BELIEVE TO UNDERSTAND
The whole episode is replete with one intervention after another, one chance to believe after another. The shield saves Scott and Greer. Varro intervenes in so many places in order to save the Destiny crew as well as his own people. The Blue aliens, and what they possibly did to Chloe, intervene and keep her from dying on the floor of the Destiny. The doctors from Earth intervene and not only save the injured on the Destiny but pass on news to those on Earth about what has happened. Jinn intervenes, like Varro, to save the Destiny crew and the other LA members. Greer and Scott intervene to save others, as does Telford, in a fashion. So many come forward, in ways big and small, to affect the course of events that’s it’s maybe not too much to believe that they are acting on a higher purpose.
There was so much going on in this episode. Intervention played off themes created in many season one episodes – the stranding in Justice, the Blues and what they did to Chloe during Space, the Faith planet, and the coup in Divided – and added just as many questions as it examined, which makes it a great way to start off a new season. Like any good novel, it poses questions that you will seek answers to as the season unfolds. Seek them, and not necessarily find them. Intervention, and SGU as a whole, doesn’t seek to definitively answer questions. It doesn’t tell you what to believe, only to believe. How you take it and what you do with it is up to you.
I have learned one thing in all of this and it’s that, out here on the edge of the universe, who you are and what you believe is everything, so it’s up to you to decide if this is a blessing or a curse.
It’s fitting that we should begin season 2 with TJ and her lost child, a daughter she names Carmen (for Karma?). Surprising enough to survive such an injury but to wake up in a cabin, on a planet a galaxy away with people you had every reason to believe you would never see again? It would be easy to relegate such an experience to a grief-driven mother’s dream and to anyone else, it may appear just that way.
I’m reminded of the X-Files episode Closure, where a phenomenon Mulder calls “walk ins” is discussed. Essentially, walk ins take over when something too horrible to be borne occurs, usually to a child or young person. The victims are spirited away in starlight, safe from harm. Unlike the usual tagline for X-Files episodes – The Truth is Out There – the tagline in this episode is “BELIEVE TO UNDERSTAND”. I think this works well in this instance. TJ is willing to believe. Whether she understands fully or not is up for question but at least she is on that path. Whether this has all happened in her head isn’t as important as what she believes.
Caine is willing to believe. While this faith seemed almost foolish during the Faith episode, he appears to have been right in his belief, with what the survivors need to continue on being supplied just when it is most needed. What is left unsaid is whether this is entirely benevolent or not. Is it really such a good thing to trust in a higher being whose intentions you will never know, whose face you will never see? Add to that – it comes from a man named Caine. I don’t believe the writers simply chose his name out of a hat – there is a purpose, as there are in many of the character’s names. So why this name, to deliver messages, often somewhat creepy messages, from a vastly superior being? That these beings are possibly tied into the fate of the crew to the point of taking a crewmember’s child is awe-inspiring and also a little frightening.
Just as it begins, the episode ends with TJ – in a moment with Young and a moment alone. Young and TJ may have tried to put their relationship behind them but this will always be between them and bind them together, for good or ill. That Young would walk past everyone just to see her is meaningful. That They take each other’s hands is meaningful. That she should turn away from him, and we have no dialogue to help us understand, is painful. Given all that Young has lost, throughout not only this episode but the previous season, it’s not hard to understand his hard drinking at the very end, although that too will have its consequences.
As a small note on the subject of names, I find Jinn to be an interesting character. She too brings her own form of intervention, in shooting Dannic. Whether this is something she and Varro had discussed or simply shared with a glance, we may never know. In her name, I am thinking of the “djinni” of the Qur’an who, along with humans and angels make up the three sentient creatures. Maybe this means nothing and is little more than a coincidence but given the other such names sprinkled through this series, in addition to the larger philosophical/religious belief systems throughout all of the series, I would be quite surprised if this was nothing but a coincidence. Now it is a matter of finding out what sort of djinn she is – good, evil, or neutral. Only time will tell.
