The Best and Worst of Stargate SG-1: Season 2

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For previous installments:

 

Regarding Samantha Carter relative to her father, Jacob Carter, in the article, “Meta: The Unrealised Potential of Stargate‘s Female Characters“:

Sam and the Tok’ra

Up until the beginning of S2, Sam was the only one on the team without a personal investment in the war with the Goa’uld; she was there as the technical expert on the Stargate and as a serving military officer. Her possession by Jolinar changed that and gave Sam additional ‘gifts’ that added to the character. It could be argued that they did explore Sam’s Tok’ra legacy – certainly a series of S3 episodes did just that (Seth, Fair Game, and Jolinar’s Memories), but past that point apart from interacting with the Tok’ra on the occasional mission, Sam’s Jolinar legacy was pretty much ignored despite her father being the Tok’ra liaison.

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Certainly, though, there is a suggestion, due to the memories accessed during Jolinar’s Memories, that a transference took place between Jolinar of Malkshur and Samantha Carter. In a sense, Samantha Carter was technically imprinted, through Jolinar, the personal investment in the war with the Goa’uld.

However, I would not be so certain to suggest that there isn’t more going on here. During In the Line of Duty, Jolinar entered Samantha Carter without her consent, a violation of both her mind, and body, which lead to the justification of Samantha Carter enduring torture, and almost death, along with Jolinar in the episode. Quite differently, though, both Jacob Carter during The Tok’ra, and Colonel O’Neill between Frozen and Abyss, were possessed by a Tok’ra symbiote very willingly, in order to save their lives from illness. These are very stark distinctions of how, and why, the only main female in the cast is possessed by a Tok’ra, and other male characters are also possessed.

 

The Best:

The Serpent’s Lair, In the Line of Duty, Prisoners, The Gamekeeper, Thor’s Chariot, Message in a Bottle, Family, Secrets, The Tok’ra, Spirits, Touchstone, The Fifth Race, Holiday, Serpent’s Song, One False Step, 1969, and Out of Mind

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In brief bits:

  • The Serpent’s Lair is the first episode to conclude the events of the previous season’s finale, which would continue the next three seasons as well as Season Nine;
  • In the Line of Duty is the first episode in which a Tok’ra appears;
  • Prisoners is the first story to feature Linea, who would return later on in season three’s Past and Present;
  • I thought that The Gamekeeper was a much better story compared to season eight’s Avatar, as much of this story delves into the personal lives of SG-1;
  • Thor’s Chariot is the first episode to introduce the Asgard in their true form, grey aliens;
  • Message in a Bottle has similar elements to the film, The Andromeda Strain;
  • Both Family and Secrets, which air one after the other, deal with the family of SG-1. In the case of Family, Teal’c and his son, Rya’c, while in Secrets, Major Samantha Carter and her father, Major General Jacob Carter, and Dr. Daniel Jackson and Sha’re/Amaunet.
  • The Tok’ra is the first story to introduce the Tok’ra, which makes it great, in particular their female leader, Garshaw of Belote;
  • Spirits is an interesting episode that I have enjoyed on repeat;
  • Touchstone is an episode that is prelude to Shades of Grey;
  • The Fifth Race is one of the most important episodes of the series, which (finally) having not been mentioned since, gets addressed in the series finale, Unending;
  • Holiday is a body-switching story, which also introduces Ma’chello who would later be part of the season three episode, Legacy;
  • Serpent’s Song deals with the temporary death of System Lord Apophis, which would not last long;
  • One False Step primarily deals with negative effects on using the Stargate, travelling to other worlds, which makes it important and significant;
  • 1969 is one of my all-time favorite episodes within the series, sending SG-1 back into the past, and having Cassandra from the future sending them back to the present, which has an effect on many future episodes like 2010, and Continuum; and,
  • Out of Mind is basically a clip show, but does form a good story with the following episode, Into the Fire.

According to the IdiotBox review of The Serpent’s Lair:

Ah I love Bra’tac! He’s just a constant scene stealer throughout this episode there’s just too many moments to choose from, his wonderful “Hammond of Texas” moment is probably the winner but it’s closely followed by so many moments with he and Jack, not least punching him in the face before saying hello. Jack and Bra’tac have such a comical relationship, normally Jack is the one in control but he almost resorts to child like obedience around him, following and shutting up on command it’s brilliant to watch and I wish there was a lot more of these two than we actually get. As for the episode itself it’s definitely a successful pay off from what came before it, whereas In The Serpent’s Grasp was a little off with the pacing this one just flies by and accomplishes a hell of a lot in the space of one season premiere. What’s brilliant is there is no set plan that they stick to that works, it’s constantly changing and evolving and it really is SG-1 winging it and only just getting buy, this is set from the start, the resigned to death plan to blow the ship up comes unstuck when the other comes into view and from there everything they attempt gets thwarted. It helps keep a sense of urgency running through the episode, you’re never quite sure of what the solution will be, how they will stop the attack and on first viewing even if they will!

And for a while it certainly looks as though this may be too tight a spot for them, there’s countless moments where it seems as though there is no way out, even Teal’c points out that this is the most dire situation they have been in to date and if the jaffa comments on that you know you’re in a spot of bother. Look no further than what happened to Daniel for an example of this, it was to be frank good that he was shot down, it’s one of those times where you need someone to take a hit to make it seem more real, SG-1 had been ducking and diving through a mothership and were largely unscathed, it’s only when Daniel went down that you fully get what a bad position they are in. And what a brilliant scene that was too, Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks just knocked it out the park there, for all the bickering the two of them engage in its times like these when you get to sense what they mean to each other and it was heartbreaking to have to watch Jack leave him behind, it’s the standout scene of the episode by far. And how great was it watching Apophis come unstuck? Peter Williams is so good at making the character look unlikeable and arrogant so to watch him as the invasion he thought to be easy failed was just brilliant, same to with Klorel, I like how they made him the failure son too it was a nice touch.

As for the escape by death gliders that was a visually impressive sequence made all the better by the fact they didn’t escape unscathed, I was expecting that to be the end of it so to have the explosion actually do damage and prevent a safe return to Earth was welcome, plus it got us to have  a little quiet reflective time which felt needed after all the chaos we had just witnessed. It wasn’t just the adventures in space that were of top quality there was also Hammond just owning everyone and everything back at the SGC, he may be one for following orders where possible but he was on top form giving Samuels a verbal beat down and denying his request to go to the alpha site, it can’t be a coincidence that we don’t see him again, after that talking too it’s little wonder he thinks twice before paying the SGC a visit. I’m glad we were allowed some time seeing how people were responding back on Earth too, Hammond needed to be a part of all this and we needed to see Earth to really appreciate what SG-1 were fighting for. Was it a perfect season opener though? Not quite, it stalled a little mainly due to the resolution, it all felt too neatly wrapped up, Daniel gets a quick heal (and somehow gets his clothes fixed), the space shuttle just appears to rescue everyone, there’s almost the wish that this could have been given an extra episode to really make it feel complete.

