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18 minutes | Jul 25, 2021
Stargate Universe "Sabotage" Details Analysis & Review
In the Stargate Universe episode "Sabotage" we find Destiny stranded in the void between galaxies. Is it just an engine malfunction, or is it more? An old friend of Rush, Doctor Amanda Perry comes aboard to help with repairs, but that makes somebody on the ship must inhabit her quadriplegic body. This episode examines themes of disability. It also sees the return of our lost crewmembers and the aliens. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven. I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars. And I am a Nerd. This is episode 65 of the podcast. Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode Sabotage. The description on Gateworld reads When problems with the F.T.L. drive threatens to leave Destiny stranded, the crew calls upon an expert from Earth to help -- a quadriplegic woman who temporarily takes over Wray's body. The episode was written by Barbara Marshall It was directed by Peter Deluise And it first aired on the 7th of May 2010. Young is going about his daily activities, but he’s finding it hard. The loss of Scott, Eli and Chloe weighs heavily on him. As well it should. The remaining crew have assembled in the gate room. He explains the situation to the crew. They’re now on strict food and power rations. He tells them that all hope of rescuing Eli, Chloe and Scott is gone. I think they were going to have something of a memorial for them, but Rush calls Young to the control room. It’s rather typical of Rush that he’s not at this gathering. Young pounces on this. Maybe he’s found another option. He dismisses the crew and joins Rush But it’s not good news. Rush knows exactly why Destiny is going into power saving mode. They’re going to come short of their target, in their journey to the next galaxy. Destiny won’t make it across the void. And that’s probably the worst thing they could discover. There’s nothing like the prospect of getting stuck in the void between galaxies to make you appreciate how good you had it being stuck in an alien galaxy surrounded by stars and planets. This raises an important question. Why is Destiny even trying if it’s not going to make it? We’ll find the answer to this in a second, and it’s pretty cold. Destiny just passed through a star so they should be well stocked with power. But as we recall, the first time we re-charged at the start of the season, the ship didn’t fill up all the way.Records show that destiny only just made it the last couple of times it tried to travel from one galaxy to another. And they’ve sustained a lot of battle damage since then. The ship is on a predetermined course. Since they haven’t taken control yet, it’s going to continue following that course. It can drift the last bit of the way and eventually arrive, but the crew will be long dead by then. Brody suggests trying to improve the efficiency of the engine, but Volker sounds a caution. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re not experts on ancient engine technology. Rush admits this, but he says he knows a few people who are. That’s interesting. While the Atlantis expedition did find an ancient warship or two, so those systems could have been studied, nobody back on earth has ever seen the engines used by Destiny. Remember, the ship travels faster than light, but not through hyperspace. It’s a completely different form of propulsion. So the people on Destiny are the only living humans who have ever seen this technology. Rush’s suggestion is Amanda Perry. She was to work on the next generation of hyperdrive technology for Earth. So this engine will still be new to her, but maybe she’ll know a little more about how ancient technology works. She might have the skill to pick up a thing or two. It’s pretty rare that Rush admits that somebody else is more knowledgeable than he is. It does happen, but it’s got to be somebody who has earned his respect. Amanda Perry is one of those people. This is why Rush struggled with Eli so much. He can respect Eli’s mind, but he can’t respect Eli’s lack of education and motivation. But now it’s Rush’s turn to sound a word of caution. Amanda Perry is a qudraplegic. She requires a respirator to keep her alive. She has a full-time carer to look after her. That means whoever swaps bodies with her is going to be in for a rough time. Young assembles a group of female crewmembers, looking for a volunteer to swap bodies with Perry. Have you noticed they always match the sex of the people exchanging bodies? It makes sense to do that, but this scene is confirmation that this is a deliberate choice. This is going to be a difficult assignment. Lieutenant James says she’ll do it, if it means she can see her family. For Amanda, this is a wondrous experience, more so than for most. Not only is she in somebody else’s body, on an alien spaceship in a distant galaxy, she’s able to move her body. She’s free of her disability. And that must be truly wondrous. But for all the wonder Perry is experiencing, James can’t take the horror of her situation. It frightens her so much she pulls the plug. “I’m sorry, Sir,” she says. “I can’t do it.” It’s hard to judge Jamest too harshly for this. Suddenly finding yourself in that kind of situation would be really scary. Not everyone would have what it takes to do it. But then, Amanda Perry never had a choice, did she? She has to live with it every day of her life, and she can’t just pull the plug and return to an able body. Now Camille volunteers. She is immediately introduced to Mary, her carer. Camille only has one thing on her mind. Going home to see Sharon. James is feeling pretty guilty at her failure. She feels she has let Colonel Young down. When Perry walks into the mess hall, she can’t face her. Perry wants to try one of the alien fruits. The ones that look like cherry tomatoes. Unlike most people, she doesn’t spit it out. What she says next is very telling. “This is the first food I’ve been able to feed myself since I was 6.” Sharon has taken some holiday time from work so she can spend time with Camilla while she’s on earth, and help look after her. She’s a little afraid of breaking Camille. Something in the engines explodes and Destiny is thrown out of FTL. I’m a little surprised they didn’t brief Perry on the possibility of the connection being interrupted briefly if they leave FTL. Sure, they weren’t expecting it to happen this time, but you’d think there’d be a standard briefing that everyone always gets when using the stones for the first time. Something is up with James. She was walking through the ship, and then blacked out. She doesn’t remember what happened but when she came to, the engines had failed. Did she have something to do with that? And then we get a surprise. Franklin walks into the medical bay. Awake. He’s a little spaced out, but he’s awake. Sharon is trying her best to adjust to all of this. HAving to care for Camille in such a vulnerable state. Meanwhile, Mary, the professional carer seems to be taking everything about alien spaceships and body-swapping in her stride. I wonder how long she’s had clearance. There’s lots of little things to get used to. Sharon is talking to Camille while she eats, fed by Mary. But the distraction causes her to choke on her food. Camille is worried that this is freaking Sharon out. I wouldn’t blame her if she was a little freaked out. This is when the gate dials.And of course, it’s our missing crew members. They assumed that the crew had found a way to drop out of FTL so they could dial in. They knew they could try again because the kino controller lit up once she ship dropped out of FTL Of course, we know it wasn’t the crew. It was the engine malfunction. In the grand scheme of everything going on in this episode, the return of our lost crewmembers feels almost a little anticlimactic, after that shock ending last time. But they had to get them home somehow, and this all ties in with the threat that will be introduced later in the episode. There’s a cool shot of Destiny floating in intergalactic space, with the galaxy they’ve just left in the background. Of course, for them to be far enough away that they could see the entire galaxy like that, well, they certainly wouldn’t still be in range of the gate. So while it looks cool, it’s very unrealistic. If we hadn’t already figured it out, we find out that Perry and Rush know each other pretty well. They were colleagues at the SGC before he moved to Icarus base. She calls him Nick. They had long talks after Rush’s wife died. I think her friendship was one of the things that helped him through that time. It was nothing romantic. They talked about the ancients, ascension, that kind of stuff. Although it seems she had a thing for him. He didn’t seem to see the chair. She dropped a few hints but he didn’t pick up on them. I don’t blame him. He was still mourning the loss of his wife, and we blokes don’t pick up on subtle hints at the best of times. Eli is surprised when Perry shares this with him. At first, she feels a little offended, assuming he thinks disabled people can’t have feelings. No doubt she’s had to deal with that kind of attitude before. But no. Eli is just surprised that anybody could be interested in a man like Rush. Perry also says she’d give anything to be on Destiny. I think sometimes Eli forgets what a wonder it is to be on the ship. It turns out, the FTL failure was a blessing in disguise. There are a bunch of components that all work in parallel together, but they are constrained by the efficiency of the weakest link. That weakest link was the one that exploded. Therefore, Destiny now should be able to make it to the next galaxy with no problem. That’s very lucky. But there’s still some repair work to be done. They think they can use the robot they found in a recent episode. There’s another option they can fall back on. By sitting in the chair, they might be able to access the core systems and bypass the damaged engine with a single command. That would be easier. The robot looks pretty cool. Like a big metal insect. They’re planning a mission through the gate back to the planet where Scott, Eli and Chloe were. If they can’t repair the ship, that’s where the crew will end up living. It’s not clear exactly what the aim of the mission is. I mean, the lost crew members have been there. They already know what it’s like. They thought they were stranded so they must have done some analysis of its suitability for long-term settlement. TJ wants to go on the mission. She wants to see the planet where she may have to raise her child. They send a kino through to see what’s up before they go through. Eli thinks it’s a waste of time because they were just there. He’s in the middle of saying “you military types are too attached to your procedure.” when they get an image from the planet. It’s our old friends, the blue aliens. They’re shooting at the kino. I guess that procedure wasn’t such a bad thing after all. The good news is that the aliens don’t have a remote so they can’t dial the gates. The bad news is they can’t go through the gate. They have to fix the engines. There’s no other choice now. Three weeks go by. Which means that’s three weeks Camille is stuck in this disabled body. Sharon is afraid to leave her side. But Camille wants her to get out of the house for a little while. But when she takes a long time to come home, Camille panics. And then goes into some kind of convulsion. Franklin might be out of his coma, but he’s definitely not back to normal. He’s not really aware of what’s going on around him. He has to be hand fed. Brody is making grog in a still. Rush introduces Perry to the stuff. It seems pretty potent. It’s going to be hard for Perry to return to her own body. She’s loving being able to walk around. Perry asks Rush outright if he knew how she felt about her. He thought she just felt sorry for him. She invites him into her quarters. This is another of times that we examine that theme of how you treat another person’s body when you’re inhabiting it. This time around things are a little more nuanced. For her, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for her to have a proper physical relationship with someone. She really wants to be with Rush. And he wants it too. But there are complications. He knows that’s Perry in there, but he also knows it’s Camille’s body. I can’t imagine she would approve of her body being used in this way. And as for Rush, he’s recently had to relive the experience of losing his wife. That is still very raw and fresh for him. They’ve basically decided not to do anything. At least they can hug. And that’s when TJ surprises them. You can tell by the way she looks at them that she has concerns. James has been having weird dreams. She thinks she may be responsible for damaging the ship. It seems when she abruptly ended her stone connection at the start of the episode, she didn’t erase her imprint from the stone. One of the blue aliens used their stone to temporarily control her to sabotage the ship. The alien host body was obviously encased in a small dark room, so James wouldn’t know what was going on. Clever. They’ve probably been trying this for some time. Ironically, by doing this, they allowed out missing people to get back to the ship. At this point, everyone has to assume the aliens know Destiny’s position and they are coming. Not good, considering their engine is still undergoing repairs. Camille has recovered from whatever was happening to her. PErry might be coming back to her own body soon, so Camille has to return to an airforce facility. The crew of destiny are preparing for her. They’ll do what they can to protect the ship. It’s time for Young to risk using the chair. That’s when Franklin speaks. Two words. The Chair. The aliens arrive. It’s getting very exciting. James takes a leap of logic that Franklin thinks he should be the one to use the chair. He knows something but can’t communicate it effectively. So now we have a debate about who should sit in the thing. Young or Franklin? In the end, it’s Franklin who goes in. Something new is happening. The temperature in the chair room is dropping rapidly. Franklin tells the others to leave. Just as they’re about to be boarded, the FTL drive powers up and they jump. Good timing. Things are looking good. They’re gonna make it. They’re safe. Sadly for Perry, that means she’s going to have to go home. Camille is very glad to be home. It can’t have been easy for her. It’s now time to see what’s going on with Franklin. But when they open the door, he’s not there. The room is empty, save for some mist. I think we’ll have to wait until season 2 before we find out what’s actually happened to him. ALthough I might be wrong. So this episode was a lot more exciting than I’d remembered. The arrival of Perry, and Camille’s experience in the wheelchair were pretty cemented in my mind, but I’d forgotten this was also the episode where the lost crew returned, and I’d also forgotten the alien involvement. Next week we dive deep into our characters, and let the crew come to terms with some of the stuff they’ve been going through, in the episode Pain. Have you heard that Amazon is offering to buy MGM. That means that Amazon Prime Video could be the likeliest place we’ll see the new Stargate show that Brad Wright is trying to get greenlit. I think Amazon would be a good home for Stargate. At present the only original sci-fi they really have is The Expanse and Star Trek Picard, and they don’t even have Picard in North America. Anyway, there’s still nothing official. If we do get a new show, it’ll be a while before it happens. Thanks again for listening to Nerd Heaven Have a great two weeks Live long and prosper Make it so
19 minutes | Jul 11, 2021
Stargate Universe "Lost" Detailed Analysis & Review
In the Stargate Universe episode "Lost" we follow Eli, Scott, Chloe and Greer as they struggle to find a way back to Destiny before it's out of their reach forever. It also delves into Greer's backstory.
21 minutes | Jun 27, 2021
Stargate Universe "Human" Detailed Analysis & Review
In today's Stargate Universe podcast, we talk about the episode "Human" which features Michael Shanks guest starring as Doctor Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1. Rush is trying to figure out how to unlock the computer on Destiny, in order to control the ship. But to do that, he must relive the most traumatic moment of his life. This episode does some wonderful character exploration and development for Rush. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven. I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is episode 63 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Human.” The description on Gateworld reads Rush uses the neural interface chair to try and access Destiny's systems, causing him to recall the events which led to his recruitment into the Stargate program. This episode was written by Jeff Vlaming It was directed by Robert C Cooper, It guest starred Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson And it first aired on the 23 of april 2010. The first thing we see in this episode is Rush waking up in a very normal human bed next to a woman. This is his wife, Gloria. She goes about making breakfast while he works, listening to classical music. This is clearly an earlier point in his life. Even in his life before being a space traveller he was still a workaholic. He was up very early because he had things to do. But, it seems he found someone who could tolerate his eccentricities. They do some interesting things with the camera during this sequence to show us this isn’t the present, and is likely a dream. Lots of very extreme closeups on things, and they let a whole heap of light into the lens so everything seems a bit over-exposed. These are the kinds of tricks that directors use to show us that “something is off”. I love that first look we get at Rush’s home office. There are pieces of paper covering literally every square centimetre of his walls. It nicely demonstrates his obsession. But what is he obsessing over at this point in his life? We don’t know yet. But he pulls out of an appointment with his wife. He won’t be able to make it today. And it seems that like all true academics, Rush doesn’t just do pure research. He teaches as well. He’s a lecturer. This is very common. When you work at a university, you tend to do both teaching and research. Universities actually have two missions. One, pass on knowledge to the next generation, that’s the mission of every school, but it’s the second mission that sets them apart from a high school or a primary school. They are tasked with generating the knowledge that is passed on. Another woman, Constance, is concerned that he’s not with Gloria. “I thought you’d be worried sick,” she says. “I am,” Rush replies in his deadpan dismissive way. Rush doesn’t like to betray much in the way of emotions, especially the emotions that are sometimes perceived as weakness, such as sorrow. And he’s seeing these symbols floating in front of him wherever he goes. It’s very distracting to him. He’s constantly writing things in a notebook. This is our first hint that we’re not just looking at a flashback from Rush’s past. When Gloria rings him to tell him that ‘it’s” back, I think we can all figure out what she’s referring to. She’s got cancer, but Rush doesn’t seem to care. He acts like she’s telling him what they’re having for dinner. She asks if he’s coming home and he fobs her off like he cares nothing for her. If you’re watching this for the first time then you likely want to punch Rush in the face and tell him to go home and be with his wife. This is our second hint that this isn’t just a flashback. It’s something more. When Rush finally does arrive home, we see what might have attracted him to Gloria in the first place. She’s playing violin. He’s a real sucker for classical music. But he doesn’t even go to her, he just walks off, probaby back to his home office. When we next see him, he’s out and about, noticing something about a car’s number plate. And that’s when a very familiar man comes running across the road. “Doctor Rush, I’m Doctor Daniel Jackson.” “So you are.” Rush doesn’t have time for this. “You’re going to tell me about the Stargate program, and your dilemma of how to dial the ninth and final chevron, namely, how to generate sufficient energy to do so.” Daniel is understandably confused, as we probably are too. “How do you know this? These details are highly classified.” “I know because it’s already happened. You’re just a figment of my imagination. A memory I’m having to relive in order to achieve what I want.” I love Daniel’s face when Rush tells him this and then walks away. How are you supposed to respond when somebody tells you that you don’t exist? That’s when we see Rush in the chair. He’s finally worked up the courage to sit in the thing himself. Brody is there monitoring him, but it seems Young and Eli didn’t know. The chair hasn’t put Rush into a coma-like it did with Franklin, so apparently, he’s learned how to use it safely. He couldn’t risk his own life in it otherwise. So he’s trying to figure something out while in this hallucination state. This explains why he’s being so cold to Gloria. That’s not how it went down originally. The last thing he wants to have to do is re-live what was probably the most painful experience in his life. It’s all a distraction from his goal. Constance behaves like any real person would if she saw Rush ignoring his dying wife like she was a distraction. She’s a part of the dream’s narrative, so she can’t understand what’s really going on here. I understand that none of this is real, so Rush is not actually hurting Gloria’s or anyone else’s feelings. That Gloria doesn’t actually exist. She’s just a piece of his memory. But it still must be really hard for Rush to act the way he’s acting. Back in the real world, Chloe joins Eli in the mess hall. He’s been ignoring her ever since the civilian uprising. Eli feels that Chloe betrayed him so he hasn’t been spending time with her. Let’s see if they can resolve this broken relationship in a more satisfying way than they did the Chloe/Scott relationship. Chloe apologises wholeheartedly. She expresses how much his friendship means to her. She needs to know they’ll be okay. She promises to never betray him again. He’s mostly silent. He doesn’t promise they’re all good, but when the ship drops out of FTL, he does invite her to join him in seeing where they are now. The gate has dialed a planet that has stone ruins of buildings. Cool! This is the first sign of civilisation they’ve found out here, well, other than the obelisk, but that was different. That was something constructed by intelligent beings, but no sign of an actual civilisation. They haven’t detected any life signs on the planet with the Kino. They have 6 hours to check it out. Eli wants to go check it out. Of course he does. Eli jumps in straight away and says she wants to go too. I think she just wants an excuse to spend some time with Eli and try to rebuild their friendship. And credit to Eli, he helps make her case for her, claiming that she’s been studying Doctor Jackson’s work. And apparently, it’s the truth because he tells her to say something archeological and she immediately replies with “Stratification.” It’s an amusing little scene. I think Young is quite amused by their attempts to sway him when they really don’t have to. He has no problem with them going. As usual, I’m much more invested in the Chloe/Eli relationship than I am in the Chloe/Scott relationship. But this time watching through, I’m less concerned with wanting them to be a romantic pairing. I’m just enjoying the friendship that the writers are developing between them. Rush is making good use of his university teaching. Rather than just see his class as a distraction, he’s trying to get them to help him crack the encryption. But they don’t have the answers so he tells them to leave. What use are they? They’re not really people, afterall. That’s when Daniel shows up again. This whole dream is Rush trying to solve the encryption on the ship’s computer, that is keeping them from controlling the ship’s path. We learn that in reality, when Gloria really was dying, Rush became consumed with trying to solve the mystery of the ninth chevron. In the end, his wife died alone because he was away. We begin to see, as we look at Rush’s backstory, why he is the way he is. Rush can be a massive jerk, but he’s been through a lot. These are the things that made him a jerk. There’s a whole lot of hurt and pain behind everything he says and does. We also learn how he really feels about Eli. He’s threatened by this big kid with no meaningful education who spends most of his time playing ridiculous games. It really bothers him that Eli succeeded where he failed. This is all a good reminder to me to think about what’s really going on in people’s lives. It’s easy to dislike somebody because they’re a jerk, but sometimes we need to dig a little deeper and realise that there’s so much more going on inside them. Perhaps a great deal of hurt. I’m not saying past hurts are justification for being a jerk, but often we fail to exercise enough compassion, because we don’t take the time to see what’s really going in people’s lives. Daniel tries to empathise with Rush. He lost his wife too. There was nothing he could do to save Sha’re and that hurt him a lot. This is really interesting. This is absolutely something the real Daniel would say, but this isn’t actually Daniel. He’s just being conjured up by Rush’s mind. That means that Rush must know about Sha’re’s death, because otherwise, the dream wouldn’t be able to include this particular piece of dialog. I imagine Rush has read every SG mission report from both Earth and Atlantis. Rush dismisses this. “My wife isn’t the answer,” he says. The data is coming more slowly from the chair so he has time to process it, but he’s not understanding it. Again, Daniel urges Rush to spend time with his wife. She’s more important than all of this right now. But from Rush’s point of view, she’s not, because she’s not real. And then his nose starts bleeding. That’s TV code for “This process is damaging his body in the real world.” The nosebleed is actually happening in the real world. TJ is doing what she can for him, but there’s only so much she can do. Young is considering pulling the plug, but nobody can speculate on whether that would kill him or not. The away team have arrived on the planet. Eli and Chloe are thrilled. The ruins look kind of greek/roman esque. Gloria has some surprising things to say. “You have work to do. Don’t get distracted by me. There are lots of things you can change, but one thing you can’t change is what happened to me.” Rush is with her because it doesn’t seem to matter where he is as long as he’s working. But she has to remind him that she’s not real. Interestingly, she’s giving the exact opposite advice to Daniel. On the planet, there’s a little debate going on. Eli has investigated the tunnels under the city with the kino, but he and Chloe want to go down there. Scott and Greer can see no practical reason. Eli and Chloe just want to explore. They want the thrill of maybe finding out who lived on this planet. Scott says, “How would that help us?” This actually reminds me of the different ways that Vulcans and humans explore space in Star Trek Enterprise. The Vulcans explore for purely practical reasons, but humans have this emotional need to know what’s out there. Chloe points out the real possibility of finding advanced technology. A lot of advanced races found in the milky way and pegasus galaxies live in what appeared to be primitive stone architecture. In the end, the thing that convinces them is that Eli has lost the kino in the tunnel. They can’t get the footage unless they go down and find it. So apparently, even though the image is relayed to the controller, it doesn’t get stored there. The footage is stored within the Kino itself. There’s an awkward moment when Eli jokes with Greer about being scared to go in the caves. He meant no malice by it, but it turns out Greer is a little claustrophobic. Clearly something happened to him as a kid. Just a little hint into his character, which I believe will be further explored in the future. When you look at a tough-guy like Greer, it’s easy to forget they have weaknesses and flaws just like everyone else. Despite his dismissal of Daniel’s words, and despite Gloria’s own urging, Rush is spending time with her, working in her company. Out for a walk or in the hospital. Gloria was apparently a Christian. She was drawing comfort from her faith during her last days. Rush has no time for religion but he sits with her, working as always, just to be with her. Chloe gets caught in spiderwebs and wants to go back. But Greer spots what can only be described as the giant spider from hell. It’s nasty. And he does what we’ve always wanted to do when seeing a scary spider. He shoots it with a machine gun. Of course this spider is as big as a medium dog, so the machine gun makes sense. The bad news is that the gunfire also collapsed the tunnel, trapping them down there. I’m pretty amused by Scott’s line to Young, “it was a sizable spider, Sir.” Rush has the information he needs from Destiny, but he can’t understand it, and he doesn’t think staying in this dream any longer is going to help. He reaches for the door that will wake him up. But Daniel asks “How’s the wife?” Why is Daniel so insistent on Rush spending time with her. Apparently, today is the day she dies. No wonder Rush doesn’t want to stick around. How could you live through that again? Rush starts to wonder why Daniel keeps saying he should be with Gloria. Daniel says it is the 6th of April, but Gloria didn’t die on the 6th of April. The address of his house is supposed to be 4, but it says 46. He’s been seeing the number 46 everywhere since the dream started. In the real world, Rush has suffered a cardiac event. Staying in this chair is going to kill him eventually. Even Brody is starting to think it might be best to try waking him. The rescue team, Young sent to get the away team out of the tunnels are not going to complete their work in time, but if Rush has figured out the master code to the ship, he might be able to stall the ship going into FTL, to buy them time to complete the rescue, but that means risking Rush’s life to save the others. But then, if they leave him in the dream, he’s going to die eventually anyway. Young faces quite the difficult decision. I’m glad it’s not me. James is gonna try blowing a hole in the roof of the tunnel with C4. It’s risky, but they don’t have time for anything else. The resulting visual of the tunnel collapsing over a wide area tells us all we need to know. James has made it worse. There’s no way they’re gonna get the team out of there now. Scott orders them to abandon the rescue and return to Destiny while they still can. Rush goes to see his wife in the hospital. He doesn’t know what 46 means yet but he assumes being with his wife is important somehow. So now he has to sit here and watch her die. There could be nothing harder in life. Gloria has some hard things to say to him, about the person he’s allowed himself to become. How his loss has made him twisted and bitter. Rush is no longer the man she loved. He’s become calloused. He says that man died with her, but she’s having none of that. “I was never your conscience, Nick.” That’s a cop-out. “I know how much you loved me, stop taking it out on everyone else.” This whole experience is actually a healing one for Rush. He’s had to face some hard truths about himself, about the person he’s become. That’s when he wakes. Young grabs him immediately. “We’ve got five minutes to stop this ship from going into FTL. People’s lives are at stake. But Rush can’t do that. He never did crack the code. Young tells Scott they can’t do anything more. Scott understands and acknowledges. Young tells him not to give up. It’s not over. But the timer runs out and Destiny jumps. So Scott, Greer, Chloe and Eli are stranded on an alien planet. That’s got to be a gut-wrenching realisation for them. Once again, the show is stranding main characters on an alien world with no way to get back to destiny, and no way to make the ship return for them. Rush doesn’t have all the answers, but he does have 46. That’s the number of Chromosomes in human DNA, apparently. Remember the ancients were essentially a previous iteration of humans. Most ancient technology is protected by a special gene which only they had. A select number of humans also have the gene, but Destiny was built much earlier. It doesn’t use that gene. But the ancients still tied the security system in the ship's computer into their genetic code somehow. Now they have a place to start. Perhaps in time, they’ll be able to finally control the ship’s navigation systems. And that’s where we leave the episode. It was good fun to see the return of Daniel Jackson. He was used effectively in this episode. Technically, it wasn’t really Daniel, but we did get some hint of how the real Daniel was involved in recruiting Rush for the Stargate program. And that’s pretty cool. This is a great episode. It does some beautiful exploration of Rush’s character. I love how it impacts him personally. We get a lot more insight into who he is, and why. It’ll be fun to see how he changes over time, if he’ll really take Gloria’s advice to stop taking his pain out on others. And what about those people trapped on the planet. Will we ever see them again? We’ll have to keep watching to find out. Next time, we’ll be looking at the episode Lost, which will deal with what happens to the away team. It should be fun. If you haven’t checked out any of my fiction yet, remember that you can read my prequel story Fall of the HMAS Adelaide for free. It’s a nice little stand-alone story in my Jewel of The Stars universe that details first contact between humans and aliens, and how it went wrong. Just go to adamdavidcollings.com/free to get your copy. Have a great two weeks, live long and prosper. Make it so.
