Stargate SG-1: Season Four
By Dwip May 5, 2015, 10:59 am Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

This is one of my favorite contenders for best season of this show. While it lacks the main plot arc of some of the seasons, and mostly consists of one offs and juggling existing plotlines in various ways, almost all of these episodes are extremely strong, with only a couple of real clunkers in the bunch. Some of them, like Window of Opportunity, The First Ones, and 2010, are some of the best episodes of the whole ten season run.

The only fault I can really give it as a season is the introduction of the character of Anise, an apparently network mandated “sexy” character who mostly just serves to drag down every episode she’s in as I struggle to take her seriously in any way whatsoever. Fortunately, she’s a very short-lived addition, and the extreme upsides of this season more than make up for this brief little blip of insanity.

JAFFA, KREE! THERE ARE SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT

Small Victories

“Whatcha doin?”

“I like the yellow ones.”

SG-1, having miraculously escaped from Thor’s ship as it crashed into the ocean, returns home via the second Stargate only to find that one of the Replicators survived too, and it just so happens to be eating a Russian submarine this very second. Incidentally, a bunch of Replicator ships are about to wipe out an Asgard planet, too. No pressure.

We got a taste of the Replicators in Nemesis last season, but this is the one where we learn just how bad news they really are. Just one Replicator can replicate itself over and over and over again given raw materials, like an Asgard ship or a Russian submarine. Worse, they’re intelligent, they adapt to their surroundings, and they’re kind of ferocious.

Some things with that:

– Hey, it’s now Jack flirting with Sam. That’s fun.

– Also, Sam’s actually starting to use humor instead of being completely in earnest all the time. So that’s neat.

– Teal’c soul patch wtf.

– Carter got new hair, too.

– Come to find out the Asgard need us because we think different. We’ve seen a lot of how cool they are, and we’ve had hints they’re a little limited as far back as Thor’s Hammer, but this is the point where we start getting the drift on how rigid their thinking is.

– Apparently the Asgard really like Jack.

– Replicator queens are new, but of course everything else about them is too. Likewise, their use of local materials.

– For being the opening episode of the season, the fight on the sub is tense and scary, and if you didn’t know any better you’d think our heroes were in some serious trouble, Asgard deus ex machina or not.

– “I like the yellow ones” may be the best Thor quote of all time.

Well, this new villain is kind of scarier than the Goa’uld. Something about unstoppable forces is like that, I guess. At least you can relate to the Goa’uld.

The Other Side

“So, what’s your impression of Alar?”

“That he is concealing something.”

“Like what?”

“I am unsure. He is concealing it.”

The SGC receives multiple calls for help from another world, which turns out to be humans fighting a war against some enemy. They offer to share everything they have, which is more technology than we have, if Earth will just give them some heavy water to power their fusion generators for their shields. Sounds good, right?

So the Eurondans here turn out to be space Nazis who poisoned the atmosphere to kill everyone else. That’s moderately horrifying. But before we get to that point, there are some questions to be asked because this is another one of those fun Stargate philosophy episodes. In this case, it’s how far are you willing to go in order to get the things you want? In the case of Jack O’Neill, he’ll help fight their war a little. He’ll give them some medical supplies and food and even the heavy water. But space racists? Nooope.

That’s kinda messed up if you think about it, as is how hard Jack comes down on Daniel here for basically being himself. I’d even go so far as to say it’s slightly out of character. Yeah, movie Jack would have done it. But Jack hasn’t been that guy for ages now, so to see him revert to that here is weird.

Still though, a nice episode with a good question and a nice reveal. A few things:

– Teal’c doesn’t speak much, but he gets the best lines.

– Drone fighters! Those looked neat.

– One of these days we’ll get some less goofy space gear.

– I liked the subtle reveal that by the way, these guys are super racist. A lesser show would have had Alar shouting “Heil Hitler!” from the rooftops.

– Speaking of Alar, great moment at the end where Sam watches Jack run back through the gate, tells them to shut the iris, then lets Alar slam himself into it. They both know what he’s doing, and I don’t think she really approves, and he doesn’t look happy to do it, but it’s what’s going to happen. Very interesting set of facial expressions there from both of them.

Upgrades

“In fact, the Tok’ra are starting to annoy me in general.”

“Sir?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Carter. Your dad’s great. I love him like a brother. But it’s just that every time they show up, it seems like there’s all kinds of…tr…”

“Yep, that looks like trouble to me.”

“The inscription says ‘with great power comes great responsibility.'”

Finally, the Tok’ra want to help us out with some technology. Armbands that will make the wearer faster, stronger, more adept at everything. There’s got to be a catch somewhere, right?

Right.

In which SG-1 takes on comic book superheroes and scientific ethics in the same episode, complete with Spiderman quotes. And, well, I dunno. On the one hand, this episode is hilarious. Like nonstop hilarious. This is one of the funniest episodes of the series maybe. And there are some interesting ethical dilemmas in there.