According to the IdiotBox review of In the Line of Duty:

Bit of  pointless trivia for you, in the french version this episode is titled La Tête à l’envers which translates as The Head Upside Down, does make me wonder if people in France were left expecting something entirely different from this episode. Off the bat  there is a strange sense of us missing quite a lot from the conclusion of the last episode to this, last we heard was that the Stargate was shut down and now not only is it still going but it has actually expanded with more SG teams joining the fold. It’s understandable why sure but given how much time was devoted to the closure at the end of season one it’s a little jarring to have missed out on  hearing word come down that the decision was reversed. How great would it have been to see Kinsey’s reaction to that? Onto this one though and I’ve got to say I was a little disappointed in what we got, my memory of it was a much grander episode and it is a fair memory to have seeing as how much important Stargatelore was introduced here, and how it had such a direct effect on one of our own but truth be told it’s a slow installment that meanders at times.

Amanda Tapping though is sensational throughout, the change in her style to fit Jolinar is done so well, she’s able to make him seem like a menacing figure and one of great power as well as a sincere and trustworthy potential ally despite nobody having a bar of it. Standout scene for me is the one with Cassandra, the more freaked out the young girl gets the more Tapping is able to dial up the menace  and it’s a pretty unnerving scene all round, good work!  The Tok’ra of course go on to be major players throughout the rest of the show but as introductions go this is a solid one, not too much is revealed about them but enough to make them interesting and it’s a nice twist on the concept of  the Goa’uld that comes at just the right time to avoid the dealings with them getting a little repetitive. It’s nice to see how everyone deals with one  of their own being taken over too, Jack acts as you would expect, Teal’c steps up and has no issue with entering  into discussion with Jolinar while Daniel actually backs away from the situation somewhat, it’s his that is the most noticeable, his experience with the same thing happening to Sha’re would of course cause him to look at things a little differently and Michael Shanks portrays a more subdued Jackson very well.

Speaking of Teal’c it was quite a nice episode for him too, his views on the Goa’uld and how the arrogance they have can be their downfall was a  nice touch, it was also good to see him confront the fact that the Tok’ra might be real when they were the equivalent of a fairy tale to him, Christopher Judge just plays understated really well.  So while there is a lot of good here it’s the pace of it that goes someway into letting it down, while a slow character driven piece is usually most welcome it doesn’t seem to sit right with what is going on. We have the Ashrak hunter who is gunning for Carter on the loose getting menacingly closer but it all just kind of fizzles out after a brief hostage situation never living up to what I hoped was going to happen, it’s all set up and no real pay off. That being said the resolution to Carter’s predicament was handled well it not only provided a somewhat easy fix for her but also paved the way for the next Tok’ra meeting without going through too much unease about what side they are on; also for a first time viewer I imagine that being quite the twist.

According to the IdiotBox review of Prisoners:

Well if the note for the set designers was to make the prison as bleak a place as possible it’s safe to say that upon completion of the episode that particular request would have had a large tick against it, grim is the word of the day! Almost a little too much, there were a lot of things in there that you would expect if you were to think of them doing a scenario like this, colorless gloop for food? Check (just what was that?). Angry mindless inmates? There in the masses. A lot of this episode was a bit predictable in that regard but luckily there’s a few tricks hidden up writers sleeve that make this one quite the surprise upon its conclusion. As far as premises go it’s a good one, it stands to reason that there would be a myriad of differing laws on all the planets that they visit so to have SG-1 inadvertently break one was bound to happen sooner or later, and it would be the case that when they do it they do it in the worst place possible. The prison planet was a neat set up too making full use of the stargate in an interesting way, having it as a one way trip for every criminal is something that you could well imagine any number of governments doing and it’s pretty effective! It was interesting too to see how everyone reacted to the new surroundings, Jack having experienced something similar in his past was quick to get the lay of the land and I particularly his advice for Daniel to remove his glasses. Is it right to call out someone who wears them as having a weakness? No not really but I think the point is that the people they are dealing with aren’t going to be level headed enough to have that kind of thinking; it was a nice touch.

Teal’c was just brilliant throughout the whole thing, “look scary and take point” is something he can totally embrace and it was brilliant to cut back to him and see him dealing with hostile inmates the way we know he is able to do. And Hammond, not even there but what an awesome episode for him and his first trip through the gate no less! We’ve seen the bond between he and the team develop over the past season and a bit but it was this episode where he see that he personally cares about them, it wasn’t someone holding his staff hostage this was personal, someone was holding his friends hostage and it was nice to get to see how he reacted to it. From memory he only tends to go off world in special circumstances and it’s always effective, I’m quite looking forward to getting to his next one which is by far the best of the bunch. Onto the most interesting part of the episode and that would be Linea, the sweet imprisoned old lady who in actual fact turned out to be one of the most murderous people the team have ever met, nice twist!

It was interesting to note that it was Daniel who was the one to be the must suspicious of her, he above everyone was the one to question whether taking her with them was the best idea when they didn’t know what crime she had committed. Wise thought process Dr Jackson! But in everyone’s defense they weren’t really in a position to turn down the proposition and while you should never judge a book by its cover, who would have expected the pages to be quite that dark? It’s arguably the first real error with serious ramifications that SG-1 has had, imagine if Senator Kinsey had been around to experience this one? The reveal itself was played out nicely too and the moment where everyone realised what they had done was a brilliantly dramatic reveal. I know we see Linea again at some point but I can’t remember when or what exactly happens, it’s nice to be in that position as it really helps deliver an ominous ending. I can’t end this review without discussing the smoking boots (which incidentally were auctioned off on Ebay), I don’t think you can ever sell smoking boots as a serious incident, it did not work well here at all!

According to the IdiotBox review of The Gamekeeper:

The Serpent’s Lair aside this is the best episode season 2 has given up to this point, even if certain parts of the resolution leave a little to be desired. It’s also a hugely dark episode when you really look at it for both Jack and Daniel, the latter more so, both having to witness  deaths of people around them on a loop; it’s enough to make anyone lose control a little. For Jack, he has to contend with a botched operation from back in the day going wrong and resulting in half of the team (hello Kawalsky!) he was in being killed, he also has an amusing looking Teal’c in a wig along for the ride and while the way we are seeing it isn’t real it’s still nice to see a part of his life that way way before he had even heard of a Stargate. For Daniel it was something arguably more traumatic, watching the death of his parents who were crushed to death by a large stone object after some poorly planned ‘where is safe to stand’ decision making. It’s with Daniel that the true horror of this simulation comes into play and Michael Shanks does a fine job at reverting back to a child like state when the unfortunate incident occurs.

That’s not to say that Richard Dean Anderson doesn’t do a fine job too because he does, his exasperated attempts at convincing those around him that something is amiss is good value and watching him grow more and more frustrated by time resetting itself makes for an interesting watch. Speaking of the time reset if reading this makes you want to rewatch it yourself pay close attention to the moment after Jack yells “fall back” at around the 15 minute mark and time resets, for you will see an hilarious attempt at one of the fellow soldiers attempting to jump out of the camera shot and failing spectacularly, it’s certainly worth a watch. The creepy cloaked watchers a great addition to all this too, they really add something sinister when they are first seen and even knowing who they are when watching again the first appearance by them is suitably unnerving. Of course they are just residents of the world the team landed on and the explanation to all this just about holds together, there’s actually something quite intriguing about a civilization forced to experience things through the memory of others  and the notion that the Keeper has been lying to them all this time is yet another nice touch. However the Keeper himself is one of the issues with The Gamekeeper, does anyone else think that he got off a little lightly all considered? I mean he’s worst punishment was people messing up his flowers which doesn’t really seem to fit the crime.

