Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Ripple Effect"

“Ripple Effect” is known as being one for the old school fans, and it is indeed. The bulk of the episode takes odd elements from episodes as far back as the second season and drops them in to varying degrees of importance, brings back long deceased characters, and yanks the chains of even the most obscure shipper. “Ripple Effect” elevates itself above a love song for dedicated fans by offering an interesting twist ending.

The SG-1 team arrives back at SGC ahead of schedule. Suring their debrieing, another SH-1 team--the “real” one--returns on time. Thus begins SGC’s career as the hub point for the multiverse as various SG-1 teams arrive from different realities. These teams have different rosters and are battling different villains from the real team’s past, either the Goa’uld or the Ori. To rug on the heartstrings, Dr. Janet Frasier and Martouf are members of one alternate team.

The alternate versions of sSm get together in order to solve the problem of closing the tear in space/time and returning everyone home. The Black team Sam, so named because they are wearing those snazzy black uniforms instead of the drab olive green, suggests using an Asgard time dilation device to stop the black hole, so our heroes and their Black Uniform counterparts are soon on rometheus with one. It is then revealed the Black Uniforms traveled to the real Earth on purpose in order to get onboard Prometheus and head to atlantis to steal its ZPM. They need it to powrr an Ancient weapon to defeat their version of the Ori. So we they are prevented from doing so, the device they used to open the rift is space/time is used to send everyone bsack to their proper reality.

Multiverse stories are a staple of science fiction, and I am always curious how these stories deal with the idea of diminished importance of events when it becomes clear that there are infinite universes wherein every possibly imaginable plays out. The answr in “Ripple Effect” is what happens to us, matters to us. This is arguably a callous viewpoint, but at only one point is the morality of it questioned. Alternate Frasier begs Landry to give the think tank of Sams more time to fiure out not only how to stop alternate teams from arriving, but send them all home. Her earth is ravaged by the Ori plague. The human race may die without her. Landry refuses. Our Earth is his only priority. The thing is no one is considered evil here. Even the Black Uniforms are desperate to save their Earth, not planning to do something nefarious with the stolen ZPM. Although their actions will eventually result in a Wraith invasion of the Milky Way, so even if you do think motives are questionable, everyone is willing to sacrifice alternate Earths/Milky Ways to save their own. In the end, Landry offers Frasier the cure for the plague in order to elevate our heroes above the rest. If you still need for our heroes to be morally superior, there you go.

I am a sucker for alternate reality/multiverse stories from my misspent youth immersed in comics. It is much easier to do alternate realities in comics because one can simply draw old characters returning without worrying about actor availability. Because I understand the difficulty involved in a filmed version of these kind of stories, I usually cut them a lot of slack while enjoying them on their merits. In that case, “Ripple Effect” is great. I especially enjoy seeing Teryl Rothery again. Killing off Frasier was an emotional moment that is one of the key moments of the seventh season, I still think it was a mistake that would not have happened had the ax of cancellation not been perilously ready to drop. I do not feel quite the same about Martouf, but he is still, a good character and a welcome sight.

The glaring issue is the conspicuous absence of Jack. You would think at least one team would have a Jack. Even if Richard Dean Anderson did not want to cameo, old footage of the real SG-1 team arriving in the gate room could have been used to at least give the effect. Jack is mentioned several times, either directly or implied. A lot of alternate sams have married him, it would appear. Still, it would have been a golden opportunity to have him show up.

Speaking of golden opportunities, it would have been funny if every alternate team did not have a Daniel because he is dead in every other reality but ours. There is a TNG novel that does that with Jack Crusher, and I have always thought it was funny thing to do to a often mentioned dead character. It would have been an added wink to longtime fans. Considering the numerous Mirror universe references in “Ripple Effect,” the powers that be are not shy about Star Trek references. They should have gone for it.

Funniest moment: Kvasir, the Asgard who delivers the time dilation device, stands on the deck of Prometheus and gives this big speech about how they are probably all going to die on the dangerous mission, then essentially says, ‘Good luck!” as beams away. His demeanor throughout is hilarious.

“Ripple Effect” is a fun, nostalgia episode played for a lot of laughs. One of the most fun aspects is the reactions of Cam. He has not been around for the past references to mean anything to him, so he has his own stroll down memory lane with his Black Uniform self. It is a small moment, but other than Sam’s obvious happiness at exchanging ideas with her other, equally brilliant selves, is the only time we see characters enjoying their own company. Ben Browder has had to do a lot of heavy lifting this season. He has done so admirably. The poor guy is even reduced to his boxers in this one.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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