Last night, we said goodbye to Stargate Universe. In a strange way, the finale was almost parallel to the manner in which this series was canned — the show ended right as it started to get good.
Perhaps Eli said it best in this episode: "What's the point of having tremendous potential if you're not going to step up when you're really needed?" Stargate Universe started off with mounds of potential. And while it took almost an entire season to find its bearings in the big black, by the end the writers, actors and incredibly gifted FX team pulled this series up by its military-issued boot straps and delivered. Sadly, it was just too little too late.
By the time Syfy revealed that they would be canceling the series in December, we'd cheered as Rush Lion Kinged the Lucian who murdered his lady love and stood witness to the surreal alien fever dream wedding that finally deepened the relationship of Chloe and Matt. Everything was starting to gel, and the misfit crew of the Destiny was slowly becoming a family. We're sad to see SGU go, but we wish that the series had taken these kinds of risks earlier on, because one thing this show always had was tremendous potential.
Perhaps this is why the series finale felt more like a bittersweet goodbye than an action-packed cliffhanger, even though it ended with a much more frightening conclusion than the first season (which ended with Lucian bullets flying). It was hard saying goodbye to the show that had grown so much in the past season. But more on the final farewell later, first let's bite into the tasty space-deer meat that was Destiny's goodbye.
We pick up close to where the show left off last week, the crew is still plagued by space drones, the villains that never sleep, never eat and exist only to hunt out alien tech and destroy it. With a bit of mathematical witchery, Eli and Rush found a way to track the command ships that control these death drones. After plugging the data into Destiny's fancy screens the ship maps out each command drone's location among the stars. What's revealed is a never-ending death march for Destiny. Every single gated planet is now guarded by a drone command. Unable to fight off the vast robotic army and with only a month of supplies left aboard, the crew faces the grim reality of death by drone attack, starvation or suffocation as Destiny runs out of power for life support (they won't be able to fool the drones again with their Blue Super Giant plan from last week).
But, Eli has a crazy plan, as he so often does. What if Destiny left this horrible galaxy, once and for all? The stasis pods (that Eli and Brody previously "researched" — yay, Brodysicle) can keep the crew as they make the jump from one galaxy to another. The only downside is the crew would have to be in stasis for three years (give or take) while Destiny shuts down life support to ferry the crew to the new galaxy. Also, if Eli's calculations are off by the tiniest bit, the crew could be in stasis for thousands of years, drifting to the desired location. But, it's their only option, so stasis it is.
Cue the rest of the cast to line up and say goodbye to storylines long forgotten. Matt almost says goodbye to his kid (Remember, he had a kid!), Chloe hugs her mother in front of a bottle of booze (Remember, her mother had a drinking problem), Young basically forgives Telford for sleeping with his wife (Which felt right, not the forgiveness part for Telford, but allowing Young to let go completely of this failed relationship), and Camile breaks up with the love of her life VIA PHONE. This shocked me the most. Brilliant. Camile has one chance to tell the love of her life goodbye for three years, and has to do it on the phone. Absolutely brutal. The horror of this moment was not lost on us. But we would have paid good money to actually see Ming-Na act this scene out. It's almost criminal they never shot (or cut) this footage. But then again, maybe that was the desired intention: to make us feel as crappy as Camile and denying the viewer the same satisfaction that Camile was denied. Either way, damn that would have been heartbreaking to witness (it was heartbreaking just to hear her talk about it).
The original cast of SGU then gathers for a final goodbye dinner, and Young gives a toast that feels like a heartfelt goodbye from the show (to us, to itself, to everyone, probably). Even though this is impossible, sincethe episode was shot long before they knew the series was doomed. But the goodbye remained intact. They admit what we've all watched over the last few episodes, that this is a family now — even the crazy old Uncle Rush. And horrible flashback afros aside, this collection of characters has truly grown. But we're mostly sad to see Greer go. And even though they're not at the table, watching Brody and Volker give a quick handshake before their final icing made our hearts flip ever so slightly. Actors Peter Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore are by far and away the standout from SGU. Thank you for peppering the darkest Stargate with a little bit of joy now and again — you humanized the horror of space.
Meanwhile Eli is growing leaps and bounds throughout the episode. Last week he finally bucked the genius yoke of Rush — calling him a bastard and piloting Destiny through the hazardous Super Giant alone. He returns to his mother's side for his goodbye, and realizes that he's finally happy. Eli's new-found sense of self and happiness puts his mother at ease. No longer the sheltered nerd kid but at last a man, Eli is ready to make the tough decisions. This decision, of course, would be to stay behind, while the rest of the crew takes the big icey stasis slumber. Naturally, eight of the pods are busted (for drama!) and a small part of the episode wraps around fixing said pods, but it's all just a ploy for the final moment, and a bigger decision made by Eli.
When all is said and done it's just Rush, Young, Eli and 2 working pods. Someone will have to stay behind and beat the clock on Destiny attempting to fix the remaining pod, thus saving his own life. If they couldn't, well it would be a slow and painful death as Destiny shuts down the life support to preserve power for the long trip. Eli doesn't just volunteer for the job, he practically demands it! Hearing Eli exclaim, "I'm smarter than him [Rush]," felt like a personal victory for both character and audience, finally!
Even when Rush finally admits to Eli that he's full of potential and gives him the pat on the head he's been shirking the whole series, Eli doesn't need it. "You've come a long way from the video game slacker," Rush states. "Thanks. You've been pretty consistent." BOOM. It was quite fulfilling. Let's not forget, Rush wasn't exactly perfect. This wasn't about Eli seeking acceptance, it was about Rush humbling himself for the first time in a long time. The mentor steps down, and Eli takes up the mantle of hero, standing on the observation deck looking out over space. He doesn't fret, doesn't whimper, in fact, the last shot we see of Eli's face is a smile. A hint at the uber-nerd who name-checked Hoth on his first snowy alien planet — perhaps. But we like to think it was the smile of a character who finally found his place in this world. In space.
And that's how the series ends. You don't know if Eli makes it or not, but this now allows us to dream that somewhere out there in the vast universe, Destiny is ripping through the darkness with SGU's crew tucked away inside its belly. It allows for hope against all odds. Against that fact that there may not be any more Stargate anythings for the rest of our lives. But there could be, as soon as someone decides to awaken the slumbering crew from their stasis. Hopefully it will be a white dreadlocked alien with an English accent.