The ending to Gauntlet that aired was different from the one originally conceived. Before the script was written, hell, even before the writers sat down to spin the actual story, the original pitch had Young and Rush as the last two men standing. With one, lone serviceable pod remaining, they argue, then make the decision to let fate decide. They flip a coin. Winner makes the sacrifice and stays out; loser goes into stasis. The coin flip is made and, as it descends, we FADE OUT, not knowing the results.
One of the possibilities this particular ending set up was a season 3 opener which finds Rush, three years later, a little loopy from his time alone. As he goes through his daily maintenance of the ship’s systems, he converses with members of the crew who, it turns out, are hallucinations. Suddenly, the gate activates. A bewildered Rush hurries to the gate room in time to see Telford lead a rescue op through. Turns out, after several years, Earth finally acquired a means to dialing Destiny. Of course, the rescue turns out to be shortlived as it ends up being a hallucination as well when, in the episode’s final turn, we discover Rush in stasis (he was the one who lost the coin toss), evidently dreaming, while Young maintains the solitary existence as Destiny’s caretaker.
As cool as the idea was, it was problematic for a number of reasons. First – sure, someone might go a little batty after spending three years with no human contact, but Rush? Even though it does turn out to be “all in his head”, I have a hard time imagining our antisocial Rush minding all that much being alone to explore Destiny, free of outside interference. The second problem was that, essentially, the episode was one big stage-weight – the equivalent to the “It was all a dream” short stories your third grade teacher, Mrs. Haversham, used to love so much. A third problem presented itself in the simple fact that this was to be the third season premiere and, as season premieres went, it was lacking in action. We discussed moving the stasis reveal to the end of the second act, then, maybe, the end of the first act, but this story still wasn’t working until we finally found the solution – which was to not do the story at all and make Eli the one who stays awake. After all, who better than Eli, the embodiment of our fans and viewers, to make the sacrifice and leave us with that final sense and wonder?
So, that’s the way we wrote it. And now you want to know how we planned to write our way out of it. Does Eli fix the pod or does he somehow manage to access enough power to ensure his survival for the length of the jump? How long does the journey to the next galaxy end up taking? And what was in store for our crew after the jump?
Search me! Unlike that imagined season 6 of Atlantis that never came to fruition (check out the AU season that might have been here: September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!), there were no inklings spun, no stories established, no ideas from the previous season that could be moved into the next. What we had, instead, were a few potential scenarios, vague notions of where we could go.
So, no definite answers for you (sorry) which, as I said in yesterday’s blog post, isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows you, the viewer, to envision the ending you prefer. And, at the end of the day, the conclusion you come up with will be just as legitimate as anything I could throw at you.
But, realistically, there are more than a few of you who go to movies and watch television shows so that you don’t have to make up your own damn ending! Well, for those of you, this entry hopefully gets you one step closer. Like I said, it doesn’t provide any definite answers but, in allowing you some insight into the possible scenarios we were spinning, it hopefully makes it somewhat easier to choose your own adventure.
Eli fixes a pod
This was one scenario. Somehow, someway (sorry, don’t have the details but I’m sure the solution would have been all sorts of cool – right, Mr. Scalzi?) Eli manages to fix one of the damaged pods and joins the others in stasis. He awakens with the rest of the crew anywhere from three to one thousand years later. I jokingly pitched out a scenario in which the crew awakens from stasis with the horrible realization that Eli is not there to greet them and that the pods haven’t been fixed. As they mourn their friend, they unseal Chloe’s stasis pod only to discover both Eli and Chloe inside, spooning (Yes, I was kidding and, no, that wouldn’t fly)!
Eli taps some hitherto unexploited power reserve which allows him to extend life support for three years
Another potential scenario with no firm solution. Again, it would need to be something a little more clever than Eli awakening Rush three years later and informing him: “Yeah, I managed to reroute enough power to life support. How? Oh, I’ll tell you later.”. In my mind, the solution rested with the lone remaining shuttle. Given its independent system, Eli could reroute all of Destiny’s power reserves to maintaining life support with the closed confines of the shuttle and, perhaps, the sealed-off antechamber to the ship where he could store enough food to last him three years.
