To say that Stargate: Universe is having a bit of a hard time is something of an understatement.
Despite a loyal following and a higher-than-expected viewership on iTunes and Hulu, the series -- which airs its Season 2 mid-season finale Tuesday on Syfy -- is struggling in weekly ratings. And fans already have started working to prove that the show can build on its weekly numbers game with various awareness campaigns.
And as if that wasnt bad enough, Stargate: Universe has had increasing problems closer to home due to the mounting financial troubles at Metro Goldwyn Mayer, the studio that owns the franchise. MGM recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, a planned bankruptcy that will give creditors holding $4 billion in debt control of the company.
Its not clear how this will affect the longevity of SGU, but MGM problems have had an impact on the atmosphere behind the scenes.
Theres this unfortunate air that we're so helpless, actor Patrick Gilmore recently told Airlock Alpha. And there's a lot of speculation that ranges from. You can really see the characteristics of people, depending on their take on it. They have the story. We can do a Season 3 and we can do a Season 4. I think that they've kinda got a five-season idea and they've got a specific ending.
They know where Destiny is going; they know how this is going to end. And there is a confidence behind that pitch. 'Hey, MGM, Syfy : this is our story. We can do it. Put us in.' And it's kinda out of our hands."
So far, this season has focused on Rushs (Robert Carlyle) discovery of the bridge and the subsequent revelation regarding Destinys long-term mission. That discovery will play out through the remainder of the season, forcing the crew to come to terms with the magnitude of that reveal.
And, just as before, Rush will be a central figure to that. However, the effect that Rush has on the crew is nothing compared to the effect that Carlyle has behind the scenes of the series.
"God I love Dr. Rush, Gilmore said, referring to Carlyle. Before the show, he's a presence. He is a character. He's an actor that sticks with you. Whether it's 'Trainspotting' or 'The Beach' or 'Ravenous,' he's a presence and when you meet him he's not what you expect. He's very quiet and he's very stoic, and he's very gentle."
The cast is an ensemble, but it doesn't mean there isn't leadership.
"He's the No. 1 on the call sheet," Gilmore said. "And the No. 1 on the call sheet kind of dictates how the rest of the cast act. If your No. 1 shows up late for work it's a trickledown effect. He's such a consummate professional and a consummate artist and, I've said this before, but it's so hard to do your job when you are so busy studying how he does his. So as an actor, every day is like Christmas going in and working with Robert Carlyle.
But that is Carlyle. What about working with Rush?
Well, the two couldnt be more different, Gilmore revealing that his character of Dr. Volker will find his place among the crew of Destiny as the series develops, and that learning where Rush fits into the tapestry will be pivotal in his development.
As Volker, working with Dr. Rush is a completely different thing, he explained. He's a necessity, and we're the wrong people in the wrong place, and that is one of the things we talked about from Day 1. We're not these superheroes like you saw on ['Stargate SG-1'] and ['Stargate: Atlantis'], and that has been the beauty of the show."
That is a concept that Gilmore is more than familiar with thanks to his work on Riese: Kingdom Falling. In Syfys steampunk web series, Gilmore's character is more concerned with keeping his head down and surviving the ordeal, but will eventually come to the point where he needs to take notice of what is going on around him and pick a side ... something that he has in common with his SGU counterpart, who will challenge Rush later in the season.
"Even then, after two years of filming, there's still no trust" between the two characters, Gilmore said. "And it kind of gets bitter. We know our roles and I think Volker would prefer that Rush be around than not. But he knows full well that Rush would throw him under the bus just to make his life easier in a heartbeat."
Fans should also expect the crew to deal with loss this season, almost as if death is a foreign concept to SGU. In recent weeks, T.J. (Alaina Huffman) has lost her baby, Riley (Haig Sutherland) was smothered by his commanding officer on an alien world, and who knows what happened among the Lucian Alliance soldiers that were left behind on a barren rock.
"Take Riley for example," Gilmore said. "In the second episode of Season 2, would his death have meant as much if we hadnt seen him or listen to him speak or gotten a sense of his sense of humor? And the same goes for some of the other characters who are about to die : and people do die.
"That scene with Young [Louis Ferreira] and Riley is my favorite so far. It just made you sick to your stomach to watch it, but Louie's performance and the idea that he held his breath along with Haig, and then once Riley let out, Louie just let his breath go. He was holding his breath at the same time, and I've watched that scene so many times and it just chokes me up every time."
It's the scene that sets the tone for the whole show, Gilmore said.
"We're not just some other sci-fi show. This is a character drama. We're real people in dark, dire situations, reacting to the sci-fi around us. But the show is not about sci-fi, the show is about these people."
"Stargate: Universe" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy. For a sneak peek at this week's mid-season finale, click here.
Riese: Kingdom Falling is now available at Syfy Rewind.
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