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'Stargate Universe' - 'Human' Episode Recap

by Mike Moody, posted Apr 24th 2010 4:30PM
(S01E12) 'Stargate Universe' took a bold stab at character drama last night and delivered a fine and compelling hour of sci-fi TV. The eagerly anticipated Dr. Rush origin story didn't disappoint: 'Human' dropped us right inside of Rush's head to expose all of his secrets, pain and insecurities. Robert Carlyle would certainly be in the running for an Emmy Award this year for his amazing performance -- If they gave Emmys to shows with names like 'Stargate Universe.' You'll have to enjoy your Saturn Award instead, Mr. Carlyle. And I hope you do, because you really earned it with this episode.

Rush's mini 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' trip took up the bulk of the hour, but last night's B-plot was a lot of fun, and it even put some of our lead crew members in serious old school peril. The situation with the away team almost felt like it was ripped straight outta 'Stargate Atlantis,' with the team blasting a giant spider-monster and getting trapped inside of an underground cave. But before we get into that, let's talk about Rush's heartbreaking head trip.

Most of the first act cleverly played with our ideas and expectations of Rush -- he was cold, distant and awkward with his wife and obsessed with his work. This fake flashback had me fooled for a few minutes. I even thought Rush's pixie dust vision (please, someone come up with a better name for it than that!) was part of the flashback. But the truth was revealed when the dapper Dr. Daniel Jackson (guest star Michael Shanks) appeared to recruit Rush for the Stargate program.

'Human' did a great job of explaining Rush's misanthropic and hostile behavior. It seems his conscience died along with his wife, who suffered quietly while he was away trying to unlock the secrets of the universe. He devoted his life to work but failed at his efforts. His heart and mind grew colder and his personality more spiteful when slackerboy Eli unlocked the ninth chevron without even trying.

I was pretty blown away when Rush admitted that Eli was "the genius I'll never be." We all know Eli is a genius; he just lacks confidence. But I never thought I'd hear the arrogant Dr. Rush admit that his own knowledge and expertise comes second to Eli's natural brilliance. And that fact is tearing him up inside.

Here's a question: Would the Rush we met 10 or 12 episodes ago have risked his life to unlock Destiny's secrets and help the crew? I remember Rush refusing to sit in the chair when they first discovered it. (Instead, poor ol' Franklin became the ginny pig and ended up in a space coma.) But he did seemingly risk everything when he dialed the ninth chevron address in the pilot and got everyone stranded on the ship. And he did it all in the name of scientific curiosity and exploration.

I guess it was only a matter of time before Rush sat in the chair. He's a very obsessed and curious fellow. And let's not forget about his encounters with the Blue Meanies. A kidnapping and a space battle with those bad boys was probably all the motivation he needed to risk his life to learn how to control the ship. It would be great if Destiny could actually, you know, turn left and right and even jump to warp if under attack.

Rush found what he was looking for at the end of his lucid dream, and it had something to do with the number "46" (not "42" Daniel Jackson, you big nerd!). He woke up with a new, and less selfless, ambition and a more positive attitude. I'm looking forward to seeing a renewed Rush work with the team in their efforts to control the ship and rescue Eli, Chloe, Scott and Greer.

I loved loved loved watching Eli and Chloe's little comedy routine ("Stratification!") when trying to convince Young to let her go through the gate. And the death stare Greer gave Eli at the entrance to the cave was hilarious. It's great to see the show finally feeling comfortable enough to give us some humor.

It was also a little surprising to see the ep end with a cliffhanger. I know our heroes will probably get rescued next week, but I like that they seem to be in real peril. I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck in Shelob's lair like a sitting duck. We all saw what she did to Frodo.

Other Thoughts:

- Really enjoyed Chloe's "nerd moment." I say the nerdier she gets the better.

- I guess Eli and Chloe have made up. I can't say the same for Chloe and Scott.

- It was great to see Young chuckle a few times throughout this ep. The guy could really use a laugh.

- We got a quick flashback to Greer's childhood. Maybe the show is planting seeds for a Greer origin story.

- Great classical music in the flashbacks. It really helped transport me away from the ship and to that time in Rush's life.

- Next week: Dinosaurs?

(Watch free episodes of 'Stargate Universe' on Slashcontrol.)

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I fast-forwarded through most of the episode. If I wanted this kind of trash I would watch the stupid network evening soap operas. I want space - that said, I sincerely hope the result of Rush's less-than-entertaining sojurn in the chair is sufficient control of the Destiny to return to pick up Eli and Chloe, and maybe even go back to see how the people who stayed behind on the "Genesis Planet" are fareing...

