Friday, June 29, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Ex Deus Machina"

The title is not a typo. “Ex Deus Machina” is a play on deus ex machina, or “god in the machine.” The reordering of words is a reference to Ba’al’s new staus as an ex-god hiding out on Earth. I quipped after yesterday’s big budget special effects heavy episodes we were bound to see some low key earthbound adventures. I was bracing myself to be disappointed as my prediction appeared to be coming true sooner rather than later. But I am pleasantly surprised with the episode. It does not feel small at all, mostly due to some key moments.

One of Yu’s former Jaffa, now loyal to Gerak, is found dead of a hit and run accident in Virginia. I lived in Virginia for three years. It was probably suicide just to get away from the place. When teal’c and Cam go to Dakara to uncover why Gerak has Jaffa on Earth, it becomes apparent that Ba’al has escaped to earth and is hiding out there. Gerak plans to capture and execute Ba’al in order to solidify his political position. Cam reassembles the SG-1 team in order to find Ba’al first.

The task turns out to be quite easy. Ba’al has assumed control of Hammel Technologies, a corporation that fell under Goa’uld control when they forced symbiotes upon the Trust. Ba’al is noe a public figure. He sends a warning to SGC that he wishes to be left alone to live out his days in peace. In he is not, he plans to detonate a naquadah bomb in a major US city if anyone attempts to capture him. Allowing him to go free is not an option, so both the SG-1 team and Gerak’s Jaffa are in a race to capture him.

Scans cannot find the naquadah bomb, so SGC decides to use the symbiote poison developed by the Tok’ra and hope it takes effect before ba’al can set off the bomb. Unfortunately, the Jaffa raid his headquarters, so Ba’al reveals he is going to set off the bomb in downtown Seattle. It is a bit convenient Ba’al tells our heroes exactly where the bomb is, but that is Goa’uld arrogance for you. It turns out the bomb is not in Hammel’s corporate headquarters, but is Hammel’s corporate headquarters. The building was constructed using naquadah as the main building material. Prometheus beams the entire building into space where it can explode safely.

On Dakara, Ba’al is brought before the Jaffa High Council by Gerak and executed right there. As expected, the capture and execution of Ba’al solidifies his position as leader of the Free Jaffa Nation. A Dejected teal’c travels back to earth only to learn Ba’al has been using Hammel to research cloning technology. He has cloned himself any number of times. Geral most likely executed a Ba’al clone. The damage has been done. Gerak, a hardliner with no regard for non-Jaffa,, is in power and ba’al is free to roam as he pleases, secure in the knowledge no one can be sure they have caught or killed the real McCoy.

There are some really nifty moments in “Ex Deus Machina.” The biggest is when Cam offers SG-1 patches to Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c before they go off hunting Ba’al, and each of them accepts. It took seven episodes to reassemble the SG-1 team, but they are back. For the shippers, there is the moment when NID Agent Barrett asks Sam if she is single. She implies that she is not married, but is dating someone. Most likely Jack. For the more eagle-eyed, the reporter covering the disappearance of hammel headquarters is Julia Donnovan. I do not believe we have seen her since the sixth season.

“Ex Deus Machina” is a far better episode than you might think at first glance. It does not look like a budget saving filler episode. In fact, the shot of Hammel hadquarters floating in space, then exploding with Prometheus is the foreground is impressive. Ba’al winding up the CEO of a technology company than him in hiding on some backwater planet. Heck, Louis Gossett, Jr. can even make the Jaffa interesting. “Ex Deus Machina” is not divine, but it is a winner.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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