We have our first true encounter with aliens in the Stargate Universe episode Space. And they're pretty cool. True aliens. But why is Colonel Young suddenly connecting to them with the stones rather than Earth? And will we ever see Doctor Rush again?
Things are really starting to heat up on the show now. Let's dig in and talk about Space.
Welcome to Nerd Heaven.
I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars
And I am a nerd
This is episode 60 of the podcast.
Today, we’re talking about the Stargate Universe episode “Space”.
I’d like to give a little shout out to Melanie who tweeted me recently to tell me how much she’s enjoying the podcast. Thanks Melanie. Your message was very encouraging and meant a lot to me.
And thanks also to Briz_bree who left a review on iTunes. Thanks so much. Reviews are so valuable because they help other people find the podcast.
I’m recording this on my 43rd birthday, which means, I am now officially older than life, the universe, and everything. And my birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday this year, so it has even more special meaning to me.
The description for week’s episode on Gateworld reads
A mishap with the communication stones sends Colonel Young's consciousness to an alien vessel, provoking the crew's first extraterrestrial encounter.
This episode was written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie
It was directed by Andy Mikita
And it first aired on the second of april 2010.
I believe there was a break between the last episode and this. Kinda of a mid-season pause, which they seem to do in America. Last week left off with what must have felt like a big cliffhanger, with Rush stranded on an alien planet and Destiny leaving the system behind.
The little voiceover bit they do at the beginning of each episode is different now. They seem to change it every half season, so this is the voiceover we’ll have for the rest of season 1.
TJ is encouraging Young to talk about his feelings regarding the recent losses of people under his command. He feels like he let Spencer down. So does she. She understands that one. And she points out there’s been a lot going on between him and Rush, but she doesn’t know the half of it. He doesn’t want to talk about it because he needs to keep it secret that he deliberately left Rush behind.
And I understand him needing to keep his secret, but he really should talk about Spencer. No doubt he’s got a lot of guilt regarding Spencer’s death. He needs to address that, and he needs to make sure it doesn’t happen again to anyone else on the ship.
Camille is already on to him. She doesn’t have any proof, but she suspects there is more to the situation than what he is telling her. Young thinks she’s just trying to get control of the ship back.
Greer thinks they’re all better off without Rush. Which is pretty harsh really. As Doctor Caine points out “well what’s the criteria? If you don’t measure up you get left behind?”
Young has to make his report.
But this is new. Young doesn’t wake up on earth. He seems to be on a spaceship, but not Destiny. He’s wearing some kind of suit, and then he spots an alien. A real honest to God honest. Blue skin, elongated head, the works.
This is our first alien species on Stargate Universe. Apart from the swarm thing, of course.
But if Young is in the body of a mysterious alien, then….that means there’s an alien in his body, on Destiny.
And that can’t be good.
It immediately starts attacking the crew. Lucky Scott and Greer are there. They can handle themselves. Caine thinks quickly and removes the stone, severing the connection.
I don’t think we’ve ever seen Caine before. It took me a while to figure out why he was doing here. I thought he was using the stones to go to Earth, just as Young was. He says he’s an IT technician. That might sound like a useful person to have on the ship, but as he says, he fixes earth computers. Imagine how different computers built by another species millions of years ago would be. What kind of operating system would it have? What would its machine code be like? Would it even have machine code? Would it operate even remotely like what we know today?
It’s at this point where I finally figure out Caine’s role. He’s operating the stone communication device. Riley usually does it but he’s still injured from the ancient chair.
That makes a bit more sense.
Now here’s one of the things I like about Stargate Universe over the previous two shows in the franchise. It really does aliens. Sure we saw aliens in the previous shows, but most planets they visited were populated by humans. Even in the Pegasus Galaxy. When we did see aliens, they were the typical 90s Star Trek alien. Humans with a bit of rubber on their faces.
I love 90s Star Trek, but what we get in SGU seems more …. Well…..alien.
They really took their time introducing aliens in this show. I think some people were frustrated that they had to wait so long, and I get that, I really do. But I think the way they handled it, by the time we finally saw aliens, we were primed to really feel a sense of awe about it. This ship is so far from home. Any species we encounter are going to be so different, so unknown to us. They’ve never encountered a human before, so we’re as alien to them as they are to us. And I love that.
Anyway, nobody knows why the stones took Young to an alien ship so until they figure it out, the communication stones are off limits. That seems a wise precaution.
