Stargate Universe: “Subversion” Review and Exposition

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Welcome back Stargate Universe fans!

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Click to visit NBC Universal Studios As with all of my recaps, the following contains complete spoilers. If you have not seen the episode yet, and do not want to read spoilers, please come back once you have seen the episode and share your thoughts.

According to Joe Mallozzi’s blog, writing partner Paul Mullie was responsible for delivering this suspenseful, spy-like script that truly felt like a mix of classic Stargate with the grittier edge of Stargate Universe. Alex Chapple was back, having previously directed Stargate Universe’s episode “Life.” Veteran actress Rhona Mitra joined the cast as Kiva, and Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis fan favorite, Mike Dopud was back as yet another character we can love. Beloved General O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) made a return visit. Personally I cannot get enough of our original team being back on the show and hope to see more appearances by them.

Rush (Robert Carlyle) is having a dream. He sees faces, the number 314. When things are specific like this, it always draws my attention. Obviously 314 could refer to pi (3.141593), but it is also the area code for St. Louis, Missouri. It is also a fan, Twitter @tenkeyspread’s birthday. Perhaps it is a hidden clue to the combination to the safe of Joe Mallozzi’s private stash of exclusive chocolates.  And perhaps it means absolutely nothing at all.  The dream sequence appears to cause Rush physical distress and he wakes up startled.

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He goes to Young (Louis Ferreira) who seems very disinterested that Rush had a dream. I love the line, “Everyone thinks their dreams are interesting. Nobody else cares.” It reminds me of the dreams that Joe Mallozzi talks about on his blog all the time; I picture Mullie and Mallozzi having this same conversation and it made me laugh. Rush begs to differ with that last statement, describing things about Icarus in detail. That got Young’s attention. “You dreamt you were the spy who leaked everything about Icarus to the Lucian Alliance?” Rush says he saw Colonel Telford’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) reflection in the car window.

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They call in Scott (Brian J. Smith), who is the only one that experienced the memory residual of the communication stones before. Young fills Scott in on Telford’s background of infiltrating the Lucian Alliance for over a year. Eight months into the assignment, there was an attack on a planet P2S569 and 37 people were killed. Telford knew about the attack and decided to do nothing because Telford said it could not jeopardize his cover. It reminded me of Churchill’s decision with what happened with the city of Coventry during World War II. Because the Nazi code was broken, they discovered there would be an attack on the city of Coventry. If they evacuated the city, then the Nazi’s would have known their code was broken and adopted a new code, possibly altering the outcome of World War II because their codebreakers would have to start from scratch. Churchill allowed the bombing to occur so the greater good could be served and more lives could be saved by ending the tragic war.

Young dismisses Eli (David Blue) who is stumped that Rush and Young would have secrets with each other to the exclusion of himself.

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There is a scheduled stone-swap in a few days. Dr. Rush volunteers to go on the mission as he is the one who had the dream. I was sensing Young did not entirely trust him. Young tries to convey the danger of such a decision because he will have no backup since they won’t know who to trust at Stargate Command (SGC). Rush has never liked Telford because Telford wanted him off the 9th Chevron mission. I liked “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” theme going on here between Rush and Young.

It looks like Camile’s (Ming-Na) shoulder wound has healed. She is upset and pings question after question to Young.  Young responds to her in one-word answers, yes or no, that made me laugh. Camile does not think it is a good idea to keep secrets from her; Young asks her to trust him.

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The communication-stone swap occurs, bringing Telford to the ship. He looks funny in Rush’s clothes. Rush is on Earth disguised as Dr. Morrison in Telford’s body. I bet Telford loved seeing Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) there to greet him. Telford demands an answer and Scott tries to give one to him, but calls Scott a terrible liar. I thought Scott did a good job, but I guess a colonel with Telford’s experience can spot such things. Telford asks for fatigues and gives this glance at Greer. Greer just staring at him, the eyes saying, “I am watching you” without a single word uttered.

