What Could Have Been: Stargate Universe Season 3

SGU last shotSeeing how popular the Stargate Atlantis article was last month, I thought we’d continue on this trend by taking a look at the lost future of its younger brother, Stargate Universe. Much like Atlantis, it was canceled prematurely, but unfortunately it wasn’t really given a satisfying ending. The producers tried to pull out the wrap up movie technique for this also, so we once again have two different possibilities that the show could have taken to continue on. There’s a lot less solid info for this one, given that it’s more recent, and part of it is still being withheld from the public on the vague hopes that the story may still be finished in some form, be it television or otherwise. Let’s push forward into inevitably depressing territory with vanished potential of Stargate Universe Season 3.

One of the big things that made SGU distinct from its predecessors was the presence of a myth arc from the show’s inception. While it’s not exactly the core plot thread, there’s on persistent question pushing through the entire series: for what purpose did the Ancients construct the Destiny, and why was it abandoned? That’s not to say that SG-1 or SGA didn’t have series-long story arcs, but there was never that kind of a core mystery to them in the same way. Even Atlantis, which arguably had a similar initial premise as SGU, didn’t really have as many questions surrounding the city of Atlantis itself as those around Destiny.

The Nakai accidentally come to the rescue?

The Nakai accidentally come to the rescue?

Now, the why of Destiny‘s abandonment seemed obvious: the Ancients figured out how to Ascend and just kind of gave up on everything else. They were very irresponsible like that, leaving their toys scattered all over the universe. But Destiny‘s mission seems to have been a particularly special one; Rush was convinced that its purpose involved some sort of message left from the very beginning of the universe. The exact kind of thing that ought to still be relevant to Ascended beings. Once again, I’ve turned to Joe Mallozzi’s blog for answers, but he says that the decision to release the plans for SGU’s myth arc rests with Brad Wright. So far, Wright doesn’t seem interested in telling us what that arc was. He also said he’d hoped for SGU to run for 3-5 seasons, so it’s likely that while the answers were known to him, exactly how we’d get there wasn’t mapped out yet (although Mallozzi seemed certain they could finish in 3, if needed). Any reveal of this answer would inevitably be disappointing without the buildup to it. Heck, I’m sure it would be divisive no matter how it panned out, given its nature as universal fact of the Stargate Verse.

So, fact of the matter is, there’s just no where near as much developed potential to write about for a post like this. Not many plans exist, and most of those that do are still being kept secret, but I’ll let you know what I did find:

