Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Thor's Chariot"

I had mixed emotions going into “Thor’s Chariot." The Asgard are my favorite alien race. I am a devoted X-Phile, so how can I not appreciate the Roswell aliens? Any episode I have not seen yet which features the Asgard perks me up. But oh, no--the episode is written by Katharyn Powers, aka the Lisa Klink of Stargate SG-1. My fears were put to rest almost immediately. “Thor’s Chariot” is a solid arc episode.

Stargate Command receives the ’message’ of an object coming through the stargate without opening the iris. An analysis raises speculation it was the box from the Sagan Institute left behind on Cimmeria to be given to the Asgard should they ever return. Assuming the Asgard have returned, SGC sends a probe through the stargate to Cimmeria only to discover the people are being slaughtered by the Jaffa. With their only defense, Thor’s Hammer, having been destroyed in order to save Teal ’c on SG-1’s first visit, the team feels responsible for the slaughter and go to help.

What is interesting about “Thor’s Chariot’ is how the SG-1 team splits up in order to maximize their particular talents. Jack and Teal’c engage in a guerilla war with the Jaffa in order to keep them away from the cave in which the Cimmerian survivors are hiding. The battle is classic firefights, and explosions on a surprisingly grand scale for a cable series. On the other hand, Daniel, Sam, and Girwyn, who we met on the last trip to cimmeria, go off in search of the perhaps mythical Thor’s Hall of Might to see if it has any useful weapons. The three of them are caught up in some Indiana Jones’esque traps which test their spirits and minds more than anything else. So the main cast members are utilized perfectly.

The two tests, by the way, involve crossing a narrow bridge which is intended to set up the opportunity for one waking on the bridge to risk his life to save another as a test of character. The other is to identify pi from markings on separate walls in order to figure out to press a circle on a far wall to make Thor appear in his true grey alien form. One point I liked about the latter is Daniel, brilliant archeologist though he is, needs Sam to point out that pi is the solution and relate it to the circle on the wall. Daniel is not the Sam Beckett uber-genius who knows every minute detail of every intellectual subject. He--and all the characters--are real people who need help when backed into a corner, either physically or mentally. I will admit this is a personal appreciation. My experience in law school was the more expertise a law professor had in his subject, and I am talking brilliant men and women here, the less likely they could pull out a simple fist year concept from another subject. That sort of thing happens, and it is neat to see it on television after all this time of every character on Star Trek knowing absolutely everything they need to know for every conceivable situation. Your mileage may vary.

The two teams rendesvous with each other in disappointment. Jack and teal’c do not have the firepower to defeat the Jaffa. The Asgards had no weapons in thor’s Hall of might, either. Solving the tests was to prove maturity of the Cimmerians. The SG-1 team is forced to surrender in order to prevent the Cimmerians from being slaughtered, but the Asgards intervene in a huge spaceship--the real Thor’s chariot--and put an end to the Jaffa threat.

‘Thor’s Chariot” is a highly entertaining episode. As I noted above, it is well split between action and clever brain teasers. It is also monumental for the overall story arc. We meet Heru’ur, son of Ra and Hathor, for the first time. We get a glimpse of Thor in his true form and discover how powerful the Asgard are. Finally, we learn, thanks to her connection with Jolinar, Sam can operate Goa’uld technology with concentration. Powers has surprised me here with an impressive script. Do I need to cut her more slack for the future?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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