Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Crusade"

Good news, Claudia Black fans. Not only is “Crusade” almost exclusively a Vala-centric episode, but she is featured in every subsequent episode. The bad news is that Michael Ironside has a role in “Crusade.’ as anyone who has followed science fiction over the last twenty-five or so years knows, anytime Ironside appears on your show--or worse, joins the cast--it is about to be cancelled. There remain only twenty-one episodes of Stargate SG-1 to review. The Ironside Curse continues.

“Crusade” features Vala’s adventures in the Ori galaxy when she switches bodies with Daniel in order to alert Sgc the Ori armies are ready to invade the Milky Way through a secret super gate. She is also pregnant even though she has not done the deed with a man. The episode consists of a lot of narration as Vala recounts her rescue by a crippled man named Tomyn, whom she eventually marries, her suspicion and torture as a nonbeliever by local Ori enforcer Seevis (Ironside), and the eventual revelation seevis is the leader of a small band of rebels who aim to prevent the armada from entering the super gate. The rest of the cast pretty much sits around and listens to her story.

There is a B story involving the Russians demanding their stargate back as a bargaining tactic for what they really want--the next hyper drive capable ship to come off the line. The Americans reluctantly agree. Could the Russian ship possibly be long for this galaxy? They did not do a very good job maintaining the stargate when they had it. This part of the episode comes across as throw togther filler solely to provide breaks in between segments of Vala’s story.

An important thing to note, aside from the overly obvious notion black is supposed to be an extremely popular character judging by the emphasis on her this season, is the maturing of Vala. She still has her moments of cattiness. Thankfully, the powers that be play down the obvious make Michael Shanks overly effeminate while he is “playing” Vala. Gender bending is not always comedy gold. I am glad the writers realized this. Vala genuinely comes to care for Tomiyn and frets for his safety as a prior heals his disability in order to convince him to join the innvasion force. She wants him to not go even after it is revealed she is not carrying his child. Mind you, she still lies about being part of the Anti-Ori in order to save her own skin, but vala is clearly becoming more than comic relief and eye candy.

In the end, the Asgard and Tok’ra are sweeping the Milky Way for the super gate while the SG-1 team prepares to travel to the stargate address discovered via Merlin’s device in order to find the weapon that can destroy asended beings. This adventure leads us into the ninth season finale.

“Crusade” is a lot of set up for the ninth season finale and presumably tenth season premiere. As such, it is difficult to judge without knowing how well the lead up pays off. Black fans should certainly be pleased. It is definitely her episode. She gets to be sexy, funny, and dramatic at various times. Any guy who is tempted by the fantasy of rescuing a pretty damsel in distress will have a field day by her chained up in public for days ordeal. Though I must say chaining up a pregnant woman with no food or water for days for the purpose of testing her animosity for the Ori makes me a touch squeamish. There should not be degrees of sadism, but in reality, there are. Sevvis’ Vala torture establishes that he is an ends justifies the means guy --he plans to destroy the invasion force of suped true believers--but he stoops extremely low when dealing with Vala. The bottom line is I am anxious to see what comes next, so “Crusade” does its job.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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