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Stargate Universe: Common Descent

... in which the crew makes a shocking discovery when attempting to find resources on a nearby planet.

For the most part, I found ‘Common Descent’ pretty intriguing. The flow was a bit choppy at times, and the drone thread didn’t entirely work for me, but I really loved the reveal that everyone from the original timeline in ‘Twin Destinies’ didn’t die, and instead got stranded on a planet 2,000 years in the past. Just a very cool road-not-taken scenario to explore --- what would have happened if they’d decided to not try returning to Earth, or to not pursue Destiny’s mission? --- and a neat way to allow the crew to encounter other English-speaking humans. Moreover, if the writers wanted everyone to survive the attempt to gate back to Earth, it was a fantastic choice to send them to the past. I think letting the crew learn how their other lives played out was far more interesting than forcing them to directly interact with doubles of themselves would have been.

I really enjoyed seeing the various reactions to the discovery, especially Eli and Camille’s awe and delight at the whole thing. “Come on, am I the only person here who thinks this could be the coolest thing ever?” And I loved the occasional conversation snippets or kino videos revealing what happened to everyone after being marooned. The multiple perspective “rumor spreading” technique used for the info dump after the initial visit was much more engaging than a single person telling us all they had learned would have been, and it allowed us to see how different groupings reacted to the knowledge. I really enjoyed the science B-team’s reactions, particularly the running gag with Volker and Park teasing Brody about the name ‘Futura.’ “Seriously, isn’t that a font?”

Other Thoughts

Rush’s reserve and moodiness was the perfect reaction for his character, given that his double was left behind during the exodus and wasn’t part of this society (except as a god-like figure).

It was nice to see some of Eli’s optimism return after discovering his descendants and learning about the society he and the crew built. His positive outlook has been in relatively short supply of late.

You’d think the language would have changed more over 2,000 years. Think how much language has changed on our planet in just the last 1,000 years! I wonder if everyone starting with the same language and the presence of video and audio archives would substantially retard linguistic evolution.

Since I’m a professed fan of the T.J.-Varro relationship, I was rather disappointed to see that she and Young had reconnected and produced Novus’s first new citizen. Not surprised, mind you, just disappointed. I’m still holding out hope for Varro in this version of the timeline.

While I wasn’t thrilled watching T.J. give birth to Young’s baby, I thought the reactions of everyone watching the footage were nicely played. Especially by Alaina Huffman. She so effectively conveyed how emotionally devastated and conflicted T.J. had to be feeling seeing herself give birth after losing her daughter not so long ago.

The old age makeup on Louis Ferreira was very convincing. The “kino footage” visual quality probably helped to sell it.

The inability to use the gate for awhile will, no doubt, create some serious problems.

I wonder if Yazu is a descendant of Camille’s, or if the name just came into popular use because it was a name from her past. I wouldn't expect her to have biological offspring.

Yazu (re: Rush): “There are those, somewhat less enlightened, among our people, who believe he is a demon. Who rips souls from human bodies and takes them to hell, where they suffer for all eternity.”
Park: “It’s funny how things have a way of getting twisted and exaggerated over time.”
Volker: “While others don’t.”

I really enjoyed everyone’s extremely elated reactions to being rescued. It’s nice to see our characters experience those kinds of emotions every once in awhile. The joyful hug between Camille and Greer was also a nice nod to the change in their dynamic.

I was surprised this story didn’t resolve in one episode, but I’m looking forward to learning more about the history of Novus.

Final Analysis: Very intriguing episode about the road not taken.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. I really enjoyed this one, too. I'm getting quite bummed about the cancellation.

    All you Stargate fans out there, should I check out the other shows? Or is the tone so different that liking SGU doesn't mean I'll like the others?

  2. That's a tough one. The tone is very different, though at times both SG-1 and SGA could take a darker, more serious approach to a given story. It's tough to say whether liking SGU means you won't like the others. I like all three incarnations, I just like them differently. Certainly, SG-1 and SGA have characters that I've come to care for a great deal. Far more than I care about most of the SGU characters (although many of them have grown on me over time).

    I think it is worth checking out on your own to see if it is your cup of tea. You know. In your spare time. Plus, if you catch any of SGA from S2 onward, you might get to see Jason Momoa (now Khal Drogo on GOT) do more than grunt and glower. Occasionally. :)

  3. Jess put it well. I liked SG-1, but it took awhile and I almost gave up on it before it clicked in for me. I thought the mid and final seasons were the best. With SGA, it was the opposite -- I liked it at first but then I got tired of it and barely hung on to the end. SGU has clicked with me the most of the three, even though, sadly, it lacks Michael Shanks.

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  5. Lose the stupid drones, and this episode is a long 3.

    Damn me if they're going to do their work and churn decent content now that the end is so close.

    3 to go.

  6. This episode ROCKED!!! What a cool storyline!! And I loved the graphics of the city on Novus, just awesome! So what happened to all the people??? Where are they? No bodies were found1 What a cliffhanger!

    Loved the use of Morse code via Stargate!

    And what will they do now with ALL those extra passengers onboard Destiny???

    Just everything in this ep = WOW!!!

    I am in total denial that there are only 3 episodes left. It just can't be true!!

  7. First thing that popped into my mind on seeing this was "stealing someone else's storyline?". We've seen this before on DS9! With more drastic consequences...

    Still, I LOVED Eli's and Camille's reaction to it all! And Eli and Matt's working together to get the signal through to Destiny (I'm pretty sure the Morse Code was Matt).

    As for the other SG incarnations... SG1 is still my favourite, there's no beating that team of characters and actors!!! But I am liking SGU better than Atlantis and I wish it would stick around longer. Damn the powers that be for cancelling it now that it's really hitting its stride! grrrrrr....

    I too am wondering what they're going to do with the extra passengers... at the very least they should be able to get supplies form the planet since it's not a nuclear winter so no immediate danger. My bet is they're going to look for some record of other planets Nova might have sent expeditions out to and join them there.

    The final episodes might have to do with the crew deciding to stay with their descendants or continue on Destiny? And there will definitely have to be some kind of confrontation with the drones...

  8. Rosie Larsen is not dead, she just lives on another planet. :)

    I really enjoy this Stargate series. As for the previous ones i've only seen the first two seasons of SG-1, but i'll correct that in the not so distant future. But i guess it will be a letdown to go back to 90s esthetics and mostly stand alone structure of the shows.

  9. Just stumbled across this thread as I was searching for SGU news. Have been slowly catching up on DVR'ed episodes and having a hard time dealing with the cancelation. Truly enjoyed this show with all its flaws...

    Was surprised that no one thought to use Destiny's stasis pods to help with transporting the large colony population back to their homeworld.


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