In the third part of the pilot of Stargate Universe, we follow our characters to an alien planet where they search for much-needed material to repair the scrubbers on Destiny. If they fail, everyone will die of asphyxiation. But there may be other life on this world. Is it helpful or hostile?
News mentioned in this episode
* The passing of Mira Furlan
* Sir Patrick Stewart's Critics Choice Super Award
* Star Trek Lower Decks available outside of North America.
Welcome to Nerd Heaven
I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars
And I am a Nerd.
This is episode 52 of the podcast. Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Air Part 3”.
There’s been a bit going on in the nerd world lately, that I want to mention.
And sadly, I have to start with the heart-breaking passing of Mira Furlan, who played Delenn on Babylon 5 and Rousseau on Lost. She was only 65 years old. So many of the Babylon 5 actors have gone before their time. I learned about this just last night and it really hit me. I am a huge Babylon 5 fan. One of the things that made the show so great was the fantastic characters, jointly created by writer J Michael Straczynski along with some truly amazing actors. Mira Furlan was one of those actors. I’ll always remember her for her passionate speeches as Delenn. The character was tender, loving, but also as tough as they come. There was a great deal of Furlan in Delenn. JMS wrote the character in a way to help Furlan express many feelings she had about her homeland of Yugoslavia which was going through all kinds of political turmoil.
My condolences go out to her husband, her family, and all those who loved her, which definitely includes her Babylon 5 family.
In happier news, I want to acknowledge Sir Patrick Stewart for winning the Critics Choice Super award for Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series, for his role on Star Trek Picard.
And just a reminder that Star Trek Lower Decks is finally available to watch, legally and ethically, outside of North America. All 10 episodes are streaming on Amazon Prime Video. While I’ve had most of the big moments of the series spoiled, I’m still enjoying going through and watching the episodes for myself.
And for those watching this podcast on youTube, just a reminder that I recorded the bulk of this episode before I decided to do live action video for the youTube version, so you won’t be seeing my face as I discuss the show. All back to normal next time.
The description on Gateworld reads
Lt. Scott leads a team to a desert planet to locate a mineral capable of fixing Destiny's life support system. Chloe visits her mother on Earth.
This episode was WRITTEN BY: Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper
DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita
And it first aired on the 9th of October 2009
So the team emerges through the gate onto a desert planet, but very different looking to Abydos. This is clearly a location shot and looks so much better than anything they did on SG1.
Eli steps through and looks at his surroundings. An alien planet in a whole other galaxy. He smiles and says “cool.” Of course he does. I would too. I’d take a moment to appreciate the enormity of it, but he doesn’t let it distract him either.
Meanwhile, SCott orders them to try dialing the gate back to the ship. Again, very wise. They want to make sure they can get back.
There isn’t a DHD but they have a hand-held device they likely found on the ship.
So good news. There is evidence of limestone on this planet. This whole dessert was once an ocean that probably supported life. Very different life than anything they’ve ever seen before.
One thing SGU does really well is it makes space feel more alien.
It also feels like this show is more grounded in real science. Certainly what the geologist is doing feels authentic and not technobabble-ish.
Young is gonna use the stones to report in.
Colonel Talford, who was evacuated from Icuras by the Hammond is waiting by the stones. He wants to be the one who is connected. You see, the two people swap bodies, so Young appears in Talford’s body back on Earth, but Talford appears in Young’s body on the Destiny.
Deep down, I think Talford wanted to out there on the alien ship. But he missed out.
I do feel sorry for Talford suddenly finding himself in a broken body with the pain of broken ribs.
Chloe has also used the stones to visit earth so she can tell her mother the sad news about her father.
The way they do the stones thing, is the same wy they did it back on SG1. The actor who is playing the soul within the body is the actor you see, but he or she is wearing the clothes of the person they replace.
Young points out that these are the wrong people for the expedition. Those who are stuck on the ship are not qualified.
O’Neill can sympathise, but ultimately, he reminds Young that he wasn’t qualified when he first went through the gate to Abydos. They’ve sent hundreds of people through the gate to various planets, and none of them have been qualified. Humanity are in way over their head. They always have been. But they’ve come such a long way since SG1 season 1.
Franklin thinks they should be checking out the other planets in range. Rush is still convinced the solution is on this planet. And he has good reason to think that.
Chloe’s Mum probably already had security clearance to know about the Stargate program. But it still must be confronting to see your daughter wearing another person’s face.
She’s not handling it very well. She’s chugging whiskey before Chloe can even tell her that her dad is dead.
But then she breaks down when she learns the full extent of it. And the power of that scene moves me pretty deeply. Very well done.
Talford, and the other scientist from Earth, who is currently lending her body to Chloe, agree with Franklin that they should try to get past the locks on the other planets.
Brody isn’t convinced. There has to be a good reason why they’re locked out.
But Talford makes it an order. If there are good reasons, he wants to know what they are. And that’s fair enough, but it’s still a big risk.
And now we get our first exploration of the theme of how you treat somebody elses body when you’ve living in it.
Johansen wants Talford to rest, because Young’s body needs to heal.
Talford wants to push through with painkillers. He feels they need him here.
But that’s not his body he’s abusing.
We’ll continue to explore this idea through the series.
But Johansen tricks him by giving him a sedative she shouldn’t have had to waste, just so Young and return to a healthy body.
Scientist lady isn’t impressed. But I see why Johansen made the call, and she stands firmly behind it. You don’t want to press this woman on her medical ethics. She won’t back down.
