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)

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