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Old TV Review: Stargate SG-1 Season 7

Another season of Stargate put away. This season had some ups and downs, and yeah. There was a clip show in there. Oh wells. Stargate continues to grow on me, as does the length of these writeups. I haev a lot (good and bad) on every episode now!

The main thing about this is Michael Shanks returns as Dr. Daniel Jackson reuniting the original cast and Corin Nemec’s Jonas Quinn gets phased out. Also there was a fair amount of writing help from the stars in this one with episodes written by Christopher Judge (Teal’c), Michael Shanks (Daniel), and Corin Nemec (Jonas); as well as an episode directed by Amanda Tapping (Samantha). There also seemed to be less O’Neill in these episodes; he was either conveniently away or only appeared briefly. While the undercurrent of Daniel being back and trying to unlock the knowledge of the ancients he gleaned from being ascended, it doesn’t come up enough in my opinion. Production values have definitely stepped up but, I think this season’s stories were very lopsided and some are quite good and some are bad and a few are executed very poorly.

Season starts out with “Fallen” with Daniel rejoining the cast, and he’s paired up with Jonas while they attempt to sabotage Anubis’s ship. I’m not sure why they decide to pair up the two that they never issue weapons, but it works and they find out where the Ancient’s weapon is and foil Anubis. Let’s just say “Star Wars” O’Neill even makes a “Red-5” joke while prepping for the very Return-of-the-Jedi-blow-up-the-Death-Star action.

“Homecoming” was a nice sendoff for Jonas, I thought — his planet’s being attacked by Anubis to gain the Naquadriah. Good action including maybe my favorite scene when Daniel and Jonas use the ring transport not knowing where it would end up to save the rest of the team held hostage. The way the rings blow down into the pile of boxes is great.

“Fragile Balance” had a child actor, but it wasn’t all bad. Apparently the Asgard Loki has been pulling body-swaps on people with clones for years, but makes a mistake and replaces O’Neill with a younger self with all his current memories because the rest of the Asgard tagged Jack’s DNA so it couldn’t be tampered with because Loki was acting outside the team. Oops. The kid does a good job of some of the O’Neill-isms but it eventually wears thin. When they finally end it they release young-O’Neill at a high school to start a new life; the main motivation apparently that newly-young-Jack gets to hit on young girls. Wrong!

“Orpheus” brings to the foreground Teal’c as his symbiote (and Bra’tac’s) died last season and their healing is now performed the old fashioned way, though accelerated by a drug called Tretonin. Teal’c has to rescue Bra’tac and his son Ry’ac, probably on some planet called ak’ak’ak. Sorry, I hate the overuse of apostrophes. Anyway, it’s mostly Teal’c moping about how he’s not a good team member anymore without his symbiote until he finds the strength in himself at the last minute to save his mentor and son and fight off the Goa’uld. There was a nice parallel between Teal’c and Daniel as the latter is struggling to reintegrate to the team and leads to a good character growth.

“Revisions” is probably my favorite episode all season. They visit a planet with a city inside a force shield bubble that protects it from the caustic, poisonous, bad-juju environment outside. It’s super nice inside and the first hint it’s bad is everyone wears these things on their heads that allow them to connect to the city’s main computer for shared knowledge. Turns out the city computer has been running out of power for some time and saves power by shrinking the bubble, slowly sacrificing some the city’s population for the whole then rewriting everyone’s brains and memories so nobody notices. Creeptastic. Well executed. Also, the character of Evalla brings back a “before she was on BSG” actor who goes on to play The Hybrid and she was also on as a king’s daughter in a first season episode of SG-1.

“Lifeboat” was another good episode though pretty much a showcase for Michael Shanks to do a bunch of characters. The consciousnesses of multiple survivors of an escape pod are shoved into Daniel’s head, and they fight for control. This was done by the only survivor to wake from hypersleep. The kicker is one of the minds in Daniel is that survivor’s son, and extraction from Daniel definitely means death for one or the other, never mind the 4+ people also inside. Again, great story and shot really well. Different camera angles and motion for each of the personalities in Daniel.

“Enemy Mine” (unrelated to the Dennis Quaid movie) has an SG team checking out a world for naquadah and finding some but angering the local Unas population. Daniel brings his Unas friend Chaka to mediate a truce before the US Air Force relocates the Unas to just take the mine which the Unas treat as sacred ground. This episode even further cements the movie-Predator look for the Unas through the many battle sequences. With all the good action it is a nice standalone episode. Obvious parallel to the American exploitation of indigenous people handled fairly well.

