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The Time: Tuesdays, 9:00 PM, Syfy
SGU builds on the Stargate franchise begun with SG-1 and continued with Atlantis. The show finds a team comprised of both military and civilian humans from Earth who were forced to dial an address on the Stargate utilizing the mysterious ninth chevron, whose purpose had never been decoded, when their base is under attack from a rogue faction called the Lucian Alliance. They find that the ninth chevron leads to an Ancient ship on the far side of the universe called the Destiny. Destiny is on autopilot, fulfilling some sort of million-year-old mission that remains a mystery to the team. The ship stops occasionally when in range of a Stargate, but is always on a countdown clock to jump back into faster than light (FTL) travel on its predetermined mission.
The team has no way to dial back home via Stargate to Earth due to the immense power requirement. However, they are capable of communicating using Ancient communication stones that allow a transfer of consciousness across the vast distance with willing Stargate Command participants on the other side. Destiny provides not only a significant military asset, but also possibly the answer to the very nature of the universe itself. To the team, however, who have struggled with both internal conflicts and external threats, it’s their only possible way home, and their home away from it.
- Robert Carlyle – Dr. Nicholas Rush
- Louis Ferreira – Colonel Everett Young
- Brian J. Smith – Lt. Matthew Scott
- Elyse Levesque – Chloe Armstrong
- David Blue – Eli Wallace
- Alaina Huffman – Lt. Tamara “TJ” Johansen
- Jamil Walker Smith – Master Sgt. Ronald Greer
- Peter Kelamis – Adam Brody
- Patrick Gilmore – Dr. Dale Volker
- Julia Benson – 2nd Lt. Vanessa James
- Jennifer Spence – Dr. Lisa Park
- Ming-Na – Camile Wray
- Lou Diamond Phillips – Col. David Telford
The Season To Date:
A Lucian Alliance strike team, lead by Commander Kiva (Rhona Mitra), discovered a way to access Destiny and launched an attack to take the ship. After losses on both sides, including Kiva, Col. Young and the others retook the ship and deposited most of the enemy on a planet, while keeping a few in order to glean intelligence on the Lucian Alliance for Earth. It was also revealed that Col. Telford had been an unwitting sleeper for the Alliance, due to brainwashing. Meanwhile, Chloe is undergoing an unstoppable genetic change brought on by manipulation of an alien race that abducted both her and Rush the previous season. She’s having blackouts during which she had attempted to access Destiny’s systems and make the ship vulnerable to the aliens’ takeover. At some point, everyone knows that she will present a grave strategic threat to the team that will have to be dealt with.
Also, TJ, who was pregnant with Young’s child, is injured during the
Lucian attack and miscarries. But as that is happening, TJ has a sort
of vision quest via an unknown race of aliens, who are powerful enough
to create solar systems from scratch. TJ is convinced that the aliens
deposited her daughter on a planet that they created, and on which a
number of the team chose to remain behind in Season 1. That hope is
seemingly shattered, though, when the members left behind mysteriously
reappear in Destiny’s flight path, in the shuttle that was also left
behind, and TJ’s daughter isn’t among them.
Rush and Eli both
suffer a great loss when Simeon (Robert Knepper), a dangerous member of
the Lucian Alliance that remained on the ship, escapes custody and kills
several members of the team. He also murders Ginn (Julie McNiven),
another Alliance member who had befriended Eli. Her body was being
inhabited by Rush’s friend and former colleague, Amanda Perry, via the
communication stones at the time, and thus both women died. Rush set
out on a mission of vengeance against Simeon in the aftermath.
Rush also broke the code to Destiny’s master control program,
showing him the as-yet-undiscovered bridge of the ship. He kept that
secret for as long as he could. But he suffered the consequences when
Sgt. Riley (Haig Sutherland) died from injuries suffered in a shuttle
crash and the team had been unable to aid him because of their lack of
control of Destiny. It fell to Young to euthanize Riley rather than let
him suffer. This leads to a series of disturbing dreams due to
influence from Destiny herself, where Young had to relive a no-win
scenario that culminates with the destruction of Destiny during an alien
attack. It was a sort of test for Young.
After Young discovers that Rush has had control of Destiny for weeks, it
leads to yet another physical confrontation between the two.
Afterwards though, Rush and Young come to an understanding where Rush
resolves to earnestly work with Young. This is because he’s made a
discovery as to what he thinks is Destiny’s original mission: the
pursuit of contact with a race or intelligence that was present at the
creation of the universe. Rush has discovered what looks to be a signal
in the regular background noise of space that he believes points to
this Big Bang intelligence.
Earlier in the season, Telford had gotten stranded with aliens called
the Ursini on a seed ship, another Ancient ship similar in design to Destiny. Seed ships are the source of the Stargates that precede Destiny on her path, and this one holds enough energy to allow Destiny to dial Earth.
