SG1 – Learning Curve

In the season 3 episode “Learning Curve”, the members of SG1 have made contact with a planet named Orban and the humans who live on this planet are technologically more advanced & knowledgeable than earth. However they know nothing about the Goa’uld or their threat and very little about the Stargate. After first contact an exchange of information is decided upon; while Daniel Jackson and T’ealc remain on Orban and help the Orbanians learn more about the Stargate and pass on information about the Goa’uld, while Major Samantha Carter and Colonel Jack O’Neill return to Earth and await the arrival of Kalan, the Orbanian liaison, and an Urrone (apprentice) girl, Merrin, who presents Sam with a Naquadah generator, and Merrin remains behind to explain the generator technology to Sam.

The SG team learns that Merrin and other Urrone children like her have been implanted with numerous nanites in their blood steam as well as their brains. The nanites superseding her normal brain synapses Merrin explains that the nanites were designed on Orban, that all Orbanians carry them as a means to gather information, and that each Urrone is given millions of nanites to assist them in learning large amounts of information very quickly, accounting for the high intelligence of the Urrone children that had been observed. Merrin also tells the group that each Urrone must undergo the Averium and that at each Averium all of the Orbanians are given one nanite, but does not explain any further. Later Kalan explains that an Averium is a ceremony where an Urrone’s nanites are removed and dispersed among the population to increase the Orbanians’ knowledge. Kalan replies that all the children who have undergone Avarium will remain with the others past Urrone in an institution as they cannot be taught because his brain will reject nanites. Dr. Fraiser hypothesizes that as nanites replace natural synapses in a the brain, the Averium reverts an Urrone’s mind back to an infant state. Daniel asks if it has been attempted to teach Urrone children without nanites, but Kalan appears confused.

This does not sit well with the SGC personnel, especially Jack who believes that children should be allowed to be children. He wants Merrin to seek asylum on earth but she does not agree with him saying that being chosen for Avarium is a great honour. Daniel, who remained on Orban, prevents Kalan from attempting to travel to Earth without first sending an IDC, but Kalan insists he must retrieve Merrin, as without her the Orbanian scientists waiting for her nanites will be forced to wait another twelve years as another Urrone is chosen to specialize in Naquadah generators. Daniel realizes the effect that withholding Merrin is having, and takes Kalan to the SGC with him. General Hammond agrees to allow Merrin to return to Orban and undergo the Averium, but Jack intervenes and takes Merrin from the base, without permission. He takes her to an elementary school where he know the teacher and has Merrin interact with the kids in playing games on the playground (she, like other Orbanian kids have no concept of “fun” or playing games) and takes part in painting class.

Eventually, Merrin comprehends the task and enjoys painting, thanking Jack for giving her the opportunity. Jack offers her amnesty again, but Merrin insists she must return to Orban and undergo the Averium to help her people. Jack takes Merrin back to the SGC and gives her a box of crayons before she returns to Orban. General Hammond threatens to Court-martial Jack, but he merely replies that he was giving Merrin a chance to be a normal child and will accept any punishment General Hammond decides to give him, which sways him into giving Jack no punishment. Several days later Kalan asks SG-1 to return to Orban, and SG-1 is taken to the institution for past Urrone. The institution is now filled with children playing, rather than sitting around in an infant state, and SG-1 is informed that all past Urrone children will now learn, without nanites, after their Averium, as a result of changes caused by Merrin.

The plot of this episode shows earth humans, in this case specifically Jack O’Neill having trouble with the fact that the Orbanian kids not being raised the way earth kids are raised i.e, having fun & playtime while they also learn. Since their way is not our way he has a problem with it and tries to change it. He is ready to face tough consequences to ensure that the child gets a taste of what being a child is like on his world before she has her life altered. I find this to be a very though provoking topic.

Cogenitor

I watched another favourite episode from Star Trek Enterprise last night- this one is called “Cogenitor”. Although a similar concept had been done in Star Trek The Next Generation, I find this episode to capture the concept better and it sticks in my mind a lot. I have seen this episode 3 times now and I love this episode and find it to be though provoking, sad and tragic all at the same time. This is what Star Trek or any good science fiction does to you when it is well. It resonates with you long after the episode has ended and since I first watched this episode back in 2006, it still is fresh in my memory.

The crew of the Enterprise is studying a hypergiant star when they are hailed by an alien species that they had never met before, The Vissians, who are traveling on a much larger spaceship. The technically more advanced Vissians are friendly and open to do First Contact with the humans and sharing knowledge. While captain Archer joins the Vissian captain on a smaller shuttle to conduct surveys and explore the inner workings of the star, Enterprise’s Chief Engineer Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker befriends his Vissian counterpart and his wife. While eating food in the Enterprise mess hall Trip learns that the Vissians have 3 genders : male, female and cogeniter. With the Vissian engineer & his wife is a cogenitor, who are essential for Vissian couple who plan to have a baby – they supply an enzyme during the sex act which facilitated conception. Cogenitors make up about 3% of the Vissian population, are treated in a very pragmatic way, being shipped from one couple to another to keep the population growing. A side effect is that they are treated like objects, not deserving names nor education.

Trip is fascinated with the cogenitor and makes friends with “her” (as the cogenitor feels more female to him and is played by a female actor anyway) after he learned from Dr. Phlox’ analysis that they have the same intellectual potential as the two other sexes. He teaches it how to read and tries to make it understand that it has the same rights as the rest of its species. He gives her a pad and is pleasantly surprised when she learns to read quickly. He then sneaks her into the Enterprise and shows her around the ship and shows her a movie in his quarters. He teaches her to play the board game GO and is amazed when it beats him at a game, since the engineer has been undefeated for the last two years. Later T’pol is contacted by the Vissians who are upset with Trip and deny him access to their ship. She then debates him on the touchy nature of First Contact and especially with the Captain away for 3 days. When Archer comes back the cogenitor sneaks back to see Trip and asks Archer for asylum – because she won’t be able to have a decent life among her own people or do any of the things that Trip tells her about (get an education, go rock climbing, etc). The Vissians are angry as their chief engineer and her wife had to wait a long time to get the cogenitor and also they felt that the humans couldn’t possibly comment on practices of a culture that they barely know. Archer is furious at Trip, even though he wishes he could accept the cogenitor’s request for asylum, and in order to not offend the Vissians, Archer refuses.

