Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Jolinar's Memories"

“Jolinar’s Memories” brings the third season back to its superior ways after a couple missteps within the last few episodes. It is full of action, suspense, and surprises, but what reaches out and grabs you is the production design. The powers that be went all out creating a vision of hell which is…well, I do not want to refer to hell as magnificent, but it is incredibly impressive for a cable television series. I fear a later season episode or two will feature shadow puppets on a wall to offset the money spent.

Martouf comes to SGC with the unfortunate news Selmak/Jacob has been captured by Sokar and imprisoned on Netu, a moon therefore by Sokar into a molten hell in order to fit in with his impersonation of the devil. Selmak/Jacob was on a mission to determine when and where Sokar is planning an attack on the System Lords and how much power he will use. Martouf recruits SG-1 to rescue Selmak/Jacob, but since no one other than Jolinar has ever escaped from Netu, gathering intelligence from Selmak/Jacob may be the only thing they can do.

Martouf uses one of those memory devices on Sam in the hopes of discovering how Jolinar escaped. Her memories are fuzzy, save for a vivid torture session in case you had not gotten the hell motif clear in your mind yet, but her escape had something to do with Sokar’s right hand man, Bynarr. Finding him is the key to escaping with Selmak/Jacob. The memory device projects a flash of sam as a young girl apparently receiving news from her father her mother has died with strong hints Jacob bears some responsibility for her death. It is just a flash of memory, so I am merely speculating.

There is no stargate on Netu in keeping with the no escape theme, so our heroes have to fly there. Teal’c remains in orbit ready to make a break for it while the others look for Bynarr on the surface. Naturally, they get captured after bynarr becomes suspicious of stragers asking for him, but perks up to know he may have Jolinar in his grasp again. Bynarr did not help Jolinar escape. He was seduced by her and she fled through transportation rings in his quartters. He was not only betrayed by her, but sokar put an eye out as punishment. Bynarr ain’t happy to see sam, in other words.

While Sam and Bynarr are enjoying their reunion, the rest of our heroes have been thrown in a cage with Selmak/Jacob. They learn Sokar is planning a massive attack on the System Lords. Unfortunately, Teal’c cannot get a message to the Tok’ra because he has now been discovered. (How did SG-1’s weapons get taken away, but not their communicator?) When it rains, it pours, no? One apparent bright spot--sam is saved from death when Na’onak, Bynarr’s right hand man, murders him and returns sam to the cage. Our heroes manage to escape and retreat to Bynarr’s quarters to use the transportation rings to get to talc’s ship, but are captured by Na’onak, who pulls off his mask to reveal the horribly scarred face of Apophis.

“Jolinar’s Memories” is a quite engrossing. It is a men on a mission story with a personal stakeas far as story elements go, it is character moments that steal the show. Sokar’s introduction as the devilish villain is mysterious and frightening. His first in the flesh appearance ran the risk of being campy, but hit the right tone. Jolinar is revealed to be far more edhy than previously thought. She seduced her torturer in order to escape. I suppose one would be willing to do such things to flee hell. The Na’onak/apophis reveal was particularly cool. Na’onak was not only wearing a mask until the big reveal, but played by another actor with Peter Williams not playing the character until the very end when the mask comes off. I must confess apophis is not a villain who resonates much with me thus far. He comes across as a petty, fly by night dictator as opposed to other Goa’uld who are supposedly far more powerful. His reveal now as the tortured anorak ready to resume power is a promising twist on a less than interesting character.

All that said and certainly not dismissed, “Jolinar’s Memories” is worth seeing solely for the craftsmanship in designing Netu as a literal hell. It reminds me a lot of Mola Ram’s lair underneath the Temple of Doom with a fraction of the budget, but still highly atmospheric. I would like to come up with a more intellectual allusion, but Indiana Jones is the one with which we are stuck. I will try to be more high class with references in the future.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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