There’s just no getting around the fact that this week’s STARGATE UNIVERSE suffered in comparison to the last two weeks’ worth of stories. “Blockade” felt like a run-of-the-mill, average tale that would be forgotten in a regular season, but withers under the scrutiny of being one of the precious final two episodes.
A large part of the problem with this story can be laid to the cancellation. If there were a season three, then the concept of Destiny refueling at different types of stars would carry much more weight; now it’s just trivia from a dead series. However, thanks to strong characterization, the show squeezed some mileage out of the possibility that the beloved Park might be boiled alive and/or blown out into space. However, I have had just about enough of the drones; they’re rapidly making the Lucian Alliance look exciting.
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.
Welcome to STARGATE UNIVERSE’s version of a breathless action episode: One that features a planet-wide manhunt, gun battles, deaths, anguish and recriminations. Lots of death and recriminations, in fact. Including the death of one well-liked recurring character, and a newbie who was growing on us.
Thanks to this week’s episode, we know what happens when a body is killed while its mind is swapped out using the Ancient communication stones: Both people die. Rush (Robert Carlyle) found Ginn’s (Julie McNiven) body after she had been killed by Simeon (Robert Knepper), the loose cannon of the Lucian Alliance. (I never trusted that guy – especially since he was played by Knepper.) Ginn had swapped with Dr. Amanda Perry (Kathleen Munroe), who was reported dead back on Earth.
After weaving a pretty interesting story out of last week’s nirvana cliché, this week STARGATE UNIVERSE busied itself telling a pretty compelling tale around the apocalyptic vision cliché. You know the trope: someone repeatedly foresees a future that ends in disaster no matter what measures are taken to head it off.
The basic scenario had an overwhelming force of blue aliens arrive and demand that Destiny turn over Chloe (Elyse Levesque). No matter which course of action Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) took – fighting, powering shields or placidly surrendering Chloe – the blues end up destroying Destiny. Most of the impact of the disaster comes from the repetition of the doom, with each detonation amplifying the hopelessness of the situation. But I give SGU major credit the first time around, because the scene of Scott (Brian J. Smith) getting blown out of the observation deck made me shout, “Holy frak!” at my TV – before I realized what was going on, of course. (BTW, the effect looked really thrilling, with Scott tumbling amid shattered glass…)
Eli and Camile got another chance to go home on STARGATE UNIVERSE this week, and once again their personal stories proved to be gripping. Eli and Camile have the most fully fleshed-out family backgrounds.
When Eli (David Blue) got word that his mother was ill, he rushed to use the stones to return to Earth. We learned that Mrs. Wallace (Glynis Davies) is HIV-positive, and suffering from depression ever since the military took her son away. And a visit from Eli’s consciousness in the body of “Airman Tracy” was no comfort. It was heartbreaking to watch Eli in such pain while his mother wasted away before his eyes. Blue really excelled at showing Eli’s anguish and frustration at being unable to properly comfort his mom.
STARGATE UNIVERSE ended its first season with “Incursion, Part 2,” which saw Destiny invaded by the Lucian Alliance that resulted in a hostage standoff. This week’s installment added another wrinkle: an outside threat that forced the two factions to try to cooperate to avoid death.
The episode kicked off with a death, however, as Kiva callously killed recurring character Cpl. Rivers. Camile (Ming-Na) wanted to continue negotiations, but Kiva (Rhona Mitra) is a classic “kill somebody when frustrated” baddie straight out of the Darth Vader school of command, so she was not as willing to chat as some STARGATE baddies. The outside threat came in the form of a binary pulsar, which was emitting deadly bursts of gamma radiation every 46 minutes, forcing Destiny to drain power from other parts of the ship to periodically boost the shields. We learned that the unfortunate Alliance soldier who was melted by that weird light last week had been exposed to pulsar radiation through a gap in the shielding. Well, so much for my Franklin-as-ghost-in-the-machine theory. (I’m confident the-powers-that-be will return to this story thread next season.)
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.