If looks could kill (Greer glaring at Telford)

Young makes a trip to SGC through the stones. Authentication code 1619414. Another cryptic number. Area code for San Diego perhaps mixed with the first 3 digits of someone’s phone number? He tells General O’Neill what is going on with Rush and to put a special ops team together to follow him because he is going to ditch his escort, Staff Sgt. Graham (Trevor Carroll) who happens to enjoy the author, John Scalzi‘s books (Old Man’s War). John Scalzi is a creative consultant for Stargate Universe. Young isn’t sure if Rush is the mole or Telford is.

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The crew has a baby shower for TJ (Alaina Huffman). Some adorable little baby gifts are made, like a cute little onesie by Chloe. It was great to see Riley smiling. He made her a toy truck and adds that if it is a girl he can make her something else. This seemed helped alleviate some of the deep tension of the main storyline. Interrupting the festivities, Dr. Volker (Patrick Gilmore) asks Eli to come talk to him and Dr. Brody (Peter Kelamis), hoping Eli could tell them what is going on with Rush going back to earth and then Young. Telford discovers the baby shower, so he knows now that TJ is pregnant (if he did not know before) which means Young’s wife is going to know soon.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Rush is sure talented at getting away from people. It would be great to see some of what he went through on the streets where he grew up. He appears to have a lot of street skills there for just being a brilliant scientist. Daniel was sent to tail him. Rush goes to Telford’s place and breaks in.

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Young comes upon Camile and Telford in the Destiny hallway, seeing Telford ask Camile if she knew why Rush did the switch. She tells him she did not know until after the fact. She also shares that they are trying to keep her out of the loop; Young interrupts. Young now knows Camile’s allegiances change like the wind. He invites Telford to come speak with him personally to work some issues they have together.

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Rush figures the key is for a safe deposit box at the bank with the help of some bank statements. After assistance of a bank employee (Kathryn Kirkpatrick) to retrieve box 314, Rush discovers it is empty except for a cell phone. A call is placed.

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Young and Telford go to the still. Telford admonishes him about allowing alcohol on board. Young wants to “clear the air” a little bit. They talk about what Telford did with his wife, and Young reminds him that it is just killing Telford that Young is on Destiny when he should have been him. He asked what had changed because the Telford he knew would not have let 37 people die under his command.

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Back on Earth, Daniel keeps tabs on Rush (in Telford’s body). They wind up at a seafront area with members of the Lucian Alliance, including Varro (Mike Dopud). Although it would have been great to actually see Amanda Tapping in a cameo as Colonel Samantha Carter, in listening to General O’Neill’s communication with Daniel, it is presumed she is in the Hammond in space and she apparently is unable to get a fix on their location because the Lucian Alliance is jamming the signal. Another car rushes in with more Lucian Alliance members. The woman appears to know Rush (as Telford) is using the communication stones. Since it is Rush’s consciousness, he did not know there was a “code” to use. Using a Lucian Alliance’s version of a devil-pitchfork Taster, they hurry Rush away before the reinforcements Daniel summons could get there in time.

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TJ is overwhelmed about bringing a child aboard Destiny, imagining the life the child will have. Chloe (Elyse Levesque) provides her friendship, encouragement, perspective and hope.

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The photographs Daniel took ID the woman as Kiva, a powerful and brutal daughter of a Lucian Alliance warlord named Massin (not sure on the spelling of that). Daniel wants to break the link on the communication stones; Young wants to see what more intelligence they can find out, stating that Rush knew the risks going in. Daniel says they have no idea where Rush was taken, but Young wants a chance to get the info out of Telford. Daniel is the conscience of the group, “He still has rights, doesn’t he?” General O’Neill says, “He didn’t say how he was going to do it?” Young takes the pro-torture stance, saying that the “people who made the laws were not prepared for anything like this.”

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Rush wakes up on the Lucian Alliance ship, shackled in a painful position. His cover story is impressive: People were on to him (i.e., Telford), a concern that Kiva shares. Rush says he had to make it appear as if he were taken hostage to deflect suspicion. Kiva applauds his attempt, but still knows it is not Telford. Even though Rush provides her with her name (which I assume he got from his memory-bleed-over), Kiva still knows it is not Telford.

