Overall: 7 – Compared to last week’s non-linear mishmash, this episode was far more manageable - but on the whole, I find it difficult to judge in isolation, as it is a story built on potentials that may or may not come to fruition.
Spoilers below the cut!
Picking up where last week’s episode left off, this week’s primary plot follows Eli, Dr. Rush, Lt. Scott and the other members of the away team as they search an inhospitable desert planet for the calcite needed to fix the Destiny’s life support system. As the thrown together crew of the Destiny has yet to develop any bonds of trust, it is not at all surprising when this particular group begins to fragment. First, Scott decides to split the team in two to cover more ground – and to escape Eli’s geeky verbal meanderings. In Scott’s group are Rush and Greer, who clearly can’t stand each other; in Eli’s group are Curtis, Palmer and Franklin, who ultimately stage a mutiny of sorts and decide to go back to the gate to dial the other addresses within range. When Rush reaches the end of his physical endurance, Scott sends both Rush and Greer back to the gate and sets off on his own in search of the calcite. Rush and Greer, after a momentary tussle in the sand, reach the gate just as Curtis, Palmer and Franklin are leaving, and Rush orders Greer to shoot Franklin to prevent his escape and retain the gate’s remote. Curtis and Palmer appear to have been left stranded.
Meanwhile, Colonel Young and Chloe use the communication stones to once again make contact with Earth. Young reports to General O’Neill, while Chloe goes to tell her mother about the senator’s death. Mrs. Armstrong, distraught, threatens to tell the world the truth about the Stargate program if her daughter is not returned to her. In the meantime, Colonel Telford runs Young’s body ragged and generally makes a nuisance of himself on the Destiny until the medic sedates him.
Back on the desert planet, Scott pushes forward. Following him is a dust devil that responds when Scott pours water on the sand; this entity also, apparently, has the ability to call forth images from Scott’s memories. We learn that Scott was raised by a Catholic priest – and got a girl pregnant when he was sixteen. Just before he collapses from the heat, Scott sees a crucifix in the sand. The dervish disappears and a spring bubbles up; Scott has found the lakebed. Momentarily reinvigorated, he shovels the limestone into a pack and starts to make his way back to the gate. He collapses again on the way there, but Greer finds him and helps him carry the pack the rest of the way. As the clock ticks down to zero, Rush orders Eli to stick his arm in the event horizon of the gate in the hopes that a safety protocol will keep the wormhole open. This gambit works; as the ship jumps to FTL, the scrubbers are fixed and the refugees on the Destiny finally catch a whiff of fresh air.
I am still waiting for that “Wow!” element – that character or moment that definitively pulls me in for the long haul. Everywhere, there are promising hints of future gripping pay-offs - suggestions of brilliance – but no more. For example, I can’t put my finger on why I feel this way, but I believe Dr. Rush is evil. His unwillingness to communicate forthrightly with the others is deeply suspicious, his certitude is potentially dangerous, and the ease with which he uses force to maintain control in this episode in particular is – well – rather alarming. This build-up could blossom into something interesting – but again, we’re talking about a shimmer on the horizon. Is it merely a desert mirage?
Solid performances all around – though I’m not quite sure what to make of Anna Galvin’s portrayal of Mrs. Armstrong. Is she supposed to come across as a slightly unbalanced alcoholic?
My co-author tells me he found the explicitly Catholic imagery an exciting departure from Gate tradition, but despite my being a Catholic, I do not feel the same way. I believe the dervish has something to do with the appearance of the crucifix – that the dervish is an alien intelligence of some sort that accessed Scott’s mind and selected a recognizable image to communicate, “Here! Here is your salvation!” Granted, that such an association should exist within Scott’s subconscious is a promising suggestion that he has not entirely abandoned the Catholicism of his childhood, but until we see some evidence that Scott is still practicing, I believe it’s too early to praise the show for its openness to religious faith.
ELI: “I know, it was a mirage, but when we were walking over that last dune, I thought I saw the Statue of Liberty sticking half out of the sand. Just for a second there. I was all…” (imitating Charlton Heston) “…‘Damn you! Damn you all to hell!’”
ELI: “Oh come on, that was funny.” – Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that Eli is going to get all the funny lines on this show?