Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Threads"

Full disclosure; there are two versions of “Threads.” One is the 63 minute version originally aired on the Sci fi Channel. The othe is a 44 minute version edited down for syndication. The boxed DVD set that I am watching has the latter. By all accounts, the extended episode as originally aired is superior. I get the impression by how quickly events happen without much elaboration the deleted scenes help with the pacing of the story as well as filling in some gaps. There are some of these scenes on YouTube--Anubis berating Ba’al for betraying him, Bra’tac and Teal’c being knighted, more scenes with Pete and Sam, Sam waiting in the car outside Jack’s house, and the impression Jack and Kerry slept together--but watching these scenes after the fact do not enhance the narrative flow. I do not feel as though I have seen the 63 minute version properly even if all the deleted scenes are on YouTube, so this review is for the 44 minute version.

In Mny ways, “Threads” feels like an epilogue to the major defeat of a powerful enemy in the same way TNG’s “Family” deals with the aftermath of the Borg’s defeat. The emphasis is on personal issues even though it is set against the rather important backdrop of Anubis planning to destroy all life in the galaxy in order to reestablish it to his twisted liking. More specifically, we have Daniel involved in yet another existential debate with more powerful beings while everyone else come to terms with their futures. The combination is strange, yet compelling.

After RepliCarter’s ship is destroyed, Daniel finds himself in Der Waffle Haus on the set of Dead Like Me and sits at the Reapers’ favorite booth. I am only marginally familiar with Dead Like Me, but I think that is cool. By way of explanation, Daniel is viewing the Ascended Plane as something to which he can relate--the diner his grandfather took him to at after his parent’s funeral. Oma is the waitress serving Daniel and there is a friendly guy named Jim, but all the other customers ignore him completely. The dialogue between Daniel, Oma, and Jim runs towards the obtuse, but it eventually reveals that Jim is Anubis. He tricked Oma into believing he was good so she would help him ascend. As punishment for her mistake, her cohorts allowed Anubis to only half ascend so he could still wreak havoc on the galaxy. For higher beings, the ascended certainly are petty. Anubis is preparing to assault Dakara in order to take the Ancient weapon away from the Jaffa . He keeps reurning to the diner in order to gloat in front of Oma over his impending victory.

Anubis’ plan leads to one of the oddest points of the episode. The Jaffa have made Dakara the center of their new nation. They refose to destroy the Ancient weapon. Supposedly because it is a symbol of their newfound freedom, but it is really because of the power it affords them. Slaves overturn false gods in order to become gods themselves. I do not criticise the notion too much, but it would be better if Bra’tac and teal’c were not going along with the idea. I can better see the hubris of those who have been enslaved their entire lives and just now have the taste of power. What is worse is that Bra’tac and Teal’c also go along with the idea of killing Anubis, something no one is certain can even be done, so the Jaffa can safely keep the Ancient weapon. It is Anubis’ slaughtering of the Jaffa on Dakara that he keeps returning to the diner to brag about. At least the Jaffa sre learning a costly lesson about the cost of avarice.

Daniel attempts to destroy Anubis, but cannot. He is not powerful enough. Oma finally steps up with Anubis’ finger on the button of the Ancient weapon, ready to use it. The two are both equally powerful, but locked in combat for all eternity, Anubis cannot do anything else but battle her. The universe is safe, and Stargate SG-1 does a better job of two beings in an eternal battle to prevent the destruction of reality better than TOS’ “Alternative Factor.” the end makes one wonder if the ascended really were jerks for allowing Anubis to do his thing all this time, or if Oma was for not stepping up to take responsibility for her mistake in attempting to ascend him in the first place. Of course, they could just all be jackasses, Oma included.

The rest of ’Threads” has to do with Sam getting smacked around emotionally. Shippers should take note how the stars align. First, Sam sees jack hanging out with CIA agent Kerry Johnson and gets jealous. Pete cannot compete with old Jack. But taking a page from pete’s stalker handbook, she sits outside jack’s house for a while working up the nerve to tell him how she really feels about him. When she finally works up the nerve, she runs right into him and Kerry having a cookout. She has an out, though--her father is dying. His last words to her are a nudge to begin a relationship with Jack. She takes the advice to heart, because she dumps pete on the ront steps of the house he just pit a down payment on before her father’s corpse is even cold. Kerry comes into Jack’s office to dump him because she senses he has a thing for Sam,. Sam and jack do not really have a moment that can be interpreted as the beginning of a romance. They just sort of snap at each other as Anubis’ weapon fires up. Does that mean they are already an old married couple? Discuss amongst yourselves, shippers.

The Ori are kinda sorta mention, though not by name, when jim reveals the Ancient weapon was built to recreate life in the galaxy after a plague. It was the same plague that infected jack back in the sixth season, so this is not really the first int of the Ori, but it is interesting nevertheless. Speaking of the Ori and their pseudo-Christian motif, when Jim re=enters the diner just before the Anubis version of himself is about to use the weapon, he is whistling “Amazing Grace.” The hymn is a strange choice of music. I have no theory why Jim choose it save for irony.

“Threads” is quite engaging even in its abbreviated 44 form. Events happen a bit too quickly without the extended scenes, but that is only a minor gripe. As I am not a Jack/sam shipper, I do not feel as though all things need to fall in line for the two of them to get together, so some things do not resonate for me as muh as are probably intended. Sam stomps all over pete’s heart, and we are supposed to cheer about it. Kerry ecides way too quickly tp punt Jack’s heart, too. Far be it from me to question how and why people fall in and out of relationships, but wow. That is some colf decision making there. There is some heady dialogue in the diner scenes, too. You have to be a geek to appreciate it. I do not think as highly of “Threads” as other fans appear to, but it is still a fine wrap up to the eighth season story arc.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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