The Best and Worst of Stargate SG-1: Season 3

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For previous installments:

 

The Best:

Into the Fire, Seth, Fair Game, Legacy, Point of View, Rules of Engagement, Past and Present, Jolinar’s Memories, The Devil You Know, Foothold, Pretense, A Hundred Days, Shades of Grey, Maternal Instinct, Crystal Skull, and Nemesis

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Quite briefly:

  • Into the Fire and Seth deal with the deaths of both Goa’uld System Lords, Hathor and Seth. Hathor was much better depicted in Into the Fire compared to her first appearance, Hathor. These events lead to the meeting of the remaining System Lords during Fair Game, which introduces Lord Yu, Cronus, and Nirrti;
  • Legacy is another one of my favorite early episodes, in which Daniel Jackson begins to show signs of schizophrenia, and is subsequently locked away. A device created by Ma’chello is the real culprit;
  • Point of View is another Alternate Timeline  episode using the events of There But For the Grace of God as a flashpoint. Although not the initial episode to introduce the idea of a Colonel Jack O’Neill-Major Samantha Carter pairing, it is significant in perpetuating this idea to continue in the following seasons Upgrades and Divide and Conquer;
  • Rules of Engagement is an interesting episode with similarities to the Star Trek: Voyager‘s story, “In The Flesh“;
  • Past and Present brings back Linea, the Destroyer of Worlds, from the previous season’s Prisoners, as Ke’ra;
  • Jolinar’s Memories and The Devil You Know deal mostly with the reintroduction  Apophis, after the events of Serpent’s Song. The foe is generally regarded as Sokar, whom also does not survive past this story;
  • Foothold is a fantastic classic episode of the series which is often worth re-watching;
  • Pretense is another early moral story of the series, with the Tollan and the Goa’uld at the forefront, and Skaara/Klor’el in the middle. The Nox, Lya, makes her last appearance here;
  • A Hundred Days is a decent episode, but the romance between O’Neill and Laira was a little much;
  • I really, really love Shades of Grey in which O’Neill defects to the NID, only to really be really working for the SGC in order to have stolen items returned;
  • Maternal Instinct introduces Oma Desala during the story arc to find the Harcessis child;
  • Crystal Skull is aptly named, dealing with Jackson’s grandfather, Nicholas Ballard; and,
  • Nemesis is the first episode to feature the Replicators, who would have a presense in the show all the way through The Ark of Truth.

According to the GateWorld review of Seth:

“Seth” had the potential to be a solid episode, combining action and adventure withinteresting characters and snappy dialogue. Unfortunately, less-than-believable premisesmarred this otherwise good episode.

Although I was interested by the concept behind “Seth,” I felt the script could have used asignificant overhaul. Many of the elements of a good story — interesting characters, smartdialogue, development of the overall series story — were present, but the plot had moreholes than a hunk of Swiss cheese.

For example, I thought the only remnant of the Tok’ra in Sam was a protein marker — howcould Seth sense that? Does this mean Sam is going to be a liability every time they do anundercover operation close to a Goa’uld? Why did Jack tell that lie about being adeprogrammer after Sam let slip about the Tok’ra connection? He had to know Seth was goingto see right through that — no human is supposed to know about the Tok’ra.

I groaned aloud when Seth said ordered his guards to take SG-1 away and kill them. He givesthem the chance to escape served up on a silver platter. I’m surprised he didn’t tell themall his plans for world domination first, a la the James Bond super-villain who alwaysmakes the mistake of not killing his nemesis in plain sight at the first chance.

Additionally, those were fairly quick recoveries Jack and Daniel made from the hand deviceblast. And of course, Seth doesn’t kill them after he blasts them back, when he has theperfect opportunity to fry their brains or just shoot them with one of the zats lying onthe floor. No, he decides they can wait for the bomb, giving Jack and Daniel that crucialescape chance again.

Then, all the escaping cult members just happen to put their hoods up, making Seth moredifficult to locate?

I also found it hard to believe that Sam could overpower an experienced Goa’uld with adevice she can’t control. After her battle with Seth, Sam looks decidedly conflicted aboutthe power she has just used. I’ll be interested to see if this is dealt with in a future episode.

I was willing to overlook most of the problems with “Seth” because of how much I liked to concept and the character information. Many of the questions above didn’t occur to me untilafter my second viewing of the episode, when I was less caught up in the plot. The actionand clever dialogue covered a multitude of sins.

My favorite part of this episode was the development of Jacob Carter. I’ve been interestedin the character since his introduction in “Secrets” and blending in “The Tok’ra, Part 2.” I’m glad the powers thatbe chose to show us more of him, including his complex relationship with Sam and his son.To blend him and drop the character would not only be cheap plot device, but a waste theinteresting idea of symbiotic life with an alien organism. As the first modern earthling tohost a Tok’ra, his character would have unique and interesting insights into both cultures,and could serve as a bridge in the show, breaking down the mystique of the Tok’ra andgiving the viewer greater insight into their life and society.

It is interesting to see the teething troubles of his relationship with the symbiote,Selmak, including their conflict over Jacob’s relationship with Mark. From Jacob’sinteraction with Agent Hamner, including his easy authority, it is clear he’s still verymuch Jacob. Besides time-sharing a body, one would think sharing each other’s thoughts isbound to change both characters. How much Jacob will be affected will be interesting tosee.

While were on the topic of the Tok’ra, I love how the not-always-so-flipping-helpful Tok’rabarge in to the SGC and ask for our assistance with a rogue Goa’uld. These people need tobe sent tapes of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” so they can bone up on the elementary conceptsof sharing and respect. Another thing I have wondered about the Tok’ra is, given theirapparent technological advancement, what is with the nearly animal-skin style outfits andfuzzy boots?

The “Jaffa jokes” scene is my favorite. This was one of the series’ more entertainingattempts at demonstrating cultural barriers. How utterly delightful to get a less gruesomelook into Jaffa life, and to see Teal’c’s wonderful laugh and smile! Do it again, please!I’m waiting anxiously to hear “A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard, and a Setesh Guard walk intoa bar …”

Not at all humorous but just as interesting was the exchange between Jacob and Teal’cregarding parents and children. I loved the expressions of both Teal’c and Jacob whenTeal’c informs him that “many things are complicated, General Carter. In Jaffa society,loving one’s children is not one of them.”

The episode contained plenty of the snappy dialogue I have come to expect from the writingstaff. The exchanges between Jack and Agent Hamner were sharp and indicative of Jack’sfeelings for the overly bureaucratic and officious. Jack’s introduction of the team to Sethhad me in stitches, as well as the scene in which Daniel informs Sam and Jack of the fateof those who fall under Seth’s power. The look exchanged between Jack and Sam is classic,as is Jack’s disbelieving clarification of situation, which happens to be my favorite lineof the episode: “Eunuch … as in ‘snippity-do-dah?’ ”

The effects were also great. I liked the floating gold pyramid, and I never cease to beimpressed with how realistic the transportation ring effect looks. I enjoyed the look ofSeth’s compound. Modern godhood apparently has its perks: get all the trappings of ajeweled throne, but you can dress casually. You can’t beat leather and cotton forcomfort.

