Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NEW!: SGU 2:14 - Hope

Overall Rating: 9.9

Best. SGU. Ever.

Plot Synopsis:

Ginn / Perry: Following the events of last week, Destiny holds a 24-hour-daily vigil by the communication stones waiting anxiously for word from home. When Chloe takes her turn, she doses off, allowing something completely unexpected to happen. Ginn connects with her and asks what happened - as far as she knows, she just returned from Earth following her interrogation. They give her the bad news and she and Eli spend some time talking about what happened. When she is properly moved by Eli's words (he is, after all, elated that some part of Ginn survived Simeon's attack), she kisses him passionately. For a split second, he enjoys this reunion, but a glimpse of Chloe in the mirror in Ginn's quarters reminds him of the situation and he stops her. This is Chloe's body, not the woman he had fallen for. Soon after, Ginn begins choking with no explanation as to the cause - Rush theorizes that because her body died from strangulation, there is some neural memory of the event intertwined with her brain patterns that is periodically resurfacing.

And the news gets worse. As they work to separate Ginn's consciousness from Chloe's body and minimize the risk to Chloe, she has several of these choking attacks and each time, her grip on Chloe weakens as her neural signal degrades. Soon Chloe begins emerging and shortly after this happens for the second time, Amanda Perry (who's body was weaker and thus her neural memory was weaker to begin with) appears (delighting Rush, who'd been falling for her before her untimely death). Now both of their neural patterns are degrading and weakening Chloe's body in the process. If they don't separate the three of them and download the extra minds into Destiny's computer, all three will perish. Rush comes up with an idea - use the neural interface chair to download the extra minds and store them. He even finally admits that he's seen and spoken to Dr. Franklin (who was vaporized and stored in the computer at the end of first season) many times on the bridge of Destiny.

Though risky, Chloe agrees to the procedure, as, reluctantly, do both of her stowaways. The download causes the chair to overload a bit and damages some of the ship's key systems, but once he's got it disconnected, Rush confirms that there were in fact two new programs downloaded into the computer. Amanda shows up to help TJ through a risky operation and, after some hesitation, Ginn shows up to let Eli know that, for now, she's safe. They try to assure each other that, for now, seeing each other, hearing their voices, being with each other in some small way, is enough, but you can feel Eli's heart shatter into a thousand pieces when she reaches up to touch his face and her fingers pass right through him...Ginn is no better off. Amanda sees the positive in it...she is free from her broken body with the hope that some day, she can start again.

Volker / Greer / TJ: While doing routine work on the Bridge, Volker begins to feel light headed and develops a headache so he reports to TJ asking for something to help him sleep. He admits that before he arrived on Destiny, he'd been taking blood pressure medication and had run out (possibly explaining his symptoms of extreme hypertension), so TJ runs some tests with all the new gadgets and gismos she's acquired thanks to Rush breaking the master code and discovers, to her horror, that Volker has end stage renal failure and will be dead in a matter of weeks if he doesn't get a kidney transplant. She has trouble keeping her wits about her as she realizes the enormity of this problem - she's not a qualified surgeon, Destiny doesn't have a good surgical bay, and its' population is small enough that it's unlikely they'll find a good enough donor match. Young urges her to look for a match first, before panicking.

As it turns out, Greer and another scientist are matches and while the other guy has the expected concerns about his safety, Greer, without hesitation, insists that he be allowed to donate. After a bit of research, TJ finds some passages on organ transplant procedures in the ancient database and realizes that she'll need to give Volker some of Greer's bone marrow to create a sort of hybrid immune system that will allow him to take a less-than-ideal donor kidney. Here again, Greer prefers to test his own strength (of character and of discipline) by insisting that he be allowed to donate marrow without wasting sedative...the look on his face while she's got that huge needle in his femur is...um...either disturbingly satisfied or impressive...not sure which.

Volker panics a bit about the risks to him from undergoing the procedure so Greer is our hero again...he listens to Volker's tales of relaxing in his back yard and looking up at the stars when he faced a tough decision and escapes the infirmary with Volker for a moment to take a stroll down to the arboretum - as close to a back yard as we're gonna get on this ship. Here, he offers an encouraging word ("You and me...we're gonna be alright...that I can guarantee.") and they head back. TJ's surgery is going fine (though she takes a moment to start and needs some encouragement again from Colonel Young) when the Ginn/Perry download overloads the ship's computer and takes down the ancient database on which TJ had been relying. But just when she's about to panic, Amanda shows up at her side and talks her through it. Both patients make it out alive and basically intact, though Greer has a mild post-operative infection.

