In the Friday Five we’re counting down our favorite moments, episodes, character beats, tech, and more from the history of the Stargate universe. How does your list compare?
When the Icarus Base personnel came flying through the Destiny Stargate in the opening minutes of “Air,” few could have predicted the adventure and turmoil that would come to define the lives of those 80+ evacuees. Yet, among all the military and civilian individuals stranded on the Destiny, one stuck out as the most unprepared and out-of-place: Chloe Armstrong.
The daughter of United States Senator Alan Armstrong, Chloe functioned naturally inside the political machine. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in political science, as a young woman she returned to Washington to become her father’s assistant and confidant. And given her own social savvy, Chloe was able to establish herself as a D.C. socialite and power player among Washington’s youthful elite.
When Chloe accompanied her father on an off-world trip to the top-secret Icarus Base, her life would be forever altered. In a quick, one-two punch, Chloe found herself stranded on the other side of the universe — and then watched her father sacrifice his life to buy the crew an extra 24 hours of air.
Just like that, her manicured life and sense of security was gone.
But while most would buckle under the weight of such circumstances, Chloe recovered and came back stronger. And when the final episode of Stargate Universe rolled around, she was just as integral to Destiny‘s mission as any scientist or military officer on board.
Most importantly, Chloe was able to retain her humanity, empathy, and willingness to confront her own flaws in the midst of a harrowing ordeal. So without further ado, here are five of Chloe’s most seminal SGU stories, and a recap of how these episodes serviced her character’s greater thematic arc.
#5 – “Earth”
While “Earth” certainly isn’t Chloe’s finest hour, it does effectively lay the groundwork for her character’s journey — and her eventual reform.
In this early Season One episode, Homeward Command scientists have hatched a daring plan that will allow Destiny to dial Earth … but they need to visit the ship in person to run some tests. So the scientists switch bodies with Chloe and Eli Wallace using Ancient communication stones, leaving the two back home on Earth with little to do.
Chloe suggests they take a night out to see Janelle Monae with some of her D.C. friends. But while the platonic duo is cleared to let loose and get wasted in other people’s bodies, they are not cleared to reveal their own true identities. So Chloe poses as her cousin “Liz” from out of town.
Needless to say, the night on the town don’t go so well.
Thanks to Chloe and Eli’s anonymity, Chloe’s friends slip up and display their true colors. They’re only close with Chloe because of who she’s related to — and the professional perks that come with nepotism. Not to mention Chloe catching her boyfriend in the arms of another girl, despite Chloe’s brief absence.
What was supposed to be a reprieve from the heartbreak on Destiny ends up being an extension of it. And after traveling to the furthest reaches of the cosmos, Chloe’s former lifestyle on Earth looks painfully shallow. Friends and relationships that defined her now embarrass her. Apart from her mother, Chloe probably feels like she doesn’t have much to return home to.
#4 – “Justice”
MURDER aboard the Destiny. Everett Young is framed for killing Sergeant Spencer, and the Colonel certainly hasn’t much endeared himself to the rest of the crew since arriving on the ship. He enlists Chloe as his defense attorney, while Camille Wray assembles a jury to investigate.
Initially, Chloe balks at Young’s request. She has no meaningful prosecution or defense experience, and in such a heavy case certainly someone with legitimate legal credentials would be a better fit.
Nevertheless, Chloe acknowledges the situation is best handled in-house, and steps up to defend her client. While several seek to dethrone Young for their own gain, Chloe puts aside her own bias and fights for the rule of law — not what is personally convenient.
Perhaps Chloe’s greatest moment in “Justice” comes when Wray angrily drags Chloe into the hallway — like a disobedient child — to demand she ease up on her surprisingly effective defense of Colonel Young. But Chloe is not to be intimidated by political avarice. She fires back with a scathing rebuttal of Wray’s power grab.
“So forget about the possibility that the Colonel is being framed and just get this over with. If we’re throwing due process out the window, who do you think did it? Let’s just go with that.”
She isn’t the Chloe we met in “Air” anymore.
#3 – “Pathogen”
Ever since Chloe magically recovered from a severe gunshot wound in the second season premiere, “Intervention,” evidence mounted pointing to the fact that she may be under the influence of some hostile foreign entity.
Granted, it had been several months since she was experimented on by the Nakai in Season One’s “Space.” But the alien adversary’s ability to play the long game with Destiny should not to be underestimated. Whatever material the implanted in her body acted in a slow and surreptitious fashion.
Unfortunately, the biological agent has started to metastasize, and the aptly titled “Pathogen” deals with this phenomenon.
After a series of blackouts (and increasingly strange and withdrawn behavior) Chloe goes missing. She is found trying to open a case in one of Destiny‘s storage bays. Under ordinary circumstances this might have been chalked up to high-functioning sleep walking. But given her deteriorating psychological state, her friends suspect something far more nefarious.
