I assumed The Hunt (episode #216) was going to be my last script for Stargate: Universe’s second season, but when my writing partner, Paul, got busy producing Common Descent (episode #217), the task of tackling the first draft of the finale fell to me.  When I sat down to write Gauntlet, I assumed we WERE coming back for a third season.  Some may not have shared in my optimism (Paul has always been a “glass half full and its contents are probably undrinkable anyway” kind of guy), but I nevertheless approached the episode as a season finale and not a series finale.

Armed with the story beats we’d spun in the writers’ room, I fleshed out the narrative in outline form, received everyone’s notes, and got to work.  By the time the first draft of Gauntlet was complete, Paul’s schedule had freed up and he was able to jump on the rewrite.  After so many years of writing scripts separately, I suppose it was somehow fitting that our last script for the Stargate franchise would be a true collaboration.  Just like old times.

Now, as I said, I was under the impression that we would be back for a third season.  And I wasn’t the only one.  When the ratings for the back half of the second season faltered, it was clear that the Tuesday night experiment was a colossal failure (for both us and Caprica) and we were in trouble.  However, we had a few things going for us.

For starters, after months of uncertainty, the studio had finally turned the corner and gained stability in the form of new management.  I assumed that given the fact that Stargate was one of their biggest franchises (next to Bond), they would make a concerted effort to keep it alive.  That meant not only brighter prospects for SGU, but renewed hope for the SG-1 and Atlantis movies, Stargate: Revolution and Stargate: Extinction.

Although the show’s ratings had faltered, it wasn’t as if any of the network’s other shows were going gangbusters in the similar week night death-slot (and, with all due respect, comparing summer airings to fall airings or one-offs to an ongoing series is not so much apples to oranges as it is apples to rutabagas). In fact, the erosion of viewership across the board (not just in the case of our broadcaster but network and, particularly cable in general) suggested a definite trend.  Fewer people were watching television live.  They were DVR’ing and downloading – and, in the case of Stargate: Universe, apparently doing so A LOT. Not surprising given our audience was young and tech-savvy, the demographic most likely to DVR and download.  Surely, I presumed, we would not be punished for having smart, forward-looking viewers.

Finally, there were reports from various sources that we WOULD be back for a third and final season.  Yes, the series would end, but armed with this knowledge and with plenty of time to prepare and wrap up loose ends, we would be able to go out in grand style.  I recall sitting in my office with actor Louis Ferreira (SGU’s Colonel Everett Young), discussing the great opportunity this would afford us to make some really bold creative decisions knowing these final 20 episodes would be our last!

After the episode aired, many fans expressed their satisfaction with series finale.  Although there are a number of questions left unanswered, the consensus was that Gauntlet offered a bittersweet conclusion to our crew’s adventures.  I don’t know if I totally agree, but I do recognize three scripted elements that certainly lent this episode a sense of closure.

The Goodbyes.  One by one, the characters we’ve grown to know and love over the course of SGU’s two seasons bid farewell to one another (and, by extension, of course, the audience at home), until only our core trio remain.  Then, it comes time for them to say goodbye, first Rush, then Young, leaving Eli (our viewer proxy) alone on the bridge heading into the unknown.

The Final Supper.  Which, interestingly enough, wasn’t in my first draft or Paul’s pass.  Well, not quite anyway.  In the original script, the last supper sequence was a simple beat in a more expansive montage – no dialogue, just a shot of the crew enjoying their last meal together.  It was changed at the suggestion of SyFy’s Erika Kennair who requested an actual scene, a moment for our characters to pause and reflect on where they’ve come from and where they’re headed.  In retrospect, a brilliant request.  I wrote the speech, then handed it over to Paul who made a couple of tweaks (one of which was nixing Young’s toast: “To three years!” which, in story terms, referred to the best-case-scenario three year journey they’d be facing but, in my mind, was a reference to the show’s expected three year run).

The Bookend Visuals.  Paul added these in his pass, a call back to the opening moments of the series premiere.  Nothing but stars, then – Destiny dapproaches the camera.  We CUT INSIDE and bear witness to Destiny’s awakening, PANNING UP the ship’s levels as its various chambers light up.  In Gauntlet, it’s the same sequence in reverse. Destiny goes back to sleep as we PAN DOWN the ship’s levels, it’s various chambers going dark.  We CUT OUTSIDE to the ship making the jump to FTL and then – nothing but stars.

Yes, I can see how many would view Gauntlet as an appropriate series ender but, as much as I love the episode, it still leaves me frustrated. More to the point, it leaves me frustrating knowing that, after 11+ years of resolving cliffhangers, this is the one time I won’t be able to come up with the answers.

