Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Fallen"

“Fallen” is the seventh season premiere and the much anticipated return of Michael shanks as Daniel. The title takes on a double meaning. For one, it describes the nature of Daniel’s return. For the other, and less so, I would imagine given the early goings in the season, Anubis’ decline in power. If you want to be sadistic, you can also apply the title to Corin Nemec. Although Jonas is still a full fledged member of the SG-1 team, Nemec’s name is already off the opening credits. Do not let the doorknob smack you on the way out, pal.

Jonas’ already apparent second class status--maybe third class, considering how he has been handled thus far--is tough because of the pivotal role he plays here. He is the catalyst for the ensuing adventure and the tension for the cliffhanger. The episode begins with Jonas determining the Ancients’ Lost City must have been the last one they built prior to be destroyed by a plague. If that is true, then it ought to be located at the last known Ancient stargate address. The last known stargate address SGC has was downloaded into Jack’s brain during “The Fifth Race.” The SG-1 team travels there and makes a surprising discovery--Daniel.

Oma rescinded his ascended status--that sounds awkward, but I am going with it--and abandoned him on the planet with no memory of who he is. The people living there have named him Arrom, which is Hebrew for “naked.” Fan girls may now swoon away as necessary. Daniel’s friend slowly try to convince him who he really is, but he is reluctant to believe them. Sam finally cajoles him into returning to Earth. The appropriate shippers should take note he asks Sam if there was ever anything between them. If you want to say the embers of romantic love for Sam prompt daniel to return to Earth, be my guest. I think they are bros, myself.

The city, eventually identified as Vis Uban, turns out to not possess any weapons. Daniel reads Jonas’ Ancient tablet as saying there is no lost city, but a city meant to be lost--one written out of history. With nothing else to go on in finding the Lost City, SGC is forced to hath another, daring plot in order to curb Anubis’ power. Now that he has the Eye of Ra, his advantage over the System Lords is immense. Since daniel gave Anubis the Eye of Ra in the first place, SGC feels responsible.

They lay a trap for Anubis by planning a replica tablet on Vis Uban in the hopes it will lure Anubis there in the hopes of finding the Lost City. They set up an ambush wherein Daniel and Jonas will sneak aboard Anubis’ ship, find its weakest point, and allow Jack and Sam in the F-302 to destroy the uberweapon. Teal’c will create a temporary alliance with Yu to attack Anubis once the weapon has been destroyed. The plan partially works. The weapon is destroyed, but Yu General Tsaus out, so there is no follow up attack. Teal’c is taken prisoner by Yu’s men, and Jonas is captured by Anubis. Anubis threatens to implant the same mind reading device in Jonas he put in Thor a while back. To be continued…

It is quite clear the main purpose of “Fallen” is to bring Daniel back into the fold. The plotting against Anubis is a very quick third act decision that winds up feeling far less epic than Anubis’ victory by destroying Abydos in the previous episode. Everyone even hypes up the mission as being foolishly risky. Indeed, it counts on Daniel and Jonas finding the weak spot during the battle itself. However, the actual sequence feels anticlimactic. For an uberweapon, the eye of Ra doohickey is destroyed easily. The entire time, I was more engaged with homage to the trench attack on the Death Star from A New Hope then feeling any tension. The homage is every bit as intention as the similarities between the destruction of Abydos with Alderaan. There is a nod to Star Trek, too, as Daniel once refers to Jack as Jim, echoing Spock’s recollection ’Jim. Your name is Jim” when he meets Kirk for the first time after his death. The themes of “Fallen’ and Star Trek II: The Search for Spock are very similar.

Like The Search for Spock, the story gets the job done, but that is about it. There is the emotional kick of Daniel returning, but the rest of the episode does not really grab me. One wonders I the Eye of Ra story was written without a conclusion in mind. Modern Star Trek did that often with mediocre results. Nevertheless, the episode is not bad. It just is not firing on all cylinders. Perhaps if I felt that Jonas actually is going to die, there would be a bigger oomph. Of course, it is Jonas, so probably not.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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