Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Reckoning, Part II"

“Reckoning, Part II’ is a worthy conclusion to all of the set up from the first part. I anticipated a letdown before watching, and while watching I further feared clutter from too many storylines running concurrently. But I am happy to say the episode turned out to be one of the best of the series.

Dakara continues to be the focal point of everyone’s plans, dastardly or otherwise. Ba’al, who is ostensibly still working for Anubis, is taking the scenic route there in order to give the Jaffa time to locate the Ancient weapon that can destroy every living thing other than the Ancients themselves. The Jaffa are bracing themselves for the likely hopeless battle with ba’al’s forces after they fail to locate the ancient weapon. Sam and Jacob/Selmak arrive, discover the weapon, and struggle with the reluctant help of Ba’al to reprogram it to destroy only Replicators. Speaking of, the Replicators invade SGC. Meanwhile, Daniel learns to use his dormant Ancient knowledge to peer into RepliCarter’s mind to look for a way to stop them as she probes his mind for secrets. The RepliCators begin an all out assault on every paryy but Daniel. He has his hands full, so he appreciates the small blessing.

There is still a prevalent doomsday feel to “Reckoning, Part Ii,” but there is far less Biblical allegory. My apprehensions fell more that the episode was going to make the George Lucas mistake of forcing the audience to keep track of four stories at the same time. Overkill is one of the many things that killed The Phantom Menace,. the audience had to keep track of the light saber duel with Darth Maul, the Gungan v. Battle droids, Amidala’s entourage taking the palace, and Anakin’s space battle. It is too much for a person to become immersed in all of it. ’Reckoning, Part Ii” comes eerily close. There is the daniel v. RepliCarter duel, Jack defending SGC against a Replicator siege, Sam and Jacob/Selmak adapting the Ancient weapon, and the Jaffa/Ba’al/Replicator space battle. It is not wise to attempt so much going on at once, but the episode pulls it off well by making the events very different, yet connected by the same resolution--Daniel uses secrets from RepliCarter’s mind to freeze the replicator’s long enough for Sam and Jacob/Selmak to set the weapon correctly, bit at the cost of his life. That is right. Daniel dies. Again.

A stand out point is right before the ancient weapon is fired. We get to see a no dialogue montage in which we get up close and personal with the SG-1 team member at the most desperate moment of his or her situation. Daniel lay dying on RepliCarter’s ship. Teal’c is stoi as his ship is being destroyed around him. Sam is at the temple door about to be overrun by Replicators. Jack is in the same spot, but he is on the verge of calling for a nuclear strike that will irradiate a large chunk of Colorado. The montage is very quick, but it is just enough to elicit the ominous feeling from each that this is the end. When the ancient weapon activates every stargate in the Milky Way in order to shatter every Replicator into powder, it is such a contrast the previous montage, you want to stand up and cheer.

I enjoy the humor interspersed within to break the tension. Sam gets needled to come up with a miracle because she once blew up a sun. The Ancient language on the temple wall is gibberish until the stones are turned upside down. Daniel’s sly smile when RepliCarter discovers he can read her mind. Ba’al’s arrogance. Jack’s sarcasm about placing two explosives on the blast door to a room Siler is trapped within because…it is a blast door. Even the Replicators have a moment. When Daniel manages to freeze them, we shoot to a scene with Jack at SGC commenting on their sudden dead stop. In the background, you can hear a Replicator fall off a wall to punctuate Jack’s statement of surprise. Of course, the coolest Replicator moment is them storming en masse out into the gate room.

If I have any criticism, it is the implausibility that every Jaffa switches allegiance to the rebellion once the Replicators are defeated. It is doubly strange since Ba’al is pivotal to getting the weapon to work. The expressed fear from part one is Ba’al will look like a god if he can destroy the Replicators--end the divine plague, as it were. The g Goa’uld have to be defeated somehow, so I am not complaining. I am too absorbed in the Replicator defeat to fret over the anticlimactic final defeat of the Goa’uld after eight years of fighting.

“Reckoning, Part Ii” has everything but Jonas Quinn and the Furlings. I do not miss either one. You will not, either. The episode is the best of the season so far, and if what little buzz I have heard is true about the wrap up story for the Old Guard, that makes it the best of the season period. I do not doubt it, but I still anxious to see the aftermath in tomorrow’s epilogue episode.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

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