Cloverdale

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | Transcript | Fan Reviews

Lieutenant Scott is infected by a plant-like organism while surveying a planet, and suffers severe hallucinations of another life back home on Earth.

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EPISODE #205
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 10.26.10
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.10.11
WRITTEN BY: Brad Wright
DIRECTED BY: Alex Chapple
GUEST STARS:

Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park), Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James), Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker), Lou Diamond Phillips (David Telford), Cole Humphrey (Movie Scott), Mittita Barber (Movie Chloe), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Darren Becker)

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A bus arrives in the small town of Cloverdale. Lt. Matthew Scott and MSgt. Ronald Greer get off, happy to be home from Kandahar. Scott is soon to be married to his high school sweetheart, and has brought his friend home to stand as his best man. Matt spots his father across the street. Starting toward him, Matt is struck by a car.

Lt. Scott screams, momentarily regaining consciousness from the dream on an alien planet. A blue, fungus-like growth covers the top of his left forearm. He begs Lt. Tamara Johansen to cut it off. When he loses consciousness again, the team (also including Greer, Eli Wallace, Dr. Nicholas Rush, Dr. Dale Volker, Chloe Armstrong, and others from Destiny) carries Scott toward the Stargate. Dr. Rush and T.J. know, however, that they can’t risk taking Scott back to the ship with such a fast-growing contagion.

Rush hurries ahead of them to request supplies from Destiny. Having dialed the Stargate, Rush briefs Colonel Everett Young by radio. Nothing has affected the alien infection. Asking for one of every medicinal, Rush also wants alien venom (“Time”) … and a bone-cutting saw.

In his mind, the unconscious Scott returns to see Young, his father in Cloverdale, attempting to revive him. Shaking off the accident and apologizing to the driver, Adam Brody, Scott introduces Greer to them. Greer is the best man for Scott’s wedding to Chloe. Eli, Chloe’s brother in the dream, videotapes everything.

The men return to Young’s to await Chloe. Matt learns that instead of a bachelor party, he and Chloe will be going to the movies. His dismay is short-circuited by Chloe’s arrival. Yet, after a few kisses, he falls over unconscious. He doesn’t understand why he isn’t feeling well. Soon, he and Chloe arrive at the movie — an MGM film called “Far Afield.” Popcorn in hand, he recalls their first time at the theater before the film draws his attention.

On-screen, a man and a woman stand before an ocean of flowers. Scott shifts uneasily in his seat as the woman reaches out toward the flowers, causing a shimmer of color to pass over the field. Out-loud, Scott warns them to get out of there. As the couple gaze at one another, a tall, snarling flower stalk emerges. The man attempts to hold it off. It stings him. In pain, he grabs his knife and slices the stalk in half. Its blue sap splatters on the woman’s clothing.

Unnerved and feeling like the scene is familiar, Scott runs into the lobby. Screams from the couple as they are attacked filter through the doors as Chloe and Scott leave. They run into local citizen Dale Volker, who helps Chloe stall him. When he calls Brody’s bar and gets the all-clear, Chloe delivers Scott to his surprise bachelor party there. Eli records the event for posterity, capturing (among other things) an unfortunate pass that a drunk Matt makes at his ex-girlfriend, Vanessa. The men drink until Young and Greer half-carry Matt toward the car. Sheriff David Telford provides them a safe ride home. Scott talks to them as though nothing seems real.

It’s not. On the planet, Rush brings supplies loaded onto Eli’s kino sled (“Water”). T.J. tries everything, including acid and the alien venom. Nothing works on the infection that continues to spread, covering more and more of his arm and hand. As she prepares to amputate Scott’s arm, Greer and the others warn that the creatures — perhaps just as much predatory animals as plants — are following them. With Scott on the sled, they race to the Stargate.

There, T.J. begins the amputation by slicing into Scott’s upper arm. But his blood is blue, indicating the poison has spread throughout his body. With three hours left before Destiny jumps away, Greer intends to hold the Stargate to give Scott every chance of recovery rather than being left behind to die. He retrieves empty supply crates from the ship to build a defensive barrier. As soldiers dig a trench, he and others ready makeshift flamethrowers. Young also sends a kino to do a fly-over and monitor the stalks’ advancement.

