|Sketchley's Translations Main Index||Macross Portal|
|By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com)||Ver 1.22 2021.07.08|
Into The Fire
Point of View
Rules of Engagement
Forever in a Day
Past and Present
The Devil You Know
A Hundred Days
Shades of Grey
At the same time, Teal'c returns to his wife's house on Chulak, only to find it ransacked and his friend Master Bra'tac having been left for dead after being beaten and pinned under fallen furniture. Teal'c learns from Bra'tac that instead of rejoicing at his announcement of the death of Apophis (in Serpent's Song) and the Jaffa's freedom, Apophis's remaining loyal Jaffa guards attacked Bra'tac, and the other Jaffa citizens all live in fear of the arrival of Apophis's son Klorel.
This episode quickly becomes a tour de force, with the human SG-1 team members scrambling to outwit and escape Hathor and her minions—with the help of a Tok'ra spy—Hammond deploying half of all of the SG teams to rescue SG-1 (the rest were off world at the time), and Teal'c's attempts to convince the Jaffa residents of Chulak to join him in his revolt against the Goa'uld. On the one hand, the episode reaffirms what the Stargate SG-1 series is all about. On the other hand, it mixes things up and changes the stats quo a bit.
The episode leaves us with questions about how Teal'c's Jaffa resistance will gain pace and unfold, what long-term effects O'Neill will experience having been momentarily implanted with a Goa'uld symbiote, what the Pentagon's Major Davis's assignment to SGC indicates, and which Goa'uld will rush to fill in the power vacuum created when Apophis died. While Out of Mind went off like a wet firecracker, Into the Fire starts the third season with a bang, and hints of big things to come.
This episode has all the core elements that we love about the Stargate series: mystery, exploration, classic movie villains—the ones that run away when they sense they are going to lose—and action. The unique twist is that it doesn't take place in the dusty ruins of a forgotten civilization, but in a large house in the suburbs of rain-soaked Seattle! Throw in the A.T.F., and we get a Stargate SG-1/X-Files mash-up. However, unlike X-Files, we know exactly what the government is doing, the bad guys don't get away, and we get a satisfying conclusion that ties up most of the lose ends.
On that note, it is a bit disappointing that the villain—Seth—is killed at the end, as his characterization was compelling, and he had all the potential of becoming a good, recurring thorn in SG-1's side (like Baal does in later seasons). Nevertheless, the highlight ought to be Christopher Judge fully committing to the performance of Teal'c badly translating a Jaffa joke. One can't help but grin at his laugh!
This episode underscores how much of a threat the people of Earth have become for the Goa'uld after not only toppling Apophis, but also killing Hathor (in Into the Fire), and how far the Goa'uld are willing to go to eliminate that threat. The episode also starts filling in the details on the broad strokes that were laid down in the first and second season about the state of the galaxy, the Goa'uld System Lords, and the Asgard—while also setting down the foundation of the Replicators.
The episode does a good job putting all SG-1 team members to good use. While O'Neill is the point man in the negotiations, Carter, Jackson and Teal'c are all given vital things to do. In some ways, the negotiations succeed because of their efforts, and almost despite O'Neill's! The highlight of the episode is the almost constant bickering and infighting between the Goa'uld—which also proves to be their downfall in the negotiations. One also gets the sense that the Asgard succeed in their negotiations merely by being impassively patient and letting the Goa'uld defeat themselves!
O'Neill, concerned that there may be an invisible presence in the room, orders SG-1 to return home and leave the corpses for a team better equipped to handle them. However, back in SGC, Jackson begins to hear voices and see things. He eventually collapses in—what the medical team describes as—a psychotic episode!
This episode definitely makes the skin crawl. Its spooky introductory scenes morph into the stuff of nightmares: apparent ghosts and being labelled insane and locked away in a white room! On top of that, Ma'chello (from the second season's Holiday) makes an appearance, and we get a glimpse at some of his anti-Goa'uld weapons.
However, the meat of the episode is about the effects of gate travel on the SG teams. Questions are raised that don't have clear answers—such as are the headaches that over half the SG team personnel experiencing merely due to stress, or are they the first signs of the adverse effects of gate travel? Nevertheless, the highlight of the episode is the spooky reappearances of the Linvers in the early scenes, and Michael Shanks's excellent performance of a man who has lost his grip on reality.
