‘Stargate Universe’ Series Finale Review & Discussion

Published 3 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. Probably the best Series finale I have ever watched. The acting was superb, the scene with Eli and his mother, to the blind(temporary i hope) Dr back on earth seeing through someone else’s eyes, and to see everyone working together, even Rush, was amazing. The closing scene with Eli, the ambient piano music all blend together perfectly. I have watched this episode 4 times already. I will certainly be hoping and waiting for The MOVIE. :)

  2. I finally got to watch the finale the other night and it was a major disappointment. What an unsatisfying way to finish a series, much less a franchise. It would have made an ok season finale, but to finish the series like this is a kick in the nuts to the fans of the Stargate universe. For crying out loud, at least have made the finale into a 2 hour movie to complete the show with some closure. I agree with many of the people on here saying that SyFy needs to make a movie to give the series a proper finale. This finale was even more disappointing than the finale of Seinfeld.

  3. Man I’m tired of people comparing this to BSG or Voyager. The show has some surface similarities to BSG and almost nothing in common with Voyager (unless you’re only allowed one single show that has people lost in the far reaches of space unable to get home, and everything after that uses it is a ripoff, in which case Voyager itself was “Star Trek version of Lost in Space”.
    The BSG comparisons have a bit more merit but not a lot. Yes it’s dark and gritty and character based. But in my book this isn’t nearly enough to make it similar – it’s merely a style. SGU really doesn’t have much to do with BSG when you get past that.
    I’m really sorry to see the show go and am hoping to see the continuation of the story in some form at least.

  4. I actually enjoys the new cinematography, but the story was just mundane, everybody was whiny and annoying. I liked the plot but it probably would of went better if they discovered more truths to the ancients. Maybe even met a dying one or something on a planet. It’s like chasing the wind, you feel it in your grasp but you just never see it. if they choose to conclude it in a movie or something it’d be nice if they were saved by the ancients in the middle of the stargate “universe”, just saying…

  5. I actually enjoys the new cinematography, but the story was just mundane, everybody was whiny and annoying. I liked the plot but it probably would of went better if they discovered more truths to the ancients. Maybe even met a dying one or something on a planet. It’s like chasing the wind, you feel it in your grasp but you just never see it. if they choose to conclude it in a movie or something it’d be nice if they were saved by the ancients in the middle of the stargate “universe”, just saying.

  6. I actually enjoys the new cinematography, but the story was just mundane, everybody was whiny and annoying. I liked the plot but it probably would of went better if they discovered more truths to the ancients. Maybe even met a dying one or something on a planet. if they choose to conclude it in a movie or something it’d be nice if they were saved by the ancients in the middle of the stargate “universe”, just saying.

  7. I actually enjoys the new cinematography, but the story was just mundane, everybody was whiny and annoying. I liked the plot but it probably would of went better if they discovered more truths to the ancients. if they choose to conclude it in a movie or something it’d be nice if they were saved by the ancients in the middle of the stargate “universe”, just saying.

    • SGU was tear out your eyes BORING!! i couldn’t even bring myself to watch the second season after dragging myself through the first. As to it getting cancelled, they made the right decision!! Why continue making Bad Shows. SG Atlantis and SG-1 were much more action oriented and thus more fun and exciting. I was so disappointed in SGU i spent the whole first season waiting for it to get good… The new graphics and the style had potential as did the space battles. But in the end a let down.

  8. I actually enjoys the new cinematography, but the story was just mundane, everybody was whiny and annoying. I liked the plot but it probably would of went better if they discovered more truths to the ancients. if they make a movie or something it’d be nice if they were saved by the ancients.

  9. This blows i enjoyed this show and they cancel it and keep stupid shows like ghost hunters on lame

    • I totally agree. And wrestling, umm on syfy please.Bring the show back but take us off the ship more to see more alien races & cultures. Give us some more interesting theories like is worm hole travel possible. or like in Jurassic park can you bring back dinosaur from dna from prehistoric mosquitos.  Challenge our minds please make us go huh I never thought of that.