On the other hand, I find it absolutely preposterous that anybody involved would just blithely strap these things on without any of the caution General Hammond shows later in the episode. Anise is kind of a caricature, and what’s with the super special upgrade from the normal Tok’ra getup? (apparently because the network wanted a “sexy female character” *sigh*). Some fairly important stuff happens in this episode that doesn’t really lend it the gravitas it never had in the first place.

So kind of a train wreck of an episode, but funny. Very funny.

– Looks like Jack and Teal’c kept up the boxing practice from The Fifth Race.

– “Earth, steaks, what’s the difference?” This is a very quotable episode.

– In which they sink Apophis’ battleship.

– New red serpent armor, further signifying the blending of Sokar’s forces with Apophis’.

– I did really like Frasier being the voice of reason. Also she has some good moments with Sam.

– So does Jack, actually. The bit with the forcefield is moderately significant.

Crossroads

“Bra’tac…you’ve done something with your hair.”

“I have found a way to communicate with my symbiote.”

A Jaffa priestess named Shaun’auc arrives at the SGC. Not only is she an old flame of Teal’c’s, she also claims to have found a way to communicate with her symbiote, who very much desires to join up with the Tok’ra.

Surely everyone involved can be trusted, right?

Yay, a big Teal’c episode, and one in which the Jaffa are all written to not sound like total idiots. And Christopher Judge gets to display some range, which is pretty nice. As to the episode itself, I’m always surprised when Shaun’auc actually is telling the truth, and she’s not hatching some ploy to kill everyone. As opposed to Tanith, say.

Various things of interest going on here:

– Symbiote communication is obviously a thing that’s new and interesting.

– We pretty much know what happened with Teal’c’s dad, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen it.

– Jack the apprentice!

– It’s always struck me as weird how ready Teal’c is to just throw over his wife and kid to run off with some random ex-girlfriend. Sheesh dude.

– Anise is back, and while she’s more likeable, she’s already poisoned the well with SG-1. Weird knowing that she’s supposed to be what the network wanted them to add, considering she’s this weird hateable antagonist.

– On the same note, while the uneasy relationship with the Tok’ra is probably better in terms of the plot, that’s not really the direction it seemed to be going as of last time we saw them.

– This is obviously the first appearance of Tanith as played by noteable Highlander actor Peter Wingfield, who mostly just confuses me in this role. Why is Methos here? I don’t understand.

Divide and Conquer

“Tuesday doesn’t work for the President.”

“The High Councilor of the Tok’ra is making his first visit to Earth to sign an official treaty that outlines our new alliance in the fight against the Goa’uld. What could possibly be more important than that?”

“Keeping that treaty a secret from the general population of our planet.”

“Sir, none of this has to leave this room.”

“And we’re ok with that?”

“Yes sir.”

The President of the United States and the Tok’ra are getting ready to sign a treaty to fight the Goa’uld. That’s big news. Unfortunately, the Goa’uld seem to have gotten wind of the thing, and are sending za’tarcs, brainwashed assassins who could be literally anybody. Who might be one? Even SG-1?

I admit, I’m not sure how we got from nobody trusts the Tok’ra to Tok’ra ol’ buddy ol’ pal in the space of an episode, but this is more like what I expected from the pre-Anise Tok’ra, so we can run with it. It’s pretty cool, actually. Another big new step forward. And za’tarcs are a logical extension to what the Goa’uld can do considering what they’ve done before.

Oh, and there’s an awful lot of character drama in this episode. So so much. Mostly for the better.

Many things:

– Man, Sam’s new hair does not work.

– I think za’tarcs only make one more appearance, which is a bit strange.

– Those little hand blaster things are cool too.

– I’m pretty sure this is the last time we see Anise, and seriously thank false gods for that one. From the first moment she shows up to the last, she’s obnoxiously written and massively over the top in a way that cheapens the show. The actress did fine, to be sure, but the writers…what in the world is that costume she’s wearing? Why in the world is she coming on to Jack and indirectly Daniel? So many bad character decisions in all her episodes that her not showing back up is a mercy killing.

– That za’tarc detector shows up again, I think. Bad CGI and all.

– The obvious reveal here is that everybody has to acknowledge that the SS Sam and Jack is a ship that would love to set sail but cannot. Forget the treaty, the scenes between the two here are dramatic, emotional, and such a huge deal. In an episode that started with some of the worst of the show, this is some of the best of the show.

– I’ve never much liked Martouf. I don’t know why particularly. Nevertheless, it was a sad moment when he of all people turned out to be the za’tarc. All his stuff with Sam was almost as good as the scenes with her and Jack.

– That said, everyone around here is paranoid about security. How the shit do you not test Martouf? Also Anise, but seriously guys. Kind of a plot hole, but whatever.

Seriously need a break from the Tok’ra though.

Window of Opportunity

“Anyway, I’m sorry, that just happens to be how I feel about it. What do you think?”

“Colonel O’Neill, what are you doing?”

“In the middle of my backswing!?”