There are the beginnings of sparks between Eli and Jinn, so far, shown as nothing more than her looking up and just at that moment, we see Eli watching on his console. Jinn is new – someone that has never called Eli Mathboy, whose abilities with the Destiny’s computers give her an instant connection. I can only hope that my previous comments about the choice of her name means that this is a positive thing but it’s a slim hope.
Just another day in outer space!
This is, of course, a hat tip to Stargate Atlantis but it works beautifully in Stargate Universe. Every day has offered up some sort of struggle and what’s one more? To survive, the crew has had to stretch their thinking and be willing to change tack at the drop of a hat and Scott and Greer act on this perfectly, using what they have of the Destiny’s shields in order to survive one more pulsar burst.
This is reminiscent of Divided where we had Greer and Young, rather than Greer and Scott, outside on the hull, racing to get to safety in order to retake the ship. It’s this kind of creative thinking that puts the Destiny crew above and beyond the LA, who haven’t advanced past simplistic brute tactics. Like Divided, there are soldiers who are able to circumvent plans, who are free to act. Scott steps up as a leader in this episode and, like Young, trusts in Greer’s abilities implicitly. They act as a team, moving easily through the ship, getting access to Dannic’s plans through use of a console, intervening in Dannic’s plans to kill all the others in the control room and again in the infirmary when they come to the rescue of Wray and TJ.
You’d be shot, and your people’d still be sent to the planet, only without their leader.
One thing I have come to learn from watching SGU is that not only are there are no cookie-cutter heroes but that there is more than one hero, more than one leader and more than one way to lead. When one falls, others step forward.
Scott, Young, Rush and Varro have all shone here, in differing ways. Scott, with Greer, manages to circumvent the LA forces, first by surviving the deadly radiation burst outside on the hull and later through stealth and his knowledge of the ship. The events of “Divided” went a long way towards showing the Destiny crew how to survive a takeover of their ship, to be flexible enough to change plans as events on the ground change. Having been trained under Young’s wing, I credit a good deal of this ability to Young himself.
It would be all too easy to dismiss Young as a terrible leader but in Intervention, as the last act of the story arc from Subversion through the Incursions, I see a leader that has had to change his plans on the ground with very little warning. Often with less support and even less knowledge. He has had to gamble a good deal of the time and if he’s made errors, it’s because he gambled wrong. Then again, if the LA were truly meant to be on Destiny, which I believe, then having them stay alive becomes a matter of fate and perhaps it’s not solely in Young’s hands. In any case, like trusting in Brody to allow Telford’s brainwashing to be broken, or trusting Telford to enact his part of the plan that would send the ship’s controls back to Rush, who also had to be trusted, Young has to trust once more in an unlikely source. He has to trust in Varro, a man he has every reason to distrust, even more so than Telford.
The scene where Young attacks Dannic is interesting on a few levels. Grief-stricken at hearing what has just happened to TJ and their unborn child, Young flies at Dannic and punches the other man in the throat. Yes, I cheered, I’m big enough to admit that. When my cheering was done however, I noticed something very interesting about that scene. Young, a man Dannic has said that he would kill, has just attacked the man that has taken for himself the leadership of the LA aboard Destiny. And no one, not a single person, actively comes to Dannic’s defense. No one shoots Young or any of the other military personnel. No one hits Young. Young is held back (it takes three men to do it, yes, I cheered again) but he’s not held roughly. When Dannic speaks again, the men holding Young look towards Dannic but those are not good looks.
Dannic may have claimed leadership when Kiva was shot, but it’s clearly Varro that is the leader of the LA, the others are simply afraid of Dannic. Rightly so. It’s Varro that Young must put his faith in, that he must believe. This gamble begins with a brawl, and continues with Young having to trust in Varro. To be a leader even if it means having to be marooned on the planet. And Young trusts, he has to believe because he has so little to go on. He holds his people together as best he can, given the circumstances. I believe that, while doing the prudent thing of looking for shelter, Young stays close to the gate because he has hope that Varro will come through and that they won’t be on the planet long. When Varro comes through that gate, aside from the concern that they will all be shot, Young’s possibly last gamble has failed and Louis Ferreira manages to show this in a single look before turning and moving on to the next matter on the table – simple survival.