Eli fails to fix the pods or extend life support, so he survives by sitting in the chair and uploading his consciousness to Destiny’s computer
Since this way-out solution would have Eli relinquishing his physical form (in essence, dying), it was an option reserved for a potential movie as we couldn’t imagine having our hero exist in this form for an entire season. It would allow him to reunite with Ginn (for another Eli/Ginn reunion scenario, read on) and allow the crew full control of the ship with Eli – who better? – as their eyes to all of Destiny’s systems.
Rescue comes in the form of some outside force
Another way to go but, potentially, not as satisfying as it takes the solution out of our hero’s hands. Maybe -
Over the course of three (+?) years, Earth finally finds a way to dial Destiny and launches a rescue op. The power source used could be something the combined brilliance of both Samantha Carter and Rodney McKay engineer (if the SGU movie had happened, they would have surely guested, boarding Destiny as part of the retrieval team) or, perhaps former leader Jonas Quinn comes out of early retirement and – again with Carter and McKay’s help – finds a safe way to dial Destiny from his planet. As for what other familiar faces from SG-1 and Atlantis would make an appearance – well, aside from the obvious (Daniel Jackson who certainly wouldn’t miss this opportunity), it was up in the air.
When Destiny comes up short and drops out of FTL hundreds of years from the next galaxy, rescue comes in the form of a branch of our descendants, an advanced military society that has mastered space flight and is now in possession of a massive armada. They save us but their motives turn out to be less than honorable as, it turns out, they have designs on Destiny. This was probably my favorite scenario as I loved the idea of a plausible human military force becoming our third season Big Bad.
Rescue comes in the form of some alien race, maybe remnants of the Ursini or, perhaps, the blueberry aliens who – now armed with the information they mined from Chloe in Deliverance – finally seize the opportunity to take Destiny, something they’ve been trying to do for some time (At one point, we tossed around the idea of our crew coming upon the desiccated remains of an advance alien scouting party in one of the ship’s unexplored sections but, ultimately, decided against it because we wanted to maintain the idea that, despite repeated attempts, the blueberry aliens were unable to penetrate Destiny’s automated defenses and gain entry). There was also talk of salvation coming in the form of a completely new alien species (Brad’s uber-cool idea), possibly an energy-based race we unwittingly picked up during a refueling stop at a star. Eli starts glimpsing these entities and assumes, after three years by his lonesome, he is going nuts and hallucinating. Eventually, the aliens reach out to him and, being energy based, are able to provide the power needed to ensure Destiny complete its journey.
And how long does the journey take?
Oh, anywhere from three to roughly one thousand years. Smart money was on the minimal three year journey which would have allowed our crew to touch base with a fairly unchanged Earth. A ten year journey would have been more interesting in that it would offer up some great story possibilities as our crew inevitably try to reconnect with loved ones following a decade’s absence. Are they still alive? How have they moved on? What has changed in their lives? There was even talk of returning to an Earth in the midst of a multi-year war with the Lucian Alliance. For my part, I preferred the idea that our characters don’t know how long they’ve been in stasis and, when they contact Earth, are horrified to discover it’s been 100+ years. Their loved ones are long-gone, the lives they led distant memories, and they must adjust to a world very different than the one they left behind.
And what was in store for our crew once the jump had been completed?
Again, a number of potential developments were floated. Initially, when we were thinking in terms of a third season, I very much liked the idea of Colonel Telford leading a resupply mission through the gate. Earth had finally secured a power source that would allow them to dial Destiny. Maybe it was a one-way trip because Destiny would still be ham-strung by the inability to dial Earth without explosive consequences or, on the other hand, Telford and co. bring the portable power source with them and allow some of the civilians to leave, establishing a stronger military presence on board.
Later, when it became clear that a third season wasn’t in the cards, Brad floated the idea of two movies: The first would focus on a rescue op that would see several familiar faces (Carter, McKay, Daniel Jackson among the first few mentioned) coming aboard Destiny and, ultimately, helping our crew fend off the advances of the previously mentioned human military race. The second would have been a solo adventure that would have seen our crew finally completing Destiny’s mission (Sorry. No details available on this one. Brad and Robert had a mind-blowing idea for the series/franchise wrap-up and, in deference to them, I’ll keep my mouth shut and allow them to one day reveal their master plan).