The two ships depart and both captains are still optimistic about hat the incident will not interfere with the relation between  Earth  and Vissia, the situation gets a lot less bright when Archer learns that the cogenitor committed suicide, an evident result of the independence it developed out of Tucker’s teachings. She learned of possibilities she had never known till now and having them denied to her was  too much for her to bear. Archer  severely reprimands him for his interference, as it has not only resulted in the cogenitor’s death, but now the Vissian couple will not be able to have a child for a long period of time. Tucker is deeply shocked, as Archer reminds him that despite all his time on Enterprise, he still compares other cultures to Earth standards and interferes without thinking first. Archer is upset that first contact with the Vissians led to this conclusion, and Tucker begins to realize the consequences his actions can cause.

It is a good reminder to all of us that we have to think before we react and criticize another culture just because their ways are not the same as our own. Another culture may eat different food, have different ideas about family, sexual preferences, marriage, homes, employment, language, accents, medical practices etc. They may seem weird & alien initially but unless we take the time and effort to understand them, we cannot deem ourselves fit to comment, criticize, debate, lecture or discuss about the said culture. This will be crucial if humans ever do have contact with an alien species in real life. It seems like a distant possibility for now but if we ever do, the lessons from this episode will be crucial.

Before I end this post I must say that this does not apply to various cultures on earth among us humans. That is another post for another day

More Human Than Human

One of my issues with Stargate SG1 and at times with Atlantis, which was not an issue with Universe, is that at times they didn’t really try to make some of the humans or even races of humans that lived on other planets, different enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love Stargate and am a huge fan but this point really bugged me. But Go’auld living on earth working in business ventures and commerce? Some of the aliens were just too human.

Take for instance the 18th episode of SG1’s season 10, the final season. We meet Vala Mal Doran’s father for the first and only time. Jacek, played by comedian/actor Fred Willard is so American, you wonder what he was doing on another planet. Pictured here, Jacek is basically Fred Willard in a type of salwar kurta (some might say he basically plays himself in most of his roles) and does the usual wise cracking jokes he is famous for. Plus for an alien human visiting earth for the first time, he sure starts acting like us in an awfully quick time. While on Earth, Jacek proves to be a less than honest citizen, holding a charity phone scams, selling “genuine stardust”, cooking earth dishes and hustling senior citizen ladies in bingo games (with a cover charge).  In 3 weeks he learned enough to fool women in bingo?

Granted that episode is more to add some humorous elements into the show and it’s to be taken lightly (how can you not when te main guest star is Fred Willard) but they just didn’t try. It was almost like he ad-libbed most of the dialogue not relevant to the plot.

Stargate Universe : Episode 40 “Gauntlet”

We reach the 40th & final episode of this great show, cancelled way, way too soon.

Lisa Park eye sight doesn’t return despite TJ’s treatment and care. Park breaks down in tears, comforted by TJ and Ronald Greer. Eli & Rush inform Young of their ability to track the positions of the Control Ships & drones. Wray believes this to be good news, as it means they can avoid the drones and safe places to resupply. Eli, however, cannot deliver such good news. He displays a star map detailing the location of every gate, then overlays the location of the Control Ships. At maximum sensor range, the result seems clear: every single Stargate is guarded by a Control Ship.

They have about a month’s worth of food and water. Young is hoping for a supply line from Earth, but Telford informs him that their talks with Langara are getting nowhere. Destiny is on its own. On the bridge, Rush discusses the situation with Eli, Adam Brody, and Dale Volker. Since they cannot run or hide, Rush knows that their only option is to fight. Eli points out that there are a lot of drones, but Rush only intends to attack selected targets when they need to resupply. With their ability to track the Control Ships, they can come out of FTL right on top of one and destroy it before it can retaliate. This will however cause a lot of damage and Rush looks for ways to lessen the damages. The first such attempt doesn’t go as planned; when the drones’ weapons are proved to be ineffective against Destiny’s sheilds, they do kamakazee runs hitting the hull of the ship.

Eli then comes up with his plan – put everyone in stasis &  they can fly through the entire galaxy and to the next without needing to stop to resupply. Unfortunately, completing that journey will take Destiny three years, and their dwindling power supplies leave little margin of error. However this also leaves very little margin for error; even a slight miscalculation will leave them drifting for thousands of years instead of three. Rush doesn’t agree and feels that skipping part of the journey is detrimental to Destiny’s mission. But before they do that they need supplies and materials to fix some of the pods. Using a lesson from the drones, they rig a shuttle on remote and let the drones attack it while an away team gates to a planet to collect the supplies. They also set the shuttle to ram into the control ship and destroy it. Now the crew get to say their goodbyes to their people on earth by using the communication stones before they have to go into stasis.

But one of the pods is not repaired and therefore, one of the crew must stay awake. Young volunteers to be the one to stay conscious, which with very little food left means sure death. But Eli convinces that it must be him who stays; Young doesn’t trust Rush to be the sole person awake and therefore it has to be Eli, as he will also have a chance to fix it in the next few days and enter stasis himself. Young finally agrees even though he doesn’t like it. He is worried that Eli might lose the chance to realize his potential, but Eli believes his potential is wasted if he doesn’t step forward when he’s needed. He praises Eli on having come a long way from the “video game slacker” he was a year ago, while Eli claims Rush has been “pretty consistent”. They both get a small laugh out of it. Rush goes into stasis, then Young hugs Eli goodbye, telling him that he’ll see him once they wake up. Once Young is in stasis, the ship begins powering down. Eli heads to the observation deck, looking upon the ship as it travels through FTL.

Thus ends, totally prematurely and well before it should have, a great show. Not just a great Scifi show but a great tv show. It’s sad to see the closing minutes – the closing sequence of the episode mirrors the opening sequence of the first with lights starting up and the camera moving into the “upper” corridors until the Stargate Room, although in reverse. The last scene is Eli smiling while looking out through the window on the observation desk, with a smile on his face and we see the ship go off in the distance in FTL. Such a shame that this had to be cancelled.

Stargate Universe : Episode 39 “Blockade”

We are down to the final two episodes of SGU. The Tenerans have been off the ship but some of Destiny’s crew wishes that they had stayed. Volker & Brody watches from the bridge as the ship enters a gas giant to replenish it’s reserves even if they seem to have quite a bit left. However as soon as they come out of the gas giant’s atmosphere they find bezerker drones & a control ship in front of them. It will take them exactly the same amount of time to get the FTL drive active as it does for the drones to reach them. The drones reach them and begin the attack, but Destiny is able to jump mere seconds later. Rush comes to the conclusion that the drones are predicting Destiny’s course and not actually tracking them and that the crew need to find alternative stars for recharging their batteries in order to avoid the drones.