An alien archaeologist manipulates some crazy device of the Ancients on this planet, and Jack and Teal’c get stuck in a time loop, reliving the same 10 hours again and again and again and again…

…and again and again and again…

This is the one where SG-1 asks the question, if you could relive the past, what would you do with it? What could you do with it? The answer, it seems, is quite a lot. And yet not very much at all.

On the one hand, Jack and Teal’c. They take a bunch of time to better themselves. Solve the time loop, take up pottery, learn Latin. They learn what it’s like to live without consequences. All that horizon-broadening stuff. And that stuff is flat out hilarious. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. Every moment of the first two thirds is comedic genius.

And then there’s Malakai, who we discover spends the three months they were in the loop basically trying to get back to his dead wife to see her again. Which is sad, of course, and we’ve all got a thing like that we’d like to do. But as Jack says, and this is true, you can’t really fix the past. It’s in the past. Simple concept, but so very hard to come to terms with.

So many great moments here it’s pointless to even list them all, but:

– What did Daniel feel about what, I wonder.

– Thermometer Teal’c is basically the greatest thing. It’s astonishing how much Christopher Judge can do with just his facial expressions.

– Letting Daniel get run down by Siler so many times was kind of evil.

– Ah, the kiss without consequences. But Jesus Jack, that shirt.

– Stargate golfing, because why not.

– Considering how comedic most of the episode is, and how much SG-1 has failed in mixing comedy with seriousness in the past, Jack’s “I lost my son!” moment is extremely powerful, delivered perfectly.

– Also, come to find out the Ancients aren’t as all-knowing as we maybe thought. They messed up bad with the time loop machine, didn’t they.

This is a standout episode, one of the best of the entire series.

Watergate

“The Russians have a Stargate?”

Yes, apparently the Russians managed to pick up the original Stargate that got beamed aboard Thor’s ship in Small Victories. And somehow they know just about everything about the SGC. And a mere 37 days into their Stargate program they’ve managed to open a wormhole to another world that can’t be closed. Who you gonna call?

SG-1, of course.

This one feels like the first half of a two-parter, the second half of which we won’t be getting for a while. So that’s kind of weird, with a not particularly resolved ending. That said, the rest of what goes on here is pretty good. The Russians having a Stargate is going to blow a lot of hinges off a lot of doors, and the fact that they’re even less competent at running a program than the early days of the SGC is also a big deal. The SGC has been pretty cavalier at times, but nuclear drones seems pretty excessive.

I consistently forget the existence of the giant ocean of water creatures, which is a really cool idea discovered in a whole chain of suspenseful and mysterious reveals, each of which just makes you ask more questions. Why is everyone dead? Why was nerve gas used? Why is Maybourne frozen solid? Wait, Maybourne?

A couple neat things:

SG-1 has had assistance in various ways from the US Air Force in various ways, but this episode features a real C-130 and aircrew doing C-130 things. Cool.

– Not to keep bringing up the Sam and Jack shipping moments, but the only person to respond to Jack’s “Good luck” when they get in the sub is Sam.

Yeah, I admit, I ride this particular ship really hard. I am that fan.

– Man, Sam’s hair has been all of the place these last few episodes. Don’t tell me you don’t notice.

– Apparently the Russians got the Giza DHD from the Germans after WWII. That’s a nice little detail.

– So…Maybourne’s here. Hi Maybourne. That probably won’t be significant in any way.

– Really dig the giant political game here with all the things we all know know that they all know about the things everybody did but “it’s classified.”

– Seriously, who puts their Stargate program in a shitty old abandoned power station?

The First Ones

*GRUNT*

“Shut up?”

*grunt*

“I understood that.

We’re communicating.”

SG-11 and Daniel Jackson come across some fossilized Goa’uld during an archaeological dig on a new planet. Suddenly, an Unas charges in, kills a member of SG-11, and runs off with Daniel! Now it’s up to SG-1 to track down Daniel as he goes on a strange journey with this primitive Unas.

This is another of my favorite episodes. It’s a great character study for Daniel, who shows pretty good instincts and even more curiosity when captured by a scary demon monster with whom SG-1 has had only horrific encounters (on Cimmeria, and by the one working for Sokar). It also shows us a new side to the Unas. Previously they’ve all been Goa’uld hosts, but here we have primitive Unas and primitive Goa’uld alike, offering a glimpse at what it was like before the dawn of Goa’uld time.

This was a great twist for the Unas. Instead of scary monsters, they’re social pack hunters, capable of empathy and understanding, able to form friendships with humans. It’s fascinating to watch it happen – I’m a bit like Daniel, so I always love the meet new people episodes, and this is one of the purest and best.

Some things:

– The P90 makes its first appearance here. Yay.

– Love the scene where Daniel tries to run away into the water and Chaka just nopes on out on the shore.

– Did not really love the random bits about SG-11, which were hugely underdeveloped by comparison to the main Daniel stuff.

– Teal’c casually shoots a leaping Goa’uld with a staff weapon over his shoulder basically because he can.

– Teal’c also casually ties up everyone and leaves them by the Goa’uld lake just to see who the people infested by Goa’uld were.

