Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Inauguration"

I have already become accustomed to the need of a clip show in order to give the cast, crew, and audience a breather before the big season finale. The question is just how creative can the production staff be in making such a clip show watchable? In terms of “Inauguration,” better than you might expect.

“Inauguration’ features none of the regular characters save for Hammond in a very brief, but pivotal scene. The bulk of the episode, as the title must suggestion, deals with the newly elected president’s briefing on the stargate program and the now Vice President Robert Kinsey’s attempts to convince the president to clean house at SGC. The result can best be described as Stargate SG-1 meets The West Wing. The similarities are clever considering both William Devane and Robert Picardo, President Henry Hayes and Richard Woolsey, respectively, have had roles on The West Wing in and around the time “Inauguration” aired.

Hayes is incredulous as he is introduced to the stargate program and incensed that Kinsey has known about it for years. There is a strong vibe throughout that Kinsey is the dominant personality of the two. He must be the one who is really in charge. There may be a subtle jab here of the Bush administrations critics that Dick Cheney was an evil figure controlling the goofy president from behind the scenes, but if that is so, it is not as obnoxious as one might think. Stargate SG-1 has by and large kept partisan politics out of its episodes, and I am going to work under the assumption it is not injecting any satire of the then real US president and veep. However you want to see it, Hayes listens to the pro SGC case presented by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the con case presented by Woolsey at the behest of Kinsey.

The arguments are presented to the audience via clips from previous episodes. Of course, they are the weakest part of the episode. But even more so, are generally from less than stellar installments. Heck, one is even a clip of Thor addressing the ambassadors from the previous clip show! You can chalk up the less than great moments to the fact Woolsey is making his case by accentuating SGC’s screw ups and defeats. Perhaps those clips are chosen because, quite frankly, Woolsey makes a great case and the creative staff wants things look dire for our heroes. It is done so well that the only way out of it is for Woolset to conveniently develop a conscience about working for Kinsey and digs up dirt on his connection to the NID black ops, which saves the day. The Chairman of the joint Chiefs sets up the season finale by informing the president of the search for the Lost City and its potential to defeat Anubis.

Shippers take note: one of Kinsey’s interjections into Woolsey’s argument is Jack’s poor judgment because he is clearly in love with Sam. The argument is quickly dismissed by all as loyalty inspired by risking their lives together on a regular basis. It is a cruel, but funny tweak at shippers that only Kinsey agrees with them there is something going on between Jack and Sam.

I have already made The West Wing analogy, but it bears repeating. “Inauguration” is heavy influenced by the series. The episode is dialogue intensive while also being sharp and fast. We are mercifully spared Aaron Sorkin’s penchant for characters spouting off encyclopedic knowledge on esoteric subjects, but we are treated to Sorkinesque quirky behavior, such as Hayes taking off his shoes so he can feel the oval office rug under his feet for the first time. There is a clear admiration for The West Wing among those behind Stargate SG-1.

Is anyone else fuzzy on the timeline leading up to the presidential election? Jack tipped Kinsey’s hand back in 2000 by starting Kinsey’s presidential run so he and Maybourne could escape in the middle of the press frenzy. That would put Kinsey as a candidate in 2000. He is still running for president during his assassination attempt in 2003, so he must not have won the nomination in 2000. So was there a one term president who won in 2000. Kinsey decided he was going to lose the nomination again in 2004, so he hitched his wagon to Hayes? I suppose so, but you have to guess at it. Hayes does not like Kinsey, but acknowledges his fundraising efforts and possible voter fraud in some states got him elected, so the only thing clear is Kinsey wanted power, but could not manage to win the White house on his own. I could be thinking way too deeply about this. The writing staff is largely Canadian writing about the American presidency. Let us see some American writers cooking up palace intrigue in the Prime Minister’s office and see how much Canucks scoff at the resemblence to reality.

Not a big fan of clip shows here. They are a necessary evil thanks to the production schedules of many cable shows. To be fair, I rate what makes it to the screen versus what the powers that be intended. In that regard, “Inauguration” is quite good. It is the best one can expect, at any rate. Bonus points are awarded for for future recurring characters being introduced or featured, so it does not feel like a one off waste. The episode does build up tension for the finale, so there is that, too.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Resurrection"

I am often intrigued by television episodes that are crafted by the actors themselves. ‘Resurrection’ is a double treat in that regard. Michael Shanks pens the script while Amanda Tapping makes her directorial debut. Unfortunately, the finished product comes across as amateur hour. What it boils down to is shanks and Tapping are trying a little too hard to be artsy fartsy when, like colleague Christopher Judge’s creative efforts, they should have just straight out told the story they wanted to tell. I do note with amusement Richard Dean Anderson’s waning enthusiasm for being on the series is taken into account--jack is neither seen, nor even mentioned.

Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c are called to Los Angeles after a rogue NID experiment to create a human/Goa’uld hybrid is discovered. The hybrid, a young woman named Anna, went wild and murdered 32 NID scientists before being captured herself. Keffler, the scientist in charge, plays it cold and uncooperative at first, but eventually reveals the NID wanted to learn all the Goa’uld secrets, which they pass on genetically, by creating the hybrid. The Goa’uld personality, Sehkmet, over took the human part and went on the murdering spree before anything could be revealed. Daniel tries to bond with anna by showing an interest in chalk drawings she has hanging all over her cell. One rawing leads him to open a Goa’uld ark which turns out to be a large bomb. Our heroes have sixteen hours to defuse the bomb with jack Bauer nowhere in sight.

If all that sounds exciting, keep in mind the entire story takes place in three rooms with virtually nothing but dialogue carrying the story. Reams of dialogue, folks. The entire episode bounces between three different scenes: Sam interrogating Keffler, Daniel helping Anna channel Sehkmet’s knowledge, and Dr. Lee and Teal’c attempting to disarm the bomb. The format might not be so boring if it lead anywhere, but it does not. Keffler escapes custody, Sehkmet takes over anna and also escapes, and Lee manages to disarm the bomb without Sehekmet’s help. In the end, Sehkmet encounters the fleeing Keffler and kills him, but it turns out to be Anna instead. She wanted revenge for the torture she experienced. She is also fatally wounded in the attack on keffler, so all is wrapped up in a neat little bow.

I call “Resurrection” amateur hour for good reason. Shanks and Tapping are too green to do what they wanted to accomplish. Let me take these in order.

Shanks’ script is a hodgepodge of direct lifts from other sources and pretentious efforts at drama. So much of the elements of “Resurrection” are from The Silence of the Lambs. shanks does it on purpose--Sam and Agent Malcolm Barrett even joke about Keffler’s Hannibal Lector act while he is under interrogation, and the joke is spot on. As is Anna, who is being helf in a cage in the middle of a warehouse in much the same manner as lector was held in Memphis. Clarice starling gave him his drawings to hang up. Anna has her chalk drawings all around. If the episode was good, you might consider that stuff clever homage. But “Resurrection” is bad, so it is just a cheap rip off. The episode itself is bad because the tension that has been building up--can Anna channel her inner Goa’uld in order to defuse the bomb--goes out the window when lee does it himself. The tension switches in the final few moments to Anna murdering Keffler. The ending gnaws at your emotions, but what about the 40 minutes worth of stuff we just sat through for pretty much nothing?

I hate to pile on, but when a script is bad, nagging plotholes are difficult to overlook. How did a raging killing machine like Sehkmet managed to be apprehended after her killing spree? Keffler is the only one left alive, so he had to be responsible for stopping her, but how? We do not know. A bigger problem is the bomb. There is no explanation given as to why they cannot just move the darn thing. It is in a box, for heaven’s sake. The timer is set for sixteen hours, too. They could deliver the bomb safely into the desert by horseback in that amount. I have to assume there is a reason our heroes do not move the bomb, but none is offered up on screen.

As for the directing, Tapping goes for a lot of cliché shots in order to beat us over the head with the emotions she is trying to convey. She also likes to utilize weird angle just to show she has a unique vision, but it winds up being too unique. The weirness detrats from the story. I will give her a B for good faith effort. She does all the directorial student tricks--characters reflected in glass during a conversation, arrogant characters shown with upturned angles while submissive characters are angled down upon, and overhead, turning angles during the depiction of Anna losing control of herself. That sort of stuff should have been left up to the actors to convey with normal camera angles, but tapping clealy has something to prove. She will go on to direct several episodes of Sanctuary, but this is her only Stargate SG-1 outing.

I am down on “Resurrection,” but I am not going to recommend skipping it. It is worth seeing in order to appreciate how good the show normally is when done by experienced professionals. Shanks and Tapping obviously had much they wanted to do with the material, but lacked the know how to pull it off. Nevertheless, it is a labor of love. I hate to be too cruel about those regardless of the results.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stargate SG-1--'Heroes, Part II"

I noted just yesterday how unaware of spoilers I am when watching Stargate SG-1. It has been a rare experience in the Internet Era when one cannot go anywhere near online fandoms without knowing every jot and tittle for every television show, movie, novel, comic book, or whatever else floats your boat. The main reason it has been refreshing is because stories like “Heroes, Part II” can be the heart-wrenching shock they were meant to be. The episode is a masterfully done mystery for the audience which is as painfully dramatic as part one is frivolously funny.

“Heroes, part Ii’ bounces around in time as events occur. The heart of the lot is that someone on the mission to rescue the SG-13 team is killed in action. The audience is not immediately made aware, but hints are laid out along the way with Jack taking a brutal hit and Airman Wells fearful his wounds are mortal. They will prevent him from seeing the birth of his daughter. Emmett Bregman catches glimpses of a lifeless body hauled back to SGC on a stretcher and Sam in tears, but we are not privy to who is dead.