The Orbanians agree to an exchange of knowledge—in return for receiving knowledge about the Goa'uld, they will share their naquadah reactor technology. An 11-year-old genius, Merrin, goes to Earth to teach Carter that knowledge. However, all is not what it seems, and the way the Orbanians treat their children proves to be morally repugnant to our heroes. How they each respond and come to terms with it (or not) is interesting, and speaks volumes about each character's morality.
It is also rare to have child actors perform so well. In this episode, many of them not only keep up with the more experienced adults, but deliver lines that would trip up even the best actors! Brittney Irvin, in the Merrin role, is especially talented, and is blessed with a scene at the end that enables her to show her full range.
Unexpectedly, this episode has a transformative ramification to Orbanian society, and we can't help but be cheered by it. The episode also marks a turning point for Earth, as they learn how to create a working naquadah reactor—enabling the development of such things as the F-302 fighter and Daedalus-class warships in later seasons.
Dr. Carter and Kawalsky ask for refuge in our reality—as their Earth had just been overrun by the Goa'uld—and are given it by an authority higher than General Hammond. However, due to there being two Carters in our reality, Dr. Carter starts experiencing temporal entropic cascade failures, almost as if our reality is trying to force her back into hers. They have no choice but to send her back, soon. However, as they can't send her to certain death, SG-1 hatches a plan to not only share their better luck, but save the entire Earth in Dr. Carter's reality, too!
While this episode has shades of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek (the bad guys come replete with "evil beards"!), it's much more intriguing than "let's have fun with the evil version of XYZ character", as the differing realities are so similar that it becomes a meditation on the wildly different effects of differing choices. Previous trips through the quantum mirror implied that it is due to Jackson's presence in the Stargate program that 'our' Earth has fared relatively better than other realities. This episode briefly toys with the idea that Carter's decision to join the air force or become a doctor also played a role—however my interpretation is that that is more a character conceit, as Jackson is the one who makes the suggestion that ultimately saves Dr. Carter's Earth.
The episode also digs deep into the relationship between Carter and O'Neill. While O'Neill makes it perfectly clear that he can't think about Carter as anything else but a subordinate team member in our reality, Richard Dean Anderson wonderfully plays the scenes—to the point that we can almost see the wheels in O'Neill's mind spinning as he not only comes to grasp the situation, but also briefly dabbles in a daydream about it, before his self-discipline takes over. Nevertheless, this episode leaves a dangling question: now that Carter and O'Neill are mutually aware of each other's attraction, will they act on it in our reality?
Deadman Switch is another in a long line of apparent side-stories that not only deepen the overarching plot, but also give us unexpected additions to the Stargate mythos. In this case, we are given a glimpse at the SGC's continuing use of UAV's to explore planets, Tok'ra espionage activities, and a glimpse at what Sokar is up to. The unexpected additions are the Goa'uld employing human (or humanoid) bounty hunters, and the addition of a new alien race—one that cannot be used as hosts by the Goa'uld, and were collectively addicted to a drug to keep them subjugated! While the episode suggests more than it depicts, it ends up adding a whole new dimension to the Goa'uld.
The highlight of the episode is Aris Boch, who proves to be just as wily and resourceful as the SG-1 team. Thankfully, he's obnoxious and opportunistic, giving the show plenty of unexpected twists and turns when his apparent tactical errors prove to be anything but. It's also interesting that when the SG-1 team realizes that they can't out smart or out manoeuvre Aris, they switch tact and appeal to his morality. Lastly, take a moment to ponder the title—it's just loaded with multiple meanings, isn't it?
Delving into Christian mythology is a thought provoking change for the series. As I grew up in Canada, I'm much more familiar with it than say the religions of the ancient Egyptians or the Vikings. Due to that, there's a lot more subtext, and the episode is all the more chilling, with a palpable tension. All that is further enhanced by the thickheaded stubbornness in the backwards beliefs of the villagers—to the extent that while SG-1's moral beliefs saved them in the preceding episode, it gets them into worse and worse trouble in this episode!
However, the most chilling aspect of the episode is just the dark age culture of the villagers itself. What they believe will cure an illness—or even the root cause of sickness—and how to test the purity of a person's soul are... well, as Jackson says, "they didn't call them the Dark Ages because it was dark."
Nevertheless, the highlight of the episode is David McNally's performance as Simon. We've seen him before, as Hanno in season 1's Cor-ai. Just like David did in that episode, he brings a much-welcomed desperate intensity. However, unlike Cor-ai, in Demons he endeavours to assist SG-1 in not only defeating the Unas, but also the village Canon—SG-1's greatest foe in this episode.
