Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Watergate"

Titling an episode in which aquatic aliens hold the stargate open indefinitely “Watergate” is only the first indication it was written at four in the morning while the vodka was running low. There is a definite feeling the main plot is incidental to the establishment of a Russian stargate program for future storylines. A couple saving graces exist, like Marina Sirtis and the special effects for the water aliens, but otherwise…’Watergate’ is poorly thought out.

When SGC attempts to dial out, nothing happens. An energy surge from Siberia indicates the Russians have salvaged the stargate from Thor’s destroyed ship and have been using it. The Russian government requests SGC’s help now because they cannot close their stargate’s wormhole to another planet for some reason. Dr. Sevetla Markov, played by Marina Sirtis, joins the SG-1 team in Siberia to infiltrate the base and shut off the stargate.

All 47--a little Star Trek: the Next Generation reference there--have been killed. Several were shot, but the rest died by nerve gas released if the base has been compromised. No one can figure out why the few who were shot before hand were killed. The stargate is permanently opened to a water world. In order t shut it down, Markov, sam, and daniel travel through the stargate in a minisubmarine to shut off the communication device from the drone the russkies sent in and whose power source is keeping the stargate open. The submarine is held in place and threatened with implosion by water pressure.

Meanwhile, Jack and Teal’c find Maybourne frozen solid and full of water aliens in a storage freezer. The aliens were brought back inadvertently by a science team that did not realize the water was a life form. The water can take over humans to use in an attempt to get back through the stargate. The Russians who were shot had been possessed by them. They took over Maybourne and hi in the freezer to escape the nerve gas. The aliens jump from Maybourne to Teal’c, then make their way to the stargate. Simultaneously, they go through as Markov, Sam, Daniel are cast out before the submarine implodes. Jack quips a hostage exchange must have taken place. End credits.

Wait…what? That is kind of abrupt. The aliens do not get developed at all. We do not find out anything else about the Russian stargate program. What about maybourne/ Is he a traitor? One would think so, but the audience has to fill in the blanks. The ending is way too unsatisfying.

The entire episode has quite a few issues beyond the brick wall slam of a conclusion. How did the Russians salvage the stargate off the ocean floor without the Americans knowing about it/ why would the Russians allow the US Air Force to infiltrate their top secret facility in the first place, much less without making it a joint operation. Why does SG-1 have to parachute into the base? You cannot land? I would think air travel is the only way to usefully travel the barren Siberian tundra. Where did Daniel learn to skydive/ It cannot be from US military training, because Teal’c played the comedic role of having to be pushed out the plane because of fear. Surely if Daniel got training, so did Teal’c. The entire parachuting sequence should have been taken out so the time allotted could have been devoted to crafting a more solid conclusion for the episode.

Going back to Daniel for a moment…for a archeologist very much in tune with respecting other cultures, he snarks at Markov over Russian technology and know how repeatedly. What gives/ he is usually sweet natured in general, but would certainly be the one most considerate of Russian culture. He acts very weird here.

I did say there are a couple of high points. The first is Sirtis. She is not a particularly good actress, but since I have seen her play little else than troi, I enjoy the novelty factor. The plotting doom moose and squirrel fake Russian accent--Sirtis is of British and Greek descent, not Russian--is painful at times, but mostly it is so bad, it is good. The special effects for the water aliens are quite good, too.

As an avid X-Phile, I cannot help but notice similarities with ’Watergate” to the first appearance of the Black Oil Alien in that series. The French retrieve a World War II era American bomber from the Sea of Japan thinking there is an atomic bomb onboard. It is actually the Black Oil Alien, who invades, controls, and then exits humans through the mouth in the same manner as the water aliens. I am not accusing ’Watergate” of being a rip off. That would be kicking it while it is down. But the similarities are there if one is looking for them.

I would skip “Watergate” unless you have a serious crush on Sirtis or are hang up on the Russian stargate storyline and are compelled to get the whole thing. The story is not well executed on any level. There are way too many implausible elements within for me.

Rating; * * (out of 5)

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