April 26 2010 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To me, this was a very interesting and entertaining episode. Of course, as Tim-1 pointed out, there was that WTF moment that seems to be a requirement in SGU where someone does something that is either mind-numbingly stupid or curiously inappropriate. This week it was Sgt. Grier firing his weapon inside an underground chamber. At the ceiling, no less!! Maybe his claustrophobia was clouding his judgement, but lets thing about this for a moment. Which is the more dangerous situation, a giant spider that everyone could probably easily outrun, and who is probably just making a threatening display to scare them away from its territory, or emptying the clip of an automatic weapon into the ceiling of the delapidated ruins of the cavern that you are diddy bopping around in? It's a tough decision. Luckily they had some higly trained, elite military personell there to handle it like pros.
Other than that, it was a dramatic and well acted episode. It was nice to find out why Rush is such a bastard. And I think its kind of amazing that, even though it understandably sticks in Rushs' craw that Eli effortlessly solved a problem that he had slaved and obsessed over, that he doesnt seem to hold it against Eli, as some unbalanced and eccentric geniuses propably would.
Cloe even gave an indication that she may become something more than the overly dramatic, high maintenance cargo that she has been so far. All in all, the show is getting better each week and is finally starting to look like an actual Sci/fi show.

April 26 2010 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to xhermit77's comment

Completely awful episode, but for me, the most egregiously stupid decision was for the four regulars to enter the tunnel system, after Eli had gotten the Kino lost because "it's like a maze down there," to search for a piece of equipment without laying down a rope or trail behind them or doing any sort of marking or mapping so they wouldn't get lost as well.

April 26 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the episodes are getting better. I enjoyed Friday's show. I did have to watch it twice, because I missed the lines about solving a problem within a memory dream.
If the ship goes and stops when it wants, how are they going to get back to the planet?

April 25 2010 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim L

Do we really care?
His character is so obnoxious I wish he really was left on that planet.
However without any protagonist this show would already have been pulled off the schedule!
The worst Stargate ever and a crushing bore, ( I loved SG1 and Atlantis and looked forward to them. This one I could care less)

April 25 2010 at 8:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone know the name of the composer of the great classical music played on this episode??

April 25 2010 at 3:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DeNoir's comment
Morjana Coffman

Awesome episode and terrific review. Nice call back with "It would be great if Destiny could actually, you know, turn left and right." LOL!

Robert Carlyle's performance was mesmerizing, Louise Lombard's impressive.

April 24 2010 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

sorry, spelling nit - its not ginny pig, its guinea pig. Otherwise, awesome Stargate ep. I know not all agree and all, but Carlyle brings up the level of acting with everyone he's with in a scene.

April 24 2010 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim McCleese

This episode was as about as entertaining as a baked potato. I'm not looking to fault-find here....it's probably because I just don't find anything about Rush very interesting. True, Rush is a genius, but intellegence alone isn't enough to qualify the decent human being. Compassion, considerarion for others, and unselfishness, are a few qualities that go a long way however, and seeing how Rush treated his wife did not help to change my mind about him in the least.

Speaking of intelligence, who shoots a rifle in a cave? What do you think might happen then? Of course the answer is someone from the Destiny crew. I don't think these people would qualify for....say, a Star Trek crew. Why were these people sent down there in the first place?.... for what purpose? If the writers are trying to manufacture drama, I think they are out-thinking themselves with some of the non-credible actions of the characters. I like this show but sometimes I feel like a wandering man in the desert looking for an oasis that I'm sure is out there somewhere. I don't know...I really miss Boomer and Sharon.

April 24 2010 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tim McCleese's comment

Tim1? The episode is not asking you to change your mind about Rush...just to consider why he is the way he is. It is logical that he was very loving to his wife and she sent him away to save the world, as is suggested in part of this pseudo-flashback. He is a frustrated and bitter man that has lost who he is/was/thought he was/thought he might be/thought he should be. He will/can gain redemption by saving the four heroes, including Eli...and then mentor Eli to being the genius that Eli is meant to be. Rush is a prick...no doubt...because you do dislike him makes Carlyle's performance(s) even more praise- and noteworthy.

April 24 2010 at 10:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"I guess Eli and Chloe have made up. I can't say the same for Chloe and Scott."

Didn't they make up when they were down there in the planet? Wasn't that sort of the point of the episode narrative-wise? Army and civilians working together for a month after the big failed revolution of the episode before?

April 24 2010 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with you completely. I loved this episode and thought the Rush story was Emmy-worthy. Loved the humor, loved the classical music, loved Rush's backstory as well as the real peril Eli and company were in. This show just keeps getting better and better!

April 24 2010 at 5:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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