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FAN REVIEWS: 'Alliances' (213)

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    FAN REVIEWS: 'Alliances' (213)

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    While a U.S. Senator visits Destiny, Camille and Sgt. Greer are trapped when Homeworld Command comes under alien attack.



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    The people aboard Destiny will likely never go home. Many of them have chosen to stay and those that don't want to stay don't have much of a choice, as the previous episode proves out. So what now? Now comes the time when those aboard will have to choose where they stand, to choose their alliances, and they aren't the only ones.

    Over the past year, the crew have gone from being opposing camps – allied to either the military or the civilian contingent – to being a more or less cohesive unit, with the opposing forces coming from without. The Lucian Alliance, the various aliens and hardships, this opposition has been confronted and dealt with but the crew now faces a worse adversity in the form of their own people.

    This isn't the first time that Earth has tried to interfere in affairs aboard Destiny, but the events of “Alliances” have certainly sharpened those divisions. Not soldiers, not scientists, but worse. Earth has sent the politicians, the accountants and, in the form of Covell, someone whose allegiances can't truly be ascertained.

    When I first looked at pictures of the Senator that had stoned aboard Destiny, I saw a strong, proud woman. I imagined that her role would also be a strong one. And then she opened her mouth and all I could think of was that it was such a shame that she was so painfully shallow. Of course, that was the point. Every time that the Senator spoke, she sounded disingenuous, picking and choosing her words depending upon whom she was talking to at the moment.

    Perhaps at its most blatant is in her conversations with Chloe. At the beginning of the journey, Chloe was being groomed to follow in her father's footsteps and I have no doubt that with her connections, or at least her father's connections, she could go far in this role. The Senator goes too far when she says that Chloe's situation is a “waste”, especially given all of the things that Chloe has done so far and what she continues to be capable of. What would truly be a waste is Chloe being a mere politician at this point. It is this smallness, this provincialism and concern solely with the small matters of Earth politics as it pertains to themselves, that the Senator and Covell appear to bring with them. They seem to be, for the most part, incapable of even seeing the crew of the Destiny or of their mission, because it means nothing to them. The Senator's saving grace is that, by the end of the episode, she may be close to truly seeing the error of her beliefs and while the Senator's possible change in her personal allegiances won't change anything for her personally, acknowledging Chloe's choice is a kindness. There is also the last poignant act where, knowing she is certain to die, she runs the dust through her fingers. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. She has just seen the most incredible thing any human has ever seen and it's over, done, and her life is gone. All of the things that she thought were so important are wiped away – the politics, the bureaucracy, it's all just small potatoes.

    Between the Destiny and the Earth scientists, the lines are also being drawn. Those on Earth don't seem to think much of those who are doing the hands on work aboard Destiny. It's always “the best minds on Earth” have done this, that, or the next thing, but all of that is done at a distance, not risking their own lives and when their own lives are thrown into the balance, those Earth scientists are found lacking. Whether it's the Earth scientists making a run for it during the first dialling within the star, or Covell's cowardly act of sabotaging the stones in order to steal Greer's body, Earth has shown that they are clearly not in alliance with the Destiny.

    Rush, who has, over time and great effort, earned the respect of those aboard Destiny, even Col. Young, is shunted aside continually by Earth scientists. Eli, while clearly brilliant, is generally viewed as a child. The other scientists aboard Destiny are shunted aside entirely, not even drawing notice. This crew has been hands on, they have lived and breathed, and survived, aboard Destiny, long after the Earth scientists expected them to perish, and yet the Earth scientists continue to dismiss them. “The best minds on earth” pale in comparison to the least of the scientists aboard Destiny, at least where the Destiny is concerned.

    Heavily featured here is the alliance between Greer and Wray, two people with a troubled history with each other. With everything that has happened between them, it does me some good to see them fully support each other in this way.

    Their slung insults are important in setting the stage for how much they both have changed, for how much they have both opened up and become more than the small roles of soldier and politician that opened them. In the beginning, Greer may have been the image of the perfect soldier – no pain, no fear – but in episode after episode, he has opened up and become something so much more, showing an incredibly deep array of emotions. In being injured in the collapse, we are reminded of Greer's fear during the “Lost/Human” episodes, and the injury itself takes Greer out of the picture as an active participant in their rescue.