Rush is concerned that if they don’t slow down, they’ll never be able to keep up the pace on the way back. Greer, cocky as ever, is convinced he can.It’s a tough call. They need to find the limestone, wherever it is, but they also need to get back to the stargate alive, before the time runs out.
And that’s when Scotts starts seeing things. A syringe wisp of sand twirling around. Is it just a natural phenomenon or something else?
As they leave, the wind seems very interested in the chemicals Rush used to test the sand. It appears there is some intelligence behind it.
Both teams keep testing, and keep failing.
And that’s when the second team decide to mutiny.
Franklin has found an override to allow them to dial the other planets in range.
Even Palmer is agreeing with Franklin now.
They make a couple of reasonable points to consider, but they’re still stupid. And wrong.
Rush on the other hand, is smart enough to know he can’t go on any further. So he tells Scott to go on without him.
And Scott is still seeing the swirling wind. But can he be sure he’s not losing his mind due to heat and dehydration?
He tests it by pouring some water and watching the wind go investigate the water.
But then he sees a human face in the sand. Her knows that can’t be real.
There’s a nice character scene as Rush and Greer confgront a few prejudices they have about each other. Rush assumes Greer is poor, and Greer assumes Rush is rich. It seems Rush is right but Greer is wrong.
Franklin has managed to open the gate. They’re gonna take the remote control, stranding everyone else on the planet. Palmer and the solder go through, but Greer arrives in time to shoot Franklin.
They are half way through the countdown. If Scott hasn’t turned back by now, he’ll never make it to the gate before Destiny jumps away.
Only problem is, he hasn’t turned back. He’s still looking for limestone.
Now a priest is following Scott around the desert.
And we get another little moment of humour when Eli says “I have a gun.”
Young is back on the ship and Rush has taken Franklin back to Destiny for medical treatment.
So we get a flashback. Scott in a church, crying and confessing his failure to the priest. Scott’s parents died in a car crash when he was only 4. He was raised by this priest, but he drank himself to death when Scott was just 16.
Scott thought that he had a religious calling, but he’s gotten a girl pregnant, and she’s not going to have the baby.
He feels he has failed God.
I’m not sure why exactly the wind creature chose this memory to make Scott re-live, but maybe it’s a way of encouraging him not to give up, showing him that life can go on even after mistakes.
Anyway, it stirs up the sand, making some water bubble up to wake Scott. He sees the limestone, tests it, and it’s good. He’s found what they need.
Now he just needs to collect it and get back to the ship,
Eli can’t make contact with Palmer and the soldier. We’ll never hear from them again. They’re gone. Whatever danger existed on that planet, it’s taken them. IT seems Destiny was right to lock out that planet after all. I kinda like the way they did this. It would have been interesting to see them meet their demise, but there’s something mysterious about just never knowing.
For all his faults, Greer is very loyal. He’s not gonna leave Scott out there on his own. He goes back for him. How he has the physical stamina for what he does in this episode is beyond me.
He ends up walking this distance 4 times.
3 minutes on the clock, and scott and greer are still not back. The rescue team have given up and returned to the ship.
No point all of them getting stranded on the planet too.
Eli can see them on the scanner, butr they’re not gonna quite make it.
This is a really tense climax. They build up some great tension.
Rush had a brilliant idea. He tells Eli to stick his hand into the event horizon of the wormhole. That should prevent it from closing, and hopefully Destiny from leaving.
That’s how the stargates in the milky way work, but these are older gates. Will it just chop off his arm?
The timer runs out, and the gate is still open.
They make it through. What a moment!
We hear a contemporary song play as we see them repair the CO23 scrubberrs with the lime.
The air begins to flow, and we see the relief on everyon’es faces as they start to breath properly again.
Chloe brings Scott some water. They share some of their mutual pain.
Now I was all set up to talk about how Scott takes advantage of Chloe, how he uses her pain as an excuse to get her into bed.
I could have sworn there was a scene at the end of this episode where they have sex, but it’s not there. We leave with them sitting and talking. Let’s face it, in his condition, Scott’s not up for anything physical right now.
So I suppose I’ll have to leave the discussion of that for when it actually happens. Probably in the next episode.
It’ll be interesting to see if my opinions of their relationship changes.
Anyway, the final shot shows some kind of alien shuttle that was docked with Destiny lift off and fly away. Oooh. Very intriguing.
And that was Air Part 3.
I love this three-part pilot. It’s probably the best opening to a TV show that I’ve ever seen. This is a really strong start.
I like how it focussed on survival rather than rushing to introduce a new big bad.
It had everything I was looking for in a Stargate show in a post-Battlestar Galactica world.
This show clearly took a lot of inspiration in both tone and shooting style from that one, but it never felt like a cheap copy. Stargate Universe set it’s own course, and I’m thrilled to travel the rest of this journey with you all over the coming episodes.
So we’re now done with the extended pilot and can launch into the rest of season 1. I first saw Air Parts 1, 2 and 3 on a DVD which I bought long before the show started airing in Australia, so for me, there was a big gap between this and the next episode.
Nerd Heaven is now officially back on a fortnightly schedule. That means there will be no episode next week, but I’ll be back on the 8th of February to talk about the episode “Darkness”.
There’s plenty more great stuff to come, so I hope you’ll join me for it.
Until then, have a great two weeks.
Live long and prosper.
Make it so.