Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Collateral Damage"

Stargate SG-1 has done a number of episodes very similar to various Star Trek installments with varying degrees of success. Sometimes there is a creative twist. Sometimes it is merely a Star Trek story rewritten for the Stargate SG-1 universe. “Space Race” is the only one I recall truly blasting because the powers that be not only stooped so low as to copy a VOY episode, they chose one of the worst. Now, they have stooped even lower.

“Collateral Damage” is ”Ex Post Facto” with Cam in the Paris role. You recall “Ex Post Facto.” Paris is convicted of murdering the wife of a bird alien and injected with the memory of the murder to relive for the rest of his life? A pink dog Paris Hilton would be too embarrassed to claim served as the witness to prove his innocence? The episode was quite awful in its sweer stupid elements. “Collateral Damage” does a better job, but largely replaces stupid elements with logical inconsistencies. The insight into Cam’s mind almost saves it, however.

The SG-1 team makes contact with the Galarans, a race of humans roughly comparable to Earth. A scientist named Reya has developed a device which can insert memories into a person’s mind which she plans to use as a teaching tool. Cam tries it out and is impressed with the results--and Reya. At a party the next night, he escorts her home after she has a brief argument with Varta, some government poobah who is going to put Reya’s device into military hands. At her home, Cam and reya have a few drinks and make out. When Cam awakens in the morning, he is arrested for reya’s brutal murder. He has memories of committing the crime.

I am going to give “Collateral Damage” a couple kudos as far as the main plotting is concerned. One, at no point does anyone, including the Galaran authorities, really think Cam is guilty. So the powers that be do not insult the audience’s intelligence with that passed the moment cam awakens near the corpse. The other point is the obvious suspect--Varta--is not the culprit who injected the false memory of murder into cam’s mind. He is a red herring that I am relieved was not the bad guy because frankly, everything else about the story is so bad, I almost believed they would make the murderer that obvious.

Barely anything else earns a kudo. The scientist helping determine if cam’s memory of the murder is Reya’s estranged husband who was still in love with her. That is not the guy you want determining guilt or innocence. He is way too close to the case. So close, he is the murderer. He murdered Reya in a jealous rage, framed cam with the memories, and then erased his own memories of the murder. Which begs the question of why he did not think it was odd he awoke in a lab chair with electrodes taped to his head/ would that not raise an alarm bell or three in his mind that he did something to himself? I cannot see that as a decent resolution. There is no way to reconcile all the aspects.

I did say insight into Cam is a saving grace. We see memories of cam as a little boy visiting his father after he has lost his legs in a jet crash. In another, he and his father are watching a space shuttle launch, which I thought might be a reference to Ben Browder’s Farscape character. The pivotal moment is the memory of cam bombing a civilian convey under faulty intelligence. The memory of the friendly fire incident is similr enough to Reya’s murder for the scientist--excuse me, real murderer--to determine the memories of reya’s murder are implants. The revelation of the convoy incident is the most humanizing thing we have seen about cam yet. Great job with it.

But it is not enough to save “Collateral Damage.” Pardon the pun, but avoid “Collateral Damage.” Yes, it features some nice cam moments, but that is not enough to sit through the rest of the silly plot. The plot twist tries to be clever, but just comes across as insulting to anyone over the age of eight.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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