Hey Stargate Universe Fans!
The first time I watched Divided, I was struck by two things: that the episode feels more like a continuation of Space than a wholly separate episode, and that after the events of the episode life on board Destiny would be markedly different. The episode is primarily focused on the characters and the consequences of their choices – both those they are making in the here and now, and choices already gone by.
As I have said before, one of the things I’m most enjoying about SGU so far is that we continue to see repercussions from previous episodes. Up until now, tensions aboard Destiny have been running high and in Divided, written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, that simmering finally erupts into a boil.
The very first scene is one which, at first, I found rather intriguing simply for the glimpse into Chloe’s psyche; that, and I rather like the shooting style and lighting used throughout the scene and I felt Elyse Levesque (who plays Chloe) did a rather wonderful job with it. Upon further reflection, though, I think that the scene actually serves as a metaphor for every single member of the expedition: though they are able to see their loved ones via the communications stones, in some ways it must make the entire experience all the worse. In this way, it is as if you are trapped behind a glass wall able to see and maybe talk to the people you love, but never touch them or return to their sides.
There is this possibility to go and visit with your loved ones, but at the end of the day you must return to the sobering reality that you may never see them in person again. In some ways I think that the stones, emotionally, do the characters a disservice – leaving aside the many arguments I have heard for and against the stones as storytelling devices – as it means that they are not entirely forced to accept their new reality; in comparison to if they were completely isolated and forced to grieve and move on.
After watching the episode, I can tell you that ‘divided’ is an extremely appropriate name: not only are there divisions between individuals, but also between the expedition as a whole. Since the moment the survivors came through the Gate to Destiny, we have seen factions develop among them, the primary division being between the military and the civilians. And since the events in Space when we witnessed machinations between Wray (Ming Na) and Rush (Robert Carlyle), arguably the most influential of the civilians, and several other scientists including Brody (Peter Kelamis) and Volker (Patrick Gilmore), it was obvious that the timetable for a confrontation between the groups had been accelerated – primarily as a consequence of Colonel Young’s (Louis Ferreira) choice to abandon Rush on the planet.
One thing which surprised me, pleasantly, was that some of the characters, and the choices they made in Divided, actually did surprise me. This may not sound like much, but I often find that once I get a pretty good handle on a character, I’m not surprised by their choices. And in this episode of SGU, it wasn’t so much that I don’t understand some of the choices that characters made, but that, in all honesty, I did not see them coming.
As we continue to get to know different shades of the characters aboard Destiny, I find that something I really enjoy about them is that they have layers. Things are never quite cut and dry because we keep learning about different aspects of these characters. For instance, initially Young seems like a rather straightforward fellow, but then he made the choice to leave Rush on the planet. In Divided I saw another side to Rush and, although I am still not entirely sure his moral compass at times, I really would like to learn more about his backstory. In a recent interview Louis Ferreira talked about “Team Young” and “Team Rush”, and how things are rarely that simple, and I tend to agree. I think that, as we see more of life on board Destiny, the very fact that these characters are so complex means that we are likely to see shifting loyalties as different events occur – or, rather, I hope that we see shifting loyalties.
My favourite scene in Divided occurs in a discussion between Chloe and TJ (Alaina Huffman) in which TJ pretty much hits the nail on the head in terms of what I think is the crux of the problem: you cannot force a confrontation with a military force given that armed conflicts are their specialty – it would be analogous to an amateur challenging a Grand Master to a game of chess and expecting to emerge victorious. On the one hand, I see where the military side is coming from in that when survival is at stake you don’t have time to take a consensus every time you want to take action; on the other hand, most of the people on board Destiny have no desire to live under a military dictatorship.
I think part of issue stems from the fact that Col. Young chose to abandon Rush on the planet: like Dr. Caine said, how do the civilians know that Young just won’t choose to abandon them like he did Rush? At first I thought that it wouldn’t be such a big issue because we have seen a military leader in charge of an expedition before when Colonel Samantha Carter was in charge of Atlantis for a time in Stargate Atlantis; however, under those circumstances she was still answerable to the civilian government back on Earth. We have seen before that Young, although he is still a member of the United States military, can ultimately make his own choices on board Destiny given that there is no way for those people back on Earth to control him.
Rush and Chloe
After Space, I had hoped that we would continue to see effects from the confrontations with the aliens, in particular, effects on Rush and Chloe – and this hope was fulfilled in Divided. When you consider what they went through, it must have been a rather traumatic experience; one which Rush seemed to have dealt with far better than Chloe. I think that may be because Rush was able to turn the neural interface around on his captors and use it against them while Chloe was left feeling powerless, and I hope that after this episode we continue to see the aftereffects of her capture.
I also like seeing a different side to Rush when he deals with Chloe. He is the only one on board who could really understand what she went through, and that shows in their interactions. We saw elements of the shift in their relationship at the end of Space, but I enjoyed seeing that carry over.
I think we saw another facet of Young’s personality in this episode: he wields silence as a weapon as well as he does an automatic gun. It is far easier to dismiss someone who is ranting angrily than it is to dismiss someone who is calm and rational. Silence can be as powerful a tool as any great oratory, and we see that in this episode. I also think that given what we have seen of Col. Young so far this kind of reaction fits well with his character. Even though Young seems to behave irrationally at times, for example with Rush and with Colonel Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips), it seems as though when he is dealing more with command issues than with people with whom he has a more personal conflict that he is rather level-headed.
As we started to see in Space, there are several characters who were slightly more background up until how who have begun to take on more of a role in the main plot. The most notable of these is Camille Wray. Although we knew that Camille had misgivings about having Young in command, we saw her telling one of her IOA bosses that she wasn’t sure which side was the one with which she ought to side. At the end of the Space, we saw her meeting with Rush and several other civilians at the inception of a plan to do something about Col. Young and that plan comes to a head in Divided. One aspect of this which I enjoy is that we are beginning to see Wray come into her own as a heavy-hitter among the crew, so to speak. She has taken on a leadership role not by way of her position among the IOA, but rather because of the fact that she seems to be listening to the civilians on Destiny and making her voice heard. Whether this is due to the fact that she wholly believes that there should be civilian oversight or because she wants to have more influence on board, I am not entirely sure yet.
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