‘Stargate Universe’ Series Finale Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 12th, 2011 at 2:53 am,

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Stargate Universe concludes its two-season run tonight, marking the end of a television franchise that’s spanned three series and almost 14 years. Is “Gauntlet” a satisfactory conclusion for the series or Stargate as a whole?

“Gauntlet” serves as a conclusion to the drones arc that Stargate Universe has been following for the last few episodes. As the crew of the Destiny tries to resupply, they discover that every gateable world with provisions is occupied by drone command ships.

After a victorious but costly encounter with one of the waiting drone ships, Rush, Eli and Colonel Young conclude that further attempts to resupply will only end in disaster. Eli concocts a solution: place the crew in stasis pods and make a massive subspace jump to the next galaxy on Destiny’s universal route.

This presents its own problems. First of all, they’d be going even farther away from Earth (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for all of Destiny’s inhabitants) and they still need some very specialized supplies to get all the pods operational. Naturally, someone’s going to have to stay behind and risk dying when the life support shuts down for the jump.

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Stargate Universe has felt like the black sheep of the Stargate family since its debut two years ago. Having more than a little in common with the likes of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek Voyager, Universe has seemed less and less like a true Stargate show as it has continued. For example, the finale has only one short scene with the Stargate itself, the plot device that’s supposed to anchor the franchise.

That said, the departure from established norms isn’t entirely unwelcome. Stargate SG-1 definitely got long in the tooth in its later seasons and Stargate Atlantis felt in many ways like a remixed version of the original, swapping out the setting and characters but keeping an all too similar feel. Universe‘s gritty atmosphere and desperate characters gave us something new, even as it expanded on the Ancient lore established way back in the SG-1 pilot.

The central conflict of Stargate Universe isn’t so much the alien bad guys as the motivations of the crew itself: Dr. Rush wants to explore the universe (along with Eli, to some extent) while everyone else wants to go home, or failing that, at least stay alive. There’s very little of that conflict in this final episode: everyone seems resigned to their fate, which I couldn’t help but see as a bit of projection on the part of the writers.

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As the crew makes tearful goodbyes to their loved ones by way of the mind-swapping Ancient communication technology, Rush and Eli make the preparations for the pods and the jump. It doesn’t leave the rest of the cast much to do except contemplate, with some especially expositional dialogue letting the audience know where everyone is emotionally.

In short, the episode functions more as a goodbye to the characters and Destiny as whole, and not the conclusion to the series that fans may be hoping for. There’s a distinct lack of space action (just one short battle and a remote-controlled bluff) and a lot of explanation as to the ship’s chances – or lack thereof – if they follow the plan.

It leaves the series surprisingly open-ended. Literally anything could happen after the lights go down on Destiny: expect a metric ton of fanfiction to flood Stargate forums in the next few months. It’s not as if the series could have been properly completed; Syfy announced the cancellation during the mid-season gap. But it still feels like there’s very little accomplished by the crew in the time they’ve had away from Earth.

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The acting and production values are on par with the rest of the series, solid without being stellar. Stargate Universe has taken a lot of cinematography cues from Battlestar Galactica, a choice that clashes with SG-1 and Atlantis. I’m not opposed to shaky cameras and moody sets, but they feel as out of place in the finale as they did in the premiere.

Eli is the only character who gets some real resolution, a fact that he and the others point out with surprising bluntness. Everyone else (especially Young, Tamara and Dr. Park) is left to dangle in the semi-hopeless situation. It’s definitely a downer, especially considering the bigger victories and moments in the last few episodes.

Even if Syfy hadn’t moved Stargate Universe (along with the likewise doomed Caprica) to a new night in favor of professional wrestling, I doubt it could have survived more than another season. It’s a disappointing end to a long-running franchise; I’ll go so far as to say that with a little tweaking and some reshoots, the recent episode arc with the planet Novus would have served as a far better conclusion. As it stands, the series ends with a whisper, not a shout.

At least fans won’t have to wait long to complete their Stargate collections: Season 2 of Stargate Universe hits DVD and Blu-ray on May 31st.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider

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  1. I don’t know why people need closure so desperately. I thought the ending was beautifully done given the circumstances. Life is full of uncertainties.

  2. I just discovered this series on Netflix and I loved it! I was engrossed with the story line and the characters. It was a huge disappointment to me to learn the series was cancelled.

    The ending episode, to me, was beautiful and very emotional. I hated to say goodbye to SGU. Seems like the SyFy channel knows how to kill good shows and how to keep the utterly stupid ones.

    • I just recently discovered this on netflix and feel the same. I didn’t like the other stargate shows but I loved the movie. I loved this series and was sad when heard it ended.

  3. I am hoping that some organization will retake where they left on; wishful thinking! The show kept me waiting for more. I was so into it that when it ended, I was sad.

    I cannot believe a show this beautiful was left to disappear into nothingness.


  4. yeah this show was making people think and media don’t want that these days so they left some useless tv shows for zombies I WANT TO C THE ENDING

  5. I still have the final episode of Stargate Universe saved on my DVR, and watch it every now and then. It still moves me.

  6. Premise and writing are very, very important, but for me, cast makes all the difference. “Stargate: Universe” had all of these, and I loved it. Although I am an avid fan of science fiction, I have never been able to bring myself to watch an entire episode of any of the other “Stargate” franchise shows. I’m coming to the conclusion that the reason is because the writing wasn’t great, and the cast was not particularly talented. Even bringing aboard a couple of my favorite stars from the (prematurely cancelled) “Farscape” – Ben Browder, Claudia Black – wasn’t enough to keep my attention. I just couldn’t take the other Stargate shows seriously, not even as comedy, not even as parody.

  7. i just started watching the show on netflix as well, and i love it. I agree i really liked the novas story arc and would love to see it continued. I hope they bring this show back, I know that it is not likely, but it would be sweet!

  8. Discovered the show on Netflix looking for things with Robert Carlyle in them. He is an amazing actor, but after watching Once upon a Time, I always picture Rumpelstiltskin when I see him in S.G.U. At first I did not care for the show too much because they showed you more boring parts while leaving out the more interesting things. I kept watching though and now I am completely in love with it. I just watched the last episode and was disappointed that it was cancelled. It had so much potential. I do have a few questions though. 1. When Eli overheard Camille and Chloe talking about the purple fruit, they said it was good, and Eli said that it tasted horrible. Chloe said they didn’t eat it so what did they use it for? 2. When they are on Novas as the second crew of the Destiny, Camille says she went on a date with someone…who do you think it was? 3. When the drones attack Novas and the gate had a chunk ripped off of it, If someone had been halfway through the gate at that time when the drone hit the gate, would that person end up on the ship or the planet?

  9. The finales of both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe were little more than a great big middle finger and I am far from satisfied.

  10. While I have been disappointed that there was never a resolution to the series, in some ways it really did have an ending. By going back to the episode where there is an alternate timeline, we discover the characters lived fulfilling lives and launched an entire new civilization. I really look at that episode as the “ending”

  11. I enjoyed this show so much, it actually took it more seriously than its previous show’s (that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them, more rather I’d have preferred it if almost every alien race didn’t know every English word) I thought SGU should have gone on for longer, the end did it self left me with hope that maybe one day it would be revived, but sadly no

  12. They focused too much on the emotional side of the story and that berried the series. The most of the viewers don’t want to watch emotions but action, shooting and special effects. That’s sad because the idea of finding the end of the universe sounds interesting and I really liked Rush’s character.

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