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    FAN REVIEWS: 'Water'

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    Severe rationing can't save the Destiny's dwindling water supply, forcing Colonel Young and Lieutenant Scott to seek out drinkable water on a deadly ice planet.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; 02 February 2021, 08:05 PM.

    Well, this one's "Water" under the bridge.
    By: Daniel Shea (s09119)

    "Everyone is lying!"
    "Yeah, grownups do that sometimes."

    -Eli Wallace and Nicholas Rush, "Water"

    It was inevitable that a show that has been going well for so long would eventually stumble, and, unfortunately, that stumble was "Water." While not a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination, it simply wasn't quite up to the standards set by the previous five installments. For the first true standalone thus far, this doesn't exactly set a strong precedent, but for the most part, this was an enjoyable entry into the Stargate canon, if not quite the roller coaster that we've been treated to since "Air."

    Opening with a premise that has been repeated for the past few episodes, "Water" poses the final resource-based dilemma for the crew of the Destiny; even with CO2 scrubbers, a replenished power supply, and a better understanding of their role on the wayward vessel, they find themselves quite rapidly running low on clean water. Colonel Young's attempts to seal off the appropriate chambers in case of theft or sabotage have failed to stop the loss, and Dr. Rush only heightens the tension when he reveals that nearly half of their supply has vanished since arrival. This scene in particular is noteworthy because it also reveals the new reason that the crew cannot simply dial Earth with their recharged stargate—after millions of years of being in space, it is likely the craft's batteries have "lost their charge," so to speak, and the reserves are only at 40% capacity. And this far into the universe, Rush explains, there's little hope that they could manage a connection even at full power. They'll need to find another way back, because this simply won't work.

    Possibly the most-shocking development thus far, however, is related to Young's next decision to try and figure out what's going on, as he has assigned Eli to use their vast supply of kinos to spy on the various crew members. So far, it's doing little but making the civilians distrustful of the soldiers, but the Colonel is adamant that they can't just do nothing. Ethical or not, they need that water if they want to have a chance at making it home, and this isn't the time for questions of morals. This is another gem of the "realism" the produces have promised the audience with Universe, and it's a welcome relief from tense days on Atlantis where the command staff would shudder at the thought of ever doubting their fellow expedition members (with the sole exception of the designated punching bag that was Kavanagh).

    And here we are introduced to the episode's curiously B-plot, as both Eli and Greer are followed by, but oblivious to, a whirlwind that bears a great deal of similarity to the "dust devil" entity Lieutenant Scott was aided by on the desert planet in "Air, Part 3." Seemingly benign in its first appearance, it morphs into a vicious and merciless killing machine when provoked, unaffected by bullets and shredding a redshirt soldier with ease. Thankfully for the crew, though, its terrifying abilities are restrained to when it feels most threatened, and TJ is able to come face-to-face with the alien being without harm. It continues to display a strange mix of apparent intelligence and complete lack of any real sentience, forming a recognizable face when encountering humans, yet incapable of any tangible communication. This comes as a striking departure from the norm of the franchise, in that there have yet to be any English-speaking humanoids encountering the travelers, and it's certainly a refreshing avenue to explore.

    In a sequence wonderfully reminiscent of Alien, Greer ends up hunting the entity through hallway after hallway, keeping it on the run with an improvised flamethrower. Aside from eliciting echoes of "Get out of there Dallas! You're going the wrong way!", the chase provides a chance to illustrate that TJ isn't quite the good friend of Greer she's appeared to be thus far, and still doesn't exactly trust him in sensitive matters. This becomes most-evident when she implements her plan to seal away the dust devil creature in a portable container of water, and provides some more backbone to the increasingly interesting medic:

    JOHANSEN: I'm not the one who's killed any of them, Sergeant. You are.
    GREER: I'll stand back; torch them if they get out.
    JOHANSEN: No. I want you out of sight.
    GREER: What, you don't trust me?
    JOHANSEN: No. I don't.
    GREER: ...alright.

