If you have not seen Stargate Universe S1x13 “Faith” you may desire to stop reading now. This is a review with analysis. You have been warned.
One of the true episodic sagas of our age, Stargate Universe continues the fine tradition of Stargate made possible from the fantastically gifted actors and the creators of SGU, specifically MGM Studios and of course the many talented teams at “The Bridge” who bring this fantastic creation to us every week.
By the way our kudos to Craig Engler of SyFy for engaging the fans last night on Twitter during the east coast USA airing of “Faith”. His REDACTED re-tweets were especially enjoyable and WHR was honored to receive a non redacted re-tweet. Thanks Craig!
What is it that continues in “Faith”? First off a comment on the super costumes by the great Valerie Halverson whom we have reported on previously. Valerie does a more than wonderful job. The costuming in “Faith” are evidence of her skills Especially on the “camping trip” portion of the “Faith”. Coupled with the beautiful “hair down” effect on TJ, all I can say is thank you Valerie.
Back to the beginning of “Faith”. As you may recall we left off in “Divided”, after what amounted to a mutiny by the civilian elements attempting to wrest control from the Col. Young and military. Depending on your point of view it is a good thing the military retained control aboard the ship, but the damage interpersonal relationships was done.
Now come the consequences of what has happened melded with an episode that will simply blow your mind.
As we return to Destiny we see and hear the sounds everyday life, that of TJ’s alarm going off for instance.
We then move to Lt. Scott shaving the old fashioned way.
We observe MingNa thinking hard while cooking breakfast before she talks with Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) about whether he should be out of bed so soon after his surgery from the removal of the alien implant.As we pan throughout the ship we see that repairs are underway by various crews all in a requirement to recover from the damage from the attacks by the aliens from episodes Space and Divided.
Col. Young finds Dr. Rush working in the control room. He expresses genuine concern about what he is doing out of bed so soon after his operation to extract the alien tracking device.
Dr. Rush reports to the control room to help with repairs. When Col. Young arrives, it is clear from the expression on Dr. Rush’s face he does trust Col. Young and with good reason. Despite their truce this is going t be a rather sticky situation.
Col. Young knows (Justin Louis as Louis Ferreira) that what he did was wrong. On the planet after Dr. Rush was directly involved with the first attempt by the civilians to usurp his authority we know that Col. Young simply lost his temper in a fit of rage. Now Col. Young has to deal with the impact on others from his earlier actions. Both men felt they were doing the “right thing”. Both were wrong.
The wrongness of both men are coupled with the role of Camile Wray behind the scenes in her conspiracy with Dr. Rush in which she only further compounded a bad situation. We also see that Camile is re-assessing her complicity in the grab for power. So are the rest of the Destiny civilians. All are paying the ultimate price of decent people pushed to the brink, guilt for what they have done and damage to the symbiotic relationships they have.
Much as in real life when people do wrong things to further their own ambitions, some do so deliberately without assessing the damage they could inflict and seek to lay blame on others for their own shortcomings. People in life, even adults who should know better let their emotions carry them away often without regard to promises they have made to others and themselves. We witness this factor precisely as the Single Effect of the episode that is inherent in “Faith”.
As the episode continues the Destiny comes out of FTL and the crew is expecting a planet that Destiny is typically seeking for supplies and a sun to fuel up the power reserves drained by the recent battles. However there is no planet and the sun is a yellow dwarf that Dr. Rush discovers disrupted the course of Destiny due to its extreme gravity well.
When they arrive in what appears to be a void of stars, suddenly a star appears and so does a planet with what appears to be perfect Class M conditions! Moreover, the clock on the Destiny is not set to the expected limited time frame, but instead for over a month!
Further investigation reveals that the planet is real, but the planet is too young not matching the age of the yellow dwarf sun. This additional time is a nice departure from the pressure filled stops in other solar systems representing an opportunity to obtain a substantial amount of food, water and medicinal herbs needed by TJ.
The crew is taken by the wonder of creation after the disaster of conflict internally aboard Destiny and externally from the evil aliens seeking to obtain the secrets of Destiny seen by their attacks on Destiny in “Space”. Delving in another aspect of “faith” several think a divine entity is responsible. Others think that an advanced (new) race of aliens may be playing a role with benevolent intentions that could possibly help the crew return home to Earth. Others think it is just the way life happens. You know … “Stuff happens”.
