No Ordinary Destiny

Fucking Bollocks! That was my reaction when I heard Stargate Universe, my favourite show currently on the air, wasn’t going to make it past a second season.

This always happens. If I like a show, it will likely be cancelled very soon, while crap like American Idol and The Apprentice remains on the air, or worse, the Jersey Shore. I ended up watching that show a couple of times and it appears to be about cheap whores, cheap man-whores, and one really cheap whore. Plus I never thought I’d hear someone use the word ‘Guido’ with a positive connotation.

But Stargate Universe barely lasts two seasons before being axed, and since the announcement came after filming for the first two seasons was completed, it’s likely the series finale will end in a cliffhanger, in anticipation for a non-existent season three. Which pisses me off more. I know they are likely to say they will release a Stargate Universe movie, but they also planned to release an Atlantis movie years ago, and that didn’t happen. So…

But the big question is: Why!? Why is it being cancelled!? Bad ratings, sure. But why does it have bad ratings?

Well, I’ve spent enough time on the internet and YouTube to notice the opinion of those who dislike Stargate Universe, and it all comes down to this: It’s not the same as Atlantis and SG-1.

Well that’s fucking stupid. Of course it’s not the same, you should be happy the writers brought us something different, rather than upset…the writers brought us something different! Variety is the spice of life, people! What’s the point in watching the new series if it’s a carbon copy of the old series? But of course we are used to the status quo, and change is scary.

In detail the complaints are as follows: in many episodes they stay on the ship, and never use the Stargate to go to other worlds. Instead they mess around with the communication stones and shit. That’s true, however two-thirds of Atlantis’ first season also never went to other planets. Instead the plot was driven by the Atlantis city-ship, which was loaded with mysterious technology that could go wrong. But it all comes down to this: the complaint is the writers are using something other than the designated plot generator (a.k.a. the Stargate) as inspiration. They are going outside the status quo. Which I personally think is great.

Next, others complain there are fewer epic space battles and more characters talking…booooring! Yes, the new series is more cerebral. How is that a bad thing? Mindless battles have a strong awe factor, but they are still mindless, and at the end you get nothing out of it. However when you watch an emotionally charged, intellectual drama, you (or maybe it’s just me) keep thinking about it for a while and wonder if it’s what you would do in that situation.

If a show gets you to think…it’s a good thing. Plus, as a great man once said: “Art simply means: giving something back. Providing your audience with something that enriches their daily lives even after they’ve put the controller down (or turned the TV off).” But of course that kind of show scares some people because it makes them realize how dumb they really are, and many like to think they are the brightest bulbs in the room. I know this, because I know some people who are that deluded.

Wow, that sounded pretentious. Well don’t worry, if you are reading this, I’m not talking about you. In fact even if you hate Stargate Universe, I’m not talking about you. Okay, maybe I am, but I don’t think anyone really hates Stargate Universe anyway. They may dislike it, they may decide not to watch it, but they don’t hate it. If they do, I’d love to know why.

Of course the reason I enjoy Stargate Universe is for purely subjective reasons. It keeps me interested. There are several shows which have failed to hold my interest. I used to watch Heroes religiously, but stopped early season 4 because I just didn’t care any more. Probably because it got too frustrating, seeing Sylar still breathing.

I know my love for Stargate Universe is entirely subjective because for starters, it’s art. It defies objective criticism. Secondly, I know there are things wrong with it.

I’ve discussed this before, it’s hardly without it’s problems. Like the issue with the communication stones. This is a new technology and they are already quite comfortable with it. Enough to have sex while connected. I’m reminded of Star Trek Enterprise, where the new technology of transporter beams are avoided by the regular crew. It’s not until the 23rd century that they are comfortable with it enough to actually use it.

But I’ve already discussed this and there are more nitpicks I want to make. Like the problem with the Stargates themselves.

In the original two series the Stargates themselves were scattered throughout two galaxies by the Ancients and Goa’uld for the purposes of exploration and domination. Most importantly, even without the Ancients (the guys who built the ‘gates) around, they could still be used by the indigenous population of the galaxy for exploration and trade, and they are.

