Fans of Stargate Universe tuned in for the show's final moments this week, and saw Eli Wallace risk - or perhaps sacrifice - his life for his friends, volunteering to stay behind and try to repair Destiny‘s last statis pod while the rest of the crew went into stasis. But the ending was originally very different.
Executive producer and "Gauntlet" co-writer Joseph Mallozzi revealed on his blog that in the story's original pitch, the identity of the person who stayed outside of the pods came down to a coin-flip ... and was to be left ambiguous at the season's end, setting up a fascinating character study for the start of Season Three.
"The original pitch had Young and Rush as the last two men standing," Mallozzi said. "With one, lone serviceable pod remaining, they argue, then make the decision to let fate decide. They flip a coin. Winner makes the sacrifice and stays out; loser goes into stasis. The coin flip is made and, as it descends, we FADE OUT, not knowing the results.
"One of the possibilities this particular ending set up was a Season Three opener which finds Rush, three years later, a little loopy from his time alone. As he goes through his daily maintenance of the ship's systems, he converses with members of the crew who, it turns out, are hallucinations. Suddenly, the gate activates. A bewildered Rush hurries to the gate room in time to see Telford lead a rescue op through. Turns out, after several years, Earth finally acquired a means to dialing Destiny. Of course, the rescue turns out to be short-lived as it ends up being a hallucination as well when, in the episode's final turn, we discover Rush in stasis (he was the one who lost the coin toss), evidently dreaming, while Young maintains the solitary existence as Destiny‘s caretaker."
Eli contemplates what may be his brief future in the final moments of SGU's finale.
Mallozzi said that, while it was a cool idea, it suffered from a number of problems that eventually prompted the show's producers to rule it out. In addition to the fact that the antisocial Rush would be quite happy to live by himself on the ship, it suggested a season opener that was low on action.
Making Eli the one who sacrifices himself in the end brought the fan-favorite character to a new point of maturity, bringing his journey full circle.
In the full post, Mallozzi also discusses possible solutions to the conclusion that they ended up writing and filming. Though the writers hadn't settled on how to resolve the fate of Eli and the rest of the crew, or how much time would have passed when they woke up, they brainstormed a lot of different scenarios, including:
- Eli fixes a pod
- Eli taps some hitherto unexploited power reserve which allows him to extend life support for three years
- Eli fails to fix the pods or extend life support, so he survives by sitting in the chair and uploading his consciousness to Destiny‘s computer
- Rescue comes in the form of some outside force, such as a new portable power supply from Earth (which has figured out how to dial Destiny in the intervening three years) or an advanced military contingent of the crew's descendants (from "Common Descent" and "Epilogue")
Check out the full story now at Joseph Mallozzi's blog!