Monday, July 2, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Fourth Horseman, Part I"

‘The Fourth Horseman, Part I” is the first part of the ninth season’s midway cliffhanger. As such, it is a lot of set up waiting for a big payoff when the back ten episodes air later. It gets the job one. The episode does well in setting up an exciting cliffhanger, but has some weak points on its own.

An undercover SG team returns from a planet that has converted to origin unknowingly carrying the Ori plague. One of the team members is a Typhoid Mary who spreads the plague into the general population by attending a speech by Hammond, who makes such a brief cameo, one wonders why the powers that be bothered, whereupon the audience scatters all over the country afterwards. Within hours, the president declares the entire country under quarantine.

Orlin, Sam’s ascended stalker, returns in order to provide a cure and reveal the truth about the Ori. They do not offer ascension. It is all a lie to get people to worship them. Their power comes from others’ belief in them. Orlin has to hurry in order to come up with a cure for the plague. Although he has come down to our plane of existence as a child in order to retain as muh of his Ancient knowledge as possible, he is quickly deteriorating. He is also played by a kid actor whi cannot put the slightest lick of emotion behind his lines. His delivery is stiff as a two by four. I will concede his demeanor may be an intentional way of demonstrating the awkwardness of going from being an Ancient to a human, but it comes across as a kid who is reading his lines off a teleprompter because he cannot memorize them. Like any speech you have ever heard Barack Obama give.

Meanwhile, Sam and Dr. Lee are working on an anti-Prior weapon. The weapon, based on studying Khalek’s brain, is designed to shut off the section of a Prior’s brain that controls his powers. One cannot help but note that studying Khalek in order to create such a weapon is exactly what Woolsey wanted to do in the previous episode, and he was considered the bad guy. Cam and Daniel are sent off to capture the Prior who infected the undercover team in order to get a blood samples for the weapon. They are subsequently captured by the Sodan.

The main point of “The Four Horsemen, Part I” for me is the promised shift from the Ori being anti-Christian allegory to anti-Islam. Garek has fallen under the spell of the Ori. He has decided it is the true path, so he proposes legislating it to all Jaffa like Shari law. When many Jaffa balk, a Prior orders Garek to attack Chulak and slaughter any Jaffa who does not convert. Garek ultimately cannot bring himself to commit the atrocity, but id eventually converted into a Prior himself by the Doci.

As I mentioned before, the cliffhangers are exciting. The United states under quarantine, Orlin may or may not have enough Ancient knowledge left to cure the plague, Cam and Daniel captured, and Garek now a Prior all build anticipation for the resolution. But the episode as a standalone has some weak spots. I have already mentioned the kid who plays Orlin leaves much to be desired. The brief Hammond cameo was so frivolous one wonders whyb it is even there. Bra’tac finally shows up as a vital member of the High Council after being missing for several other important incidents in previous episodes. The Doci’s appearance is spliced in from his previous, so there is nothing new with him. I literally laughed at that one. Reusing stock shots is one thing. Reusing old scenes with characters spouting off the same dialogue is quite another. If Julian Sands was not available to film a new scene, work around it. Come on, guys. Low budget or not, Stargate SG-1 is supposed to be a show crafted by experts.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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