  • First is, obviously, a resolution to the cliffhanger. Funny thing is, they hadn’t originally planned for the person left outside to be Eli; the initial cliffhanger would have been a coin flip between Rush and Young as to who remained out. So given the fact that they ultimately went with Eli, the cliffhanger’s resolution wasn’t as firmly set. Mallozzi speculates on some possible solutions in the Stargate Universe Season 3 premiere:
    • Eli fixes the pod in time and manages to join the others in stasis. A little anti-climactic, admittedly, but this would have had one advantage: with everyone in stasis, literally ANY amount of time could have passed in between. Mallozzi specifically states “Between 3 and 1,000 years” in stasis, which is a huge margin. Remaining in stasis for that long would have some obvious big problems; all earth-bound characters would be dead, and no one really wants that. Perhaps they’d have tried to fix this with even more time travel, but that’s really risky. Maybe a more realistic period of time, like 10-20 years, where our earth-bound characters are still alive, but there’s been enough time for major changes to occur. That still holds a lot of dramatic potential without unintentionally telling the audience all their old favorites are dead. (Side note–he mentions one idea for the 10-20 year time frame would be awakening to find Earth in the midst of interstellar war with the Lucian Alliance. Talk about big changes!)
    • Eli finds a way to survive the three year journey without a stasis pod, or at least without a pod for the majority of it. This has a lot of big impact for his character–how does Eli deal with loneliness and solitude for that long? Does he develop any bitterness towards his comrades in stasis? And how exactly does he survive? Mallozzi suggested the shuttle might be the answer, given that it has its own, much smaller and less power-intensive life support systems. I think if they went this route, they’d have to spend a good chunk of the premiere showing Eli’s solitude. We’ve seen episodes similar to this for other sci-fi series (“Doctor’s Orders” from Enterprise, or “One” from Voyager), though never for such a long period of time.
    • Eli can’t fix the pod, can’t find a way to keep life support going, and out of desperation, uploads himself into the Destiny‘s computer through use of that interface chair. This is actually a really interesting possibility, in my opinion, and the consequences of it would definitely have been somewhere between the two extremes presented by the other options. Mallozzi says that this would likely only have happened in the event of a wrap-up movie: if the series were to continue, they’d obviously have wanted Eli to stick around, but knowing that there was only one movie to follow, the restrictions of serialized story telling fly off. With Eli’s mind in the computer, and presumably still with years of stasis-time to get acquainted with it, he would be able to offer the awakening crew full control over Destiny‘s systems, making whatever grand finale-type events that take place all the more epic. This would also have the side effect of reuniting Eli and Ginn, which would be great for people like me who were furious over Ginn’s death in season 2.
    • Earth finds a way to dial aboard Destiny and launches a rescue mission. Less satisfying, as Mallozzi notes, but in the event of a movie it could have been combined with any of the three earlier solutions. It also offers a plethora of potential guest stars, including Carter, McKay, and even Jonas Quinn, all three of whom Mallozzi mentions specifically, in addition to any number of others (Daniel Jackson being another highly likely guest). We’ll get more into this stuff later, not that there’s a lot more to it.
    • Another possibility is accidental rescue by an alien species, perhaps surviving Ursini or Nakai (the “blueberry”/”catfish” aliens). This idea seems to be the least developed and least likely of the possibilities.
Stargate Universe Season 3 Drone ATtack

Drones: constructed by human descendants?

  • Moving on past the premiere, one idea kicked around as a possible Stargate Universe Season 3 enemy was tied to the Novus colony discovered at the end of season 2. Mallozzi mentions a militaristic human race, descended from Novan survivors. They even considered the possibility that the Berserker Drones had been constructed by them. The big thing with this would be the fact that the Novans were explicitly shown not to have FTL/Hyperdrive technology. So how would they get to the next galaxy that Destiny would arrive in at the beginning of the season? No clue. Stolen alien tech, perhaps? But even then, very few of the aliens encountered so far were a match for Destiny. This does have the obvious benefit of cutting down CG costs–we have here an enemy that the crew can encounter on a regular basis without breaking the budget. Their presence might have helped the show to lessen the reliance on interpersonal drama (often derided by those who disliked the show as being too “Soap Opera”-y) and allowed for more high concept sci-fi episodes.
  • Joe Mallozzi discusses the Planet Builders (powerful aliens responsible for the world encountered in “Faith”) potentially appearing in the third season. Having dealt with the after effects of their interference already, and become a subject of fascination for them, it does make a certain amount of sense that the Planet Builders would show themselves to Destiny. Not much to go on here, but Mallozzi makes it clear that they wouldn’t just be Ancients or even humanoid, and not the typical sci-fi Energy Beings or AI.
  • But speaking of the Ancients, he does propose showing the Ancients and their construction of Destiny either via flashbacks or actual time travel/temporal weirdness.
  • Mallozzi mentions another episode he would have liked to do regarding the crew finding very old corpses in a newly opened section of Destiny, left from  a previous attempt that some group had made to board the ship at any point in its long and unknown past. They would have left behind some evidence or readings (maybe even Kino recordings?) that would be critical to the resolution of the plot.
Stargate Universe Season 3

The artificially constructed world in “Faith” probably wasn’t unique.