On the ship, Dr. Lisa Park warns the Colonel that bringing Lt. Scott back to Destiny is a tremendous risk, considering the infectious and virulent nature of the organism. Even bringing him on board and putting him into quarantine may not be safe enough.

In Cloverdale, Matt wakes up on his wedding day hung-over. Chloe asks if he is marrying her simply because it is what he’s expected to do. Groggy, he vows that that is not the case before heading to see the town’s Justice of the Peace, Nicholas Rush. Scott tries to tell Rush that something isn’t right — that he is scared, that he’s losing it. Fear is what tells us we are alive, Rush advises.

The bemused Scott meets Greer and Eli at the tailor shop to have their tuxedos fitted. Apparently concerned for his sister, Eli suggests that Matt has never been known to be a one-woman guy. Matt defends his intentions, only to pass out again.

T.J., a paramedic in the dream world, helps to revive him. Matt resists attempts to take him to the hospital, agreeing instead to try to eat something. As wedding guests arrive, he sits in front of a bowl of soup looking worse than ever, and questioning whether he is doing the right thing marrying Chloe. He doesn’t want to hurt her. Greer suggests postponing. When Young comes in, Matt asks him what he should do. Young tells him to “Wake up!”

In the real world, Young orders everyone but Greer’s defensive team to return to Destiny. T.J. has them spot-check one another first for any signs of the alien contaminate. When the Stargate kawooshes, they notice that the creatures momentarily recoil from it. Eli asks for a moment to say goodbye to Scott.

Chloe refuses to leave Matt. T.J. spots blue contaminate on Chloe’s shirt, but there is no sign of infection on the skin beneath. They cut off and burn the affected cloth. Determined to stay, Chloe sneaks off. Believing she is resistant to the infection because of what the aliens who captured her did to genetically alter her (“Pathogen”), Chloe allows herself to be stung. When her blood remains red and it becomes clear she is successfully fighting off the infection, T.J. starts a transfusion directly to Matt.

With the stalks growing bolder, Greer sends everyone but Chloe back to Destiny. When his flamethrower’s fuel runs low, he gathers Chloe and Matt to lie down on the gate ramp. Using the remote he keeps dialing the Stargate over and over, letting the energy vortex defend them.

In Scott’s dream, the wedding proceeds. When Justice of the Peace Rush unites them “for as long as both shall live,” Scott turns to Chloe and smiles. Chloe’s face, as she smiles back, is half-alien.

Screaming, Scott wakes up on the ramp. He hits his forearm, shattering the blue growth. Chloe’s altered antibodies have healed him. Greer herds Chloe and Scott through the event horizon onto Destiny, just beating the countdown clock.

Although they are safe again, Young tells Scott and Chloe that he intends to quarantine them — indefinitely. Not only has he learned that Rush’s attempt to purge the alien alternations from Chloe did not work (“Pathogen”), but now Lt. Scott has been exposed to the same thing. He leaves it to her to explain what price Matt will pay for his life.

– S. Fetter

ANALYSIS

  • One of the first things that T.J. tries on Matt’s infected arm was alien venom. This is from the creatures that attacked and killed the crew in an alternate timeline in Season One’s “Time.” The venom was harvested from those creatures and used to heal the crew of an illness they picked up from their water supply.

    The venom has proved very useful since then, having also been used as an anesthetic for Rush’s surgery (“Divided”) and to immobilize ticks that had burrowed into the skin of some crew members (“Pain”).

  • The Stargate remote detected one another Stargate in range of the planet, but it was locked out. It seems odd that, without the option of taking Matt back to Destiny, the team would not have tried to override the lockout and go there anyway. As dangerous as it might have been, it seems likely they wouldn’t be any worse-off than fighting for their lives with blowtorches at the threshold of the Stargate.
  • Whatever the blue aliens did to alter Chloe, it has left her with antibodies that are particularly resistant to this creature’s infection. It was able to completely heal Matt in perhaps a matter of minutes, or at most an hour or two.
  • Chloe may be resistant to infection only from a few particular lifeforms, like this one — or, perhaps more likely, she has acquired a general ability to resist infections of all kinds. (In that case, T.J. could make use of her blood for all sorts of things, like she did with the venom of the creatures from “Time.”) This could be deliberate on the part of the blue aliens, or it could be an unintended consequence of whatever it is they have done to her.

