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Review: Alliances


Alliances is the thirteenth episode in Season Two of Stargate Universe.

 

Review

“Alliances” is probably the first Earth-based episode that really (and literally) rocks, as it involves an attack on Homeworld Command by the Lucien Alliance just at the moment when Camile and Greer have used the communication stones to swap with Senator Michaels and Doctor Andrew Corvel. This is a solid outing; good story, great guest characters and all-round great acting. It just lacks two vital ingredients: Richard Dean Anderson’s Jack O’Neill and some believable depth to Greer and Camile’s past animosity.

I want to begin with Greer and Camile’s relationship because early episodes in Season 1 ("Air Part 1, 2 and 3" and "Justice") definitely indicated a big problem between the two characters, with hostility bristling in every look and interaction. All we knew for certain was that Camile thought Greer was a loose cannon and deserved to be locked in the brig, and he was apt to be angry at her treatment of him. Here the two are forced together by circumstance (trapped in the rubble of the Pentagon) and have to work together. I was excited at the beginning of the episode because I thought “at last! We’re going to find out what’s the problem between them!” Imagine my surprise when the problem seems to boil down to: Greer acts, Camile talks, and never the twain shall meet.

Huh??

I was expecting something big, something chunky; racism, homophobia, sexism, Greer threatening to space Camile when they were at Icarus, Camile seeing Greer kill someone as a foundation to her fear of him… something -- anything.

But, no. Greer acts; Camile talks; never the twain shall meet. Only, of course they do because this is Stargate and the core of the franchise has always been civilian and military personnel having to work out their differences to save the day. So, we have Camile and Greer setting aside their differences and working together; he saves her, she tries to save them all, they both warm up a little to each other enough that they are able to share personal confidences at the close of the show. It’s standard Stargate stuff; good, solid but not remarkable -- and I was so looking forward to remarkable.

Having said that, both Jamil Walker Smith and Ming-Na act their socks off and they do well with the material provided. They really sell the Earth scenes and give the search and attempt to disarm the bomb tension and gravitas. For me, it was an added pleasure finally this season seeing Smith’s Greer, one of my favorite characters, front and center because he always gives a great performance and here is no different.

Indeed the guest actors brought in for the sub-plot of the visiting Senator and Head of Research and Development to Destiny also do a fantastic job. Kathleen Quinlan is superb as the measured Senator Michaels, displaying a warmth in her scenes with Chloe which contrast nicely with her fencing with Young and Rush. The scene with Chloe is particularly well-done, highlighting the perception of Chloe as stuck and useless versus Chloe’s own sense of being useful and finding a purpose on Destiny.

Another joy was the casting of French Stewart as Doctor Andrew Corvel. Stewart also played the original Lieutenant Ferretti in Stargate: The Movie. While it might have been nice to have seen him in an episode returning to his original role (Ferretti was played by Brent Stait in Stargate SG-1), it’s difficult to see what excuse could have been given to have gotten Ferretti on board Destiny. Corvel is an interesting enough character, although really too much like Rush in many ways.

The subplot is not that interesting but presumably sowing seeds that will bear fruit later. Still, given the cancellation it was very ironic that the Senator and Corvel are supposedly there to provide a view on whether to continuing investing in Destiny and are skeptical, given Young’s leadership and Rush’s trustworthiness to date. The sub-plot was a little boring until it finally linked back up with the main plot and the issue over defusing the bomb and getting various people back in the right bodies. It was also good to see Mike Dopud’s Varro again. Dopud continues to deliver great performances.

But if it was great to see Dopud the other glaringly obvious missing guest was Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O’Neill. It’s not so much that O’Neill wasn’t physically in the episode (although it certainly would have made sense to have had him in the command tent at Homeworld Command with Telford), but rather that he isn’t mentioned at all.

AT ALL!!

O’Neill is the Head of Homeworld Security! There should have been some mention of him, even if it was Telford stating that O’Neill was the White House or elsewhere in an aside.

Overall, then there is a lot to like and not to dislike in the episode; there’s a decent story, great acting; great guest stars. But while the notion of civilian and military coming together to save the day is solid Stargate fare, this particular story needed to do more to explain the hostility of the past than the superficial and banal reasons provided here. Still, a solid outing, and it’s certainly the best of the primarily Earth-based SGU episodes yet.

Previously published at GeekSpeak Magazine

 


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