I mean the guy had a whole planet trapped in virtual reality, he lied to them about being able to leave, he kidnapped four people from another world and made two of them watch as people they cared about were killed time after time. If the worst he got was some flowers being messed about then he should count himself lucky! And that’s really where the episode flounders somewhat, after what Jack and Daniel had been through you would think that they would need a little time to get over it all, and more so that they would be hugely pissed at the Keeper, Jack especially knowing his temperament. It would have been good to see something from the pasts of Teal’c and Carter too but obviously time restraints kept that limited and the reasoning for them not having the same experience was well explained, interesting too that Jolinar has altered Sam somewhat. This was really the first episode for me in the rewatch where Joel Goldsmiths score has really caught my attention, it was brilliant at times here particularly the piece used at each “death scene”. And even though Hammond himself wasn’t in the episode Don S Davis was in the funniest scene of the whole thing where Jack went on a tirade against him, I love it when this show gets comedy right!

According to the IdiotBox review of Thor’s Chariot:

There’s an episode much later in the shows run that I really enjoy, it’s the opening episodes to season nine, Avalon and one of reasons I like it so much is the puzzle aspect, the team being proper explorers and having to solve riddles Lara Croft style and it’s great to see that element play a part here too. It’s also an opportunity to see Daniel in his element but what’s great with this one is that even he can’t solve it himself, instead it’s Carters maths brain that proves to be the key in gaining an audience with the mighty Thor. It was great fun watching them get to that point, the holographic beam was a nice touch and a genuine heart in chest moment was caused by Gairwyn touching the worst possible place, and then there was the quite brilliant reveal that the hologram wasn’t in face a hologram after all. Does that mean it was also Thor watching when Jack and Teal’c were in a similar predicament back in Thor’s Hammer? Makes me want to go back and rewatch the rewatched! Gairwyn made much of an impression the second time around, even though it hasn’t been that long since I watched her introductory episode I can’t really remember that much about her appearance there, here though she is a truly sympathetic character. I truly felt for her when she seemed anguish that she had been forsaken, more so when she thought Thor had deliberately tried to off her on the beam, for someone so devoted to her Gods it was sad to see her think it was her that wasn’t good enough for them.

And hello little grey Asgard! Even though I knew it was coming it was still a nice little reveal to see ol Thor for the first time, the Asgard are one of the more interesting races that the Stargate franchise has and that particular one is one of the better recurring characters and he makes quite the impression from the off. And we’re also left in no doubt that they are by far the most powerful force that we’ve seen yet. Just how awesome was it to see them turn up and wipe the floor with everyone in the space of about 45 seconds?! “Oh my” indeed Jack! I also loved the reference to Earth being “very young”, it’s a nice call back to episodes like The Nox and a nice little reminder of the fact before the events of The Fifth Race (an episode I can’t wait to get to). The whole set up of this one raises an intriguing point too, what happens after SG-1 leave a planet behind? They usually do something notable when there and in this case the events that transpired back when they destroyed the hammer has resulted in a pretty crappy situation for the people of Cimmeria, because of the actions of the team many have been killed and the planet is no longer the safe haven it once was.

It would have been nice to see some retaliation of this other than one angry long haired man protest about their being there only to be talked around in about half a second. Jack and co inadvertently caused the deaths of many of those that lived there and it seemed a little odd that they weren’t the most hated people on the block even if they were trying to set things right. Speaking of Olaf he was great value, it was amusing to watch him try and brute his way around while Jack and Teal’c were trying to be a little more tactical, it’s a shame we never see him again! As for Jack and Teal’c it was right that they sat out the more interesting parts of the episode, they had a turn last time they were here but they still got in on some of the action, I loved Teal shooting Heru’ur’s staff as he couldn’t shoot him and that was a pretty decent explosion trap they set for the oncoming army. Nice touch too in exploring the effects that Jolinar had on Sam back in In The Line Of Duty, having her be able to use Goa’uld tech could have been a little contrived but they are doing it in such a good way that it works, having her not really able to control it is exactly the right to go with the whole idea.

According to the IdiotBox review of Message in a Bottle:

Richard Dean Anderson does ‘in pain’ acting very very well, his anguished screams when he is first pinned to the wall are so well performed by him that you could be mistaken for thinking he’s gone through this exact same thing himself. The fact that he is the star of the episode is a testament to just how good he is because he doesn’t get a whole lot to do having been taken out of commission early on, but it’s the fact that we get to see him at his most vulnerable which for a character like the colonel isn’t something we normally see. Of course everyone is off trying to save the world which leaves him alone for the bulk of the episode except for one man, Teal’c. We’ve seen the growing camaraderie between the two of them for some time now but it is perhaps this more than ever that shows how respect they each have for one another, Teal’c being completely unwilling to leave the gate room is noble and hell he even cracks a joke to try and lighten the mood; if that doesn’t show how much the character has grown then I don’t know what does!

What this episode does so well is make something we can’t see such a threat, all we really see is a spike through a shoulder and some neon lighting but it is a great example of bigger not necessarily being better, it is as simple an episode as it probably could be when it comes to an antagonist but its effective. Of course that may be because someone we care for as much as Jack is in the firing line but there’s also the fact that the problem quickly escalates to a global level, not bad at all seeing as this is a bottle episode. It was a nice touch too giving us a name and a personality for someone who would normally be just a face at the SGC, Simmons was a very likeable character from the off and giving him a crush on Carter really helped to make him seem like someone we should care about, it’s just a shame that we didn’t get a follow up scene with him after everything had calmed down to find out how he was doing. Speaking of Carter it was a good episode for her, despite how dire the situation was getting she seemed to be in her element as she battled to stay ahead of a situation that even she didn’t understand, how great was it to hear her tell Hammond that he didn’t understand the problem and to basically get the point across that she was the one who knew what was right.

Speaking of Hammond there were some nice moments for him too, I loved that the time was taken to show him decline Janet’s request to leave the base for medical supplies that will save Simmons’ life, of course he was right to do so but it is nice to see that while he’s mellowed he is still very much the man in charge and he will stick to the rules he needs to. As for the entity itself well while for the most part it is a job well done but things do unravel a touch in the somewhat rushed conclusion, it’s an extremely fortunate series of events that lead to them discovering that it can communicate, and I’m not sold on just how it was able to talk through Jack but I guess it solved the problem. Oh also pet peeve, I hate it when a ticking clock is stopped on one second to spare, it’s such an obvious thing to do that it actually lessens the tension of the scene for me, I’m sure I’m in the minority there though.

According to the IdiotBox review of Family:

I’m not sure whether Teal’c referring to his wife/ex wife as “woman” all the time is just oddly unkind for such a normally nice guy or whether it’s amusing, the episode has finished and I’m still trying to work that out; either way it was a bit strange! It is good to check in on Teal’c family, the Jaffa culture is a an interesting one and now we know that bigamy isn’t really that much of an issue in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the Teal’c it is however. His reaction to launch himself at the slimy Fro’tak was a welcome one to see, we never normally see him emote too much as hi stoic nature is part of the charm so when he does lose his cool it’s always a refreshing experience. The man got to go through a lot in this episode, betrayed by his wife and friend and making the shocking discovery that his son has been brainwashed into believing that Apophis is the real deal. This review though is going to on the short side however despite the fact that you’d think so much happens (betrayal, the return of Apophis) it’s actually very much a nothing episode. The team finding out that the big bad they thought they’d killed was very much alive is greeted by barely a shrug, a similar reaction to finding out you’d have to finding out you’d run out of bacon, it should have been a huge moment for them but you wouldn’t get that from the scene.