Camille finds it very convenient that the stones happened to malfunction just after their recent talk, when she was planning to shed doubt on his story of what happened to Rush.
She’s wrong about Young here, but I don’t blame her for thinking what she’s thinking. It is awfully convenient for Young. But is he really going to cut them off from Earth’s support forever? Because unless he’s willing to do that, faking a stone malfunction is only going to delay the inevitable, so there’s no real point.
Camille was never the biggest fan of Rush, but she is really taking up his cause right now, because if Young DID kill him, or strand him, then that’s an injustice that can’t go unpunished.
They’re starting to get some food supplies on the ship. No doubt they’ve had a couple of planetary excursions that we haven’t seen on screen because nothing went wrong. They still have to get used to the unusual tastes, but at least they have real food they can eat.
Eli is pretty grumpy. Young’s had him working day and night trying to understand everything Rush was up to.
And this is when we learn that the entire ship is rife with rumours. Everyone is debating whether Young killed Rush.
The seeds of something have been planted and are growing toward what will come to a head next episode.
Camille is talking with other civilians. The military personnel are the ones that call all the shorts. What we eat, where we sleep. “Yeah,” one of them points out. “They’re the ones with all the guns.”
I’d forgotten this was foreshadowed here. I love serialised continuity like this.
Anyway, Eli has heard their little conversation through the kino.
And the ship drops out of FTL.
They’ve found a rather alien looking planet with purple plants. Pretty cool.
This show really does make an effort to put a little more science in the science fiction.
No sooner have they sent a kino through the gate to investigate the planet, another spaceship shows up. An alien spaceship.
How cool is that?
They’ve also abandoned the convenient “Let’s just pretend all aliens speak english” thing that both SG1 and Atlantis. I get why they did that, and in fairness SGU kinda continues that idea with any race from the Milky Way. For example, all the Lucian alliance people speak english, even though they’re not from Earth. They really should have their own languages.
But the aliens, the real aliens, they don’t just magically understand our language.
In fact, from memory, I’m not sure we even hear them speak out loud.
I’m bringing this up because Eli wants to communicate. He knows how to broadcast a signal from destiny, but there’s no way the aliens will understand English.
Eli hopes they understand ancient. But even that’s a pretty huge long shot.
Young suspects this is the same ship he was on this morning.
Young suspects the aliens have been keeping an eye on them for a while. That’s the only way they could have found Destiny so fast.
And then they respond to Eli’s message. One single word. Surrender. And it’s in English.
Clearly they know more about us than we do about them. Remember at the very end of Air Part 3, we saw some kind of shuttle detach from Destiny and fly off into space?
Well Young has decided the time for talk is over. Clearly the aliens aren’t interested in a peaceful exchange.
So he orders the ship’s weapons brought on line. We know the crew have access to the weapons because they used them a few episodes back to drain the ship’s batteries.
I really feel for Eli in all of this. With Rush gone, all this comes down to him. As he says “Hey, first space battle here.” The world always ends up resting on the shoulders of the computer guy. I’ve definitely felt that pressure in my day job.
The aliens are launching smaller ships, so Scott heads off in Destiny’s one working shuttle.
And it’s so cool to finally be seeing a space battle. Ships flying about, lasers blasting. And they very much use the Battlestar Galactica method of shooting the visual effects like a documentary. The camera has trouble tracking the fast-moving spaceships as if it were a real camera operated by a real camera person. I don’t mind that effect.
Young says to Eli “Everyone on this ship is counting on your.”
I think he means it to be motivating, but it’s the last thing Eli needs to hear. So much pressure. I totally get that.
Young switches into a slightly more encouraging mode when he says “you can do this,” but Eli counters “No. I can’t.”
So then he tries being all commanding. “I need this ship working now, as if raising his voice will somehow make things work better.”
And Eli hits him where it really hurts. “Well then you should have thought twice before you got rid of Rush.”
Yeah, they’re all thinking the same thing. And Eli isn’t pretending otherwise anymore.
Destiny seems to be reasonably well armed. The weapons are not as powerful as the drones we’ve seen on Earth and Atlantis, but they’re effective against the alien ships. But there’s a lot more of them than there are of us.
I love how they use the sparks and the rapid camera movement to build up the suspense and sense of danger as James and TJ run through the hallways of the ship.