My production qualm for this episode concerns the lighting of certain scenes. Any time thedirector chooses to finally force the production staff to light Daniel’s office properlywould be fine with me. It’s always dark and shadowy, which is O.K. for alien planets butannoying in the SGC.

“Seth” is long on action, production quality, character development, and dialogue.Unfortunately, this otherwise solid episode falls short in plausibility department.

According to the GateWorld review of Fair Game:

Lest we believe the powers that be have forgotten the many plot threads left from the first two seasons, “Fair Game” delivers a tense intertwining of some of those threads and new exposition of the characters and the Stargate universe.

Despite its title, everything about the situation encountered in this episode seems unfair. The Asgard Thor whisks O’Neill up to the ship and promptly drops the bomb: the System Lords have decided that the death of Hathor at the hands of SGC forces indicates Earth may be a threat to their power, and are considering launching an attack on Earth one hundred times greater than Apophis’ assault.

In short order it is made clear that the Goa’uld will negotiate with the Asgard for the protection of Earth, but only if both Earth and the Asgard are willing to make enormous concessions – including limiting human development and ending Gate travel. The area between the rock and the hard place grows even smaller after Cronus is attacked, apparently by Teal’c, and the remaining members of the System Lord delegation demand to leave and take him to a sarcophagus to be healed.

If allowed to leave, the Goa’uld would surely attack Earth, yet keeping the System Lords would lead to the same result.

These impossible situations serve to show just how precarious Earth’s position is in the universe, and to highlight the absolute ignorance in which we first stepped through the Gate. General Hammond asks the $64,000 question: “What do we really know about the politics out there?” Indeed, as Jack pointed out in “The Fifth Race”, we are out there, but as “Fair Game” shows, we are woefully ignorant and unprepared.

The Asgard’s low-key warning in “The Fifth Race” that humans have a long way to go did not convey the depth of doo-doo available for Earth to step into. “Fair Game” demonstrates the complexity of the Stargate universe and the immediacy of the danger to Earth. “Stargate SG-1” has come along way since the first season of tripping merrily through the galaxy, solving problems and defeating enemies in time for supper.

“Fair Game” is an episode rich in detail and development, a treat for fans looking for a show with more than cool effects and big explosions. I enjoyed the exposition of the politics and history of the Goa’uld and Asgard, and hope this information is utilized in future plots, particularly the mysterious enemy of the Asgard and tenuous nature of the System Lords alliance.

The complexity of the relationships and motivations shown lend the show a real world feel. The nature of alliances and the availability of resources play as important a part in this episode as they do in actual international relations.

One of the best features of this episode was the weaving together of various plot lines from the previous seasons. The summit is brought about because of SG-1’s tangles with Hathor and Apophis. It brings back Nyerti, the Goa’uld responsible for the extinction of an entire planet and the death of four SGC members in “Singularity”. New baddie Cronus is introduced and tied to the history of Teal’c and Carter.

The frustrating “limited benevolence” of the Asgard is finally explained by the revelation that much of their resources have been diverted to fighting an even more threatening enemy in their home galaxy. At the end of “Thor’s Chariot”, the viewer might well ask herself if the Asgard are so technologically advanced as to almost effortlessly remove the Goa’uld from Cimmeria, and are concerned for humans (as evidenced by their creation of the Hammer and the safe planet), why haven’t they simply removed the Goa’uld altogether?

A less well-written program might consider producing a magical solution to the plot problem posed in “Thor’s Chariot” and then returning to previous assumptions. Fortunately, Stargate avoids this temptation; when alien technology is acquired it comes with strings and drawbacks, and the ethical considerations surrounding its procurement are considered.

I was particularly moved by the revelation of the murder of Teal’c’s father and the explanation of his motivation in serving Apophis. Christopher Judge’s expressions and inflections were excellent. I hope we see more of this storyline.

I was confused by Thor’s choice of Jack as representative for Earth; but then, so was Jack. It could be that he was chosen because he traveled to an Asgard world in “The Fifth Race,” becoming the only human with whom the Asgard have had significant personal contact. It might also have been a cultural assumption on the part of Thor that Earth would send its diplomat out to make contact with them and lead their team in exploring the galaxy. The only explanation offered by Thor is that Jack is the leader and that he “believes [Jack] has it in him to make the right decision.”

Jack’s frustration with Thor when he asks for advice as to whether to accept the System Lords’ proposal embodies all of the frustration of Earth’s experience with the Asgard. The feeling that something is being left back and hidden, the feeling that a superior knowledge is there but unattainable by their decision, the frustration of seeing a means of salvation but being unable to grasp it.

I was really impressed with the effects used to create Thor, who got up out of the puppeteer’s chair and walked around the SGC. Did you know thats Michael Shanks as the voice as Thor? Me neither, but Joseph Mallozzi (writer and producer for SG-1 in later seasons) insists it is true.

Of all the questions left from this episode, there is one that I don’t think the powers that be will address, though they should: What is it in the Goa’uld genetic memory that makes these people such fashion criminals? The System Lords look positively ridiculous, as do Heru-ur and Apophis. I imagine it might disrupt the worship sessions to have congregants giggling over their god’s gold miniskirt, but that’s just me.

Seriously, I did have an issue with the character of Cronus, which seemed flat and cartoonish.

My favorite line is Jack on Daniel: “That boy can really grovel when he has to.”

According to the GateWorld review of Legacy:

“Legacy” is a well-conceived and executed episode. The acting, writing and production are excellent. It also proves that it is not necessary to “blow stuff up real good” or threaten the future of Earth in order to produce an engaging and memorable episode.

Michael Shanks hands in an outstanding performance; I believe it is his best work to date on the series. He deftly exhibits the symptoms of schizophrenia without going over the top. His scenes in the mental hospital were particularly haunting; his facial expressions and body affect aptly conveyed his mental state. Particularly evocative were Daniel’s oddly accepting and embarrassed look during the team’s visit to the hospital, and the way he let the words out in his explanation about the glasses.

We learn something of the character of Daniel Jackson in the generally calm and reasoned way he attempts to deal with the hallucinations caused by Machello’s Goa’uld-killers. While others might have panicked or given over to the delusions, Daniel is still, as much as he can, attempting to order the symptoms, look at the facts and come up with an explanation.

After the Goa’uld-killer has left him, Daniel is still on high doses of very powerful anti-psychotic drugs, which themselves cause delusions and unstable behavior. Yet he is still plodding away at the problem and manages to have one of his patented “Daniel Jackson Intuitive Leaps.”

