A group of people are forced to evacuate to Destiny after an attack on Icarus Base by the Lucian Alliance, and are now trapped there. Dr. Nicholas Rush breaks the master code and discovers the Bridge. After the rest of the crew discovers the bridge, Rush asks Colonel Everett Young to embrace Destiny's mission. After a failed Alliance invasion, Homeworld Command believes an attack on Earth is being planned. Young is grief-stricken over the death of Sgt. Hunter Riley. The expedition discovers a planet containing a group of Humans that are the descendants of their alternate selves. The expedition agrees to take them to their homeworld, Novus, but when they arrive they discover the planet deserted. They find a bunker with supplies and download a portion of the database. Lt. Tamara Johansen discovers her alternate self died from Lou Gehrig's Disease. After discovering a battlefield, Destiny awakens several Berzerker drones that launch several attacks before blockading the suitable Stars to keep Destiny from refueling. Destiny is forced to enter a Blue supergiant and Dr. Lisa Park is blinded in the process.
Lt. Tamara Johansen unwraps bandages from Dr. Lisa Park's eyes. Park is hopeful, having managed to see occasional flashes of light. Colonel Everett Young comes in, stopping at the door to watch. Park opens her eyes once the bandages are removed, but still can't see. TJ shines a light in her eyes to make sure. Park breaks down in tears, comforted by TJ and MSgt. Ronald Greer. Young leaves without a word.
Camile Wray finds Young in the hall, hoping for a moment of his time. She notes that he looks terrible, and recommends he get some rest. Young is in fact about to do just that, but a radio call from Dr. Nicholas Rush interrupts that plan. Despite Wray's suggestion to ignore it, he comes to the Control interface room at Rush's request.
In the control interface room, Eli Wallace explains that he and Rush have managed to isolate the subspace signals used by the Control Ships to communicate with each other. By plugging that data into Destiny's long-range sensors, they can track the Control Ships. Wray believes this to be good news, as it means they can avoid the drones and safe places to resupply. Eli, however, cannot deliver such good news. He displays a star map detailing the location of every gate, then overlays the location of the Control Ships. At maximum sensor range, the result seems clear: every single Stargate is guarded by a Control Ship.
Young and Rush meet with Colonel David Telford at Homeworld Command. Telford is at first unconvinced that every gate could be guarded, then suggests going off the designated path to find viable worlds. Rush disregards the idea, as only a handful of solar systems would have planets capable of supporting life, and fewer still would have supplies they could actually use. There would be no guarantee they would ever find what they were looking for. They have about a month's worth of food and water. Young is hoping for a supply line from Earth, but Telford informs him that their talks with Langara are getting nowhere. Destiny is on its own.
Chloe Armstrong comes into the infirmary to collect inventory reports. TJ feels that the infirmary is in good shape for the moment. Chloe asks about Park's condition, and TJ informs her that Park should have shown some sign of improvement by now. Chloe tries to console TJ on being unable to help without the right equipment, but TJ explains that Park's condition simply can't be treated. Her corneas were burned by ultraviolet radiation, and can't be fixed if they don't heal on their own. TJ gives the analogy "You play the hand you're dealt," which Chloe realizes does not refer only to Park. Chloe tries to assure TJ that they still might find a way to help both her and Park, but TJ is not convinced.
On the bridge, Rush discusses the situation with Eli, Dr. Adam Brody, and Dr. Dale Volker. Since they cannot run or hide, Rush knows that their only option is to fight. Eli points out that there are a lot of drones, but Rush only intends to attack selected targets when they need to resupply. With their ability to track the Control Ships, they can come out of FTL right on top of one and destroy it before it can retaliate. The others are doubtful, because any chance the Control Ships have to retaliate will result in damage to Destiny that they may not be able to repair. Rush merely states that they'll have to find a way to minimize that damage, and has an idea on how to do so.
