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)

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