Sky Television

The Stargate castaways

  1. Air I
  2. Air II
  3. Air III
  4. Darkness
  5. Light
  6. Water
  7. Earth
  8. Time
  9. Life
  10. Justice
  11. Space
  12. Divided
  13. Faith
  14. Human
  15. Lost
  16. Sabotage
  17. Pain
  18. Subversion
  19. Incursion I
  20. Incursion II

Dr. Nicholas Rush -
Robert Carlyle

1st Lt. Matthew Scott -
Brian J. Smith

Eli Wallace -
David Blue

Colonel Everett Young -
Justin Louis

Chloe Armstrong -
Elyse Levesque

MSgt. Ronald Greer -
Jamil Walker Smith

1st Lt. Tamara Johansen -
Alaina Kalanj

Telford -
Lou Diamond Phillips

Stargate Continuum

Star Trek
The Next Generation
Battlestar Galactica

Air - Part 1

Eli Wallace is disappointed when the video game he cracks doesn't reward his success. He is less disappointed when the military show up, beam him onto a spaceship and offer to take him to another planet where he can help eminent scientist Dr Rush figure out the meaning of a new symbol on that planet's Stargate. An attack by unidentified forces means that the base has to be evacuated, but the only way off is through a Stargate that nobody knows the destination of.

STARGATE UNIVERSE is an attempt to revitalise the franchise by reinventing it in the image of Battlestar Galactica. This isn't a series about exploration, it's a series about survival. That's the message in the prepublicity and it's clearly the message in this opening episode.

It's a small group of people, survivors of an attack, lost in the universe, tension between civilians and military, not to mention tension between individuals. Any BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fan will recognise that summmary straight away. They'll also recognise the washed out colours of the filming and the attempts at fusing gritty realism and special effects together into a believable whole. Unfortunately, STARGATE UNIVERSE shoots itself in the foot from the off with the whole 'videogame is really doorway to secret space stuff' plot line (which is, incidentally, ripped off from THE LAST STARFIGHTER anyway.

The opening sequence is also ripped off from from ALIEN with the camera roaming the empty ship corridors until a single computer screen comes to life.

This leaps straight into a startling evacuees arriving on the derelict spaceship scene that sets out the show's intentions from the off. It then flashes back to the show the story leading up to this event and to introduce the characters. Robert Carlyle's casting is clearly the prize for the show as he can make any character come to life, but the rest of the mis-matched crew couldn't be more stock characters than if they had come in a box from central casting. It's early days, of course, and they will develop - we hope.

STARGATE UNIVERSE's desire to be gritty and real is laudable and this opening episode promises great things for the future. Time will see if the promise is honoured.


Air - Part 2

Now that everyone is over the shock of being dumped on an alien ship further from Earth than anyone else has ever been before with no way home, the agenda turns to survival. The first order of business is air, which is rapidly running out, not least through a breach in one of the two shuttles that the ship possesses. The breach can be sealed, but only by someone on the far side of the door and there are no spacesuits available.

When adversity strikes the majority of the human race descend to the lowest kind of self-serving sods that we can imagine, but there will always be those who rise to the occasion and whose sense of heroism and self-sacrifice will be an example to us all. Thatís the moral of the second episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA meets LOST IN SPACE and it bangs it home relentlessly. Suffice to say that thereís not a lot of joy to be going on with here.

The act of self-sacrifice is, though, well handled and comes from an unexpected source.


Air - Part 3

With the only hope of survival lying with finding a source of lime to restart the air purification system, a small team go through the Destinyís stargate to a planet in range. The place is a seemingly endless desert, but there are things there stranger than are dreamed off in Rushís philosophy.

The cast of characters wander around a desert getting annoyed with each other. Itís not much of a premise to hang a science fiction story on, and it proves to be not much of an episode as a result. The swirls of dust that prove to be lifeforms of some kind, capable of inducing an hallucination from Scottís past, are intriguing for a while, but in the end this is just a bunch of grumpy people on a big beach being grumpy. Itís almost as though the writers thought that after two weeks locked up in the small space of the shipís interior that providing an outside location, especially a big one, would be enough. Well it isnít.



