Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Politics"

“Politics” represents the unfortunate drawback of a relatively low budget show that has not produced a true bottle show this season and an expensive finale--the only way to save money on producing it is to make a clip show. Fans do not generally hold ’politics” in high regard. I can see why even if the episodes the clips originate from were not so fresh in my mind. The episode feels like it is adding a boring and unnecessary chapter to the final arc of the season.

The episode begins right where the previous ended. Daniel is having his wounded tended to while trying to convince the rest of the team he has visited an alternate reality and learned the location of a Goa’uld military build up in anticipation of invading earth. His teammates are not buying it, but before Daniel can further plead his case, the team is called before visiting Sen. Robert Kinsey, as head of the Senate Appropriation Committee, he wants to shut down SGC as an overly expensive boondoggle.

Kinsey is plated by Ronny Cox, who has made a career out of playing arrogant jackasses who have attained positions of power beyond their talents and who refuse to listen to any subordinates who can lead him in the right direction. The most relevant example for readers of the eye is Jellico, the temporary captain of the Enterprise who abandoned Picard as a forgotten POW, relieved riker of command, and nearly sparked off a war with the Cardassians. There is quite a bit of Jellico in Kinsey. Kinsey will have a recurring role as leading the political opposition to the SGC program.

The SG-1 team makes its case of how important the SGC program is through clips from previous episodes. The biggest problem with this is not dragging out scenes with which we are already familiar, but that SG-1’s argument they need to continue exploring other planets for technology to fight the Goa’uld is not strengthened by their past adventures. They have not brought back any technology to fight the Goa’uld, but they have antagonized Apophis. In that regard, Kinsey’s argument that Pandora’s box needs to be closed is a decent one at first glance. He wonders why spend %7.4 billion a year to learn nothing more than the history of alien planets?

The writers appear to know SG-1 has a weak argument, so they make Kinsey an idiot. He insists on the one hand that if Apophis comes, the fact they have buried the stargate will convince him to leave. On the other hand, he invokes god’s protection over the United States and the military’s ability to fight off Apophis’ forces. Any alien military force that can travel light years towards earth is not going to engage in a protracted battle the military can fight. They will logically destroy population centers from Earth. Kinsey ought to know that. Even if he is upset SGC has not brought back any technology to fight Apophis, he would be wiser to threaten to eliminate the funding after a certain time period to light a fire under SG-1 to find such technology. But Kinsey is an idiot, so there.

“Politics” has few virtues, but one of them is the subtle jabs it takes at Independence Day, the alien invasion film also by Stargate’s Dean Devil and Roland Emmerich. In the film, the military implausibly defeats an invasion by a superior alien invasion force just as Kinsey falsely believes can happen with the Goa’uld. Sam notes the huge Goa’uld ships can destroy cities from orbit, which is a reference to the ship’s massive size in the movie. They were so large, they could have affected the tides. The aliens could have flooded coastal cities simply by flying around, but chose an protracted battle instead. At one point, Daniel sardonically suggests sending a computer virus to disable the Goa’uld ship. The movie had a similar plot point with the mother ship even though it is difficult to believe humans could create a virus that would affect such advanced alien technology. Funny, but certainly not worth sitting through the episode.

It would not be fair to judge an episode of television from 1998 in terms of today, but since I am going to give “Politics” one star, what the heck. I cannot help but see the now quaint pre-9/11 attitude in Kinsey. His argument is the Cold War is over, so there are--his words exactly--”no more barbarians at the gate.” He refuses to see the Goa’uld as a threat. As a nation, we should have seen the barbarians at our gate, but shortsighted politicians ignored the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the embassy bombings in 1998, and the USS Cole attack, acts of war all. It is bemusing to see Kinsey in hindsight considering how much our government ignored warnings when I know what is coming on both Stargate SG-1 and real life.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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