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FAN REVIEWS: 'Pain' (117)

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    FAN REVIEWS: 'Pain' (117)

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    The ship's crew is plagued by hallucinations that manifest their fears and desires.



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    I’m not the greatest fan of lets butcher the plot so we can have good character moments. So as you can imagine Pain is not high on my list of favorite Stargate Universe episodes. However that does not mean the episode is a bad one. Just that it could have been better. Do not get me wrong. Seeing the fears and pain of the Destiny crew was top notch. I just felt that the notion of how these hallucinations occur was quite weak. I’m going to do things a little different this week. Instead of reviewing in my normal linear scene by scene fashion I will just go by each character’s hallucination (with major emphasis on Greer) and wrap up with the rushed plot.

    I suppose we should start with James and her hallucination of having sex with Scott and then killing him. To me this hallucination points that despite James showing a tough shell she is hurting on the inside. She is an emotional wreck and feels betrayed by Scott. I think James saw the relationship with Scott and something worthwhile and meaningful while obviously Scott saw it nothing more as casual sex. So in rage she kills him. Because as I said earlier I think these shows that James is emotionally sad and angry over that whole ordeal with Scott. She does not who she is.

    Next we move on to Volkner who is apparently claustrophobic. There is no deep analysis for this one. It’s quite apparent that him not being able to go through the doors that Volkner does not like small spaces. It’s quite a common phenomenon for people.

    Now about Scott and seeing his son roaming around the ships points actually to two pains he has. One even though his ex-girlfriend kept the child a secret for Scott he still feels guilty about not seeing. Even though there was nothing Scott could he feels guilty none the less about not being able to spend those early years with his child. That is pain number 1. Now pain number 2 is very much related to this. The 2nd pain is related that the fear Scott may never be able to get home to actually see his son. So these two statements can be nicely generalized in that Scott’s pain is the inability to know who his son is. Although I have to ask don’t you think the priest who drank himself to death would have been a much better pain then Scott’s son?

    If you are going to bring back an accomplished actor back to Christopher McDonald I think you better have some accomplished scenes to use him in. I’m not quite sure if that is what we got in this episode. I’m not willing to say yes or no. I don’t know we needed to bring back such an accomplished actor to show that Chloe’s biggest pain is when her father died. I think we knew how grief stricken his death made her. I’m not trying to belittle that since speaking from experience that pain never goes away but I don’t know if the scenes with him worth it. You know what I take it back. I forget Chloe’s hesitation to go with Eli and Scott to the infirmary. That shows and emphasis just how much Chloe loved her father and how hard it is to lose him. Christopher McDonald’s guest appearance was defiantly worth.

    I saved Rush and Greer’s hallucinations last for a reason. But first we have to talk about the plot and how TJ finds a solution to this hallucination problem. The whole story of what is causing the hallucination and how to stop was just too simple. Maybe it because I’m medical major at school (Nuclear Medicine to be exact) and I actually know within reason how the brain works but I find it hard to believe an insect could dig into your neck and mess around with your limbic system. It seems quite far fetched that a creature that big could interact with neural tissue which is quite microscopic. Equally hard to believe is the notion is look we just throw some anesthesia on the bugs and we can just pull them out with no brain damage. I’m sorry I just don’t buy it. A creature attached to the brain that is forcibly removes would cause some of kind of brain damange when they are actually removed. Like I said before it seems this plot was butchered and twisted to fit the character moment of their fears.

    Now that my opinion of the plot is expressed I think my view of Young hunting down Greer and his hallucination will make more sense. But first we have to talk about Rush and his fear. This one is another obvious and self-exclusionary one. Which is quite strange as Rush is not usually so easy to describe. Anyway, with Rush envisioning himself in a water tank followed by Rush imaging himself chasing the blue aliens around Destiny its quite obvious Rush’s biggest pain is being captured and dissected by those aliens. Can not really say I blame him. If aliens cut me open and tortured me to the extent that they tortured Rush I’d probably be scared too.