– Speaking of whom, that’s one way to get rid of Rothman I guess?

I’ve been waiting for Chaka to show up. We’ll fortunately be seeing him again later.

Scorched Earth

“I know that if the Enkaran people are to die, then we shall all die here, together.”

SG-1 is at a party to celebrate them helping a bunch of refugees find a new world. Everything’s going great until they learn that there’s a huge spaceship terraforming everything…with fire. Turns out another race of people needs this planet too. But the Enkarans need a specific atmosphere, and this planet is pretty much it. What to do?

This picture amuses me greatly.

So, what this wanted to be was an in-depth examination of the choices involved in who gets what when two groups of people with legitimate arguments need the same stuff, with a dash of SG-1 character building in the (very tense) mix. Which is all fine and good, or would be if this episode actually worked for me. And yet it doesn’t particularly.

Two major problems. First, Jack turns into hardcore movie Jack to the point where he’s going to blow up Daniel with a naquadah bomb and he’s going to order Carter to do it. That’s pretty over the top for where he’s been going lately. Maybe in season 2, but definitely not here. The second is that the whole episode hinges on nobody taking 2 seconds to see if the spaceship guys had any idea about the Enkarans needing a world. Considering how smart everyone involved in this was, I don’t buy it.

I might have bought it if there were actually consequences for anybody involved in this thing, but there weren’t. Everyone gets a pat little happy ending, with at least one person going from “fuck you die” to “we’re BFFs forevar!” in the space of 30 seconds, which is a little too cute for me.

So I blame the writing, I think. Which is weird, because this was written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie (their first episode for the show), who will go on to write many very excellent episodes for the franchise, including Window of Opportunity which is one of my favorites.

Everybody has off days.

Beneath the Surface

“You must remember! We must escape!”

“It is my honor to serve.”

A group of dirty, ill-clothed people line up in a dark underground factory for their daily ration of food. A fight breaks out over bread. A man with a strange symbol on his forehead shouts at two of the workers, saying that they are members of something called SG-1 before being dragged off. But nobody has ever heard of any such thing, they’ve always lived down here.

Or have they?

Huh, I had remembered this one happening way later. Oh well.

This is the one where SG-1 tackles economics and class struggle. There’s a bit of a lot of things in here – the brainwashing and the uniforms and the honor to serve stuff all reminds me of communism, and at one point Brena pretty much calls out SG-1 as Stakhanovites (or would if that term existed here). The lack of freedom to leave reminds one very obviously of a sort of slightly more benign slavery of course, while the shining domed city versus dark pits could well be a commentary on the nature of middle class capitalism. And then of course there is the fact that the workers are all kept in the dark about the real conditions of the world, which is so Soviet it makes my teeth hurt.

And I gotta say, for a slow, plodding episode like this, I dig it. The mystery is slow to unravel, but it’s well-written and tightly wound. Unlike Scorched Earth, the plot holes are nonexistent and the characters believable. All the members of SG-1 have their little quirks that shine through even the most intense mental reprogramming.

Dark, in more ways than one, but a good trip.

A few things:

– Apparently across all personalities, the SS Sam and Jack must sail.

– Brainwashed Sam excitedly working out valve pressure was…cute? Sam’s fun when she gets excited.

– Daniel apparently always gets the multicultural hot women.

Point of No Return

“Ok. The truth. There is a top secret government program called Project Stargate.”

“I knew it!”

“But it has nothing to do with space travel.”

“What does it have to do with?”

“Magnets.”

A man calls the SGC for Jack. He knows, among other details about Roswell, the Kennedy cover-ups, and the lizard people, about the Stargate. He’s a paranoid delusional conspiracy nut on a pile of meds with nothing to go on.

Or maybe that’s not quite true.

This is an enormously entertaining episode – funny, witty, full of humor. It successfully riffs off the conspiracy nut genre with the twist that the guy who thinks he’s an alien actually is an alien. On that front it is successful and I enjoy it a great deal.

That said, I think maybe there’s something to the Gateworld critique here that the whole business of Marty, Tanner, and goons actually being deserters from a lost war against the Goa’uld could have been a really powerful thing if dealt with differently. Certainly Tanner and his guys thought they were in that episode, and maybe in a slightly more serious episode something could have been done with that.

Then again, we’ve seen that before. In a lot of ways, Teal’c is that. Maybe it’s worth more to try something new.

– Hey, Sam’s got short hair now. Yes, this is all very important.

– That tape recorder has to be heard to be believed. Hilarity.

– When did Sam take up lock picking?

– Teal’c has a look of such pure joy at the vibrating bed.

– First appearance of Teal’c’s alter ego of Murray.

– “We’re the guys with the guns, which means you answer our questions.”

Marty will return.

Tangent

“What in God’s name is that?”

“That, General, is the X-301 interceptor.”

“If we are to die, we die well.”

“We could do better.”

The Air Force has managed to partially reverse engineer the Goa’uld death gliders they got from Apophis’ ships way back in Season 2’s The Serpent’s Lair (and seen again in Touchstone), and now it’s time to test the things out. Who better to fly it than Teal’c as pilot and Jack as weapons officer?

