How SGU Can Find Its Charm: Bring Back Michael ShanksS

This week Stargate Universe opened up Rush's brain and what we found was a mix of light code, lens flares and the first ever balanced SGU episode. Thank goodness Stargate veteran Michael Shanks is back and delivering some much-needed charm.

This week's SGU episode, "Human," showed plenty of promise. Slowly, but surely, the original Stargate style and banter is getting laced into the raw drama that SGU has been so desperately trying to create. Especially after last week's drama-heavy, action-light episode. "Human" felt like SGU was finally hitting its stride.

Yes, there are still plenty of sour moments where one outrageously dramatic moment or depressingly unfunny quip rips the viewer out of the new world. But this could very well be the first episode that felt properly balanced as far as tone and pace. Dare I start getting excited about this series?

In "Human" Rush decided he was ready to sit in the mighty interface chair. Because somehow in between heart surgery and exploring new parts of the ship (sorry we still don't know what's in the box) the angry scientist managed to fix this gizmo. Rush and company build a buffer device that would slow down the amount of knowledge being pumped into someone's brain. The buffer method? Plugging into old memories, which you can pick like a TV channel. Sure, why not? This way we're treated to a stone-free flashback, providing a cheap and easy plot device to reveal secrets about Rush's life. Interestingly, this is yet another almost entirely stone-free episode. Has the "airlock the stones" mantra finally reached the higher ups?

While Rush is in this coma memory state, his mind is getting pummeled with knowledge from the brain chair. Which he somehow deciphers is the number 46 — more on that lunacy later — but for now, let's talk about what we learned about Rush.

First, we meet Mrs. Rush, a gorgeous lady and a brilliant violinist topped off with a sexy accent. But does Rush delight in getting to see her again? Not a chance, he's got codes to solve and a cantankerous attitude to cultivate. So instead of reliving his wife's painful death memory, and trying to change his previous cowardly decision, he does the exact same thing, but this time even crazier. Rush John Nashes up his office, and sits back and panics as illuminated code streams into his face, like Neo in the worst of the three Matrix movies.

How SGU Can Find Its Charm: Bring Back Michael ShanksS

I must admit, I loved Rush's crazy scribbles of nonsense and the light code imagery. It looked great and informed the audience almost immediately that Rush knew where he was and therefore you couldn't fault his dickish actions to his twice dying wife, or could you? The man has a spaceship to save, these sappy memories were only getting in the way, right? Well of course not right, of course he would find the answer by sucking up and being a better husband, thanks to magical interface guide Michael Shanks' help. Honestly the "facts" behind this experiment was a bit of a muddle but when big answer to Rush's problems turns out to be 46, we all know this wasn't really about solving any mysteries. Cue adorable Shanks' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy joke, prompting me to burst into a fit of tears. Sob. I miss this man.

How SGU Can Find Its Charm: Bring Back Michael ShanksS

Having magical Shanks on board to help Rush get through his memory knowledge download was not only a bit of classic Gate fan-service, but Shanks really shed a bit of light on another thing SGU is missing, charisma. Shanks, RDA, Southern Shanks (or Cameron as some of you call him), Sheppard heck even Carter all have a certain spark of charisma that is just lacking on SGU. The only person I've cheered for out loud is Young. And his charm comes and goes. You may argue that this series is attempting to be more realistic and there aren't heroes in real life. But you shouldn't have to sacrifice charm for flaws. Look at the cast of Lost and BSG. I'd just like to see a little more something from somebody aboard Destiny. But, these things take time. And it's taken this long just to find some semblance of balance on this series. Who's to say Camille won't step up to the plate? Last episode she stopped being the one-dimensional devious plotter, maybe we'll see more from her or anyone else.

Anyways back to Rush. Anyone else a little freaked out by the over eager kid in his class. I mean, I'm just sayin'...