We probably would have found a cure for T.J.’s condition – but only eventually. I liked the idea of one of our main characters having to face her mortality, perhaps even exhibiting early signs of physical deterioration that forces their friends and loved ones to face the sad prospect as well. If we were going to cure her (and, again, that was the most likely scenario) I would have lobbied to play out T.J.’s battle with ALS over the course of a season at least.
In similar fashion, I would have preferred to keep Park blind for an extended stretch as well. It’s something you rarely see on television and something I really wanted to emphasize in Gauntlet (when she comes up with the idea of using the shuttle as a decoy), that despite the loss of her sight, she can continue to be a strong and productive member of the crew.
So who would T.J. have ended up with? Young or Varro? I don’t know. I honestly don’t think this would have ever been resolved. If it was up to me, she would have ended up with Varro. If it was up to Carl and most everyone else, she and Young would have lived happily ever after. In retrospect, it might have been better for the character if, in the end, she elected to say no to both and embrace her independence.
What about Ginn and Perry? Was Hope the last we’d ever see of them? Certainly not. At episode’s end, they were quarantined, not deleted from the database. At some point, Eli would have no doubt found a way to address any potential threat and re-upload them to Destiny’s mainframe. That was one possibility. Another deliciously diabolical idea Brad came up with would have been a huge game-changer. In this scenario, Eli goes to awaken the crew from stasis and discovers Chloe’s pod has been damaged. She is almost brain dead and fading fast. In a desperate, last ditch effort to save her, Eli downloads Ginn’s consciousness into her body. Would he tell the others what he has done or would Eli attempt to maintain the subterfuge? What effect will this have on the rest of the crew, especially Scott who has effectively lost Chloe but will always be reminded of what he had. And how will he react to the sight of the body of his former love, now permanently occupied by Ginn, re-establishing a relationship with Eli? This would have been huge and, I think, an awesome opportunity for the immensely talented Elyse Levesque to switch gears to play a completely different character.
Getting into the mailbag:
Lisa R writes: ” 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.”
Answer: Fingers crossed for you and hubby, Lisa. Please keep us posted!
sg1efc writes: “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”
Answer: The answers to those questions lie with MGM. Only they can decide when to revive the franchise, under what circumstances, and who would be involved.
sg1efc writes: “My white german shepherd is getting his toe amputated at the knuckle tomorrow, cancer ate the bone away. Have to wait and see if it is malignant or not from the biopsy. :-/”
Answer: Best of luck to your dog. Let us know how it goes.
SG-UNIVERSE writes: “Maybe Stargate Universe return in 3 years ? Maybe?”
Answer: Sorry. That’s not going to happen. Even though we’d struck the SG-1 and Atlantis sets, I still held out hope for both movies because, in the case of Stargate: Revolution, the lionshare of the action would have been off-world and ship-based while, in the case of Stargate: Extinction, although there was some action on Atlantis itself (eminently achievable through the magic of VFX), much of the story takes place on Earth and off-world. In the case of Universe, however, most of the action would take place on the Destiny set which is in the process of being de-rigged as a I write this. Tanja, back at the production offices, reports that Stage 5 that once held the SGC and, later, Icarus Base, now sits empty. Sad.
SG-UNIVERSE writes: “On the Official Stargate Website, no Behind the scenes & FX pics from your episode “The Hunt”. Why ? Where they are?”
Answer: Don’t know. Maybe you should contact their webmaster to find out what’s up.
flo writes: “1/Was the odissey’s secret mission from EATG a plan for something ? stargate revolution?”
Answer: Initially, Odyssey’s secret mission was tied to the search for a naquadria-rich planet capable of providing the energy needed to dial Destiny.
flo also writes: “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.”
Answer: This subject (the revelation and its many implications) would have formed the plot for the planned SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution.
Flor also writes: “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 ?”
Chris L. writes: “I still wonder where Franklin went.”
Answer: Franklin was subsumed by the ship, his engrams (brain patterns) incorporated into the mainframe to form the default for the ship’s developing A.I. Which is why, unlike Ginn or Perry, he is not so much Franklin as he is an emotionless embodiment of Destiny itself.
Maria writes: “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?”
