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Review: SGU’s ‘Time’

Tuesday - November 17, 2009
Category: OPINION | Tags: , ,


SGU "Time" - Scott and Kino “Time” turned out to be a classic episode of Stargate. From killer aliens that burrow into your chest, to solar flares and time travel, how many times have we seen something like this an been thoroughly entertained by it? Maybe not the chest burrowing aliens, but solar flares in “1969,” ‘The Last Man” and in Stargate: Continuum have been really entertaining stories.

One could say that it’s been done before or that it’s not very original; but along with an epidemic that kills within twelve hours, “Time” offers a fresh take on a timeless (much pun intended) classic.

The epidemic that started killing off the Destiny‘s crew turned out to be a very unique way to incorporate the time travel/solar flare concept.  It was also done in a way that took away any sense of predictability. The writers could have easily said near the beginning of the episode that the outbreak was coming from the water source and not from the planet but instead, writer/director Robert C. Cooper left it very much a mystery up until half-way through the episode.

Within the Stargate universe, epidemics have been dealt with more than a few times — but there always seemed to be a cure or an answer not to far away. For “Time,” everything depended on capturing one of these indigenous creatures that were a lot better at killing you than you trying to capture one alive.

This is how the solar flare concept was able to stay original. Again, much like the epidemic being a mystery, the flare remained one as well until Rush was able to figure out near the end of the episode that this is how a kino from the future had reached them.  The team sent a kino back to themselves in the past.

What was most clever about this was that it didn’t work the first time.  Usually by the end of the episode, SG-1 was trying to get back home or fix the timeline and usually got it done. At the end of “Time,” it was very much up in the air if the kino Scott sent back got the job done. For all we know, Rush and company might have had to try multiple times before the plan actually worked, sending kino after kino to the past. Endings that are left open like that are always fun because it leaves so much to think about, as there really could have been endless possibilities.

SGU "Time" - Tamara JohansenThe backstory and emotional beats in “Time” were very deep and moving.   Finding out that Eli’s mom got H.I.V. was a very hard scene to watch.  People had to be wondering exactly what was wrong with her over the weeks, whether it was cancer or some other fatal disease. It’s no wonder that it was so hard for Eli to leave.  The only issue I had with this scene was that it seemed out of place for Eli to be mentioning his mother’s illness while trying to keep T.J.’s hopes up; it just seemed a little out of place. Being such an important piece of Eli’s backstory though, I’m glad they revealed sooner rather than later.

“Time” is a really strong episode for both Eli and T.J.  Up until last week, T.J. hadn’t been put in any real pressure situations, but you could very easily see the toll this epidemic was taking on her.   Being a medic, she probably hasn’t been in many situations were she was losing patients left and right — hence her eventual breakdown.  Losing patients is one of the hardest things a doctor or medic goes through, and this was well acted by Alaina Huffman.

Hopefully, “Time” will go down as one of SGU‘s classic episodes.   From some of the reactions I heard throughout the weekend at the New England Fan Experience, there seemed to be a real positive response to the episode.  SGU is finally hitting a good stride of episodes that cater to both old fans and newer fans alike. “Time” was the perfect episode for this as it had a great balance of sci-fi and drama.

Episode reviews represent the opinion of the author, and not that of GateWorld or its owner.

Julian Landau Brown is a GateWorld contributor and a former writer for He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and fellow Stargate fan, Karyn.

COMMENTS (31):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • This was easily my favorite SGU episode so far, very well done. We need more episodes like this: classic stargate style story with good action and drama, no use of the body swapping, and no sex…

  • Well done with this one, guys. For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble with SGU. :)

  • I really liked this episode, but I have to disagree about the unpredictability of it. They mentioned the ice planet/Hoff in the opening sequence, so it was fairly obvious that that would be involved somehow, and whenever there is weird stuff happening with timelines in Stargate, it’s safe to assume that a solar flare will be involved.

    I still really enjoyed the episode, though. I was able to figure out what was happening before the characters did, but I couldn’t figure out how the conflict would resolve. I also thought the ending was fantastic. It was open-ended yet still resolved the storyline, and it created a trippy double-alternate-timeline situation that has not been seen in Stargate yet.

    The show was well acted, and the directing was superb. Those kino shots were really cool.