In good faith (pun intended) we all learn about these factors in Stargate Universe episode 13. As I stated on Twitter, while watching the SyFy East feed on Comcast cable, this episode of Stargate Universe will blow the minds of all who love Stargate!
Who or what is responsible for the miracle of creation that they are on the doorstep of? Even though they know scientifically why Destiny came out of FTL and allow for so much time, all contemplate these questions.
One thing is clear though, with the extended investigation, the Destiny is on a parabolic course around the star and that is why the extra time that has been provided. With over four week’s time to perform the parabolic maneuver, Col. Young decides to send an expedition and link back up on the way out of the solar system to obtain a “ton of supplies”. First a short away mission is assembled.
Next we are treated to one of the reasons people love Stargate Universe in specific and Stargate in general, the superb special effects created by the team under the guidance of Mark Savela. The sequence of the shuttle detaching from Destiny and subsequent entering the atmosphere are so intense looking that I would swear I am viewing the “real thing”.
Atmospheric re-entry is followed by scenes of the planet swooping in for touchdown This is one of the very best parts in “Faith” is for fan geeks (looks in mirror) From Lt. Scott’s expression so does he.
Specifically when the Destiny shuttle is seen touching down on the verdant green planet. I remember the awe I felt when I watched the 1956 MGM classic “Forbidden Planet” when the interstellar cruiser C-57-D touched down on the surface of Altair Four. A truly ground breaking sequence filmed in 1955 with the special effects help of Walt Disney Studios 55 year ago as shown below.
Back to business: When we observe the wonder of “Faith” we see what the team of wizards (lead by Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela), have accomplished. Simply put it is another amazing feat of legerdemain. I often wonder if they know just how much they have advanced the state of the art?
Absolutely breathtaking sequences that should win an award! I have played the VFX sequences over and over again and enjoy with absolute glee as tribute to the outstanding work we are all being treated to! Thanks Mark and everyone on “The Bridge” team.
Next the expeditionary crew returns to Destiny to report their findings and receives approval to return to the young planet. When we say young, we mean only about 100 million years or so! After landing on the planet for the month long stay, we see a near altercation break out between a civilian and a lower grade military person break out reflecting the tension that remains from the past two episodes. Some on both sides are still holding a grudge, while others are doing what should be done, working to mend fences.
This Stargate Universe episode takes us where humanity often finds itself, pondering their “faith” hence the title of the episode. There are several poignant scenes as each character explores the aftermath of “Space” and “Divided”. The series characters delve into their own thoughts about what happens when as the folks in the UK might say; the “shyte hits the fan” between people.
I personally loved the latrine digging sequence with Sgt. Greer catching one of his subordinates ordering a civilian to dig the trenches for sanitation. Sgt. Greer intervenes and returns the favor and orders both of them to “dig” and tells them they will enjoy it! We see Jamil Walker Smith’s character really coming into his own in “Faith”. He tells Lt. Scott about the “Spirit of cooperation” and “We are all friends now”.
Perhaps a very good thing Camile Wray (MingNa) was not in charge on the planet when Greer orders “Get digging to both his soldier and the civilian” Classic humor has definitely returned to Stargate that is delightful to observe under the able direction of famed Stargate Director William Waring! Very nice work indeed William.
As the episode progresses, the expeditionary away team falls in love with the planet. TJ states “It is just like home”. Lt. Scoot and Greer take the shuttle out to explore the planet when suddenly an obelisk some 2000 foot tall is observed on the planet surface. Sgt. Greer remarks “looks like we were not the first ones here” proving that someone or something built the monument. More on the “super sized” Washington Monument like obelisk a bit later.
We also see a relationship of an amicable nature develop between Camile and Eli. Could it be a romance coming up between the two? Well everyone needs a little love in their lives and the scenes between MingNa and David Blue are exquisitely performed. Stay tuned for how this all plays out, but my opinion is that something is developing between Eli and Camile.
As they are discovering more scientific information, Eli has another geeky moment when he refers to another classic movie “Star Trek – The Wrath of Kahn” with a comment about “The Genesis Device” in reference to the young age of the planet. Once again the creators have the recipe just right!
During the preparation for the month long expedition to the planet we witness an interesting scene between two of my favorite actresses, Alaina Huffman (TJ) and MingNa (Camile Wray). Okay I will admit it I love the entire compliment of ensemble female actresses! All of them. Period. But that is a guy thing, a healthy admiration for the female cast members characters and the outstanding acting talent of MingNa, Alaina Huffman, Elyse Levesque, Jennifer Spence and Julia Benson . That is all I will say about that… for now!