The highlights for me were the Jack and Daniel interaction scenes – in the infirmary, the chess scene, and in the hospital room. It was interesting to see how much comfort andsupport Jack conveys simply by being there, rather than directly addressing the issue or taking overt action (though it became frustrating for me to watch this). Although Jack does not believe in the theories and ideas Daniel espouses, he believes in Daniel, and silently conveys that support.

At times Jack seemed to be straining out of his own body to do something more concrete, but is held back by some concern or hang-up of his own, the further exploration of which would be interesting. The quirky dynamics of the evolving relationship between these two very different men is one of my favorite aspects of the series.

I was also impressed with the work of the other actors. Sam’s look of utter heartbreak in the hospital scene felt authentic; it was almost painful to look at. Janet’s turn on the crazy train was also quite good (though my eyes nearly popped out when, for a moment, I thought we were going to see way more of the good doctor’s assets than is strictly proper).

“Legacy” is a very well-written episode, producing some of the most memorable lines of the season. Jack’s apology for his impending craziness, his claim to have a “calming effect” on the stressed, his exchange with Daniel over the gin cards and why the Linvers would chose Daniel’s closet, and Daniel’s question to Doctor MacKenzie about whey everyone was so quickto assume that he’s insane are highly quotable and sure to provide signature line material for email-happy fans.

My favorite is Jack’s solution to the Gate-related illness problem: “Why don’t we put a little sign at the base of the ramp that says ‘Gate travel may be hazardous to your health?'” Yes, in addition to losing your mind, you can get blown up by snake-headed aliens, thrown back in time, or sucked into a black hole. Obviously, some sort of Surgeon General’s warning is required!

In addition to good dialogue and character exposition, I thought Legacy’s plot was well conceived and intriguing. Although Doctor MacKenzie seemed a little quick to put Daniel in a padded cell, the powers that be do only have 42 minutes to get through an episode, and it is not unusual for scientists to try to apply the facts of a case to fit preconceived theories. My only gripe is that I wish there could have been a slightly more concrete tag scene at the end. The episode lacked a bit of emotional resolution.

I’ve really enjoyed the addition late last season of Peter DeLuise to the rotation of directors. I thought his shots of Daniel in the mental hospital really got across the character’s point of view, particularly the expression of blurred vision and the long pan down the empty floor of the room, which gave the viewer a sense of how Daniel was seeing things (no pun intended).

My hat goes off to the make-up artists who created the Linvers Goa’ulds. The scene wherethe Linvers in SGC clothing looks up to Daniel in the briefing room is one of the spookiest things I’ve seen on television. I’ll be opening my closet with a higher sense of trepidation than usual!

“Legacy” receives high marks all-around for plot, dialogue, acting, direction and production. There’s quality on every level of this thoroughly enjoyable episode.

According to the GateWorld review of Point of View:

With a gripping plot and excellent acting, “Point of View” is one of my favorite episodes of this season. The alternative reality plot device is one of the oldest in science fiction. Though it can be a cheap and tired method of filling out a season, Stargate’s second utilization of the device manages to catch much of the desperate, edge-of-your-seat feeling that made “There But For the Grace of God” one of the most popular episodes of the first season.

The lighting, music, and choice of camera angles build tension in the viewer. This is exemplified by the scene of the capture of Daniel, where the choice of angles seem to make the Goa’uld staff weapons pop out at you. I loved the expressions exchanged among Jack, Daniel, and Major Kawalsky in this scene. The desperation of the alternate reality also gives the characters a chance to ascend to a level of heroism not available in the average episode, for example, Colonel Hammond’s torture and death at the hands of Apophis.

As exciting as the alternate universe scenes are, “Point of View” adds more by laying out philosophical questions posed by the alternate reality theory. As Teal’c asks in the briefing room “Which reality is actually real?” Do the denizens of this reality have an obligation to the others? Daniel states that “in the grand scheme of things, we owe them.” This is in line with his thinking in “There But For the Grace of God,” where he convinced the members of the SGC in that reality to give up their last chance to save themselves in order to save more people in his reality. He believes that there is a duty to help fellow humans, even outside of our reality.

On the other hand, General Hammond seems entirely uncomfortable with the whole idea, and reluctant even to allow Dr. Carter and Major Kawalsky to stay. No move is made to help Dr.Carter’s universe until it becomes clear that she cannot remain here because of the entropic cascade failure induced by Major Carter’s existence.

Teal’c seems to come to the opposite conclusion reached by Daniel when he proclaims, after killing his alternate self, “Ours is the only reality of consequence.” The answers to these questions are left open to the viewer. I would enjoy further exploration of the many issues posed by the alternate universe theory.

From experiences in both alternate realities, Daniel’s joining the Stargate project seems to be one of the key factors in keeping Earth from being conquered by the Goa’uld. “Point of View” neatly ties in “There But For the Grace of God” – without Daniel stumbling into the first alternate reality, our Earth does not have the coordinates to send the preemptory strike to Apophis’ ship, and probably would not have survived to help the denizens of Dr.Carter’s reality.

The continuity of the show and interrelation of the universes makes for enjoyable viewing,and is more intellegent and believable than the “reset button” used in so many sci-fishows. The idea that Earth’s fate rests in the hands of seemingly small decisions lends a delicious sense of the precarity to the episode, and new import to the movie scene where a wet and bedraggled Daniel peers into Catherine Langford’s car.

Dr. Carter’s hair looks like the wig it is, but that’s my only problem with the performance of Amanda Tapping, who pulls double duty as Dr. and Major Carter. Tapping ably demonstrates how their different choices have separated Dr. and Major Carter, yet their essential nature remains the same. This was particularly effective in the scene where Dr. Carter’s entropic cascade failure is diagnosed and the two Sams go into a state of scientific synergy, finishing each other’s sentences. Dr. Carter’s use of Jack’s trademark “fer cryin’ outloud” is a humorous highlight of their differences, which are more seriously dealt with in a later scene, where Dr. Carter’s snarkiness towards Major Carter is explained when Dr. Carter admits to her feelings of inadequacy at not being able to stop the Goa’uld attack in her universe.

It also raises the question of how much luck and circumstance is involved in Major Carter’s career and how she might react to a more devastating failure than she has previously encountered. Dr. Carter’s more open affection for her loved ones, such as the fond kiss she bestows on the cheek of Hammond and Teal’c, indicate that Major Carter might be more expressive of her caring for her teammates were she not bound by the expectations attached to her position. Tapping’s ability to deliver the separate characters and to convey emotion without an overly wordy script is reminiscent of her powerful performances in “In the Line of Duty” and “Singularity.”

Although the decision to bring in the Asgard to solve the problem seems at first to be adeus ex machina, this is a believable ending, as the Asgard have demonstrated a willingness to intervene when an entire civilization is threatened, such as on Cimmeria, and at least to take some measures to protect humans on their home planet, as in “Fair Game.”

The Stargate crew seems to give a nod to the alternative universe stories of yore by giving alternate Apophis a goatee, a la the “evil” Spock of Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror.” It is a delightful coincidence that SG-1 travels to the alternate realities through a mirror device.

