ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 11.20.09
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 11.08.10
WRITTEN BY: Carl Binder
DIRECTED BY: Alex Chapple
Ming-Na (Camille Wray), Carlo Rota (Carl Strom), Ona Grauer (Emily Young), Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Mark Burgess (Franklin), Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park), Reiko Aylesworth (Sharon), Lou Diamond Phillips (Telford), Sarah Smyth (Annie Balic), Patrick Gilmore (Volker), Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James), Josh Blacker (Marine Sgt. Spencer), Sandy Sidhu (Dr. Mehta), Michael Karl Richards (Major Peterson), Dominic Zamprogna (Boone), Kyle Horton (Airman), Marissa Smith (Female Airman), Zak Santiago (Rivers), Gordon Grice (Matt Balic)
The people stranded on Destiny do what humans do — cope with their situation as best they can. Dr. Franklin checks for sprouts from the seeds planted in the hydroponics lab. Lisa Park and a soldier named Rivers have sex. Chloe Armstrong performs a yoga routine. Camille Wray sketches a beach scene. Sgt. Spencer takes the last pill from a prescription bottle. Matthew Scott leads an exercise routine. Everett Young watches Dr. Nicholas Rush via kino. On Earth, Colonel Telford, wholly himself, calls on Emily Young for dinner. Others pour themselves into work.
Worried about Spencer, Lt. Tamara Johansen approaches Colonel Young. He orders psych evaluations on everyone. Eli Wallace is running simulations of Telford’s plan to dial the Stargate to Earth (“Earth”), but all of them end in catastrophy. Rush is observing as a team led by MSgt. Ronald Greer investigates new sections of the ship.
They enter a lab and find an early version of an Ancient interface device used several times by Jack O’Neill (“The Fifth Race,” “Lost City, Part 1”) — a menacing-looking chair that, in theory, will download information directly into the user’s brain. Hoping to find the master code controlling Destiny‘s major systems, Rush tries to persuade Young to order someone sit in the chair. As later versions of the repository of knowledge nearly killed O’Neill, Young refuses.
Young is summoned to the communications room, where Lt. Scott and Camille Wray have engaged the stones for personal visits. Now occupying Scott’s body is Colonel Telford. He demands to know why Young hasn’t turned over the data on the failed plan to power the Stargate — and he wants to know how Rush defused the emergency so quickly. Young refuses to relinquish the data until Eli has finished his own analysis.
On Earth, Camille in her temporary body is driven to the house she shares with her partner of 12 years, Sharon. The pair share an intimate few hours at home. But all too soon, they exchange tearful goodbyes, with Sharon encouraging Camille to do whatever it takes to motivate the people on board the Destiny and get herself home.
Wray also visits her parents, who are not cleared to know the reality she is trapped in. In addition, Wray is accosted by I.O.A.’s Carl Strom, who suggests she stake her own claim to command Destiny, rather than throwing her lot in with Young or Rush.
Meanwhile, Matthew Scott (in Telford’s body) is handed mail by his escort, Dr. Mehta. One of the letters is from the a woman from his past — the girl he got pregnant when she was 16. After eight years, Annie Balic wants to see him. When Scott and Mehta arrive at the Balic home, they discover a young boy home alone. They wait until Annie returns, three hours later. Scott quickly realizes that young Matthew is his son, that Annie did not have an abortion (“Air, Part 3”). Saddened to learn she is an exotic dancer instead of the lawyer she hoped to be, Scott arranges for his paycheck to be diverted to Annie. Despite this, Annie refuses to give up dancing.
While Scott and Wray are on Earth, Drs. Adam Brody, Lisa Park and Dale Volker work with Rush in the newly discovered chair lab. They believe Young will eventually give them permission to try out the chair. Suddenly, Rush laughs with glee. He has found a subspace link between Destiny and the Ancient ships sent ahead to seed Stargates. Searching the database from the link, he has learned of a planet with ample naquadria to dial Earth. It is approximately one year away.
But to have any hope of taking advantage of the opportunity to power the Stargate, they will need to access Destiny‘s key systems. Rush tries again to get Young to authorize use of the chair. The Colonel challenges Rush to sit in the chair himself — knowing that it likely means death for whoever does. Rush shies away from the challenge.