I knew it would not have been jack KIA even if I was not aware Richard Dean Anderson is a fulltime character next season and recurring thereafter, but the powers that be do a compelling job making you think he is the one. He suffers a staff weapon shot to the chest in slow motion in which he is flung to the ground and the screen goes silent even though two large explosions occur near him. Such is an action movie cliché, but still highly effective when done well.

But the writers also do a fine job of making Wells an important character we care about. In the previous episode, he showed a sonogram of his unborn son or daughter to Dixon. It is often cliché for a soldier to show his buddies a photo of his girl back home, then die. One suspects that might be the case here, particularly when he urges daniel, who is helping tend to his wound, to get a message to his wife and daniel decides to use the camera Bregman gave him to record it.

Neither Jack nor Wells is the one to die, but I am getting ahead of myself.

There is an investigation into the entire rescue mission conducted by NID Agent Rbert Woolsey. Woolsey conducts interviews with our heroes, sans Jack, but finds they are unwilling to talk about what happened because Woolsey is less interested in the human factor than he is the financial bottom line. In other words, risking men and materiel to rescue Wells was a bad idea. Woolsey’s attitude infuriates everyone at SGC. Hammond, who is on edge over the loss of life, loses his cool with both Woolsey and Bregman, but relents with the latter. He now believes a record of events at SGC beyond the official records should be kept. His intial fears his men will be judged unfairly gives way to the honesty of the camera. Hammond allows Bregman--and us--to see the footage daniel shot which features his colleague being killed

I have to offer up praise for how the death is handled. There is no gratuitous violence for the sake of shock value. The death is actually a quiet, nearly off screen incident that proves tragedy can happen unexpectedly to goos people in the line of duty. Just as wells is saying goodbye to his wife on camera, a blast from a Jaffa staff weapon hits Frasier as she stabilizes him to move. All we see is the laser blast and Daniel dropping the camera. From the voices and sounds all around, we know that Frasier has been fatally wounded. We never even see her again. All we see from then on is the mournful reactions of her friends in action, under Woolsey’s scrutiny, and at her memorial service. Frasier’s death is wisely done in a less is more style, and it is bitter sweet sadness. Frasier is gone, but she died quietly doing her job of saving lives.

The sorrow of her friends compels the audience to mourn more than seeing Frasier’s actual death or lifeless body ever could. Sam cries silent tears writing her eulogy and leans on jack for support the first time we learn he is still alive. Daniel is the best, as he keeps vigil in the darkened infirmary. There was a time back in the fourth season when Michael Shanks and Teryl Rothery played Daniel and Frasier as potential love interests in the hopes the writers might run with the idea. I am glad now they did not. Mourning over what might have been is often more powerful than crying over what was. Daniel is an empathic guy, but there is a strong sense here that maybe he really did love Frasier, but now she is gone forever. Just to prove how moved I am, I not only do not complain about the cliché of Frasier dying as wells’ daughter is being born, but I nearly teared up when he named her Janet. Here I thought I was darn near dead inside, too.

Bregman must be given his due. He was an annoying and manipulative character in the first part, but redeems himself fully here as a champion for the truth who is able to win over even harsh skeptics like Hammond and Jack. It is rare to make guest stars pivotal, important characters, but it is wonderful when the near impossible task is pulled off. you can literally see his heart break when he watches the video Daniel shot. Bregman had developed a crush on Frasier in the previous episode. seeing her die is a personal loss for him, and one that changes his attitude about recording the truth about SGC.

Robert Woolsey is almost certainly based on Richard James Woolsey, the first CIA Director under Bill Clinton. Woolsey’s tenure at the CIA is largely considered a disaster. It was during this time Aldrich Ames was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Considering Robert Woolsey’s connections to private firms and penny pinching SGC operations, I would imagine the connection to the real Woolsey is accusations he promoted the invasion of Iraq on behalf of defense contractors to whom he had become financially attached in his post government career. Admittedly, searches within fandom have turned up nothing, so the connection could just be one heck of a coincidence. But honestly, Robert Picardo even physically resembles Richard Woolsey. It was not originally intended for Woolsey to become a recurring character, but as VOY fans know, Picardo has a way of winning over fans even with a generally unappealing character.

“Heroes, Part Ii’ was nominated for a 2005 Hugo Award in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation--short Form. It lost to Battlestar Galactica “33,” the episode I considered my favorite of that series. It is a tough call how I feel about the award that year. “Heroes, Part II” is plenty deserving.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Heroes, Part I"

I had very little familiarity with Stargate SG-1 prior to writing these reviews, but I was aware the “Heroes” two parter is a favorite of the cast and crew. I obviously have not seen the second part yet, but I am already impressed with the dramatic build up for the cliffhanger that leads into it. There is a masterful mix o humor and build up to impending doom that has been rare as of late on the series.

The president orders a documentary crew to record the goings on at SGC for a film which may or may not be released in the future, depending on whether the stargate remains a secret. Our heroes are not especially eager to cooperate because they suspect their actions are being set up for future judgment. Many antic ensue they give the documentary’s director the run around. It is fun stuff: Daniel tricks the film crew into chasing him over nothing, Sam stutters over questions about her strictly professional relationship with Jack, Teal’c sits in stony silence, Jack offers shots of his rear end, Sen. Kinset\y shows up in an exercise in ego stroking, Frasier lets it drop her daughter is an alien, and the support crew try desperately to make their jobs sound interesting. It is all frivolous fun.

Then there is the flip side. The SG-13 team is sent off to explore a planet whereupon they find the ruins of an Ancient city. Soon after arriving, they destroy a Goa’uld probe that nevertheless signals Jaffa to their position. Pinned down, the SG-1 team and several others head off to rescue them for the cliffhanger. The SG-13 team gets much more personalized than others that have appeared before. We get to hear some of their banter, including a long, humorous rant about having kids being more stressful than exploring hostile planets, that shows they have been a cohesive team for a while now with a strong sense of camaraderie. The writers want us to care about these characters, so one suspects some of them are not going to make it out alive.

Col. Dave Dixon of the SG-13 team is played by Adam Baldwin with the same deadpan cynicism he utilized in playing Jayne Cobb on Firefly. He is perfectly cast here. As the father of four kids who spoke the rant I just described, it would be a brutal kick in the gut if he does not make it. The documentary, Emmett Bregman, is played wonderfully as a sometimes charming, oftentimes manipulative pain in the butt by saul Ruinek, whom you may remember as Fajo, the collector of rare artifacts who once kidnapped data in YNG’s “The Most Toys.”

The best compliment I can pay “Heroes, Part I” is that it is what “Wormhole X-Treme” should have been. There are no self-referential Hollywood in jokes viewers are not completely in on. It is all about our heroes being put on the spot in which they realize reality television , so they want no part of it. In a certain way, the episode satirizes the old M*A*S*H episodes in which a journalist covered the 4077 in the same manner as Bregman is covering SGC. It is done mercifully without all the pretension The episode is very well done, and I am anxious to see how the conclusion, which must obviously take on a darker tone, will pay out.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Death Knell"

“Death Knell’ presents a suspenseful, action oriented episode which features the entire SGC staff--Hammond included--in full heroic mode at just the right time. The episode also features the right mix of internal politics among Earth the Tok’ra, and the Jaffa without bogging down the story as occasionally happens with the over all story arc is revisited.

Sam and Jacob/selmak are at the Alpha site working on a weapon that can defeat the Kull Warriors Anubis has developed. Sam expresses some concern Jonas may have compromised the Alpha site when Anubis read his mind, thereby proving they just cannot stop kicking the poor guy even after he has left for good this time. Sure enough, the base comes under attack. The commander of the Alpha site orders an evacuation.

The rest of the SG-1 team arrives soon after to discover the base has self destructed to prevent capture. The search for survivors begins. Jack, Teal’c, and daniel discover Jacob/Selmak wounded amongst the rubble. He tells them a Kull Warrior survived. If sam is still alive out there, he is hunting her down. Jacob/Selmak hands the prototype weapon to Jack to use against the Kull Warrior.

The episode splits in two at this point. One half features a tense cat and mouse game between Sam, who appears woozy from a second concussion in a handful of episodes, and the Kull Warrior. The other half is the unraveling of the alliance between Earth, the Tok’ra, and the Jaffa when divisions among their strategic interests make working together impossible. The bitterly funny part is they each point accusatory fingers at the other over the compromise of theAalpha site unaware of Sam’s theory it is probably all Jonas’ fault.

An entire episode could have been made out of the severely wounded sam barely evading the Kull Warrior she possesses no weapon against and it would have been worth watching. Stargate SG-1 is continuing its trend of building up Sam as much of a tough as nails heroic figure as she is the nerdy science whiz. She is an Air Force Major, after all. I thoroughly enjoyed how the screws were tightened right on up until Jack and Teal’c rode in as the last minute cavalry to save Sam. Shippers take note of Jack’s somewhat awkward embrace of Sam pictured above when she confesses she is too weak to get up. I am not even a shipper, and I thought that was a sweet moment.

