Monday, February 20, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Deadman Switch"

“Deadman Switch” is a lighthearted, action oriented romp that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would upon learning the villain is played by Sam J. Jones. Seriously, why would one cast Flash Gordon as a villain if he is not meant to be a campy goofball? The character, Aris Boch, turns out to be a formidable villain. He is somewhere in the pantheon with Boba Fett and Jubal Early.

The SG-1 team is captured by bounty hunter Aris Boch while exploring a planet which resembles the forests outside Vancouver. (I have not done that joke in a while.) Boch is currently working for Sokar in order to capture a Goa’uld traitor named Kel’tar. The SG-1 team have a high price on their heads for various reasons, but Boch offers to let them go if they will help capture Kel’tar. They seem to agree at first, but turn the tables in a clever cat and mouse game Boch ultimately wins. Our heroes agree for real this time.

That is until they realize Kel’tar claims to be a Tok’ra spy. There is no way to know he is telling the truth other than Boch forbid sam from joining the mission to capture him out of fear her connection to Jolinar would sense the truth. Working under the assumption Korra here really is Tok’ra, they attempt to rescue Sam and all get away, but Boch still gains the upper hand.

Boch’s situation fortunately works to their advantage. He is from a race of people who are immune to becoming hosts, so they were largely wiped out by the Goa‘uld. The youngest were kept alive as slaves. To ensure loyalty, they were hooked on a narcotic they now need to stay alive. 9Yeah, I know--Jem Ha‘Dar.) Boch hates the Goa’uld as much as SG-1, but needs their drug supply. It is strongly hinted he does not even want to be a bounty hunter. It is just the most useful service he can provide. When he learns that Tok’ra oppose the Goa’uld, he agrees to let Korra go, but he has to give sokar something. Teal’c offers up himself. At the last minute, Boch and Teal’c fake their deaths in his ship’s explosion in the hope Sokar will believe they are both dead. So Korra and Teal’c are safe. Boch turns out to have a heart of gold.

Okay, so Boch turns out to be a bit campy. But nowhere near as bad as his most famous role. I had thought playing Flash Gordon had killed Jones’ career, but while he has not been a another starring role, nor a steady television gig, he has carved out a thirty year career as a character actor in film and television. Not bad, but the poor guy looks like the lovechild of Dolph Lundgren and Pete rose. There is always something.

“Deadman Switch” is a frivolous, fun episode. Jack and Daniel are both at their cynical smart alec best. Boch makes for a memorable guest star who gets a lot of great lines as well as the chance to show up our heroes here and there. One off characters do not usually get the chance, but it only makes the episode more amusing. It is obvious with the suit of armor and the helmet resembling Lando’s disguise from Return of the JedI that Boch is a Boba Fett homage. The Jem Ha’Dar drug addiction is a bit more tenuous, but why not? Whichever the case, neither feel like a rip off. “Deadman Switch’ is a good change of pace from the more tense episodes preceding.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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