Friday, March 9, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Upgrades"

I anticipated the episode following a dark installment like “The Other Side” would be more lighthearted, but did not anticipate it would go so far in that direction. “Upgrades” has some entertaining, but absurdly comedic elements in a generally weakly written story.

The SG-1 team become guinea pigs for the Tok’ra when they discover Atanik armbands which supposed grant super abilities, but do not work on anyone with a symbiote. With the obvious exception of Teal’c, they agree. The armbands work, but as SG-1 adjusts to their new super strength, speed, and ability to absorb information, they become more irrational. They become literally drunk with power.

While Hammond and Fraiser struggle to keep SG--1 under control and healthy while trying to get the armbands off, intelligence comes in that Apohis is constructing a new, more powerful mother ship. The Tok’ra in charge of the armbands, Anise/Freya, admits she new this already and was in a hurry to use the armbands in order to destroy the ship before it is operational. She still does even if SG-1 are not in their right minds. Hammond, noting the betrayal and dismissal of concern for SG-1’s wellbeing nixes the idea. He sends teal’c alone to destroy the ship.

The SG-1 team decides to break out of the SGC to destroy the ship themselves. Their new powers get them in to set explosives unharmed, but the armbands wear off during their escape. The human body eventually rejects the enhancements it was not designed to possess. Teal’c helps them escape the Jaffa before the ship explodes. They avoid courtmartial because they were under alien influence, but are wary of working with anise again.

Anise is played by Kingpin‘s and the television series Weird Science‘s Vanessa Angel:I am not going to be a huge stick in the mud over the episode’s comic book on film atmosphere. As a comic book geek, I thought a lot of it was a fun tweak at what it would be like to suddenly gain super powers. Some of the gags border on the slapstick. Jack accidentally punches out Teal’c, Sam writes a 1,000 page book on theoretical physics in two hours, and Daniel learns every written language on earth. Our heroes even win a bet playing pool and are forced to fight their way out of a bar after they sneak of base for steaks. The attack on the Jaffa and the ship construction is pure super heroics. It is all amusing enough.

The comedy does not distract from the obvious problem of how unwise it is to use alien technology specifically designed to alter the human body without any tests whatsoever beforehand, not to mention placing the armbands on two other people after the first guinea pig, jack, punches talc’s lights out by accident. The tok’ra have some significantly unethical ways about them, but SG-1’s near unquestioning willingness to go along with their ideas is implausible. Geez, they were irrational before using the armbands.

To be fair in rating episodes, I take them on their own merit. But I still have to mention the consequences of the previous episode from the rift between Jack and Daniel and Jack’s killing alar are completely ignored. I certainly do not want tensions between main characters dragged out on and on, but to completely ignore troubles as though they never occurred does not feel right.

"Upgrades” is fun to watch, but really not that great. Much logic is jettisoned at the expense of over the top comedy. Many fans appear more willing to appreciate that than I am.

Rating; ** (out of 5)

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