Last month, I had one of the saddest days of my life…okay, that’s a lie, but shut up, I’m trying to make a point here. For you see, last month featured the series finale of Stargate Universe.
Stargate is a franchise I’ve loved for the past ten years. I remember watching SG-1 when I was younger, fascinated by how they took a modern-day setting, with relatable characters, and merged it with interstellar space exploration. While other shows like Star Trek and Star Wars had awesome space battles and encounters with alien races, they lacked relatable characters. Even though Captain Picard was human, he was a human from 300 years in the future, after human society has undergone several changes. Still relatable, but not by much. Plus, while there were many human characters in Star Wars, they weren’t humans as we know them. They were humans in the sense that they looked human, but they were not from earth and had no concept of any element of human society as we know it. About as human as a Time Lord. Again, not very relatable. Then, there’s Stargate. Where three out of the four main characters weren’t simply relatable, they could be people we know.
Plus, Stargate stayed grounded, because of the designated plot generator, the Stargate. Even though it’s a science fiction about space exploration, the main characters never really needed to go in space, and rarely did. They sort of skip past that. The show was more about guerilla warfare than anything else, at least during the early seasons. As I’ve said before, in season six they got the Prometheus, and that dramatically shifted the series. But it still remained good, and remained alive and breathing for the past 14 years. A terrific run. But now, with the cancellation of Stargate Universe, the franchise is over, and it’s not coming back.
Okay, now you’re probably thinking about the Stargate Universe movie they were planning. Well the key word there is ‘were’. Apparently they decided to cancel the movie due to a missed deadline. So that’s the end. No more Stargate. With 354 episodes, three movies, and 34 webisodes, it’s not like it was short-lived, but the biggest problem is so much is still left in the air…to air. There were the two movies, Revolution and Extinction, that were planned, but never got made, and the new series brought in new questions that never got answered either. Plus, we still don’t know who the fucking Furlings are!!!
So, am I upset about this? You bet. I’m reminded of Defying Gravity, a series I got into just for kicks, a series that, if you ask me, was sadly doomed from the start. Only because it was plugged as “Grey’s Anatomy in Space.” The problem being, Grey’s Anatomy fans would be put off by the sci-fi, and sci-fi fans would be put off by it being plugged as similar to Grey’s Anatomy, as I was. But I gave it a chance and I’m glad I did. It’s more character driven than almost every other sci-fi, but I really enjoyed that, it’s the same thing I loved about Battlestar Galactica. Anyway, after 13 episodes, the show was cancelled. What was terrible about this is we knew there was more to the story. We knew there was something they weren’t telling us. What did the hallucinations of the various characters mean? What about the flashbacks? How did Zoe get back into the program? What are the long-term consequences of the DNA changes the main characters were experiencing? What about Rollie? Is he going to prison? What about the Mars mission? The two who were left behind, what happened to them? What are the fractal objects? What will happen when they all come together? What else can go wrong? Why did they have Zoe nearly die to get the Gamma object? If you don’t know what I’m talking about…I suggest you watch the show.
So many fucking questions! Thankfully, there were answers, and we got them. A while back some optimist had the bright idea to ask the creator what would have happened to the show if it were allowed to continue, and surprisingly, got a response. Of course he did say he didn’t want to reveal too much in case he is able to resurrect the series. Six months later, we find out how the series would have ended. I’m happy we find out what would have happened if the show was allowed to continue. But saddened that we will never get to see it unfold. It’s one thing to know what happened, it’s another to see it happen. It’s like hearing a friend describe an epically awesome movie, after the last copy was destroyed in a projector fire. That’s what I feel has happened to Stargate Universe.
Even if we ever find out what the writers were planning, we will never see it unfold on the big screen…or small screen, depending how big your TV is. That is depressing, to say the least. Especially considering how big the questions were. They introduced some real meaning of life stuff there. Now, some may say the show was cancelled because it sucked. It was a rip off of Battlestar Galactica. Now, that may be true, because both deal with a group of people alone, on a ship in the middle of nowhere, having to scavenge various planets for supplies, with hints of being guided by a higher power. The biggest difference between the two is Stargate Universe doesn’t beat you over the head with that last part.