Later, Matthew Scott flips through Chloe’s personal journal and finds several pages full of alien writing (… presumably after some very stimulating pages about himself). While Chloe’s physical appearance has yet to change, the danger is abundantly clear: her body is being ripped from her control, and soon the alien DNA could control her cognitive function as well.
Finally, to probe the scope of her conversion, Dr. Rush brings Chloe to a hallway overflowing with the equations of a complex mathematical theorem. Without hesitation she picks up a piece of chalk and cracks an equation Rush himself had been unable to solve … though she does not understanding what she just wrote.
“Pathogen” notably starts Chloe’s biggest evolution (literal and figurative) in the series, and in so doing it sets up some very tough decisions that the crew’s leaders will have to make in the future. Will they be able to fix her … or will she become a threat they have to subdue? And how long can they wait before she becomes a danger to the ship?
While Chloe remains steadfast throughout the episode, as she approaches her darkest hours we can see the fear creeping in — a different sort of pathogen.
And right before the credits roll, we’re left with a rich and ominous visual representation of that very fear in Chloe’s catatonic glaze. Whether she is possessed by alien DNA or just plain scared, we’ll never know. But the emotional resonance is not lost on the viewer.
#2 – “Deliverance”
After a blowout battle between Destiny and the drones in “Resurgence,” Destiny is left on the brink of destruction. But when Chloe senses danger, her Nakai programming appears to kick in. She breaks loose from her holding cell on board the ship and attempts to access one of Destiny‘s consoles.
Lt. Scott finds Chloe in the ship’s “apple core,” but he’s too late. A signal has been transmitted to the Nakai, and they’re on their way to the battlefield.
Chloe’s Hail Mary both simplifies and complicates Destiny‘s immediate crisis. In one sense, she saves Destiny from certain destruction — but that’s only in servitude of the Nakai’s interest. The Nakai want Destiny for themselves, and they’ve been relentless in their pursuit of the ancient vessel.
When Nakai arrive they deliver an ultimatum to Destiny: they want Chloe. It’s time to reclaim their experiment. Deliberations are short, and Matt volunteers to fly Chloe over to the enemy ship — with no guarantee that she’ll survive, or be returned when they are done with her. At this point they have to trust the aliens, or they risk permanently losing Chloe to the pathogen.
Thankfully the aliens reverse the virus, and Chloe is returned to the shuttle and permitted to fly back to Destiny.
Later, we find out that some of her cognitive changes seem to be permanent. She’s no longer converting into something else (a la District 9), but once again her life has been forever changed. And the scope of these long-term consequences will only be revealed as the show progresses.
#1 – “Alliances”
While Chloe has become Destiny‘s resident mathematical genius thanks to her cognitive upgrade, “Alliances” represents a different side of her character development — and part of the reason why Chloe’s character is so worth appreciating.
She only appears in a few brief scenes of this often overlooked episode — but quality trumps quantity. Chloe’s greatest moments didn’t come from her alien evolution. Rather they are those quiet, human moments where she embraced her autonomy, bravery, and true potential.
When United States Senator Michaels (and long-time friend of the Armstrong family) visits Destiny to examine the cosmic microwave background radiation, Chloe is excited to see a face from her old life in politics. This is someone who understands her origins and her ambition, and is a positive presence.
Yet, as the episode progresses, a powerful character arc begins to develop through their intermittent interactions. The Senator confesses: “I’m so sorry, Chloe. We should have gotten you home long ago. … Your father had such plans; now you’re stuck here. … It just seems like such a waste.”
At first it’s like a shot to the heart — for us, and for Chloe. Michaels sees Chloe as the “damsel in distress,” the girl who is “too good” to be stuck on such a horrible and ugly ship. Her potential is rotting and might never be reclaimed (and however well-intentioned that statement may be, it feels condescending).
But by the end of the episode, Chloe is ready to set the record straight. “You’re wrong about Destiny,” she says directly to the Senator.
“You know, the other Rush said that in his timeline I was one of the people who volunteered to stay. … My father died so that we could all go on, and I have to believe that it was for a reason. I feel like I’m part of something here — something important.”
Tragically, Senator Michaels is killed when she volunteers to dismantle the Lucian Alliance dirty bomb at Homeworld Command (echoing Senator Armstrong’s tragic death).
For Chloe, “Alliances” is about her newfound commitment to Destiny. Now this ship is her legacy. It is her father’s legacy. This is all of the Icarus evacuees’ legacy. Most of her time on Destiny has been spent trying to escape from this … but now she is one of its most ardent supporters. This wasn’t the career she wanted, but fate has intervened.
A few episodes after “Alliances,” Stargate Universe came to a close. But despite the show’s premature end, Chloe Armstrong stood out as one of the most fascinating, multi-dimensional, and inspired characters of SGU‘s run, someone I hope (by some miracle) to see more of down the line.
What do you think of Chloe Armstrong’s character journey on Stargate Universe? What were your favorite Chloe episodes, and do you agree with our five picks? Post your thoughts below, or tag us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram,.
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