One of the alien shuttles has gotten through our weapons fire and docks with Destiny. They drill through the hull and drop in right next to Chloe.
The aliens make kind of a squawking noise. That’s likely their native form of communication.
Nice to see that when the alien shuttle leaves, Destiny is able to seal the hulk breach with a forcefield. The ship is heavily automated and good at taking care of its own needs.
It had to run for millions of years without a crew, afterall.
So it looks like the aliens have taken Chloe, which kinda sucks.
Chloe is in some kind of tank filled with fluid, a breathing mask keeping her from drowning.
It’s like the alien abduction scene from all our nightmares.
As she panics, trying to get out, she spots one of the aliens. And we get a decent look at it this time. The alien actually looks somewhat fish-like. It has tendrils handing off his lower face that look kind of like facial hair. The head is quite tall and is distinctly non humanoid. It seems to have a semi-translucent skull. The eyes are much bigger than human eyes, though not black like the classic grays, which are actually Asgard in this universe. It’s very cool. Very alien. I’m a sucker for a CGI creature.
It emits a screaming noise in Chloe’s mind.
There are a lot of wounded and even Camille has turned up in sickbay to help out.
Scott asks a very good question. “Why are we the enemy?”
Young won’t authorise a mission to rescue her with the shuttle. It would be suicide, but he’s got a plan. He’s going to infiltrate the alien ship using the stones. He’s making the reasonable assumption that the ship next to them is the same one he visited earlier. There’s no conclusive proof, but it seems likely.
They need to keep Young firmly secured before he uses the stone, because while he’s over there, the alien he swaps bodies with will be on Destiny.
Young is wearing the same uniform as the alien watching over Chloe.
It’s interesting to note that the ancient communications stones work across species. The alien’s brain must be very different to ours, but there must be enough similarity for the device to do its wo9rk.
Young sees a group of aliens going about their business at various consoles. They pay him no attention.
At this point, we don’t yet know why the stones are connecting to the aliens rather than Earth. It’s a fascinating mystery, which I’m sure Young is keen to solve. But that’s not his first priority. He needs to find Chloe and figure out a way to get her back.
One of the aliens gives Young a bit of a look for a moment but then goes back to its work.
Scott and Eli are trying to communicate with the alien. It sent an english word in response to their message, which was in Ancient, so it not only knows our language, it knows we are not ancients.
The creatures don’t just make that noise mentally, they emit the squeaking sound out of their mouths. So that’s their language. Again, I love how alien this is. These guys are more exotic than most aliens on sci-fi TV.
Young has found the fluid tank, but inside, he doesn’t see Chloe. He sees Rush!
At this point, we can conclude that the alien shuttle they found last episode probably belonged to this species. They must have found Rush on the planet with their shuttle and abducted him.
Young smashes the tank and frees Rush, but to Rush, he looks like a blue alien.
He’s pretty freaked out, but when young uses a calming gesture, Rush immediately recognises it.
Rush knows more about their technology than Young does. Makes sense. But from Rush’s point of view it must be weird that he knows more about their technology than one of their own. Anyway, he senses the Young aliens want to help him so he puts the translator-mind reading thing onto his head and gives the other to Young, who can’t actually speak english to Rush, because he doesn’t have the appropriate vocal chords.
Rush is able to read enough from Young’s mind to figure out who he is. But it’s all too much for Young. The stones stop transmitting, and now Rush is there with a genuine alien who immediately attacks him.
It seems humans are physically stronger than the aliens. Looks like Rush breaks its neck. And Rush isn’t a fighter. Young kicked his butt. He’s a scientist.
With the alien host body dead, Young is no longer able to connect with the stones, but he may have done enough by freeing Rush. Rush has seen in the alien’s mind that they have Chloe on board.
But the aliens are attacking again. It’s not looking good for Destiny. Young orders Eli to return fire, even though Chloe is on board. What else can he do? If he doesn’t fight back, everyone on Destiny will die.
Rush rescues Chloe from her tank. That’s the easy bit. Now they have to find a way off the ship somehow.
The aliens retreat, with just one of their shuttles heading toward Destiny.
It’s not clear why they retreat. They clearly had the upper hand in the battle.
Scott and Greer are ready for a fight when they see the hole cut into the ceiling, but they get a nice surprise when Chloe drops down. But a big shock when Rush follows her.
“Rush said you were dead,” Greer says. “Killed in a landslide.”
