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Review: Incursion Part 2


Incursion Part 2 is the twentieth and final episode in Season One of Stargate Universe.

Review

It’s something of a tradition that season finales have to be big on action, dramatic and leave every character in imminent peril of dying. Incursion Part 2 does achieve two of three of these: it’s dramatic and it leaves the fate of its major characters hanging in the balance for fans to angst over -- at least until they read Mallozzi’s blog and figure out who has reported in for the season 2 production. However, it’s not really big on action and what action there is seems horrendously understated.

Let’s talk about the action, or rather what action. The beginning exchange of the medical supplies with Young planning to use the exchange to begin his retaking of the ship has the potential for action but ultimately nothing very much happens apart from some mutual gun pointing. It’s dramatic but there is no action. The prisoner exchange is equally as dramatic and equally lacking in action. There is some real action in the scene towards the end when one man attempts to take out the Alliance in the infirmary but it’s too fast and blurry, and over in a heartbeat. The same happens when Kiva and Telford pull guns on each other; the moment is over so fast (and the cut to commercial so quick) that there’s barely any time to register what has happened. Possibly the best balanced moment of action is the one where Eli and Chloe almost end up being sucked out of Destiny and into space (and no, I didn’t mean it that way -- I like the characters). And I will acknowledge that the ending with the various running figures of Eli, Scott and Greer does mean the show gets some action in the dying seconds... but it’s all just too little, too late.

I think the problem really stems from the fact that this is the episode after the main action -- the invasion of Destiny -- has occurred. We’re in aftermath mode rather than thick-of-action type stuff. It may have been different if there had actually been a plot involving a serious attempt by Young and co to retake the ship by force the way they did when the civilians staged their coup, but that isn’t what we have here. What we have is a perfectly decent attempt to realistically portray the push-pull of negotiations, feint and parry, between the warring parties as they wrangle over control.

In the absence of action though what this finale is filled with is drama. There are some lovely moments which seethe with tension particularly the stand-offs with Kiva and Greer, Kiva and Wray, and Kiva and TJ. The latter is just brilliantly executed by Rhona Mitra and Alaina Huffman, and wonderfully directed. The way they simply look at each other across the room as TJ makes her demand; the sharp beat of silence and then Kiva’s acquiescence. It is just fantastic.

The scene where Young yells at the science brigade for not having the answers to the ship’s malfunction after his plan goes FUBAR and Kiva kills Rivers, and rightly has it pointed out to him by Rush that somebody was bound to die is also brilliant. Louis Ferriera nails a Young pushed to the edge. I also really liked the personal drama that plays out between Eli and Chloe with Chloe telling him she knows about his feelings and that friendship isn’t a runner-up prize. It’s a touching moment well played by both David Blue and Elyse Levesque. The other part that worked well was the ending where there is a ticking clock as Greer and Scott try to make it back into the ship before they become crispy fried critters also results in some good tension and drama.

Indeed, the ending is great at leaving all the crew in peril with perhaps the exception of Rush and Brody who got a ‘get out of peril free’ card (Carlyle’s dry delivery of the “well, Mr Brody, time to panic and run off” line was just superb). It’s an excellent “who will survive” scenario. It is perhaps unfortunate for the production team that with the delayed viewing of the second half of the season by Syfy (and subsequently every other channel around the world), that the edge has been lost given with season 2 production already well in hand, internet savvy fans mostly know who survives.

It’s an entertaining episode but I can’t help but think that while it had a better cliff-hanger than its first part, in some ways Incursion Part 2 would have made a better season opener -- or that it needed to remain a single episode as it was originally intended with much of the push-pull negotiation of the aftermath eliminated.

As season 1 comes to a close, there’s no doubt that this latest incarnation of Stargate has polarized the existing fan base with its new style, and has had its ups and downs in terms of execution. I personally think the season started well with Air Part 1 but suffered from the decision to extend into a three-part episode and Darkness/Light into a two-parter. The show struggled to gain momentum with the pacing through these first five episodes, and by extending these stories failed to put some of the characters, particularly Wray and TJ, front and centre. The problems, in my opinion, were further compounded by imbalance in the episode-to-arc plotting in episodes such as Earth and Life. Only Time managed to really shine in the first half. But the second half of Season 1 has been much stronger with episodes such as Human and Sabotage which followed Time in successfully combining the best of the much-loved Stargate of old with the newer style and character focus of SGU.

The overall standard of production from sets to music, from direction to special effects, and the acting throughout has been incredible: the show deserved its Leo award. I’m looking forward to Season 2, and while I may not be tuning in to see who survives, I will be tuning in to see how they survive.

Previously published at Geek Speak Magazine.

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