|Universe Season 1|
Lt. Matthew Scott leads a team to a desert planet to find a mineral capable of fixing Destiny's life support system. Colonel David Telford uses a Long-range communication device and takes temporarily control of Colonel Everett Young's body. Chloe Armstrong, via the same device, uses the body of Dr. Mehta to visit her mother on Earth.
During an attack a group of around of 80 unprepared soldiers, scientists and civilians are forced to evacuate Icarus Base to the Ancient space ship Destiny, located several billion light years from Earth, and are trapped there; the ship doesn't have enough power to dial such distances and return them to the Milky Way. After the death of Senator Alan Armstrong when he sacrificed himself to close a breach in the hull caused by a damaged shuttle, Dr. Nicholas Rush told the survivors that the life support still has damage. The ship then unexpectedly dropped out of FTL and dialed a planet. An away team is sent to the planet to search for materials to repair the CO2 scrubbers.
Lt. Matthew Scott and six other people, Sgt. Curtis, MSgt. Ronald Greer, Dr. Jeremy Franklin, Andrea Palmer, Dr. Nicholas Rush and Eli Wallace arrive at the planet, where they quickly sense a heat wave. Eli on the other hand, finds it "cool" to be on his second off world travel. While Franklin uses the Ancient remote control to make sure they can Gate back to the ship, Palmer quickly finds that the sand contains gypsum, which is close to what they are looking for. However, after running a test, they find that the sample is not suitable enough. Their best chances are to find a dried lake bed, meaning they have to start searching the area around it. Franklin is able to contact the Destiny, where Colonel Everett Young reminds them they have 12 hours to find what they need.
On board the Destiny, Young visits Chloe Armstrong in one of the sleeping quarters. She tells him she's fine, but Young thinks otherwise, and they have a brief conversation. Young tells Chloe that he is going to use the Long-range communication device to make contact with his superiors back on Earth. Knowing what the device does, Chloe asks to talk to her mother back on Earth.
In a Homeworld Command lab on Earth, Colonel David Telford has been sitting next to the communication device ever since Rush contacted Lt. General Jack O'Neill. Dr. Mehta tells him to take a rest. As Telford is in the middle of answering to tell her he will stay, he gets a brief blackout. When he comes to, his consciousness has been replaced with Young's. He identifies himself to Mehta and asks for an audience with O'Neill. He also tells her he's going to need her. As this is happening, Telford is in Young's body on the floor of one of the quarters, and hears from Lt. Tamara Johansen that Young suffered several bruises and broken ribs. Mehta, now in Chloe's body, enters the room and helps TJ aid Telford.
After O'Neill gives Chloe Major Green to take her to her mother's house, he talks with Young, who tells him what he felt Rush neglected to tell him when he was in Lee's body; there's a failing life support aboard the ship, and despite their best efforts to fix it, Young tells him no one is properly qualified. There, O'Neill tells Young "In the past dozen years or so, we've sent hundreds of teams through that thing. I think the bottom line is: none of us are qualified." Before Young leaves, he tells O'Neill that he thinks soon it may be time to give the people on board the ship their chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.
Back on the desert planet, Franklin is already struggling in the trek, and suggests they should check out the other planets, but Rush overrules him. He feels the other gate addresses were locked out for a reason; the materials they need must be on this planet or the ship wouldn't have sent them here. Some time later, the team are still trekking through the middle of the desert. Eli jokes that he saw the Statue of Liberty in a mirage (referencing Planet of the Apes). Finally, Scott decides it would be faster to split up. He takes Greer and Rush with himself and sends Eli with Palmer, Franklin and Curtis in another direction, placing Eli in charge, and Curtis as Eli's protector. They should test a sample of the sand every 20 minutes, and radio the rest if they find a lake bed.
