Monday, May 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Birthright"

Christopher Judge pens another script for Stargate SG-1 with “Birthright.” One assumes Judge has a fondness for guest star Jolene Blalock of Star trek: Enterprise fame. She was a sex symbol for about five or ten minutes there before being relegated to starring in straight to DVD sequels to Starship Troopers. If it is any consolation, Casper van Dien was forced to reprise his role from the theatrical release, so he has arguably fallen even further. He might have even been the one assigned to turn the lights off at the end of a day’s shooting. But I digress. Judge continues his trend of personalizing the Jaffa struggle amid a lot of half-naked women. That is the best way of going about it, if you ask me.

A group of Amazon-like rebel Jaffa called the Hak’tyl rescue the SG-1 team from a Jaffa amush and request their aid in return. They have rejected their Goa’uld Moloc after he ordered all newborn girls killed. The Hak’tyl leader, Ishta, was the high priestess who used her influence to spirit the girls away to safety. However, they are in short supply of symbiotes. They are being forced to attack other Jaffa to steal theirs. Ishta propes an alliance to kill of Moloc’s forces and take their symbiotes.

Teal’c is appalled at the idea of stealing symbiotes from other Jaffa. He believes many of them want to be free of Moloc’s control as Ishta does. Much of the episode involves Teal’c and Ishta building a trust between one another that culminates in ishta refusing to murder a Jaffa for his symbiote even if it means saving a young girl named Nesa life. They also beat the bejebus out of each other and sleep together. Teal’c and ishta. Not anyone else I just mentioned.

While all this is going on, four Hak’tyl volunteers visit SGC in order to try out the tretonin alternative to symbiotes. The tretonin works for all but one, Mala, who dies rather than allow her symbiote back in. Mala turns out to be a special case. The others are somewhat reluctant to begin taking the drug, but thanks to Nesa’s urging and Ishta’s newfound sense that other Jaffa want to be free, they agree so that the Hak’tyl are no longer forced to kill other Jaffa.

Nesa is played by Kirsten Prout. She will go on to play Teryl Rothery’s daughter in Kyle XY. The two share no scenes in “Birthright,” however. The connection is still nifty.

I am again impressed with Judge’s writing talent. What could have been a shallow episode featuring a lot of jiggling, half-naked women fighting is actually thought provoking with appropriate moments of poignancy and humor. In spite of my poking fun in the introductory paragraph. The heart of the story is the question of how far would you go in the name of self-preservation? Ishta is willing to kill innocent Jaffa for that purpose. Mala would rather die herself than take another symbiote because of the slavery it represents. Nesa does not want to grow up dependent on a symbiote, either. Each of these three women interacts with a member of the SG-1 team in some very good character scenes in order to reach their final conclusions. Perhaps surprisingly, an episode which focuses on individual team members working separately rather than together makes them look even more like a cohesive team by emphasizing their individual skills.

“Birthright” is a solid story told well. I barely noticed this time around the relative absence of Jack. Perhaps it was because he gets the best sarcastic jokes in what little screen time there is for him. Further proof Judge understands his fellow cast members characters well. This is not the shallow, tantalizing affair it appears at first.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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