Visitation

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

Members of the crew left behind in another galaxy make a shocking return to Destiny, while Chloe deals with the inevitable consequences of her transformation.

RATINGS SCORECARD
OUR RATING -
FAN RATING - 7.02 
NIELSEN - 1.169 mil. 
EPISODE #209
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 11.23.10
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 11.07.11
WRITTEN BY: Rémi Aubuchon
DIRECTED BY: William Waring
GUEST STARS:

Tygh Runyan (Caine), Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker), Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park), Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James), Tobias Slezak (Peter), Camille Sullivan (Val), Michelle Harrison (Rachel), Vincent Gale (Morrison)

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Waiting for Adam Brody to fix his still, Lt. Vanessa James and Dr. Morrison listen to Dr. Nicholas Rush explain Destiny‘s mission. They don’t seem to care, really. Annoyed, Rush leaves.

Destiny drops out of F.T.L. flight, and Dr. Dale Volker informs Col. Everett Young that several planets are within range of the ship. Suddenly, both notice a small ship that looks like one of Destiny‘s own shuttles. It matches Destiny‘s speed, and they hear a transmission from a man identifying himself as Robert Caine — one of their former crew who was left behind to start a colony on a distant alien world several months ago (“Faith”). He has no idea how the once-crippled shuttle is now space-worthy. Nor does he know how they found Destiny in another galaxy. Cautious, Young allows the shuttle to dock.

Lt. Tamara Johansen, convinced that her infant daughter was rescued by powerful aliens watching over Caine’s planet (“Intervention”), meets the shuttle in hopeful expectation that the child will be on board. Young cautions her that no one mentioned a baby over the radio. And indeed, as the settlers disembark T.J. learns that none of them has any knowledge of her baby being brought to them.

Using a kino, Camille Wray, Eli Wallace, and Young question Caine. His last memories are of sheltering from the cold inside the shuttle and going to sleep. Everyone on the shuttle is surprised to have been returned to Destiny. Young orders medical exams; meanwhile he and Eli join Brody, Volker, Rush and Lt. Matthew Scott as they comb over the shuttle. It has been completely restored, as if it were brand new.

When T.J. finds nothing medically amiss with the returnees, Young permits the group to return to their old quarters. Nonetheless, he and T.J. feel there is something off about them. On the Observation Deck, Ronald Greer expresses the same misgiving to Lisa Park. Wray also shares that feeling after she conducts interviews with Peter and the others. None of them recalls anything about life on the planet.

Unwilling to accept that Destiny got into her head and made her imagine a positive fate for her baby, T.J. shows Caine around the ship, including their new hydroponics lab (“Trial and Error”) and questions him further — but he has no recollection of her baby.

Pleased that there is news to share, Scott visits Chloe Armstrong, who is being kept in isolation in her quarters. She is touched that he tries to keep up the semblance of their relationship. As she reveals a new patch of her transfigured skin, she knows he is pretending not to be upset. Unsure how long she will be herself, Chloe enlists Eli’s help to record goodbye messages. Trying to tell Eli what his friendship has meant to her, she lapses into a blackout.

When Scott next goes to see Chloe, Greer stops him. Understanding why Scott visits, Greer cautions him that she is becoming the enemy. No one knows when she will turn on them. Scott refuses to stop offering Chloe what comfort he can in the time they have left together.

Interested in learning about Destiny‘s newly-discovered mission, Caine seeks out Rush. Rush is searching the shuttle’s navigation records, trying to discover how it found Destiny — but there is no information to be found. Caine attributes their return to a higher power — the advanced, but as yet unseen, alien race that created the impossible planet on which they settled. Rush is puzzled that the higher power could restore the shuttle, but yet would leave the people with amnesia.

On the Observation Deck, Eli finds Val, another of the returnees, sitting alone. He asks about the planet — which the settlers had named “Eden.” As she recounts small flashes of memory, her nose begins to bleed. Clutching her head, she falls to the floor; T.J. soon pronounces her dead from what appears to be severe head trauma.