In a meeting with Young, Rush outlines his plan with the help of Eli, Brody, and Volker. Destiny's shields change frequency constantly in the hope of matching enemy fire. The closer the frequency, the less damage Destiny takes. Because they've had the opportunity to study a Berzerker drone, they know the frequency range of their weapons and can adjust the shields to match. By limiting the frequency range, however, any other forms of attack will consequently do far more damage than normal. Rush remains confident it will work.
Young joins Lt. Matthew Scott, Greer, Brody, and Volker on the bridge. Rush and Eli are in the control interface room. Greer has charged the main weapon, and Rush has limited the frequency range of the shields. Scott inquires about who calculated the FTL jump. Volker tells him that Chloe did it. Scott asks if they'll drop out close to the ship. Though the distances involved are astronomical, Volker believes in Chloe's ability to take them out in the right place. Unfortunately, they drop out of FTL too close, scraping the hull of the Control Ship and overshooting it. The Control Ship launches its drones, but they do almost no damage to the remodulated shields. Scott maneuvers the ship into position to fire. Greer manages to hit the Control Ship but doesn't cause enough damage to destroy it. The Control Ship begins evasive maneuvers, while its drones change tactics. Having realized their weapons are ineffective, the drones begin doing kamikaze runs. Unable to fight the drones off, Young orders Scott and Greer to focus on the Control Ship. Scott manages to get in line with it again, and Greer destroys it.
The shuttles are dispatched to collect supplies. Eli complains that they cannot afford any more battles like the one the just survived. Rush agrees; they need a new plan. Once the shuttles return, Eli takes the ship back into FTL.
Young tries to get some sleep again but is stopped by Eli, who has a new plan. Since they have no way to beat the drones, he suggests they ignore them. By putting the crew into Stasis pods, they can fly through the entire galaxy and to the next without needing to stop to resupply. Unfortunately, completing that journey will take Destiny three years, and their dwindling power supplies leave little margin of error. Rush argues against it, as even a slight miscalculation will leave them drifting for thousands of years instead of three. Young asks Eli how long it will take to prepare the pods. Eli believes he can do so in a day, so Young gives Rush that long to find an alternative.
Young informs Wray of the plan. She is apprehensive about spending so long in the pods, but Young points out that they have no other options. Wray wants to give the crew one last chance to see their loved ones using the Long-range communication device. Young agrees, leaving her to arrange it. He warns her to make the visits quick, as the plan won't work if they take too long.
Rush grows increasingly frustrated as he tries and fails to come up with a new plan. Chloe comes in to check on his progress, telling him that she believes Eli's plan will work. Rush believes it hinges on luck, but his real concern is the idea of going off the path again, as that is what caused their current trouble. Chloe doesn't see it that way, as they are merely skipping over part of it. This is in fact what bothers Rush. Destiny's mission isn't meant to have a final destination; rather, the mission is about collecting knowledge as it ventures outward. By skipping part of that journey, they may skip something important, defeating the purpose of the entire mission. He is sure there's a way to stop the drones, but he needs time to find it. Chloe counters that they don't have the time. Eli's plan ensures Destiny's survival, even if the crew doesn't ever wake up from stasis. Fighting an unwinnable battle would destroy Destiny, and then its mission would surely have been a waste.
Brody puts the first group into stasis. TJ is there to monitor them. Varro is part of the first group, and promises to see TJ soon.
Eli visits his mother on Earth. He explains that he'll be gone for the next three years, and assures her that smart people will be working to help them. He feels bad about leaving her alone, but she is happy he is getting to see such wonders. He feels as if he's abandoned her, but as she sees it, he is living his life. As long as he's happy with his life, she'll be fine.
Brody and Volker are running diagnostics on the next section of stasis pods. Meanwhile, Young is getting ready to get some sleep, but a knock on his door interrupts him. Volker comes in, informing him that the last section of stasis pods are damaged. The meeting is continued on the bridge, once Rush joins them. Without the last section, they have eight fewer pods than crew members. They are unable to repair them with the supplies on board. The necessary material, Palladium hydride, could be found on one of the gated worlds, but like all gated planets a Control Ship is guarding it. Fighting the ship, even if they won, would drain too much power for the ship to manage a jump to the next galaxy. They have no other choice but to leave eight people outside. Worse still, life support cannot remain active if the plan is to work, so those who stay out will die.
