Thursday, October 29, 2009

NEW!: SGU 1:4 – Light

Overall: 7.2 – A bit of sloppy characterization in the rush to get to some sweet, sweet lovin’ depresses this episode’s score.

Cut for spoilers.

Plot Synopsis:

As the Destiny hurtles towards a nearby star, Colonel Young is faced with the classic Lifeboat Dilemma: the Destiny has only one remaining shuttle, and it can hold a mere seventeen people. Who should be chosen for survival? Young decides to reserve two spots for his own personal selections and choose the other fifteen by random lottery; he also elects to leave his own name out of the lottery pool. Wray takes him to task for, in her opinion, making the politically easier choice, but Young does not budge from his course.

Each character reacts to the ship’s impending doom in different ways. Greer seems almost pleased that he is about to go out “in a blaze of glory.” Eli, meanwhile, busies himself with collecting the farewell thoughts of the crew, in part to distract himself from the fact that Chloe has hooked up with Lt. Scott (thus breaking the heart of every geeky fanboy in the audience). Young calls a truce with Rush, and Rush announces his own intention to stay on the Destiny.

Young ultimately chooses Scott to pilot the shuttle and TJ for her medical training. The lottery goes quite smoothly; Spencer tries to raise a fuss, but he is quickly quelled by Greer. As the shuttle launches, Eli, Rush, and the others catch their first glimpse of the Destiny from the outside.

As the star draws ever closer, some play cards and some pray. Rush retreats to his quarters to read; Greer strips and calmly prepares to meet his end; and Eli and Chloe spend their final hours in each other’s (platonic) company. In the meantime, those on the shuttle discover to their dismay that the planet beyond the star is only just barely habitable. The situation seems very grim indeed.

But then, as more time passes, Rush grows puzzled – then elated. The ship is not suffering from the solar stresses it should – which means the Destiny will survive. As it turns out, the Destiny is built to fly through stars to collect needed fuel. The lights flicker on all over the ship; all is well. The Destiny and the shuttle have a tense, bumpy reunion, and everyone cheers their unbelievable luck. Everyone, that is, except Rush, who seems disinclined to celebrate or accept Young’s compliments. A suspicion arises: did Rush know the ship was going to survive all along?

Writing: 7.5

There is one major discontinuity (see below), but the chief dilemma of the episode is relatively well presented, and I enjoyed learning more about several of the characters. In particular, I find I have become very curious about Greer. The man has a gigantic chip on his shoulder; there’s no doubt about that. But his reaction to his impending death is very arresting here; it really makes you wonder what spiritual depths there are in the character that we have yet to see.

Meanwhile, the writers continue to do a great job keeping us guessing with Rush. Personally, I’m still in doubt as to whether he’s socially retarded or secretly evil. My co-author seems to be convinced that he is the former – that he really didn’t know the Destiny had the capability to mine stars for fuel and is just temperamentally an Eeyore. I’m not really sure it’s quite so clear cut; it could be that he suspected the Destiny would survive, but wasn’t 100% dead sure. Either way, this ambiguity is likely to engender a serious conflict before too long.

Acting: 8

Performances are solid all around. Particularly notable is Jamil Walker Smith’s message-in-a-bottle moment; there is a nice layering of emotion there.

Message: 6

This episode leaves me torn. On the one hand, I am very pleased that prayer is once again allowed to have at least a token place in the story; I grinned like a maniac when they cut to the group praying the “Our Father.” As my co-author has pointed out in the past, no realistic portrait of Anglo-American society – heck, no realistic portrait of humanity – is complete without the inclusion of prayer, particularly in the face of death.

On the other hand, it really bothers me that just as soon as the writers establish that Lt. Scott is Catholic – and enough of a believer to pray – they immediately hook him up with the pretty single girl. Granted, there are millions of American Catholics out there who neither understand nor abide by the Church’s teachings when it comes to sexual continence, but to me, Scott’s relations with Chloe are a profound disappointment. Couldn’t the writers have gone out on a limb and – oh, I don’t know – allowed Scott to at least stop before the sex? It’s not as if Scott hasn’t already been burned by ill-considered sexual dalliances; in fact, that Scott would feel so guilty about his one night stand at sixteen and yet feel no guilt at all after sleeping with Chloe (eta: or James, for that matter) is a glaring contradiction.


None this week. This was more of a visual episode.

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