Wray proposes hypnosis to access the settlers’ repressed memories. Starting with Peter, she takes him back to an autumn day on the planet. He and Val have become lovers. In another memory, he recalls chopping down a tree which falls on Val, accidentally killing her. The memory triggers a seizure, and by the time help arrives Peter is dead — of dehydration and hypothermia, of all things.

The returnees seem to be dying in the order they originally died on Eden. They are all ordered to report to the Infirmary. When Rachel doesn’t appear, Scott and Greer find her huddled in a blanket, freezing. Scott carries her to the Infirmary, where she too dies. Young asks Wray to hypnotize Caine next.

Scott tries to update Chloe on what is happening, but this time she sends him away. Earlier, Greer suggested to Chloe that she distance herself from Matt, in order to protect him from what very likely lies ahead for her. Continuing her kino goodbyes, Chloe tells Scott how much she loves him, how she wanted a family with him. Now, motivated by that love, she pushes him away.

Greer visited her to seek forgiveness. He and Chloe both know that when she does become their enemy, it will be Greer who has to deal with her. She forgives him for whatever it is that he will have to do.

While T.J. tries unsuccessfully to save the returnees, Caine speaks to her of their final days. Huddled in the shuttle even after it lost power, they had candles and some food. But they were slowly freezing to death under the planet’s harsh winter conditions. He was the last alive. And now he recalls that he is dead.

With little time left, Caine asks T.J. to join him on the Observation Deck. Staring out at the stars, he realizes his soul has already moved on. Apparently this powerful alien race can rebuild a man’s body, just like they rebuilt the shuttle … but not a man’s soul. Thanking her for her kindness, he encourages her to live, to fulfill Destiny‘s mission, and to have faith in the others.

Wray, Rush, Young, and Eli watch footage from a kino Lt. James found inside the shuttle. On the recording they see a dying Caine asking for help. A bright light envelopes the shuttle — but too late for the people huddled inside, it seems. The kino goes blank, leaving them with no answers.

– S. Fetter

ANALYSIS

  • T.J.’s experience on the obelisk planet where Caine and the others stayed behind was not real (“Intervention”). Caine had no knowledge of it; the people who were given care of her baby had not the slightest inclination of it (nor a child with them); and their story made it clear that no cabins were provided by the aliens to help them survive the winter.
  • The likely explanation is that Destiny herself interfaced with T.J.’s mind as she lied unconscious in the medical bay, and showed her a dream that would give her the hope she needed to keep going. It felt more real to T.J. than any dream because it was artificial, perhaps. The ship would have then detected the unique nebula with its long-range sensors, and shown it to T.J. in the dream — and then dropped out of F.T.L. after she woke up so that she would see it in the real world and believe that the dream was true.

    That the ship has such technology (and intentions in dealing with its new crew) is evident from Destiny‘s recent testing of Colonel Young with a no-win battle scenario (“Trial and Error”), as well as manifesting to Dr. Rush as Franklin and/or Rush’s late wife, Gloria (“Aftermath”).

  • Instead of cabins and the provision of benevolent, godlike aliens, Dr. Caine and the other settlers of the obelisk planet had only the damaged shuttle to fall back on when the cold of winter came. The ship’s power systems eventually gave out, and no one among them knew how to fix it. Those who were still alive by that point — including, finally, Caine himself — died of exposure.
  • The aliens discovered the dead settlers just as Caine was on the edge of death, and seem to have acted benevolently in trying to return them to their own kind — on Destiny, however, and not on Earth. They found the shuttle easy to restore to original, factory condition. But the people inside … the aliens tried to “repair” them as well, but failed on two accounts. First, they could repair the body but not the soul — leading to some on Destiny, including Colonel Young, feeling uncomfortable around the survivors. Second, the aliens reanimated the bodies in such a way that they ended up quickly dying all over again, of the same thing of which they originally died.
  • It is also possible that the aliens were not “away” from the obelisk planet but were fully aware of Caine and the others, but saw no need to do anything with them or for them until they realized that the humans had all expired.
  • The settlers of the obelisk planet gave it the name “Eden,” believing they had found a paradise newly created by an advanced intelligence. Caine likely contributed a theological interpretation, believing that the world and its great resources had been provided to them by a higher power.
  • The crew was returned without many memories of their life on the planet, and (at least initially) nothing about the winter and their slow deaths from exposure. This may have been a byproduct of their reanimation or transportation — or it may be that the aliens deliberately limited what they remembered, perhaps so that they would not have to live on with the memories of their deaths.
  • It seems evident that these advanced aliens are not just extraordinarily advanced in their technology, but may exist (and may have always existed) on another plane of reality. The fact that they tried to reanimate the humans but did a terrible job of it implies that they may be utterly unfamiliar with human-form life — even with animated biological life. (The planet they made, however, seemed to be rich with plant and, presumably, animal life in its ecosystems.)