The other half of the story is not as exciting, but no less intriguing. Who compromised the Alpha site is not as big a deal to the audience as how the Tok’ra and Jaffa are slipping away from one another over strategic interests. The interesting part is both have logical reasons dor not wanting to ally with the other. The tok’ra are few in umber, and without the ability to create more symbiotes, cannot fight tooth and nail battles. They have already lost more of their numbers in the last seven years than in the last seven hundred, it is noted. The tok’ra are like the Israelis. They lack the manpower to go toe to toe with their many enemies, so they must rely on covert operations. As such, Jacob/Selmak is fast becoming an outsider due to his loyalties to Earth. On the other hand, the Jaffa are great in number and are naturally inclined to fight large battles. But they are former slaves who need to fight these battles on their own, not alongside the Tok’ra or Earth. When the new Beta site is established at the end of the episode, neither the Tok’ra, noe the Jaffa agree to participate. Earth is not blameless, either. They have built hybrid weapons from Goa’uld technology as well as made certain system Lords more powerful by allowing the consolidation of Jaffa forces from dead System Lords. There is no real good or bad guys here. Everyone is doing what they have to in order to survive.

If there is any problem with these developments, it is that Jacob/Selmak’s falling out of favor with the rest of the Tok’ra feels very sudden. He has been a loyal Tok’ra who has chastised SGC for developing hybrid technology and their more brazen anti-Goa’uld activities. Certainly, his human side still feels a connection with Earth, but questioning his loyalties comes from out of the blue.

If it sounds like the arc developments overshadow character moments, fret not. I personally like how proactive Hammond is in uncovering the leak that doomed the alpha site. Too often this season, he has shown up, told the SG-1 team they have a go, and then disappears. He ought to be as prominent a character as the rest of the team. I also like how Jacob/Selmak is present for logical reasons. Sometimes, he seems there for no reason other than to have him in an episode. In “Death Knell,’ he actually has something to do. Anyone else notice how angry Daniel is the alliance is falling apart even though Sam nearly dies trying to hold it together? He has a tight emotional bond with her. Speaking of, I have already talked about Sam here, so no need to retread old ground. “Death Knell” is one of the highlights of the season.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Chimera"

It looks like the writers want to test the patience of the Jack/Sam shippers with “Chimera,” an episode with the odd combination of a romantic story as the subplot for the continuation of the season long story arc of searching for the Lost City of the Ancients and ending the Sarah Gardner/Osiris storyline so Anna-Louise Plowman can go back to the United Kingdom for an episode of Doctor Who. Or something like that. “Chimera” is a strange bird, to say the least.

The main plor involves Sarah Gardner/Osiris sneaking into Daniel’s home at night and using a device to invade his dreams to force him to translate a tablet that will reveal the location of the Lost City. One cannot read in a dream, but whatever. Daniel’s dreams are vividly reliving his early days at the University of Chicago when he kinda/sorta romanced Sarah in his own nerdy way. Sarah Gardner/Osiris is forcing the translation of the tablet into the past as Daniel dreams it was.

The subplot is a sometimes sweet, sometimes disturbing romance between Sam and a Denver cop named Pete. It is sweet because there is a teenagers in love vibe to it. It takes a while for Sam to even let pete into her home after they have dated a while. It is only after the two crash a fiftieth wedding anniversary party because Sam longs for the Singing in the Rain days of romance that she spends the night with him. It is disturbing because Sam freely admits she is keeping pete at a distance because all her past loves have been killed. This is true--Jonas Hanson, Martouf, and Narim have all bit the dust over the last seven years. But if Sam the Black Widow is not bad enough, Pete takes it upon himself to have an FBI buddy run a background check on her. He then follows her to a stakeout at Daniel’s house where the two stories collide. Is it really true romance to sic the FBI on your new girlfriend, then stalk her? Sam has had stalkers before. Pete adds to the notion there might just be something wrong with Sam that such guys are drawn to her.

The two stories do collide when the SG-1 team corners Sarah Gardner/Osiris. They capture her after a short battle with the presumably unintentional humor of Jack popping her in the behind with a tranquilizer dart. As is always the case, the person drugged never passes out until they pull the dart out and look at it a moment. Pete is, of course, right there with them, though uninvited. He is wounded in the fight, which surely makes everyone in the audience assume he is about to join the choir invisible along with all of sam’s other fellows. But he survives. He is taken to SGC for medical treatment. Sam reveals everything about the stargate program to him. It is another point that makes one suspect he is going to be killed off. The last civilian to learn about the stargate was Chris Owens’ character. He got run over by a car to silence him. While we are on the subject of harsh endings, we will never hear from Sarah Gardner again even though she and daniel are supposedly in love.

Pete is played by David DeLuise. David makes the fourth DeLuise to show up on Stargate SG-1. Dom, Peter, and Michael are the other three.

What to make of “Chimera?’ It is a stargate love story. As such, it is a couple notches above the sex equals love philosophy of Star Trek. I suppose that means Stargate SG-1’s audience is not a bunch of horny fourteen year olds. Yet the romance does not fire on all cylinders. Announcing to a nee fellow you will not let him in your house because all your other boyfriends have been killed under odd circumstances is not a good way to begin a relationship. You really also cannot think he is The One because he did an FBI background check and then followed you all night. I am skeptical discussing alien parasites attempting to destroy the Earth somehow patches all that up.

Keep in mind the sam/Pete romance is the subplot. Nevertheless, it completely overshadows the main story about daniel looking for the Lost City. I suppose that makes sense, considering he makes no progress. All the story succeeds in doing is getting rid of Osiris. The good points of "chimera’ are worth watching. I am not a Jack/sam shipper, so my lone peeper never bled at watching Pete and Sam do their very, very strange thing. "Chimera” is worth watching on the grounds it is so peculiar.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Fallout"

Jonas returns in his one and only guest appearance. Corin Nemex also earns a story credit for “Fallout,” so one suspects the episode is meant to be a better send off for him than the goodbye, do not bother to write because Daniel’s back send off he got last season. One wonders just how monumental this second goodbye is supposed to be. It is quite obvious Nemec got the story by being one of the four people who saw The Core, then ran home to his laptop figuring the other three would never point out how similar the script for “Fallout” is.

Jonas returns to SGC requesting their aid. He has discovered naquadria is not a natural element. It is made from naquadah and the process is ongoing, digging deeper into the planet’s crust to the point it will eventually cause an explosion that will completely destroy Kelowna while the fallout will render the rest of the planet uninhabitable. Daniel and Jack, before Richard dean Anderson disappears for most of the episode to go play golf or something, handle the negotiations to evacuate as many of the people as possible, while Sam, Jonas, and his sweet pea Kianna operate a subterranean driving vehicle to deposit a nuke in order to keep the aquaria from hitting a fault line and kaboom.

They say that couples who stay together for a long time begin to look alike. Well, check this out:
Jonas and Kianna not only look alike, they look like Justin Bieber.

The twist here is that Kianna has a Goa’uld symbiote left over from Anubis’ invasion last year. This Goa’uld is loyal to Ba’al, who decided not to honor the agreement to leave Langara alone. Kianna worked to create the subterranean drilling device to get to the aquaria more easily. Right up until the climax, it appears she only wants to save the planet so she can have the naquadria for herself, but in the end, the symbiote sacrifices itself to set the nuke because she is equally impressed with Sam’s willingness to sacrifice herself to save Langara and Kianna’s love for Jonas. Conveniently, the symbiote dies for the sake of everyone living happily ever after.

The negotiations for evacuating Lanagara are played largely for comic relief. There is all the predictable, petty squabbling by politicians combined with Daniel and Jack--for as long as he is a part--hamming up their exasperation. The negotiations serve well in breaking up the tension of our heroes setting the nuke, but one wonders if even politicians could be so childish when faced with the decision to only save some of their people. Sadly enough, I imagine they probably would be that childish. Some eugenics inclinations would come storming to the surface when deciding who lives and who dies, too. Perhaps playing the negotiations for laughs is the wisest choice.

The naquadria bomb Kelowna set off in their war started the chain reaction that is about to destroy the planet, so there is a certain vibe early on “Fallout’ has an anti-nuke message. But considering the crisis is averted by the use of another nuke, maybe not.

I do not know if fans were clamoring for Jonas’ return, so expectations for how big a story “Fallout” is may vary. I could take or leave Jonas, so there is no high emotion present for me. With that in mind, I can and do enjoy “Fallout” as a disaster movie homage. I suppose bringing back Jonas rather than creating an all new guest character adds a certain something, but anyone else could have been used to similat effect. Hence, the two or three Jonas fans out there may feel short changed.

Sam yet again takes center stage as both a science nerd and team leader. It is part of a noticeable trend to put her front and center on the show. She has come a long way from those early seasons when the writers were struggling to find something for her to do. Now she is fast replacing Jack as top dog. I have no objections to the development, though Daniel and Teal’c are fading into the bsckground.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Grace"

I was anxious to finally get to “Grace.” While I knew very little about Stargate SG-1 before beginning these reviews, I was aware “Grace” was famous for being the Sci Fi Channel’s highest rated first run episode of any series up until that point. Given the subject matter, the promos Sci Fi runs into the ground must have tantalized the Jack/Sam shippers. It is doubtful they are disappointed with the final product. I am not.

The Prometheus hyper drive is finally repaired with parts from the ship Jack and Teal’c stole from Ba’al’s forces back in “Avenger 2.0” (so there is your proof the episode was not a Felger daydream.) Sam joins the crew for the ride home when they are attacked by an unknown alien vessel. The Prometheus ducks into a nebula for safety. Sam is knocked unconscious as the alien vessel continues its pursuit. When she awakens, she finds herself alone.

