Trial and Error

Summary | Production | Transcript | Fan Reviews

Colonel Young sees a recurring vision of Destiny being attacked and destroyed by hostile aliens, causing him to fear he is losing his mind.

FAN RATING - 8.48 
NIELSEN - 0.967 mil. 
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita
GUEST STARS: Julie McNiven (Ginn), Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park), Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker), Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James), Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin), Leanne Adachi (Cpl. Barnes), Darcy Laurie (Airman Dunning), Ryan Booth (Cpl. Marsden), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Darren Becker)
  Amazon    iTunes
GateWorld earns a commission on purchases through affiliate links

Stunned by the news that his estranged wife Emily wants a divorce, Colonel Everett Young returns to Destiny after using the communication stone to visit Earth. He visits Lt. Tamara Johansen, barely registering her assessment of Lt. Matthew Scott's condition. His blood now contains none of the alien properties transfused from Chloe Armstrong ("Cloverdale"). While Chloe must remain in confinement, Scott should be released. Distracted, Young agrees. He tells T.J. about Emily, but rebuffs her attempts to talk about it.

Camille Wray introduces Eli Wallace to Ginn, the Lucian Alliance scientist. She's been studying his theories and equations, including the idea of dialing a Stargate while the ship is in a sun recharging ("Earth"). They get to know one another while ostensibly discussing Eli's work. MSgt. Ronald Greer, Ginn's guard, is bemused by their obvious attraction to one another.

Lt. Scott visits Chloe, and encourages her not to give up hope. Chloe responds by showing him how her skin is changing. The areas of hardened, silvery, coarse skin are spreading. Whatever the aliens did to her when they kidnapped her, it is definitely affecting her physically, and not just mentally.

Sitting at his desk, spinning his now-pointless wedding ring, Young heads to the Control Interface Room when Adam Brody alerts him to a "situation." Nine of the aliens' ships ("Space") surround Destiny. They want Chloe. With 44 minutes left on the countdown clock, Young orders the weapons powered up. Dr. Rush warns that, although the aliens want to capture (and not destroy) Destiny, depleting their shields without destroying them will be a tricky prospect.

The aliens bombard Destiny and Young returns fire, but they do not enough firepower to defeat this many enemy ships. The shields are rapidly depleted, and the aliens continue firing. Lt. Scott watches the assault from the Observation Deck, and orders the room quickly sealed (with him still inside) when the window begins to crack. It finally breaks, sucking Matt out into space.

As Destiny explodes in a massive fireball, Young wakes from this nightmare.

Later, at a gathering of scientists, Lisa Park outlines plans to restore the integrity of a large domed room they can transform into an expanded hydroponics lab. Young orders the scientists to repair the six damaged weapons' batteries instead. He makes this a priority even though Dr. Kemp was recently injured while working on the weapons' systems.

Rush drops in on Chloe. Believing he is on the verge of discovering Destiny's true mission, he encourages her to study some equations he has been working on. Initially stung by his seeming callousness toward her situation, she agrees that it would keep her busy.

Drinking himself drunk, Young lays down to sleep. He is awakened by Brody calling about a "situation." As before, nine alien ships target Destiny. They want Chloe. Remembering that powering the weapons led to Destiny's destruction, Young agrees to Rush's suggestion to divert all power to the shields. They stave off the attack, for a while. Scott seals the room where the breach had occurred the first time, and does not go inside.

The countdown clock is approaching jump time. But seven more alien ships appear, adding their firepower. Once again, the shields are breached and Destiny explodes.

Waking again, and scared, Young goes to Wray's quarters. He fears he is losing his mind. Ignoring her remarks about his drinking, he describes his recurring nightmare. It felt very real, not like a dream. She thinks it's related to his deliberate emotional distance from Chloe. Heeding Wray's council, Young visits Chloe for the first time since locking her away. Chloe is surprisingly understanding, telling him that even she is afraid of herself, and acknowledging that "if there's no solution, if I keep changing ... sooner or later you won't have a choice."