In Battlestar Galactica (by the way, I’m talking about the new series here, not the one from the 70s) there are a few characters who see messengers. Who are basically hallucinations who call themselves angels. They have knowledge beyond the characters who see them, and there’s one point during the finale where they are seen by two people at the same time. Pretty much confirming they are real, just invisible to most. So it’s pretty much confirmed there is a god, in the mythology of the series. There’s solid proof.
In contrast is Stargate Universe. In this series there are hints that the Destiny is being guided to a certain extent. Starting with Faith, where we discover an artificial planet orbiting an artificial star. Space is huge, so the sheer odds of an artificial planet and star lying directly on Destiny’s path is astronomical, suggesting it was intentionally planted there. In another episode the Lucian Alliance invades the Destiny but have terrible timing and when they dial in, the ship drops out of FTL right next to a fucking pulsar, emitting some deadly radiation. Not good. However the threat of the pulsar allows the crew of the Destiny to gain the upper hand against the Alliance. If you ask me, if it wasn’t for the astronomically bad timing on the part of the Alliance, the Destiny crew would not have been able to regain control of the ship with such minimal loss of life. Then, after encountering the Drones for the first time, the damage done means the Destiny is dead to rights. So they decide to execute a plan to get them to earth, but luckily another Destiny comes back in time, devoid of crew, which they salvage for parts, after being warned they will not make it to Earth. Then there’s Alliances, where Doctor Andrew Covel from Earth visits the Destiny and says: “Since you and your people came on board, you’ve brought this ship to the brink of destruction repeatedly. It’s a wonder this thing’s flying at all.” But they got lucky, often. Then there’s the discovery of the Novans. While more likely than any of the other long-shot events, the fact that they exist is a long shot in and of itself.
So something seems to be guiding them, it’s subtly hinted at. Rush even overtly states this in one episode.
It’s an interesting little moment, and it goes beyond a simple lantern-hanging. Do I agree? Well, as I’m sitting here, no. As I’ve said before, I’m an Athiest, and generally when people talk fate, they’re talking about an actual intelligent being, who can predict the future, guiding things, to ensure everything goes right. So, a God, or, in some cases, a multinational government conspiracy. Egotists. But I don’t believe in any of that. It’s illogical to do so, and it makes more sense to believe: shit happens so get over it. But if something like what happened on the Destiny, happened to me, I might be like Rush, thinking, this goes beyond simple coincidence, and maybe things aren’t as clear-cut as I used to think. Is it God that is guiding the Destiny? Who knows? But there’s certainly something.
So how is that any different then Battlestar? Battlestar start off by beating you over the head with the Book of Pythia, chanting “CYLON GOD LOVES YOU! CYLON GOD LOVES YOU!” Which is why Stargate Universe is better than Battlestar Galactica, because at least Stargate Universe tries to be subtle and non-specific about it.
But I bet some will disagree, as is their right. It’s all open to interpretation.
Anyway, back to the finale. Some may say this doesn’t mean the show is dead. They could still bring a Stargate Universe movie out in a few years. Well, no, they can’t. Not since they struck the sets! Some of it is being auctioned off, the rest is being destroyed. I assume so some porno company doesn’t get them, and decide to produce Stargate Uranus.
The Stargate Universe movie would have required the Destiny sets, because 90 per cent of the film would have taken place on the Destiny, because 90 per cent of the movie would have been about the Destiny. Without those sets, there is no movie. They could rebuild them, but the cost would likely make the film infeasible.
Now, unlike Defying Gravity, there wasn’t much planned for the future of Stargate Universe. The only thing they had planned was what was in the background radiation. Loose ideas for next season did exist, but nothing concrete, no plans etched in stone. So perhaps that’s a good thing. They had no real ideas, so there really isn’t anything big we’re missing.
Of course considering how good the final episodes got, it makes me more angry that we will never see any more. First, I’d like to say I take back what I said about Twin Destinies, being a roundabout way of getting Telford, and only Telford, back to Earth, because now they decide to extend that storyline. Send the Destiny crew members we thought were killed in an unstable wormhole, back in time. Which I remember was telegraphed in the episode, because the effect of the unstable wormhole used in Twin Destinies, was the same as the effect used in the season one episode, Time, which was all about time travel…obviously.
I’m of course referring to Common Decent, where we meet the Novans, who claim their society was founded by the crew of the Destiny 2000 years prior. Obviously it wasn’t the actual Destiny crew, it was their duplicates from the other timeline featured in Twin Destinies. It’s an interesting twist, and it means when I said Eli’s “on the other side of the universe and out here he’s unlikely to ever find anyone (as hot as Ginn), and of the same species,” it wasn’t exactly true. However it might be a little weird, what with him being one of their ascendants.