David Telford is contacted using the long-range communication device and informed of the situation. He expresses disbelief that the drones could have blockaded every available star, but Eli points out that the drones only need to be at the next one, as they don’t have the power for any more attempts. They come up with a plan to divert Destiny to a blue super giant, something that the ship would never do on it’s own. Volker objects to the plan, as the extreme temperatures would kill the entire crew. Rush explains that the crew will be evacuated, while a small team in Ancient environmental suits pilots the ship. Telford wonders why they can’t just set the ship to autopilot, so Eli explains that someone must stay to prevent the ship from aborting the attempt. Rush & Eli are the ones who stay behind along with Lisa Park who Young permission to collect the last of the medicinal plants, citing her experience with the environment suits.

The rest of the crew goes through the gate to a nearby planet, very similar to a modern town on Earth. The planet, probably a branch off from the Novus colonists, looks safe and hence two groups head off to find supplies, while the majority stay in the building that houses the gate. The groups find paved roads but oddly no vehicles and stop at certain stores. Meanwhile, Morrison has found a newspaper clipping indicating that the civilization on the planet was attacked and as he creates too much of a fuss, James is force to knock him out cold. The two groups are attacked by drones and at first hide in the stores. As they make their way back to the gate, Varro is able to  take out a couple of drones with a rocket launcher.

On the ship Park gets trapped in the hydroponics bay and they are unable to open the doors to let her out. Rush feels that her best bet is to jump into a pool of water in the bay and the environment suit should also be able to protect her. Park takes refuge in the collection pool as the garden burns around her as the ship moves through the blue giant. She is saved but loses her eyesight in the way too bright light as the dome shatters. As Eli has the doors opened to retrieve her, she cries saying that she gone blind. As the rest of the crew returns to Destiny, Young, Greer, Scott, and Varro watch as an entire Control Ship descends upon the warehouse building on the planet, though not quickly enough to stop them. Destiny now has a full tank of energy but TJ has to go and check on a despondent Park.

Stargate Universe : Episode 38 “Epilogue”

As We’re getting close to the end of a really good tv series that was cancelled way too early and as you will know if you have watched it, will end at a “what will happen” stage.

So in episode 38, the crew of Destiny along with the descendants are above the planet Novus, white the shuttle lands on the planet near a large statue of Col Young. They go to an underground bunker which leads to the planet’s archives. The archives shows them arriving on the planet 2000 years ago and finding shelter. In order to save as much data as possible, Eli manages to establish a communication link between the bunker and Destiny and upload the data to the ship’s computers. Some of the crew also look for salvageable supplies and Rush finds, Varro and a number of soldiers in the food storage area. Greer calls him over to show him a package of beef jerky, amazed that knowledge of it would survive 2000 years. Meanwhile the archives Kino footage shows the crew settling on the planet, building shelters, looking for material to make weapons and fences to keep possible predators away.

They also find out that in the alternate timeline, Volker was the first to die from the group. His kidney problems were not treatable as TJ lacked the equipment to do so. As Volker listens to the comments he is unable to say anything and leaves in the shuttle to Destiny. As the days, weeks & months pass by we learn of the crew settling down and people getting married. TJ & Young marry, Greer & Park marry, Scott marries Chloe and Varro and James make a connection during the wedding.  Later we see the women giving birth to their kids. We also learn that Lisa Park names her son Dale in honour of Volker. Also Eli is surprised to know that his alternate self hooks up with corporal Barnes and that they marry and have kids. We also see Wray speak about dating a woman from the crew but also admitting that she had found her soul mate and doesn’t need another.

The recordings also show the progress of TJ’s condition as she has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). A visibly upset TJ is comforted by her friends and she knows it’s only a matter of time before she starts to see the symptoms. Knowing that the archives also have a large medical database with cures for various diseases, Eli says that once the download is completed they should search for a cure in the archives. Meanwhile the videos shows the crew with their children grown up and them having kids too. They find out that the first school had Eli as their teacher.

Finally Eli is able to explain what happened to the Novans and as he tells Young, the gate got buried by a volcanic eruption decades ago. Many had already evacuated by then, but some remained. The two countries, realizing that they stood a better chance by working together, reconciled and built massive starships to cross the void between Novus and a nearby colony world. The world is ten days travel by FTL but hundreds of years by their more primitive propulsion. Soon the earthquakes cause the bunker to start breaking up and the crew has to abandon the rest of the salvaging and they only manage to get 1/3 of the archives uploaded to Destiny. As they evacuate Varro gets injured as he takes a fall. As they leave the planet Eli informs TJ that the cure for ALS wasn’t in the part of the database that they were able to download but that they could still develop a cure using the rest of the data.

A final flashback shows the dedication of Eli Wallace Elementary by his grandson, the principal. He tells about how Eli put his life into creating their system of education, and that he plans to uphold that legacy. He turns over the podium to Wray, the last surviving member of the expedition and current mayor, as well as author of their constitution. She recites the same words of greeting Yaozu gave when they first met in the main time. She gives a speech about how the crew thought they had failed their mission when they arrived, but now realizes that it’s the journey that matters. An aerial shot of the town shows how it evolves over the generations, progressing from a simple town, to an early industrial city, then finally to an advanced metropolis. The final shot shows one of the Novan starships launching from the city.

Stargate Universe:Episode 37 “Common Descent”

As the Destiny’s CO2 scrubbers are running low are running low on lime and the ship comes out of FTL, the crew looks for suitable planets to replenish their stock. Out of two gates in range only one is active and looks promising. As they prepare a team to go to the planet, 6 drones appear. Greer manages to take out the drones, but Park states that they will not be able to fight off an entire armada, and they cannot jump for another two hours. Young meets with Rush in the control interface, curious as to how the drones have followed them. Rush isn’t sure. Young suggests the inactive drone as the cause, and though Eli insists it to be dormant, he orders it jettisoned just in case. The drone is jettisoned out of the third, unused docking bay. A shot from the turrets destroys it but there is a control ship which will reach them in an hour.