Back in his quarters, Young tries to work. As he begins to nod off, his radio goes off again. Once more, he faces the same scenario with the attacking ships. With apparently no other way to save the ship and everyone on it, this time he gives up Chloe. She goes willingly, seemingly resigned to her fate as he leads her to the hull breach where an alien pod is waiting to take her. Lt. Scott finds out what he did, and viciously assaults the Colonel in the corridor. As Sgt. Greer pulls Scott off of him, Young lays bloodied, laughing on the corridor floor. He is broken.

But even this gambit does not work: instead of retreating the aliens board Destiny. The crew tries to fight them off and hold the gate room, but the fight seems to be lost. Stumbling through the empty corridors Young encounters one of the alien foot soldiers, who shoots him.

Young wakes up again. Needing more alcohol, he goes to Brody's still. T.J. retrieves a bottle of disinfectant Brody made for her. Trying to prevent Everett's slide further into depression, she shares her belief that their baby is alive and safe ("Intervention"). Young tells her that wanting something to be true doesn't make it so, and walks out on her.

Meanwhile, armed with advice from Greer, Eli prepares himself to woo Ginn. The next time they meet for work, Greer is called away on a pretext. Eli hurries after Greer for a last-minute pep talk, and returns to find Ginn watching a very personal kino recording Eli made about his mom. He is embarrassed, and gets cold feet about his plan to make a move. To his surprise, Ginn stands up and kisses him.

Destiny suddenly drops out of F.T.L. flight. Lt. Scott goes to Young's quarters, where the Colonel seems to have given up and locked himself away. The ship is drifting. The countdown clock isn't running. There are no nearby Stargates. Young dismisses Scott and the problem in favor of another drink.

On the Bridge, Rush studies Destiny's odd behavior. In the Control Interface Room, Wray, Brody, Park, Eli, and Dale Volker also try to figure out what has happened to Destiny. There are no Stargates in range; the engines are fine; and there are no incoming wormholes. The ship seems to have stopped for no reason. Eli mentions that the computer is running a massive battle simulation where aliens always destroy Destiny, and Camille immediately recognizes that it matches the Colonel's dreams.

Thinking the dreams could be a warning, Scott asks Chloe if she could have sent a signal during her blackouts. When Chloe can't answer, Scott prepares for an invasion. Wray and Rush approach Scott. Rush believes Destiny is intuitive, that the ship needs a strong commander. Destiny has stopped because it knows Young has given up. With both the ship and Young adrift, they urge the young lieutenant to officially take command.

Refusing, Scott goes to Young's quarters and confronts him. A drunken Young rails at Scott. Young even confesses to killing Riley. But Scott will have none of Young's excuses. Young is a good commander precisely because he feels the pain of his decisions. He is not so callous that he doesn't feel it, but enough that he can get up the next day and do it all again. There is no one else on board strong enough to carry those burdens. For the sake of the ship and crew, Colonel Young has to pull himself together.

And he does. After sobering up, washing his face, and putting his uniform back on, Young returns to the Interface Room and takes charge. Immediately, Destiny jumps back to F.T.L.

While others believe Destiny responded to Young, the manifestation of Dr. Franklin on the Bridge manifestation congratulates Rush – who, in fact, bypassed the simulation and put the ship back into F.T.L. himself. He knows Chloe has sent no message, that the blue aliens pose no threat. Destiny was just evaluating Young's ability to command. Lt. Scott was not going to step up and take command, so Rush felt it was pointless for the ship to continue to sit there.

It was Rush, not Young who prompted Destiny to resume operations. Young may command the crew, but it is Rush who controls Destiny.