Rules of Engagement is full of unexpected twists and surprises. It also illustrates the extremes that Apophis was going to while he was steadily losing his grip on power. The episode also highlights exactly how hard it will be for Teal'c and SGC to rescue people from Goa'uld enslavement—even though Apophis died months ago (Season 2's Serpent's Song), his war machine is continuing to churn out warriors who resolutely and blindly follow Apophis as they unquestioningly believe that he could never die because he is a god.
On the other hand, this episode digs even deeper into SG-1's morality: SG-1 could have just abandoned the recruits to a bitter fate, but SG-1 takes it upon themselves to rescue as many of the recruits as possible. This is no easy task, as it essentially means fundamentally changing the beliefs of the recruits. Nevertheless, the episode is thought provoking, and illustrates just how treacherous and dangerous the Goa'uld are—especially when they have been cornered!
Forever in a Day is the episode that resolves Jackson's quest to find his wife. He finds her, but the outcome is far from what anyone expected. In fact, the episode sets up a new quest for Jackson—to find Amonent and Apophis's son; a Harcesis that is a forbidden child in a Goa'uld union. While the episode does give Jackson closure for Sha're, it also sets up the potential for a rift and strife between him and Teal'c. Teal'c's actions were justified, but the price they had to pay may have been too high.
The episode also gives us some tantalizing clues about the Goa'uld Hand Device. Most of the time the device appears, it is used either for torture or to fire energy blasts. This episode hints that it can be used to communicate psychically between the user and the victim. It is intriguing, but it's also understandable why the Goa'uld never bother to use it in any way but the ones that inflict pain or cause death.
Nevertheless, the episode seems incomplete. Most of the story happens inside Jackson's subconscious—a place where the people he interacts with are essentially himself. How is it that he learns new things about the Goa'uld Hand Device (from Carter) or the Harcesis (from Teal'c)? Was Sha're manipulating their personas to keep herself hidden from Amonent while she communicated with Jackson? The episode doesn't address that. It merely suggests that Amonent's attack was anything but lethal because there was a battle of wills going on between her and Sha're.
While this is one of the first arguably modern societies untouched by the Goa'uld that SG-1 has encountered, the story doesn't delve deeply into that. Instead, the focus is on the ramifications of the disaster—how do you deal with allergic reactions when you not only don't know the medical procedure to deal with it, but the people themselves don't know they're allergic?—finding out the cause of the disaster, and the hunt for a solution to the collective amnesia. The latter takes precedence, as the society is at the point of breaking, and there are dire warnings that there will be food supply problems in the immediate future!
During their investigation, SG-1 realizes that not only was the disaster caused by Linea (season 2's Prisoners), but that she may very well be a victim of the amnesia and that she is actively working with them in SGC to restore everyone's memories! A further complication is that Jackson has let down his emotional guard due to the loss of his wife (in the preceding Forever in a Day) and has gone head over heals for her. The attraction is mutual, which proves to be beneficial for all involved. Nevertheless, the switch in how they treat Linea (from friendly to limited access and constant armed guards) once SGC realizes who she is, is both striking and chilling. It also gives Jackson a chance to shine, as his diplomacy is in full effect.
The episode digs deep into the past of Jolinar—the Tok'ra symbiote that briefly possessed Carter—and her relationship with Martouf. We are also given what is arguably the first more traditionally sci-fi excursions with SG-1 being taken by starship to their destination. Their destination is also one of the more outlandish locations in the Stargate mythos: hell itself!
As the episode dabbles in hell and its related symbolism, it tends to be darker and grimmer than the standard SG-1 fare. While there are a few well placed jokes, there aren't enough to make up for the handful of times when the episode gets bogged down and meanders. That's probably because this episode is focused on setting up the bigger-than-usual payoffs in the following episode. Nevertheless, the highlight of the episode is the mysterious, hooded Na'onak—especially when the person behind the hood is revealed at the end of the episode.
Where Jolinar's Memories tended to meander, The Devil You Know has much surer footing, a lot more unexpected plot twists, and when the fireworks start to happen, some surprisingly big ones are set off! Even though there is less focus on characterization, we still learn a surprising amount of new things about the characters as Apophis manipulates their respective pasts in an attempt to gather valuable information.
The highlight of the episode is the brilliant visual effects sequence when the SG-1 team make their daring escape—I don't think we've ever seen it done with such panache, pacing, and series-changing effectiveness.
