Monday, October 31, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 22


"Nemesis"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

SGC is positively bucolic.  Due to Daniel's emergency appendectomy, SG-1 is on leave.  Teal’c is off world, visiting his son.  Carter is working on neglected experiments.  Daniel is on bed rest in the SGC infirmary.  O’Neill is in his civvies, ready to head out and go fishing.  Something has to rescue this episode from all the peace and quiet.  Something like O’Neill being unexpectedly beamed out of SGC, and onto Thor’s ship.  How about he re-integrates on Thor’s ship, named The Belisknor, and there is no Thor in the vicinity, however a hoard of metallic “bugs” move towards O’Neill’s location, with their creepy metal buggy-legs flailing around, and creepy metal tippy-toes making clacking sounds.  That'll get this episode moving.

Thor is injured, and transports O’Neill onto the Belisknor hoping that O’Neill can figure out a way to destroy the ship.  The metal bugs, a.k.a. the Replicators -- the enemy of the Asgard mentioned in "Fair Game", have commandeered Thor’s ship, and thereby gained access to information about Earth.  The Replicators intend to land the ship on Earth, then overwhelm and destroy Earth’s civilizations.  O’Neill requests ordinance from SGC, and orders Carter and Teal’c (who was called back to SGC) not to beam up to the Belisknor.  To delay the Replicators, Thor disabled the outbound aspect of the ship’s transporter device.  Once on the ship, there is no way to beam off of it.  General Hammond overrides O’Neill’s order because Carter devised a plan that will allow everyone to safely escape the ship.

The initial plan to destroy Thor's ship and escape is solid, except for the part about destroying Thor’s ship.  The Asgard invest a lot of their intelligence in creating space ships that are not easily destroyed using explosive devices.  Thor’s ship moves closer to Earth, and closer to the invasion of the Replicators.  SG-1, minus Daniel, races against time, working on a way to keep the Belisknor from reaching Earth, while the Replicators are subverting more of the ship’s systems.

The episode beings with a quiet, amusing interlude.  Before the title and credits role, the show revs into motion.  Suspense and action build consistently throughout.  All of the regular cast is on their “A” game, performing extremely well.  A nice balance of character development, and exciting exploits.  I give a special nod of appreciation for Anderson’s portrayal of O’Neill.  This episode is a great example of director Martin Wood making a small set seem like a vast, unending path of very long corridors.  Kudos to Mr. Wood, the set department, and everyone involved.

An entertaining episode, and an amazing end to season three.

Failures:
None.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 21


"Crystal Skull"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

Investigating a planet using a MALP, folks at SGC see an enormous temple, which appears Mayan.  The MALP transmits readings that may take Earth’s knowledge about physics down a new path.  Carter is excited.  A crystal humanoid skull is on a pedestal within the pyramid.  Daniel is intrigued.  Daniel’s grandfather, Nicolas Ballard, discovered a similar crystal skull in Belize in 1971.  Ballard claimed the crystal skull had the power to transport a person to another location, where they would meet giant aliens.  His claim did not go over well in the academic community.  Nicolas was never able to replicate transportation, or get any further results from his artifact.

SG-1 gates to the planet with the enormous Mayan-ish temple, however, radiation concerns severely limit the amount of time the team can safely remain there.  Daniel goes to the crystal skull, and tries to trigger the transportation experience Nick described.  There is a spike in the level of harmful radiation, and some mysterious energy activity is building around the crystal skull.  Teal’c fires his ‘zat at the skull to disrupt the energy field.  Daniel is knocked unconscious by the resulting energy surge.  Carter collapses, overcome by the effects of the increased radiation level.  Daniel is lying unconscious in the open, yet he can no longer be seen by the rest of the team.  To them, he has disappeared.  Teal’c is concerned, and confused, about Daniel’s disappearance.  `O’Neill orders an immediate return to SGC, as he struggles to carry the unconscious Carter and deal with the radiation sickness he is experiencing.  Whew!  And, that happens in one or two minutes of the show.  These events trigger an episode that is rife with suspense, mystery, humor, and pathos.

Jan Rube is Nicolas Ballard, the charming scoundrel who will probably never earn a "world's best grandpa" mug.  The regular cast is outstanding.  A special nod to Shanks as Jackson, and kudos to everyone in a scene with him.  It is difficult to act like someone who is right next to you, speaking and moving around, it not visible or audible.  Bravo to everyone in this episode.

Failures:
No a failure, so much as the question that usually comes up when someone is out of phase in a story -- why doesn’t Daniel just sink through the floor and the Earth, or float through the ceiling and the sky, or stay in one spot while the Earth rotates around him?  The short answer, of course, is because he is needed in the scenes.  Still ...

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 20


"Maternal Instinct"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

Bra’tac gates from Chulak to SGC.  He brings news -- Apophis attacked Chulak.  Apophis’ survival, revealed to the viewing audience at the end of “The Devil You Know,” is unwelcome news for SGC.  The attack seems retaliatory against Jaffa who are no longer loyal to Apophis, and instead side with Teal’c’s rebellion.  Goa’ulds are not above wiping out everyone in order to destroy a few enemies.  Bra’tac and Teal’c realize that Apophis’ tactics in attacking Chulak involved more than just destruction.  Apophis was searching Chulak for the Harcesis.

No one knows the exact location where Amonet hid the child.  Daniel knows the name of the hiding place, Keb (“Forever in a Day”), however he does not know Keb’s location.  But, Bra’tac does.  The Goa’uld fear Keb, a legendary location where elderly Jaffa used to go when they could no longer carry a symbiote.  After some extrapolation, research, and good old fashion guess work, the probable stargate address for Keb is discovered.  SG-1, and Bra’tac, gate to the address.  SG-1 to search for the Harcesis child, and Bra’tac, the weary warrior, searches for his final resting place.