As Matthew Scott & Greer leads the small team through the gate and to the planet, they spot two teenage human gatherers and get a big surprise to hear them speak back to the team in English. The boy & girl Jason & Ellie, recognize Scott and Greer, proclaiming them to be their ancestors; they claim to have descended from Destiny’s crew, who founded a civilization 2000 years ago. Young holds a meeting with Rush, TJ, Eli, Chloe, and Wray, wondering how this could have happened, and Eli realizes that it must have been the duplicate crew created when they attempted to dial Earth from within a star. Since there was no Destiny to receive them that far back, they went to a nearby gate instead. They were stranded on this planet, which they called Novus, and settled there, creating an entire civilization from the small group of Destiny’s crew. The planet on which the crew finds Jason & Ellie is a settlement, one of several on various worlds, which they made while looking for viable colony sites. They have been unable to dial Novus for a long time, decades at least, and cannot dial anywhere else.

Destiny’s crew meets with the settlement’s leader Yazou, which was also Camille’s grandfather’s name, and he invites them to have tea in one of the tents. As the crew is informed the colony only numbers about 100 people, but Novus has millions and advanced technology. The colony teams were sent out due to a natural disaster on their homeworld, but Novus has been out of contact for 30 years. In addition to the natural disaster, political tensions were rising between the two dominant countries: Tenera and Futura. The Tenerans, from who this colony is descended, followed the writings in the testament, written by some of the crew. Tenera loosely translates as “Land of Young”. The Futurans, in turn, worshiped Rush, having come to believe he was still on Destiny and would rescue them. Volker thinks the name is stupid, though Brody disagrees. Eli reveals that Brody was the one to invent it.

Through video archives they find that TJ had a baby with Young, the first to be born on the planet. Eli is shown as an older man, having had a child of his own and appreciating what they have on Novus. An elderly Young is shown, speakingof a group wishing to break off, presumably the start of the two countries that would eventually form. MeanwhileAs the crew get plenty of supplies from the settlement, Yaozu has something more to ask. He would like Destiny to transport the colony back to Novus. They are unable to sustain themselves without support from Novus, and thus need a way back home. oung isn’t convinced they could transport that many people, but Eli believes it would be possible. The trip would take a week and it would drain most of their lime reserves, leaving them right back where they started, but they’d make it. Young says no and Eli, Wray, Scott, and Greer return to the planet to inform Yaozu of the decision.

They say that they will stop by Novus and see if the gate can be repaired. However as drones suddenly appear and attack the settlement, Young allows the plea to bring all the colony onboard. Most of the people go through the gate but a drone shoots at the ring, destroying part of it, which strands a small group of humans including Eli, Wray, Scott & Greer. They have to wait the night out before a shuttle is sent to retrieve them and Destiny heads for Novous. As Rush complains that all the lime might be used up, a few of the colonists ask for permission to stay aboard Destiny. Jason, Ellie, Yaozu, Greer, and Wray have joined the shuttle mission. As they approach Novus, Scott can detect no radio signals. As the come in closer they see evidence of a nuclear winter and then an intact but abandoned city. There is no radiation, no detectable power signatures, and no signs of life. Rush clarifies Park’s assessment to a volcanic winter, likely the result of a supervolcano. Scott makes a lower pass, but there is no sign that anyone has lived there for a long time.

Stargate Universe : Episode 36 “The Hunt”

On an alien planet members of the Destiny crew are hunting for food & fruits when they find a couple of animals that look like deer from earth. Wondering if they could get edible meat from those animals Greer prepares to kill one and is joined by Scott joins him to corner the animal. The pair are distracted by a roar and before they can get their bearings, a beast bursts from the brush, knocking the Kino aside. Within moments, it tackles Scott, sending him flying. Though Greer has time to shoot, he hesitates & the beast knocks Greer aside and darts past him. It then attacks a few more of the crew causing some injuries and as the crew picks themselves up they find TJ and Reynolds missing. Young orders Scott back to the ship and personally heads the rescue party.

Meanwhile Eli & Brody open one of the doors in the unexplored areas and find a large room with lots of stasis pods. Rush assumes the pods were meant for lengthy intergalactic travel periods. Both Eli and Rush are fascinated by the discovery, but Rush unexpectedly decides to ignore it for the time being. He intends to check the ship’s database for information on the pods first, given recent events. Fed up with waiting, Eli decides to check out the stasis pods himself, asking Brody not to tell Rush. Brody decides to follow him instead of moving on. As they examine one of the pods, Brody gets stuck in one and is frozen. A panicking Eli tries in vain to release him and then calls Chloe to assist but she is also unable to open it. Unknown to them an amused Rush had observed the activity and had activated the pod from the bridge. He later releases the pod door and Brody is thawed from his frozen state.

Young is unable to raise TJ & Reynolds on the radio but refuses to admit that they could be dead. He sends the rest of the team to the gate and when he is alone with Greer he asks him about the hesitation in shooting the animal, for which Greer doesn’t have an answer. Varro and the remaining former Lucian Alliance  crew asks Young to join the search for the missing two, as they have had lots more experience hunting wildlife, which will come in handy as the creature that attacked the crew seems to be a smart one. This would prove to be more than true as the creature attacks at night and kills most of the crew leaving only Greer, Varro & an injured Young remaining. Varro advises Young to go back to the ship as he is in no condition to help.

TJ & Reynolds, who has a broken ankle, find themselves in a cave, the lair of the huge cat like creature. They find many bones of dead animals in the cave and assume that they have been left for a latter meal. The creature is also guarding the cave from a distance and with Reynolds injured they can’t make a run for it. Apparently there are also younger ones of the creature in the forest. TJ manages to reach Greer on the radio and alerts him to the situation and location. As Varro detonates C4 to distract the young creatures away, the adult beast returns to its lair. It observes TJ and Reynolds, as well as the fire TJ has made.  The adult beast isn’t drawn away. Greer comes in, ready to shoot, but TJ stops him. The beast seems to recognize that they’re intelligent from the fire, which is why it hasn’t killed them. Greer has them move away, then lowers his gun to show he’s not hostile. The beast sniffs him, then backs off, allowing him to leave. As they head back to the gate, joining Varro, they come across one of the space deer. He kills the deer and the meat is cut up, cooked & served by Varro to the rest of the crew who are ecstatic to have some meat.