27 minutes | Jun 13, 2021
Stargate Universe "Faith" Detailed Analysis & Review
The Stargate franchise has tackled themes of religion and spirituality in the past, but today's episode might just be one of the best examples. Stargate Universe "Faith" presents us with a massive science fiction mystery. The episode delves into questions of faith and duty. Join me as I dig into this wonderful episode. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven. I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is episode 62 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Faith” The description on gateworld reads The crew finds an idyllic planet when Destiny stops without its countdown clock running, tempting some crew members to stay permanently. It was written by Denis McGrath Directed by William Waring And first aired on the 16th of April 2010 Stargate has been examining questions of religion and faith since the very beginning. From the original movie and into SG1. Atlantis leaned on it less but it was definitely still there. But these shows rarely used subtlety and nuance on the subject, although they did some interesting stuff with the Ori inn seasons 9 and 10. Today’s episode has more of that subtlety and nuance than the Jaffa’s faith in the very obviously false gods, the Goa’huld. When TJ wakes up, she’s got really long hair. And I’m thinking, didnn’t she have short hair up until now? That seems to be the military norm. But when we see her later, I realise that it’s all kind of tied up. So I guess she’s always had long hair. I’m not very observant about these kinds of things. Rush can barely walk, but he turns up in the lab because, in his words, there’s too much work to be done. He’s a workaholic. It’s about the only thing he’s passionate about. No surprise he doesn’t want to take the necessary time to allow his body to recover from his surgery. They’re all working to repair the ship, seal off the breaches in the hull from the alien’s boarding parties. For all his faults, Young is trying, really trying, to get along with Rush and find a way to work with him. Young has always been the more gracious of the two. It’s really hard to know what’s going on in Rush’s head, because he doesn’t betray a lot. I don’t think he cares anything that Young is trying, again, to extend the hand of peace. I think, to Rush, Young is irrelevant. Beneath him. It seems Chloe and Scott are not currently speaking to each other. Which is correct. If this was a 90s show, they would all be back to normal now, resuming their relationship, with no memory of the coup that happened last episode. I’m so glad that TV moved to a more serialised medium. Although, as we’ll see later, they’ll still resolved their relationship a lot quicker and easier than I think they should have. Scott is trying to make an effort to follow Young’s orders regarding the civilians. Greer doesn’t like it, at all. TJ doesn’t seem keen either, but she may have bigger problems. Scott thinks she looks sick. The ship drops out of FTL in empty space, and the gate isn’t dialing. That’s a first. Young says there are no planets, no stars. He says this based on the records in the computer, but those looking out the window can see there is clearly a star out there. It would seem that Destiny’s records are out of date. The seed ships are supposed to relay information back to Destiny about the various star systems. The star is a yellow dwarf, just like our sun. Destiny didn’t stop on purpose, it didn’t know the star was here. The gravity well interfered with the ship’s FTL flight and caused it to drop out prematurely. Destiny has already plotted a parabolic course around the star so it can resume its course. It’ll take a few weeks, but here’s the exciting part. There’s a planet. Just one. Same size as earth and by all accounts a perfect paradise. They can’t gate to the planet but it’s within shuttle range. They usually only have about a day to investigate a planet, but in this case they have weeks. This is a big mystery. According to scans, the planet is a few hundred millions of years old. So why didn’t the seed ship see it and drop a stargate on it? The seed ships aren’t that far ahead of Destiny. Even weirder, they think that given the age of the star, the planet should be a ball of molten rock. The planet does look beautiful. Like Canada, in the truest tradition of SG1, but it still looks a little different, because of the way they shoot it. Greer is an idiot. He finds a fruit that looks exactly like a kiwi. He takes a big bite rather than waiting for a scientific analysis to determine whether it’s poisonous. Anyway, this is the first alien food they’ve found that actually tastes good. And there’s fresh water down there too. But Scott sounds a little word of caution. They haven’t detected any animals, especially dangerous ones, but who knows what comes out at night. This is a nice subtle callback to Time, where the nice jungle planet became a living hell at night because of the creatures that emerged. I like the big connective story arcs in shows like this, but I also appreciate these little subtle moments that you might not even catch if you’re not paying attention. The first season of Farscape did a lot of this kind of thing and I know people appreciated that. This planet is wonderful. They’re all feeling it. TJ especially. It reminds her of childhood camping trips. Scott has to practically drag her away when it’s time to return to the ship with their findings. And this is when things get really interesting. They’re flying over the mountains and they spot an obelisk. Bit tall stone thing, not quite Egyptian, but very eye-catching. Who could have put it there? It’s just sitting there in the middle of the wilderness. 600 metres tall, which is about 2,000 feet, with a faint EM field. There are markings in an alien language. Rush doesn’t think it’s the same aliens they’ve been encountering over the last few episodes. Because those aliens don’t seem to have the technology to build this. Not the obelisk, the planet. Rush thinks the planet was artificially constructed by someone. Eli immediately mentions the Genesis device, which is awesome. I share his frustration that nobody seems to pick up on that Star Trek reference, but honestly, the first thing that popped into my head was Slartibartfast and the Magratheans who created planets in the universe of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy. Rush says the planet, and the star, were placed here after the seed ships passed by. He doesn't actually explain his reasoning, other than the fact that there’s no stargate and it’s not in the records. There could be other explanations. But assuming he’s right, for a race to have created this star and planet, they would be more advanced than any race ever encountered in the Stargate universe, more advanced than the Goa'uld, the Asgard, even the Ancients. One of the things I like science fiction for, is the sense of wonder, the sense of awe. And this episode really delivers on that. Clearly, this planet bears deeper investigation, but they’re almost out of shuttle range. Rush suggests sending a team down now and then picking them back in a month when Destiny loops back around on the other side, on it’s way out of the system. That’s a risk, of course, because there could be aliens down there we haven’t seen yet, but oh man, it’s compelling. And the food and medicine alone makes it worth the risk. Surprisingly, it’s Eli who argues against this. At first, that might seem odd. He’s the geek, just like us. He loves science fiction. His imagination would be just as captivated as mine is, but facing real aliens is a whole different thing to watching them on TV or reading about them in books. Eli has less experience with aliens than anyone else on this ship. He didn’t even know about the Stargate program until the day he left Earth. The history of the show so far has shown us that Eli has reacted with understandable fear in the face of their few aliens encounters so far. So he’s actually being very consistent with his established character right now. Camille would like to go down but she’s not sure about Rush’s calculations. She asks TJ “can he be trusted?” and TJ’s reply is “You tell me.” I think this is a bit of a dig at Camille for her involvement in the civilian uprising with Rush. We get a nice reminder that Franklin is still in the medical bay in a coma, following his encounter with the alien chair device a few episodes back. Nice to know they’re not forgotten that thread. As a writer you need to drop these little things just re-assure readers when you stretch out a plot element like this. I’m actually doing a similar thing in my Jewel of The Stars books. I have a character who was injured in book 1 and is in a long-term coma over a number of books. You gotta remind the reader that you haven’t forgotten about them from time to time. Chloe is going down to the planet, and so is Scott. That could be awkward, but at least they say a few words to each other. Eli is remaining on Destiny, really not happy about people going down there. Tensions are still pretty high. The military are very much running the show on this mission, but there’s some real resentment. One officer tells a civilian to dig a hole for the toilet. He refuses. Greer is kind of amused but annoyed that the officer made the civilian do this dirty job. So he makes them do it together. In his own Greer way, this is him trying to live the new spirit of cooperation as ordered. Chloe has also noticed that TJ doesn’t look well. Given how little they get to eat on Destiny it’s no wonder they’re all not sick. Camille asks Eli what he thinks about the planet. Is it really possible to make a star? Eli says the star appeared out of nowhere. And the planet’s age doesn’t line up with what it should be. From his perspective, the most logical explanation he can see is that it was created by some all powerful alien force. And I find that very interesting. Evidence of extra-natural creation, if not supernatural creation. And then Scott has a chat with Caine down on the planet. He appreciates that Scott is one of the few military that seem to really mean it when they say they want to mend fences, and now they’ve been given the perfect opportunity to work it all out. Time to really think and talk, and work together. Through unbelievable circumstances. How can this be anything other than a miracle, he asks. And I agree. Now you can debate the source of this miracle as long as you like, but I don’t think anyone down on that planet could really argue that the word miracle doesn’t apply here. This leads to a bunch of the people down on the planet discussing issues of a spiritual nature. Is there such a thing as fate? Is there a God with a plan? TJ is holding her personal cards pretty close to her chest. Chloe seems to be leaning slightly toward the spiritual side of the argument, rather than the naturalistic view of the random scientist guy. There are a couple of amusing scenes in this episode where Brody and Park are trying to repair the second shuttle, remember, the one Senator Armstrong died in. Whenever Young asks for an update, Brody says “Oh, it’s going terrible,” and at the same moment, Park says “It’s going great.” These scenes get a good chuckle out of me. And I totally get it. I see these extremes in my own work as a software developer. You see, Brody is looking at the big picture. There are so many things that don’t work, so many problems yet to be solved. Whereas Park is celebrating their most recent success. The can make the shuttle move left. Brilliant. That’s a significant step. You see, developing a software product, or repairing an alien shuttle, is a project that needs to be broken down into steps. My computer science teacher used to ask the question “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer, “One bite at a time.” Whenever I’m feeling like Brody, I’m trying to solve the big picture all at once. I’m looking at the sheer number of issues still to be solved. But I’m forgetting to focus on the individual parts of the problem. I need to break it down and solve them one by one. Anyway, It’ll certainly be handy to have two shuttles instead of just one when it’s time to get the people and supplies back up. Scott and Chloe seem to be talking again. Things seem to improve after Scott catches her swimming naked in a lake. Because, you know, sexy feelings are all it takes to overcome differences apparently. If I’d been writing this show, I’d have had their relationship end after the coup. Probably permanently. I could maybe have them get back together eventually, but definitely not just after one episode. But the worst crime here is that their relationship challenges all get solved off camera. We see Chloe coyly skinny dipping while Scott stares lwedly at her, and then, the next scene, they’re all back to normal. Deep Space Nine did this once with Odo and Kira. I wasn’t impressed that time, either. I think one reason the writers may have fast-tracked this reconciliation is that they needed Chloe and Scott to be willing to stay on the planet, or return to Destiny, for each other. Their relationship needed to be fixed so that we could believe they’d both be willing to make their respective sacrifice. This is when we learn that TJ is pregnant. 15 weeks. Just before she arrived in Icarus apparently. It seems pretty obvious that Young is the father. There’s those inconvenient consequences again. One of the reasons they wrote this particular plot arc is that Alaina Huffman who played TJ was pregnant in real life. I worked out pretty well, though, because the writers were already toying with the idea of having a pregnancy, figuring it would be interesting to see a character have to struggle with the idea of raising a child on destiny and all the extra complications that would bring. Anyway, TJ was kind of the perfect character to use for the poregnancy story, because it was already established that she’d had a prior relationship with Young, and this whole thing only complicate’s Young’s situation with his wife further. It was pretty common for TV writers to have to find creative ways to deal with actor pregnancy. It happened on Star Trek a lot. There’s a reason Doctor Crusher and B'elanna Torres suddenly started wearing big flowing coats over their uniforms, although they did write B’elanna’s pregnancy as a holodeck simulation into one episode. In DS9, they had a bit more fun with it, transferring the maby of Miles and Keiko O’Brien into Kira’s body due to a medical emergency after a runabout accident. Rush is exploring new parts of the ship while they’re not in FTL and he’s found some kind of big device that James describes as a robot. That’s interesting. Chloe admits to Scott that she’s starting to see things Caine’s way. Somebody put this planet here for a reason, maybe for them. Be it, God, or an alien of some kind. Maybe there is some higher power in the universe that knew the crew of Destiny needed help. And that’s when they notice the obelisk is shooting a bright light into the sky. More and more interesting. Sadly, it’s about time to start preparing to return to Destiny. They’ve gathered a lot of food But from Volker’s point of view, this is really bad timing. The obelisk has just started doing stuff. He wants more time to study it. I totally understand that, but they're on a deadline here. They can’t control Destiny’s movements so they have no choice but to get back on board when it goes past or be left behind forever. Rush is feeling that same sadness. He doesn’t need to be down on the planet experiencing it like Volker, but he hungers for answers just as much as anyone else. TJ is thinking of staying on the planet. A few others are as well, but TJ is determined. Caine thinks anyone capable of creating this solar system could certainly help them get back home. Greer and Scott assume such aliens would be hostile. Chloe, and Canine seem to assume the opposite. In reality, neither really has any evidence to know one way or the other. They can’t possibly know what the aliens would be like. Caine says “This planet was created for us. We were led here for a reason.” He says it so emphatically. Now, I’m a person of faith. I don’t try to hide that. But faith has to be anchored in something. A collection of scriptures, somebody’s teachings, eyewitness accounts of something miraculous. In order to have faith, you need something to put faith in. So they have hard evidence of what can only be assumed to be miraculous. A level of technology so far beyond what we can understand that the word miraculous would seem to apply. But he’s making a whole lot of assumptions. They have no data on who or what created this planet. They have no idea why the planet was created. This is why Rush is so depressed, because they’re about to leave this system without the answers to those questions. We don’t know if the aliens even know that destiny and its crew exist. But Caine is convinced he knows why the planet was made, who it was made for, and that it is part of a larger plan that involves the humans. But he has absolutely nothing to base that on. So it’s hard to even call what he’s exercising faith. It’s actually closer to imagination. He’s just making stuff up. So while Caine is putting all his hope on the return of the aliens, TJ is okay with them never returning. This planet has food and water. The winters get cold there, well below freezing. Okay. I live in Tasmania. We get below freezing in winter, but I’ve been watching some videos from my favourite travel vloggers recently. They’ve been staying at Yellowstone National Park. And that place gets way colder than we ever get in Tassie. They’ll need much better shelter, but there are plenty of trees to cut down. And that’s when TJ finally tells Scott she’s pregnant. That’s why she can’t go back to the ship. She doesn’t want to have her baby on Destiny. What kind of a life would that be? When Scott finally makes contact with Young, as Destiny draws close, he tells him there are 11 people that want to stay behind. Caine and TJ we know. Chloe wants to stay as well, and so does Scott. He says he feels an obligation to help the people survive down there, but I think he probably wants to stay because of Chloe. And this is where we have to face the question of personal rights versus responsibility to the group. TJ is their medic. She’s the closest thing they have to a doctor. Nobody else comes close. If she stays on the planet then the crew have no medical care at all. Does she have the right to deny them that? Do they have the right to deny her a change to raise her child on the planet? I think in the case of TJ and Scott, they do have an obligation to follow orders. They’re military personnel. They have a duty to their commanding officer. But then, TJ technically finished her tour of duty. She was gonna head back to earth before they ended up on this ship. So how does that fit into it? Hard questions. So now we have Camille and Rush offering different perspectives. Camille feels the people have the right to choose whether to return or not. Rush believes that Young should round them up at gunpoint and force them back on board for the good of the crew. Young says not all of them have the right to choose, which brings us back to the duty of the military people. Scott hasn’t told Young about TJ’s pregnancy. That’s her job. Scott knows about their prior relationship, but apparently not anyone else on the ship does. Young has made his decision. He is gonna let some of them stay, and he’s giving them the second shuttle. The damaged one. He flies it down himself, which is quite a risk. The shuttle may not do them much good, as it may never be able to be fully repaired. But it does make it down in one piece. Rush is pretty furious. They may need that shuttle some day, not to mention the people. I was surprised to see Greer as on who wanted to remain behind. Young gives his ultimatum. Either all military personnel return to the ship, and he’ll leave the shuttle for the rest of them. Or, he’ll take everyone back on board by force. So with great pain, TJ agrees to return. She doesn’t mention the baby. Scott is the last holdout but he returns as well, and so does Chloe. Young tells Rush he’s sorry he didn’t get his wish. Aliens smart enough to build a solar system. Finally someone Rush can have a decent conversation with. That got a laugh out of me. Scott asks Young a very important question. “What if that planet was a lifeline and we just let it go?” And despite Caine having no evidence for his assertions about the aliens wanting to help us all, it is an important question. That planet was perfectly suited to human habitation. It was right there when they needed it. It’s very possible that somebody did put it there for them. Are they foolish to have left it behind? In the end, there was one reason why Young argued for staying on Destiny. Because he believes it’s still the best chance to get home. And without anything to corroborate Caine’s theories, he’s right. But maybe building a new life on that planet is a valid alternative to trying to get home. They could live the rest of their lives there. It might be a better life than forever clinging to the faint hope that they could get home. Star Trek Voyager addressed this question in the episode The 37s. Not a bad episode, but I think this one explores the question more deeply. In Voyager, nobody chose to stay, but I think they had more reason to hope they’d make it back to earth in their lifetime than the crew of Destiny do. The episode closes with the contrast of Young everyone else smiling and laughing as they have their first good meal in a very very long time, while TJ sits alone in the medical bay with tears streaming down her face. Yeah, I really feel for her. I don’t know why she didn’t just tell Young about the baby. She can’t keep it secret forever, and it might have been enough to change his mind. There seems to have been no advantage to keeping quiet. I really like this episode. The created planet is one of those great science fiction concepts that inspire the imagination, and it raised some thought-provoking questions about faith and duty. If this had been a Star Trek original series episode, they would have solved the mystery. They’d have found out who made the planet, and why. And that is certainly a valid story to tell. And it would still have had a sense of wonder to it. But Stargate Universe doesn’t do that. It leaves us in the dark, setting things up to be further explored in the future. Stargate Universe is playing the long game. And I love that. What really sucks is that the show didn’t continue long enough to give us more answers and explore it all deeper. It’s looking like there’s a strong chance we’ll eventually get a new Stargate Show, and I know Brad Wright has plans to address the fate of Destiny. I can only hope that we learn more about this mysterious planet and whoever created it. And that those answers are satisfying. That’s always the danger with these big set ups. It can be hard to pay them off satisfactorily. But there you have it. Faith. I’m remembering how much I enjoyed the second half of this season. Next week, we’ll be looking at an episode called Human. It’ll take us on a deep dive into Rush’s backstory, which is cool, and we may even see a familiar face. I can’t wait to talk about it with you all. Please consider giving Nerd Heaven a review wherever you listen to podcasts, and spread the word to anyone who might be interested. Thank you again for listening to the show. It means a lot to me. Have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
18 minutes | May 31, 2021
Stargate Universe "Divided" Detailed Analysis& Review
The show has been building toward this for a few episodes, but here it is. We're facing a civil war between the civilians and the military on board Destiny. and if that wasn't bad enough, those aliens we met last episode are still out there and will certainly be trying to find us again. There's lots of think about in this episode of Stargate Universe. Let's dive into it together. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is episode 61 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Divided.” The description on gateworld reads Colonel Young's opponents launch a coup to take control of the ship, pitting the military against civilians. This episode was written by Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie It was directed by Felix Enrique Alcala And it first aired on the 4th of September 2010. Chloe is wandering the ship at night. She is clearly still trying to come to terms with her abduction last episode. That’s totally believable. It’s the kind of thing that would give you nightmares, if you could even fall asleep at all. The frightening images accompanied by the heavy rocks music is a very effective combination. So she is managing to get to sleep, but she has nightmares every single time. Scott wants to help her, but honestly doesn’t know how. So instead she ends up in the mess hall with Rush. He’s the one person who can at least understand what she’s going through. These two seem to be bonding over their shared experience. Remember back at the beginning of season 1? Chloe hated Rush because she blamed him for the death of her father. They’ve both come to the conclusion that the aliens will find them again. They’re not safe. We get a solution to the big mystery from last episode. Why did the communication stones connect Young to the alien ship? Young’s theory is that when he first opened the box in episode 1, Rush took one of the communication stones for himself. Some kind of insurance policy. He had it on his person, and so when the aliens took him on board their ship, they touched it, and that’s why the system connected Young to one of them, instead of a human back on Earth. Rush doesn’t confirm or deny it. I think we can safely assume that Young’s theory is correct. Rush is more interested in how the aliens found us in the first place. He’s been having flashes since his experience, much like Chloe is. He’s convinced the aliens have put a tracking device on Destiny’s hull. That they’ve been tracking the ship long before humans showed up on it. Destiny is something of an obsession for them. I can understand that. This mysterious advanced ship without a crew flying through space. Imagine how they must have felt when the humans suddenly appeared on the ship, which could even be a holy relic to them. Destiny will be out of FTL for several hours so this is the perfect time to search the hull. The hole cut by the boarding aliens provides a very convenient exit route for the Kino. Greer has a frank conversation with Young. He doesn’t know who put the gun in Young’s quarters, but he has strong suspicions, and he still thinks the ship is better off without Rush. He’s willing to stand with Young if anything goes down. Young doesn’t say anything. This kind of conflict is the last thing he wants. While Eli is searching with the Kino, Rush is mysteriously showing an ancient research lab to Camille. “Do we have to do it now?” she asks. “We’ll never have a better time,” Rush answers. It’s clear Rush is up to more than he’s let on to Young. He tells Camille to get her people in position. The Kino has found an alien shuttle mounted to Destiny’s hull. That’s how they’ve been tracking the ship. It’s been there since before the humans arrived. Young and Scott go out in a shuttle to destroy it. Brody is in on this thing too. He’s a little shocked when TJ enters the lab. He does a very clumsy job of trying to explain the call to her. The tension builds nicely as the ominous music plays. Young’s shuttle won’t lock to the ship. Eli is locked out of the computer so he can’t help. This is a big problem for Young because if the shuttle’s not locked down when they go to FLT, it won’t be enveloped by the bubble. Worst case scenario, they get left behind. The more likely scenario, the shuttle gets vaporised. It’s pretty clear at this point that Chloe is either involved or at least knows something about it. Young orders Greer to find Rush. Chloe tells Rush to stop whatever he’s doing. Apparently, the inability for the shuttle to dock wasn’t part of the plan, and she doesn’t want Scott to die. Eli is in a really sticky situation. Rush admits that he’s in the process of taking control of the computer system away from Eli. Eli can’t stop that, but his efforts are delaying the process. Right now, nobody has control, so nobody can save the shuttle. If Eli stops his efforts, Rush promises to lock the clamps down once he has control. But Young orders Eli not to listen to Rush, but to keep trying to wrest control back. What a situation! I’m so glad I’m not in Eli’s shoes right now. Even putting aside the question of who he should side with, it’s hard to know what to do. If he keeps trying, there’s no guarantee he’ll succeed. But if he gives up control to Rush, there’s no guarantee Rush will keep up his end of the bargain. Eli is stuck right in the middle of the power struggle. So who is going to blink first? Chloe and Camille, who are on Rush’s side, want him to shut it down and release control back to Eli. That will put an end to everything they’re trying to do. In order for Young and Scott to live, somebody is going to have to relinquish control. In the end, Rush is the one to give up. Eli engages the clamps and saves Young and Scott. So what we have here is basically a civilian uprising against the military forces on the ship. Brody hasn’t been able to do what he’s supposed to do because TJ, who is military, is in the room. Camille has taken control of the ship and locked most of the military out of key areas. A couple of people are stuck on the wrong side of the wall, including TJ and a no-name soldier. Eli is on the military side, although he knew nothing of this uprising. Camilla says Young’s actions have given her no choice. TJ outranks the soldier. As she says, “Well, we’re not gonna go and shoot everyone, so put the gun down.” Young assumes this is just a personal thing between him and Rush, but this is so much bigger than that. Almost all the civilians on the ship are in on this. The civilians have all the food and water supplies, but since Rush released control prematurely, the military side have control over life support. Poor Eli is stuck in the middle as usual. “Am I the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on here?” he asks. From Eli’s perspective, he can’t understand why people can’t just get along. The civilians have about 3 days of air in reserve. The military would have to go that long without water. It’s a standoff. They trade some food and water for Eli. Young agrees to this because there’s another way into the other side. Eli is shocked that Chloe is going along with this. Chloe’s position is that Rush was an inconvenience, so Rush left him alone to die. Young has admitted this was a mistake. He shouldn’t have done it. But that doesn’t take away the consequences. You see, that’s what I love about serialised shows like Stargate Universe. Consequences. Consequences in fiction are fantastic. Camille has an interesting point. In every civilised society in the world, the military answers to a civilian government. If you view Destiny as a small community of people then technically, what we have right now is a military dictatorship. So where do you sit on all of this? I’m honestly interested in your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment on youTube, or podbean, or tweet me at @adamcollings I’ve always been torn, watching this episode. On one hand, I’m very much a follow the rules and do what’s right kinda guy. So the idea of revolting against the leadership of any community, be it a ship, a state, a country, goes against every grain that is in me. On the other hand, I am a civilian myself, so I kinda feel some sympathy for the civilians on the ship. I’ve never liked the way the military throw their weight around in the second half of this episode. I understand why they do it, but it makes them feel kinda like bullies. If I were in Eli’s position, stuck in the middle between these two sides, I don’t know what I’d do. I’d just be really mad, as I think he is, at both sides for letting things come to this. Rush is wanting to get as much power as he can to direct into the shields. He says we’re gonna need it. Two of the military personnel are walking in spacesuits on the hull in an effort to covertly enter the civilian part of the ship. And that’s when the aliens show up again. That’s why Rush wants the shields. The alien shuttle was only one tracking device. There’s another surgically implanted in Young’s chest. That’s awkward. Rush knows a lot more about the situation with the aliens than he’s let on. For a long time, the aliens have been attacking destiny, trying to get on board. The ship’s automated defences stop them, and they give up for a while. They’re attacking now because they’re hoping the human crew will make a mistake. Rush believes that if they can keep the shields up long enough to jump away, the aliens will give up their pursuit. It seems logical, but it’s by no means certain. Young and Greer have made it into the other side of the ship. TJ also makes a good point. This isn’t just about listening to others points of view. The minute the civilians took over the ship, they made it war, and that’s what the military are good at. They’ll re-take the ship. Guaranteed. And she’s right. Young isn’t going to listen to anything they have to say, not now. Oh, he’ll be willing to have discussions once this is resolved, but as long as the civilians are rising up against them, he has only one goal. Put them down. There has always been an uneasiness between civilians and military in the Stargate world. Senator Kensey spent years trying to wrest control of the Stargate from the US Air Force. Then there’s the whole IOA thing. They were constantly trying to interfere with the Atlantis expedition. But it’s never come to a head quite like this. So while all of this is happening, the aliens are now shooting at Destiny. Greer has opened up the door to allow Scott and the others into the civilian side. Scott says “use force if you have to, but remember, we still have to live with these people tomorrow.” That’s smart. There’s an awkward moment when Scott walks inn and rescues TJ. Chloe doesn’t put up any resistance. How can she? She and Scott just kinda look at each other, two lovers on opposite sides of this conflict. The scene where Greer and the other soldiers burst into the room yelling, pointing guns and knocking people to the floor, that kinda makes me angry. I’m not necessarily saying they’re in the wrong, I just don’t like the way they go in throwing their weight around. They have the strength, so what they say goes. It feels very much like Bully kinda behaviour. I think that attitude is why a lot of the civilians on the ship are feeling very upset about the whole situation. But they’re soldiers. This is what they do. You don’t try to out soldier a bunch of soldiers and think they won’t put you down. Young has arrived in the control room, and, of course, he and Rush disagree on how best to handle the situation with the aliens. Rush believes the best option is to keep the shields up. We’ve already talked about his plan. Young disagrees. I wonder how much of his disagreement is solely because it’s Rush saying it? He comes seriously close to shooting Rush. If Scott hadn’t turned up, he might have actually done it. But that would hardly help his reputation around here. Eli tells Young about the transmitter in Rush’s chest. So they’re gonna use the stones to bring in a qualified surgeon from Earth. She’s in Chloe’s body. TJ has used some of the venom from the aliens back in the episode time, to knock Rush out. It’s the closest thing they have to anaesthetic. Gotta use what you can, right? The surgeon is a little taken-aback by the makeshift nature of everything. A surgical camera made from a modified Kino, alien drugs. She obviously has clearance, so probably works for the SGC, but even so, back on Earth, under Cheyenne Mountain, they have all the normal human conveniences. Eli thinks Rush is right about his tactic, but the shields don’t have enough power. They won’t hold long enough. Young wants to shoot back but that’ll just drain the power faster. The doctor found the implant, which is gonna be hard to remove, and then they lose the connection. Poor Chloe finds herself there with her hands figuratively in Rush’s chest. And even worse, Rush wakes up mid-operation because the alien venom is an untried anaesthetic. They manage to knock him out with another dose, and TJ has no choice but to take over. She removes the tracking device from Rush’s chest. The tracker is gone, but the aliens are still firing at them. The timer runs out and they jump. Finally free of the aliens. I like how in the midst of all this, all the conflicts between the military and civilians were set aside. They worked together to stay alive. But now they have to address what happens next. Greer is worried about guarding them all, but Young says it’s over. Once again, Young admits to Camille that he knows he shouldn’t have left Rush behind. I really like this moment, the way Young says “You think I don’t know that.” This is why I love Young. He owns up to his mistakes and he tries to be better. The episode closes with the acknowledgement that it’s not really over. Learning to move forward and work together after this is going to be tough. I love how this episode pits groups of people against each other, both with legitimate points of view. In the end, I don’t think we’re really supposed to root for one side or the other. We’re just supposed to lament how badly things have broken down. This is great drama. Clearly, Young has some things he has to address. Rush is a troublemaker, and even Camilla can be problematic, but if even people like Chloe, Brody and Volker were willing to go along with this, then the civilian population of the ship have some legitimate grievances, which Young is gonna have to work through. But the way the civilians went about it was wrong. They should have talked. And questions of ethics aside, trying to take over the ship from military personnel was doomed to failure right from the start. Very interesting times. Let’s see how this continues to unfold as the story progresses. Next week, we introduce a whole new plot element which will become important, in the episode “Faith”. I’m looking forward to revisiting it with you. I recently sent an email out to my list explaining that the publication of my next Jewel of The Stars book is on hold indefinitely because of my family’s current financial situation. I’d had to use all my publication savings just to survive while we went through a period of only one income. But thanks to my birthday, and the generosity of my family, things are looking a little better. So I feel like I’m getting back on track. I can’t wait to share book 3 with my readers. Don’t forget, if you haven’t checked out Jewel of The Stars yet, you can get it anywhere you buy ebooks for just 99 cents, or in paperback from places like Amazon and Book Depository. Have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
7 minutes | May 12, 2021
Stargate Timekeepers Announcement Reaction
This is my reaction to the announcement trailer for Stargate Timekeepers, a real-time strategy PC game in development by Slitherine.
