Review – Stargate SG-1: Unending, Sky One HD


SG1final.jpgWith its final TV episode, Unending, the long-running Stargate SG-1 certainly goes out with a bang, several of them in fact. It firmly closes one chapter in the saga’s history with the SG-1 crew travelling in their ship, the Odyssey, to meet with their long-term allies, the Asgard, whose spokesperson Thor has some big news.

He says that his race is dying and is finally willing to share all their knowledge and technology with Earth. It transpires that the Asgard have artificially extended their lifespan and are now suffering from a degenerative disease that is not even curable by their mighty technology. In a way, they caused their own demise by buying their species more time. “Everything that can be done, has been done,” Thor tells a concerned Sam Carter.

Within minutes of the Odyssey being refitted with special Asgard tech and a knowledge base, three Ori motherships appear over the planet and SG-1 must flee. There’s a massive Star Wars-style explosion on the planet – their self sacrifice – that pretty much means we’ll never see the Asgard again.

“If there is any hope in preserving the future, it lies with you,” Thor had told Sam. The new energy weapons work on the Ori ships, thankfully, but there’s a sting; it seems that the way the technology was installed has inadvertently meant that the Ori can track the Odyssey through hyperspace (honestly, you can’t get the craftsmen these days, can you); so more Ori ships are ready for them whenever they drop back to normal space. SG-1 can’t keep running, of course, so there’s a tense stand-off.

Sam’s only choice is to activate a “time bubble” built into the ship’s core by the Asgard. This happens as they are 0.86 seconds away from being destroyed. Like the Asgard, Sam bought more time, lots more, but they have got themselves in a really tight spot.

They work out how to keep themselves fed and watered in the ensuing weeks, as Sam and Daniel scour the Asgard knowledge base for an answer to their dilemma. They could end it all without the Asgard tech getting into the enemy hands, but they cannot seemingly find a solution that saves either themselves and/or the Asgard legacy...

The other crew, inevitably, go a little stir crazy. Daniel tries to fend off Vala and her “flirty sexual” behaviour, but it turns into a tender scene. Sam takes to learning the cello to relax, while Hank Landry cultivates plants, in a little nod to the classic sci-fi movie Silent Running.

Incredibly, they are trapped there for decades. The crew grow old and grey, except Teal’c, who ages more slowly, and the death beam edges very gradually nearer the ship, because time was slowed to a crawl rather than frozen completely.

I won’t blow the ending for those who haven’t seen it yet, but Stargate has shown that it can still pull off a clever, ground-breaking episode right at the end of its run; though by spanning the years it is, perhaps suitably, reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s finale All Good Things.

Apart from the lack of a cameo from Richard Dean Anderson, which would have been a nice gesture, Unending is a hugely satisfying conclusion to this ten-year show. Both epic and intimate, it gives an unimaginable piece of heroic character development for Teal’c and provides a fitting series finale, while leaving the way wide open for the planned spin-offs. I’ll miss its regular instalments, but there will be the DVD movies, Atlantis and possibly more to come.

Related story: While Stargate may be over for now, Battlestar Galactica is half way through its third season and will be back for a fourth.

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