It’s nice that his defeat has had some ramifications though, had he been the same ruling force after the events of The Serpent’s Lair it wouldn’t have sat right and it makes him a much more interesting character to see his quest to regain his following. And messing with Rya’c is a natural next step for him to take, Teal’c is a large factor in his downfall so this would not only help his plight but also punish the ‘traitor’. I like Jack’s instant doubt that the reformed Rya’c is on the level too, he isn’t afraid to question the kid even with Teal’c protesting and quite correctly brings up Cassandra and the events of Singularity, and of course he’s Jack so he’s bang on the money that something is amiss. But that’s really where the good ends with Family, so much is just so inconsequential. Fro’tak is zat gunned out of existence after instantly betraying everyone following a kiss between Teal’c and Drey’auc, so he was just a dick all along right? It didn’t seem so before with him being an old friend of Teal’c and taking the family in, sure he essentially stole his friends wife but there’s a difference between that and ratting everyone out to the enemy. Still it’s not like anyone really cared anyway seeing as his death was pretty much skimmed over in one conversation, back in his own house.

And Rya’c’s brainwashing was just ridiculous, regardless of the fact that we didn’t get a clear explanation of how it happened the conclusion to it was laughable, all this talk of electro shock treatment and we get one quick zat shot and hey presto he’s back to normal! Sorry, what? Unless the zat gun has a ‘fix mind’ setting that the script neglected to tell us about then this is a horrid example of avoiding a sensible resolution, it just highlights how messy an episode this is for the most part. There were some nice parts to it, Christopher Judge gives a fine performance but this is a forgettable episode and one that arguably doesn’t deserve to be remembered for too much anyway. Two stars is generous.

According to the IdiotBox review of Secrets:

It was a nice change of pace to have an episode that not only splits the team up but also has them off doing entirely different things, and luckily both stories were pretty compelling. Having Daniel and Teal’c return to Abydos was actually a little like going home, the planet was such a large part of the movie and Children Of The Gods and it’s nice to see it again. Seeing Sha’re pregnant though wasn’t the kind of homecoming Daniel was expecting to see and it was down to Michael Shanks to really sell the hundreds of emotions that his character was going through at that moment, luckily he was more than up for the challenge. What was particularly great about this story was the tension that it brought up between he and Teal’c, it helps when you can see both sides of the story. Of course Teal’c is going to instantly suspicious of helping the woman who has the symbiote of Apophis’ queen in her, but of course Daniel is going to look at the woman and see the wife that is in need of help. It’s rare to see two of the leads on this show go at each other in such a way, particularly when it’s someone as stoic as Teal’c and the moment between them works so well.

It’s nice to see Kasuf back too, ignoring the fact that he now speaks perfect English, having a tie this strong to the movie only helps to expand the world, he’s also pretty good too. Seeing Sha’re in this kind of situation would be just as hard for him as it would be for Daniel so to watch as he has to agree to losing her again is pretty powerful, nice that he ends up with the child too. Speaking of the baby, it does seem a bit strange that it would be so important for Apophis to have thisparticular host down the road, I know that the Goa’uld are pretty hot on symbolism but it does make the whole importance of the child seem a bit off. Still Teal’c using the arriving Heru’ur to cause all manner of problems with the system lords was a really neat trick, and one that sets many things in motion down the road. The other half of the episode being set in Washington dealing with more down to Earth matters was really refreshing, and arguably the strongest part of the episode with secrets of the Stargate on the verge of going public. Jack was great to watch as he tried to handle Armin, I loved how cool and calm he remained even when he was unable to deflect certain bits of information, his collected “you got me there” was really well delivered.

Watching he, Carter and Hammond go into panic mode over the situation was great to see too, people like Kinsey would be the obvious choice but they were right not to assume, with so many people in and around the gate itself a leak really would be hard to narrow down. Not that it is a problem for long with Armin’s hasty death at the hands of a mystery driver, I can’t decide whether the ambiguity of who was responsible is for the best or whether a more definitive culprit should have been named at some point. As it stands though it was a great scene where he was hit, the horror on Jack’s face when he was blamed with the mans dying breath was a standout moment in the episode. Not just having this to deal with, Carter had to handle the news that her father was dying, it was great to see Jacob’s debut on the show, he instantly slots into the role well and the chemistry between Carmen Argenziano and Amanda Tapping was there off the bat. Loved his insistence that she should be in NASA too, he’s in for a shock when we next see him.

According to the IdiotBox review of The Tok’ra, Part One:

Set up syndrome. An affliction that effects many an opening of a two parter, symptoms include a ton of exposition, a slower pace and a feeling that water is being trod before the real action starts in part two; that’s exactly what we get here, luckily there’s enough interesting goings on to make the episode an enjoyable one. But geez are those Tok’ra folks hard going, a huge part of the Stargate mythology but with about as much charisma as a politician at a chess match. And from memory that seems to be the problem with most of them going forward, very few have the charm and personality that an important force like this lot should have. And that goes for Martouf too at least in his first go of it, I know he goes on to be an important player for the next couple of seasons but I hope he gets a little more to him than the monotone delivery of everything. Even Garshaw, aside from her nice cool demeanor when she tells everyone that they aren’t leaving, there were moments where my interest went completely during the many talky scenes that we had, I mentioned exposition before but there really is an abundance of it. The concept of them though is still just as fascinating as when they were first mentioned back in In The Line Of Duty, having them be a subsection of the Goa’uld and do things so differently is a great addition to the lore, no need to rule, no unwitting hosts, no flamboyancy about them, there’s similarities in how pompous and entitled they are but it’s an entirely different kettle of fish. Of course they shouldn’t be trusted right off the bat (as they proved themselves) and it makes perfect sense that Jack of all people would be the one to struggle with accepting them the most, but as much as it made sense it was a little uncomfortable watching him be almost prejudice against them for having the ‘snakes in their heads’, I get why he was acting that way it was just a little jarring. For Teal’c they are long heard of and something he hoped was real, Carter has the connection to them already courtesy of Jolinar and Daniel, well he’s Daniel so he’s mainly just fascinated by the idea of a whole new culture to learn about.