    While Tamara and co. deal with that issue, of course, Young and Scott depart through the stargate to a new planet within range, which Eli appropriately nicknames "Hoth," as its frigid and ice-covered landscape seems like something straight out of Star Wars. Using Eli's ingenious hoversled, itself thrown together with a stretcher and kinos, the two highest-ranking personnel head off into the toxic atmosphere to harvest as much ice as they can. And although the special effects in "Water" are possibly the best so far (the shots of the Destiny entering and exiting hyperspace here are jawdroppingly cool), the entire world can't help but feel like a recoloring of the one from the pilot episode, as the plot is simply that identical. There is no new spin on the harvesting of a vital resource, minus the humorous and well-played banter between the two military men, and the injection of the dust devil at the very end only serves to complete the utter lack of originality with the A-plot. The strength of Louis Ferreira's acting skills were enough to salvage the affair (apparently, Young has done this sort of thing five, ten, or a dozen times), but Brian J. Smith's real uselessness in the situation was a drain on its enjoyability. Note to the writers; put our main cast members in more interesting places than between two slabs of ice we know will eventually come free.

    At the end of the day, the most-intriguing element of "Water" really had nothing to do with said compound, and was instead the growing dynamic between Rush and Eli, which alternates between "tough love father"-son and "wise teacher"-student by the day. While Rush wisely decides to keep the existence of a possibly malevolent entity on the ship on a need-to-know basis, allowing Young and Scott to work at peak efficiency, Eli stubbornly complains that all this lying won't do anyone any good. Even when it's clear that acting-commander TJ is in agreement, he blurts out the truth when it's proven unnecessary, if not a hindrance, earning admonishment from Rush that sometimes you must do what is prudent even when it may not seem like it's right. This theme carries on to the larger plot when Young, determined not to leave Scott behind, elects to abandon the water salvage mission to ensure the fledgling lieutenant's life. For the ship's resident Machiavellian, this is a travesty, but for Young, it is the only way life can be out here when all else is lost to them.

    And lastly, there is one last dangling plot thread to address, which has possibly become the most-controversial of all; the blossoming relationship between Matthew Scott and Chloe Armstrong. Early in the episode, Vanessa James, affectionately regarded by the fandom as the "woman with big breasts," happens upon the two kissing in the latter's quarters, and matter-of-factly asked why the former's radio is off. Annoyed, James delivers the message that Colonel Young needs to see him, and with the parting shot that he apparently couldn't find a broom closet to do the deed in, departs. Later on, however, she proves that, even as a secondary character, she has quite a personality to her, and breaks protocol to let Chloe know when Scott is trapped offworld. Showing compassion as the spurned lover is always difficult, yet she makes a pointed effort to help the late senator's daughter, perhaps realizing that she was never anything of real value to Scott and feeling, deep down, some measure of sympathy for this new, naive young woman he has found to entertain him.

    So what will the verdict be? It's difficult to say; on the one hand, "Water" offered a slew of character moments that greatly enhance our pathos for the crew, both main and secondary, and the special effects keep on getting better and better. On the other hand, however, the primary plot was far below the quality of the rest of the first half of the season, and the secondary one, while workable, also felt somewhat redundant. In short, this felt more like "Air, Part 3 + Ice" than anything else, but thankfully, the skills of the cast made enough of a difference to keep it from completely catching frostbite.

    "Water": **
    Last edited by s09119; 06 December 2009, 10:29 PM.
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      Universe returns to more familiar Stargate territory with the storyline focusing on a classic theme of interesting alien encounters and off-world trouble. The quality of the overall production continues to excel especially in allowing seeds sown in earlier episodes to blossom to fruition. Unfortunately, the story in Water does not match the overall excellence, providing some good moments but missing the opportunity to shine.

      The story is solid, but it isn't a stand-out. It is difficult to separate the main plot and sub-plot as both strands of the story - the discovery of alien bugs on the Destiny and the off-world mission seem to be given equal weight. Part of the issue is neither strand provides a big enough scenario to really capture the audience, to build tension and create drama. Despite the attack on the hapless Gorman, the bugs are positioned as friendly unless provoked so while the chase and resolution is somewhat interesting, it never feels like the entire crew is in danger of being eaten alive. Equally, while Scott falls into the precipice, there is never truly a moment where it feels as though he was in real danger of dying.