    • I totally agree.. SyFy should not be airing real-like shows (ie.- wrestling and ghost hunters) what’s next? Oprah on SyFy? .. leave that to ABC .. and make your network channel name worth .. Science-Fiction .. not Bull-Fiction. I used to watch SyFy any time of day, now.. i barely do because most of the shows aired are not worth my time, and the ones left you’re terminating? Gee! even CBS are getting more SyFy fans on shows like 4400′s or Lost than whom’s supposed to be the top Science Fiction channel. Shame on SyFy execs .. go to any other network where your like minded do actually like what you air and bring back the Science to SyFy…. and please.. don’t even think about using science on other issues.. that’s what Discovery, History, NatGeo and a bunch more do .. keep doing what nobody else does .. take our minds on a journey not on some docu-cr@p! Ghost Hunter’s.. i was flabbergasted by that on SyFy and not on the good way.. and now Friday Night Smackdown??? Read this piece if you can and you’ll understand why there’s no chance for salvation on SyFy to become BsFy unless they take a reallly big step back. (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/36698985/ns/today-today_tech/t/so-long-nerds-syfy-doesnt-need-you/) So long SyFy =(

  10. How could this series not be popular enough to continue…?

    And syfy, you moved the show in favor to wrestling, really. Who likes wrestling anyways, we’ve got UFC you know, where the fighting is REAL, and not some clowns doin acrobatics, jeez.

  11. My problem has always been with this series, is its a downer. It misses the fun from SG1 and Atlantis, the quirky humour. It had a ton of relationships and negativity with little to no aliens.

    I enjoy visiting the planets and finding other races. I still watched it, because its stargate and its all I have.

    However, I thought SGU sucked compared to SG1 or Atlantis, which my whole family could watch and loved.

    • I loved this show it was a new type of stargate, it really reminded my of the movie Sunshine which was awesome, I think there were 3 main problems with the show.

      1. It was technological step back, this was before the ancients become ascended and it looks less high tech than Atlantis or the Asgaurd ships or hell even the guld ships with all those crazy crystals they had, It think Star Trek Enterprise suffered from this as well

      2. It was slow as hell to start up, the first season had a massively slow pace compared to previous stargates, again not a bad thing but it made it hard to get an interesting story, I mean how many stories can you have about pure survival, it really didn’t pick up until the middle of the second season and by then it was too late

      3. Those stupid music montages, I mean every damn episode in the first season had one, and they were long and boring and damned repetitive, man what were they smoking when they decided to do so many of them, one maybe two a season tops not every freakin episode,

      Sigh I really loved this show and would have loved to see it follow all the way through or at the very least get a dvd movie to conclude things.

      I really hate syfy now and will not trust them with anything new again

  12. It was one of the best shows on that channel, I hope they will bring the show back on the air some day.
    Everyone keep up the support for the show and many thanks thats to the cast.

  13. I don’t believe it was worse nor better then sg1 or Atlantis, it had different characteristics and brought something completely out of the ordinary to the comical Stargate we once new.

    I loved the others but universe was just awesome, survival on a ship that was falling apart, it was one of those series that made you continually think of different scenarios before going to bed.

    The fact that they found a culture based on there descendants, wow mind F@@k.

    I’m overly disappointed that syfy didn’t give it the time of day, they are taking one of the best TV shows off the air. Shame, I think that last ep would have boosted ratings for a new season… :(

  14. This show is one of the best scifi show. I don’t know why this show is canceled. I think maybe the rating tv is down because the story is lack with alien fight or war. I think it kinda stupid to put a lot of alien in this series because the story is about exploration than a war story. By the way it kinda sad if this show is canceled…….. :(

  15. The writing and acting were far superior to anything syfy has on their current roster. I loved the show and will miss the characters. Stargate atlantis was so poorly written and the actimg was terrible that the special effects were a waste. How was that kept more than mid season. This show had some real feet. Big mistake syfy big, huge.

    • right on susie

  16. I really enjoyed SGU as it was giving us something different. Sure it wasn’t in the same style as the previous stargates, but that was the point. A bit of syfy that made you think and feel. Obviously that was too much for the channel bigwigs to handle.
    A real shame, I will miss it.