22 minutes | May 2, 2021
Stargate Universe "Justice" Detailed Analysis & Review
Today's episode is a turning point in the first season of Stargate Universe. It starts out as a murder mystery. Who killed Spencer? But it quickly becomes something much bigger. There are conspiracies taking place on board Destiny, and various camps are vying for control of the ship. I've really enjoyed the show up until now, but this is where things start getting even more interesting. Join me as we dig deep into "Justice". ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is the 59th episode of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Justice”., The description on gateworld reads Colonel Young cedes command of the ship after he is implicated in the murder of a crew member. This episode was WRITTEN BY: Alan McCullough It was DIRECTED BY: William Waring And it first aired on the 4th of December 2009 One of the biggest adjustments the crew of Destiny are going to have to make, being so far from home, is eating alien food. They managed to find some vegetables on a planet that are chemically safe. But it all comes down to the all-important taste test. These plants were never meant to be eaten by humans. So there’s no reason to believe they will be in any way palatable to us. It’s just lucky that they’re not poisonous, and they contain nutrients that will keep us alive. Greer is the first to try it. Everyone looks on with baited breath as he puts the first bite in his mouth. His verdict, “That is one sweet potato.” But of course, when everyone else tries they nearly vomit. Greer is a tough-guy military type. He’s got the self control to hold back his revulsion and pretend it was good. Not an easy feat, I would imagine. He makes a good point, thought. It will keep them alive. And that’s when they notice that Spender is supposed to be on kitchen duty. He’s late for his shift. Ah, our old friends Spencer. A jerk, no doubt about it, but he’s been facing some very real mental health difficulties lately. He’s not coping with being stranded here in a distant galaxy. Things have been coming to a head with him for a number of episodes. So what’s he up to now? Turns out, he’s not up to anything. He’s very dead. Mercifully, we’re not shown anything close up, but from the blood spatters it looks like it was a gun to the head. Just before Young gets the call from Greer, he’s talking with Camille. She feels Young is pushing people too hard with their training. After all, this isn’t boot camp. Young agrees. This isn’t boot camp. At boot camp, you have plenty of chances to learn from your mistakes. Camille is making the point that he should be going easier on people than he would if they were going through boot camp. Young’s position is that he should be even harder, because out here, one mistake could kill you, and maybe everyone else as well. TJ believes it was suicide, which definately fits. He was depressed and unstable. This leads to a debate about whether he should have had access to a gun. Young’s position is that he was a trained soldier. It was required of him to carry a gun. But I imagine a soldier with the emotional troubles he had anywhere on earth would be put on medical leave and have no access to a weapon. But out here, do they have that luxury? Or do they need every able body to do their job? Personally, I tend to think that Spencer should have been taken off duty, at least until a military situation that required him to act came up. But all this becomes moot when Greer says it wasn’t suicide. There’s no gun in the room. Whoever shot him took the weapon. The thought that somebody on this ship could be a murderer is a truly shocking idea. One that is hard for Young and Eli to wrap their heads around. Rush points out that he had no friends. Nobody liked him. He was involved in a bunch of confrontations and he was hoarding water and food. Nailing down just one person with sufficient motive could be a challenge. A bunch of people were playing cards together at the time. They can all corroborate each other’s whereabouts. Young has no alibi because he was asleep in his quarters. So he’s turning the investigation over to Scott, who was one of the card players. Most science fiction shows do a murder mystery story at one point. Whenever you do a story like this you need to decide which character will play the role of the detective. On shows like Star Trek and Babylon 5 it tends to be the security chief. They’re considered the police officer of the ship or station. Stargate Universe doesn’t really have that role. But given the circumstances, Scott seems the logical option. I do like the sci-fi mystery story. Mystery is one of those genres that blends nicely with basically any other genre in existence. It’s like salt, it adds to and enhances the flavour of everything else. And personally, the mysteries I enjoy most are those that are mixed with sci-fi, or fantasy, or a historical setting. Taking the typical cozy mystery tropes and putting them in a place or time where you’d not expect to see them. I eat that stuff up. The primary focus is on finding the missing murder weapon. To that end, Scott is going to methodically search every room on the ship, starting with quarters. Most people want to be present when their quarters are searched, demonstrating the immediate lack of trust that everyone is feeling. This whole thing has them all shaken. Camille thinks Greer should be the primary suspect. He was the one who found the body. He’s the one who claims the gun was nowhere in sight. But there’s really no evidence that points to Greer at present. Scott counters by saying Greer is one of the few people that can be eliminated from suspicion, but he doesn’t give any basis for that statement either. Rush has completely disregarded the instruction for everyone to remain in the gateroom until their quarters have been searched. He’s in the control room uncovering interesting new things about their chair device. He makes the extraordinary statement “Obviously, colonel, neither you or I have anything to do with all this. I thought this would be an opportunity to still get some work done.” At this point, I’d have to say that Rush has painted a big “suspect” sign on his back. Young makes a point of not needing to be present when they search his room. He’s trying to show people that he trusts Scott and Eli to do their job. And that’s when Eli finds the gun hidden behind a grate in Young’s quarters. Scott is ready to say they found the gun in a storage locker. He has absolute confidence that Young is being framed. Eli is uncomfortable with this. I would be too. I’m not saying I’d believe Young was guilty, it seems pretty obvious that somebody is trying to undermine his authority, but I’d be uncomfortable about subverting the proper process of law. Whatever that means on this starship millions of lightyears from home. In the end, Young agrees with Eli. They have to be above board with this. He orders them to give the gun to Camille and tell her the whole truth. This also takes Scott out of the investigation. He can’t be expected to investigate his immediate superior officer. So wray is now in charge of the investigation. Young wants everything above board and out in the open. That may be the best way to uncover what is really going on. Camille has talked to her IOA superiors and they have told her to hold a hearing. Young is going to have to defend himself, and he expects Camille to come after him. The IOA want one of their own in charge, and this is their best shot. They basically pulled this same thing with Atlantis a number a few years earlier. The city started with civilian leadership under Elizabeth Weir, but after she was lost to them, Colonel Carter took over. But after one year, she went on to captain the starship Hammond, and the IOA finally got one of their own in charge. Richard Woolsey, famously portrayed by Robert Picardo from Star Trek Voyager. There seems to be this really uneasy peace between the IOA and the US military. Remember last episode, Camille’s boss told her to create her own camp to try to wrestle control of Destiny from Young and Rush. Anyway, all this to say that Young needs a lawyer. He picks Chloe. And I agreed with his choice. She;s the obvious candidate. She studied political science at Harvard, and while I’m sure there’s a sizable gap between that and law, this trial is mostly politics anyway. He doesn’t want Scott to do it because then it will look like the military vs the civilians. I don’t blame Chloe for being hesitant about this. She isn’t close to being qualified for this, but Young is right. She’s his best hope. So now the episode changes from a mystery to a legal show. The first witness Camille goes after is Franklin, who saw Young hold Spencer up against the wall last episode. Of course, he was defending Franklin at the time. As Franklin says, Spencer was out of control. Interestingly, Young leaves the hearing during this exchange. I guess there’s no rule that says he has to be present. Volker and Rush remember a conversation where Young implied he might have to take drastic action in regards to Spencer, if things didn’t improve. But he didn’t explain what drastic action meant. Rush is very interesting in how he answers the questions. He lays out exactly what he thinks Camille is trying to imply. That they’re all better off without Spencer and Young might have come to the same conclusion. He says that would be pure speculation and he’s having none of it, but as Eli says, that didn’t stop him from saying it out loud. Remember this moment. But let me ask you that question. Are the people on board Density better off without Spencer? From a purely practical point of view, maybe they are. He was a disruptive influence who caused nothing but problems. But he was a human being. And as such, his life had incalculable value. So, in my opinion, no. they cannot be considered better off without him. He was one of their own, who was an unbelievable jerk, but he was suffering and struggling, and he needed help. And now he’s dead. And we finally get confirmation that the tablets Spencer was taking were sleeping tablets. He may have been addicted, which could lead to suicidal tendencies. Poor TJ wishes she’d known. She might have been able to help him. This is a good reminder to all of us that we should be checking to see that our friends are okay if we see anything that concerns us. But Chloe reminds us all of something that’s been conveniently pushed aside and forgotten. Other than the missing gun, all other evidence points to Spencer’s death being suicide. TJ confirmed this earlier. Camille gets a bit touchy when she realises that Chloe is taking her job seriously. It’s like she expects Chloe to just roll over and play along with her because they’re both civilians, and obviously, Young is the bad guy here. In Camille’s mind, what she’s trying to do is get to the truth because they can’t afford to have an unsolved murder. Maybe that’s her job. But Chloe’s job is to represent her client to the best of her ability. Personally, I think Camille is a bit out of line here. Camille wants to gather all the evidence and then have everybody on board cast their vote for innocence or guilt. Greer is ready to storm the hearing and end it by force. Many of the other military are with him, but Scott and Young talk them down. In the end, none of it is necessary. Young and Camilla have an agreement. She’ll call an end to the hearing for lack of evidence, and he’ll stand down as leader. She’ll be taking over now. So the IOA have what they wanted. One of their own in charge of the ship. Rush is looking very cheerful when he goes to offer his congratulations to Camille on her new position. He says he wants control over his science team, but is happy to report to her. And then, the very next shot, the door opens on the ancient chair device. So suddenly, Rush has the authority to put someone in the chair. That’s what he wanted all along. He has his whole team meeting him there. He’s trying to convince them that this chair, as an earlier version, is likely to be safer than the one that almost killed O’Neill. But I love how Eli points out that the 1.0 version is usually the buggiest. He stops short of asking for a volunteer, but he’s put it out there. Scott isn’t happy about any of this. As far as he is concerned, Young is still his commanding officer. Young comments that he won’t rule this ship by force. If the people don’t have confidence in him, he’s not going to throw his weight around and lay down the law with his gun. In the end, Franklin is the one to take the plunge in the chair. He sends Eli off to get him some food and then sits in it. It really doesn’t look healthy. It drills holes into your head. Franklin was convulsing until they removed him from the chair and now he’s in a coma. Things get pretty headed between Young, Rush and Camille. Scott’s had enough. He wants Eli to find evidence in the kino records of who is framing Young. It’s at this point when Destiny drops out of FTL. They’ve got a gate connection to a planet. A team goes through to explore. Volker, and a couple of no-names. And they spot a crashed spaceship! Rush is excited. I would be too. This is the first sign of intelligence life they’ve found in this galaxy since they arrived on Destiny. But before he can get to the gate room. Young grabs him. Eli has found something. It’s a suicide note, recorded on a kino. The footage was deleted from the computer, but Eli had a backup for his documentary. So not only does that prove Young’s innocence, it means that Spencer took his own life. And that’s terrible. Camille wants to recall the off-world team while they re-assess their situation but Rush argues. The alien ship is too important. They have to learn what they can before time runs out. And Young agrees. I would too. As Rush says, “this mess isn’t going anywhere.” And this is their one and only opportunity to check out the ship. Young’s going too. And I think he knows exactly why. The ship is not ancient, which means it’s from a completely new species. Young sends the rest of the team back to the gate. Rush is still geeking out over the ship when Young says “I know it was you.” There was one thing he never told Rush. The kino kept recording until Rush entered Spencer’s room. He heard the shot and found the weapon. In his mind, he wasn’t really framing Young for murder. He knew there wouldn’t be enough evidence for that. The aim was to create just enough doubt to force him to step aside. “You’re the wrong man for the job, Colonel,” he says. “You don’t believe in the mission. You stepped down because you couldn’t make the hard calls. That makes you a liability.” Rush says he isn’t proud of what he did, but he did it for the good of everyone on board. So there you have it. Young has sometimes doubted whether he’s good enough to be leading this expedition, but lead it he has. But Rush outright believes he’s not up for the task, so much that he did this. But let’s think about this. When I first started this re-watch, I was of the opinion that Young was not a good leader, but I respected him because he wanted to be better. He wanted to become a good leader. To be worthy of his position. But going back through the show, I’ve become convinced that Young is actually a pretty good leader. He’s a good military officer. Young has failings, some serious ones, but those are failings as a person, not as an officer. His failings are emotional and moral. He sometimes lacks maturity and good sense in his personal life, but he’s made some good calls as leader of this expedition. As much as I like watching the character of Rush, I can’t agree with him. He’s wrong about Young. And it’s looking like he might have been wrong about the chair too. So far, Young’s concerns are proving to be justified. So Young punches Rush a few times and they get into a fist fight. Obviously Young is gonna win this. When he thinks Rush has had enough, he asks “Are we done?” And Rush says, “We’ll never be done.” At that moment, Young really has little choice, does he. He knocks Rush out and leaves him there on the planet. To die alone. With no hope of ever getting back once they leave the system. Young emerges from the gate and tells the others that Rush didn’t make it. Now he’s playing Rush’s game. He’s lying. Can you believe this? This is really full on. We have the two main leads of the show. The stars. The heroes you might even say. And they’re so at odds that one frames the other, and then the other abandons the first on a planet. This kind of thing was still pretty rare on TV at the time. Babylon 5 came close to this kind of conflict between the characters. Farscape as well. I was blown away the first time I saw this episode. And I was wondering, had Rush been written out? Was this the last we’d see of him? But let’s think about what Young has done. He’d probably tell you he left Rush behind for the good of the crew. Did Rush represent a danger for the crew? Or did he just represent a danger to Young? I think Rush’s tendency to put his own selfish needs ahead of everyone else represents at least the potential for danger to the entire crew. But the primary threat he represented was to Young himself. Ultimately, it was that statement “We’ll never be done,” that made Young believe he had no other choice. But the big question is, can Destiny cope without Rush? He’s a very smart person and he knows more about ancient technology than anyone else. Eli is also extremely smart, but he doesn’t have the knowledge of the ancients that Rush does. By leaving behind one of their most brilliant minds, Young is taking a huge risk. Next time they encounter something that only Rush could have gotten themselves out of, he may regret his decision here. Camille informs the crew of the new evidence and returns command to Young. Young wants a copy of the footage that incriminates Rush, and then wants Eli to delete it from everywhere else. Eli just gives him this look. I think Eli knows, or at least suspects, that Rush didn’t die in an accident on the way back to the gate. Our lost shot is of Rush waking up at night time, looking up into the sky. A lone human on a planet. An entire solar system. Nobody has ever been as alone as Rush is in this moment. Stargate Universe started really strong for me, with that 3-part pilot. And it continued along well enough. But this episode here, this was when I knew the show was going to continue to be really good. The creators had made something special. The story continues to go into some interesting places in the coming episodes. But amongst all this interesting stuff with Young and Rush and the mysterious alien shuttle, let’s not forget Spencer. He died. He took his life because he saw no hope and he didn’t think anybody could help him. Suicide is a truly tragic thing. If you’re feeling at all like Spencer, read out to someone who can help. You can call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14. In America, you can call the national suicide prevention lifeline on 800 273 8255 There are services like this in other countries too. They’re contact details are just a google search away. Next week, we’ll talk about the episode Space. Until then, Live long and prosper. Make it so.
19 minutes | Apr 18, 2021
Stargate Universe "Life" Detailed Analysis & Review
In the latest episode of our Stargate Universe Rewatch Podcast, we take a look at the first season episode "Life". This is very much a character-driven episode. We explore elements of character with Scott and Camille as they return to earth via the communication stones. The conflict between Young and Telford intensifies, and Rush makes a startling discovery. That's right, the chair device makes its first appearance in Stargate Universe. This episode is of note because it features no great threat to the crew. In fact, the lack of any great danger is what finally gives the crew time to reflect on their situation. And that causes its own problems. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is episode 58 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Life” But before we do, I want to acknowledge the tragic passing of Cliff Simon, who played the Goa’uld System Lord Ba’al in Stargate SG-1. From my perspective, this was just announced yesterday, but you won’t be listening to this until the 19th of April, just over a month away. He died in a kiteboarding accident. In addition to being an actor, he was also quite an athlete. He was only 58 years old. My heart goes out to his wife, his family, all those who loved him. Today’s episode of Stargate is called “Life.” The description on gateworld reads Lt. Scott and Camille visit their loved ones using the communication stones, leading Colonel Young to a discovery about Telford's activities. On the Destiny, Rush discovers technology he believes may be able to get them home. The episode was WRITTEN BY: Carl Binder It was DIRECTED BY: Alex Chapple And it first aired on the 20th of November 2009 The episode opens with an unconventional choice of music for a sci-fi show. It’s a country-kinda sounding tune. The line that clearly stands out in the lyrics is “It’s been the worst day since yesterday.” That’s kinda thematic to the episode, and the show as a whole. This song is by a band named Flogging Molly. The characters are starting to come to terms with the fact that this is their life now. They’re on this ship and they’re not leaving any time soon. This is how it’s gonna be. It’s not what any of them wanted (except maybe Rush) but they can’t change it . They just have to try to find a way to get through each day. To find the positives. To make a life for themselves. So we’re starting to see activities taking place. A bunch of them are exercising together, while Chloe exercises alone. And then, of course, there are those who have managed to hook up with someone. You can have a relationship with somebody no matter where you are. That actually reminds me of Tom and B'elanna in Star Trek Voyager. They found happiness. They were married and even had a child. In late season 7, Harry asks Tom “Don’t you want to get home?” And Tom replies “I am home, Harry.” These Doctor Park and Greer are not at that stage. She seems to just be using the activity as a stress-relief, although I think it means more to Greer. But I can definitely see how building a more committed relationship and family would change your perspective on the place where you are. Spencer is in his quarters. I don’t think he’s still confined. He’s taking the last tablet of some kind of medication. Not sure what it is, but I imagine it’s important. Let’s hope he doesn’t rely on it to stay alive for his sake. Telford is still obsessed with stone duty, so that he can get back on board Destiny, but when O’Neill orders him to take a break, he calls up Young’s wife. They’re having dinner together, but it seems he’s being himself at the moment, not pretending to be Young. He says he feels an obligation to tell her something about her husband. Young wants everybody on the ship in shape. And that makes sense. They don’t know what dangers they’ll face in the future. Physical fitness isn’t everything, but if you’ve got it, it’s one less disadvantage you have in a situation. Eli isn’t overly keen to take part. IT seems he’s less enthusiastic about losing weight than the actor who plays him. Young also wants TJ to do psych evaluations on everybody on board. And again, that makes very good sense. With all the stress they’re under, the hardship of being stranded so far from home, nobody is going to be in peak mental health. Some could be really struggling. Spencer seems to be one of them. Perhaps the pills he was taking were antidepressants or sleeping pills. Rush has opened a new section of the ship and is exploring it. Eli can’t help him explore because working on a secret mission for Young. Rush is amused by this. From his perspective, Eli isn’t military, and therefore doesn’t have to do what Young tells him. Eli still sees Young as the leader of this community. The question of who is running this ship, and who should be, will come up again. We’re building toward something. Anyway, the mission Eli is doing is research to see if there is any hope that Telford’s plan to get Destiny home might work. So far nothing. Rush and Greer make a significant discovery. It’s a chair. Looks like a dentist chair, but if you are at all familiar with SG1 or Atlantis, you’ll recognise it as an ancient control chair. Back on Earth and on Atlantis, the ancients created these chairs to operate a very powerful weapon that fired drones. These drones can rip through a Goa'uld or Wraith ship like it’s paper. But only somebody with the ancient gene can use it. The ancients all carried this gene, and a few modern day humans carry it as well. It was a security feature so the weapons couldn’t be used by their enemies. Doctor Carson Beckett developed a gene-therapy that could give this gene to any human. But with a little research, Rush believes this chair is actually closer to the ancient repository of knowledge that got downloaded into Jack’s mind back in The Fifth Race. He calls it a neural interface. This is a precursor to the device SG-1 found. Within the knowledge contained in this chair could be the master code for this ship’s systems. Young immediately recognises the danger the chair represents. The ancient repository almost killed Jack. It would have if he hadn’t found his way to the Asgard galaxy so they could remove the knowledge.Rush can study the chair, but nobody sits in it. Rush thinks the effects will likely be less severe. The only way to know for certain is if somebody sits in it. Of course, he’s not willing to volunteer to do it himself. Because he’s Rush. He’s too important in his own mind. This should be no surprise to anyone who knows Rush. He’s a coward at heart, but is perfectly happy for other people to risk themselves on his behalf. It is probably his worst quality. Greer is almost ready to sit in it now if there’s a chance it’ll help them find a way home. But Young is adamant. Rush needs to prove it can be used safely, and that it can do something useful to them. This chair will be an important element in the ongoing story so it’s pretty exciting to see its first appearance. Lieutenant Scottt and Camille Wray are both using the stones to visit their families. This is the one break that the crew get from the drudgery of life on the ship. Well, that and exploratory missions through the gate. Telford is back on duty again because Scott has swapped bodies with him. He’s eager for some of Eli’s test results. He has people back on earth that want to help with the plan. But Young doesn’t trust Telford any more than he trusts Rush. Camille has a quick debrief with her IOA superior before heading home. She explains how Rush and Young are at odds, but right now Young seems to be winning. He has control of the ship and crew. She’s stuck between them and not sure which is the better camp to join. Her superior makes an interesting suggestion. Why don’t you start your own camp? Again, this is sowing the seed of something interesting to come. This episode is doing quite a lot of set-up for the future, which is really cool. Scott has received an unexpected letter. Remember back in the pilot, the flashback of a teenage Scott confessing his sins to the priest that raised him. He’d gotten a girl pregnant and she wasn’t planning to keep the baby. Well, she’s made contact with him, but she doesn’t have clearance to know about the Stargate program, so he has to use a cover story. Camille on the other hand, has gone home to see her partner Sharon, who apparently has just been told about it all. She’s skeptical at first, but Camille speaks to her in, what I assume is mandarin, asking if she’s thrown out the ugly chair yet. I’m not sure the exact rules they use to determine who can have clearance, but it makes sense that somebody’s next of kin would be informed, whereas an acquaintance from a long time ago would not. Every now and then we cut back to TJ doing psych evaluations on the crew. Like the kino interviews back in Darkness and Light, these scenes give us little flashes of insight into the various characters. Of course Rush isn’t willing to participate. Greer seems to have a real sore-spot where it comes to his father. This will be explored deeper in a later episode. Again, nice foreshadowing. Brody thinks somebody should be allowed to sit in the chair if they volunteer. Franklin thinks it’s politics. Young is resisting at first, so if the chair works, he gets the credit, but if it fails, Rush gets the blame. Brody and Franklin seem to be feeling a bit of kinship with Rush at the moment. All scientists together against the overbearing military colonel. There’s a lot more subtle foreshadowing of things to come happening here than I remembered from previous viewings. Camille is enjoying the simple missing pleasures of life, such as a hot water shower, and catching up with Sharon, enjoying time together. She makes the interesting observation that food doesn’t taste quite right in someone else’s body. She has an emotional moment when she realises that she’s forgotten the rowboat in a picture that hangs on their wall. She’s been trying to recreate the image back on Destiny, but she’d completely forgotten the rowboat. This is a very uncomfortable reminder of just how far she is from home most of the time, and it causes her to break down. It’s a pretty moving scene. When it’s time for Camilla to go back, Sharon has some encouraging words for her, and promises she’ll be here waiting when she makes it back to earth. But when Camille leaves, all the bravado drops. I think the big theme here is that life may be hard for those stranded on the Destiny, but it’s also hard for their loved ones back on earth. Originally, Camille wasn’t going to see her parents. They don’t have clearance, so what’s the point. In the end, at Sharon’s suggestion, she visits them briefly and tells them Camille is okay. At least she gets to see them. Meanwhile Scott has found a child, all alone, at his old girlfriend, Annie’s house. It’s been hours and no sign of Annie. Scott’s military chaperone is ready to call child services. Then finally, she arrives home. Scott pretends to be Telford. He tells Annie that Scott is away on a mission. She invites him in. And then he hears her call her son Matthew. She confirms that the boy is Scott’s son. She couldn’t end the pregnancy. This must be a moment full of many conflicting emotions for Scott. I mean, I remember the moments when my wife told me she was pregnant. It was a huge mis of excitement, anticipation, and fear. For Scott, there’s the added complications of relief, that she kept their son, but also anger, that she didn’t tell him he was a father. It’s the anger that finds expression. And Annie is understandably taken aback. “Why didn’t you tell him?” He demands. Not the way a co-worker would usually react. But they get talking. It turns out life as a single mum is pretty hard for Annie, especially since her own mother died. She works as a dancer, and by that, I assume she means stripper. Scott is horrified. Annie had planned to go to college and become a lawyer. But those dreams never happened. So Scott organises to have her financially supported so she can quit her job and go to college. But she says she’s happy with her job. She doesn’t see herself as a lawyer anymore. This is really hard for Scott to hear. He wants to save her from the life she’s living, of course he does. But I guess she doesn’t want that help. She’d be glad to receive some financial assistance, but I guess she feels it’s not Scott’s place to come in and dictate what she should be doing with her life after all this time. Rush has made a discovery in the computer. He’s managed to contact one of the seed ships that went ahead of Destiny to place stargates on planets. He now has information on thousands of stargates out there. One in particular is interesting. It’s a planet with naturally occurring naquadrian. Apparently that’s what made icarus base able to generate enough power to dial the 9-chevron address. Naquadrian is a rare mineral, even more powerful than naquada, which the stargates are made out of. It’s very very rare. There’s only one other planet in the universe known to have had naquadrian at one time. Jonas Quin’s planet. Of course, there are problems. The planet is a year away, and they’ll need to learn how to steer the ship and take the ship into orbit. Not to mention, how to use the mineral to dial the gate. I think it’s pretty obvious that Rush has been looking for just this. Not this specifically, but something he can use as leverage to convince Young to let someone sit in the chair. This is a strong case, but it’s not enough to convince Young. He says the chair is still off-limits and Rush has a year to figure out the master code for the ship. Young wins another round. Most people react to the news positively. There’s a way home, even if it is a year away. But Spencer freaks out. He can’t manage a whole nother year. He nearly kills Brody when they collide in the hallway. Things are not looking good for that guy. Scott has a dream of sitting and talking with Young’s wife. He knows it's her because he met her once. Young theorises it’s a residual memory from Telford. There’s no proof, of course, but Young now suspects that Telford is hanging out with his wife. Young takes the next opportunity to use the stones and follow Telford to his house to confront him. His wife claims Telford never pretended to be Young, and that they never slept together. That may be true. Unless he only told her who he really was some of the time. She says he’s a friend supporting her through all this weirdness. You’ve got to admit, though, it’s a little weird. Telford’s biggest crime here seems to be that he’s told Young’s wife that Young is still involved with TJ, which is a lie. While I don’t doubt the wife here, I have no illusions that Telford’s motives are pure in any way. Some of Stargate Universe’s detractors have said the show spent too much time focusing on character drama instead of science fiction. I don’t feel that way, I never have. I appreciate all the character stuff the show puts into episodes like this, and SGU is very much a science fiction show in the truest sense of the word, but I do have to admit that this particular storyline is getting a little soap-opera-ish. None of these three are behaving like mature adults. And now the truth comes out. Rush lied. The whole thing about an icarus type planet was fake. He planted it in the computer. It was all a ploy to get someone in the chair. Rush justifies it as a way to give people hope, but we all know the reason he did it. Eventually, Young tells Rush, if you want to go sit in that chair yourself be my guest. And Rush shows his true colours. He’s not willing to risk it on himself. He wants to risk somebody else. As Young says, “That’s what I thought.” The episode closes out with a repeat of that same song from the beginning. It’s been the worst day since yesterday. After everything, they’re all still in that same situation. Nothing has gotten better. There’s been new heartaches, but also a few glimmers of hope, such as the plant that one of them has finally managed to get to germinate. In the end, they still just have to pick themselves up each morning and carry on. This episode has a bit of a depressing tone. But that doesn’t bother me. It’s a day in the life kind of episode for the characters on this ship, and right now, life is pretty hard for all of them. They’ll have good days and bad days, but lately, there’s been a lot of bad ones. But there is still hope. There is always hope. Next time, we’ll be looking at the episode Justice. Things are really starting to heat up with the arc of season 1 at this point. Some of the things that were set up in life are going to pay off in a big way next time. Especially in regards to the Rush / Young relationship. I look forward to talking about it. Please consider leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts, and spread the world about Nerd Heaven to anyone you think might enjoy it. Have a great two weeks, and I’ll see you next time. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
24 minutes | Apr 4, 2021
Stargate Universe "Time" Detailed Analysis & Review
In the latest episode of our Stargate Universe Rewatch, we check in with "Time". This is Stargate Universe's first time travel episode, and one of the best of the franchise. Part found-footage episode, part deep character piece, part monster horror. This episode combines a number of genres and does them all justice. This is one of my favourite episodes. Listen to find out why. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is episode 57 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode Time. The description on Gateworld reads A team from Destiny arrives on a jungle planet, where they find a kino with footage of themselves they haven't shot yet. This episode was written by Robert C Cooper It was also directed by Robert C Cooper And it first aired on the 13th of November 2009. Much like Star Trek, Stargate has not always handled time-travel consistently. The rules have changed from episode to episode. There’s three main theories of time travel that fiction generally uses. One is that there is only one timeline, but you can go back and change things, re-writing history. This is the type that was used in the first Back to The Future. It’s the way most of us grew up thinking about time-travel. Then there’s the closed loop kind of idea, where you can’t change the past as such, because if you go back and do something, the consequences of whatever you did would already have been seen and experienced before you left. This is the type of time-travel I’m using in my fiction. And then there’s the more modern idea, popularised by the Star Trek 2009 movie and Avengers Endgame, and often used in Stargate Atlantis. This is where an incursion back into the past creates a new timeline. There’s two main ways to travel through time in the stargate universe. The first is when a stargate wormhole intercepts a solar flair. That can cause the wormhole to loop back to the same gate, but at a different point in time. This was first discovered in the SG-1 episode 1969. The other way to time travel is by using technology. The ancients spent a lot of time researching time travel, trying to go back and prevent a cataclysm that wiped them out, those that didn’t ascend, of course. But their experiments were unsuccessful. All they did was create a groundhog day machine. So they gave up. But one of their scientists eventually figured it out, and built a time machine into a puddle jumper. Because, you know, Delorians hadn’t been invented yet. This episode introduces time travel into SGU for the first time. When they launched Destiny, the ancients had not yet cracked the secret of time travel, so as you’ll see, this episode makes use of the solar flare idea. The episode opens with keno footage of a large team emerging from the stargate. The keno appears to be damaged as the image fritzes a little. They’re in a lush jungle. So far, we’ve yet to see the typical Canadian forest planet that became almost a meme on SG-1. But then, they manage to avoid doing that constantly on Atlantis as well. This planet was actually shot on a soundstage. This is certainly a big group. A whole lot of scientists. It’s like they’re doing a planetary survey. I mean, they might as well. They can’t get off this ship, but it does give them a chance to stretch their legs from time to time, and most of them did sign on to be explorers, of a sort. Who could resist the lure of an alien planet. It actually makes a lot of sense that they’d send a bunch of people. Everyone would be clamouring for some fresh air, I imagine. Even Chloe has come to this planet. And again, it makes sense for those who aren’t scientists or explorers to begin learning new skills. There’s not much call for political science on board Destiny, so Chloe would be wanting to make herself useful. Apparently, it’s very hot there. Suddenly this planet sounds less appealing. I really struggle with the heat, and we’ve had some really hot days around here lately. This actually gives the feeling of a found footage episode. The entire episode isn’t kino footage, but a good chunk of it is. It’s a bold move, given they always portray Kino footage as having all these artifacts on the edges of the screen. And that’s kinda weird when you think about it. I mean, I get why they do it. It’s common to degrade the image in some way to make it clear to the audience when they’re watching a recording. But the kinos were invented by the ancients. They could construct an interstellar starship, and stargates, but they can’t make a camera that records a decent image? Of course, the kinos are millions of years old, so maybe they’ve degraded a bit over time. And there’s an important production reason for this. Because this is all kino footage, it meant they had to do a lot of big long takes. That can obviously be more challenging for actors. The occasional fritz of the kino allows them to do a subtle cut to a different take occasionally. They found a bunch of alien vegetables on this planet. Eli is keen to try them out to see if they might be edible. But he does it in a very un-scientific way. He just takes a bit and is gonna try another. But if he reacts, they won’t know which one it was. This does raise an interesting question, though. How do you test whether a plant is safe for human consumption other than having a human try it? Are there tests you can do in a lab? Possibly. I mean, you can probably test for known poisons, but are they equipped for that? In the end, the best way might just be for have everyone try a different vegetable and see who reacts. It’s pretty risky. But I guess that’s how humans figured out what was poisonous in the old days. But Voker is sick. He threw up recently. He hasn’t eaten anything, and then he passes out. Several others pass out too. Chloe is starting to get affected too. The natural inclination in this situation is to want to gate straight back to destiny, but TJ is a little smarter than that. She raises the important fact that if they return to the ship, they might be taking whatever this is back with them. IF it’s a virus, they could infect the rest of the crew. They’ve got 36 hours before Destiny jumps away. That’s over a day, so they get a reasonably generous timer. After the title card, we’re still watching Kino footage. At this point, first-time viewers are probably expecting the entire episode will be found footage. We get an interesting little exchange between Rush and TJ regarding the way she’s using the medicines. One theory is that they’re suffering from something similar to bacterial meningitis. By the time she confirms this, if she hadn’t already given them antibiotics, it could be too late, so she’s injected people just in case, based on what Rush describes as a hunch. He has a valid point that she could be wasting their antibiotics. They have a limited supply. Once they’re gone, that’s it. They can’t get more from earth. But as TJ rightly points out, it’s her call. And she’s following her instincts in her attempt to save lives. I can see both sides of this argument, but isn’t it just so like Rush to be the one to employ cold-hearted pragmatism here. He’s definitely a man without much compassion for others. The limited medicines are a serious concern, though. They’ll be wanting to find plants that might have medicinal properties on these planets. Eventually, they’ll have to try to make their own drugs or go back to