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Telford feigns incredulousness when Young accuses him of being a spy, continuing to maintain this is Young’s attempt to get back at him for hooking up with Emily. Young tells him that apparently when he crosses over, Telford apparently leaves a little residual consciousness behind, first in Scott (who told him about Emily), and now Rush. Young speculates the reason for that: Perhaps it’s Telford’s guilt, or perhaps deep down inside he wants to get caught.

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James Bamford and his team did an outstanding job for the stunt sequences, especially the fight scenes between Young and Telford and Greer and Telford.

You have to love Greer. He wants a shot at Telford. Young appreciates his enthusiasm, but he is not ready for Greer to do anything. I like that he said, “Not yet.” You’ve heard the phrase about someone “going postal.” I believe Stargate fans have invented a new term: “Going Greer” on a person. I loved how Greer looks through the little hole in the door into the room, this time Greer being the free man and Telford being the prisoner.

Back on the Lucian Alliance ship, Rush (as Telford) is being tortured. Kiva would prefer to use brainwashing methods but cannot predict what might happen to his mind in a communication-swap situation. Archaic torture will just have to do since Kiva has found it to be an effective method of intelligence-gathering. Zapping him with the devil’s pitchfork-like Taser continues.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Worried about Telford’s basic rights, Scott wants to make sure Telford has at least gotten food or water. He wants to go in there with him. Scott could be trying to protect his commander, Young, or Scott could be trying to be sure Telford’s basic human rights are attended to, or both. Telford thinks Scott is his accuser, but Young tells him it was Rush. Young says that he thought perhaps Rush was the mole, but it turns out Telford was. Young shares a picture Airman Dunning carries with him, the people who died on Icarus because of Telford’s traitorous ways.

When Young calls Telford a coward, Telford attacks Young. When Greer sees Rush beating the crap out of his commanding officer, Greer opens the door and starts beating on Telford himself. One must remember that Telford is in Rush’s body and we have already seen Rush and Young fight in the episode “Justice.” Telford would have the physical limitations of what Rush’s body can do, but still retaining his military training skills. Scott pulls Greer off Rush, begs with Young to stop, and Young orders them both out.

Telford is beaten by Greer, yet again!

On the Lucian Alliance ship, Rush (as Telford) has endured a lot of torture. Kiva promises him she will not kill him if he tells her who he is. As the torture device is about to unleash more agony, Rush screams out his name. The Lucian Alliance drops the bombshell: Not only do they have Rush’s research, but they have also found an Icarus-like planet! Holy Mother-Lode, Batman!

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Ruh-roh!

Young tries to get him to cooperate and in return, they will provide Telford with protection. He shares stories that might sway the conscience of Telford, like an officer named Sanchez who used to follow him around like a puppy. Young thinks the Lucian Alliance had brainwashed Telford. You can see in his eyes that Telford is bunkering down.

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Olan (John Murphy), of the Lucian Alliance, is honored to meet Dr. Rush when he arrives on the planet that has a Goa’uld mothership with an intact Stargate inside. Rush attempts to make a joke by pressing a button and saying, “I’m finished, ” but then comments, it is going to take some time, quite possibly the rest of his life. Is he speaking metaphorically there in that once he gives them the answer, he is a dead man, or that he does not know the answer because it was Eli who provided the final answer to the puzzle? Kiva thinks Rush is stalling, but Rush says Olan has been doing shoddy work. With a gaze of her eye, a garrote from a henchman ends Olan’s life. Rush then reveals that he was stalling, but Kiva doesn’t bat an eye. Rush understands how ruthless she is.

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Poor Olan; we barely got to know thee.

