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Stargate Universe: Epilogue

... in which the alternate history for Destiny’s crew is revealed.

This one really had it all. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it briefly made me seethe with anger. Best of all, it offered something I doubt the actual series finale will: closure. I know that for many, Stargate: Universe is the story of Destiny. They want to learn more about her history, her capabilities, and her mission, and are deeply sad that when the show ends in two weeks we’ll be left hanging on so many of those questions. I’m sure that when the time comes, I will share many of those sentiments, but for me, SGU has always been primarily the story of Destiny’s crew. I want to learn how these characters react to extreme circumstances, see them forge new connections, and watch them make unexpected discoveries about themselves. I want to experience their life’s journey: to laugh with them, share their heartbreaks and their joy, and shake my fists in anger when cruel fate strikes; to be disappointed by their poor choices and proud of their accomplishments; to mourn their passing and celebrate their lives. When the show is over, I’ll no doubt have lingering questions about where the mythology was headed and what it all means, but I’ll most regret not knowing how the story ends for our characters.

At least that’s how I felt before seeing ‘Epilogue.’ Now, no matter what cliff we are left hanging off in two weeks, I know how the story ends. Maybe not for the characters we’ve been following since ‘Twin Destinies,’ but for a version of those characters that’s close enough. With the exception of the events of the last few weeks, the crew that got stranded on Novus are essentially the same characters we’ve been following all along. So seeing how their lives played out, knowing that they largely found happiness, accomplishment, and peace, is enough for me. We’ve followed their journeys; shared their pain, their joy, and their triumphs; and seen them through to the (sometimes bitter) end. We even got a fitting conclusion for Rush, who in ‘Twin Destinies’ chose to go down with the ship when it seemed all hope was lost, learning as much as he possibly could with the time he had left. Pursuing knowledge and greater understanding of the Universe’s mysteries to the last.

So, even though in the context of Destiny’s journey, ‘Epilogue’ didn’t accomplish overmuch --- except for the acquisition of advanced archival data, some highly efficient material for the scrubbers, and a new breadcrumb to follow on the Novan evacuee trail --- for me, it was time very well spent. I’m not entirely convinced I’d feel this way if we weren’t rapidly approaching the end of the series; but the situation being what it is, I really enjoyed spending the bulk of the hour finding out who ended up with whom, seeing their families expand, and learning more about the founding of Novan society. Perhaps it was a bit predictable that Young continued on as leader, Camille authored the Constitution and served as mayor for a time, and Eli founded the education system, but that doesn’t make these revelations less satisfying. Rather, it feels like their journeys were true to the characters we’ve come to know. Likewise, the continued pairings of Young and T.J., Chloe and Scott, and Greer and Park felt right in a lot of ways. And I particularly liked the grace notes for Scott (finally getting his act together and making a lifetime commitment) and Greer (becoming a daddy). Those felt like very important beats in the journeys of those two characters that paid off previous revelations and back story.

The one major surprise, unfortunately, wasn’t a pleasant one. I was absolutely crushed for T.J. as she watched the footage diagnosing herself with ALS. Man. Have the fates dumped on any of our characters more than T.J. (and by association, Young)? First, she has to cope with the notion of having a child under far less than ideal circumstances, then she loses that child in brutal fashion. Then she sees another version of herself seemingly having the life that she’s lost, but soon learns it’s only for a short time, because she has a fatal genetic disease. I know T.J. is incredibly strong and they say you never get dealt more than you can handle, but damn, writers. Must you be so unrelentingly cruel to this amazing woman?! This is starting to reach Andy Sipowicz proportions! It almost makes me glad I won’t have to watch her bravely suffering for another three years. That said, I’m very glad that the ALS cure wasn’t in the data they uploaded to Destiny. It is, of course, entirely believable that the cure for a disease that felled one of their original members would have been discovered in the subsequent 2,000 years of Novan history, but that would have been far too quick and easy a solution to a problem that has serious story potential.

Speaking of story potential, one lingering disappointment stemming from this episode is that we won’t get much chance to see how this knowledge of their alternate lives affects the choices of the crew going forward. Would Eli try to pursue anything with Corporal Barnes? Would Varro throw in the towel on T.J. and turn his attentions to James instead? How will T.J.’s “dead man walking” status continue to affect her? Is too much knowledge of the future a bad thing, or does it give you a chance to change things for the better?

