Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Quest, Part I"

“The Quest, Part I” sets up the midseason cliffhanger. Only ten episodes remain, folks. We are nearing the end of our own quest here. There are a couple unique points about this episode. One, it is good on its own merit and not just set up for the resolution. Two, the plot is a fantasy quest not unlike role playing games or those mountains of dime a dozen paperback novels clogging up the science fiction section of any given bookstore. Not to sound negative about the episode. It is actually quite amusing to stretch Stargate SG-1’s boundaries with the fantasy quest motif.

Daniel is frustrated the search on the planets he learned from his trip to Atlantis are a dead end until Vala has a sudden flash of inspiration. Her middle of the night epiphany leads the SG-1 team to a medieval planet that is actually the barely disguised Camelot village. The villagers inform them many have come seeking the Sangraal over the years, including a recent intrepid soul who sounds a lot like Ba’al. Osric, the local librarian, is not keen on helping them. But after the ori invade, he appears to change his mind and comes to them offering himself as a guide.

The ensuing quest involves five obstacles that test a virtue written on the Parchment of Virtues. Our heroes use Prudence to get through a time dilation maze, Charity in giving up objects of value to escape a prison, Kindness in helping a child escape a prison cell, Wisdom in solving several riddles, and faith by walking through a wall of fire under the assumption they will not be consumed by the flames. They reach the sangraal, but it turns out to be a hologram protected by a very real dragon. To be continued.

My experience with fantasy is mercifully limited, but I can appreciate the recreation of the motif here. Dare I say how much has it origins in mythology? I like Ba’al enough to excuse the fact he is thrown in here for the purpose of tying in his storyline. It is convenient he just happens to be on the quest at the same time as the SG-1 team considering they are being manipulated by Adria, who implanted the epiphany in Vala and is now posing as Osric, because Morgan Le Fay has it set up where she cannot use her powers during the quest. What happened to Ba’al’s Jaffa? We never find out. The reveal of osric’s true identity is a surprise even though Morena Baccarin is listed in the opening credits, so there is a bonus.

As far as midseason cliffhangers go, “The Quest, Part I” is near the top. Consider that high praise, because dragons, medieval quests, and magic does not usually float my boat. Maybe I am enough of an Indiana Jones fan, at least other than the final film in the series, to go for it. The prospect of battling a dragon is a cool cliffhanger, though the skeptic in me suspects all is not as it seems. There will be a cop out of some description.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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