    This isn’t a flaw in this specific episode, but I do hope that we run into some sentient alien creatures at some point in Universe. Those have always been one of Stargate’s strengths.

    Ultimately, very good episode. I think the best yet.

  • What was so great about this episode. Its been done before and the only differnce here was a new bunch of characters and more forced drama. I really don’t see what is so original or fresh about SGU. Its one melodrama after the other. Each week its either OMG we are going to die “again”, or who loves who.

    Why the need to replace one set of characters for a new bunch. The writers have gone to the extreme here. Seemingly “realistic” means shouting, bickering, back stabbing and lots of emotion. Why couldnt they have gone for a middle ground. Some slow build up of character development with a mix of action and adventure, something fans had been asking for years for the previous cast. Why the extreme approach of SGU. There has been an overwhelming negative response against all the forced drama and sex so now we hear the producers are getting back to classic stargate, but if thats what they are doing why did they cancel the previous “classic” Stargate in the first place, if that’s what fans wanted all along. What prevented them from making changes to the characters we knew and loved, though I’m sure SGU will end up being exactly like the “old” stargate in the end.

    It will have as many rehashed stories and guest appearances from SG1 and just as many quick fixes as the previous shows. All the ptb have suceeded in doing is substituting one fanbase for another. Creating forced drama each week doesn’t constitute character development and you have to connect and like the characters before you care enough to tune in and see what happens to them. So far I care about none of them. The emotion is just forced and flat and now the reset button gets magically used to nulify everything that happened. With a title like “Time”, did anyone really think that anyone would die and stay dead. The convenient body swapping takes away any sense of real isolation and abandonment when they can just pop back home to visit loved ones and party. So there is no more realism in this show than any previous one and just as many quick fixes, and we are only a hanful of episodes into the series.

  • When Chloe ‘died’ the only emotion I felt was a giddy thrill of yes! But it was only momentary, as it was clear she wouldn’t stay dead. Chloe has become the Keller of the group- no matter how whiny, she is adored by one and all and the normally smart guy gets taken in by her girlish simpering. Gah.

    I agree this was a step closer to what the show should be, even if it further proves that the other two shows had it and this one still doesn’t. Are the movies being made yet? Anyone?

  • This episode was definitely a step in the right direction of what I have felt SGU has been missing all along. But I have to say I was still quite bored over all. While the episode had an interesting premise I felt the constant dialog took away from what could have been a cool episode. After the episode ended I felt a definite “eh” feeling. I didn’t hate the episode and I didn’t really find it interesting either. Like some have pointed out in previous posts, until I develop any interest in these characters the constant drama is actually taking away from my enjoyment of the show.

    One of my friends who has watched SGU with me since it started told me after that episode he was done and wouldn’t watch any more of them because he almost fell asleep during the episode he was so bored with the pace.

    I will give SGU this season to wow me and make me want to come back. I owe that to the Stargate franchise and my hopes are this show will correct its course and become something I am interested in. However, after seeing next week’s premise of more body swapping and angst and turmoil and Telford my hopes are not high.

  • “Time” was one of the greatest episodes in the history of Stargate. Enough said.

  • The first really good episode of the series for me, “Water” was quite good but this was the first time I really started enjoying an episode of SGU.

  • jjs said “While the episode had an interesting premise I felt the constant dialog took away from what could have been a cool episode”

    This is why science fiction gets no respect in the mainstream. People like you are only “wowed” by big explosions and get confused when the plot is moved by conversation and interaction rather than special effects and shooting. Some of the best episodes from the previous series were more dialog driven like “the shrine” from atlantis or “meridian” from sg-1.
    Sci-fi is so much more than shiny explosions and it is a shame that there are people out there who slam a show for being more than big explosions and 2-bit dialog

  • “There has been an overwhelming negative response against all the forced drama and sex so now we hear the producers are getting back to classic stargate”

    Just wondering: People on here are smart enough to know that season 1 was more or less already written and recorded before the pilot was even aired right?

    I just get the impression that some people think that an episode is aired, the writers/producers look at the responses to the episode and then quickly write and shoot the next one.

    If they did take on-board criticism then change because of it wouldn’t be noticeable until the 2nd season.

    Anyway I already mentioned my thoughts on the other article but what the hell:

    I enjoyed this episode, like others have said it did have a more “Stargate” feel to it than the episodes previously. This one had: sci-fi elements, action & hostile aliens which is what some people have been saying the previous episodes lacked.

