Thursday, April 21, 2011

NEW!: SGU 2:17 - Common Descent

Overall Rating: 7.2

A truly fascinating idea for a plot, but it misses the mark by lacking in full disclosure.

Plot Synopsis:

The full plot summary can be found here.

The Skinny:

What would happen if you took 80 deeply divided people and stranded them on a planet where they would have to become the kenral of a new civilization? Would the issues that divided them lead to conflicts that get handed down? Would they work together or be torn apart? In 2000 years, would that civilization still argue about the same things they did when they were young? I think the answers to those questions make for great TV...but only if they make sense. I really wanted to be bowled over by this episode, but I wasn't. It was a good entertaining hour of TV, but when the dust settled, I was left thinking, "that was interesting," and then moving on.

I think the reason they failed to blow me away with such an interesting focus is that the source of the internal conflict made little sense. If I understand the conflict between Futura and Tenera seems to have been that one side believed Rush was a mythic god-like figure who would one day return with Destiny to rescue them and bring them home, and the other side believed that Rush was just a man and that if Destiny returned, it was been in a distant future. The question then would be...who on Destiny thinks of Rush like some sort of God-like figure...considering all the pain and suffering he helped cause in his first year on board...considering how hard and unapproachable he is...considering how he hid secrets from the crew for months on end to look out for his own self-interest?

But even if you want to hand-wave that as a myth that developed over time based on mutual respect from some and hatred from others...there is still another more critical question. Why would a disagreement over whether Destiny might some day return lead two countries to the brink of war? If the Stargate writers believe that this is how religious and moral conflicts on Earth arise...that they are over maqtters this trivial...then they need to take some history classes and learn from some folks who actually study the nature of human conflict.

The other problem with this episode is that they spend most of their time letting members of Destiny react to the situation (which is all well and good) and take no time to flesh out the characters of our descendents. When DS9 did the lost-in-time-ancestors-of-the-cast story in Children of time, they devoted all of their efforts to making us fall in love with these people as they interacted with the crew. But for all we care on Destiny, the people of Novus are made of cardboard. So when we arrive and find their home world has been plunged into nuclear winter by a supervolcanic eruption...why should we care?

The idea of having Keno footage of the early days on the settlement at Novus was creative...and I enjoyed seeing Colonel Young's speech as an old man in which he reminded them that although they had their differences, they needed to work together. That was a pretty cool little moment there. I would like to have seen more about Novus thoguh...I would like to better understand why their conflicts almost tore them apart and perhaps even figured out how those conflicts grew from the conflicts of Destiny's crew. Without that...this is just an interest diversion, not a lasting memory.

Writing: 6.5

Great initial concept executed rather hurriedly. There were many nicely written moments, especially in the Keno footage, but the gut punch finale didn't hurt and that's a bad sign.

Acting: 8.0

There were many nice moments...especially from David Blue and Louis was a strong overall effort.

Message: 7.5

I think this episode carries a worthwhile message despite the lack of needed exposition about Novus and its' conflicts. If I had to summarize might be...don't sweat the small stuff. In a little tin can with 80 very dissimilar people, it might be easy to get annoyed over minor differences of opinion...but we should try to reserve our debate for issues that are truly divisive, lest we wind up in a war over something as trivial as whether we like chicken or fish on Fridays.

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