    As Caine lay dying, they also manifested themselves as a light outside of the shuttle, growing in intensity. While it’s perfectly plausible that this was nothing more than the artificial light of a space craft, it’s also possible (and even likely, since they so easily transported them and the ship to another galaxy) that they live in some form of ascension.

  • Caine appears to still be alive on the found kino footage when the aliens showed up at the shuttle — yet he says that he remembers dying. Is he really going to die now? Or did they get to him in time? The former seems the more likely outcome: the aliens found him on the edge of death, but were not able to save his life. He, like all the rest of his people, were brought back to life (sort of).

    Caine, too, is presumably now dead.

  • Is it possible that these aliens are the same intelligence that Destiny is searching for, present at the beginning of the known universe? It certainly seems conceivable: (1) they may not live on our plane of existence at all, meaning they could conceivably have lived before and independent from the “Big Bang;” (2) they are capable of creating planets, stars, and complete solar systems in a relatively short period of time, indicating that they may have had a deliberate hand in the creation of the rest of the universe, as well; and (3) they are not limited by one galaxy, as they were able to reach out and deposit the shuttle and its passengers to Destiny in another galaxy (not to mention knowing exactly where Destiny was).
  • Chloe’s physical and psychological transformation is continuing. The callous growth on her leg has now appeared on her arm, as well. She is also skill experiencing black-outs, even in the middle of talking. Though Matt keeps pressing her to fight it, Chloe thinks that they are now “past that.” There is nothing she can do but prepare for what must happen when she does become a real threat to the ship and her friends.
  • Other scientists and members of Destiny‘s crew are now being shown the “fingerprints” the Ancients detected in the universe’s background radiation, told of the ship’s mission, and how significant it would be for them to help complete it. Rush calls it “the greatest mystery of all time,” but some seem skeptical.

    Rush describes the pattern in the background radiation not so much as a “message,” but as “evidence of intelligence prior to its own potential to exist.”

  • The crew has now expanded the hydroponics lab into a large, domed space. Plants are already beginning to thrive there, as the ship’s repair bots continue to work at fixing the outer hull at that point.
  • Destiny also has one of its shuttles back, and restored to perfect condition — even complete with a paint job.

NOTES

  • Dr. Caine’s first name is Robert.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Tamara JohansenTamara Johansen now knows definitively that her dream of being on the obelisk planet with her baby, alive and safe, was not real.

    The result is that not only is T.J. and Everett’s child truly dead, but now T.J. doesn’t have that hope that she might be alive to cling to, to keep her going. She has previously confided in Sgt. Riley (“Aftermath”) and Colonel Young (“Trial and Error”) that that tiny bit of hope was what made her loss bearable, and prevented her from sinking into a dark place.

  • Chloe ArmstrongChloe Armstrong is continuing to change, and knows that it is evitable that she will turn against her friends and that Colonel Young will have to (in Greer’s words) “remove the threat, one way or another.” She doesn’t know what that means — if he will put her off the ship (which they discussed in “Trial and Error”), or if she will have to be executed. But she does know that it will be Ronald who will do it.

