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)

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