Oh, and Apophis as co-pilot. Definitely Apophis as co-pilot. Deep space is nice this time of year.

For an episode that’s primarily two guys sitting in a cockpit, this is such an enormous undertaking, full of the wonders and the joys and the terrors that good science fiction should bring us. The fact that Earth is making its first steps towards the kind of technological supremacy enjoyed by the Goa’uld is a massive moment, ripe with the possibilities for the things we’ll begin to see in later seasons. The fact that Apophis has just sent two of SG-1 off to die in space via booby trap is a reminder that we, as Jacob says, are still young, with much to learn.

So much greatness in one episode:

– The visual effects here are amazing by any standards, let alone 2000 on TV. The shots of the X-301 flying in space and past Jupiter are breathtaking, powerful, and everything you want to see in a show where people fly through space.

– Too, while most of the episode is shot in a death glider mockup, it’s impossible to tell. The episode sells the claustrophobia and loneliness of two men trapped in the chillingly deadly beauty of space perfectly.

– We are now at such a point in SG-1’s career that it means an awful lot to have Teal’c call Jack his brother. Over the course of almost four years, these people have become very very close.

– Similarly, Amanda Tapping does a whole lot of facial expression acting in this one for Sam. It’s always worthwhile watching her whatever’s going on with Jack.

– This is the first time Lt. General Vidrine shows up. We’ll see him again.

– It’s interesting seeing Jacob become more and more assimilated with the Tok’ra, going so far as to chastise his daughter about what “you” are doing with death gliders. On that same note, the Tok’ra are back to being their pain in the ass selves, but at least they’re not getting us killed in science experiments?

Despite Apophis’ trap, this episode is still a major triumph for the Tau’ri. They’re not quite to the point of being able to take the Goa’uld on an equal footing, but that day is coming.

The Curse

“The truth is, I got caught up in something incredible.”

“You found something, didn’t you. Something that supports your theory. Tell me.”

“Ok. Let’s just say that what the world knows about ancient Egypt barely scratches the surface. The truth is more incredible than any of us ever imagined.”

By chance, Daniel discovers that his old archaeology professor and mentor is dead in a freak accident. Traveling back to Chicago for the funeral, he is drawn back into his old network of friends and rivals to figure out what happened while his mentor was working with some really old Egyptian artifacts.

And we all know what Egyptian artifacts mean.

So the DVD menu image for this one is Sarah with a ribbon device. Spoilers much guys?

It was probably inevitable that at some point Stargate was going to need to do a mummy’s curse episode, and it’s refreshing that this one is a straight up murder mystery and Goa’uld jar theft than a bunch of mystic hocus pocus – we’re a little far into things for that to work. It’s nice getting a glimpse of Daniel’s life before the movie – looked like had some good things going before he got labeled as a crackpot.

It’s also nice to get a return to the early days feel of people not in the know discovering how everything they thought they knew was totally wrong. This episode is pretty good by itself, but worth it just for Steven in the temple alone.

There is alas a bit of road not taken stuff here – Steven could have been an interesting SGC side character. Not much reason not to bring him on board, but alas he’s casually written off. Sarah we will see again as Osiris.

Some things:

– Yeah, Teal’c, I’m not big on fishing either. Also Jack could offer you a chair.

– It is completely unsurprising yet cool that Sam works on old motorcycles in her spare time.

– I’m not sure why you would make a mini stasis jar, but it’s a pretty cool idea.

– One wonders why Osiris would use the term Stargate.

– Also unclear why Dr. Frasier went along for the little desert sojurn, but hey, whatever.

The Serpent’s Venom

“The hatred and mistrust between Apophis and Heru’ur goes back a long time.”

“So if we could get them to fight each other…”

While attempting to gain more recruits for the Jaffa rebellion, Teal’c is betrayed and captured. Meanwhile, after Daniel figures out the code to some mines, Jacob Carter mentions a plan to re-rig one of those mines to blow up on Apophis’ ship during his summit with Heru’ur. If everything works, the two most powerful Goa’uld will fight each other. If not, everyone blows up. No pressure.

There’s a lot going on here, all of it pretty high stakes. The big one is obviously the business with the mine and the Heru’ur/Apophis summit. Disrupting that could have been a big thing for Our Heroes, but alas, it merely made Apophis even more powerful than before. This is starting to be a running theme with SG-1. For ages, it’s been pretty even among the System Lords. And then SG-1 comes along and does in a pretty impressive roster of them that Daniel was spouting off to Osiris last episode – Ra, Hathor, Seth, Sokar… that’s a lot, and it’s a big accomplishment. Unfortunately, the main effect of it is making Apophis even more powerful. A bit of a double edged sword there.

On a more personal level, it’s nice that we’re going back to the Jaffa rebellion, and showing how fraught with peril that is. Too, this episode takes Teal’c and makes him practically Christ, pose, torture, and all. He even manages to convert one of his centurions, so to speak. Pretty powerful stuff, and it’s good to see Christopher Judge get the chance to do some really heavy acting for once.

