EPISODE REVIEW: Stargate Universe: “Deliverance, Part 2” (Season 2, Episode 11)

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The deathwatch begins, each ping of the heart monitor bringing us closer to the last moments of this series. It returns to be burned off with an utter lack of fanfare, Syfy (“The Science Fiction Channel That Doesn’t Really Like Science Fiction”) has given it no promotion. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Scorpius mentioning it yesterday, I wouldn’t have known it was coming up at all. Thanks, Scorpy!

It really just hit me that I’m *never* going to know what would have happened. As with Crusade or Defying Gravity, or Firefly, or even Stargate: Atlantis, I’m just never going to know. Yeah, I know we finally got a conclusion to Firefly, but everyone knows darn well that the resolution we got in the movie definitely wasn’t the one Joss had in mind when he was filming the show. Atlantis didn’t even get that much. They killed the show in its prime, and they wanted to do a DVD to wrap it up, but that never happened, and it probably never will. Heck, they can’t even get their crap together to make SG1 movies, and people actually *like* that show.

With SGU, well, I’m going to have to face the facts: I’ll never know. Certainly it’ll never be filmed. There’s no real incentive for a bankrupt company to invest a ton of money in making a final chapter for a show no one watched in the first place.

Which is a shame, since the fundamental mystery was a great one, the storylines were interesting, if not immediately crowd-pleasers, I loved a couple of the characters, and after a painfully disastrously slow start, it was resolving itself into a really good show.

Stargate itself will doubtless be back in some form someday, probably sooner rather than later, but this storyline will never be resolved in any satisfying fashion. Sure, we might get a “Say, whatever happened to Colonel Young’s group?” line in Stargate:TNG like six years from now, but you know darn well it’ll be a “We don’t know. We lost contact with them, and they were never heard from again. It seems there are things in the universe that man was not meant to tell TV shows about…”

Makes these final ten kinda’ hard to watch, don’t you think?

Anyway:

PLAY BY PLAY

Last time, as you’ll recall, the Destiny ventured off their normal course to investigate some energy readings coming from a vast Sargasso sea in space, littered with the wreckage of thousands of spacecraft. Some of them turned out to be predictably not so dead as was hoped, and attacked the ship. They were saved only by the timely appearance of Colonel Telford and The Seed Ship (A prog-rock band out of North Dakota. They talk the big talk, but mostly they only do covers by The Enid), which saves the day. The aliens - the Ursini - reveal that they’ve been at war with a machine intelligence which wiped out their homeworld and cut them off from their colony. They broker a deal whereby the Destiny will help them fight the robot ships, but, of course, this turns out to be a screw job and our heroes are getting pasted. Chloe busts her way out of her cell and sends a signal out as everyone prepares to die…

THIS TIME OUT

…we find out that she sent a signal to the still-unnamed aliens from the previous galaxy, the ones who were the major antagonist in the first season. It’s her hope that they’ll show up and whup ass on the drone fighters attacking Destiny since they don’t want the ship destroyed any more than the humans aboard it do.

This actually works pretty well. Rush and Eli, meanwhile, figure out a way to shut down the instructions coming from the drone Command ship for a few moments, and they manage to take the thing out with The Big Gun. In the fracas, two of the Unnamed Alien ships were destroyed, and another was crippled. The Ursini, meanwhile, attempted to contact their long lost colony, which, predictably, has been Borgified. So *another* squad of drone fighters and a command ship is coming, and the Destiny is still crippled from the previous two fights, and can’t make repairs before they get there.

Scott, Greer, and Park (who’s kinda’ hubba) take a shuttle out to grab one of the drones from the first command ship, in hopes of figuring out its command language and using it to shut down the incoming ones. En rout back, they’re intercepted by one of the Unnamed Alien ships, who won’t let them pass. They broker a deal: They’ll cure Chloe if the Destiny will hang out and protect them until they’ve made repairs.

Since there’s no way to contain the increasingly dangerous girl anyway, Rush and Young agree, as does she herself. Scott takes her over. The aliens do various implied ookie things involving pokey, prodey things mostly offscreen, and return her. The second command ship turns up and disgorges its fighters, and we end up with the great big battle royal.

The Ursini, realizing they’re the last of their species, and perhaps feeling some guilt for screwing over Destiny, attempt a suicide run, but get blown up. This gives Rush and Eli just enough time to rejigger the cascade alignment on the gravitate thereby allowing the hoosum to make the dingus reprogrammable, whereby the leftover drones from the first command ship come to life and attack those from the second command ship. Stop me if I’m being too technical here.

