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    FAN REVIEWS: Unending

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    Trapped on board the Odyssey, the members of SG-1 must live out the rest of their lives together when Carter activates a time dilation field to save the ship from destruction.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 6, 2021, 08:45 PM.

    It’s almost impossible to review something that has so much sentimental value tied to it. I’ve watched SG1 since the first episode and I’ve now watched its last weekly TV episode, Unending; given how great the start was, the finale had a lot to live up to. In the end, there is much to enjoy in the story and the performances, with some lovely nods to canon, but the story misses in the balancing of the characters and the shock exit of one of Stargates most loved creations, the Asgard.

    Using the Asgard in the last episode is a good choice; the Asgard are a fan favourite and they have emotional pull with the audience; the Asgard and their legacy mean something to us. It’s a great hook. As Thor tells Sam that the Tau’ri are ‘the Fifth race’, I didn’t need the heart-tugging musical underscore to have tears spring up in my eyes. Unfortunately, the death of the Asgard in a mass suicide comes as a bit of a shock. The morality question about the mass suicide isn’t given any time at all, and the explosion which finally kills them, while wonderfully realised in special effects, passes so quickly that any emotional resonance of losing the Asgard is, well, lost. The story could have been constructed in another way to enable the main plot of the characters getting stuck together in a time dilation field without killing the Asgard.

    The story is well constructed otherwise; the Ori tracking the newly installed Asgard technology, the beaming of the Odyssey crew to a planet to escape while SG1 and Landry stay behind and then getting stuck in the time dilation bubble Sam uses to save them from an Ori attack. The set-up is very well-executed in the second act. The ending is equally good; Sam figures out how to reverse time, Teal’c who saved them in the first story ‘Children of the Gods’ saves them again in the last (another outstanding Chris Judge performance), and they get to blow up the Odyssey and save it at the same time. The special effects are fantastic and really add to the drama as does the brilliant musical underscore throughout.

    The last scene of the team back at the SGC and off on a mission is a lovely way to create an ‘unending’ for the show and its characters. It sparkles with teaminess as the five SG1 characters exchange banter via clichés. As SG1 walk through the Stargate into the wormhole, there is a sentimental sigh of satisfaction. That scene is almost perfectly balanced character-wise and highlights the issue with the middle of the story. It is difficult to balance six regular characters in one episode; difficult also to balance six regular characters and the ghosts of past characters that press up against the window of milestone episodes like this one.

    To be fair, the characters are mixed up for the most part and shots of them as a group at the dinner table provide a common theme to link the various time-frames and mood changes – that latter part works very well. There are some nice moments; Teal’c comforting Sam was my favourite. Yet, although Sam is shown with the others, the impression is that she’s very much alone; same with Mitchell (Ben Browder turning in a very nice performance as a frustrated, stir-crazy Mitchell). Further, the emphasis on Daniel and Vala means that the overriding impression is that they only spend time with each other although not actually true.

    It is good to see the show tackle a romantic relationship within the team again (although as a long time supporter of Sam and Jack no guesses for which relationship I would have preferred to have seen tackled), and the scene where the couple finally get together has just enough believability, thanks to Claudia Black and Michael Shanks, that it works. But the three subsequent shots of them alone together in the various montages is overkill –one of these could have been given over to a Daniel/Teal’c friendship moment which frustratingly isn’t shown at all. While the character interactions taken in isolation are great, as a mix it doesn’t feel balanced.

    Landry sticks out like a sore thumb. Although the importance of the Asgard communication might have required the presence of a general, in canon terms, the obvious choice is Jack. Landry being there simply emphasises the absence of Jack more. Further, Landry has remained distant from the SG1 team with his primary relationship being with Mitchell. There is not enough of a connection to give any credibility to Sam sitting by his deathbed crying although both Amanda Tapping and Beau Bridges give excellent performances. Frankly, Landry’s ‘Godspeed’ only had me wishing for the General that quote referenced; Hammond.