Some things:

– Whoever played the Goa’uld torturer did a great job. Seriously, hire this guy for all your torturer parts.

– Jack at one point tries waving a bunch of mines away with his hand.

– I loved the whole laptop exchange in the elevator.

– First time Rak’nor shows up. We’ll see him again.

– Last time we get to see Heru’ur. :(

– Jacob’s little sacrifice Teal’c speech was a bit weird. Too much Tok’ra influence? Jack going to bat for him was classic Jack though.

Chain Reaction

“But frankly I’m getting tired of sending good people out there never knowing if they’re coming back. I’ve had enough.”

“On Chulak, when a great warrior retires from the field of battle, it is customary to sing a song of lament.

…fortunately we are not on Chulak.”

General Hammond abruptly announces his resignation as commander of the SGC, and Jack isn’t really satisfied with his answer. Meanwhile, the new guy they bring in wants to blow up a planet to test a bomb. Something’s fishy about this whole thing, but Jack’s going to need some help to get to the bottom of things, and he knows just the guy.

Well, here’s that epilogue to Watergate we needed. Maybourne’s in prison, the Russians…where did they send the other gate, anyway? In the event, this is where the gloves really come off between the SGC and the NID, and of course Kinsey’s behind everything. He tried once to get the whole thing shut down, and apparently if he can’t shut it down he’ll kill it via proxy and a terrible manager. That’s kind of terrifying.

Somewhat less terrifying, surprisingly, is the naquadah bomb General Bauer wants to send through the gate. I never much doubted they’d escape this clearly retread B plot stuff. The terrifying part of Bauer is that he’s where the NID is prepared to go, and that the NID is also prepared to go all Enemy of the State on General Hammond. That’s gonna be big.

All of that said, there’s a contrast in leadership here. Hammond’s a good leader. He watches out for his people and tries to do good by them while getting the job done. As a result, they watch out for him. Bauer’s a bad leader, a soulless hatchet man who only cares about the job but uses up his people, and as a result ends up completely ineffectual. Lesson there.

Some things:

– It is nice to get to see Hammond just hanging out with his granddaughters. I like the little slice of off-base life moments.

– Jack and Maybourne make such a great buddy spy duo. They really do.

– Man, holy crap is that NID website straight out of 1997. It’s hilarious in this day and age.

– The great thing about Kinsey as a villain is that he doesn’t show up all that often, but when he does you know it’s going to be serious. And he’s such a great, effective villain. He’s like the archetypal evil politician, with the added bonus that he sounds just like a lot of the more evil politicians we actually have.

– To which note, the scene with Kinsey’s announcement and Jack and Maybourne getting away is completely perfect. On the one hand, they got away. On the other hand, what have they unleashed?

– Likewise, Maybourne gets away. Nothing could go wrong there.

2010

“Aschen Promise Anti-Ageing Vaccine Worldwide”

Ten years ago, SG-1 made contact with a race called the Aschen. They proved to be humanity’s greatest benefactors, providing enormous leaps in technology and science, even vaccines that slowed ageing and cured cancer. And on a day of celebration of this, the only sour note is that Sam and her ambassador husband can’t have kids. The Aschen told her she was fine…but she’s not. What’s the deal?

Episodes with years in the title are probably destined to be great ones. Granted there are only two thus far, but along with 1969 I think this one proves the rule. It’s always cool to see different takes on the Stargate world, and this one is particularly compelling in a sort of Gattaca-esque fashion where everything’s perfect but it’s really not. The plot is a slow burn, taking us step by step through the ramifications of just what the Aschen are up to, taking plenty of time to give us some good characterization – of course Janet Frasier feels useless. Of course Sam got with one of her endless suitors leaving Jack bitter and lonely in his pond fortress of solitude. Teal’c doesn’t need his gold Apophis emblem anymore. And the episode after we hear about Kinsey running for president, he’s the president. Hee.

Lots of things:

– Again, Kinsey as president is great, and ties in great with Chain Reaction. 2010 gives us a sort of Kinseyfied view of the world. He’s a lot like the Aschen in some ways, which just sort of magnifies how awful him being president would be.

– Tragically, Hammond’s actor, Don Davis, really did die of a heart attack as predicted in this episode.

– Well, that’s one way to get Sam out to the cabin I guess.

– Walter the gate dailing guy gets a name!

– Loved the whole SGC museum thing. That was really great.

– Amanda Tapping doesn’t always get a lot of heavy scenes, but Sam did a lot of heavy lifting this episode, especially with Joe the ambassador. That was serious business. Also, how monstrous must you be to sacrifice 30% of the population for political goals.