    Wray has also moved far beyond the minor human relations official that she started out as and manages, despite Greer's jab, to get a great deal of work done. She has, as she tells Evans, learned a great deal from the scientists while aboard Destiny, but she's learned a lot more. She has taken a hands on role in her own life, rather than delegating tasks to others. She has become more than a mere politician and her continuing bravery has me cheer for her with every new episode. The two of them have sorely needed this time together since “Pain” and it was good to see them talk, laugh and open up to each other.

    The Lucian Alliance is something I've left until last because it is the most obvious image that comes to mind from the title. The attack by the Alliance has been a long time building and so having a ship crash with a bomb wasn't a surprise in and of itself. Having Varro volunteer information on defusing the bomb puts him solely in Destiny's court, although I sense growing jealousy by Col. Young regarding the friendship (and more?) between TJ and Varro. In the last episode, several Lucian Alliance members chose to stay aboard Destiny, so their alliances are plain to see.

    Which brings me to Telford. As with every episode where Telford makes an appearance, I can't help but wonder where he stands. Did Telford wish to be able to stone into his alternate body in case whatever plan at hand on Earth failed (or succeeded?) and he needed to have a body to escape to? Did he wish to stone back into his own body in order to avoid the stone glitches that outed him in the first place?

    It is clear from events that Telford was brainwashed by the Lucian Alliance but the Alliance could have used the technique as a fail-safe measure, rather than a sole method of turning Telford into an enemy agent. In other words, what if eradication of the brainwash didn't change Telford's true allegiance and he is still a Lucian Alliance agent?

    How else can the existence of Evans – a man bearing a clan tattoo, acting strangely enough that Wray could pick up that something was wrong with him – continue to operate at the base? Wouldn't Telford be aware of other Lucian Alliance agents, given his long-time undercover work, once he was no longer brainwashed? After all, he mentioned to Young that he had memory of all the things that he had done, so why not of all the people he would have met? He passed files on the Destiny crew to Evans for a reason and I believe that reason is that, brainwash or not, Telford remains an enemy agent.

    Like many lines in SGU regarding Telford, I believe that the writers are slowly building up to a great reveal with Telford's character, tied to the Lucian Alliance attack on the base where they – Young, Greer, Telford, and others – were once stationed, and that was bombed when Telford kept quiet to keep his undercover role.

    Sadly, there may not be time for this storyline to fully play out before the end of the season, and the series.

    There is a lot going on in this episode, with so many questions and points that are being built upon to be explored throughout what remains of the season. The depth of the infiltration of the Lucian Alliance among the power structure on Earth, the secrets held by Rush and others, and some interesting developments with the stones, both from a scientific and moral standpoint, to say nothing of the ties between those on board and the fallout that is set up by this planting of small ripples that will be expanded on throughout the remaining episodes. As a story-building episode much like “Life” and “Earth”, this episode gets a solid eight.

    Rating: 8/10
    Last edited by xxxevilgrinxxx; March 25, 2011, 07:58 AM.



      “Alliances” is probably the first Earth-based episode that really (and literally) rocks, as it involves an attack on Homeworld Command by the Lucien Alliance just at the moment when Camile and Greer have used the communication stones to swap with Senator Michaels and Doctor Andrew Corvel. This is a solid outing; good story, great guest characters and all-round great acting. It just lacks two vital ingredients: Richard Dean Anderson’s Jack O’Neill and some believable depth to Greer and Camile’s past animosity.

      I want to begin with Greer and Camile’s relationship because early episodes in Season 1 ("Air Part 1, 2 and 3" and "Justice") definitely indicated a big problem between the two characters, with hostility bristling in every look and interaction. All we knew for certain was that Camile thought Greer was a loose cannon and deserved to be locked in the brig, and he was apt to be angry at her treatment of him. Here the two are forced together by circumstance (trapped in the rubble of the Pentagon) and have to work together. I was excited at the beginning of the episode because I thought “at last! We’re going to find out what’s the problem between them!” Imagine my surprise when the problem seems to boil down to: Greer acts, Camile talks, and never the twain shall meet.


