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Stargate Universe Recap: ‘Trial and Error’

In this week’s Stargate Universe episode “Trial and Error” we watched Colonel Young meet his Kobayashi Maru and Rush take the final step into turning into a megalomaniac who shall heretofore be known as Megamind. And, oh yeah, Lieutenant Scott loves Chloe. Yes, indeedy he does.

[Warning: Spoilers follow…]

Everyone has noticed Young’s decline, but finally he caves and confesses the cause of his recent drinking binge: Young has been held captive by a super-realistic recurring dream wherein the Destiny is destroyed by Blueberry Aliens. No matter what he tries — firing all weapons, beefing up the shields, turning over Chloe — nothing prevents the complete and utter destruction of the Destiny as well as everyone on board.

Will the parallel conflicts between Young and Rush continue or has the game changed? Both men have been steadily declining into madness, but Megamind has obviously been hiding it better, mostly behind his ego-maniacal tendencies. Both men refused to confide in anyone the true nature of what’s been going on in their heads, but Young broke the stalemate by confessing all to Wray. Eli discovers — without Rush’s help (finally!) — that the ship has been running a vivid simulation that has been sucking up all the available RAM. Wray connects this discovery to Young’s dreams. Right or wrong, the crew assumes that (1) Destiny is testing Young as a leader and (2) when the ship drops back into FTL it’s a sign that he now has the ship’s stamp of approval. No one realizes that it was actually Rush who discovered the simulation on his own, stopped it, and put the ship back into FTL himself.

At this point in the episode, Rush channeled old-school BSG Count Baltar sitting on his golden throne spouting off things like “He might command this crew, but I control this ship.”

Cue evil narcissistic laughter now. With an echo.

Above: the Count Baltar-Megamind-Rush Continuum*

We still don’t know what the Blueberry Aliens did to Rush while he was with them — and he was with them far longer than Chloe. Remember that Young left Rush to die on the desert planet next to the abandoned Blueberry Alien shuttle. Rush managed to activate the ship’s distress signal and he was picked up by them. This means that we still don’t know whether Megamind’s hallucinations on the bridge are due to Destiny playing with his brain — similar to Young’s experiences — or if he’s been altered by the Blueberry Aliens. There are problems with both scenarios. One, if the hallucinations are due to Destiny, does that mean Megamind is asleep on the real bridge at least some of the time? (Young’s interface with the simulation always happened while he was asleep.) Two, if the hallucinations are due to Rush being a sleeper Blueberry agent, then why isn’t he changing the way Chloe is changing? Why was she able to solve the equations, but Rush can’t?

Speaking of Chloe, why hasn’t she told anyone about Rush’s secret of the real bridge? Why isn’t she standing behind Scott’s oh-so-broad shoulders pointing a finger at the blackmailer Rush? At least in her interactions with both Scott and Young, Chloe seems to be speaking up more than before, but there’s no reason for her to keep Rush’s secret anymore. While I enjoyed this episode overall, this was a major flaw for me. If there was more to her conversation with Rush when he asked for her continued help, then it’s being presented a bit too subtly. Also, the writers easily resolved the quarantine issue with Chloe and Scott, but didn’t follow through on the implications. T.J. has found no lingering evidence of the altered DNA in Scott’s blood, but why has no one been examining Rush’s blood in the same way?

Meanwhile, Eli has found a new infatuation and it’s Ginn. Lucky for him, she seems to think he’s a pretty cool uber-geek too. The boys-will-be-boys interaction between Eli and Greer was fun, but I most enjoyed that Eli didn’t resort to playing games. Maybe next season he can visit the Dark Side and go all Megamind, but for now Eli needs to remain his earnest, likable self — so long as he keeps catching on to what’s happening with Destiny before Rush. Ginn points out that Eli tends to lose sight of the big picture and it’s because of her observation that Eli discovers what the ship is up to.

