STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.17/2.18: Common Descent/Epilogue

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.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.10: Resurgence

The midseason finale of STARGATE UNIVERSE was trumpeted as a slam-bang game-changer, and I have to admit to being a little underwhelmed. I’m not sure why, but maybe I was anticipating even more slam with my bang. Clearly, a lot of work went into the production, but storywise, I think there have been a number of more impressive episodes this season. “Resurgence” left our intrepid band of characters even more stranded than ever before: Betrayed by their new alien “allies,” Destiny’s FTL drive and shields were down while under attack by automated alien fighters – all with a transmogrified Chloe on the loose.

At the midpoint of Season 2, I think the-powers-that-be really have a handle on what makes STARGATE UNIVERSE tick. The character conflict is wonderful, the acting is top-notch, the plots generally strong, the production values and special effects are unrivaled. I cannot understand why any science-fiction fan would not love this series.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.9: Visitation

So there was the Destiny crew, minding their own business, trying to figure out the code from the beginning of time, when a shuttle suddenly appeared, carrying Dr. Caine and the seven other crew members who decided to stay behind on the artificial paradise planet in the last galaxy. Every single one of them – and the previously damaged shuttle – was in perfect condition. Well, except for not being able to remember much of anything about the planet they dubbed (wait for it…) Eden.

But then the prodigal team members began to die. And shards of memories began to return, thanks to Camile’s (Ming-Na) hypnotic influence. It turned out the eight were dying aboard Destiny because they had died on the planet and were imperfectly resurrected by the alien creators of Eden.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.02: Aftermath

The second episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE’s second season was a marked improvement over the season premiere – even though the opening installment was quite good on its own terms. SGU is building on strength.

Two startling developments dominated this episode: Dr. Rush found Destiny’s bridge (but refrained from sharing that news with anyone else), and Col. Young smothered a fatally injured Hunter Riley to death.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.01: Intervention

“Out here, on the edge of the universe, who you are and what you believe is everything.”
– Robert Caine

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.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.17: Oh, the Pain! The Pain!

Honestly, I dreaded the approach of this week’s episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE because the previews made it look like the silly old “alien makes you face your worst fear” cliché was in full effect. Sooner or later every show gets around to this hoary chestnut, and I figured SGU better just get it out of its system. To make it seem even worse, the fears glimpsed looked to be standard-issue dull; I mean, claustrophobia? Really? Why can’t some alien force somebody to face the terror of…speaking in public? Supposedly most people dread that more than dying!

Happily, the actual episode proved to be much more enjoyable than anticipated. Not stunningly original, but at least well-executed. As usual, the excellent cast stepped up with some terrific performances (special kudos to Elyse Levesque for her conflicted Chloe), and the direction kept the story moving at a good enough pace that the audience did not have time to linger over the overly familiar plot points.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.15: Lost

Greer\’s long, dark night of the soul

Okay, I do not believe anybody saw the end of this episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE coming – I mean, Scott, Eli and Chloe left behind again? And this time, Destiny is leaving whichever galaxy it was in…

This was a great episode for Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith), as viewers really got a peek inside his head. It was also a significant episode for T.J., as she finally told Col. Young that he is the father of her baby.

Setting the stage, Riley helpfully explained via kino that Destiny’s stargate is much more primitive than the gates used in the Milky Way (or Pegasus), which is why each time Destiny drops out of FTL, it is only within range of a limited number of other stargates. Unlike the gates viewers are familiar with, the Destiny’s does not have the capability to dial any desired gate in the galaxy. That helped set the stage for the race to locate Lt. Scott, Sgt. Greer, Eli and Chloe before Destiny moved out of range. But then it was determined that the ship was leaving the galaxy – meaning no more gates at all for possibly a very long time.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.13: Paradise Lost

T.J. is able to ignore Caine.

Far and away the best part of this week’s STARGATE UNIVERSE was that it focused on T.J., finally giving Alaina Huffman a chance to show off her range. (The worst part was Dr. Caine’s alien worship, but the less said about that, the better.) I know with such a big cast that characters have to wait their turn, but I have been impatient for Tamara Johansen to take the spotlight.

Up until know, T.J. has been subsuming her personal desires for the good of the crew stranded aboard Destiny. She has been forlorn at missing her chance ‘gate back to Earth from the Icarus planet and attend medical school in San Diego Seattle. As a paramedic, she is the only trained health professional on the Ancient ship, and has to perform duties above and beyond the call of duty. But every now and then, we catch a lost look in her eye, like she is dreaming of something that might have been. And then there are those lingering glances at Col. Young; the unspoken details of what passed between them.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.12: Live together, die alone

TJ, Camile and Chloe

“To put it bluntly, we’ve taken the ship.”

With those civilized yet ominous words, STARGATE UNIVERSE’s Camile Wray basically declared war on the military contingent aboard Destiny, igniting a conflict that has been simmering since the first episode.

Camile (Ming-Na) and the “science/civilian” faction plotted to isolate the Stargate personnel from most of ship so she could seize power by controlling the ship’s functions and the stargate. However, the execution did not go as planned, and Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) was left in control of life-support functions, giving him a bargaining chip for negotiations. Not that he really needed it, since Young swiftly took action to regain command of the ship.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.3 Air (and sand)

Lots of air and sand

Well, nobody came down with a case of the warm fuzzies for the third part of STARGATE UNIVERSE’s initial story, “Air.” Everyone still barely tolerates everyone else – at best. To me, this dynamic worked even better this week, because it was believable that nerves would be frayed as the breathable atmosphere was consumed. There was not much support for pulling together for the greater good, and making their last breaths meaningful or noble. Newly sown grudges were maintained, and the appearance of Col. Telford simply added more fuel to the fire.

While Rush and Scott led an expedition to an unknown planet looking for lime to repair the air scrubbers, the rest of the crew remained aboard Destiny and squabbled about what to do. From Earth, Telford and Dr. Mehta switched bodies with Col. Young and Chloe, so Chloe could to tell her mother about her father’s death and Young could report to Gen. O’Neill. Telford used the switch to inspect Destiny. Or rather, try to. Telford was shocked to find Young’s body badly wounded, yet he insisted on pushing the injured body to extremes while stalking about the ship, tearing the trapped crew new ones. What a jerk! I know Telford feels guilty because he was supposed to lead the team through the gate to the ninth chevron location, but he should have vacated Young’s body and switched with someone else. (On another note, maybe the crew lucked out that the taskmaster didn’t get to make the trip!) Props to Lou Diamond Phillips for playing unsympathetic. Bravo to TJ for sedating Telford! And I have to take one tiny issue with Jack’s assertion that no one is “qualified” to go through the gate; as I recall, O’Neill was selected for the original (suicide) mission because he felt he had nothing left to live for after the death of his son. That’s a sort of qualification (although, technically, not specifically for stargate travel. But I digress…).
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