Rightly so too, the Tok’ra themselves may not be much when it comes to chit chat but they are certainly a curious bunch, I love the crystal tunnels, a genius way to keep hidden and a sign of their power too, and of course they have access to the technology the enemy has which is extremely useful. It makes you wonder how many we have seen already too, it was more than a tad awkward to learn that SG-1 had killed some of them by mistake when Apophis invaded in The Serpent’s Lair. Regardless of how things turned out it was a nice call to have Hammond agree that an alliance with them would be a huge step forward, one more than worth any risk involved, but it was yet another awkward moment when they didn’t really have anything to bring to the table, sure they’ve come along leaps and bounds since they started but they are still young and have a way to go before becoming the illusive fifth race (man I can’t wait for that episode), so you can hardly blame the Tok’ra for not agreeing to share tactics, it’s somewhat understandable too that they wouldn’t just let them walk out, the line was crossed however when Carter was denied an exit. Knowing what is to come doesn’t lessen the impact of what she must be feeling in that moment, finding out that Jacob is dying is still very raw for her, so it getting to that stage so quickly and her being unable to say goodbye is pretty much the worst thing that could happen, Amanda Tapping sold that final look well. Now if only there was a Tokra called Selmak in need of a host…

According to the IdiotBox review of The Tok’ra, Part Two:

I said that last week’s introduction of the Tok’ra that the episode was largely set up and suffered as a result, well it’s clear they are a duo of episodes that would be better off watched as a whole as part two is good enough to bring the first part up a mark or two. What a stellar episode this is, and so much of that is down to the performances, in particular those of Amanda Tapping and Carmen Argenziano as Sam and Jacob Carter who really make the whole thing personal, he in particular provides us the answer as to why he’s such a popular character in this alone, nailing everything that is given to him. His reaction process to everything thrown at him, aliens, the stargate, joining with another person all felt natural in the way it was written and acted. It was a understated display, it could so easily have been done over the top, or he could have just accepted everything with ease but Jacob was allowed the time to accept everything at a rate that seemed right, we were allowed to see the quieter moments, to really feel what he is going through and I can’t praise this story enough.

It helps too that we had such a nuanced performance by Joy Coghill as Selmak’s dying host Saroosh, even though she was just laying there giving dialogue throughout she did so in such a manner that I truly felt for her once Selmak left and she passed, Coghill and Argenziano had a great chemistry and it was wonderful watching the friendship between these two begin. I enjoyed Jacob’s initial reactions to being a member of the Tok’ra too, his initial fear almost falling by the wayside as he took in how important his new role was (and his reaction to no longer having arthritis was brilliant), I can’t recall how long it is before we see him again but I already can’t wait for the rewatch to get there. Tapping is on fine form as Carter too, almost overwhelmed by how much is happening yet keeping her head, it’s a brilliant episode for her, her point blank refusal to Jack ordering everyone to leave was a great moment and hanging back and risking her own life was noble, this is probably the best show for Carter to date. As for the Tok’ra, dull and unexciting last time they are much better when the proverbial hits the fan, Garshaw is much better, (do we ever see her again?) working alongside the team as opposed to her stand offish nature makes her a lot more likeable, I love how she instantly warms to Jack once he helps her out; fickle maybe but easier to watch.

Martouf too makes a much better impression, it’s a lot easier to like someone when they risk their life alongside one of the team and he does that here, also somewhat defying Garshaw’s orders that he leave with them, I can’t say I love the guy as much as others do but the feeling is certainly understandable. Having a traitor in the Tok’ra mix was a smart move, it allowed us to see them as fallible rather than the no it all bunch they previously came across as, it was a nice little switch about as to who the culprit was too, plus ‘death by deconstructing crystal tunnel’, that’s certainly a new one!If there’s one part of the episode that struck me as a little jarring, it was Daniel’s suggestion that the human race can provide hosts to the Tok’ra in exchange for an alliance, it’s not the notion as such, it’s actually a good idea but more so the fact that it was accepted and then , as far as I know, never followed through on. And as such it makes the alliance a little hard to but after how vehemently it was declined before, one host and a discovered traitor is apparently all it took!

According to the IdiotBox review of Spirits:

Just to get it out the way quickly, Hammond taking orders from a wolf is possibly the best thing I’ve seen on the rewatch so far, it was just so wonderfully absurd that I had to rewind the moment instantly, and yeah I know it wasn’t really him but it was still Don S Davies. Loved it! But the rest of the episode then, it was a strange one really, very much an episode of two halves with the first part an entirely different beast to the second. The first was largely the weakest, Tonane was as much irritating as he was sweet and having the team wander wound the woods talking to animals that were spirits was as eye rolling as it sounds, it isn’t that the concept was bad but the execution was just, meh, for lack of a better/actual word. It was all rather stereotypical with the native Indian residents, the outfits, the mannerisms, even the music was all jarring and for a while it seemed like we were in for a real dud of an episode. It was interesting to get a far far advance look at what a lot of season 8 would be like too with Carter leading a three man team, it was strange and yet oddly fresh to have Jack out of action and Carter leading the way, also nice for us to be there to witness her first command. As for taking Jack out of commission, well it was only for a short time once the base action kicked off but it was a pretty cool way to do it, the arrow flying through the gate was entirely unexpected and Jack’s reaction was priceless.

What followed was a nice surprise, a below average episode shifted in a way I was not expecting and it really did pull the whole thing up, regardless of how daft the alien spirit people looked, the faces were more bizarre than a cool creation but kudos to them for trying to do something different with an alien race. At any rate they did succeed in elevating things, the twist that Cross and the rest of SG-11 were not freed after all was a good one, and despite the fact they were zapping people away it’s hard not to understand why, it was certainly a murky grey area where Hammond was concerned, on the one hand it’s odd to see him taking such a hardline approach to betraying people, but on the other it did make sense when the whole planet is on the line; I like it when the show makes us think about what really is the right thing to do. It was fun too to see all the SGC personnel replaced by the doubles, it was worth it for the comedic Jack and Daniel “are you you” exchange and the aforementioned Hammond incident alone but the base under siege episodes are always fun. The resolution was pretty good too, having Tonane instantly accepting the spirits in whatever form they chose felt totally in keeping with what we knew of him up to that point, it’s a shame we couldn’t touch back in with them at some point just to see how much things had changed. Oh and on a side note how unintentionally hilarious was it that SG-1 almost forgot that almost everyone on the base had been taken? His “oh by the way, can we have our people back” was almost an afterthought! Real nice guys!

According to the IdiotBox review of Touchstone:

And the rogue factors on Earth make themselves known. Regardless of how hokey the people of Madrona were we get a fine episode here, packed with intrigue and fine performances and one that moves forward all of the concerning factors at play back on home soil. But Madrona was a bit of a difficult place to invest in wasn’t it? The weather device was a nifty invention but those who inhabited the world seemed to be stuck in a place where acting well wasn’t on the cards, it couldn’t have been helped by the horrendous wardrobes that they were all given to wear, I think even an acting great would have struggled to take the work they were doing dressed like that. That being said I did enjoy the way the changing weather was depicted,  the wind and rain, the extreme blizzards, it all helped to sell that, no matter how ridiculous they were the people of Madrona were in a bit of a pickle. And how amusing was it when Roham ordered his guards to seize SG-1? Like they had a the slightest chance of doing so, I’m not sure I’ve seen an emptier threat in recent times. The mystery of what exactly happened to the touchstone is solid enough to put all that to the back of the mind though, as soon as it is said that it was an Earth team responsible the episode elevates and maintains the quality throughout. It was fun to see the team, Hammond included scrambling to figure out what the hell went on, that the second gate was at play, and most amusingly for Jack’s reaction alone was that Harry Maybourne was front and center for everything happening. Maybourne remains a fun nemesis for the team, a guy who has his own goals and couldn’t care less what the ramifications of those goals may be, we’ve seen that as recently as Bane and I loved that we got a callback to that with Teal’c making his ill will for him fully known.