Other Thoughts

Another disappointment with ‘Epilogue’ is the latest turn of events for poor Varro. The writers have not handled his story well at all. He started with so much potential, based on his presence, his capabilities, and his background, and yet they’ve pretty much kept him off screen except when they need a small bit of intel or want to trot him out as a possible love interest for T.J. Now they are kicking him to the curb without ever really exploring the possibilities with T.J. I was none-too-pleased to see the poor guy consigned to the background on Novus while Young seized the day with T.J. And I was practically irate when it looked like they killed him with that fall. I actually felt death looming for him every time the planet had a tremor, so I was kind of expecting it, but it still pissed me off royally. Do something with this character! Don’t just kill him off “heroically” when you can’t figure out how to use him! I’m relieved he actually survived the fall, because his demise would have left an incredibly bitter aftertaste for an otherwise enjoyable episode.

At least they gave alternate Varro a happy ending with Lt. James. Those two seem like a good match. (Although the way he gave her the “how you doin’?” nod at Chloe and Matt’s wedding was goofy as hell.)

That statue at the beginning was a poor likeness of Young. I wasn’t even entirely certain it was him until I noticed the name on his uniform pocket.

The old age makeup this week was decent, but not nearly as effective as last week’s glimpse at slightly older Young.

Interesting that Chloe grew to a ripe old age with no hint that she might still have alien DNA. I guess the blue aliens really did fix her. Or perhaps this version of Chloe never encountered anything that would have triggered something lying dormant within her.

Camille: “I’ve already found my soulmate. I don’t need another.”

Some of the music this week was quite beautiful and moving. Particularly the score for T.J.’s final days on Novus.

Volker: “It burns you up, doesn’t it?”
Rush: “What?”
Volker: “We did alright after leaving Destiny. We got along just fine. Without you.”
I’m not sure Volker hit the nail entirely on the head here, but I think he got things at least partially right.

Moments that made me laugh heartily: the reactions to the Muzak in the bunker elevator; the quick-cut baby delivery montage; “Tired” Old Greer and Park laughing together; and Grumpy Old Brody (“All these kids. Laughing and dancing. Tearin’ up my lawn!”).

Moments that made me tear up (i.e., cry profusely): the look on Volker’s face when he learned he didn’t make it; Park and Greer naming their son Dale; T.J.’s deterioration montage; Colonel Young’s death scene (“Colonel, we are home”); and Camille’s final speech (“... I can’t help but feel a great sense of pride and success ... because, as we discovered, our mission is and always will be, the journey itself”).

Perhaps the sentiments in those last two were a bit on the sappy cliché side --- OK, they were damn sappy --- but they still resonated with me. Camille’s words, in particular, would have been a wonderful note on which to close the series and the franchise.

Final Analysis: I didn’t love everything about this hour, but the road not taken provided some much needed closure for most of our core characters, and I found it tremendously satisfying.

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


  1. I thought it was wonderful -- one terrific character moment after another. I cried several times (the worst was what happened to T.J.). I laughed out loud. I especially loved Greer as a daddy. As you said, Jess, it was almost like getting an end to the series. Four out of four stars from me; it may be my favorite episode of the series.

  2. Jess you have encapsulated everything I loved about this episode, and in fact made me upset again (i.e. manly tears) when you talked about the best points. So thank you for this lovely review!

    This feels a lot like the SG1 finale for me, which was more of an emotional ending then a binding of plot threads. In a way I wish they had pushed this two-parter to the end and worked in something that could be considered marginal closure. But they didn't know they were gonna be canceled after only TWO seasons. C'est La Vie


  3. Just want to echo the comments above and Jess's great review.

    Wasn't really sold on the previous episode but this one more than made up for it. Appreciating all the character moments after getting to know these people over the past 2 series was extremely satisfying; the birth montage, naming of baby Dale and grumpy Brody especially.

    This really felt like the series ender. Can the last two possibly live up to this one?

  4. Outstanding review and so right on so many aspects. I didn't find the time to watch the series until the last two months (long story) and I'm so very bummed that there are only two episodes left. This was one of the best episodes of any show that I've ever watched. Sheesh. I'm gonna miss this show.


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