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Stargate Universe – “Malice” Recap

(Thanks to SyFy for the advanced screener for this episode.)

Tonight’s episode of Stargate Universe was easily one of it’s best – and it’s most frustrating, as it’s so close to actually being excellent.

Last episode we ended on a cliffhanger, as Robert Knepper’s evil Simeon (we know he’s evil because he’s played by Robert Knepper) menaced the poor little red-headed angel from Supernatural. This week, we pic right up, and – well, spoilers, and more thoughts, after the jump.

She’s dead. Actually, two people are dead because of this act: Eli’s Lucian Alliance girlfriend, and Rush’s scientist love, who was inhabiting her body, and vice versa. This is actually a neat little bit of continuity that was mentioned waaaay back in the first season, that if someone was killed while using the Stones, they’d both die. So dead. Cue angry Rush, and angry Eli, and angry everybody as they chase Simeon around the ship.

Not for long though, as Simeon has a cunning plan: escape onto the first planet he can dial on the Stargate. This is only the first of many, many ridiculous things that happen in this episode… Simeon kills a guard, kills one of his friends, runs through the halls murdering everyone before they can even pick up their guns, and then runs away. To a planet where he will surely die. Rather than, you know, freeing all the other Lucian Alliance members being held in captivity, or anything.

Anyway, he grabs the Asian scientist I don’t know the name of, and straps a bomb on her back. Which brings us, I think, the tensest scene in the episode. Since I haven’t bothered to learn the name of this character, but have seen her around in most episodes, there’s a possibility that she could explode, and it would actually be effecting. Similar to when whats-his-name got suffocated by Young a few episodes back*, another great scene.

She’s saved, though, by Rush disarming the bomb, and here’s the next misstep of the episode: the rest of the military heads onto the planet, and we proceed to get a lot of Simeone kind of outsmarting them with stupid traps, before they all head back to the gate, and let the scientist with a chip on his shoulder track Simeon alone.

This is what the whole episode should have been. I realize it’s a lot to expect from a basic cable scifi show, but imagine the entire episode with Rush silently tracking Simeon through the dessert, punctuated by some brief dialogue, and shots of gunfire. I even think this is kind of what they were going for, given the stampede that ends up “killing” Simeon, and the weirdo Spaghetti Western theme that plays as Rush returns to the Gate: a lone man out for vengeance, tracking the outlaw who killed his beloved through the wasteland. It would have been killer if they had gone all the way, but I can also imagine 90% of the audience for this show saying, “I’m boooooooored!” Or at least, the writers thinking people would think that.

I’d argue that with the success of the first episode of The Walking Dead, which was mostly silence, there’s no reason to fear this on TV anymore. It’s too bad that Stargate didn’t go for that, because the few scenes that play up this aspect: the hostage with the explosive strapped to her; Rush walking after a wounded Simeon; and those final shots as Rush stands over Simeon’s wounded body. They’re all great, and like I said up top, some of the best stuff this show has ever done. It’s just bogged down by everything else.

*I seriously have watched every episode of this show… There’s just so many characters that have no discernible features I haven’t bothered to learn their names. Like any of the science team, or that chesty military girl. You know.

NOTE:

  • Wow, Young actually defending Rush. We get the conflict shifted to Simeon and everyone else mistrusting Rush now, but I am curious where the central conflict will go from here.
  • Oh, Simeon is super evil – he’ll even shoot a pipe!
  • Simeon, like simian. Get it? Sigh.
  • All these untrained soldiers are totally unprepared for one guy randomly walking around with a gun.
  • There’s no way Simeon could have planned for people coming after him!
  • “Yeah… Please shut up.”
  • Uhoh, looks like someone sprung for one of those slo-mo Mythbusters cameras.
  • Despite the content and some missteps, this was an extremely well directed and framed episode. Kudos to the production staff.
  • …Though there were two scenes – Chesty talking to Scott after the explosion – that were clearly shot at different times of day. This is something that naturally happens on a fast TV pace, but it’s weird to see it happen so blatantly.
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