Stargate Universe : Episode 35 “Seizure”

The 15th episode of the second season sees guest appearances from both Robert Picardo as Richard Woolsey and David Hewlett as Dr. Rodney McKay. Meeting up with allies called the Langarans, Woolsey and Col. David Telford are trying to convince Ambassador Ovrida (played by Victor Garber) for use of their Stargate facility as a lifeline for Destiny, since their facility has already been set up to draw energy from the planet’s naquadria core. The Langarans are not convinced that it is safe to do so and their scientists have determined it to be dangerous for their planet. Rodney is brought in to propose a different option but the Langarans are not ready to try it. Ovirda stops him and says that he is not willing to dial Destiny if there’s even the slightest chance it could end in disaster, and will only agree if their scientists can confirm McKay’s findings.

Telford tries to use the possibility of the Lucian Alliance attacking Langara to use the Stargate by force and dial Destiny as possible coercion to agree to Earth’s proposition. However it does not work. Telford takes this as a sign that the Langarans have already been contacted by the Alliance and believes that they are working in agreement. Telford, Woolsey, McKay use the communication stones to discuss this with Col. Young. Telford shows Woolsey and McKay evidence of talks between the Alliance and Langara, collected using listening satellites orbiting the planet. Young has Eli confirm McKay’s method of dialing and is convinced when Eli says he wishes he had thought of the idea. A plan is hatched to convince the Langarans to safely dial the 9th chevron and to determine if they are indeed siding with the Alliance instead of Earth. On Langara, Woolsey comes through the gate unannounced, claiming to have some Ancient relics as gifts for Chief Administrator Halpren and Ambassador Ovirda. The captain of the guard insists on examining the relics, not realizing that the items are two long-range communication stones.

Using the stones, Young switches with Halpern and Scott switched with the captain of the guard. Young as Halpern invites Telford, McKay and some soldiers to Langara, much to the surprise of some of the soldiers on the Langaran side. Woolsey returns from having examined the administrator’s files. He has discovered that Langara was approached by the Alliance on multiple occasions, and steadfastly refused each time to preserve their relationship with Earth. A suspicious guard overhears some of the conversation and alerts Ovrida to the base and before the 9th Chevron can be dialed, his guards apprehend the Earth’s delegation. oung consults with McKay, who believes that the connection would have been successful.

Young and Scott return to Destiny. Young explains that Earth has now agreed to protect Langara from the Alliance, while the Langarans have removed the Stargate from the facility, ending any hopes of dialing Destiny. Noticing that they have moved to the bridge, James explains that she took their guests on a tour in the hopes of garnering some sympathy. Given their performance on Langara, he believes James made the best decision of any of them. Telford, Woolsey & McKay are also allowed to return to earth.

While all of this was going on Dr. Rush was in the chair, in a simulated world created by Amanda Perry’s consciousness (which was downloaded into the ship’s memory) and spending the day with her. In this simulated world it is possible for them to “touch” each other and make love, so they spend they day in bed. However, Perry does not want him to leave and when the time comes for him to go back to reality, she fakes it so he only believes that he is back with the rest of the crew. Eli & TJ are worried that they can’t snap Rush out of his ‘coma’ on the chair and it takes Ginn’s conciousness to give Eli a solution for the same.

Later Rush wakes up in the infirmary, having been unconscious for two days after being disconnected. Eli is there, waiting by the bed. Rush angrily demands an explanation, so Eli reveals that he transferred both Perry and Ginn into a quarantined section of the ship’s memory, totally isolating them from both the ship’s systems and the neural interface. He did so to save Rush, but clearly isn’t happy about it. Eli leaves, ignoring Rush’s further calls. TJ stops Rush from trying to press the issue, as he still needs to rest. Greer tells him to listen to her.

Stargate Universe : Episode 34 “Hope”

This one was a crazy episode. The crew take turns at the communication stones trying to get in touch with people at Homeworld Command. While they wait for some news Eli & Rush play chess, while Volker and Brody argue over the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Volker refers to by its proper name of “Also sprach Zarathustra”. Chloe sits and after sometime she seems to have been taken over by someone – to the surprise of the crew it turns out to be Ginn!

Young, Eli & Rush explain to ‘Ginn’ about the situation – that she was killed while her consciousness was in Amanda Perry’s body by Simeon and they had assumed that both she & Perry were killed simultaneously due to them having swapped consciousness. cott wonders why Chloe was affected when no one else does, which Rush attributes to her falling asleep during her shift, which relaxed her consciousness enough for Ginn to make a connection. Scott is more concerned with where Chloe’s mind is while Ginn is using her body. Wherever Chloe is it isn’t earth as the crew still can’t connect with anyone on the planet. Ginn is concerned about where she’ll end up if she leaves Chloe’s body, so Eli tries to reassure her by pointing out that they don’t know where Chloe went. A little later “Ginn” starts gasping for breath, as if someone was choking her.

Later Chloe resurfaces back unaware of what has been happening. And then Amanda also appears, taking control of Chloe’s mind, much to the relief and happiness of Rush. He tells her that until something else can be done, he hopes to have Amanda’s & Ginn’s consciousness stored into Destiny’s computer memory. The hope is for finding a way to permanently download their memories & consciousness into new bodies, which Eli is also confident of. By using the chair the memories are stored into the computer and Chloe recovers hours later.

Also in this episode we find out that Volker is sick, having stopped using his BP meds which he was taking for hypertension. A checkup reveals that his kidneys are failing and since dialysis is not possible on this ship the only option is for a transfer. TJ finds two matches and one of them, Greer, readily volunteers. We see a tender moment when Greer walks a sick Volker around the ship so he can see the various areas before the operation. Also a funny moment just before the operation is to start – Brody plays the theme from 2001 on his ipod but when the others find it ominous, he says he will stop it. Unfortunately it plays some Japanese boyband stuff that is so awful and he can’t turn it off, so Brody removes the batteries. Amanda appears to TJ to help her with the operation as power fails.

At the end of the episode, Telford contacts them as Homeworld Command has finally been able to get things working again. Park helps Volker walk around a bit to help his healing process as TJ checks on Greer. On the bridge, Perry appears to Rush. She thanks him for saving her. She describes her new state of being as “freeing”. Later, Ginn appears to Eli. He was initially worried since she hadn’t appeared as quickly as Perry did. Though she cannot touch him, the fact that they can see each other is enough. She reaches out to touch him, but her hand just passes through his cheek.