On Earth, Chloe Armstrong (in Mehta's body) arrives at her mother's house. When Patricia Armstrong finds out her daughter is home, she rushes out to the car only to find herself with a complete stranger, but the woman insists she is indeed Chloe. Inside, Patricia finds it difficult to accept that Chloe is actually on a spaceship far from home, and takes a drink to calm her nerves. She makes Chloe promise that she should return safely, but Chloe says she might not; the ship's life support system. She later finds out her husband died in the process, and breaks down in tears.
Rush's expedition now has nine hours until the ship leaves. TJ gives Mehta the tour, and informs her that everyone is either in their quarters, or working on a way to solve the air situation inside the ship. Telford meanwhile, instructs Sgt. Hunter Riley to dial the Gate to the planet every 20 minutes, even though that could tax the ship's power. He also tells them to try and dial the other four planets in range. TJ arrives and tells Telford he must rest and let Young's body recover, but Telford is adamant about continuing throughout the ship.
Rush tests another sample, but it is also negative. While adamant they should keep going, Rush says it would be impossible to maintain the same fast pace on the way back after six hours. He provokes Greer to hit him, while Scott is distracted by a dust vortex that no one seems to notice. As they continue, the vortex hovers over the wet patch of sand and appears to dry up the area.
Meanwhile on the Destiny, TJ gives Telford something for the pain, which is revealed to be a sedative, knocking Telford out cold to prevent any further health risks to Young. Mehta argues that TJ was out of line, but she retorts that what's out of line is being willing to disregard the health of another human being, as Telford was doing with Young's body, and she leaves the room, leaving an indignant Mehta with Telford.
With another sample turning negative, Eli and the rest of his team continue arguing about searching the other planets. Franklin believes he has found an override to allow the Gate to dial the other 4 planets. Eli is the only one who believes they should stay. Meanwhile, Rush's next test is also negative, and he admits he cannot go on. He gives Scott his canteen so Scott can continue with the testing. Scott appoints a reluctant Greer to take Rush back To the gate. There, Eli quietly reports to Scott about Curtis, Palmer and Franklin who have given up and, having figured out how to override the Destiny lockout, have decided they should check one of the other planets; Scott orders Greer to stop them if he can.
Back on Earth, Patricia, having learned of her husband's death, threatens that if anything happens with her daughter, she will go public with information about Stargate Program. Chloe argues with her and then leaves.
Once again Scott, now traveling alone, sees the dust vortex on the desert planet. He pours some water on the sand, offering it to the vortex. Suddenly, as the vortex blows away sand, it exposes a human head wearing a priest's collar.
Elsewhere, on their way back to the Stargate, Rush asks Greer for water, which begins an argument. When Greer accuses him of thinking that rich people like him gets to boss everybody around. Rush responds that his father worked in the Glasgow shipyards, and earned a scholarship to Oxford while working two jobs. Rush again provokes Greer into fight. Greer threatens to shoot Rush if he fights him again, but he is sure that Greer will not shoot, as they need him. They continue to walk towards the Gate.
At the Gate, Eli continues attempting to convince the team to stay on the planet but they refuse to listen. After sending the Kino through and discovering that the planet has plants and water, Palmer and Curtis pass through the Gate to one of the previously locked out planets. At that moment Greer also reaches the Stargate and fires a warning shot at Franklin. Franklin, however, refuses to stop and attempts to run through the gate. Rush tells Greer to shoot Franklin, which he does to the shoulder. Franklin falls to the ramp and the Stargate closes before he can pass through, effectively stranding Palmer and Curtis since Franklin is carrying the Ancient remote. Rush says they can send them another remote lateR. Greer tries to contact Scott by radio but he doesn't respond.
On the planet, Scott walks through the desert after the vortex and the same priest appears and follows him. The man encourages Scott to keep moving and not to give up. Scott answers that he will not let anyone down like he did to the man and has no need for this man to follow him around and remind him of that fact.
Back at the Gate, Greer decides to go and look for the lieutenant. Rush believes that would be suicide, as there is little time left before the Gate closes and Destiny re-enters FTL. Eli offers to join Greer in his search, but Greer refuses, claiming that Eli will only slow him down. He asks Eli to take the injured Franklin back to Destiny and wait. Also he gives Eli his sidearm "just in case" and teaches him to use it by simply loading the chamber. Eli promises to stay on the planet as long as possible to wait for him and Scott.