    If Chloe is actually being transformed into something genetically related to the aliens themselves, it is possible that their own genetic make-up is extraordinarily resilient to foreign organisms.

  • Nicholas Rush is well aware that Chloe was not really purged of the blue aliens’ genetic transformation (“Pathogen”). When confronted about this, he deftly passes off this incident as a “relapse” — in other words, clearly not his fault.
  • The creatures native to this planet may be plant, animal, or have properties of both (like coral on Earth, Dr. Park speculates). They are extremely aggressive and can pinpoint a target, as if they have the ability to see (or perhaps some form of echolocation, like bats) and brains to process visual stimuli. When Greer hits one with a burst of flame, something like a scream is also heard.
  • The creatures appear initially as an enormous grove of beautiful flowers, probably to draw in unsuspecting prey. When one draws near, the creature rears up and attacks quickly. While we didn’t see Matt and Chloe’s initial encounter with the organism, Matt did see a version of this in the movie “Far Afield” in his dream.
  • The creatures are repelled by the Stargate’s kawoosh — the unstable vortex it generates as a wormhole is established — though the reason is unclear. Is it the light? The sound? Does the vortex put off some sort of radiation to which they are sensitive? There has never been much of any indication before in the history of Earth’s use of the Stargate that the kawoosh (or a stabilized event horizon) puts off any radiation.

    Like most living creatures, they are also sensitive to fire.

  • T.J. wanted to stay behind with Matt, but Colonel Young ordered her return — threatening to come and get her if she didn’t follow orders. He knows full-well that he means what he says. When she tried to stay behind on the obelisk planet, he came down and got her (“Faith”). And when Sgt. Riley was near death, Young showed up and made sure she wasn’t able to stay behind with him, though she fully intended to if it came to it (“Aftermath”).
  • Matt’s dream world served as a way for his mind to deal with the severe trauma he was undergoing. He retreated to the safety of his hometown on Earth, with members of Destiny‘s crew populating not only the town but also his family. Most notably, Eli was Chloe’s brother (who felt he had to defend her from someone who is known to not be a “one-girl guy”), and Colonel Young was Matt’s own father (who he had to defend to Rush). (Matt actually grew up an orphan [“Air, Part 3”].) He also had a run-in with his real-life ex-girlfriend, Lt. Vanessa James, who he perceives as wanting him to run away with her.

    He was happy in his dream world of Cloverdale, about to marry the girl he loves, but all the while had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. This was partially the sense that it wasn’t real — but it may also reflect his uncertainty about the future of his real relationship with Chloe (which he tried to express to her in “Pathogen”).

  • Chloe initially allowed herself to be infected in order to force Colonel Young and the others allow her to stay on the planet with Matt, rather than force her to evacuate. Based on what she says later, though (recognizing that the bit on her shirt certainly came in contact with her skin), she probably also suspected that she had some sort of immunity.
  • Chloe’s choice to stay behind on the planet with Matt may have serious repercussions for her friendship with Eli. Eli seems to have perceived her decision not simply as choosing her boyfriend over him, but choosing dying with her boyfriend over living with him and everyone else on the ship. At that stage, neither of them knew anything about the healing power of her blood.
  • When he began to receive the blood transfusion from Chloe, Matt saw her as half-transformed into an alien creature while the two stood together at the altar. This could reflect the fact that he is generally fearful of what she may be turning into; or, it could indicate that his body subconsciously realized that he was being filled with the alien-tainted blood, and was at risk himself.
  • Now that he has been exposed to her blood, Matt is at risk of the same transformation that is happening to Chloe. But it remains unclear just what the blue aliens did to her (e.g. — if she has been “programmed” to help them gain access to Destiny), and if this would spill over to Matt, as well. It’s possible that he could inherit the physiological effects without the aliens’ genetically-programmed intentions.
  • Having learned that Rush’s plan to purge the alien elements from Chloe’s body using the neural interface chair did not work, Colonel Young has put both Chloe and Matt into indefinite quarantine.