Perhaps the alternate universe plot device is so satisfying because it addresses the universal human tendency to ask “what if” when we cannot possibly discover the answer. The various possibilities of our choices seem to lie all around us, just out of reach.

“Point of View’s” choice of material, excellent writing and quality acting makes it one of the standouts of the season.

According to the GateWorld review of Rules of Engagement:

While the concept underlying the plot in “Rules of Engagement” is an interesting one and the acting is above par, this potentially outstanding episode is hampered by plot holes, a slow pace, and a less-than-believable resolution.

The idea that Apophis tests his recruits by slaughtering them in a live-fire exercise, in which at least half are destined to die or be rejected as the “weak,” seems wasteful, even by Goa’uld standards. While I could put that premise down to the Goa’uld’s high disregard for life (particularly human), there were other areas of the plot that I could not stop questioning.

For example, while I understood why the Jaffa masters were called back to serve Apophis, especially given the desperation of the situation portrayed in “Serpent’s Song,” I wonder why the Jaffa would leave behind a group of highly trained and loyal humans. Teal’c indicates that it is customary for Apophis to use humans as fodder in battle, particularly in desperate times, so why was this group not used?

I was also unconvinced by the resolution offered. The writers, director and actors did avery good job of establishing how brain washed these humans are. In fact, I thought the acting of the young soldiers, Rogers, Nelson, and the captain, was a highlight of the episode. I was thoroughly convinced of their fanatical belief in their cause and their devotion to Apophis as a god. Given this background, I find it hard to believe that one airing of a tape of Apophis’s death is going to do the trick; yet, in the closing scene, we see each of the soldiers drop their shoulders and walk away.

This is not the reaction of I would expect of people who have dedicated themselves to one idea for such a long time. I would have thought it to be much more psychologically realistic to see some of the soldiers have difficulty dealing with this truth – to the point of suicide or re-dedication to the goal, even in view of more evidence. It is a common reaction of those who have had a central truth of life refuted to be unable to deal with the cognitive dissonance. If simply putting on a video were enough to turn around the world’s kooks and fanatics, the world would be much less interesting.

It seemed to me that the relationship Jack and Teal’c build with Rogers is what enables Rogers to deal with the truth about Apophis. I was very pleased with the glimpse into Jack’s character revealed through his interaction with Rogers, particularly in the infirmary scene. Jack is not only objectively concerned about the loss of human life that SG-1 has inadvertently set in motion, but the sad prospect of these young men wasting their lives and dying for nothing. It is a wonderful glimpse in to what is lying beneath Jack’s sometimes-gruff exterior.

Jack’s caring also comes out in a somewhat twisted way with his shaking and striking of Rogers in the return to the training planet. I was also touched by Jack and Teal’c’s words of comfort for Rogers when he is believed to be dying.

Unfortunately, the story was a little lacking in pacing and execution. It seemed the plot moved very slowly. Even during the battle sequences I felt a lack of tension, something Stargate does not usually fail to deliver. I was also disappointed with the lack of intellect demonstrated by the whole of the team. It seemed clear, only a few minutes into the show, what was going on on the planet. Indeed, Teal’c recognized the exercises and their meaning almost immediately.

It also seemed clear how dedicated this group was in their belief. I’m not sure why SG-1 decided to try the old “Apophis is dead” speech. Given their previous attempt at contradicting the order of the soldiers’ existence and their well-evidenced fanaticism, I would think SG-1 would have known that this approach would not work, and would only waste the trust and standing they had by virtue of being Apophis’s emissaries. As Teal’c notes,”Apophis has lived for thousands of years. It is like we said the sun would not rise again.”

What is worse is Jack’s relatively lame attempt at persuasion. Cancelled because of rain?! Even I wasn’t convinced, and I haven’t spent years being brain washed by someone who appears to have god-like powers. I was also disappointed Sam had to do the thinking for Jack in coming up with the solution, and was outright disturbed by Daniel’s lack of attention as Jack goes over the last-minute mission details.

There were several moments that featured the clever dialogue I’ve come to expect from the Stargate writing team. The “Lord” Hammond bit was very amusing, as was the “four eyes” exchange and the “huge honkin’ Apophis.” My favorite line was Jack’s response to the captain’s assertion that they would be in even more trouble if they continued to ignore the rules: “More trouble than death?”

Although I enjoyed the concept of this well-acted episode, the execution interfered with that enjoyment. Ironically, I was not engaged by “Rules of Engagement.”

According to the GateWorld review of Past and Present:

“Past and Present” is a flawed but enjoyable episode. Although I enjoyed the premise and the performances, I found some of the plot elements less than believable and feel it would have been better received if presented slightly later in the season.

To start with the compliments, I was very happy to see the return of Linea. “Prisoners” was one of my favorite episodes of Season 2, and it would have been disappointing if the SGC had not had to deal with the repercussions of the mistakes made in that episode. Picking up past threads and integrating the episodes season-to-season is one of the greatest strengths of “Stargate SG-1.” It builds a rich and realistic world for fans to enjoy.

Seeing our heroes make mistakes, such as being so utterly naïve in their relationship with this woman that they met in prison and who had evidently done something to earn the fear of the tough types that populate Hadante, makes the characters and the show seem more real.

In the closing scene of “Prisoners” we see the shock and apprehension on the face of the SGC staff. “Past and Present” shows us how justified that fear was. The conversation between Sam, Jack and Teal’c in the library sums up how their previous actions not only permitted Linea to continue to be a threat, but magnified the threat and inadvertently assisted Linea in causing the crisis on Vyus.

I was impressed with the performances given, particularly Kera’s powerful mix of fear, desperation, and self-loathing during the climatic scene in the guestroom. Unfortunately, the episode’s occasional plot holes left me unsatisfied.

For example, could Kera really have a latent or instinctive knowledge of science and medicine if her memory is blocked? Though many people seem to have innate aptitudes for certain skills and subjects, I don’t think even a strong predisposition towards the sciences would make Kera the amazing biochemist she would had to have been to help. Evidence suggests that the skills — like dressing, drawing, or riding a bicycle — are separate from “declarative” memory functions like remembering facts and figures — what Kera might have needed to know to help.

Memory is very complicated; it’s possible the memory she needed to assist in the research wasn’t in the area of the brain, but it’s also possible that what made her Linea was also in the unaffected section of her memory, or not part of memory at all. I wonder why Dr. Fraiser or Sam weren’t more worried about Kera’s ability to remember “latent” scientific information — would that not also mean that she might remember, or have latent tendencies toward, her more sinister behavior? Dr. Fraiser seems disconcerted when Kera is so anxious to begin again after Orner is nearly killed by their first attempt at developing an antidote, but goes along with Daniel’s plan to administer dargol and re-block Linea’s memory. I would have thought that either Dr. Fraiser or another member of the medical staff might have thought to question that solution.

