Stargate Universe 1.17 – Pain

This weeks episode is about feelings and fears. I am still amazed about how down to earth Stargate Universe is and how clever the writers put it all together.

When the crew suffers from vivid hallucinations that tap into their personal fears, Tamara Johansen isolates the affected from the rest and then tries to seek out the cause of the affliction as it spreads and becomes life-threatening.

Expectations

From the description above I expect some kind of infection making the crew see things. But I also wonder about Destiny. Isn’t there like a medical computer on the ship? It’s on a mission boldly going where no Ancient has gone before, and they don’t have any automated hospital aboard and It doesn’t have some kind of medical scanner integrated in the gate room. That is kind of weird but could be explained by the ship not recognize them as crew I guess, so it hasn’t activated those systems yet.

Worldbuilding

Not much worldbuilding this episode. Young is still searching for Franklin the missing ‘chair man’ but have not found him. The entry into a whole new galaxy at the end was extremely undramatic.

Plot

The away team to the last planet brought ticks back. They inject a poison that affect the emotional centers of the brain and cause hallucinations of things you feel strong emotions about. Here is how they affect different people:

  • 2nd Lt James makes sweet, sweet love to Mathew Scott before whacking him on the head with one of the lamps, killing him dead.
  • Greer sees Camile Wrang conspire with Rush to take over the ship and in the end he acts out on it and almost kills her. In the end he stops when he sees his father.
  • Dr Dale Volker is afraid of enclosed spaces so he is locked in in his room, walled in in a corridor and locked in in his bed. Interesting how the man afraid of enclosed spaces have the only bed seen so far that is a bunk in a wall.
  • Lt Mathew Scott sees his son, I have to go back and re watch some episodes, I don’t remember him having a son? The kid asks “Why did you leave me?”.
  • Chloe sees her beloved father
  • Rush sees the aliens that took him prisoner, at one stage he is in a room similar to that on the alien ship, slowly filing with water.
  • One crewman tries to carve up his forearm to get the snake he sees in there out.

It takes a while until TJ and the others can figure it out and find a safe way to remove the ticks. They also have to save the people affected from hurting themselves or others.

Characterization

This episode is about feelings and fears. At the end the people affected stand there with their naked feelings open to themselves and others.

It is clear that 2nd Lt Vanessa James is pining for Scott, they might have had or is having an affair, it’s not clear to me at this time. She walks in on Mathew making out with Chloe. “Couldn’t find a broom closet?” she says bitterly. But from earlier discussions she had with TJ I wouldn’t rule out she is pregnant with Scott’s kid.  We got to see quite a lot of her this episode, good acting and good characterization by Julia Benson. In the end I think the only one not knowing that Vanessa got feelings for Mathew is Chloe.

Feelings over the foiled attempt by the civilians to take over the ship has not gone away. Master Sergeant Ronald Greer is still deeply suspicious of Camile Wrang and Dr. Nicholas Rush which comes to the surface when the tick affects him. It is also not clear to me if they have given up on the thoughts of taking over the ship again. I think I said it before Jamil Walker Smith does angry really well. The scene afterwards when he meets Wrang in the corridor is as emotionally awkward as they get. I can’t stop the feeling that there is more to Greer’s obsession with Camile, does he have feelings for her? As far as we know she is in a happy same sex relationship, but some men go for unobtainable.

I guess it was time for Chloe to be emotional again, the writers are not kind to this character. Even though she knows it is a hallucination she persist in staying with her father. She even gets Eli to promise not to tell anyone else she is affected. In the end Eli and Scott has to drag her to the infirmary.

I haven’t figured Eli out yet. He is the basic good guy, being infatuated in a girl that just wants to be his friend. It’s empowering the way he doesn’t pine for her, much and the scene in the end where she stand there unhappy looking into the void, he turns and walk away, was good.

As I said before Young is not a happy man. He is more collected this episode but the scene in the end when the clock starts on ten hours and they find a planet in range, show with all clarity the fatigue he and the rest of crew feels. For a moment there it was almost like he gave up before ordering an away team to get ready.

My View

Pain is a strong character driven episode with some action. We learn more about the characters but not much about the universe. I feel a bit cheated out of a passing the void episode, did Syfy change the order of the episodes? It was a good and entertaining episode and the writers are building up the characters and universe towards the finale that hopefully is about getting a bit more control.