Will 'StarGate Universe' end on a high note?

By Mark Rappleye

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, March 13 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle, left), Col. Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips), Col. Everett Young (Louis Ferrerira), Camile Wray (Ming-Na) and 1st Lt. Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman) in "Stargate Universe."

Carole Segal, CaroleSegal/Syfy

Enlarge photo»

From its creation, "Stargate Universe" has attempted to take the well-known world of wormhole travel in a distinctly different direction by quickly establishing itself as a much darker, grittier, sexier and more violent show than its predecessors. Whether this new direction is for better or worse will ultimately depend on how the series ends.

The show is the third in the "Stargate" franchise, following the 10-season run of "Stargate SG-1" and five seasons of "Stargate Atlantis." "Universe" is currently in the middle of its second and final season. It resumes on March 15 at 8 p.m. on Syfy.

The show revolves around a group of soldiers and civilian scientists stranded on a mysterious ship, aptly named "Destiny," located many galaxies away from Earth. With no way to return home, this unwitting crew has had to deal with a variety of problems, including, and perhaps most predominantly, living with each other.

This premise is somewhat subverted when, early in Season 2, the crew’s lead scientist, Dr. Nicolas Rush (Robert Carlyle), unlocks a code that allows them to gain full control over the ship.

Now they are left with the question of whether to use Destiny to more fully search for a means of returning to Earth or continue on Destiny’s quest to discover “evidence of an intelligence present at the beginning of time.”

Season 2 has also allowed the crew to become more unified by utilizing more outside antagonists. The final episode before the show’s recent mid-season break left the crew and the ship on the brink of destruction from an attack of robotic drones, which they had been tricked into engaging by a race of buglike aliens.

Destiny and her crew are miraculously saved, of course, though it is doubtful that anyone believed there was actually a chance that all the characters and the ship, which is the basis of the show, would all be destroyed mid-season. This deus ex machina is somewhat covered for, however, during a conversation between Rush and another character where it is said that “everything happens for a reason,” suggesting they were all predestined to end up where they are.

Look for improvements in the coming episodes. Viewers will begin to see the softer side of many characters, including the callous Rush. The show also seems to be leaning further and further away from its darker beginnings, making viewers question the morals of the characters less, having fewer sex scenes and even adding some comic relief.

The show will also continue to explore the faith-versus-science debate and even reveal which characters, given the choice between going home and staying on the ship, would choose to remain on Destiny to help Rush see it through to the end of its mission.

The crew also faces temporal displacement and confronts more moral dilemmas concerning the use of other people’s bodies for Earth visits.

Now on its final stretch, will "Stargate Universe" end on a high note or become the black sheep of an otherwise successful franchise? Only Destiny can tell.

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