The Skinny:

So many things to love about this episode...in order of first recollection:
  1. The writers' use of gallows humor really stood out here. SGU has been bordering on the uber-serious for its' entire existence. There have been a few chuckles along the way, but for the most part, this has been a very intense show. We really needed to see some lighter moments...and they found a way to crack me up five separate times this week despite it being another episode that tugged at my heart strings. Greer breaking up the tension by screaming like a bitch when he was barely touched with the bore needle was priceless. The "Numa Numa" song just about KILLED me from the funny. The argument over what to call the theme from 2001: Space Odyssey was hilarious as well...and so was the preoperative risk assessment (with laughs over the risk of erectile dysfunction).
  2. The writers seem to "get it" wholeheartedly now when it comes to the moral dubiousness of sexual relations with a person whose consciousness is borrowing another body. Eli was the first to instinctively dislike this arrangement and he remains the show's true moral compass. It shouldn't be ignored that the amalgam he was kissing was a cross between the woman with whom he'd begun to fall in love (Ginn) and the woman he'd loved since day one (Chloe)...that's a tempting situation for a guy like Eli who was never taken seriously in the romance department. And he still had the fortitude to say no.
  3. Even RUSH is turning into a likable character...slowly but surely. Where, in season one, he'd have calmly barked that it wasn't worth the risk to one crewman to try to save someone who was already dead and insisted that doing an organ transplant under these conditions was spectacularly stupid and dangerous to the mission - this week he unwaveringly stuck by his desire to work to save Ginn (perhaps because he hoped to save Perry, but still...) and only gently expressed concern over the prospect of major surgery for Greer and Volker...a reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. He seems to finally be realizing that to accomplish what he wants out of this mission, he really does need the trust and support of his shipmates.
  4. Greer is awesome. Period. He's my second favorite character behind Eli and this episode explains why. Not only is he a pragmatic, adaptable, competent soldier...he's also a genuinely heroic person because he really does care about his fellow man. If he were just trying to prove how tough he was, he wouldn't have taken the time to help Volker and TJ through the ordeal. If he were some dumb gun nut as the liberal media loudly proclaims every day regarding our military rank and file, he wouldn't be so selfless in situations like these, and if the Gate writers weren't so steadfast in their determination to portray the military fairly and sympathetically, I doubt I would be as much of a fan as I am.
  5. Although the gate writers have always cleaved to the notion that our consciousness can be separated from our bodies without changing either (an idea with which I do not generally I agree), they do seem to understand, at least this week, that moving a person's consciousness into a new body or even into computer memory impacts how we perceive and experience love. They do seem to acquiesce to the notion that we aren't just in love with someone's soul, but to their body. I think this shows good judgment and will be a very effective dramatic tool in the coming episodes.
  6. But above all else...this episode just EXPLODES with pathos. I want to like the characters...I want to root for them. Stargate will endure for me long beyond the unfortunately premature cancellation of this particular installment specifically because the writers understand that their fans want likable people at the forefront. I was a little nervous there with all of the negativity of the first and early second season...but they're turning a very difficult situation into something truly wonderful...and that is a great...great story in the making.
Writing: 10.0

A wonderful blend of emotions (and a perfect sense of dramatic and comedic timing) make this a truly satisfying experience.

Acting: 9.7

Even the bit players (Patrick Gilmore (Volker), Julie McNiven (Ginn), Kathleen Munroe (Perry)) were *very* effective. The show, however, belonged to Jamil Walker-Smith, David Blue (whose reactions to Ginn and Chloe were phenomenal), Robert Carlyle, and Alaina Huffman...all of whom had moments to shine and never missed an opportunity. And I want to mention that Elyse Levesque had a very difficult job to do this week and she did it nearly flawlessly.

Message: 10.0

See above comments for the details - suffice to say I've never been more convinced of Stargate's solid moral grounding.

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