Park and Greer discuss the situation in her quarters. She tells him not to volunteer himself to stay outside, knowing he would if asked. Greer doesn't believe it will come to that, as he doesn't believe Young will sacrifice eight people. If they are going to die, they'll die together. Park, however, has an alternative. She tells Greer to take her to Young.
Eli has joined the bridge crew, going over the sections that will need to be shut down. Greer brings in Park to explain her plan. By sending out an unmanned shuttle and rigging it to emit a signal mimicking a Stargate activation, they can draw the Control Ship off and gate to the planet while it's distracted. Volker adds that they can reconfigure the shields to absorb drone weapons fire like they did with Destiny, and pilot it remotely to avoid ramming attempts. Eli suggests that they simply ram the shuttle into the Control Ship with its engines set to overload since they'll lose the shuttle anyway. Young compliments Park on the idea.
Destiny drops out of FTL and the shuttle is launched on autopilot. A team consisting of Scott, Greer, and Dr. Morrison prepares to gate to the planet to collect the needed resources. Once the signal is broadcast, the Control Ship takes the bait. The team is sent to the planet. The Control Ship arrives near the shuttle shortly thereafter, launching its drones. Rush pilots the shuttle by remote, avoiding the drones and setting a collision course for the Control Ship. Though the shuttle clips a drone approach, Rush is able to maintain his course. Eli sets the engines to overload. When the shuttle hits, the Control Ship is torn apart by the blast. The away team is collected and Destiny retreats.
Wray visits Scott, who is next up to visit Earth. He is nervous about seeing his kid, who knows him only as a random guy who visits occasionally. He isn't sure the mother is a good parent, noting that he could have his son moved to another home if he asked Homeworld Command to do so. Wray urges him not to be too hasty. Scott asks about her own visit with Sharon Walker. Wray was unable to see her personally, as she was at a conference in Brussels. They spoke over the phone. She told Sharon to move on, as Wray's constant absence wasn't fair to her. Sharon mostly cried in response.
Another group is put into stasis, Lt. Vanessa James and Cpl. Barnes among them. James hugs Eli goodbye before getting in. On Earth, Chloe visits her mother, hugging her goodbye. Park gets a chance to see again, looking out at a river. Scott stops by his son's home, but doesn't visit, merely watching his mother take him to school. The next group is put into stasis, this one including Brody, Volker, and Park.
There are now only eight people still awake: Young, Wray, TJ, Rush, Eli, Greer, Scott, and Chloe. Young holds a final dinner, since the food will go to waste anyway. Wray is full, but Greer is content to keep eating. Scott asks Young to make a toast. Rather than dwell on what they've lost, he chooses to toast to what they've gained. Though they came to the ship unprepared, they have become a family. The camera focuses on each person as he describes the various roles: sons (Scott), daughters (Chloe), sisters (Wray), and the "slightly crazy uncle who, despite everything, still manages to come through for you in the end" (Rush). Everyone gets a laugh at the last comment. He adds that they are the smartest (Eli), bravest (Greer), and most compassionate (TJ) people he has ever had the honor to serve with. He toasts to family.
The last group prepares to go into stasis. Scott wishes Chloe sweet dreams. Young notices that Greer seems slightly uncomfortable in the small pod, but Greer assures him that he's alright. Wray jokes that Young will finally get some sleep. Young tells TJ to go ahead rather than worry about them. The pods are sealed, leaving only Rush, Eli, and Young.
Young visits Telford at Homeworld Command to say goodbye. He doesn't want to reopen old wounds by visiting Emily. Telford tries to apologize about any harm he did to Young's relationship with Emily, but Young assures him that their problems are his own fault, not Telford's. Telford promises Young that, though they may have a few gray hairs, they'll still be around when Young wakes up.
Young comes back to find Eli and Rush arguing. They have found that one of the final three pods was damaged more than the others, which they have only just now discovered by running the final check. They are one pod short. Rush sends Eli to search the database for information on how to repair it, despite his protest that the manual for it is 1700 pages long. With Eli gone, he has a chance to speak to Young in private.
