We’ve got questions. And nearly eight years after the last episode of Stargate faded to black, there’s real hope that one day we might actually get some answers.
Brad Wright is reportedly working on some sort of new project set in the Stargate universe. What form that might take (and how long it will take to get to our eyeballs) remains to be seen. But, when it does come, there are certain questions — hold-overs from the previous series — that need to be answered before the franchise and its fan base will be ready to move forward into a brave, new era of stories.
… If, that is, the next show is going to continue the canon of 17 seasons and 354 episodes of television.
Sure, there are plenty of questions we would like to have answered, but might not be addressed in future projects. Are Sam and Jack together? What does “N.I.D.” actually stand for? Did Todd the Wraith become a vegan? Those threads in the tapestry of Stargate canon are important, and each is a part of what makes Stargate so much fun.
But the questions below are those I think just have to be answered. Some pertain to where the franchise was moving in 2011, and others are straight-up unresolved cliffhangers. A new series, should it be set within the established TV continuity, can’t let them go unaddressed — even if it is set years later, with a whole new cast of characters.
So if the creators of the next show have any intention of hewing close to the established canon and continuing the Stargate universe as it exists now, these are the five questions I think will need to be on the table. That doesn’t have to come in the form of a big movie event, or a continuation of past series (with their sets rebuilt and their casts rehired) … though yeah, that would be cool, too. A single episode, or further plot development, or even just a line of dialogue offering some in-canon answer might be enough.
And with Wright reportedly at the helm of whatever is coming next, there’s a good chance that the next project will indeed stick to canon.
In no particular order, here are the questions that need answering.
(1) What has become of the Asgard … and the Pegasus Galaxy?
The Asgard were so big, so iconic, and such a powerful force in the Stargate universe that their miraculous return from oblivion just can’t be left twisting in the wind. In the final season of Stargate Atlantis we learned that not all Asgard were wiped out when the homeworld committed mass suicide (SG-1‘s “Unending”). A small colony of separatists have been hiding out in the Pegasus Galaxy for thousands of years.
These Asgard are smart. They are aggressive. And they are advanced, equipped with Ancient suits and fast-moving ships able to penetrate Atlantis’s city shield. Now they are on the march, ready to come out of the shadows.
Had Atlantis continued past is fifth season the writers had every intention of coming back to the “Vanir” (an unofficial nickname, from Norse mythology). Now more than a decade later, we need to know what became of this rising antagonist. For them to go unmentioned for too long would be a pretty big oversight.
(2) So is there a Moon base now?
This reference comes at the end of 2008’s Stargate: Continuum. As SG-1 departs the new Tok’ra homeworld Samantha Carter says to Jack O’Neill, “I was hoping that we could go over the plans for the new Moon base.” He feigns ignorance: “What Moon base?”
This might have felt like a throw-away line, but it’s important because it is future-looking and pertains to Earth’s expansion into the galaxy. Did Homeworld Command and its international allies construct a base on the surface of Earth’s Moon? For what purpose? Who is working up there? (And maybe most importantly … can we use ring transporters to get there?!)
Rumor has it that this base might have eventually been Atlantis itself — relocated from San Francisco Bay. The city was to be quietly tucked away from public view at the start of the unproduced film Stargate: Extinction. With the city returning home to Pegasus in that story, of course, that base would end up being only temporary.
So is this what happened? Sam’s plans are mentioned in 2008, months before Atlantis showed up on Earth’s doorstep looking for a place to crash.
(3) Did Atlantis return to Pegasus?
Stargate Atlantis signed off in 2009 with a big finale, bringing the once lost city of the Ancients full circle. The city ship landed on the surface of the Earth for the first time in millions of years (“Enemy at the Gate”). That homecoming — for the city, and for the expedition team members — was something of a fitting end to the show.
The writers, however, never meant for this to be the end of the story. Atlantis wasn’t meant to end with the Pegasus Galaxy essentially being left behind, its many planets left to fend for themselves as the Wraith continue to ravage system after system. Instead the writers had every intention of continuing into a sixth season. And again, executive producers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie even penned a movie script that the studio left on the table.
That movie (or sixth season) would have seen Atlantis fire up the stardrive and return home to Pegasus, to continue the search for knowledge and the fight against the Wraith.
If and when Stargate returns to continue the story, this is a big piece that needs resolution. Realistically, we may never get an Atlantis movie. (The sets were torn down years ago, and it may be cost-prohibitive to rebuild them without a television series to amortize costs.) But the next project can at least bring back favorite characters for a guest spot, and have them tell us what happened to the city — and the struggle against evil. (We did see both McKay and Woolsey later, in the SGU episode “Seizure.” But they didn’t mention the status of Atlantis.)