    Some people picked up on the end being a cliffhanger: What more do we need to know?

    Its easy to create your own explanation and assume that LT Scott’s plan worked: He sends the Kino through the Stargate to the past with the new info, The Destiny arrives at the planet and the team find the Kino, They watch the footage and follow the clear instructions Scott left on how to cure the virus and since they know what to do and have time to be able to do it nobody dies. Do we really need another episode to see that?

    David Blue’s acting portraying Eli was just amazing in this episode. The scene right before when Chloe died reminded me of the emotion you used to feel between O’Neill & Carter, it could bring a tear to your eye lol.

    Kinda agree on the Kino cam though, it was used a little to much in this episode and did get annoying at times. I personally would have preferred if it was first established that it was Kino footage but then see it normally and not always from the Kino’s perspective.

    I wouldn’t say that this episode was predictable, I never once assumed that a 3rd time-line would be created.

  • I thought this was the worst episode of the series and possibly the worst episode of all three, SG1, Atlantis and Universe. With the exception of Las Vegas and the 200th episode on SG1 which were the low points of those series.

  • Let me preface this by saying that for the most part, I really like this series. But having said that, this was a really bad episode. Don’t get me wrong, most of the sentiment on why people like it, I agree. It has very clear, nice character moments, etc. The problem is it NEVER HAPPENED. Quite literally, nothing about this episode is really Cannon. Rush & Young had a great moment where they found something in common, Eli had a couple of great moments, developing a heart wrenching connection with TJ. But at the end of this episode, every connection, every moment was quite literally wiped clean. Yes, we know about who these people *could* be, but because they hit the reset button by basically fixing the past, none of it comes to be once they’re finally saved. All of that strength, etc. are from people in an alternate time line that doesn’t exist within the scope of the show. Rush & Young won’t know they have things in common, TJ won’t know about Eli’s love for Chloe, etc. This is the sort of episode that would stand perfect for season 3 after these characters are firmly established. Not so much as the 6th or 7th episode of the series where there’s still a lot building to be done. You could quite literally miss this episode and you’d be pretty much in the same position as the characters because it never happened for them too.

  • I thought Time was another great episode. And, of course, what never happened had to happen or they would never have gotten the KINO. Well done throughout.

  • The Kinosode for this episode was quite good, hopefully some have or will watch it. I thought Time was really well done. It really did leave you with a WTF brain twist even knowing that they will make it.

    The heart wrenching for Scott when he wakes up to find everyone he cares about dead was hard to watch because of imagining the pain he must have felt.

    Eli talking to Chloe had some emotion, however TJ breaking down and Lisa trying to comfort her was the real tear jerker.

    Some have criticized Scott about not “helping” when they went back in the dark/rain after Rush told them about Chloe…I mean come on, the man truly cares for Chloe and to be told that she died and you werent there, I would have had a hard time with it too. He did snap out of it and got on with business, trying to make sure that at least the Kino would make it back to the past so they could avoid all of this. Greer was fantastic as usual too.

  • @dmoas: Actually the first kino would still be there the second time around, with the second kino. So the characters will see all that we saw again. So the character development will happen in the show as well, not just in our minds ; )

  • I enjoy paradox and time hopping stories especially when they are done right. Incorporating the kino cam and its very chilling images was brilliant on the part of the writers.

    This was the first homerun episode of the season – right outta the park. In fact I think it was better than SG1 “Moebius” simply because of the open ending. I too found myself pondering how many times it took them to accomplish this.

    As to the kino disappearing after the timelines were being changed: Stargate has already come down on the side of time travel having permanent results. This was actually consistent with previous shows – also a breath of fresh air after the disasterous first few episodes decision to make Destiny several hundred thousand years old but older than three million year old Atlantis or the sudden body swapping power of the stones whereas originally it was a one way trip (what did Doctor Lee do while HE was on Destiny?).

    However, I know from the online rants of certain show runners that this will probably be the standout episode of the season as the characters should return to prime high school form in time for some more body (and bodily fluid) swapping in the weeks to come.

  • @Brian you just quoted what many people believe to be the best episodes of those series.

