Stargate Universe season one has ended. But where do we go from here? After the less than exciting finale we've got a few opinions on who should die, who should live, and which monster should return.
SGU is wrapped. And to be honest, it took me a few days to really work up the will to write about it. The second half of this new series was really where this show seemed to hit its stride, so needless to say I was a bit bitter/disappointed about the finale. "Incursion Part 2" seemed like a ten-minute tack on to "Incursion Part 1." Everything that was established last episode was re-established. Followed by a quick and hasty hand off to the Lucians and a everyone running in slow-mo at the climax.
Yes there were plenty of interesting and exciting moments. Kiva and Telford's shoot-out was pretty spectacular and kind of hilarious. And watching Young get bullied around by the Lucian Alliance biker army was pretty brutal. But the entire episode was filled with a lot of repetition of stuff from the previous hour, and fluff to lead up to a big climactic moment, which is all probably going to be fixed within the first two minutes of the new season. Was the big climax big enough? Maybe, but probably not. I'm not terribly concerned about any of the main characters losing their lives. No matter how much blood is on TJ's shirt.
I guess the biggest issue with the finale was that it was doing so much right and so much wrong. It was insanely clever to have Kiva dump a dead body on Camille during the prisoner exchange. But it probably would have been much more emotionally charging, for the viewers, if it was a character that we had some sort of attachment to, or even remembered. Hell, even the shooting the cook would have been more gasp-inducing. Instead it just felt like this was the episode where everyone got to play with the blood bags on set. Also TJ was shot, maybe, but let's be honest, she's not going anywhere. Especially if they can't even manage to kill off a nobody. And Chloe got really pale and muttered and actually had some character growth — but again, she's not going to die.
And that's where it left us, with a lot of important SGU characters' lives in the balance, but me not believing that the actual threat was real. Maybe TJ's baby — and if so, you've pulled one over on me, SGU.
But enough about the so-so finale that ended with an slightly interesting cliffhanger. Season 1.5 has been good for SGU. Apart from the weak ending, at least this show started off crawling and ended up standing towards the end. Hell, I'm proud it's come this far because there were many times when I didn't think it would make it. And I'm excited for season 2. As long as they follow a few of the guidelines and rules we've learned from this season. And here they are.
Or start killing them. Everything we need to know about these characters we learned in the first few episodes. Eli is a nerd with a heart of gold. Chloe is a sheltered rich girl also with a heart of gold. Scott is the conflicted soldier with... you guessed it, a heart of gold. Greer is an overly aggressive soldier with anger issues. Camille, lesbian constant nag. T.J. is very nice, also pregnant. Yadda, yadda. As the year went on, we started to see stone-flashes into each characters life. Sadly we didn't learn anything that changed who these people were, or how I thought about them. Nor did it help really explain why they were the way they were. Telling me that Greer is a dick because his dad was a dick is not a surprise. Dig deeper, flesh out who these people really are, make them complicated. Don't be afraid to get messy, make the characters flawed — you know, characters other than Greer.
That said, I think it's only fair to say that perhaps for the first time I started to see this happen with Chloe in the finale. Her "You're a true friend" speech to Eli revealed a lot of self awareness that wasn't tied up in fishing for compliments, or self-doubt. She finally started to confront the fact that she's kind of a fake. Even though I didn't love the finale, I'm glad Chloe appears to be confronting her many personality flaws, and potentially growing as a person. More of this please!
Or start killing them. Make us care or start killing off people that have "importance."
The exception to the previous statement is Rush and Young. These two characters grew plenty this season, and I truly enjoyed watching them do what they do best. Plus, they've got a killer chemistry. Young is a great soldier but a crappy leader. Rush is a fantastic brain but also a shit team player, and these two have to work together. As frustrated as I get with this series, I come back every week for Young, and a little for Rush. Plus their stone visits and brain flashes actually seemed to impact our knowledge and emotional attachment to the characters themselves.
Many readers were upset when I made fun of the "bangin' in a broom closet" pilot scene. People claimed that this was "REAL LIFE." Life is full of sex and it's not all roses and soft jazz music. And they're right. I'm sure lots of people have fucked in a broom closets before. You know what else is real? Shopping for tampons, catching the person in the car next to you picking their nose, and sleep farts. Those are all "real" things as well. And showing those moments on TV is just as useless as showing an uber-long sex scene, if you're not going to make it mean something. Especially on basic cable. I'm not saying no sex — I'm just saying give it a purpose. But if they go somewhere interesting with Lt. James and her obsession with Scott, or possible obsession, I'll take it all back. But right now it just seems like sex for sex's sake... unless you have a space tick on your neck.
Same goes for all the other real-life issues that should pop up in the next season. T.J.'s birth should be horrifying. And while I'm at it, someone else should get pregnant, because if the sex keeps happening they're all going to run out of contraceptives, right? The Destiny crew should also run out of bullets, especially at the rate they waste them. Eli should lose a lot more weight [something I think is actually happening do to the actors rather often twitters about getting beat into shape]. And on and on. Thankfully, I have high hopes for these real-life scenarios, and it seems like SGU is ready to face them head on.
