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Review: Space

Space is the eleventh episode in Season One of Stargate Universe.


Space, the final frontier: these are the…ah, right; wrong franchise. Still, the latest episode of SGU definitely showcases funky new life as the Destiny crew stumble across an alien life-form, and boldly goes where, well, pretty much every other sci-fi show has gone before in terms of space battles. Space definitely attempts to strike a balance between the action with the aliens and the intrigue on the ship; between special effects and character moments, and yet the pace still seems slow as treacle.

Pacing is the major problem of the episode, namely that it never really gets any momentum. For me, it kind of starts, stutters in the middle, and finally dies by the end. Unfortunately, the way the story is constructed is the problem as it really places the action of the space battle with a squeeze of intrigue mayonnaise in a character introspection sandwich. The result is that the rather bland intrigue mayonnaise, while admittedly vital build-up in terms of the season arc of the power play, drowns the more meaty taste of the action and alien space battle. Ideally, the intrigue should have acted more as a spicy ketchup enhancing the action. And I think I’ve probably beaten that food analogy to death by now.

That aside, there was a lot to enjoy in the episode; namely, the new aliens. The producers had promised different style aliens from those on previous shows and the blue-skinned fishy-insecty aliens are definitely a step away from the overdressed Goa’uld and green-skinned space vampires. They were definitely engaging. And the CGI was fantastic; the aliens were believable and strange.

The special effects also performed their part in the space battle both outside and inside the ship. While I may question the wisdom of sending the only shuttle they have into battle against an armada of smaller, more agile ships, the space battle was well done – in fact both space battles given it happens twice. There’s nothing original in the battle though and there’s nothing very different about the alien’s weapons or ships to continue the ‘strange’ motif.

I did like the inside of the alien vessel; it was much brighter than Destiny for a start. The mind devices were another interesting twist. And the water tanks where Rush and Chloe were held hostage were interesting. What was very amusing were the alien outfits. I’m sure the humor of them was unintentional, and Chloe managed to look fantastic, but Young and Rush…not so much.

And, speaking of Rush, I’m not sure bringing him back so soon or explaining the mystery of what happened to him through an exposition scene in the mess was the right way to go. I appreciate that they didn’t want to show upfront because Young running into Rush in the alien ship was meant to be a surprise (although I think most of the audience probably guessed that he would). But it might have been good to have included a flashback scene rather than just Rush sitting there talking. I will say Robert Carlyle’s acting though in that scene is top notch.

Caryle and Louis Ferriera do a fantastic job in this episode. They both portray their characters so well clouding their actions and motives so the audience really doesn’t know which of them is in the right – if either of them. The power-play arc in the intrigue thread is a build up given Space is the first of a two-part story arc which will come to fruition in Divided. I have to admit while I’m pleased on one hand that the issues between the crew aren’t being resolved magically a la Stargate Voyager, I am deeply missing the sense of family and teamwork that so characterized the previous franchise offerings, Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis.

What was nice to see this time round was more Stargate humor; loved the scene with James gushing about Doctor Cain (nicely played by Tygh Runyan) only to be overheard, and the tomato tasting. It was a nice bit of levity in amongst the more serious drama. I’m also really enjoying the character moments. Loved, loved the scene with Cain and TJ on the observation deck; loved seeing TJ looking after her patients; loved seeing James’ vulnerability.

Actually, all the female characters, including the recurring, got good screen time in Space. From TJ to Wray to James to Park to Chloe. May I say: about time!! Admittedly, Chloe was used the cliché of damsel in distress – and what was with Chloe leaving her room in the middle of a space battle and stupidly looking up into the hole? Or was that meant to be an homage to the horror motif of stupid female wandering down into the basement by herself to get killed by the ax murderer? I will say Elyse Levesque acted her socks off, and she really shows that the event had an impact on Chloe in the closing scenes back on Destiny.

Overall, Space was entertaining and a solid re-start after the long (very long) hiatus despite the unfortunate pacing. It’s difficult to remember that it is the first part of a two-part arc because it does feel like a complete episode but I’m looking forward to the climax of the power play issues in the next episode, and hoping that this signals good things for the back-end of season one.

Previously published at Geek Speak Magazine





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