      I was expecting something big, something chunky; racism, homophobia, sexism, Greer threatening to space Camile when they were at Icarus, Camile seeing Greer kill someone as a foundation to her fear of him… something -- anything.

      But, no. Greer acts; Camile talks; never the twain shall meet. Only, of course they do because this is Stargate and the core of the franchise has always been civilian and military personnel having to work out their differences to save the day. So, we have Camile and Greer setting aside their differences and working together; he saves her, she tries to save them all, they both warm up a little to each other enough that they are able to share personal confidences at the close of the show. It’s standard Stargate stuff; good, solid but not remarkable -- and I was so looking forward to remarkable.

      Having said that, both Jamil Walker Smith and Ming-Na act their socks off and they do well with the material provided. They really sell the Earth scenes and give the search and attempt to disarm the bomb tension and gravitas. For me, it was an added pleasure finally this season seeing Smith’s Greer, one of my favorite characters, front and center because he always gives a great performance and here is no different.

      Indeed the guest actors brought in for the sub-plot of the visiting Senator and Head of Research and Development to Destiny also do a fantastic job. Kathleen Quinlan is superb as the measured Senator Michaels, displaying a warmth in her scenes with Chloe which contrast nicely with her fencing with Young and Rush. The scene with Chloe is particularly well-done, highlighting the perception of Chloe as stuck and useless versus Chloe’s own sense of being useful and finding a purpose on Destiny.

      Another joy was the casting of French Stewart as Doctor Andrew Corvel. Stewart also played the original Lieutenant Ferretti in Stargate: The Movie. While it might have been nice to have seen him in an episode returning to his original role (Ferretti was played by Brent Stait in Stargate SG-1), it’s difficult to see what excuse could have been given to have gotten Ferretti on board Destiny. Corvel is an interesting enough character, although really too much like Rush in many ways.

      The subplot is not that interesting but presumably sowing seeds that will bear fruit later. Still, given the cancellation it was very ironic that the Senator and Corvel are supposedly there to provide a view on whether to continuing investing in Destiny and are skeptical, given Young’s leadership and Rush’s trustworthiness to date. The sub-plot was a little boring until it finally linked back up with the main plot and the issue over defusing the bomb and getting various people back in the right bodies. It was also good to see Mike Dopud’s Varro again. Dopud continues to deliver great performances.

      But if it was great to see Dopud the other glaringly obvious missing guest was Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O’Neill. It’s not so much that O’Neill wasn’t physically in the episode (although it certainly would have made sense to have had him in the command tent at Homeworld Command with Telford), but rather that he isn’t mentioned at all.

      AT ALL!!

      O’Neill is the Head of Homeworld Security! There should have been some mention of him, even if it was Telford stating that O’Neill was the White House or elsewhere in an aside.

      Overall, then there is a lot to like and not to dislike in the episode; there’s a decent story, great acting; great guest stars. But while the notion of civilian and military coming together to save the day is solid Stargate fare, this particular story needed to do more to explain the hostility of the past than the superficial and banal reasons provided here. Still, a solid outing, and it’s certainly the best of the primarily Earth-based SGU episodes yet.

      Previously published at GeekSpeak Magazine
      Women of the Gate LJ Community.
      My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.



        The Lucian Alliance has never been known to be a very credible threat; I feel that they were trusted onto Stargate because they needed somebody to combat and they also needed something that posed as a dark viable fact completely neglecting the fact that they're traders or most likely a group that isn't even interested in the conquest of Earth in the first place. But that doesn't mean they're meant for some good, such as when they attack The Pentagon Homeworld Command in order for Greer and Wray to connect and grow their characters.