“Space Race” is a fairly Carter-focused episode where she agrees to help Warrick (alien prison-ship pilot from “Foresaken”) race his ship in exchange for knowledge of the advanced technology. Much like every race plot (in space or otherwise) someone’s fighting dirty and the race is rigged. Characters are cliche and over the top. The only nice part I liked was the planet has two species coexisting and they hint at the motivation for the dirty pool tactics is an undercurrent of racism (speciesism?)

“Avenger 2.0” was one I could have skipped. They decided to bring back the character of Jay Felger from “The Other Guys” episode, the one with the scientist who’s the total fanboy of SG-1 and specifically Samantha. Felger creates a computer-virus which breaks the stargates and he’s initially blamed for the problem then it turns out Anubis has mussed with the virus. I guess I didn’t think the pratfalls of Felger were funny and with everyone else offworld, it was just he and Carter being annoyed at him all episode. Blah.

“Birthright” was a Christopher Judge (Teal’c) written episode and it shows. They go to a planet full of Jaffa warrior-women and their leader (played by Jolene Blalock from Star Trek Enterprise). The situation’s resolved by the changeover of them all to use the Tretonin drug instead of the symbiotes after an initial internal unrest. Oh, and in a very TNG-Klingon style action, Teal’c fights the Jaffa leader then hooks up with her.

“Evolution 1 & 2” introduces the super-soldiers of Anubis who wear some kind of armor impervious to pretty much everything in addition to the wearer being a Goa’uld host with all that regeneration power stuff. To fight this the team splits up and Daniel and another scientist go to Honduras to get captured after finding an artifact related to the fountain of youth legend. The rest of the team blow up half the desert trying to slow down a super soldier while the tranquilizer darts take it down. Later O’Neill goes to rescue Daniel and the other guy while Samantha, Teal’c, along with Bra’tac and Jacob/Selmak go to Tartarus to check out how big of a super-soldier army Anubis has. Answer? Big. This moved a lot of plot along and had a ton of action, so I liked these episodes.

“Grace” has a child actor. But this one was awful. Carter is on the Prometheus and flies out towards a nebula and is attacked by an alien and everyone but her is captured from the escape pods. She was knocked out in a closet and comes to trapped in the nebula and haunted by dreams of all the other characters of SG-1 and her father who breaks her down into tears because she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Oh, and the nebula is alive and is trying to eat the ship. The child actor is either the nebula or Sam’s childhood trying to tell her how to escape the nebula by making a hyperspace bubble and pulling out the alien ship (also trapped) in exchange for the rest of the crew. This episode dragged a lot. It’s never explained if Sam is really that crazy that she projects actual people around to help her think things through or if that’s an effect of the nebula. Also they are apparently bringing back the Carter/O’Neill love theme music… or are they? I guess this is a Samantha-focused episode like how Daniel had “Lifeboat” and Teal’c had “Orpheus” but this one is executed poorly for me.

“Fallout” brought Jonas back (with almost-emo-hair) and apparently his planet’s dying because the naqahdriah is reacting in the planet’s core and will explode the whole thing. Carter and Teal’c help Jonas and his new girlfriend figure out how to stop the problem while Daniel and O’Neill work out evacuation details with world leaders. Nice job bringing back the planetary infighting from the previous visits. That made some of the negotiations watchable. It’s all moot, though, because of course Jonas & co.’s plan to drill towards the core and premptively explode part of the mineral deposit will work. That’s right. I said “The Core” Oh, and Jonas’s girlfriend’s a Goa’uld. Man. First Daniel’s girlfriend’s a goa’uld (dang, I guess his late wife was one also) and now Jonas. Scientists can’t catch breaks.

“Chimera” actually brings back Daniel’s girlfriend (inhabited by Osiris) in the form of dreams exploiting his brain to get the subconscious knowledge of the Ancients out of him. I liked that plot as he’s wrestling with his dreams and regrets, but they decide to put in a secondary plot of Carter getting a new nosey-cop boyfriend. It’s not that I don’t like Sam hooking up, I just don’t understand why they decided to put that alongside the main plot. There’s the romantic plot (in the dream) between Daniel and Sarah/Osiris and between Sam and the cop-guy (played by David DeLuise brother of show producer/director/writer Peter), but the two plots don’t work together. When juxtaposed they should either reinforce each other by having gaps that are filled in by the other in parallel or by opposites. This is neither and ultimately found the episode disappointing because it feels like they tried to cram two episodes into one slot.

