STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.17 ‘Common Descent’

The crew of the Destiny find their own descendants and encounter a new threat to their survival.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Common Descent"
Writer: Robert C. Cooper
Director: Peter DeLuise
Previously on "Stargate Universe":

Weeks ago, Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) returned to the Destiny via another ancient ship piloted by the Ursini, which conscripted the Destiny into its fight with a fleet of alien drones programmed to eliminate all technology that wasn't their own. In the battle, the Destiny was heavily damaged and the Ursini ship was destroyed. In desperation, Eli (David Blue) came up with a plan to get the crew of the Destiny home by dialing the stargate to Earth while the ship was powering up in the middle of a star.

However, complications ensued and only Telford made it back to Earth safely, with most of Destiny's crew presumed dead. Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) remained on the ship, which somehow traveled back in time and allowed Rush to make contact with the crew 12 hours earlier and prevent the disaster. The crew scavenged the future Destiny, but in a heated confrontation, the future Rush killed the Telford of the present, leaving only the alternate Telford alive on Earth. Future Rush also died during the subsequent fall of the future Destiny into the star itself. 


As the crew notes that their air filters badly need to be refilled, the Destiny comes under attack by a new fleet of alien drones and a control ship. The Destiny manages to FTL out of danger after some tense moments. When the ship drops out of FTL, they find an accessible stargate on a nearby planet that may be able to give them access to fresh supplies. But when they go there, Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) and his team are stunned to find Jason (Reilly Dolman) and Ellie (Katie Findlay), two teenagers who claim to be descendants of the crew.

On the Destiny, Eli works out that in the alternate timeline, when the connection to Earth was lost, the rest of Destiny's crew ended up on another planet 2,000 years in the past before settling down and naming the planet Novus. The people on the planet below are colonists who have been cut off from their homeworld for 30 years. Intrigued, the crew sends a team down to meet with Yaozu (August Schellenberg), the head of the settlement and the rest of the people there. They soon learn that the survivors on Novus split into two factions, the Tenerans who followed Colonel Young (Louis Ferreira) and the Futurans, who worshiped Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) as if he was a God.

The Tenerans also explain that they have no idea what happened to their homeworld since they were stranded, but they mention that the two sides were getting more wary of each other almost to the point of war. While T.J. (Alaina Huffman), Chloe (Elyse Levesque) and Eli are moved by archive footage of the birth of T.J.'s child with Young. But the Colonel himself doesn't seem to be affected by it at all. Just when things seem to be going well, the Tenerans drop a bomb shell: they think the crew of the Destiny is there to save them and bring them home to Novus. However, the crew doesn't have enough supplies to accommodate everyone and Young turns down the request.

Although the Tenerans are very obviously disappointed, they take it fairly well. But when the planet comes under attack from the alien drones, Scott orders the colonists to evacuate to the Destiny. But just as the last group is about to go through, one of the drones shoots the stargate and disables it, stranding Camille Wray (Ming-Na), Scott, Eli and others back on the planet. In space, the Destiny jumps away from another drone attack and Young decides that they won't go back for the rest of their crew. However, Eli manages to use the malfunctioning stargate to send a morse code message that it is safe to return.

Since the drones are able to track the use of the stargate, the crew evacuates everyone left to the Destiny via shuttle. On board the ship, conditions are extremely cramped and supplies run dangerously low when they reach Novus. Eli, Camille and Scott take Yaozu, Ellie and Jason with them to visit the planet, where they find an impressive city and signs that a super volcano devastated the atmosphere. But there are no outward clues of what happened to the people who lived on the planet. 

The premise of having the crew of a starship meet their own descendants has been done at least twice before on two different "Star Trek" series and countless times in science fiction. So, I wasn't impressed by the premise right away. But what "Stargate Universe" has done to improve upon that concept was to make the descendants a permanent creation. They won't simply fade away because the ship failed to be destroyed in the new timeline created by the twin Rushes.

If Jason, Ellie and the rest had just disappeared because time travel had wiped them out, I would have been chewing out "SGU" for taking the safe and trite way out. And it's much more impressive to see the crew now saddled with possibly hundreds of refugees who are literally related to them. The mystery of what happened to the people of Novus is also very intriguing. By leaving that reveal for next week or beyond, it made the episode seem more important to the series as opposed to a one-off story.

I was actually more interested in the footage of the alternate Destiny crew living in the past, as it's a rare opportunity to see the characters grow old naturally and actually move forward in their lives. And the idea that they essentially populated their own technologically advanced planet in 2,000 years is irresistible. I also loved the way that Brody was teased for coming up with the Futuran name and for blindly worshiping Rush, which he doesn't do in the present.

Speaking of outer space's own version of Dr. House, it was also very amusing to see Rush around people who thought he was a demon who could steal their souls… which Volker added was a fairly accurate description.

The rising tension of the episode was also terrific, as the ship is now overtaxed by too many people on board and they can't even use the stargate without alerting the alien drones to their location. It's kind of stunning to see Young and Rush almost in lock step agreement on how to deal with their problems, by at first rejecting the request of the Tenerans. They didn't do it because they're cruel, they did it to protect the crew they already had on the ship. But it's a long way from the Young and Rush who were eternally at each others throats for most of the series.

"Stargate Universe" just keeps on delivering rock solid episodes week after week. I hope that someday, the executives at Syfy finally come to their senses and realize that genre fans can not live on "Ghost Hunters" alone.

This is the real sci-fi that we want to see. And it deserves to have a home on TV.

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.