Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review - Stargate Universe Season 1 Episode 14 Human

If there's one thing to take away from "Human," it's that Robert Carlyle and Louise Lombard did a fantastic job. Outside of that, the episode did not have a distinct direction, especially in the end where the episode turns towards Destiny and the Ancients, away from the character of Rush. "Human" was not a flashback episode revealing Rush's deep, dark past and how he came to be the person his is, but rather a look at Rush of the present, the one whose sole focus is to the Stargate, and in that way, the episode is problematic by presenting a flashback scenario which has little to do with Rush's past.

The episode begins with Rush's wife, Gloria, discovering she has cancer. Rush is detached, pouring, obsessively, over pages and pages of formulas and notes. It's a stunning sight to see Gloria in so much pain, and yet her husband all but ignores her. By now, I'm thinking Rush is a complete bastard, until Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) shows up, asking him about the power consumption of the 9th chevron. Rush knows exactly what happens next and the scene cuts to the Destiny where Rush is sitting in the Ancient chair to unlock the mysteries of the ship.

My big problem of the episode was the confusion over where Rush's memories begin and where his sub-conscious, the one solving the equations of the ship, ends. It was never clear exactly what happened in the past, so we have no clue exactly how Rush acted when his wife was dying. All we know for sure is that his wife died. Rush's subconscious kept injecting speech into Gloria and Daniel, projection for the conflict raging in his mind. Gloria and Daniel became stand-ins for parts of Rush's brain. Towards the end, Daniel became the rational part, giving Rush the clues, while Gloria became his conscious, asking him how far he would go to succeed.

The outcome is Rush's discovery that number 46 is significant. Because humans have 46 chromosomes and the Ancients love genes, the solution is short and elegant. Using the number 46, the scientists will, after many calculations, be able to unlock the ship.

The producers want Stargate Universe to be a darker show and they've had mixed results in doing so. Curiously, they also try to inject humor once in a while using flat actors, which fails each time. "Human" was perhaps the most egregious example of this. After everything bad that has happened over the first 13 episodes, Chloe and Eli still think they're out in space having fun. It's a great adventure! Let's go exploring! Sorry kids, people have died and both of you have come close to dying. Not that they really care.

When debating who should go to the planet, Eli and Chloe both want to tag along for no good reason. Eli is the more qualified out of the two since he's actually smart. Chloe, however, is as dumb as a doornail, but Eli wants her to come along, telling her "Say something archaeological." Chloe replies "Stratification." Cue laughter--except hours later, they are trapped in a tunnel. If they had any reason, they wouldn't be flippant about exploring the next time around, but these aren't people who learn from their mistakes.

James's detonates some explosives to get them out and it looks like the resulting explosion would have been enough to level the entire tunnel complex. For all the explosive force, everyone is still trapped and the cave in is worse. Hopefully someone is reminded of this next time James is put in charge of a rescue operation.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Greer, Chloe, Scott, and Eli left behind on the planet. They weren't given the easy way out and will have to deal with the consequences. It looks like Greer's claustrophobia, which was briefly referenced, will be the focus of the next episode. I've always been intrigued by Greer, so I'm looking forward to that, and maybe this time, it'll be real flashbacks.

Score: 8.6/10
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