Friday, July 6, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Stronghold"

“Stronghold” revisit’s the frequent plot of Teal’c being captured and tortured only to ultimately survive due to his emotional connection to those around him. That may be routine at this point, but the B-story saves stronghold from being anything but run of the mill. “Stronghold’ is as much about cam, maybe even more, than Teal’c.

As the Jaffa High council is on the verge of dissolving itself on the way to free elections, members begin reversing their positions to hold onto power regardless of how adamantly they previously supported democracy. Bra’tac and teal’c become suspicious and investigate the sudden group change of mind. Teal’c winds up being kidnapped by the force behind the change--Ba’al, who has brainwashed members of the High Council in a bid to take over himself. No he is going to work on brainwashing Teal’c.

Meanwhile, Cam visits an old friend, Maj. Bruce ferguson, in the VA hospital. Ferguson has a piece of shrapnel and to pierce an artery. There is no possibility it can be surgically repaired. Ferguson received his injury saving Cam under circumstances that are not made clear beyond cam feeling guilty because his rash behavior caused the scenario. Ferguson was up for the SG-1 position Cam ultimately earned. Cam thinks Ferguson would have beat him out hands down if he had not been fatally injured. Presumably, Cam feels some pangs about jack pulling strings, as well, but that is far less poignant.

Cam uses a mobile version of the memory device from “Collateral Damage” to share his experiences of the SG-1 team with Ferguson. Ferguson continues to assure cam he ought not feel guilty. It is his job to watch his comrade’s back. Armed with the knowledge of the SG-1 team’s heroics, he urges cam to stop keeping vigil and go rescue teal’c. Because that is what comrades in arms do. Cam agrees.

Teal’c’s rescue is the largest, most exciting action sequence we have experienced this season. It feels like old rimes as ground forces engage evil Jaffa in the wilderness just outside Vancouver. I note Cam allows sam to take command of the operation in keeping with the shift in recent seasons from jack being in charge to her becoming more assertive. In reality is to allow reinforce cam’s rash behavior by having him charge in alone to rescue Teal’c, but I appreciate the acknowledgment Sam had been de facto leader of the SG-1 team for a while there, but is now under cam’s command.

Ferguson bleeds to death while Cam is away. The final scene is of him mourning his friend alongside Teal’c.

I have noted a couple times in recent reviews what a fine edition to the cast Ben Browder is. I was fearful he and Claudia black joining the cast would be a jump the shark moment. Instead, the ninth season has been a major change for the better for the series. Cam is a more more interesting character than jack was for his last few seasons. I even like Landry more than Hammond, but we shall stick with the more relevant to the review Cam for now. I lament the episodes featuring the new team dynamic are dwindling down. On the plus side, I have gone from cautiously optimistic about Farscape to eager anticipation.

I do want to mention one thing about Landry v. Hammond. When jack was captured and tortured by Ba’al in “Abyss,” Hammond refused to risk a large scale assault on his fortress because of the large number of casualties likely to be incurred. Landry calls Teal’c family in ‘Stronghold” and approves of a massive assault to rescue him. Granted, Hammond’s lack of action was a plot device as convenient to that story as cam‘s rushing headlong into Ba‘al‘s ship to rescue teal‘c is to ‘Stronghold.” But it still reflects upon the character. Landry seems more human, less inclined to leave one of his men to a terrible fate. Unfair, considering Hammond’s other heroic actions, but it is what it is.

“Stronghold’ is very good. If nothing else, I am enormously grateful the powrrs that be managed to offer up something compelling to watch in an episode that is meant to further the less than compelling for me Jaffa drama. Browder does yet more heavy lifting, and does it admirably. It is also about time we saw our heroes in ground battle action again. Such may not be the Air force’s forte, but the SG teams do it well.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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