Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Unending"

Here we are, folks. The final episode of Stargate SG-1. Reviewing the series has been the longest writing project I have undertaken for The Eye. Stargate SG-1 reviews beat out The X-Files by eleven reviews. I have literally written a book about Stargate SG-1. not bad for a guy who was only vaguely aware of the show seven months ago.

The Asgard request Odyssey come to Orilla for a special announcement. When our heroes arrive, Thor informs them the efforts to extend their race have resulted in a degenerative genetic disorder. Rather than deteriorate, the Asgard are going to commit mass suicide. Before they go, they hand off all their technology and history--the Asgard legacy--to the humans, whom Thor declares to finally be the fifth race.

Odyssey is attacked by an Ori fleet after the Asgard technology is installed. Our heroes flee just as Orilla explodes. Odyssey is forced to come out of hyperspace a couple times to make adjustments, but when they do, the ori fleet, which can track them somehow, attack. Sam gets the idea of using a time dilation device the next time the ship drops out of hyperspace in order to give her time to make the necessary adjustments. Her plan only works partially. The Ori fleet attacks, and time is stopped in the middle of an Ori laser blast that will destroy Odyssey when time resumes.

Sam does not know how long it will take her to come up with a solution, but days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. A musical montage covering the passing years shows our heroes celebrating Christmas, Daniel and Vala’s romantic relationship blossoming, Sam learning to play the cello, cam going stir crazy, mourning Landry’s death, and a few other scenes that demonstrate a combination of leaning on each other for support and trying to not go insane under the pressure of confinement.

Sometime around the fifty year mark, Sam comes up with an idea to end the time dilation and allow the laser to power some doohickey that will allow Teal’c to travel back to the moment Sam started the time dilation device, prevent her from doing so, and install a program that will allow Odyssey to dodge the laser in the first place. The catch is Teal’c will remain aged. Oh, and there is a reset button, something Stargate SG-1 has been good about avoiding, so it is particularly disappointing to end the series on one. Needless to say, the reset button works. The final scene, which I admit was emotional, is our heroes blissfully unaware of the fifty years they spent together, walking through the stargate on another adventure.

I would like to say they saved the best for last, but I honestly cannot. "Unending” has its high points. The CGI space battles and the destruction of Orilla come to mind immediately. But other special effects are lacking. I am always disappointed by aging make up. Actors always wind up looking like rubbery prunes. Since that is always the case, I try to cut some slack on the matter. But this time around, the make up job is so bad, the director had to adjust the script to extend the time period our heroes are trapped to fifty years in order to make their decrepit appearances more reasonable. Not that fifty years trapped in a confined space is plausible. Every human on Odyssey lived into their late eighties at least. How plausible is that given the stress of being virtually imprisoned with no professional medical care for half a century? The original plan was for our heroes to be trapped for twenty years. The powers that be should have stuck with it.

Another aspect that disappoints is Daniel’s characterization. In short, he is a Jerk. Vala throws a birthday party for him to alleviate her boredom even though it is not really his birthday, and he walks out on her and all his friends because of it. Has he not ever heard it is the thought that counts? Later, when trapped in the time dilation, Vala initiates a romantic relationship with him. Daniel rips her to shreds over what an emotional wreck she is and the too could never hook up. She bursts into tears before Daniel reverses course and gives her a shot. Daniel is uncharacteristically mean spirited here. If the powers that be wanted to hook Daniel and Vala up, fine. But the two should have grown into their relationship over the decades, not have Daniel make Vala cry, then sleep together in order to make her happy.

I have already mentioned the reset button resolution. Come on, writers. You are better than that. Aging the characters is a bad idea because a reset button is necessary. A different plot should have been developed for the episode in order to avoid negating everything in the climax.

“Unending” definitely has flaws. I can think of two or three other episode that would have made for a better series finale. Truth be told, I am not too far from considering these final two seasons as a spin off of Stargate SG-1 rather than a continuation. Still, it is the end of a long journey. Sentimentality wins out over logic. I am going to award “Unending” four stars. One knows as soon as our heroes began aging there would be a reset button, so tugging at the heart strings in the interim would have to save the episode. It does, but one is generous in saying so due to the series being great as a whole.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

The musical montage in the middle of the episode which depicts the years flowing is accompanied by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” It is an unusual choice of song, but Gaters have latched onto it when making YouTube videos about Stargate SG-1. Here is one of the actual montage from “Unending.” If you wish to see some hokier fan made videos, do give it a search. There are plenty of therm out there. What is ahead? I am going to review The Ark of Truth and Continuum to finish out the week. Sometime over the weekend, I will make a post that links every review in one convenient spot that will remain the first post whenever some one hits the Stargate SG-1 tag. Beginning Monday--Stargate Atlantis reviews.

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