Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Line in the Sand"

“Line in the Sand’ is another winner of an episode in spite of some glaring flaws. I am most struck personally by the repudiation of Origin as the anti-Christian allegory it has been advertised--at least to me--to be. In fact, I have actually come to appreciate the message the powers that be are conveying with it.

The SG-1 team, sans Daniel, returns from a successful test run of Arthur’s Mantle to discover they need to put the device in action ahead of schedule. A Prior has visited a planet once ruled by the Goa’uld and given them two days to convert or else. The SG-1 team arrives ahead of the deadline to hide the village via Arthur’s Mantle by keeping it out of phase with its surroundings. The device to work for a time, but a power surge causes the village to reappear just as the Ori forces invade.

There is an impressive firefight between the villagers and Vala before the place is overrun. Sam suffers a staff weapon blow to the abdomen. In terrible pain, she is still able to direct cam to hook up Arthur’s Mantle enough to hide the building they are in. Tomin, who is in command of the army, takes Vala up to their ship in order to convert her to Origin. The rest of the episode becomes a race for cam to keep Sam alive long enough the Ori.

“Line in the Sand” presents the Ori as a combination of Islam and some of the twisted sects of Christianity like the Westboro Baptist Church. It is much like Islam with its Origin or destruction philosophy similar to the Koran or sword method of mass conversions said to historically be a miracle of enlightenment by Muslims, though reality is a wee bit different. The twisted Christian sects allegory is a bit more subtle. Tomin, for instance, is a good guy who genuinely believes Origin is a properly moral religion. There have been hints before the Book of Origin is a decent book of morals. It has only been perverted by religious leaders. For instance, Daniel attempted to sway the initial Ori invasion force by quoting a verse forbidding violence against your neighbor. In “Line in the Sand,” Tomin begins to separate the Book of Origin from the Prior’s false interpretation when he realizes the Prior is quoting verses about forgiving from straying from the path, but justifies destroying the village instead. So what we have is not quite the Bible is evil mantra that has been kinda sort hinted at before.

Just to reinforce the point, Sam is certain she has been mortally wounded. She begins to discuss with cam her beliefs about God. She has spent most of her adult life immersed in science, but now wonders not only if there if god exists, but will He find her worthy. It is a outside looking in view of Christianity that a belief in God is enough to enter heaven--even Satan believes God exists, folks--but I appreciate the effort. To his credit, Cam offers words of wisdom from his famously devout Christian grandmother. The notion that Christianity is not inherently evil, nor is it only for the ignorant, is at least entertained.

A past episode showed “RC” on Sam’s dog tag, which means she is officially Catholic. Jack’s says “RC” as well, but it is clear he believes the Bible to be myths and outright lies. I have always assumed Sam to be an agnostic. She seems like the true type who needs proof, but would be willing to accept god exists if cogent proof is offered. Daniel is probably an atheist, but one who tolerates religious belief as the biggest influence on cultural development. One assumes he has no objection to Christianity’s mark on the western world. Teal’c has spoken of the Christian god’s benevolence. It appears then that Jack is the only hostile main character, and he is an equal opportunity scoffer, so no big deal there.

All right. That was a weird tangent, but quite relevant considering the main theme of Stargate SG-1 is who or what is worthy of worship. Well, that and the United states military liberates people from tyranny on this planet and any other. You do not see that said much in popular entertainment these days.

I like “Line in the Sand,” but there are a couple issues. One, lines about daniel’s abduction were cut for time, so his ansence is barely noted. It is not a huge issues, since I do not expect the rest of the team to sit around moping about it, but it is still odd to gloss over it that much. Two, sam’s wound is presented terrible unrealistically. She gets shot by a laser in the left side of her lower abdomen. There is a exit wound through the small of her back. Since the beam forcibly tore through her like a projectile, she should have lost half her colon upon entry and her left kidney upon exit. As one who has lost half his colon due to a diverticulitis rupture that required such immediate surgery, I was in the operating room before anyone told me what was about to be operated on. Sam should have died instantly. Instead, she not only survives with colon and kidney intact, she is sampling a gift of macaroons presumably only days after returning to SGC. That is a Hollywood injury to a main character for you. It is sweet, though, how much Cam and sam are bonding emotionally.

In spite of sam’s miracle, I give “Line in the Sand’ high marks. It is an all around good episode. There is a lot of action. The philosophical discussion is stimulating. There is even a cool by the seat of your pants ending in which it appears the village has been destroyed, but sam got Arthur’s Mantle working in time. You knew she would, but…woo hoo for the good guys!

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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