Anyway, what bugs me the most about this two episode arc featuring the Novans is, we never hear from them again. It would have been great if a few of them, perhaps some technicians who studied some remnants of Ancient technology that their founders still had, or some scientists who know a thing or two about fabricating ammunition or spare parts for the Destiny, stuck around. Hell, they built that CO2 scrubbing foam, who knows what else they could have helped with. Now, there is also the Tenaran archive. Though it would be nice if they had someone who had personal experience with some of the data within, wouldn’t it? True, it would have meant they would have more mouths to feed, but they would also have more hands to gather supplies, and the scrubbing foam meant they wouldn’t have to worry about air supply for a while. Plus, when they eventually find a way back to Earth, it means there are even more people who will be staying behind to continue Destiny’s mission. Rush would have loved that. The Destiny may not be a “passenger ship” as Rush said, but there’s a difference between picking up a passenger, and recruiting a crew member. I’m saying someone from that colony had to have been useful.
Then, there was an interesting turn of events. The Drones. An enemy they encountered in episodes 10 and 11 makes an appearance again…in episode 17. It was such a huge gap I forgot all about them. Then they pop up out of nowhere. With no real explanation as to why we haven’t heard from them sooner. They explain why we still see them even though the Destiny should be out of Drone space by now…it’s because they are being tracked. But no reason as to why they weren’t being tracked earlier. It allows things to escalate until the season finale, where the problem with the Drones requires them to abandon the galaxy and go into stasis for three years, but my question is, what took them so long!? Perhaps they fought them offscreen for a while, but only then did they realize there might be a problem, now that they are supposed to be out of Drone space. Still, it’s never explained. No line saying, ‘well, we’ve encountered them a few times, maybe there’s some tracking protocol, and that’s what’s causing them to go all crusader-like.’
That’s another thing, you wouldn’t expect an unarmed Drone weapon to be programmed to go this far out of its territory to track down a target. You’d figure once the target crosses a line it goes “AND STAY OUT!!!” Apparently not. It would certainly save resources. You wouldn’t have to build so many.
Then there are the interesting character developments. I mentioned Eli’s scorn towards Rush that didn’t seem to develop too much at first, but slowly he began to realize how important it was that he break out of the man’s shadow. Ending with him being the last person awake on Destiny, with the goal of fixing the last remaining stasis pod within the next two weeks. He does this because he thinks he can pull it off on his own, without Rush’s help. I agree. GO ELI!!!
Then we have Varro, who loses all of his Lucian comrades and gains the full trust of Colonel Young. Which is a development I’ve been looking forward to for a while. Varro was originally Kiva’s top lieutenant when her team invaded the Destiny. He was also relatively amicable to the crew of the Destiny from the beginning. Trying to end the conflict with as little bloodshed as possible. Even going so far as to go against his commander in defense of Colonel Young, resulting in him getting banished to the same planet. I’ve found it a bit odd that throughout the second season, Young was as hostile to Varro as he was, considering…
Perhaps it was because of their relationship to TJ. There was a bit of a love triangle on the Destiny, which I find a bit cliché, but it’s not really unheard of in reality. I know I’ve been involved in a few…always on the losing end. That’s right no one loves me…anyway-I don’t know what the writers were planning with the revelation that she had ALS and she would be dead in five years. But whatever it was, nothing much came of it, because it was revealed near the end of the series…nice going. Looks like they were going somewhere, but to date, all we get is TJ feeling resigned to failure during the finale.
Then we have Lisa Park, who goes blind while Destiny is recharging in a blue supergiant. I think it would have been an interesting development, as time goes on, she learns to accept her disability and compensate, remaining a vital member of the crew. How? Coming up with genius conceptual ideas at the eleventh hour like she did in the finale.
But there is something bugging me about the final episodes. In Common Decent it is mentioned the crew would need to manually shuttle the entire Novus colony, over 100 people, to Novus, when they lose gate contact. The colony is mentioned to be one gate jump to Novus, and there are no other gates in range of the colony. In other episodes a gate falls out of range after the ship is in FTL for 8 hours, and Novus is a week away. So two planets that are a weeks journey away are within gate range, but if Destiny spends less than a day in FTL, it could fall out of gate range of a planet it was within shuttle range of.
