SG:U - Pain
In Which: Members of an away team start to hallucinate their fears, and before long the situation becomes life-threatening...
What did I think?: What a disappointing episode to start my regular reviews with! This episode felt like such a filler episode to me, focussing on certain characters (Lt James and Dr Volker) who are secondary characters, who've not had much to do this series. But it was as if they didn't trust these characters to carry the story (or, for that matter, engage the audience), so slowly they brought in the leads one after the other, until the crisis was affecting all of our normal main characters.
The good things first though. The tension was well set up at the beginning, and while it was obvious to me very quickly that these were hallucinations (the moment that Scott pushed James, I knew it wasn't really him), the atmosphere created watching James and Volker start to hallucinate was really good, and then when Scott started to see things as well, the tension ratcheted higher. Also, it was played nice and slowly, allowing the worry to build before anyone tried to find out what was wrong.
And then they get taken to the sickbay, and TJ realises that they all have ticks on them. An attempt to remove Scott's just appears to make it bury deeper, before it mysteriously jumps from him to Chloe, because it means that she can be in danger again (which sadly is the Stargate Universe definition of dramatic – threaten Chloe).
All of the actors do their best with the hallucinations, and some, like Chloe talking to her father and Scott chasing his son are well realised and moving. Greer's paranoia is beautifully played as he abandons all sense and starts to stalk Wray and Rush, convinced that he needs to prevent another mutiny. And Rush? Well, his fear of the aliens and what they did to him on the ship is beautifully played by Robert Carlyle, although he gets very little screentime (as does Eli, which does make me wonder if one of the last episodes of the season is quite Eli/Rush heavy, and that most of this was filmed on their off days).
But, to be honest, the reason that this episode didn't grip me is that nothing happened. Everyone had bad dreams (and yes, Wray got injured, but she was never going to die) and then they woke up. I did wonder if it was going to turn out that Greer was correct, and that Wray and Rush were colluding at the start of the episode, before he got infected with a tick and everyone assumed it was hallucinations, but there was no hint of that, which I think was a shame.
And it didn't even progress any of our characters. If you look at the other sci-fi “dream” episode of this week (Doctor Who: Amy's Choice) that, at least, allowed for character growth and therefore it felt worthwhile. Ultimately, this episode just felt like nothing.
The Good: Performances were excellent – from Volker's panic, to James's distress, through Rush's fear and Greer's paranoia and descent into madness, it was all gripping. The direction and cinematography, particularly at the beginning, was wonderful, and the talk between Chloe and her Father was wonderful, especially when she'd accepted he was a hallucination but still didn't want him to go.
The Bad: The bulk of the story was one we've seen hundreds of times before, and nothing had any repercussions at all. Eli was very underused, as was Rush, and the whole thing just felt like a waste of time by the end.
Conclusion: 6/10 – Not the worst, but nowhere near the best.