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)

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