So Young’s secret is out. No more pretending now. But Rush, very graciously, plays along with Young’s story. “No no, he rightly assumed I was dead,” he says.
After being abandoned, Rush managed to get the shuttle’s power working, but that triggered a distress call, which is what brought the aliens.
Rush doesn’t remember much of his time on the ship. Only that they were probing his mind.
Rush was able to get useful information out of them, like how to find the shuttle bay, and how to fly their shuttle.
The aliens aren’t interested in us, they’re interested in Destiny.
This was all a good way to have that epic moment last time, with Young leaving Rush behind, but not writing him out of the show. We’ve got a believable way for Rush to return. It all works quite nicely.
So why do you think that Rush does this?
I suspect he knows he’s gonna have to bury the hatchet a little with Young, if he expects to be allowed to remain on board. He pushed things too far with Young by framing him for murder. They’ve both done things they regret.
Rush goes to meet with Young and talk it out.
It’s actually a really good conversation. I like it when these two genuinely try to make it work between them.
Young believes Rush deserved to be left behind, but he regrets losing control and becoming somebody that he could no longer respect.
Rush admits he provoked Young.
Now they just have to try to find a way to work together.
The people on this ship doesn't need to doubt their leadership and they all need to get ready for the next alien encounter.
They agree to put it all behind them for the sake of the crew.
I really like that.
The relationship between these two characters is a really interesting aspect of this show, and I really regret not being able to see it develop further as the show went on.
There was a moment early in the episode where Lieutenant James accidentally talked about how she was attracted to Caine while he was listening. He plans to just stay friends, because if things go badly it would be awkward, being stuck on the ship with someone you’d had a bad relationship with. At that moment, Young walks in and hears Caine talking about this to TJ. Young and TJ, who are stuck on this ship, having had a difficult relationship in the past.
Anyway, despite her exterior toughness, James is really broken about this. My heart hurt a little watching the shot of her crying. Much credit to actress Julia Benson for getting that across in a way that touched me so.
The musical montage at the end of the episode manages to get quite a lot of information across in a short period of time.
I think there might be some residual trauma for Chloe and Rush following their experiences on the alien ship.
Regarding that little meeting of the civilians who are unhappy with the military leadership on board, Eli chose to show it to Young. He may be a civilian, but Young is in charge of Destiny. Battle lines are being drawn, and everyone is gonna have to choose a side soon.
And despite his words to Young, Rush is meeting with Camille. “Young is Dangerous,” he says. And she agrees. “I tried to do something about it.” She knows. She knows he tried to frame Young, but she seems to think Rush was justified.
Things will be getting very interesting next episode.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that Stargate Universe started slow at the beginning of season 1, but if you hang in there, it gets better. I think this is the moment they are referring to when they say it gets better.
While, I don’t entirely agree, because I love the whole show, and have really enjoyed most of what we’ve covered so far, I’m beginning to understand what they mean.
The pilot was especially strong for me. I love Air.
But many of the episodes in the first half of season one have been quite character -focussed, and some of that character exploration has gotten a little soap-opera-ish, and I’m mainly referring to the stuff with Young, Telford, and Young’s wife.
I don’t remember that plotline being followed up on much from here, so it’ll be interesting to see if that feels resolved, or like a hanging threat as I go through it this time.
There have been a couple of clumsy moments so far, but overall, I still maintain that the quality of this show is very high.
I can see why some people don’t like it, though. The tone is so different.
And I think another reason some fans disliked the show was the way it took over from Atlantis.
Stargate Atlantis was never given the chance to end properly. It was cancelled prematurely. And just after they announced the demise of Atlantis, they announced Stargate Universe, which they promised would be a very different kind of show.
I had mixed feelings at the time, I mourned the loss of Atlantis, but I was excited for Universe. Not everyone felt the same way, though. Some even vowed to boycott the new show before it even aired.
Regardless of whether you like SGU or not, I think we can all agree that this transition was not handled well. And that’s a shame, because this show really does deserve a chance.
So next week, those battle lines we saw forming will be drawn. It’s all gonna come to a head for our characters. It’ll be an exciting one.
I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on Divided with you.
I’m loving how nicely the serialisation of the show is working now. The plots of one episode are leading naturally into the next. It’s great.
Thanks again to all of you who are taking the time to listen to Nerd Heaven. I value and appreciate it very much.
Have a great two weeks.
Live long and prosper.
Make it so.