a medieval level of medicine. And that’s scary. They’ve found some tree stumps spewing some kind of smoke. Could that be the cause? Maybe. And then it’s night time, and it's raining. I love it when Eli says “it couldn’t get much worse,” and Rush says “That’s just a failure of imagination.” He’s right of course, but that’s when we hear screams. Soldiers are frantically shooting machine guns into the dark. We don’t see what they’re firing at. I’m not usually a big fan of the ‘hide the monster’ trope. I prefer to just see the monster, because, you’ know, monsters are cool. But this is really effective. Oh we’ll eventually see what they’re shooting at, but in this scene, just seeing their reactions, wondering what it is, and hearing Rush yell to Eli “Dial the gate,” is very creepy. And that’s actually the purpose of the ‘hide the monster’ trope. It also helps that the characters themselves can’t see the monster. I think this trope annoys me most when the characters can see the monster, but for artificial reasons, the camera won’t show it to us. That bugs me. Anyway, there’s something wrong with the gate, so they have no escape route. It gets really bad when the kino falls over, we see everyone getting taken down, and then Chloe comes into shot. Some kind of worm things burrow into her and out the other side. The camera lingers for a moment on her very clearly dead body. That’s sobering. And that’s when we cut to the real world. This is the first scene in the episode that isn’t kino footage. A bunch of our characters are watching the same footage we’ve just seen. Eli is horrified. And so is Chloe. Yes. Chloe is watching footage of her death. This drives her to run away and throw up, as well it should. Eli turns away from the footage and says. “Okay. What….the. …..” And then we cut away. Fair enough., I think we can forgive Eli for saying what we all know he was about to say, given what he’s just seen. We’re quickly given some context. They dropped out of FTL. The gate opened. They sent a kino through and then followed, only to find there was already a kino there. The data store was full. Now this is a weird little moment. Brody says “The data store was full.” Then we immediately cut to a flashback of Eli picking it up saying “it looks like the data store is full.” Why that redundancy? If this was a book, the editor would have pounced on that. Honestly, you don’t need both, so I find that really odd. We also learn that the team found human remains on the planet. Rush picks up a skull. That’s pretty disturbing. Unlike the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies, this galaxy is not populated by humans, so that must have seemed a huge mystery in itself before they started watching the footage. Given the skull was dry and free of any flesh or skin, they must have been there a long time. We haven’t seen all the footage yet. Evidently Eli and Rush survived the night. A few others. The aliens are nocturnal, so they’re relatively safe for now. Other than the disease, of course. As usual, people are whining at Eli for spending his time talking to the Kino. “Do I have to remind you again that documenting this could be important?” “Who do you think is ever going to see that.” I love how Eli turns to them all and says “See!” Some wonderful vindication for him in that moment. I really like that. The Kino was damaged during the night and can no longer fly, so Eli strapped it to his helmet. From this point on, actor David Blue actually did a lot of the camera work himself. He walked around the set with a massive camera rig attached to his head. I imagine it must have looked pretty funny. We get another good character scene between Eli and TJ. Eli is noticing how hard it is for TJ when she can’t help people. And I get that. In my work, if I fail, the worst that usually happens is that somebody can’t use a piece of software. IF she fails, people die. That’s a heavy burden that all medical people carry. And then Eli shares a little about his mother. We learn that she was a nurse but she got stuck with a needle trying to restrain a junkie in the ER. She got HIV. That really sucks. So that’s the health problem his mum has. I wonder if you’re allowed to work as a nurse if you’re HIV positive. It could be considered a risk to patients. I should ask my wife. She’s a nurse. This explains why she’s got a serious health problem but she’s able to do things around the house. Actually, come to think of it, didn’t we see her in a uniform in a previous episode? That means she probably is still working. But she probably has to take all kinds of expensive medicines. Honestly, for such a massive fan of this show, I’m embarrassed at how many details I have forgotten since my last watch-through. And I apologise for that. Anyway, Eli’s dad couldn’t handle it so he left. And that also sucks. Eli was only 14 at the time, so his mum has been living with this for quite a few years. It’s a really emotional moment. Eli might not have chosen to reveal this intimate information about himself to all these people watching. He chose to open up to TJ on the planet. David Blue does a great job of just looking down and trying to cope with the emotion of all this stuff coming out. Chloe looks at him with such sympathy and compassion. It’s touching. And then, when Eli says he’s afraid his mum will give up if he dies out here, Scott puts his hand on Eli’s shoulder. And that really moved me. I know I give Scott a hard time but that just shows the good but flawed man he is. And in a ship full of deeply flawed people, he does stand out as a good bloke. In the end, all these people are family. This is immediately followed by another great character moment as Eli shares a moment with Rush, talking about how he first came face to face with his own mortality at his grandfather’s funeral. And Rush is being surprisingly human. Rush has had to face mortality as well. We know he lost somebody he loved. But his way of responding to this is, “did it change you? Did it inspire you to do something worthwhile with the short time we have in this life?” That is such a Rush response. But I like it. I think that until now, Eli has been taking life for granted. He hasn’t done much with his life. But ending up here on Destiny has given him a chance to really do something that matters. Rush also mentions ascension. The process the ancients went through to transform their consciousness into an immortal form. When Eli asks if he really thinks that’s possible, the way he says “I know it is,” with such determination, suggests strongly to me, that this is Rush’s ultimate goal. He wants to learn how to ascend. He admits it may not be possible for him personally, but that idea is the reason he’s out here. Again, this is a believable obsession for somebody with Rush’s personality, that has lost a loved one. He wants to defeat mortality. And then another wonderful character scene. Seriously, they just keep coming. This time we finally see a little past the cracks in Greer. He’s really shaken by the idea that all those people died under his watch. But it didn’t happen. And so he refuses to acknowledge it as a thing. And yet, he’s still sitting here in the gate room, wrestling with his demons. This is the big difference between SGU and other Stargate shows. They’ve all done time-travel shows, but SGU taces that sci-fi concept and uses it to explore deeper character issues. And don’t get me wrong, SG1 and Altantis both did some good character stuff, but nothing that compares to what Universe did. This is when things get bad. Chloe collapses. It’s about 3 hours since they jumped out of FTL. That’s about the time people started getting sick in the recording. So the team that went to the planet and found the kino have brought whatever it is back to the ship. Back in the recording, Greer is teaching Eli how to shoot a gun. They try to even the odds a little by blowing up one of the stumps where the aliens sleep. They probably took out more than one. But night time eventually comes and they’re all on guard ready to defend themselves. Rush decides that somebody should try going through the gate. If he makes it to Destiny, he’ll radio back, and then he jumps in. He quotes a line from the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It turns out to be a favourite of both him and Colonel Young. So, those two actually have something in common. Eli hears nothing back and the wormhole closes. Then we get the twist. TJ has found the cause of the sickness. It’s nothing to do with the jungle planet. There’s a microorganism in the water that Young and Scott brought back from the ice planet (glorious continuity). So everyone on Destiny is infected. And that’s bad news. Next morning, on the recording, and Eli is dead. Scott is the only one left. And he gives this gut-wrenching scream of anguish, which is totally the correct response for a real living person. Of course, he’s also a professional soldier, so after he’s had his moment, he picks up the kino and records his final thoughts, detailing what has happened. Destiny will be jumping soon, but the stargate is still not working properly. He plans to send the kino through the wormhole to Destiny in hope that they can at least see the message. And here’s the moment that explains it all. It goes through the gate and seems to land in the same place. Except it’s daylight. And Rush is lying dead on the ground. Rush understands immediately. The Kino went back in time. It’s the old wormhole through a solar flair thing. The exact same phenomenon that caused SG-1 to go back to 1969 all those years ago. That’s why the wormhole was unstable. So that skull they found was Rush. Here in reality, the solar flair hasn’t happened yet. So they can still gate to the planet. TJ has a good theory, based on Scott’s last message. The venom from the aliens could cure the disease. Now they have to go back to the planet to recover them. It’s night, which means they’ll be active and dangerous. TJ has run out of antibiotics and the first patient has died. Then another nice character scene. Eli wonders why we always wait until it’s too late to tell people what we really feel. And think. So he opens up to Chloe. Fully. Sadly, she’s unconscious. But contrary to what you might expect, it’s not a profession of undying love. It’s not really even about him. It’s about her. He talks about how amazing she is. How her presence in his life makes him so much happier. He talks of never having had a best friend before. Right now it doesn’t matter what kind of love they share. It doesn’t matter that she chose Scott rather than him. What matters is that they do share a form of love. A very special friendship. And he begs her not to die. But she can’t hear him. And she dies. It’s a moving scene. In fact, it’s TJ’s reaction that is the most moving. This is a great episode because it really lets us live in these gut-wrenching moments without having to lose the characters long term. Not many TV shows can pull that off. Farscape did it in a very unique way. And if you’ve seen that show, you know what I’m talking about. That had even more impact and lasting consequence than this did. Rush reports the news to the team on the planet. We’ve already lost 4 people. I guess he does it to reinforce the sense of urgency. But now Scott has to hear that the woman he loves is dead. How do you just keep going after hearing something like that? Young just says “Lieutenant, we need you.” And he’s so professional that he’s able to carry on. I guess that’s what it means to be a soldier. You put aside your grief until later. Because right now you’ve got a job to do. The aliens attack. And within moments, it’s just Scott. Alone. Again. Greer and Young are dead. He’s probably not going to make it very long. So he does the one thing he can do. And it’s clever thinking. All hope is lost for this time around, but things could be different next time. He records a message, detailing the disease in the water and the cure that the alien creatures represent. Then he sends the kino through the wormhole, into the distance past. So that it can eventually be found by Destiny. This is where the episode closes. We don’t see the crew curing the disease in the next timeline. But we don’t have to. This is a fantastic episode. It mixes three genres. Science fiction, drama, and horror. And it does all three really well. It has some interesting twists and turns, and some really heartfelt moments. We get to see some hugely emotional tragic moments, and those moments have real weight to them. Yes, we kind of pull a reset button at the end, but not a full hard reset. Those deaths still happened in their respective timelines. And they were treated like they mattered. This is one of my favourite time-travel episodes, and probably one of my favourite episodes of the entire franchise. I love it. The interesting thing is that this episode works whether you use the traditional type of time-travel, where there’s just one timeline, but it can be altered and re-written, or the more modern type, where each incursion into the past creates a new separate parallel timeline. So there you have it. Time. Next time, we’ll be talking about the episode “Life”. It’ll do some more delving in to character, as well as present yet another potential way home. So our second, “will they get home” episode. Don’t forget to click like if you’re on youtube, or leave a review. Tell a friend, share on social media. Anything you can do to help spread the word about Nerd Heaven would be greatly appreciated. Have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
15 minutes | Mar 27, 2021
Zack Snyder's Justice League Review (BONUS EPISODE)
The long-awaited Snyder Cut of Justice League has finally arrived. So was it worth waiting for? My answer is an unequivocal yes. Listen to this bonus episode of Nerd Heaven to find out why. This is a quick review. I'll do a full detailed analysis on this movie later on. #ForAutumn #UsUnited
21 minutes | Mar 21, 2021
Stargate Universe "Earth" Detailed Analysis & Review
In the latest instalment of my Stargate Universe rewatch, we find Colonel Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) taking over command of Destiny to enact a plan they hope will bring the crew back home. Meanwhile, Eli and Chloe have some character development as they visit family and friends via the communication stones. This is the first "Will they get home" episode that Stargate Universe has attempted. A staple of Star Trek Voyager. But how does SGU handle this trope? This episode also explores the theme of how you treat another person's body when you are just a guest inhabiting it. -- Get my book 1 of my series Jewel of The Stars for just 99 cents at http://books2read.com/jewel Or the free prequel at http://www.adamdavidcollings.com/free ----more---- Transcript Welcome to nerd heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd This is episode 56 of the podcast Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode Earth The description on Gatworld reads Colonel Telford takes over Young's command in order to enact a dangerous plan to try and get the ship's crew home. Back on Earth, Young, Eli, and Chloe visit their families. The STORY was BY: Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper and Martin Gero The TELEPLAY was BY: Martin Gero It was directed by Ernest Dickerson And it first aired on the 6th of November 2009 Remember how Young told his wife how much he wanted to get home to be with her, how he still loved her? Well, this episode opens with him in sickbay being tended by TJ, and he tells her she’s beautiful. To which she immediately replies in a stern voice, “Don’t.” So this is the first we learn that these two have a history together. An illicit history, given that Young is married.Suddenly Young’s words to his wife sound hollow. Not so much because of the mistakes of the past, but because he’s now telling TJ she’s beautiful. You don’t just tell a woman she’s beautiful unless you’re wanting something to happen, not the way he said it. But just as they kiss we realise this is a fake-out. Young was dreaming. Yes, he’s got TJ on his mind, but he’s not necessarily actively pursuing her. It is believable that he’s dreaming about her. She’s within reach. His wife isn’t. Given the fact he might be stuck on this ship for the rest of his life, that presents quite a strong temptation. Let’s see if he’s strong enough to resist that temptation. Clearly, whatever went on between those two caused pain for TJ, because Young apologises in his dream. I think he probably realised he was doing the wrong thing by his wife and called the whole thing off. And that’s what hurt her. So Young and Camille are using the communication stones to attend a meeting on earth at Homeworld Command in the Pentagon. And for once, Young has not body-swapped with Talford. Talford is here standing next to him. Telford is the one to give them the news that they may have found a way to get everyone on Destiny home. I love the way Jack says “Suprise.” That’s so Jack. I really enjoy his inclusion in this show as a surprisingly regular guest. In a lot of ways, Richard Dean Anderson IS Stargate, and I always get a thrill when he shows up in Universe. So, this is what was often referred to on Star Trek Voyager as a “Will they get home?” episode. Voyager did a heap of those. They seemingly find something that might get them home, and they try to make it happen, only to be foiled at the end of the episode. Afterall, it was the 90s. You didn’t make a status-quo changing shift like getting Voyager home before the series finale. The inherent problem with these episodes is that you know the crew are not going to get home. Episodes like this CAN work, if you find drama and stakes in something other than the question of “will they get home.” But Voyager overused the concept. But this is Stargate Universe. It’s much closer to modern TV in its construction. So status-quo changes CAN take place. But the whole premise of this show is that these people are stuck on a spaceship far far from home. I think it’s pretty safe to say that nobody in the audience is buying that they’ll get home. It’s not gonna happen. So … does the episode still work? Let’s keep going and find out. After the title card, we cut to post-briefing discussions. The episode chooses not to reveal to us, yet, what the plan is. All we know is that it’s risky. Talford thinks it’s worth the risk, given how dire the situation is on Destiny. Young’s not so sure. He wants more calculations, but the only way to get more data is to actually try it. Young wants to get everyone on board a voice. Jack’s not going for that. Young is in command of that ship. He can, and should, make decisions on behalf of those he commands. And JAck is giving him a direct order to do so. Young wants to treat this like a democracy. I can understand why. This is a decision that could cost all of them their lives. This is not a normal command situation. A lot of the people at risk are civilians who aren’t part of the chain of command. Nobody signed up to be on that ship to begin with. Who do you side with here? I can see both men’s perspectives. Of course, it’s hard to form an opinion without knowing more about what the plan entails, but we probably know as much as we need to. Anyway, regardless of the risk to his career, Young says he’ll give Jack his decision tomorrow. I suppose he feels a little bit of freedom, being so far from home, and he probably deserves a little extra latitude, but Jack can have him replaced. All he needs to do is use the stones and order someone else to relieve Young. So he’s taking a big risk by defying a direct order. In a real-world military situation, he’d probably be relieved on the spot. I dunno. I’ve never been in any military, but I do know they take orders very seriously. We learn a little about Camille through her conversation with the IOA bigwig. He’s her boss. By the way, the IOA is the International Oversight Advisory. Basically a multi-nation civilian organisation that oversees the Stargate program, which is run by the US Airforce. We learn that Camille was passed up for promotion a number of times. She and her boss don’t seem to have a great deal of regard for each other. He really wants this mission to happen, and he wants Camille to use her influence with the people on Destiny to ensure it does. She may be able to pull that off. We also learn she has a personal stake in getting home, but she’s no more convinced that young that they’ll survive the attempt. Already, we can see that the episode has replaced the question of “will they get home” with a new question. “What is the plan?” and “Will they attempt it?” Of course, in the very next scene, we learn the nature of the plan. The crew are discussing it in the mess hall, so clearly Young and Camille have returned. The idea is actually pretty simple, and sounds logical. The reason they can’t dial home is because they don’t have enough power. The only known power source that could do it was the core of the planet where Icarus Base was constructed. Destiny recharges its power by flying through the outer edge of a star. At that moment, incredible energy is available to the ship. Enough to power a shield that can protect the ship to begin with. They believe that if they dial while they’re in the star, the power of the entire star will be available to them. They have to use the ship as a conduit and channel it into the gate. Sounds feasible. But I can see a potential problem. Last time the ship recharged in a star, it didn’t get up to full capacity. It basically half-charged the batteries. Rush and Eli have no idea why. Could whatever caused them to not fully charge also prevent them from getting enough power to the gate? Seems likely. The ship won’t recharge itself for a few more months, but they could try to drain the power manually. Rush doesn’t agree with the scientists back home. He thinks it’s too risky. Of course, the people back home suspect Rush doesn’t actually want to go home. And they’re right. Of course he doesn’t. So is he being honest about the risk, or is he sabotaging the idea because he wants to stay on Destiny? Chloe and Eli are heading to earth. This is Eli’s first time using the stones and he’s pretty nervous. Not so much about the technology, although it’s gotta be weird swapping bodies with someone else, but about what he’s gonna say to his mum. Okay. So this time Young is back in Telford's body again. Eli remarks “I wonder what they’re doing in our bodies.” And as soon as he says it, Young just gives this look. Like he’s really worried what Talford might do. We’ll come back to that look. Talford is under orders to execute the rescue plan. He’s brought two scientists with him to make it happen. And they’re going to drain the power to force Destiny to recharge by firing the ship’s weapons. In this case, this isn’t just Talford throwing his weight around. He’s acting under Jack’s orders. He didn’t wait for Young’s answer, but he didn’t need to. And Young was gonna ask for more time. I’m not saying I agree with Jack. But he’s within his legal rights here. Of course, Young is right to point out that Jack often followed his conscience against the chain of command, which is exactly what Young is doing. Those renegade heroes, when they get promoted it sometimes comes back and bites them, doesn’t it. One of Telford's first acts as the new commanding officer of Destiny is to confine Greer to quarters. Greer, to his credit, doesn’t make a fuss. Eli doesn’t think his mum is going to be able to handle the truth, so he opts to pretend to be somebody who works with Eli, rather than Eli himself. It means that he can see her, and spend time with her, but not fully. They can’t really connect because she doesn’t know who he is. But interestingly, it allows him to say some things to her that he might not usually be able to say. Because he’s hiding behind a mask. Kind of like how ventriloquists often say things through their puppet that they’d never say themselves. So his mum gives him a coke. Eli tells her that her son quit, and is on a bit of a crash diet. She may not recognise him when she sees him next. This is interesting. Eli was somewhat overweight. That’s probably one of the many reasons I identify with him so much. I’m a fat nerd.. Actor David Blue looks quite different today. He recently talked about this in an interview with Dial the Gate. He’d actually put on some weight for a previous role just before this show. But he wanted to lose that weight. He actually made sure the producers were okay with that before he took the job. After all, he said, Eli is in a survival situation on a spaceship with limited food. It makes logical sense he’d lose weight. The actor wanted to be healthier himself, plus it made good sense for the character. It would have been cool to see the change take place over the course of the show, had it continued. Anyway, she talks about how he was always brilliant but never applied himself. So..maybe Eli’s lack of work, lack of finishing university was more about some personal laziness and less about his mother’s health. I dunno. We never really find out what her health problems are, but they don’t seem to interfere with her day to day living. This is a really good character scene. David Blue does a great job of showing how emotional he gets when his mother asks him to tell ….. Himself … that she’s proud of him. But he can’t let himself tear up too much or she’ll be weirded out. She shows just enough so the audience knows what he’s feeling, without too much. Rush is wanting the scientists to be much more methodical and careful than they want. They say doing it his way could take months. More stalling? Well, he’s proved right almost immediately when things go badly. Riley is badly injured. TJ says it’ll be touch and go. Not good. I tend to side mostly with Rush on all of this, but Talford is right about one thing. Rush is worried that with everything that’s happened, he’s worried they’re not going to let him come back. He has a vested interest in this rescue attempt failing. Chloe told some of her old friends that she’s her own cousin. They’re taking her out of the town and Eli is gonna join them. This whole thing, spending time with your friends and family without them knowing who you are. It’s gotta be awkward. Eli is loving this, because now that he's in a body that’s slimmer than his, and probably more attractive, he’s catching the attention of the ladies. They’re approaching him, and agreeing to dance with him. This is new territory for him and he’s loving it. Chloe’s not having as much fun, though. One of her so-called friends moans about how it sucks that her dead father is no longer able to hook him up with some wall-street connections. She does well not to punch him in the face. Another so-called friend has basically stolen her old boyfriend. This scene is actually quite a turning point in Chloe’s story. She realises how shallow her friendships have always been. And then Eli takes care of her while she’s drunk, being a good example of a real friend. This is another good character scene. Chloe tells Eli that he’s a good friend. And she really means it. Eli knows he is too, and he always will be, but he takes it as a bit of a slap in the face. Because that’s all girls ever want him to be. A friend. Meanwhile, Young pays his wife a visit but she won’t even let him in the door. But says his peace and she comes out to him. And they do more than talk. They have sex together. Now there’s nothing wrong with a married couple making love, but remember, he’s not actually there physically. He’s in Telford's body. So she’s having intercourse with Telford's body. And I have major issues with this. This is a terrible violation of Telford. His body is being used for sexual activity without his knowledge or consent. That’s not okay. You might even say it’s akin to rape. There was actually a bit of controversy surrounding a similar circumstance in the movie Wonder Woman 1984 recently. I get Young’s desire to be close to his wife. I get feeling this need as well. But in my opinion, what they’re doing is wrong. Stargate Universe will continue to explore the theme of how you treat another person’s body when you’re a guest in it. To make things even more awkward, Destiny chooses that moment to drop out of FTL and that causes a momentary interruption to the stone connection. So Talford suddenly finds himself in bed with Talford’s wife...and well, I don’t need to describe it in detail. You get the idea. So he now knows exactly what Young has been doing with his body. Young’s wife explains one of the reasons she’s found it so hard to accept Young back is that he’s trapped on that ship with HER. And that, of course, meaning TJ. So she knows he had an affair with TJ. She also knows that it’s over. And it is. Despite that dream he had at the beginning of the episode, it’s over. Camille has just as many doubts about this plan as Rush does, but she makes a good point. It would be safer if he was involved. IS she just appealing to his vanity or does she really believe all of this? In the end, it doesn’t matter. She’s right. Rush has found some ways to increase the odds. So Destiny enters the star and stars charging. They begin dialling the gate. The gate is starting to spark with. There’s too much power going through it. Eventually Talford agrees to try shutting it down, but they can’t. It won’t respond. Talford and his cronies show their true colours by running for the stones. They don’t want to die on this ship. And they’re the only ones with an escape route. Turns out a lot of this was staged by Rush. The ship would have exploded if they’d kept trying to dial, but Rush put safeguards in place and arranged for the alarms to go off. It was all to get rid of Talford, which I think everyone agrees needed to be done. But what I really like is that Rush is upfront about it all. He doesn’t try to hide it. And that’s kind of refreshing. Although Young wants Eli to go over the data and make sure Rush isn’t lying about the dangers that plan represented. The crew are now coming to the realisation that they could be on this ship for a long time. There’s no quick and easy way home. The final scene of the episode is Talford showing up at Young’s house. The implication here is that he’s going to pretend to be young inhabiting his body. That way, he gets to have sex with Young’s wife. This, obviously, is no better than what Young did. Young violated Telford's body, and now Talford is sleeping with another man’s wife under false pretenses, essentially violating her. What a mess. Neither of these crimes is justified by the other. It would be all so much simpler if people would just do the right thing, wouldn’t it? So that was Stargate Universe’s first “Will they get home?” episode. Let’s evaluate how they did. The conflict of the episode wasn’t really about will they get home. It was more about trying to stop Talford and his cronies from destroying the ship. In that regard, I think this episode worked much better than the typical Voyager episode. SGU doesn’t do these types of stories often. And that’s good. While they definitely did it right this time, had they continued to do “will they get home” stories, it would have gotten old, just like it did on Voyager. But here’s something to think about. The IOA boss told Camille that if this rescue was successful, he wanted to try to duplicate it with a ship in our galaxy. They could get to a point where they could actually travel between Earth and Destiny on a regular basis. They could send a proper team out to explore the ship.Take supplies. It would have been wrong to bring people home this early. It’s only the third regular episode. But what if they’d done this in a season or two, and it worked. That’s kind of what they did on Atlantis. During the first season, they were completely cut off from the Milky Way. But by the beginning of season 2, they had the ability to travel between the galaxies. IT wasn’t convenient, but it was possible. As the show went on, it got easier and easier until it was like going across the road. They could have done something similar with SGU. AFter a few seasons those who wanted to go home could leave destiny. They’d be replaced with other characters who were better equipped. The survival aspect would have lessened and it would have focussed more on completing Destiny’s mission (which we’ll learn about in season 2, I believe). It might have been an interesting way to go. I dunno. It’s just fun to speculate on what they might have done with this show, had it run for more seasons than it did. So that was Earth. Next time we’ll be talking about the episode “Time.” It’s quite a fun one. Don’t forget, you can get the first book in my Jewel of The Stars series for just 99 cents wherever ebooks are sold. It’s also available in paperback. Or, you can launch on with my free prequel at AdamDavidCollings.com/free Have a great two weeks Live long and prosper Make it so
21 minutes | Mar 7, 2021
Stargate Universe "Water" Detailed Analysis & Review
In the last of the resource-gathering episodes of Stargate Universe, we head to an icy planet in an attempt to find drinkable water for the crew. Meanwhile, back on board Destiny, the mysterious alien swirling wind from the desert planet has stowed away and is stealing what little remains of their existing water. Let's dig in and see what we think of this episode. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a Nerd This is episode 55 of the podcast Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Water.” The description on Gateworld reads Severe rationing can't save the Destiny's dwindling water supply, forcing Colonel Young and Lieutenant Scott to seek out drinkable water on a deadly ice planet. The story was written by Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper and Carl Binder The teleplay was written by Carl Binder It was directed by William Waring And it first aired on the 30th of October 2009 It’s no secret that this show was heavily inspired by Battlestar Galactica. It had a similar tone and shooting style. The stories are very different, of course, but if you look, you can see some commonality in the early episodes. Both stories find a group of people, many of them civilians, on a long-term space journey they weren’t planning for. This brings certain practical problems. The need for things like air, food, water, power. Both shows dealt with these issues early in their first seasons. In fact, Battlestar Galactica had an episode dedicated to providing for the fleet’s water needs. Like this one, it involved going down to a dangerous ice planet. The difference is, that episode focussed on recruiting the people who would do the work, in that case, criminals on a prison ship. Here in Stargate Universe, we focus on the mission down to the planet. Similarities like this are to be expected when you’re dealing with a space setting, but it’s interesting to note them. So we’ve solved the air problem, and the power problem. But water is still a concern. Greer is chatting with Riley who tells a story of some trapped miners who survived by drinking their own urine. That’s gotta be a bad idea, since it’s all the waste product your body wants to get rid of. But it’s even worse. The water levels are going down faster than they should. Young has guards on duty making sure nobody takes more than their share. It’s a bit of a mystery. They’ve actually got half of what they had when they first arrived. Rush and Eli can’t explain where the water is going. There’s nothing wrong with the system. As far as Young is concerned, this is all moot. Now that the ship has recharged itself, they should just be able to dial Earth. And that’s when Rush reveals that the ship has not charged itself up to full. It’s about 40% of original design capacity. Young thinks it’s pretty clear Rush is just pulling that number out of his butt, he doesn’t say butt. But Eli admits he was actually the one to pull it out of his butt. It’s an amusing moment. Yet another episode that has humour in it. The humour in SGU is a different kind of humour. It’s more character-based humour. Moments that we laugh at, but they could believably happen with the situation the characters are in. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed Jack’s pithy one-liners, and Teal’c’s awkward turns of phrase, but this type of humour fits much better in a more serious show like SGU. The show is not devoid of humour. It’s just a different type of humour. Anyway, the point is, Rush is not making this number up. The ship is charged and functional, but it’s not full. And they still don’t have the ability to dial Earth. Remember, it took the core of a planet to power the gate to travel from the Milky Way to Destiny. Even a zero point module wasn’t enough. So it’s not surprising that dialling back from this spaceship is not so easy. Young wants Rush to bring Brody in on the problem because he’s an engineer. Meanwhile, Young wants to borrow Eli. And the conspiracy theories are still running rife. One of the other civilians is telling Volker he thinks there is more water than they’re being told. He reckons the military are hoarding it, so they can control the civilians. I’m really curious what it is that leads people to this kind of thinking. I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories. Anyway, Young wants to know who among the crew he can trust, so he has Eli using the Kenos to spy on people throughout the ship. If people are planning sedition, Young wants to know about it. I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, I can understand Young’s perspective. This is a desperate situation, which is likely to bring out the worst in people. There might be a real danger from people trying to overthrow the command structure. Not conspiracy nuts like the guy talking to Volker. Young knows he’s harmless. But others. So it makes sense he needs to keep a tab on what’s going on. But it feels kinda icky. Eli hates what he’s being asked to do, and I don’t blame him. And then we see a wispy breeze full of particles blow past Eli. That should look familiar. You remember Scott’s strange encounter back on the limestone planet? It blew about the sand, taking the form of the priest who raised him, and ultimately helped him find water. This would appear to be related. Destiny drops out of FTL and dials the gate. This is a common pattern. This is what the ship is programmed to do. It enters a system and drops out of FTL for a time. It sets a timer, letting the crew know when it’ll jump away again. It seems the ship can sense that the crew need water, so it’s found them a planet with water ice. But it’s pretty cold down there. Eli gives us a nice little Star Wars reference. It seems he’s an original trilogy purist. He refuses to call Empire Strikes Back Episode 5. I’m kind of the other way. I love viewing those movies as a 6-part whole in chronological order. I know, most people will call me a heretic for that. I don’t care. The bad news about the planet is that it doesn’t have much of an atmosphere, and what little there is, is poisonous. They’ve found some spacesuits onboard Destiny. They’ll have to use them. The suits look pretty cool. They’re metal and look like armour. They probably doubled as combat suits. So the gate we see in this show is different to what we’ve seen in the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies. There’s the obvious difference that the entire gate spins. I really quite like that. But there’s more. I don’t think I talked about this in the pilot, but after the wormhole disengages, the gate vents out steam or gas, or something. It’s like it builds up heat while it’s running and has to dissipate it. IT gives these stargates an old-fashioned feel, like they were a prototype before the milky-way gates were perfected. I like it. It’s a nice touch. Young calls for Scott but he’s not answering his radio. Turns out he’s too busy sucking face with Chloe. And who should be sent to find him, but Lieutenant James. She’s not too happy to find him in this position. She has a right to be annoyed with him. He shouldn’t have his radio off. Remember, it was a radio call that interrupted the intimate liaison between these two back on Icarus. There’s a time and a place, and Scott seems to have little concept of that. IF he’s on duty, he shouldn't be getting busy with the ladies. I love the stinging remark she gives him as he walks past. “What, you couldn’t find a broom closet?” Then she looks at Chloe, who I think is feeling embarrassed at being caught in the act, so to speak, and probably sensing the tension between Scott and James. I don’t know how much Scott has told her about them. and kind of gives her this half smile. Anyway, I think the smile conveys a kind of “be careful, I’ve been where you are,” kind of sentiment. So far they only have two working suits. It’ll take more time that they have to repair any more. Doctor Lisa Park makes her first meaningful appearance on the show. She’s been seen and mentioned in the past, but hasn’t had much to do. The Stargate Command wiki refers to her as a scientist, and she clearly has a doctorate. She seems to be an engineer, given the work she’s doing. She was helping Rush repair the life support system back in Air, and here, she’s repairing EVA suits and equipping the away team with ancient tools like a plasma cutter. Of course, there are plenty of engineers with doctorates. I’ve worked with a bunch in my day job. Young pouts TJ in command while he and Scott are on the planet. That gives us some insight into the chain of command. I would have expected Greer to be the one, but I guess, despite being a medic, TJ has the highest rank. Rush isn’t impressed, but he doesn’t argue. In his own mind, he sees himself as the most important person on this ship, but I don’t think he needs Young to validate him. He cares nothing for military chain of command. Let the soldiers go do what they do, while he gets on with the important stuff. Is this the first time we get a first-person view of travelling through the wormhole in SGU? I think it is. They’re using the same visual effect that they used in later seasons of SG-1 and Atlantis, although they may have recoloured it. I’m not sure. The visuals of the gate on the dark icy planet are pretty spectacular to look at, given how dark it is. The glow of the event horizon and the wisps of snow catching the light are quite beautiful. The first thing they do when they come through is test the ice. Which is smart. Sadly, it’s full of dangerous chemicals. They’re going to have to explore further into the planet to find pure water. Luckily, Eli has invented an anti-grav trolley, like in Star Trek, using ancient technology. It’ll allow them to carry a lot more ice than they could manage in their hands. Now more bad news. The water level has dropped again. Nobody has been using water, and nobody has been allowed in. So what’s happening to all the water? They’ve ruled out a leak in the system, which only leaves one option. Someone, or something, is stealing the water. Young and Scott are a long way from the gate but still haven’t found any usable ice. This seems a little familiar. The expedition to the desert planet went a similar way. They had to travel a long way from the gate to eventually find what they were looking for. And this makes perfect sense. A planet is a big place. The ship shows there is water somewhere on the planet, but it may not be right next to the gate. TJ sees the wispy wind thing, and it mimics her face, which is creepy but cool. There is clear intelligence behind it. Meanwhile, Spencer has been hoarding food and water, so they dump