    She understands the direness of her circumstances and the effects it is having on her friends, and has already told Ronald that she forgives him for what he is going to have to do. At his prompting, she’s also started to push away Matt, spending less time with him in the hope that it will make her fate easier for him to deal with. And with Eli’s help she has started to record goodbye messages for her friends … and considers Eli the hardest one to say goodbye to.

  • Ronald GreerRonald Greer has warned Matt (his superior officer) in no uncertain terms that Chloe is changing into the enemy, and the day is coming where they are going to have to do something about her. He urged Matt (calling him a “butter bar lieutenant”) not to spend too much time with her, to begin the hard process of distancing himself emotionally from the girl he loves.

    Greer has also paid his respects to Chloe, telling her that when the time comes, he will be the one to do it. He prays for her every night, and has asked for — and received — her forgiveness for what he will have to do. But he won’t put that impossible task on anyone else. And he’s already emotionally distanced himself from her, and refuses to let her hug him goodbye.

    Greer and Lisa Park continue to maintain a personal, occasionally flirtatious relationship after sleeping together last year (“Life”).

  • Matthew ScottMatthew Scott is being forced by his friends to recognize the fact that they have no way to stop Chloe’s transformation and, sooner or later, she will become “the enemy” — and something will have to be done about it. He is eager to spend as much time with her as he can until then, both for himself and because he doesn’t want her to have to be alone. But she has started to push him away, to try and make her inevitable fate a little easier for him to bear.
  • Camille WrayCamille Wray describes herself as “a little over-qualified” for her I.O.A. human resources position. Her many other skills include some psychology training, including hypo-therapy.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Did Caine really die? Were the aliens unable to save his life after finding him?
  • Why did the aliens fail so miserably at reanimating human life? Had they never encountered humans, or other sentient species before? Or is human life — especially considering the soul — just vastly more complicated than even a star system?
  • Will T.J. fall into depression now that she knows her experience wasn’t real, and her child is truly gone? Or will she hold on to Caine’s words that her daughter is in a better place, even if she is dead?
  • What was the purpose of the obelisk planet? Did the aliens have a reason for wanting Caine and the others off of it?
  • How long will it take before Chloe’s transformation makes her a threat to the ship? What will Young order be done with her, when it comes to it?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “Remi is working on his rewrite of episode #9, ‘Visitation,’ in which the crew must fathom a baffling encounter.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “We have an episode called ‘Visitation.’ I guess I may as well just say it … The people who we left behind in ‘Faith’ on that planet … they’re back.”

    “… There’s a lot of interesting reveals in that story. … Again, we take it in a different direction than you would expect. And it is, I think, a lovely story.”

    “… And, of course, during all of this, Chloe is still transforming. During everything that I said. That is a big part of the ‘Visitation’ story and this story as well, and even in the second half of the season, which is the back 10.” (Executive producer Brad Wright, in an interview with Blastr.com)

  • “Also watched a Day 2 mix of #209, ‘Visitation.’ I had my reservations about this particular story early on but I must admit that the near-finished episode is both engaging and thought-provoking.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “The aliens didn’t know they would just end up dying again. They assumed they had ‘fixed’ them.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “Given Destiny‘s ability to detect cosmic phenomena (see next episode), one might assume the ship fashioned the vision in a way that it would appear true to T.J. in order to spare her the pain of losing her daughter. Either that or there’s more to the vision than everyone assumes.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • Does Caine live at the end of the episode, since the aliens appear to have found him while he was still alive? “He doesn’t.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “I didn’t find Caine to be either touchy-feely or flighty. He was a clearly a man of science whose outlook was informed by his faith. Like you, his beliefs did not preclude him from accepting the logic of science. Ultimately, when faced with an inexplicable otherworldly scenario, he chose to trust in God rather than the mysterious god-like powers of benign aliens. And, in the end, even if the latter explanation proved more likely, he remained steadfast and strong in his faith. I found that admirable rather than a show of weakness.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “One could draw the following conclusion from having watched the episode — Caine and the others died on the planet (in Caine’s case, it was on the heels of witnessing the white light). The planet’s caretakers/creators discovered them too late and sought to remedy the situation by restoring them to full functionality and reuniting them with Destiny. However, while constructing planets is easy, resurrecting once living beings is not and this resulted in — for lack of a better way of putting it — each of the restored human beings having an expiry date. Eventually, the damage done caught up with their corporeal forms, resulting in all of their deaths — even Caine’s which took place off-screen.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “If you recall, in the first season we dropped some people off on a planet [in the episode ‘Faith’], and my first story this year is about their return. These people return in a way that seems impossible, and in ‘Visitation’ we pose the question of at what point are you a human being. Is it a person’s physical appearance or is it what’s inside them, and much of the story is about trusting your own instincts in terms of what you believe in.

