Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Enigma"

Katharyn Powers strikes again with another bad script. “Enigma” is an apt title, because it is impossible to decipher what the episode is supposed to be about. The only high point is a major role for Tobin Bell. Bell plays the same character he always does--a gravelly voiced jerk whose arrogance allows him to be extremely cruel. At least he only sneers down as SG-1 as primitives instead of forcing them to play torturous games to find out about themselves.

The SG-1 team visit’s a planet on the verge of destruction by a volcano. They discover a group of survivors from an advanced civilization stranded there. Under protest, SG-1 brings them back to earth for medical treatment. While on earth, lava overtakes the stargate on the planet, so the Tollan, as they are called, are refugees in need of a new home. The tollan are incredibly arrogant xenophobes who have absolutely no interest in discussing their with primitives, much less living among them, so helping them in the first place is tough enough without their constant refusal to settle on a new world with ‘lesser’ people.

To further complicate matters, the CIA sends a new operative, col. Harold Maybourne, to take charge of the Tollan. The Cia has become even more impatient than before over the lack of technology being acquired by Stargate Command. They plan to hold the tollan in protective custody while utilizing their technological skills. Maybourne will become a recurring villain for many seasons to come , so get used to hearing about him and his stereotypical bumbling intelligence agent shtick.

Hammond is ordered to turn the Tollan over, but SG-1 hatches a plan to settle the Tollan on Gaia. The Nox are advanced enough to suit Tollan standards. Well, is that not just ducky? Daniel helps them escape through the stargate ahead of Maybourne. Because Daniel is not in the military, he cannot be court-martialed. Why Daniel ca get away with aiding the Tollan as a citizen in defiance of a presidential order is beyond me. The whole point is to imprison innocent people indefinitely to exploit them, right? If the Cia is willing to do that, why will they just shrug off Daniel’s actions? Oh that is right. It is because Powers wrote this one. Okay. Now I see.

The human element here is Sam kinda sorta falling for a Tollan named Narim. It is awkward, but sweet, in a way.

What I find odd about “Enigma” is the message it is trying to send. The tollan are completely unsympathetic people because they genuinely believe they are so much more advanced than everyone else. Heck, I wanted them thrown into the worst dungeon the CIA could find! It is not a good sign when the audience wants the exact opposite of what the heroes are trying to accomplish. Take them with my blessing, Maybourne. You all deserve each other. The Tollan are said to be so far advanced because they did not experience any historical period similar to the Dark Ages, so perhaps there is an anti-religion message. But wait--the Tollan are incredibly unpleasant, so they cannot be held up as an ideal. You really cannot say the lack of a dark ages made them any better.

Meh. Who knows? Maybe the title ‘Enigma” is meant to be ironic considering what a mess the philosophy beyond the episode is. Or, more likely, Powers is just a terrible writer. I would not think about the question too much regardless. ‘Enigma” is not worth it.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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