Linea is a fascinating character. She has many of the qualities typical of anti-social personality disorder (individuals sometimes referred to as psychopathic or sociopathic), including a lack of remorse for her actions, lack of empathy, a feeling that rules do not apply to her, egocentricity, and manipulation of others. Some of this seemed to be evident in her reaction (or lack thereof) to Orner’s seizures, and her interaction with Daniel. Although what she did might have been simple seduction, it could also have been manipulation — by using the feelings of a man she knew to be vulnerable, she created a very strong ally for herself.

(Daniel’s emotions and actions seemed much more aggressive and angry than normal, which could have been the result of manipulation, although they could also be attributed to normal grief.)

Research indicates that antisocial personality disorder is related to brain wave patterns and neurochemistry, both factors which would not be affected by whether Kera’s memories were blocked by the dargol. It’s very possible that, though she may never regain her memory, Kera will still be a danger to the people of Vyus.

Even if the Dargol were able to block the memory of Linea and the factors that cause antisocial personality disorder, Kera is a curious person by nature. How long will it be before she begins to ask questions about the Vorlix and her history that Orner and Layale are unable to answer, or until she attempts to find a cure for her amnesia? Even without full access to her memories, she has proven to be a very capable scientist.

I was also confused as to how Kera managed to take the antidote. Although we see the slide she took from the lab, it seemed like the amount of the slide was very small, and she could not have injected it into her corotid artery, as Dr. Fraiser said was required.

In addition, I felt that placing this episode directly after “Forever in a Day” was a little tacky, due to Daniel’s romantic involvement with Kera so soon after the death ofSha’re.

Although “Past and Present” has its shortcomings, it is not a bad episode. The performances were strong, the characters and plot were interesting, and many of the problems I noted did not occur to me until my second viewing.

According to the GateWorld review of Jolinar’s Memories:

“Jolinar’s Memories” is an outstanding episode that combines action, suspense, and character and plot development. Tying together threads from multiple episodes of both personal and galactic importance, the episode builds a plot worthy of the drama and intensity of emotion it exacts from the characters and the viewers. It lives up to the call of an episode where major plot points will turn.

The confluence of plot threads in “Jolinar’s Memories” melds perfectly. Information we are given in the previous Jolinar and Tok’ra episodes is built on. Past episodes that gave us information on the Goa’uld and the state of galactic politics — such as “Serpent’s Song” and “Fair Game” — are tied in and expanded on. The prevention of the unification of Goa’uld power under Sokar is a goal that justifies the risk involved in the mission — an important factor if the events of the episode are to be believable, rather than a flimsy mechanism for giving the team a chance to be heroic.

Even Apophis’ reemergence (after having “died”) and the portrayal of Sokar matches what we know of Sokar’s personality from “Serpent’s Song:” that he prefers to torture his enemies and watch them suffer, rather than kill them.

And while Apophis’ reappearance is a surprise, it’s not one that stretches the bounds of believability. (Though, given the number of times he’s come back now, perhaps he ought to change his name to the Energizer Goa’uld).

In addition to wonderful plot developments, “Jolinar’s Memories” takes the time to tell us more about the members of SG-1 and some of the show’s secondary characters. The episode gives us much to chew on regarding the character of Sam Carter, especially how she deals with the remnants of an alien presence in her mind. With introduction of the Tok’ra in Season Two’s “In the Line of Duty,” we see a new side of the Goa’uld — rogue, rebel Goa’uld who claim to be willfully joined with humans.

Though Jolinar is presented as a creature of benign intent, who took Sam only because it was necessary, we see in the closing scene of “In the Line of Duty” that, regardless, Sam is emotionally ravaged by the experience. Although Sam makes use of the gifts of her experience in later episodes, it’s usually only with a small show of concern (as in the last moments of “Seth” when Sam looks somewhat bothered by her use of the hand device) or detached interest (as in “The Tok’ra” when Sam is interested to hear about Jolinar from Martouf and kindly handles his advances).

In “Jolinar’s Memories,” we’re shown just how painful it can be to experience these memories. In spite of the pain, Sam is determined help her father, and even to shield Martouf, if she can — still more evidence of her strength of character.

Amanda Tapping is wonderful in “Jolinar’s Memories.” She takes beautiful advantage of a script that shows the many roles Sam plays: brave and determined officer, efficient and equal team member, loving daughter, and unwilling host to the memories of a Tok’ra rebel. She shows that, when given the chance to spread her wings beyond her role as the team’s science encyclopedia, she can ably deliver.

Through the response of the team to Sam’s pain, we see the bond between them. Each provides protection and comfort to their friend in their own manner. Daniel attempts to give comfort by giving her a chance to discuss her experience, away from Martouf’s demands and the pressure of not appearing vulnerable in front of her commanding officer. Jack comes to Sam’s defense when she is pressed by Martouf, in an attempt to alleviate the stress. (No matter how much Jack himself may demand of SG-1, woe betide the outsider who comes after one of his “kids.”)

Jack also comforts in his own way by being confident of their ability to rescue Jacob, such as when General Hammond says, “You will bring your father back safely,” and Jack replies for her, most assuredly: “Yes, Sir, we will.” Jack consoles by lending his confidence to Sam.

Jack’s increasing discomfort in working with Tok’ra is also in evidence. He views them as both arrogant and patronizing, which has some foundation given the team’s experience with them in last season’s two-parter, “The Tok’ra.” Throughout “Jolinar’s Memories,” Jack lets fly several barbs about the Tok’ra’s penchant for keeping them uninformed that are designed to let “Marty” and anyone else in the vicinity know that he’s not pleased with the dynamics of the Tau’ri-Tok’ra relationship.

The production quality of the episode was excellent. The surface shots of Netu in particular had my mouth agape. Told that they were going to have to create the set dressing for Hell, I’m sure the staff was a bit daunted by the task — but the result is quite scary and convincing.

“Jolinar’s Memories” kept me on the edge of my seat and drew me into the story. Normally, stories are either plot-driven or character-driven. “Jolinar’s Memories” shows that you can have the best of both worlds.

According to the GateWorld review of Pretense:

In a series that explores ethics almost as often as it explores alien planets, “Pretense” is “Stargate SG-1’s” richest and most ambitious exploration to date. In addition to raising important moral issues, “Pretense” delivers interesting character development and the long-awaited resolution of a plot thread that originated in the pilot episode.

“Pretense” asks the viewer to consider some of the most compelling and enduring ethical issues: what does it mean to be alive and when is the taking of another life justified? The question of the morality of the seekers is taken out of the equation; the Tollan and Lya refuse to consider whether Korel or Skaa’ra is the “better” person, leaving a decision to be made purely on the underlying principles — which are neither clear nor universally agreed upon.

Goa’uld must have hosts to live; can this need justify the taking of another life? Is life as a host to a Goa’uld, with no will of one’s own, actually life? What is the definition of sentient life — or is that distinction merely one of comparison, rather than objective qualification?

