Saturday, May 8, 2010

Review - Stargate Universe Season 1 Episode 16 Sabotage

We're finally here at the infamous "Gatefail," and I promise I kept an open mind. The most offending plot points people objected to in the script were expunged, but that didn't fix the episode. What remained was wholly contrived and I couldn't stop myself from saying "oh, come on" every few minutes.

The writers still seem fixated on getting a disabled person on board and experience use of limbs again. So, in one sense, the writers acknowledge that one can use another's body walk, But they also no problem in using his/her body for sex. This question of morality has never been asked and although very creepy things have happened, no one cares.

Amanda, the future savior of the ship, comes on board, and really, is she needed? There's absolutely no urgency to her arrival, no sense of impending disaster if she doesn't fix the FTL drive. Rush takes her around the ship, showing her the food they retrieved from other planets. It's a cutesy scene, but what about fixing the ship first?

And as it turns out, the problem isn't big at all. In fact, the exploded FTL drive actually helped, because it was the weakest link and if fixed would make the entire drive more efficient. All Amanda has to do is set the robot to repair and walk away. During the 3 weeks later montage, Amanda doesn't even do anything. The writers couldn't think of better technobabble, so they kind of shafted her so-called genius in order for her to interact with Rush not as scientists but as friends and possibly more. The writers did a terrible job balancing the science and the relationship, leaving a very lopsided episode for us to watch. Those who wanted a plot were probably disappointed and those who liked the relationship aspect of the show probably loved it.

Amanda had this thing for Rush when they worked together and now wants to sleep with him. Rush refuses not because it's Wray's body as Amanda suggests, but because his experience in the chair with his wife made him think it just happened. With that, Rush becomes a much more sympathetic character and the question of using bodies for sex is ignored.

Before the montage, Young decides to dial back to the alien planet Eli, Chloe, and Scott were on and find the aliens shooting back. They figure out that James had left the stones after the disconnecting without wiping it, allowing the aliens to take over her body and sabotage the ship. Aliens drop out of hyperspace and start shooting. Franklin takes over the ship and saves everyone by activating the FTL. Once they confirm the ship is in good order, Young checks on Franklin, but finds no one in the seat. Another cliffhanger! Sadly, it'll likely be resolved halfway into the next episode.

Too conveniently, once the ship drops out of FTL from the sabotage, Eli, Chloe, and Scott are able to dial back because Destiny is still in range. I would like to take back everything good I said about this storyline last week. I thought they would be stuck on the planet for several episodes and at the very least an entire episode. Maybe, just maybe, the writers would extend an arc and do something bold. But no, after the promising start of being stranded all alone, Eli, Chloe, and Scott come waltzing through the Stargate as if everything is fine, save for weird looks between Scott and Chloe. With that a huge problem is solved and a potential story is lost.

What perplexes me is the continuation of certain SG-1/SGA themes such as the overuse of deus ex machina and avoidance of others such as humor. If every dire situation resolves itself quickly and without any depth, why not turn the show into another campy sci-fi? Either the writers don't know how to write serialized television or they're not even trying.

I did like how Eli was changed since the last time we saw him on the ship. Whether it be his experience stranded on the planet or a general change in mindset, he seemed more sullen and even his jokes had less crackle behind them. His attitude towards Amanda, especially, was different than I would have expected. He's not that interested in her and doesn't want her to call him "math boy." His demeanor has change and it looks like reality has finally taken hold of him. They won't be going home anytime soon and they're situation still sucks.

Just when I thought the show had taken a positive turn, there's an episode like "Sabotage" that shatters my every expectation. My hopes for a long term arc are gone along with the belief that the writers have an idea of where to go. I'm not sure what to expect anymore.

Score: 8.0/10
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