    There are some nice references throughout; the Asgard, the Fifth Race episode, Daniel noting the voice was how someone identified Thor, the nod back to Prometheus Unbound, Merlin’s phase technology, Walter’s ‘chevron seven; locked’. It was also glaringly obvious what was missing; a reference to Jack O’Neill. Perhaps it was felt that there were enough oblique references to cover it; the clichés, the Fifth Race reference…it wasn’t. Regardless of the upcoming TV movies, this was the TV episodic finale: Jack should have been mentioned by name.

    As a finale, there were always going to be disappointments; the lack of Jack and the overall mix of the character moments were mine. What was great was that it was very much a team episode and really continued the great team feeling that has been the significant achievement of S10. The dynamic may be different to that of the classic SG1 I fell in love with, but it has found its own place. If SG1 has to bow out as a weekly TV serial, this is an enjoyable way to go; a quality episode in an overall quality season.

    I’m going to miss it; bring on the movies.
    Women of the Gate LJ Community.
    My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.


      Watching the last episode of Stargate SG-1 and the end of an era was always going to be a bittersweet experience. If shows such as Stargate truly take on a life of their own it's not surprising that they fill us with as much sadness as joy in their dying hour.

      Unending follows in a good tradition of TV SF final episodes in mingling sadness and fan-pleasing warm fuzzy moments to go out on a high note.

      The premise is simple, and the plot is cohesive: Asgard upgrades leave the ship both stronger and more vulnerable from the Ori. Under fire, Sam uses Time dilation to stretch their dying second into fifty years - fifty years in which to grow old trying to stave off their death. Unencumbered by B Plots or extraneous characters, SG-1 grow old, until a way is found to reverse time itself, saving them and the Asgard legacy.

      Years ago, the Asgard told Jack O'Neill that we were on our way to becoming The Fifth Race. Sooner by far than expected, this promise is now reality and humanity faces the dawn of a new age. Stargate has hinted at a number of potential end-of-series scenarios over the past few seasons, most of which seemed liekely to involve giant space battles and an enemy defeated or poised to suffer defeat in a future movie. For this more cerebral development to be the main contribution to the overall arc is a welcome surprise.

      The reason for this sudden gift - the doom facing the Asgard - is the first indication that everything in Unending has a price. Even the new super-strong ship, capable of destroying an Ori vessel, is rendered unable to escape from an enemy.

      The characters on the ship react in different ways to being trapped for the three months that become years merging into decades, in an unchanging sterile box. (With the energy blast heading straight for them they do not even see, as we do, the malevolent shift of its position as it creeps relentlessly towards them.) The mainly two-handed scenes between various combinations of characters are interspersed with montages which give us a view into the minds of the characters, often to heart-wrenching effect.

      It's reminiscent of Window of Opportunity's montages. With all the quality, but with the sense of fun replaced by melancholy.

      Landry potters about with his plants, apparently sanguine, until his death in a scene which is surely Beau Bridges' best in the series. Cam finds it harder to cope. His impatient nature and compulsion to be doing are most at odds with the team's situation, and it is not unexpected when he takes his feelings out on his furniture and on Teal'c. In Cam's other scenes Ben Browder shows Cam's frustration and quiet despair with restraint and dignity.

      Vala, who promises early on to go insane, fares rather better, after a shaky start. Daniel's refusal of her - his shockingly angry refusal, infused with two years' worth of resentment at what he believes to be constant fun at his expense - is an unlikely but effective starting point for genuine understanding between the two of them. After this, through shots of them growing old together to a sweet farewell, a sense of affection is ever-present. Claudia Black and particularly Michael Shanks deserve credit for making an unlikely relationship, which seemed destined to end its days as a one-sided unrequited minor tragedy, appear believable and sympathetic.

      Aside from the presence of Vala, Daniel's experience mirrors season one's Torment of Tantalus, when he had all the knowledge he could dream of within his reach but not the time in which to touch it. Now he has all the time he could need but little hope of ever sharing his discoveries or using them. And yet he's still Daniel, so on he goes....