        From the first sights you see of the main plot, you can definitely see that they've gotten the whole attack thing down. (even better than "Search & Rescue") Debris everywhere you look, sparks flying off everywhere, darkness, it really sells the whole "Homeworld Command has been attacked" and does many things, it actually proves our threat is a threat (though the usage of bombs and moles dilutes their standing) and it provides the perfect environment for Greer and Wray; they even go the extra mile and give one of their characters an injury that handicaps them. Greer is usually known as this strong butt-kicking character who's known to not take anything but put him in an injury and just imagine the floury of character that comes out. This environment should do wonders for both but really, it only does wonders for Greer who even though is handicapped, barely speaks and barely does anything, showcases the type of personality we've come to know and love. The person who thinks he's invulnerable, who won't give up for anything and who has an odd sort of confidence about himself, all turned on it's knee allowing for another side of Greer to come out; a side that's surprisingly vulnerable which makes him even more human. Wray acts like she's trying to prove herself as a character, wanting to show worth to the audience. She helps out, utilizes her knowledge, commands and even gets to do something heroic once in a while and to see some example that she can get tough while the tough get's going and know how to create a character that could exist in real life is nice but despite all that, she can't hold a candle to Greer who seems more real and seems more involved with what he's doing; it's almost as if she's playing catchup for most of the episode though getting incredibly close.

        The bomb does break some walls allowing us to get to know the relationship between Greer and Wray, one which even continues to develop as they return to the Destiny. What they could of done differently and what personal thoughts they have deep inside that drives them, they almost seem natural showcasing it, like they're two characters on a show and not two actors; it is these scenes that always prove time and again to grow characters; which prove substantial but sweet at the same time and which serve both characters equally. It also gives Wray a chance to show that she can be scared, showing a personality in there that's not the robotic soap-opera type... You can see the confidence and emotion on her face as she pokes around, trying to defuse the bomb wile not knowing what to do; it really draws us to her character and gives her a very brief moment where she seems human but regardless it's only for a brief moment and it's unlikely that she will develop upon that show of emotion in future episodes, reverting back to her old robotic self... Of course, the bomb also provides some bad thing such as the guest character who's with them; it's almost obvious from the start that he's LA the way that he presents himself, the way that he freaks out and the way he makes himself look like an idiot, watching him, you could be pleased that they have a companion (though temporary) they hang out with or you could be hitting yourself over the head for the poor performance which he is showing. Oddly enough, I didn't find the stuff about being a scientist to understand these things to be odd but the rest of the stuff ruins what could of been a legitimate surprise, one that could of created a good grey area and could of helped out the LA character wise.

        As usual, there has to be something on the Destiny to do so low and behold we have two government people checking out the Destiny for themselves and these scenes are boring. Much of these scenes are just the two guest characters asking questions while barely letting anything out about themselves; you do get a feeling that they're two government officials with some personality, wanting to see the viability of the mission and they do try their best though, the male guy seems almost peppy with his knowledge of things combined with his enthusiasm/concern and the female seems almost heartwarming, making us think just what happened if she took control (in fact, her scenes with Chloe have got to be the best mainly because they explore her emotion, homesickness and thoughts.) but no matter how hard they try, they can never really grow them due to a lack of opportunities and the ones they do have, they sort of contradict themselves thus negating any potential growth. For example, tons of unwilling participants for the mission? Atlantis at first was a one way trip, what makes Destiny and Atlantis different? The only time where their character grows some semblance is when their paths intersect with the bomb giving themselves a chance to put their heart into it and bring out the character that should of been explored before but that's diluted by the reasoning the guy makes in relation to the sabotage that he did. I can understand if you want to live but consider this. 1. You're on Destiny, a ship which you yourself said is without potential. 2. You will be stuck on Destiny because there's no way to get back. 3. What's the purpose of living in regards to points 1 & 2? The argument of staying inside somebodies body is nice but really... Common sense defeats that argument.

        This has an interesting premise but despite that, this manages to be really, really boring. 44 minutes seems stretched out to two hours as we watch Greer and Wray walk through Homeworld Comnand while the two people interview the crew of the Destiny; both without much to compell the viewer. There is some good stuff though, Greer shines and gets a new dimension added to him, they manage to make the situation at Homeworld Command convincing and Chloe at least gets explored but it's not enough for you to watch this episode all the way through.

        Back from the grave.