Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Babylon"

“Babylon” is described by fans as The Last Samurai meets TOS’ “Amok Time.” The timely reference to Tom Cruise--Katie Holmes has recently filed to divorce him--is apt not only for the similarities between the Japanese samurai in his aforementioned film and the Sodan Jaffa in “Babylon,“ but the dangerous religion presented by the false belief of scientology and that of Origin being spread to the Sodan. Somewhere in the mix is a Cam-centric story elaborating on his character.

The SG-1 team goes looking for a group of rebel Jaffa called the Sodan, whose defection predates Teal’c’s by thousands of years. They are ambushed by the Sodan. In the skirmish, Cam appears to kill one in self-defense. The Sodan flee using Ancient technology in order to disappear out of thin air. They take cam with them. The Sodan he supposed killed is revived by the surgical work of Dr. Lam. The Sgc spend a couple weeks interrogating him on about where to find Cam and, when they discover a Prior has visited the Sodan, tryin to convince him not to follow the Ori.

Simultaneously, Cam is in the Sodan village being trained for a ritualistic fighting match to the death in order to pay for the blood he shed. During his grueling training, Cam bonds with his trainer enough to convince hi m to question the Ori. Cam eventually learns his trainer is the brother of the Sodan he killed. Well, that is kind of hokey. It gets worse when the trainer helps poison cam during the duel so that he appears dead, thereby satisfying the rules of the match. He helps cam escape back to the stargate without knowing his brother is still alive until cam is back in touch with SGC.

William B. Davies, of Cigarette Smoking Man fame, makes his first appearance as a prior. He is given no dialogue, so one wonders if we are not just supposed to be surprised to see Davis in the role. I do not recall “Babylon” in first run, but I cannot imagine Davis was not in the promo Sci Fi used to run the heck out of during the week of a new episode. Oh, well. Davis’ sudden appearance is a neat surprise when one is relatively spoiler free.

The first appearance of the Sodan this late in the series is hihly awkward. Does it not seem strange of a group of rebel Jaffa that has existed for thousands of years might might have inspired Jaffa rebellion for a long time? Why did no one ever seek them out before now? The Sodan would have been invaluable in the final battle against the Goa’uld? Why seek them out now? Teal’c says he knew about the Sondan as a child. I understand the Sodan have just be created for the series, but their existence causes some retroactive issues.

I was not expecting much out of “Babylon.” The Sodan sounded like a bunch of Klingons, and that is pretty much what they wound up being. One of them was even played by TNG/DS9’s Kurn actor Tony Todd. Call me jaded, but this warrior code, fight to the death to honor a blood debt out of honor thing has become awfully cliché. There has not been anything new or exciting added to the concept within science fiction since the Klingons were converted from Soviet allegory to Japanese shoguns in the late ’80’s-early ’90’s. The “Amk Time” ending, complete with Star Trek joke, does not help “Babylon”’s lack of originality.

Cam needed an episode all about him, but they could have done much better than this. Some flashbacks to his injury rehab after the Battle of Antarctica would have been more interesting. Still, I cannot fauly “Babylon” for much more than it lack of originality. It is not a bad episode, but just abour anyone could have written it oif given nothing but the general plot with which to work.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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