For some more character-based, rather than plot based possibilities:

  • Park’s blindness and TJ’s developing ALS would have both likely continued on throughout Stargate Universe Season 3. Park’s blindness as a running thing is definitely an interesting idea (Agents of SHIELD seems to be doing something similar with Fitz this season) and it reminds me a bit of Tuvok getting blinded in Voyager‘s “Year of Hell,” which was also meant to be a season-long arc. It’s a fair bet that both would have been resolved eventually, however.
    • And on the subject of TJ, the baby thing was never intended to be pursued. Its purpose was more for personal character growth than an actual mystery of the show. They also considered an episode dealing with TJ’s attempts to further her medical education via the communication stones, I’m guessing as a B-plot.
  • Varro, one of the last surviving Lucian Alliance characters, would supposedly have taken on a main character role in season 3, although to what ends he doesn’t say.
  • Another idea tossed about would be having Chloe’s pod sustain damage, causing her to become brain-dead. Out of some weird attempt to save her, Ginn’s consciousness would be downloaded into her now-vacant body. I really doubt this one would have happened; as mad as people were over Ginn and Perry dying, pulling something like this with Chloe would be hugely divisive. Low probability, in my book.
  • Franklin, who was zapped into Destiny‘s computer, would have had a role to play in the events of Stargate Universe Season 3, but no other information I found as to what. Given that he’s described in the blog as a “base for Destiny‘s developing AI,” it’s possible he could have served as a means of granting the crew better control over the ship in much the same way as Eli was described above.
Interface chair could have had a number of new victims.

Interface chair could have had a number of new victims.

One last thing: getting back to the wrap-up movie, and what that might have been like, had it gone forward. Mallozzi insists that had there been such a movie, it would have been up to Executive Producers Brad Wright and Robert Cooper to write the script, so he’d have had minimal impact, if any, on the way it shaped up. But he was still willing to share the ideas that he’d have liked to see in the movie, pulling from a number of the possibilities listed above. To quote:

Eli is able to reroute power from the shuttle to a pod and go into stasis, awakening one hundred years later. They find themselves in the clutches of an off-shoot of their descendants, a military civilization with designs on Destiny.  Earth, meanwhile, has undergone major changes.  Everyone they once knew has passed on but the standing world organization has been able to create a power source that, with the help of the Destiny, will create a stable, limited time wormhole to the ship.  Some return, some remain, while some familiar faces (the A Team whose members allowed themselves to be placed in stasis should the opportunity to finally reach Destiny present itself) join the crew (I’m thinking maybe Daniel, McKay).  The time in stasis has allowed Park to heal and she can see again while the crew’s interactions with their advanced descendants offer T.J. a cure for her condition.  With the help of advanced Earth technology and know-how in addition to a few of the descendants themselves who turn against their own, Destiny is transformed into a lean, highly efficient powerhouse that kicks major ass and makes good its escape.

So that’s it, as far as I can tell. Unlike with Atlantis, Mallozzi seems to be the only one to have spoken out about their plans for SGU. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the foreseeable future in case we do learn what the myth arc was, or hear any more about potential season 3 plans, but it’s a long shot either way. And if Mr. Mallozzi should happen to find his way here (probably from the linkback traffic, if at all), I’d just like to say thanks for helping make such a great franchise, and an extra special thank you for being so open about what it’s like making a show like this. As someone who’d love to get into the industry, these posts have been invaluable as a window into the world of the TV writer. And as a fan, it’s nice to have some of these hanging questions answered at last, even if the answers are of dubious canonicity.

Next month, Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica will get its turn in the hotseat. You can subscribe to the “What Could Have Been” RSS Feed to be notified when it’s posted here. Until then, consider drowning your sorrows by rewatching Season 1 and Season 2 on Amazon.

If you want more from me, might I recommend checking out my new book, The Arcology? Cheaper than a single episode on Amazon.

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  1. Given how cack-handed the finales of both SG1 and SGA felt I was actually okay with the finish of SGU. A ten year in universe time jump might have been a decent idea but in some respects it would have been correcting a mistake that was made at the start. Universe needed to be its own show and every time they involved someone from SG1 or SGA it threw into harsh relief that it was a series with different, less jokey, atmosphere. In fact I think its main problem was they made it too soon. If it were starting now, with memories of SG1 and SGA fading I think it would have done better. But in summary, I was okay with the ending.

  2. I would start season 3 by using the stones to transfer Thor mind into the ship computer. He could upgrade ship transporter into a replicator in order to fix damaged systems.

    • i like the idea and it could have worked out well but i guess this idea never crossed there minds. Also it might have taken too much of the danger out of show aand made the trip a bit too easy for them.