The Unnamed Alien ship escapes, as does the Destiny.

Chloe reveals to Rush that she can still do hypermath effortlessly, and he reveals that he’s developing something akin to religious faith.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

This was a really well done episode, densely written, well paced, quite energetic, and portions of it were even well lit. Whoda’thunk it?

I think, alas, that this is the kind of cliffhanger that would work better if we hadn’t had to wait six months for it. This isn’t a “Mister Worf, Fire!” did-it-work-or-not kind of thing. This is a much more involved story, and the narrative device that separates it from part one is frankly rather forced in retrospect. In essence there’s almost more story here than two episodes can contain, and the conclusion of part one was just basically a hook to avoid a cold stop. It’s instantly resolved, and we’re back into the story without a break. But since part 1 was so involved, and because so many lingering storylines are resolved in this episode, it’s really a disservice to have this part air so far after the first. In some shows, in some episodes, it wouldn’t matter. Here, tonight, it does.

Odd that the Ursini get a name, but the Unnamed Aliens don’t. The Ursini do not actually appear in any new footage in this episode, presumably as a budgeting move. Rendering aliens is pricey. Telford’s reaction when they die is interesting: not anguish, not anger, not shame, but a very played-down version of something involving all three. He’s a man watching the last dinosaur die, and he knows it.

Telford and Young have sparred in the past, but this time out he falls in line directly behind him with no complaints or problems. Nice to see. Their friendship seemed a bit forced up until now, but there was some nice understated give-and-take here tonight.

Rush is actually nice to Eli, congratulates people for doing a good job (in some cases just to get rid of them), and confesses to having human emotions, at least for Chloe. Camille seems to annoy him still, though, but is there anyone she doesn’t instantly irritate? Badly written character. Young and Rush talk rather than fight, and while Rush isn’t enamored of Young all that much, he has at least come to terms with it. So long as Young believes the mission will get them home, Young and Rush are on the same page, and Rush is willing to line up behind him, just like Telford.

In fact, if I were going to come up with a unifying theme for this episode, it’s “Baby Ducks.” This brings up the thing I really like about this show, and the thing I really hate about the RDM Galactica: The crew of the Destiny change. The Galactica cast didn’t: they started out as dysfunctional, broken, horrible people, and they ended the show as dysfunctional, broken, horrible people. Had they started out as good people who became horrible under their travails, that would have been dramatic. Had they gradually gotten better and more functional, that would likewise have been dramatic. But they didn’t: they were pieces of dog crap in human form when the show started, and they were basically something even worse when it ended.

The crew of the Destiny were every bit as messed up when the show started, and they were dysfunctional for a long time. They’ve still got a lot of issues, but what I find kind of inspiring is that they are, all of them, gradually becoming more than they were. They’re rising to the challenge. They’re beginning to believe in each other, and even themselves. Chloe has gone from a spoiled lush to a paragon of virtue. Young has dispensed with some of his anger, as has Greer, and Greer is increasingly noble. Camille has learned to stay the hell out of the way. Eli is vastly more functional. Scott has learned not to cut and run. They’re building a life and a crew that gradually, by degrees, works.

Yeah, I could have said “It’s all about transitions and growing” but saying it’s all about “Baby Ducks” is more fun.

That said: I think Rush’s faith seems a bit abrupt. Just a bit. The arc was there, I just feel like they fast-forwarded it a bit. Just two episodes ago he was decrying people for believing in the “Message from God.”

The grudging alliance with the Unnamed Aliens was interesting in that it felt ever so slightly like a ‘things to come’ harbinger. We assume they’re bad, and they probably are, but *why* are they bad? Why do they want the ship? What are they planning on doing with it? For all we know, it could be for a benevolent purpose. I have a sneaking hunch that they’d end up in a formal alliance with Destiny if the show continued.

In the “Previously on SGU” montage, they make mention of the impending Lucien attack on earth. Odd choice as there was no reference to that whatsoever in the episode proper.

Backing the shuttle around the drone was cool. The various scenes of technical people on the edge of freaked out was cool as well.

Basically, we end on an uncharacteristically hopeful note. So you just know it’s all going to come crashing down around them next week, right?

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Yeah, I don’t see why not.

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