The sudden arrival of the refugees has placed a strain on the power reserves of the Destiny, causing the systems to fail until all that is left is the life support. There are rumblings of discord amongst the crew, but the appearance of a planetary system with three possible new homes provide new hope.

Considering the situation that they find themselves in, discord is something that you would expect to set in sooner or later and STARGATE UNIVERSE chooses the sooner route. Everyone, it seems, it at odds with everyone and nobody can agree on the right direction to follow. It doesnít help that the struggle for survival is the only thing going on. There are no clues about the ship, what its purpose is, what its destination might be. An unremittingly dark story is one that is likely to alienate its audience.

The addition of the talking heads to camera gimmick doesnít help anything at all. If this is really the best that the top secret Icarus project could summon up then they really wouldnít be worth saving.



Only one of the planets discovered by Destiny is likely to be able to maintain life and so Young orders a shuttle launch to take 17 survivors and supplies there, leaving the rest to fry as the ship descends into the sun.

Hardly an original story (itís WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE on a small scale), but at least there is some real drama going on in this episode, allowing the actors to do a bit more than simply shout at each other. The lottery of choosing who goes and who stays would have been more affecting had we met more of the survivors so that we might care about them. And weíre not talking about the stupid video diary for posterity idea that is merely a way of filling out the time.

Justin Louisí Colonel Young is starting to emerge as a more rounded character, a competent commander with real skills. When Chloe and Lt Scott get it on itís supposed to be an act of intimacy, but since we donít know or care about them too much it just becomes a pointless bit of soft (or supersoft) core sex. Even Robert Carlyle is struggling to make anything out of his shouty, impatient and arrogant superscientist.

Fortunately, there is dignity as people prepare to die, drama in the shuttle choosing and a resolution that is so obvious that itís hard to believe that anyone on board didnít think of it themselves.



Supplies of water aboard Destiny are disappearing at an alarming rate, certainly a rate that is faster than the survivors can be drinking it. Young and Scott go through the Stargate to an ice planet to mine some drinkable water, but fall foul of a crevasse. On the ship, meanwhile, Johansen and Rush have to try and deal with the alien creatures responsible for the water loss.

First a desert planet in Air Part 3 and now an ice planet. STARGATE UNIVERSE seems to be set to follow the STAR WARS pattern of ice building. Hoth even gets a name check in the script. What next, the forest moon of Endor?

Events on the ice planet are pretty dull until the crevasse falls through, but donít really pick up that much even afterwards.

Events on the ship are far more interesting as the crew try to find a way to deal with mosquito-like aliens (stowaways from the desert planet in Air Part 3) other than just wiping them out. Itís a fairly standard STAR TREK type plot, but it adapts well to the format here.



The authorities on Earth have come up with a risky plan to bring the survivors home. Commander Young isnít too keen on running roughshod over the views of the rest of his people, so he is trapped on Earth in another manís body through the Ancientsí communications stones whilst Colonel Telford tries to force the plan through in Youngís body.

The stones that allow body transfer are a bit of a cop out for the show, which would have been more interesting had it been the survivors working on their own. The story of Young, Eli and Chloe enjoying their Ďholidayí on Earth is about as dull as they come. All three are feeling sorry for themselves one way or another and thatís not a lot of fun to watch. The highlight is when Young and Telford switch back to the their bodies momentarily whilst Young is in the middle of a passionate tryst with his wife.



After Water we wondered if the forest moon of Endor would be the next STAR WARS planet to be visited but we were wrong - it turned out to be the jungle planet of Dagobah. This version, however, is much more inimical with killer diseases and nasty parasite and slugs with lots of teeth.

The fact that the crew are watching events on one of the kinos, the floating cameras, makes this one of those 'point of view' shows that have been so popular since the likes of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT or CLOVERFIELD. It's a gimmick that has been overused (usually with a tv journalist as an excuse), but its natural fit into what has gone before allows it to last longer into the episode before it gets annoying. The sequence where it uses a night mode (a la CLOVERFIELD) in the middle of a desperate gun fight runs out to the be most striking moments that the show has produced to date.