And then there’s the concern that he can be involved in a civilian operation that has so much backing they are able to steal an entire stargate, and replace the one they took with a cardboard copy (which in itself was a great reveal). They were so good in fact that the SGC were on the back foot almost from the off, relying on luck, a nice bit of MALP work and Hammond being awesome and calling in favors to get the job done, also great was seeing them act like soldiers, Jack and Carter’s soldier codes were clearly lost on Daniel and Teal’c but it was nice to see them put to use. Same too for the reasoning of having someone like Daniel involved in that operation to begin with, it wouldn’t have made sense had the fact it was so covert not been so explicitly stated early on. The whole notion of a second gate was a great one when it was first introduced and it is good to see that it is being used in unexpected ways, I remembered the Russians laying claim to it but it being used in such a manner as we see here was something I had forgotten, I can’t even recall how it makes its next appearance. From memory the whole rogue agency angle gets a touch convoluted in later seasons but now it works, Maybourne losing this particular battle too also works due to the fact there is no doubt that he has something else up his sleeve, his rivalry with Jack is once again the high point of the episode. I love that we get to see where technology that the SG teams collects on the way ends up too, of course it would be Area 51 but getting the chance to see the place helps to expand the world more.

According to the IdiotBox review of The Fifth Race:

Ah The Fifth Race, on many best of lists this is one that commonly appears alongside Window’s Of Opportunity and there’s a very good reason for that, it’s easily one of the best episodes the rewatch has arrived at yet. One thing of note is how much of a unit SG-1 feel at this point, Daniel point blank refusing to leave Jack’s side when asked by Hammond is such a great moment for these two characters and the relationship they have with one another, especially when you take into account how they were with each other originally. Everyone is great here but Richard Dean Anderson steals the show despite being largely mute for the whole thing, filled with the knowledge of the Ancients his whole demeanor changes, just with his eyes you can tell that something is different about him yet he still retains some of the quirky Jack we all know and love, the shrug of the shoulders after saving Teal’c and Carter being a lovely little moment.

And mythology wise this one is huge and sets up so much of what is to come, not just on the show but with the franchise as a whole, the 8th chevron comes into play and we get the information of just how much power it will take to dial it, and that it dials a whole new galaxy, even without knowing that this sets up the entire Atlantis series it still feels so full of potential. We even get the first mention of the Ancients, any fan knows how important they becomeAnd what’s lovely about this is that it isn’t an especially busy episode, compared to others it’s low key and character driven and it’s all the better for it, rather than battles and action (which can be great) we spend most of the time focusing on Jack and his deterioration, and everyone else struggling to find what is needed to save him. We do get the odd bit of peril, Carter and Teal’c spend some time trapped on a burning world but it largely takes place off screen, and that’s fine because this one wasn’t about that, it served its purpose by being another way for us to see what Jack can do now. And just watching him was just as fascinating for me as it was for the likes of Daniel and Janet, the wonder of what he was building and what discoveries were going to be made along the way.

Of course the whole thing is largely remembered for that last sequence where the 8th chevron is dialed and it’s the biggest in scope that the show has gotten up to this point, no Canadian forest here, this was a realistic alien world, just a large hallway of one but something new nonetheless. And it was a hell of a conversation too, Thor was an interesting enough character in his own right but Jack seeing a whole bunch of his people, showing just the smallest amount of what they were capable of was such a great scene, Anderson sold it completely making it really feel the huge moment that it was, and the revelation that Earth is being noticed and they are being taken seriously is quite satisfying, looking back at everything they’ve done since the show began it’s fair to say that they have earned at least that. Nice to see that other races such as the Nox who seemed important were so, and while we are yet to really delve into the others (and won’t with one) it makes the thought of who we would run into next very intriguing. It helps that I can’t remember who and when that is too! More than any other episode the amount this one opens up the franchise up is impressive, all of a sudden the Goa’uld seem relatively small fry in the grand scheme of things.

According to the IdiotBox review of Holiday:

Let’s get the rant out of the way first, just what exactly was the point in having Michael Shanks play the elderly version of Ma’chello? Gimmicks like this really are detrimental to an episode and that statement couldn’t be truer here and it truly is a bizarre decision as there is no logical reason for them to do it. He just looks like Shanks in prosthetics and sounds like him doing an old persons voice, the whole point of this was for this old dying to man to steal Daniel’s body and attempt to run off with his life, he didn’t need and resemblance to him at all, the fact he does is just odd. And when you take into account they would have to use screen trickery when the two of them are on screen together it seems like a massive waste of time, just cast another actor!

There’s something off about Shanks’ portrayal off Ma’chello too during the scenes with Frank, the schtick of him not knowing how things work may well be quite realistic but it gets tired very fast, the best thing about all this is actually Frank who is hugely likeable throughout. It’s actually one of those times where I was hoping we would be able to catch up with him once everything was put right; to this day he must be confused as hell! Shanks’ portrayal is much better when he gets to be really sinister with the character, his smug disregard for Daniel’s life is truly chilling and you can sense the satisfaction when he reveals that he really doesn’t have the means to put things right again, if we could have focused on this dark and menacing side of the man then this whole plot would have been far more enjoyable than what we ended up with. Much better is the switch between Teal’c and Jack O’Neill, played largely for laughs the threat to them manages to feel a lot more important in its simplicity, essentially the threat is that Teal’c is unwell and as Jack is currently occupying him (which sounds all kinds of wrong) he has to enter kelno’reem to put things right, it’s the first time we hear of the meditative state and trying to get someone like Jack to do it obviously takes some work.

It’s great too to hear Christopher Judge doing his Richard Dean Anderson impression, Teal’c is such a monosyllabic presence for the most part that it really is a jolt to hear Judge chatting and quipping away, there was a part of me wishing that the change could last a bit longer to just see more of it. Conversely it was amusing to see Anderson forced into a more restrained role than he is used too, turns out he does quite a good impression of the Jaffa! And the notion that Teal’c would instantly want to shave his head may have been a little bizarre (especially given the abundance of hair he has in his final on screen appearance years later) but it made for a great moment of horror from Jack. Also good was the amusing mass body swapping session to save the day with all three of the male leads getting to play the other, it’s a real shame that we couldn’t have seen Hammond and Carter get in on the action too as it was a really amusing sequence, and a logical resolution to Ma’chello’s nefarious scheme only really let down by his sudden 180 to allowing himself to die, the titular holiday line was a nice touch though. Holiday really was too much of a mash up of tones to be a resounding success, had it been played solely as a comedic episode or wholly as a dark one it would have fared better, as it stands only one half of it really works; luckily it’s a very good half.

According to the IdiotBox review of Serpent’s Song:

Usually he walks around looking arrogant and angry but here Peter Williams get to really show us what he can do, and he manages to put in one hell of an episode stealing performance in Serpent’s Song that will go down as his best work on the series. Apophis has been an evil bastard ever since we saw him back in Children Of The Gods and truth be told there was no way that we (or at least I) would ever be able to feel anything close to sympathy for the guy no matter what trick is pulled. And I didn’t here, it was great not to have any of our leads feel sorry for him as it would have been hugely contrived after everything he has done, the only person who comes close to doing so is Janet and you could argue that her reasoning for that is solely down to her having a job to do, at least I hope that is the case otherwise she is a touch irritating in this episode for no good reason.