Although the Harcesis is the catalyst for the events in this episode, the first half of the show primarily concerns Bra’tac.  The second half relates primarily to Daniel.  Anderson is in great form as O’Neill during the second half of the episode.  The rest of the regular cast performs well.  The concept of ascension is introduced in this episode.

The promise of intrigue and suspense is strong early, but then much of the story’s momentum is lost during the middle of the show.  Things pick up again near the end, and result in a satisfying close to the episode.

Failures:
After everything that’s occurred since “Children of the Gods,” the Jaffa on Chulak still don’t seem to keep much of a guard on their stargate.

Daniel learned about Amonet hiding the Harcesis on Keb during “Forever in a Day.”  When, and how, did Apophis learn that Amonet hid the child on Keb?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 19


"New Ground"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

SGC utilizes a cold address program where they re-dial stargate addresses from the Abydos cartouche (“Children of the Gods”) that they could not establish a wormhole with before.  They are doing this because … I do not know why they are doing this.  Anyway, a wormhole is established with a cold address, and a MALP is sent through, surprising two humans on the other side of the wormhole.  Their stargate had only recently been unearthed.  The people are scientists on an archaeological dig.  Their names are Mallin, and Nyan.  Mallin hightails it out of there, while Nyan chats up SGC through the MALP, and invites them to visit.  Gating to the planet, SG-1 learns from Nyan that there are two warring factions.  One side, the Optricans, believe humans were transported to the planet via a gateway (a stargate).  The opposition believes that humans were created by their god Nefertum, and evolved on the planet.  The bad news for SG-1 is they are in pro-Nefertum land.

Nyan thinks proof of the gateway theory of human existence on the planet is fascinating, and exciting.  Mallin believes SG-1 is part of an Optrican invasion, or worse, proof that her beliefs were wrong, and brings back some military muscle to subdue the team.  Teal’c is injured, but escapes from the military zealots.  The rest of the team is captured, and placed in cages that look like electrified doggy kennels.  Nyan finds the injured Teal’c, and reluctantly aids the Jaffa in a plan to free the rest of SG-1.

The best scenes involve Nyan, and Teal’c.  Richard Ian Cox as Nyan is intellectually engaging, but not emotionally engaging, through no fault of Mr. Cox’s.  Nothing on a personal level about Nyan is written into the episode, resulting in a one-sided view of the character.  Chris Judge is excellent as Teal’c, believably revealing one of Teal’c’s personal fears, and his determination to work through it.  While dealing with his fear Teal’c is somewhat bullheaded and irrational, but essentially noble.  Daryl Shuttleworth does a good job portraying the military commander, Rigar.  Rigar realizes the implications of SG-1’s presence, and knows the situation is far above his pay grade.  His reactions ring true.  The rest of the regular cast performs well.

The story is a take on the debate between creationism and evolution, with the twist that both sides are holding different views of the same event.  Come to think of it, that really is not such a big twist.  Still, it is an interesting story.  A big plus for this episode is the schism between the warring factions is not settled by SG-1.  “New Ground” is about the team getting out of a bad situation, not restructuring an off-world society in 44 minutes.

Near the beginning of the episode, watch for Teal’c’s reaction when General Hammond is talking to O’Neill about manually dialing a stargate.  Priceless.

Failures:
Why doesn’t Teal’c carry a potentially non-lethal weapon, like a ‘zat gun, on missions?

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 18


"Shades of Grey"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

SG-1 is on Tollana, begging High Chancellor Travell for some advanced technology.  The Tollans nix giving primitive societies (i.e., any society less technologically advanced than theirs) anything other than grief.  The Tollans do not give a hoot if other beings destroy themselves, as long as they do not use Tollan weaponry to do it.  The Tollans are still ticked off about their original home world being destroyed by other people’s misuse of gifted Tollan tech (“Enigma”) .  Frustrated, O’Neill snaps, and steals some Tollan tech after the meeting with High Chancellor Travell.  Back at SGC, he presents the mechanism to General Hammond, and eventually confesses the item is less gift, more stolen property.

O’Neill is given a medical checkup, but there is no evidence that he is under the influence of anything alien.  Jack is just angry, and frustrated with the slow pace of acquiring something from off world that can help Earth defend itself against the Goa’uld.  O’Neill is forced to retire from the Air Force, and he rejects his former SG-1 teammates.  He does attract the attention of the shadowy, ne’er do wells last heard from in “Touchstone.”  It turns out there is a sophisticated organization that holds the same view as angry O’Neill.

O’Neill goes dark side, and joins the organization.  SG-1 has a new commander who is not meshing well with Teal’c and Daniel.  Are the halcyon days of team SG-1 over?

Anderson is excellent as O’Neill.  He is the focus of this episode, however the rest of the regular cast performs very well.  Look for a wonderful shot of O’Neill traveling through the stargate.

Failures:
None, really.  The first time viewing this particular episode is best.  Subsequent viewings make for a good episode.