The news of the planet brings hope to everyone, except Spencer. He doesn’t think he can last a year. Later, when Franklin inadvertently bumps into Spencer, the man explodes. Only Young’s intervention saves Franklin from the raging Marine.
Asleep in his quarters, Scott awakens from a dream about Emily Young. Suspecting that he’s seen residual images from Telford’s mind (due to the use of the stones), he tells Young that Telford may be visiting his wife. Using the stones to swap bodies, Young goes to Emily’s home and finds Telford inside. Confronting them, he accuses Telford of posing as him to seduce Emily. Emily protests, even as she accuses Young of continuing his past affair with Lt. Johansen. As Everett rushes his enemy, Telford quickly calls Homeworld Command and orders the Colonel’s link terminated.
Seething, Young is accosted by Scott and Eli back on the ship. Eli has evidence that Rush concocted the entire story about the planet that might help them to dial Earth. Wray overhears. An angry Young confronts Rush. Rush laments the loss of hope and productivity even as he pushes for authorization to use the chair — on someone else.
T.J. finds Young in the mess hall. She has conducted 14 crew evaluations, and has more scheduled. But most are avoiding her. Young himself declines to talk about his personal life with her, and instead returns to Earth via the stones. He finds Colonel Telford, jumping him from behind and beating him to the ground.
As Destiny and life continue on, people cope. Chloe teaches Eli her yoga routine. Wray returns to her drawing to add the boat she realizes she left out — a duplication of a painting that hangs in her home. Spencer stares vacantly at the ceiling in his quarters. Park finds comfort now in Greer’s bed. Despite his anger, Brody assists Rush in the control room. Young spies on Rush with the Kino. And Scott, alone in the shuttle, cries.
But in the hydroponics lab, real hope is born. One of the seeds has sprouted.
- This episode includes the songs “Worst Day Since Yesterday” by Flogging Molly (at the intro to and conclusion of the episode), and “Comfort” by Deb Talan (during the Camille and Sharon montage).
- “Life” was originally slated to be the eighth episode of the season, then was bumped up to the #7 slot before finally settling into the #9 position.
- “Carl also submitted an outline for episode #8, received notes, and is poised to do a rewrite — just as soon as he finishes work on a certain movie script.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “Carl, meanwhile, is deep into ‘Life’ — writing, thinking, rolling his eyes, pacing in frustration, and, occasionally crying. Given my experience, this indicates the script is coming along swimmingly.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “New director Alex Chapple is deep into prep on ‘Life.’ Brian [J. Smith] (a.k.a. our Lieutenant Scott) worked with him on Law & Order and had nothing but great things to say about him in the lead up to his arrival. Alex, meanwhile, had some equally great things to say about Brian. Looking forward to their collaboration on this episode which will offer some significant insight into our various players including a little surprise or two. Or three.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- Series creators Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper revealed on stage at the Vancouver Creation convention that SGU will include at least two gay characters. Early casting documents for “Life” revealed that one of them is Ming Na’s character, Camille Wray.
In the documents, Sharon was described as Camille’s “long term partner. Sensitive, soulful. Strong emotional scenes.” She was listed as possibly recurring.
- “After lunch, we sat down to watch the director’s cut of ‘Life.’ I can’t say enough good things about this episode, from Carl Binder’s script to the individual performances to Alex Chapple’s direction. Some incredibly poignant moments delivered by Brian J. Smith, Ming Na, and a couple of wonderful guest stars. I LOVED this episode.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “Today, we watched the Day 1 Mix of ‘Life’ (Episode #8). Director Alex Chapple, another Stargate newbie, delivers big time with an episode that explores the hidden lives of our characters. Some incredibly warm and touching performances in this one.
