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October 9, 2015

'Stargate Universe' Season 2, Episode 16 Recap

by Mike Moody, posted Apr 12th 2011 9:00AM
stargate universe, the hunt, syfy['Stargate Universe' - 'The Hunt']

Rodney McKay was out of sight, but this week's episode of 'Stargate Universe' still inspired memories of the sunnier 'Stargate Atlantis.' A big, scary monster attacked our heroes during a scout trip and took two people captive, leading the team to embark on a dangerous rescue mission on an alien planet.

I make the 'Atlantis' comparison here because the plot of 'The Hunt,' at first blush anyway, felt like the same kind of well-worn sci-fi story that 'Atlantis' rehashed several times during its five season run: Alien creature attacks, important person is taken, others risk their lives to rescue them. But the comparisons pretty much end there. Despite some monster attack scenes and some so-so creature feature CGI, 'The Hunt' was less about reveling in sci-fi/action-adventure tropes and more about exploring Ronald Greer's troubled soul.

If you've been reading my 'SGU' recaps lately, you know that I've been very concerned about Master Sergeant Greer and his chances for surviving the season (or series) alive. The writers buried him under tons of rubble and threatened to blow him up last month, and just two weeks ago he risked his life in a dangerous transplant operation to save timid scientist Dale Volker. This week, Greer was severely off his game, and his hesitation during the initial attack almost led to TJ's death.

When we first met him, Greer was a one-note hothead, but the series hinted at a larger and more interesting arc for the character, and Jamil Walker Smith's seemingly improvised nuances hinted at a greater depth just beneath the surface. Recently, it seems like the writers have been scripting Greer with Walker's performance and acting style in mind. The success of several of Season 2.5's big emotional beats and tension-cutting jokes have hinged on Smith's charismatic line readings, subtle inflections and sad eyes. I'm not saying the guy is carrying the entire show on his back, but he's been stealing scenes from the leads without breaking a sweat lately, and he adds weight and soul to the show that helps to ground it in reality -- right where it needs to be if it's gonna make an emotional impact on the viewer.

Greer's internal conflict was perhaps the most compelling part of this ep (it certainly wasn't the CGI monsters, which looked serviceable, but not at all special). Our ever-evolving super soldier was dealing with a lack of faith -- in himself and, it seems, everything and everyone else around him -- following a near-death experience that left him feeling trapped and powerless. Greer's a take-charge kind of guy; he's the first one who'll sign up for danger. He's edgy and tense and not at all used to not being in control, much less trapped inside of his own body in the dark. So, yeah, it makes sense that he was distracted and coming apart here after his operating table experience. But the hunt forced Greer to face his demons and to shake off the walking zombie routine. It literally took staring death in the face to snap him out of it, and the visual of it all, while somewhat obvious, was quite powerful.

Greer's sorry state also brought out the best in Varro. Our Lucian Alliance turncoat lost plenty of Lucian pals during the hunt, but his feelings for TJ and a desire to prove himself to the crew inspired him press on. In true Varro fashion, he acted like a patient and stand-up guy through all of the death and craziness. I like Varro, but it goes without saying that the guy could use a little more complexity. Perhaps his future interactions with Young, who is feeling a little bummed about Varro and TJ's budding romance, will give us a deeper peek at this reformed "bag guy."

The minor plots back on the ship weren't very complex either, but they still managed to keep me intrigued. Our science team discovered a room full of stasis pods that, as Mr. Brody unwittingly displayed, still seem to work! And Rush displayed some of the calculated, manipulative and cold-blooded A-hole tactics that made everyone hate him early in the series' run. He used Brody as a guinea pig while teaching Eli a hard lesson, which pretty much boiled down to, "Don't frak with me, kid, I'm the boss."

With Greer back in the land of the living, it looks like Volker is out of luck when it comes to his prospects with Park. I do love Greer, but my big nerd heart would love to see Volker and Park hook up. But, as Rush warned, maybe Volker's destined to stay in the friend zone and devote his life to Lady Science.

The stasis pods, with their ability to possibly sustain the crew forever as they travel through the cosmos looking for God or...whatever, were the biggest discovery of the night. But our team showed more excitement over a hunk of barbecued space deer hanging in the mess hall. That final shot, with everyone enjoying a real meal for the first time in months, reminded me that 'SGU,' like the best 'Stargate' stories, is all about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.

I wish I could say that episodes like this one bode well for a fun third season. But with the show coming to an end later this month, I'll have to hope that 'SGU' gets to wrap up its potentially epic story with a TV movie or, at the very least, a comic book or novel spinoff.

'Stargate Universe' airs Mondays, 10PM ET on Syfy.

[Follow @mikemoody on Twitter.]

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I agree that Smith (Walker-Smith) is killing this role. He brings a lot of soul to the character, who seemed only to be the tough hard nose in the premiere. People just don't like the show. It's a drag. But I can see the reason. The show was perceived to be filling the one-off sci-fi void left by Star Trek and the other Stargates. But it wasn't like that. A group of stoic heroes with unique skill sets taking on the Universe? Nope. A ragtag group all scared but growing into their roles and finding heroes in themselves day by day? Yep. It's not the show it's pedigree suggested.

I never watched the other shows...(though I DID make plenty of money working on both of them), but this show brings me to the screen week after week. I'm sorry it's going to go. With the exception of Chloe and Camille, who I couldn't give a whit about...Hey, did Camille even have one scene this week?

I could have done without the melodrama love triangle development. Why oh why do shows feel this is their best bet? ****, there were TWO love triangles added this week!!! GAK!

I'm really hoping for a miracle here...But something tells me Robert Carlyle has already moved on to some other thing. Maybe he's a member of Torchwood by now.

April 13 2011 at 11:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"This single episode also had more humor than the rest of the episodes combined. "

Oh, what nonsense. This very line has been written by various people for pratically EVERY episode of season two. If these comments were true at that rate by episode #16 viewers would be going to the emergency room for hurting themselves after laughing too hard. And of course following such a remark always come the tried and true "this has been the ingredient missing all along and that's why people didn't watch, blah, blah, blah." Can SGU bashers be any more transparent?

By the way, mikedt, as much as I love "The Hunt", there have been at least five episodes of SGU's second season that had more humor than this, including an episode two weeks ago named "Hope". But I guess one would have to actually watch the show to know that.

As for Kenobi, what's the point of you actually reading the review?

Good writeup, Mike. Thanks for giving the actor who plays Greer his just and overdue praise.

April 13 2011 at 10:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This single episode also had more humor than the rest of the episodes combined. Something sorely lacking and something that actually makes you start to like the characters a little bit more.

April 13 2011 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
General Kenobi

Love the show, loved the episode, but what's really the point of talking about it..........

April 13 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Happy Go Lucky

Yes....the actor for Greer's character is carrying the show.

April 13 2011 at 3:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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