him in the brig for Young to deal with when he gets back. Remember, he’s been a bit of a loud-mouth problem since the beginning. He was one of the ones who cornered Eli, believing that Young and Rush were hiding things from the rest of the crew. He’s also the one who tried to incite a riot when they were holding the lottery when they thought the ship was gonna burn up in a star. The water still doesn’t come close to explaining the losses, though. I think TJ is already suspecting the wind monster. Good news, though. Young and Scott have found a frozen waterfall. It’s pure. They can carve it up and haul it back to the gate. Greer is searching everyone’s quarters for stolen rations. Chloe understands why this is necessary and doesn’t complain. Franklin is pretty annoyed when he sees it, though. He was the one spreading his conspiracy theories to Volker earlier. Eli’s response is pretty amusing when TJ shares what she saw. Tiny alien organisms that fly around in a cloud. Rush just takes it at face value and nods like it’s another day in the office. But these are Eli’s first aliens. He’s never encountered a Goa'uld, a wraith, an asgard, a Nox or a Reetou. So he’s a little freaked out. Again, this is logical. Psychological realism. And he deals with it the only way he would - as a sci-fi geek like the rest of us. He references a movie. “What if they start bursting out of our chests?” I’d probably try to calm myself in the same way. Rush thought Scott was delirious when he saw them on the desert planet, but now, he freely admits that he was wrong. I like that about Rush. For all his faults and his arrogance, he is capable of admitting he was wrong. He wouldn’t be worth anything as a scientist if he couldn’t do that. There’s a nice little moment between TJ and Rush. He acknowledges she’s in charge, and she says she wants his advice. This whole thing is quite outside her area of experience.She’s handling it pretty well. I wonder if she’s ever had to be in a position of command before. Gorman spots the alien cloud and shoots at it with a pistol. Pretty silly thing to do. OF course, it does nothing to hurt the cloud, but it senses hostile intent and attacks the guy. Hundreds of little creatures, the size of a grain of sand, attacking you, ripping apart your skin. It looks like a horrific way to go. But he’s apparently not dead. TJ is treating him. They’re not sure if he’ll come to or not. They seem to have a good system for unloading the sled so they can get it back through the gate as quickly as possible. Rush and Eli have a significant disagreement about how to deal with these creatures, and what to tell Young about them. I’m afraid I have to side with Rush on this one. They desperately need the ice. That’s vital. There’s not a whole lot that Young can do on the ship that isn’t already being done. Greer is ready to go hunt down the cloud and kill it with a flamethrower (Assuming that does any good). Eli seems to kinda be on the same page. TJ thinks the cloud may have acted in self-defence, which of course, it did. I think they all need to take a deep breath and cool down for a second. IF they go attack those things now they could just make it worse. Maybe this is the Star Trek fan in me talking, but what they really need to do is understand the creature and try to find a way to communicate. The primary danger it represents right now is the stealing of the water. It’s only ever attacked when provoked. Attack may become necessary, but they’re a long way from that right now. Rush seems to understand this. The aliens can make themselves seem invisible, like vapour. That means there’s a lot more of them on the ship than we realised. And they’re growing exponentially. That’s a big problem. Now Rush agrees they have to get them off the ship. But he still counsels not to antagonise them. I find it amusingly ironic that Scott is talking about how maybe they’ll find a planet later on with a lake right next to the stargate because they deserve a break. And at that moment he falls through the ice. Now this has become a rescue mission. He’s wedged in so good that Young can’t pull him out. And to make things even worse, the ground starts to shake. Eli points out that they’re all lying to each other over the radio. Downplaying the severity of their problems. And it’s silly because they all know each other is lying. There’s no reason they can’t be honest about how their situations are, they just need to be wise regarding what they do about it. For example, Young not hurrying back when he needs to be harvesting ice. Scott’s situation gets worse when another tremor hits and now he’s losing suit pressure. James tells Chloe the bad news. She thought she’d like to know. Now Chloe joins Rush, Eli and TJ. That’s actually the last thing anybody needs. She reacts just like you’d expect her to, when she hears Rush suggest that Young might have to leave Scott behind. Of course Young picks up on the truth. The only thing Rush cares about is that the ice makes it to the ship. Greer traps the cloud in an air-tight room. They can’t get out. It doesn’t take long for them to get annoyed. They’re starting to escape. Probably cutting through the metal door like they cut through Gormon’s face. Young and Scott are facing the very real dilemma of when it’s time to leave Scott behind. They both know it may come to that, but Yong hasn’t given up yet. There’s still time to get trying. But they have to think. They need a new approach. When Scott loses consciousness, Young just reverts to the old plan. Trying to pull him out. I guess with all the rumbling going on, the pressure might have loosened a little. Young managed to wake Scott by talking to him through the radio, and he helped climb out the last bit. If Scott had passed out from lack of oxygen, I doubt Young could have woken him just by yelling. It seems a bit unlikely. TJ is going to use the water as bait to lure the cloud off the ship. There’s a tense moment between TJ and Greer, where she admits that she doesn’t trust him. He’s a little too trigger happy. They send the bugs though the gate to the ice planet. That’s actually a good place for them, given how much they like water. As they go, they form the shape of Scott’s face. Maybe a final farewell to him after their encounter on the desert planet. I’ve gotta wonder though, they don’t seem to have been suited for that planet. There wasn’t much water there. So they’ve solved both their problems just in time before Destiny jumps back into FTL. Young goes to see Spencer in the brig. He says if you step out of line one more time I’ll have to deal with you. Spencer claims to understand but Greer doesn’t think he does. Do I understand? What exactly is Young saying here? Is he gonna space the guy if he acts up again? Maybe. The episode closes with the sad acknowledgement that Gormon died from his injuries. So as far as I remember, this is the last we’ll see of the wind aliens. So here’s a question. Do you think this was the originally planned pay-off of Air part 3, or do you think they had something else in mind? The reason I ask that is that the behaviour of the alien swarm seems very different in this episode. When we first saw them, they seemed highly intelligent, as well as benevolent.. They saved Scott’s life and helped him find the lime he needed. We also saw they had the ability to telepathically project images into Scott’s mind. Kind of an attempt to communicate perhaps. In this episode they seemed more animalistic. Their only concern seemed to be reproduction and the consumption of water. But that raises another question in my mind. Was the swarm actually responsible for the visions? Is it possible there was another alien presence on that desert planet? In air Part 3 we saw the swarm spin around in the sand and draw up the water that woke Scott. But perhaps the swarm was being controlled by something else. Something much more intelligent. Our characters will be experiencing some powerful forces as the story continues, so who knows. We may never get the answers now. That was a good episode. A good solid science fiction story. Honestly, there are very few, if any, episodes of this show that I don’t like. I think this is the last of the survival stories we’ll have for a while. We’ll be moving into a new phase of Stargate Universe from here. Well next week we’ll be looking at the episode Earth, which does some interesting character stuff, and serves as our first “Will they get home” episodes. Let’s see if SGU can do a better job with this concept than Star Trek Voyager generally did. Please consider giving this podcast a review on iTunes. Even if you listen elsewhere. I’m an android guy myself, but iTunes reviews are especially helpful to podcasters. And if you are an iPhone user, it’s apparently really easy to do directly from your phone. Have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
11 minutes | Feb 27, 2021
Nerd Heaven News Mini Update (Sndyder Cut in Australia, Star Trek Prodigy, Spiderman No Way Home)
In this mini news update: * Zack Snyder's Justice League to show day 1 in Australia * First look at Star Trek Prodigy Characters * Spiderman No Way Home title announcement
21 minutes | Feb 21, 2021
Stargate Universe "Light" - Detailed Analysis& Review
The second half of this Stargate Universe 'two-parter' brings a lot of emotions to the surface as the crew deal with their own mortality. With Destiny on course for a star, only 17 of them will survive to struggle on a barely habitable planet. The rest will burn up. This episode has some fantastic drama. I love this episode. Listen along with me to find out why. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven. I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a Nerd. This is episode 54 of the podcast. Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Light”. This one picks up directly where we left off last time with “Darkness”. I’ve been holding off recording the intros and outros of these podcasts, so that I can comment on any topical nerd stuff that might happen. But that’s preventing me from uploading and scheduling them ahead of time. I'm thinking of switching to do little mini-updates in between episodes to use for that purpose. That might be especially effective now that I’m on a fortnightly schedule. Speaking of things to comment on, by the time this episode goes live, we’ll have seen the trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. So I may have already done the first of these mini updates. The Description on Gateworld reads With the ship on a collision course, Young conducts a lottery to determine who will escape certain death and try and find a habitable planet with the shuttle. This episode was written by Brad Wright. It was directed by Peter DeLuise And it first aired on the 23rd of October 2009. This is a very emotional episode. It’s got some fantastic drama in it. The random Keno interviews continue to be interspersed through this episode. Greer’s interview allows him to show an uncharacteristic moment of vulnerability. Young has gathered everyone together to explain the situation. They’re on a collision course for a star, and there’s nothing they can do to change course. They still haven’t figured out how to take control of the ship. Its flight path is all completely automatic. They have one day before burn up. Destiny has a working shuttle and there are three planets in this system that may be habitable. Young believes the ship dropped out of FTL here to give them a chance. It has shown intelligence and even care for its passengers before. There’s only room and life-support for 17 people on the shuttle. Young will choose two people. The remaining 15 will be decided by lottery. Can you imagine having to give this kind of news to a group of people? I certainly wouldn’t want to be in Young’s shoes right now. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be in any of their shoes right now. Imagine knowing that unless you were one of the 15 lucky ones, you would be dead within 24 hours. It’s unthinkable. When Young announces he’ll be choosing 2, one to fly the shuttle, and one necessary for survival, somebody makes a smart-alec comment. This is when Young chooses to reveal that he’ll be taking his name out of the lottery. Confirming he’s going down with this ship no matter what. He then invites the smart alec to keep talking if he wants his name removed as well. Young currently holds the power over everyone’s lives. That’s another hard thing to imagine, the threat of having your name removed. I tell ya, I’d be very well behaved. Eli is looking for Chloe, but he finds her in Lieutenant Scott’s arms. So this is when it starts. They’ve chosen to spend their last hours alive making love. They’ve been getting close since episode 1, when Scott offered Chloe comfort after the death of her father. This is a common trope in stories, having sex at the end of the world. On one hand, I kind of get it. You might as well end it all doing something nice with somebody you love. But when I really think about it, the prospect of certain death doesn’t exactly fill me with sexy feelings. I suspect I’d find it quite a turn-off. But then, I’ve been happily married to my wife for 17 years. I have no regrets in that department. But for Chloe, this may seem like a case of now or never. But what about Scott? What does this act mean to him? Is Chloe just one last notch on his belt before the end? Ever since I saw the scene in episode 1 where Scott and James are having sex in the storage room, I’ve had a pretty negative view of Scott. I misremembered that he and Chloe got together at the end of the pilot, in the wake of Senator Armstrong’s death, further confirming to me that Scott was a dirty-rotten womaniser who chewed women up and spat them out, taking advantage of Chloe’s pain. Well, I was wrong about that. He just comforted her in the pilot. And this is when they officially get together. I can’t know Scott’s heart. But I do know that this relationship is going to continue. He’s not using Chloe in the same way he used James. I still can’t shake the feeling that he’s taking advantage of this situation a little, but it’s all clearly consenual. I still have this feeling that Chloe deserves better than Scott (and better obviously means Eli) but maybe that’s not fair. Maybe that’s just because I like it when the nerd gets the girl, like I did. The next scene is really interesting. Camille comes in to see Young. She thinks he should choose all 17 people, and he should include himself. The survivors will need leadership. She feels this would be more fair than sending the wrong people because they were randomly selected. Young makes the point that they are all the wrong people. None of them were selected for a long-term mission aboard Destiny. They were all assigned to Icarus Base, to solve the mystery of the ninth chevron. When he asks her how the decision would be made, she switches from saying “you” to saying “we”. “We’d make a short list, taking into account skills, age and sex.” Inherent is the idea that she wants to be part of the group. And making the decision seems to be within the purview of the HR Lady (which is what she was on Icarus.) “Do we just pick those we like?” he asks. That’s not what she’s saying. And then Young says those blood-chilling words. “Get out or I’m going to take your name out of the lottery. I may just do it anyway” And Camille goes silent. And her attitude immediately goes from aggressive to passive. She begs. “Please don’t.” She holds in her tears as best she can and leaves the room. I think in that moment, she would do anything to convince Young to leave her name in the lottery. Whenever I watch this scene, I can’t help but put myself in Camille’s place in that moment, and it horrifies me. It’s very powerful. Eli has a flashback dream of being back home. His mother is hassling him about a job interview. It seems he pulled out of it. I found this scene confusing because the pilot seemed to suggest that Eli couldn’t study or have a career because he had to be at home caring for his sick mother. Here, we see a mother that is quite able. She’s walking around the house picking up his laundry. And she’s telling trying to get him to get a job. Clearly, she has some kind of medical condition that involves a lot of financial cost, but she doesn’t seem to be the invalid we were lead to believe she was. So …. Is Eli just lazy? That’s what this scene is implying. Or am I reading too much into this? It IS a dream, after all, not an actual flashback. Scott is convinced he and Chloe are the two that Young has chosen. He makes sense. He’s the only one that can fly the shuttle, given that Young has withdrawn himself from consideration. Chloe points out that being a senator’s daughter might make her sound important but it’s not going to help anybody on the planet survive. She’s not one of the two. But she’s felt closer to Scott in the last few days than she’s ever felt to anyone. So this whole thing is real from her end. In Chloe’s keno interview she talks about how her father gave his life so they could all live another day. Then she chuckles at how that’s turned out to be more literal than he might have hoped. It’s been more than a day, but not many days. The unspoken question in her statement is, “Was his sacrifice worthwhile, given most of them are going to die now anyway?” Perhaps she’s not so sure. But I’ll bet I know what her dad would have said. Because if I were him, and I could let one of my kids live just one more day, it would totally be worth it. Young and Rush have a very calm and very reasonable conversation. The first two planets are proven to be uninhabitable. One is too cold, covered in frozen methane. The other is too hot. The third planet is behind the star and they’ll have to launch the shuttle before they get close enough to determine habitability, so it’s a gamble. A massive leap of faith. Chances are good, though, because it’s in between the other two worlds, in the goldilocks zone. But as it stands, there is no guarantee those chosen to go on the shuttle will survive any longer than those on destiny. Rush wants his name taken out of the lottery. Coming to this ship was his destiny. His life’s work. He’s happy to go down with her. And then there’s a moment of almost reconciliation between the two. Young admitting that Rush was right, and he should have listened to him earlier. Rush admitting he wasn’t himself at the time, too irrational to be taken seriously, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. There’s a tiny sliver of mutual respect going on here. And it almost chokes me up. Their relationship will go through a whole lot of ups and downs as the show progresses, but I really like this moment. Young reveals that he has chosen lieutenants Scott and Johansen as the two. Makes sense. The pilot and the doctor. Essential personnel. Rush suggests he could rig the lottery to choose people like Greer. There will be some who’ll assume he did anyway. I think he’s briefly tempted. Why not? But no, he’s firm on his principles with this. The moment of truth has come. Scott and Johannsen are on board the shuttle, ready to go. Young is gonna draw names out of a box. Those chosen will go up the stairs directly to the shuttle. Those whose names are not called must remain in the gate room until the shuttle is fully boarded and ready to leave. It’s gotta be a tense moment. You know those reality shows where they drag out who is being kicked off, or who is gonna be the winner. It would feel like that, except a million times worse, because if you’re not chosen, you’re going to die. I tell you, there must be a lot of hearts beating very fast. I try to put myself in the shoes of these characters, and I just get so overwhelmed by the thought of it. If your name was called, I imagine you’d feel a great sense of relief, but also some guilt, that you were one of the lucky ones, and you’d be leaving so many behind to die. Plus also a little mix of fear and excitement at the prospect of going to this new world to make a new life. Many of the names chosen are unknown to us, but Camille is chosen. Obviously Young left her name in the lottery. She’s sobbing as she arrives. All those mixed emotions. Probably some gratitude that Young didn’t exclude her too. Lieutenant James is chosen. That could get awkward with Scott. Do you think, if Chloe isn’t selected, that he’ll try to get back with her? Are these people going to try to populate their new world with a new generation, or just let themselves grow old and die? Anywy, Scott wisely stations James at the rear door of the shuttle. She needs to guard it in case anyone else tries to force their way on board. We don’t really know Doctor Park yet, but she’ll become a bigger part of the story over time. Brody is another we’ll get to know more about. We don’t hear all the names. The names that are not called are perhaps more important at this point. So that’s it. That’s fifteen. Anybody else still standing there to hear this has to face the reality that they’re going to die on this ship. Spencer, one of the military isn’t gonna stand for it. He says you can fit more people. He tries to get the others to rise up with him but Greer puts him down nice and quickly. I kinda like Greer in this moment. They close the shuttle, Eli’s keno in place so that they’ll get one last look at the outside of Destiny. It contains all their messages. It’s unlikely anyone will ever find it, but it’s still meaningful. Some of the remainders go to watch the shuttle leave from the viewing lounge. Eli is most interested to get images from the keno. This is the first time they’ve ever been able to see what the ship looks like from the outside. They all crowd around the tablet to get a glimpse. Rush’s expression of thanks is particularly heartfelt. It hits me right in the heart when Young and Rush shake hands. Rush apologises for getting Eli involved in this. But he’s not sorry. He’s got to see such wonders. He jokes he might be sorry by the end of the day, though. Yep, another little moment of humour. Rush explains to Chloe how the destruction of the ship will go down. He hopes it will be quick, but he can’t guarantee that. He doesn’t know. There are so many great character moments in this episode. I’m so glad they chose to take their time and do this properly, rather than jamming the whole thing into just one episode. We learn that the reason Greer was in the brig back on Icarus is because he hit Telford (a superior officer.) I can think can all assume Telford probably had it coming. Different groups of people are choosing to spend their final moments in different ways. Young is walking the ship and thinks about his wife. The “fun people” are playing cards. There’s a group reciting the Lord’s prayer together. It’s a very ritualistic kind of prayer, but also a very inclusive one. It’s pretty core to all flavours of Christianity. Rush finishes a mediocre book while listening to music. Eli and Chloe watch the star together, holding hands as friends. Greer takes off his shirt and sits on his bed. He’s meditating. Do you think any of them are planning to end things early? I’d be surprised if some of them didn’t at least think about it that. How would you spend this time, if you were on that ship? I would probably be praying, but probably something a bit more personal and heartfelt that the recital of the group we saw earlier. I’d like to think that I’d express gratitude for the many blessings in my life. Probably also praying for courage for what’s about to come. Not the death part. But fear of how it’ll happen. Fear of any pain or discomfort I might feel as the ship tears itself apart and the heat increases. In all honesty, I’d probably be trying to do anything to distract myself from that fear. The shuttle crew get their first readings of the planet. There’s very little vegetation and the temperature won’t be spending much time above zero, but they’ll technically be able to survive. It’s gonna be a hard life for them. Rush finishes his book and stands. You can tell something is going on in his mind. He goes to his lab and looks at a computer. Then laughs. Such a heartfelt genuine laugh of relief. The laugh of hope. He goes to the viewing room where Eli and Chloe are waiting. He laughs out loud and tells them they’re gonna live. The turbulence and heat should have happened by now, but the shield is protecting them. How can it be doing that? They’re out of power. Rush has never been so glad to be wrong in his life. Of course, being wrong is part of life for a good scientist. You more just as much, maybe even more, from being wrong than you do from being right. But this isn’t just an experiment. This is their lives. Then there’s that wonderfully triumphant moment as the ship’s solar collectors deploy, and the ship stars sucking in power from the sun. This is what destiny intended from the beginning. The ship draws its power from the stars. When it gets low, it flies through the corona of the star, protected by the super awesome magic ancient shields, which are powered by the star itself. This is such a great pay-off. But there’s still a problem. Those 17 people on the shuttle. TJ announces that the people on the ship will all be dead now. She wonders if they’re the lucky ones. Scott tells her not to think that way. That’s when they get a message from Young. Scott sets a course for Destiny, but the ship is accelerating away and the shuttle can’t match its speed. The computer can’t figure out an intercept solution and Scott can’t come up with a manual solution. Rush’s solution is the classic sci-fi concept of sling-shotting around a planet to accelerate. Rush tells everyone they need to trust him, but it’s Math-Boy Eli who figures the numbers out first. Now Rusi s the one who has to trust. It’s hard for him. Rush is used to being the smartest person around. But credit to him, he sends Eli’s numbers. This episode is such a roller coaster. We’ve gone through all that emotional character stuff, and then the triumphant bit, and now it’s really tense and suspenseful. It’s a great sequence. They manage to get back to the ship and dock. There’s a tiny moment of bittersweet for Eli and he realises that now Scott is back and he and Chloe will be together. But he doesn’t let that hold him back for long. This is a moment for celebration. Young tries really hard to reach out to Rush in the mess hall. He genuinely wants to praise Rush as a hero. And then a dark thought crosses his mind. What if Rush took his name out of the lottery because he knew Destiny would make it. What kind of a person does that make Rush? Eli is convinced that Rush didn’t know. He saw his face. And I agree with Eli. Rush didn’t know. He was surprised and elated. Greer and TJ both tell Young to let it go, but he’s not quite able to. The episode ends with that line again - “A lot of work.” In a way, I think that sums up both Rush and Young. Certainly their troubled relationship. So that was Light. I love this episode. It was fantastic. A beautiful character piece that examines how we all deal with our mortality, but then also an exciting action-packed story at the end. Episodes like this are one of the many reasons I’m a fan of Stargate Universe. Next week, we’ll talk about the last of the “resource gathering” episodes. And we’ll revisit the swirling wind alien from Air part 3. Please consider spreading the word about this podcast. Tell a friend who likes Stargate, or share episodes on social media. There are a lot of SGU fans out there, I just have to find them. Have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
19 minutes | Feb 7, 2021
Stargate Universe "Darkness" Detailed Analysis & Review
Today we discuss the first regular episode of Stargate Universe after the extended pilot. Destiny now has breathable air but there are a lot of other problems. The most immediate is the mysterious lack of power. As the crisis pushes our characters toward breaking point, can they find a solution? This episode, and the next, closely tie together. They were originally intended to be one single episode. I'm glad they ended up splitting it in two because it allowed them to really take their time and delve into the characters. It's a great mini-arc. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven. I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd. This is episode 53 of the podcast. Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode Darkness. MGM have just released the whole of Stargate Universe and Stargate SG-1 on Blue-ray. Previously, the first season of SGU was available on blu-ray but the second season wasn’t. That makes this the perfect time to watch along with me Of course, these are American releases, but it will hopefully lead to releases in other countries as well. The early seasons of SG-1, which were shot on film, have been re-mastered for this collection. And speaking of re-mastering. There’s big new about Babylon 5. We fans have spent years talking about how a remaster is unlikely to ever happen because Warner Bros doesn’t seem to care about B5 as a property any longer. And now we’ve just learned they’re spent the last 6 years re-mastering it. It’s a shock, but I’ve never been happier to be wrong in all my life. Babylon 5 was shot in widescreen but framed for 4:3. All the CGI was done in 4:3. The DVD transfer of the show was terrible. They used the full 16:9 frame of the live-action footage, and then cropped and stretched the CGI to fit the frame. That made it look terrible low-res. The scenes to suffer most were those that included both CGI and live-action elements. You could literally see the pixels in these shots. It was horrible. This new version is back in the original 4:3 so none of those problems exist. But more than that, they’ve re-scanned the film at a higher-resolution, plus they’ve upscaled the CGI. Note, this doesn’t mean they’ve re-rendered the CGI, but from all accounts, the show looks better than it ever has. And that’s very exciting. One final bit of news before we launch into today’s episode of Stargate Universe, we have a release date for the Snyder Cut of Justice League. The 18th of March. STill no indication that HBO Max will be available outside of America by them, but Zack did say he’d make sure there were international distribution options in place. Let’s hope they’ll all be ready to go on day 1. I’ll admit I’m pretty nervous as I wait for more news. Anyway, let’s talk about Darkness. The description on Gateworld reads The Destiny suffers a power crisis, putting the lives of the stranded crew in jeopardy when even the emergency reserves run dry. Dr. Rush pushes himself to the breaking point. This episode was written by Brad Wright It was directed by Peter Deluise And it first aired on the 16th of October 2009. So we’ve solved our most immediate problem. The need for air. But this is a multi-million year old spaceship that hasn’t been maintained since it was launched. There are plenty of other problems. This episode will address the next of these. They’re eating some kind of group. Powder mixed with water. It could just be protein powder. At least that would give them some calories. But water is very limited. They have to ration it carefully, and they certainly can’t use it for washing. But Eli has found a shower. It doesn’t use water. It sprays some kind of mist. There’s a nice camaraderie that has already started to build between these people, as they banter about who smells the worst. I really like it. Also, nice to know they’ve figured out how to make the toilets work. Very important. But it’s not the water, or the food, or even the toilets that has Rush concerned. It’s the power. Their power reserves are extremely low and Rush can’t figure out why. They’re been turning on systems since they arrived, sure, but this ship had power to last millions of years of interstellar space flight until now. It seems very coincidental they'd arrive just as its batteries finally give out. There’s got to be more to it. Rush has been working through the night and he’s getting really testy. Eli is still playing with the kenos. He’s wanting to get people to say a little something about themselves, to document, not just the circumstances of their situation, but the people involved. And already, we get a joke, as Eli quotes Planet of The Apes. Once again disproving the notion that Stargate Universe is without humour. The Keno interviews are interspersed through the episode, and they’re really nice little glimpses into the characters. I especially like Voker’s as it ties in with the episode. And what he says makes sense. We can’t all be mozart, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good astro-physicist. In Scott’s interview, he says he wants to say a prayer for the crew, although what he actually does is recite Psalm 23, which kinda works as a prayer. Anyway, this shows that he still does have some genuine belief in the faith he was raised with. Actually, we get a second joke. The officer making the goop asks Young what his assignment is. Young replies “Recipes. For the love of God, recipes.” That got a laugh out loud from me. Young has had people turning things on all over the ship. They’ve found a charging plate that can adapt to earth technology, which is really cool, but the minute Rush tells him they have power issues, he tells people to stop. He doesn't try to argue it out. Young doesn’t let his personal issues with Rush get in the way of important matters. And I like that. He tries to reach out to Rush. They need to be on the same page. And Rush needs to inform Young of anything important that may affect people on the ship. He offers someone to assist but rush declines. At this point it would take longer to bring somebody up to speed. So Young just picks someone. Rush isn’t just being arrogant and annoying here. This is a real principle. I know in my day job field of computer programming, there’s a very real principle, that you can’t just speed up a project by adding a new team member. Adding a new person will slow things down initially because you have to stop productive work to educate the new person and get them up to speed. We’ve known this since the 70s. Probably longer, but that’s when a book was written about it. So I don’t doubt Rush here. I can understand Young’s desire to add extra resources given the urgency and importance of what Rush is doing, but it probably won’t help. But the way Rush treats Volker is very rude. Rush is clearly not operating at his best. He hasn’t slept. But is it just affecting his disposition, or is it affecting his ability to do his job? It’s a tough situation because their lives depend on solving this before it’s too late. But there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns when it’s best, no matter how little time you have, to grab some sleep and try again after. Even if he just takes an hour or two. Chloe doesn’t know what to do with herself. She’s a political science student, Assistant to a senator, her father, who is now dead. She has no role on this spaceship. She’s a smart young woman but are any of her skills useful in this situation? It’s all a bit frustrating for her. And of course, Eli is kinda following her around like a lost puppy, because, well, she’s the only person on this ship his age, and he really likes her. She wants to use one of the showers Eli found, so he agrees to show it to her. Poor old Eli. He’s standing guard so nobody barges in on Chloe in the shower. With his back turned like a gentleman, of course, but there’s a lot of teenage horniness going on here. So from his perspective, it’s really bad timing when Lt. James appears and asks him to come have a word with her. She sees right through him, of course. I mean, when it comes to hormones, she’s not exactly above adolescent behaviour herself, right? Turns out, James doesn’t want to talk to him alone. There’s a whole bunch of people who kinda mob him. The lower downs, the junior officers are feeling left out. They think Young and Rush may know more than they’re telling, about whether they’ll make it back to earth. They think the higher ups are hiding things from them. Eli thinks this is a load of nonsense. And is almost offended at their suggestion. He promises that if Young and Rush tell him anything of note, he’ll pass it along to these guys, totally not believing in their little conspiracy theory. I love the way he’s so sarcastic in how he talks to them. Now, you could argue that Eli is being a little naive here, but I tend to side with Eli in thinking these guys are all just being idiots. There’s some nice dialogue between Young and Voker, regarding whether it’s worth trying to stand up to Rush. And then the ship drops out of FTL, and the lights go out. Rush says their power, all of their power, is gone. So they’re dead in space. FTL was the last system to fail, and now it’s gone. Things get pretty awkward with Eli and Chloe when he goes back to help her in the dark. At first she wants privacy but then calls him back. He fails to hide the delight when she wants him to stay, but then she tells him to turn around while she finishes dressing. There’s no actual nudity shown in any of this. You could say that this whole thing is….not so much gratuitous, but … needlessly sexy, I suppose. But I contrast this scene with one in Star Trek Enterprise. You probably remember it, when Hoshi is climbing through the jeffery’s tube and slips, and somehow her shirt stays up there, and she slips down without it. And of course, for some reason she’s not wearing a bra. That scene was really bad. It was clearly made to titillate. It was an extremely childish attempt to get ratings with meaningless sexiness. Compared to that, this scene looks really good. It wasn’t so much made to titillate. Maybe a little bit, but this is just a portrayal of young people, as they really are, in a situation that is believable. So I think this scene is a lot more justified. Rush’s rant to young about how his order to try dialling earth robbed him of the time he needed to solve this problem before it was too late. But Young makes a good point. With all the mistakes Young has made, ordering people to do things that have wasted power, it doesn’t add up to a result this dire. They’re missing something. But Rush is too frantic to hear it. He’s given up hope because there’s nothing more he can do. And then he passes out. This was some fantastic acting from Robert Carlyle. I love it. Young wants to use the communication stone to visit Earth, and Telford is volunteering for stone duty again. We get the impression he does this often. He really wants to be on board Destiny as much as he can. It’s amusingly ironic that the one person who managed to avoid getting stuck on that ship is the one who really wants to be there. Telford is quick to blame Young for the situation on Destiny. Yes, Rush saw this coming but it wasn’t in Young’s power to prevent this. Debriefing on the current situation doesn’t take long, so Young decides to go visit his wife while he’s on earth. Of course, he’s visiting her in Telford’s body, which has got to be weird for her. I think she has just been given clearance to know about the stargate program. It would be a lot to take in. Aliens exist, we have a stargate. Your husband is stranded in a galaxy so far away we don’t have a name for it. But his spirit can visit you in another man’s body due to an alien communication technology. Oh, and he’s here to see you. Her uncertain response to him is completely believable. Their marriage was on the verge of being over before he left for Icarus base. His job was one of the issues between them, but not the only one. Now that she’s completely out of his reach, he wants to make things right with her. He wants to get home somehow, and he wants her to be here waiting for him when he does. And that’s a big ask. But...I can understand him wanting to ask. When you love someone, you do all you can to hold onto them. Of course, she still has the option to say no, and that’s what she does, at least at first. His wife takes some time to think about it, and then finally comes back outside to talk to Young about it. She’s willing to consider that this might all be true, and I think she’s believing that Young genuinely wants to patch things up with her, to get home to her. But she asks “How does this change things?” In the end, she can’t see that this makes any difference. He still put his career ahead of his marriage, and she’s not yet able to forgive him for this. Young leaves defeated, but I think, there’s some stuff going on in her mind. She’s not ready to forgive yet, but she’s closer than either of them realise. While Young is off failing to save his marriage, Telford is busy ordering Scott to use the stones to report that Young needs to be replaced. Young’s response, when he returns to his own body, “well, he’s probably right about that.” Colonel Young knows his shortcomings as a leader, but he wants to overcome them. He wants to be better, and he really does try. And that’s what I love about his character. The more times I watch this show, the more Young grows on me. And, of course, the more I love to hate Telford. Anyway, they’ve learned that Destiny dropped out of FTL in a solar system with several potentially habitable planets. The odds of them running out of power that close to a star, rather than out in open interstellar space, is so ridiculously astronomical, that it has to mean something. It’s like the ship deliberately came here. Again, all very logical. And we know the ship does things for a reason, like when it dialed the stargate to the planet that contained the limestone that saved their lives. This information is delivered to us through one of the Keno interviews. I don’t know the name of the character but she delivers it in a delightful way. The episode takes a bunch of exposition and infuses it with lots of character. It was a wonderful decision on the writer’s part, and the actress sold it very well. Rush is finally awake after passing out, in what Scott called a nervous breakdown. His body desperately needed sleep. Plus, he’s going through caffeine withdrawal. All the crew who have addictions are suffering right now. Anyway, no matter how understandable Rush’s ranting was, he’s very embarrassed by it. He likes to be in more control than that. He still has the same concerns about their power situation, but at least he’s capable of being more rational now, despite his withdrawal headache. When Rush goes to talk to Young about his previous ranting, he can’t bring himself to use the word apology. Instead, he says “I want to explain that I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms.” You see, there’s a not quite subtle difference in emphasis. An apology could include an explanation of how he wasn’t himself, of course, but he’s more interested in justifying his behaviour, rather than expressing remorse for how that behaviour affected others. Rush almost behaved like a decent human being here, but he blew it. I suspect there’s some really interesting psychological stuff going on with Rush. As Young says “A lotta work.” So Destiny is on a trajectory to slingshot around the gas giant, taking it close to the planets that are believed to be habitable. Clearly, this is not a coincidence. Things are starting to look up a little for our crew. There’s gonna be a lot of turbulence as they pass near the planet’s atmosphere. Eli is excited to see this. Who wouldn’t be? Chloe understandably has other things on her mind, like the recent death of her father, but when Eli drags her out to see it she’s mesmerized by its beauty. It’s an exciting moment. The ship comes out of the slingshot and Rush is horrified to learn that the manoeuvre has changed their trajectory more than they’d hoped. They’re headed straight for the star. That’s not good. This episode, and the next one, were originally conceived as a single script, but they were broken apart into two. I think this was a good move. It allows a lot more time to deal with the characters as the main plot progresses, plus it gives us time to really build up some strong tension regarding the ship’s predicament. I love the serialised nature of this show. SG-1 and Atlantis were both serialised, of course, but Universe just takes it that step further. So this was the first regular episode of SGU after the 3-part pilot. And I think the show has well and truly established itself as something special. Something strong. I can’t wait to dive into the next one, Light, which will be filled with a whole lot of emotions. Next week the story picks up right where we left it with the episode Light. It’s a great one, and I can’t wait to share it with you in two weeks. If you’re enjoying Nerd Heaven, please consider leaving a review on iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I endeavour to make sure the show is available anywhere and everywhere, but if it’s not available on your favourite app, just let me know and I’ll do everything I Can to make sure it gets there. You can contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org And spread the word about this show with all your stargate-loving friends. The hardest thing about creating content is getting that content in front of the eyeballs of people who would like it, if they only knew it existed. I want to thank everyone who takes the time to listen to me. There may be few of you, but you are greatly appreciated. Have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