Stargate Universe : Episode 33 “Alliances”

Label this one as the episode in which Sgt. Greer & Camille Wray bond and finally become friends. As we start the episode Col. Telford uses the communication stones to meet up with Col. Young & Dr. Rush and demands an explanation of what happened. Telford is quick to accept their story since he has more pressing matters to discuss. Senator Michaels (Kathleen Quinlan), the new head of the Offworld Spending Committee, is coming to Destiny to investigate Rush’s “signal from God” – as others on Earth are calling the cosmic radiation that Rush discovered. Rush protests the name, which he didn’t coin, but Telford explains that others on Earth have started using it.

Wray offers to switch minds with Sen. Michaels and talk to the IOA for a way to dial the gate on Destiny by looking for an Icarus-like planet. This may not provide a passage home (as they can only dial to Destiny and not vice versa) but it can provide them with food & other supplies. Sgt Greer switches with Dr. Andrew Covel (French Stewart), a scientific adviser who is accompanying the Senator and is a former colleague of Dr. Rush. Once she is aboard the ship, the Senator is all business but is genuinely glad to see Chloe, who she is very fond of and has known her as a family friend for many years. While at Homeworld Command in the different bodies, Wray & Greer are caught in a massive blast caused by a bomb intended to destroy the offices.

Greer and Wray are trapped in the remains of the building unable to find a way out and with the possibility of more bombs in the base. Telford is out safely and is trying to get to them but the path is blocked by debris. They are also unable to get to the stones to disconnect themselves and return to the ship. It is up to Greer, who is also injured, & Wray to find & defuse the bomb. They run into another soldier, Evans, who initialy helps them but turns out to be the Lucian Alliance spy who set the bomb. When Evans makes his move to hold Wray hostage, he is shot by Greer. Later, as Destiny comes out of FTL and they switch back to their bodies, they are able to tell Col. Young of the situation, before switching back to Homeworld Command. However it takes Senator Michaels & a reluctant Covel with instructions from from former Lucian Alliance member Varro to defuse the bomb. Michaels and Covel prepare to return to their bodies. Rush disconnects the base, returning them to their bodies. Michaels prepares to disarm the bomb.

Although the crew is unable to connect back to Homeworld Command after that, perhaps the communication room in the building was damaged, we later find out that the bomb was indeed defused. And it is likely that Michaels & Covel died soon after as their bodies were exposed to leathal levels of radiation.

Stargate Universe:Episode 32 “Twin Destinies”

This episode is just awesome. A meeting is held to discuss the fact that a lot of systems have significant damages and they don’t have spare parts. Life support is also at a reduced capacity as Dale Volker & Adam Brody explains. Telford asks for alternatives while Dr. Rush says that they have no option but to carry on. He also objects when Eli tells the rest about something he & Ginn were working on – to devise a means to dial Earth while Destiny is recharging inside a star. Rush vehemently opposes this plan, as Eli’s plan fails to consider the conditions inside the star while dialing. He is also concerned that it could destroy the ship.

Everyone else is on board with going home as they simply cannot continue on a ship in the condition that Destiny is in. Rush reiterates that Eli’s plan does not and cannot account for the unpredictable nature of conditions within a star, and establishing a connection could rip a hole in the fabric of space-time. Young agrees to stay back with Rush & asks for 10 other volunteers to continue on with the mission on Destiny while the rest of the crew dial & gate back to earth, if the plan works. Before they can go on, a shuttle approaches the ship and radios them – Dr. Rush is in the shuttle! This stuns Telford, Young and co as Rush is standing with them! The second Rush docks the shuttle as Scott, Greer, Telford, Young, and the first Rush arrive. Upon exiting the shuttle, Rush tries to attack Telford, blaming him for killing the crew. He then collapses. Young calls TJ to treat his injuries. Wray joins her.

The other Rush, who we will call future Rush, is from 12 minutes in the future. He tells them what happens in his timeline – they dial the gate and Telford leads the group through the gate, asking them to follow him in a few seconds. However an overload happens and with the exception of Telford, none of the crew makes it through to earth. They either died or exited at some other gate in any of the galaxies! Future Rush stayed behind to stabilize the wormhole and once everyone was through the gate the ship started to have overload and he got away in the shuttle. Rush looks at Future Rush and quips that he now has someone to have a decent conversation with. The plan for them to gate to Earth is dropped. However the crew can get something out of this failed attempt. Destiny needs spare parts and they have a twin Destiny, one just minutes away from the future, lying in space. So the plan is for the crew to split into groups and salvage anything that they can from the Future Destiny including spare parts and food.

The other destiny comes into view and they gate across. The teams rush off in different directions and start salvaging everything that they can – spare parts, food, weapons, plants, medicine, and anything else useful is taken. They have 40 minutes to do this and gate back. On his way back to the gate, Future Rush tries to salvage a power relay for the weapons array as Telford approaches him. Telford insinuates that Rush tried to sabotage the dialing attempt and made a mistake which killed the crew, which Future Rush adamantly denies. When Telford pokes Future Rush in the chest, continuing his accusations, Rush angrily shoves him off and blames Telford for their deaths. He realizes too late that he has just pushed Telford into the damaged relay. Telford is electrocuted to death, to Future Rush’s horror. He flees the scene.

Scott & Rush come to retrieve the two of them as the times is ticking away and are shocked to see Telford lying dead on the floor. Rush runs to get to his future self and finds his double at the interface chair. The Future Rush tells him Telford’s death was an accident, and insists that the story he told about his experiences was true. Knowing he can’t go back to Destiny without them believing he purposefully murdered Telford, he intends to sit in the chair. The first Rush helps him, then abandons ship with Scott. The second Destiny is consumed by the star. Meanwhile Wray uses the stones to report to Stargate command and informs Future Telford why he was the only one to gate back to earth. Destiny continues on with spare parts & food that let’s them continue the mission but most of them sad that they could not gate back home.

Stargate Universe : Episode 31 “Deliverance”

As we ended the previous episode, The Destiny is under heavy attack from the drones. Eli notes that there are hundreds of them, more than their one ship could ever hope to shoot down. Chloe tells Scott that she sent a signal to the Nakai, the blue aliens, who have been following them into this galaxy. Thanks to her signal, however, they now know where to look. Three Nakai ships drop out of hyperspace, as Greer accuses Chloe of betraying the humans. She denies it saying that she did it on purpose as it was the only chance that the crew had. No sooner does she say this when a lot of the drones start attacking the Nakai ships, indiscriminate in their targeting of any alien technology. Using this diversion to their advantage Destiny sets it’s way to the control ship, while Eli & Rush work on jamming the signals coming from it.