      • Apparantly your even less of a fan, he told specificly “the stones of thors mind” AkA the machine Asgardians left behind with theire entire knoledge in it that could interact as Thor or any other Asgardian

      • Thor’s mind was uploaded to the Dadealous , Carter uses him to run simulations. So why couldn’t they transfers his consciousness to Destiny’s computers ??

  3. Thanks for this article – well written and interesting. Have just finished watching all stargate again and am left with the (once again) feeling that sgu was not only by far my favorite, but also the one with the most potential. I hate that they didn’t and haven’t since revisited it. I know syfi still insist it was rating but come on – we’re in the 21st century, the rating for a single channel does not include online purchases – including iTunes where the episodes were released within a week or 2 of the original broadcast……. sorry rant over. I’m just still so disappointed that there is no continuation.

    I totally with Edmond in that it was perhaps a story line better suited with more of a gap after Atlantis… and actually thought about the shuttle idea for Eli after the last episode this time round – would be good… not too keen on the replicator idea though (can’t actually remember seeing any reference to a transporter on destiny…). Only one thing left to say: [a frustrated] GRRRRRRRR!!!!

  4. This show was just getting good its obvious that the ship is on its way to the beings that created everything like they do in the sg1 season’s where all gods where actually alien’s i think in sgu the god/alien is the actual god in Christianity the creator of everything which make it the most interesting of them all and for the stargate builders to be travelling so far to get too this almighty being is pretty cool something danny Jackson should be apart of haha but no they go and cancel and ruin everything i been watching stargate for years its a big kick in the bollocks i really hope they continue sgu i dont care when as long as they do bfor the cast ages too much

  5. Bring back SGU!!! Please! It’s a hidden gem in scifi! I just got hooked this January 2015. I had never even seen or heard of it before that other than SG1 which I watched when I was at school.. i can’t get enough of it! Where do I sign to get this going again??

  6. I ‘d like to, but do not know where it is reported , the series has a lot of good , especially the second season .

  7. some thoughts

    season 3 episode 1 coming out of stasis 300 years into future with eli making the ultimate discovery that you can get two people into one pod thus saving himself

    when they do emerge from stasis the ship is docked in a ancient repair facility apparently the ancients built a repair base And thousands of repair droids fixed up the ship and the ship didn’t wake them until near the end of the repair cycle

    as they woke they were surprised to see Christoper judge and co arrived via a super gate and had a fleet of ori battle ships earth wanted refueling in the sun technology as our galaxy was dying or soon would be dead due to dark matter interfering with the central black hole our galaxy revolved around and they needed to move millions to other galaxies and quickly

    crew of destiny were given a choice settle a colony or stay on destiny (as the mission had changed to finding suitable worlds for humanity to settle )

    • very interesting, but instead of 300 years imaging that the next galaxy was that of the ori and the destiny did not make it there but instead stopped at a ancient repair facility just outside the ori galaxy. which may suggest that the destiny was a ancient reconnaissance ship

  8. people, how am excited for season three, and I would like to work out, go back stargate universe.I what you think they want you to be and when?

  9. How’s this??

    Eli works out how to fix the stasis pod, pops in and out with Rush as they learn more about Destiny and repair it enough that they no longer have to spend hundreds of years asleep. Eli works out how to bring Ginn and Perry back, good for those who thought Eli and Rush deerved some emotional attachment in the series. Also they fix the Stargate and manage a stable worm hole back to earth allowing those who want to return and others to come aboard. The mission however can not be over riden therefore they get to see the mission through to the end. Along the way again they stop at planets to explore and discover things to make ome story line happen. New enemies could be thrown in for good measure, crew members lost and gained. At the end of the mission, they could learn to take Destiny on their own missions and go where no man has gone before.

    Just some thoughts.

  10. Very well-written.

    Without delving too deep into the fictional elements of the show – for which I didn’t particularly care for – it is somewhat dismaying to see that none of the actors went onto more successful roles.

    Collectively, they were not great. Their chemistry was okay at its best, but usually off. That may very well be attributed the director and set crews. But it seems to me that the failure of the show was projected onto the entire cast. The only ones whom landed any halfway decent roles since are the Scot man and Hollywood legacy mulatto.

