Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Prometheus Unbound"

One of the most amusing aspects of Stargate SG-1 is that the show does not take itself too seriously. The general light hearted atmosphere works well within the universe it has created. It also makes the truly dramatic moments more poignant. With tis general feel in mind, deliberately humorous episodes tend to go overboard to the oint of obnoxious absurdity. Witness “Wormhole X-Treme” as an example of a comedic episode I could do without. But when it is done right, it is done well.

Prometheus Unbound” features the first appearance of Claudia Black as Vala. My familiarity with Black’s more famous Farscape is limited to about half a dozen episodes, so my impressions of both her and Ben Browder come mostly from Stargate SG-1 I am certainly that will make reviewing Farscape, if and when I do, an awkward experience. I get the impression Black is such a fan favorite that this episode was written specifically for her to indulge her antics. At least I hope so. If true, she will make Farscape an enjoyable view. I can see both why Vala is eventually added to the cast and there are daniel/Vala shippers out there. The two have a fun chemistry together.

Vala is a thief, liar, and manipulator who is willing to do anything thing to get what she wants. In this case, anything includes hijacking the Prometheus while stranding its crew, save for Daniel, and using it to complete a mission to acquire weapons grade naquadah from some smugglers. The plot is quite straightforward. Vala lures the Prometheus with a distress call to her stolen Goa’uld ship, transports the crew over without knowing she missed daniel, and then locks the controls for the journey to meet her thieving buddies.

The trip is full of sparring between Daniel and Vala, both verbal and physical, and with a load of sexual tension. I believe things went a little overboard on the slapstick when the two literally duke it out. The slapstick make the fight more Austin Powers and Mini Me than Teal’c and Replicator Sam from the previous episode. I am not complaining too much, mind you. Some of the shots were hilarious. It is clear Daniel and Vala’s sparring is aimed at those horny fourteen year olds dreaming of Black. At one point, she is sitting on his shoulders squeezing his head with her legs. Once he has her captured and unconscious, he changes her clothes in order to check for weapons. A bit overboard, that. At one point, Daniel carries Vala over his shoulder and runs towards the camera for a gratuitous butt shot. Again, not complaining too much, but dude. Blatant tantalizing.

The comedy is not with only the two of them. It is from every character from the beginning. Jack and Daniel have a rare for these days humorous exchange about daniel begging to go to Atlantis with jack adamantly denying him. I had all but forgotten these two were even friends any longer. Hammond shows up to not only grant daniel’s request, but have his old office chair shipped to Washington. Speaking of Hammond, there is a bit after he has risked his life to get the dead in the water Goa’uld ship his crew is stranded on operational in which he may need mouth to mouth, but the colonel near him is reluctant to perform it. His reluctance plays so much against the expected do anything necessary to save the day attitude I laughed out loud at it. I also figured it if had been vala, every man would be colliding with one another to be the one. I would probably shove a 180lb air force colonel out of the way myself for a shot at it. If there is anything I could have done without, it is Novak’s constant hiccups. I am not sure what is aimed for with that, but the constant hiccups are more annoying than funny.

I believe this is the only episode thus far that has not featured Teal’c. Christopher judge has been given far more to do this season than in seasons past. He is due a break. With all the regulars absent for the action save Daniel, “Prometheus Unbound” is yet another episode in which the team dynamic suffers. There is no stargate, either.

Overall, “Prometheus Unbound” is a good mix of comedy and drama. The two crews are in desperate danger and trying hard to rescue one another, and no matter what emphasis is put on the laughs, the urgency of the situation is not lost. Which is fortunate, since we know from the beginning the mission to reach Atlantis has to run into some obstacle or another because in cannot succeed. When you know the end is doomed to failure, the journey has to become the worthwhile aspect. With “Prometheus Unbound,” it is.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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