  • The only thing that i didnt like about this episode is i thought they over used the keno vision a little much, and i believe they are use it a little to much for the entire series. I love the series but am at times annoyed with the keno vision

  • I liked the episode and it did feel a little more like the classic SG. And no sex. That makes 2 episodes I think so far. Previews of the next show seem to indicate we will be back to the sex again.

  • @Archaeo02 – wow, way to take someone’s opinion and turn it into a personal attack. Let me set you straight. I love episodes that build characters when I actually like the characters. Some of my favorite SG1 and Atlantis episodes were much more character driven and with no explosions. Episodes like The Fifth Race, Pretense, 2010, Before I Sleep, Grace Under Pressure, Michael and many others that were mostly character driven are among my favorites. I don’t need explosions, space ships or aliens to like a show. But I do need a good plot and good characters. I found this episode lacking in both especially since I really haven’t come to like any of these characters except for TJ and Col. Young.

    I disliked the plot because while I found the premise to be interesting I found the non-stop dialog of characters (that have already been constantly talking for 7 episodes) to be boring. I would have much preferred other characters who we haven’t seen much of get utilized like Vanessa James or Camille Wray or any numerous other scientists on the ship. But no, we get a planet with Dr. Rush, Lt. Scott, TJ, Greer, Eli and Chloe as the people we get to watch…once again.

    To make the episode even more unbelievable to me somehow Eli and Chloe (especially Chloe) were on an away mission to a planet. No one knew what was down there or if the planet was safe (obviously not with those creatures) and they sent Eli and Chloe? Come on that is just poor writing in my opinion to take characters that should never be in a situation and throw them in it with no basis. It would be like SG1 sending Walter (the gate room guy) through with SG1 for a rescue mission. Just unrealistic. I also agree that the dialog where Eli tells us his mother is sick with HIV to be awkward in this episode. It’s great information to have on the character but how it was divulged in this episode seemed out of place.

    Again, I do appreciate character driven episodes but this one just wasn’t one of them. But go ahead and keep attacking other people on the forums for posting their opinion. That’s shows great maturity on your part. Nicely done.

  • I disagree jjs and nobody is attacking you having an opinion, its just those of us who like this show are gradually growing sickened with the ever lasting downers that keep coming on here to compare this show with previous incarnations of SG. We get it, its not the same. Hey, I loved the first 2 series, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t but this is something new. I Personally, I think serialized TV is far better than week after week one-offs that don’t really require any true investment to know whats going on. It takes longer to get things done in the story line but the reward is far greater. Science Fiction has been suffering through ever more poorly conceived Sci-Fi shows for over a decade. The original ST:TNG was ground breaking but the shows that followed became more and more formulaic and the viewership grew tired of there being no real conflict or danger. That remained until BSG opened up a new perspective on Sci-Fi. Now I’m not going to go with my crowd here and say this new SG isn’t taking anything from BSG because that’s certainly not true. It’s obvious that SGU is taking the conflict, humanity and darker visualization and grittiness that made BSG popular and attempting to weave that into SGU in an attempt to stay with current trends and I find that perfectly understandable. There are still shows like Sanctuary and Warehouse 13 that are sticking with the old formula of SG-1, Atlantis, Voyager and the like and while they’re good shows, it makes them look dated and boring compared to the new style. Sci-Fi needed to grow up. Look at cop shows for an example. When NYPD Blue came out it was panned for its sex and grittiness compared to what came before it. It was all skin and personal angst instead of humor and care free attitudes. Eventually though other shows in its genre made the transition and we got many amazing shows in the process. Its taken over a decade for that formula to makes it’s way to Sci-Fi proper in the form of BSG and it proved to be a potent mix that showed in ratings numbers and general popularity. Face it, Sci-Fi fans are always the last to move on because we get into our shows like no other view set possibly can. But, if we have any hope of having our genre continue and grow, we must too except the inevitable changes that come with those growing pains.

  • @Nikst Not quite. They’d only likely see only 2nd one. He sent it back right away which likely puts the 2nd one hours there first which would erase the history of the first (or else they would have seen the 2nd one the 2nd time around). But for the sake of argument, suppose they do get both, it wouldn’t be their memories or moments, they’d just be fictional ones (in relation to themselves). They wouldn’t have the experiences to go along with it nor would they quite of few them be seen since the Kino wasn’t around. I love time travel episodes in SciFi and while in the context of an individual episode, in a vacuum, this was an amazing story. In the context of trying to launch a series, not so much.