      The rest of the problem is the pacing; there is an inordinate amount of time for the set-up particularly on the Destiny where there is lots of discussion on what to do. While it's nice to see the crew interact and undoubtedly some of it was needed for exposition, it meant that the tension is really diluted. On the planet, Scott's situation seems to happen rather late into proceedings and given the action thereafter is restricted to Young attempting to pull him up on his own, and is broken up by Chloe being told of the situation and her reaction, again, the result is no tension. The story does attempt to construct tension - through Greer's reaction when the bugs try to get out of the locked room, and through Scott losing consciousness towards the end due to his suit being damaged - it just isn't enough.

      That isn't to say that there aren't any good points in the story: both Eli's board and Greer's flamethrower are great inventions; Greer's politeness to Chloe in the face of other opposition to the search is a nice dynamic; Rush telling Eli some home truths provides a great moment of tension between the two; Eli's pop culture references that go over everyone else's heads; loved Young's rejoinder to Scott on the "That's just as stupid, sir" reminding the lieutenant of who was in charge. There are indeed some lovely character moments.

      What it does well too is provide TJ with some much needed screen time. Alaina Huffman delivers a measured performance; providing glimpses of TJ's insecurity in command by delivering some lines with what is clearly false bravado and serving up expressions of uncertainty at times. Yet nicely the story and Huffman both serve up a TJ who ultimately is seen to step up to the plate and she saves the day by getting the bugs into the container and so off the ship. It's nice to see one of the female characters highlighted as the hero after such a focus on the male cast in episodes to date. Minor female characters also get screen time with Park being the one in charge of the suits and Lieutenant James finding out about Scott's new love interest.

      The latter is also a nice nod back to James's own hook-up with Scott in the premiere episode. The broom closet line was funny and added some much needed humour. Spencer's hording of food and water is also revealed while the alien bugs originate from the planet visited in Air. Overall it's nice to see this greater focus on continuity - to see that events of one episode will have an impact in another. It is also good to see continuing themes of Rush's and Young's power play, and the tension between the military and civilian camps: it's good to see that everyone isn't just getting along a la Trek's Voyager. All of this adds realism and believability to Universe.

      The overall production quality also continues to excel at giving this realism. The special effects deserve a mention in Water. The swarm of alien bugs is very well done and looks real. The moments where it forms faces are excellent. The ice planet is stunningly beautiful and fantastically lit to make the most of the environment - it looks alien and cold. There are some moments where the ice on the sled does look a little false but overall another good job.

      The acting also continues to be of an incredibly high calibre. Robert Carlyle looks is his element as Rush; changing from almost ubiquitous servility in trying to keep Young focused on the ice, to almost relaxed amusement at helping TJ with the bug situation, to mercurial temper in reaming Eli out for speaking out of turn. His performance continues to delight as does Louis Ferreira's. Ferreira and Brian J Smith did a great job despite the handicap of the suits. Indeed all the cast, both main and recurring, continue to put in good, solid performances although I hope Chloe, and by extension Elyse Levesque (who proved her acting ability in Air Part II), gets something more substantial to do than simply be Scott's girl in the future.

      In conclusion, Water is a solid outing for Universe with high production values and its usual polished quality. But while the story kept the overall arc moving along and neatly revisits some earlier plot elements, it really needed a big injection of tension and drama, through better pacing and greater danger within the scenarios created, to make it stand-out.
      Last edited by Rachel500; 07 June 2010, 01:45 PM.
      Women of the Gate LJ Community.
      My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.


        I O U H 2 O

        This episode splits into an A and B story. The acting is good. The "A" story ice script is pathetic. The "B" story is OK, but could have been better.

        Now they need water. Their 90,000 liters has suddenly dropped by half and nobody knows why. They do a room to room search and discover who has been drinking all the water. It was Chloe. She tried to conceal it, but has inherited her mother's drinking problem. Angry murmuring grows louder as the crowd closes in. Chloe admits between sobs that ever since her father died she's had this empty void inside her and drinking was the only way she could try to fill it. But now that she has a boyfriend everything will fine." Someone in the crowd yells "Well, all righty then!" and with a collective sigh of relief, they all disperse.

        Destiny stops at an ice planet and starts a countdown.

        Now we come to the train wreck.

        It's when they ask: "How are we going to cut the ice?"
        And the tech replies: "Use the plasma cutter. It can cut through anything."

        Massive factual error here. Breathtaking.