Back on board the Destiny, Young recovers in his own body and realizes that he was sedated. Meanwhile, Rush and Franklin return through the Stargate, where Rush tells those in the Gate room what happened. Sometime later, on the planet, Eli has activated the Stargate to the address Curtis and Palmer went through. He attempts to contact them, but receives no reply, which worries Eli; either the two are out of range, or they are both dead.
Scott is still wandering around in the desert when he collapses and flashes back into his teenage years, where he sits in a church crying as the priest consoles him. Scott finally loses consciousness, coincidentally just short of a dried lake bed. He fully remembers his conversation with the priest. He tells him about a sixteen year old girl that he barely knows, and is pregnant with his child but is going to have an abortion. Scott had intended to become a priest also, but he now thinks he is too weak. The priest assures Scott it is not his fault, that Jesus will forgive him, when he suddenly turns into the dust life form. In reality, the life form moves past Scott and exposes an underground water source near his head, waking him. Scott realizes that he has finally found the lake bed and tests it for lime, which is successful. With little time left, he shovels as much of the mineral as possible into his backpack and starts walking back to the gate.
At the gate, Eli meets a group of soldiers led by Lt. Vanessa James, who have brought him another Kino. He points them in the location of Greer and Scott, boots up the kino, and the team start searching. Meanwhile, Scott is walking as fast as he can with the heavy bag of lime. However, he stumbles numerous times, while Greer is running through the sand dunes to find him.
With very little time and no water, Scott can go no further with the back pack and collapses yet again. Fortunately, he is spotted by Greer, who hands him some water and convinces him to get up, and helps him. Scott however, tells him to carry the bag and leave him behind, but Greer convinces him to get up.
There are only three minutes remaining. James returns to the Gate after she cannot find the two, and goes through the Gate, though Eli is determined to stay, and sees through the Kino footage to find Greer and Scott. By now, the countdown has turned red, meaning they have under one minute. Eli is finally able to see Greer and Scott on the horizon with the lime, but with very little time, they won't make it. Rush radios Eli and tells him to stick his arm through the event horizon, hoping that if the Gate is still active, the ship won't jump back to FTL. Eli reluctantly complies.
By the time the countdown reaches zero, the ship starts shaking as if it wants to go back into FTL, but it cannot. Fortunately, the Gate remains active long enough for Eli, Greer and Scott to return with the lime. Moments later, the ship is able to jump back to FTL.
A little time later, the crew converts the lime into a milk-like liquid, and refills the CO2 scrubbers with it. It doesn't take long for the crew to notice that air is returning to normal, as they hear air vents activating. They are all able to breathe easier again.
Chloe visits Scott in his quarters, who is recovering from the mission. She gives him water and tells him to drink it. Knowing what Chloe went through earlier, he tells her that when he was only four years old, his parents were killed in a car accident, and was raised by a priest until he died from alcoholism when Scott was 16. He then tells her that there are some things in their lives they will never get over, but they can go through it the best they can. As the two continue to rest, they do not notice a small spaceship separating itself from Destiny, which was attached while they were traveling in FTL, and is now making its own way.
Senator Alan Armstrong; Ancient; Ancient remote control; Annie Balic; Calcium carbonate; Carbon dioxide; Canteen; Captain Marvel; Church; CO2 scrubber; Dehydration; Desert planet (Air); Destiny; Destiny Gate room; Dust bug; Event horizon; Faster-Than-Light engine; Glasgow; Gypsum; G36K; President Henry Hayes; Homeworld Command; Hypoxia; Icarus Base; Jump countdown; Kino; Life support; Lime; Long-range communication device; Long-range communication stone; M9 pistol; Neurapraxia; Oxford; Planet of the Apes; Rib; Salt; Scholarship; Sedative; Statue of Liberty; Unknown spacecraft; Water
(Upon arriving at the Desert planet)
Chloe: Colonel, I've edited enough of my father's speeches to know what you're going to say.
