Hello once again Stargate fans!
Stargate Universe continues this evening on SyFy at 9 PM east and west time zones. As Stargate Universe continued in “Aftermath”, “Awakening”, “Pathogen”, “Cloverdale”, “Trial and Error” and “The Greater Good” we experienced a continuing positive development of the story arc in general and expansion of the characters in specific. This and the next episode “Malice” are tied together and I assure you do not want to miss either of them!
However, be warned. Certain parts of the series, specifically episode seven “The Greater Good” are discussed in some detail. These passages should be considered spoilers if you have not viewed Stargate Universe episodes two through seven for yourselves. If you do not enjoy spoilers, please stop reading now. Thank you.
Before beginning, WormholeRiders News Agency expresses thanks to SyFy Publicity for making “The Greater Good” available to our team for pre air date review. We appreciate the courtesy extended by the Southern California SyFy Publicity staff for entrusting WHR with the digital material.
As is our standard procedure, this material is only viewed by senior members of our team and only for the purpose of pre air date review. WHR never shares the episodic material with anyone outside of our news agency respecting the courtesy that has been extended by the fine team at SyFy.
This review and analysis is not a recap of Stargate Universe episodes two through seven. Rather this review is an analysis of character development in the series touching on an exploration of various theories within Stargate Universe tied to the developing storyline. Although this analysis covers some material from previous season two Stargate Universe episodes, the images used herein are almost exclusively from “The Greater Good”.
Several real treats have been experienced beginning with and under the direction of our favorite Stargate directors, William Waring, Andy Mikita, Alex Chapple, and SGU new comer, the multi-talented Robert Carlyle (in Pathogen) who also portrays Dr. Nicholas Rush in the series. And what an outstanding job they performed working with the material of series creators and writers Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper and Joseph Mallozzi!
Throughout the first seven episodes of season two of Stargate Universe we also observe ongoing and excellent special visual sequences from the team lead ably by Mark Savela of The Bridge Studios who was nominated for an Emmy for his superb accomplishments.
Based on the accomplishments of the MGM Team at The Bridge Studios, there is little doubt in the minds of Stargate franchise supporters that Stargate Universe represents a quantum leap forward in series complexity with much thoughtfully accomplished hard work by the creators whom continue the Stargate franchise. We will share more thoughts on the benefits of supporting Stargate Universe at the end of this review.
Therefore, let us begin then with a discussion of “The Greater Good” featuring the return of William Waring as the episodes director. We will then reflect back on the some of the characters and their development in previous episodes of Stargate Universe season two.
At this point in the second season it has become quite obvious that the actual bridge of the Destiny has been under Dr. Nicholas Rush’s control for some time. However it has not been revealed directly just how long Dr. Rush has actually known about “his secret”.
While this factor has been alluded to in previous episodes of Stargate Universe, in “The Greater Good” you will learn precisely when Dr. Rush gained access and what he has been planning all along the way. We can share this, viewers will be surprised when they find out who among the cast (crew) actually discovers Dr. Rush’s secret and what the consequences of that discovery will be.
In “The Greater Good” we will see the relationship that Eli (David Blue) has developed with Ginn (Julie McNiven) continues to flourish. Above this Eli – Ginn relationship, which pleased many that Eli has a love interest, a fateful event will unfold leading to S2x08 “Malice”, the second part of the “The Greater Good”.
Amanda Perry (Kathleen Munroe) in Ginn’s body via the Ancient Communication Stones will play a key role revealing several items using both direct and indirect methods about where the Destiny has been and what the mission of the ship has been since the Ancients apparently left the ship untold eons ago. Under the guidance of Amanda – Ginn we will all learn what has been the obsession that has consumed virtually all of Dr. Rush’s (Robert Carlyle) motivations.
Speaking of the Ancients, aliens and alien ships, the contributions of Mark Savela are not to be discounted. Will there be new alien ships? Yes. Will we see new alien species as the story continues? Yes. How do they play a role in the epic story of Stargate Universe? To learn those secrets will require that SGU enthusiasts (you) to tune in to SyFy in the United States and see the wonder for yourselves in “The Greater Good” and in episode eight “Malice” (which we will also review pre air date).
Of galactic import, and I do mean that seriously, Stargate Universe “The Greater Good” delves into real science dovetailing the series characters The Ancients most effectively. I will not reveal the precise nature of the revelations, but will share this; The use of real science theory has always been a part of the Stargate franchise as a foundation of the story line. In episode seven we learn how and what our beloved Stargate Ancients learned and why Dr. Rush has been so obsessed with his quest aboard Destiny. In “The Greater Good” we will also learn that others in the Destiny crew will internalize these science based theories. These facts within the story arc will do much to draw the crew of Destiny closer together.
