Episode Title: "Gauntlet"
Writers: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
Director: Andy Mikita
Previously on "Stargate Universe":
For weeks, the Destiny has been on the run from automated alien drones designed to wipe out all technology that isn't theirs. When the drones began blockading stars to prevent Destiny from refueling, Eli Wallace (David Blue) and Doctor Rush (Robert Carlyle) came up with a risky plan to refuel from a blue super giant, even though it meant that the ship would have to be evacuated for a few hours. While Colonel Young (Louis Ferreira) led the majority of the crew to an abandoned planet founded by their alternate timeline descendants (don't ask), Dr; Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence) volunteered to stay on Destiny with Rush and Eli to save as many of the plants as she could.
On the planet, the crew discovered that the inhabitants were wiped out by the alien drones and they soon came under attack as well. Back on the ship, Lisa became trapped in the observation deck as the ship approached the star and Rush argued that it would be safer for her to take refuge in the water storage than to try to break out of the room. But in the ensuing minutes, the dome burst and Lisa was blinded by the experience. The rest of the crew returned to a fully powered ship and an uncertain future.
Days later, Young watches from afar as Roland Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) and T.J. (Alaina Huffman) check Lisa's eyes and determine that they haven't recovered at all from her Blue Giant experience. Practically out on his feet, Camille Wray (Ming-Na) tries to get Young to rest, but a call from Eli and Rush brings him to the bridge instead. There, they inform Young that they can now track the alien drones. But the bad news is that the drones are now stalking them at every active stargate in the galaxy, effectively making it impossible for the ship to resupply without being destroyed. Young uses the communication stones to plead with Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) for help, but they have no other options.
Rush and Eli then formulate a plan to temporarily strengthen the Destiny's shields from the drones' weapons, but when put into action, the drones begin making kamikaze runs against the ship. After destroying the alien command ship, Destiny is badly damaged again and the few supplies they manage to grab from the planet aren't enough to offset their loses. Eli then comes up with a risky alternate plan to set the Destiny into an extended FTL jump out of the galaxy with the entire crew in stasis to preserve supplies and power. Rush is extremely hesitant about it, but Young gives him only 24 hours to find an alternative.
At Camille's insistence, each crew member gets a brief visit to Earth via the communication stones. Eli even gets the chance to see his dying mother once again and he admits that he's happy out in space despite the ever present danger. The first group enters stasis without incident, but Brody (Peter Kelamis) and Volker (Patrick Gilmore) soon find that eight stasis chambers are in need of repair, which may necessitate that eight crew members commit suicide to save the rest. Unwilling to sacrifice any more of his crew, Young gets an alternate plan from Lisa, who suggests sending one of the shuttles to engage the alien drones while the crew gets the materials to fix the stasis pods.
The plan goes off without a hitch and even destroys the alien command ship, at the loss of a shuttle. Later, Camille bonds with Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) over their tenuous ties to Earth and she admits that she tried to breakup with her girlfriend, Sharon to make things easier for her. But instead she simply made Sharon cry. The last eight members of the Destiny enjoy one final meal together, where Young declares that they have become a family… even including their "crazy uncle" Rush. While five more of the crew go into stasis, Young visits Earth one last time and says goodbye to Telford, who insists that they won't give up on getting them home.
However, upon his return, Eli and Rush tell Young that one of the stasis pods isn't working; which means one of them will have to sacrifice themselves. Rush volunteers first, but because Young doesn't trust him to kill himself if he fails to fix the pod, Young offers himself up instead. Incensed, Eli steps up and declares that he will be the one to stay out of stasis because he's smarter than Rush and he has a better chance of fixing the stasis pod before life support fails. Rush and Eli have one last conversation where the older man finally openly acknowledges Eli's genius and potential and they part on friendly terms. Eli sees Rush and Young off to stasis as the ship's systems begin to shut down for the FTL jump.
Then Eli takes a few moments to reflect on the observation deck and watch the stars as the Destiny flies off into the proverbial interstellar sunset for the last time.
Before we begin, let's take a second to acknowledge one of the greatest seasons that any sci-fi show ever had. In its second year, "Stargate Universe" was amazingly consistent over the course of twenty episodes and it arguably surpassed both "Stargate" series that came before it. I would also argue that "SGU" belongs in the upper echelon of the best sci-fi series like "Star Trek," "Battlestar Galactica," "Farscape" and "Babylon 5."
As a season finale, this was a fitting send off for the crew and a great cliffhanger.
But I reject this as the end of "Stargate Universe" or the "Stargate" franchise in general.
I also reject Syfy and the laughing stock of a network that it's become.
Look, I understand that television is a business and that "SGU" simply didn't get the ratings to warrant another renewal. That doesn't excuse the truly disastrous way that Syfy pit the show against broadcast television or the network's increasing reliance on reality shows and wrestling to fill up its nightly schedule.
The Syfy network has drifted so far away from what it used to be that I barely recognize it any more. And I certainly don't feel the same loyalty towards it that I had when "Farscape" and "Stargate: SG-1" were ruling Sci-Fridays.
In a way, I feel the loss of "SGU" even more acutely than "Farscape" and "Battlestar Galactica." From the moment that "Farscape" was prematurely canceled, I was sure that we would eventually see an ending for that show. And of course, "BSG" got to end on its own terms. But I'm less convinced that we'll ever see the crew of the Destiny again.
Some fans have misunderstood the midseason cancelation announcement of "SGU" and assumed that the creative team had ten episodes to wrap everything up and didn't do it. Well, the truth is that most of the season had been filmed when I visited the set last September. So, there wasn't any time to make significant changes to the wrap up. As it is, it's fortunate that this episode still felt like a goodbye and struck the right tone to give us a little bit of closure.
If the series were to ever come back, this is the perfect way to pick up with the crew coming out of stasis and discovering how the universe had changed in their absence. And I have no doubt that Eli would have found a way to survive. The former video game slacker has become a true heroic figure. Permit me to compare Eli to Sean Walker from "The Event." On that show, Sean is constantly told how competent he is because he inadvertently (and rather unbelievably) falls ass backwards out of danger. He's even been handling a gun lately like he knows how to use it. And Sean is constantly getting skills that the plot deems it necessary for him to have.
When we first met Eli, he was the consummate everyman. But he's always been a genius and David Blue gave him a lot of heart. And we were never asked to accept him as an action hero like Greer or Scott. Over the last two years, we've watched Eli grow into a man. Even Rush can't deny it anymore. Their final scene together was oddly touching, with a great note from Eli that Rush himself hadn't changed that much… which actually brought a warm smile to Rush's face.
In their last supper together, Young called the crew a family. And that's a distinction that the show earned very slowly. For most of the first season, the crew was literally at each other's throats. But without those stories, it wouldn't have been as compelling to see the crew eventually come together. Even the minor characters have their own interesting story arcs, like Volker's doomed love for Lisa and Lisa's blindness in the last two episodes. "SGU" had a very large ensemble cast and it found a way to make nearly every character memorable. Even Camille and Greer became intriguing this year after being my two least favorite characters in the previous season.
In fact, the one false note was that we didn't get to see Camille's breakup with her girlfriend. I'm assuming that Reiko Aylesworth wasn't available to reprise her role as Sharon. But without actually seeing Sharon, Camille's story didn't register as strongly as it could have. Even Scott's story felt a little tacked on. The only Earth-bound reunions that really worked for me were between Eli and his mother and the final reconciliation between Telford and Young.
I truly wish that we had more time to spend in this world, and with these characters. The premature ending of "Stargate Universe" is a dark day for television.
And Syfy, we won't forget that you took another great series from us, AGAIN.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.