Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NEW!: SGU 2:11 - Deliverance

Overall Rating: 7.8

Effective action-based episode with some interesting psychological gamesmanship thrown in for fun...but not the kind of episode that leaves one supercharged for the next installment.

Plot Synopsis:

The full summary can be found at the Stargate Wiki.

The Skinny:

The first season of SGU got on my nerves for a number of reasons - the seeming lack of direction and creativity in the construction of the far-off universe, the melodramatic interpersonal squabbles (complete with unrealistic short-term romances), the loss of of Stargate's usually brimming cup of childlike wonder for the exploration of our world, and a certain fear that, apart from Eli, the show's characters were all unlikeable people and the writers intent on crafting stories to make us hate them all. It was a season about dysfunction...a group of people throw together in a barely-survivable ship completely unprepared to work together, take on leadership roles and enjoy the experience. But with the second season now more than half over, I can view the first with a bit more perspective.

I believe the turning point for this franchise was the episode Trial and Error. Here, a directionless crew is left to wonder why their commanding officer seems to have given up on them. Rush hides away on the command deck, lusting after the true mission of this ship. Wray continues to foment rebellion at every turn, though in much more subtle ways than she has previously attempted. Members of the Lucian Alliance strike team are behind lock and key and a madman (Simeon) undermines the every effort of the others to blend into their new society. This is a picture of an asylum run by the inmates. But after Trial and Error - after Young pulls his sorry ass together and LEADS his people, the crew of Destiny begins to take shape. Rush still needs to be forcefully convinced (by being "outed") and Simeon still needs to die, but by the time we get to this latest installment, we see massive contrast in crew morale, behavior and unity. Young leads - the crew follows...everyone seems to know their place. He even begins mentoring some of the other (non-Rush) scientists. Wray still agitates for humanitarian concerns, but now we see that desire more properly directed. Rush even seems to care about the life of a fellow crew member and gives an impassioned speech about how every member of Destiny's crew is useful and necessary to Chloe following her transformation back to her original DNA - though it is still not clear whether his counsel was merely to humor her or whether he genuinely believed what he said. He and Young even appear to be willing to work together as teammates - a far cry from "it'll never be finished!"

I think the message we're getting from all of this is that to command successfully, we must subjugate our own egos and desires and focus on the needs of our subordinates and that without such a skilled leader, a group of people, no matter how well intentioned, in a dire situation will most likely die. Young is the fulcrum upon which my opinion of this show will pivot - if that's the story they choose to tell in their tragically too-short two-year run (damn you SyFy!! Why cancel a show when its' replacement is crap crap and more crap?!), then I look forward to seeing the conclusion, such as it is.

The alien techno-war is interesting, but not all that original, and the return of the blue man group to the fold brings future potential drama...but...I am less interested in these faceless (communication-less) enemies and more interested in how the crew responds.

Writing: 7.5

Utilitarian script with a lot of action and some interesting moments involving Rush. I want to see some more from Eli in the next couple of episodes - we haven't properly resolved his darker-days moments following Ginn's death - but in general, it was an above-par episode.

Acting: 7.5

Carlyle was outstanding as usual, and Elyse Levesque has the sexy pouting thing down to a science (sorry...but I don't see a lot of skill beyond that in this episode...LOL), but on the whole, not a fantastic acting performance.

Message: 8.5

Nice to at least HOPE that Rush is beginning to understand why he needs the support of his crew mates...and that includes being tolerant of those who have a belief in the supernatural (even humoring that belief in a sincere way). I don't buy that Rush is starting to HIMSELF believe...not yet...but baby steps.

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