17 minutes | Jan 24, 2021
Stargate Universe "Air Part 3" Detailed Analysis & Review
In the third part of the pilot of Stargate Universe, we follow our characters to an alien planet where they search for much-needed material to repair the scrubbers on Destiny. If they fail, everyone will die of asphyxiation. But there may be other life on this world. Is it helpful or hostile? News mentioned in this episode * The passing of Mira Furlan * Sir Patrick Stewart's Critics Choice Super Award * Star Trek Lower Decks available outside of North America. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a Nerd. This is episode 52 of the podcast. Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Air Part 3”. There’s been a bit going on in the nerd world lately, that I want to mention. And sadly, I have to start with the heart-breaking passing of Mira Furlan, who played Delenn on Babylon 5 and Rousseau on Lost. She was only 65 years old. So many of the Babylon 5 actors have gone before their time. I learned about this just last night and it really hit me. I am a huge Babylon 5 fan. One of the things that made the show so great was the fantastic characters, jointly created by writer J Michael Straczynski along with some truly amazing actors. Mira Furlan was one of those actors. I’ll always remember her for her passionate speeches as Delenn. The character was tender, loving, but also as tough as they come. There was a great deal of Furlan in Delenn. JMS wrote the character in a way to help Furlan express many feelings she had about her homeland of Yugoslavia which was going through all kinds of political turmoil. My condolences go out to her husband, her family, and all those who loved her, which definitely includes her Babylon 5 family. In happier news, I want to acknowledge Sir Patrick Stewart for winning the Critics Choice Super award for Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series, for his role on Star Trek Picard. And just a reminder that Star Trek Lower Decks is finally available to watch, legally and ethically, outside of North America. All 10 episodes are streaming on Amazon Prime Video. While I’ve had most of the big moments of the series spoiled, I’m still enjoying going through and watching the episodes for myself. And for those watching this podcast on youTube, just a reminder that I recorded the bulk of this episode before I decided to do live action video for the youTube version, so you won’t be seeing my face as I discuss the show. All back to normal next time. The description on Gateworld reads Lt. Scott leads a team to a desert planet to locate a mineral capable of fixing Destiny's life support system. Chloe visits her mother on Earth. This episode was WRITTEN BY: Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita And it first aired on the 9th of October 2009 So the team emerges through the gate onto a desert planet, but very different looking to Abydos. This is clearly a location shot and looks so much better than anything they did on SG1. Eli steps through and looks at his surroundings. An alien planet in a whole other galaxy. He smiles and says “cool.” Of course he does. I would too. I’d take a moment to appreciate the enormity of it, but he doesn’t let it distract him either. Meanwhile, SCott orders them to try dialing the gate back to the ship. Again, very wise. They want to make sure they can get back. There isn’t a DHD but they have a hand-held device they likely found on the ship. So good news. There is evidence of limestone on this planet. This whole dessert was once an ocean that probably supported life. Very different life than anything they’ve ever seen before. One thing SGU does really well is it makes space feel more alien. It also feels like this show is more grounded in real science. Certainly what the geologist is doing feels authentic and not technobabble-ish. Young is gonna use the stones to report in. Colonel Talford, who was evacuated from Icuras by the Hammond is waiting by the stones. He wants to be the one who is connected. You see, the two people swap bodies, so Young appears in Talford’s body back on Earth, but Talford appears in Young’s body on the Destiny. Deep down, I think Talford wanted to out there on the alien ship. But he missed out. I do feel sorry for Talford suddenly finding himself in a broken body with the pain of broken ribs. Chloe has also used the stones to visit earth so she can tell her mother the sad news about her father. The way they do the stones thing, is the same wy they did it back on SG1. The actor who is playing the soul within the body is the actor you see, but he or she is wearing the clothes of the person they replace. Young points out that these are the wrong people for the expedition. Those who are stuck on the ship are not qualified. O’Neill can sympathise, but ultimately, he reminds Young that he wasn’t qualified when he first went through the gate to Abydos. They’ve sent hundreds of people through the gate to various planets, and none of them have been qualified. Humanity are in way over their head. They always have been. But they’ve come such a long way since SG1 season 1. Franklin thinks they should be checking out the other planets in range. Rush is still convinced the solution is on this planet. And he has good reason to think that. Chloe’s Mum probably already had security clearance to know about the Stargate program. But it still must be confronting to see your daughter wearing another person’s face. She’s not handling it very well. She’s chugging whiskey before Chloe can even tell her that her dad is dead. But then she breaks down when she learns the full extent of it. And the power of that scene moves me pretty deeply. Very well done. Talford, and the other scientist from Earth, who is currently lending her body to Chloe, agree with Franklin that they should try to get past the locks on the other planets. Brody isn’t convinced. There has to be a good reason why they’re locked out. But Talford makes it an order. If there are good reasons, he wants to know what they are. And that’s fair enough, but it’s still a big risk. And now we get our first exploration of the theme of how you treat somebody elses body when you’ve living in it. Johansen wants Talford to rest, because Young’s body needs to heal. Talford wants to push through with painkillers. He feels they need him here. But that’s not his body he’s abusing. We’ll continue to explore this idea through the series. But Johansen tricks him by giving him a sedative she shouldn’t have had to waste, just so Young and return to a healthy body. Scientist lady isn’t impressed. But I see why Johansen made the call, and she stands firmly behind it. You don’t want to press this woman on her medical ethics. She won’t back down. Rush is concerned that if they don’t slow down, they’ll never be able to keep up the pace on the way back. Greer, cocky as ever, is convinced he can.It’s a tough call. They need to find the limestone, wherever it is, but they also need to get back to the stargate alive, before the time runs out. And that’s when Scotts starts seeing things. A syringe wisp of sand twirling around. Is it just a natural phenomenon or something else? As they leave, the wind seems very interested in the chemicals Rush used to test the sand. It appears there is some intelligence behind it. Both teams keep testing, and keep failing. And that’s when the second team decide to mutiny. Franklin has found an override to allow them to dial the other planets in range. Even Palmer is agreeing with Franklin now. They make a couple of reasonable points to consider, but they’re still stupid. And wrong. Rush on the other hand, is smart enough to know he can’t go on any further. So he tells Scott to go on without him. And Scott is still seeing the swirling wind. But can he be sure he’s not losing his mind due to heat and dehydration? He tests it by pouring some water and watching the wind go investigate the water. But then he sees a human face in the sand. Her knows that can’t be real. There’s a nice character scene as Rush and Greer confgront a few prejudices they have about each other. Rush assumes Greer is poor, and Greer assumes Rush is rich. It seems Rush is right but Greer is wrong. Franklin has managed to open the gate. They’re gonna take the remote control, stranding everyone else on the planet. Palmer and the solder go through, but Greer arrives in time to shoot Franklin. They are half way through the countdown. If Scott hasn’t turned back by now, he’ll never make it to the gate before Destiny jumps away. Only problem is, he hasn’t turned back. He’s still looking for limestone. Now a priest is following Scott around the desert. And we get another little moment of humour when Eli says “I have a gun.” Young is back on the ship and Rush has taken Franklin back to Destiny for medical treatment. So we get a flashback. Scott in a church, crying and confessing his failure to the priest. Scott’s parents died in a car crash when he was only 4. He was raised by this priest, but he drank himself to death when Scott was just 16. Scott thought that he had a religious calling, but he’s gotten a girl pregnant, and she’s not going to have the baby. He feels he has failed God. I’m not sure why exactly the wind creature chose this memory to make Scott re-live, but maybe it’s a way of encouraging him not to give up, showing him that life can go on even after mistakes. Anyway, it stirs up the sand, making some water bubble up to wake Scott. He sees the limestone, tests it, and it’s good. He’s found what they need. Now he just needs to collect it and get back to the ship, Eli can’t make contact with Palmer and the soldier. We’ll never hear from them again. They’re gone. Whatever danger existed on that planet, it’s taken them. IT seems Destiny was right to lock out that planet after all. I kinda like the way they did this. It would have been interesting to see them meet their demise, but there’s something mysterious about just never knowing. For all his faults, Greer is very loyal. He’s not gonna leave Scott out there on his own. He goes back for him. How he has the physical stamina for what he does in this episode is beyond me. He ends up walking this distance 4 times. 3 minutes on the clock, and scott and greer are still not back. The rescue team have given up and returned to the ship. No point all of them getting stranded on the planet too. Eli can see them on the scanner, butr they’re not gonna quite make it. This is a really tense climax. They build up some great tension. Rush had a brilliant idea. He tells Eli to stick his hand into the event horizon of the wormhole. That should prevent it from closing, and hopefully Destiny from leaving. That’s how the stargates in the milky way work, but these are older gates. Will it just chop off his arm? The timer runs out, and the gate is still open. They make it through. What a moment! We hear a contemporary song play as we see them repair the CO23 scrubberrs with the lime. The air begins to flow, and we see the relief on everyon’es faces as they start to breath properly again. Chloe brings Scott some water. They share some of their mutual pain. Now I was all set up to talk about how Scott takes advantage of Chloe, how he uses her pain as an excuse to get her into bed. I could have sworn there was a scene at the end of this episode where they have sex, but it’s not there. We leave with them sitting and talking. Let’s face it, in his condition, Scott’s not up for anything physical right now. So I suppose I’ll have to leave the discussion of that for when it actually happens. Probably in the next episode. It’ll be interesting to see if my opinions of their relationship changes. Anyway, the final shot shows some kind of alien shuttle that was docked with Destiny lift off and fly away. Oooh. Very intriguing. And that was Air Part 3. I love this three-part pilot. It’s probably the best opening to a TV show that I’ve ever seen. This is a really strong start. I like how it focussed on survival rather than rushing to introduce a new big bad. It had everything I was looking for in a Stargate show in a post-Battlestar Galactica world. This show clearly took a lot of inspiration in both tone and shooting style from that one, but it never felt like a cheap copy. Stargate Universe set it’s own course, and I’m thrilled to travel the rest of this journey with you all over the coming episodes. -- So we’re now done with the extended pilot and can launch into the rest of season 1. I first saw Air Parts 1, 2 and 3 on a DVD which I bought long before the show started airing in Australia, so for me, there was a big gap between this and the next episode. Nerd Heaven is now officially back on a fortnightly schedule. That means there will be no episode next week, but I’ll be back on the 8th of February to talk about the episode “Darkness”. There’s plenty more great stuff to come, so I hope you’ll join me for it. Until then, have a great two weeks. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
33 minutes | Jan 17, 2021
Stargate Universe "Air Parts 1 & 2" - Detailed Analysis & Review
We begin a new era of the podcast as we look at Stargate Universe. SGU is the third TV series in the Stargate franchise, following SG-1 and Atlantis, not to mention the original 1994 movie. It was a divisive show, and still is to this day. It was a departure from the previous two shows in terms of tone, shooting style and story-telling. But it well-loved by its fans. Today, I delve deep into the first two parts of the 3-part pilot. We'll look at the new characters introduced in this story, and talk about how the pilot grabbed me with both hands and wouldn't let go. Check out Book 1 of Jewel of The Stars for just 99 cents at http://books2read.com/jewel Or get the free prequel story at http://www.adamdavidcollings.com/free ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a Nerd. This is episode 51 of the podcast. I’m really excited because today, we’re starting something brand new. We’re going to be looking at each episode of Stargate Universe, just as we’ve done with Star Trek Picard season 1 and Star Trek Discovery Season 3. This is a very divisive show because it was a significant departure from the previous two Stargate TV shows, in terms of tone, shooting style, and story-telling. Stargate Universe was heavily influenced by Battlestar Galactica. It’s a much more character-driven show. It’s more serialised, and it’s got a darker more serious tone. The show is hardly what you’d call grimdark, but the characters have a lot more flaws than you’d usually expect from Stargate. But in my mind, that just gives them a lot of room for growth. I’ve loved Stargate from the beginning. I was a big fan of the 1994 film, and I loved both SG-1 and Atlantis. This third series, is actually a great launching on point, so if you decided long ago that Stargate wasn’t for you, it’s worth giving SGU a try. Now a little note for those of you watching on youTube. I recorded the bulk of this episode a few months back, before I decided to show live action video on the youTube version of the podcast, so for the bulk of this week’s episode, and next week’s episode, you won’t have to look at my ugly mug. Lucky you. But by episode 3, it’ll all be back to normal. The description on GateWorld reads When a research team is forced to evacuate their secret base, they find themselves on board a derelict Ancient vessel that is many galaxies away from Earth. This episode was written by Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper It was directed by Andy Mikita And it first aired on the 2nd of October 2009. Stargate Universe was not well-received by all fans. Many bemoaned the lack of humour, the darker grittier tone, and the more morally ambiguous characters. But let me be very clear about this. Not everyone disliked the show. Many of us loved it, and still consider it our favourite Stargate show to this day. And I’m talking people who loved SG1 and Atlantis. My first introduction to the show was the first three episodes edited together into an extended pilot movie on DVD. It would be months, maybe a year, before I would get to see the rest of season 1. It’s hard to put into words just why I liked this show so much, but this three-part pilot really grabbed me with both hands and wouldn’t let go. The gritty realistic tone of the show just felt like a breath of fresh air to me. And the wonder of them being on this ancient spaceship so far from home, with no idea what it was all about, that captures my imagination. I love the character focus. SG1 and Altantis both followed a similar pattern in terms of their characters. They both had a four-person team who went through the gate, plus a command and support staff back at their home base. Universe broke way out of this mold. These people are not the best of the best. They’re not all military. They’re definitely not supposed to be on this ship. In that sense, I get quite a Farscape vibe from the show. These people are not a crew, they’re a collection of people who have been forced together under unusual circumstances and forced to live and struggle together. So, of course, there’s going to be conflict. Add to that, Colonel Young is no Jack O’Neill. He may not be that great an officer, and he admits this himself. But, he tries. He really does. And we see a lot of growth in the character over the two seasons. And Doctor rush, well, he’s brilliant, but a very very flawed man. Seriously, I eat this stuff up. It’s great. But let’s actually look at this episode. It begins in space. A ship jumps out of hyperspace and slowly approaches the camera as the credits roll. We’ve never seen a ship like this before, but we’ll soon come to know her as destiny. You get to see a whole lot of detail on this ship as the camera zooms in. It’s nice to see a Stargate show in high definition. It’s all pretty ominous. The ship is deserted. But then we pan into the gate room and see the gate spinning. Then the wormhole engages and people start flying out of it. It’s a mysterious beginning. WE have no idea what it’s all about. This first episode makes very effective use of non-linear story-telling. We keep flashing back and forth between the destiny and the earlier stuff that explains how our characters got here. At this point we’re wondering about these people. This is not your typical SG team. We’ve got military, some guy in glasses dressed as a civilian, and a teenager in a red tshirt. The opening makes us hungry to know more. But we can tell straight away there is something ominous about Doctor Rush. Everyone else is panicking. But he’s looking around at this ship with a quiet lust and a dark satisfaction. The last one to come through is Colonel Young. He hits his head badly and passes out after placing Lieutenant Scott in charge. We won’t see him, other than in flashbacks, until the second part when he wakes up. The episode does a good job of showing visually, that is this a much older stargate. Earlier technology. The whole gate spins, which is different. And when the wormhole closes, it vents out all this steam, as if the gate struggles to cool itself. The ship jumps back into hyperspace but we have no idea what’s going on at the time. We just see a weird stretching effect on the picture, and the characters react with the same confusion we do. Then we flashback to Eli playing a video game. He solves a difficult puzzle. And the next thing you know, Jack O’Neil is knocking on his door with Doctor Rush. It seems they embedded a top-secret problem in the game and Eli solved what nobody else could. Lucky him. I love Jack’s reactions here when Eli disbelieves them and is hesitant to sign the non-disclosure agreement. Jack’s got no time for this. He can just beam Eli up to the ship. No worries. This is a risk, of course. But I guess, if he still doesn’t sign, nobody is gonna believe him. But I think Jack knows people well enough to know he’ll sing. This ship is the Hammond, named after the late General Hammond. WE learn a little about Eli. We know he’s not unemployed because he’s lazy. He’s a genius, but his mother has health issues that require him to look after her. The ship is leaving orbit to travel to another planet. But Eli would at least like some pants before they leave. And this is a good reminder that while this show is much more dramatic and serious than SG1 or Atlantis, it DOES have humour. This line from Eli is pretty funny and nicely in line with the type of humour we often got from Jack O’Neill. There’s a nice sequence where Eli watches a bunch of training videos, hosted by none other than Dr. Daniel Jackson. This is a good way to get up to speed with all things stargate, both for Eli and for the audience, who may not have watched the previous shows. We also get some important backstory. Ancient ruins were found on an alien planet two years ago. There, they found a 9 symbols address. We know that gate addresses within the local galaxy contain 7 symbols. 8 symbol addresses call gates in another galaxy, like an area code. But the stargate has nine chevrons. So what is the meaning of the ninth symbol? Nobody has ever managed to successfully dial a 9-symbol address. Eli gets to call his mum on the phone. He tells her he’s doing some top-secret work for the air force. She is up on her feet, walking around the house, and it looks like she’s wearing a uniform of some kind. So she’s got a job. So I’m confused as to the nature of her sickness, and why it prevents Eli from pursuing his career. It seems if he got a job, he’d be able to help pay for her medical expenses. Anyway, the air force are going to take care of him while he’s away. And he meets Chloe for the first time. She’s the only other person on this ship his age, and I think he immediately notices that she’s quite an attractive young woman. He’s surprised to find out he’s quite the celebrity on this ship. Anyway, these two characters are immediately pretty good together. Then we jump back to the present. Eli and Rush discover they’re on a spaceship. Travelling faster than light, somehow, but not through conventional hyperspace. Rush has identified the ship as being ancient technology. Not only meaning it was built by the aliens we call the ancients, but that it is old. Really old. And that’s when they notice the air is thin. The life support system is failing on this ship. And that’s totally believable. How many millions of years has it been flying through space? We meet Colonel Young through a flashback talking to his wife before he left to go on this mission. His career with the SGC is putting a lot of stress on his marriage. He’s always off-world and he can’t even tell her about it. It’s obvious pretty early on that Colonel Young is not cut out of the same heroic mould as O’Neil, Shepherd and Mitchell. Our introduction to Scott comes with him having sex with a female officer in a storage room. Real classy Scott. It’s not always fair to judge people based on first impressions, but I have to say, this scene really colours the way I see his character throughout the show. Eli, Chloe, her father, the senator, and Rush arrive on the planet that houses Icarus base. The stargate on this planet doesn’t accept incoming wormholes, which is why they had to come here on a ship. It’s a plot convenience so we could have the scenes on the Hammond. The puzzle Eli solved was the problem Rush has been working on for ages. He’s trying to figure out how to dial the 9 chevron address. Rush has been working on it for ages, and Eli has solved it. Except it still doesn’t work. This gate is powered by the planet’s core itself. Getting the energy output just right is the challenge. While rush keeps trying to solve it, Eli is invited to a special dinner. And he’s happy to attend. Meanwhile, we get a hint of Rush’s backstory. There was a woman who was in his life. Judging by his tears, she’s probably dead. Senator Armstrong is pretty upset about them being on this ship and tries to order Scott to get them back to earth right away. But sometimes, you can’t just order things to be the way you want them. Rush is trying to get life support back online, but Eli doesn’t trust what he’s doing. And emotions are very high. Grier is ready to shoot him. Especially given he blames rush for them being on the ship in the first place. It’s a tense scene. In the end, the button does nothing, good or bad. I wasn’t a fan of Grier at the beginning. He comes across so cocky. So sure of himself. He loves himself just a little too much. Of course, he’ll grow on me as the season progresses. And he was actually in the brig back on Icarus. He was only just released because Icarus base is under attack by the Lucian alliance. And this is where we see that Samantha Carter is still in command of the Hammond. I believe she left Atlantis to take up this post. This episode has a lot to do. In between all that is happening, it has to set up the backstory of a large cast of characters. Certainly a bigger cast than any stargate show before it. We meet Johansen and Camille. Johansen, the medic on the ship was actually planning to leave to the stargate program before all this happened. And Camille is a civilian representative of the IOA, an international group that oversees the stargate program. It’s nice to see the pyramid ships and death gliders in this first episode. They’re a remnant of SG1 and the milky way galaxy. So we won’t be seeing them moving forward. Rush is desperate to figure out this nine symbol issue now. This planet has unique properties. They may not be able to get the address to work anywhere else, and this bombardment could literally cause the planet to blow up. This is Rush’s last chance to realise his life’s work. They figure out, if this is not a power problem, maybe it’s an issue with the address. Maybe they’re using the wrong point of origin because the gate was meant to be dialled from somewhere else. The gate is supposed to be dialling Earth to evacuate the base, but Rush cancels it so they can try dialling his 9 symbol address instead. He just some justification for this beyond his own personal selfish need to complete his work. He says they can’t risk dialling earth. The energy of the explosions, if the core goes could be devastating if it travels through the wormhole. And that’s a fair point. But is there really a risk of that, or is it just a convenient excuse for Rush? As young says, he could have dialled somewhere else, anywhere else in the milky way. And it works. The address connects. Whatever it leads to, they've established a connection. In the end, they have to go through the wormhole to wherever it leads. Because anywhere is better than here. The planet is about to blow. Rush finds a starmap detailing the ship’s journey. It began at Earth. IT left the galaxy, travelled past pegasus, past galaxy after galaxy. It’s impossibly far away. Several billion lightyears from home. I got chills when I first watched this and realised just how far away they were. Most of the people on base have to evacuate through the gate. But Colonel Talford beams up to the Hammond and remains in the milky way galaxy. And the planet blows up, taking the Lucian alliance ships with it. Back on Earth, Jack is working at the Pentagon, as he has since he left the day-to-day running of the SGC. Walter is there with him. Not at the SGC. Together, Carter and O’Neill realise that nobody came through the gate to earth. So where did they go? Which takes us right back to the beginning of the episode, where they first came through the gate onto the ship. And that’s the end of part 1. So they’re gonna explore the ship, looking for whatever they can find. Scott is taking charge. I like how they acknowledge that this ship is really old and there could be parts that are damaged or dangerous. And then he looks at the woman he was having sex with in the closet and says “You’re James, right?” Ouch. She gives him a death stare and says “Yes, Lieutenant.” Scott has had her, and now he’s ready for his next conquest. We’ll see who that is later. I really feel for James in this moment. He’s clearly trying to pretend he doesn’t really know her, but it feels more than that, like he’s just brutally tossed her out. Of course, nobody is buying it. Grier can see exactly what’s being said here, and what’s not. Scott finds a door he can’t open. He orders Eli to open it. The other side is a room open to vacuum. There’s a big hole in the bulkhead. Another great reminder of how old and un-maintained this ship is. It’s a dangerous place. Meanwhile, Rush gets out a device. One part of it might be familiar, the stone. Yes, this is an ancient communication stone, like the one that first sent Daniel and Vala’s minds into the Ori galaxy back in SG1 season 9. Although the base plate is human technology, which is interesting. This device allows two people to swap bodies across un-imaginable cosmic distances. This was a very cool addition to Stargate Universe. It allows the crew, stranded on destiny, countless galaxies away, to communicate with people back home on Earth. Even have little visits home. And we get a little cameo from Doctor Lee who appeared in both SG1 and Atlantis. Apparently, like most of the former SGC staff, he’s now posted at the Pentagon in Washington with Jack. I can’t help but wonder if the SGC is till operating in Chyanne Mountain. Remember, last we saw of Atlantis, it was on Earth, and Pegasus gates take precedence over milky way gates. Meaning Atlantis could be the new SGC. We don’t know if the city ever returned to Pegasus. We know there were plans for it to happen in stories that were never shot, but in terms of on-screen canon, it’s a total mystery. So Rush swaps bodies with Doctor Lee and is effectively now standing in a room in the pentagon. After his conversation, which you’ll notice we don’t actually see, he goes and informs everybody that there is no hope of rescue. The only means to dial this ship from the milky way galaxy was destroyed. And then he says “in light of my knowledge and experience, General O’Neill has placed me in charge.” What do you think was really said between Rush and O’Neill? I don’t think they ever outright say it in this episode, but it becomes pretty clear as the season goes on that Rush is outright lying about being put in charge. He seems pretty hesitant to allow senator Armstrong to use the stones himself. But the good senator is not in good shape. So Camille doesn’t recognise Rush’s authority. As the only IOA representative on the ship, she probably feels she should be in charge. Most people want to focus on getting home. Rush says that may not even be possible. And he IS right. There’s no known way home right now. Their primary focus needs to be making this ship habitable and safe. That will keep them alive in the immediate term. But Rush has his own reasons for not wanting to find a way home. He’s spent his entire career trying to get here. Going home is the last thing he wants. And as we get to know him better, we’ll learn that he’s not above putting his own needs before the needs of everybody else. Scott is able to salvage a situation that on the brink of turning into a riot. Colonel Young has put him in charge of all military personnel. They are required to follow his orders. And, as he says, if anybody else gets out of line, we’ll lock you down. Because they can. And this is the kind of “push people around because we have big guns” mentality that I don’t really like about the military. You see it in the movie Avatar, and you sometimes see it here. But I’m not sure it’s representative of the real military. Real-world military people are there to serve. And I think most of them probably take that responsibility very seriously. I don’t think they would naturally throw their weight around unless there was a real cause for it. Anyway, Scott has Rush’s back for now, because he knows they need him, but he warns Rush to try dialling the gate back to earth. He already knows Rush has his own agenda. Colonel Young finally wakes up. Johansen is treating him. She brings him up to speed on the situation. When he learns that Rush claims to be in charge, he won’t have a bar of it. But he can’t do much because he can’t feel his legs. Johansen thinks it’s temporary, but she’s not a doctor as such, she’s a military medic. We learn that Johansen’s tour of duty had ended. She had a scholarship to study something. She shouldn’t even be here. Bad luck. If only she’d left Icarus a day earlier. We see a Kino for the first time. A little ball floating down the corridor. Eli found them. They’re remote control flying drones. Eli named them, after a Russian rock band, I think. He says “after the Russian..” and then Scott cuts him off. But a google search for Kino Russian leads us to this band. I’m not sure if there’s any significance to flying cameras, or if Eli just likes their music. If anybody knows more, let me know in a comment or an email to email@example.com Anyway, they have a whole supply on them on the ship. They will prove useful to check out what’s on the other side of the stargate. Much like a MALP. Rush has figured out that the CO2 scrubbers are failing. Which makes a lot of sense given how many millions of years old this ship is. I really like that they spend so much time in early season one dealing with stuff like this. Just struggling for the necessities of life on this ancient ship. Unlike SG1 and Atlantis, which were quick to introduce the new “Big Bady guy” this show takes a different tack. Senator Armstrong has a real problem. He’s badly bruised. If he takes his heart medication, he’ll bleed internally. But if he doesn’t take them, he could die anyway. Chloe takes the pills, making the decision for him. They have some serious problems related to air. First of all, they have to seal off all the leaks, to prevent loss of atmosphere. If they can do that, they’ll have a day or two before the build-up of CO2 kills them, due to the failing scrubbers. They need to replace the failed compound that treats the air. The main air leak turns out to be one of the shuttles. There’s a problem with the shuttle door. It can only be closed from inside the shuttle. Rush is quick to say “somebody needs to go in there and close it”. Thus, sacrificing their life. Of course, you know he won’t volunteer to do it himself. Eli has started vlogging using the Kino. Scott finds this annoying, but Eli points out this needs to be documented. Maybe someday, someone will find the ship and know what happened to them all. He’s right. But he’s possibly having a little too much fun with it. But why not? Let the guy have a little fun. He’s probably gonna be dead soon anyway. Eli’s interest in film-making will continue throughout the series. Anyway, Scott’s point is that they should be focusing on staying alive, not leaving messages behind for after they’re dead. They have a dilemma to solve. Who is going to give their life to seal the door? Rush is immediately coldly pragmatic about it. He looks at the list of people, noting those who are injured. He wants to find out which ones have valuable skills that could come in useful. I mean, he’s not wrong. And yet, he’s suggesting they find the expendable, he’s reducing people’s lives to an assessment of how useful they are to survival on this ship. That’s cold. REALLY REALLY cold. Young’s approach is to sacrifice himself. He can’t ask anybody to make a sacrifice like this (Although military personelle do sometimes order their people to their death). Scott won’t let Young sacrifice himself. He’s the leader and they need him. While everybody is arguing about it, Senator Armstrong leaves his room, armed with a gun. He’s going to do it. He’s probably going to die from his injuries anyway. He’s gonna close the door. This is a heart-breaking moment as Chloe runs through the corridor screaming “Dad No!” as he gives his life to save everybody else. It’s pretty powerful stuff. What other show has ever portrayed a politician as so noble a hero. This breaks all the stereotypes. So in her grief, Chloe goes and starts hitting Rush. She blames him, not entirely fairly. But his attempt to comfort her quickly turns into a justification of his innocence. Why none of this is his fault. Rush admits that as human beings, everyone is invaluable. Which I agree with, but I’m not sure he really believes that. Young is back on his feet now, against medical advice, but he needs to help solve their problems. He asks Camille to keep people calm. She’d be good at that. Scott spends a little time sitting with Chloe, trying to comfort her. He wants to hear about the senator. “The man died so I could live. I’d like to know more about him.” I get on Scott’s case a bit in this episode, and I’ll have some more negative things to say about him, but I like this moment. I think, in this moment, he genuinely cares and wants to help Chloe. Anyway, it’s a nice character scene. Rush has learned the name of the ship is destiny. He’s also learned that it was sent out un-manned and automated. The plan was that they’d eventually use the gate to get to the ship once it was far enough out. They never did. They probably learned to ascend before it happened. Ascension, of course, is a process the ancients learned millennia ago, where they transform from physical beings into beings of energy and thought. They go to a higher plane of existence. We learn a lot about this in SG1 and Atlantis. At this point, I’m wondering about how all this fits together in the timeline. So I’ve looked it up. The ancients were originally known as the Alterans. They came from another galaxy. A group of them left that galaxy, after a big divide between them and others who called themselves the Ori. Between 50 and 30 million years BC, the eventually settled in the milky way galaxy, choosing to live on Earth as the first form of humanity. It was after this that they launched Destiny, before they had even seeded the milky way with stargates Later, they built Atlantis and left for the Pegasus Galaxy. So there was at least 20 million years between the launch of Destiny, and the time the Ancients ascended. In all that time, they never gated to the ship. Had it still not reached the location where they wanted to board, or were there other reasons? We still don’t know why the ancients launched the ship. Not yet. Riley has found the address to dial the gate back to earth. It wasn’t hard to find. Young assumes Rush already knew but didn’t tell anyone. They don’t know the point of origin so they’ll have to use trial and error. They have 36 tries, but they could run out of power before they find the right combination. The issues become moot when the ship drops out of FTL and the gate starts dialling on its own. This is part of what the ship is programmed to do. Rush believes the ship has detected a stargate on a planet nearby that may have what they need. The ancients sent other unmanned ships out before destiny to seed planets with stargates, so that the crew could easily visit planets once they arrived. So this gives the show a familiar yet different concept. Destiny is on auto-pilot. It flies from system to system. There are stargates out there, which means the characters can still go through the gate and explore, just like any Stargate show, except the gates are much shorter range than those in the milky way and pegasus. And Destiny leaves orbit after a certain time limit, which adds a ticking-clock element. This all makes it feel familiar and yet fresh. I love it. Rush has made the reasonable assumption that whatever they need is on the other side of that wormhole. The kino tells them about the atmosphere of the planet on the other side. There are four other gates in range. Rush is convinced this is the planet they need to look at, because this is the one the ship chose. So Young assembles a team. Palmer the geologist. Franklin, a civilian scientist, Rush, Scott, And Eli wants to go too. Rush and Scott are both hesitant about Eli going. He’s not trained for this. But Young points out that in order to survive, everyone, regardless of training or position, are going to have to step up. Young needs to know what Eli is made of. Eli really is the heart of this show. He’s the character we can identify with. He’s a normal guy, and he’s a fellow nerd. Plus, he’s the good moral down-to-earth bloke amongst all the melodrama of the other characters. I really like him. And that’s where part 2 ends, as they step through the gate. As I said, I originally watched this 3-parter as one big movie, but I think I’ve yabbered on for long enough. We’ll save part 3 for the next episode. I should be out getting some steps for my walk to mordor challenge, but it’s so hot at the moment. Summer doesn’t usually hit Tasmania until January, and it’s definitely hit the last couple of days. Maybe I should swim to Mordor. I will do another Walk To Mordor episode some time, but probably not for a little while. If you’re new here, you might be interested to hear about my book series, Jewel of The Stars. Just like Stargate Universe, it focuses on a group of people trapped on a spaceship, who weren’t planning for a long-term voyage. Unlike Destiny, it’s a luxury cruise ship. They were only supposed to be on board for a week, but while they were away Earth fell to an alien invasion, so now they can’t go home. They’re travelling through un-explored space. They may be the last free humans in the galaxy. The series is structured like a TV series. Seasons of 6 episode. Each episode is a 30,000 word novella, so while shorter than a novel, it’s still a decent read. There is an on-going story arc through the whole series, but I aim to make each book a satisfying experience in its own right. You can check out the first episode for just 99 cents by going to books2read.com/jewel and that’s the number 2. Or you can get a free prequel story by going to AdamDavidCollings.com/free I’ll be back next week to talk about Air Part 3. Until then Have a great week Live long and prosper. Make it so.
