Stargate Universe: The Story so Far...
So, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Stargate is a massive franchise that began as a film 16 years ago, and has now encompassed four T.V. series. There’s no way I can get into it now.”
Well, that’s how I felt last September, upon hearing Stargate: Universe was starting soon. I’m just your average Sci-Fi guy, I own the original film on DVD (although I haven’t watched it in ages) and I’ve caught the occasional episode of SG-1 on TV in the middle of a Sunday afternoon while channel hopping. But I didn’t expect to get interested in it.
Then, out of curiosity, I watched the first episode. And I was strangely hooked. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, and it showed promise.
For those of you reading who have no idea of the premise of Stargate: Universe, allow me to explain.
STARGATE UNIVERSE: THE RECIPE
Take 1 Dash of Star Trek: Voyager
Mix in 4 tbsp of BSG
Add a sprinkle of SG-1
Place all of these contents in blender and press button.
Et Voila! Stargate: Universe
It’s not the most original series in the world. But there aren’t that many original ideas IN the world. It doesn’t matter that it is mildly derivative, because it works well.
In case you’re wondering, I’m going to be doing regular SG:U reviews now – starting with the most recent episode (1.17). So if you’re the sort of person who reads reviews while considering whether to watch the series, or even just read reviews because you like the idea of the series but don’t have the time, energy or inclination to start watching, then I thought it’d be a good idea to do a quick bluffer’s guide to what’s happened in the first sixteen episodes. In order to keep the word count on this article down, each character will get a brief description when their name pops up in the episode guide.
1.1 – 1.3: Air (3 Part Opener)
Eli Wallace (Geek) solves a computer game which turns out to be a secret recruitment program for the Stargate program. He ends up on a planet where there’s a top-secret research project going on, spearheaded by Dr Nicholas Rush (Mostly mad) who is attempting to dial a nine-chevron Stargate address. They are attacked by alien ships, but succeed in dialling and therefore evacuate through the gate. They then discover they are aboard Destiny, an ancient starship billions of light-years from Earth, and they can’t dial back.
Very quickly Col. Young (The Boss) takes command, and they spend the rest of this three-parter trying to get the life-support system working properly on the ship. This involves a visit to a nearby desert planet where they are terrorised by a living dust-cloud. (Yes, a living dust-cloud. It’s not quite as rubbish as you think it is). They make it back to the ship with supplies and no-one dies.
Ship aims for star. People panic. 17 people evacuate on shuttlecraft, aiming for nearby planet (including several leads, so we know they won’t really land on the planet and be abandoned.) Turns out that ship flies into stars to refuel. Shuttlecraft re-docks. Destiny flies on.
Turns out the living dust-cloud from 1.3 infected the water they brought back and it’s killing the crew. So while Col. Young and Lt. Scott (Enthusiastic) go to the nearby planet to get more water, the rest of the crew have to defeat the dust/water monster. (No, it really is better than it sounds)
An almost completely dull episode, focussing on three characters (Eli, Young and Chloe (Young civilian, currently shacking up with Scott)) as they visit Earth through the use of the communication stones. (If you don’t know what the communication stones are, the quick description is that they can swap your mind into the body of someone with the other one. Destiny has one set, Earth has the other)
The crew land on a planet and find a recording made by themselves, warning that they’re all going to die of a disease. It turns out the recording travelled back in time due to a solar flare interfering with the Stargate. Can they change their future? (I’ll give you a clue, the regulars are all still in the next episode. Doesn’t stop this one from being really good though)
The crew find a cool Ancients chair which might give them loads of knowledge in a room on the ship. Sadly, this plotline is tempered with another dull communications stone one. By the end the chair has brain damaged a crew member. Not much else happens.
A member of the crew kills himself (but it’s OK, no-one really liked him anyway), but leaves no note, so it’s treated as murder. Someone attempts to frame Young by hiding the weapon in his cabin. Later, when it’s proved it was suicide and they are on a planet investigating an alien ship, Rush admits to framing Young. Young punches him and Destiny flies away, leaving Rush behind (which would have been a bold move if it wasn’t Robert Carlyle, who we all knew would be back)
Young attempts to use the communication stones, and ends up in an alien’s body. These aliens then attack Destiny and kidnap Chloe. In attempting to rescue her, Young discovers Rush (last seen on that desert planet) is on board too and both end up rescued and back on Destiny.
The civilian population decide to mutiny against the military. They try, and eventually fail. Plus they destroy a couple of tracking devices to stop the aliens chasing them
Destiny stops at a planet that shouldn’t exist, and a group live down there for a month gathering supplies while Destiny navigates around the sun. The planet seems perfect, and lots of people basically argue whether God exists and whether he made the planet. Oh, plus TJ (Blond Medic woman) tells Chloe she’s pregnant.
Stealing LOST’s flashback routine, this is a Rush-centric episode, showing how he came to be Mr Grouchy, while he’s attempting to interface with the ancient chair. Meanwhile, the B Plot sees Chloe, Eli, Scott and Greer (Shouty black soldier) trapped in some underground tunnels on a planet. For a change, they get left behind, and Destiny flies on without them.
The intrepid foursome are still on the planet they were left on. Greer then gets buried under some rubble and the other three assume he’s dead, get out and go stargate jumping to find Destiny. Greer gets out and sits by the gate, hopeful. Young and the Destiny crew start jumping to find them too, because this is Destiny’s last scheduled stop until it crosses to a new galaxy (and Stargates can’t cross galaxies, so there’d be no chance of finding them afterwards). They find Greer, but leave without the others.
8/10 (It would have been a 9, without the annoying Greer flashbacks to his childhood and stupid hair…)
Part of the FTL (Faster Than Light) drive blows up on Destiny, stopping them crossing out to the next galaxy. Conveniently, the gang of three who were still lost gate back in. Then everyone tries to fix the engine. Turns out they’ve been sabotaged by the aliens through the use of communication stones. But no-one’s been using the communication stones I hear you shout, oh if only that were true. The communication stone subplot consists of Rush trying to bring a specialist / woman who used to have a crush on him onboard to help, but sadly she’s in a wheelchair and on a respirator. Lt James (Busty Brunette) offers to be her body, but can’t cope, leaving Camille Wray (Shifty, irritating woman) to do it instead, just so we can have the dullest subplot about her partner (yes, she’s a lesbian) trying to cope. But Lt James didn’t take her stone off the transmitter, so an alien took her over and blew up the FTL drive. They fight off the aliens, fix it, and leave.
7/10 (Would have been 9 without the dull-as-ditchwater Wray subplot)
So there you go, that’s a quick (Oh, not that quick, I’ve just looked at the word count, sorry – I tried to keep it as brief as possible) summary of Stargate Universe.
If you’re still unsure as to whether you want to watch it, I suggest you watch the three part opener to get used to it, and then you’ll know whether you like it or not.
Why do I like it?
It’s Sci-Fi, it’s sometimes cheesy, but mostly it’s got a serial arc and long-running plots, so even when it’s on “Disaster of the Week” episodes, you feel like the whole series is progressing.
Join me for reviews of each new episode as soon as they’ve aired (and I’ve watched them, and then had time to write a review!)