Friday, April 6, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Between Two Fires"

“Between Two Fires” revisit’s the Tollan for the final time The story deals with a conspiracy in which the wind is taken right out of during the opening credits as the guest star behind the secret plan is revealed. The reveal is even more disappointing because blowing the surprise of a mystery character’s true identity has been avoided in the past by leaving the actor unaccredited in the opening. Why that is not done here is baffling. Still, the enjoy ability factor does not take too big a hit.

The SG-1 team is on Tollana attending the funeral of Omoc, the arrogant jerk played once by tobin Bell then never seen again. Afterwards the funeral, High Chancellor Travell approaches them with news that Omoc’s death has created a power shift on the Cutia ruling council. They are now open to sharing technology with the “primitive’ humans. The SG-1 team is intrigued, but wary, and made even more so when Narim, sam’s old friend, slips her a message that something is not kosher.

The Tollan are willing to give Earth one of their super cannons in exchange for some energy source that they do not really need. It is presented as a face saving cover story. The deal sounds fishy enough, but when Sam estimates they would need at least 38 super cannons to effectively defend Earth from the Goa’uld, the Tollan readily agree with upping the price. The Tollan are a little too eager to give humans everything they want, particularly considering how adamantly they have refused to share technology in the past. Primitive societies have destroyed themselves with Tollan weaponry before.

Narim thinks something is wrong from the very beginning. First, he believes Onoc’s heart attack was actually murder. Then he begins unraveling a conspiracy that involves a Goa’uld ship appearing, demonstrating it has new shields impervious to the super cannons, and then flying off. With the realization the super cannons are now useless, Narim and the SG-1 team wonder why there is a deal in place to give them to earth and why did the Goa’uld ship depart when it could have attacked Tollana?

The truth is revealed when Tanith shows up. He is now serving Anubis, who is named dropped, but not seen, in a plot to force the Tollan to build a weapon using their matter phasing technology in order to penetrate the iris on Earth’s stargate. Anubis is going to force the Tollan to attack Earth as proxies so the Goa’uld will not face the wrath of the Asgard.

Travell is going along with the plan for the good of her people, but Narim destroys the factory building the weapon in order to stop its development. His act incurs Tanith’s wrath. The Goa’uld launch a massive attack. Since they noew have shields impervious to Tollan weaponry, it looks to be a slaughter. The SG-1 team escapes. They offer to take Narim with them, but he refuses. He started a hopeless war. He cannot abandon his people. In the final scene, a message is received from Narim, cut dramatically short, implying the Tollan have been wiped out.

Schrodinger also sends regrets he only has nine lives to give for his people. No, I am kidding about that one.

We get a lot of insight into Tollan political culture. Tollana has an overly intrusive government which installs microchips into citizens in order to monitor their health at all times. The reason Onoc’s death was so odd is because medical help arrived far later than it normally would just to make sure he was good and dead. Tollana is also a police state. Narim is incredulous anyone would commit murder. While he does not elaborate, somehow thr authorities are so efficient at catching murders and the punishment for murder so severe, no one even contemplates committing one. One figures the government spies on the people all the time. The idea is lent credence because everything any government official says is recorded and all documents are filed with every arm of the government at every level. Hence, Narim’s ability to easily trace the conspiracy. Talk about sunshine laws, no? It is an interesting combination. The government controls everyone’s lives from womb to the tomb, but allows everyone to know every activity every step of the way. Hope it does not give our government anymore encouragement.

Narim’s computer, which controls every automated system in his house, is voiced by Sam. He has had a crush on her from the beginning, but this is the strongest sign he really has the hots for her. He is--what? The fourth alien to develop an affection for Sam? It is more serious with Narim, however. Sam gave her pussy to him. The cat, I mean. Schrodinger. Geez, you perverts. Get your minds out of the gutter.

Here is a bit of geek nirvana for you. Much of “Between Two Fires” is filemed at Simon Frasier University just outside of Vancouver. There are many outdoor scenes, but one in particular features Jack and Daniel waiting by a large reflecting poll while the Tollan meet about the 38 cannons. This poll is the same one from both the Battlestar Galactica miniseries and finale, as well as where Deep Throat met with the FBI brass investigating Fox Mulder and ordered him to lay off in the first season of The X-Files. It is either really neat or really pathetic I recognize it. It is your call as to which.

“Between Two Fires" Is a very good episode. The conspiracy plays out eell, but it would have been much better if Peter wingfield’s name had been left off the opening credits. The minute I saw his name, I knew Tanith was going to show up as the mastermind behind it all. He is a character actor. You would think he could put aside his ego and forgo a screen credit for the sake of the fans. Peter Williams did once to keep Apophis’ appearance a secret until the end.

I have no other complaints. The episode is humorous in parts, such as when jack and Teal’c have to hold hands in order to phase through a wall or when jack and daniel acknowledge with few words their philosophical differences on taking technology from aliens. It is also quietly tragic in places. Narim standing on the top of the staircase to the stargate, watching Sam leave while explosions erupt all around him is heart wrenching. Narim is not a big character to whom I have grown especially attached, so to elicit such emotion takes some skill. The end of the tollan is brutal.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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