Destiny takes heavy damage on approach, but Rush and Eli succeed in jamming the drone signal. The momentary break is enough for Destiny to close the gap and fire on the Control Ship, obliterating it in a few shots. With the Control Ship gone, the drones are dead in space. Rush praises Eli for the idea. The Nakai were hit hard, losing two ships. The third seems to be heavily damaged. Now, the shields are down and they need a couple of hours to repair it before they can go into FTL. Meanwhile Telford has been in contact with the Ursini who claim that they didn’t trust Destiny to escape without fighting and hence took them straight to battle. However in trying to contact their brethren the Usini discover that they could very well be the last of their kind and another drone ship & a lot more drones are on their way towards them.

The crew bring a dormant drone on board in order to study it better and find a more permanent solution. But now the remaining Nakai ship block the way demanding help in dealing with the next wave of drones. Rush adds that this is a chance to cure Chloe. The aliens surely possess the ability to reverse what they’ve done to her, and the alternative is to put Chloe off the ship at the first opportunity. The aliens agree and although with the risk of the Nakai getting all information about Destiny from Chloe and not returning her, there is no other choice. Scott watches as two Nakai approach to take Chloe with them. She is brought back to Destiny by Scott in the shuttle and upon examination, she seems to show no signs of the infection. The new control ship & hoardes of drones arrive.

However a surprise is in store for the crew of the Destiny. They receive an apology note from the Ursini, who are making a suicide run at the control ship. Although their ship is destroyed before it could reach the target, the brief respite allows Rush & Eli to upload the new commands to the inactive drones; after learning about the inactive drone they brought to the ship, they programmed  new commands which set the drones on each other. With minimal shields, they head out to a bumpy FTP jump away from the battle.

Stargate Universe : Episode 30 “Resurgance”

Episode 10 of the second season starts with Dr Rush looking for Eli and Dale Volker conducting diagnostics of the ship’s systems. An energy signature which will take the Destiny a day to reach attracts the attention of the crew. The ship dropped out of FTL into a vast field of debris. Eli comments on it being a battlefied, while Camile Wray describes it as a graveyard. They find a familiar designed ship, the same one which Rush & Young visited, and decided to explore it for anything of value. Scott, Brody, and Ronald Greer head for the shuttle wearing Ancient environmental suits, the 3rd of which Brody had repaired is given to Greer. Unseen by the 3 of them as they fly by the debri, a fighter ship activates itself.

The 3 men find a breach in the front of the vessel and Brody & Greer board it while Scott remains back to man the shuttle. Eli sees that a few ships are showing signs of activity and on reporting this to Young, he recalls the away team back to Destiny. 10 more fighters come online and fly by towards the vessel. Brody and Greer make it back to the shuttle as the fighters offer no response to Eli’s friendly message. The fighters attack Destiny with firepower and Young orders his people to return fire. While waiting for the shuttle to reach them, Destiny’s FTL drive is rendered inert. Only the sublight engines are online, and they cannot hope to outrun the fighters.

Suddenly, a seed ship drops out of FTL. David Telford contacts them. Since time is short, he orders them to follow his ship. The seed ship plots a course for the nearby star. Young orders a pursuit course while all power is diverted to the shields. The fighters, now more than two-dozen strong, follow them in, destroying themselves in the star’s corona. Destiny, meanwhile, is able to recharge itself. Volker notes that they’ve evaded the fighters for now, but they’ll catch up once they get around the star. Telford contacts Destiny again, suggesting that they dock so he can tell them his story. The Ursini, the aliens on the seed ship meant no harm and they were finally able to communicate with Telford through a neural interface. With their help & trust he managed to fix the seed ship and come after Destiny.

The Ursini will  help Destiny by taking both ships to FTL and locating the drones command ship; destroying it will render all drone ships inert. The Ursini takes the ship to the place and the drones immediately start attacking Destiny. The drones are overwhelming the Destiny and all hails to the Ursini for a retreat are not answered. With no where to run with the FTL systems being offline, the situation looks grim. Chloe, seemingly possessed about doing some changes to the ship’s systems tries but is unsuccessful. The drones pressure on.

Stargate Universe : Episode 29 “Visitation”

We start the episode with Brody fixing his still and Morrison, Lt.James & some other crew listening, only semi-interested to Dr. Rush’s discussion on the pattern of the background radiation. The ship comes out of FTL near two planets & just as Col. Young asks for a report from Volker, the lost shuttle appears out of nowhere. Robert Caine, one of the crew who opted to stay back on the artificial planet in another galaxy, calls over on the comm which further confuses the crew of the Destiny. Rush is curious as to how their shuttle could have made it this far, not being space-worthy let alone capable of such speeds. But here is Caine along with the other 7 who opted to stay back on that planet. The crew is also baffled as to how the advanced aliens who built that planet knew where the Destiny would be and when they would drop out of FTL to bring their people back to them.

Pleased at getting a working shuttle back, Col Young asks that the 8 people be brought on board but to take every precaution. TJ wants to meet up with them to see if they have a baby with them (she had earlier had a vision that her baby was with the 8 crew members). She fights back the tears after she sees no sign of the baby, composing herself when Young asks if she’s alright, then quickly leaves. Meanwhile Chloe’s condition is progressing along and there is a new patch of alien skin growing on her arm. Scot wants her to fight it even though she believes that it is too late. Later Greer discusses with Chloe that she may be killed if she changes completely to the blue alien. He offers an apology to her while he still can and they say goodbye. Chloe records a farewell message to Scott, telling him that she loves him and wishes they could have done everything a normal couple would have.

Eli, Camile & Young interview the 8 civilians who only remember going to sleep inside the shuttle, which they were using for shelter from the winter, and woke up just when the shuttle appeared near Destiny. Caine believes that God brought them there.  After recording the interviews with each individual, Wray & Young discuss about them. Wray feels that their memories were tampered with in an effort to hide something. Later when Eli talks with Val on her memory on the planet, blood pours from her eyes and mouth and she collapses. She later dies in the infirmary. On using hynosis on Peter, one of the 8, Wray finds out that Val & Peter both suffered deaths on the planet but reappeared here and are dying again. Peter died from dehydration and hypothermia (freezing to death), Val from bleeding as hit by a blunt object (hit by a falling tree). The others save from Caine are also suffering the symptoms of freezing.