Young finds Eli in the control interface room. Eli preempts any questions by noting that he has yet to find a solution. Young explains that Rush has calculated that one person could remain awake for two weeks without sacrificing their ability to reach the next galaxy. Rush has volunteered to do it, which surprises Eli. Rush believes he's the most qualified to fix the last pod, though Eli isn't so sure. Young, however, intends to be the one to stay outside, fully aware that he won't be able to fix the pod. He doesn't trust Rush not to push the deadline if he can't solve the problem. Eli offers himself, instead. He is tired of staying in Rush's shadow, declaring that he's smarter than Rush and that all three of them know it. He can fix the pod, while Young would surely die, and he can't let Young do that.
Rush meets with Eli after hearing about their conversation. He knew Young would not let him be the one to stay out, though he did not expect Eli to volunteer. Eli realizes that he expected Young to stay out, though Rush counters that it was never his idea in the first place. Eli points out that Rush couldn't come up with a better one, which is why Rush believes they'll need Eli in the next galaxy. He is worried that Eli might lose the chance to realize his potential, but Eli believes his potential is wasted if he doesn't step forward when he's needed. He praises Eli on having come a long way from the "video game slacker" he was a year ago, while Eli claims Rush has been "pretty consistent". They both get a small laugh out of it.
Rush is put into stasis first, saying his goodbyes to both Eli and Young, notably addressing Eli as "Mr. Wallace" rather than by his first name. Young checks one last time to make sure Eli wants to stay outside, which Eli is sure he does. Before going in, Young hugs Eli goodbye, telling him that he'll see him once they wake up. Once Young is in stasis, the ship begins powering down. Eli heads to the Observation deck, looking upon the ship as it travels through FTL.
Young: So, you're saying we dial up the shields?
Rush: Well, no, not exactly.
Eli: It's more like we… tune them.
Brody: When we're in battle, the shields continuously cycle through various frequencies in the hopes of matching energy-based attacks. The closer the match, the easier the attack is to absorb, and consequently the less damage we take.
Volker: It's a guessing game. Like Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Rush: In the case of the drones, we don't have to guess.
Eli: (sarcastic) Thanks to someone's brilliant idea to bring one on board.
Rush: The energy signature of their weapons is a fairly limited range. We can target specifically for it.
Eli: We just need to override Destiny's normal, randomized shield pattern.
Volker: And paper covers rock. Every time.
Young: If all, uh, Destiny has to do is find the right match, why does it bother cycling in the first place?
Brody: Because matching and maintaining a single, specific pattern makes it vulnerable to all other forms of attack.
Volker: Right, like if they throw scissors, and we're uh, guessing, uh, rock… Not to push the analogy too far.
Brody: Too late.
Young: So we are wrong, it would be like we have no shields at all.
Rush: We're not wrong.
Chloe: How's it going?
Rush: Huh? It's not.
Chloe: For what it's worth, I went over Eli's numbers. It's true, there's not much margin for error, but I think it might just work.
Rush: Yeah, if we're lucky. Destiny is on this path for a reason. We've only strayed from it once, and that's what caused all this trouble in the first place.
Chloe: But we're not going off the path, at least not for good. We're just skipping part of it.
Rush: Yeah, but that's what bothers me. This ship was launched to solve a mystery: not by arriving at some ultimate destination where all the questions are answered at one time, but by accumulating knowledge, bit by bit. We skip over this galaxy, then who's to say we won't skip over some vital piece of the puzzle. And then all of this, everything we've been through, will be for nothing. There's got to be a way to defeat them. I just need more time.
Chloe: Which we don't have. Look, you're right. If we go into those pods, we're taking a chance. We might miss something. Or we might sleep a lot longer than we planned and never see our loved ones again. Or we might never wake up at all. But Destiny will keep going. If we stay, and we don't find a way to defeat the drones, we'll all be killed and this ship will be destroyed. And then, this really will all have been for nothing.
Scott: All right, Colonel. How about a toast?