What happened to these crazy people? They are much more interesting than watching Eli and Chloe walk down a hall for two episodes. Sorry I know the emotional pay-off could be high, but ugh. I'm ready for crazy bible-humping Dr. Cain again after all that walking and talking. What's going on with Franklyn, is he even still alive? What about the people that gated away after the desert planet? Bring them back and have them stir up some crazy shit. Please?
Franklyn's Destiny osmosis.
The robot in the box, please please please let it be more than a repair bot. And why isn't it repairing anymore?
Where first couple went on the desert planet?
Why everyone wants Destiny and why the Americans are willing to die for it, even though we have no idea what it does?
The blue aliens, why are they such jerks? And what's with the water?
The giant obelisk.
The ship we saw take off on Destiny in the pilot. [Yes, yes I know it was from the Blue People, but do we really? Humans can fly those ships too. And why was it there, why do they want it, why did they leave?]
If SGU plans on stretching out these explanations, that's great, fine. Just please refrain from using each scenario as a deus ex machina, plot filler for the future. Please. I'm also not saying these all need to be answered in the first episode of season 2, I just don't want them over looked or forgotten. They were really wonderful little mysterious and we're all putting our faith in the SGU crew that they will be explained, hopefully.
It seems like whenever a general emotion or plot point needed to be set up, one of these characters is tossed in to patch in the story holes. I don't know much about Brody, but I know that whenever someone needs to open a door or suck out all of the atmosphere, and Rush is gone, Brody has to do it. Brody also made a bar so Telford and Young could menacingly suck down some moonshine together. Great. But who is he? What are his motivations, opinions, interests? He's in the middle of everything, why not utilize his personality to make the story more believable?
Same goes for Volker. This character appears to be interesting, in fact I remember being excited when he got some screen time, but now I don't remember why. I also had to look up his name because I forgot. Side characters are important. Some of my favorite characters were side characters, or at least started off as side characters, such as Fargo, Gaeta, Dualla, Quark, Anya and Kaylee. In fact it's the side characters that tend to have the most emotional impact on the audience when they're messed with. SGU needs to take advantage of the other people aboard Destiny. More people are cheering for them than we realize sometimes.
Especially Lt. James, there's a disaster in there just waiting to happen. This show has been crapping all over from the second they shoved her in the dark metal corridor with no bra in her underwear. James is falling apart and ready to crack. Let's hope it actually means something when her long-time unraveling rope finally falls to pieces.
There were a lot of great "whoa space is great!" moments on SGU this year like the sweet potato taste test, or the strange circle green house. They reminded us that the people aboard this ship were brilliant scientists and adventurers, even if they were "never supposed to be there." Plus it's cool, like bow ties.
But you know what is tragically uncool, watching scientists work out.
Here's the thing, if you're going to show it, make it have a purpose. Even if it's simply to say space is scary, cool, hard or neat. Working out on the Destiny just makes us all say, where did they get all those gym clothes and shoes? Focus on the individuals and how they get through the day, abandon Destiny group jazzersizing. And along with space being cool, so are giant starships! We know there must be more to Destiny than long dark hallway on top of another long dark hallway. We'd love to see more. So far the chair room and repair robot have been the most exciting, never explained, parts of the ship. We want more.
Seriously who are these people? Why do we have to keep seeing them? If you want to kill off a bunch of faceless marines why not these two? The audience will at least slightly remember these characters, and it may have more impact than the finale "oh no, they shot Rivers... Wait who?" conundrum moment.
Kind of in the same vein as the above statement, but we'd love to get off the ship even more this season. The best episodes this season all happened off ship. Utilize the stargates and jump around! Because again, space is cool. Plus it brought out the worst in some people, like the mini-rebellion that happened around the hastily turned crazy Dr. Caine. Sure they may have made him bananas, but you couldn't argue with the fact that some civilians might have been ready to give up and move off the ship, forever. Plus the aliens this year did not disappoint. "Time" and "Lost" we're easily some of the highlights of the season. We hope there will be more of those types of beasties in the new season.
Thanks for that. Please don't bring it back.
It took a while for SGU to balance the terrifying, gritty and humorous all at once. But by the end of the season all the pieces seemed to be coming together. Balancing tone seems like an impossible task, but by 1.5 SGU was really starting to hit its stride in this particular area, "Time" was another great example of balancing tone and terror, thanks to Eli.
UDATE: In conclusion. I like this show. I really, really do. I am hard on it because I think it has a chance to be more than just a "fun little show." Clearly this series wants to be that way or they wouldn't be constantly experimenting with new ideas. I applaud SGU for not being afraid to take risks, and ask only that they keep pushing themselves. Especially if SGU is moving its time slot to the middle of the week, it will have some stiff competition. This is tough love. I stated it before and I will state it again, I love watching the chemistry between the male characters like Rush and Young, and recently Scott. Eli always makes me laugh. I hope the second season will push the women even further than 1.5 started to do with T.J. and Chloe. There isn't a bad egg in the bunch.