Monday, January 30, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Family"

“Family” revisits Teal’c’s family situation back on Chulak while showing us the aftermath of Apophis’ failed attempt to conquer Earth. If you are a big teal’c fan, this is the episode for you. Or maybe not. He gets roughed up pretty badly on an emotional level.

Bra’tac comes through the stargate, something he is only supposed to do in an emergency, to warn Teal’c Apohis has kidnapped his son apophis’ army is now in tatters, so he is looking for a way to maintain his hold on Chulak. The theory is to use Rya’c to lure Teal’c to chulak and arrest him as a traitor. Knowing full well this is a trap, Teal’c opts to rescue his son anyway, with Bra’tac and SG-1 for back up.

When they arrive on Chulak, Teal’c discovers his wife Drey’ac has married one of his closest friends, Flo’tac. Faster than you can say kiss my grits, Teal’c disowns his wife and promise to kill Flo’tac once his son has been rescued.. Bra’tac convinces Teal’c his wife and child are better off now without being forced to live with his disgrace, and reluctantly agrees. But he gets another shock when the palace rescue attempt fails because rya’c is brainwashed into a loyal minion to Apophis.

Speaking of palace intrigue, Teal’c and Drey’ac rekindle their romance while flo’tac secretly watches. In response, he decides to turn Teal’c in to Apophis. Jack stops him from doing so, but has to kill him in the process. Drey’ac shrugs his death off like a trooper. When Rya’c appears on a televised speech with apophis in which he supposedly sends a coded message to Teal’c about where to rescue him tomorrow, he shrugs off his son’s earlier betrayal like a trooper, too. I am rather amused at drey’ac coming across as an opportunist throughout the episode while Teal’c has such a genuine love for his son, he is willing to believe anything. I will bet when they were married, Drey’ac chewed Teal’c up and spit him out on a regular basis. It does not matter how big you are, a woman can take you down.

Teal’c is being naïve, of course. Rya’c is not only brainwashed, but booby trapped with poison gas in two false teeth which is potent enough to kill all life on earth within a week. Even the incredibly easy rescue does not prove anything until Frasier discovers the false teeth back on Earth. But the whole human genocide thing is glossed over in favor of Teal’c attempting to reach his brainwashed son. Frasier gives up rather quickly on Teal’c trying to reach him and skips sending in a cult deprogrammer, which you would think should be the next idea, to head straight for Electro Convulsive Therapy. Look, I know the Cult Awareness network, the experts in cult deprogramming, were sued out of existence by the Church of Scientology over a decade ago, so now deprogrammers attached to CAN fret over Thetans, but should counseling really be skipped in favor of frying a kid with electrodes?

But wait, it gets worse. Teal’c decides that it is his responsibility to heal his son, so he opts to shoot him with a Goa’uld energy weapon rather than let Frasier sedate Rya’c and administer shocks medically. I suppose it turns out to be the right decision. Rya’c writhes in pain after being shot, but wakes up fine. A few brain cells friend, but otherwise fine. He and Drey’ac go live with the People of Light, who apparently do not hold a grudge over that whole Hassan are incredibly rude thing a few episodes back.

The choice to use ECT on Rya’c piqued my curiosity. Put aside for the moment Teal’c decided to perform ECT by shooting his son. We can chalk that one up to dramatic embellishment. The question is whether ETC is used as a treatment for brainwashing. I had to look it up. Needless to say, ECT is controversial. Only about 100,000 are performed each year and only in cases of mood disorders in which suicide is imminent. Within that criteria, there is sharp division as to whether ECT ought to be performedi have only taken a superficial scan of the issue from Google search results, but the bottom line appears to be ECT is as close to a reset button the brain has. Psychologists are not even certain why it works or are confident of the long term results. Nevertheless, it is considered a last resort under at best and a human rights violation at worst. I invite anyone interested to search the issue.

“Family’ is questionable up one side and down the other. It is scripted by Katharyn Powers, so what do I expect? All I can say is the decision was not only made to perform ECT on a child, but that was not good enough, so they opted to shoot him instead.--and it worked! Frasier must have graduated from the Katharyn Janeway School of Psychology.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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