A Farewell to Stargate

I may never know what happens to Destiny, or Eli, or Young, or Rush, or any of the other marooned survivors of the Icarus Project and the lone Lucian Alliance member.  And I think I can live with that.  Given the circumstances (the cancellation of Stargate Universe during filming of the second half of the second season), the writers, producers, directors and cast managed to give us, if not complete closure, at least a stay of execution and a glimmer of hope with last night’s ‘Gauntlet‘ – the final episode of the entire Stargate legacy (transcript available here).

Ratings update posted Tuesday evening at GateworldHighest since November.

SGU: Gauntlet (aired Mon 9 May 2011)
SGU: Gauntlet (aired Mon 9 May 2011)

The drones were kept to a minimum, thank goodness.  So I’m not entirely sure what the title of the episode represents.  Is it a reference to running the Blockade? Or the proposed plan to skip this galaxy, without refueling (because of the Blockade) or resupplying (again because of the Blockade) on an extended FTL jump to the next galaxy?

Everyone got a chance to return to Earth and say goodbye (quite a fete to accomplish in just 24 hours).  Young will finally get some rest (definitely the running gag of this episode).  And the loser in the game of musical stasis pods remembered to turn off the lights.  At least, the CGI guys didn’t beat us over the head with any more cliches, having Destiny fly off into the sunset (or the closest non-Blockaded star).  Rather, Destiny just faded away.

I came to the Stargate series late, when my mother asked me to record the inaugural pilot episode of Stargate Atlantis.  I had seen the movie in the mid 90s (what science fiction fan hadn’t?).  I became intrigued by SGA, but felt a bit out of my depth, as I had not watched SG1.  At the time, Syfy actually aired science fiction programming both during the day and during prime time viewing hours, something which becomes increasingly rare as noted by the founder of Gateworld in his recent article entitled ‘How Wrestling is Killing Science Fiction‘ and sparked a response via Twitter from an executive at the Syfy channel.  Anyway, SG1 was still in production so I was able to watch current new episodes and catch-up on all the previous seasons in the matter of a few weeks or months.

I admit I didn’t care for the direction SGU took two years ago, compared to the other two series.  I realized quickly someone somewhere at Syfy or NBC or Universal or MGM attempted to ride the coat tails of BSG.  While I enjoyed that gritty re-imagining of the squeaky clean original Battlestar Galactica, I had a bad feeling that trying that with the Stargate universe (notice the un-capitalized version of that word) would fail.  And for much of the first season of SGU I remained skeptical.  But the second season, and the looming cancellation, seemed to spark better writing or better performances or both.

Thus I’m left with but one weekly avenue for my science fiction television fix: Doctor Who.

For a series finale, ‘Gauntlet’ of course falls well short of the ‘wrap-up’ bar, so in that light I’d only give it three stars out of five.  However, given the circumstances and hurdles overcome by the hamstrung production, I’ll fondly remember this episode with perpetual hope, four stars and a heart-felt ‘well done’ to one and all.