Camile confronts Greer about the rumors of what was happening in the room Telford was being held. Greer calmly tells her it is a military matter, but Camile reminds him it was decisions like this that led to the mutiny. Camile tries to manipulate Scott into at least telling her what is going on. Young gives them an order not to let anyone in as he goes off to talk to Stargate Command.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Volker, Brody and Eli keep tabs on the communication room, trying to guess who Young has brought back with him (General O’Neill), having switched bodies with Cpl Marsden (Ryan Booth). After saying hello to Riley (Haig Sutherland), he glances at his uniform. I love O’Neill and how his lines deliver the necessary humor to lighten the storyline a bit. “Corporal???” He then turns left out of the doorway instead of right, again offering the viewers a moment of levity.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

I loved the look on Colonel Telford’s face when he finds out General O’Neill knows about the situation and authorized the interrogation, which General O’Neill then corrects (about the authorization part). General O’Neill tells Telford it is time to confess. The gate address Telford gave them to check out was a dead-end.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

In a shocker-twisty-turn-my-world-upside-down moment, Telford’s demeanor completely changes. He has been playing them. He says it doesn’t matter; they can’t “stop it.” O’Neill asks, “Stop….what?”

Varro brings Rush some food and takes a bite to prove to Rush it is safe. “I didn’t say it was good.” Rush scarfs it down. Varro cannot wait to get onto Destiny. Rush asks, “What if I can’t do it? What if we fail to make a connection?” Kiva made a promise that she would not kill him and she would honor that promise, but Varro would kill Rush.

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Everyone has a twin on a planet, but triplets in two galaxies? Only Mike Dopud!

Telford tells them he was not brainwashed but was enlightened. After freeing all these people from the Goa’uld and patting themselves on the back, they left them to fend with little hope of surviving. He goes into an interesting speech about what made us so special, or if you will, who made us “God”, a notion that was introduced in Stargate: Continuum. O’Neill’s character, again in a way that only O’Neill can get away with, says “I know what makes me special. Destiny was supposed to be for the benefit of all mankind, not just people from Earth.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

The look says:  I’m pouring out my heart and you’re making a joke, General O’Neill?  Seriously?

Young did not realize how far gone he was. He asks General O’Neill to “take it to the next level”, a permission that is granted to him. Riley cuts the connection for General O’Neill on Young’s order.
Camile is waiting for Young, saying that Dr. Rush’s life is worth more than any intel they could gain on the Lucian Alliance and Young looks to Scott who confirms he told her. The look Young gives Scott for not following his orders–wow, if looks could kill. There will be repercussions for that misstep.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Young gives Scott a look that says, “I’ll deal with YOU later, son, for not following my orders.”

Young radios Dr. Brody to bring up life controls for the section they are in. He orders him to begin venting the atmosphere in Telford’s room into space. Dr. Volker and Eli look to and gather around Dr. Brody. Camile pleads with Young, Young tells her to stay out of it, and Camile turns to Scott to intervene before trying to physically intervene, but is stopped by Scott, with Greer standing between Scott and Young, once again, guarding his commanding officer. Young looks through the door hole and asks David if he can hear him to which he shakes his head yes in response. Eli cannot believe this is happening and insists it has to be a bluff. Brody is about to press the button and Volker tries to put on the brakes. Eli tries to physically stop him, but Dr. Brody swallows hard and presses the button.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

Now Brody will have to press the same button every 108 minutes for the rest of his life or a replacement is found (oh, wait, confusing that with Lost).

Young tells Telford he is venting the atmosphere in the room. He has 5 minutes before he dies. He wants the location of the Lucian Alliance base. Telford thinks he is bluffing. Telford says if you kill me, you kill Rush. What perhaps Telford does not know is that, well, Young has already tried to kill Rush, so he has been at this decision before, but he, too, is thinking of the greater good. Telford insists the door be opened. “We both know you’re not going to kill me.”

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Telford needs an Extreme Makeover here.

The curtain drops.

The US viewers will have to wait until June 4th to see the next installment in this fabulous 3-story arc.

Exposition

Disclosure: I venture into this territory with extreme caution because of the volatile state of this topic. WormholeRiders is not taking sides in this political argument, but trying to present the different sides to the same event in terms of making a comparison to what happened in this particular Stargate Universe episode. We respect everyone’s right to believe as they wish.

On my wish list of what I would have liked to see more of this episode was Varro (Mike Dopud); perhaps we will get to know his character better in the next episode.

Telford believes with all his soul that he is right. The lives on P2S569 were minor sacrifices in pursuit of a greater truth. Our noble intentions to free the Goa’uld from oppression resulted in deaths as a result of those intentions once the fall-out hit. It is similar to what happened in Iraq.