Finally Caine is the only one left alive but he knows that he too will die again. In a recording on a Kino, we see Caine in the shuttle on the planet praying after the other have died and a bright light suddenly blocks out the picture. TJ surmises that the aliens may have sent them back to say goodbye.

McKay’s Second Childhood

The Shrine is the 6th episode of the 5th & final season of Stargate : Atlantis. This is one of the standout episodes of this highly enjoyable tv series and of the Stargate franchise in total. The reason is the premise and the acting ability of one Mr. David Hewlett who plays the role of Dr. Rodney McKay, one of the main characters of the series around whom the episode revolves. During a mission, Lt. Col. John Sheppard’s team step through the gate to go to a planet where another team is supposed to be studying the effects of global warming, only to be soaked completely as the valley where the gate on that planet is stationed is flooded. During the 38 minutes it takes for them to be rescued McKay, who was already feeling a bit feverish, gets infected by a parasite that wraps itself in his brain. Initially he doesn’t seem to be suffering but soon the effects of the parasite suppressing that part of his brain start appearing; the effects are similar to that of Alzheimer’s.

What happens next is brilliant acting; a normally brilliant genius, arrogant & sarcastic (funny to viewers) begins to soon have trouble remembering stuff and his memories deteriorates to the point where McKay is virtually unable to function. His speech is slow and he becomes almost childlike. This effect is hard on his friends in Atlantis and especially to his sister Jeannie who is brought to visit him and has to rush out in tears within a few minutes. There is no medical cure except for a shrine in another planet, where the enemy Wraith have also landed; a shrine which they soon find has radiation properties that suppress the parasite and it shrinks itself, making it operable on and Dr. Keller is able to remove it from McKay’s brain.

Back to the acting, Hewlett does a great job of completely reversing his role from the character we have come & know for the past 4 seasons and to see him disabled in this manner is awe-inspiring. This episode is also about friendships – McKay tells Keller that he loves her and wants to do so before he forgets. Also the friendship between Lt. Col. Sheppard & Rodney – the scene where an infected mcKay runs scared to John’s quarters, frightened when he woke up in the night. John & Rodney go to drink beer by the peer and McKay chooses to say goodbye now before his condition worsens and he can’t remember anything but Sheppard is having none of it, saying that there is still time . McKay is touched but says “You’re a good friend Arthur”! Sheppard glances to see that McKay is joking and the two have a laugh about it.

Awesome episode, worth watching even if you did not like the series.

SG1’s Other Guys

I watched The Other Guys, a hilariously funny episode of Stargate SG1, season 6. The episode focuses on two guest stars who join SG1 on a special under cover mission – while totally unaware of the actual situation but end up helping in saving the day. The guest stars are Patrick McKenna & John Billingsly, two actors I have seen in many roles over the years – none as funny as this.

McKenna (the actor on the right) is a Canadian actor I used to watch on a series called Traders and in many guest roles in various tv series and a movie or two. Billingsly, on the left is a beloved actor to most Trekkies as Dr.Phlox in Star Trek: Enterprise and in the low budget but highly acclaimed movie The Man From Earth. The third actor in the middle doesn’t have much of a role in the episode. McKenna & Billingsly play two scientists – Dr. Felger & Dr. Coombs respectively – who are on a planet along with SG1 researching a set of Go’aul transport rings. The SG1 team gets attacked by Jaffa soldiers and are caught. Felger & Coombs, who were ordered by Col. O’Neill to gate back to the SGC, instead only send the 3r scientist back and on Felger’s urging, Coombs and he sneak into the Go’auld ship in an effort to rescue the team.

Felger is the more ambitious one and he worships the SG1 team while Coombs is more scared and just follows his colleague. The duo stumble into the room where the SG1 team is kept and join them but there they are informed that SG1 purposely let themselves be captured to get info from the Tokra who are posing as Jaffa & Go’auld onboard the ship. However their plans hit the wall when the Tokra are found out and killed. The comical duo manage to help the SG1 members escape and infact actual contribute a lot more, even though they more or less fluke their way through. What also sets this episode apart are the one-liners that Col. O’Neill blasts out to the Go’uald.

Jaffa: This is nothing compared to what Anubis is capable of.
O’Neill: You ended that sentence with a preposition! Bastard!

And when the Jaffa leader has the team hauled off into the shielded room, O’Neill says “What no gloating? Take some pride in your work, son!”

Stargate Universe: Episode 28 “Malice”

At the end of the last episode we saw Simeon enter Ginn/Dr. Amanda Perry’s quarters and we find out that he killed her, unaware of Dr. Perry’s consciousness being involved at all. It is Rush who finds her dead body and radios TJ for help. Simeon purposefully strolls through the corridors, shooting out a power conduit to darken the ship. He shoots two guards at the armory, and begins raiding the armory for supplies. Lt. James visits homeworld and reports back that although Ginn, in Amanda Perry’s body, was able to deliver quite a lot of useful data, she is now dead as is Dr. Perry.

Simeon enters the gate room and holds Volker & Park at gun point and makes them seal the doors. He takes Park as hostage and has her hands tied behind her back. Simeon has Volker dial the gate to a desert like planet nearby and enters the wormhole along with Park. After the rest catch up to the gate room, Rush goes off to the planet behind Simeon, followed by Greer, Scott and some soldiers. They find Park alone with a bomb attached to her.

Rush manages to remove the sensor and throw the bomb far away to denote without causing any harm. More soldiers join the hunt for Simeon, who Col. Young wants to be captured although Varro advices against it. The team on the Destiny try to delay the countdown before the ship goes to FTL. On the planet, Scott’s team manages to catch up with Simeon. Since he’s out in the open, Greer is able to shoot him. Greer hits him in the leg. Rush urges Greer to fire again, but Greer’s next shot goes wide and while distracted, Greer gets shot by Simeon. Scott carries Greer back while Rush continues to chase the Lucian Alliance soldier. Through his binoculars, Rush spots a herd of animals,  native to this planet and without Simeon noticing, he plants a block of explosives in their vicinity. Later he detonates the explosives by remote causing the herd to get scared and rush away to safety.

Simeon is caught in the stampede and as he lays down injured Rush approaches him and shoots him dead, avenging the deaths of Ginn and the woman he loved.