“The Greater Good” to borrow a phrase from Brian J. Smith is a “Rubicon” episode. In the episode a great tragedy will occur that will likely break the heart of many who follow the series. I cannot reveal what occurs at the very end of the episode, but will say this; “The Greater Good” ending sequence sets up episode 8 “Malice” (which has stunning location shooting in New Mexico) very nicely. In fact the underlayment in “The Greater Good” illustrates the epic nature of Stargate as they have always done in the past.
We will continue now with a look at several (but not all) characters of Stargate Universe. We will follow up is future reviews and run character analysis of the entire cast of fabulous actors and actresses as season two continues.
In the opinion of this reviewer, above the award winning type of special effects, it is the character development, hence the writing that demonstrates how well the Stargate Universe story arc have been depicted. I will also discuss the quality of the special effects as they impact the characters. Direction, location shooting and cinematography will be discussion in future analysis. Included are select images courtesy of SyFy and MGM Studios for news analysis and review purposes.
Stargate Universe represents a fine example of detailed story telling in the tradition of Stargate continuing the epic saga begun 16 years ago with the original movie, now on board Destiny. We resume the adventure subsequent to the crew regaining control from an invasion by agents of the Lucian Alliance who continue their quest for dominance over Stargate Command’s access to Ancient Technology in the Milky Way galaxy and on board Destiny.
The story arc is one of conflicts arising from the consequences of the failed attempt by the Lucian Alliance to take control of the Destiny for their own evil agenda, an impending attack on Earth by the Lucian Alliance. In fact the Lucian Alliance discussion sets up the possibilities of follow on Stargate movies very nicely. But I am digressing a bit.
With some now freed from being locked up, the majority of the Lucian Alliance survivor prisoners faced being deposited on a planet facing an uncertain fate due to limited food supplies aboard Destiny. This has in fact occurred. Individuals who cooperated with the crew of Destiny, noticeably ‘Ginn’ Julie McNiven and Varro (Mike Dopud) are given more access to the ship and even lend a hand in “The Greater Good”. Others like the evil Dannic (Ian Butcher) are not so conciliatory as you will observe yourself.
Forced by Dr. Rush to a planet of dubious merit as a source of food, a disaster unfolds with the death of one of the more well liked characters Sgt. Hunter Riley (Haig Sutherland). Many felt genuine loss of Riley who may yet re-appear in future episodes based on the momentum of the story. You will see why in a few moments as I theorize on this likelihood.
In ‘Aftermath’ through ‘Trial and Error’ , we observe the series alternating protagonist and antagonist Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) once again displaying recalcitrant behavior to Dr. Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence) after awaking from a nightmare about his torture by the Lucian Alliance in earlier episodes. In “The Greater Good”, we see that Dr. Rush’s secretive nature about his obsession has devastating consequences.
The nightmares reflect that Dr. Rush himself is a tortured soul and has been ever since the loss of his wife Gloria Rush portrayed by Louise Lombard. We were originally introduced to Gloria Rush in the heart rending Stargate Universe episode “Human”. In Aftermath and beyond we become reacquainted with Gloria Rush and other ‘dead’ characters we will discuss in a moment.
As long suspected by the viewing audience, Dr Rush has been clandestinely investigating the location of the bridge of the Destiny and keeping his findings secret from Col. Young. In Aftermath we learn that he has found the bridge in a special effects sequence of outstanding perspective by Mark Savela’s team of special effects gurus.
During the time on the Destiny bridge, Dr. Rush is visited by what I can only describe as apparitions from his past no doubt either from his subconscious mind being influenced by Ancient Technology on Destiny itself. The first returning character is his wife Gloria Rush who chides him for keeping the bridge of Destiny a secret. One can assume that Rush has had access to the bridge for some time since he has continually come up with answers to the crews problems time and time again in search of planets to sustain the crew aboard Destiny.
The question arises; how long has Dr. Rush been accessing the bridge? My theory is ever since ‘Human’ (indirectly) when he was interfaced with the Destiny after the death of Dr. Jeremy Franklin (Mark Burgess) in the Ancient Chair which Dr. Rush survived. In the secret bridge location Dr. Franklin returns in Dr. Rush’s mind to warn him of oversights on a pending shuttle mission to a planet with a malfunctioning Stargate.
I find the use of ‘dead’ characters quite revealing. Dr. Rush talks with these two characters figuring out that the apparitions are likely being caused from some sort of neural interface between his mind and Destiny. One is instantly reminded of the holographic interface room in Stargate Atlantis where Ascended Ancient Morgan Le Fay was actually taking part in the Lantian device revealing knowledge to Dr. Daniel Jackson and Vala Mal Doran in ‘Pegasus Project’. Could the same be happening in Stargate Universe aboard Destiny? I believe so, but that exact reference remains to be delineated by the creators.
