STARGATE UNIVERSE set itself quite a task: resolve not just one cliff-hanger, but several, featuring different types of tension. I am happy to report that SGU pulled off this stunt in stellar fashion.
When last we saw our friends, Destiny had been boarded by the Lucian Alliance, a loose conglomeration of criminals and terrorists looking to plunder the secrets of the Ancients hidden aboard the ancient ship. The scientists had been separated from the Stargate personnel, who just about to be executed; bullets were flying, leaving pregnant T.J. (Alaina Huffman) bleeding out; Eli (David Blue) and the wounded and delirious Chloe (Elyse Levesque) were isolated at the bow of the ship; and Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) were outside the ship, desperately trying to outrun a deadly pulsar radiation burst.
The second-season premiere picked up seconds later, and quickly addressed all the issues. I say addressed rather than resolved, but not everything was solved. I’m thinking specifically about Chloe – how is she suddenly up and walking around? My favorite reveal was how Scott and Greer escaped the pulsar: they made a beeline for the underside of the ship, and the shadow of the hull protected them. I was least impressed by what happened to the Stargate personnel; it felt like they survived because Dannic and co. were slow on the trigger fingers.
Hands-down, the most unexpected aspect was the reappearance of Robert Caine (Tygh Runyan), who had been among those who chose to stay behind on the paradise planet in the alien-created solar system seen in “Faith.” His presence smacked of deus ex machina, but that was probably the point: a winking reference to godlike alien races that make humankind (sorry, the Tau’ri) look insignificant. The planet sequences shot with oversaturated light coming in the windows, giving it all a dreamy quality.
While not quite a dream episode, “Intervention” was just about all it could be. It certainly set the bar high for the second season. The characterization was particularly strong – especially Rush (Robert Carlyle), who shown to have the courage of his convictions, but also regretted giving the command to trap Scott and the others outside hydroponics. He was making the correct call for the greater good, but it seemed almost hard on him.
So what kept this from being a dream episode? Well, something nagged at me, and I only figured it out later: Colonel Young (Louis Ferreira) has almost nothing to do in this chapter. In fact, he and the military personnel are pretty much shunted aside as Rush, Brody (Peter Kelamis) and Eli attempt to outthink the Alliance, while Scott and Greer kick their butts tactically. In fact, after a quick beating early in the episode after learning that T.J. was shot, Young is not a factor until the very end, after everything has been settled. And that kind of puts the lie to Young’s boast in the last episode to rescue all the hostages and get the ship back. Still, I understand there was a lot going on as it was, and Young certainly had his time in the spotlight for this story.
T.J. woke up in a cabin, with her newborn daughter beside her. But an even bigger surprise was the sudden appearance of Robert Caine. He credited the aliens who built that solar system with “a little intergalactic transport.” Caine said the cabins just appeared one day, as winter was coming, and saved the colonists from death. The aliens transported T.J. to the planet now, because they scanned her when she visited the planet, and they knew she was pregnant. And she was dying. Caine took T.J. outside and showed her a mysterious nebula in the sky. He thanked her for returning to Destiny even though she had wanted to stay, because her sacrifice allowed everyone else to remain behind. The aliens realized it too, which is why they offered to save her daughter. But only the child could stay. T.J. had to go back to Destiny because “you made your choice.” T.J. named the baby Carmen, after her grandmother, and decided the infant could have a better life on the paradise planet. She woke up back on Destiny, and Camile (Ming-Na) delivered the bad news that she lost her unborn child.
Eli arrived at the airlock, and was distraught to see that Scott and Greer did not make it. But they were not killed. Scott realized they wouldn’t make it in time so they ran for the underside of the ship instead. “Just another day in outer space,” an exasperated Eli called out. As soon as the soldiers were back inside, Chloe appeared, conscious, lucid and walking on her own.
Field-promoted Alliance commander Dannic (Ian Butcher) ordered Wray, Volker (Patrick Gilmore), Kemp and Ryder to use the stones to change places with a team of doctors, including former SGC Chief Medical Officer Brightman (Alisen Down). She got T.J. stabilized, but Commander Kiva (Rhona Mitra) died. Colonel Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips), however, survived. He made up a story about him and Kiva being ambushed, but Simeon (Robert Knepper) was suspicious.
The countdown clock restarted, but Rush didn’t want the ship to jump, because the pulsar radiation levels the playing field by being deadly to both sides. He concocted a plan to slowly drain the shields; this would have the dual effect of keeping Destiny from jumping, and allowing the radiation to reach near-critical levels. As Simeon and the more moderate Varro (Mike Dopud) argued, Ginn (Julie McNiven ex-Anna, SUPERNATURAL; ex-Hildy, MAD MEN) found a planet whose address was locked out, but she was able to get around it and Young’s people were put off the ship, ending up on a quarry planet with violent storms. An LA patrol to stumbled upon Rush, Brody, Eli and Chloe. Dannic ordered Rush captured, and the others executed. Scott and Greer overpowered the LA at the last second. Rush contacted Dannic and gloated a bit as he explained about draining the shields. Unless the LA surrenders, Rush will let the shields fail. He claimed the scientists were willing to die to prevent the Alliance from seizing the ship. Dannic remained defiant.
Rush’s new plan: Turn off the shields and weather the pulsar blast in the best-protected room at the heart of the ship, hydroponics, while the Alliance is roasted alive. The only fly in the ointment: They couldn’t leave T.J., Wray, Volker and the others with the LA or they would perish, too. Scott and Greer set out to rescue them. Varro and a faction of loyal men arrived on the planet through the stargate after Dannic forced them off. Young agreed they should all shelter together. Back on the ship, Wray told Scott and Greer that T.J. would be okay, but the baby was gone. LA attacked, trapping the goodies in sick bay. Back in hydroponics, Rush ordered the room sealed in anticipation of the unprotected radiation blast.
Eventually, the LA found hydroponics. Dannic wanted to blow the door, but Telford argued against it. Rush offered to restore shields if they surrender. Telford urged Dannic to agree by arguing that Rush “is a coward; he wouldn’t sacrifice himself. He’s telling the truth.” Rush refused to wait any longer, dubbed Scott, T.J., Greer, etc., to be “a necessary sacrifice.” Telford urged Dannic to surrender, but the new leader insisted on sacrificing himself and his crew – claiming everyone in the LA knows what Destiny means to them. (Wish he had shared with the audience at home…) Dannic drew on Telford, but before he could fire, Ginn gunned him down from behind. Seizing command, she agreed to Rush’s demands.
Young and the rest of the Destiny crew were brought back onboard, and this was around when T.J. returned from the Eden planet. Scott sent Young to T.J., who gave him the bad news about their baby. Later, Destiny dropped out of FTL at the coordinates it was bound for before the Lucian Alliance ‘gated in. T.J. awakened and went to the observation deck, where she saw the colorful nebula that Caine had pointed out.
The ending might have seemed pat under other circumstances, but the storylines have been so grim lately that it was nice to end with a hint of hope. And it’s not like T.J. was magically reunited with Carmen; she still paid a price. The ending was, at best, bittersweet.