“Of all the romances, potential and otherwise, the Camille-Sharon relationship is the one that resonates the strongest with me. Every time I watch this episode, I always get a little, uh, dust in my eye watching their scenes. Kudos to Carl Binder who wrote the brilliant script and kudos to Joel Goldsmith who continues his winning composedly ways with a truly beautiful score.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “‘Life’ really meant a lot to me — I love what Matt went through in that episode and the stuff I got to do as an actor. It’s a real heartbreaker.” (“Matthew Scott” actor Brian J. Smith, in a fan Q&A at Joseph Mallozzi’s blog)
- “I bring Patrick [Gilmore, ‘Dale Volker’] up because we were watching the Day 2 Mix of ‘Life’ today and there’s a performance he gives that, despite repeated viewings, has never failed to delight. Check it out. When it airs.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “A surprising find for the Destiny crew leads to renewed hope, while an equally shocking discovery staggers one of our regulars. To those of you wondering when we’re finally going to get to know more about Ming Na’s character, Camile, I suggest you make a point of tuning in. An incredibly touching episode that never fails to impact notoriously-heartless-me every time I watch it. No, no. I’ve just got something in my eye. Ahem.” (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “I think for those who don’t follow Twitter or any of the Stargate blogs and Web sites, for the few who will be surprised to find out that Camille is gay, that will be a big opener. But what I think you see in the relationship between Camille and Sharon is just a lovely, stable, warm, long term relationship and you get to see a side of Camille, you know, her more vulnerable side, that she doesn’t really show in the work place.
“I’ve been really fortunate as an actress to have so many opportunities to play everything from comedy to major dramas and all different types of roles, but I’ve never played a gay character before. And to me that’s a huge challenge, because for one, I know being a minority, being an Asian-American, and a woman, a lot of times there are a lot of sensitive issues and you’re dealing with a minority group that is extremely vocal and want to have a good portrayal of a gay character. So shouldering those responsibilities along with the writers, I felt that it would be a challenge on a social level.
“But on a personal level as an actor, it’s like any other job. I’m just trying to understand who she is, what her strengths are, where she’s coming from, what her greatest fears are and what her motivation is from day to day. So as far as those challenges are concerned, it’s pretty much the same. Except I’ve never kissed a woman before, on or off camera, so that was the only other new challenge.
“You know Reiko, I’m so happy they cast her. We just instantaneously had great chemistry. Both of us had never played gay characters before, so it was really exciting for us to explore all that, and talk about who these two people are. I mean, they’ve been together for twelve years. So I’ve been in a long term relationship, so I’ve been able to offer up a lot of insight into what that would entail. And for us it was just great to have such a comfort with each other, because that was really, really important for the characters.” (Actress Ming Na, in an interview with The Huffington Post)
- “I really think that their relationship will be the most stable and most loving of any relationship on the series. Which to me is a wonderful take on showcasing a lesbian relationship that is extremely healthy and supportive. And yet they are put through the wringer as far as the challenges the separation brings.
“And you’ll see in ‘Life’ that there is such a bond between them, and to be ripped away from each other … it will be very heart-warming to see that kind of love between two women showcased on television.” (Actress Ming Na, in an interview with AfterEllen.com)
- “I don’t think Telford became intimate with Emily (other than that ill-fated ten seconds when he zapped back into his own body to find himself in the saddle!) I truly believe he had an ulterior motive (especially considering his brain-washing) and was simply trying to ingratiate himself to get information and to achieve an upper hand over Young. Having said that, whatever shred of decency was left at Telford’s core, I believe it kept him from crossing a line but also made him sympathetic to Emily’s plight. I do believe they became friends and he became a confidante. Still, we don’t know much about Telford’s personal romantic history so I don’t know how that factors in … yet.” (Actor Lou Diamond Phillips, in a fan Q&A at Joseph Mallozzi’s blog
- “We realised we needed an episode that talked about what life is like on this ship. We sort of dealt a little bit with what they’ve left behind, but now that we’ve established a kind of normal, what is normal going to be like for people on this show and how are they going to deal with that? We also wanted to ramp up the situation between Rush and Young so you understood where things would be coming from between them.
“Everyone around here really likes that episode. It was certainly not a fan favorite, but in some respects, I don’t think ‘Justice’ or several other episodes that are coming up in the second half of the season would have the same impact if ‘Life’ hadn’t existed. You need to see that episode to know some of the things that were happening in order for these other things to pay off.” (Executive producer Robert C. Cooper, in an interview with ScFiNow magazine [Issue #40, 2010])