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Review: Awakening

Awakening is the third episode in Season Two of Stargate Universe.

It’s fairly clear to see in hindsight that the primary purpose of “Awakening” is to get Colonel Telford off Destiny, and really that was its only purpose. The main plot is so geared toward that end goal that the episode ends up feeling like it’s almost plot-less, but in amongst the lead-up to removing Telford, there are a lot of wonderful moments.

Cute team moments are a trademark of Mallozzi and Mullie’s writing, and “Awakening” has them in spades. From TJ and Chloe’s chat about the baby, to Scott and Greer discussing Greer’s sex life as they walk through the seeder ship, to Telford and Young’s small bonding moment. The moments are a nice insight into the friendships, especially as they show that there are friendships and bonds -- something which fans love. But these moments are not the only nice moments; there are also a veritable load of TJ moments.

Whether the focus on TJ is because the writers realized her popularity, or to increase focus on the female characters, or just that in dealing with her grief, it’s her turn in the spotlight, I’m not really bothered, because quite frankly it means more TJ, which is a good thing in my book. I love the tentative beginnings of something with Varro (played so excellently by Mike Dopud) which we all know cannot possibly end well; love the awkwardness with Young as he sends her off into the seeder ship to deal with the collapsed alien; love her standing up to Lucian Alliance nasty Simeon and showing what a kick-ass soldier she is under the compassionate medic. All these moments add up to a really great outing for TJ and Alaina Huffman.

It’s also another really great outing for Rush. The continuation of his disappearing acts to the bridge and talking to his dead wife are just wonderful. I love what this is revealing about Rush as a character. He doesn’t tell the others about the power being available to get them home, and may have sabotaged the power flow even before the aliens’ interference. His entire being is focused on staying on Destiny; he doesn’t want to go home, and here that is made very clear through every action he makes, and through Gloria’s pointed questions.

I also love that Rush is getting some really great lines which Robert Carlyle delivers with such deadpan dryness that he has me laughing out loud at my TV. My particular favorite was the prediction line. And it’s good to see that these little humorous moments are being included; not only Rush’s lines but also Scott and Greer’s discussion, Rush’s matter-of-fact reaction to the Stargate manufacturing line, the attempt to get the alien to talk and give it food. The added lightness makes Universe more balanced and much more enjoyable as a show.

Talking of the alien, kudos to the team on creating another unusual alien. I love the design; it’s cute enough that my immediate reaction was ‘I want one’ and yet creepy enough that when it climbed up the wall, the second reaction was ‘maybe not.’ There’s a lovely ambiguity in whether the aliens are a threat or not. As Telford is surrounded by them at the end, there is worry for him -- although ultimately I predict that Telford will turn up with the cute and creepy aliens in the seeder ship to rescue Destiny sometime in the future [I was so right!]. Or maybe not. Universe has a way of surprising me.

Somehow, Telford getting stranded on the seeder ship surprised me, even though in hindsight it was clearly what was going to happen. I’d like to think that was the subtlety of the plot rather than my being very dense but I fear it really was the latter. Given that Lou Diamond Phillips is not part of the regular cast and his character’s continuing presence on Destiny would create command issues with Young, something had to be done plot-wise to write him out. In the end, everything in this episode is a lead-up to the moment when Telford gets left behind. It’s well done and there is a good farewell moment between Telford and Young that is quite touching.

What is also well done is the sense of continuity; there are some great touches such as continuing wounds, discussion of what has gone before and particularly mention of Riley. Killing him was a very good way of reintroducing tension and angst about the characters. As Young ordered Brody and Volker onto the away team to the seeder ship, I immediately started to worry that one of them would end up dead too.

All in all, this is a nice outing for Universe. But perhaps the attempt to hide the fact that this was all about kicking Telford off Destiny is too well done and leaves behind a sense that there was very little plot otherwise. While I loved all of the moments packed into “Awakening,” moments do not equal a good plotty episode and I hope next time, there is more of a plot to go with the moments.

Previously published at Geek Speak Magazine.


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