Therefore, the hypothetical question is: are there Ascended Ancients in the galaxy helping Dr. Rush? My theory and answer is a definite yes there are. Although we do not know where the original crew of the Destiny went, in the opinion of this reviewer, the apparitions are the Ancients way to guide poor Dr. Rush find the path to ensure the survival of the humans aboard Destiny in this galaxy.
As the story progresses, the second question on this point is whether or not Dr. Rush will put two and two together and figure it out in his self inflicted state of obsessive exhaustion. These factors caused him to make mistakes leading to the death of a crewman. We see in Aftermath the results of Dr. Rush’s exhaustion. This awareness by Dr. Rush to the presence remains to be seen, but I am hopeful because I do not believe Dr. Rush is evil. He is simply obsessed with the mission that Destiny has embarked on with its new crew. However, Dr. Rush’s obsession appears to be blinding him to the truth which we learn more about in “The Greater Good”.
The development and continuing expansion of the Camile Wray (MingNa) character is a wonderful to behold in season two of Stargate Universe. In the previous episodes we all witnessed the total mastery of this great actress upon more than one occasion. In “The Greater Good” we observe that Camile has made peace with her failed attempt and plays a much stronger characterization role.
In specific the scene at the end of season two episode one ‘Intervention’ with Lt. Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman) was heart wrenching and inspired. In Aftermath, we see further evidence of the talent inherent in MingNa’s performance when she interviews the Lucian Alliance character Ginn portrayed by Julie McNiven. MingNa is an anchor character in Stargate Universe that is not to be overlooked nor discounted. Her talent is outstanding as witnessed by her facial expressions and body language in several scenes with Col. Everett Young (Justin Louis as Louis Ferreira). MingNa’s acting skills are simply exquisite!
The Camile Wray character portrayed by MingNa has grown dimensionally with each appearance in Stargate Universe to the point of delighting this reviewer. I expect much from Camile as she continues to expand her influence on Destiny. We know that the civilians already trusted her well before the failed attempted to take over the Destiny in season one. Importantly since the return of Stargate Universe in season two, we witness a healthy measure of respect between her and former nemesis Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) in several sequences that include a “nod” from Sgt. Greer to Camile as he protects the crew from the likes of Simeon (Robert Knepper) of the Lucian Alliance.
One of the greatest impacts of her characterization is MingNa’s scene with Col. Young in ‘Trial and Error’ when he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Despite her disdain for what Col. Young did to Dr. Rush, MingNa has illustrated (in her character Camile Wray) that compassion must be well acted to be believable. MingNa does an excellent job in doing so. We do not see much of MingNa in some recent episodes, however we know that her influence is there by the way the crew, civilian and military are behaving themselves and working more like a team. I for one look forward to more of MingNa as Stargate Universe continues in season two and hopefully in season three.
Newcomer Julie McNiven as Ginn is a nice addition to the cast scheduled to appear in five episodes of season two of Stargate Universe. 30 year old McNiven, a versatile actress perhaps best known for her roles in Supernatural and AMC’s Madmen is most believable as Ginn. An apparent victim of the Lucian Alliance, Ginn has been forced into servitude for fear of harm to her family.
We certainly can thank Ginn (Julie McNiven) for disposing of the evil Dannic portrayed by Ian Butcher. In the sequence with MingNa when she is interviewed as part of Aftermath, we want her to be included in future episodes. I for one am sad she is only scheduled for one more episode.
What happens in “The Greater Good” will answer the why of this question much to the shock of the viewing audience with a scene reminiscent of Stargate SG-1 and use of the Ancient Communications Stones. I cannot share what this secret is without ruining the fun for you the viewers, but the end sequence and the beginning of “Malice” will certainly make for interesting story telling.
One of the series strongest new character actors is veteran Stargate performer Mike Dopud as Varro. Mike Dopud has appeared in all three incarnations of Stargate and he simply excels as the Lucian Alliance character Varro in Stargate Universe. From his first appearance in season one ‘Subversion’, we have seen several times that he appears conflicted but is not truly evil. This was evidenced in a scene with Lou Diamond Phillips. Mike is scheduled to appear for seven episodes extending into the second half of season two in episode ‘The Hunt’.
Speaking of Lou Diamond Phillips, a principle character in the series as Col. David Telford, we observe that he remains loyal to the crew of Destiny after being de-programmed he had been assigned to guard duty over the lock up with the Lucian Alliance, not a very choice assignment. For his role for being in cahoots with the Lucian Alliance, Col. David Telford is treated somewhat as a second class citizen by Col. Young. In a scene with Varro, Col. Telford appears to be downtrodden, but his character is by no means defeated as seen in Cloverdale.