On Stargate Universe, the ‘gates are scattered throughout the hundreds or thousands of galaxies Destiny has visited, by Seed Ships that were sent in advance of the Destiny. Okay, I can dig it. The problem I have is…Why?

Okay, it’s easier for Destiny’s crew to use the Stargate to visit other planets for supplies then take the Shuttle, that’s for damn sure. But is it worth it to send the likely dozens of ships in advance to plant millions of ‘gates for one ship? Is it really essential for the mission? A lot of resources for a single purpose. Now some may say the same is true in the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies, except it’s not.

In the Milky Way and Pegasus, the non-Ancients could also use them, so they were not only a tool to make travel across the galaxy easier, they were a symbol of philanthropy to the less fortunate inhabitants of the galaxy, that’s not true with the Destiny ‘gates. It’s made quite clear one needs an Ancient remote to use the gates, and that irks me.

Not only that, I have a hard time believing the crew of the Destiny visit every planet with a ‘gate. In fact it’s made clear in the series premiere, they don’t. So most ‘gates go unused for all eternity. That depresses me. Plus there were the hundreds or thousands of galaxies Destiny visited before our heroes arrived on the ship. Meaning millions of ‘gates that have been, and will never be used. I feel so bad for those ‘gates. Unused for all eternity, never having a purpose. Their only hope is a race finding the ‘gates, hacking them, and using them. But the fact that they have to bother doing that is so sad.

Next are the FTL Drives. A new form of faster than light travel. Every other ship we’ve encountered used hyperdrives, but not the Destiny, it uses something completely different, simply called: FTL. How does it work? We don’t know. Why do they use it instead of a hyperdrive? No fucking idea.

See, this is the problem. Why would the Ancients invent a new form of faster than light travel when they already had one? One obvious explanation is that FTL is more efficient. Well that doesn’t appear to be true. It get’s it’s power by diving into stars and collecting part of a star to power it, that’s some power. But it takes several weeks to travel between galaxies, meanwhile the Daedalus could travel between galaxies in a matter of days using hyperdrive alone, assuming it was connected to a ZPM. Typically it would take a few weeks, but that’s on a primitive Naquadah generator which I doubt is more efficient than a piece of damn star.

Another reason to build the FTL drives, it’s safer and/or more reliable. Okay, we know that’s not true. You need a powerful energy shield to go into FTL, meanwhile the Wraith, who have no shield technology, go in and out of hyperspace all the time. If you enter FTL within three hours of exiting it, or if you exit FTL within four hours of entering it, the drives could be damaged, possibly permanently. Also, if you get caught in the gravity well of a star unexpectedly (which can happen since you’re in normal space), the ship will need to leave the gravity well before it can enter FTL again.

So why use an FTL drive? There are only two reasons I can think of: Either it was their first method of faster than light travel, which is doubtful, because more primitive races that Destiny has encountered, all use hyperdrives. The alternative explanation is: They use it because Destiny spent most of its journey unmanned.

Okay, here’s my theory. It goes back to quantum mechanics. The concept of an object needing to be ‘observed’ else it’s a quantum mess. My theory is: This is more true in hyperspace. If an unmanned ship enters hyperspace, it will be lost forever. But FTL drives operate in normal space, so the ship can remain unmanned.

It’s the best explanation I can come up with. But there is a big hole. The mid-season finale introduced the Berserker drone. Unmanned drones that attack anything that moves. They are controlled by a Command Ship which travels through Hyperspace. At least that’s what they said on the Destiny bridge. If my theory is correct, they would have needed to use FTL, or the ship would cease to exist once it entered hyperspace because it’s unmanned.

But in spite of all it’s faults it’s still a good show. Worth watching, especially recently. A strong arc has been maintained through the past five episodes, which I find interesting. It ensures things are resolved quickly and keeps me glued to the set. I don’t need to wait five years to get a follow-up that was hinted to in an old episode.

