A brief critique of Stargate Universe: The Virtual Third Season.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t review fanfic here, but this particular bit of fanfic has received some foofarah about possibly, maybe, perhaps being a sort of definitive Season 3 and perhaps even becoming somewhat official. I’m only 3 episodes into the 8, but here are a few brief points about why I think that would be a poor idea:
*‘Ships: The writer focuses on ‘ships, but seems to have a harder time writing about how any of the characters mesh with more than one person. Ensemble writing is perhaps not a strong point. I leave aside any critique of the individual characters themselves, as this is often an area where different people will see characters differently, but I will state that they don’t appear to be written well as a team in this piece.
*There’s no conflict: Perhaps in an environment where the first 2 seasons didn’t exist, this wouldn’t stand out so much, but having everyone magically getting along rings false, especially beyond a single chapter. Even the very brief shootout with the Blues (and with another alien species) read more as a skirmish with “the other” than any sort of true conflict in the vein that previous seasons held. “Conflict” with an alien species reads more like a “monster of the week” and skips over 2 seasons of inter-crew conflicts, perhaps because this is something the writer may not have enjoyed in the series?
*Wray: While dealing with the Wray/Strom/IOC issue continues the work of the previous seasons, simply having her arrested and hauled away in handcuffs smacks more of wish fulfillment on the part of someone that didn’t like Wray and didn’t want to continue writing about the growth of her character. In any case, once Destiny went into FTL, any stone connection would be broken, making it a worthless effort. Is Earth really going to jail some random Marine for who knows how long, just for having the misfortune to have been the one in the chair at the time? Doubtful, although if it had been more richly developed, perhaps it could have added to the whole ‘stones’ controversy, about the uses we put to technology we don’t understand, but the writer didn’t go there. Furthermore, Young wouldn’t have allowed it. Things have changed since the beginning, and Wray is now fully one of the crew. He would no more allow Wray to be taken than he would Scott or Greer and I doubt Wray would meekly go along either. There doesn’t appear to be any further mention of Wray, and I find it hard to believe that everyone would simply move on.
*Deference to Earth: Again, this is a point where, if the past 2 seasons had not taken place, perhaps this could work, but as it stands, Young has gone from unwilling to willing on leadership of the Destiny. In any case, the Destiny is so far removed from Earth as to put Earth out of the effective reach. Young may listen to O’Neill but the final choice will be his own and it has always favored the crew over the wishes of any other entity. Earth has very few options for exerting any real control over Destiny, and could only do so if the crew wished it, and if Young allowed it, which he doesn’t seem willing to do.
*Planet Builders: This boils down to a “god did it” ending to this meet up with this group/entity/whatever. And it further strains the ‘no conflict’ point. I seriously doubt that all members are on board with the ‘god did it’ option. Rush and Young would be forefront in the main characters that would dismiss this, Rush being the more strenuous of the two. While it was good to see it revisited, it weakened the point to have it brushed over as just another god, as opposed to dealing with the crew’s feelings on the matter, and the conflict inherent in that.
*Technology: Part of setting the stage for Destiny is that the ship, the world in effect, is dealing with older technology than either of the previous series. This is in part stylistic, but it also is an attempt to undo the ‘ubertech’ feel of previous incarnations. It was jarring to me to have to deal with a stargate floating in orbit. Also, the use of laser weapons didn’t fit with the feel set up in previous seasons. Lastly, the ability of the ship to power to full capacity, despite her damage, and the magical creation of more mechanic drones had the feel of the desire for ‘ubertech’ which gets away from the pace and setting of previous settings.
This is a brief list, based on a total of three chapters (episodes). Who knows, it’s entirely possible that, after these chapters, the writer finds his feet and that the story continues on in a vein that truly follows the previous 2 seasons but as of this reading, I’m seriously doubting that this piece, as it stands, is suitable as a possible season 3. I’m not entirely sure that I will even finish reading the whole thing, although I’m likely to give it a good try. The whole thing has the feel of an attempt to “fix” what the writer believes was “wrong” with the previous 2 seasons, rather than an attempt to write a 3rd season.