Friday, March 23, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Absolute Power"

I am still a sucker for alternate timeline stories, even if they are awkwardly aired back to back, so “Absolute Power” is right up my alley. One of the most peculiar things about what if stories is how one alteration from the norm has apocalyptic results. Sometimes it is a bit much--doomsday for the sake of doomsday--but when done well, it is highly amusing. How can you not love an episode in which mild mannered idealist Daniel becomes the supreme, iron fisted ruler of Earth?

The SG-1 team finds the hacesis child prematurely aged on Abydos and brings him back to SGC to utilize his knowledge of the Goa’uld. Shifu, as he is now called, has had the memories suppressed for his own well-being. Daniel has trepidations about using the Tok’ra memory extracting device on shifu, but is willing to talk to the boy and convince him accessing goa’uld knowledge is worth the risks. Shifu warns daniel the subconscious desires cannot resist the temptation of power and shows him through a dream how disastrous events could play out.

“Absolute Power” makes little effort to disguise that the bulk of the story is a fantasy sequence installed in Daniel’s mind the same way Sha’re previously convinced him to both seek out Shifu and forgive Teal’c for killing her to save his life. I am fine with that, if for no other reason than the over the top weirdness is so amusing. Daniel takes on the arrogant genius of someone you might expect would pose as a god. Utilizing goa’uld knowledge, he develops a satellite defense system that could detect and wipe out a Goa’uld invasion fleet. To build it, he practically enslaves military and private sector engineering outfits, cutting out all allies, and demanding in return the lifestyle of a megalomaniacal billionaire.

The story shifts to a year in the future. The satellites are ready to launch. Daniel has had Sam so she cannot reveal her suspicions Daniel is going to use the satellite system to take over the Earth. Somewhere along the way, he has killed Teal’c for his maquadah rich blood to use Goa’uld personal technology, though you have to read between the lines to figure that out. Jack attempts to kill Daniel before he can retaliate against a Russian missile attack on the satellites. He fails because of Daniel’s Goa’uld personal shield and Moscow is destroyed. Daniel awakens from the dream convinced they cannot handle the memories of the Goa’uld, so Shifu is allowed to ascend with the memories safely suppressed in his mind.

Events are definitely implausible. I doubt anyone could gain the power and influence Daniel managed so easily. But I would not count that as a criticism against ‘Absolute power.” it is a dream sequence created by the half-alien alien Shifu about an unrestrained id. Of course it is going to be off kilter. If there is any major flaw, it is that the Teal’c subplot ought to have been made more obvious. It might have made the episode more poignant. Michael Shanks appears to be having a ball chewing up the scenery William Shatner-style. He even gives off a certain Captain Kirk vibe while presiding over his new empire fro his comfy chair in his secret, underground lair it is contagious. “absolute Power” is not one of the greatest, but it is one of the most fun to watch.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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