When Destiny investigates an energy signature that turns out to be a
fleet of destroyed ships, they encounter a swarm of small but powerful
drones that destroyed the ships in the debris field, and now attack
Destiny. Telford and the Ursini show up in the seed ship and lead
Destiny away from the attack. The two races plan an assault on a mother
ship that controls the drones for their own mutual benefit. However,
when the assault commences, things don’t go as planned. And as that’s
happening, Chloe escapes and does something to Destiny that we won’t
discover until Season 2.5 in Spring 2011.
You can check out more on the show and my take on it overall here. I’ve liked SGU quite a bit so far, despite the fact that it’s obviously taken many of its elements and themes from the recent Battlestar Galactica remake.
The look and cast dynamics of that show have notoceably been
incorporated into this one. The premise itself goes back to Lost in Space, the original BSG and Voyager. It would probably merit screaming about borrowing liberally from BSG to the producers if they nevertheless hadn’t created an entertaining show with a good cast and comparable writing.
2 has improved on a solid first season, starting off with the Lucian
Alliance incursion and its aftermath, and the other season-long
is able to balance storylines for its cast quite well and most
everybody has something going on. The key relationship continues to be
between Rush and Young. The struggle to be in charge isn’t as overt
this season as last, but has taken on a more subtle series of
manipulations, most notably Rush discovering the key to unlocking the
bridge, and Young struggling through that Destiny head trip in the no-win scenario.
Again, Robert Carlyle is the glue of this show and is doing some stellar
work as Rush. He’s probably the most multi-layered character ever of
all three of the Stargate
shows. You almost don’t know what you’re going to get from Rush from
week to week. There are times, as when he was with Amanda, that he lets
his humanity show. Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum when
he dives into the abyss after Simeon killed her in the episode,
“Malice.” That happened was one of the two best episodes of the season. The
only quibble I have with Rush is that he’s turned into Gaius Baltar with
his very own cast of head characters that only he can see.
David Blue’s Eli has evolved nicely from the whiz kid who pined for
Chloe to a more rounded member of the team. He’s walking the line
between the guy who makes the quips to someone who is in a dark place
with his loss. He’s emerged from the fan avatar to someone who’s
dealing with real loss and problems at home with his mother, who was
sinking without knowing his fate and thinking he had abandoned her. And
it’s easy to see why he’s struggling in the wake of Ginn’s death.
Julie McNiven brought a sexy freshness to that character that offered a
new emotional avenue for Eli since he couldn’t have Chloe. Damn shame
she had to go bye-bye. Same for Rhona Mitra. She’d have been a nice
addition to the show rather than whatever TV gig she took this season.
What is the deal with offing all the hot chicks on this show anyway?
Ferreira is also doing some good work as Col. Young. Young wasn’t one
of the characters that grabbed me at first. His most interesting
element was trying to win back his wife and dealing with Telford
poaching in his game preserve if you get the drift. This season though,
Young has really come into his own as well, including his handling of
the Lucian attack. When he had to take care of Riley, that was a choice
bit of brutal television he had to endure. Also, the no win-scenario
given to him by Destiny in “Trial and Error” really showed him at his
breaking point, and Ferreira handled it all well. You can also see the
difficulty he’s having with TJ over the loss of their baby. Other
performances, particularly with Alaina Huffman’s TJ dealing with her
daughter, are all mostly solid. Jamil Walker Smith as Greer scares me
sometimes. He had a poignant scene with Chloe asking for her forgiveness ahead of time when they both know that he’ll be the one ordered to kill her when the time comes.
Along with “Malice,” the another affecting episode of Season 2.0 to date was “Visitation,” which dealt with the unexpected and unexplained return of the team members left behind on the artificially created planet from “Eden” in Season 1. Apparently the return of Caine and the others was due to some intervening by the aliens that the crew suspects created the planet. But their return isn’t without consequence and the harsh resolution of their storylines shows that they really shouldn’t have left Destiny. The “super aliens” have taken a similar position as the “angels” in BSG. It’s yet another similarity to that show, but to date, it hasn’t interfered much with the execution of the show. Worst episode of the season is probably “Cloverdale,” where Scott is infected by a plant organism and hallucinates life on Earth, while Greer and the rest of the crew battle a bunch of space triffids.
SGU Season 2.0 has some nice arcs going on, particularly the ongoing dynamic between Rush and Young, as well as Chloe’s gradual transformation and the question of the fate of TJ’s baby. Although, on that last note, it begs the question as to why there’s so much still up in the air about that. If TJ did miscarry, wouldn’t there have been a fetus to deal with? And if the fetus disappeared, wouldn’t that automatically give credibility to TJ’s aliens theory? What was the deal with her spiritual journey back to Eden anyway? I’m sure time will tell. The show has stood more on its own merits this season to date, minimizing the Earth subplots and mostly doing away with the kino first-person gimmick. SGU is more than a worthy successor to the Stargate franchise, of which I’ve been a fan since the beginning.