Does Destiny make the jump to the other galaxy?  How long does the journey take?  Does Eli manage to fix the damaged pod(s) or find a way to extend the ship’s life support long enough to ensure his survival?  Does T.J. find a cure for her ALS?  Who does she get together with in the end, Young or Varro?   Does Lisa ever regain her sight?

I could provide some insight into what we discussed, possible answers to these burning questions but, ultimately, they’ll serve as little more than interesting footnotes to greater canon.  In the end, the answers are what you choose them to be.  In those final moments, we fail to make the jump to FTL with Destiny and, after two years of following its journey, we are left behind to wonder.  Maybe they do make the voyage in three years and our crew’s adventures will continue, only we won’t be privy to them.  Maybe, sadly, they don’t make it and that final glimpse of Destiny was a true farewell.  Or, maybe, Destiny is still out there, still journeying, its crew in stasis, destined to outlive all our questions.

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Lisa R
Lisa R

Thanks for your thoughts on Gauntlet. I suppose, for me, it is better to leave the answers to those questions to my imagination. I still think that even though you didn’t intend it as a series finale, it works well that way.

I would appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers tomorrow. Hubby’s contract job ended today, but all is not lost. He has a second phone interview for a permanent job in CT tomorrow. It would mean a move for us, but having him working again in a permanent job in his field would mean the world to our family. Thanks so much!

Have a good night!!

Sg1efc
Sg1efc

Let’s just say that since Universe was not ended in a manner that you really approve of…

Suppose you had some free time (of course I don’t know where you’d get such free time, lots of laughs) and wanted to write up an appropriate ending yourself. Is that something you might try in the future and I assume you would you need to get clearance from MGM? If you did want to write an ending and did get MGM approval, would you ask the others to contribute writing the end as a collaboration? Yes I know, wishful thinking on my (all of our) part. smile

Since Universe is over, I thought we could use a good laugh – if you ever watched Deep Space Nine, you’ll like this:
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/05/11/german-tv-confuses-star-trek-terrorists-bin-laden/

Thanks once again for all the Stargate info. smile

My white german shepherd is getting his toe amputated at the knuckle tomorrow, cancer ate the bone away. sad Have to wait and see if it is malignant or not from the biopsy. :-/

@iom666
@iom666

I am surprised by how unsatisfied you are of this last episode (note that I don’t say THE last episode). I do believe you under estimate how much that show (franchise) moved people. I am saying just wait for the show to move around the world, until every country (France, Italy… Russia… Japan… South Africa…) everyone has seen the end of season 2. Because there is a demand for Stargate and SGU. There is. And its much bigger than you think it is.
It is a shame that everything is reduced to Syfy’s financing and deciding. It’s a shame because the public really exists and is out there, avid to know the conclusion of the journey.

Maybe it is also the signal that it is time for writers and creators to ditch channels and circuits like Syfy for more reliable, trustworthy and committed means to produce and finance their show, unless you’re in the Wrestling business of course.

SG-UNIVERSE

Hello Joe,

– Maybe Stargate Universe return in 3 years ? Maybe ?

– On the Official Stargate Website, no Behind the scenes & FX pics from your episode “The Hunt”. Why ? Where they are ?

Thanks for all plublications about Stargate on your blog.
Thanks for the production arts from Stargate Universe.
Thanks for your episodes.

Anthony
Anthony

All I can say is “bravo”.

Easily one of the best written scripts I seen from all the years of stargate viewing, indeed, perhaps one of the best scripts I’ve seen in a TV episode period.

Alas, it is sad to end now, with so much promise and artistic integrity, but at the same time, at least it went out showing its strength.

Thank you Joe, for all those fantastic stargate stories.

Chris
Chris

Sad, I feel like somebody has died.

Variis
Variis

It is frustrating, but it could have been far worse. The show could have ended in a ‘Camelot’-like fashion, where we witness everyone getting their butts kicked and being left desperate to see what comes next. I do want to see what comes next, but I know that the characters are in a place of relative contentedness.

Lou Zucaro

Well, we really enjoyed Gauntlet and, I have to say, I didn’t feel all of the things you warned us we would feel.

True, we were bummed when it was over, but it did in fact feel like a bittersweet goodbye much more than it did a “how are they gonna get out of this one?!” moment.

For that, we were actually grateful.

Never say never…as you said, Stargate is one of MGM’s biggest franchises and it would be stupid not to revive it at some point.

Thanks to you and everybody else for year after year after year of really great, fun, exciting entertainment.

majorsal
majorsal

joe, if this 3 years asleep for destiny crew is actually going to turn into 3 years wait for the fans and then stargate comes back…

CONFIRM SAM/JACK!!! :p

Brusimm

I have to say thank you to everyone. Goodnight to all the characters and thanks Mr. Mallozzi for filling us in with this info.