Although choosing between the manifestly evil Klorel and the sympathetic Skaa’ra at first seems easy, a look at how we treat life and sentience issues in American society reveals that these are questions we still debate. How we describe sentience and what legal rights should be accorded lower life forms is continually challenged by animal rights activists. The American legal system allows some killing for self-preservation, and our Constitution has been judged to permit the killing of unborn children, even those fully-developed and capable of existing on their own, for any reason, including personal convenience or the harvesting or organs and tissues to serve others.

“Stargate” chooses television’s favorite venue for exploring these issues: the courtroom. The episode not only explores these overarching issues, but also uses the occasion to tell us about the personality and beliefs of the characters. Skaa’ra selects both Jack and Daniel to be his arkons because he realizes the benefits of the different but complimentary strengths each character holds.

Jack sees people and their actions primarily as either bad or good. He has a set of principles and beliefs that he applies to all situations, and that he strongly defends. We see from his judgment of Lya and his arguments against Klorel that Jack sees the universe in terms of allies and enemies, good and bad. Lya is an “ally” and a good person who will see that the Goa’uld are bad. Jack repeatedly points out that the Goa’uld got where they are through theft and are evil, scheming parasites, a fact he emphasizes when he taps Travell’s viewscreen after a Goa’uld mothership suspiciously appears.

This may be why he is so continually frustrated by the Tollan and the Asgard, who often refuse to taken an active role in helping Earth defeat the Goa’uld, and with the Tok’ra, who claim to be “good” Goa’ulds. To Jack, there is a struggle between evil and good taking place, in which all must take sides. His attitude is a necessary one for the soldier in the field defending his home: there is a good and evil, and the protection of home and furtherance of his interests is the primary goal. His refusal to accept the idea that the evil Goa’uld would play fair lead Sam and Teal’c to discover that there is some plan to disrupt the triad in the works.

While Daniel also believes that there is right and wrong, he is more able to empathize with other cultures and to be more sensitive and diplomatic. While Jack’s primary goal is protection and defense, Daniel is more oriented towards understanding and alliance-building. His somewhat sarcastic line, “I know all this weapons chatter gets my blood pumping, but can we get back to the triad?” emphasizes his different orientation. He vigilantly ensures that, in fighting the Goa’uld, we do not become like them, and tries to ensure that overarching ethical concerns and values are considered in making decisions.

During the triad, Daniel presents his arguments diplomatically, more aware of the importance of following protocols. He directs his arguments specifically to what would be effective with Lya and High Chancellor Travell. As we see from this and other episodes, Daniel and Jack’s differing skills and approaches each have merit — and although they can be a source of conflict, they can also serve a valuable complimentary purpose.

Other ethical issues are visited in this episode. After the treachery of the Goa’uld is revealed, Sam questions Lya about her willingness to hide weapons that she knows will be used to take life. Lya admits that she has walked a fine line, but does not believe she has violated her pacifist principles.

We also see from Teal’c’s actions in direct defiance of O’Neill’s orders that Teal’c will put his own view of the stakes of the situation and the fight against the Goa’uld above his loyalty to Earth — or to Jack — if he believes it necessary. While all ended well in “Pretense,” this may come back to haunt SG-1 (see Season Four’s “Exodus”).

The episode also gives us other elements of character and plot development, the biggest of which is Skaa’ra’s freedom from the Goa’uld Klorel, which has possessed him for nearly three years. Though the ending of the episode is open, Skaa’ra’s statement that he has been watching and learning from his evil symbiote indicate that he has information that may be useful in the fight against the Goa’uld.

The happy resolution of this plot point is satisfying, especially for Jack, for whom Skaa’ra is a surrogate son. Daniel’s smile seemed somewhat wistful; he was pleased for being able to rescue his brother-in-law, but wondering why he could not do the same for his wife.

In “Pretense” we also see another indication of how greatly Sam has been affected by her joining with the Tok’ra Jolinar. Her explanation to Narim that she is unable to begin a relationship while she is still separating her emotions from that of the symbiote is a disappointment to Narim, with whom she has shared some affection, but is consistent with the theme of confusion and recovery that has been present in this episode, and in several episodes this season.

“Pretense” is an excellent conclusion to one of the series’ principle storylines. It deftly combines plot development with the exploration of compelling ethical questions and insight into the characters. It is an outstanding episode.

According to the GateWorld review of Nemesis:

With the end of its third season, Stargate SG-1 continues a tradition of cliffhangerfinales. “Nemesis,” the latest installment, at first glance seems reminiscent of Season One’s finale, with the team once again on a ship that is threatening Earth.

But the similarities end there. As we have also come to expect with this brilliant series,”Nemesis” offers some interesting surprises along with the usual tantalizing pieces of character development. I was thrilled to find a “human” imperfection within the superior Asgard, and equally delighted to be introduced to the unassuming nature of that race’s formidable enemy.

Nonetheless, I cannot claim this episode among my favorites. It certainly ends in a bang, though not an entirely surprising one; but the story begins with somewhat of a whimper.

“Fair Game” introduced us to the concept of an enemy worse than the Goa’uld, against which the Asgard were allocating most of their resources. Here, in “Nemesis,” we meet that enemy. Yet rather than some monstrous foe with gargantuan ships and morals to make even a Goa’uld quiver, we’re confronted with crab-sized purple Lego(TM) bugs. I foundthe entire scenario to be refreshing.

Thor admits his race fell victim to what I’ll call “curiosity killed the cat syndrome” by taking some of the purple techno-bugs (called “Replicators”) aboard their ships for study and becoming subsequently over-run.

The Asgard have effectively opened Pandora’s Box. Now it’s up to humankind, represented by SG-1, to clean up the mess. Suddenly this higher race of beings has become more “real;” and they are further brought down to size with Jack’s quip, “Expected more from you guys.”

On the adventure front, this episode provides plenty of gripping action – starting withour favorite colonel reacting with a shudder familiar to anyone with a revulsion for creepy, crawly things: a spider-like Replicator flitters across his chest. The episode builds to what could be a nail-biting moment when it appears Teal’c may end up lost in space, and climaxes with a big-bang, double-whammy-boom with the disappearance of the Stargate, a massive swarm of replicators and a fire-ball crashing into the Pacific.

It’s unfortunate these events weren’t further monopolized with added drama and suspense. With the time constraints of a television series, it may be understandable why such drama might be cut back to ensure the rest of the story gets told. Still, I’m not completely convinced the story as it occurs down at Stargate Command required the amount of airtime it received.

The scenes at the SGC did, however, provide us with the requisite dose of character and relationship development. I’ll admit to some disappointment at finding Daniel out of action before the action even presents itself, yet his ill-timed appendectomy allows for some intriguing interplay between Sam and Jack which otherwise might not have been possible, and which will surely both torment and entice viewers who have been interested in the possibilities of a Sam and Jack relationship. Sam is obviously taken aback, even flattered that Jack would think to invite her on his fishing trip to Minnesota. And though she refuses him twice, she appears interested. Is she or isn’t she? We are left hanging.

