STARGATE UNIVERSE 2.19 ‘Blockade’

Eli and Rush conduct a dangerous mission to refuel Destiny. Meanwhile, the crew comes under attack from alien drones.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Blockade"
 
Writer: Linda McGibney
 
Director: Andy Mikita
 
Previously on "Stargate Universe":

Weeks ago, two timelines were accidentally created around the Destiny. In the first timeline, Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) safely returned to Earth, but the rest of Destiny's crew — with the notable exception of Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) — came out of the stargate 2000 years in the past on an alien planet. The second timeline occurred when the future Rush came back in time to help the Destiny escape its fate, but not before murdering the Telford still on the ship. Shortly thereafter, the crew encountered their own descendants from the original timeline living on a colonized planet.

When the colony planet came under attack by the alien drones, Colonel Young (Louis Ferreira) reluctantly allowed the refugees to take shelter on the Destiny and brought them back to their home planet, Novus. However, the crew found Novus completely devoid of life, with the planet's inhabitants already heading towards a new home. As the crew went over the historical logs, T.J. (Alaina Huffman) learned that she had ALS. And although she was told that a cure had been found, the crew was forced to evacuate before they could finish downloading the data core.

Story:

On Destiny, Rush catches Eli re-watching the footage of his grandson from the Novus history logs. Rush notes that they left their Teneran descendants on the new human homeworld and that they will probably run into them again. As Destiny drops out of FTL to refuel, the crew finds an alien command ship and drones waiting for them. They narrowly escape, but at the next star, the drones are waiting for them again. While conferring with Telford via the communication stones, Young explains Eli's plan to refuel the ship at a blue super-giant, a strategy the drones won't anticipate because it would probably make the ship too hot for the crew to survive.

Over Telford's reservations, Young orders the crew to temporarily abandon the ship, leaving Rush and Eli behind to pilot the ship in space suits. Dr; Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence) also volunteers to stay behind and try to save as many of the plants as she can. The rest of the crew soon finds that the planet they've come to is a former colony of their Novus descendants which is now abandoned. Because there may be resources there that they need, Young authorizes a few small search parties. On Destiny, Rush subtly goads Eli into taking the lead on piloting the ship through the star.

Back on the planet, Young soon realizes that the inhabitants were slaughtered by an unknown force. But Morrison (Vincent Gale) finds a newspaper that suggests that the alien drones were responsible. Meanwhile, Lisa is trapped in the hydroponics section when Destiny's systems begin shutting down. Rush and Eli try to unlock the door, but they're locked out. Without any other recourse, Rush suggests that Lisa submerge herself in the water storage unit to protect herself during the approach through the star, though Eli is clearly concerned that she won't be able to survive. On the planet, the salvage teams led by Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Mst. Sargent Roland Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) are pined down by an alien drone… which is soon joined by another drone.

At the stargate, Morrison freaks out about the drones and attempts to dial the gate. Lt. Vanessa James (Julia Benson) knocks him out, but the surge in power attracts one of the drones away from Scott's position. The remaining drone nearly finishes both Scott and Greer before Young arrives with additional firepower. Outside of the stargate compound, James lures the drone in so that Varro (Mike Dopud) can take it out with a rocket launcher. On Destiny, Lisa holds on for her life as the water around her boils and the plants burn. After some tense moments, the refueling is a success… but the hydroponic dome shatters and nearly sends Lisa out into space.

Eli rushes to save Lisa, but when he finds her, she tells him that she's blind. On the planet, the crew decides to evacuate early when an alien command ship appears out of the clouds. They get back to the ship and find Rush waiting for them. Uncharacteristically, Rush gushes over Eli's calculations and calls him a genius before begging Young not to repeat that. He also warns Young that the drones won't fall for the same trick twice, but at least they're at full power again.

Breakdown:

I think you can tell when you really love a show, the way I've come to love "Stargate Universe." In my case, my latest litmus test was the fate of Lisa Park in this episode. She's just a minor character on the show, but I was riveted by what she went through. On top of being a horrible way for anyone to die, I didn't want her to get killed off. Even if this wasn't the second to last episode of the series, I couldn't put it past the writers to let her die just to make a point of how dangerous it was. And if she was permanently blinded by her experience, that's almost as powerful and another potential source for future stories. That is, if the show had a future.

I know that I can't stop mentioning how upset I am about the series' immanent cancellation. But when a show is this good, it deserves to be nurtured.

Getting back to this week's episode, it was really rewarding to see Rush kind of step up to become Eli's mentor. Sure, he manipulated Eli into taking charge of the mission and even forced him to choose between the ship or Lisa. However, our misanthrope Rush has actually shown us a more human side this season that's made him into an even more dynamic character. Rush may be extremely amoral, but he's just a lot of fun to watch.

It was also good to see Varro recovered from his fall and seemingly fully integrated into the crew. It also seems like the writer was starting to set him up with Lt. James, just like his Novus counterpart in the past.

I still really like the idea of the crew finding settlements that belonged to their descendants, even if I suspect it was used this week just so the producers could use that town set. And oddly enough, the alien drones have turned into an intractable foe that the "Stargate" franchise has never really had before. Unlike the replicators or the Ori, the drones have no personality or even goals beyond destroying alien technology. You can't negotiate with something like that. And so far, they're proving even harder to elude.

Since the show probably won't reveal this, I have my own theory about the drones. I think they may be the creation of Brody's Futuran faction of Destiny's descendants. That would almost come full circle in making humanity their own worst enemy even out on the other side of the galaxy.

On a side note, did anyone else notice how many ads Syfy was running for "Almighty Thor" during this week's episode?

 Really, Syfy? You'll let a great series like this die and yet put money behind a shameless cash grab knockoff of Marvel's latest movie? That's just beneath contempt.

Also beneath contempt is the way Syfy advertised the "series finale" as the end of the journey. It didn't have to end there, Syfy. Perhaps if you didn't say… air it in the Fall against network television or bury it at 10pm on Monday nights we'd still have a third season to look forward to.

Last month, at a Stargate convention, "SGU" Executive Producer Brad Wright basically confirmed that next week's episode is going to end in a cliffhanger and there's almost no chance of a "SGU" movie to wrap everything up. That's definitely the most disheartening news I've heard in a while. Regardless, I wouldn't miss the last episode for anything. Those of us who stayed with the show since the beginning have had the privilege of watching one of the best sci-fi series in years.

It may be a long time before we get another show like this, so enjoy it while you can.

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.