4 stars because they blow up hell. How many other TV shows can claim that?
While Foothold is another "aliens attempt to invade Earth" storyline, the twist is that the invasion has already successfully started, and our heroes not only have to catch up to the situation, but also have to show restraint, as there are very few disguised aliens among the many base personnel. The majority of the people they meet are merely base personnel following orders, and this adds to the fun of the episode, as we are constantly left guessing who is or is not an alien in disguise! The premise of the aliens is also intriguing: they are invaders from another galaxy searching for a new homeworld. As they are familiar with operating the stargate, the episode suggests that the stargate network connects to other galaxies.
Carter going to Maybourne for help is another interesting twist. Maybourne is portrayed sympathetically—perhaps because he doesn't have any ulterior motives this time—and seeing him go through the proper procedures while upholding his military oaths adds a new dimension to the character. Major Davis is also a wonderful surprise addition to the episode. While Colin Cunningham is always welcome, his character's appearance suggests the alien's next move in their invasion plan, and how chillingly close the aliens were to succeeding!
Pretense has a surprising amount of action for what is arguably a courtroom drama. It starts with an exciting firefight in orbit, that ends unexpectedly suddenly, as it does spectacularly. The fireworks and destruction of Goa'uld ships isn't limited to the pre-credits sequence, either. In addition to that, and the legal drama, we are shown around the Tollan's new homeworld and are given glimpses of how advanced their technology is—and some of it is fantastical.
However, the meat and potatoes of this episode is the legal question of who has rights over a host's body: the human born into it, or the Goa'uld that possessed it. While the viewer is naturally sympathetic to the human advocates' assertions, the Goa'uld's arguments are, at times, surprisingly subversive. Due to the Nox wildcard, there are more than a few scenes where one feels the verdict could go either way.
The highlight of the episode is seeing the Tollan, Nox and Tok'ra working together arguably against the Goa'uld in their respective unique ways. It is thought provoking, as one wonders how the balance of power in the galaxy would shift if they all got together and started actively working against the Goa'uld.
Urgo is one of those episodes that looks like it was much more fun to film than it is to watch the final product. While Dom DeLuise can be funny in the right role, Urgo is not, and the character quickly overstays his welcome. Nevertheless, Dom is more interesting and effective as Togar, the scientist who created the Urgo AI. In the actor's defence, the character was written to be annoying (otherwise there would be no need to turn the plot into a quest to quickly remove the implants), and I guess obnoxiously annoying is different from the standard SF fare of nefariously wicked with an ulterior goal of conquest.
The highlight of the episode is Teal'c and the coffee. It's a shame that Teal'c appears in so few scenes, as Christopher Judge's stoic humour is a nice counterbalance to Dom's manic energy. Nevertheless, the episode works at breaking up the pace of the recent high-tension, great danger episodes with something relatively benign to remind us that not everyone in the galaxy is hell-bent on conquest and enslaving others. It's just too bad that the Urgo character wasn't given a more substantive direction or goal.
What follows is a lovely story about O'Neill slowly resigning himself to his fate and adjusting to a slower-paced life. The highlight is the genuine chemistry between Richard Dean Anderson and Michele Greene, who plays the widow Laira that initially serves as SG-1's host and the village's chief negotiator—later becoming the person who welcomes O'Neill into her home and her life.
The B-story with SGC and the other members of SG-1 working hard on a solution to rescue O'Neill is also fascinating. While Teal'c takes the largest personal risk, it is Carter who shines with her months of effort creating a new device to 'unlock' the buried stargate. The revelation that Carter also has feelings for O'Neill is also noteworthy. The only frustrating thing about this story is that the series seems to forgot that O'Neill essentially established a new family here, and he is never given the chance to revisit them in later seasons.
Shades of Grey is an intriguing episode. On the one hand, it throws the viewers a curve-ball that has us asking: who exactly is O'Neill? On the other hand, it showcases the duplicity of the US armed forces (arguably in charge of the stargate and Earth's defence), and how that strains Earth's relationship with its interstellar allies. After a Twilight Zone-esque first couple of acts, the episode changes gears and revelations come fast and thick. This episode draws on hints dropped in preceding episodes and seasons, fills in some blanks, answers some questions, and gives us a whole slew of troubling new questions about the secretive activities of the N.I.D. that we hope will be addressed in future episodes.