Of course, it's a time travel episode so there's a great big reset button waiting at the end, but viewers who don't know the rules of time travel sci fi shows may be drawn in more by the shock death toll.



Aboard the Destiny, the survivors find a chair that might plug the user directly into the ship, but then again might be and electric chair, so nobody's too keen on trying it out. Several of the crew use the ancient communications stones to visit their loved ones in the bodies of others.

This is absolutely the dullest hour that the show has come up with yet. Some people deal with emotional issues on Earth whilst having a few arguments on the ship in between times? Boring. There is no other word for it. Even the scene where Young and Telford momentarily switch bodies whilst Young is having sex with his wife does nothing more than make us laugh at how ridiculous it is.

If this is the best that can be told about a bunch of people stranded millions of light years from home then it's a very poor showing.



A soldier is found dead and the gun is located in Young's room. He steps down whilst the investigation to clear his name continues, but who could have wanted to frame him.

Definitely a step up from Life, this at least has a story. OK it's not a new or original story, but that doesn't matter. How the survivors deal with law and order is a pertinent question and should have been more interesting than it is, but it could also have been a lot worse.

At least it ends on a development that is definitely unexpected and it will be interesting to see where at least one character goes from here.



Colonel Young has returned with a story about Rush being killed in a rockslide. Half of the crew have their doubts as to whether that's true or not. When he uses the communications stones to report to Earth, he is intercepted and finds himself in an alien body on an alien ship. Then that ship turns up alongside Destiny for real and orders the crew to surrender.

Aliens come to STARGATE UNIVERSE at last and very CGI they are too. At least they are alien enough not to understand english or think like us. They are certainly no less unbelievable than the plot we are supposed to swallow that immediately brings Rush back from his planetary exile and has him escaping from the bowels of an alien ship involved in a military engagement all by himself with no apparent effort. It's all manufactured to resolve the cliffhanger of the midseason break and does not impress, no matter that it is delivered in near documentary drama style.

The resentments amongst the crew are still simmering and there is a revolution brewing. Perhaps now that everyone's back together there will be better things in store.



Civilians aboard the Destiny stage a coup led by Rush, but they are unable to completely take over all the ship's systems, which leads to a stalemate between the two sides. Not something that you want when an alien species is attacking thanks to a homing beacon located inside Rush's chest.

The face-off between the military and civilians and the games that they play with each other looking for the upper hand is the highlight of this episode. The arrival of the aliens and the need to dig the transmitter out of Rush's chest are just side issues. With a failed coup d'etat now between them, it is hard to see how the two sides can possibly work together.



Destiny drops out of faster than light drive around a sun that does not exist in its database. There is an equally impossible planet orbiting the sun, one that doesn't match the age of the star. Taking time to replenish supplies, a team from the ship find that the planet is perfect for sustaining human life and the only sign that not everything is natural is a huge obelisk. Some of the team decide stay when Destiny goes on its way, but Colonel Young has other ideas.

Here's an episode that explains nothing and requires the audience to take it as much on Faith as the characters do. The sun and planet cannot be, and yet they are. Are they artificial? It seems likely. Were they put there for the crew of the Destiny? Who knows. Will the alien owners return and what will be their attitude to the squatters? Perhaps one day we will find out, but for now it is all one delicious mystery that is just left hanging.

It's certainly more interesting than the soap opera relationships and the equally soapy revelation that TJ is pregnant.



Rush is locked into a virtual world based on his guiltiest memories as he tries to hack mentally into Destiny's control system. That he is successfil becomes more urgent when a mission to a nearby planet gets trapped in some ruins with the clock to faster than light jump rapidly running down.

Rush didn't really support his wife as she died of cancer. This isn't a great revelation and since he knows that he's in a simulation it doesn't reallt affect him that much. Since the audience knows that he knows he's in a simulation it's very hard to care.

It's also hard to worry about half the major characters getting left behind since Rush was returned to the ship just a week later.



The team trapped in the tunnels manage to find a way out, but since Destiny is about to leave the galaxy for good, they have a limited time to use the Stargates to find her.

