Overall Rating: Very Good
SG-1 arrives on a planet on which the stargate is located in a large, windowless, multi-floored complex. There is a lot of machinery, and the equipment appears more advanced than Earth’s, but is in disrepair. While examining some of the equipment, an electronic whine begins to sound. With a lesson learned in "Thor's Hammer," O’Neill tells the team to retreat to the gate, but they only get a few steps, before dropping unconscious due to a stun beam of some sort.
When SG-1 members regain consciousness, their weapons and uniforms are gone, and they are wearing some sort of leisure tracksuit. Soon, a humanoid enters the room, Harlan, who is the last being on the planet (which is called Altair). Harlan is puppy dog friendly. However, he is not forthcoming when asked direct questions by SG-1. Harlan admits only to making the team members “better.” Frustrated with not getting an explanation of “better,” SG-1 heads back to Earth, leaving Harlan. Harlan warns that they will return to Altair. Back at SGC, O’Neill, Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c discover what Harlan meant by “better,” taking subjective interpretation to a new level. SG-1 gates back to Altair, possibly leaving Earth forever.
O’Neill shines in this episode, followed by Daniel. O’Neill is the first to comprehend the ramifications of being made “better.” Anderson is great as O’Neill wrestles with the urge harm Harlan, and the realization that only Harlan can undo making SG-1 “better.” Shanks is very good as Daniel, who is bemused by both Harlan, and the idea of being “better.”
Jay Brazeau is wonderful as Harlan. The most noticeable aspect of Harlan is humor. What I enjoyed most about Mr. Brazeau’s portrayal were the non-funny moments. Harlan’s sense of loss, and wistfulness, when describing how he became the last one of his society. His confusion when SG-1 is not delighted by being made “better.” Harlan’s worry when some of the machinery stops functioning, something that could result in his, and SG-1’s, demise. Harlan is a clown who smiles and laughs while decimating your life. Not because he is evil or cruel, but because he is so focused on existing, he has forgotten what it means to live. Bravo, Mr. Brazeau.
I really like the Altair set used in this episode. A cramped maze of patched together machinery. Very nicely done.
18th episode broadcast.
17th episode in the DVD set.
Note: An instance when not being in broadcast order affects the story line, albeit minimally. O'Neill's experience in "Solitudes," 17th episode broadcast, dovetails nicely with his reactions in this episode. Not a huge impact, but one worth noting.
SG-1 took their weapons, and equipment, with them the first time they left Altair. They returned to Altair without any equipment. Without transmitters to get SGC to open the iris, how did SG-1 get back to Earth the second time they left Altair?
I’m good with everyone in the universe speaking the same language. While not particularly feasible, it does ease the viewing experience, and keeps stories from being bogged down with endless translating. I’m less forgiving when everyone in the universe uses the same measurements for time, or distance. How does Harlan know about Earth hours shortly after SG-1 regains consciousness?
The SGC has the best resources to help Daniel in his search for Sha’re. Although his ability to search for Sha’re is crippled by Harlan, and he may never be able to search for her, Daniel never mentions Sha’re.
I can think of a number of explanations for all three instances I mentioned above. However, I believe there’s a line between filling in the blanks, and writing part of the story. These three inconsistencies cross into the viewer writing part of the story.