The story touches on good people doing bad things for what they believe is the right reason.  It's easy to believe that the folks at the top of the shadowy organization aren't motivated solely by altruistic concern for Earth's well-being.  I wonder about the boots-on-the-ground folks in the organization, though.  I would like to have learned more about their motivations, and get a deeper peek at their rationale for joining the organization.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 17


"A Hundred Days"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

SG-1 is on the planet Edora negotiating a treaty for naquadah mining rights.  The people of Edora are human, snatched from Earth by some Goa’uld a long time ago.  They have an agrarian society, with a technology level reminiscent of the mid-1800s.  A meteor knocks over the stargate, and leaves it buried under tons of rubble.  All of the team, and many Edorans, escaped back to Earth before the meteor hit, except O’Neill, and a few Edorans, including a woman named Laira (who is crushing hard on O’Neill).  Stargate Command redials the Edoran address, and sends a MALP through.  The MALP is unable to fully re-integrate on Edora, so no rescue can be sent for O’Neill.  None of Earth’s star-faring allies can send a ship to Edora for quite some time.  Unwilling to give up, Carter begins to work on a way to safely get through the gate to Edora.

Back on Edora, O’Neill is reluctant to accept that he may never return to Earth.  Laira spends a lot of time, and energy, trying to convince O’Neill to forget about Earth, and go native.  Laira’s attempts to get O’Neill to integrate with the remnants of Edoran society are creepy because she's way too satisfied that O’Neill is stuck on the planet with her.  Light-years from home, and any chance of getting a restraining order against Laira, O’Neill gradually accepts his lot.  Their relationship evolves during the passing months, taking on a vibe similar to the movie Witness.

Most of the episode involves Carter working on a solution, and Laira working on O'Neill.

This is a banner episode for Jack/Sam ‘shippers, as it is the first time Carter implies more than just teammate camaraderie-type of feelings for O’Neill.  Thus begins years of romantic speculation for something that goes against Air Force regulations if it is ever consummated.

Failures:
How is it that a naquadah rich planet is no longer on the Goa’uld’s radar?  The Goa’uld use naquadah.  They will abandon a planet, and the people they kidnapped, but not when there is still something of value available, like naquadah.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 16


"Urgo"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

SG-1 steps through the stargate to investigate a planet.  Instead of arriving on the planet, the team exits the stargate back at SGC.  For SG-1, the trip is instantaneous.  General Hammond informs them that they were gone for 15 hours.  Physically, SG-1 seems fine, until Dr. Frasier discovers that some sort of metal object is implanted in the brain of each team member.  They begin to see, and hear, a being named Urgo.  No one else can see, or hear, Urgo.  Insert “maybe it is an alien, or maybe they are just nuts” jokes here.  Urgo does not control SG-1, however he can influence their decisions.  Urgo is tied to the devices in the team’s brains, and until the mechanisms can be neutralized, SG-1 is quarantined, and stuck at SGC.

Dom DeLuise is Urgo.  Mr. DeLuise is one of my favorite comedians.  I do not think the episode fully utilized Mr. DeLuise's comedic talent.  He is amusing during most of the episode and absolutely hilarious during the last ten minutes of the show.  The regular cast are foils for Urgo, and do not bring much to the episode.  Some mugging, and mild antics, but little substance.

Failures:
SG-1 does get an opportunity to travel off world, with Urgo.  The team heads out with alien devices stuck in their brains, yet they apparently still have IDC codes in order to return to SGC.  The show often refers to locking out IDCs when a SG team might be compromised while on a mission.  Why let SG-1 retain their IDCs, and return to SGC, when they are definitely compromised?

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 15


"Pretense"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

The episode opens with a battle happening in space.  Goa’uld vessels are attacking a Goa’uld glider.  The glider escapes the barrage, and crash-lands on a nearby planet.  Human people on the planet approach the vessel, and discover Skaa’ra/Klorel (“The Serpent's Lair”), injured but alive.

Next, we are at SGC.  There is an incoming wormhole, and no IDC.  It is Narim, and some other Tollans (“Enigma”), who use one of their devices to waltz right through the stargate’s closed iris.  Narim has a message from the Tollan High Chancellor, Travell.  Skaa’ra/Klorel crashed on the Tollan’s new home world, Tollana.  Skaa’ra wants Klorel removed, but since Klorel is a sentient being, the Tollans will not just remove him.  Because the Tollans are aloof, and often act like the south end of a north bound herd of horses, they decide to have a trial to determine who gets to use Skaa’ra’s body -- Skaa’ra or Klorel.  The trial is called a Triad, with representative(s) for each side, and a third, neutral representative.  Lord Zipacna, a Goa’uld, is Klorel’s rep, and Lya, a Nox (“The Nox”) is the neutral rep.  O’Neill is invited to be Skaa’ra’s rep.  He accepts, and SG-1 gates to Tollana.

SG-1 works to save Skaa’ra from remaining Klorel’s unwilling slave.  At the same time, the Tollan’s hubris prevents them from considering the Goa’uld a threat, a decision that may lead to the destruction of Tollana, and SG-1.

Alexis Cruz returns and is excellent portraying the very different Ska’ra, and Klorel.  Kevin Durand is Lord Zipacna.  He does not get to do much other than sneer, and preen, however he does both well enough.  The regular cast is at their best.  Frida Betrani returns as Lya who is all about the calm, not the emoting.

Failures:
The episode re-enforces the Tollan’s arrogance, and has some nice special effects.  The story is okay, but not great.  It is nice to see Skaa’ra again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 14


"Foothold"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

SG-1 returns to Earth from a mission to find the Harcesis child, who was hidden away by Amonet (“Forever in a Day”).  Per protocol, SG-1 heads to the infirmary for a check-up.  A chemical spill occurred at SGC, however it is being contained.  The team is given shots which knock them unconscious.  Because of the Goa’uld symbiote he carries, Teal’c awakens first.  He sees an alien standing near Dr. Frazier and General Hammond, and no one is alarmed by its presence.  With the alien, plus being drugged, Teal’c deduces that SGC has been invaded by aliens -- a foothold situation.  Teal’c is able to find, and awaken, only Carter.  They try to escape from Cheyenne Mountain.  Colonel Maybourne is contacted by Carter, and told there is the foothold situation at Stargate Command.  Or, is there?

