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Review: Twin Destinies


Twin Destinies is the twelfth episode in Season Two of Stargate Universe.


Review

So, upfront I should say that I might be a little in love with this episode and therefore somewhat biased…OK, make that a LOT in love. Some of it is down to my deep abiding love for time travel stories; some of it is down to my deep abiding love for Stargate time travel stories in particular; and some of it is down to deep abiding appreciation for the sheer cleverness of the plot which in one fell swoop manages to solve Destiny’s spare parts problem, gives them back a second shuttle, and returns Telford to Earth again while retaining the sense of a team that is finally starting to work together.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: when Stargate tackles time travel they have a tendency to hit the ball right out of the park. Ever since SG-1 started the trend with the incomparable “1969”, each new time travel story thereafter (such as “2010” or Atlantis’ “Before I Sleep” and “The Last Man”) has only ever added to the stack of great Stargate episodes. Universe continued the trend last season with “Time”, and “Twin Destinies” is another good addition as the Destiny crew end up running into an alternate version of the ship and Rush (from what I will be calling TimelineA).

The problem with time travel stories is that they are complicated, and this is doubly so by the existence of duplicates which automatically throws up the issues of paradoxes (if TimelineA!Rush travels back and stops events from happening, TimelineA!Rush therefore should cease to exist, etc.) The plot is very tightly written by Brad Wright to cope with that and if I have one quibble it’s around the characterization of Telford.

Let me start with Telford because as a way of getting Telford off the ship and back to Earth, the plot is genius. With Telford’s return from his sojourn on the seed ship with the Ursini, the issue of what to do with a second ranking Colonel was going to raise its head again. Here, time travel solves the problem as it is revealed by TimelineA!Rush that TimelineA!Telford made it back to Earth when the crew attempted to evacuate the ship by dialing the Stargate while Destiny is stocking up on power in the middle of a sun. Of course, there’s still the irritating problem of what to do with TimelineB!Telford (who is still on Destiny) but that’s taken care of by having him and TimelineA!Rush have an all-out confrontation in which TimelineA!Rush kills TimelineB!Telford by accident and runs off to die in the Ancient knowledge chair on TimelineA!Destiny as it is consumed by said sun. (Hope everybody is keeping up so far). Just as in “Visitation” where the story was clearly a device to give Destiny a shuttle back but was such a good story it transcended that, here too the need to get Telford back to Earth is woven so tightly into the fabric of what is a great time travel story that it never feels like the purpose of the episode is to get rid of Telford (which was the case back in “Awakening”).

However, Telford’s characterization is all over the place, which I think is down to how the scenes were played by Lou Diamond Phillips and Robert Carlyle rather than the writing. Telford’s opposition to Rush isn’t new but the animosity here -- particularly in the flashback scene where Telford intervenes when it looks like a large number of the crew will stay behind, and the final confrontation scene -- seems more akin to the previous tension between Rush and Young rather than the more muted dislike between Rush and Telford to date. But then, perhaps we haven’t seen enough of Telford to make a determination for definite.

Speaking of Rush and Young, Timeline A in particular gives good hope that the teamwork that was on show in the previous episode “Deliverance” will continue. The scene at the beginning of the episode where Rush realizes Young means to stay with him on Destiny is just marvelously played by both actors -- particularly Carlyle, who just shows without words Rush’s shock at Young’s commitment to the mission and thus trust in Rush. This almost sentimental coming together carries on into the flashback scene which describes the two men asking for volunteers. The fact that they get volunteers -- from Greer and Volker to Scott and Chloe -- also speaks to that sense of team. It’s heartwarming to see and more importantly, to feel.

The special effects deserve a shout-out here because everything from the wormhole when it connects to Earth and flickers with instability to the second Destiny falling into the sun to two Nicholas Rushes occupying the same scene is done seamlessly. It’s great work and really adds to the authenticity of events.

The other thing that I do want to highlight is the continued good humor that is running through the episodes, from the quoted Greer and Rush scene to the quip about McKay (setting up for the anticipated crossover episode later in the season), and even Bill Lee’s brief appearance in Eli’s clothes! The banter helps to provide balance to an otherwise dark plot and is very welcome.

In the end, “Twin Destinies” delivers another good episode; an episode that fits in very well into the Stargate back catalogue of time travel episodes. Perhaps there are more quibbles here and there to be made, but I don’t care. This was a great episode and one that I’m happy to watch over and over in any timeline.

Previously published at GeekSpeak Magazine

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