Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Unnatural Selection"

I was correct about there being virtually no connection between the first part and this episode save for the Prometheus. One wonders if the cliffhanger was not added because the episode ran short. No matter. Both are entertaining. I give ’unnatural selection” higher marks because of my fondness for the Asgard and Replicators, though changes in the latter give me trepidations.

The episode begins right where it left off. Thor requests SG-1’s help against the Replicators because, well…blew it. Again. While the Asgard could not repair Reese, their creator, they were able to create a recall signal for every Replicator to converge on an abandoned Asgard planet called Hala. This revelation makes Thor’s statement the Replicators have overrun the Asgard home world a wee bit misleading, but all right. The Asgard used a device left on the planet to dramatically slow the passage of time once the Replicators were all present and accounted. For the Replicators, time would virtually stand still while it passed normally for everyone else. The Asgard could have centuries to devise a plan to ultimately stop them.

Unfortunately, the replicators found the device and sped up time, so now they have had centuries to develop advanced technology themselves. This, if it need to be told, is specifically where the Asgard blew it. One of the things I love most about the Asgard is that even though their mistakes are absolutely disastrous, they will never truly admit because they are so advanced beyond other races, nor do they lose their arrogance when asking for help. Thor takes the Prometheus back to Earth, beams up a hefty supply of food and weapons, and plots a course for Hala before a reluctant Jack can say no. Thor punctuates all this with what amounts to “We do not know what kind of technology they have come up with in the last few hundred years, but we are pretty sure it is bad ass. Try not to get killed.”

The Replicators have, in deed, advanced. Five of them have now taken on human form. One of them is even a Scottish Lord from Days of Our Lives! the humanoid Replicators have not quite hit T-1000 territory yet, but there are hints of their malleability and some mind reading powers. They are modeled after Reese, so they possess her flaw. The SG-1 team cons one of the more advanced models into betraying the others by convincing him their flaw is too dangerous to let them off world to reproduce. They plan to reverse the time device back to the way the Asgard intended and take him with them, but in reality, he becomes frozen in time with the others because even he is deemed too dangerous.

Some of the moral issues surrounding Reese’s destruction resurface. Jonas and Sam team up to take on Daniel’s role. They feel bad about abusing the Replicator’s trust. He did, after all, agree with them the others were dangerous. In the same way Daniel believed Reese could be corrected, Jonas and Sam wanted to give the Replicators a chance all because they appear to have advanced enough with which to be reasoned. As with Reese, Jack nixes the idea. He has a job to do in protecting people now and there is no room to speculate about working towards peace with an enemy that still wants to kill you. If anyone though Jack may have softened since destroying Reese, he has not. I am still on his side, too. He made the right call here.

I have cautious optimism about the future of the Replicators. I prefer the spidery versions, but am resigned to the fact there is only so much that can be done with them that way. It is muh like the Borg from Star Trek. They were much scarier as a monolithic force of nature, but in order to keep using them, they had to evolve into something else. I just hope the Replicators do not become as watered down villains as Star trek: Voyager made the Borg. Is there any Trekkie out there who wants to see them again at this point?

I suspect the change from CGI/model spiders to human form Replicators is a cost saving measure. Also conspicuous is the odd angles used on Thor so the production staff could just have the doll sitting there without having to animate the mouth and eyes. Come on, guys--the facial expressions are half the fun of having the Asgard around.! Maybe the powers that be should have included more product placement to offset costs. The scene in which Jack, Teal’c, and Jonas are eating ice cream prominently displayed as Ben & Jerry’s is blatant, but funny stealth advertising. I like Teal’c becoming visibly angry when jack tries to swipe a bite of his ice cream. YouTube will not allow the clip to be embedded, here is the scene.

I enjoyed “Unnatural Selection.” The philosophical issues neither bog the story down, not get as emotionally intense as they did with Reese. The episode is mostly an action oriented way to establish the new menace the replicators present. It is highly effective in doing so.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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