Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"2010"

Tale a moment to appreciate an episode that was once considered to have taken place in the far future now features events taking place two years in the past. The story deals with an alternate timeline. I have already mentioned I am a sucker for those, but there are many other elements that make “2010” one of my favorite episodes thus far.

Sometime in 2000, SG-1 makes contact with a highly advanced race called the Aschen. An alliance is formed in which the Aschen freely share their technology with earth. By 2010, the Goa’uld have been defeated, Aschen medicine has wiped out all disease, and the earth is seemingly a utopia. The stargate is now used for commercial travel rather than military use. The SGC has been dissolved with everyone going their separate ways. Sam has married Amb. Joe Faxon and the two are trying to have children, but to no avail. The Aschen assure her to keep trying. When Frasier shows up for the anniversary celebration of the alliance formation, she offers to examine Sam and discovers she is barren. Why have the Aschen been lying to her?

Tricking her aschen coworker into allowing her use of the computer meant exclusively for aschen use, she and Frasier discover the planetary birth rate has dropped 90%/ the two surmise the vaccine the aschen have given humans to double their lifespans is also sterilizing them. It is a bloodless way of taking over Earth. Sam gathers together SG-1, minus Jack, to talk about what to do next. Sam suggests utilizing a solar flare to send a message through the stargate in the same manner they were once sent back to 1969. The message will warn them not to go to the Aschen planet.

I have to mention one subtly humorous bit here. Sam gathers together Daniel and Teal’c at a cafĂ© to discuss her findings about the Aschen Frasier is there, too, just to drop the info that Hammond once tried to contact her with some secret about the Aschen, but died of a ’heart attack’ before he could tell her in person. After the plan is hatched to send a message into the past, Frasier pipes up to ask if they have the moral right to destroy the last ten years of events. Sam metaphorically slaps her in the back of the head before they go through with the plan--mostly without Frasier’s involvement. I loved how a Star Trek moral dilemma was almost introduced, then got beaten down with essentially a ’we don’t have time for that crap.” heh.

Sam visits jack at his cabin in Minnesota to recruit him, but he is even more bitter than ever. He never thought people were making a mistake by handing over their health and security to the ashen in exchange for longer lives. Now that he has been proven right, he thinks the world is getting what it deserves. There is also an underlying bitterness that Sam married Faxon whichever burns him more, Jack initially refuses to join in.

Comic book geeks should note the similarities between sam and Jack’s encounter in “2010” with Wonder Woman’s attempt to bring superman out of exile in Mark Waid’s popular 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come. There are some stand out parallels. In Kingdom Come, Superman has shut himself off from the human race and holed up in the Fortress of Solitude when they treat him as outdated in favor of more aggressive, amoral vigilantes. When those vigilantes grow in number and run amuck, eventually causing Midwest farmland the become irradiated to the point of mass starvation, Wonder Woman attempts to bring him out of his self-imposed exile to help,he refuses because he was right all along but no one listened. He is also bitter over lois lane’s death, rub boning him of a woman he loved even though he had not yet acknowledged it to her. In “2010,” Sam attempts to bring jack out of his self-imposed exile. He was right along, but no one listened, and he is bitter to have lost her, even though he never really acknowledged his love.

I am not certain how much I am reaching with the allusion. The episode certainly has all the elements of Kingdom Come. It is set in the not too distant future. There is a promised utopia if regular people give up control to other powers, but the result is apocalyptic. The main character is a Cassandra who reluctantly returns to save everyone from their mistake. Along with his old allies. Considering the increased number of comics references this season--spiderman’s motto of with great power comes great responsibility inscribed on those wristbands which granted super powers and the archeologists named after various Green Lanterns a few episodes back--I would not be surprised.

Jack eventually changes his mind, so the SG-1 team can execute their plan. To make things even easier, it is revealed Faxon new about the sterilization, he just did not know how far the project had gone. As far as he knew, it was only going to be undesiables sterilized to maintain sustainability. No one will be upset his marriage to sam will be erased with the last ten years. He helps steal the dialing device from the oval office and SG-1 in a particularly brutal action sequence, are all killed trying to reach the stargate with the handwritten message. Sam succeeds in her dying act. Back in 2000, the message is received. Hammond orders the Aschen planet off limits, no questions asked.

While I will not claim Stargate SG-1 has a conservative philosophy, I note three key points in “2010” that criticize progressive ideas. One, the Aschen disarm the human race so they exclusively have the power. They use it, too, by murdering Hammond and SG-1. Two, the Aschen given humans food, medicine, and long life in exchange for control. Three, the aschen have implemented forced population control. Why have we learned, folks/ gun control is bad, entitlement programs are enslavement to the government, and social engineering though control of birth and death is evil. How often does the entertainment industry admit those realities?

There is a unintentional treat for us baseball fans, too. When jack reads the note to be sent throyh the stargate, he asks specifically if they can include the winner of the 2004 world series in it. The joke may or may not be a reference to Biff Tannen’s get rich quick scheme in Back to the future II, but it is funny that the 2004 World Series was unexpectedly won by the Boston Red Sox breaking the alleged Bambino Curse that has ’prevented” the team from winning a world championship trading babe ruth to the New York Yankees in 1918. That the 2004 world series might be something special to wager on was a fortunate guess by the writers back in 2000, no?

‘2010‘ is a real highlight of the generally uneven fourth season. There have been some great episode, but they have been fewer and further between than in previous seasons. At least the season is winding down on a strong note.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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