General Hammond provides further insight into his character as well, first when he alone acknowledges Colonel O’Neill’s “order” to wish him luck. It might be argued that the colonel’s order had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with Major Carter remaining on base rather than transporting up to the Beliskner, a command the general later overrides. But from the way the words were spoken it might also be implied that Jack had commanded his people to, in fact, wish him luck. That the general subsequently did so emphasizes Hammond’s accepted role of proud, father figure as opposed to the stern commanding officer his rank entitles him to.

A second demonstration of this is the scene between Hammond and Daniel, when the general admits to feeling a sense of helplessness and a desire to be “there” with his teams every time he sends them through the Stargate.

In terms of plot development and overall story line, “Nemesis” works. Still, there were a couple of potential flaws. First, while it becomes evident pretty quickly that the Replicators can reintegrate themselves after being blown to bits by gunfire, the team continues to plan and implement the destruction of Thor’s ship using SGC explosives. Knowing full well that the Beliskner would ultimately crash into Earth, that seemed to bea huge gamble, and indeed it paid off for the Replicators in the end. Perhaps there truly were no other options. Viewers couldn’t know that, however, as we were not privy to such discussions.

I’ll be curious to see how the writers handle the fireball of Thor’s ship crashing into the ocean when Season Four opens. With news shows and movie productions galore describing the after effects of asteroids hitting the Earth, I can’t help but wonder what damage might result from the impact of the Beliskner’s remains. Thor’s ship was massive. (We’re given an interesting perspective when a camera zooms in on a tiny spec of white against the ship’s side, and we come to see it to be Teal’c in a space suit.) Not that I expect to see a tidal wave drenching the California coast, but I do hope the ship’s impact is not entirely overlooked in the conclusion to this story.

Though I did find it somewhat lacking in drama, “Nemesis” works as a cliffhanger finale. We are left with several questions to ponder: Where have Daniel’s teammates escaped to? How well did each of them fare through the getaway? Could the Stargate have survived, sinking to the bottom of the ocean but intact? And of course, how are they going to exterminate those pesky, purple bugs?

Tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion. I know I will.

 

The Worst:

Deadman’s Switch, Demons Forever and a Day, and Urgo

urgo

Briefs:

  • Deadman Switch was sort of a fun episode, sort of;
  • Demons reminds us that the Unas were once misunderstood, but it doesn’t mean I still like them;
  • Forever in a Day to me was not all that interesting; and
  • Urgo was another one of those “fun” episodes, but I generally found Urgo annoying.

According to the GateWorld review of Demons:

Although “Demons” has some enjoyable highlights, this episode left me distinctly underwhelmed.

Michael Cassutt, Season Four writer and television veteran, says that given the demands of television shooting schedules, it is an achievement that programs get made at all — that they should come out good is a virtual miracle. Familiar as I am with the tight production schedule for “Stargate SG-1,” I’ll buy that argument and attribute what I perceive as this episode’s shortcomings to this factor. (The theory seems a sound one — what else could explain why I have 120 channels yet almost every fictional series is an atrocious pile of horse manure?)

“Stargate SG-1’s” constantly high-quality writing has spoiled viewers. Unfortunately, the smart, engaging dialogue featured in most of the show’s episodes is notably absent from “Demons.” Jack’s attempts at humor fall flat. His religious jokes come off weak and borderline tacky, and his directives to Carter should he or Daniel ever get the urge to help anyone again are mirthless and without the usual sarcastic bite.

In fact, it seems as though Jack had a world class case of PMS throughout the episode. I’m not certain to what we are supposed to attribute his bad mood. His reaction to the villagers, even Simon, seemed much less sympathetic than I would have expected (at least, before Teal’c was “killed”). Given his interaction with Teal’c about the Bible, his other God jokes, and his reaction to the villagers’ beliefs, I thought his behavior might indicate some bad experience with Christianity or religion in general — which would certainly be interesting to explore, since one of the major premises of the show is that the Goa’uld impersonate gods and exploit religious belief.

However, Jack’s foul mood was in evidence from the moment they stepped through the Gate, leaving me uncertain as to the true cause.

The other characters seemed as uninterested in the episode as I was. Sam seemed almost a non-entity. The sequence of trials and Teal’c’s reunion with the rest of the team should have been powerful and moving. I’m afraid I felt nothing like that.

The spluttering, barking Canon was annoying and predicable — a stereotype straight out of the beginning writer’s handbook. The character made the attempted surprise ending unsurprising. The moment the Canon said that they had “opened his eyes,” every weapon should have been on him. Anyone that rigid couldn’t have his eyes opened without the Jaws of Life. Other episodes’ maniacal baddies have inspired my fear and captured my interest. For the Canon, I could barely be bothered to muster some contempt.

This is not to say that the episode is totally devoid of good qualities. I enjoyed the performance given by David McNally in the role of Simon. The part called for the expression of complex motivations and concerns. McNally vividly brought to life Simon’s fear and bravery, doubt and faith. The performance was a bright spot in an episode filled with flat and cartoonish characters. In an episode where the actors seemed to trudge through, marking time, McNally was a welcome relief.

I loved the incidental music used in “Demons.” The low chanting was both evocative and haunting. It suited the mood of the episode perfectly, particularly during the preparation of Teal’c’s body. The scene was reminiscent of Teal’c’s preparation for trial in “Cor’ai,” when he was also attended by a group of young females in headscarves. Though that scene was also somber, the music in “Demons” really makes a difference.

I also enjoyed Jack’s opening remark about the very green universe we live in. It is amazing how many planets bear a striking resemblance to rural British Columbia, where the show is filmed!

Watching this episode, I wondered how it was that the Goa’uld gathered the knowledge necessary to impersonate the deities (or devils) of so many very different cultures. Surely they don’t walk up to random human settlements, distributing forms that read “Greetings! We’re the Goa’uld and we’ll be your conquerors for the next millennia. Please fill out this short survey of your culture’s major beliefs so that we may more easily impersonate your gods. Number 2 pencil only, please.” I’d like to hear more about how the Goa’uld came to infiltrate so many human cultures.

Although I enjoyed Demons’ guest hero and ethereal incidental music, most of the episode seemed flat and unremarkable. That said, a mediocre episode of “Stargate SG-1” is one hundred times more enjoyable most anything else on television.

 

According to the GateWorld review of Forever In A Day:

“Forever In a Day” is a difficult episode to pigeonhole. A gold mine of character development featuring excellent acting, the episode is a big risk that paid off handsomely.

I loved the opening scene, which throws the viewer straight into the action with little time to gather his or her wits. The battle scene and the reaction prompted from the viewer set an apt tone for an episode where nothing is what is expected. It was a thrill to see the show pick up one of its driving threads — the very reason for Dr. Jackson’s re-involvement in the Stargate program: the abduction of Sha’re.