In a highly effective portrayal of Col. Telford guarding in the lock-up, we are treated to a fight scene in which Telord (Lou Diamond Phillips) pulls Col Young (Justin Louis as Louis Ferreira ) off of a Lucian Alliance soldier whom he is literally banging the head into the floor. After a fight breaks out in the makeshift brig, if not for Col. Telford, I do believe that Col. Young would have literally choked the Lucian Alliance soldier to death.
There is good in Col. Telford displayed in his act of stopping Col. Young. The ultimate fate of Col. Telford may well be dependent on this act witnessed by Camile Wray (MingNa), Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) and other crewman. He ultimately makes the greatest sacrifice staying behind on the alien infested ship to allow the others to escape. However, Telford is not gone. if you check the future episode listings, note that we will see more of Lou Diamond Phillips’ superb acting as Stargate Universe continues in season two.
Moving back to Dr. Rush’s errors in judgment, he sends the crew on an away mission lead by Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) in the company of Eli Wallace (David Blue), Lt. Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman), Second Lt. Vanessa James (Julia Benson), Dr. Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence), and Dale Volker (Patrick Gilmore). Dr. Rush’s errors in judgment become completely exposed in “The Greater Good” in a confrontation between Col. Young and Dr. Rush. For fans of this confrontation be prepared for a turn-about in Dr. Rush when the shoe is placed on the other foot so to speak. It is a subtle touch in “The Greater Good”, but nevertheless Dr. Rush reveals what I stated earlier, there is good in this character as you will see for yourselves.
Concluding for now, some people and groups have chosen to live in the past and unfairly blame Stargate Universe for the non-renewal of Stargate Atlantis. They are simply put just plain incorrect in such an assessment. Anyone who has worked in the entertainment industry (such as myself), knows that SGU was not responsible for the non renewal of SGA.
Some misguided individuals are of the same ilk as when SGA continued after Stargate SG-1 was not renewed for an eleventh season. People need to understand that entertainment is a business not a right or an inevitability simply because people want a series to continue. People and groups that protested the non renewal of SG-1 in 2007 and SGA in 2009 must understand that the business realities of advertising revenues dictate whether a series will be funded for additional seasons and live on or not. Therefore be happy and toast to Stargate Universe!
Such individuals protest too much (especially on Twitter) making claims that they would confront the celebrities as if the celebrities make the business decisions. Several ran up their ego’s Saturday night before the appearance of Brian J. Smith and Elyse Levesque at TriCon in Los Angeles. As it turned out these so called experts are very brave when hiding behind a keyboard, but are reticent to make a scene in public where their transparency would be exposed for the world to see for what it is: keyboard bravery.
Notably amongst these are Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica which had their initial runs in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. The protests by the critics and the fans by their failure to support the studios and creators lead the creators to place the franchises “on the shelf”. These two series returned, but it took many years, sometimes decades for the franchises to return in movies and new series. People that attack Stargate Universe are risking the same fate. So ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Do you want more Stargate in movies and television series? If your answer is yes, then be thankful for all the painstaking work the Stargate creators, crews and actors have gone through to continue the franchise over the past 16 years.
2. If you do not enjoy a series, then why are you watching and complaining? Doing so is like spitting into the wind or urinating on one’s self. Be respectful of the creators, the studios and the actors and critically to yourself. If you do not like a series then do not watch it. Do not go around the Internet making “loud noises”. Remember that if you do, you have no right to complain because you did not support a series and or franchise that was discontinued because you the fan failed to support it.
3. Think of the Stargate franchise (and other shows and movie franchises) like a family with children. Is it appropriate to say “I love one child more than the other”? Or is it appropriate to say “This child is not as good as the other(s)”? And lastly if you are a parent, would you like it if someone referred to members of your family in such a fashion? Hardly.
Let us set the record straight. First the actors are doing the jobs they were hired for. To attack them is reprehensible conduct displaying behaviors similar to grade school children. Second, over the past 44 years the fans of several series buried their favorite series franchise producers by failing to support the programs by watching the shows live only to complain when a show is not renewed. Shame on you and learn this: You cannot have it both ways. Support the actors, creators, crews and studios whom are simply doing their jobs. Please do not snipe at them.
We leave you now but will return with more about Stargate Universe in the near future. Thankfully Stargate Universe returns this evening on SyFy at 9 PM East and West. I hope you enjoy “The Greater Good” as much as I have.
As mentioned, Team WHR of reporters will have more special Stargate Universe news reports very soon about S2x08 “Malice” and beyond!
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