Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Lifeboat"

If you want to talk about retreading old science fiction ground, look no further than “Lifeboat.” It is the story of a ship of survivors in suspended animation who are forced to place the personalities of dead crew members into another person--in this case, Daniel--in order to preserve their essence. There you have Doctor Who‘s “The Ark in Space, TNG’s “Masks,” and VOY’s “Infinite Regress” just the top of my head. Again, not to claim similarities to other series is a rip off. I am merely pointing out the probable genre influences.

I have already summed up the plot quite well. The SG-1 team is exploring the ship and the suspended animation crew when one of the revived crew forces daniel to accept the essence of dead crewmembers in order to preserve them failing power causes their chambers to malfunction. ’Lifeboat” is essentially a one man show as Michael Shanks bounces between the difference personalities inside him. There is an arrogant politician who acts like royalty, a meek doctor, a scared little boy, and a gung ho military officer among them.

Rather than elaborate more on his portrayal of these different people, I will simply note Shanks won the 2004 Leo Award for Best male Lead in a Dramatic Series from the foundation of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of British Columbia for his work in “Lifeboat.” Considering Vancouver is a hub of television and movie production, the award is probably a much bigger deal than it may appear at first glance.

In the end, the culprit is captured and convinced to restore daniel proper in exchange for SGC granting the survivors a new energy source and offering to relocate them. The catch is all the personalities inside daniel will be lost. As it happens, the little boy happens to be the culprits son. The child begs his father not to do this, but eventually accepts he will see his father again in the afterlife and lets go.

Shanks left the show in the fifth season because he did not feel like Daniel had enough to do. One can only assume the script for “Lifeboat” was written as a showcase for him. It is not only a showcase for him, but there are underlying hints of the not so subtle effort by shanks and Tertyl Rothery to introduce romance between their characters. Sorry, folks. The Daniel/Vala shippers are unstoppable. You can only hope to contain. Needless to say, shanks does a great job here which steals the show. Which is good, because the episode does not bring uch new to the table for the standard plotline. I doubt anyone, particularly shanks fans, will be disappointed regardless.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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