    “It turns out that these people aren’t who we think they are, but they’re also not a threat. They’re just not completely who they once were, and they’ve been returned to Destiny for unknown reasons. Ultimately, they don’t survive, but we’re not so much interested in these people who have come onboard the ship, but rather how it affects our characters, like Colonel Young, and specifically T.J., who, if you recall, opted not to remain on the planet.

    “That’s what I was talking about before; the stories that we’re telling this year are much more character based. Throughout the second season there are going to be lots of neat space battles as well as other crazy, fun stuff and some things that I don’t think anybody will expect, but ultimately, the heart of the show is the conflict between the characters and what they want and what their expectations are. In this instance, it seemed like a number of people regretted not staying on that planet, but here’s a reminder that maybe the choice you think at the time is the right one, isn’t always the right choice.

    “So that’s the nut of that story, and it’s interesting because as a group of writers on SGU, we have different ways of approaching a story. I always come from a character point of view, even though I’m a genre guy. I don’t often start with, oh, wouldn’t it be cool if out of nowhere an alien ship landed on Destiny and began boring a hole into it. In ‘Visitation,’ for example, I wanted to find out how T.J. was going to deal with these people coming back from a planet that she had intended to stay on, and now all of a sudden they’re almost like zombies. It’s like the horror and realization that if she had stuck with her original choice, what would it have meant to her as well as her unborn child.

    “Then there’s Young; I just love the character of Colonel Everett Young because he had no idea that he was ever going to be in charge of something like this, and every day is a challenge. He’s always checking himself and wondering if he’s made the right decision. Young is a great character, and he’s clearly been wondering all this time if he made the right choice of allowing these people to remain on the planet. Suddenly, he’s faced with these individuals, and it tears him up inside because he has to protect the rest of his people from their former crewmates. It just doesn’t make sense that Destiny is a million light years from the planet that these people stayed behind on, and yet out of the blue they’re here in the shuttle. So it was fun to deal with all that.” (Writer Remi Aubuchon, in an interview with SciFiAndTVTalk)

  • “We envisioned the planet-builders as an extremely advanced race who, while very powerful, differed significantly from the Ancients. They didn’t possess the extensive knowledge of the Ancients nor did they, at any time, evolve from a physical form similar to ours. Brad threw around the idea of having them pay us a personal visit at some point — but, like so many others, we’ll file that one under ‘Season Three stories that might have been.'” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “I believe that they felt some responsibility for the death of the Destiny crew and sought to make amends by restoring them and returning them to the ship. Given what we know about the planet builders, it’s highly probable that this was also part of an experiment to learn more about humans and Destiny itself.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • “Over the course of Stargate‘s long run, the production has had been faced with a number of pregnancies. In a couple of cases, we were able to ignore the pregnancies by shooting around them. In another case — Rachel [Luttrell, “Teyla Emmagan”] on SGA — the pregnancy became part of the storyline, as did the subsequent birth and associated motherhood issues. Ultimately, we decided that, while Atlantis was a hopeful enough environment to raise a child, Destiny was not. We wrestled with how we wanted to proceed, none more so than Paul who faced the challenge of scripting the season two opener and, eventually, came up with the ambiguous/mysterious solution.

    “It’s interesting to note that, even though it’s more or less stated that Destiny was responsible for T.J.’s vision, many in the writing department refused to confirm it one way or the other.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)