It began with Twin Destinies where Destiny’s systems are barely working with no redundancy, and with no spare parts to fix things, the Destiny is dead to rights. So a risky plan is executed to dial Earth within a star and evacuate the ship. It goes off without a hitch…for about five seconds, before the wormhole destabilizes and kills all those who enter it. Leaving Telford as the only survivor, plus Rush, who stayed behind on the Destiny to try to keep the wormhole as stable as possible. However a neat side effect of their attempt was time travel. Due to reasons that are irrelevant right now, the Destiny was sent twelve hours back in time when Earth was dialled, so Rush uses the opportunity to warn himself not to dial Earth. Of course they continue to take advantage of the situation to salvage much-needed spare parts from the original Destiny, and during the salvage mission, the Telford from the new timeline is accidentally killed by the Rush from the original timeline, and the original Rush stays behind on the dying Destiny because he realizes no one will believe it was an accident.

One problem with this episode is that it wasn’t substantive, and kind of hollow. It seems like the story’s only purpose was to get Telford off the Destiny. So they come up with an idea to dial Earth, but only one person makes it through, and so no one tries it again, it kills off the rest of the crew and destroys the ship. Then, to remove the negative consequences, they send the ship back in time to warn itself not to die, then so there isn’t two Telfords and two Rushs walking around, they say parts need to be salvaged, so they go on a salvage mission and kill the Telford and Rush they don’t want.

That bugs me, a temporal duplicate is created, but doesn’t stick around for long. Why not? Why didn’t they continue having two Telfords and two Rushs for at least a couple of episodes before killing them off. I think it would have been rather cool, if not a bit confusing.

Next is the episode: Hope. Which reveals what I would call a safety mechanism in the communication stones. If someone dies while connected, both will die, but their consciousness will be saved, and all one would need to do is fall asleep while connected and the two dead people will come back through the sleeping person. That is what happens to Chloe, when she is connected to the stones (which aren’t working) and falls asleep, Ginn and Amanda Perry, who were killed off in episode six while connected to the stones, take control of her body. Due to a glitch, Ginn (in Chloe’s body) keeps choking randomly, putting Chloe’s life at risk. In the end, Ginn and Amanda are uploaded to Destiny’s memory banks, and basically become AI entities within the ship’s computer.

At the same time, Volker is having massive kidney failure and needs a transplant from Greer.

What I like about this episode is the commonality between the two main plots. Greer puts his life at risk to save Volker, and Chloe puts her life at risk to save Amanda and Ginn. What I find odd is how at odds Rush and Young are on both these events. Young is for the transplant, but against keeping Chloe connected to the stones, meanwhile Rush is against the transplant, and for keeping Chloe connected to the stones. I wonder if they realized the oddity of this.

Then, in the next episode, Seizure, we realize these things don’t always turn out perfectly, as Rush is trapped in a simulation created by Amanda and Greer is fighting multiple infections from the transplant. The ending is the best part:

Amanda tells Rush, Eli is erasing her and Ginn from the data banks, essentially killing them…again. Then Eli reveals he actually transferred them into quarantine, like you might do to a computer virus. But he is not happy about it, and says it with so much scorn I expected Rush to instantly burst into flames. But at least they’re not dead. They could still come back. I wonder if they started working on cloning two bodies for Amanda and Ginn to be transferred into one day.

Anyway, this episode seems to only exist so they don’t have to bring Ginn or Amanda back any more. Effectively ending their arc for the time being. Wrapping everything in a bow for next week.

But there are only five episodes left, and as I said earlier, it’s likely to end on a cliffhanger. But I suspect the writers never intended for the show to end so early and had planned at least a few more seasons. Here’s how I suspect they would have gone:

End of season two, another attack on Earth, this time, devastating. The communication stones are destroyed, cutting the Destiny off from Earth, communication-wise at least, and the Destiny crew have no idea if Earth is all right.

