Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 4, Episode 9

"Scorched Earth"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Episode Rating:  Excellent

Commentary by:
Martin Wood -- Director
Jim Menard -- Director of Photography
James Tichenor -- Visual Effects Supervisor

The commentary is very informative, and interesting.  Lots of behind the scene information.  The commentary stays on point with what is on screen.  I gained a new perspective, and appreciation, for the art of lighting sets well, thanks to Mr. Menard’s commentary on this, and other, episodes.

SG-1 is off world, participating in a celebration at an Enkaran village.  There are hundreds of similar villages on this, the new Enkaran home world.  The people are humanoids who were snatched from their home world long ago by the Goa’uld, and left on a planet that is no longer habitable.  The location of the Enkarans original home world is unknown.  SG-1, and SGC, found a new home planet for the Enkarans.  This was a difficult task, as the Enkarans are very sensitive to radiation, and few planets have the necessary low radiation level.  Even Earth's radiation level would kill them.

A man disrupts the festivities, declaring his village was destroyed, and that everyone is in danger.  He leads SG-1 to a viewpoint near the planet’s stargate.  In the distance, an enormous alien spaceship dwarfs the surrounding mountain range, and is moving slowly in the air.  A wall of energy is emanating from the spaceship, and systematically burning every thing in its path, leaving only scorched earth in its wake.

Back at SGC, SG-1 and General Hammond discuss the alien ship, and its path of destruction.  In less than 26 hours the wall of energy will reach the stargate, and the nearby Enkaran village.  Because of their sensitivity to radiation, no known planet is a safe refuge for Enkaran evacuees.  Even if a suitable planet could be quickly found, not every Enkaran is close enough to the stargate to escape before the alien ship's wall of destruction arrives.  The ones who could evacuate to a temporary refuge will not, unwilling to leave other Enkarans behind.

SG-1 must discover who, or what, controls the spaceship, and try to stop the destruction, and the deaths of all Enkaran people.

The Enkarans relocated to the planet only about a month earlier, so they do not have a long established presence.  Initially, there is no indication that whoever, or whatever, is piloting the spaceship is native to that planet.  This episode examines what happens when two species want the same planet for their own purposes.  The story is not another tale of displacing an indigenous culture, and does not beat the viewer over the head with a heavy-handed moral lesson.  The question to use force, or reasoning, is addressed without getting cliche about either.  The story does not lean on the obvious by solely basing the outcome on who has the biggest guns.  A well-written episode, with excellent performances by all the actors.

Not so much a failure, as a fact: Teal’c has nothing to do in this episode, other than being present.

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