– Well, isn’t that whole death for everybody at the end tragic. Which brings us to…

Daniel Jackson Death Count: 5
Killed by Ra in Stargate
The Nox (01×08) where he gets shot by an Apophis Jaffa
Alternate reality Daniel bites it in There But For the Grace of God (01×20)
Alternate reality Daniel bites it offscreen in Point of View (03×06)
Future Daniel gets shot a few dozen times by Aschen lasers in 2010 (04×16)

Daniel Jackson Presumed Dead: 4
Children of the Gods (01×01) before Jack clues everyone in about Abydos
Fire and Water (01×13) before everyone realizes he was captured by Nem
Shot and left for dead in The Serpent’s Lair (02×01)
Thought killed on some planet but actually captured by Hathor in Out of Mind (02×22)

Yeah, it’s been a while, hey?

Absolute Power

“They say they can use the memory recall device to extract information from Shifu without harming him physically.”

“Yeah, but what about mentally?”

“Ah, what about emotionally? I mean, think about what we’d be exposing him to – we’d be flooding his mind with the thoughts of a thousand Hitlers. One of whom happened to put a…snake in the head of his…mother…”

SG-1 finds the Harcesis child on Abydos, or perhaps he finds them. His name is Shifu, and he’s got some things to teach Daniel by way of a dream. A very real dream.

Not only does this wrap up (for now) the Harcesis plotline, it’s also a bit of a study on the duality of man’s nature. On the one hand, you’ve got the good Daniel, who deeply misses his wife and who is determined to care for the boy that’s his only reminder of her, child of Apophis or no. On the other hand, you’ve got that repressed part of Daniel who would go to just about any end to achieve the things he thinks need achieving. We’ve seen that take charge side of Daniel before, of course, but never before has he shut down an entire briefing, cut off the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and obliterated a whole city. Oh, and done horrible things to his friends.

There’s some wisdom in there, I think. Daniel thinks so too.

– Apparently this is the last time we see Kasuf. Bye Kasuf!

– I have said this before and will say it again, but Michael Shanks is a fantastic actor with a lot of range, and I think he shows it here as both good and evil Daniel (I mean, that briefing scene, right?). I think I’ve also said that Daniel Jackson is my favorite character in the series because of that range and because of all of them I think he has the most character development and goes the furthest of any of them from where he started. This is one of the key episodes in that transformation.

– “Elevators are such a pain in the ass.”

– The nanites from way back in Brief Candle make a reappearance here.

– Hey, it’s the za’tarc detectors. Remember those?

Ultimately this whole episode is somewhat of a con to explain why we can’t just auto-win by using the Harcesis memories, but it’s a pretty good explanation, I think.

The Light

In which SG-5 and then SG-1 all get addicted to some pretty colors in some weird Goa’uld temple place. Also there’s this kid.

This one is about drugs and drug withdrawal, which is a noble goal. It is also, unfortunately, not particularly watchable in any way shape or form despite some decent performances all around. I struggle to put my finger on what exactly the problem is, but the end result is that it’s one of the few episodes of this show that acts like sleeping pills on me. It’s just…dull.

So…yeah.

– Teal’c puzzling over toy guns is probably a highlight of the episode, though.

– Also the Daniel on the balcony scene.

– Also Sam and Jack in withdrawal mode bickering on the beach. Heh.

Again, I dunno. There’s something about addiction episodes in every show except The Wire that I just can’t cope with. Not sure.

Prodigy

“Wormholes and hyperspace may sound like science fiction, but take my word for it, the future is a lot closer than you might think.”

On a plane…moon, Jack is shepherding some scientists studying some weird little energy creatures. Meanwhile at the Air Force Academy, Sam is trying to shepherd a brilliant young cadet who bears more than a passing resemblance to herself.

Glowy energy being plot aside, this one is mostly about the contrast between Sam and Cadet Hailey, who despite being as smart as or smarter than Sam is nonetheless a rather irritating know it all with a distinct lack of foresight and maturity. If Sam and Jack ever had a kid, that kid would probably be a lot like Hailey.

I kinda like it. Hailey’s irritating in such a way that it allows Sam to take on a leadership and mentoring role for once instead of merely staying Jack’s sidekick forever. It’s also nice to see her in an actual military and scientific setting instead of hanging around the SGC – as I’ve said before I think these little slice of life moments are important.

Some things:

– In the continued vein of USAF support for the show, General Ryan, the actual USAF Chief of Staff, shows up in the first few minutes. He’s a little off, but not too bad.

– We’ll be seeing Cadet Hailey again.

– We’ll be seeing most of those scientists again too. I’m not really a fan of the pointlessly adversarial science vs. military dynamic they bring to the show, but we’ll likely get into that more in time.

– The bit where Teal’c zats Jack is just so completely classic.

– I mean, zats. Is there anything they can’t do? I’m waiting for the moment SG-1 heats up breakfast with one.

Entity

“What in God’s name?”

“Well General, whatever got into our computers apparently has built a nest.”

On a routine probe of another world, a MALP suddenly starts flying, then transmits some kind of energy pulse back to the SGC. Later, it turns out some kind of entity has infected the SGC computers and later Sam. What’s it doing?