    At first I thought Greer’s biggest pain (or fear) was that another mutiny was going to occur. That was why he was chasing Wray and Rush. But that scene showing Greer’s father painted another picture. Greer’s biggest pain I think (despite him being a bitter drunk) is letting his father down. Greer I think feels somewhat responsible for his father dying. To that end Greer views Young as a father figure. Which is why he was chasing Wray and Rush because in this hallucinate state Greer thinks there would be less pain for Young to deal with. So now Greer is helping his father figure something he could not do for his real father. Yes that is completely messed up in reality but we all know how hallucinations mess with a person’s mind.

    Overpowering Greer seems quite simplistic not to mention convent just as he was about to shoot Wray. As I have said I am not too impressed with the actual story. It was just too easy to halt him before he got to Wray. Speaking of Wray the look of her face as she walked past Greer shows how cold she is going to leave this instance over his head. This is the end of my “meh” review of Pain. I hope the change in reviewing wasn’t too hard for you people.
    Originally posted by aretood2
    Jelgate is right


      Since Pain seems to be hot on the fan reviews, I'll throw in my two cents. Rather than think about the plot/content of the hallucinations, I'm going to think about some of the other aspects of the episode.

      My biggest gripe with the episode. It starts off with so much raw energy, but it loses all of it right after the credits, then it struggles to do anything until the last ten minutes of it. There are too many scenes with characters who we don't care about, like snake in the arm guy, and Barnes (the one without the tick).

      Even scenes with the main cast found it hard to gain any steam. Most of the scenes in the infirmary suffer from this, but this is probably directly related to having too many throwaway characters getting screentime.

      Scott's scenes seem to plod along, and someone dropped the plot anchor when it came to putting Chloe's scenes together. Eli being tacked onto her scenes did nothing to help, but I suppose they had to get their money's worth from Blue.

      Too many scenes were given to Volker, in my opinion, especially for a relatively minor affair. Cutting out one of his 30 second segments, or exploring the idea of cabin fever more could have made a difference in making the episode plod along, or moving slowly with purpose.

      Too many issues were just touched upon - Greer's perception of Wray, Volker's cabin fever, James' relationship with Scott, etc.

      This episode is a great example of why Julia Anderson should be promoted to the main credits. Scene stealing whenever she had lines. While she wasn't on the same level as Carlyle or Ferreira, she definately put in a stronger performance than most of the main supporting cast.

      As usual, Carlyle, Ferreira and JWS turned in excellent performances.

      Levesque and McDonald didn't do either of themselves justice in this episode. Both seemed to phone their performances in. McDonald was wooden, while Levesque seemed a tad hammy; I'm sure the lines they were given didn't help matters much.

      Ming Na's acting in Greer's hallucinations seemed incredibly forced too. Her fear during the "real" events was miles better, but the smirk she flashed Greer was incredibly unconvincing.

      Riley's line in the mess hall was absolutely beautiful. A well placed callback to Greer's casting sheet, "Shawn "Psycho" Stasiak".

      TJ's House M.D. epiphany. Stopping mid sentence then realising something important. I found it funny, at any rate.

      Final thoughts
      The writing wasn't particularly tight, which is the biggest flaw in this episode. Too many thoughts half thought, with so much potential being lost in the mix.

      4/10. Could have done without it, but not worth the energy to try to have it stricken from canon.


        What Pain lacks in originality, it more than makes up in tension as suppressed emotions bubble to the surface under the guise of an alien tick infection. The actors put in great performances, the direction is sharp and the tension fantastically taut with a storyline that does much to examine the inner workings of the affected crew. On the other hand, the lighting does nothing to help and everything to annoy.

        While understandably, the producers wanted a new style sometimes the dark, shadowy lighting of SGU is, well, too dark and shadowy. I’m not a fan of a lack of lighting and this episode has particularly horrendously bad lighting. No doubt it was meant to invoke a tense atmosphere, to underscore the chaos and confusion wrought by the hallucinations. But at times I was struggling to see what actually was going on. It needed more light.