The highlight of the episode is the priceless reactions of the SG-1 team members as they watch O'Neill go off his rocker. Dramatically, the scene where Jackson visits O'Neill's house, and the pained way that he leaves when O'Neill lays bare the reality of their relationship is sublime. One wonders if Jackson will permanently mistrust O'Neill, or after putting O'Neil through the wringer—as the SG-1 start to do at the end of the episode—he will forgive O'Neill.
New Ground is an intriguing episode. On the one hand, we are presented with a human society who not only buried their stargate 2,000 years ago, but have also developed into a technologically advanced society akin to that on Earth. On the other hand, that society retained their knowledge of the stargate and the minor Goa'uld who posed as their god, and has fractured into two camps: the side that essentially believes that the former Goa'uld ruler is a god that created the people on the planet, and the side that recognizes that the people were originally brought to the planet as slave labour by the Goa'uld. The complication is that the stargate is located in the wrong side—from SG-1's perspective—and the team is not only up against religious belief, but a military organization hell bent on covering up and eradicating the truth!
The episode's highlight is Teal'c's journey after being critically injured. While he retains his pride and unwavering resolve to fight to free his friends, he also reveals fear at how helpless he is without his eyesight. This is highlighted when he walks into a rock wall and again later when a non-combatant archaeologist easily disarms him. The episode ends with SG-1 bringing their new archaeologist friend back with them to Earth—one hopes that he will reappear in later episodes—and while they leave the fate of the conflict on the planet unfinished, the episode suggests that given enough time, the people of Earth will be more warmly received some time in the future.
This is an intriguing episode about the origins of the concept of "mother nature", and the philosophical-religious beliefs prevalent in East Asia. The episode also puts a new spin on what the final step in enlightenment is—ascension to a higher plain of existence. On the other hand, the episode also has Bra'tac undergoing a crisis of confidence. Due to the loss of his loyal Jaffa and base of operations in his fight against the Goa'uld, Bra'tac contemplates retiring and passing the leadership torch of the Jaffa rebellion to Teal'c. However, in the course of discussion with the monk, Bra'tac rekindles his hope, and recovers his drive.
The highlight of the episode is the monk. Even though he speaks with simple words, they are infinitely complex. So complex that O'Neill as to step out and leave the room after throwing his arms up in frustration. On the other hand, the exact same conversation rekindles Bra'tac's spirit, and teaches Jackson how to interact with Oma Desala, the ascended being who is taking care of the Harcesis child. While the episode ends with Jackson leaving the baby in Oma Desala's care, along the way we learn that she will be able to protect the child much better than Jackson, the SGC or even the entire Earth ever could. Bittersweet.
Crystal Skull investigates Jackson's past—his strained relationship with his grandfather after his parents died—how to get Jackson back from the "limbo" he is stuck in, and the discovery of potential new allies in the fight against the Goa'uld. The episode also hints at a new way for transporting around the galaxy. However, that avenue is never really explored in later episodes. It's also interesting how similar and divergent this episode is with Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in their respective approaches to and interpretations of the myths stemming from the crystal skulls.
The highlight of the episode is the exploration of a completely new archaeological site—something that the series hasn't been doing very much of in the recent episodes. It's a shame that the series never returns to explore or deepen the newly created relationship with the ethereal beings in the pyramid. It may be due to how technically challenging it was to visually create the shots. While it's a marvellous place, it also appears to have pushed well past the technical limitations of the show, and the biggest drawback of the episode is that the CG used to render the cavernous interior of the pyramid is below the show's usual standard. Despite that, it is a truly thought-provoking new place that they've given us to explore and imagine.
Nemesis pretty much proves how endlessly creative the writing team behind Stargate SG-1 is. They've not only created a new season-ending threat to the Earth, they've also created a new villain that is arguably much more powerful than the Goa'uld. The Replicators also more than satisfyingly answer the question brought up in Fair Game at the beginning of the season: who is the great enemy of the Asgard?
While it's saddening to learn that Michael Shanks actually had an appendectomy, sidelining Jackson in this episode gives a fresh take on the SG-1 team dynamics. Jackson may not be the greatest fighter, but one really gets the impression that he plays a vital role in balancing out the team. This is highlighted when O'Neill rushes to action while ignoring most of Thor's warnings. Nevertheless, while the team successfully crashes the Beliskner, the episode ends with a cliffhanger indicating that the Replicators still threaten the Earth. The episode also hints that the US government may have been forced to tell its allies and the other major nations about the stargate program, suggesting that there may be big changes in the coming season.