      Sam grows old with grace. Her 'cello-playing is a lovely touch, and the sound of the instrument suits the mood of the scenes it accompanies. Teal'c alone stays young, as young as only a 113-year-old can be. And Teal'c alone shows us virtually nothing of his soul in the scenes between the ship becoming marooned in time and the formulation of the plan. Teal'c is a character who can steal a scene with a line, a word, a look, but here his opportunities were regrettably scarce; although to some extent, the retention of Teal'c as the sole survivor of the fifty years of erased future atones for this.

      Unending invites us to feel for the jaded, tired old Carter and Mitchel, so that when they are snuffed out of existence we will miss them, even though we know that the colonels that remain will be happier as a result. For Daniel and Vala, the consequence of the reset button is far more poignant, and it's almost a shame to see their time come to nothing.

      But when it does, the maudlin atmosphere of the piece changes, and the final scene is pure feelgood. What better way to end than with Our Heroes disappearing into the event horizon?

      The loving close-ups of the spinning Gate were a joy. Stock phrases such as "indeed," "Godspeed," and "Chevron One engaged" were clearly there as a self-referential nod, not to mention the many overt references to past episodes, or Daniel's comment about the voice of (Michael Shanks' alter-alter-ego) Thor; but while such tricks can seem forced or contrived in Unending it felt natural and right.

      Unending is in a strange position, being perhaps the fifth or sixth Final Episode Ever to be written. Much of the pressure was taken away with the explosive penultimate episode, and more still by the forthcoming movie, so this episode was free to be a less formulaic, more original offering. In that, it succeeded admirably.

      Unending has alternately a mournful beauty and a warm glow. It's sad to say goodbye to Stargate, but since I have to, I'm glad to see it bow out with such style.




        I spent the 30 minutes before the start of this episode trying to come to terms with the fact that I'd soon be watching the last ever episode of Stargate SG-1. As soon as it started I braced myself for one of the most significant 40 minutes I'd ever spent in front of the television screen.

        The episode started brilliantly and that is attributable to one thing alone - the Asgard. The inclusion of this trademark ally was brilliant. As soon as Thor said they'd be passing on their technology and knowledge I immediately knew why but it didn't make the emotional impact any less extreme, intensified by Thor's touching scene with Samantha Carter. I'm not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes - and it wasn't to be the last time in the episode.

        After this incredibly touching segment the plot got going. The Ori are able to track the Asgard technology integrated into the Odyssey systems, allowing them to follow the ship and attack it each time it drops out of hyperspace. With numerous technical glitches and ever weakening shields, General Landry and SG1 decide to drop the crew off at the nearest planet and make a stand against the Ori ships rather than letting the ship, with all its new technology and the entire Asgard legacy, go to waste. The battle scenes were nothing short of extraordinary and were just one component of the episode where you could see that the writers wanted to make this episode tick as many fan's boxes as possible.

        Just seconds before a finishing blow from the Ori energy weapon, Colonel Carter creates a time dilation bubble around the Odyssey, potentially giving them a lifetime to figure out how to avoid the devastating energy blast and escape the from the Ori. From this point the episode switches back from action to character moments - and each one of them is a piece of pure gold.

        All the characters are brilliant in this episode and portrayed brilliant by the actors. The most intense character scene has to be between Daniel and Vala three months into their isolation. I sat in shock as Michael Shanks magnificently acted emotionally-driven anger, ripping into Vala horribly as she sat and cried. The shock and tension was overpowering, as was the moment of joy when their eyes met and Daniel realised that Vala hadn't just been messing with him all this time - finally, their against-the-odds spark became something real.

