Monday, April 2, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Red Sky"

“Red Sky" is the first episode of the fifth season that I have really enjoyed. It features all my favoritte elements of Stargate SG-1; a moral dilemma, a philosophical conflict on the resolution to the central problem, each character fully engaged in what he or she does best, humor, and the Asgard. One cannot ask for more than that.

The SG-1 team visit’s a planet with a culture based on norse mythology. They had a difficult time getting a lock through normal procedures, so they tried something unorthodox. This method sent the wormhole directly through the planet’s sun, thereby turning it from yellow to red. The people’s crops are going to die, their atmosphere will be corrupted, and Superman has been rendered powerless.

The SG-1 team, figuring the Asgard protect the planet, seek an audience with them. The faithful inhabitants have been “communicating” with a holographic recording of a Norsemen like the people of Cimmeria. The SG-1 team finds a way to speak with the actual Asgard far easier than on Cimmeria. Jack is allowed to address the Asgard council to plead for their intervention. He learns that to do so would be a violation of a treaty with the Goa’uld which has prevented an invasion of Earth. Saving this planet is not worth breaking the treaty and endangering other worlds. The SG-1 team will have to clean up its own mess.

The people have great faith their gods will either save them or it will be their will to bring on Ragnorok. Whichever the case, most are fine with it, save for the devout religious leader. He suspects the SG-1 team is a curse the gods want gone. So adamant is his belief, sabotages a rocket set up by Sam to shoot an element into the sun to cause some techno babble reaction that should fix it. Two Sgc members are killed in the explosion.

It is the destruction of the rocket which sets off the internal conflict. Jack is so angry, he threatens to shoot the minister. He backs off that, but is ready to leave the people to their fate since they are so adamantly ready to meet their fate. It is three against one this time. Daniel thinks the people ought to be relocated if the sun cannot be saved. Sam is the one who damaged the sun in the first place, so she is guilt ridden. Teal’c is just a good guy in general. He is also missing for huge chunks of the episode. What is up with that/ Jack does not change his mind so much is outnumbered. Considering his final act is to tell the people their religion is a load of hooey, it does not look like he cares about preserving much of anything.

Sam devises another way of send the element through the stargate and stopping the element went it is in the middle of the sun. the reaction should occur, but does not. Or maybe it does. As a dejected SG-1 team is leaving, the sun restores itself. Maybe it is sam’s doing or maybe it is the Asgard quietly intervening. The catalyst is left ambiguous so as to preserve the people’s faith. Plausible deniability on the treaty breaking, too, one supposes.

“Red Sky” is a very well-written script that hits all the marks. The main characters verbally spare with one another in both humorous and dramtic ways when the story calls for it. Each character has his or her moment, save for Teal’c. there was not much for him to do here other than stoically pass judgment on Jack’s brief “let ’em all hang” attitude. Seeing the Asgard Council for the first time is cool. Thor is not there, which I assume is a plot point for later. Michael Shanks voices the character, so it is not like he cannot be featured. We will see if I am right eventually.

I appreciate that faith is not condemned. Yes, the people are taking a blind faith on a march to their destruction, but only jack tries to destroy it and he only does so as a last ditch effort because the rest of the SG-1 team was so adamant to salvage what they can from the situation. Ultimately, only the minister is seen to be a bad guy. Not stupid in faith, but a manipulative man who likes the control over people he has. The bottom line is there is no established notion these people are idiots for having faith. Indeed, there is a certain nobility in accepting whatever the gods have in store for them. The strength of their faith is the strongest argument the Asgard intervened to save the sun. that is my two pennies, anyway.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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