EPISODE REVIEW: Stargate Universe: “Incursion (Part 1)” (Season 1, Episode 19)

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There’s a degree of parallelism between the three-part series premier and this three-part season finale. We’ve got most of the classic SG1 team turning up - Jack, Daniel, Sam - we’ve got the Lucien Alliance, we’ve got people traveling to the ship and things not going exactly as planned, and we’ve got problems with the air supply, and we’ve got yet another Icarus-like planet blowing up. Daniels’ even a cameo on a DVD, just like in the premier.

I kind of like it. I like the bookending going on here. There’s a very strong sense of a chapter being closed with a very definitive end, and one that makes me feel most of what we’ve seen this year was planned out before the cameras ever started rolling, rather than the rollicking ‘we’re making it up as we go along’ feel SGA had. (Not that that’s a bad thing mind you)

In a nutshell, Young kills Telford, then resuscitates him. This is the only way to get past the brainwashing he’s been in, though it nearly kills Rush in the process. They get the information they need, however, and Sam and the General Hammond go to attack the new planet. The Lucien Alliance dial the gate and jump through as the planet falls apart. Sam is forced to pull out, leaving two of her people behind (!).

Young was all prepared to vent the gate room, thus killing all the Lucians, but he sees Telford’s body, and can’t bring himself to kill his old friend. The Communication Stones connection was broken when they went through the gate. Telford is Telford again (And no longer brainwashed) and Rush is Rush again.

A firefight ensues, and Young’s people mostly lose, though it’s not definitive. Chloe is shot, and she and Eli end up in some as-yet-unexplored portion of the Destiny, way, way forward of the occupied section. We end in a standoff, the Lucians in the gate room with hostages - TJ (And the baby, of course), Riley, and four or five redshirts. Camille suggests negotiations, and Young agrees with her. She tries to broker a hostage exchange while Telford continues to act brainwashed so he can keep the Lucians’ trust and figure some way to make a move.

Eventually he comes up with a ‘flanking’ idea, and leads a team of six Lucians through a leaky corridor protected by the ship’s external shield. When one of the Lucians attempts to open the door, the entire shield, and evidently the whole ship’s electrical system, go wonky and the guy disintegrates. Irritated, Telford and Young exchange information, and Telford heads back to try the whole thing again.

Meanwhile, Chloe (Bleeding and unable to walk) is being carried by a clearly-on-the-edge-of-a-heart-attack Eli as they try to find their way back to the occupied section before their air runs out, or they dehydrate, or Chloe bleeds to death, or Eli actually has that heart attack, or they starve, or they freeze, or any one of a zillion other things that can go wrong.

As a show of good faith, the Lucians request medical supplies. Rush says they shouldn’t give ‘em, but Camille says they should. Young sides with Rush: they’re going to end this situation here and now.

The End

Colonel Young’s days of making bad decisions are definitely coming to a middle. He should have spaced the bad guys when he had a chance, and frankly I got the feeling Telford would have welcomed him. Telford is having some clear guilt issues. This is *deliberately* contrasted with Sam sacrificing two of her men to save the crew and the ship as a whole. For anyone who missed that point, Jack even points it out angrily at one point.

Best dialog:
Scott: “What the hell was that?”
Young: “What the hell was that, Sir?”
Scott was out of line questioning his CO, particularly after the CO had accomplished what he set out to do, gotten important intel, and saved a man’s life in the process. I presume this is simply to make his character seem human and likeable to the less bad-ass members of the audience, but it kind of hurts his character.

That said, there really was no reason Young couldn’t have told him the plan. Frankly, any good CO *would* have let his XO in on that, if only so he could deal with Camille. Clearly he’d talked it out with Brody beforehand, and Brody was solidly on Young’s side. If he’ll talk to a civilian, why not Scott? Particularly since he likes and trusts Scott.

The Lucians clearly have more info about the Destiny than the Air Force does. How did they get this? Do they have access to some Ancient repository of knowledge that the SGC doesn’t? I’m thinking that’s got to be it, if only because there’s no means of bringing masses of information back to the Milky Way. Pretty much they’re limited to what was in Telford’s head via the Stones, and just as clearly they had a plan in place months before the attack on Icarus. So how did they know how to make the keys they were using all throughout?

And what do they hope to gain from the ship? Once again, they’re stranded, they’re arguably in a worse situation than Telford’s people were, as they clearly have no food or other supplies, and, it would seem, a lot more mouths to feed. They can’t get home, and I’m not sure getting home was ever part of the plan, so what does the Lucian Alliance want so badly that they’d expend this amount of resources and time, risk war with earth, AND commit several hundred people to what’s effectively a suicide mission? There must be some really, really big MacGuffin coming up to justify all that.

Ok, timeline here, as best I can figure it:

1) Around April of 2008 Colonel Telford goes undercover with the Lucian Alliance. At some point after this - lets say six months, he’s outed and brainwashed, and starts working for them.
2) Around April of 2009 his undercover time is done, and in gratitude he’s assigned to Icarus, presumably he requested the assignment. He was to head the team that was actually supposed to go through to the Destiny.
3) September 2009 - Telford and TJ knock boots one last time.
4) October 2009 - Lucian Alliance attacks Icarus.

Why did they attack Icarus anyway? I’m assuming they hoped to neutralize the base and go through the gate themselves.

Evidently Telford and Young were really close, since Young is really unwilling to sacrifice him. “I’ve killed you once today, David, that’s enough.”

Evidently no one on the USAF side died.

Though I don’t think this episode was as good as the previous one’s “Everything is falling apart” dynamic, that’s acceptable as this is the intermezzo in the opera. Next week should be a bit more of a crowd-pleaser. I’ll also say that, given the overall candor of this show, I’m not absolutely convinced that some of these characters won’t die.

There’s a lot of questions hanging here: Who lives and who dies? If Young’s folks win, what do they do with the quite numerous Lucian prisoners? What the heck killed that guy?