Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Warrior"

“The Warrior” revisit’s the nascent Jaffa rebellion. It is the first episode to be co-written by a cast member. Christopher Judge contributes his first of four scripts for the series, a total which narrowly edges out Michael Shanks’ three. Considering the real life timing of the episode’s filming, its message of following a false leader on a suicidal crusade is particularly prescient.

Bar’tac and Teal’c catch word of a free Jaffa named K’tano, the former first Prime of the minor Goa’uld Imhotep, who has been gathering up former Jaffa of dead System Lords into a rebel army. K’tano is a charismatic speaker, reminiscent of a fiery evangelist, and the two of them pledge loyalty to his cause. They return to SGC in order to urge an alliance with K’tano’s growing forces.

The SG-1 team goes to the planet with a small number of food, supplies, and weapons as a show of good faith. Jack is immediately wary of the extreme loyalty K’tano commans from the Jaffa. They are willing to die for his cause in absolute obedience to his cause. What is the difference between the Jaffa believing the Goa’uld are gods and them believing K’tano is a messiah? Hold that thought.

Any potential alliance is rendered impossible when K’tano sends a young Jaffa out as a suicide bomber. The Jaffa is thrilled to give his life for K’tano, and so are Teal’c and Bra’tac. Neither of them opt to return to Earth with SG-1. Instead, Teal’c goes on a dangerous mission against the System Lord Yu and is captured. Rather than kill him, Yu informs Teal’c of the truth about K’tano--he is Imhotep. As a minor player, he could never build up a loyal army of Jaffa, but by posing as one, he could build up his own army.

Teal’c reveals the truth to all K’tano’s followers. They do not believe it. Teal’c challenges K’tano to ritualistic combat. After a battle laden with The Matrixstyle special effects--naturally--Teal’c defeats Imhotep. The Goa’uld attack the planet immediately thereafter, forcing the Jaffa to flee through the stargate.

I cannot help but see relevant post-9/11 themes in ‘The Warrior.’ Osama bin laden was the charismatic leader of al Qeada, a group of true believers willing to sacrifice anything while committing any atrocity for whatever reason bin Laden claimed was holy. One can debate whether bin laden was a true believer in his cause or just wanted power for himself. K’tano appeared to be the former, but turned out to be the latter. The intriguing thing to take away from the analogy is “The Warrior” was filmed weeks before 9/11. The following episode is well known because much of the second act was difficult to get through because it was filmed on 9/11 with the cast and crew well aware of what was occurring in new York and Washington. Hence, “The Warrior” is a prescient episode. Its theme resonates far more than was intended.

K’tano is played by Ron Worthy, who is well known for portraying the Cylon Simon in Battlestar Galactica. Worthy joins Aaron Douglas and Grace Park as future Cylons who have appeared on Stargate SG-1.

The episode does resonate. Even if not for its timely theme, I would still award it high marks. Theme of false gods and misplaced loyalty to the them as meandered quite a bit as of late, so it is good to see it return with a worthy story. That is high compliment coming from me. The Jaffa rebellion is the weakest running story arc as far as I am concerned, so anything that can make it compelling deserves recognition.

The key factor is Worthy. He makes a believable leader with a messianic complex. I have no problem believing teal’c could fall under his spell. I am more skeptical of Bra’tac, but he has wanted free Jaffa his entire life. I can forgive some idealism on his part. Eolid episode all around.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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