The chemicals from the spill can cause hallucinations, and paranoia.  Carter and Teal’c may just need some medication to overcome the side effects of the chemicals.  However, if the foothold situation is true, then Earth’s fate rest on a few people confronting an alien army, without knowing who is human, and who is not.

This is one of the best Stargate SG-1 episodes that is unrelated to the ongoing Goa’uld story arc.  The dialog is not sparkling, however it has strength, and rings true to the situation.  Tom McBeath returns as Maybourne, and is great.  The regular cast performs very well, with Tapping excelling as Carter.  The possible foothold situation is dramatic, and believable.  The aliens have an interesting appearance, unlike other aliens previously seen on the show.

Failures:
None.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 13


"The Devil You Know"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

The plan set forth in “Jolinar’s Memories” to rescue Jacob/Selmak failed.  SG-1, minus Teal’c, is exposed as spies, and they are now prisoners of none other than my favorite bad penny who keeps turning up, Apophis.  Apophis died on Earth (“Serpent’s Song”), and Stargate Command sent his body through the gate to Sokar, in order to stop an attack on the Earth stargate.  Sokar then used a sarcophagus to revive Apophis in order to continue torturing him.  Goa’ulds are just so wrong.  Sokar then dumped Apophis on Netu.  Apophis murdered his way to become the top Goa’uld on Netu.  He intends to use his prisoners to gain his freedom from Sokar.  At the very least, Apophis hopes to get close enough to Sokar to kill him.  Apophis finds the team’s communication device, and uses it to talk smack to Teal’c.  Realizing that SG-1, and the others, cannot escape, Teal’c returns to the Tok’ra.

A Tok’ra, named Aldwin, joins Teal’c in the cargo ship, and they return to Netu.  Teal’c is on a rescue mission.  The Tok’ra are not big on rescuing people, although they will try to rescue information.  Eh, priorities.  Aldwin’s intent, with the blessing of the Tok’ra High Council, is to destroy Sokar.  They plan to destroy Sokar’s ship when it is near Netu by destroying Netu.  Why use a bomb to destroy a space ship when you can use an exploding moon to destroy a space ship.  Go big, or go home!  The down side to the plan is SG-1, Martouf, Jacob/Selmak, and hundreds, possibly thousands, of beings at Netu will be destroyed.  The Tok’ra are okay with this; Teal’c is not.  SG-1, and company, are trapped on a moon that will soon be destroyed, with no rescue mission setting out for them.

Scenes of Apophis trying to get information from his prisoners slam the brakes on the flow of the episode.  They interfere with the pace, and add little to the story.  The rest of the episode is loaded with suspense, action, and a calmly angry Teal’c -- three elements of a great Stargate SG-1 show.  David Palffy is the creepy Sokar, a Goa’uld who is not about being pretty.  Peter Williams is Apophis, and is great.  The regular cast provides good performances.  Teal’c has the best line of the episode.

The sets and costumes are first rate.  The attention to detail is apparent, and successfully executed, right down to the emblems on the foreheads of Jaffa in service to Sokar, a stylized five-point star that is upside down (in keeping Sokar tied to Satan).  All in all, a fun ride with an exciting ending.

Failures:
The scenes of Apophis interrogating his prisoners were too protracted.  They weren't violent, they were just too long.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 12


"Jolinar's Memories"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

Some Tok’ra, including Martouf (“The Tok’ra: Part 2”) visit SGC, bearing bad news, as usual.  The Tok’ra never travel to Stargate Command with good news.  Jacob/Selmak was captured by the Goa’uld Sokar (who is first mentioned in “Serpent's Song”).  Sokar is serious about portraying the Devil, including sending people to his facsimile of Hell, the moon Netu.  Netu is replete with flames, torture, and a lack of hope for its denizens.  If Jacob/Selmak is still alive, he has been sent to Netu.  Only one person is known to have escaped from Sokar’s version of Hell -- Jolinar, the Tok’ra symbiote who infested Carter (“In the Line of Duty”).  Martouf wants to try to access Jolinar’s memories that are in Carter to learn how she escaped.  Carter wants to save her father, so SG-1 joins the rescue mission.

The Tok’ra tend to write off their comprised undercover agents, yet they are willing to attempt to rescue Jacob/Selmak.  No, the Tok’ra have not gone soft.  They believe that Sokar intends to attack the Goa’uld System Lords, and may well be able to defeat them.  One all-powerful Goa’uld is a nightmare for the Tok’ra.  They want to find Jacob/Selmak to learn the details of Sokar’s plans, and foil them.

Carmen Argenziano returns as Jacob/Selmak, and JR Bourne is back as Martouf.  This is part one of a two-episode arc, and is a character driven episode.  Fans of Carter, Marfouf, and Sokar should really enjoy this story.

Failures:
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this episode.  It is just not one I look forward to viewing.  The two-part episode formula of having one episode be primarily character driven, and the following episode being primarily action driven, is not my favorite.  I prefer a mix of character development, and action, in every single episode.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 11


"Past and Present"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

SG-1 gates to the planet Vius, which is populated by humans.  Their society is comparable to the industrial early twentieth century United States.  The population is recovering from a disaster.  Everyone has amnesia.  The amnesia-inducing event, referred to as the Vorlix, happened about one year ago.  Adding to the oddness, there are no children or elderly.  SG-1 meets the post-Vorlix leader, Ke’ra.  She is working to hold her society together, and appreciates any help Earth can provide.  Researching Vius’ recent past the team discovers that shortly before the Vorlix Vius had a visitor from the stargate, that grande dame of sociopathic mass murderers, Lynnea (“Prisoners”).  SG-1 is convinced Lynnea caused the Vorlix.  Since they broke her out of prison, SG-1 feels responsible for the damage done to Vius society, and with SGC, commits to finding a cure for the amnesia.