    Also, some of the arcs were atrociously written. The emphasis on marriage and pregnancy was archaic and relegated women to nothing more than baby-making machines or persistent agitators. BTW, I’m anti-feminist, so it’s gotta be some sexist material for somebody like myself to even recognize that.

    Best elements of the show though, set design & CGI animations. The producers got the right people for those.

    Love a thorough & enlightening read like this. Thanks!

  11. well as a long time watcher. All of stargate where all good in there own way . And if your not going to give the last one a great send off .Well that’s just f…..k up. you just can’t stop this great show it’s not right

  12. Please bring back SGU! I just started the show less than a week ago. I’m so addicted that I finished 2 seasons within a week. I couldn’t put it down, I stayed up till 2:00 every morning to watch. I know. Just found out there’s no season 3, I’m so upset!!!! Please!

  13. I have always wondered why they never explored the concept of the destiny finding its way to the ori galaxy. That would make for an interesting story especially if not all of the ori followers were affected by the device sg1 used against them.

    • Because Destiny has been going for like a million years and it has gone thousands of galaxies away, the ori galaxy was far but not that far… The ancients built ships to go far away from the ori galaxy and found the milky way, If the ori galaxy was as far out as destiny is right now, it would take like 25,000 years even for the Asgard hyperdrives powered by ZPM to get there and they did not even have that kind of technology at that point so it can’t have been that far away.

  14. Just finished watching this show for about the 4th time, and it always affects me in a big way after watching the final episode that it was cancelled without some sort of story wrap-up. SGU IMHO was purely the best Science fiction show on TV at the time, and nothing as good has been seen since. SyFy channel screwed with the airing times and put it up against shows like “Dancing with the stars”, stupid move, but that’s what tv execs do when they want to kill a show off. It’s a shame the writers and producers didn’t write it as a 2 season show, especially considering SyFy had committed to 2 seasons.
    What I absolutely am not interested in is a Stargate reboot. At the very least a SGU novel would suffice to finish this for me, but a season 3 would be awesome.

  15. The unfortunate thing with SGU is that so many fans wanted SG1 or SGA style plots and episodes. The contrived “enemies” of SGU are it’s real detraction. I’m just getting into my third viewing of the series, and love it as much as always. But now I’m seeing opportunities that exist for the show to resolve itself almost completely without further outside intervention. A “wrap up” movie would have been good, but in my mind, only as an epilogue. It’s easy to see the series as being about Destiny and the fate of “the wrong people.” But the way the series ended, it really could be far more about the transition of Eli from unemployed drop out to a responsible, even brave adult, perhaps something of a heroic figure as well. When I contrast the first episode, where Eli is transported up to his first starship, to the last scene of him enjoying the solitary view from Destiny’s observation deck, I get a strong personal reaction. Sure, the events in between provide entertainment, and the epic myth is important. But watching the change and growth of the characters is what made SGU stand apart from SG1 and SGA, not that those series were one dimensional and lacked worthy, growing and caring characters as well. In SGU, all of the characters are under threat, all the time. That provides the stress that makes them grow, and Eli the most of all. I honestly like the way the series ended, and I think that David Blue got one of the best send off roles an actor could ask for. Of the epilogue I would envision, I can only say this: the ultimate resolution would require the ultimate sacrifice. Forget the Lucian Alliance and all of the other foils that the crew of Destiny faced. The answer to their hope of dialing Earth was with them all along. Battlestar Galactica (Reboot) was a terrific “going home story.” So is SGU….or it could have been.

    • I got quite a bit ahead of myself, which I know clearly having just watched Gauntlet. I’m sure there were many stories left to tell, but all they would do is dilute the quite decent message that the writers, directors and producers managed to provide at the end. Gauntlet is an excellent summation. Does Eli survive? Of course he does. The truth is that we don’t need to see that to believe it. The suggestion that there were other shows to be filmed after season two only assures that a core character like Eli Wallace would have survived. There’s no way that David Blue would have wanted off this show! This is episodic television, right?

