Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Divide and Conquer"

A scene from “Divide and Conquer’ in which Jack admits he cares about Sam more than he is supposed to appears in at least two dozen YouTube clips if you do just the right search. Considering MGM went on the copyright warpath three years ago, I suspect that number was far higher before the avalanche of DMCA notices. So brace yourselves, folks. This is shipper paradise.

At a meeting on Vorash to arrange for a summit between the Tok’ra and the US President to finalize a treaty of alliance, a member of anoher SG team attempts to assassinate the Tok’ra High Councilor. When he can only wing the Councilor thanks to Jack’s intervention, the would be assassin commits suicide. Anise/Freya--yep, her again--espouses her theory the Goa’uld have developed mind control technology that turns victims unknowingly into Za’tarcs who will fulfill a mission like robots when triggered. If only Charles Bronson was a member of the SGC.

Anise/Freya arrives at the SGC ahead of the treaty signing with a device that can detect Za’tarc programming within the subconscious mind. The device discovers a young member of an SG team recently ambushed by Jaffa is a Za’tarc. She goes crazy during a dangerous procedure to eliminate the programming from her mind and commits suicide because her mission to assassinate a high official has been threatened. Worse yet, Jack and sam and tested and found to be Za’tarcs. The two are confined to quarters until something can be done. The procedure is obviously out.

I will spare you many excruciating details. The two are suspected of having been captured and brainwashed into Za’tarcs when sam was trapped bekind and force field on apophis’ new ship. They are suspected of beind Za’tarcs because they are holding something back from the incident. It turns out to be that jack refused to leave sam behind because he loves her. When he finally reveals that under another test, he and sam both are deemed clean. Instead, the Za’tarc is martouf, who is gunned down by SG teams and the Secret service before he can kill the president.

Ah, man. I liked Martouf. He and Selmak are far more interesting Tok’ra than Anise/Freya. Why did they have to kill him off?

The answer is quite clear. It is not because he was a character the audience cared about and would therefore be upset over his fate. It is because he has hinted at a romantic interest in sam because of her connection with jolinar. He even dies in sam’s arms. Combine that with a peculiar scene in which anise/Freya comes to Jack during his confinement and professes love for him because he has saved her twice. He rebuffs her. He rebuffs her without offering any solid reason. So sam has her potential love interest die while jack pushes his away. Clearing the path there, folks. Clearing the path.

Say, if Anise/Freya was assigned to test everyone who was going to participate in the treaty signing ceremony, why did she not test Martouf// is this another incident of the Tok’ra being like the Asgard in their overconfidence that nothing can sneak up on them, only to be rescued by “inferior” humans? You would think they might have seen the light by now.

I like that the audience only gets quick glimpses of the gray haired president. They are just enough to give the hint it is Bill Clinton. It may sound odd, but I have always liked those kind of real world connections in fiction. Comic books do that sort o thing all the time, but you do not see it happen too often in television. I know there is going to eventually be a fictitious president featured on the series--William DeVane, who will concurrently play the Secretary of State on The West Wing--but it is fun while it lasts.

In spite of shipper overburden, “Divide and Conquer” is an enjoyable episode. The story could have gone the predictable route of every character overcome by paranoia with a preachy lesson in the end about trust. I am happy the conclusion was more action oriented. It does not make much sense no one bothered to test Martouf or that Jack and Sam can throw off the test results by hiding an emotional exchange from everyone, but neither bother me enough to downgrade the episode.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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