30 minutes | Jan 10, 2021
Star Trek Discovery "That Hope is You Part 2" - Detailed Analysis and Review
The season finale of Star Trek Discovery Season 3 is here, aptly titled "That Hope is You Part 2." We learn the full and complete truth behind the cause of the burn, and we see a resolution to the Emerald Chain / Osyraa plot. My response is mostly positive to this episode. I was happier with the cause of the burn than I think a lot of people will be, but let's dig in and talk about the episode. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a Nerd This is episode 50 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the season finale of Star Trek Discovery Season 3. That Hope is You Part 2. The last 13 weeks have been a wild ride. I certainly feel this has been a strong season, the best that the modern Trek era has given us so far. The description on Memory Alpha reads As the Emerald Chain tightens its grip and the mystery of the Burn is finally solved, Burnham and the crew have one last chance to save themselves – and the Federation. (Season Finale) This episode was written by Michelle Paradise It was directed by Olantunde Osunsanmi And it first aired on the 7th of January 2021. Make it so. While I was watching the teaser to this episode, before the opening titles had even shown, I turned to my wife and said “I know who directed this episode.” First time I’ve ever picked up on a director from their style. Olantunde Osunsanmi likes to do weird things with the camera, film stuff upside down and have the camera rotate around as the scene goes. Sometimes it’s a bit much for me. I feel that if the filmmaking draws too much attention to itself, it pulls me out of the story. But there were some moments in this episode where I found it effective. We open with a beautiful shot of a gormagander flying through the skies of the simulated environment on Su’kal’s planet. We saw them in the background two episodes ago, but we get confirmation here that they are actually gormaganders. Space whales. I think they look awesome. We encountered them in season 1 but didn’t really get to see them in full flight like this. The holographic narrator explains that gormaganders have spent more time on the Federation’s endangered list than any other species. However, this image is of a pup found in 3052, so that gives me hope that the species may be starting to recover by the 32nd century. Su’kal is still unwilling to listen to Saru talk about his true nature. Saru has to tread very carefully with him. If he causes Su’kal too much emotional distress, he may trigger another burn, and that could destroy what remains of the Federation. It’s a tricky situation. Saru’s greatest resource in this struggle is his Kelpien nature. But how does he convince the young man of his true species, when the holodeck has made him look human? (and I talked two weeks ago about how illogical it was that the holodeck made him look human, assigning seemingly random species to everybody.) And then Adira shows up. This is the first time Culbert and Saru have seen her, so we’re backtracking a little in time, this is probably happening whiler Michael and Book are hurtling through the transwarp corridor at the start of last week’s episode. The holodeck has made Adira look Xahean. Nice little callback to season 2. Adira gives them the medicine. It won’t cure them but it’ll buy them time until they can be rescued. And then the real shock. Gray appears - looking like a Vulcan. And Culbert and Saru can see him. The holodeck recognises Gray as a separate independent lifeform, which is fascinating. The nature of Gray is still a big mystery, and it’s not resolved in this episode. We’ll have to look forward to season 4 for further exploration of this. But the fact that the holodeck recognises Grayt as a lifeform tells us something. It’s very interesting. And I love the way Culbert and Gray react to each other. Gray is so thrilled to be seen. And Culbert embraces him like a long-lost son. It’s pretty cool. It’s so weird so see him in full Vulcan makeup, but with blue hair and a big smile on his face. It seems that Gray can experience some form of sensation because when Culbert hugs him, he feels it. 32nd century holograms would be much more advanced than those we saw in the 24th century, so I can buy that. Meanwhile, a battle rages at Starfleet headquarters. The Veridian is bombarding the shield. I imagine it won’t hold forever. Voyager is ordered to fire on the Veridian. Nice to hear it referenced again. All other ships are ordered to fire on Discovery. IT seems Vance is very willing to sacrifice that ship and crew to safeguard the rest of Starfleet. And as horrible as it is, I do understand that. Even taking the spore drive into account, it’s a numbers game. All hope for negotiation is gone at this point. As soon as Booker told Osyraa about the dilithium planet, she no longer needed the Federation. Book is no longer willing to help her get to the planet, because she killed Ryn last week. It was sad to see him go, but he was the logical choice to die. Not a regular or semi-regular, but not a redshirt either. That meant his death hurt more. Osyraa has a truth serum so she doesn’t need Book to be cooperative. So because Vance wouldn’t accept her proposed peace, and because she no longer needs them, she’s gone from wanting to ally with the Federation, to wanting to obliterate them completely. Out of spite. Tilly and the bridge crew’s rebellion is going well, but it’s short-lived because Osyraa is turning off life-support on their section of the ship. Not much they can do about that. Starfleet headquarters are about to lose their shield. Stammets appears, begging Vance to let him return to Discovery so they can rescue Saru, Culbert and Adira. Sadly for him, Vance agrees with Michael. They have to keep Stammets far away from Discovery, to ensure Osyraa doesn’t learn the secrets of the spore drive. I’m not sure Vance speaks with enough compassion when he says “I know what you’re sacrificing here. I’m sorry.” But then he’s in the middle of a desperate battle and the shield is going down. He did well to be able to speak with Stammets at all given the circumstances. And that’s when the Vulcans arrive. A fleet from Ni’var. I called it last week. Michael sent a good-bye message to her mother, so Gabriel got Ni’Var to send the cavalry. Michael convinces Osyraa to let her hail Vance. She tries to talk Vance into letting them go. They can afford to lose the spore drive as long as Stammets is safely hidden away. The way she locks eyes with Vance through the viewscreen and says “Trust me” suggests some hidden communication between them. Michael has a plan. She needs him to let Discovery go so she can implement it. Vance isn’t happy, but he lets them go. But Osyraa won’t give the bridge crew their life support back. “They had their chance,” she says. Osyraa needs Aurellio to provide the truth serum. He’s not so willing to cooperate. He’s seen what Osyra is capable of. And the use of the drug, combined with Book’s empathic abilities, will make the experience excruciating. Aurellio doesn’t want to inflict that kind of pain on Book. Autellio is a good man. We learn a little about how Orion physiology differs from human. Like a lot of characters in sci-fi TV, they may look similar to humans, but under the skin, there are a lot of differences. But all of this is a metaphor for Osyraa’s feelings. Her moral compass. It’s much more complicated than Aurellio’s. In other words, she can find ways to mentally justify all sorts of horrible things in her mind. I suspected, last week, that Aurellio was Osyraa’s husband. That seems not to be the case. She refers to “his family.” Not “our family.” She’s fond of him, but she keeps him around because he’s useful to her. Zareh says this is a no-win scenario for Michael, but she replies that she doesn’t believe in those, which is a direct reference to Kirk. It was a little bit on the nose for me. That’s Kirk’s thing. Give Michael her own thing. This is when Michael starts to implement her plan. She pretends to give in, to want to convince Book to tell Osyraa what she wants to know, but as soon as she’s close to him, she attacks the regulators, taking their phasers and activating a forcefield. She and book are now separated. And they run off into the ship. To reboot the ship’s computer, and restore the crew’s command codes, somebody has to be present at the data core. Not sure that makes sense, logically, but it works for dramatic tension. We learn why Michael couldn’t beam with her com badge last week. The emerald chain have got transport inhibitors on the ship. Okay. That makes more sense. And I see why they’d do that from a story-telling perspective. If Michael could beam anywhere, she wouldn’t have had to crawl around the ship, and that was half the fun of last week’s episode. Michael sends a cryptic message to Tilly. She wants the crew to set off an explosion on the warp nacelle. It’ll knock Discovery out of warp. The dots can’t do it because of reasons, so it has to be done by a human. We learn that Owo can hold her breath for a long time. Growing up on her home planet, she used to dive for abalone in the underwater caves. I believe they dive for abalone here in Tasmania. Anyway, that makes her well suited for this mission. Meanwhile Michael and Book are gonna head for the data core. But annoyingly, we get yet another reference to people consuming synthahol a century before it will be invented. Saru speaks to Su’kal of Kelpien cuisine. He admits he is a Kelpien, but has no proof to offer. But you can see in Su’kal’s face that he’s mulling it all over. Su’kal admits he has noticed that the Holo sometimes changes things. We learn why Su’kal is so hesitant to talk about the outside. The holo told him the Federation would come from outside to rescue him. But they never came. It’s almost like he’s lost his faith because he feels let down. Of course, the Federation have come now. Just not as soon as Su’kal was hoping. This gives Saru an opening to explain the burn to him. Now he has Su’kal’s attention. He wants to understand because this is his life. Saru can relate to Su’kal’s hesitance to leave the only world he’s known. He had to choose to leave Kaminar all those years ago. He’s getting through to him in a way that nobody else could. Whatever is behind the locked door that terrifies Su’kal, he has to face it. The monster from the folk tale is trying to help him. To encourage him to face his fear. But Su’kal isn’t ready to believe that. He wants to see the elder. Culbert and Adira need to explore outside the edge of the simulation but the radiation is too strong out there. Lucky for them, they have holo-gray. Radiation can’t hurt him because he doesn’t have a real body. Of course, he’s also holographic, so his body shouldn’t work outside the simulation. Bit of a plot hole there. But maybe it works. The ship they’re on has holographic emitters. Holograms can probably be sustained anywhere on the ship, not just within the confines of the simulation. Culbert explains his theory about Su’kal. He believes that because he was born on this planet, his body was adjusted to be able to interact with dilithium in unique ways. Dilithium has a subspace component. Su’kal’s scream traveled at the resonant frequency of dilithium’s subspace components. That’s what hit every ship’s warp core during the burn. Whatever happened to him 125 years ago was much worse than whatever upset him today. Gray learns that the ship is falling apart. They need Su’kal to help them, and they need him to do it now. Unfortunately, the elder is gone. The program is degrading. The Elder’s stories calmed Su’kal. But he doesn’t have that anymore. In a nice tender moment, Saru explains “you have us. You are not alone.” Michael and Book are still making their way to the data core. We get an extended action sequence through the turbo shafts. Discovery’s shuttles don’t travel through a shaft as such, they float through open space, through rings that kinda appear and disappear as needed. It looks pretty cool. But is it logical? My issue with this is there is so much wide empty space inside the ship for the turbolifts to fly through, that just isn’t needed. This whole sequence felt very Star Wars. Star Wars favours what looks cool over what is logical. You know, you’ll have characters fighting with lightsabers, surrounded by all this cool looking technology which looks awesome but doesn’t appear to have any meaningful reason to exist. Think of the duel between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon and Darth Maul in Episode 1. This turbolift sequence looked great. It was cool and fun, but I had to suspend my disbelief a bit more than I feel I should when watching Star Trek. Anyway, Michael arrives at the data core. But Osyraa has gone there to meet her. So we get our obligatory season finale fist-fight between the hero and the villain. And it’s another great action scene. We get to see Book kill Zareh while Michael takes on Osyraa. Meanwhile, Owo makes it to the nacelle and sets off the explosion. The dot rescues her just before the explosion, essentially sacrificing itself. The episode plays the loss of the dot as a significant thing. But it’s just an avatar. It’s not like the destruction of this robot is gonna mean the death of the sphere data AI. We see last year how impossible it was to completely destroy that data. The reboot Michael is trying to perform won’t do it. If it were that simple, they’d have just reboot the computer last year, rather than travelling into the future. Osyraa almost kills Michael by pushing her into this weird well of programmable matter. It reminded me of Superman 3 actually, that scene that seemed so creepy when I was a kid, when the woman gets eaten by the computer and turned into a cyborg. Completely ridiculous of course. And way, Michael shoots out of the wall, kills Osytraa and escapes. It was an odd ending to the fight, but again, it looked cool. So the ship is rebooted. Starfleet are now in command again, life support is back up, and the ship is out of warp, so reinforcements can catch up. They still have a problem, though. Discovery has been sucked inside the Veridian. Michael has an idea about that, and Tilly tells her to implement it, effectively putting Michael in command. She is the ranking officer on the ship. Even though Tilly is first officer. She’s gonna blow up the Veridian by ejecting Discovery’s warp core. But how will Discovery not be destroyed as well? The only way is to jump away. Stammets can navigate the jump because he has tardigrade DNA. But Aurellio thinks Book can do it as well, because of his magic nature powers. Makes sense. It’s a nice little development, in my opinion. Book gives us a little hint as to his back-story. We learned weeks ago that Cleaveland Booker isn’t his real name. Apparently, it was the name of his mentor. He took that name and tries to live up to it every day. Interesting. Jumping the ship is proving harder for Book than they’d hoped. Michael keeps telling him to jump, but nothing happens. Then the Veridian explodes. This is fake tension. We know they’re not gonna destroy the discovery and kill all the crew. So I kinda wish they’d just shown discovery jumping away. Don’t get me wrong. The lead-up to the explosion was wonderfully tense. But the fake-out didn’t work for me. We learn what Su’kal is really afraid of. It’s turning off the holo. Behind the door are the holo controls. He hasn’t been in here since he was a child. Gray is afraid. Once the holo is turned off, he’ll disappear. Adira will still be able to see him, but that’s not enough for him. Again, I like how Culbert comforts him. “We’ve got you gray. We’ll find a way to help you be truly seen” This moment, as Su’kal goes to deactivate the holo is the emotional heart of the episode, of the season, really. Once the program has ended, we find that we’re not in a holodeck as such, just a normal room on the ship. I understand that in the 32nd century, holograms can be projected anywhere, so in one sense, they don’t need a holodeck as such, but it’s still practical to have a dedicated room. I mean, shouldn’t they have been tripping over chairs and things? The holodeck uses force fields to keep you in a confined area during the simulation. I suppose this could be done anywhere on the ship but it just seems a little impractical. But for story-telling reasons, it makes sense for them to be here. Where they can immediately see Su’kal’s mother. (although it would have made sense for her to have died in the holodeck, as she activated the program for her son.) Su’kal’s next order is a brave one. “Computer, show me what happened here, so I can be free.” But his new friends have prepared him for this moment. So Su’kal’s mother had already put him in the simulation. So he didn’t have to watch her die. She told him not to touch the controls until the federation arrive. But he turned off the simulation. He saw everyone dead but his mother. And she was really sick from radiation poisoning. The poor kid watches his mother die in front of him, and he screams like he’s never screamed before. He sends out the shockwave that causes the burn. I suspected this would be the case. Saru tells him he is no longer alone. And then Su’kal turns around to see Saru in his Kelpien form. It’s a beautiful moment. Saru just gained a brother. So. Now we know the full complete details about what caused the burn. What do I think about it? I suspect many will not like it. Two weeks ago, many were saying “is that it? A Kelpien child screaming?” And I can understand that from a certain perspective, it could feel anticlimactic. Like a weak payoff. But you know what. As I think about it, I think there’s a real poignance to the entire galaxy being ripped apart by the heartfelt anguish of a child seeing its mother die. And the sentimental family man in me really likes it. So … I’m good with this. I like it. This is definitely the best pay-off that Star Trek Discovery (or Picard) has given us. So this is very much a positive response from me. It’s very emotional. Very character-focussed. Anyway, Discovery arrives just in time to rescue them. And they return to Starfleet headquarters. The epilogue of the episode kinda ties together everything into a common theme. The human need to connect. Gray feels that very strongly. Su’kal felt that need growing up all alone with nothing but holograms to keep him company. The various scattered worlds have felt it on a global scale, the need to connect with the rest of the galaxy. This is hit home at the very end with a quote from Gene Roddenberry. “In a very real sense, we are all aliens on a strange planet. We spend most of our lives reaching out and trying to communicate. If during our whole lifetime we could reach out and really communicate with just two people, we are indeed very fortunate.” Stammets is very happy to be reunited with Culbert and Gray. He gives Michael a look. It’s not quite a complete forgiveness of what she did, but I think there is some genuine gratitude that she rescues them. I think it’ll take a while for these two to regain their former friendship. But I think it’ll happen. It was nice to see little glimpses of Doctor Pollard and Jet Reno. The emerald chain has fractured without Osyraa. That kinda feels a little sudden. But thinking about it, a fractured chain could be worse. A whole lot of independent mercenaries out there just looking to their own interests. But it’s nice to see the Federation beginning to rebuild. The Trill have returned and the Vulcans and Romulans of Ni’var are considering it. Saru is taking some time off, helping Su’kal settle in on Kaminar. He is reportedly wanting to consider his future, which I suppose means he’s not sure he wants to remain in Starfleet. I’m not sure I buy that. He loves his homeworld and he’ll be very happy to see it again. He’ll always have a bond with Su’kal, but Starfleet is his life. His passion. And it’s wonderful to finally see Sahil, the lone guy on the Federation outpost from the first episode of this season. He’s now been commissioned as a Starfleet Officer with the rank of Lieutenant. I really wanted to see him again. It would be nice if we see more of him next season. And that’s when Vance has a heart to heart with Michael. First, nice to know Vance is a family man. He has a wife and daughter, off somewhere else where they’re safe. I love that. Vance has come to respect Michael’s unique way of doing things. Michael, and the other Discovery crew have had to wrestle with how to live in this new time more than the people who are native to it, because she came from a different time. That allowed Michael to see new ways of doing things. And she has taught Vance a thing or two. Now I have very mixed feelings about what happens next. Vance offers Michael command of Discovery. Apparently it’s Saru who wants Michael to be the captain. But Vance agrees. She’s a little hesitant, but Vance needs somebody commanding that ship now. There is an important job to be done. The dilithium from that planet needs to be distributed around the galaxy to those that need it. Only Discovery can carry out that mission. So Michael accepts. So we now have captain Michael Burnham of the USS Discovery. Now on one hand, I like this. Michael has what it takes to be a captain. She wasn’t ready when Georgiou first suggested it back in The Vulcan Hello, but she’s learned a lot since then. She’s grown up a lot. And this effectively solves what I’ve been calling the Michael Burnham problem. The idea that we have a lead of this show, who isn’t the captain of the ship, so they have to make everything be about her, because they have to constantly justify the fact that she is the lead character. With her in the captain’s chair, well, it works just like any other Star Trek show. his is good for Michael’s character. It’s the next logical step for her arc. So I like that. But what about Captain Saru. I’ve loved Captain Saru this season. His arc throughout the whole season has been him learning to be a better captain. If he’s no longer going to be captain then it feels like that was all for nothing. And I hate that. I don’t want Saru to leave the show. And I know he’s returning for season 4, which they’re filming right now. And I definitely don’t want him to get demoted down to serving under captain Burnham. So where does that leave his character? Command of another ship? That could work, but it would probably mean we’d see less of him next season as the show would follow Burnham on Discovery. This leaves me with great concerns for how Saru’s character will be treated next season, and I’m not happy about it. So like I said. Mixed feelings. It IS cool to see that the Discovery crew are finally wearing the new Starfleet uniforms. So looking at the crew’s colours, Culbert is in white for medical. MAkes sense. Stammets is in science blue. Obviously. Tilly is also in science blue. She was technically engineering when she first started, I believe. I wonder what this means for her position as first officer. Will she serve as Michael’s number one? If so, she should probably be in command red. Although maybe she’ll be like spock and have a joint position as science officer and first officer. If they do keep her as first officer, that should at least promote her to Lieutenant. Realistically, she should be at least Lieutenant Commander to be first officer. Detmer and Owo are both in engineering yellow, which is kinda weird. Owo might make sense, as operations tends to be yellow. But I’d expect Detmer, as helm officer, to be in red. But maybe the colours work a little different in the 32nd century than they did in the 24th. It has been a very long time. And another surprise. Adira is in Starfleet uniform. So have they been fast-tracked through Starfleet academy given prior experience in the earth defence force? Maybe. Maybe Adira will be a cadet serving on Discovery kinda like Tilly was in season 1. Book is also on the bridge, but not in uniform. The episode, and the season, ends with a classic Star Trek fanfare, and then the TOS theme playing over the ending credits. I’m not sure ths TOS theme fits as well here as it did with the last two seasons, but I think it’s meant to signify that Starfleet of the 32nd century are returning to former ideals of exploration and peaceful coexistence. Next season should prove interesting. I’m very keen to learn what it will be about. I wonder when we’ll get our first trailer. Not for a while. But I assume we’ll get a few verbal tidbits from Alex Kurtzman or Michelle Paradise at some point. So that was Star Trek Discovery season 3. As I said at the start, I thought it was a very strong season. The best so far. I really enjoyed it. Discovery has well and truly established itself as a Star Trek show next to all the others at this point. I nitpic things from time to time, but no Star Trek show has ever been perfect. But the last 13 weeks have been a wonderful experience. Well. That was quite a ride. It’s been a lot of work putting together weekly podcasts in a timely manner. I’m glad I moved my release date from Saturdays to Mondays, because it just took a little of the pressure off. But I’m looking forward to taking it a little bit easier now that I won’t be covering a show airing for the first time. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before, but starting next episode, I’m going to begin covering Stargate Universe. It’s a show that not a lot of podcasters or youTubers have talked about. It’s actually a pretty divisive show, a little like Discovery. I’m going to move back to a fortnightly schedule. I’ll do my first Stargate episode next week, and then I’ll be back the week after as well, because I’ll be covering the 3-part pilot over a course of two episodes, But then I’ll be taking my first week off. From that point, we’ll be on the fortnightly schedule. I hope you’ll continue to join me into the future, but if Stargate isn’t your thing and you want to part ways here, then thank you very much for joining me through Star Trek Discovery. This certainly won’t be the last time we cover Star Trek on Nerd Heaven. I’ve always loved Star Trek. It’s my primary fandom. Anyway, There’s a lot of very cool stuff to talk about in Stargate Universe. In a lot of ways, it was ahead of its time. It feels very much like a modern sci-fi show. It was heavily influenced by Battlestar Galactica, which, in a way, has shaped all sci-fi TV ever since, including both Discovery and Picard. I’ll be here next week to talk about the episodes Air Parts 1 and 2. Until then, have a great week. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
25 minutes | Jan 2, 2021
Star Trek Discovery "There is a Tide" Detailed Analysis & Review
The second-last episode of Star Trek Discovery Season 3 "There is a Tide" plays a little like Die Hard in space, but it also adds some serious depth to our villain Osyraa. There is a fantastic negotiation scene between her and Admiral Vance. So let's dig in and talk about it. -- Get my space opera book Jewel of The Stars for just 99 cents at books2read.com/jewel ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven I’m Adam David Collings The author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a nerd This is episode 49 of the podcast Today we’re talking about Star Trek Discovery There Is A Tide. And Happy New Year. By now, the whole world has switched over to 2021. So far it’s been a great year. No major tragedies. Of course, much of the world is still suffering the effects of that pandemic that turned last year upside down. I’m really lucky here in Tasmania. We don’t have any cases at the moment. The description on memory alpha reads After capturing the USS Discovery, Osyraa seeks a meeting with Admiral Vance while Burnham and the crew must overcome unimaginable odds as they attempt to regain command of their ship. This episode was written by Kenneth Lin It was directed by Jonathan Frakes And it first aired on the 31st of December 2020. Make it so. After I upload each episode of Nerd Heaven, I go and check out what other youTubers and podcasters are saying about the episode. It’s interesting to compare notes and see where we agree and disagree. I never watch before I finish my own review because I want to keep my opinions my own - as un-influenced by others as I can. But I noticed the thumbnail of one last night said (“Die Hard in Space”) And that’s not a bad way to describe this week’s episode. It’s an action movie with Michael Burnham trying to rescue the hostage crew of Discovery from terrorists who’ve taken over the ship. Last week, we learned the cause of the burn was basically a shockwave sent from a Kelpien, genetically modified from living on a radiation-soaked planet, having a tantrum. The general consensus from people was “Is that it?” I didn’t really comment too much about it, other than my relief that Michael Burnham wasn’t the cause (although I also saw a thumbnail with a depressing theory that she is indirectly responsible because she freed the Kelpiens from the Ba’ul, but let’s just leave that one aside) No, I wanted to wait until this week, to learn more, before I said too much about my thoughts on it. Except we never re-visited the planet in the verubin nebula this entire episode. The whole thing was centred on Discovery and Starfleet headquarters. I wasn’t expecting that. So we’ll talk more about the burn next week. This week, in addition to giving us a pretty cool action thriller, also does some very interesting things with Osyraa’s character, which I’m looking forward to talking about. But let’s start at the beginning. Osyraa is playing a dirty trick. She has her own ship, the Veridian, firing on Discovery, to make it look as though the two ships are locked in combat, and that the Discovery crew are still in control of their own ship. Vance is hesitant to Discovery in through the shields immediately. I guess to lower the shields would be to potentially allow the Veridian in as well. We actually get a decent amount of Vance this episode. He’s doing more than just giving Discovery their mission. And that was great. The bridge crew are being held in the mess hall. That seems to be standard procedure when you take over a Starfleet ship. It’s always the mess hall. Remember Zareh, from episode 2 of this season? He was the thug that broke into the pub and terrorised the local township. The bartender threw him out into the ice, to survive if he could. Well, turns out he worked for the Emerald Chain, and he survived. He’s here now, Osyraa’s second in command for this mission. Poor Tilly isn’t happy to see him again. This episode makes a couple of references to Tilly’s ineptitude which lead to the ship’s capture. A lot of it comes from Zareh, who was already trying to belittle her back at the beginning of the season. To be honest, this is fair. Don’t get me wrong. Tilly performed admirably for an ensign put into the big chair during a very difficult situation. But I’m sure the chain took over quick and easier than they would have if there had been an experienced captain in charge. No shame against Tilly for that. For the first time, We actually see some point to this morphing thing that Book’s ship does. They’re travelling through a transwarp conduit, and we finally get an understanding of why they are considered so dangerous. They’re full of debris from other ships. Book’s vessel is constantly morphing into different shapes to avoid hitting all this stuff. Okay. That actually makes sense. Nice to finally get answers to two outstanding mysteries in this scene. Strangely, there’s a big ship in the way. Book says “There’s no morphing our way around that.” and then the ship morphs its way around that. Vance is going to have to let Discovery in before their shields fail. So he orders a window just large enough for that ship. But orders security on alert. Something is weird with all of this. And then Book’s ship arrives. But Michael can’t get through to federation HQ for some reason and is unable to warn them. So Discovery is let in. Michael decides the only hope now is to board Discovery. So book’s ship morphs again into a long thin sharp kind of shape. At first, I thought they were forming into a breaching pod. Something that could pierce the hull. That makes sense. But then I realise, as usual, Discovery’s shuttle bay doors are open and they just have the forcefield in place. So….forming into a sharp thin shape allows the ship to get through the forcefield? I find that harder to buy. And in fact, these forcefields are generally designed to hold in oxygen, but allow shuttles to pass through, so why would they need to do anything special to go through anyway? Osyraa mentions something about them getting in while Discovery’s shields re down, which does make sense. Shields should prevent anything from getting into the shuttle bay. But why are discovery’s shields down? Maybe to allow the tractor beam to pull them in, but why the need for a tractor beam? Discovery has thrusters. It’s all a bit messy. But let’s move on. This is where we meet Aurellio. He’s a scientist working for the Emerald Chain. One of the best in the galaxy, apparently. He’s confined to a hoverchair because of a genetic defect he has. It’s another little element to add some interest to his character. And it’s nice to see people of different abilities on the show. The interesting thing here is that Aurellio is plated by Kenneth Mitchell who played Kol in season 1, and then Kol’s father in season 2, as well as the child of Voq and LaRell. He’s fast becoming the new Jeffery Combs. In fact, he’s now played just as many distinct Trek roles as Combs. But this is the first non-Klingon role he’s had. But what I didn’t realise when I was watching, is that Kenneth Mitchell is currently suffering from Motor Neurone Disease and is confined to a wheelchair. And that’s really sad. My heart goes out to him. But isn’t it nice that they were able to create this character for him to play. I love how Book’s first priority when getting back onboard Discovery is to find and secure his cat. He went all the way to sickbay and then back to the shuttle bay. A little far-fetched perhaps, but cute. Book has a life-sign masking device which Michael can use to get around the ship undetected. He has to turn himself in because they’ll be expecting a pilot for the ship that just breached them. With some luck, they won’t even know Michael is on board. And there’s a nice little moment when they say “I love you” to each other. This relationship has played out so much better, and more naturally than the Tyler relationship in season 1. Even though Michael wasn’t able to warn Vance, he figures it out himself, which is good. It shows he’s got some brains on his shoulders. Michael makes her first kill but gets a knife in her leg for her trouble. I like this. It’s showing she’s a capable fighter but she’s not Superman. She takes the regulator’s badge but it won’t transport. Probably coded to his bio signs. But why does she need his badge to transport? She has her own Starfleet insignia badge on her uniform. Why can’t she just transport with that? Certainly, no reason I can think of. Osyraa hails HQ and Vance chats with her. She’s releasing all the Discovery crew, except the bridge crew, who she’s keeping as leverage, but keeping them in good health. She’s here to talk