- S. Fetter


  • "Trial and Error" is SGU's first multi-word episode title (excluding the "Part 1" and "Part 2" labels for Season One's "Air" and "Incursion").
  • "Paul, meanwhile, put out the first draft of episode 6 which, in my opinion, is one of the best scripts he's ever written. Some wonderful exchanges and great, great character moments. And some pretty crazy action." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • "Big time congrats to Paul Mullie for the extraordinary Season Two episode that was released to us today. Great friggen' writing." (Actor Brian J. Smith, in a post at Twitter)
  • "Paul is on set – presumably on hand to provide first aid treatment if necessary – as they shoot episode #6, 'Trial and Error' (which includes the confrontation scene that had the cast abuzz)." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • "Today, we sat down to watch Andy Mikita's director's cut of 'Trial and Error,' one of my favorite episodes of SGU's second season. And that's saying something given that I wasn't initially on board with the story when it was first pitched. Well, one terrific script and a solid week of production behind us, and we've got ourselves an amazing episode – that, once second unit shoots that final missing scene next week, will come in at seven minutes over. Even with the expected tightening, Paul will be hard-pressed not to lose some scenes (the first two off the top, the discussion that may find a home in Carl's episode) and Mr. Sparkle. Poor, Mr. Sparkles." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • "Script-wise, because we don't get to see a lot of the shows before they air, I think Season Two is some of the best stuff we've done. I know for a fact that episode six is one of my favorites that we've ever done.

    "... Sometimes with a show you have an episode that's a little more dramatic and sometimes you have an episode that's a little bit action-packed, and this one is like the perfect combination of all of them. It has everything about the show that we've all come to love and it's all packed into one amazing episode.

    "... With episode 6, I can't think of anyone who's gonna watch it and not find something they love. Everyone will latch on to something different, but they'll all find something they love. It reminds me of the [Season One] episode 'Time.' It's kind of like that thing where it has everything – you can't find a specific reason why you love it, you just love it. And I feel like there's a lot more of that in Season Two, and I think it's gonna keep people coming back." (Actor David Blue, in an interview with TV Deathray)
  • "There's a really beautiful [scene] in 'Trial and Error' – that's a really beautiful episode that I love. There's a scene between Colonel Young and T.J. where she tells – wait, I can't tell you that! Shoot. ... They have a conversation and I think she's sort of gotten to a point where she wants to believe [that their baby is alive and well], and I think she does. Yeah, I think she just sort of thinks, 'If all of the other stuff is possible, if we can gate to other planets and ships and travel through time and whatever, why couldn't an alien race be raising my baby?'" (Actress Alaina Huffman, in an interview with Show Patrol)
  • "['Trial and Error' is a] huge test of Col. Young's character. His descent that has been sort of triggered by Riley's death – well, what he had to do for Riley – has pushed him to the wall, and in 'Trial and Error' we see him hit the wall. [Louis Ferreira's work] is, I think, Emmy-worthy. He is brilliant in this episode, and honestly, the scene with him and Scott at the end is just ... Louis is an amazing actor."" (Executive producer Brad Wright, in an interview with
  • "In this episode my character gets to a place where he crosses the line that we all have as human beings to wake up every day, go out there and get done what you're supposed to get done. We all have responsibilities and sometimes you've got to suck it up. Young is the first one to go on about that type of thing, but that no longer applies here. He's lost, hurt and confused. We see this broken man who, for all intents and purposes, we've always seen as being together.

    "Whether or not you like him, Young is good at what he does, and he doesn't have to do things in a bright and cheery way either. People will sometimes come up to me and say, 'But he's so stern,' and I admire individuals like Young. He's so opposite personally from where I'm at. I'm quite gregarious and I love humor, but there's something about the dependability of a person like Young. The structure is there with him and it's something that you can always count on.

    "That's who Young is, but for the first time that's not the case in 'Trial and Error.' There's actually a line in the episode where he says something like, 'You know what, it all eventually adds up,' and that humanness in him comes out. It's rare for Young to 'exploit' his insecurities and vulnerabilities, but that's one of the things I really enjoyed about the episode. You got to see Young weak, you got to see him fail, and you got to see him be more human in some ways. So I was very pleased with how the episode turned out." (Actor Louis Ferreira, in an interview with SciFiAndTvTalk)