Monday, March 12, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Window of Opportunity"

‘Window of Opportunity” can best be described as Groundhog Day meets Stargate SG-1. It is often cited as a fan favorite for what is--ironically--comedic scenes filmed after principle photography because the episode ran short because of the recycled scenes. The episode also stands out because Jack and Teal’c are forced to intellectually work through their dilemma whereas normally Sam and Daniel would put their heads together for a solution. The switch is a refreshing change.

While investigating a solar storm from a nearby planet, the SG-1 team meets an archeologist named Malakai who is intently studying a device left behind by the Ancients. Daniel, too, is absorbed in examining the device. Malakai is obviously in a hurry to get rid of Daniel for some reason. He is finally forced to knock him unconscious in order to turn on the device. Jack and Teal’c rush to Daniel’s aid, but are caught up in some sort of energy blast from the device to the stargate.

The two of them wind up reliving the ten hour period from the time the SG-1 team was eating breakfast that morning until the energy burst. It takes a few loops to get the pattern set, but the two eventually convince everyone at the SGC the ten hour cycle is repeating, they are the only ones who realize it, and have to shut off the machine on the planet in order to do so. The device was intended to be a time machine by which the Ancients were going to rewrite their past to save themselves from impending extinction All it managed to do was create a repeating time loop. The Ancients eventually gave up on it and accepted their fate. Malakai now appears to be trying to repair whatever the Ancients could not.

Daniel teaches Jack and Teal’c Latin and then the Ancient language in order to understand which button does what. Once they have the language down pat, they go back the planet. MakakaI has blocked them from using the device. Malakai reveals he wants to use it to travel back in time to be with his wife again. She died some time ago of a congenital heart condition. He cannot save her, but he can see her again. Jack convinces him to stop by reminding him watching his wife die again will be too painful to bare. Jack empathizes, because he could not live through his son fatally shoot himself again even if traveling back in time meant he could see him again. Malakai gives up his effort, thereby ending the loops.

Theoretically, both the Ancients and Jack could have gone back in time to change their respective tragedies if the device worked properly, but Malakai could never save his wife from a disorder she had since birth. It does not really hold water that Jack can completely relate to Malakai with that in mind. But I suppose Malakai was too distraught in his grief to think it all the way through. Maybe the guilt of causing all living thing in a nearby radius to repeat the loop into infinity was a strong, but less poignant, factor.

If the above summary is all there was, “Window of Opportunity” would be very straightforward with a melodramatic ending. But the episode ran short because repeated scenes in each loop. A sequence was added after the fact wherein Daniel offhandedly mentions Jack and Teal’c can do anything they want and since it will be as though the day never happened, they would suffer no consequences. Jack learns to juggle, takes up pottery, rides a bike through the SGC, goes golfing into the stargate, and resigns his commission in order to plant a big, wet one on Sam. The scenes add color to the story and a contrast to Malakai’s sad quest that I cannot imagine the episode doing well without. So much so, I am skeptical including the scenes were a happy accident because there was time left over. I do not know for a fact, mind you, but they feel so necessary, the scenes had to have been planned all along.

“Window of Opportunity” is a good episode, but it will probably not wind up one of my favorites. I cannot begrudge anyone who counts it among the top tier episodes, but for me it feels like a nifty idea that is a cool change of pace, but little else. I do like the touch that jack, even though his actions will have no consequences, offers his resignation before kissing Sam in order to stay within military regulations anyway. That is a nice character moment.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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