      Case closed on that plot point, as far as I’m concerned. Mathboy makes it. So with that, I come to my final conclusion. That Gauntlet could have been the ending that was intended all along. It parallels life and evokes core human values quite nicely. I agree with Rolling Thunder — SGU isn’t coming back in any form. I’m not only good with that, I would actually prefer it. Living life is a mystery, and we never know what will really happen next. And so it is on the observation deck of Destiny at the end of season two. As it should be, and as it is, for all of us.


  17. People! Stargate, as much as we love and miss it… it’s dead. It’s time to accept that. When there are serious talks about rebooting the movie version (the OLD movie that started this whole series), combined with the fact that the sets and props have been sold… we aren’t going to get any sort of wrap up. Time to accept it.

  18. The show was to big for the common masses. I don’t understand when the average sci-fi fan became so impatient and dumb. Look at one of the most successful sci-fi series of all time Star Trek TNG. Seasons one and two are still the most difficult to watch but Season three is arguably the best season of all. SGU was robbed from becoming the Epic Sci-Fi series it was on track to become. When did space travel stop being about the unknown? SGU was taking us into the unknown, on the unknown, against the unknown! Yup! That was the problem, lack of vision from the watchers not the creators.

  19. This critique was exactly what I was seeking to assuage the inevitable sense of loss re SGU’s premature demise – I’ve only just watched the series as re-runs on UK TV. You nailed a lot of my own misgivings re the ‘obvious’ flaws (eg the inexplicably extensive ‘soapinesses’ that delayed my interest in a SG franchise, being a SG fan) but I now see how much potential there was in the programme. In fact I’m at a loss to understand why the soap opera interludes were so extensive as to detract from the core concept – so much more ‘interesting’ ground could have been covered in 2 seasons that may well have upped the fan base. Strange decision to make and maintain them as such an obvious ‘Achilles Heel’ in an engrossing and ‘profound’ concept (and ‘adventure’).
    Anyway – great writing. Thankyou.

  20. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Stargate Universe: Season 2 | The Progressive Democrat

  21. Fellow fans I would have preferred a better beginning, Eli could survive by finding a section of the ship that was badly damaged but held one working pod. In that pod, a nerdy ancient girl that was not no where near ascension. Together they break langauge barriers and attempt to fix things on the ship. Like a system that governs the stasis pods. We could’ve spent sometime on that before an emergency drop out of FTL and back into a alien drone cluster f* but this time without the crew. It would have been a good character start for the girl, and fantastic character growth for Eli. Fans would have gotten another look at the ancients since SG1, and one that a little more relatable. Some of the things that the ship was doing in favor of the crew could have been her doing. Although in some kind of stasis, a bit of the ancient evolution could’ve bled through allowing her to manipulate some of the ships systems, thus the occurrences that the ship was doing would be explained. The ancients didn’t abandon the project, just something happened and she was left aboard alone like Eli.

  22. Love the series. Just finished my third watch through of the series. Honestly very fun show with some good story telling and compelling characters. I want to address one of the points made in this article about a possible outcome to the cliffhanger. The one where Eli manages to live through the 3 years “alone”. I don’t think he would have to deal with solitude very long. He could use the stones to communicate with earth and take little vacations here and there. Which would also give other scientists… Maybe Rodney Mckay or Samantha Carter a chance to give a fresh perspective on the problem. This show definitely was pretty grand in it’s underlying plot. I really hope this show gets its chance to come back or at the very least a movie. If anything I’d be happy with the possible comic books in the future.

  23. use guy should started season three but at the same time show what happen in the 3 year in stasis then the next episode should be to continue the mission in the way destiny meets the aliens that could create a plant.

  24. I wish they wouldve used rodney mckays idea of connecting several star gates to jump across, or have had the ancients come up with that same idea. Or maybe have someone work on creating a zpm of their own.

  25. Je veut que sa continue pour Stargate Universe saison 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11 et Pour Toujours a L’infinis. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Je veut que sa continue pour Stargate Atlantis la saison 6-7-8-9-10-11 et Pour Toujours a L’infinis. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Je veut que sa continue pour Stargate SG-1 la saison -11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20 et Pour Toujours a L’infinis. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!