        Time doesn't permit me going through every scene during the course of their lives but needless to say I wasn't disappointed for a second. Other notable mentions include Cam's anguish at being confined on the ship in an effort to achieve the impossible and Colonel Carter's emotional reaction to General Landry's death. The friendship, upset and sense of family was ever-present. Finally, Carter came up with the solution and the stage was set for time to be reversed. The result was a touching moment where one member of the team offered to sacrifice 50 years of his life for the others - Teal'c. Of all the characters, his emotional journey was explored less than others but this worked well as it allowed him to be a rock for the others. His ultimate sacrifice shows us that, as ever, he doesn't need words to show just how much he cares for his comrades.

        Once time has reversed and the Odyssey has escaped we're taken to the SGC for the final scene of Stargate SG-1. Of course, it could include only one thing - the Stargate. I told myself before the episode that I'd be very angry if the Stargate wasn't used so was overjoyed with this ending. 10 years of television was summed up in 5 minutes - Walter's dialling sequence, the team's pre-gate chat, Tealc's 'Indeed', the team's homage to O'Neills use of metaphors and catchphrases, Landry's homage to Hammond's "God Speed" and the final whoosh and walk up the ramp.

        I've been finding difficult expressing how this episode has made me feel. All I can say is that, apart from some obvious solutions to their time dilation problem, I don't have a single complaint. The writers did an amazing job of finishing the series and their efforts in finishing the series properly comes through in every single way. Every component of the episode was carefully crafted, leaving nothing unpolished.

        Of course, people have their problems with this episode - primarily concerning the death of the Asgard and lack of O'Neill. All I can say is that just a few months ago I would have had the exact same issues. However, I find myself pleased with both aspects. The death of the Asgard was incredibly upsetting but its execution and the symbolic passing of the torch made it all believable and brought a real weight to the episode and the ending of an era. Of course, Tauri humans will never be officially inducted into the alliance since its in tatters but Thor's comment makes us reflect on how far we've come in 10 years. That, in his opinion, we're as good as 'the Fifth Race' shows the trust and respect he has for this young race. As for the lack of O'Neill in body or in spirit - I found that I didn't care - in fact, I think the episode was better for it. Based on the chain of events a mention for O'Neill would've been forced and out of place and the episode worked brilliantly without it. It says far more about the series and its legacy that this episode worked perfectly as an ending without the need for its previous figurehead. I will sorely miss watching SG-1 but couldn't be more satisfied with the ending - I can't wait to watch it again... and again and again - indeed.

        10/10 - BRILLIANT, enough said!

        O'Neill: Phasers?
        Carter: Sorry sir.



          And so it ends, the unlikely and impressive ten-year run of “Stargate SG-1”. Considering the fact that the series had been declared over after nearly every season since it’s initial Showtime cancellation after the fifth season, it’s hard to reconcile the fact that this series finale is relatively self-contained. No doubt some fans will wonder why the series didn’t wrap up the major plot threads before the end of the series.

          The answer, of course, is that the series is not really over in the traditional sense. The series is spinning off into at least two direct-to-DVD films, one of which will be the resolution of the Ori plot arc. In fact, that film (“The Ark of Truth”) will cover much of the ground originally intended for this season’s finale; plans were changed when the cancellation order and film offer came down. Knowing that they could just delay the resolution to the films, the producers felt no need to manufacture a final episode with true closure.

          On the one hand, this could be seen as slight to the fans, who may now be required to buy (or rent) a separate DVD just to see how the story ends. Since the decision to delay resolution was made by the producers, it could be interpreted as a marketing ploy. It’s a fair criticism, because not every fan out there is going to understand or know what the films represent. They’ll just see the series finale as a frustrating cop-out.

          On the other hand, any series with such a long history (and a distinct lack of planning) will struggle with a truly satisfying and all-encompassing finale. There’s always one more element that “should have been there”. Looming large over this finale is the memory of Jack O’Neill and the almost-perfect eighth season finale “Moebius”; a number of fans still consider that to be the true ending of the series. So this finale was never going to be universally satisfying with the weight of so much expectation.

