Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Demons"

Now here is a rare bird--an episode of science fiction that presents Christianity in a positive light. In a genre dominated by skeptical writers fearful Christianity is nothing more than a barrier to knowledge and freedom that enslaves the ignorant masses, it is refreshing to see a different spin. I am generally not a fan of medieval stories, but “Demons” is one of the better efforts I have seen.

The SG-1 team arrives on a planet and discovers a village straight out of medieval Europe. The setting piques Daniel’s curiosity. The Goa’uld have posed as all sorts of gods throughout the years, but never God Himself. Teal’c remarks that he knows of no Goa’uld who possess the benevolence of God in order to instill the benevolence required of Christians in the Bible. Jack expresses surprise Teal’c has read the Bible, to which Teal’c asks why he would not read the Bible, as it is the cornerstone of Western Civilization. In that brief exchange, Stargate SG-1 has gone against the Hollywood line and acknowledged not only that Christianity is not evil, but is the basis for Western Civilization. During the early summer, the Ori will show up and take some serious shots at Christianity, but it is good to know we are in good company for eight seasons or so.

In the center of the village, the SG-1 team finds a young woman chained to a post. She is supposedly demon possessed, but only has the chicken pox. She is set to be sacrificed to a demon, but SG-1 rescues her and hides in her husband, Simon. The demon in question turns out to be a Unas. Our heroes offer to kill it, but wind up accused of being demons themselves. Teal’c is particularly in trouble due to the mark of apophis on his forehead. Teal’c is forced to undergo witches ordeals to prove he is not possessed. He apparently drowns on the final one, which ironically clears his nme.

The whole unas as a demon earning regular sacrifices for dubious reasons is all a scam. The Canon, who is the local religious leader, is in cahoots with the Unas in order to maintain his own power. The canon arranges sacrifices to become Goa’uld hosts for sokar in exchange for maintaining power over the village. The arrangement is disrupted when teal’c returns from the dead thanks to his symbiote,. The SG-1 team is chained up for sacrifice again, but escape, defeat the Unas, and finally the Canon when the Unas’ symbiote jumps into him. The villagers bury the stargate and that is that.

Just to note, the Canon is a flat out Elmer Gantry type. He does not believe in Christianity. He is just using the people’s devotion in order to exploit them. There is no impression that Christians are as a whole stupid and easy to exploit by wolves in sheep’s clothing. The villagers are superstitious, but they are a product of their time rather than a knock on modern day Christianity. Which may explain why “Demons” is not particularly popular among Gaters. I will be the first to admit it is not a great episode, but there are no fundamental flaws with it, either. It is an enjoyable adventure presented within the confines of a familiar religion.

One highlight is Talc’s “death.” He is a corpse for two acts, and although you know something is going to change that, it is a tensely emotional wait regardless. The contrast of teal’c being proven to not be a demon and Christopher Judge voicing the Unas amuses me, as well.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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