Remember last week's Irish-jig-dancing Stargate Universe folly? That's all in the past now. This weekend's Stargate is back on top form. Sure it still had flaws, but the last episode changed everything — literally. Spoilers below.
This episode was the much-dreaded murder mystery SGU. When we first heard that there would be a moider aboard the good ship Destiny, followed by an investigation, the news was met with a general gnashing of teeth and fist shaking. And as much as the "murder" was a silly gimmick, the event itself forced out the plot that we'd all been waiting for, the Rush-and-Young showdown. It's about damn time.
The episode starts with a light-hearted bit, Greer's, "you say potato, I say disgusting," taste-test of the new alien food they picked up from a random planet. It made me chuckle and reminisce about a time when Stargate often featured silly little jokes being played on random crew members. It was a nice return to the comedy we know, even if the punchline was predictable.
But there's no time for laughs murder is afoot — Angry Bald Guy has been found dead, thanks to a bullet to the head. Suicide, everyone cries — but wait, where's the gun?
Young gathers everyone into Destiny's parlor room and exclaims, "there's been a murder, we're all suspects, nobody is leaving this mansion until we figure out who done it." Eli yells out, "twas Miss Scarlet, in the mist shower, with the lead pipe!" So they all gather up in the Gate room and Young does the most logical thing: identifies the only people with alibis and puts them in charge of searching everyone's quarters. There's push-back, naturally because — well, they are aboard an alien ship that is running out of food and water and frankly bullet to the brain usually means suicide, missing gun or not. And for the first time in my long history of hating Rush, I was on his side when he decided that this is silly and, "We have work to do." But like I said it pays off, and the "means justify the end."
But besides the final payoff, the murder mystery episode also satisfied two of my SGU needs: killing off Angry Bald Guy and revealing what his pill addiction was. I'm happy that Bald is gone, as his rage was exceedingly one-dimensional, but I'm pissed as hell that his addiction was to SLEEPING PILLS... but more on that matter later.
While the new Destiny detectives rummage through the ship looking for the missing weapon, the investigation comes to a hold in Young's room. Whattayaknow the moider weapon is discovered in the air vents in Young's quarters. Clearly he's innocent because we all know hiding a weapon in the air vents is the first place people would look. We've seen No Country For Old Men. The plot thickens.
This damning new evidence makes everyone a little cray-cray, especially Camille Wray, who can smell her big leadership opportunity just moments away. Being the noble old man that Young is, he steps down, giving his power to Wray, fulfilling yet another personal plot desire we've had for some time.
Quick like a bunny, Wray gathers up some crew members and begins prosecuting Young. The Senator's daughter serves as Young's "defense counsel," because she went to Harvard or something...sigh. Meanwhile sneaky old Rush slithers up to the new boss, Wray, and congratulates her on her new-found power. He asks only that his new found confidence in her be rewarded by granting him complete control over his science team. And now it's all starting to make sense. Rush has never really had full power over the science team, because Young always kept him in check. Wray has no idea what this request ultimately means, as she shouldn't, because her character has never really been a power player in this series. And now we see her peripheral status up till now bearing fruit. Is it a weak excuse for keeping this interesting character barren of development? Yes. But it works here. The evidence is mounting.
Within moments, Rush has his science team assembled at the great mind chair, and all but tells these starving, sad, homesick scientists that this is the key to getting them all home. Thus enacting his master plan. He's too chicken to risk his great brain by sitting in the chair, but he has no qualms with sacrificing the minds of others. By dangling this steak in front of the starving masses, he's guaranteeing that one of them will plop down and take the risk, and that's just what they do.
This is when the shit hits the fan, and it's fantastic. It's what we've all been expecting and waiting for. Granted, this all could have happened many episodes earlier, but at least it's happening now. Franklyn is in a coma, because he sat the big sit in the Ancient mind-chair, the kino tapes conveniently pop up revealing the actual murderer — no one — and Destiny finds a new planet to visit. Wray watches as her new found power crumbles around her, thanks to Rush's manipulation, and she retires, giving Young back his authority. But like a kid in a candy store not even Rush can stop himself from getting off the ship to see the new alien world. Even though the ship is suffering a veritable governing break down, Rush gallops off to explore the new planet with a pissed-off Young behind him.
After dismissing the away team Young confronts Rush, alone on the desert planet. And all hell breaks lose. Young bashes in the face of the madman, knocking him out cold after a few swings, and leaves his scrawny trouble maker behind. Ha ha, take that meddling wild card with the Nick Burns the IT Guy attitude towards helping the Destiny survivors.
Young crosses the Gate and tells the crew that Rush was stuck under an rock slide and they didn't have enough time to get back. Rush is now alone with nothing but a old alien spaceship to keep him company. And the crowd goes wild. Finally, the action, the drama, the grit and the ugly world we were promised. I never really cared about Young's sex life switcheroo with the Earth-bound wife, these are the people I wanted him to punch in the face and leave for dead on some remote planet, because I'm invested in these characters. It was a brilliant twist, and I can't wait to see how these two get out of this dilemma. Cause, come on — Rush isn't going anywhere just yet, and Young is never really off the hook.
All in all, it was a fantastic episode that used the murder-mystery gimmick to its advantage, so much so that halfway through it was no longer a murder mystery, so much as a showdown between two great big characters. So in a way this was the first real pairing of Stargate humor and gimmicks with actual gritty drama, and it worked like a charm. Sure, I still feel like the women were yet again pushed to the sidelines. Especially since Wray only had power for a hot moment, and T.J. hardly spoke — but it was nice to watch the Senator's Daughter and Wray go head to head, again, if only for a short while. Let's hope there's more of that to come in the future.
My biggest problem was the reveal of Angry Bald Guy's medication to be sleeping pills. A marine loses his mind over sleeping pills? I was expecting much more from the from all the previous foreshadowing in past episodes. Perhaps he had some illness he was keeping in check — or maybe it was an addiction to something that will really mess you up. But if you're selling me suicide based on a lack of sleeping medication, well... that's a hard pill to swallow. Thankfully Baldy does get to utter one of the most profound sentences uttered in SGU. Which, honestly reveals his true motives: "these people don't even realize, they're in a big floating coffin." In hindsight they should have just let it at that, and left the sleeping pill reveal out entirely.
But they are small issues with an over all amazing episode that restored my faith in this series and solidified my early sense that Young is the best character out of the bunch.