture most of the ship, with most of the military in one section. They shut off the section, but Rush has to stop the transfer of controls in order to prevent Young and Scott from dying because they were outside when the ship jumped to FTL. That gives Young’s people control of life support, and Rush’s people control of everything else. An uneasy Mexican standoff ensues.

Young agrees to trade Eli to Rush in exchange for food and water. TJ, who’s trapped on the civilian side, explains to Chloe that there’s no way in heck Young is going to allow this to happen, but the civilians, being civilians, can’t see any way he possibly could. Of course at that exact moment, Young and Greer are walking along the outside of the hull in space suits. They slip into the civilian side of the ship through one of the holes the aliens chopped in the hull last week, and quickly re-take the ship. The aliens show up again, and start pounding Destiny

Turns out Rush has a second transmitter surgically implanted in his chest. Young has Chloe contact earth with the Communication stones, and is possessed by a doctor, who begins the surgery to extract it, but the connection breaks and TJ has to finish up. Scott smashes the dingus, the ship jumps to FTL leaving the aliens behind.

Young lets the civilians off light, and when Greer protests, he says “It’s over, Sergeant.” When the two of them are alone, they speak again
“It’s not over, is it, sir?”
“No, it’s not.”

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

I knew this was coming eventually, but I had no idea it’d hit so fast! I figured they’d milk the buildup to mutiny thing for the rest of the season, and finally spring it on us in the obligatory season finale cliffhanger, but nope. I’m happy to be wrong about that. I’m beginning to think the show will be generally more adventurous from here on out, now that they’ve firmly established the situation, the dangers, and the characters.

There were a lot of things to like in this episode. I like the cyclical aspect of it starting and beginning with the same conversation, only coming out of different characters. I like that Rush is as unreliable an ally as he is an enemy. I like that it’s genuinely tense in a number of scenes. I like that at least one of the ‘good’ characters that we like betrayed the other good ones. What I really like, though, is the very real sense that both sides are aware this whole thing could very easily spiral out of control and they’re desperately trying to keep things reasonably civilized. Neither side wants to kill anyone, though not for particularly altruistic reasons.

Would Rush have saved Young and Scott if Camille hadn’t pointed out that killing them would eliminate all the conspirator’s popular support? Would Chloe have argued to save Young if Scott hadn’t been on the shuttle? Would Young have shot Rush if he hadn’t been second guessing himself because of what he did to Rush three episodes ago?

Interestingly, Young didn’t bother to deny marooning Rush to Camille. Even more interestingly, he hasn’t used the silver bullet he’s got in his possession: Proof that Rush tried to frame him for murder. That would have saved him a lot of trouble over the last three episodes. Why is he holding off on using it? My own theory is that Young knows he’s got only one shot with that, and he needs to resist using it until there’s no other choice, or until it’ll be at its most effective.

Who woulda’ thunk nice cute friendly little Chloe could be so manipulative and conniving? And self-righteous about it, too! Well, that last bit isn’t that surprising: Conniving people are generally self-righteous. It’s how they square their deeds against their conscience. In any event, in one fell swoop she’s managed to lose the trust of both Scott *and* Eli.

Have we seen the last of the aliens? I don’t think so, and here’s why: Episode 2 mentions battle damage to the ship. Rush mentions they’ve been tracking the thing for a long time, trying to capture it, “Long before we got here.” How long? I suspect a pretty long time. Since they don’t seem to have any trouble keeping up with the Destiny’s FTL, and since the Destiny appears to just be traveling in a straight line, it shouldn’t be too hard for them to find it again. These are our primary antagonists at least for the season, possibly for the run of the show.

So who are the aliens? What’s their motivation? Rush says they want the ship and its advanced tech. Well, ok, swell, so do I, but they must be getting pretty far from home if they’ve been tracking it for a long time, and the show very subtly implies they are. My hunch? They’ve been tracking it for centuries. There’s a fleet of ‘em. Their homeworld is destroyed, and they’re the last of their species. They need to capture the Destiny if they’re to survive. Also, I’m going to assume that the Destiny was in some way responsible for the destruction of their planet.

I don’t think anyone else - possibly in the entire world - has noticed this yet, but the alien ships look a *LOT* like a vehicle in an Angus McKie painting from about 1977 or so. When I say “A lot” I mean pretty much identical, but in a different color and without the tank treads on the bottom. It’s not that complex a design, so it could conceivably be coincidence, but if you’ve got a copy of “Spacewreck” by Stewart Cowley (1979) turn to the section entitled “Killer Planets: Salamander City” and you’ll see a great big illustration of the thing on page 67. If I can figure out a way to scan it and post it on here in my next review, I’ll try to do that. (I’m inept. I’ve got a good memory for geek design, however)

I’m so glad they explained the Communication Stone malfunction from last week: Rush had stolen a stone and kept it on him. The aliens took it from him, which is how Young ended up in one of their bodies.

What else is Rush lying about? More to the point, what *isn’t* Rush lying about? Yet even still more to the point, what is Rush’s goal? All this jockeying for position and manipulating people is clearly secondary to his real purpose. He simply wants power so he can do his research. For what, exactly? It’s got to be something that he wants personally, that has no benefit to everyone else, and that he needs for selfish purposes. My best theory is that he wants to Ascend so he can be with his dead wife again, though maybe he thinks there’s cloning/soul catcher technology on the ship. If that were the case, however, he’d be better off talking to Dr. 2Beckett on Atlantis, which is parked just off San Francisco at the moment. (See what I did there? Threw in a little Neuromancer reference.)

Has anyone noticed that we haven’t seen Colonel Telford since Episode Seven? I find myself wondering if we’ll see him again, or if his arc is played out now that we have external enemies. I think they’ll have to revisit it in some fashion, if only to straighten out the dangling threads involving Young’s wife.

Uhm…anyone remember Young having a seizure in the first episode? What’s up with that? I assumed they’d touch on it again…

And that’s all I’ve got. I’m really looking forward to next week. How ‘bout you guys?

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