  17. Syfy blows…wrestling…please…

  18. Frankly I thought the finale was lame – but at least it brought the show to a close rather then just canceling and leaving everything hanging. I agree with everyone else about the shows quality – it was great. Also, SYFY – please get rid of the wrestling – it doesn’t have any place on SyFy channel – it is soooooo lame and stupid. Do people really watch that garbage?

  19. SyFy killed BSG and now they’ve killed SGU. Hate it. And I agree with everyone else- men running around in tights is not Syfy unless they have super powers, and men running around in the dark pretending to see ghosts is just pathetic. I used to watch SyFy all the time. Now I could hardly care if the channel was available to me.

  20. i like the linear story line. it felt more realistic (at times) than its predecessors. but syfy has plenty of days in which it could have aired.

    boot that Ghost Hunters show!!!!

  21. You have to be kidding. After following SGU from the beginning i can’t believe the ending you came up with.What were all the writers on strike? This is the best you could come up with. Shame shame

  22. This is terrible. The Stargate series were the best series I watched and SYFI was the only channel I cared about. I thought this series was the best of the bunch and this is a shame. I don’t care what night it airs, that is why we have recorders. This was tamer than Battlestar and I liked that, Battlestar got too dark to be enjoyable. The reality stuff is all lame, no matter what channel it is on. The unfortunate thing about our world today is nobody uses imaginations so I guess they write up stuff to really dumb it down for the audience. Shame, shame.

  23. There’s no space action in this episode? What are you smoking? This episode was almost all about space actions and strategy. From fighting with the drones, to the near collision with the aliens motherships, to the drones using their gate supply line to find them in space, to the Destiny finding a strategy to counter their strategy. It doesn’t make sense you would say something like this.

    In general, it was a beautiful and meaningful open end series ending.

  24. I really enjoyed SGU. It was one of the best shows on that channel. Shame

  25. I loved this show it was a new type of stargate, it really reminded my of the movie Sunshine which was awesome, I think there were 3 main problems with the show.

    1. It was technological step back, this was before the ancients become ascended and it looks less high tech than Atlantis or the Asgaurd ships or hell even the guld ships with all those crazy crystals they had, It think Star Trek Enterprise suffered from this as well

    2. It was slow as hell to start up, the first season had a massively slow pace compared to previous stargates, again not a bad thing but it made it hard to get an interesting story, I mean how many stories can you have about pure survival, it really didn’t pick up until the middle of the second season and by then it was too late

    3. Those stupid music montages, I mean every damn episode in the first season had one, and they were long and boring and damned repetitive, man what were they smoking when they decided to do so many of them, one maybe two a season tops not every freakin episode,

    Sigh I really loved this show and would have loved to see it follow all the way through or at the very least get a dvd movie to conclude things.

    I really hate syfy now and will not trust them with anything new again

  26. I’m angry with SyFy because it was starting to get really good .. After each season the storyline got better and better. Then just left you hanging in the series fanale. I guess they did that for a reason so they could when we least expect it…

    • Sorry for the bad spelling.. I meant to say If & when they decide to bring back SG-U

  27. I LOVED this show. I will never trust or watch SYFY again. Reel me in and then after 40 hours is invested, cancel the series with no real conclusion. Shame on you SYFY. At least change your name.

  28. I was disappointed that it got cancelled. I travel and work insane hours and enjoy my DVR when I’m home for a little R&R. I was a late-comer to Stargate SGU after seeing the original in theaters when it was first release but I really grew fond of the characters and especially Jack’s sarcasm. Universe was a bit lacking on the character lines in the first season, but after that they started to form rather well. There was still so much plot to be had, with exploration of the rest of the ship, potential for long-distance jumps to gates within Earth’s reach, encounters with Asgards (sp?), and even with ancients.

  29. I loved all the Stargate shows, and hated to see any of them go. But, there is so much left undone in SGU. There was so much potential! Why in the world is it canceled!!! I am really going to miss this show!!!!

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