Answer: We pursued the possibility of producing an eleventh season of SG-1 for an alternate platform but, in the end, were unable to reach a deal that made financial sense for the parties involved. Alas, I know nothing about the Stargate World’s game. My favorite off-set moments on Stargate? The great time I had with my co-workers on a daily basis. My favorite Stargate episodes? This list may need to be updated but the last time I thought about it: August 15, 2010: MY Top 10 Favorite Stargate Episodes
Expletive:BMP writes: “Joe, will Eli Ascend?”
Answer: Eventually? Sure, it’s possible, but that wasn’t one of the scenarios we had planned for the show’s third season.
MG writes: “It’s said that a picture speaks a thousand words.. I am hoping you have something with which to counter to the following…”
Answer: I put your comment in moderation because I suspected this was faked. Unfortunately, I don’t have an HD copy of the episode with me in Toronto and the versions I accessed online are too dark. I sent word back West for what I believed would be proof discrediting the still. After all, I figured, would someone be so stupid/ignorant to do something like this and think no one would eventually notice? Well, it pains me to report that it isn’t a fake. And so, as one of the show’s Exec. Producers and the one on the front lines of the internet, it falls on me to offer an apology to all of our French fans who have been nothing short of fantastic in their support of the franchise. I am, and you’ll excuse me as I go off here, mighty pissed-off as, not only someone who has appreciated the French support our show and this blog have enjoyed over the years, but someone who grew up in Montreal, a multicultural and bilingual city, speaking French from fourth grade on.
How the hell did we miss it? No excuses. I don’t know. In the past, certain things have gotten past us. There was the infamous Snickers bar in SGA’s The Ark. There was the boom mike in SGU’s Space. And, most memorable of all, was the camera operator in the SGA season four premiere that we only noticed during the Day 2 mix – and only because eagle-eyed Martin Gero was the one to suddenly notice – in the opening scene, a bunch of medical equipment sweeps by followed by Weir on the gurney and, finally the camera operator bringing up the rear! In the case of this incident, we missed it and I’m sorry. Paul suspects that the reason it got by everyone is that the shot is actually a visual effect and that, whenever we watched it, rather than taking in other aspects of the room, we were focusing on the set extension behind the approaching Chloe to make sure it worked – thereby missing what was right in front of us.
Yes, I’m pissed-off and also extremely disappointed that: a) fans were offended and b) this taints an otherwise noteworthy episode. At present, I have no idea who was responsible but, in the event the guilty party frequents this blog (or someone who knows the guilty party frequents this blog and would be kind enough to pass this along), I’d like to say: “Seriously? The fucking series finale? Thanks a lot, douchebag.”
Don Matthews writes: “He has made progress on TJ’s ALS, enough so to create a treatment to slow the progression of it. Maybe he creates an interface for Lisa that lets her see via Kino transmission.”
Answer: Damn, Don. Those are both excellent ideas.
Rob writes: “So, as an avid fan of space-based sci-fi, where do I turn?”
Answer: Our comic book series, Dark Matter (May 10, 2011: Thanks for the thanks! Transporter: The Series! My Comic Book series!) hopefully/eventually coming to a t.v. screen near you!
Ponytail writes: “Even though I loved seeing them all together like a family and actually enjoying each other, I couldn’t help but think whoever is left out of a stasis pod could use that food. Did they really need to eat before entering stasis?”
Answer: At the time, they didn’t know anyone would be left out.
Tanith writes: “Can you at least tell us what the outcome of “The Mission” was intended to be?”
Answer: As I already mentioned in this entry, that’s a story for Brad and/or Robert to tell.
dasNdanger writes: “Joe, I think I love this idea from Dreaded Anomaly over on the Benbo:
Eli to Young: “I’m smarter than him. And all three of us know it.”
Rush isn’t just defined by his intelligence, though; it’s his Machiavellian use of it. What if Eli started down that same path? He’s standing on the balcony smiling because he’s got everyone right where he wants them.
Eli’s had total control of the drones since he brought that one on to the ship. He’s kept them attacking Destiny, but not destroying it, so that everyone would have no choice but to follow his plan and get into the stasis pods. One of them “happened” to malfunction, so he wouldn’t have to go into stasis.
Of course, one might wonder how he was able to control the drone attacks while simultaneously fighting them off. But the answer’s simple: he has an accomplice, Ginn. He didn’t keep her program in quarantine; he just wanted everyone to think that, so she could carry out her part of the plan covertly.