I have to add, as the fan fave RDA once said, in reply to the question, “What’s your favorite movie or episode?” He said, “The next one.”

And so I too, with a little bit of hope and a chunk of faith, say that too!

flo
flo

I know everyone has been doing that for the last few months, but i want to thank you and the whole stargate cast and crew again for everything you accomplished in the franchise’s run. As i’ve told in an earlier comment, i’m in college, and have watched stargate since SG1 when i was 9. Something that is even more saddening is that many, many people watch stargate worldwide. Even here, in france, i and many people i know still watched SGU, but i have to say, we downloaded it the day after the airing. Yes, it’s illegal, we all knew it, but the fact is that there is no legal solution to watch the show for people in many countries. I love stargate and do buy the dvd/bluray whenever they get release, but the actual system is just stupid when you think about it. For the time being, as far as MGM is concerned, we pretty much do not exist, the only time we will be able to officially show our support for SGU season 2 is when we will buy the dvd set on may 31, that is more than a month after the decision to kill the movie has been made. I’m just venting, here, since almost everyone here probably agrees with me, but even so, it’s so frustrating to stuck in this old business model. If the bluray is supposed to be, let’s say 30 $, I’d be very happy to buy a “season + bluray” pass for 45 $, with the ability to watch the episodes as they air at the beginning of the season, and a coupon to get the box set at the end of the year. Since MGM is present worldwide, i don’t understand why they can’t make such a system. About Gauntlet, i was expecting such a terrible cliffhanger that i actually was happy with what we got. It’s not perfect, but it still enough of a closure that i’ll probably rewatch SGU as some point. If it were possible, i’d really like to see your “season 3 plan”, the same way you did sga season 6 years ago, it’s always interesting and will help bring closure. Some franchise related questions i don’t think i saw already, in the dozen that were asked in the last few days. 1/Was the odissey’s secret mission from EATG a plan for something ? stargate revolution ? 2/Did you plan a stargate reveal at some point ? Ever since it was planned to happened at the end of “Lost City” then cancelled when SG1 was renewed, i’ve always hoped we would see it at some point. 3/Just something i thought of during Gauntlet. We’ve been told nmerous time that the timeline in univese doesn’t match with the airing date. If i remember correctly, Air takes place a few weeks after EATG, meaning early 2009. That makes Gauntlet early 2010. Was that a clever plan in order to accomodate the 3 years gap ? I mean, with… Read more »

Ozemax
Ozemax

Hi Joseph,

I´d like to thank you and all the crew for SG series, that make me think and travel in/to places were I want to go, but obviously i can´t.
Unfortunately i was a bad viewer of all the franchise, cause i watched it by donloaded files cause i live in south america and; don´t have access to SyFy channel. Now i feel a little guilty for the series ratings faltered and by some aspect for the cancellation. Maybe a video on-demand series solve this problems. I´m one of hundreds that may pay for watch SG new episodes.
Thank´s a lot, again and sorry by my bad english.

Dave Clark
Dave Clark

Joe,

Call me crazy, but I loved the finale. I’m one of those who doesn’t think that everything needs to be spelled out to the viewers. As such, I thought the Sopranos finale was great.

What really hit home for me was seeing Eli looking at the stars and smiling. That told me so much about him, that he was ok where he was, and the journey that he was on. He went from slacker, to reluctant adventurer, to hero and he remained optimistic the whole time despite everything.

I would love to see more SGU, but I think that was a pretty good end, even if it wasn’t planned.

Thanks for all you, and everyone else involved in the franchise has done!

Eitan Arbel
Eitan Arbel

if you only knew how much me and my friends want SGU to come back…

Marty
Marty

Joe,

There would be value in your insights, either in the form of what you planned (because I’m sure you knew where season three was going) or in the form of… season three.

Never say never, after all, especially as Netflix starts down this new road of buying up defunct series.

As for what happened, *I* imagine this: they wake up in three years, safe and sound. They find Eli’s dessicated remains in The Chair. And Eli? He’s in the ship’s memory…

Just a thought, but I strongly suspect you already had it. grin Whether it was going to be used or not remains to be seen.

Chris L

Joe,

I like the ending you provided to your comments. It’s a great ending that sounded heartfelt and true.

I still wonder where Franklin went.

And, I look forward to your future blog posts.

I did see that Syfy is defending it’s decision to cancel SGU. I guess they got more of a fight then they thought they would.

Take look for yourself.

http://www.gateworld.net/news/2011/05/gateworld-throws-down-gauntlet-syfy-channel-responds/

sparced
sparced

Joe, i think you misunderstand the fan’s point of closure. We’re being forced into a sense of closure due to the cancellation.

