By Curt Wagner
10:17 PM CDT, May 9, 2011
To quote Col. Everett Young, “It would be easy to dwell on everything that we have lost, but I think today I would rather think about what we still have, and maybe what we have gained.”
Louis Ferreira delivered those eloquent words, from “Gauntlet” writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, in tonight’s series finale of “Stargate Universe.” He said it while having dinner—presumably for the last time before they will all be frozen in stasis. They don’t know if they will ever see each other again, if they will ever be able to finish Destiny’s mission, or get back home to Earth.
It wasn’t supposed to be the series finale, but there you go: It would be easy to dwell on everything that we have lost.
Instead, I’m going to look back on the two seasons, 40-some episodes, of fantastic storytelling from the team assembled by series creators Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper.
“Stargate Universe” became a lightning rod for blame, hate and trash talk from many fans of “Stargate SG-1” and, especially, “Stargate Atlantis.” But I do believe, and have from the beginning, that “SGU” did not get a fair shake from many viewers and fans of the past 14 years of the “Stargate” franchise.
Wright and Cooper wanted to tell different kinds of “Stargate” stories. And it was their right to do so. Personally, I’m happy they did it. The show might have felt “slow” during some early Season 1 episodes, but I was never, ever bored. Each episode furthered the larger story, and offered a rich, fascinating look into the minds and motivations of the Destiny crew.
They dwelled on the core characters, the inner doings of the Destiny while offering up suspenseful drama that was almost like watching a chamber play. Remember how Col. Young and Dr. Rush were always matching wits on the chessboard that was the Destiny? Camille Wray and Col. Telford often dove into the fray to mix things up. No one was always right, or wrong. Life on the Destiny was just like real life: messy, unsure and well, gray.
And that set the stage for the ultimate change when aliens were introduced. The crew had to work together, or die. The stakes could not be higher, and the episodes got even more exciting—not without the help of the amazing Mark Savela and his special effects teams. The latter half of Season 1 ramped up the action with the introduction of the aliens and the Lucian Alliance. And almost all of Season 2 left me breathless.
It wasn’t simply because of the action; it was because I felt so much for all the characters thanks to what I learned about them in Season 1. I remember feeling stunned, like someone hit me over the head, when Sgt. Hunter Riley (Haig Sutherland) died. I believe I screamed at the TV.
Thanks to the fine acting of all involved, it was a pleasure to meet and get to know the characters. We worried, cried, laughed along with them—even, as Col. Young said, “the slightly crazy uncle who, despite everything, still manages to come through for you in the end.” Yes, that is you Dr. Nicholas Rush, made ever the more fascinating by Robert Carlyle. (Speaking of incredible acting, I’m grateful for meeting Ferreira, of whom I have been in awe since his stint in “Durham County.”)
As I watched the opening credits tonight (about my fourth time watching “Gauntlet”), I thought about the “SGU” family of talent onscreen. As shown in the credits:
Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, David Blue, Alaina Huffman, Jamil Walker Smith and Ming-Na…
Mike Dopud, Jennifer Spence, Patrick Gilmore, Peter Kelamis, Julia Benson, Vincent Gale, Anna Galvin and Lou Diamond Phillips.
It went on to list producers such as Linda McGibney, Remi Aubuchon, Carl Binder and John G. Lenic. Finally, creators Wright and Cooper, episode writers Mallozzi and Mullie, and, fittingly for the series finale, Andy Mikita, who directed the exciting series premiere, “Air.”
I could go on and on listing other actors (Herb Sommerfield, Josh Blacker) producers, directors (Will Waring, Peter Deluise) and other members of the “SGU” team. (Special shout out to composer Joel Goldsmith, the man behind the incredible “SGU” score: We want a soundtrack!!) But I would, I am sure, forget someone, so feel free to comment below and add any names you wish.
On a personal note, “SGU” and “Sanctuary” are the first shows I followed closely from their beginnings since becoming a part-time TV writer, and it was my great pleasure to meet many of the wonderful people listed above. I want to thank them not only for the great stories I will watch over and again on DVD, but for taking the time to do interviews in New York or for an hour on the phone; for giving me a behind-the-scenes look at making “SGU” and what’s on the set (for letting me sit in the captain’s chair!); for sneaking backstage at Comic-Con for a quick video chat; for playing along on Twitter; for hanging out in a Vancouver bar and finally, for teaching me about Scotch.
I understand that promoting your show is part of the job, but I believe that these folks felt so strongly about their show, it wasn’t really just “part of the job” for them.
Now, for the end of that toast for Col. Young, which also dealt with “what we have gained. We’re a family now … To family.” I feel fortunate that “SGU” brought me many friends, through Twitter, the Hiatus Project and the Stargate Con in Chicago. I gained many friends, especially my partners-in-crime last fall, Sherry, Terry, Karrie, Brian, Bruce and Michael.
I’m sad to see “Stargate Universe” end before we know what “the true nature of Destiny’s mission” was, and how it would be completed. But “Gauntlet,” for me, served the series well as a finale. Most of the characters got some screen time, and eventually settled in for an unsure future. (“SGU,” once again, making me think of real life. Remember "Visitation"?)
Seeing Eli step up, and Rush step back, was especially satisfying. That final scene of David Blue looking out into space and smiling, realizing that he was in a good spot, ended the series in a rather hopeful way. Wouldn’t it be nice if, in three years, we returned to find Eli looking out there again, waiting for the Destiny crew members in stasis to wake up, as he has, and begin the rest of their journey?
That’s the resolution I’m imagining for “SGU.”
Col. Everett Young’s full toast
“We’ve been through a helluva lot together, that’s for sure. It would be easy to dwell on everything that we have lost, but I think today I would rather think about what we still have and maybe what we have gained. We’re a family now, whether we like it or not: sons, daughters, sisters, even the slightly crazy uncle who, despite everything, still manages to come through for you in the end. You are the smartest, bravest, most compassionate people that I have ever had the honor to serve with. To family.”
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