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SABOTAGE
 
RATINGS SCORECARD
GATEWORLD - * * 1/2
SYFY RATING - 1.391 mil.

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EPISODE NUMBER - 116
ORIGINAL U.S. AIR DATE - 05.07.10
SYNDICATION AIR DATE - 03.07.11
WRITTEN BY - Barbara Marshall
DIRECTED BY - Peter DeLuise
GUEST STARRING - Kathleen Munroe (Amanda Perry), Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James), Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker), Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park), Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin), Reiko Aylesworth (Sharon), Catherine Lough Haggquist (Mary), Haig Sutherland (Sgt. Hunter Riley), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Pvt. Darren Becker), Michael Karl Richards (Major Peterson), Vera Mendoza-Cuadra (Airman)
When problems with the F.T.L. drive threaten to leave Destiny stranded, the crew calls upon an expert from Earth to help -- a quadriplegic woman who temporarily takes over Wray's body.

Colonel Everett Young informs Destiny's crew that they have entered the void between galaxies. Unsure of how long the ship will take to cross the vast expanse of nothing, they will begin conserving rations and water immediately. He has no words to console them over the recent loss of Lt. Matthew Scott, Chloe Armstrong and Eli Wallace ("Lost").

Destiny is conserving her power. Despite those efforts, Dr. Nicholas Rush realizes she will still fall short of the next galaxy by 50,000 light years. Adam Brody points out that they might make it if they could simply increase the efficiency of the F.T.L. drives. Rush calculates that a mere 5 percent increase should provide enough energy. He recommends bringing a hyperdrive specialist from Earth, Dr. Amanda Perry, onboard using the communication stones. She is someone he worked with previously, and in whom he has great confidence.

The transfer will be complicated because Dr. Perry is quadriplegic. Promised time with her family, Lt. Vanessa James volunteers. But she is unable to handle the body she swaps into (especially the breathing apparatus), and hastily returns to Destiny. Camille Wray takes her place. Once the swap is complete, Wray refuses to meet with her boss, the I.O.A.'s Dale Strom ("Earth"). Instead, she insists on going straight home to see her partner, Sharon ("Life"). Dr. Perry's long-time caregiver, Mary, accompanies Wray.

On a tour of Destiny, Perry pauses to sample a fruit brought back from a recent planetary visit. It's the first food she has fed herself since her accident when she was nine. In the chair interface room Perry consults with Rush, Brody, Dr. Dale Volker, and Colonel Young when one of the ship's engine explodes, dropping Destiny from F.T.L. flight. Deciding it's a malfunction, Volker pilots a kino around the rear of the ship to investigate the engine.

The jarring few moments surrounding the explosion caused a number of injuries. Lt. James has suffered a memory lapse. Dr. Jeremy Franklin, catatonic since he sat in the Ancient chair months ago ("Justice"), was thrown on the floor. As they bring him into the infirmary, he seems to look at James for a moment before his gaze goes blank again.

Watching the kino footage in the Gate Room, the Stargate suddenly lights up and Rush calls for MSgt. Ronald Greer and a defensive team. Chloe, Eli, and Scott step through. Still within range of the planet's Stargate, Destiny alerted Eli's kino remote that the ship had dropped from F.T.L. flight, so they dialed in. The engine's explosion fortuitously saved them.

After several days of studying the ancient ship and its propulsion system, Perry believes the explosion exposed the most inefficient drive. If they can isolate and bypass it, the ship should be able to cross the void. Since they can't simply direct the ship to do this, the repairs must be made manually. Eli suggests using the robot they recently discovered in one of the Ancient storage crates ("Faith").

As the robot toils, Lt. Tamara Johansen and a team prepare to explore the planet from which Lt. Scott's team dialed in. Young insists Eli send a kino through the Stargate first. He is still protesting when the kino spots two alien ships opening fire. With the planet now off limits, everyone settles in, waiting for the repairs to be completed.

On Earth, even though she enjoys some personal time with Sharon, Camille feels the limitations of Perry's quadriplegic body, and grows frustrated. Brody uses the time to build Destiny's first still. After Chloe and Lt. James try the first batch of alcohol, James tells Chloe of her odd, recurring dream about not being herself, in a dark place, with others watching her. Chloe recognizes her own nightmares after being held hostage by the aliens that are still chasing them ("Space"). They tell Colonel Young.

Meanwhile, Rush and Perry have a drink to celebrate the successful removal of the damaged engine. Rush escorts her back to her quarters. Amanda, finally able to act on her long-held feelings for Rush, kisses him. But Nicholas pulls back. His recent reliving of Gloria's last months has left her death as fresh for him as when it first happened ("Human"). Understanding, Perry holds him as he cries. T.J. soon arrives to summon them to the Interface Room.

When Lt. James broke her link with Perry, the communication stone was left active. Now they suspect that one of the hostile aliens swapped bodies with James and sabotaged the drive. He also likely relayed Destiny's position. The crew prepares for battle. Destiny can't withstand a sustained weapons bombardment, and escape through the Stargate is blocked. The only way to escape the impending attack is for someone to use the chair interface to command Destiny to enter F.T.L., now that the drive is repaired.

Young reports their situation, intent on risking his life to sit in the chair. Wray returns to the Pentagon, as Perry will likely be returning home soon. As Young briefs the crew, Franklin -- who is being fed by James -- reacts, almost imperceptibly. She races to the chair room as two alien ships arrive and begin firing at Destiny.