Jack and Carter are largely unaffected by his state, they see it as a small victory and that’s that, Jack is pretty much business as usual even when talking to the man himself, Daniel is of course keen to use it to his advantage in an attempt to find Sha’re and takes a little pleasure in having the upper hand (telling him that it was he who took the baby was a great moment) but it is really the reaction of Teal’c that is the best. Seeing how much pleasure he takes in watching his former mentor dying is as comical as it is unnerving, his joyous smug face as Apophis lies in pain is brilliant to see and really a huge victory for him, if it were today I could easily see him taking selfies to send to Bra’tac. And really who can blame him? The things he had to do in his name, the lives he saw taken, this was a moment that had been such a long time coming for him. But the real genius aspect of the episode is having Apophis’s host reemerge, sympathy for the Goa’uld ain’t happening but for the poor man from ancient Egypt who had been trapped in his own body for thousands of years? He gets a ton of it.

The eventual ‘death’ and sending away of the body suddenly means something, the screams of anguish become harrowing, it’s all deeply unsettling stuff and once again Peter William deserves a heap of praise for his work. For an episode that takes place largely at the SGC there’s so much going on besides this, we get the return of Martouf and the Tok’ra who are of course more than willing to give their view on what should happen to Apophis now that he’s a prisoner, there’s Hammond and professionalism to treat the enemy as a prisoner of war despite all the things he has done (I love how he calls him sir, Hammond is all class) and there’s the small matter of Sokar attempting to burn everyone to a crisp. He makes himself known more in season 3 but already he seems like a formidable threat, even without the revelation that he is is pretty much the Goa’uld version of Satan. The panic at trying to out dial him made for a nice side threat to the episode and helped hammer home the fact that Apophis must be returned, even if it means his death doesn’t stay quite as permanent as everyone would have hoped.

According to the IdiotBox review of One False Step:

It’s always awkward when you think you may have just doomed an entire race to extinction isn’t it? Well let’s start with what worked with One False Step, SG-1 themselves were brilliant with a level of interaction and banter that we haven’t seen before, they each got brilliant little moments with each other that really sold how much they have gelled over the past two years. Jack and Daniel’s bickering returned and as always is more than welcome, they may get on for the most part but it is nice to be reminded that they are two very different people, Jack’s response to his views on mythology was perfect, as was Daniel’s exasperated response. It was a great episode for Michael Shanks all round really, the cut to him pretending to be a plane was priceless and it was nice to see him getting back to what he does best when faced with a culture that could not be communicated with via normal methods.

You can forget sometimes that this kind of thing really is his area of expertise, and more than that it’s something he genuinely loves despite how frustrating he found the ‘pod people’ to be, you can see it in his joy when he has a minor break through with them bringing the UAV out to them all. Having Janet out in the field was a nice touch too even if she did decide to utter the awful “house call” line upon arriving on the planet. There was some interesting notions at work too, we know all too well the risks that members of the SGC put themselves in when exploring other worlds but it’s a nice twist on the idea to think about the dangers they they pose to others whilst doing it, it’s just a shame that almost everything related to the central story was so mishandled. If there is a list of episodes of the show that you really shouldn’t show anyone if you are trying to get them to love the franchise then this is deserves its place on there, it’s by no means one of the worst the show has done (that still goes to Emancipation at this stage) but it is one of the more cringe worthy installments.

The pod people (named by Jack, I expect that isn’t really the name of the race) are just a bizarre race, clearly writers John Sanborn and Michael Kaplan were going for a quirky and altogether different vibe but instead they inflict a race on us who were deservedly never seen or heard from again. The body paint design just looked like an odd commune of sorts, the singing was embarrassing to see rather than intriguing and the sudden collapsing of many of them was like something out of an unsubtle mime act. Just awful. Then we have the symbiotic relationship with the plants that grow at rapid rates and produce a green ooze and you can understand why many don’t look upon the episode kindly. The sudden deterioration of Jack, Daniel and Teal’c lacks any urgency so ends up feeling like an after thought, like they knew that the threat to these beings wasn’t going to be enough to hold the viewers interest so a threat to the leads had to be hastily tacked on; it doesn’t work. The end is a bit clunky too, that sound is causing the problem was a novel idea but the hastily assembled sound machine that is constructed and left behind to save the day is just a bit strange and convenient. And it really is a shame, as I mentioned the idea was a good one, but the execution is one that is better left forgotten.

According to the IdiotBox review of 1969:

Well if you’re going to do an episode that’s silly then make sure you have fun while you’re doing it, Stargate SG-1 certainly does that unashamedly with 1969, logic is thrown out the window, so many things don’t make sense (see the time travel section below) and we even get a driving map sequence that could have been taken right out of a show like Saved By The Bell but does it matter? Not really. The time travel and alternate timeline episodes are some of the most fun episodes that the show has done, there’s something great about seeing characters you know so well out of their comfort zones and here we have them in  the late 60’s, wearing outfits that may have looked a bit much in the day and driving across America in a spruced up hippy mobile.

Back when the show first started I doubt anyone would have thought that two years later we’d be seeing things like this but fun is something Stargate does so well, and it’s something that caused many longtime viewers to give up whenUniverse started, (I loved that show just for the record, but more on that when the rewatch gets there, presumably in late 2019!) and sure this might lean a little too far towards the crazy but it would be difficult to argue with the fact that it is enjoyable. I think what helps keep this grounded is that despite all the frivolity going on the episode doesn’t lose its heart, it manages to be an almost personal tale of a man who was barely there for most of it. We’ve seen the hard by the book side of Hammond before and we’ve seen how much the staff at the SGC, particularly SG-1 mean to him but here we see that he holds them as dear as they hold each other.

His talk to Carter before they all left, his quiet contemplation as he stared out at the gate not knowing if they would be able to get themselves home and that reunion scene where he told Jack how much he now owed him; just brilliant stuff and a great performance from Davis. Hammond was great in his younger days too so it transpires, Aaron Pearl did such a good job channeling his counterpart that the scenes with him with SG-1 were totally believable (even if he had different colored eyes), I mean sure he went along with everything they were saying a bit too easily, I would have liked him to resist a tad more but it was a busy episode so it’s forgivable. As for SG-1 themselves there were some brilliant moments, Teal’c’s unique take on how to get everyone a lift was fantastic, Daniel’s German accent whilst talking to Catherine worked as the rest of the episode was so off the wall while Jack nearly breaking while Michael was telling him how he didn’t want to go to war was a nice moment. We also got to have Carter using her smarts with extremely limited resources to figure out the solar flare and get everyone home. And has the gate ever looked more awesome than it did when they removed it from the crate? I find it impossible not to watch that without a smile. The episode did over step the mark towards the end, the rip to the future with Cassandra there to send them back was a bit much, not only did the scene insinuate the gate shuts down completely eventually, something which I;d find hard to believe given where the series goes but just how she got them back and all the science talk that with with it seemed off. And on that note how did Hammond know about the two solar flares when his interactions with them ended with a zat gun on the highway? I feel I may have missed something with that?

According to the IdiotBox review of Out of Mind:

Do you know what every show needs for a finale? What that magic touch is to leave viewers stunned as the show goes into a break? Well it sure as Hell isn’t a bloody clip show! Star Trek did it and got berated for it, but not ones to learn from the mistakes that others make those in charge of Stargate decided to do the same thing and it’s hugely disappointing. What’s worse is that it puts a dampener on what could have been an excellent second season finale, and worse is that that it makes the clips look ridiculous. I don’t care how nit picky it is but having Jack watch the flashbacks to past adventures from the viewers perspective is just awful, we actually see him watch himself on a screen and it makes no sense whatsoever, it only highlights how infuriating they have made portions of Out Of Mind and how needless it was.