If the city remained on Earth (or the Moon) it would have played a key strategic role in Homeworld Command over the past decade. But if it’s back in Pegasus … does the expedition have a new commander? Were the Wraith defeated? And what does that defeat look like? Was Dr. Keller’s gene therapy (“Infection”) perfected and widely distributed, so that the Wraith no longer victimize humans as a food source? Or does defeat of the Wraith … actually mean their genocide?
(4) Where is the Destiny crew today?
If Atlantis ended with at least a partial resolution, the last episode of Stargate Universe offered viewers anything but. In the final moments of the cliffhanger the crew enters into stasis chambers, as Destiny begins a years-long journey across the emptiness between galaxies (“Gauntlet”). The ship is being plagued by aggressive drone weapons, and there is a risk that the ship might not have enough power to reach the next galaxy and refuel.
Eli Wallace, meanwhile, puts his life on the line by remaining awake. He’ll either be able to fix the final stasis pod and join the others, or he will have to sacrifice his life to ensure his friends have enough power to survive.
SGU‘s cancellation leaves this story dangling, with the fate of each and every character hanging in the balance. At the very least, should the existing universe be continued, fans need to know who lived — and who died. Did Destiny reach the next galaxy? Did Earth mount a rescue mission via Stargate? Or are Young, Rush, Chloe, and everyone else still asleep to this day?
In terms of dramatic storytelling, some ambiguity here actually wouldn’t be the worst choice. It could be that Earth is still out of communication with the ship, unable to connect by Stargate or communication stone. Destiny is a lost mission, an unanswered question not only for the audience but also for Jack O’Neill and the families of the missing. What happened to the ancient vessel? could be an ongoing question mark in a new series.
If a new Stargate show were to go that way and pose that question, though, it’s one that would eventually need answering. All good mysteries eventually should be solved. Viewers have already committed to two years getting to know these people, and having them sail off into oblivion … it just isn’t enough.
I’d love to know where SGU was going in its 5-year plan. I’d love to know what the cosmic microwave background radiation was all about. An indication of intelligent design? A super-powerful race more ancient than the Ancients, who built the obelisk planet and brought some humans back to life (“Visitation”)? These are the bigger mysteries that SGU was dealing with, but I’m not sure we need answers in the context of a totally different show.
But we do need to know — eventually — whether our friends are living or dead.
(5) How much further has Earth advanced?
Last but not least, of course, fans of the three previous Stargate shows need to know how far our heroes have come in the years since we last saw them.
The Stargate program inside Cheyenne Mountain helped Earth to advance rapidly in its technology and its knowledge of the galaxy. In less than a decade we had interstellar ships; knowledge of parallel realities (and how to reach them); and a cache of tech left behind by the Ancients. We know about ascension, built intergalactic alliances, and helped put a stop to the Goa’uld System Lords, the Replicators, and the Ori.
So where are we today? Let’s start with the fleet. Earth built no fewer than six Daedalus-class deep space carriers in a few short years. How many have been added in more than a decade since? And are there additional classes of vessels? Are these ships still assigned to defend the homeworld and support teams traveling through the Stargate? Or are some today designated for their own missions of interstellar exploration?
Have Earth scientists managed to exploit (and perhaps replicate) the Asgard core? The database contains the sum of all knowledge left behind by the Asgard, bequeathed to Earth … but hardwired into the Odyssey (“Unending”). This leaves Earth not only with Asgard-designed shields, transporters, and energy weapons, but everything the advanced civilization had and knew at its end. What have we managed to do with this gift in the intervening years?
When the story picks up, Earth could be extremely advanced technologically. But there are other options for the writers, of course. Perhaps the second decade of the twenty-first century saw Homeworld Command dealt numerous set-backs. A loss of funding. The dissolution of the I.O.A. Even a new alien attack that left the planet reeling.
It might be better to start a fourth show in this kind of situation. Earth has been knocked back on its heels; much of its existing fleet has been destroyed. A “soft reset” like this would help to tell new stories by once again stacking the odds against those plucky Tau’ri. And it would help restore to Stargate something that Wright has always cited as a core element of its premise: The heroes going through the gate are “us.” They are relatable men and women from the present day, not some far-flung (and technologically superior) future.
Either way, we need to know. If a new series picks up in the 2020s Homeworld Command shouldn’t look exactly like it did the last time we saw it, in 2011. Or, if it does, there should be a good explanation offered for Earth’s stunted growth.
With these questions addressed, fans should be ready to close the book on Stargate’s previous chapters and look ahead to the future. A brand new team? New characters, new planets, new opportunities to get into trouble?
Bring it on! But first, show us that those former stories mattered. Because if they mattered, they deserve some measure of closure.