Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Fifth Man"

"The Fifth Man” is an entertaining episode more for its continuation of the fifth season running story arc than the plot from which the episode gets its title. Not that the main focus is bad, either, but it does have a certain filler vibe.

The SG-1 team comes under fire on a Jaffa controlled planet that looks a lot like the forests outside Vancouver. (How long has it been since I made that joke? Not long enough, right?) Jack and Tyler are pinned down separate from the rest of SG-1, so he orders them to leave and return with reinforcements. Reluctantly, they do. Hammond denies the request for reinforcements and incarcerates SG-1 on the grounds there is no Tyler on the team. Even though they remember him, no one else does.

While Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c work through why no one knows Tyler, Frasier works to determine if they are sick or under alien influence. On the planet, Jack and Tyler take refuge in the ruins of a stone structure. Jack thinks Tyler is a new member of the team as the others did. Tyler is impressed Jack not only stayed behind with him, but is now risking his life to protect the wounded lieutenant until help arrives. In the interim, they are constantly under threat from the Jaffa.

Tyler is so impressed by Jack’s sacrifice, he reveals the truth about himself. He is an alien named Kaiael who uses a drug to convince people they have known him for a long time. It is a way of hiding in plain sight for protection. He decided to use the drug on the SG-1 team rather than ask them for help against the Jaffa because he was suspicious. Now that he has seen the true nature of Jack, he feels guilty about putting him in danger. To his credit, the revelation tyler is an alien rather than one of his men does not change his attitude. He and Kaiael remain allies against the Jaffa.

Frank Simmons shows back up at SGC to take advantage of the potential alien comprise to conduct a witch hunt. Simmons interviews Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c about past instances of alien connections. There are quite a few. Daniel’s ex Sarah Gardner is now a goa’uld host. Teal’c was brainwashed by Apophis. Poor sam. She has been Jolinar’s host, taken over by an alien virus, and recently harbored an alien in her home. All of the accusations are an effort to remove Hammond from SGC.

Frasier discovers evidence of the drug, which convinces Hammond to allow the SG-1 team to rescue Jack. Kaiael nearly sacrifices himself by purposefully getting captured so the SG-1 team can escape, but they turn tables and rescue him and defeat the Jaffa anyway. I am pleased to see the stereotype of the alien of the week sacrificing himself after discovering the innate goodness of humanity is avoided. Kaiael returns home through the stargate, but Simmons still threatens.

“The Fifth Man” is a decent episode. Kaiael’s bonding with Jack comes off as weaker than it should because the plot has been done before. I recall Daniel and Chaka’s bonding most recently. But as I mentioned above, the story does not end with Kaiael’s heroic death to protect his new friends, so I applaud that much. kaiael's true form is scary as all get out, too.No wonder he hides his true appearance. Sheesh.

The Simmons subplot is far better largely because of John de Lancie. He is a good character actor who can do under implied menace far better than the over the top impish behavior he is most famous for with Q. I am glad to see him get the chance to play a better villain here.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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