Contributor: Gregg Wright
Picking up directly where “Common Descent” left off, a Destiny away team takes a shuttle down to the surface of Novus to check the place out. They soon discover an underground bunker and, hoping to find survivors, blast their way into it with the Destiny’s big guns. The bulk of the present day events take place in this bunker. But the episode seems to spend most of its time revisiting the early days (and years) of the Novus settlement, either though kino footage or through actual flashbacks.
It’s quite entertaining to see where all of our beloved characters end up, or who they end up with. And it’s even more entertaining to see how the present day versions of the characters react to seeing what happened to their other selves. In a sense, this feels less like a plot-heavy episode and more like an interesting and enlightening stop along the way. There’s a fair amount of important long-term set-up, though. And things do start to get more intense toward the end of the episode, as the Destiny crew struggles to escape the planet with as much of the Tenaran database as possible before the approaching black hole rips the planet apart. It seems like a pretty fair bet that, had there been more seasons, the Destiny would have eventually met up with those other ships from Novus.
In another sense, this episode could almost be a decent finale for the show. The Novus settlers encounter great resistance, and not everyone makes it. Volker is the first causality, due to kidney failure (in a nice nod to continuity). But there’s still a very strong undercurrent of hope imparted in the flashbacks. The other Destiny crew never made it home, but they made a new home, and they made the best of it. And the resultant civilization is inspiring. Even Tenara and Futuria, symbolic of Young and Rush, put aside their differences in the end and worked together to save their civilization. The present-day Destiny crew now have proof that they are capable of surviving and building something good together.
The reveal of T.J.’s ALS, as well as the fact that the Novus civilization developed a cure for it (along with many other diseases), provides a good story reason for the Destiny crew to risk their lives to upload as much of the archive to the Destiny as possible. The last scenes where they’re climbing out of the bunker manage to bring back some of the suspense that’s been missing from “SGU” for a while.
My favorite moment of the episode was when Varro epically grabbed T.J. mid-fall. That guy is by far the most under-appreciated hero of the show. I was relieved that he didn’t actually die in that fall. Killing off Varro eventually is fine, but not like that. Anyways, everyone makes it off the planet relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, the cure for ALS was not among the 1/3 of the archive that they uploaded. But there are still those Novus ships out there, somewhere…
I’m glad that there are two more episodes of the show. But since the show is probably going to end forever after them, I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been better for the show to just end here, with that final message of hope from an aging Camille Wray. Instead of ending on an optimistic, open-ended note, the season will probably finish off with some spellbinding cliffhanger, never to be resolved. It’s looking as though the last few episodes of the season are a return to form, making the inevitable ending even more of a punch to the gut. There really needs to be some sort of clause in every TV deal that promises every show a chance to finish up its story in an abbreviated format, or something to that effect. I’m getting really sick of being cheated out of seeing the endings to these great sci-fi shows.