As you might have guessed, “Grace” is a very Sam-heavy episode. She struggles throughout to discover what happened to the crew, how long can she hold out to possible rescue, how to get the ship fully operational, and eventually how to save herself when the shields begin failing against the nebula’s radiation. She is helped along by hallucinations of her teammates and father, as well as a strange little girl named Grace.

Exactly what those hallucinations are is left up to interpretation. The Daniel hallucination speculates they are projections from the nebula, that it may be an alien trying to communicate with Sam. The other possibility is the hallucinations are a result of Sam’s head injury. They are the personification of aspects of herself helping her to cope with her current predicament while exploring her inner self. I like the latter interpretation much better. I like if for no other reason than, if true, the episode was headed down the path of a tired Star Trek plot, but kicked it to the curb for something for more introspective. The interpretation is the one I am definitely going with.

What I find unique are the subtle touches. The Teal’c hallucination, who is the one warning Sam not to fall asleep with her concussion and introduces the possibility she is being held prisoner and mind probed, calls her Samantha for the first time rather than the formal Major Carter the real Teal’c always does. Even while expressing suspicion, there is a certain warmth for Sam we know is there, but rarely overtly seen. Daniel is the absolutely logical scientist who forces sam to work on every problem at hand until a solution is found. It is that scientific curiosity that forms the connection between the two of them in real life. Next, her father appears to her as the hallucinations shift towards the personal. Jacon/selmak expresses sorrow that her drive to succeed has forced her into a very lonely life. Shippers should be happy that Jsck, who is the only one to appear out of uniform, has a talk with sam in which she reveals she holds out for a relationship with him because she knows one can never be. He is her safety net, assurance she will never get hurt in a relationship because she will never pursue one.

What is Grace? Good question. I am inclined to think she represents sam’s fun side. Since grace is still a little girl, her fun side must have died long ago. Considering Grace’s fascination with learning abourt Sam’s solution for escaping the nebula, she might lend credence to Daniel’s suggestion the nebula is alive and trying to communicate with Sam. I want to dismiss that idea and stick with my fun side of sam theory. You may kick them both around, but considering Sam heard grace singng in the SGC infirmary in the final scene, the idea Grace is a manifestation of Sam’s own mind is a strong one.

There is no way to avoid mentioning the similarities between “Grace” and Star Trek: Voyager’s “One.” I did not want to taint anyone’s perspective by mentioning the similaritites in the introductory paragraph. My disdain for all things VOY should not reflect my opinion on “Grace,” which I enjoy very much--and I am not even a shipper.

There are some fine points to “Grace.“ I am not attempting any point of Grace jokes, there. This is another episode in which there is not much teamwork. The rest of the cast outside of Amanda Tapping has little screen time, but makes the most of it. The atmosphere is appropriately eery. Sam is on a large, empty ship. There are long stretches of time with no musical accompaniment to emphasize the dead silence surrounding Sam. As the effects of her head injury worsen, we get weird, disorienting camera angles to go along with her perspective. What we do not get--and I am grateful for this--is a lot of weird, dreamlike images that are supposed to be profound, but are really just artsy, fartsy. This stuff is straightforward. Jacob/Selmak is in uniform, rigid and still a bit distant. Jack is out of uniform talking to her informally as a friend. No pretentious symbolism there. I will bet someone has written a master’s thesis on “Grace” regardless.

“Grace” is a thought-provoking, engrossing episode. It does start out slow, and one grows wary when Star Trek plot staples are hinted at, but the latter two-thirds more than make up for those points. Tapping carries the story almost completely by herself, yet the relative absence of the other cast members is not keenly felt. I did not feel shortchanged by the near exclusive focus on one character as I have with other single character episodes this season. That means “Grace” is done right.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Evolution, Part II"

“Evolution, Part II" concludes the dual storyline begun in the first part with surprisingly solid results. Surprisingly because of some weak points in introducing the conflicts. If nothing else, at least Jack plays an active, heroic role in the story as he rescues Daniel and lee from the rebels.

Before I start reviewing part one, a note about part one. Daniel and Lee were in Nicaragua when Honduran rebels captured them to hold for ransom in order to fund a war with their government. The rebels took them from Nicaragua to Honduras. I think I got that backwards in yesterday’s review. Or maybe sideways. The problem is the border between Honduras and Nicaragua is a no man’s land. There is a border dispute between the two countries and the Honduran rebels in particular cross at will and hide out. They really do snatch foreign workers and tourists for ransom to fund their campaigns because, as noted in the episode, they have Bay of Pigs era weapons given to them by Cuba and could use upgrades. Well, as far as they are concerned. Neither the Honduran government, nor Cuban backed rebels are anyone you would want controlling the country. But I digress. The take away is who kidnapped Daniel and lee and where they took them was not made all that clear in yesterday’s review. Mea culpa. It is all clear as mud now, right?

The US government is not going to pay the ransom, but it will authorize Jack to join a Cia operative to rescue the two. Naturally, Jack has a history with Agent Burke. He was discharged from the Air force over a friendly fire incident. Jack is wary enough of Burke to forego his help in favor of a local guide, but Burke eventually catches up and convince Jack he can trust him by revealing the truth about the friendly fire incident. The soldier in question, a friend of both Burke and Jack, was working for a mercenary. When his true loyalties were discovered, he went to kill Burke, but Burke shot first. He covered up the truth so the soldier’s wife could collect his pension while still believing he was a hero.

Daniel and Lee are tortured by rebel leader Raphael to reveal what the Ancient device is. Lee cannot take it, and spills everything. Raphael believes him and turns the device on. I suppose it is possible these Hondurans are superstitious enough to believe such legends without question, but it feels odd the truth is so readily accepted.

The device acts as a sarcophagus does, so soon Raphael develops the psychotic high of a Goa’uld. He even kills one of his men for questioning him. The rebel is revived from the dead because of his close proximity to the device, so he gives Jack and Burke something other worldly to deal with during the rescue. Burke takes him out with a grenade launcher. I do not know if Burke will show up again, but he is colorful enough to lead me to suspect the writers might be trying to make him into the next Maybourne.

Meanwhile, Sam, Teal’c, Jacob/Selmak, and Bra’tac sneak onto the Kull warrior factory planet to discover Anubis scanned Jonas’ mind and discovered fron Egeria how to get a Queen to create mindless symbiotes in order to make perfectly loyal soldiers. Geez, I know Jonas is not very popular, but he has been gone half a season. Do you really have to come up with new reasons to kick him in the ribs? Our heroes sabotage the operation, but Anubis still has thousands of those nigh invincible Kull warriors at his command.

The Honduran rescue mission dominates the episode. So much so, it is easy to forget the consequences of the mission to destroy the Kull warriors will be devastating if it fails. It should also be noted the Kull warrior story dominated part one to the point Daniel and Lee’s kidnapping by the Honduran rebels came as an almost laughably absurd development from left field. No pun intended their on the political leanings of the rebels. Perhaps the five month hiatus offered some time to course correct. I notice Peter DeLuise’s name is on this script in addition to the writers from part one. Maybe he got the story straightened out.

Whatever the case, I think part two is more solid than part one. I even enjoyed some hints of the old MacGyver days, which are probably intentional. Is there not an episode in which he rescued a scientist from Basque separatists? I believe there is. The Ancient device turning Rapjael and his henchmen into psycho zombie soldiers is a nice science fiction touch. Perhaps more attention could have been paid to the Kull soldier story, and I certainly wonder why they had to bring Jonas back into it, but that is not enough of a detriment to complain about. Shippers take note--Jack invites sam to lunch in the final scene.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Evolution, Part I"

“Evolution, Part I” marks the halfway point of the seventh season. In the original airing, the first part’s cliffhanger would not be resolved until after a nearly five month hiatus, so it has to be good. We are given two concurrent storylines with plot points dangling at the end. One is the mystery of a new Goa’uld super soldier. The other is Daniel having been kidnapped by rebels in Nicaragua. Yes, the latter is pretty wild. It is really a matter of whether one or both grabs your attention. They do, but the journey there is absurdly flawed.

The episode begins with Teal’c and bra’tac arriving at a summit of minor System Lords’ Jaffa to discover both contingents have been wiped out by a single, new warrior. He is huge, dressed in black armor, and appears nearly invincible as Teal’c shoots at him repeatedly until he falls dead. Back at SGC, an autopsy by Sam and Jacob/Selmak proves the Goa’uld super soldier was unaffected by talc’s weapon. He was genetically engineered by Anubis to be the ultimate Goa’uld, but is unstable. The writers need the Goa’uld super soldier to be nigh invincible, so he cannot actually be defeated in the opening teaser as he appeared to be, but dying of a heart attack? It is tough to swallow, but okay.

The Goa’uld super soldier reminds Jacob/Selmak of the legend of a System Lord on Earth who supposed had technology similar to that which could create such a monster. The System Lord was defeated by Anubis, who never found the technology. Keep that in mind for a bit. Daniel recognizes Jacob//Selmak’s story as part of the Fountain of Youth legend--oh, dear--from Central America, He and Dr. Bill lee head down to Honduras to look for that which Anubis could not find in the hopes of stopping the Goa’uld super soldier. The forests outside Vancouver barely pass for the Honduran jungle. Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, the rest of the SG-1 team and Bra’tac decide to try and tranquilize another Goa’uld super soldier. Jack shows up after twenty minutes in order to lead the mission. Richard dean Anderson’s lighter work schedule is becoming highly conspicuous. This Goa’uld super soldier is an unstoppable killing machine that resists the tranquilizer darts, too, not to mention several blasts of C4. He continues on through the forest to engage some enemy Jaffa. Comic book fans should recall the Juggernaut’s m. o. in order to visualize the goa’uld super soldier’s. Out heroes are captured, then released when the Goa’uld super soldier gets the best of the Jaffa. It is captured with their help. Back at SGC, the Tok’ra mind reading device discovers the Goa’uld super soldier’s planet of origin.

