In the Stargate Universe episode "Sabotage" we find Destiny stranded in the void between galaxies. Is it just an engine malfunction, or is it more? An old friend of Rush, Doctor Amanda Perry comes aboard to help with repairs, but that makes somebody on the ship must inhabit her quadriplegic body.
This episode examines themes of disability. It also sees the return of our lost crewmembers and the aliens.
Welcome to Nerd Heaven.
I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars.
And I am a Nerd.
This is episode 65 of the podcast. Today we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode Sabotage.
The description on Gateworld reads
When problems with the F.T.L. drive threatens to leave Destiny stranded, the crew calls upon an expert from Earth to help -- a quadriplegic woman who temporarily takes over Wray's body.
The episode was written by Barbara Marshall
It was directed by Peter Deluise
And it first aired on the 7th of May 2010.
Young is going about his daily activities, but he’s finding it hard. The loss of Scott, Eli and Chloe weighs heavily on him. As well it should.
The remaining crew have assembled in the gate room.
He explains the situation to the crew. They’re now on strict food and power rations. He tells them that all hope of rescuing Eli, Chloe and Scott is gone.
I think they were going to have something of a memorial for them, but Rush calls Young to the control room. It’s rather typical of Rush that he’s not at this gathering. Young pounces on this. Maybe he’s found another option. He dismisses the crew and joins Rush
But it’s not good news. Rush knows exactly why Destiny is going into power saving mode. They’re going to come short of their target, in their journey to the next galaxy. Destiny won’t make it across the void. And that’s probably the worst thing they could discover. There’s nothing like the prospect of getting stuck in the void between galaxies to make you appreciate how good you had it being stuck in an alien galaxy surrounded by stars and planets.
This raises an important question. Why is Destiny even trying if it’s not going to make it? We’ll find the answer to this in a second, and it’s pretty cold.
Destiny just passed through a star so they should be well stocked with power. But as we recall, the first time we re-charged at the start of the season, the ship didn’t fill up all the way.Records show that destiny only just made it the last couple of times it tried to travel from one galaxy to another. And they’ve sustained a lot of battle damage since then.
The ship is on a predetermined course. Since they haven’t taken control yet, it’s going to continue following that course. It can drift the last bit of the way and eventually arrive, but the crew will be long dead by then.
Brody suggests trying to improve the efficiency of the engine, but Volker sounds a caution. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re not experts on ancient engine technology.
Rush admits this, but he says he knows a few people who are.
While the Atlantis expedition did find an ancient warship or two, so those systems could have been studied, nobody back on earth has ever seen the engines used by Destiny. Remember, the ship travels faster than light, but not through hyperspace. It’s a completely different form of propulsion. So the people on Destiny are the only living humans who have ever seen this technology.
Rush’s suggestion is Amanda Perry. She was to work on the next generation of hyperdrive technology for Earth. So this engine will still be new to her, but maybe she’ll know a little more about how ancient technology works. She might have the skill to pick up a thing or two. It’s pretty rare that Rush admits that somebody else is more knowledgeable than he is. It does happen, but it’s got to be somebody who has earned his respect. Amanda Perry is one of those people. This is why Rush struggled with Eli so much. He can respect Eli’s mind, but he can’t respect Eli’s lack of education and motivation.
But now it’s Rush’s turn to sound a word of caution. Amanda Perry is a qudraplegic. She requires a respirator to keep her alive. She has a full-time carer to look after her. That means whoever swaps bodies with her is going to be in for a rough time.
Young assembles a group of female crewmembers, looking for a volunteer to swap bodies with Perry. Have you noticed they always match the sex of the people exchanging bodies? It makes sense to do that, but this scene is confirmation that this is a deliberate choice.
This is going to be a difficult assignment. Lieutenant James says she’ll do it, if it means she can see her family.
For Amanda, this is a wondrous experience, more so than for most. Not only is she in somebody else’s body, on an alien spaceship in a distant galaxy, she’s able to move her body. She’s free of her disability. And that must be truly wondrous.
But for all the wonder Perry is experiencing, James can’t take the horror of her situation. It frightens her so much she pulls the plug.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” she says. “I can’t do it.”
It’s hard to judge Jamest too harshly for this. Suddenly finding yourself in that kind of situation would be really scary. Not everyone would have what it takes to do it.
