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TV Review: Stargate Universe – “Common Descent”

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Oh the highs and lows that is Stargate Universe!

Last week I lamented the filler episode and cursed it for not exemplifying the best that SGU can be as we hurtle towards the end. This week is going to be nothing but praise and a reminder of why I will miss this uneven show when it’s gone.

This week’s episode “Common Descent” opens with the crew of the Destiny reminding us of what kind of shape the Destiny is in and that they need supplies to keep going, specifically lime to keep the air filtration systems online.

I always enjoy these little housekeeping points, they serve to solidify the environment in which the series takes place and provide an effective plot goal that can be tied to the entire series theme of survival.

Of course it’s never simple enough just to pop over to a planet and pick up the supplies and after dropping out of FTL the Destiny is set upon by the drones that were encountered earlier in the season.

I appreciate that they took the time to eliminate the drone that they have laying dormant in one of the labs as the method the drones are using to track them, it took up a couple of precious minutes on screen but if they hadn’t addressed it then we all would have wondered.

After fleeing the drones the Destiny again drops out of FTL and this time delivers them to a planet that is inhabited by people claiming to be the descendants of the Destiny crew from over two thousand years ago.

This is why I like a science fiction show that is self-referential. When we as viewers are presented with a conundrum like this, our minds immediately race to solve the puzzle from information we’ve gathered over the series run before they do on screen. “Common Descent” gives us just enough time to form the inkling before racing straight into the explanation, which in this case is the second Destiny that was destroyed after their attempt to reach Earth from within a sun. (It helps that they refreshed our memories in the previously on SGU section.)

The episode is played out in the best form of SGU, we get to see snippets from what might have been and the crew are faced with a dilemma that is partly of their own making though in this case it’s only kind of them. By the end of the episode the SGU world has changed, and even if it is only for a couple of episodes, it is an interesting shift.

Young not looking so

It is satisfying to see Camille with purpose in the story. She has an almost ambassadorial role interacting with this lost tribe on behalf of the Destiny, and it’s completely appropriate and in character. What is more important is that she is a buffer for Colonel Young who to me feels like he is keeping his distance in to be able to make the important and hard decisions to come. The writers use these characters really well with the subtlety of their actions, it’s a pleasure to watch.

Oh and Rush as the devil!


It’s a bittersweet experience watching this episode, maybe I would prefer these last episodes to be average or below because it only makes me wish that I could see more and it’s looking doubtful that we’ll even see a follow up telemovie, just ask the cast of Stargate Atlantis.

Either way I look forward to next week to see where we’re going with our limited time.

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About Lee Sargent

  • I really enjoyed this ep too. I did snort when they mentioned a country believing Rush would save them…
    One little nag about millions of descendants…those are going to be quite the inbreds..the Destiny crew isn’t that big 😉 (I don’t exactly know what a sustainable group would be..but after 2000 years…?)

  • Arjan you are exactly right! I completely forgot to mention my only problem with the episode which was indeed the inbreeding that would have to go on. A small issue I suppose and one answered by the magic aliens who took CJ’s baby? Or have we decided that was never to be talked about again?

  • Yeah, this is one of those episodes that makes me mad they cancelled it – and even madder that the show runners took so long to get to the good stuff. This one opens up SO many possibilities and so much cool stuff. It looks like this week will be just about as good as a direct follow up.

    Though the inbreeding thing bothered me slightly, it wasn’t a big deal to me. I bristled a little more at the deification of the crew. Even while recognizing the humor in it, I think it was kind of clunky.

  • What I liked about this idea is that they’ve instantly crewed the ship up and with that extra man power they should be able to get the Destiny running a lot better.

    I know the argument would be that their resources are already stretched but I’m thinking double the salvage teams, double the ship explorers, double the farmers for the hydroponics bays…

    I just think it’s a very cool possibility which of course will go nowhere because they cancelled the damn show.