Meanwhile, Daniel and lee are playing Indiana Jones a notch above Relic Hunter, but one or two below Tomb Raider. Remember when I told you to keep in mind Anubis could not find the hidden temple with the “Fountain of Youth’ technology? Lee accidentally steps on the entrance to the underground temple in a laugh line a few minutes after our intrepid explorers arrive at the site. Anubis must not have tried very hard back in the day. Inside the temple, which by the sound offoot falls, has floors of plywood, they find the device quickly, but cause a flood that is quite impressive, in spite of all my previous snark over the cable budget special effects. It is difficult to believe the two survive without drowning the way the temple is flooded, but the powers that be wanted to make it exciting. Out of left field, the two are then captured by Nicaraguan rebels and held for ransom. Not only did I not see that coming, it is so out of left field, I had to pause a moment to wonder if the writers were serious. They--Michael Shanks being one of them--are.

The cliffhangers are not bad. There is an ominous feeling to what may await our heroes on the mysterious home planet of the Goa’uld super soldier. As weird as it is, daniel and lee being kidnapped by rebels and held for ransom is a dramtic turn of events. But getting to those points is such a lackluster journey. The first Goa’uld super soldier died of a freaking heart attack. The second was captured by transporter rings and held in a barren room. The Replicators are more unstoppable than this guy. I will admit his skeletal appearance and inhuman demeanor is incredibly scary. Visual aid:
That is a face only a mother could love. Even she would have to think twice.

As for the daniel and lee story, recreating two central American countries, a hidden temple, and a giant flood are a bit too ambitious on the resources allotted. I could suspend disbelieve if they did not emerge in front of a group of rebels. Granted, the rebel leader makes an appearance a couple scenes prior to establish the two Americans throwing money around for a tour guide caught his attention, but it is so wild considering every other plot point.

In spite of my complaints, "Evolution, Part I” is entertaining. More so for what it is attempting to do rather than at what it succeeds in doing. It is the Little Episode That Could. There are some definite weak spots in presenting the Goa’uld super soldier as nigh invincible and the hidden temple majestic, but for whatever reason, those are not serious issues. I still want to see the conclusion, if for no other reason than to see how and if the two stories become connected. The mark of a good first parter is to ensure the audience wants to see the conclusion, and I do. "Evolution, Part I” does its job.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Birthright"

Christopher Judge pens another script for Stargate SG-1 with “Birthright.” One assumes Judge has a fondness for guest star Jolene Blalock of Star trek: Enterprise fame. She was a sex symbol for about five or ten minutes there before being relegated to starring in straight to DVD sequels to Starship Troopers. If it is any consolation, Casper van Dien was forced to reprise his role from the theatrical release, so he has arguably fallen even further. He might have even been the one assigned to turn the lights off at the end of a day’s shooting. But I digress. Judge continues his trend of personalizing the Jaffa struggle amid a lot of half-naked women. That is the best way of going about it, if you ask me.

A group of Amazon-like rebel Jaffa called the Hak’tyl rescue the SG-1 team from a Jaffa amush and request their aid in return. They have rejected their Goa’uld Moloc after he ordered all newborn girls killed. The Hak’tyl leader, Ishta, was the high priestess who used her influence to spirit the girls away to safety. However, they are in short supply of symbiotes. They are being forced to attack other Jaffa to steal theirs. Ishta propes an alliance to kill of Moloc’s forces and take their symbiotes.

Teal’c is appalled at the idea of stealing symbiotes from other Jaffa. He believes many of them want to be free of Moloc’s control as Ishta does. Much of the episode involves Teal’c and Ishta building a trust between one another that culminates in ishta refusing to murder a Jaffa for his symbiote even if it means saving a young girl named Nesa life. They also beat the bejebus out of each other and sleep together. Teal’c and ishta. Not anyone else I just mentioned.

While all this is going on, four Hak’tyl volunteers visit SGC in order to try out the tretonin alternative to symbiotes. The tretonin works for all but one, Mala, who dies rather than allow her symbiote back in. Mala turns out to be a special case. The others are somewhat reluctant to begin taking the drug, but thanks to Nesa’s urging and Ishta’s newfound sense that other Jaffa want to be free, they agree so that the Hak’tyl are no longer forced to kill other Jaffa.

Nesa is played by Kirsten Prout. She will go on to play Teryl Rothery’s daughter in Kyle XY. The two share no scenes in “Birthright,” however. The connection is still nifty.

I am again impressed with Judge’s writing talent. What could have been a shallow episode featuring a lot of jiggling, half-naked women fighting is actually thought provoking with appropriate moments of poignancy and humor. In spite of my poking fun in the introductory paragraph. The heart of the story is the question of how far would you go in the name of self-preservation? Ishta is willing to kill innocent Jaffa for that purpose. Mala would rather die herself than take another symbiote because of the slavery it represents. Nesa does not want to grow up dependent on a symbiote, either. Each of these three women interacts with a member of the SG-1 team in some very good character scenes in order to reach their final conclusions. Perhaps surprisingly, an episode which focuses on individual team members working separately rather than together makes them look even more like a cohesive team by emphasizing their individual skills.

“Birthright” is a solid story told well. I barely noticed this time around the relative absence of Jack. Perhaps it was because he gets the best sarcastic jokes in what little screen time there is for him. Further proof Judge understands his fellow cast members characters well. This is not the shallow, tantalizing affair it appears at first.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Avenger 2.0"

“Avenger 2.0” is a (long awaited?) follow up to “The Other Guys.” Felger, the screw up scientist obsessed with both the SG-1 team’s exploits and the umpteenth guy infatuated with Sam, returns for another adventure. I have issues with the tone and scope of the episode, but it is what is.

After his latest invention blows out all the power at SGC, Felger is given 24 hours to come up with something usable after six months of failure or he is fired. Felger comes up with a virus that can disrupt a stargate from dialing home. Sam, taking some pity on Felger, works with him to perfect the virus. They decide to use it on a stargate on a planet with one of Ba’al’s major naquadah mining operations. The virus seemingly works too well. Felger has managed to shut down the entire stargate network.

The stargate network shutdown explains the general absence of the other SG-1 team members. Daniel appears on video only because he is stranded on a flooding planet. Jack and Teal’c are stranded at a rebel Jaffa conference that turns hostile I can barely justify mentioning Teal‘c. He appears in one scene and has zero dialogue in it. “Avenger 2.0‘ continues the pattern of the last four episodes of dwelling almost exclusively on one character. There were two Daniel episodes in a row. Now there are two Sam-centric installments. Was the production schedule rushed during the seventh season to the point the cast could not have managed to be featured prominently in each episode/ I am aware there was the notion seven seasons was going to be it, so maybe the cast had to be greatly accommodated for another go around, but the spotlight manner of the last few episodes has felt strange. I hope it is merely an odd patch of road.

The true heart of the story is not even Sam. It is Felger. He is a hapless sad sack who can never catch a break. Even Sam loses patience with him at one point, but finally comes around for good when he comes up with a workable solution. Felger also gets taken off the hook when it is revealed his virus initially worked, but Ba’al modified it in order to gain a strategic advantage over the other System Lords. (His larger fleet overwhelms the others since they can no longer use stargates to move Jaffa and materiel. ) Felger’s absurd troubles and over the top panic attacks make the episode.

But the humor has a lot to overcome. The regular cast is virtually non-existent. Major arc developments, such as troubles within the Jaffa rebellion and Ba’al’s consolidation of power, are revealed through exposition. I can appreciate budget saving, but wow. Why not do a Star Wars--esquer opening scrawl on a desktop PC and save even more cash? It is incredibly awkward to throw out so much stuff into what amounts to a filler episode that barely features any of the main characters.

The bottom line is the episode does not feel quite right when considered with what has gone before, but it is amusing enough to watch. As I have said before in recent reviews, if the dynamic of the main character interactions is why you like Stargate SG-1, you are still wandering down a lonely road here.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Space Race"

It is one thing for Stargate SG-1 episodes to do stories similar to Star Trek episodes, but the powers that be are scrap9ng the bottom of the barrel when they copy an episode of VOY. The episode in question is “Drive,” in which main characters participate in a race in outer space which turns serious when a saboteur in revealed to be competing as well. “Space Race” is saved by not taking itself too serious…for the most part. I will get to that in a moment.

Warrick Finn, the Serrakin law enforcement agent from “Forsaken” shows up at SGC with a proposition--he wants a naquadah generator in exchange for a Serrakin ion drive in order to win a race for a lucrative contract from a company called Con Tech. Sam agrees, but only if she can be his copilor.

The race turns out to have not only deadly traps like laser cannons and excessive radiation from a nearby sun, but an unscrupulous business executive with Con tech named Tynan has sabotaged every ship except that of Muirios in order to ensure victory. Teal’c and Warrick’s brother, Eamon, pull a Lucy and Ethel to sneak into Con tech in order to expose Tynan. Ultimately, Warrick and sam are unable to win, but they do sabotage Muirios enough so someone else can. Warrick winds up getting a job with the winner, so there is a happy ending.