        I will say that the episode did achieve a great level of tension with the duality of spiraling hallucinations suffered by Greer and Rush as both fear a hostile takeover of the ship -- Rush by external forces, Greer by internal. The direction in these scenes was well-done with some great shots of reality versus hallucination; long shots down corridors; shadows flitting across walls. As Wray gets caught in the middle, stabbed by Rush who thinks she’s an alien, and held hostage by Greer who faces her down with a gun, there is a definite sense of danger. I really feared Greer was going to kill her despite my knowledge that Wray survives for future episodes. It was well-played by both Jamil Walker Smith and Ming-Na. Carlyle also does a good job of playing a Rush mad with fear; the scene in the corridor where he hallucinates being trapped in a water chamber again is particularly well done.

        I also just want to give a shout-out to Haig Sutherland who delivers another wry and understated performance as Reilly. The character is a favorite of mine not least because he provides some much-needed humor. In Pain he provides the only faint hint of humor as he comments that he thought Greer would be the first to crack, and his comment not to forget the bug spray in the final scene as Destiny stops by another planet and risks more danger. In fact, all of the cast put in great performances, from the supporting players such as Julia Benson and Patrick Gilmore to Elyse Levesque who does a stand-out performance as Chloe saying goodbye again to her father. Her pleading to Eli that she’s not ready to lose him again; that she knows he isn’t real, and later when she’s forced to lose the tick in the infirmary brought tears to my eyes.

        One of the reasons why the performances are so strong is because the material is so great that they have to work with. The story, while touching on usual fears (claustrophobia and fear of snakes), really makes the most of exploring the underlying emotions eating away at the Destiny crew: from James’ longing for and anger at Scott, Scott’s own guilt at being away from his son, and Chloe’s grief for her father. Even Greer’s fears of another civilian coup with his suspicions of Wray and Rush, and Rush’s fears of the aliens are revealed here in greater depth. All of it builds on the previously established storylines which enable the subtle tease of the first five minutes where the audience is left to wonder if James’ has really attacked Scott, whether he has cheated on Chloe. The tease works wonderfully until Scott makes his “real” appearance and there is a slow dawning that something else is going on. This is one episode where if you know what’s happening, it literally is a spoiler.

        The only downside to the story is that it isn’t the most original story ever. The whole alien influence and/or infection bringing up repressed emotions and fears thing is one of the most prevailing devices in the sci-fi genre. And writer, Carl Binder, has even done it before in the franchise in Stargate Atlantis’ episode Phantoms. My main complaint of that episode was that it didn’t explore the psyches of the characters enough. Pain is more successful in that regard than Phantoms but it too could have gone further -- perhaps by focusing on fewer characters but more in depth. We don’t really learn anything new in Pain about our major characters; Chloe gets the most development by being able to say the goodbye to her father that she was denied by the nature of his death.

        Nevertheless, Pain is a tense and well-executed episode. It perhaps lacks the depth and originality it needed to be truly classic for me, but it is a good solid outing for Stargate Universe and delivers an enjoyable hour of entertainment. It says something that my major gripe with the episode was simply the lighting.

        Previously published at GeekSpeak Magazine
        Women of the Gate LJ Community.
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          Pain... It's a feeling that everyone encounters at some point in his lifetime; pain is an unavoidable feeling, just like uncertainty, scrutiny and differential treatment. The episode title is quite ironic in that the people in this episode are feeling some sort of pain and the people watching this episode are feeling the pain themselves; mostly because of how bad the episode is.

          This episode is centered around a bunch of hallucinations happening to various characters; now hallucinations are a tricky thing to deal with, if used improperly they could work against the episode, possibly even harm it and if used properly then they could help it, especially in considerations to the characters; unfortunately it's used improperly. There was no sense of what these hallucinations even meant to the characters, through the 44 minutes I was watching this episode I felt utterly confused trying to figure out what purpose they had in an episode and how it related to their characters... since SGU is a character based show, everything shown about the characters much have purpose; I mean they can't throw up a bunch of hallucinations and use them to make the episode edgy right?