There's a flashback here that is so insultingly stereotyped that it actually manages to be offensive. It's also surplus to requirements since we actually have a story that could carry the running time quite adequately. The race through the Stargates is fun, even if it does have a CGI Rancor-alike of the dodgy kind and as the ship's countdown to the final faster than light jump starts to run out it gets a bit tense as well.

Unfortunately, the cliffhanger of people being left behind as the ship jumps is getting overused to the point of being stale.



The Destiny has gone beyond the galactic rim when one of the faster than light drives explodes, leaving the ship adrift. This allows the stranded officers to get back via the ship's stargate, but also leaves the ship at the mercy of the pursuing aliens. The FTL drive needs to be fixed, but that means bringing aboard the consciousness of a woman with whom Rush has a history, a woman who is normally confined to a full-body wheelchair.

The communication stones that allow a swap of bodies proves once again to be more interesting than the actual plot of the episode. Having Rush's ex-colleague being a paraplegic since she was nine and thus experiencing life fully for the first time and, conversely, a member of the crew being forced to live in her confined body is the kind of thing that science fiction can use to explore all aspects of the human condition. It is a shame, therefore, that the idea is thrown away in a story that is otherwise predictable, static and not very fascinating. When the aliens finally show up to attack the ship, it's hard to summon up any real tension, or even care very much.



Small parasitic ticks picked up on an alien worls send members of the crew in hallucinatory states where their worst fears come true. This leads to a dangerous state of paranoia in Sergeant Greer.

If we cared enough about the characters stranded aboard Destiny then this would have been far more effective than it is. The story is fine, the solution not too complex and the consequences nicely varied, but it is just too hard to care.



Rush has a dream that he takes to be memory seepage from use of the communications stones. Since the memory is of Captain Young's nemesis Telford giving secrets to the people that attacked the Icarus base and got them all stranded on Destiny in the first place, he wants to slip into Telford's body and prove that the dream is the truth. This leaves him in the hands of the bad guys and Telford in the unfriendly hands of the good guys.

Lou Diamond Phillips has cropped up as Telford a few times in the show, most memorably shagging Young's wife during a supposed mind swap, and he has clearly been a pantomime baddie since the start. The actual depth of his badness only becomes clear in this story, which sets up the run into the season finale. Unfortunately, since he has been so obviously a baddie and since he has not been on the screen enough of the time to make a real impact, there really isn't the connection with him to make this impactful in the slightest and bringing back characters from the original STARGATE SG-1 series isn't going to cover over that fact at all.

Also, all the swapping of faces and minds means that anyone coming to the show fresh at this point isn't going to have a clue as to what is going on.


Incursion - Part One

Aided by Rush, the enemy alliance finds a way to dial into the Destiny's stargate and board the ship. Colonel Young fails to expose them all to vaccuum because Rush is with them and a standoff occurs, a standoff that leaves hostages on both sides.

Sieges are, by their very nature, tense situations and rarely fail to riase the drama threshold of any show that uses one. STARGATE UNIVERSE finally comes good in this set up to the big finale as armed insurgents board the ship, there's a firefight, prisoners are taken, people are shot, people get lost and both sides plot to take down the other.

Still, the show might finally have just come of age.


Incursion - Part Two

Aided by Rush, the enemy alliance finds a way to dial into the Destiny's stargate and board the ship. Colonel Young fails to expose them all to vaccuum because Rush is with them and a standoff occurs, a standoff that leaves hostages on both sides.

The tense standoff between opposing forces continues, but a new force has come into play. Destiny is drifting in reach of a double pulsar. Every burst of energy from the binary star system is weakening the shields and unless something is done then everyone on the ship will die. To fix it, someone has to go outside, but before that can happen, the invaders demand that control of the ship be passed over to them.

It's season finale time which means that the show has to either wrap things up nicely or come up with one hell of a cliffhanger. It comes as no surprise that the second option is the choice. Two officers are stranded outside as the energy pulse is coming, Chloe is bleeding out, Telford is shot, the enemy commander is shot, TJ is shot and the rest of the original castaways are about to massacred. If there's a cliffhanger left undangled then we must have missed it.

Of course, since there was never going to be a resolution at the end of this episode it was never goin to be the most satisfying, but it does set up for the return of the show very nicely.







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