You asked for a gritty, depressing Stargate space opera, and now Stargate Universe is delivering a gritty, depressing space opera. The death toll on SGU hasn't let up, and this episode wasn't afraid to kill off a few more souls.
Two major things happened last night on SGU: Rush found the "real" bridge for Destiny, and Sgt. Hunter Riley died. But while those moments were both very important, I was hit way harder by a different plot point — Rush's karmic smackdown from the Ancients when he tried to take the crews "destiny" into his own hands. But more on that revolution later, because Franklyn's back!
Rush is having torture nightmares, so he gets up and berates one of the "lesser" scientists for her lack of Destiny knowledge, while trying to reboot the ship. Clearly, Rush doesn't want help, and certainly doesn't want to give it to anyone. It's the old SNL Nick Burns IT Guy routine again. While grumbling through the dark hallways of Destiny, Rush stumbles upon the actual Destiny Bridge. It's that easy. [Yes I know the ship is pointing him there, still she didn't have to show him the Bridge that early! It was very huh, oh ha. So that's the bridge. As opposed to THE BRRIIIIIIIDGEEEEE]
Ah well, so it happened relatively easily and in the first few seconds of the episode — who cares, we just found out that either Rush is crazy and seeing people (a la Baltar) or that the Destiny can project visual representations of people from the crew's minds into this new Bridge. I say this, only because Franklyn is back! After disappearing into the super brain chair, he's back — kinda. I don't really have much else to say about this new added element. It could either be great, or get really old, really fast. I'll have to see more from Franklyn and Rush's wife, to form a more solid opinion. Uncovering the Bridge itself, however, was very exciting. First, it's a pretty gorgeous little part of the ship that we haven't seen yet. And I imagine it will get much more exciting when Rush stops being such a Destiny hog and lets the rest of the crew up there. After all, Rush said it himself: Destiny was made to be flown with a crew. So teamwork people!
But all the kidding aside, the best part about discovering the new bridge was watching Rush completely fumble his chance at absolute power. By grabbing Destiny's wheel, Rush basically killed Riley. This throws a major wrench in his "I'm the best when it comes to Destiny" grandstanding. And I can't wait to see what will happen, now that that whole chip on his shoulder has been knocked off. He'd better feel bad, because right now Young is feeling bad enough for the entire crew. It's time for Rush to take on more responsibility, as opposed to continually sweeping his decisions under the rug.
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There's a kerfuffle on board over the remaining Lucian Alliance prisoners. Young, naturally, wants to gate them off onto the first planet they can find. Wray, naturally, thinks they should keep them all on board to slowly deplete the food reserves. But somehow everyone is OK with keeping the leather-clad Lucians who are deemed worthy by the Earth-bound top brass, and just gating the rest onto the planet with "volcanic activity" — granted only Rush knew about the volcanoes, but still. How is this better than not leaving them ALL there? Questions, questions, but at least we have some new characters. And a few more faces that the rapidly unraveling Young can vigorously beat into a bloody pulp.
The second biggest moment for this episode was easily the death of Riley. I did NOT see Riley going out the way he did — Young's eye contact choke out was really terrible. But bad in a good way. Bad in a "I'm putting my hands over my eyes, this is upsetting" way. Which was the point. It was sad saying goodbye to Riley, but his exit was an important one. Besides the baby, this was the first real character to get the axe that perhaps some of us had an emotional attachment to. Much more so than the bald soldier who really, really, really needed sleeping pills. Plus this recent death continues to sour the minds and hearts of the crew. How any of them will have the will to go on or lead, I have no idea. I expect Riley's exit will impact Young and Rush the most, since they're both directly responsible for his death. Rush, by sending him on a death trip. And Young, for literally suffocating Riley.
Would I have put this emotional episode right after the baby death? Probably not, but I wouldn't have changed much. I enjoyed this episode, as slow as it seemed, from the burried gate down to Riley's Kino farewell, which was thankfully sappy-music-montage-free. SGU always claimed that this series would be dark and sad, and it looks like it's finally unafraid to play with death. And not the senseless, faceless, "Let's throw some fake blood on the gate room floor" shoot-out deaths way — but real loss. Riley was a real character, and his departure will be felt in a real way among the crew on Destiny. And hopefully, he won't appear later in the season on the alien obelisk planet, along with TJ's baby.
So long Riley. Your death, while sad, was the first real adult death in SGU and puts this show further down the dark path it aims to explore. Here's his final goodbye, even though at the time he didn't know he was making it.
Predictions for the future? Riley's death is just going to destroy Young. Meanwhile, Rush might try and make up for his actions in this episode by messing with Destiny's "destiny" yet again, and putting the whole crew in peril. As for the rest of the crew, I'm not sure — we haven't spent much time with Chloe, Eli, or Scott just yet. Hopefully we'll get back into that whole love triangle soon!
Also thanks for explaining the whole who the Lucian Alliance people are and why they want the Destiny. Even thought some of us know this already, it was needed. Maybe even in season one.