Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Double Jeopardy"

I recall way back in my review for "Tin Man" wondering if the inevitable return of Robot SG-1 would be an improvement over their mediocre first appearance. The answer is yes. “double Jeopardy” is a humorous, action oriented episode that fits in well as a breather before the season finale tomorrow.

The Robot SG-1 has not kept their word and buried the stargate. Instead, they have been out exploring, fighting the Goa’uld, and generally acting as the real SG-1 would. On a mission to Juna, they are captured by forces loyal to Cronus. More pointedly, Juna is a planet that was previously freed by SG-1 and convinced the Goa’uld are not gods, only to have Cronus come along and re-conquer the planet. One can imagine the SG-1 team is not welcome there.

Harlan arrives the SGC to request help in rescuing the Robot SG-1. They are reluctant to assist, not wanting to risk their lives for robot duplicates. But after MALp recon encounters the escaped Robot Jack and Darian, who explain the situation, they give it a go. It is not much of a secret the motivation is to clean up the mess they caused by encouraging a rebellion that has been brutally put down by Cronus and not the Robot SG-1. The real motivation makes sense, and I appreciate it. Another series might have had the main characters jump in to save their robot duplicates with no questions asked for the sake of getting the plot rolling. On SG-1, our heroes blow that idea off immediately. Such an attitude is a breath of fresh air, much like when no one wanted to her Frasier’s concerns over destroying the timeline a few episodes back.

Jack immediately butts heads with his double. He is the only one who does clash with his robot double, but that makes sense considering his stubburn, sarcastic personality. The other thing that makes sense for the sake of convenience, but is terribly predictable nevertheless, is Robot SG-1 sacrifice themselves individually in order to defeat Cronus and his forces. All right, their fate had to be wrapped up permanently. I understand that. I thought their sacrifices were poignant except for robot Tealc’s. the real Teal’c wants to kill cronus in revenge for his father’s death, but fails when cronus not only overpowers him, but slowly tortures him to death until Robot teal’c intervenes and kills Cronus as his dying act. The resolution robs Teal’c of satisfaction. The way it ends is with him failing to avenge his fathe nearly being killed himself before robot Teal’c comes along and shoots Cronus in the back. So teal’c is too weak to gain revenge, cannot fight back, and is apparently willing to shoot a man in the back to get the job done, albeit via his robot double. One would hope for more from the character.

“Double Jeopardy” is the only episode to be directed by Michael Shanks. In fact, the episode is his only directing credit ever. He must not have enjoyed the experience. I did not sense that he did a bad job with it. Considering Shanks was becoming restless in the role of daniel, I wonder if he was given the chance as a way of placating him. He would not leave the show for another season, but I am unsure of exactly how long or obvious his dissatisfaction was. It was awkward that the real daniel was absent and robot Daniel was killed early in the episode so shanks could devote himself to directing the episode. Does the robot’s demise count towards the Many Deaths of Daniel?

Richard Dean Anderson died his hair brown to play his robot double, which is not so bad, but Amanda tapping wears a wig to mimic her first season hairstyle that makes her look like Leslie Stahl. It is very distracting. I also feel the need to mention Belinda Bayworth plays one of Cronus’ henchwomen. Her biggest role in a fifteen year acting career is in the worst major film of the decade--Meet the Spartans. poor girl must have missed her true calling. Acting does not appear to be it.

“Double Jeopardy” is an enjoyable action oriented episode. It has some technical flaws like Tapping’s wig that can be excused because of the lighter tone and Teal’c’s faltering because…well, no one seems to like teal’c all that much. Penultimate episodes are often throwaways not to be harshly judged. Such is the case here.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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