I said above “Space Race” does not take itself too seriously. It does not. The actual race is a deadly competition, for one. The race is interrupted by satirical sports announcers and commercials. Teal’c and Eamon dress in costumes that resemble bellhops and claim to be cousins distantly removed in order to sneak into Con Tech. all that is good and amusing. Then we hit Tynan’s motivation for cheating-- he believes the Serrakin are killing off the human race by crossbreeding,. He wants to win the race so a pure blood human will earn the lucrative contact. Talk about throwing us a serious curve. Tynan is an excessively evil villain for such an otherwise light episode. Tynan does not ruin the episode by any means. Racists make good antagonists. He is just jarring when all things are considered.

"Space Race” is fun filler. It exists in order to allow sam to be both a techno geek and get in on some action. She rarely gets to do both at the same time. It might even be too frivolous for some. I used the term Lucy and Ethel in reference to Teal’c and eamond deliberately. “Space Race” is also the third episode in a row which prominently features one SG-1 team member while the others largely fade into the background. If the cast dynamic is what draws a fan to the show, he or she is enduring a rough patch in the seventh season.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Enemy Mine"

Let us state the obvious and say that "Enemy Mine’ has similarities to the short story and 1985 film of the same name about a human and an alien stranded on a planet who have to learn to work together in order to survive. Granted, the similarities have more to do with how close the make up jobs of the Unas look compared to the alien in “Enemy Mine.” The episode honestly has more in common with TOS’ “The Devil in the Dark” in both story and resolution.

The SG-11 team has established a naquadah mining operation on a remote planet when one of their members is dragged off by something coming out of the forest. When the SG-1 team arrives as reinforcements. Daniel discovers the attacker is an Unas. Worse yet, the Unas in question murdered his captive. Matters are further complicated when the mine is determined to be both the mother load of naquadah, meaning the Pentagon will not give it up, and sacred ground to the Unas because the Goa’uld worked their ancestrs to death in it, so they are not going to allow it to be disturbed.

Daniel enlists the aid of Chaka to negotiate a settlement in order to keep the military from relocating the unas. Unbeknownst to him, there are considerably more unas than he thought. They are angry, armed, and ready to brawl. A nervous young soldier killing another Unas whom he believes is attacking him sets off a final confrontation which ends, rather implausibly, with Daniel negotiating a deal in which the Unas will mine the naquadah if it is used to fight the Goa’uld.

I have mixed emotions about “Enemy Mine.” There are some very impressive aspects. The tension is unbearable in some places, such as when the Unas, who greatly outnumber the SG teams, surround the camp. Gez, guys. What were you thinking setting up camp in a valley? Only the French military does that sort of thing. The combination of make up and CGI effects make for a menacing army of Unas ready to charge our heroes. There are enough new elements to separate “Enemy Mine” from it clear “The Devil in the Dark” inspiration, so that is a plus. But there are other issues.

For one, this is the second episode in a row that has been almost exclusively centered on Daniel. Jack is wounded early on, and taken out of the story. Sam has one scene visiting him in the infirmary. Teal’s hangs out with daniel at times, but he is mostly a background player. It is Daniel who is constantly right about how to proceed the entire time. He is the main focus of the rising action. He is pivotal in the conclusion. If Michael Shanks rationale for returning to the series was that more episodes would be about his character, he is definitely getting his wish. There are entire sequences of “Enemy Mine” in which virtually nothing but the Unas language is spoken between Daniel, Chaka, and their leader, Iron Shirt. You have to be a serious geek to appreciate just how long that goes on.

Another problem is how the characterizations seem a little off. Aside from Daniel, of course. He is right in his element. But it strikes me as odd the military is so keen on removing the Unas--by use of deadly force, if necessary--in order to take the mine. Respect is given for sacred sites. I have a difficult time believing the military would aggressively seize them. Even Hammond raises no objection to the idea. He has been adamant in the past about avoiding entanglements in cultural matters. Frankly, killing the Unas and taking the mine by force sounds like something SG-1 would try to stop the NID from doing in any other episode.

I am not entirely satisfied with the convenient ending, either. The Unas are willing to kill in order to preserve the mine as a memorial to their enslaved ancestors, but when they learn humans are fighting the Goa’uld, they agree to mine it themselves in exchange for food. I confess I was bracing myself for more product placement. The Unas were going to work for Snickers bars and Peach Snapples or something. It may sound like a contradiction to the previous paragraph, but a little more moral ambiguity in the resolution would have made it more believable. Everyone is really buddies now after we all argee the unas will desecrate their sacred ground for some groceries and the promise of a proxy war against an enemy they have not seen or heard from in centuries? All righty.

Writer/director Peter DeLuise seriously indulged his 21 Jump Street roots this time around. Not only did he bring back Gen. Maurice Vidrine, played by Steven “Capt. Fuller” Williams, but two soldiers attacked by Unas are named Hanson and Penhall. Tom Hanson was Johnny Depp’s character on 21 Jump Street doug Penhall was played by DeLuise. Whatever happened to Depp, anyway? I hope he is making out as well as DeLuise since their show got cancelled. Drop us a lione, Johnny. Let us know how you are.

I am going to rate ’Enemy Mine” with a good score because its strong points overcome the weak ones. The episode is definitely for Daniel fans. Fans who enoy the interaction of the teamates normally are going to be disappointed. Even fans interested in Daniel’s anthropological exploits are going to have a tough time making it through the grunts, snarls, and hand signals that take up large chunks of the dialogue. The ending is awfully trite, as well, but I am willing to admit I could be overly cynical about it. Whatever the case, “Enemy Mine” is entertaining even if it is not a perfect fit within the rest of the series.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Lifeboat"

If you want to talk about retreading old science fiction ground, look no further than “Lifeboat.” It is the story of a ship of survivors in suspended animation who are forced to place the personalities of dead crew members into another person--in this case, Daniel--in order to preserve their essence. There you have Doctor Who‘s “The Ark in Space, TNG’s “Masks,” and VOY’s “Infinite Regress” just the top of my head. Again, not to claim similarities to other series is a rip off. I am merely pointing out the probable genre influences.

I have already summed up the plot quite well. The SG-1 team is exploring the ship and the suspended animation crew when one of the revived crew forces daniel to accept the essence of dead crewmembers in order to preserve them failing power causes their chambers to malfunction. ’Lifeboat” is essentially a one man show as Michael Shanks bounces between the difference personalities inside him. There is an arrogant politician who acts like royalty, a meek doctor, a scared little boy, and a gung ho military officer among them.

Rather than elaborate more on his portrayal of these different people, I will simply note Shanks won the 2004 Leo Award for Best male Lead in a Dramatic Series from the foundation of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of British Columbia for his work in “Lifeboat.” Considering Vancouver is a hub of television and movie production, the award is probably a much bigger deal than it may appear at first glance.

In the end, the culprit is captured and convinced to restore daniel proper in exchange for SGC granting the survivors a new energy source and offering to relocate them. The catch is all the personalities inside daniel will be lost. As it happens, the little boy happens to be the culprits son. The child begs his father not to do this, but eventually accepts he will see his father again in the afterlife and lets go.

Shanks left the show in the fifth season because he did not feel like Daniel had enough to do. One can only assume the script for “Lifeboat” was written as a showcase for him. It is not only a showcase for him, but there are underlying hints of the not so subtle effort by shanks and Tertyl Rothery to introduce romance between their characters. Sorry, folks. The Daniel/Vala shippers are unstoppable. You can only hope to contain. Needless to say, shanks does a great job here which steals the show. Which is good, because the episode does not bring uch new to the table for the standard plotline. I doubt anyone, particularly shanks fans, will be disappointed regardless.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Revisions"

"Revisions” retreads a lot of old science fiction grounds with it elements of biodomes, environmental damage, and humans connected to a collective mind, but is also quite similar to the second season’s “The Gamekeeper.” Similar except for the sense their was a personal stake in it for the characters who were being forced to relive painful memories. “Revisions’ revisions is a mystery in which our heroes are not placed in danger unil the final act. Thus, you enjoyment of the episode must rest largely on how engrossed you become in the mystery surrounding the guest characters’ plight.

The SG-1 team travels to a planet with an uninhabitable atmosphere when they realize there is a normal village within a force field. The people there are all connected to a central intelligence via a nursling placed above the eyebrow. This central intelligence feeds them any and all information they need to know at any given point as well as controls the biodome. Throughout the course of the episode, people begin disappearing with only the SG-1 team remembering they ever existed. Sam discovers the biodome is shrinking and has been for a long time. In order to keep the population a manageable size in a smaller and smaller area, the central intelligence compels someone to commit suicide by stepping outside the dome into the poisonous atmosphere. All memory of the dead person is erased from everyone’s minds. Our heroes shut down the central intelligence before they are forced to join the collective. In the end, they relocate the people to another planet.

The effects of being linked to a collective mind is similar to the Cybrus Industries Cyber men “Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Steel” from Doctor Who. “Revisions” predates those episodes by three years. Not to say Doctor Who ripped off Stargate SG-1 I am just pointing out which came first. The eholigans do a better job with the concept, if you ask me.