Ke’ra, and two other people from Vius, go to SGC for medical testing.  The amnesia is not contagious, and the necessary medical and lab equipment is on Earth.  Ke’ra works with Dr. Frazier and Carter in developing a cure.  If found, the cure will help the people of Vius, however, it may also cause the deaths of many others in the galaxy.

An interesting episode, with nary a Goa'uld in sight.  Megan Leitch is Ke’ra, and steals almost every scene she is in.  Fans of the show Monk may recognize Jason Gray-Stanford as Orner.  The regular cast is good, but not outstanding.  The outdoor views of Vius are very well done, with churning smoke coming out of chimneys, and a steampunk flying machine seen in the air during some shots.  Kudos to the art, costume, set, and production design departments.

Failures:
Although Sha’re was just killed in the previous episode, Daniel is in flirty-boy mode with Ke’ra.  Sha’re’s abduction was why Daniel wanted to join SG-1, and travel the galaxy.  Saving her was his reason for being.  Daniel macking on Ke’ra so soon after becoming a widower is creepy, and makes Daniel an unsympathetic, and rather unlikable character in this episode.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 10


"Forever in a Day"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

Daniel finally finds Sha’re.  She is on a planet with a large contingent of Jaffa guards, and still infested with the Goa’uld, Amonet (“Children of the Gods”).  Sha’re’s father Kasuf, and some other Abydonians, are prisoners.  Amonet took her son -- the human child whose father is Apophis (“Secrets”) -- back from Kasuf.  As the offspring of two Goa’uld infested hosts, the child is Harcesis, meaning born with all the knowledge of the Goa’uld.  Apophis intended to use the child as a new host.  The Goa’uld System Lords will destroy any Harcesis child they find.

SG-1, and other SG teams, battle the Jaffa, and free the Abydonians.  Daniel sees Sha’re/Amonet at a distance, near a tent, and runs to her.  Daniel confronts Sha’re/Amonet in the tent, and demands to know the location of the Harcesis child.  Not surprisingly, Amonet does not comply with Daniel’s demand, and tries to kill him using a Goa’uld ribbon device.  Amonet is killing Daniel slowly because, well, she is a Goa’uld and they are all about the torture, not so keen on the quick death.  Teal’c enters the tent, and kills Sha’re/Amonet.  Daniel awakens in the SGC infirmary.  He learns of Sha’re’s death.  Grieving, and angry with Teal’c, Daniel quits the SGC.  Or, does he?

Daniel alternates between experiencing a life where Sha’re is dead; a life where she is alive and Goa’uld-free; and a life where he is still dying by Amonet's hand.  His experiences flow from one to the other, each seeming very real.  Daniel lives through the events, until the true situation is revealed.

A well-written episode, with many unexpected twists.  Vaitiare Bandera returns as Sha’re/Amonet, providing an excellent performance, switching between the cruel Amonet, and the loving Sha’re.  The entire cast is in great form.  The viewer is right there with Daniel, and equally unsure of what is real.

Failures:
Goa’uld + Goa’uld queen = lots of squirmy, baby Goa’ulds.
Goa’ulds mating while infesting a host = a Harcesis.
I would not be surprised if there are Stargate fans who have detailed how a Harcesis could happen, possibly including detailed diagrams.  But, on the surface, the idea of a Harcesis is a bit of a leap.  Me?  I just accept Harcesis as Stargate canon, and go with it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 9


"Rules of Engagement"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

While surveilling a planet, SG-1 comes across an SG team under fire from a number of Jaffa warriors.  Moving to help defend the SG team, SG-1 is taken down by weapons fire from additional SG members who were camouflaged.  Awakening in a field hospital, SG-1 discovers they are in the midst of a war game.  The war game participants are young, with the oldest appearing to be in his late teens.  While they were unconscious (they were shot with weapons that stun, rather than maim or kill), some of SG-1’s weapons are mistakenly taken for use in a mock battle.  A war game participant is hit by a blast from Teal’c’s staff weapon, and SG-1 takes him to SGC for medical treatment.

While discovering the origin of, and the reason for, the mock battles, SG-1 also learns that they have unintentionally triggered a final, fatal war game battle.  The team must stop the possible bloodshed while trying to help a group of brainwashed youth.

Aaron Craven is outstanding as Kyle Rogers.  The other war game participants performed admirably.  Anderson and Judge had a few bright moments, but primarily the regular cast’s performance was sub-par.  The premise is interesting, but between SG-1 slowly learning what is going on, and pondering how to undo the brainwashing, the episode plods into dullness.

Failures:
The war game participants programming is so intense that they are willing to die.  Yet, it takes less than one minute to undo all the brain washing, all without getting shot with a ‘zat gun (“Family”).  One moment it’s, “Nothing can stop us from trying to kill each other!!!” and the next moment it’s, “Oh, okay.  Cool.  Well, we’re going home now.”