For season three, they have no contact with Earth, and for once are truly on their own. Until the end, when they find a reliable way to dial Earth, however considering they don’t know what the condition is on Earth, they have to hack the Stargate, and reprogram it to send the wormhole to Atlantis instead. Most of the Destiny crew goes through, including Varro and Eli, but Chloe, Rush, Young and Scott stay behind to keep Destiny going.

For the first few episodes of season four, they are all alone, very few people left behind, and it has been this way for months with no contact of any kind from the Milky Way. They don’t even know if the people they sent through made it.

Then, midway through one of the many crises on Destiny, perhaps an epic space battle, a dial-in occurs, and several former crew members arrive, including Eli, with a set of stones connected to a new device in Atlantis, which has become the new base of operations for Earth’s military forces, after the subjugation of Earth by the Lucian Alliance. Many of Earth’s nations have managed to resist but only just. They are at a stalemate, and want Earth back, and they are hoping Destiny has the clues to shift the balance of power in their favour. So they restarted the Icarus project to dial Destiny, to finish the mission with new help, and fix the ship, so it’s back to its former glory. This will continue on to season five.

At the end of season five, they will find what caused the signal in the background radiation, and dial Earth, leaving the Destiny behind to continue on to whatever its own destiny is.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anything like that is going to happen. We will be left wondering what the creators had planned. I would love to see it continue in some form. Perhaps a comic book, novel or radio play. A movie wouldn’t work because it’s a one shot deal, and we know they had more planned than that. So I want to see something serialized.

Of course Stargate Universe isn’t the only show that’s looking at a cancellation.

No Ordinary Family finished up its first season this week, and there is no news of a second season, plus all the stars have signed up for other projects. So we might not see a second season, and I for one am disappointed. Especially after seeing how this season ended.

So the Powells are getting drafted. Good stuff. I blame George. I think he realized the gravity of the situation, that him and Katie couldn’t support the Powells on their own now, so he contacted the NSA and explained everything to them. Also, it appears the man has powers himself, though we don’t know what. I just hope it’s not freezing powers.

But of course once again, it doesn’t look like we’ll see a season two. I know I’m pissed because I love this show. It’s not exactly deep, but it does show a very realistic portrayal of superpowers. There’s no genre-blindness, and since it’s a family of superhumans, they act like a family and care about each other a lot, and that causes some conflict. Early on Jim is doing crime fighting but his family is scared he might get hurt, so he hides it from them. Meanwhile JJ is using his superbrain to get As in school. But hides it from his family because he wants them to be proud of him, not his powers.

It sort of meshes a family drama with a superhero drama. I’ve never been into family dramas, but the sci-fi element in No Ordinary Family is keeping me interested. Add to that the overarching conspiracy at GlobalTech, and you have a compelling drama.

Perhaps No Ordinary Family will come back in another form, like a comic book, or is that too on the nose?

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One response to “No Ordinary Destiny

  1. I know that this post is 4 years old now, but anyway…
    I am still annoyed about SGU being cancelled – I was hoping for the (unlikely) 3 year revival. I can’t understand how so many great shows have been cut, especially in the SciFi genre (Firefly, SGA, SGU, No Ordinary Family, etc.). I know that it is a minority genre, but seriously, how does Jersey Shore even rank in the same order of magnitude?!
    To address your concern about FTL, I remember it being stated early on in season one that the ship was built before the invention of hyperdrives.
    I agree that the gates do seem kind of pointless, but it could be argued that they were for use as part of a no longer functioning automated repair system (as yet undiscovered) or even a manual repair system in case destiny was unable to repair itself, to allow repairs like what the crew does currently. Another idea is that the seed ships were dropping gates to allow further exploration of any possible message found after greater analysis than the seed ships are capable of – remember that Destiny is gathering data along the journey, not at a final destination (to paraphrase Rush).
    I like your idea of how the series would continue, it would wrap the series up well.
    Ah well, we will just have to wait for the trilogy coming out soon – although it may be very different to the Stargate we know.
    Happy Gating,
    Rekrahttam.

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