Young: All right. All right, why not? Well, uh…we've been through a helluva lot together, that's for sure. I guess it would be easy to dwell on everything that we have lost, but I think today I would rather think about what we still have, and maybe what we've gained. We're, uh, we're a family now. Whether we like it or not. The sons, daughters, sisters… Even the, uh, slightly crazy uncle who despite everything, still manages to come through for you in the end. You are the smartest, bravest, most compassionate people that I have ever had the honor to serve with. (raising glass) To family.
Young: So Rush, and, uh, Eli, are finishing up the last of the programming. They should be done by the time I get back.
Telford: You're not going to go see Emily?
Young: We're done. Why reopen old wounds?
Telford: You know, for what it's worth—
Young: David, listen, my, uh, marriage? That was—that was broken a long time ago. And I have no one to blame but myself.
Telford: Whatever happens, we're not giving up on you. Some of us may have a few more grey hairs, but we'll still be here. Good luck, Everett.
(They shake hands.)
Young: Thanks, David.
- Robert Carlyle as Dr. Nicholas Rush
- Louis Ferreira as Colonel Everett Young
- Brian J. Smith as Lt. Matthew Scott
- Elyse Levesque as Chloe Armstrong
- David Blue as Eli Wallace
- Alaina Huffman as Lt. Tamara Johansen
- Jamil Walker Smith as MSgt. Ronald Greer
- Ming-Na as Camile Wray
- Mike Dopud as Varro
- Jennifer Spence as Dr. Lisa Park
- Patrick Gilmore as Dr. Dale Volker
- Peter Kelamis as Dr. Adam Brody
- Julia Benson as Lt. Vanessa James
- Vincent Gale as Dr. Morrison
- Anna Galvin as Patricia Armstrong
- Lou Diamond Phillips as Colonel David Telford
- Glynis Davies as Marian Wallace
- Leanne Adachi as Cpl. Barnes
- Trevor Carroll as SSgt. Graham
- Sarah Smyth as Annie Balic
- Gordon Grice as Matthew Balic
- Greg Zach as Hamilton (Uncredited)
- Tracy Shier as Peece (Uncredited)
- Mike Cook as Scientist (Uncredited)
- Marie West as Scientist (Uncredited)
- Chris Cheng as Scientist (Uncredited)
- Mark Davidson as a General in photo (Uncredited)
- The closing sequence of the episode mirrors the opening sequence of the first with lights starting up and the camera moving into the "upper" corridors until the Destiny Gate room. This is completely reversed. One of Eli Wallace's first actions aboard Destiny was to look out the window on the Observation deck and the final action seen on screen is him doing the same.
- This is the first Stargate series finale to not feature Colonel Samantha Carter, CMSgt. Walter Harriman, or Major Kevin Marks.
- This episode reveals that Lt. Matthew Scott occasionally visits his son Matthew Balic to check up on his progress, but he does not know that Scott is his father.
- Dr. Nicholas Rush, Colonel Everett Young, Lt. Matthew Scott, Chloe Armstrong, Eli Wallace, Lt. Tamara Johansen, MSgt. Ronald Greer, Camile Wray, Dr. Lisa Park, Dr. Adam Brody, Dr. Dale Volker, Lt. Vanessa James, Marian Wallace and Colonel David Telford are the only characters to appear in both the pilot and finale of Stargate Universe. Of these, Marian Wallace is the only one who was never a member of the Destiny expedition.
- This is the last of seventy-four episodes of Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate Universe written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie.
- This is the last of sixty-four episodes of Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate Universe directed by Andy Mikita.
- During the scene where Chloe Armstrong walks down a corridor of Destiny at roughly 16 minutes (15 min 59 seconds) into the episode the words 'Fuck the French' can be seen clearly written vertically down the side of the right corridor in the foreground. Joseph Mallozzi has expressed his strong feelings of anger toward whoever may be responsible and admits he was completely unaware of it until a fan pointed in out months after the show aired.
- Hungarian: Vesszőfutás (Running The Gauntlet)
- Russian: Вызов (Challenge)
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