With the leadership role aboard Destiny seemingly settles, this week’s episode of Stargate Universe [Syfy, Tuesdays, 9/8C] – The Greater Good – finds Colonel Young [Justin Louis] and Dr. Rush [Robert Carlyle] working together to figure out if there’s something of value to be salvaged from a battered vessel they find drifting in space – and winding up stranded! In the episode’s B-arc, Kathleen Munroe returns as Dr. Amanda Perry – in a mind exchange with Lucian Alliance member Ginn [Julie McNiven] – summoned to help find a way to steer Destiny. In both arcs, of course, Murphy’s Law applies [though not necessarily as you might expect].
There’s a lot going on The Greater Good, above and beyond the two main arcs. Eli [David Blue], for example, finds an unexpected bit of romance, while one of Rush’s biggest secrets gets out – and Lucian Alliance member Simeon [Robert Knepper] almost makes a mess of the limited freedom that Young extends to them as a potential first step in integrating them into the ship’s population [can you say inevitable SNAFU? Of course you can…].
The Greater Good is one of those SGU episodes that weave solid character moments and dramatic revelations into a suspenseful hour of entertainment that flickers around the edges of what the show could be.
On its own merits, it’s entertaining – the Carl Binder script pays attention to details [like the one that winds up leaking Rush’s biggest shipboard secret] and tantalizes with character moments [as when Ming-Na’s Camille Wray visits Ginn’s quarters on business and winds up a tad bit embarrassed]. William Waring’s direction plays to some good humorous moments [something the show could use more of…], but also creates tension as Rush and Young run into unexpected trouble on the derelict ship.
As a part of the show’s ongoing mythology, it also works well – giving a big payoff when Rush’s big secret becomes known and using recurring characters Ginn, Simeon and Amanda to develop several of the show’s regulars.
The problem is that the ep’s most inspired moments come from a couple of moments of humor and not, unfortunately, from the ongoing drama. The series as a whole is, frankly, too downbeat – even Battlestar Galactica had more humor. As a result, SGU remains a solidly entertaining show taken in small, weekly doses, but never quite achieves something more.
The Greater Good sets up next week’s ep, Malice, with a powerful cliffhanger that puts Simeon and Rush on a collision course – and finding a way to stop Destiny’s countdown to the next jump to hyperspace. Like The Greater Good, its best moments are the humorous ones – though the humor is considerably darker.
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Photo by Carole Segal – Courtesy Syfy