We basically have to try to make sense out of what we got and say that the elements there were alright. Over the years, there’s been many far far worse series enders for prematurely canceled shows.

Paul

I completely agree with you Joe. Although the episode was a very fitting season finale (and was amazingly written and acted), it left too many questions unanswered.

I really hope this isn’t the end for SGU and Stargate. If it is, it’s been quite a ride. Thanks for all the memories!

Maria
Maria

Dear Mr. Mallozzi,

You once said something along the lines of ‘Stargate Sg-1 was offered an 11th season but…’ I was just wondering what the ‘but’ was and why they weren’t taken up on the offer. Will the Stargate World’s game ever be released? Off of the set, what was your favorite moment on Stargate? Also, which was your favorite episode (or top five) out of all three series?

Manuel
Manuel

First, sry for my bad english. I can’t understand the hole blog but I only want to know if YOU ( Joe ) having the intention to go to another Network and let Stargate don’t be dead now. I’m very sad about that cuz i’m a fan since i was 11 years old. It was kinda weekly ritual to watch an episode of Stargate and now it’s over sad

Randomness
Randomness

Personally I don’t think anyone saw that coming, speaking in regards to Stargate on a whole being dropped, though I knew an SGU movie wouldn’t happen, I had no idea about the Atlantis/SG1 ones(Okay props being sold off aside).

I guess when it comes to sources, and information about anything, till something is 100 percent confirmed I guess you can’t expect anything these days.

None the less Joe, great blog post, looking forward to the Transporter era lol

I will miss Stargate Universe so much.

Expletive:BMP
Expletive:BMP

Joe, will Eli Ascend? Ascension is enlightenment, and I’m thinking Season 3 starts with, everyone waking up, and Eli is there, healthy and sure of himself. Rush and Young wakes up, and Rush curious checks the other unit, and it still doesn’t work. But of course Eli wants Rush to know he’s ascended. And he suggest to Rush, that for him, the last one left behind, and with nothing to lose, he decides to download himself into Destiny to be with is girl. And whilst uploading himself, he found himself once more on the observation deck, watching the blue flame that surrounds Destiny. He doesn’t realize that he’s in the chair, at least not until, the blue flame starts to form patterns that he some how begins to understand. Then as Destiny attempts to assimilate his pattern into it’s buffers, Eli’s enlightened mind clouds the entrance of the pattern buffers and as each bit of his physical ‘semblance is downloaded, digitized, as one would be during transportation, the former slacker realizes that the blue stream he sees passing is actually bits of himself, he’s becoming intimately aware of all his smaller bits, and by extension, he’s able to affect these bits. Since his mind, in the transitional buffer has not only imprinted it’s will upon each molecularlized piece, but Eli now knows explicitly the purpose of everything within his make up, or at least understands it enough to change it as it comes through the buffer (of course it’s sub conscious since he’s just seeing patterns in the blue flame on the observation deck out of Destiny’s view ports and is some how controlling these patterns he sees and changing them, into something that ‘works’), and how to rearrange it. But of course this form of ascension isn’t without problems, and though Eli has ascended. he’s like a kid who has gotten the internet for the first time, so, almost immediately, he’s going towards a lot of bad things, and will develop questionable habits. For instance, trying to heal some one, and trying to set them on fire, is suspiciously too close to attempt. And levitation and telekinesis is, as Eli will describe it, ‘like masturbating too much in one day.’ Rush almost immediately would errupt into laughter, realizing that from his point, the teacher has become the student and the student the teacher. I envision a further episode where Eli senses Intelligence on a planet, and when they arrive, Eli realizes that the life form on the planet has ascended, but it did so by eating the life force of everything on the planet. And Rush and Eli and Greer, and Scott, and maybe Volker and a few others are looking from a cliff over a vast ocean, and in the distance, a black thunderous cloud is approaching. And they’re in a ghost city, on a ghost continent on a ghost planet whose inhabitants is long gone (Think Babylon 5 Crusade A memory of War, and the entity approaching… Read more »

MNP
MNP

Did you just go back on telling us what you were planning?

I want to get confirmation on that.

PBMom

@Lisa R Sending prayers

@Sg1efc: Sorry about your dog.

@Dave Clark Hated the Sopranos ending.

@Joe I’m really glad the finale ended this way versus the cliffhanger we had in season 1. Or like Farscape ended (before the miniseries). Stop being so hard on yourself.

Diane
Diane

I recently introduced my aunt to Stargate. She is 61. The other day she came through my door and said, “What is up with Teal’c? Isn’t he married?!”

I had to laugh! It’s fun watching her make the journey.

Thanks to you and to everyone involved with making Stargate.