Malice Review [SGU 208]
xxxevilgrinxxx | Published: November 22, 2010 | crossposted from my personal blog
In a Western, it always comes down to two characters. In a good Western, there’s scant difference between the two and “Malice” is a very good western. Two hard men meet in a harder environment, both with vengeance in their hearts. Only one leaves. Nobody wins. There are no heroes.
In “Malice”, the contributing cast is whittled away, leaving only Rush and Simeon. Rush is driven mad by the death of Amanda Perry and in your average story, this in itself would be enough, but following up on the events of “The Greater good”, Rush is responsible for her death. If he hadn’t lied, there would have been no reason for her to be on Destiny in the first place which is something he’s going to live with for a long time.
Just as there are no real heroes in a good Western, there are no true villains either and this is where Simeon comes in. Rush has been with us from the beginning and we’ve come to know his motivations and the shades of grey that make up the character. Simeon’s role as a Lucian Alliance soldier is perhaps enough to put him down in the ‘villain’ column and his behaviour while aboard Destiny would make him a bad date, at the very least, but nothing is ever that simple.
From episodes previous, Simeon has displayed both a military bearing and military knowledge, and further, while speaking to Col. Young he displayed respect and deference due a superior. Unlike the other Lucian Alliance members, Simeon has remained loyal to his cause, to his people, despite considerable pressure and incentive to do otherwise. With Ginn’s further betrayal to the LA cause, Simeon is looking down the barrel of possible torture to have him reveal information. Betrayal, imprisonment or death. In the end, I believe that Simeon sought the option of a soldier’s death, an honourable death, rather than be forced to reveal information that would have him die a traitor.
As a soldier, Simeon took down armed guards on his way off Destiny but he didn’t shoot either Park or Volker, despite a clear opportunity. What happened to Park was certainly terrifying (and her terror was brilliantly portrayed) but he used a device that an LA member had already instructed the Destiny crew on disarming, knowing that whoever came through the Stargate after him would have to stop and disarm the device first. While this is not likely to be a clean military tactic, it’s certainly a sound one. This tactic is repeated with the explosive device that rendered James’ team immobile and again, when Simeon shot Greer. In all of these instances, far more deadly force could have been applied but the goal is to hinder, not to kill.
What is more telling is the many instances when Simeon is shown to have a clear opportunity to kill his pursuers and doesn’t take it. The gun sight trained on Rush’s back. Shooting a kino, twice, in flight, while Rush is standing in the open a few feet away. The shot to wound Greer could have just as easily killed him. Finally, in the last standoff, with his every shot going wide of Rush. I don’t believe that every time a soldier takes a shot, that he will make a kill, but it’s stretching credulity to assume he couldn’t have shot to kill at least one of them. Unless it was never the intention at all.
SIMEON: I understand revenge. Your people have killed enough of mine – people I cared about. I let you live. You know why? I wanted you to live with it the way I have. I wanted the pain to eat you alive. I know it’s a fate worse than death. I let you live, but next time I won’t. You want your revenge? You come and get it, Rush. I’m gonna put you out of your misery. Come and get me.
Upon reading the spoilers for this episode, I had believed that the “Malice” we would be seeing would be Rush’s and while that exists, it’s not alone. Like the best of Westerns, the two characters have a hell of a lot in common, in the hurt they carry. Rush’s we are aware of. It’s not Rush’s misery, it’s Simeon’s. It’s eaten him alive, a fate worse than death, and I think he threw himself into the cause of the Lucian Alliance because it was the only way of dealing with that wound. And now he’s lost that. If suicide was an option, he certainly had the will to act on it before now. He won’t kill Rush because who would be left to kill him? When the stampede didn’t kill him, he throws one last taunt at Rush. I didn’t see it as pleading for his life, just one more poke at a raw wound, to assure that Rush would kill him.
The death of Simeon won’t sooth Rush’s pain over the loss of Amanda Perry and it won’t ease his complicity in her death. Nothing has been resolved and in the killing of a man that may have offered information, provided he would talk, there are unforeseen consequences ahead. In what happens next, Rush will bear a measure of responsibility for that also. As Simeon taunted, Rush will have to live with it.
