|In Short:||Confused but enjoyable as Destiny plays host to a scientist from Earth.|
|AMANDA PERRY:||Is everything alright?|
|TJ:||No. It’s about to hit the fan again.|
Considered one of the most controversial episodes before its
airing, “Sabotage” ultimately ends up not pushing the envelope
enough, allowing one of the arcs to end in something of an
anti-climax and another to really pay-off in a way that leaves
jaws dropped and eyes wide.
Before SGU even aired, the casting brief and audition sides for “Sabotage” had leaked onto the internet and caused much outrage over the anticipated portrayal of the then-named Eleanor Perry, a paraplegic character who swaps bodies with Camile Wray. There was a great deal of worrying over whether the show would provide a positive portrayal of disability; much debate about the storyline of Perry possibly having sex with Rush while she was in Wray’s body given Wray’s homosexuality. Exec Producer Brad Wright had to rush (no pun intended) to defend the show. In the end, the controversial aspects are all very politically correct but I’m not certain this was the best decision for the dramatic impact of the storyline.
The portrayal of Perry enjoying her newfound ability to move is very well crafted and beautifully performed by Kathleen Munroe. I would question whether she would just be able to get up and walk even in Camile’s body – walking is a learned skill, one that Perry would have lost. But the scene in the mess when she enjoys feeding herself is subtle and touching. Also very subtle and very touching is the scene with Rush in her quarters when the sticky topic of sex is posed. Whatever was originally intended, I personally found the scene real and, actually, very beautiful – because it wasn’t about sex; it was about intimacy and caring. The story does well in establishing Perry’s desire as long-standing with her somewhat humorous earlier scene with Eli, so her need for sex is not sex for its own sake but to be with Rush. That Rush declines on the basis that he’s still feeling the aftereffects of “Human” (01.14) and the renewed grief for his wife feels right for the character. The comforting hug that Perry offers is just marvelous. Carlyle and Munroe have a really nice chemistry that translates well on screen as a long standing friendship between their characters. While it is all well done, the subtlety here just doesn’t create a great deal of dramatic tension.
I will also say that the flip side of this story with Camile and Sharon is equally well done. There was just enough shown to hint at the issues faced by Camile in Perry’s body to give a realistic view of disability without going into too much detail that would have detracted from the action back on the ship. Ming Na and Reiko Aylesworth have a great chemistry and I’m pleased to see the Stargate franchise including a homosexual relationship at last. Again, I question whether the portrayal is too positive. While there are subtle hints of Sharon’s discomfort with Camile’s situation and effectively, sudden disability, there wasn’t enough in my opinion. When the height of the drama is Sharon being late home from the shops, clearly there is an issue with the dramatic tension in the storyline.
If the controversial elements ended up being all rather too polite, so too did the ending of the arc with the lost members of Team SGU. Having built up this storyline over the past two episodes with the unexpected leaving behind of Eli, Scott and Chloe in both, the resolution with them just turning up on the ship is fairly disappointing and very lacking in drama. Perhaps in some ways, it is the most realistic return – without fanfare and the opportunity to return provided by nothing more than a stroke of luck. But seriously, what a way to leave your audience less than satisfied after such great foreplay.
By contrast, the arc with Franklin and the chair was simply fantastic. The sabotage and alien threat was very well shown (loved the violence of the engines exploded with everyone being thrown) and it was nice to see Julia Benson getting some increased screen time as Vanessa James. The climax with Franklin taking the chair to save them from the alien attack was brilliantly done; the mist and light evocative, the music nicely increasing the tension. The ending with the reveal of the empty room was jaw-dropping and a real “wow” moment. Has Franklin Ascended? Has he merged with the ship? It’s great stuff.
In fact, the episode as a whole is very enjoyable. The pacing is good, the direction nicely done with some good shots -- loved the sequence with Brody building his still -- the music not particularly intrusive. And the story is well-written, all the threads nicely coming together and yet remaining individual in nature like a well-made sundae. But it needed a lot more dramatic tension to make it really compelling. Only the producers know whether their intent was watered down after the controversy erupted but I can’t help feel a tad disappointed that they didn’t push the boundaries just a little bit more.
-- Rachel Day