Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Serpent's Venom"

“The Serpent’s Venom" is one unpleasant episode to watch. Who would have thought with a comforting title like that? The episode is pure tension from beginning to end as neither of the two stories--Teal’c under torture and the rest of SG-1 arming a mine--offer relief for any period of time. Considering the dark ending, the screws do not stop tightening until the credits roll.

Teal’c sneaks his way unto chulak to meet with old friends Rak’nor and Terok to forment a Jaffa rebellion. It is a trick, however. His Rak’nor and Terok are working with Heru’ur, who plans to hand teal’c over to Apophis as consideration in a proposed alliance. Jacob/Selmak relays intelligence of the proposed alliance to SGC. The alliance summit is going to take place in a mine field left over from an extinct race. The mines activate at the first burst of energy from a weapon, so it is the ideal place for meetings between those who do not trust each other. Our heroes plan to reprogram a mine to attack Apophis’ ship to make it appear Heru’ur tricked him. Hopefully, the two sides will wipe each other out.

The episode is split between the ongoing stories. One of Here’re’s henchmen tortures brutally tortures Teal’c to renounce his belief the Goa’uld are false gods. The torture sequences are particularly violent and gruesome. The other half is SG-1 transporting a mine to a tok’ra cargo ship and translating an alien language similar to Phoenician, but not similar enough Sam and daniel do not nearly blow the mine up before successfully reprogramming it.

In the end, Rak’nor, impressed with talc’s resolve to die rather than renounce his beliefs, helps him escape. The mine trick work in convincing Apophis Heru’uc has betrayed him, but Apophis has ten ships cloaked. When they uncloak, they overwhelm Heru’uc’s ship. The plan is ultimately a failure since Apophis and Heru’uc were supposed to destroy each other. Instead, Apophis takes command of Heru’uc’s forces to become the most powerful System Lord.

Do not expect a good time while watching “The Serpent’s Venom.” It is a brutal experience barely broken up by a nervous joke or two from SG-1 when reprogramming the mine goes badly. It is not the mine story that is going to stick with you. It is the long, difficult to witness torture sequences suffered by Teal’c. Unless Rak’nor returns later with loyalty to Teal’c’s cause, then the torture scenes were gratuitous as opposed to those Picard suffered at the hands of the Cardassians in TNG. There was an underlying message in Picard’s torture that torture was pointless as a political tool. It was only his torturer taking out his deep seeded anger on others. There is nothing like that in ’The Serpent’s Venom” to elevate the torture bits beyond--well, I do not know. Does anyone find that sort of thing entertaining just for the sake of watching it happen?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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