and hopes that things will go well. If so, Vance will have the bridge crew back shortly. This is an unexpected development. We were expecting invasion, not negotiation. Michael is hiding out in the Jefferies tube. At first, I was confused about the phaser she was using. Did she get it off the regulator she killed? It seemed holographic, projected by a wrist band. Turns out, this is the new Starfleet phaser, as seen in the opening credits. This is what the Discovery crew use now. But they don’t have holsters. The phasers are constructed from programmable matter. They just wear a little thing on their wrist. This is really cool. I’m surprised the comm badge doesn’t create the phaser actually. It does everything else. There’s a nice moment where Michael records a touching goodbye message to her mother, as she knows this might not end well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gabrielle shows up with the cavalry next week. I like that Osyraa calls out the absence of the Federation president. The type of negotiations she’s about to enter into really should include the Federation president. This has been an issue in the past for Star Trek. How many decisions did Sisko make on behalf of the entire Federation that really should have been above the pay grade of a captain? Vance explains that to have the president sit down with a known terrorist at this time would be a security breach, which makes perfect sense, so he’s been authorised to negotiate on behalf of the Federation. He’s Starfleet Chief of Staff so he’s pretty high up there. And he’s not gonna make the final decision anything. Nicely done. I like the scene where the bridge crew overcome their guards. They work together, anticipating each other’s ideas, with the distraction of the morse code tapping. It shows these people have worked together for a long time now. They know each other well and make a good team. Tilly immediately takes charge. Again, doing the best she can under the circumstances. Zareh has managed to locate the intruder with the badge she took from the regulator, who’s death has now been discovered. Aurellio wakes Stammets so they can discuss the spore drive. They bond over opera music, which Stammets has slowly come to appreciate because Culbert loves it. Stammets identifies, that Arellio has children, and that his partner is Orion based on the traditional piercing behind his ear. And Stammets admits he has a child too. Adira. At this point, I’m speculating that Arellio is actually Osyraa’s husband. She was acting very protective of him at the beginning of the episode. They seemed to have a personal connection. The episode never says it outright, but I think it’s strongly implied. What do you think? We learn that sadly, the tardigrades are long-extinct in the 32nd century. (unless he’s lying to Aurellio) But Aurellio thinks he can grow new tardigrade cells from Stammet’s DNA, thereby making other people able to navigate the mycelial network. Michael takes out her second regulator, in another thrilling action movie sequence. It’s not just a fight scene. It makes good use of the fact they’re in space. It’s a triumphant moment. Although I suspect Michael should be facing more unpleasant consequences from the cold alone, when the tube is exposed to open space. I also like how they have an EMH serve as a lie detector during negotiations as standard procedure. So far, Osyraa is being truthful. She wants the Emerald Chain to unit with the Federation in peace. And she’s being genuine. Her reasoning, the chain can’t go on the way they are without dilithium. So realises she has to make changes to how her organisation works if it is going to survive. The spore drive is a big bargaining chip. So why does she need the Federation? The Federation was always a symbol of hope. The Emerald Chain will never earn the trust of the people like the Federation once did. What the chain needs most now, is legitimacy. Remote parts of the former Federation, who no longer have contract with headquarters, are already engaged in trade with the chain, because they have no choice. This is really interesting stuff. A fruit platter is brought in and Vance mentions that their replicated food is made from human feces. But he doesn’t say feces. That’s the base material they use in their replicators. They break it down to the atomic level and then reform the atoms. This, of course, is a total load of … well….. Feces. That’s not how replicators work. Replicators work on a similar principle to transporters. It’s all based around the conversion between energy and matter. Replicators don’t create matter from other base matter. They convert energy into matter. And then, when you recycle leftovers, that matter is turned back into energy. They don’t stick base matter into them. This might have been the case for the more primitive “food synthesisers” back in the 22nd century. But not of the 24th century onwards. Modern Star Trek has a real problem with replicators. In Picard, they looked like 3D printers. They even built up the food item layer by layer like a 3D printer. But it’s not how it’s supposed to work. This annoys me. The emerald chain, apparently, don’t use replicator technology. Not sure why. I mean, you don’t need dilithium to power a replicator. Dilithium is just a catalyst in creating the matter / anti-matter reaction in a starship’s warp core. Osyraa wants trade with the chain legalised, and she wants to establish an embassy at Starfleet Headquarters. That will send a powerful message. This is a big issue for Vance. The Emerald Chain engage in morally reprehensible acts. Slavery. Oppression. Interference with pre-warp civilisations. Surprisingly, Osyra is making changes to the way the chain operates. She’s outlawing slavery. She’s even pulling back from worlds like Kwijan, at considerable financial expense, over a 15 year period, to prevent causing chaos. She’s even got an armistice written up, a treaty that the president can sign. And Eli, the EMH confirms she is being completely genuine about all of this. This is very interesting to me. This is taking Osyraa from being a moustache-twirling villain to something much much more interesting. She is now by far the most interesting villain we’ve had on Discovery. Now she has depth. She’s still very dangerous, but she’s a reasonable woman who is willing to make significant changes for the good of her people. I’m kinda loving this. Aurellio seems to have a very rosy-coloured view of Osyraa and the chain. He’s surprisingly blind to the horrific things she’s done. Stammets tries to open his eyes to the reality of it all. Vance is impressed with the armistice. Osyraa has made a lot of concessions. She really is wanting to plot a new course for the chain. One free from the immoral acts of the past. But Vance needs more. He can’t just ignore the past. So he asks Osyraa who will be the public face of the chain for this alliance. The implication is that it can’t be Osyraa. She’s a known terrorist and criminal. Not somebody that the Federation can legitimise. As soon as he asks that question, I think Osyraa is reasonably sure that a deal is not going to be reached. She wants to be the public face of the Emerald Chain, or at least be the controlling power in the background. But Vance wants her to give herself up to trial for the crimes of her past. Vance can’t just forgive the crimes of the past. He can’t just overlook it. Osyraa says the past cannot be undone, And Vance says “but it can be made right.” This is a very interesting dilemma, and I’m curious where people sit on this. One the one hand, Osyraa has made a genuine commitment to change her ways from now on. And since the burn, the Federation hasn’t had completely clean hands. They’ve done their best to continue living the ideals they have always represented, but this is a messier universe than it once was. Maybe the concessions Osyraa is making are worth wiping the slate clean and forgiving the crimes of the past. One the other hand, Osyraa may have made some promises regarding policy, promises that I believe she is willing to honour, but at her core, her values haven’t changed. She’s offering to be good, not because she’s had a change of heart or any true repentance, but out of political necessity. This will be confirmed at the end of the episode where we see what kind of person she is deep down. Vance asks his people to die for Federation moral values on a daily basis. How can he ask that of them and then just forgive Osyraa with no consequence for her crimes. So what do you think? Should Vance just accept the armistice and let go of the past, or is he right to push for this? And what about Osyraa? Is she letting her pride talk her out of a deal that will be good for her people? The federation has a very just legal system and quite humane and generous treatment of the convicted. The penal colony in New Zealand where Tom Paris did his time looked like a beautiful paradise. Osyraa could do worse than to accept punishment for her crimes for the sake of her people and live out a comfortable life as a Federation convict. It’s funny, but I see a lot of theological parallels here that connect with me on a spiritual level. It’s these deep and interesting ideas that make this a really great episode of Star Trek. Sadly, these two can’t find any common ground on this issue so the negotiations break down and Osyraa returns to Discovery, where Book and Rin have been captured. Michael arrives to rescue Stammets. But Michael and Stammets have a profound disagreement on how to proceed. Michael wants to get Stammets off the ship. The Emerald Chain can’t be allowed to learn the secrets of the spore drive from him. So he needs to be removed. But he wants to jump straight back to the nebula to rescue Hugh and Saru. And then he learns that Adira is there too. As he says, his whole life is in that nebula. It’s wonderfully acted. So much raw emotion. Michael admits that they’ll likely die back there, but she has to make the tough call. True to her word. She told Vance she’d never hesitate again, like she did with Arium. She renders him unconscious Osyraa asks Aurellio to leave the bridge. She doesn’t want him to see what she’s about to do. But he wants to stay. Stammets words have impacted him. He wants to see who she really is when he’s usually not around. Ryn gives a nice speech about how he’s no longer afraid of Osyraa because he’s seen real bravery. It’s great. He won’t fix the sensors so she can locate Michael, Stammets and the bridge crew. So she’s about to shoot him. But in a potentially foolish attempt to save Ryn’s life, Book volunteers information about the dilithium planet in the nebula. So that’s where Saru is. But she kills Ryn anyway, and Aurellio is watching. She’s going to get the information from Book using truth serum. Michael has put Stammets into an emergency escape field. She’s going to eject him out of the ship so Federation HQ can rescue him, getting him away from Osyraa’s grasp. He begs Michael no to do this. Without him on board Discovery, Hugh, Sar and Adira will die a horrible death. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and so well acted by Anthony Rapp. He reminds her that the Discovery crew gave up everything to follow her here into the future, so she wouldn’t have to be alone. They did that for her. And now she’s going to let those three die. She’s doing this to save the Federation from being destroyed by Osyraa. So many hard choices being made in this episode. Michael has been captured, but she’s accomplished what she set out to do. The bridge crew have armed themselves and are ready to re-take the ship. Tilly is being pretty awesome. And then the dot robots show up, possessed by the sphere data. Otherwise known as Zora. It’s hard to take these robots seriously, as they look so cute, but despite that, it’s a great ending to the episode. They have a cool new ally. Who’d have thought, when we first saw the sphere data back in early season 2, they’d be paying it off like this? This wasn’t just a great episode of Discovery. This was a great episode of Star Trek. I loved it. And I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it all resolves next week in the season finale. Next week’s episode is called “That Hope is You Part 2” calling back to the very first episode of this season. Interesting. I wonder if that name will stay. A lot of these episodes have been getting new names from what was originally announced. It was cool to see Zareh come back this week, but you know who we haven’t seen since episode 1, that I really expected to be a recurring character throughout the whole season? That lone Federation representative serving faithfully on that outpost. I’m disappointed we never saw him again. Is he still there? Has Discovery even mentioned him to Vance? But with next week’s episode title making it a direct sequel to the first episode, I’m wondering if this is when we’ll see him again. It’ll be interesting to find out. I’m still doing my walk to Mordor Challenge that I started in April last year. I’ve passed the gates of Moria. I’m now back at work on Jewel of The Stars season 3, and am looking forward to getting it out in the world when I can. Hard to believe there’s only one more episode of Discovery to talk about this season. We’ll be launching into Stargate Universe very soon. I’ve already recorded a couple of episodes. I hope you’ll all stick around for that. I’m looking forward to it. But first, I’ll see you next week for the season finale of Star Trek Discovery. Have a wonderful week. Live long and Prosper. Make it so.
25 minutes | Dec 27, 2020
Star Trek Discovery "Su'Kal" Detailed Analysis & Review
We're in the final 3 episodes of Star Trek Discovery Season 3 now. The crew enter the Verebin Nebula to rescue a Kelpien survivor and learn the source of The Burn. This episode gets a little wacky with the away team, but also gives us some real growth for Tilly as she takes the captain's chair for the first time. ----more---- Transcript Welcome to Nerd Heaven. I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars And I am a Nerd This is episode 48 of the podcast And today, we’re talking about the Star Trek Discovery episode “Su’kal” This episode actually came out on the 25th of December in Australia, so I spend my Christmas night watching Star Trek. Not a bad way to round off a happy Christmas actually. The description of Memory alpha reads Discovery ventures to the Verubin Nebula, where Burnham, Saru, and Culber make a shocking realization about the origin of The Burn as the rest of the crew faces an unexpected threat. This episode was written by Anne Cofell Saunders It was directed by Norma Bailey And it first aired on the 24th of December 2020 Make it so. This is a bit of an unusual episode, which took a few unexpected twists and turns, but it was still pretty good. It’s got some thrills near the end, some growth for some of our characters, and some kinda weird but fun stuff with the away team. We pick up right where we left off last week. Our characters are still at Georgiou’s memorial. Adira is feeling a bit left out. Everyone here seemed to know Georgiou. They’ve all been through so much together. They all came from the 23rd century together. Adira is the odd one out. A native of the 32nd century. Not a Starfleet officer. Stammets tries to reassure them that they’re still a part of this crew. The crew are all here for you. Culbert and I are here for you. And then Gray shows up. He hasn’t appeared to Adira in a long time. With no explanation. I like how Stammets says into the empty air “You’re lucky we’re at a memorial service because otherwise, I’d be giving you a piece of my mind.” I really like how Stammets just takes this thing at face value, and doesn’t treat Adira like they’re crazy. He can’t see Gray, but he believes he’s there and even addresses him from time to time. But in hindsight, it’s occurred to me that it may have been a good idea to recommend a medical examination, just in case, to make sure Adira isn’t hallucinating. I mean, the disembodied soul of a former Trill host appearing in a form only the new host can see is not exactly out of the range of possibility in the Star Trek universe, but it might not be the only explanation. For all Stammets knows, Adira could have schizophrenia, which is probably not something you want to leave untreated. I don’t think that’s what is happening here, but it’s probably a good thing to rule out. Anyway. Gray explains why he’s been absent. He’s struggling with the whole disoconnected aspect of his existence. He has consciousness. He has emotions. But nobody but Adira can see him. He can’t interact with anybody else. That’s not what life is supposed to be. It’s like he’s stuck in limbo, a ghost that can’t move on. This is a very believable reaction to his situation. And I’m glad the show is addressing it, allowing Gray to feel this way and struggle with it. That’s some emotional realism right there. The kind that I like characters to have. He also admits that his struggles are no excuse for simple vanishing without an explanation. He could have explained this to Adira before he vanished. Admira promise they’ll work this out together. Somehow. With this nice little character moment done, we launch right into the main plot of the episode. they’ve recovered some new data from the Kelpien ship. There’s a life sign. Saru reverals the Kelpien doctor was pregnant. That’s what the marks on her head were about. Not sure why he kept this to himself but anyway. Her child, now an adult, is still alive on that ship. So they jump into the Verubin nebula, which looks awesome. I’ve learned, through a little research while writing Jewel of the Stars book 1, that if you were inside a nebula, it would not look like this. In fact, you’d see nothing. The gass particles are so sparse they’d be essentially invisible. It’s only many lightyears away, where you can see from a vast distance, that the particles appear close enough to actually look like anything. But I can’t help but forgive Star Trek for getting this wrong, and it’s been getting it wrong since The Wrath of Khan, because it looks so good. And this nebula, with modern CGI, looks like something straight from a Hubble image. Anyway, the radiation is wreaking havoc on the ship. They’re gonna have to leave the nebula, but Saru is unwilling. Or, at least hesitant. Michael seems to interpret this as emotional interest in the Kelpien. And in fairness, there may be some of that, but recovering this Kelpien is important if they want to understand the cause of the burn. And goodness knows Michael has been compromised by that obsession herself. This episode has a thread running through it of “Saru can’t be trusted to make rational decisions because there is a Kelpien on board.” And I still don’t get that. Kaminar is still out there. He can go visit it next time he has shore leave. It’s not like this crashed ship is his last chance to ever see his people again. I think this whole business is artificial and overdone. But we’ll keep talking about this as the episode progresses. Anyway, Book takes his ship ahead. He has better shielding and his ship can morph, as he calls it. That morphing thing has never been explained. What exactly does this weird reconfiguration of his ship accomplish? What’s it all about? While Book is mapping the nebula, Discovery jumps back top safety. The radiation gets to him a bit but he manages to locate the ship and it’s lifesign before auto-pilot brings him back to Discovery. He’ll be okay after some DNA recombination. The Kelpien ship crashed into a planet that’s practically made out of Diluthium. That’s good news for the Federation. Saru plans to lead the away team personally. While not standard Starfleet procedure, it’s not unheard of for a captain to be part of an away team, if there is deemed sufficient reason. Vance and Michael both give him a look for this, but Vance accepts it. It’s Saru’s call. Personally, I think Saru has sufficient justification for this. A single KEpien survivor, all alone. Never seen anyone else. Having someone of the same species could be reassuring. And I think you’ll agree that the episode demonstrates that he was right about this. My only concern is leaving Tilly in charge. You know I love Tilly. She’s one of my favourite characters. And You know I want to see her achieve her dream of being a captain. But I’m still not convinced she’s ready for this yet. Although, nobody knows the challenges she’s about to face. If The Emerald Chain didn’t show up, she’d have been quite capable of holding the fort until the away team returned. But we’ll get to all that. We learn that the Emerald Chain are running military exercises near Caminar. Osyrra is trying to lure Discovery out so she can steal its spore drive. Starfleet is going to handle that. Discovery has a job to do here. Do you notice that Vance is really sold on this mission to learn the source of the burn, now that they have solid leads to follow. Early in the season, he was very hesitant to expend any resources on this, because there were more important things to deal with. Ironically, they could never have gotten these solid leads if Michael hadn’t been like a dog with a bone in the first place. So Michael tells Book she doesn’t think Saru can be objective. She’s not sure how he’ll handle it if he has to make a hard call. A painful one. First of all, Michael herself doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to difficult calls. Vance even called her out on the whole Arium thing earlier this season. I’m not saying Michael is right or wrong, but I’m curious what has lead her to this conclusion about Saru. I don’t think any of this stuff is fair to his character. Stammets is freaking out about Culbert going on the away mission. At first, I thought this was really weird. This is Culbert’s job. He’s a Starfleet officer. Starfleet officers go into dangerous situations all the time. That’s part of the deal if you’re a member of Starfleet, or you’re in a relationship with a member of Starfleet. Stammets is both. Plus, Saru just said that as long as they take the right medications with them, they should be fine. But I realised, actually, my wife pointed it out. Stammets has already lost Culbert once. So he’s understandably over-protective here. Now despite what I said earlier about Tilly and her unreadiness to be first office, I do really like how they develop this whole thing in the episode. First of all, we get a wonderful scene where Michael reassures Tilly and tells her the story about the little bur of metal under the arm of the captain’s chair. How Georgiou used to press her finger against it to keep herself in the moment during difficult encounters. It’s a wonderful exchange that they’ll call back to a number of times. I love how she allows herself the moment of fear and anxiety, with her trusted friend, and then sucks it up and says “okay, let’s go.” With medications, the away team will survive four hours on the planet. Discovery’s shields will take three hours to repair. After that, they can jump back in to rescue the team. And despite everything, Tilly looks good in that chair. Michael is right, she does belong there. It’s her destiny. The away team arrive on the crashed ship. And this is where everything gets a little weird. The first thing we notice is Michael is dressed differently. She and Culberty are in thick jackets with hoods. Then we realise that Culbert is a Bajoran and Michael is a Trill. Now … forgive me for thinking we’re suddenly watching Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy. I mean, what’s next Is Saru going to be a penguin? No, Saru is Human. I called it before we saw his face. Just before the camera shot that slowly panned up from his feet. So we get to see Doug Jones out of makeup. That’s kinda cool, because we can finally see all his amazing face acting. Don’t get me wrong, nobody can act tinder all that prosthetic like Doug Jones can. He’s a master, but he’ll always be able to do more with his face without all that slapped on him. The other weird thing is, they don’t appear to be in a ship. They’re outside surrounded by snow. Of course, we quickly learn they’re on a holodeck inside the ship. The holodeck has changed their appearances. We know it could do that, even in the 24th century. This is all very strange, and it is explained, at least somewhat a little later, but I think the writers just wanted an excuse to get Saru out of makeup and see the others as different species. They wanted to have some fun with it. The bad news is, they’ve lost all of their equipment. No badges and no medications. If Discovery returns as scheduled, they’ll be sick but alive. The first holodeck character we meet is wearing a new Starfleet uniform. We haven’t seen this one before. It seems to be a bizarre blend of the discovery uniform with the TNG uniform. It’s got a very shiny version of the TNG com badge. No idea if this is supposed to be a real uniform that was worn at some point in history. Until we see it outside the holodeck I think we can basically dismiss it. Clearly, the holo programs are malfunctioning due to over 100 years of exposure to the radiation. When they enter a different part of the program, the holodeck changes their clothes again. They find a crumbling structure with some very cool looking alien creatures flying in the distance. Here’s a strange thing. Saru asks if human bodies react negatively to heights because his heart is racing. So are we to assume the holodeck has somehow reconfigured Saru’s internal organs? That doesn’t make any sense. A surface-level image to change their appearance, sure. But to make Saru’s body react differently, that seems a little absurd and completely unnecessary as we’ll soon learn when we discover the purpose of their transformation. They find the Kelpien child, now an adult male. And Saru’s eyes nearly bug out of his head. OH, it’s another Kelpien. How amazing. It doesn’t make sense. The child assumes the away team are programs but Saru tries to explain they are from outside the simulation. There’s a door here containing something that scares the Kelpien. The door breaks open but nothing comes out. The episode portrays the Kelpien as mentally a child, because he’s never seen anythingh outside of this holodeck. Again, that doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, his perspective will be limited, but his faculties still should have developed just like anyone else. He has the brain of an adult. I’m not sure it makes sense that he’d mentally be a child. A voice goes through the Discovery com system. “We’ve found them.” A female voice. Why this voice is heard on board Discovery is never explained. It doesn’t make any sense. We know how this is, but why would the voice be heard here? Anyway, Discovery has picked up another ship nearby. A Federation ship. Now we all knew where we thought this was going right. How many of you thought this was going to end up being another USS Discovery, tying into The short Trek calypso. I was relieved to find out that wasn’t where they were going. No, it’s Osyrra. Trying to sneak up on them by emitting a Federation signature. Apparently, she used a transwarp tunnel to get here. Book keeps saying nobody would be silly enough to use one of these tunnels but has never explained why. And it seems OSyraa’s ship came through fine with no problems. Anyway, she’s been tracking their ship since Kwijan and she wants Discovery’s spore drive, and she wouldn’t mind the planet of dilithium here either. Nice to learn Discovery now has a cloaking device. This makes sense. Ever since the fall of Romulus, the treaty of Algeron would no longer be in effect. But they can’t jump while cloaked. Again that makes sense. Starships don’t seem to be able to do anything while cloaked. Culbert and Saru find more holo characters. One of them, a vulcan, explains that this holoprogram has been set up to help raise the Kelpient child, educate him, and prepare him for the day rescuers would finally arrive. Since he has never seen anybody outside of the program, the holodeck has changed their appearance to make them look like part of the program. Okay. That part makes sense. But why does Culbert fit into this program more as a Bajoran than as a human? Why does Saru fit in more as a human than as a Kelpien? They still look like themselves. This doesn’t make any sense to me. Michael meets the creature behind the door. It looks very spectacular. Wonderful CGI. It chases her for a bit before she somehow falls upward and finds herself in another room with the KElpioen. In order to not freak him out, she pretends to be a program, one designed to teach him how to interact with outsiders. Meanwhile, Saru and Culberty find a holographic representation of a Kelpien elder. They learn the Kelpien child’s name is Sukal. That name symbolises the end of suffering and is given to a baby born after a hardship. Saru is enjoying what the elder is able to share with him. The song. How it reminds him of home. But it doesn’t stop him doing his job. He’s learning what he can from the book. And he realises what it is that Sukal is afraid of. It’s a monster from Kelpien mythology. Apparently, nobody will be able to leave this program until Sukal is willing to face the monster. Again, not sure why. The visuals of the fortress and the flying creatures continue to be absolutely top-notch. At this point, Tilly is feeling a whole lot of anxiety. Facing down Osyraa in her heavily armed ship is not something she expected to have to deal with on her very first time in the big chair. Tilly’s lack of experience adds a whole new dimension of tension to these scenes. It’s v very effective. I find myself doubting Tilly’s ability to handle the situation, but desperately wanting her to rise up to the challenge and prove me wrong. So even though I wouldn’t have put the character in this number one position, I’m finding that this is effective story-telling here in this episode. Tilly is not feeling as confidant as she’s trying to portray to Osyraa, and yet, if you compare this scene to the scene in season one, where she pretended to be Killy while Lorca stood at her side, she is so much more confidant now. She has come a long way. Osyraa is trying hard to convince Tilly she hasn’t got what it takes. And Tilly is putting up a brave fight in this battle of wits. The away team are all back together again, and Sukal is face to face with the monster. And then something weird happens again. He pulses with a shockwave of energy. This energy disrupts Discovery’s cloaking device. But worse than that, it’s starting to destabilise the Dilithium in the ship’s core. That sounds familiar. Sukal’s shockwave almost caused another burn. So it seems that Sukal was the cause of the burn. How? Why? We don’t yet understand. Why can be do this weird shockwave thing? We don’t know. But it’s all about him. Interesting. With both ships unblocked, it’s time for a battle. Tilly is making a hard call. She has to jump away to prevent Osyraa from getting the spire drive. She promises they’ll come back for the away team, but it’s not looking good for them. Book takes his ship to rescue them, but Adira also has a plan. She just needs Jett’s badge. Saru manages to calm Sukal by singing a Kelpien song. As he calms, the monster scurries away. Nobody but Saru could have done this. Tilly says she’ll self destruct the hip rather than let Osyraa get it. It’s a wonderful moment. But instead, when threatened, she tries to jump away. And that makes sense. Self destruct should be a last resort. IT makes sense that she’d try jumping first. Culbert theorises that being in-utero amongst all this dilithium and subspace radiation explains why the radiation doesn’t kill him. Something must have happened to trigger him when the burn happened. Perhaps the death of his mother? Saru has to return to the ship to deal with Saru. He asks Michael to stay, to help prevent Sukal from causing another burn. Michael argues it should be Saru, because of his connection to Sukal as a fellow Kelpien. And now Michael gets back on her “Saru is compromised” horse. He says he would never let his emotions to factoir into his decisions. She says he already has. I’m not buying that. Sorry. Yes, he’s a little distracted, although I don’t think the episode has given him good reason to be. But he hasn’t yet made any mistakes because of it. Look, if this is all part of the season’s on-going Saru learns to be a better captain arc, then I’m okayt with it. But it’s starting to feel like they’re setting up to push him out of the captain’s chair so Michael can take it. If that’s where they’re going, I’ll be very disappointed. Culbert also wants to stay. He knows what it’s like to be alone in a world that doesn’t make sense. They’ll only have an hour before the planet kills them. But Adira beams down with more radiation medication. That’ll buy them more time. Osyraa takes over the ship by sheer force of numbers. Her people beam on board and secure both the bridge and more importantly, the spore lab. Tilly doesn’t have a chance to destroy the ship.\ Michael and book arrive just in time to see Discovery and Osyraa’s ship jump to Federation headquarters. End of episode. This is a thrilling cliffhanger. And I’m dying for next week’s episode. I loved the stuff with Tilly in the captain’s chair. I’m still loving Janet Kidder as Osyraa. And the stuff with Sukal was very interesting. I’m so glad that Michael Burnham wasn’t the cause of the burn. It looks like we’re gearing up for an epic ending to the series. Just two episodes left. I say bring it on. Overall, this season is doing a much better job than the last two seasons of paying off it’s mystery. And yet, there are still some threads that seem to have been dropped. Remember how the Vulcans were absolutely convinced that the SP-19 data proved the burn started at Ni’var? That’s been conveniently forgotten. It doesn’t add up for me. And what about that music? Will that come back and be any further explained? Because honestly, the little bit of explanation we had for that last time it was mentioned made very little sense. We’ve still got two episodes left, so the music, at least, might still get a bit more exploration, but I’m not counting on it. And even without these elements being handled satisfactorily, it’s still overall a strong season, in my opinion,but I’m pointing these things out because they do bug me somewhat. Anyway, far be it for me to end on a negative. I think next week is going to be a thrilling episode as Osyraa strikes at the heart of Federation headquarters, and we will hopefully learn some more fascinating things about Sukal and The burn. I think we’ll have a lot more to talk about regarding the season mystery this time next week. Next week’s episode is called There is a Tide (formerly announced as “The Good of The People”) It’s another Jonathan Frakes episode, so that’s always cool. I’m now officially on Christmas holidays and won’t have to return to work until mid January. I plan to use some of this time to work hard on Jewel of The Stars book 3, and get it published as soon as possible. I hope you had a good Christmas and have enjoyed some time off, if possible. It’s been a long weird year, but it’s almost over. Anyway, catch you next week. Live long and prosper. Make it so.
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