          Well this is what they mostly did, very few hallucinations actually had anything to do with the characters and the one that they did do with the characters weren't developed enough; Scott being an example. If Scott is having a hallucination then their better be some purpose to it, it can't minorly reference a part of Scott's character; it has to go all of the way and ultimately add something to Scott's character that can't be done with the regular scenes; same goes to Rush. Because of the way they used the hallucinations and because of how hard they try to make them edgy, (camera angles, usage of blood, crazyness, lighting, sex with rock music.) they themselves ultimately end up stale and boring and become the weakest link of the episode. Hint: Hallucinations don't have to be something that just makes your show stand out from the crowd, they can make a truly amazing story if done right and if creatively used.

          They do try to use it as a basis for the plot, working it so that the people on the ship are somewhat of a focus and there is some sort of backbone to the whole concern and worry thing... When they're not focusing on the hallucinations, it's somewhat tolerable; especially the scenes in the operating room. It's just nice to see some conversation between these characters, some shots of the crisis for the people not having hallucinations and Young leading, even though the acting in many of these scenes aren't up to par. Ultimately the entire thing feels like a rehash of "Time" right down to the way they portray the chaos... except this time, it manages to be worse. They even up the excitement levels near the end of the episode and while I did feel my heart pump for the first time in the episode, it's something that is undeserved and somewhat smells of desperation; don't get me wrong it is action packed but it just feels like something that was added in at the last minute to somehow fix a problem with the episode, I will admit that those scenes contain Ming-Li's best acting yet.

          There is one bright spot in the hallucinations, and that is Chloe and her father. Those scenes are the best in the episode, you can truly get a feel for them both as they chat it up and reminisce about good times; everything about the scene works, the lighting, the cinematography, the framing... even the bond between them works because there isn't anything blocking the way, it's just Chloe and her father. One of the more surprising things about these scenes are the acting, yes Chloe manages to turn in her best acting performance yet; utilizing emotion and charm in ways that showcases the potential of the Chloe character... and she's not alone in this, the Senator also manages to be well written, charming and a fun guy to be with, throughout the episode he proves himself to be one of the best guest characters yet. The bond between Chloe and her father is amazing enough but they didn't stop there, they managed to add "concern" in a way that enhances what these scenes mean. Eli and Chloe is good and it really gets across the feelings of both characters especially in relation to the senator. You can truly feel the caring side of Eli as he chats with Chloe and you can feel Chloe as she deals with the situation, and that lasts all the way until the end where it manages to be bittersweet and satisfactory.

          But what is one glorious scene that realizes it's potential compared to the rest of the episode... I realize they don't have to do the same thing but at least they could of done more, hell they don't even bother to legitimately surprise the viewer with these hallucinations, (most of which are shown in the very beginning) especially in Greer's case. Greer is sort of the crazy one and they did try to make it so that they don't know if he's hallucinating or if he's just crazy but they ruin that from the first moments of the episode, because the first moments of the episode actually reveal that he's hallucinating; not implicitly or intentionally but it is revealed. Who knows his scenes could of held had his hallucination been kept a mystery, he might of even surprised me near the end of the episode but because the mystery is ruined, I felt nothing watching those scenes even though it contains "some" decent acting. On the bright side they do manage to explain the hallucinations, how it's caused, give some purpose to the hallucinations and actually make it so that certain hallucinations don't disappear whenever someone enters the room (a common cliche unfortunately) but those bright sides (including Chloe) can't make up for the significantly lacking quality this episode provides.

          Ultimately this is the second worst episode of SGU behind "Earth". It's hallucinations had character potential but it's instead used as something edgy that serves more to show SGU's darker-vibe then it does to actually provide an entertaining charater-based episode. There is barely anything that attracts your attention and lot of this episode is confusing, dull and boring; through the hallucinations, attempts at edginess and awkwardness, you'll be waiting for the moment when this episode ends so you don't have to watch it anymore. There is one bright spot that makes this episode and that's the scenes with Chloe and her father, it does make it better then "Earth" in that Chloe is better used but one bright spot isn't enough to save the entire episode. A major misfire for mostly everybody involved.

          Back from the grave.