Friday, June 1, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Lost City, Part I"

Even I, with my limited knowledge of Stargate SG-1 lore, am aware “Lost City” was meant to be a concluding story either for the bg or small screen before Sci Fi commissioned an eighth season. As such, I go into watching these two episodes with two things in mind. One, they probably work better as a movie, and two, there ought be some sense of finality even if there must have been some script changes to accommodate another season. I was advised to watch both episodes as a movie, but politely declined so as not to write an overly long review. Whether that is a goo call will ultimately be up for you to decide. As to the question of the feeling events are ending in a big way, it is prominent and kind of jarring.. Therefore, it is well done.

Daniel discovers a lost repository of knowledge which he is certain contains the location of the Lost City of the Ancients. The SG-1 team travels there in order to unlock it secrets, but are ambushed by Anubis’ forces. With no other choice, jack subjects himself to the knowledge implantation the same as he inadvertently did back in “The Fifth Race.” the downloaded knowledge will have the same effect as then--jack will eventually learn the location of the Lost City, but the sheer amount of specialized knowledge will overwhelm him within a few days. Anubis, angry that he has missed out on the knowledge himself, plans to invade earth in order to take the lost city’s location by force.

Considering the set up, much of the first part features personal, quiet moments among the main characters. Jack goes home to wrap up the loose strings of his life under the assumption he only has a few days left to live. A joke about his VHS collection of The Simpsons implies he has been thinking about what belongings will go to which of his friends. Sam drops by and is clearly weighing whether to admit she loves him now that it is her last chance and military regulations are not much of an issue. Daniel and teal’c also show up to interrupt, but the four have their own last fling together with beer and pizza. None outright say so, but it is a celebration of their seven year friendship before jack succumbs. Drama intrudes when Hammond arrives to announce he has been relieved of command. Stargate Command is to now be placed under civilian control.

The revelation leads to the bulk of the personal drama. I have mixed emotions about it. This episode is the first appearance of Elizabeth Weir. This episode and the following are the only two times the character is played by Jessica Steen. Considering Steen’s regularly recurring role on NCIS at the time, I am going to guess Weir was intended to be a one off character for the would be concluding movie and bears only the slightest resemblance to the Torri Higginson version whom eventually heads the cast of Stargate: Atlantis. I have not seen many episodes of that series, but I have a vibe I like Higginson better than Steen. I do not know if I would consider the Steen version of Weir less of an obnoxious peacenik id I were not aware that Higginson’s portayal is more enjoyable, so take my opinion for what it is worth. I like to review solely what is on the screen without consideration of what is to come, but that is not always easy.

On the plus side, weir has a PhD in Political Science. As the less than proud bearer of a BA in Political Science myself, I can tell you the description of Weir’s early days as an obnoxious anti-military activist who dreams of an eventual utopia in which everyone on earth holds hands and sings “Blowin’ in the Wind” after beating the world’s supply of swords into plowshares is incredibly accurate. I assume she shaves her armpits, which precludes her from being a full fledged earth Liberation Front environmentalist. She also is not married, so she did not study political science in order to sink her claws into a future lawyer. So kudos to whomever got her character traits down pat. Oh, and yes--dating a girl majoring in Political Science? Not a good idea. Try the English department. Those girls are a lot of fun.

Okay, that was quite a tangent. The point is President Henry Hayes appoints weir to replace Hammond as the new civilian head of SGC with hints Hammond is going to earn a desk job that is even higher than hers to still be in charge. (These two episodes are the last in which Don S. Davis is a regular character.) evidently, vice-President Robertt Kinsey thinks he can jerk her around enough to control SGC himself, but he turns out to be wrong thanks to, what I gather, is a strong scene in which Daniel convinces her, civilian to civilian, the current operation has been doing its job well and ought not be taken apart.

Just a note here about Kinsey…he is supposed to be the arch villain, but he is beginning to come across as a mustache twirling caricature. I used to complain the same way about Maybourne before the character grew into less of a villain and more a a self-serving guy who can still do the right thing when it matter. Kinsey has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. For me, the comic relief aspect of everyone showing utter contempt while foiling his every move has worn thin. Ronny Cox is an incredibly talented actor. I have enjoyed many of his authoritative, antagonistic roles, but it has been seven years. A little variation from the usual song and dance--banjo playing?--is in order. Or is the same song and dance the point? Kinsey is the man we love to hate?

It sounds like I am complaining too much. I am noty complaining at all. “lost city, Part I” is full of many, really good moments that would serve to introduce these characters to a wider audience had a movie come into reality. Jack is determined to win a bet with sam by finishing a crossword puzzle that is beyond him. He yanks daniel away from downloading the ancient knowledge into his brain because he knows what will happen. He later assures sam she is too valuable to lose when she suggests it should have been her. There is a perfect goodbye between comrades-in-arms who may never see each other again when Teal’c and jack shake hands before he and Bra’tac go off to seek Jaffa aid in repelling Anubis’ invasion. These moments help define the characters--Jack in particular. We see why he is still the team leader even when he has disappeared for some much of the season’s adventures.

It is difficult to judge part one of a two part episode, particularly when they complement each other as they obviously do here. Like I said, I was warned. Considering how rambling this review is, surely you did not want a double shot. Part one is very slow paced set up, but it is set up that makes me anxious to come back for more. In that case, “Lost City, Part I” has done its job effectively.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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