Overall Rating: 9.5
This one is a truly inspiring character piece - what it lacks in certain details that I'd like to see explored more fully, it makes up for in very interesting explorations of an alternate set of our characters. What it does for TJ and Eli in particular is worth the whole year's watching just to get to.
The full details can be found at the Stargate Wiki.
I wish the Teneran archive had given us a better understanding of the primary source of disagreement between Rush's disciples (the Futurans) and the rest of the colony. I can't believe the point of conflict was really whether Rush would come back and save the day. I want to understand that better because it would have made the decision of the Futurans and Tenerans to reconcile and cooperate on an escape plan much more meaningful (and it would have made the impact of Young's leadership resonate a little better. But hey...compared to the strongly positive things I have to say about this episode, this is a nag...one that might still get addressed in the next episode, for all I know.
For Eli, this episode solidifies the principle protagonist label hovering over his head. All through the early recording of his history that we see in the Keno footage, we find ourselves praying for this man to find happiness in his new life...to find a purpose that transcends his usual jobs on Destiny. He turns into a loving father (eventually...though it takes him a while), a dedicated educator and historian, and the architect of the core beliefs that underscore Teneran society. He writes textbooks that stand the test of time for two thousand years, philosophical treatises that rival Plato, and accumulates the sum total of his scientific knowledge for posterity (to help further the development of Novus). It speaks volumes about who he is that the core beliefs of both nations on Novus are fundamentally good because he taught them to be fundamentally good people. After all this time watching Universe, you have to admit that if you had to pick one man around which to base a new society from Destiny's crew...it would be Eli.
Meanwhile, Young and TJ (and many of her closest friends) are left reeling when they learn through the archives that she has Lou Gehrig's Disease and will probably die in less than ten years unless they can find a cure. The lengths the crew goes to in order to extract the Novan archive and perhaps save her life are incredible. But not to be lost in all of this is the strength TJ has been acquiring since her arrival on Destiny and its' manifestation in the archive records and in present day. We see her battle through her ultimately fatal disease, while Young falls apart (and blames himself for failing to get his people home)...and in the real world, though terrified at the implications of the archived records, we also see her resolve herself (with a little pep talk from Eli) to work for a cure and stay dedicated to her shipmates. I see at least the potential in TJ to be a very strong character some day...if only the show were allowed to continue beyond this final (tragically low-numbered) season.
I think this episode also carries with it the kind of optimistic, life-affirming feel that sci-fi fans often seek in their storytelling. Gene Roddenbury may have been an utter hack, but he did realize that there was a need for an escapist story with a real sense of optimism regarding the human spirit (the better part of our nature). We are a race of achievers - the sum total of our history...with all of its' faults and blemishes...is a story of great discovery and growth. I like that we got to see that growth portrayed in this plot arc. I wish we had more time to explore it.
This episode is underscored by a series of very well crafted (and carefully chosen) vignettes in the Keno footage from the Teneran archive...not one of them feels unnecessary or tacked on. I am so glad that the writers took the time to show us, from the perspective of Destiny's crew, what the early days on Novus were like...how they got to where they ended up 2000 years on. I feel like I know Destiny's modern-day crew much better having seen all of that.
David Blue, Alaina Huffman and Justin Louis were once again the stars...but everyone from Volker (reacting to his own death in the archives) to Park to (dare I say it) Ming Na (!) deserve praise this week. Not a bad note was struck in any of it.
Eli *HAD* to be the center of this new world for me to feel the optimistic angle was earned. Eli is the heart and soul of this show...and of a tribe of millions of his own people. The enduring spirit that grants us with our nobility as a race comes from good hearts like his.