Realizing that Franklin is better prepared to sit in the chair than Colonel Young, they take him to the chair room. As the interface connects, cold mist swirls through the room. Franklin orders everyone out. Leaving Sgt. Hunter Riley to guard the room, Young and Rush head for the Interface Room. By the time they arrive, the countdown clock is ticking, the engines warming up. A number of the smaller, alien fighters are destroyed when Destiny jumps to F.T.L. flight.

Her work finished, Perry bids goodbye to Rush and ends her dream experience by returning to Earth. Wray is relieved to be in her own body again.

Young and James open the door to the chair interface room. But despite the door having been sealed and guarded, Franklin has vanished.

- S. Fetter

NOTES
  • The song featured in this episode is "Only If You Run" by Julian Plenti. It plays during the montage showing the passage of time after Dr. Perry's arrival.

  • PRODUCTION
  • The character of Amanda Perry was originally named Eleanor in early drafts of the script.

  • The original casting call reads:
      [ELEANOR PERRY] (35-40) and quite attractive. A brilliant scientist who happens to be a quadriplegic. Affected since childhood, her disability has rendered her body physically useless. However, after being brought on board the Destiny as the only person who may be able to save the ship and her crew from certain annihilation, she is given temporary powers that enable her to walk again and to finally experience intimacy. Strong guest lead.
  • Soon after the above character description was released, critics panned what they said looked like discriminatory comments about persons with disabilities. From script pages others criticized what they saw as treating a strong lesbian character (Camille Wray) as a sexual fantasy for a heterosexual man (Nicholas Rush). In response, the show's producers issued the following statement (via GateWorld Forum):
      Recently, a casting breakdown was released to agents for a upcoming character in our television show, Stargate Universe. The character, Doctor Eleanor Perry, is a brilliant scientist at the top of her field, who also happens to be a quadriplegic. As part of a science fiction conceit that is core to our series, Perry's consciousness is temporarily exchanged with one our series main characters, Camile Wray, who is a lesbian. In the course of the story, Perry has the experience of being able bodied for the first time since she was a child. At the same time, Wray, temporarily encumbered by Perry's physical disability, experiences the unconditional love of her life partner. The language of the breakdown was insensitive and inaccurate, and we sincerely apologize to those who may have been offended. The audition pages that have been under scrutiny were from an early draft and released out of context. It is our desire and intention to portray both characters with dignity and respect, while remaining mindful of the ethical issues we're raising.

      Brad Wright and Robert Cooper
  • Read more on the "Sabotage" controversy here. We've also published an editorial on the subject, which includes extensive discussion on the issues from other fans.

  • "I anxiously await Brad's pass on 'Sabotage' as that preps next week with the lovable Peter DeLuise at the directing helm."
    (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)

  • "Just read 'Sabotage.' Wow. SGU is really challenging my acting chops! I LOVE our writers! Can't wait to work on this episode!"
    ("Camille Wray" actress Ming-Na, in a post at Twitter)

  • "Brad did his pass on 'Sabotage' and, Carl and I agree, it's a much better script."
    (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)

  • "We were on hiatus for almost the entire month of July. Many of us didn't read 'Sabotage' or provide notes until the beginning of last week. I can assure you, there was some very spirited debate about this script and the issues raised."
    (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)

  • "That was all misconstrued and I think once they see the episode, they will have a completely different response to it. It was extremely emotional on many levels for me to play as an actress, playing a quadriplegic. It really makes you appreciate ... I mean, I always appreciate health anyway.

    "... I think the other stuff that's been expressed has been misunderstood. In the previous episode that has aired ['Earth'], Colonel Telford and Colonel Young exchange bodies and there is an understanding, an underlying understanding, that once you do that, you forfeit your right to your body at that point. And, for me, I feel that if that's true for all the other characters, then it would sort of be prejudicial not to do that with the gay character."
    (Actress Ming-Na, in an interview with AfterEllen.com)

  • "There were some minor changes, but no more than would be made on any script as it advances from outline to and through its various drafts. The one change that stood out for me was a little character backstory we had planned for the Lieutenant James character. Initially, she volunteers, makes the switch, panics, and backs out. Rather than being a simple freak out, we learn that her reason for backing out stems from a personal issue -- specifically, the circumstances surrounding her younger brother's paralysis.

    "Even though it was a positive depiction of the bond between siblings, Standards and Practices felt that it cast a physical disability in a negative light because James displays grief for her brother's condition. As a result, we had to lose it."
    (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    GateWorld Podcast: ‘Sabotage’
    Darren and David talk about last week's new episode of SGU. SPOILERS

    HD Screen Captures: ‘Sabotage’
    Nearly a thousand beautiful hi-definition images have been added from last week's latest addition to SGU.

    Transcript: SGU‘s ‘Sabotage’
    GateWorld has the full transcript of the newest episode of Stargate Universe!

    Tonight on SGU: ‘Sabotage’
    Take a look at tonight's new episode of Stargate Universe! SPOILERS

    Editorial: Sex, Lies and Body-Swapping – What Sci-Fi Does Best
    SGU plans controversial stories about disability and sexuality, and the Web over-reacts. SPOILERS

    Quadriplegic character raises ethical quandaries
    Fans object to an SGU casting description, and the producers respond. SPOILERS

    SGU gets three more episode titles
    The Season One episode guide is filling out nicely, with working titles for episodes 14-16 now revealed!

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