How SGU Can Find Its Charm: Bring Back Michael ShanksS

When someone like that pops up into your dream memory coma, I would go ahead and assume they're evil and just beat the codes out of them. But Rush has to figure it out for himself, by coming to peace with his wife's terribly sad death. You gotta hand it to Robert Carlyle, when he was saying goodbye even my cold black heart melted just a little. There may be a lack of charm on this set, but Carlyle just acted the pants off everyone else aboard Destiny. Well done sir.

Also, and this probably needs to be noted. As much as I am sick of watching Rush be an angry dick all the time, his Eli lament really helped flesh out some of the characters present day bitterness. He ruined his life working and couldn't even come through in the end. Meanwhile Eli costs by on nothing, so Rush's personal sacrifices were all for nothing. In his mind. Does realizing this and making peace with his wife's death mean he's going to be less of a prick back aboard Destiny?

Meanwhile, back aboard Destiny the ship stops at a new planet, which looks a lot like last week's Canada planet, only this time with ruins. The crew has 6 hours to explore so of course they set out to do the silliest thing they can think of with no time to save their ass. And Chloe is truly the winner of idiotic statements and actions this go-round.

First our little Chloe coos up next to Eli craning her head back and forth for forgiveness. Meanwhile I'm not sure if she's said 3 words to the guy she used to share a bed with. Man, Chloe and Scott are sooo dunzo, you guys, hrumphf-kerphuffle, right Chloe? And I really was just going to blow the whole "second plot" part of this episode off. But then, this happened.


What was that???!!!! Actual humor and banter fitting into this dark series without disturbing the flow of the moment? Why isn't Eli used like this all of the time? This felt right, it felt good, and it was kinda funny. If not for Daddy Young being all "oh teenagers" at the end. Please more of this. This was the first time characters other than Young and Rush demonstrated chemistry. Delightful. Thank you.

But, of course, Chloe's character writing was bound to mess this up for us all. So the three hottest crew members from Destiny set about exploring the new planet, with one sassy wise-cracker in tow. After jumping around on the old rocks and pointing at the dirt Chloe and Eli reveal they done lost the Kino in the ancient dark tunnels. Hijinks, they are ensuing.

And you know what's going to happen next before they even set foot in the tunnels, collapse, but they go ahead with it anyways. All four cast members trample into the incredibly dangerous dark tunnels to hunt down a video camera robot that was sent down there to protect them from having to go down there in the first place. It makes your head spin. How has anyone survived as long as they have in this new space land by making these terrible decisions we do not know.

Finally one last Chloe comment. For a series that prides itself on celebrating strong female characters you'd think that the one time Chloe says something intellectual they wouldn't make her immediately negate that intellect with a swift apology for being a "NERD." In fact they even go as far to totally discredit her later in the tunnels with the, "Ew yucky spiders icky icky," dance. This causes the soldiers to shoot at the spider, which causes the tunnel collapse, trapping them all indefinitely. Chloe, you ruin everything.

How SGU Can Find Its Charm: Bring Back Michael ShanksS

But in her defense, spiders are super gross.

Thankfully the cave-in does mean one thing. That Destiny will have to take off and leave a giant chunk of their main cast stranded in the dark. They only had 6-hours on that rock after all. I was delighted with the cliff0hanger ending. Sure Rush is going to fix everything with his magical new knowledge of the number 46. But for now suspense is in the air, humor has seemingly returned to SGU and we're interested to see what the 4 kids will do next to get out of the tunnels. And maybe Greer will have more ridiculous flash back panic attacks. I really hope that's not the case because not every single character detail has to be shown with flashbacks or stones. They can merely talk about it while trapped there. Heck TJ hasn't been given a single flashback and thus far her plot reveals have felt the most natural.

All and all I ended the episode happy, very happy. The only thing I was truly hoping for that SGU didn't deliver was more of Rush in the classroom. I must admit after seeing stills from this weeks episode earlier on I was desperately hoping for a little "Yo Teach" classroom antics. But alas, angry moody Professor Rush just fits better. That fantasy will just have to live on in some Stargate fanfic somewhere.

How SGU Can Find Its Charm: Bring Back Michael ShanksS