Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Ascension"

“Ascension” is an odd duck. Its general theme feels like filler--an alien falls in love with sam and follows her back to earth--but the secondary plot is the obviously too good to be true discovery of an ultimate weapon to be used against the Goa’uld. We can already figure that the discovery of an uberweapon as the main plot is going to fall flat somehow. It is even worse to make it the b-story. But that is not the big question. Weighing more on my mind is why Sam would fall for an alien who looks like David Spade.

The SG-1 team is exploring a planet which has been devastated by a conflict from long ago. The only thing that remains intact is a large device which is far more advanced than anything else in the civilization. While studying the device, Sam is knocked unconscious. Back at SGC, she is diagnosed with exhaustion and given time off Reluctantly, she agrees. The truth of her condition is an ascended being named orlin tried to communicate with her on the planet, but she could not handle it. He stalks her overnight, watching television in order to learn how he should look and act in human form. Hence that whole David Spade thing.

Look, before any pedants start up--I know orlin is not supposed to actually be spade. But there is supposed to be an awkward vibe about him in that he does not understand human culture, so he chose a form not quite right. He certainly does not look or act like the kind of man Sam would go for, and that is part of the reason the episode is not as good as it could be. Maybe you can see Sam falling for an incorporeal Joe dirt from a higher plane of existence, but I cannot. Hence, the spade references for emphasis on how implausible his hold on sam is.

Orlin is definitely a creepy stalker, but Sam forgives him for staying over secretly in her house. Odd, considering he watched her preparing for bed and sleeping. As I mentioned, she falls for him way too quickly. He explains to her that he intervened against his people’s rules and helped aliens build the weapon in order to defeat the Goa’uld. When the aliens decided to use the weapon to be conquerors themselves, the acended beings wiped them out and banished Orlin as punishment. So he has been isolated for heaven only knows how long and gone completely nutty. Yes, he and sam are a love story for the ages.

Orlin urges sam to convince col. Frank Simmons, the Pentagon bad guy for the season, from using the weapon for fear the ascended beings will wipe out humanity. He builds a stargate in sam’s basemen through materials bought online--sam’s got one heck of a credit card bill coming--to travel to the planet. He sacrifices himself in order to stop SG-16 from firing the weapon by destroying it. The ascended beings consider this an act of redemption and allow Orlin to ascend with them again. Sam is upset her perverted, nutty stalker alien David Spade is gone. I am not.

One big question--why did the ascended beings destroy the civilization rather than just the weapon/ it seems less harsh and far more in keeping with their pledge of non-interference. Even if another one was built, they could have destroyed that one, too. Eventually, the message would have gotten across without resorting to genocide. The ascended beings appear to acknowledge this in the end, as they are satisfied when the weapon is destroyed and do not care the humans have enough data to perhaps build another eventually. Not only a a bit of a plor hole, but a tacit admission the ascended beings did not think their original actions through.

Several points of note: One, Orlin is played by Sean Patrick Flanery. While he may be most famoud for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, he also played the title character in Powder not much different than Orlin. I have yet to meet anyone who watched Powder and did not like it. Take that for what it is worth. Two, this is the first appearance of Simmons, who is played by John de Lancie. De Lancie may be most famous as !, but he costarred in a blink and you missed it sci fi western called Legend with Richard Dean Anderson. Legend was one of UPN’s numerous failed shows back when Star Trek: Voyager was carrying the network. Let that sink in. Three, while Sam is on leave, Jack and Teal’c show up at her door with pizza and a copy of Star Wars. It is Teal’c’s favorite movie because of the parallels between the rebellion v. the empire and SGC’s battle against the Goa’uld. Flanery worked for George Lucas on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Orlin has some jedI elements in his storyline.

“Ascension” is not particularly impressive. Maybe if Orlin had not been such a creepy weirdo or took a human form more suitable to Sam’s taste, their relationship would have been more meaningful. As it is, sam comes across as an old maid willing to accept any guy who compliments her no matter how many screws he has loose. I have already talked about the issues surrounding the weapon, so there is no need to rehash. I do not think I will consider “Ascension” one of the worst episodes of the series when it is all said and done, but it definitely ranks below average.

Rating; ** (out of 5)

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