Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Pretense"

I was fully expecting to do nothing but scoff at “Pretense.” It is a legal drama, something that television often has a difficult time presenting unless the series in question is intended as a legal drama, written by Katharyn Powers, who has been responsible for some of the worst episodes of Stargate SG-1 thus far. The result is, however, a pleasant surprise which also wraps up Skaara/Klorel’s storyline. The character slid into the background too long ago for me to have developed much interest, but I am aware fans were upset at his apparent death during Apophis’ attempted attack on Earth, so I will consider “Pretense” fan wish fulfillment.

A ship carrying Skaara/Clorel crashes on Tollana, the new home world of the Tollan. Skaara/Klorell is placed on trial to determine who has control over his body. Skaara requests the Tollan contact SG-1 to serve as his defense. The Goa’uld send a lawyer named Lord Zipacna to argue on behalf on Klorel. A third party, lya of the Nox, serves as a potential tie breaking vote should the two sides of the case be unable to reach the same conclusion. At stake is whether Skaara should be freed from Klorel’s control.

Lord Zipacna argues that humans are inferior species the Goa’uld use to survive in the same way humans use animals for food and clothing. Daniel and Jack counter with arguments regarding human self-awareness being than that of animals and the parasitic nature of the Goa’uld. When it comes down to it, Daniel and Hack have the strongest argument and Lord Zipacna knows it. His argument amounts to appealing to the Tollan arrogance they cannot share any of their technology and culture with non-Tollan because they are just so much darn better than anyone else. It is an appeal to base attitude rather than logic or any legal precedent. A very weak tactic,, if you ask me.

Presumably because the humans are animals argument is so weak, the Goa’uld plan a sneak attack on the Tollan to wipe them out and take Skaara/Klorel back regardless of the trial’s outcome. Teal’c and Sam manage to prevent the attack with the help of Lya. Lya also casts the deciding vote in favor of Skaara. She finds the Goa’uld is a parasite who took his body without consent. Skaara is freed from Klorel and the Tollan is saved.

The trial does wind up unrealistic from a real legal proceeding, but I will chalk that up to alien culture. It still bugs me the lawyers are called archons, however. Archon is the ancient Greek word for “leader.” How does one get “lawyer” out of that? Is it too much to ask for a writer to know a bit about etymology when coming up with terms? The awkward terminology is not a huge deal, but it is still irksome.

“Pretense” is a veritable Gater checklist of geekery: Tollan, the nox, skaara/Klorel, the cat Shrodinger, and the Sam/Narim romance all make a return. I am a little disappointed Tobin Bell did not reprise his role from the last time the Tollan made an appearance. I guess he was off already devising sadistic games to teach Shawnee smith the value of life. “Pretense” has its flaws, but they are not prominent enough to seriously count against the enjoyment factor.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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