Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Endgame"

“Endgame” is the midseason finale for the eighth season. It is the first since the series switched from Showtime to the Sci Fi Channel to not end on a cliffhanger. At first glance, one might think that adds to the lower budgeted, just limping along feel that has often cursed these first nine episodes, but there is a lot of engaging stuff in “Endgame.” some of it is for shock value, mind you, and Jack’s part had me scratching my head, but overall, ’Endgame” is an exciting, action oriented ride The episode is also jammed packed with references from past episodes from years ago.

Put on your geek hats, folks, and take a deep breath…

The stargate is beamed away in the middle of the night by technology similar to the Asgard. Assuming the Asgard would not swipe it, SGC begin looking for other clues under the assumption it was Anubis’ beaming technology that took it. Anubis’ tech needs targeting in order to work, so a review of security cameras shows a technician fiddling with the stargate days prior to its disappearance. He came from Area 51. Daniel and Sam eventually discover the Trust has paid of a scientist at Area 51 who has used Osiris’ personal transporter to locate her cloaked ship in earth’s orbit. Unfortunately, the command codes are in Ancient, because Anubis trusted no one, so the trust blackmailed Daniel into translating the codes a few episodes back. With Osiris’ ship under trust control, they swiped the Tok’ra symbiote poison and the stargate onboard the ship in order to launch the poison on numerous Goa’uld planets, killing both Goa’uld and Jaffa alike before they are stopped by the SG-1 team.

Whew. You got all that? Some of that stuff references episodes that aired four or five years prior to ‘Endgame.” Talk about geek nirvana. It reminds me of many of those marvel comics roy Thomas used to write wherein he would weave events in unrelated stories written by writers decades before into what looked like a cohesive plan decades in the making. Comics fans know what I am talking about. A dozen asterix every issues to point out comics from all over the place and calendar. Thomas made comic book store visits for back issues a very expensive prospect. But I digress.

So the heavy reliance on continuity makes my inner comic book nerd happy. What else is there? There is a lot of old fashioned action, for one. An armed raid on a warehouse full of vials of rok’ra symbiote piison, snaking aboard Osiris’ ship, a mini-chase scene with the Prometheus, and a fistfight1 when was the last time we saw one of those? Not only a fistfight, but Sam passes the most licks even with her hands tied. Can anyone explain how Daniel gets shot once and punched twice, falling to the ground each time, but his glasses never fall off? Is it his charm?

I mentioned some aspects appear there for shock value. The Trust use the stargate to send the symbiote poison to nineteen different planets before they are stopped. The deaths are said to be in the millions. The numer of casualties is dropped in such a matter of fact manner, I did a double take. An early scene in which teal‘c comes across an entire planet of dead Jaffa is the most gruesome thing I have seen in quite a while. I am hoping--an odd choice of emotion--there are realistic consequences for this action. A major plot point is Jaffa suspect the tok‘ra and want to hunt them down to extinction, but the truth of Earth’s responsibility, even if it is a rogue faction perpetrating the genocide, ought to make the planet a target. I am curious whether there will be repercussions. Without a cliffhanger ending, I have a nagging suspicion the story will slide into the background.

I also mentioned Jack’s actions are puzzling. It is his call to order the Prometheus to destroy the Trust ship. He does not want to pull the trigger because Daniel and Sam are onboard. For drama’s sake, I can appreciate his hesitance. He does not want to sacrifice his friends. But the Trust has used stolen technology to kill millions and are promising to kill millions more. Earth is quite likely to catch the blame. An Air Force general ought to make the decision to destroy the enemy ship very quickly under those circumstances. Jack cannot bring himself to do it at all. Only Teal’c’s unexpected intervention saves the day. Maybe Jack’s indecisiveness should not bug me so much, but it does. His personal feelings are clouding his better judgment.

“Endgame” is entertaining. I suspect a cliffhanger would make it more exciting first run viewing, but since nothing has to hold my attention for four months like it did back then, there is no reason to complain now. There is a lot of action finally, and even some comic relief to ease the sight of a planet wide mass grave. I particularly enjoyed watching Sam kick rear end while still tied up and she and Daniel glancing at each other smiling when they are both captured, as if to say “It is going about the same as always.” Usually, these midseason and season beginning/ending episodes kick it up enough notches to merit four or five stars. Not “Endgame,” but it is still one of the best so far in the eighth season.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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