SGU Stargate Universe: Air (Part 3)   Rewatch 
April 21, 2016 10:27 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

With the air supply failing on Destiny, a team disembarks to a desert-like planet in search of lime or a similar mineral to scrub the ship’s air of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, with life on the ship looking bleak, Colonel Young reports in to General O’Neill and Chloe has one last chance to see her mother, courtesy of the communication stones.

♫ Keep your head above water,
but don't forget to breathe. ♫


The Episode
* Transcript
* Watch on Hulu. Also on YouTube (video's volume is low but watchable)

Trivia and Miscellany (from here and here)
* Air, Parts 1 and 2 aired on October 2nd, 2009. This third and final part of the season premiere aired one week later on October 9th.

* Interview with SGU co-creator Robert C. Cooper on Den of Geek, published the day this episode originally aired.

* The concluding music in this episode is "Breathe" by Alexi Murdoch. The scene (contains episode spoilers) is on YouTube. A bonus: here's Murdoch performing it live. Another song by Murdoch, "All of My Days" will be used in a later episode.

* Brad Wright: "We desperately did not want to have our characters running through trees. In every other Stargate series we've been surrounded by the forests of Vancouver, and this time Charlie Cohen at MGM said, 'Well, let's go somewhere new, then!' We told him that it would be expensive, and Charlie said, 'This is a big, important new show for us, so let's make it work.' So we shot in the White Sands Desert of New Mexico and it looks like a feature film. Robert Carlyle actually got T-shirts for everyone and went down there with '117' printed on the front because that's how hot it was!"

* Brad Wright: What was that little ship that left the Destiny at the end of the episode? It wasn't one of the ship's own shuttles. "I will say this: It's clearly not part of the Destiny. It's visually a very different kind of ship. What we are indicating is that there are aliens out there who have been watching the Destiny. And I dare say that we are going to run into them."

* Den of Geek Review: "As for the effects side of things, the good work continues, as we get to see a little more of the ship, inside and out. It still looks very old, but in the same way, very authentic. When producer Brad Wright name-dropped Firefly as an influence there, he wasn't kidding. The ship uses the same kind of effects when it is speeding off, almost as if a direct homage, and the very brown and bronze, almost wild west feel, is an obvious one to note. The fact that the 'cargo bay' area has almost been ripped out of Serenity's ship and pasted directly into the Destiny's, could be seen as a step too far, but luckily the differences outweigh the similarities, and it doesn't take away from the show's aesthetic."

General O'Neill: So, how is it going out there, really?
Colonel Young: I don't know what Rush has told you, but we may not have much time left. The ship's very old - it's falling apart.
General O'Neill: Fix it.
Colonel Young: We're trying. Even if we can get the life support working, we don‘t have much food and water.
General O'Neill: Then go get some.
Colonel Young: We're not supposed to be there, sir. These are the wrong people in the wrong place and, as a group, they're just not qualified.
General O'Neill: Oh, please! I wasn't qualified to lead that first team through the Stargate...
Colonel Young: I understand that, sir...
General O'Neill: In the past dozen years or so, we've sent hundreds of teams through that thing. (He thinks for a moment, then smiles ruefully.)
General O'Neill: I think the bottom line is: none of us are qualified.
Colonel Young: I just think we're gonna get to a point very soon where everyone on board should get a chance to say goodbye.
General O'Neill (nodding): Understood.
posted by zarq (4 comments total)
I just went ahead and watched this again. It holds up pretty well, relative to how much I remember liking it when it was originally airing.

* The communication stones bother me as much as I remember. However, one thing I *did* like about them was the fact that nobody had sorted out some of the ethical or logistical considerations surrounding body-swapping yet: could Telford be charged for damaging Young's body against the ranking medical officer's orders, for instance? It's clear no one has decided yet.

Evolving policies surrounding alien technology were always a strength of the Stargate franchise, and it's fun to see a minor detail like that in play even though I hate that particular plot device.

* It's still fun to watch Rush be an asshole. I mean, I remembered his meltdown in the desert, but I'd forgotten how, when they get back and someone asks how the dumb scientist got shot, Rush just said, "Greer did it." Cold, man. Ice cold.

* I liked that we never saw what happened to the two people who were trying out for the Darwin Award by dialing locked addresses.

* Not too interested in Scott's tragic past. Wasn't before, am still not. The dust alien ghost things are cool though. I liked how genuinely alien they were, even though it was an excuse to just use a human actor.

* I also loved the bit with O'Neill and Young talking.

* The interview has some interesting stuff. Makes me sad, knowing this didn't take off. I really like when shows try *new* things instead of turning formulaic.
posted by mordax at 1:21 AM on April 22, 2016

I think this was one of the better episodes of the show's entire run. It's not perfect and some of the dialogue is stilted, but the level of character development you see in this episode is pretty advanced for a Stargate show. The montage at the end was also well done.

This is only the third episode. This show found its footing faster than any other sci fi show I've ever seen, except for the Battlestar Galactica remake.

This episode is the start of an ongoing theme: survival basics. This week it's air. Next two weeks, power (and food.) The week after that, water. It will be noted repeatedly in upcoming episodes that "we only have what we brought with us." Their limited supply of bullets, for example. These are believable obstacles facing the crew -- and they won't be saved from them by aliens or ascended humans. The show (thanks to Mefi's own jscalzi) took the time to pay attention to the details that mattered.

Man, Rush is a cold, cold bastard in this episode. He's incredibly condescending to Greer and Scott. Tells Greer to shoot Franklin. He literally tells Eli to stick his arm in the puddle and hold the wormhole open. He's literally betting Eli's arm against saving the ship -- on a hunch. He also, as mordax notes, sells Greer out instantly the moment he gets back to the ship.

I also hate the communication stones. But they are important to the development of the characters and the show, so they're a necessary evil.
posted by zarq at 9:25 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

In every other Stargate series we've been surrounded by the forests of Vancouver

I was on the "Stargate Day" press junket for Atlantis, what I think might have been the last season. Brad Wright told me that they'd been doing Stargate shows in Vancouver for more than a decade at that point. When they started, like eighty percent of their shots were location exteriors, and the rest was stage sets. But when I was there, he said that ratio had pretty much reversed itself. They'd lost almost all of their exterior locations because Vancouver was in such a huge boom of development that their locations either had power lines running through the background now or had just flat out been turned into condos. At that point they were doing almost everything in the studio. He showed us a forest that they'd actually built on a sound stage. It was very convincing if you didn't look more than about eight feet up, where the trunks suddenly just stopped.
posted by Naberius at 9:29 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Apparently in the original SGU thread back in 2009 I thought they'd solve the CO2 problem by bringing a ton of plants on board.

The water supply problem didn't occur to me.
posted by zarq at 9:33 AM on April 22, 2016

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