I can’t help feeling like this elegiac two-parter should have been recast as the STARGATE UNIVERSE series finale. While not ideal, this story would have been a satisfactory makeshift end to the series. There was a certain amount of closure and hope in tale of an entire civilization founded by the Destiny crew – at least one version of Destiny fulfilled a certain type of destiny.
In part one, Destiny dropped out of FTL and right into a pack of drones. After narrowly escaping, Destiny visits a planet that was populated by the descendants of the “other” Destiny – the one that resulted from the time-twisting events chronicled in “Twin Destinies.” The alternate versions of the Destiny crew became the Ancestors, the founders of a new society, when they settled on a planet they dubbed Novus Mundus (New World) more than 2,000 years ago. When Destiny was inside the star in “Twin Destinies,” it tried to dial Earth, but the ship was thrown back in time by a solar flare, and the wormhole connected with a local stargate and deposited the entire crew on an uninhabited planet. Well, not everyone: Rush (Robert Carlyle) had stayed aboard Destiny, and while the refugees hoped he would return for them, he never did. About 20 centuries later, a black hole entered the Novus system and tidal forces stirred up deadly seismic activity. Expeditions ‘gated out, looking for a new place to settle, and a small group ended up the planet on which the “current” Destiny crew found them. The stargate stopped working years ago, so the settlers wanted Destiny to return them to Novus. Also? The drones found the planet and set about destroying it, necessitating an evacuation.
Part two saw Destiny arrive at Novus, where the crew – now bloated with settlers — found an abandoned planet covered in volcanic ash. The planet’s entire population departed in great space arks at sublight speed, bound for an undetermined new world. The Destiny crew found the planet’s archives and began uploading the data to Destiny. Included were extensive kino logs of the Ancestors, depicting how they settled on the planet, paired up and began raising families. In the present, the tectonic forces finally claimed the city, and the Destiny crew had to evacuate. While they managed to gather lots of food and other supplies (including a new substance for the air scrubbers), they only managed to salvage a third of the civilization’s records.
I enjoyed this two-part story, because it really delved into characterization, and showed how our friends grew and changed over time. It almost felt like a glimpse into the future of the series that we will never see; thus I felt a kind of instant nostalgia for something I never have – and never will – see. Telling the story of the colonists via sepia-toned, distressed kino clips also helped build a sense of time-lost newsreel footage.
The invaluable kinos were something of a mixed blessing; however, as the crew had to watch most of their doppelgangers die. And not everyone succumbed to old age. Volker’s (Patrick Gilmore) kidneys still went bad, just as depicted in “Hope,” however, without access to Destiny’s Ancient medical knowledge, T.J. (Alaina Huffman) was unable to perform life-saving surgery and he died. And a worse fate awaited T.J.: She watched as her alternate self developed ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and slowly – over the course of years – died before the eyes of her husband, Col. Young (Louis Ferreira), and her children. T.J. realized that she’s carrying ALS now, and there is no cure, so all she can do is wait to start exhibiting symptoms, five years from now. Huffman was incredibly moving as she depicted T.J.’s horror and resignation. Her sad, red-rimmed eyes and grief were heartbreaking to watch.
But not everything was a downer. There was considerable humor squeezed out of the naming of the planet – Volker came up with “Novus Mundus,” while Brody (Peter Kelamis) dubbed one country Futura – because they were looking toward the future, when Rush would return and save them. They were opposed by “Tenara,” which in Ancient means “the Land of Young.” In another humorous bit, Rush became demonized over the centuries, passing into myth as a creature who drags souls to hell! Speaking of hell, the elevator in the archives boasts Muzak! And Brody turned into a crabby old man who literally complained about young kids on his lawn!
Among the other highlights of the story: The opening, in which an elderly Young lay dying, calling out for T.J. while being tended by an aged Chloe (Elyse Levesque). Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Chloe (of course) married in the first wedding on Novus. T.J. and Young had the first baby on the planet. Varro (Mike Dopud) and Lt. James (Julia Benson) hooked up. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) paired up with Park (Jennifer Spence), and they named their first child Dale (after Volker). Eli (David Blue) was alone for many years – which gave him time to write literally thousands of textbooks and found the Novus educational system. Eventually, Eli got with Cpl. Barnes (Leanne Adachi), and they had a kid. (Loved the way the “current” Chloe suggested that Eli look into Barnes now…) Camile (Ming-Na) found a gal pal, but her heart always remained with Sharon, back on Earth; she was the last original Destiny team member to die.
The book-end framing device ended with Young finally passing away. But not before he apologized to Chloe for never getting her home. “Colonel,” she told him, “we are home.” That would have been a perfect way to end a series that was snuffed out before its time…