So does that mean the gaters do a bad job with “Revisions/” Not really, but nothing about the episode is particularly compelling. There is no personal stake in it for our heroes until the central intelligence takes control of the people to force them like zombies to place neural links on Jack and Teal’c. In fact, when it is all said and done, no one remembers the people who were forced to kill themselves, so the people themselves feel no lasting consequences for their losses. I suffered a brief chill from their callous reactions, but I would hardly classify the mass genocide of people over the years as good drama. There is, hoever, atmosphere. The village looks like some idyllic European fairy tale hamlet, so you just know something sinister is afoot.

It is difficult to become engrossed in “Revisions” because of the lack of emotional connection. Our heroes are not in any danger until the last minute. Even then, they have a way out. Jack threatens to mow the simplified people down if he is forced to do so. The drama is whether the people will be spared. Frankly, we do not care much about them in the first place, so what does it matter? ’Revisions” is a apt title, because the episode is at least one more script revision away from being a decent story.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Orpheus"

I am slowly but surely being forced to reassess by ambivalence towards the running Jaffa rebellion subplot. Teal’c has not been a particularly interesting character, nor have the Jaffa resonated with me. But in recent episodes teal’c has become a more well-rounded character who exists for reasons other than to lose fist fights and endure torture. It has taken losing his symbiote, which has been a crutch limiting character development, in order to elevate Teal’c to a full fledged point of interest.

Teal’c is wound on a mission and suffers a serious spinal injury that normally his symbiote would repair, but now he has to recoer and rehab the old fashioned way. Note that Teal’c only survived because the shot went through his now empty symbiote pouch. I think this is the first time it has ever been pointed out that Jaffa aim to kill his opponent’s symbiote in battle. It is logical to do that, but it is funny that it took seven seasons for that to be established on screen. Teal’c has been suffering from feelings of weakness since losing his symbiote. Becoming injured now and having to rehab a nearly crippling injury are additional shots to his ego he can barely handle.

Teal’c is not the only character attempting to adjust to new circumstances. Daniel’s memories of his life before ascension have returned, but he cannot remember anything from when he was ascended. He is not certain if he chose to return to human form, was punished by banishment, or whether he really belongs anywhere. His struggle crosses over with Teal’c’s when some of his memories return. He remembers watching Rya’c and Bar’tac get captured and become imprisoned in a Jaffa labor camp to mine naquadah for the construction of mother ships. ,/p>It is Daniel’s intuition that leads our heroes to find the camp and Teal’c strength that allows for the camp’s liberation. Specifically, Teal’c gets his mojo back by breaking the camp commandant’s neck. He does so after suffering a torture session. This is teal’c, after all. Daniel, too, fiinds comfort that he is exactly where he is supposed to be.

The title of the episode is from the Greek myth in which a musician named Orpheus travels into hell in order to save his love, Eurydice. The production values of the labor camp certain put one in the mind of hell. It is a dark, dreary place of dense fog. A ethereal chill haunts. Vancouver has some incredibly nasty weather.

Writer/director Peter DeLuise finally took my advice and made a reference to 21 Jump Street instead of SeaQuest DSV. One of the SG members liberating the labor camp is named Penhall. Doug Penhall was the character DeLuise played on the series.

Sam does not like M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs because she thinks it is dumb for a highly advanced alien race to travel all the way to Earth, but not use their technology to conquer the planet. Plus, the aliens’ weakness is water. If you cannot stand water, traveling to a planet that is 71% covered by water and has frequent rains is not the plce for you. Sam has a point. Wait until she sees The Happening.

“Orpheus” is a surprisingly good installment. I have low expectations for personal enjoyment of Teal’c centered episodes, but this one continues the upswing momentum. Of late. The setting is very atmospheric, as well. I am as impressed by the set design of the labor camp as I am of the characterizations.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Fragile Balance"

Oh, no! That is Mike Welch, Bella’s classmate in Twilight, playing Mini jack. Stargate SG-1 has been forever blighted by fan girl claptrap Twilight. However shall it recover?

Now that we have that necessary fretting out the way, it is time to fret over this oddity of an episode. Stargate SG-1 has a habit of taking on old concepts and adding series elements in order to make them unique. The results are often mixed. “Fragile Balance” takes on the standard alien abduction story, cloning, and the comedy gold of age reversing a main character. It winds up an awkward affair with enough comedic moments to keep the story from being a complete disaster.

The episode begins with a fifteen year old kid being caught trying to enter Sgc using jack’s ID. He claims to be Jack, and after some required incredulity on the part of his colleagues--because nothing weird like rapid aging or body switching has ever happened to them before--it is confirmed the kid is Jack. Much of the episode is split between zit jokes and an SG-1 investigating what occurred to Jack. A ticking clock is added when it is discovered Mini jack is a clone suffering from fatal cellular decay.

The heart of the matter is a rogue Asgard scientist named Loki is the alien behind all the abduction stories you here. He has been taking humans and experimenting on them in order to cure the Asgard’s reproductive problem. He was caught and booted out of whatever science organization the Asgard have for his actions, but has recently taken advantage of the war with the Replicators to start back up again. Loki kidnaps people and replaces them with a clone while he experiments with the real deal. There is something special about Jack, so things did not go according to plan with him.

The SG-1 team plots to catch Loki when he comes to retrieve Mini Jack. They do, and wind up on his ship. Thor arrives to apprehend Loki. He stabilizes Mini Jack, who decides to stay in Colorado as a normal teenager.

Fan buzz is “Fragile Balance” was meant to be an episode for an earlier season, but no one could get the script quite right. There is an unfocused feel to the story which confirms there were issues. For one, the title does not fit the story at all. Was there a different intention at some point/ I do not know, but many aspects of the episode are pointless. Mini Jack insists on giving a lecture in front of fighter pilots to prove he is still Jack. He tries to buy beer as Mini Jack, but fails because of his age. Jacob/selmak shows up for two scenes that do not amount to much of anything. I would almost swear huge chunks of plot elements were taken out and replaced by scenes like those in order to completely change the story. Not being able to shake that assumption impacts my enjoyment.

As does Mini Jack’s attitude. Do not get me wrong--Welch has Jack’s attitude and mannerisms down pat. Even his body language echoes Richard Dean Anderson’s portrayal of the character. But he likes Jack’s sense of wounded idealism. Old Jack may be surly and sarcastic, but he is a good guy. Mini Jack’s snark is absolutely grating. He treats his colleagues like garbage even while they are trying to help him. He deserves a swirlie, quite frankly. Some scenes are funny, and I am impressed with how well Welch pulls off the imitation, but mercy is he unpleasant. Even the trauma of his circumstance hardly justifies his attitude.

That said, I also find it strange that when the SG-1 team discovers jack is a clone, they literally no longer care he is dying. Their only concern is recovering the real Jack and capturing Loki. Granted, their ambivalence may be due to what I described above--Mini Jack is a little jerk--but their sudden cold shoulder is jarring. It is the real Jack, after joking he might let Mini Jack die to shut him up, who urges Thor to repair his cellular damage. The real Jack drops Mini Jack off at high school in the final scene after agreeing the two will never speak to each other again. I suppose that is a better way of getting Mini Jack out of the picture permanently rather than killing him off, but again--very cold. Mini Jack has the real Jack’s mind. Would he really abandon his duties to fight the Goa’uld so easily? Creepier question--there is a kid out there with a fifty year old’s mind chasing after teenage girls. I am just wondering if that can qualify as a happy ending.

Blatant product placement--Mini Jack is playing Garn Turismo II on Playstation 2 at one point. That is worse than our heroes pigging out on Ben & Jerry’s while getting a lot of exposition out the way a few episodes back.

I have a tough time finding the point to “Fragile Balance.” is it a comedy episode? If so, there are some very funny moments which elevate some of the wmore uneasy bits. Is it a commentary of the ethics of cloning? Loki has no remorse for his actions because he believes the end justifies the means. I do not take away much from that other than that Asgard arrogance can cause some serious problems. I do not see much applicable to the real ethical issues of cloning we face. In all, “Fragile Balance” has some funny moments which can hopefully help you overcome the more numerous questionable ones. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Homecoming"

‘Homecoming” continues the double meaning trend begun in the seventh season finale. This time it refers to the status of Daniel and Jonas. The former returns to both the land of the living and the SG-1 team full time. (Maybe the full time land of the living bit is debatable, all things considered.) The latter is welcomed back home in the end, which is a nice touch. Jonas’ storyline gets a decent wrap up with a happy ending. Such a conclusion is quite right. Killing Jonas off after the false starts in the last few episodes would have been the wrong thing to do.

Anubis uses the same device he used on thor in order to read Jonas’ mind. At least, I think it is supposed to be the same device. The one used on thor was surgically implanted in his head. When it was removed, thor fell into a coma. It sounds like the device was simply used and Jonas and he winds up none the worse for wear. It is necessary for the sake of the story Jonas be fit to act, so either continuity is being glossed over or Anubis’ surgeons are a heck of a lot better than Asgard versions. Og course, with those tiny fingers, the Asgard probably make lousy surgeons. Regardless, Anubis learns of the aquaria on Langara and decides he can use it to power his uberweapon.

Anubis’ ship appears over Kelowna. every time I have to write Kelowna, I have to resist writing Fredonia instead. Considering how bad the people screw things up, the country might as well be run by the Marx Brothers. They call for help from SGC, who agree largely to retrieve Daniel and Jonas. Teal’c arranges to bypass you by way of his first Prime and make a temporary with Ba’al to attack Anubis’ ship. As it turns out, the Kelowan defense minister double-crosses the SG-1 team to make a separate deal with Anubis. He is double-crossed himself, but it is all right because Daniel and Jonas escape Anubis’ ship before for Ba’al’s forces to force a retreat, so Anubis’ abandoned Jaffa are easily defeated.