Then we have another issue. In the first season, it is established that one could go from one end of the galaxy to the other by gate jumping. Ie. getting to a gate that’s out of range by first dialing a gate that’s in range of both planets. But in this new galaxy, there are several times the Destiny drops out of FTL, with no gates in range. Which seems unlikely if each gates operating range can overlap. So there are a few possible explanations for this, gates are spread out a bit more in the new galaxy, which seems unlikely, considering there is no reason the concentration of useful planets would change from galaxy to galaxy. The other explanation, Destiny’s gate has a much, and I mean much, shorter range then any planetary gate. Which seems odd. I get that these older Stargates have a smaller range because they were more primitive, but why would the specific Destiny gate, which would be reused multiple times, have such a smaller range then the planetary gates, which might be used once. Also, the seed ships were sent out well ahead of Destiny, so those gates are likely more primitive than the already quite primitive Destiny gate. So why would the Destiny gate be shittier?
Of course some may point out another plot hole. How feature-rich those gates are, and the more recent Milky Way and Pegasus gates are relatively shittier. Well I think I have an explanation. The prototype gates on Destiny’s path were built with features such as environment scanning, and communications to both nearby gates and Destiny because it was required for the mission, and to compensate for it’s smaller range. The newer gates really didn’t need those features, so they weren’t included, because it was cheaper. Makes sense to me.
Now, there is one thing still bugging me, and it isn’t about the SGU finale specifically. It’s about the untold story of the Novans. The alternate Destiny crew members who went back in time and founded the great civilization, Novus. It would be quite interesting to hear how it happened. Their struggles, their strifes, trying to build a society from the ground up with no technological advantage. All they had, was their knowledge of a 21st century Earth. Which is an advantage, but not a great one. It’s doubtful any of them knew how to build an industrial crane, or even make fabric. Also, why did they dress like 18th century pilgrims? I know they lacked much technology, but I have a hard time believing they forgot basic fashion sense. There had to have been someone worrying about that, and I’m ignoring colours here. I understand it’s hard to make dyes from nothing. Though what is weird is, I noticed they invented the technology to perfect pinstripes.
Now, as I sit here, I can’t help but think what next season could have been. So here I go, putting on my writers hat, and state what I think should have happened for next season.
Scene opens, Destiny is adrift, for who knows how long. All we see is the ship adrift between galaxies. Within the ship, the gate activates, and a small team of military and civilian personnel comes through, perhaps amounting to six people. The gate shuts down and the team is left in the pitch darkness of the Destiny, and the leader of said group tells his men to get to work. Two of them make a beeline to the control interface room illuminated by torch-light, and open a case containing two gray cylinders while the rest proceed to the stasis pods to release the crew. No one is released at first. Until a message comes over the radio telling the leader they’re online. The ship jumps to FTL and the team gets to work, releasing the crew.
They explain the Destiny’s been out of contact for a long time. Likely 50 years. During that time they’ve been able to build their own ZPM, and have been able to dial in from a planet in a nearby galaxy. They brought a ZPM through with the purpose of using it to power the Destiny to continue the jump to the next galaxy. At first Young is upset, that Eli must have taken longer than two weeks to fix the pods, and didn’t sacrifice himself so the rest of the crew could make it. But he swears he fixed the pod well within the deadline. A bit of investigation reveals there was a system that wasn’t completely turned off. It drained just enough power that caused the ship to run out before getting to the next galaxy.
It’s a little sketchy, but I think it would work. Though I still like my old ideas better. I would have loved to see the stones fail for more than a few episodes, with no contact of any kind from Earth. It would have made them truly on their own.
While I love Stargate Universe, and I hate to see it go. I must say I understand why. Ratings were down, the show was doing terribly, and television is a business, first and foremost. If a show isn’t making money, it’s got to go. So I don’t blame SyFy for canceling it. Do you know who I blame? You! It’s your fault! You bastard! This is a high quality show you didn’t watch because you were too busy watching the new season of Survivor, or the Apprentice, or Hookers of New Jersey. Congratulations human race! You earn the grand ‘fuck you’ prize for proving your own idiocy!!! I hate this planet…
I fully agree with all your articles relating SGU, and things in general. You literally take words out of my head and write them down.
And agree on another thing: I also hate this planet…. So much wasted potential :(