          The result was an episode that could have run at any time, with very little in the way of closure. Perhaps that was for the best. Some might say that the episode provided emotional closure, but with the reset button firmly in place by the end, it’s elusive at best. If there’s a sense of anything in this series finale, it’s that the team carries on like they always have. There really is no end. The mission continues. It’s the kind of non-ending that only works because we know, as fans, that there’s more on the way. Who needs closure when the story isn’t over?

          Once has to wonder, though, if the character development (such as it is) will now disappear. Character has always been somewhat expendable in the “Stargate” franchise, with a simple set of quirks in place of true progression and growth. The films will be more about plot than delving into character depths. So we’re unlikely to get insight into Mitchell, for instance, which quite a shame, as it will feed into the impression that he was an unnecessary addition.

          The relationship between Daniel and Vala gets a tentative payoff, which was a nice touch. The two of them have been dancing around each other for a while, and this was a capable enough way to show that they could ultimately find a life together, The reset button keeps that from getting in the way in the future, of course, so the satisfaction is tenuous. (One might also find fault in Daniel’s harshness with Vala, which was not redeemed by his recognition of how badly he hurt her.)

          All in all, this just didn’t feel like a real series finale, because the elements that would have been present were shifted to the films and some of the characters (Carter, at least) will move to “Stargate: Atlantis” or the proposed new series. This just didn’t feel like the end of a ten-year saga; it was just another episode. And while that made sense from a certain perspective, I couldn’t help but feel that it send off the series with a bit of a whimper.


            Posted this yesterday in the Unending thread (and it was unending, lol, 68 pages so far)...thanks for adding this one.

            For the most part, the episode let me down. The writing was outstanding for almost all of the early episodes because it never left a plot hole...every possibility was covered. When they got the Tok'ra and the Asgard involved, the storyline necessarily got sidetracked from discovering new worlds to facing more enemies of the week/season, which limited a potentially limitless plot source.

            As usual, the writers wiped out a race in minutes (either they off a major character or a race...good timing that the 5th race came along in the 10 years before the Tollan and the Asgard poofed, after only say 10,000 years). There was seemingly no reason for them to go away at this particular time, also as usual, other than the series ending. And the plot instantly fell through with the appearance of the Ori ships...yet more coincidental timing. Even Thor sighs as he disappears. Well, we'll just go commit suicide without waiting a minute or two to help the Tauri or explain why the Ori can detect them (the Asgard signature, or Adria guiding the ships from ascension). Also, no ascension for the Asgard even though they and the Ancients were buds? (Well, one really dies in science fiction!) What they tried left them all facing extinction, but they can't explain what they did? And all of the Asgard are on the homeworld? What are the others, like Hermiod, supposed to do?

            Then, with the General, the team, and the crew knowing that they can be detected or figuring it likely, they make various stupid decisions like let's drop out of hyperspace a couple times and see. Couldn't they develop a tactical plan first before trying that, so the whole ensuing situation does not evolve. What was their rush in dropping out of hyperspace...maybe that the show had only an hour to cover the 50 years following? By the way, Sam says 50 years in, I came up with a solution -- even with our mastery of everything Asgard over all this time and all those simulations, it took me only decades. Then Teal'c has to age 50 years so everything's fine? And, as many have said, where was the rest of the Stargate universe? (They're saving them for the movies.)

            And Atlantis did something almost as painful with a threatening ray for the hour following? Some truly spectacular effects combined with no military/civilian thinking ahead to what to do if the bad guys retaliate?

            Sorry to be so critical, but, since MGM made it more of a franchise with Season 8, the formulaic "nick of time" stuff and other plot holes have taken a lot of the fun out of the show. And I'm sure shippers could have done so much better with all that passed over 50 years! (Will now have to hide if I encounter Rob Cooper sometime, lol! But he and the others have always done wonders in the past...) Hopefully with the movies, they've got time and more freedom to do justice to the series.

            Well, that was a fun rant...back to massive lurkathon!

            Mike in Virginia