The final walk back to the Stargate made for a beautiful ending. The sheer emptiness, with nothing but the sound of the wind howling, breaking for a melancholy score, against vast bleak panoramas where Rush appears tiny against the landscape make for the theme of the West distilled into its purest elements.
YOUNG: I also know that this is not something that is in you; and that’s not something that you should be ashamed of. Now listen to me. Killing someone, no matter *how* much you think they deserve it, is gonna change you, all right? Don’t you act like you are the only person aboard this ship that has lost someone that they care about… I need you to get back to the Bridge.
Apart from the two main characters, there are elements taking place in the background and, while they were not front and centre in this episode, the ramifications will echo through upcoming episodes. Rush wasn’t the only man that lost a love and the weight of Ginn’s death is enough to nearly destroy Eli. It is doubtful, given Simeon’s actions, that Simeon would have shot Eli if Eli had managed to go down to the planet but I’m glad that Eli never got the chance. Killing isn’t in him and, as Young states, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Eli will hurt for a long time but the weight of murder is not something he’ll have to carry. With all that Young has lost, he has the authority to reach Eli and Eli has the maturity to take it to heart.
Speaking of maturity, Scott continues to develop into a fine officer. While still a youthful optimist, his decisions show that he is developing a more realistic world view, summed up neatly in his use of the word “complicated”. In this, I find him more like Young every day. Trying to do what’s right doesn’t always mean doing what’s right, it means doing the best you can with what you have. A younger Scott would never have countenanced the idea of Rush killing Simeon; he would have fought until he was blue in the face that it was wrong. Now it’s not a matter of whether Rush kills Simeon but only a matter of timing.
There are consequences to that death, of course but there are consequences for every action, taken or untaken. There’s no way to know if Simeon would have talked, or even if he had anything valuable to offer. In any case, there would have been no way to verify. What concerns me more are the consequences from Chloe being on the bridge. In Rush giving Chloe the problems to solve, that damage may have already begun. Rush couldn’t solve the problem and, unwilling to share with any of the others, went to Chloe. In Eli’s current emotional state, he was in no position to pull a rabbit out of his hat regarding a problem Rush had been trying to solve for so long already.
Was it wrong for Young to suggest that Chloe may be able to help on the bridge? Only time will tell. Something needed to be done and there was an asset at hand. In any case, there would have been consequences if the team on the planet, including Rush, couldn’t get back to the Destiny and whatever fate Destiny is yet to meet, they’re better prepared with Rush aboard than not. When Rush returns, perhaps he can at least find out what Chloe has set in motion. Provided he has clear access to the bridge.
Young may be willing to work with Rush and he will clearly cooperate in order to set an appropriate example for the crew but it’s a far cry from trust. In the beginning of the episode, Young not only physically blocked Rush from entering the bridge but he dismissed him as well. A spirit of cooperation goes both ways. He will cooperate with Rush, but Rush will have to cooperate as well. I can only hope that with everyone on board, those unforeseen consequences won’t be as dire as they sound.
Lastly, there is Varro. Since the incursion, Varro has been very eager to get into the good graces of the Destiny crew. This could very well be sincere, I’d like it to be sincere, but I also don’t forget that this is a man that so easily betrayed his cause. A man that continues to be a clear leader amongst the LA on board, who continues to foster good relations between the LA and the crew. All of this could be on the up and up, but in Simeon was an enemy that could be trusted, in that it was clear whose side he was on. I don’t trust Varro and I don’t believe him when he states that there is no one else among the prisoner’s that is of Simeon and Ginn’s clan. I don’t trust how close he is with TJ. Young may not show affection regularly but when he does, he is absolutely sincere, whereas with Varro, it only looks sincere. I simply don’t trust him.
I’ve been reserving a rating of 10, knowing that this episode was coming. It does not disappoint and has earned a solid 10. Further, I’d be mightily surprised if this episode earns no nominations, not only for the actors involved but for the writing and cinematography. Beautifully done.