The most interesting twist in all the happenings is that Jonas comes full circle. He was compelled to join the SG-1 team because Daniel sacrificed himself to save Kelowna. It was an act Jonas believes he should have made instead. In the climax to “Homecoming,” Jonas takes a hit meant for Daniel. He survives, but feels complete in having risked his life in the manner Daniel once did. So jonas gets a solid send off from SGC, including from Jack. Jack finally admits jonas has won his respect. Jonas gets a hero’s welcome on Langara, though one wonders about the mess the planet is in. Kelowna used a aquaria bomb in a brief war, another country was building one, and they all plotted with Anubis. There is not only a political mess, but the Goa’uld are not likely to leave them alone forever. Jonas does make an eventual reappearance, so the story is not quite over yet.

I have mixed emotions about Jonas. I think I would have liked him better if I had not been aware he was only going to stick around for one season. That way, his inability to fit in with the SG-1 team would have been character development rather than the impatience for Daniel to return it actually felt like. It was like Jonas was the substitute teacher we have to tolerate for a few weeks while the regular teacher, whom we love, recovers from surgery. If we were stuck with the sub permanently, we could have learned to like him. But since we know when the teacher is coming back, we cannot do much more than polyely tolerate the sub. Jonas could have been a great fit. He needed a little more edge to him, but he would have grown on us if accepting him had become necessary. I do not see many fans complaining about Cam, Vala, or Landry, as a for instance. By all accounts, Corin Nemec is a good guy, too.

I enjoyed “Homecoming” more than the season premiere. It feels like a better deal in both personal and adventuresome scope. The episodes would probably have been better served as a two hour premiere rather than being broken up right off the bat. Such a move would have elevated the first part, methinks. No matter, though. The band is back to together. That is the most important thing.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Can we make Daniel‘s return/Jonas’ departure more melodramatic? Yes, yes I believe we can:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Fallen"

“Fallen” is the seventh season premiere and the much anticipated return of Michael shanks as Daniel. The title takes on a double meaning. For one, it describes the nature of Daniel’s return. For the other, and less so, I would imagine given the early goings in the season, Anubis’ decline in power. If you want to be sadistic, you can also apply the title to Corin Nemec. Although Jonas is still a full fledged member of the SG-1 team, Nemec’s name is already off the opening credits. Do not let the doorknob smack you on the way out, pal.

Jonas’ already apparent second class status--maybe third class, considering how he has been handled thus far--is tough because of the pivotal role he plays here. He is the catalyst for the ensuing adventure and the tension for the cliffhanger. The episode begins with Jonas determining the Ancients’ Lost City must have been the last one they built prior to be destroyed by a plague. If that is true, then it ought to be located at the last known Ancient stargate address. The last known stargate address SGC has was downloaded into Jack’s brain during “The Fifth Race.” The SG-1 team travels there and makes a surprising discovery--Daniel.

Oma rescinded his ascended status--that sounds awkward, but I am going with it--and abandoned him on the planet with no memory of who he is. The people living there have named him Arrom, which is Hebrew for “naked.” Fan girls may now swoon away as necessary. Daniel’s friend slowly try to convince him who he really is, but he is reluctant to believe them. Sam finally cajoles him into returning to Earth. The appropriate shippers should take note he asks Sam if there was ever anything between them. If you want to say the embers of romantic love for Sam prompt daniel to return to Earth, be my guest. I think they are bros, myself.

The city, eventually identified as Vis Uban, turns out to not possess any weapons. Daniel reads Jonas’ Ancient tablet as saying there is no lost city, but a city meant to be lost--one written out of history. With nothing else to go on in finding the Lost City, SGC is forced to hath another, daring plot in order to curb Anubis’ power. Now that he has the Eye of Ra, his advantage over the System Lords is immense. Since daniel gave Anubis the Eye of Ra in the first place, SGC feels responsible.

They lay a trap for Anubis by planning a replica tablet on Vis Uban in the hopes it will lure Anubis there in the hopes of finding the Lost City. They set up an ambush wherein Daniel and Jonas will sneak aboard Anubis’ ship, find its weakest point, and allow Jack and Sam in the F-302 to destroy the uberweapon. Teal’c will create a temporary alliance with Yu to attack Anubis once the weapon has been destroyed. The plan partially works. The weapon is destroyed, but Yu General Tsaus out, so there is no follow up attack. Teal’c is taken prisoner by Yu’s men, and Jonas is captured by Anubis. Anubis threatens to implant the same mind reading device in Jonas he put in Thor a while back. To be continued…

It is quite clear the main purpose of “Fallen” is to bring Daniel back into the fold. The plotting against Anubis is a very quick third act decision that winds up feeling far less epic than Anubis’ victory by destroying Abydos in the previous episode. Everyone even hypes up the mission as being foolishly risky. Indeed, it counts on Daniel and Jonas finding the weak spot during the battle itself. However, the actual sequence feels anticlimactic. For an uberweapon, the eye of Ra doohickey is destroyed easily. The entire time, I was more engaged with homage to the trench attack on the Death Star from A New Hope then feeling any tension. The homage is every bit as intention as the similarities between the destruction of Abydos with Alderaan. There is a nod to Star Trek, too, as Daniel once refers to Jack as Jim, echoing Spock’s recollection ’Jim. Your name is Jim” when he meets Kirk for the first time after his death. The themes of “Fallen’ and Star Trek II: The Search for Spock are very similar.

Like The Search for Spock, the story gets the job done, but that is about it. There is the emotional kick of Daniel returning, but the rest of the episode does not really grab me. One wonders I the Eye of Ra story was written without a conclusion in mind. Modern Star Trek did that often with mediocre results. Nevertheless, the episode is not bad. It just is not firing on all cylinders. Perhaps if I felt that Jonas actually is going to die, there would be a bigger oomph. Of course, it is Jonas, so probably not.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Full Circle"

“Full Circle” is the sixth season finale. It had to be both an introduction to a potential seventh season story arc and a wrap up to the series, as Stargate SG-1’s future was uncertain at the time the script was written. That deal got sorted out quickly, so “Full Circle” is far more a beginning than an ending.

A beginning with one major exception, that is. “Full Circle” is the last episode in which Corin Nemec is billed as a full cast member. Jonas will still appear in three more episodes, the two opening and a wrap up in the latter half of the season, but after that is never seen, heard from, or mentioned again. Enjoy the royalty checks, Nemec. It looks like that is all you will ever get from your time on Stargate SG-1.

Ascended Daniel visits Jack in a SGC elevator to warn him Anubis has into one of those paperback fantasy novel series those medieval fair cosplayer types enjoy so much. He has been gathering six jewels called Eyes in order to power an uverweapon. The final one is the Eye of Ra. Daniel says the Eye of ra is somewhere on Abydos. The SG-1 team has to find it before Abubis does. It takes surprisingly little nude for the rest of the SG-1 team to believe Jack, and they go off to Abydos in due haste.

It is clear that if “Full Circle” was to end the series, it was to be a bookend with the original film. With the exception of Daniel’s father-in-law not making an appearance, parallels abound. Jack revisits his friendship with Skaara. Daniel returns to help translate the pyramid’s writings in order to find the eye of Ra. There is a Goa’uld invasion by an “Egyptian” god/ jack does not have a nuke, but he does threaten to blow up the Eye of Ra to keep Anubis from getting it. Daniel renews his strong tie to Abydos, etc. making ‘full Circle“ so connected to Stargate is a bold move considering the expanded series mythology is far more recognizable and popular these days.

Perhaps the powers that be make up for the Stargate homage with a larger amount of Star Wars homage. There is a distinct JedI Knight v. Sith lord vibe in the confrontation between Daniel and Anubis. Daniel is even wearing a brown cloak to Anubis’ black, bringing to mind Obi-Wan Kenobi’s confrontation with Darth Vader in A New Hope. Once Anubis has the Eye of Ra,, he uses his new uberweapon to destroy Abydos in a similar manner as Alderaan. I will give “Full circle” some major kudos for showing the planet being destroyed by a ripple effect on the surface rather than being blown up from space. Seeing the planet literally rip apart is more dramatic.

Events do not go exactly as planned. Daniel offers to give Anubis the Eye of Ra in exchange for leaving Abydos alone. Oma pulls Daniel away before he can do anything about Anubis, however, so Abydos is destroyed anyway and Anubis is now the most powerful nemesis. So after 23 episodes, he finally shows up and actually does something! Woo hoo! The only hope in defeating Anubis now lies within finding the Lost City. It is name actually named at this point, but the Lost City refers to Atlantis and will be the basis for the first spin off series after its discovery.

At some point in the distant past, Anubis learned how to ascend, but has only been able to half do so. I assume that is a hugely pivotal revelation considering the dramatic music surrounding it, so I shall throw it out there.

“Full Circle” is an epic episode. It features the beginning of a long quest, a confrontation between higher beings, an entire planet’s destruction, and all with killer special effects for a relatively low budget cable show. I had a good time watching it. One suspects if I had fresher memories of the original film--I do not believe I have seen it in a over a decade--I might notice more touches. What is interesting is there is still no hint Daniel is coming back to replace Jonas, although, as usual, Jonas is just sort of there in the background. I have beaten that dead horse enough. The carcass should rest in peace over there with The X-Files references I keep making. “Full Circle” is a cannot miss.

Rating: **** (out of 5)