        The statement "It can cut through anything." is incomplete.
        The correct statement is: "It can cut through anything metal."

        Like any other variation of arc welder, plasma cutters only work on metal, or electrically conductive materials that are like metal, and ice isn't one of them.

        It's like, what if the spoof about Chloe drinking all the water were presented seriously in the script? What if the writer actually had no idea about how much water a person could drink? What if he never drank water, and instead only drank, say, gin...

        Given the "Hoth" mention, I wonder if the writer's sole source of research for writing sci-fi was watching a Star Wars rerun. Light sabers do not exist in the Stargate science construct. While Luke used one to cut ice and free himself from the abominable snow creature, we don't have that. A plasma cutter is not a light saber.

        At least the characters' use of bullets to bust out pieces of ice wasn't preposterous. But they should have saws or picks, fabricated on Destiny if necessary, by using the plasma cutter for something it would actually work on, like a non-critical bulkhead door. Cut a patch for the shuttle window while they're at it.

        The ice doesn't look right. It should at least drip water and give off mist. And what's with the bucket brigade? Just float the KINO cart over to the destination and dump. Maybe if they were passing it up stairs it wouldn't look like a foolish spectacle.

        The "I stand my ground" before the ground giving way gag worked when McKay did it in SGA "Trio", mainly because it was, well, McKay. There's no need for the fates to poke fun at Scott. The whole crevasse thing is way too contrived.

        They're mining a vein of ice. They shoot bullets to blast out chunks, weakening support for an unseen outcropping above. The tremor triggers an avalanche that buries and traps Scott. That would have been credible.

        A nice conclusion would have been, when the dust mote aliens are released, they swirl around, find and uncover Scott, enough for Young to finish freeing him. Then do the face salute thing and swirl-away.

        If the writers weren't such sourpuss dullards they could have utilized the dust-mote creatures more cleverly. Could have been one of the best episodes ever by adding just the right amount of humor. Here's how:

        In Jim Carry's movie "The Mask" there is a lot of cartoonish-style morphing. Here, the trick would be to not overdo it.

        Imagine a scene with Eli, where Telford is on one of his bellicose rants. The dust motes appear behind Telford and pantomime his gestures with unintentionally comedic facial caricature. Eli stares in astonishment. When Telford swings around, there's nothing there. The aliens have playfully swung around too, staying behind him, just out of his sight. This could repeat (once). When Telford demands: "What's wrong with you?" Eli decides to reply: "Nothing". When Telford storms off, Eli finally ventures a small grin.

        The aliens encounter Vanessa in the hall and when they mimic her outstanding features, she expresses bemused exasperation similar to the peeping KINO incident.

        In the scene where "Private Redshirt" shoots the aliens, they could have swooned over the little pile of dead aliens in a tiny tornado. In the third "Star Wars", one of the mini-panda's get killed and another makes this tiny sad sound. Adding such a barely perceptible sound would have added to the scene. After that, the swarm forms a scary face, accompanied by a tiny angry sound, before retaliating.

        Rush and Eli look at some dead mites under a microscope and theorize that their bio-crystalline structure must enable them to use metal ions like magnesium to extract energy from the water by displacing the hydrogen. That explains where the water went and why everyone's voice is getting squeaky.

        In the first DVD's "Extras", there is a KINO clip involving clandestine cigarette use that could be used here to great effect. Eli watches two crewmen about to "light up" on the KINO. Realizing what is about to happen, exclaims "Uh Oh. Oh No. NO!" There is a loud poofy boom as the hydrogen ignites and a brief flash propagates through the ship. Not intense enough to actually hurt anybody, just enough to have everybody's hair standing comedically on end. Mercifully, there wasn't any extended character exposition in this episode, so, fortunately, nobody's lungs got burned, since their mouths were closed.

        On the plus side, they get some of their water back since the byproduct of hydrogen combustion is water vapor. It condenses everywhere, including on the walls, and everyone scrambles to catch the drips in whatever container is handy.

        Like I say, could have been great.
        Last edited by apostrophe; 09 June 2010, 03:23 PM. Reason: standardize title
        "Thank God it hit the Reading Library, or somebody might have been seriously hurt!"