Now, with a drone army and control of Destiny, he can reawaken the crew members that he likes, turn Destiny around, and start taking over the galaxy, with the infrastructure created by the civilization that his alternate self built.”
Answer: A very cool twist – but not really our Eli.
kimmy writes: “Again, we see Col Young working himself ragged…”
Answer: That’s what I wanted to play on in this episode, the fact that things are catching up with the seemingly tireless Colonel Young. He’s exhausted and, right off the bat, Wray notices and admonishes him, suggesting he get some sleep. Well, at episode’s end, he finally does get that long-awaited opportunity to rest his weary bones.
Chris L writes: “Do you have any photos of the sets you can share with us?”
Answer: I’ve posted plenty of behind-the-scene pics over the past four years. Just peruse this blog’s archives.
Carl writes: “And has our canadian dollar value had any impact on doing or not doing the movies (SG1, SGA, SGU)?”
Answer: That may have hampered us had we received the green light, but I believe the state of dvd sales is what really impacted the movies.
Brian C writes: “A number of shows have continued their Story in comic book form, Star Trek, Jericho, and Buffy to name a few fan favorites. The numbers on these comics look good do you think the studio would accept this as a low cost high gain way of continuing the series?”
Answer: Again, I can’t speak for the studio. If the sales figures on the pre-existing Stargate comic books make this an attractive proposition, I’m sure it’s something they’ll consider.
Rachael writes: “And can I ask again, please, if the set/lot used for Terminus was same set/lot used for Sateda?”
Answer: I’ll have to double-check but I believe so – Terminal City.
shiloh writes: “Now – you hinted at telling us some spoilers about the SG movie Extinction – how about the Atlantis movie too?? Pretty please?”
Answer: Well, since you asked nicely, I’ll tell you all about Stargate: Extinction next week.
David Knowles writes: “So Joe you are going back on your word, you said a few weeks ago that you would answer the fan questions. [...] I can now understand at least some of the hate mail you receive especially when you go back on your word in such an obvious way.”
Answer: Uh, I never said I wasn’t going to answer fan questions (especially since I asked for them). I was simply pointing out that, regardless of the answers I provide, they won’t be canon and, at the end of the day, bear no more import than any alternate answers provided by you at home.
Lloyd 67 writes: “Hello, do you think that if DVD sales of Season 2 of SGU are good, a film production is feasible?”
Answer: At this point, I’m sorry to say, no.
Escyos writes: “How exactely did the Priors get to the Milky way, did they just create wormholes out of nothing, did they create stargates when DJ and Vala arrived or were there always gates in their galaxy?”
Answer: Don’t recall if we ever discussed this. It’s a question for Rob Cooper.
JimFromJersey writes: “Besides the obvious dramatic elements, why couldn’t Eli complete the Novus Archive data transfer from the safety of Destiny?”
Answer: The conceit was that the transfer had to be initiated and maintained from the send point and I had no problem with that. One of my biggest pet peeves is convenience, strokes of luck that end up benefiting our character. On the other hand, I don’t mind complications that make our hero’s life difficult. The former is lazy writing. The second is good drama.
Italian fan! writes: “NON FACENDO NULLA PER SALVARE STARGATE, HAI TRADITO TUTTI I FANS!”
Answer: Everything we could do to save the series was done. Unfortunately, it’s out of our hands.
stryse writes: “It’s been suggested in a couple of places that SGU should return to the air in about three years… Obviously extremely unlikely (I don’t accept impossible in anything, but what is probable is another story).. but still… how cool would that be?”
Answer: Cool but not very realistic I’m afraid.
Tammy Dixon writes: “It’s exciting to read about the comic book project. You said that it was more fun than TV. How so? Will you get to stay in Vancouver if you do comics exclusively?”
Answer: At this point, it’s a very different animal but, creatively, just as fulfilling. As for where I’ll be next year – who knows! We’ll be finishing up production on the first season of Transporter: The Series winter of 2011. I have no doubt it will get a second season. Whether I’ll be part of that second year remains to be seen.
Tammy Dixon also writes: “When does Transporter premiere?”
Answer: I don’t we have a premiere date yet. Stay tuned!