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 8


"Demons"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Poor

SG-1 investigates an off world medieval, European, Christian village.  The place is definitely not anyone’s version of a cheerful village of yore.  Small, muddy, with little beauty, and its population suffocating under the weight of desperation, and fear.  When the team enters the village, the people scatter and hide.  Near the center of the village, SG-1 finds a woman chained to a post.  She is ill, and slated to be a sacrifice because the villagers believe that demons cause disease.  Unlike today’s society, where people know that diseases are not caused by demons; diseases are sent by demons to the unworthy.  These days, we are much more enlightened, and evolved.  [insert ceremonial chanting, warding and gestures here]

The demon comes to the village, looking for sacrifices.  SG-1 recognizes the demon as being a Unas (“Thor’s Hammer”), a humanoid reptilian species thought to come from the original home planet of the Goa’uld symbiotes.  Not a minion of the Satan, just a minion of that satanic poseur wannabe, the Goa’uld Sokar (“Serpent’s Song”).  The villagers torture Teal’c to prove he is in league with demons.  They live their lives covered in fear and mud, so this makes sense to them.  SG-1 eventually battles the demon, Unas, actor in a bad costume, but no one cares because they have fallen asleep watching this episode.

The story crawls along at a slow pace, completely devoid of suspense, or intrigue.  No one shines in this episode.  The Unas’ face looks like an immobile plastic mask, a rare failure for the make-up department.  David McNally portrays Simon the soft-spoken, milquetoast zealot, with the heart of a budding psychopath, and dead eyes.  Mr. McNally previously portrayed Hanno in “Cor-Ai.”

All in all, a boring, very skippable episode.

Failures:
Goa’uld can jump hosts, literally, yet everyone runs up to an injured host, and leans closely over them.  Too bad the Goa’uld didn’t jump out, slither, and bounce on everyone leaning over the host.  That would have meant one good moment in the episode.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 7


"Deadman Switch"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

SG-1 is off world, there to track down a crashed UAV.  They find the vehicle, and discover it was shot down by weapons fire.  Before SG-1 can return to the stargate, they are trapped by a bounty hunter named Aris Boch.  Boch intends to turn SG-1 over to the Goa’uld for a reward.  SG-1 intends to escape.

This simple premise is woven into a complex, and elaborate story, with many twists and surprises.  The dialog is engaging, and the acting is excellent.  Sam J. Jones is delightful as Aris Boch.  Aris Boch is a big personality.  Cynical without being overtly bitter, cavalier, smart, and always planning five steps ahead.  Mr. Jones creates a memorable character in Aris Boch.  The regular cast excels in their performances, too.  Dialog, and acting, are pivotal to this episode, and everyone delivers.

This episode almost continually unveils surprises until the end.  All arise unexpectedly, yet are believable and viable, coming together in an excellent adventure.

Failures:
None.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 6


"Point of View"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

The quantum mirror used by Daniel in “There But For the Grace of God” is in storage at Area 51.  Suddenly, the mirror activates, and Sam and Kawalsky step through.  They are escaping an alternate universe, one where Apophis’ attack on Earth (“The Serpent’s Lair”) is successful.  The two refugees are seeking asylum.  Let’s call them alt-Sam, and Kawalsky (no alt prefix needed as this universe’s Kawalsky died in “The Enemy Within”).

Kawalsky is essentially the same person.  Alt-Sam is a civilian, and had a different relationship with the O’Neill of her universe.  A sonic boom is generated by Jack/Sam ‘shippers (those who really want Jack and Sam to hook up -- ‘shippers as in relationship) squee-ing with joy whenever this episode is aired.

Alt-Sam, and Kawalsky, receive asylum, however their stay is short.  Two Sam Carters in the same universe upsets physical laws.  Our universe is trying to obliterate alt-Sam, and she has to leave our universe or die.  SG-1, Sam, and alt-Sam devise a plan to return alt-Sam to her universe, and possibly save the remaining humans from the Goa’uld and Jaffa invaders.

This is a very exciting, action packed, episode.  The pace never lags, and there are some surprises in the alternate universe.  Everyone has an excellent performance.

Failures:
Sam doesn’t go to alt-Sam’s universe because of the potential physical repercussions.  Yet, Teal’c goes, even though Kawalsky said there is an alt-Teal’c.

General Hammond is not happy about the quantum mirror being used.  Potential tactical problems might arise from, or come out of, the mirror, but Hammond’s reaction seems more visceral than tactical.  Why General Hammond has so much distaste for traveling between alternate universes is never fully explained.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 5


"Learning Curve"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

Stargate Command is establishing a relationship with the humans on the planet Orban.  The Orbanians are slightly more technologically advanced that the Taur’i.  As a gesture of good faith, the Orbanians allow Carter to study a naquadah reactor, a device that is not much larger than a shoebox.  Earth returns the gesture by allowing Jackson to explain the archaeological significance of items uncovered on Orban.  Possibly discovering how the often blond, seemingly non-Latin, Orbans descended from South American folks snatched by a Goa’uld during pre-Aztec times.  I like the Jackson character, but I think Earth got the better part of this deal.  Orbanians use some of their children to learn new information.  The child geniuses are called Urrone.  One of the Urrone, a girl named Merrin, goes to SGC to explain the workings of the naquadah reactor.

Most of the cultural differences between the Orbanians and Stargate Command are smoothed over, until SGC learns how the Urrone share their knowledge with their people, a procedure/ceremony known as the Ovarium -- a name that brings to mind fertility, scrambled eggs, and Ovaltine.  The ceremony is not shown during the episode, so let your imagination run free.  O’Neill wants to keep Merrin on Earth.  Merrin, and the Orbanians, want her to return to Orban.  O’Neill puts his own spin on conflict resolution about the impasse.

The episode presents the issue of handling cultural differences with the interesting contrast of viewpoints between the Orbanians, and SGC.  Until the end, at which point O’Neill decides to forcibly reconstruct Orban society to his ideal.  O’Neill's goal is admirable, however, his method is deplorable.  The dialog indicates that Jack is charmed by Merrin (but not in a creepy way) and wants to protect her, however, Merrin and O’Neill have no on screen chemistry, making Jack’s actions seem even more out of place.