“Death Knell” has a base attacked by the super-soldiers and Carter and Jacob/Selmak are trapped on the planet. They were working on a weapon to kill the super soldiers using technology from that fountain-of-youthy kinda thing they found earlier. They have isolated it to a gun and power source and of course they are separated during the incident. The rest of the team gets their and just in time they put the weapon together. The B-plot is the more important bit as apparently the Tok’ra don’t trust the Jaffa and vice versa and it turns out the alliance between those two and the Earthlings is broken up at the end of the episode. This isn’t really addressed any further, though it kinda means Earth is on it’s own, again.

“Heroes 1 & 2” were probably supposed to be really good. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I expected more. The major plot is a film crew (headed by Saul Rubinek) comes in to document the happenings at the SGC. An SG team (headed by Adam Baldwin) is stranded on a planet and needs to be rescued by SG-1 and others. The rescue is successful with some casualties. Also an NID probe investigation (headed by Robert Picardo)is underway because they’re accusing the SGC of negligence. Lots of stars, lots of good setups, lots of action, lots of emotion. Awful pacing. The episode had a lot of good stuff in it, but it clearly suffers from having a few too many people at the wheel. Great performances from all the actors in this; especially Don Davis has some good “protective father” emotions come out which was nice. Parts of the episode (Saul’s speech about freedom of the press, the various firefights) were handled very well. In fact, I loved the parallelism of the filmmaker editing the interviews together to make them sound more coherent juxtaposed to the intercutting of the investigator’s intertviews with the team. The pacing of the first part setting up the hostile interview environment for the filmmaker did not need to go on that long. Better, I think, would have been to do the entire first part from the journalist-camera POV. Then the “who’s gonna die” secret makes more sense because we’ve only experienced the event from the journalist’s side and not seen it with the every-angle normal approach. Also, I think they wanted to make the death of Dr. Fraiser be a bigger deal but decided not to. I think they should have had the character’s death at the beginning of the second part and struggle with how they felt about it and then ended it how they did. Then the impact would have given the respect due the character and be paced better. One nice thing was the interview of the “chevrons guy” and how he describes why he says “encoded” vs. “locked” — classic.

“Resurrection” was written by Michael Shanks, and I liked this. It wasn’t terribly novel nor did it advance the overall plot of the series, but it was a good exploration of what’s fair in war and humanity, and it was also shot really well. There were a lot of big rooms on the set, and none of it was at the SGC, so it was all rooms created for this episode. Plot is rogue NID facility is raided and *everyone* is dead except one woman and a seedy doctor. Clearly the doctor was performing experiments on the woman, and it eventually comes out what happens it’s kind of obvious, but it’s a good standalone because the characters are really walking in the gray area of what’s moral and ethical, and while it doesn’t necessarily answer all the questions that come up, it’s good to know they’re around.

“Inauguration” is a clip show. William Devane from 24 and the West Wing, both as government people, in this he is upgraded to president, and has to catch up on what’s been happening at the Stargate. Ronny Cox is back (now as vice president), and he’s smarmy as ever.

7 Down 3 to go!
7 Down 3 to go!
“Lost City 1 & 2” was aired as two episodes but is edited together as a single double episode for the dvd. Apparently this was to be a series finale movie but when the series was renewed they did some minor rewrites. This was very good. They find a Ancient knowledge repository device (like the one that took over O’Neill in 2nd season) and so Anubis doesn’t use it, O’Neill downloads the entire thing into his head then they blow it up during their escape. The SGC is then suspended as the new president has appointed a new head to the SGC (a civilian played by Jessica Steen as Dr. Elizabeth Weir). This is revealed to the team by General Hammond when they’re all paying a visit to O’Neill at home, recuperating and taking some time off. Kind of a funny scene with them all drinking Guinness. Weir ends up having a lot of respect for the team and eventually helps them despite VP Kinsey’s jockeying for control. O’Neill is slowly being taken over by the Ancient technology and they go to find the Lost City while Anubis makes to attack Earth. In a pretty fantastic battle Anubis’s ships go toe-to-toe with the Prometheus (helmed by Gen. Hammond with “chevrons guy” in tow) and a bunch of the Earth-built gliders while SG-1 figures out the Lost City is indeed Atlantis and they unleash a crazy-glowy weapon to destroy Anubis & co. where it cliffhangs that Jack’s transformation by the Ancient device can’t be stopped so they freeze him in a very Empire Strikes Back-ish way. Also there’s an unspoken moment between Jack and Sam that’s very Han and Leia. Star-Wars-derivation aside, this was a great double-size episode, and definitely could have capped off the series well. It does leave a ton unanswered, though, about how the SGC is going to run, how will they save Jack, what up with Atlantis (prolly Stargate: Atlantis which I’m not going to watch yet), won’t some Earth-folks have noticed the big crazy ships, and all manner of good stuff. So, yeah. Im still watching SG-1. Plenty to go.

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