But then, Amanda Perry never had a choice, did she? She has to live with it every day of her life, and she can’t just pull the plug and return to an able body.
Now Camille volunteers. She is immediately introduced to Mary, her carer.
Camille only has one thing on her mind. Going home to see Sharon.
James is feeling pretty guilty at her failure. She feels she has let Colonel Young down. When Perry walks into the mess hall, she can’t face her.
Perry wants to try one of the alien fruits. The ones that look like cherry tomatoes. Unlike most people, she doesn’t spit it out. What she says next is very telling. “This is the first food I’ve been able to feed myself since I was 6.”
Sharon has taken some holiday time from work so she can spend time with Camilla while she’s on earth, and help look after her.
She’s a little afraid of breaking Camille.
Something in the engines explodes and Destiny is thrown out of FTL. I’m a little surprised they didn’t brief Perry on the possibility of the connection being interrupted briefly if they leave FTL. Sure, they weren’t expecting it to happen this time, but you’d think there’d be a standard briefing that everyone always gets when using the stones for the first time.
Something is up with James. She was walking through the ship, and then blacked out. She doesn’t remember what happened but when she came to, the engines had failed. Did she have something to do with that?
And then we get a surprise. Franklin walks into the medical bay. Awake. He’s a little spaced out, but he’s awake.
Sharon is trying her best to adjust to all of this. HAving to care for Camille in such a vulnerable state. Meanwhile, Mary, the professional carer seems to be taking everything about alien spaceships and body-swapping in her stride. I wonder how long she’s had clearance.
There’s lots of little things to get used to. Sharon is talking to Camille while she eats, fed by Mary. But the distraction causes her to choke on her food. Camille is worried that this is freaking Sharon out. I wouldn’t blame her if she was a little freaked out.
This is when the gate dials.And of course, it’s our missing crew members. They assumed that the crew had found a way to drop out of FTL so they could dial in. They knew they could try again because the kino controller lit up once she ship dropped out of FTL
Of course, we know it wasn’t the crew. It was the engine malfunction.
In the grand scheme of everything going on in this episode, the return of our lost crewmembers feels almost a little anticlimactic, after that shock ending last time. But they had to get them home somehow, and this all ties in with the threat that will be introduced later in the episode.
There’s a cool shot of Destiny floating in intergalactic space, with the galaxy they’ve just left in the background. Of course, for them to be far enough away that they could see the entire galaxy like that, well, they certainly wouldn’t still be in range of the gate. So while it looks cool, it’s very unrealistic.
If we hadn’t already figured it out, we find out that Perry and Rush know each other pretty well. They were colleagues at the SGC before he moved to Icarus base. She calls him Nick.
They had long talks after Rush’s wife died. I think her friendship was one of the things that helped him through that time. It was nothing romantic. They talked about the ancients, ascension, that kind of stuff. Although it seems she had a thing for him. He didn’t seem to see the chair. She dropped a few hints but he didn’t pick up on them. I don’t blame him. He was still mourning the loss of his wife, and we blokes don’t pick up on subtle hints at the best of times.
Eli is surprised when Perry shares this with him. At first, she feels a little offended, assuming he thinks disabled people can’t have feelings. No doubt she’s had to deal with that kind of attitude before. But no. Eli is just surprised that anybody could be interested in a man like Rush.
Perry also says she’d give anything to be on Destiny. I think sometimes Eli forgets what a wonder it is to be on the ship.
It turns out, the FTL failure was a blessing in disguise. There are a bunch of components that all work in parallel together, but they are constrained by the efficiency of the weakest link. That weakest link was the one that exploded. Therefore, Destiny now should be able to make it to the next galaxy with no problem.
That’s very lucky.
But there’s still some repair work to be done.
They think they can use the robot they found in a recent episode.
There’s another option they can fall back on. By sitting in the chair, they might be able to access the core systems and bypass the damaged engine with a single command. That would be easier.
The robot looks pretty cool. Like a big metal insect.
They’re planning a mission through the gate back to the planet where Scott, Eli and Chloe were. If they can’t repair the ship, that’s where the crew will end up living. It’s not clear exactly what the aim of the mission is. I mean, the lost crew members have been there. They already know what it’s like. They thought they were stranded so they must have done some analysis of its suitability for long-term settlement.