Failures:
If you like watching children not emote -- without any of the Vulcans coolness -- then this is the episode for you.

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 4


"Legacy"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

Shortly after returning from an off world mission, Daniel begins having auditory, and visual, hallucinations.  His delusions become more and more intense, and he can no longer discern the real from the illusory.  Daniel gets locked up in a psychiatric ward.  We're talking full room padding, and medications galore.

Daniel’s symptoms began after SG-1’s last mission, when they found nine desiccated Goa’uld bodies in a room locked from the inside.  There was no clear cause of death.  Crazy, huh?  Not as crazy as SGC’s medical team leaders.  Taking an Occam's Razor is for sissies approach, the doctors ignore the mysteriously dead corpses Daniel recently spent time with.  Instead, with no proof, the doctors conclude that gate travel is the likely cause of Daniel’s mental issues.  All stargate travel through Stargate Command is stopped until it is conclusively proven that gate travel does not cause schizophrenia.  SG-1 mourns for their team member, as Daniel jitterbugs to a tune only he can hear.

Michael Shanks is excellent as Daniel.  Most of the story is pretty good.  Despite the inane illogic of Daniel’s diagnosis, this episode is worth viewing.

Failures:
It is difficult to shake off the weirdness of no one pursuing the possibility of a connection between the Goa’uld bodies and Daniel’s illness.  It’s hard to stay in the moment while shouting, “What’s the matter with you people?  The dead Goa’uld?  Hel-lo?” at the television.  For me, anyway.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 3


"Fair Game"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

The Asgard, Thor (“Thor’s Chariot”), beams O’Neill to his ship, which is currently orbiting Earth.  Thor has a message: the Goa’uld System Lords intend to throw a mega-beat down on Earth because of Hathor’s death (“Into the Fire”).  An attack “100 times” worse than Apophis’ (“Within the Serpent’s Grasp").  While Stargate Command, and the SG teams, are a nuisance to the Goa’uld, this is the first time they killed a Goa’uld System Lord.  If word gets out through the galaxy that humans successfully defeated a System Lord, subjugated humans might get funny ideas, like insurrection and freedom.

The attack can be stopped by Earth becoming part of the Asgard / Goa’uld protected planets treaty.  In order to avoid all out war with each other, the two alien races divvy up less technologically advanced planets between themselves.  As many indigenous people know, it sucks to not be the one with the most powerful weapons.  The Asgard are stepping up to the plate to protect Earth, sort of.  The treaty works because, a) the Goa’uld System Lords are constantly fighting within their ranks, thus keeping their power base in flux, and b) the Asgard are too busy dealing with a threat in their own galaxy to wipe out the Goa’uld, that is, they bluff the Goa’uld into behaving.  The U. S. government agrees to treaty negotiations.  For the entire planet.  Without most of the Earth’s population having any idea about the situation.

The negotiation happens on Earth.  The Asgard choose O’Neill as Earth’s representative.  Three System Lords -- Cronus, Nirrti, and Yu -- gate to Earth for the summit.  Forced into the position of supplicant, SGC staff strive for a successful meeting with the difficult Goa’uld.  The negotiations are bumpy, but advancing towards finalization.  The Goa’uld demand an exceptional caveat, or they will withdraw from the talks and attack Earth.  With it, Earth can avoid immediate destruction, but only at a great cost.  All parties agree to the terms.  Before the treaty is finalized, one of the Goa’uld suffers a brutal attack by an unknown assailant.  The summit is derailed.  Since the treaty is not ratified, the Asgard will not even pretend to defend Earth.  SG-1 must solve the mystery, or Earth is doomed.

This is an intense, well-written story.  Richard Dean Anderson is stellar as O’Neill.  The entire cast performs very well.  The alien characters are very interesting, and menacing.  Ron Halder’s portrayal of Cronus is a little over-the-top with the villainy, but he does it so well, I can believe Cronus invented the technique and all others copy him.  Usually, I never buy “the Earth will be destroyed” storylines, well, because that would be the end of the series.  This episode makes such good use of the premise, that for a brief time Earth’s peril is believable.

Failures:
None.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 2


"Seth"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

Jacob Carter/Selmak (“The Tok’ra, Part 2”) journeys to Stargate Command, requesting help on behalf of the Tok’ra.  While tracking the upper echelon of the Goa’uld System Lords -- the most powerful of the Goa’uld -- the Tok’ra determine that one System Lord’s last known location is Earth.  The missing System Lord is Setesh; a.k.a. Set; a.k.a. (wait for it …) Seth.  In ancient times, Seth got on everyone’s bad side.  Ra, the other System Lords, and the Tok’ra, all wanted Seth dead.  He went underground to escape.  At that time, the one stargate known to be on Earth was inaccessible.  Seth was stuck on Earth.

There are over six billion possible human hosts where Seth can hide on Earth, making finding his location impossible.  Until Jackson pulls a rabbit out of his hat.  Goa’uld like posing as deities, so Seth is probably using religion as a method to gain followers.  Presto!  Jackson tracks a three thousand year old trail of cults, all tied to Seth.  For someone in hiding, Seth is remarkably easy to find.  SG-1 heads out to capture, or kill, Seth.  The current cult is in the United States, heavily armed, and dug in at a fortified location, triggering an ATF investigation.  SG-1 must take down a powerful Goa’uld, without alerting anyone to the alien presence of Seth, Jacob/Selmak, or Teal’c.

