Monday, July 9, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Scourge"

Our heroes certainly have a difficult time with bugs. Whether it is vicious fireflies or the Replicators, entomology is a subject they desperately need to avoid. ‘The scourge” features a plot we have seen several times before. It does not add anything new, but the manner in which the P-75 bugs carry out their swarming, carnivorous ways is quite memorable.

The SG-1 team is assigned to escort members of the international oversight committee on a tour a the gamma Site, an off world plant and animal research facility. One of the species being studied is a insect, presumably engineered by the Ori to replace the plague as a punishment, that has destroyed crops on a number of planets. The bugs literally gorge themselves on plants. After a scientist gives them a bit of meatloaf, they develop a taste for meat, multiply rapidly, and escape confinement.

There are several scenes scattered throughout in which the bugs devour a human completely in a matter of seconds or crawl out the mouth and nose of another. Those are cringe worthy scenes that had me occasionally slapping at various tingling sensations that I was certain was a bug on me. Although it does not make sense for the bugs to eat everything down to the dog tags, the creep out is a mark of success for the episode.

But there is not much else about ‘the Scourge” worth noting. We have seen the plot several times before. After defeating the far more formidable Replicators, it seems like a bad idea to revisit insects as a villain. Some of the cost cutting measures diminish the episode, as well. The Gamma Site is a convenient replica of SGC and the vast majority of scenes involving P-75 traveling is them rumbling underground. Call it too nitpicky, but an overland swarm is far more effective. In a good episode, I could excuse the decision to have the bugs burrow, but in a bad episode, it is difficult to overlook elements that would have made the episode more memorable.

I did enjoy that the French IOC representative was the one constantly ready to give up when everyone was being stalked by the bugs. He was also completely flummoxed when cam gave him a gun in order to defend himself. Never cut those surrender frogs a break, I say.

Aside from some extremely disturbing scenes with the bugs attacking various victims, the only real virtue of “The Scourge” is that it is a low budget episode that is mercifully not one of those clip shows that often air around about this time in the season. The powrs that be are pretty much phoning it in here.

Rating: ** (out of 5).

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