Looks like a storm’s coming.
This is such an iconic sci-fi bit of dialogue, something that has come to mean so much more than a simple change in the weather. Not that there isn’t weather because there surely is. It’s only fitting that a planet as grey, as desolate and desaturated as the one they have landed on, would also have pouring rain and awful little caves to huddle in.
A talk about leadership would be incomplete without speaking of Rush, who admirably steps up to the plate in this episode. Like the others, Divided has taught Rush well, although, again like the others, Rush is a very different man in Intervention. What he could have said coldly in Divided comes with a greater cost attached now and I believe that when Rush moves to shield only the hydroponics bay, to seal the doors and in effect kill the others, that this is a painful choice. Like Louis Ferreira, Robert Carlyle manages to display this without saying so. Rush doesn’t need to tell us that the decision is painful, he does so with a simple pause, a look. With the inability to even close his eyes and sleep. Where in Divided Rush could make the call, he was not yet a leader, because the sacrifice meant nothing. What does it mean to make “the hard decisions, the life or death decisions” when those choices and their consequences mean almost nothing to you? In Intervention, that changes and Rush steps closer not only to heroism, but to Young himself. Now Rush knows all what hard decisions mean, what life or death really means, and it, hopefully, will bring these two men even closer. That Young, like rush in Justice, is stranded on a planet that is a “death sentence” and that he has Rush to thank not only for his life but for the lives of all the rest of the crew is a hard pill to swallow. For now. I have hope that this hard earned friendship can bear this as well.
Chloe came back from the Blues colder, harder, with new abilities that are subtly played but no less surprising for it. Eli knows the extent of her injuries and that she was close to death and what I’m left to wonder is – does he pass that on? She shouldn’t be on her feet at all and that no only is she walking again but seems almost creepily interested in what’s going on aboard Destiny has me wonder if it’s Chloe that we’re seeing or something else. When you think that she might be a Blue, or have some sort of Blue infection, it casts all of her dialogue in an interesting light. Scott seems simply relieved to see her again but Greer – a man who has shown remarkable insights into the other characters – doesn’t seem to believe the “fine” he keeps hearing. In the ending of this episode, where Chloe is looking down at her fully healed leg, there is no way she can hide that for long and I’m wondering at the implications of this in upcoming episodes.
While Wray didn’t exhibit any leadership in this episode, any review would be incomplete without mentioning how far she has come. When Wray sets aside the IOA, when her political desires are set aside, Wray is an extraordinary character. her deep compassion for TJ and the fact that she stayed at TJ’s side are a deep credit to her as a character and I sincerely hope to see more of this side of Wray in the future. A woman with backbone, but one that is completely there for the Destiny crew, leaving the affairs of the IOA behind. Secondly, varro made mention that it doesn’t matter what gets said to Earth but when Wray was stoned back to Earth in order to bring aboard Dr. Brightman, I wonder what she said to those back on Earth and how this will play out in coming episodes. I think it will matter, a lot.
The closing moments of the episode are no less important, as they offer up questions that we will likely be seeking answers to for the rest of this season. Everyone returns to the ship and, rather than recriminations for being back, there are smiles all around. Young even smiles and is greeted with smiles in return, rather than the recriminations I had feared. There are compliments offered and a great moment between James and Greer.
Destiny may not be what they wanted to do with their lives, but for all intents and purposes, it is home. All in all, Intervention offered plenty of questions for the upcoming season and I look forward to the trip!
As an addendum, I have to add that I find the almost slick, scary distrust that Simeon holds for Telford to be very well done here. He never comes right out and says that he doesn’t trust Telford but it’s there nonetheless. This should prove powerfully interesting later on.