The basic premise of a Goa’uld System Lord hiding in plain sight on Earth is okay.  The acting keeps the episode from stinking, and sinking.  The brightest spot is when Teal'c tells a Jaffa joke.  There is a sub-plot about fathers and sons involving Jacob, and a man whose son is in Seth’s cult.  An entertaining, but ultimately forgettable, episode. 

Failures:
After three thousand years Seth’s power bid involved 50 disenchanted, then Goa’uld enchanted, people.  How did this guy ever get to be a major System Lord?  As far as he knows, Earth doesn’t have a stargate, and is of no interest to other Goa’ulds.  Why didn’t Seth infest someone with more power?

Stargate SG-1, Season 3, Episode 1


"Into the Fire"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

Hathor is back (“Out of Mind”).  After being absent from the Goa’uld hierarchy for a few thousand years (“Hathor”), she wants to scope out the status of the Goa’uld's power before she makes a play to dominate the galaxy.  Her plan: fool SG-1 into believing they are on Earth, 77 years in the future.  Then, pluck their knowledge of the current Goa’uld situation using a memory retrieval device.  Go big, or go home, proves not to be the best counter-intelligence strategy.  After SG-1 (minus Teal’c) uncovers the deception, Hathor abandons that method for a simpler one.  She implants a symbiote in O’Neill.  The symbiote will have access to everything O’Neill knows.

Teal’c quit the SGC in “Out of Mind.”  He wants to search for the rest of SG-1, however during the three weeks he was unconscious from the attack that resulted in SG-1’s abduction, Stargate Command had exhausted all leads to SG-1’s location.  Teal’c returns to Chulak, intent on forming an army of Jaffa, and finding his teammates.

Back at SGC, Colonel Makepeace, and his SG team, ran into some Tok’ra on a planet.  The Tok’ra tell Makepeace where SG-1 is located, and that they are prisoners of Hathor.  General Hammond sends all available SG teams (four teams that are not out on missions) to rescue SG-1.  The SG teams rescue Carter and Jackson.  O’Neill is Goa’uld infested, and considered lost.  Alerted by the attack of Makepeace’s SG teams, Hathor puts armed Jaffas around the stargate, blocking escape back to Earth.  Trapped, Makepeace relays the situation to General Hammond via radio contact.  General Hammond intends to mount a rescue of the trapped SG teams.  The Pentagon denies Hammond’s request to send more SG teams to Hathor’s planet.  With five SG teams under his command trapped, General Hammond pursues help from other allies for the rescue attempt.

This episode is split between Hathor’s planet, and Chulak.  There is a lot of action, and special effects, making for an exciting episode.  There is a pitched battle between the SG teams, and Jaffa, and some SG team members are killed.  People dying during pitched battles is inevitable, and I think it is good that the show at least acknowledges that sometimes SG team members are killed in action.  Previously, the only reported off world SG deaths happened by the hand of a crazy SG officer, and a black hole.  The deaths are sad, but I think avoiding such occurrences would make the show cartoon-y.  The status of post-Apophis (“Serpent’s Song”) Chulak is neatly inter-woven with the events on Hathor’s planet.

A nice redemption of the badness that is the season two finale.

Failures:
Hathor’s plan to learn about the current status of the Goa’uld power structure is over-the-top, but then, so is Hathor.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

SG-1 Season Three DVD Set - Content

I will rate each season’s DVD set before reviewing the season’s individual episodes.  My rating in this post solely reflects the DVD content, options, & extras (or lack thereof), not episodes.


Overall Rating for the Set: Fair

No commentaries, and no "play all" option.
The only audio language is English.

Subtitles: None

This is a five-disc set, with 22 episodes.
Each episode is approximately 44 minutes long.

All episodes are anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1.

Sound: 5.1 Dolby (Dolby Digital)

The special features are not rated.

Although there are no subtitles, the episodes are close captioned.  You can use the close caption option on your television to view the dialog in English.

The special features are not closed-captioned.

There is not a “play all” option.  Episodes have to be accessed, and viewed, one at a time.

Special Features:

Disc 1:  “Secret Files of the SGC: Colonel Jack O'Neill”
Disc 3:  “Secret Files of the SGC: The Stargate Universe” *
Disc 4:  “Secret Files of the SGC: Personnel Files”

*Note: Refers to Stargate SG-1; not the series Stargate Universe.

I rate this set Fair because it has the required bare minimum -- all of the season’s episodes in their entirety.  Slim cases, and nice artwork, but virtually no frills with this season’s DVD set.

SG-1 Season Two At a Glance

My rating for each episode of season two.

Episode 1: The Serpent's Lair - Excellent
Episode 2: In the Line of Duty - Good
Episode 3: Prisoners - Good
Episode 4: The Gamekeeper - Fair
Episode 5: Need - Good
Episode 6: Thor's Chariot - Excellent
Episode 7: Message in a Bottle - Very Good
Episode 8: Family - Excellent
Episode 9: Secrets - Excellent
Episode 10: Bane - Fair
Episode 11: The Tok'ra: Part 1 - Very Good
Episode 12: The Tok'ra: Part 2 - Very Good
Episode 13: Spirits - Excellent
Episode 14: Touchstone - Very Good
Episode 15: The Fifth Race - Excellent
Episode 16: A Matter of Time - Very Good
Episode 17: Holiday - Fair
Episode 18: Serpent's Song - Excellent
Episode 19: One False Step - Fair
Episode 20: Show and Tell - Very Good
Episode 21: 1969 - Good
Episode 22: Out of Mind - Fair

The season has an exciting beginning, and moves along nicely, with only the occasional misstep, until the end.  The end of the season sputters with few stellar episodes, coming to a grinding halt with the season finale.  Fortunately, season three overcomes the inertia, and the series is re-energized.