TJ wants to go on the mission. She wants to see the planet where she may have to raise her child.
They send a kino through to see what’s up before they go through. Eli thinks it’s a waste of time because they were just there. He’s in the middle of saying “you military types are too attached to your procedure.” when they get an image from the planet. It’s our old friends, the blue aliens. They’re shooting at the kino. I guess that procedure wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
The good news is that the aliens don’t have a remote so they can’t dial the gates.
The bad news is they can’t go through the gate. They have to fix the engines. There’s no other choice now.
Three weeks go by.
Which means that’s three weeks Camille is stuck in this disabled body.
Sharon is afraid to leave her side. But Camille wants her to get out of the house for a little while.
But when she takes a long time to come home, Camille panics. And then goes into some kind of convulsion.
Franklin might be out of his coma, but he’s definitely not back to normal. He’s not really aware of what’s going on around him. He has to be hand fed.
Brody is making grog in a still.
Rush introduces Perry to the stuff. It seems pretty potent.
It’s going to be hard for Perry to return to her own body. She’s loving being able to walk around.
Perry asks Rush outright if he knew how she felt about her. He thought she just felt sorry for him.
She invites him into her quarters.
This is another of times that we examine that theme of how you treat another person’s body when you’re inhabiting it. This time around things are a little more nuanced.
For her, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for her to have a proper physical relationship with someone.
She really wants to be with Rush.
And he wants it too. But there are complications. He knows that’s Perry in there, but he also knows it’s Camille’s body. I can’t imagine she would approve of her body being used in this way.
And as for Rush, he’s recently had to relive the experience of losing his wife. That is still very raw and fresh for him.
They’ve basically decided not to do anything. At least they can hug. And that’s when TJ surprises them. You can tell by the way she looks at them that she has concerns.
James has been having weird dreams. She thinks she may be responsible for damaging the ship. It seems when she abruptly ended her stone connection at the start of the episode, she didn’t erase her imprint from the stone. One of the blue aliens used their stone to temporarily control her to sabotage the ship. The alien host body was obviously encased in a small dark room, so James wouldn’t know what was going on. Clever. They’ve probably been trying this for some time.
Ironically, by doing this, they allowed out missing people to get back to the ship.
At this point, everyone has to assume the aliens know Destiny’s position and they are coming.
Not good, considering their engine is still undergoing repairs.
Camille has recovered from whatever was happening to her. PErry might be coming back to her own body soon, so Camille has to return to an airforce facility.
The crew of destiny are preparing for her. They’ll do what they can to protect the ship.
It’s time for Young to risk using the chair.
That’s when Franklin speaks. Two words. The Chair.
The aliens arrive. It’s getting very exciting.
James takes a leap of logic that Franklin thinks he should be the one to use the chair. He knows something but can’t communicate it effectively.
So now we have a debate about who should sit in the thing. Young or Franklin?
In the end, it’s Franklin who goes in.
Something new is happening. The temperature in the chair room is dropping rapidly. Franklin tells the others to leave.
Just as they’re about to be boarded, the FTL drive powers up and they jump.
Things are looking good. They’re gonna make it. They’re safe.
Sadly for Perry, that means she’s going to have to go home.
Camille is very glad to be home. It can’t have been easy for her.
It’s now time to see what’s going on with Franklin. But when they open the door, he’s not there. The room is empty, save for some mist.
I think we’ll have to wait until season 2 before we find out what’s actually happened to him. ALthough I might be wrong.
So this episode was a lot more exciting than I’d remembered.
The arrival of Perry, and Camille’s experience in the wheelchair were pretty cemented in my mind, but I’d forgotten this was also the episode where the lost crew returned, and I’d also forgotten the alien involvement.
Next week we dive deep into our characters, and let the crew come to terms with some of the stuff they’ve been going through, in the episode Pain.
Have you heard that Amazon is offering to buy MGM. That means that Amazon Prime Video could be the likeliest place we’ll see the new Stargate show that Brad Wright is trying to get greenlit. I think Amazon would be a good home for Stargate. At present the only original sci-fi they really have is The Expanse and Star Trek Picard, and they don’t even have Picard in North America.
Anyway, there’s still nothing official. If we do get a new show, it’ll be a while before it happens.
Thanks again for listening to Nerd Heaven
Have a great two weeks
Live long and prosper
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