During the first quarter of the episode, I had resigned myself to the idea that the Sha’re thread had been quickly killed, and that the rest of the episode would be a standard, though not necessarily bad, grieving episode. Oh boy, was I wrong. Delightfully wrong.

“Forever In a Day” kept me guessing as to what was really going on while delivering beautiful performances from each of the actors, who seemed unfazed by the peculiarity of Jonathan Glassner’s script. The odd appearances and disappearances of Sha’re and strange scene changes kept me engaged and on my toes.

In the visit off world, near the end of the episode, the color values of the planet seemed to have been flipped to their opposites — an effect which was both eerie and appropriate for the episode. I congratulate Glassner on bringing such an inventive and intriguing episode to the series. If Sha’re had to go, this was a great way to do it.

But did she have to go? Watching the seasons pass, I was wondering what would be done with this thread. Leaving the characters to search for her indefinitely creates a sense of vacancy. If Daniel did get her back, whole, what then does one do with the character? In a show of this type, focusing on the development of four characters as they depart on their weekly adventures, where does a permanent, stay-at-home love interest fit in? Taking Jackson out of the series would throw off the balance of the series, not to mention start a holy war between the fans and the powers that be.

In a way, Sha’re almost had to die. But at least she gets an angst-ridden, romantic death, with the bonus of a new quest for Daniel, revolving around a plot point established in Season Two but embellished with the revelation that the genetic memory of Sha’re’s Harcesis child could help Earth defeat the Goa’uld.

“Forever In a Day” is chock-full of interesting character development and plot advancement, though matters are confused by the issue of the hand device. Since none of the things that happened in the episode actually ‘happened,’ presumably we are seeing how Daniel thinks he and the team would react to Sha’re’s death at Teal’c’s hands (which hasn’t “happened” yet, but somehow Daniel is aware of its imminence).

For example, Jack’s somewhat flip response during the reunion scene in General Hammond’s office, “You see, I miss that! I have no idea what he means, but I buy it,” suggests that Daniel understands that Jack trusts him, even when Jack doesn’t understand or agree with Daniel’s intuitive (rather than concrete and systematic) way of thinking.

The attempts of each member, in his or her own way to console Daniel, despite their own discomfort, all seem authentic and mostly in line with their previous behavior — particularly for Jack. Interestingly, Sam seemed a little more openly emotional and empathetic than she has been in the past, and Teal’c’s direct request for forgiveness was a marked departure from his approach after the events of “Children of the Gods” and during “Cor-Ai.” We never see what Teal’c would have actually done, as Daniel, having learned from the vision, immediately absolves him.

I was impressed by the outstanding quality of all the acting in this episode. Michael Shanks’ work throughout was fantastic. I was particularly impressed with the funeral scene, during Daniel’s intercession for Sha’re. Both the funeral and the closing scene were utterly heart-wrenching.

I also very much enjoyed the scene between Jack and Daniel in Daniel’s office, in which Jackson admits that he had been carrying his hope with him each time they stepped throughthe gate — a hope Jack helped build and maintain. I loved the actor’s delivery of the dialogue and the body language, which seemed to capture the essence of their characters.

I was also impressed by the depth of emotion Christopher Judge was able to convey, in view of the confines of Teal’c’s character, who is not normally permitted to be very expressive. The elevator confrontation and the scene in Teal’c’s quarters were very good. I was impressed by how much Judge could get across with simple movements and minimal dialogue.

The acting of the entire cast was great, particularly during the funeral. The actors made the most of expression and body language in this somewhat confusing and less dialogue-driven episode.

Many television programs have a habit of producing episodes that conform to a single, predictable pattern, in part due to the fear of producing something that is confusing, challenging, or unappealing to the lowest common denominator. “Forever In a Day” is a chance I am glad the producers took.

 

According to the GateWorld review of Urgo:

The Stargate Writer’s Bible declares that each episode of the series should have some moral or lesson. The lesson of “Urgo” is that a little self-deprecating humor can be a good thing.

Season Three has been rough on SG-1. They have been kidnapped, brainwashed, tortured, nearly Goa’ulded, and generally been put through a physical and emotional ringer. They have been to hell and back, literally. Slotting this lighthearted episode directly after the powerful and intense “Pretense” creates a nice respite for the viewer, one I imagine was enjoyed by the cast and crew as well.

“Urgo” caricatures the typical SG-1 episode — their adventures so far, their relationships with each other, Jack’s wit (or lack there of, sometimes), Sam’s brains, etc., going slightly over the top with everything. The opening scene, for example, is a mildly exaggerated version of the team’s usual banter. This license to indulge grants us some of the funniest scenes in the history of the show.

Teal’c’s coffee chug, Sam’s hallway argument with the invisible Urgo, and the defibrillator discussion are hysterical! The desserts scene is classic; it is fun to see the oh-so-serious team acting in a goofy manner, even if it took alien influence to get there. Apart from its comedic purpose, the banter, ease of interaction, looks exchanged and unison speaking that is threaded through the episode show how much the team has jelled over the past three years.

The episode also produces the program’s most memorable dialogue, which is especially remarkable considering that witty dialogue has always been a strength of the show. “Apparently, all desserts on base are in grave danger,” and “‘Death or me. Me or death.’ ‘We’re thinking!'” vie for the prize of best line, but nothing else quite has the ring of “I wanna live, I wanna experience the universe, and I wanna eat pie.” This could well be the Stargate fan’s mantra.

It is also wonderful to see that the people who put together the show have a sense of humor about what they do. The production staff are not so caught up in the gravity of the moral issues they deal with or the struggle of science fiction shows to have their programs taken as serious dramas that it prevents them from taking a poke at themselves, and the cast have a sense of humor about their characters that is refreshing.

There was very little not to like in this episode, once one accepts that its not meant to be taken in the same way as the dramatic episodes. Dom DeLuise does go a little more over the top than the other actors with his portrayals of Urgo and Togar. By the end of the episode, I would not even had to think about the choice between Urgo and death; I would have begged to be put out of my misery. I can sympathize with Peter DeLuise; it must be difficult to tell your own father to stop chewing the scenery.

Additionally, some of the minor characters seemed to have difficulty ignoring Urgo. I almost felt bad for the guard in the infirmary scene, whose eyes where bouncing everywhere, trying to proclaim to the audience “I do not see Dom DeLuise! I do not see him! Aw, dang, I am never going to get a speaking part on this show, am I?”

The discovery that Urgo is not a malfunction but has become sentient is ripped straight from the Eighties comedy flick “Short Circuit” (but as the point of the episode is to parody rather than to break new science fiction ground, this is not important).

Finally, I think we can all be thankful that the team is not asked to sing very often. But really, these are trivial complaints when compared with everything that sparkles in “Urgo.”

“Urgo” works both to showcase the comedy chops of the cast and crew, and to provide the viewer with a break from the season’s dramatic developments. Bravo to the DeLuise family for this tension-breaking romp.

JolinarCarter

Next in the best and worst is Season 2.

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