          The first few episodes of Stargate Universe appear to focus on problems involving things needed to survive; case in point... Air, Energy and now Water. There is only so much they can do with the stuff that people on the Destiny live off of; they do attempt to use the water situation the best that they can but it's still a contrived situation that effects the show and uses up what time the show could be using to establish a sense of consistency; we can't have them go through a situation every day where they have to find water or food or even some mineral they need for some reason.

          The above describes what the main problem of the episode is; while the last episode attempted to grow our characters through the most reasonable of situations, this one just forces the characters into contrived/common situations in an attempt to squeeze some characterization out. Don't get me wrong, they do succeed in getting that small amount of characterization (Young for example, who seems to be slowly growing with every scene/episode that he's in.) but to put them through those situations where you almost know exactly what's going to happen is, shall I say; lacking. There are two distinct plots though, one which involves the Destiny and one that involves the ice planet they visit; in comparison of the two plots, the ice planet has the most going on for it. I say that because the ice planet is the perfect area for the two characters who visit it (Young and that other guy), casually talking among themselves, trying to find salvation; I'm not saying that it's the best part of the episode but the way they use it is appropriate for the premise they're trying to establish.

          The other plot involving mysterious things aboard the Destiny does not fare as well. Reason being that the clues aren't that subtle and the mystery really isn't there. It does try to bring out the true unknown that the creators keep promising us but when the unknown tries to mesh with a mystery that tries to mesh with the characters, it does not produce good results. Part of the problem has to do with the culprits being revealed early; people don't want to know who it is when the mystery is just getting started, people want to build up to the moment where the culprits are revealed. While the creators may have a reason for doing what they did, it's a problem because the culprits are right in front of our faces and we're just watching people accuse other people we barely care about all in the sake of character, character that isn't even discovered because of the usual bad acting/bad line delivery; there are some good moments though, you just have to dig deep to find them.

          What is common about these two plots is that it puts our characters into life & death situations, though situations which don't have the weight they should. Case in point, for the situations to have weight we have to care about the characters and for us to care about the characters we have to get to know them; which has not happened yet. Additionally, there must be a strong feeling that they could die; that they won't make it; that despite what they do, they can't save them. Both of those things are not there and as a result, both plots suffer. In every show, there are situations where one person does not make it or something irreversible happens in their lives. It doesn't work out if the people always manage to make it or if nothing major happens in their lives; it makes the world feel less & less natural the more things remain the same. Sure, it's nice to cheer for them as they save someone at the last minute or find a solution to their problem but there has to be a point in time where the stakes are raised high and things get really serious.

          That's not to say they raise the stakes or take things seriously but it's a waste for both plots because of the poor execution. I mean there is lots of potential to be had with both plots and while the situations may be stuff we've seen before, I feel like the writers could of added a new twist to the usual situations but instead they mostly play it safe and that hurts both plots to the point of it hurting the episode itself. While they do explore the unknown a bit, I don't feel like they have to had the characters go through situations where they either agitate the situation on the ship or try to rescue someone trapped in the ice; just to get a small step somewhere else.

          I will say that the moments involving life on the ship (not involving dialog, just the actual moments) and the mundane things that are shown throughout are one of the best moments in the show and help sell the whole "life" aspect throughout the ship and that's important in a character drama. Showing our characters suit up, do stuff to the ship and converse among themselves help us to connect with the characters and the world at hand and it makes us really feel like we're watching their daily routine, which also helps sell the reality show aspect this show aims to have; and if they can succeed in making us feel like what we're watching is actually real then just imagine what they could do with the characters and the overall direction of the show.

          Unfortunately, episodes like this prove that a show's potential is only as good as the people who bring it out of the show. The impressive visual effects, the appropriate music and the epic settings don't matter if they can't bring out the characters and the stories in an effective way; all elements of a show have to work together to provide an enjoyable experience. If it doesn't work together then it can end up being very, very bad for the series as a whole. This episode has some things going for it but it doesn't so much with what it's given and what it does do is either decent or very, very bland and because of that it can be somewhat of a struggle to watch depending on which side of the fence you're on. I'll admit, the shows creators do have some admirable ideas and I really hope they get to express those ideas in the series, it's just that these episodes kind of defeat the ultimate purpose behind the show; which is not a good thing at all.

          Last edited by ZRFTS; 01 February 2012, 09:31 AM.
          Back from the grave.