NOTES

  • The closing moments of “Cloverdale” feature the composition “Arioso” by Johann Sebastian Bach.
  • In the dream Matt and Chloe go to see a fictional movie titled “Far Afield,” a love story mixed with some alien horror. The movie was produced (in the fictional dream world) by MGM, the same studio that produces Stargate Universe.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Matthew ScottMatthew Scott has been exposed to whatever it is that is transforming Chloe, due to a blood transfusion done to save his life. As a result he has been quarantined with her, indefinitely, and may end up going through the same thing she is.

    After being stung by an alien creature Matt fell into a dream, where he imagined another life back home on Earth. He imagined Everett Young as his own father (Matt was orphaned when his real parents died when he was very young), loving and supportive, plus Chloe as his high school sweetheart, and Eli as her brother (and thus safely out of the competition for her heart). Ronald Greer was still his close friend, the two having recently returned from serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

    During the course of the hours leading up to his wedding, Matt expressed not just a fear that the world of Cloverdale wasn’t real — but that he might be making a mistake marrying Chloe. He doesn’t want to hurt her, and realizes that many people consider him not to be a “one-woman man.”

    “Cloverdale” may be the name of Matt’s real home town, though it seems odd that his subconscious would have populated the town only with Destiny crew members and not with anyone he knows from home.

  • Chloe ArmstrongChloe Armstrong risked her life not just to stay on the planet with Matt, but to prove her theory that her body has the ability to fight off the alien infection. She deliberately allowed herself to be infected, and when her body quickly fought it off she gave Matt a transfusion of her blood — healing him of his infection and saving his life.

    To do this, though, Chloe had to reveal to T.J., Colonel Young, and everyone else what only she and Dr. Rush knew previously: that she is still undergoing whatever genetic transformation the blue aliens set in motion when they captured her many months ago (“Space”). She and Matt have now been put into isolation until Young is convinced they aren’t a threat.

  • Eli WallaceEli Wallace was deeply hurt by Chloe’s decision to deliberately infect herself, so that she could stay on the planet with Matt longer. Before it became clear that she believed herself invulnerable to infection, it seemed to Eli that she was choosing death with her boyfriend than life with him and everyone else on board Destiny. He had nothing to say to her as he left the planet but a disappointed and heart-broken “Bye.”

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Has Chloe’s genetic transformation been passed on to Matt through her blood?
  • How long will Matt and Chloe be in quarantine?
  • Will Matt understand that Chloe did what she did to save his life? Or will her decision to risk infecting him with whatever the aliens did to her cause a rift between them?
  • Does Matt remember anything from his dream? Will it cause him to think twice about Chloe, their relationship, and what is happening to her?
  • Does Chloe’s altered blood have general healing properties (or is effective for many different things, like the alien venom from “Time”), or are her altered antibodies just particularly hostile toward this creature’s sting? Might T.J. be able to use Chloe’s blood for other medical purposes?
  • Why was there a Stargate on this planet? Does the gate predate the presence of the hostile organisms?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • This episode was shot on location in the real Cloverdale, British Columbia. The town is a major shooting location for Vancouver film industry, serving as the downtown main street for the CW series Smallville. (The movie theater where Matt and Chloe went doubles for the exterior of the Talon.)
  • “After breaking the first four episodes of season one Monday through Thursday, we spent a far more leisurely Friday discussing the general premise for the fifth, a.k.a.’s Brad’s episode. Unlike everyone else in the room, Brad prefers a less structured, more free-flowing approach to scriptwriting so, in his case, no breaking required, just a gentle couple of hours in the spin cycle. Still, I’d call that five for five.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “I think, for some reason, that ‘Cloverdale’ is going to stand out. I think it’s episodes 5. It’s kind of an alternate universe kind of thing and it’s really trippy and fun and it’s great special effects, and all around I think it’s something that people are going to be talking about.

    “That’s how I gauge [the success of] an episode, is whether people are going to be talking about it around the water cooler the next day. Then it’s probably a good episode. … But then it’s probably not only a good episode, but then probably also taking place in the 1980’s, ‘cuz who sits around the water cooler anymore?” (Actor David Blue, in an interview with SPACE)

  • Joseph Mallozzi posted the original concept art of Lt. Scott’s alien infection.