Scott’s confrontation with Young was a watershed moment for both men. I liked that Young brought out into the open that Scott sees him as a father figure and also that he made Scott admit his love for Chloe. It was good for Young to share the burden of his killing Riley. Young has been carrying around his burdens of leadership with no acknowledgment from the crew that he has, in fact, been fulfilling this role. Despite Scott’s great speech and the final push he gave to Young, I found the conversation between Scott, Wray, and Rush to be surreal because it seemed out of character for those two to cede any power to someone else. While we know that Rush obviously has ulterior motives, both Wray and Scott should find his easy-going attitude toward nominating Scott as Young’s replacement suspicious.

We’ve been watching both Young and Rush descend into madness, but only one of them has come out the other side a stronger person. For Young, the losses of his marriage, his daughter, and his crew have taken their toll, but he has begun to change under Destiny‘s crucible. At the same time, Rush has simply given in to his ego and is now totally ruled by it. I think the mutiny of last season that pitted the civilians against the military personnel was a foreshadowing of the split between Rush and everyone else. The question remains, whose side will Destiny take?


This episode was another stand out for Park, who seems to be finding her niche apart from Brody and Volker. Also, Scott and Greer were both sporting fancy new brush-cuts. Now that Young isn’t the Mad Hatter King anymore, maybe he will too. This was an episode of confessions, as T.J. finally admitted to Young what she believes truly happened to their daughter Carmen. The writers definitely don’t want us to forget about the Obelisk Aliens.

* When making the screencap for the Rush shot sitting in the Destiny bridge’s command chair, I noticed that for all of the frames at this angle, Rush’s eyes are closed. At first I figured I’d just chosen a frame where the actor blinked, but when I reviewed it again, he actually looks like he might be asleep.

2 Comments on Stargate Universe Recap: ‘Trial and Error’

  1. Okay – so, I got behind on episodes but caught up over the past couple days due to a back injury and being laid up.

    As for this episode – couple thoughts:

    Rush never showed Chloe the bridge; he took her to his secret chalkboard hallway.  He also showed Young his secret chalkboard hallway to put him off the trail of where he’s been spending all of his time.  With this in mind, Chloe couldn’t reveal the bridge but she could reveal the blackmail – why didn’t she?  Blueberry alien influence, maybe?  He’s their top guy and they don’t want him sidetracked?

    Love the (original) Baltar reference.  While Rush wants to be in charge, I don’t think he wants to be the leader.  Leader’s have to run everything.  Rush wants to run everything but not if figuring out where their next meal comes from is going to distract him from his ‘higher purpose’ (think New Baltar who finds out that being President of the Colonies ain’t what he thought it would be).  We may be seeing a shift in his attitude as he realizes that he can still be in control, still be running everything ‘important’ (i.e. Destiny herself), while allowing a figurehead appear to be the ‘leader’.  So I’m not sure that he particularly cares who the figurehead is.  He does hate Young, though and I believe there will be a reckoning of some sort sooner rather than later.  What that will be – who knows? 

    He may also want someone else as leader to give him the time he needs to absolutely understand 100% how Destiny works and, once he has it all figured out and can lock out everyone else, he’ll make his move and say “My way or the intersteller highway” and become a tyrant, holding the rest of the crew hostage to his every whim.

    Ten bucks they piss us both off and reveal sometime soon that Ginn is playing Eli to advance some secret plot by the remaining Aleutian Alliance folks.


  2. Hi Patrick, glad you’re feeling better.

    “Rush never showed Chloe the bridge; he took her to his secret chalkboard hallway.”

    Maybe I’m misremembering, but I thought Rush showed Chloe the real bridge right before her mopey mess hall scene at the end of “Pathogen.” Maybe I’m mixing up the chalkboard hallway and the bridge though.

    Someone pointed out to me offline that while both Rush and Chloe may have been altered by the Blueberry Aliens, Chloe pretty much bled out when she was shot. Right after that was the burst of radiation. One or both events could have triggered alien DNA to heal and transform her.

    Good points about Rush. I hope you’re wrong about Ginn, but I’ve been thinking the same thing.

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