What use did these looks at the past serve? Was there nothing else that could have been done instead? Could we not have seen an adventure that took place off screen? At least The Next Generation had a writers strike to hide behind, here it just comes across that they are attempting to coast through a very important episode. Extremely poor form. And it really does hurt all the good stuff that the episode has to offer, the idea that Hathor would be audacious enough to rebuild a SGC interior on a ship is wonderfully over the top, the amount of time and effort that went into getting this done to such a convincing effect almost makes you root for her. And it is a one heck of a hoax too, you can see why Jack reluctantly accepts that everyone is long dead, the Goa’uld don’t oversell what things are like in the future, they actually paint a bleak picture where things are the same if not a little bit worse.

People like Hammond being mentioned have died at the age of 93 must have resonated with him, it was only a clumsy conversation between the doctors that tipped him off and that discovery of the the mothership was a tremendous reveal. As was the quick reemergence of Daniel and Carter from the same cryogenic sleep that Jack was in, the three of them trying to suss out what was happening and who was behind it was great and there was really only one person that could be responsible. Hathor was long overdue a reintroduction, her episode in season one may not have been the best but she was certainly a compelling enough villain and here she seems much more like a legitimate threat, that fear inducing moment where she reveals that somebody will be a new host was a great place to leave the episode. The real SGC got a look in too with Teal’c awaking from a three week sleep to the news that his friends are all gone, and that nothing further can be done to try and find them, his decision to leave may have been abrupt but given how much the team means to him it is totally understandable that he would head off on his own. Plus it was really an emotional moment when he and Hammond said their goodbyes to one another, even on an initial watch you knew that he would be back almost instantly but it’s a nice second cliffhanger to leave things on.

The Worst:

Need, and Bane

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I was none to particular towards Need, which had a character, Shyla, fitting the Evil Demon Seductress model (see Feminist Frequency‘s #4), while Bane simply had Teal’c bitten by an alien bug and was going under some transformation to turn into several of them.

According to the IdiotBox review of Need:

Well how much does Daniel drop the ball on this one?! Even before he was off his face on sarcophagus fumes he’s the cause of many a problem for everyone else to the point where you just want to give him a slap for being such an idiot. First up saving a girl is fine, but jumping in to save a girl who was about to commit suicide, and doing so when it could well put your whole team in jeopardy was a bit of a dick move. And then when the rest of them do a pretty good job and launching an escape he stays sat down for some unknown reason and is slow at getting out that he is almost crushed to death and causes everyone else to be put back to work in the mines. Well played Jackson, real good day at the office for you! That being said Michael Shanks puts in one hell of a performance for this one, he unleashes a side that we haven’t come close to seeing yet and he’s quite the intimidating presence when the change happens. Sure there are moments where he chews the scenery a little too much, there were a few instances where less could have been more with the character coming a touch too close to mustache twirling but for the most part he nails it and that final scene where he breaks down in front of Jack is one of the strongest that we’ve had so far.

also loved his reaction to Shyla saying he was her destiny, it helped to balance out the fact that it was a tremendously cheesy line, he was pretty good at his delivery of “why am I wearing this” too when he emerged from the sarcophagus. After only one jaunt in the thing though there wouldn’t have been an adverse effect to him, there wasn’t in The Serpent’s Lair so that makes his decision to get back in the thing even more bizarre, this is a man that despises everything about the Goa’uld and yet he puts himself at risk for no good reason at all, I don’t buy that he would have even have entertained the idea let alone gone and done it! There’s also the issue of Shyla herself, pretty girl sure but if there was an award for guest character with the least personality she would be a strong contender to make the top ten, not only did I not feel the slightest bit of connection with her, or her father for that matter but she actually brought Daniel down too so that scenes between the two of them were as dull as they come.

And it’s a real shame seeing as it’s so much fun to watch Daniel be an almighty idiot to the rest of the team. It’s a great episode for Jack speaking of the rest of the team, Richard Dean Anderson seems to be in quip over drive during the early mining scenes and it is great fun to watch, he’s also nearly as good as Shanks in that scene towards the end. He’s also responsible for my highlight of the episode, the team returning home and giving Hammond the briefest of explanations as to how the trip was, loved Amanda Tapping’s casual tip of the naquadah then too, if it’s ad libbed it was perfectly executed. It’s a shame thinking about it that SG-1 didn’t mention how much this was a case of history repeating itself, just two episodes back in the rewatch I was reviewing Prisoners where they were in a very similar situation (minus the crazed team member) and it does seem a little jarring this soon not to have it mentioned they are having a bad run with this kind of thing!

According to the IdiotBox review of Bane:

There’s something hugely disconcerting about seeing someone like Teal’c in such a helpless and defeated state, the guy is normally such a stoic and strong person that to see him literally lie down and die is really rather jarring, and that’s a problem I have with this episode, would he really just allow himself to be beaten like this? Everything we have known about the Jaffa, his determination to see his battles won, his love for Ry’ac, and sure that the insect infection was a pretty serious thing to happen but I don’t buy for one second that he would give up. And when I say that we saw him just “lie down and die” I mean that in the literal sense because that’s exactly what he does. There’s an argument to be made that he had given up hope due to everything being stacked against him, he was out on his own after all but therein lies another problem, why was he out in his own? Refusing to tell Jack where he was made no sense whatsoever, after everything they have all been through what possible reason was there for not telling someone who he calls a friend (so pointedly as recently as Message In A Bottle too) where to find him for help? And more concerning is that, even though he wasn’t to know how bad things could get when the transformation takes place, he not only put the life of the sweet young girl who helping him in danger, but he put the entire planet as risk in the process. Nice one T! It lets the episode down considerably that it is so focused on one character, but that character is poorly serviced by everything going on that he becomes frustrating, Christopher Judge does a great job with what he’s given but the man deserves to have Teal’c treated so much better than this.

I loved Ally though, the actress comes across a lot better here than she does in her next role, true she should have been a lot more freaked about by seeing an alien, and then having that alien slowly transform into a webbed cocoon but she’s so much fun that it’s forgivable, I adored her royally pissing Maybourne off. She should have become a recurring character for that moment alone. Another downside of the episode was Carter’s ‘friend’ Doctor Harlow, he’s one of the most erratic characters I’ve seen in a while. For starters Carter is pretty quick to shoot him down when he calls Teal’c a ‘subject’ for someone she was bigging up so much, and then his allegiances fly about all over the place that by the end of it I had no idea whether he was a good guy or not. Having him “accidentally lose” everything Maybourne wanted was a nice little moment but until then he could have been sided with anyone. What really does work is the ever growing amusing hate hate relationship between Jack and Maybourne, the two of them are so much fun together that it helps detract from what an unlikeable idiot Maybourne really is, Jack’s assertion that he wasn’t planning on punching him, merely shooting him was one of the highlights of the episode. And if you needed any further evidence as to how much of a horrible man Maybourne is this episode gives you that in spades, not giving a damn about Teal’c’s well being is bad enough but to lead the poor guy out of the base in chains was clearly just done to make him and those he cares about suffer. The bastard.  It has to be said too that giant insects were not really the best choice of villains, they invariably come across as a little hokey and that’s certainly the case here, this is further highlighted far far down the road in the Atlantis episode 38 minutes where one gets to hang out for the whole episode.

NoxRitual

Next in the best and worst is Season 1.

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