Monday, January 23, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Serpent's Lair"

“The Serpent’s Lair” is the second season premiere of Stargate SG-1. Quite a strong start to the second season it is, too. The resolution to the first season ending cliffhanger is more engrossing than its build up. I have noted in my television reviewing experience that is a rare thing. How do you top saving the world in the very first episode?

The episode begins right where we left off previously, with SG-1 on the flagship of a Goa’uld invasion fleet about to strike Earth. The only thing they can do is set off the explosives Sam set, killing themselves in the process, and hope the explosion is big enough to halt the attack. Even that is not guaranteed as Apophis’ well-shielded ship arrives. Before they can set off the explosives, they are captured and imprisoned Jaffa. The explosives are still set on a timer, but there are 24 hours left to go before the big boom. Fortunately for SG-1, Bra’tac is on this mission. He frees them from their cell to assist him and several free Jaffa in thwarting the attack on Earth.

Meanwhile, Col. Bert Samuels, Sen. Robert Kinsey’s right hand man in closing down the stargate program, arrives at Stargate Command with news the pentagon has developed a missile made of sleath bomber material to destroy the Goa’uld ships. As you might expect if you have ever seen a plot like this before, the missiles do not do the job. If that was not cliché enough for you, there is another scene set to break up the action on the Goa’uld ship where Hammond sends a group of ’foremost experts in their fields” through the stargate in order to establish a colony that will preserve humanity. One wonders if these intrepid souls really are the best or just whatever could be scrounged up on short notice. Okay, I mock it, but the scene is intended to show the direness of the situation and in that regard, it is effective.

In the interim, Bra’tac bought enough time for the military to attack by placing Klorel in a sarcophagus to be brought back to life. He knew Apophis would wait until Klorel was back among the living before attacking Earth. Bra’tac originally intended to attack apohis’ ship in Klorel’s name in the hopes they would destroy each other in the confusion of the rebellion. Instead, they plan to sneak aboard apophis’ ship and find a way to destroy it along with the ship rigged with explosives they are currently on.

Daniel is mortally wounded and opts to stay behind to cover the others. It is a suicide mission, anyway, so what difference does it make if he dies on the same ship as the others? Proving he is the Rory Williams of Stargate SG-1, Daniel crawls to the sarcophagus and is fully healed. He leaves through the stargate just as apohis’ ship, which has had its control systems destroyed by SG-1 and Bra’tac, collides with the other just before the explosives go off. Ye olde earth is saved.

There are quite a few nifty points of interest in “The Serpent’s Lair.” For one Klorel not only recovers from being fatally shot by Jack, but escapes with Apophis before the ship collision. It looks like the powers that be course corrected after fans expressed displeasure over Klorel/Skaara’s fate. Two, whrn things looked at the bleakest, Samuels suggested sending a nuke through the stargate to Chulak as an eff you to the Goa’uld. Hammond nixes the idea. In the alternate universe daniel visited, that universe’s jack decided to go through with nuking Chulak with disastrous results for Earth. Finally, the episode name drops the real space shuttle Endeavour as the ship which rescues SG-1 and Bra’tac after they flee the explosions in small gliders. I also note Jack is a hero in the Robert A. Heilein mode. Rather than wait for apophis’ ship to be destroyed with them on it, he suggests taking the gliders to escape. He and his team will then be stranded in space to either suffocate or burn up in orbit. He has traded one certain death for another, but his buys them a few more minutes. You have to appreciate the tenacity of cheating certain death as long as possible.

You also have to appreciate “The Serpent’s Lair.” Highly tense and action oriented, it is a slam bang way to begin the sophomore season.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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