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(Airman Dunning’s fire team back on Icarus base, all who died in the attack on Icarus)

For whatever rationale President George W. Bush made to go into Iraq, and the points of view on both sides of the aisle are as many as the stars themselves. The end question is, “Did we make these people’s lives better?”

One side says millions of people fled the borders into other countries, some illegally, and have still not returned, which would signal a no response to the question. They would also add that, yes, their country was ruled by dictator who at times we allied ourselves with when it suited our needs. Under this dictator, they could count, though, on certain things of basic life–food, water, etc. Who were we, as a country, to tell the people of Iraq that the way they were living was wrong. They did not ask us to come “free” them. They were not involved in 9/11 although afterward we created such chaos that allowed Al Quaeda to come into the country in the aftermath.

The President held fast that his intentions were noble and he wanted to be seen as liberators. On the flip side of this question, those people who supported the action obviously agree with his intentions and believe these Iraqi people are better off without an oppressive dictation, whatever the cost was.  Of course there is fringe commentary in both sides of the spectrum, so I hope I have stayed in the middle of what the middle perceptions are of both for and against. Both camps will stand firm in their beliefs, never being swayed by the other.

How do the people of Iraq look at us? Once again, it is a mixed review. I imagine the same holds true for the galaxy in the Stargate universe. There are likely many factions who would like nothing better than to steal Destiny and use the ship to attack Earth. Perhaps the Lucian Alliance is one of those factions.

Click to visit SGU on Syfy

For President Bush, yes, there were casualties, both military and civilian on both sides, but in the end, he felt the greater good would be served. His detractors believe that we had no moral compass to dictate to another sovereign country what they should and should not do. There is no “truth” but only the perspective of one’s own mind and all that has made that person the person they are that day, as to what they consider right or wrong. One man’s wrong is another man’s truth. One person’s terrorist is another man’s hero. The same holds true for Colonel Telford.

The second interesting topic in the episode tonight was torture. Certainly we have seen far worse in other series. Anyone watching “24” will tell you that even as far as Jack Bauer’s standards, these last episodes of “24” were “gut-wrenching” (pun intended) in their portrayal of how far Jack will go to bring those to justice. We’ve seen our Stargate characters tortured before, but this is the first time I think they ramped it up a notch in the graphic level. My husband loved the addition of the garrote.

I appreciated Mr. Mullie’s approach to present the three sides of this argument, 1) Respect rights which were echoed by not only Daniel but in words and actions of Lt. Scott on the Destiny. 2) Neutrality — don’t ask me, don’t tell me, but get me the information. 3) Do whatever it takes to get the information.

I like that Stargate is injecting some “make you think” moments that have relevance in our current political world. I commend their effort and look forward to the first Friday in June to see where this story goes. My biggest fear is that in the end, they will allow Telford to hide behind the “brainwashing” theory; instead, allow Telford to live with the consequences of the choice he made.

WormholeRiders. Click to visit & follow WHR on Twitter!Hopefully we will see the Lucian Alliance wanting the Destiny not to feed their worlds, but for a power play, which will be devastating to Telford that he was fooled, but then he would become an ally for Earth again. We live in the edgier SG Universe now and it would be great if there were shades-of-gray morality without a tidy resolution. Great going everyone!

Click to visit Hilda (PBMom)on Twitter!Please feel free to leave a comment. I thank you for staying with me through this very long review and analysis.

I would appreciate your thoughts, but please keep to the subject matter and be respectful of other posters’ opinions.

PBMom (Hilda Bowen)

Hilda

4 thoughts on “Stargate Universe: “Subversion” Review and Exposition

  1. Thank you WR_Systems. I tried to keep the exposition fair-and-balanced. I thought the pictures with the actual energy transfer from the torture stick was cool.

  2. Hi Hilda,

    “Subversion” proves that #SGU is #Stargate just as I have always known and believed. Truly fantastic work. Exposition excellent and your handling of a delicate subject exquisite! Thank you,

    Best Regards,

    Kenn

Comments are closed.

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