This is an odd little episode that maybe raises more questions than it actually answers. What’s up with these energy beings, anyway, and why aren’t they affected by normal radio waves? The team’s attempts to discover what it was and its purpose were pretty good, and it’s not often we see Jack go into Hulk smash mode and be right against Daniel…or was he? I think maybe he was getting through to the entity there for a bit. We’ll never know.

A couple bits:

– The MALP room nest was pretty Serial Experiments: Lain, I thought, with big tubes and wires and monitors and the whole bit.

– My angry robot voice, let me show you it.

– Sam and Jack are apparently so obvious even General Hammond knows.

– Why is everyone suddenly wearing light brown hospital getup? Did the washing machines go down? I don’t know why I notice these things.

Double Jeopardy

“They are the ones who led us in the rebellion against the servants of Heru’ur. You told us to bury our Stargate. You said that the gods would not return, but that was not true. Cronus came in his great ship. He claimed our planet, demanded that we serve him.”

SG-1 gets captured by a group of Jaffa and native warriors, one of whom tells them all about the last time they were here. Only, SG-1 has never been here. What’s going on?

You may recall the robot SG-1 from the first season’s Tin Man. If you do you’re doing better than I am, because I knew this was coming and I still completely forgot about it until robot Daniel’s head popped off. Awesome twist, and in fact I loved this episode in its entirety about as much as I loathed every second of Tin Man. They did a great job with robot SG-1 and making them interesting and cool.

And to be sure, this action-packed adventure to take down Cronus has lots of cool:

– In the long tradition of letting the leads get some director credits, this is Michael Shanks’ turn at the wheel for SG-1.

– Do rag Daniel never fails to crack me up. I mean seriously. That, the MP5s, and the uniforms should be the first clues.

– The idea that robot SG-1 was running missions was pretty neat. What a great twist.

– Likewise, robot Daniel’s head popping off.

– Jack vs. Jack is hilarious.

– All four robot SG members get some big moments here. Jack dual wields and takes down a room, Daniel posthumously blows up a Goa’uld torturer, Carter gets to do science with force field crystals, and Teal’c, well…

– “For our father” may be the most powerful Teal’c moment yet. Real Teal’c getting Junior squished just like dad, then robot Teal’c getting their revenge on Cronus is one of those holy-shit-no-way-is-this-even-happening-that-was-rad moments of epic greatness. Hell of an end to that little story.

– So, um, do we have an intact Goa’uld ship now?

What a great episode.

Daniel Jackson Death Count: 6
Killed by Ra in Stargate
The Nox (01×08) where he gets shot by an Apophis Jaffa
Alternate reality Daniel bites it in There But For the Grace of God (01×20)
Alternate reality Daniel bites it offscreen in Point of View (03×06)
Future Daniel gets shot a few dozen times by Aschen lasers in 2010 (04×16)
Robot Daniel gets his head shot off in Double Jeopardy (04×21)

Daniel Jackson Presumed Dead: 4
Children of the Gods (01×01) before Jack clues everyone in about Abydos
Fire and Water (01×13) before everyone realizes he was captured by Nem
Shot and left for dead in The Serpent’s Lair (02×01)
Thought killed on some planet but actually captured by Hathor in Out of Mind (02×22)

Exodus

“What is happening?”

“Defense systems picked up a mothership entering orbit.”

“We must evacuate immediately.”

“We have been expecting it.”

“Hey kids! We’re not parked in a red zone, are we?”

“I do not understand. Why was I excluded from such important information?”

“The Tok’ra did not wish Apophis to be informed.”

SG-1, now with their shiny new Goa’uld ship, goes to pick up the Tok’ra and move them to a new world. In the meantime, they may as well get rid of Tanith, who has now outlived his usefulness as a double agent. Of course, it’s never that easy.

I love that the new Ha’tak is like the center of this episode. We’ve got a new ship! Cool! And in addition to that, we’re going to completely take down Apophis by blowing up a sun and wiping out his whole fleet. That’s pretty big leagues stuff. Stack it with lots of great little character moments and action bits, plus what may well be the biggest cliffhanger in the entire series, and this is a worthy season finale.

– Oh man does Jack have some good lines in this one. Rubbing it in Tanith’s face was great.

– Teal’c, as one may have noticed, knows how to hold a grudge. Just a bit.

– I like the Jacob/Jack argument about the ship. They’ve both got points. The Tok’ra have been singularly ineffective at their stated mission, while SG-1 has personally eliminated a whole host of System Lords. But that’s at the cost of letting Sokar and then Apophis gain a whole lot of power. Kind of dangerous.

– But seriously guys, the sick prisoner trick?

– “We want to blow it up.” “That’s…ambitious.”

– I love that they get so much mileage out of the black hole. This is like time three or so they’ve referenced it for something. Maybe four.

– Nice little duality between Daniel and Teal’c on the subject of revenge. Daniel’s arc has been away from it, Teal’c is now spiraling dramatically towards it.

– Stargates in space will one of these days be a big deal. But this is first.

– First Al’kesh in the series. Since I’m keeping track.

“How much time before the sun explodes, O’Neill?”

“Huh? Oh, 45 minutes.”


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