Back to the point. MingNa expresses concern on whether or not Dr. Rush has made an error in his calculations. This is a reference to Dr. Rush’s lack of disclosure to her during “Space”. It is a most believable sequence and when TJ does a double take about Camile’s change of heart, it simply and more than adequately display something we all have, human doubt. Either way we know that the so called hard hearted Camile does have a conscience and is trying to mend fences herself. Naturally TJ with her high level of compassion absorbs the inputs, filing it away for future reference.
During the episode we also see more of Dale Volker (Patrick Gilmore). The fact that the writers are “folding in” the the supporting actors and actress is testimony to the breadth of the series. After our reporters met and spent a great deal of time with Peter Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore at the event we recently covered, I can report that not only are they great actors, they are very nice human beings.
Dr. Caine (Tygh Runyan) has an epiphany of a nature akin to religion when talking with Lt. Scott (Brian J. Smith). He believes that they were guided there by a divine source or entity. Others feel this way as well. His comment about fate and that only the hand of God could be responsible for their good luck. But there are others on the team that feel that such is just the way life is to avoid the “crap we step in”.
The distance we saw develop between Chloe and Lt. Scott has a moment as Chloe is bathing is the marshes. The music is wonderful and both look at each other longingly hoping to bridge the gap created in “Divided”
Later that night as Chloe and Lt. Scott are getting together at the campfire, the obelisk lights up beaming a laser like signal into the night sky. They party on the planet is over folks. With this development, Lt. Scoot reports into Col Young Is this an artifact from the evil aliens? I think not, but the mythology of Stargate itself is about to return. Trust me in this regard. It is going to happen.
Dr Rush (Robert Carlyle) also has moments of introspection realizing that he too has taken radical steps to blunt the power of the military on Destiny. As the episode continues the retrospective nature of Dr. Rush and each character grows as people rebuild the bridges they have destroyed in the previous episodes.
We also observe Adam Brody (Peter Kelamis) and Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence) working on the damaged shuttle under orders from Col. Young. Col. Young has learned from his mistakes and has decided to develop “new bridges” to the civilians, most of them at least as Dr Rush is still distant.
Then we learn something we have all suspected, TJ is pregnant and from an affair with Col. Young her former lover alluded to earlier in the series. However, as Chloe / Elyse is about to inform Lt. Scott TJ admits the facts to Lt. Scott. TJ and many on the surface including Lt. Scott, 11 in all have decided to stay on the planet and live a new life . Col. Young will have nothing to do with losing his military personal and puts his contingency plan into action.
Taking the not quite repaired second shuttle to the surface he issues an ultimatum using a “carrot and a stick”. Those that desire to stay can do so, but the military people must return under his direct orders. Either get on board the good shuttle to return to Destiny or he will take them all back at gunpoint.
Not surprisingly Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) is the very first to follow orders. Greer is an absolutely loyal character to Col. Young as we have witnessed previously. We observe Lt. Scott is struggling with the situation, but his good common sense takes over. By the way, Brian J. Smith delivered an eloquent performance that is wonderful to behold. Way to go Brian! What is not clear from the ending sequence is if Dr Caine or others remained on the planet. I suspect the answer is yes and we will see and interaction from this in the future.
Lastly, the scene with Dr. Rush carving chess pieces when Col. Young visits him are very nice. Attempting to break the impasse between them, Col. Young states that he enjoys playing chess. Rather an ironic metaphor since the two of them have been playing chess in real life with the fate of real people at stake. I am hopeful they will take this opportunity to move the “pieces of their problems” and their aggression to the board rather than at the expense of of everyone aboard Destiny.
In concluding my review many asked about the song featured on Stargate Universe ‘Faith‘. The song is called ‘All My Days‘ by Alexi Murdoch which played while the crew feasted from the spoils on the planet. The use was absolutely brilliant. We hear this wonderful piece several times throughout and as the montage draws “Faith” to a close. The continued use of music in Stargate Universe is simply wonderful. Keep it up MGM and “The Bridge” teams! You ROCK!
My grade for Stargate Universe “Faith”? Another straight “A”! Greatness. Bravo. TRULY AN EPIC SAGA!
Stargate Universe returns next week with episode 14 “Human” featuring a legend of the Stargate franchise, the one and only Dr. Daniel Jackson played by Michael Shanks at 9:00 PM East and West on SyFy. An episode surely you do not miss as the SGU saga continues.
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