Young: You have no clue what I'm going to say, because I don't.
O'Neill: You know, I had some of my favorite arguments with your father.
Chloe: Are you saying you won some?
O'Neill: Depends on who you ask.
O'Neill: So how is it going out there? Really?
Young: Well, I don't know what Rush has told you. We may not have much time out there. The ship's very old, falling apart.
O'Neill: Fix it.
Young: I'm trying. Even if we can get the life support working, we don't have much food and water.
O'Neill: Well, go get some.
Young: We're not suppose to be there, sir. These are the wrong people, in the wrong place. And as a group, they're just not qualified.
O'Neill: Oh, please. I wasn't qualified to lead that first team through the Stargate.
Young: I understand that, sir.
O'Neill: In the past dozen years or so, we've sent hundreds of teams through that thing. I think the bottom line is, none of us are qualified.
Eli: I know, it was a mirage, but when we were walking over that last dune, I thought I saw the Statue of Liberty sticking half out of the sand, just for a second there! I was all ready to yell, "Damn you! Damn you all to hell!" (everyone ignores him) Oh, come on, that was funny!
Rush: Was it?
Eli: Because it would mean we were really on Earth, but in the future, and the apes had taken over ... and then buried the Statue of Liberty for some reason.
Rush: Eli, have a drink.
Rush: You think just because you were born poor, that gives you the right to be angry at the world! How pathetic!
Greer: Ooh, yeah, yeah. You think that's why I'm angry?
Rush: If it wasn't for the army, you'd be in jail, or worse.
Greer: Oh, that's what all you rich people think.
Rush: Rich?! My father worked in the shipyards in Glasgow! I earned a scholarship to Oxford while I was working two jobs! I have earned the right to make decisions without explaining myself to you or anyone else!
Eli: Why'd you do that?
Greer: He told me to.
Rush: I saved his life.
Eli: By shooting him?!
Young: What's going on?
Rush: Oh, we've had a lovely day at the beach. How about you?
- This episode marks the disappearance of Sgt. Curtis and Andrea Palmer. They become the second and third loss for the expedition after the death of Senator Alan Armstrong, and not counting the people who died in the initial attack without ever reaching the Destiny.
- The song playing at the end of the episode is "Breathe" by Alexi Murdoch.
- This is the third instance where an alien being is believed to communicate with a character, via a vision, to support them through a near-death experience. The first two are "Grace" and "Grace Under Pressure" featuring Major Samantha Carter and Dr. Rodney McKay, respectively.
- The idea of an alien life form being a consciousness within an inanimate object is similar to the Stargate SG-1 episode "Watergate".
- This episode is the first to feature a sort of "Previously on Stargate Universe" segment in the beginning. However, no one in the cast says the announcement. The segment is interpreted in "Kino vision".
- The offworld scenes were shot in White Sands, New Mexico.
- Sandra Timuss (Martha) only appears in this episode in a deleted scene that is only included in the extended version of "Air".
- Mar Andersons (Major Green) previously played Bob in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Point of No Return" and "Wormhole X-Treme!" and Air Force Official in the episode "Avalon, Part 1".
- Anna Galvin (Patricia Armstrong) previously played Dr. Reya Varrick in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Collateral Damage" and the Sekkari artificial intelligence persona of Vanessa Conrad in the Stargate: Atlantis episode "Remnants".
- Michael Karl Richards (Major Peterson) previously played Guardsman in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Sight Unseen".
- Timothy Webber (George) previously played Commander Gareth in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Icon".
- General O'Neill has a chess game opened on his laptop in his office when Colonel Young reports to him.
- When Chloe Armstrong goes to see Patricia Armstrong, there is a shot with a piano, its ornate music stand is lying flat. In this particular shot it would have been a distraction had it been up. Moments later we see that piano and the music stand has been mysteriously raised.