  • The character development in the first Kino’s timeline would still be there for future timelines to view, so that can be assumed as safe, but much of the interesting development happened in the second timeline, which has now been wiped clean. It was a good episode, though the plot of the initial expedition failing and their actions allowing the other timeline to succeed was nicked wholesale from a first season Atlantis episode (the one with the aged Weir stored in stasis). Sadly this was all ruined by the big fat reset button at the end. Had they let a few characters die from the disease, and succeded at capturing a creature alive with maybe just one death or so, they could have carried on and kept all that character development. As soon as Chloe died, I could see the big fat reset button coming, as they’d invested too much development in her character to kill her off so quickly (I’m not saying she’s unkillable though, just perhaps her death would be limited to mid-season/season end episodes, where the SG writers put their biggest action sequences).

    As another point which jarred when I watched the episode, when did the gate seeder ship start putting ramps at stargates? Additionally, what do those creatures eat when they can’t get human? The trees produce fruit so there must be some sorts of animals around, but the density of the creature attacks (and their sheer waste of material, one chomp on a fair sized person, not coming back for seconds – though Greer did go down with two attached to him in the first timeline, but still a fair waste) suggests there’s not going to be that much animal life on the planet, and we weren’t shown any anyway.

  • @dmoas: “They’d only likely see only 2nd one. He sent it back right away which likely puts the 2nd one hours there first which would erase the history of the first (or else they would have seen the 2nd one the 2nd time around).”

    Actually, no. Why would it ERASE the first one? They couldn’t have seen the second one the second time around because that wouldn’t have HAPPENED YET. Scott hadn’t sent it yet. So no, they couldn’t have seen it the second time around. Because the first kino was sent back in time and they picked it up later, it would still be there the third time.

    The only way for the first kino to stop existing every time they get to the planet was if they somehow go back in time and take it away before they usually get to the planet. But since that can’t happen, it will always be there, and now it will have a buddy, the second kino. So the same character development through the characters viewing of the first kino that we saw will happen.

  • I do have to admit that this franchise supporter has gone from always looking for something to like in the two previous series to now only seeing what I do not like. I was a videographer for 18 years ( may be longer than some of you are old) and getting the best video was always the first goal of any thing I shot. Now I read here that turning out the lights and trying to act mysterious is the new and improved way to produce video. All the darkness says tro me is LOW BUDGET, LOW QUALITY. BSG was very hard for me to watch the entire series and remember the show never broke 3 million viewers at any time in it run.

    Being cheap and low quality and calling it cool and improved is just a bad joke. If everything Science Fiction on TV goes low budget and just plain cheap the ratings for the shows will never be good enought to remain on the air.

    I will agree the last episode was closer to Stargate than any of the earlier ones. I still went to sleep trying to watch it and barely made it throught the entire program the second time I attempted to watch it. The folks in charge have made it clear it is all going to be the same in the future but if the truth was known the suits at Syfy will be advising them about re editing some of the episodes already shot it they see a massly drop in ratings making a fallout it apparent core supportersare leaving because the new audience still has not tuned in the show.

  • Wow….reading through this there are lots negative reactions! Time certainly did bring back a bit of the Stargate ‘feel’, but unless I took it wrongly, I do believe that the producers made it clear that SGU was going to be quite different to SG1 and SGA…so I wasn’t expecting to see the same Stargate ‘feel’ as I have in SG1 and SGA in SGU. Its clear given the extremities, sex scenes, seriousness and lack of Stargate humour (like Teal’c and O’Niell’s conversation on black holes) that the producers have stuck to what they have said – something a bit different to what we’re used to. I personally think that’s great. As, much as I love the franchise, the changes in this series I think are a good idea, otherwise we might aswell keep on watching SG1 and SGA (I wouldn’t complain!).

    I really liked Time. Aliens burrowing into a body (action) + continued character build + emotion in my books is pretty cool. Also….it’s science fiction. It’s not meant to be real. It’s meant to be enjoyed for what it is….for me it’s a kind of escape from the daily grind….where I don’t have to think and let the producers and the show take me away… corny as that is.

  • Am i they only who think they didnt rally end the episode? it just ended and it seems this weeks episode will be a new story :P

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