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|By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com)||Ver 1.22 2022.05.27|
The Fifth Man
Rite of Passage
Beast of Burden
Between Two Fires
Enemies begins season 5 with a bang—both literally and figuratively. I don't think we've seen starship battles on this scale in SG-1 yet. Unlike Exodus, this episode not only sustains its tension level, it continually builds on it. And even with all the action and suspense, the episode still gets in some thought-provoking character development. This time, we learn that Teal'c has not only survived the staff weapon blast, but has been brainwashed by Apophis into believing that he is still his loyal First Prime, and has been working secretly for him for the past four years!
Obviously, it's a given that SG-1 makes it back to Earth by the end of the episode. However, the manner that it is done is a logical development that fits into what we already know about the protagonists and antagonists. In short, not only is there no deus ex machina with a rescue by the Asgard or something similar, the protagonists are even further embellished. The episode also wisely doesn't resolve Teal'c's brainwashing—while he is physically rescued, the challenge of rescuing his heart and mind remains, and looks like the beginning of an intriguing story arc.
Threshold addresses something that has long been overlooked in the SG-1 series: why Teal'c turned on his own people (season 1's Children Of The Gods). Specifically: how an apparently blindly loyal Jaffa servant stopped believing that his master was a god, and not only why he questioned his beliefs, but why he had to—and continues to—do something drastic about his former masters. The story is interlaced with many flashbacks. While a handful are taken from earlier episodes, most are newly filmed for this episode. In them, we are introduced to new insights to existing characters (Bra'tac and Teal'c's wife Drey'auc), as well as the new character Va'lar, a Jaffa friend in Teal'c's past. While Bra'tac provides an environment for Teal'c's doubts to grow in, and Drey'auc acts as the voice of caution, it is Va'lar who is the catalyst in Teal'c's transformation.
However, the episode isn't as fun as many other SG-1 episodes are due to the seriousness of the story as well as setting it mostly around a restrained Teal'c screaming for mercy in the infirmary. Nevertheless, in the process of showing us Teal'c's origins, we also get a deep meditation on the Jaffa—what it means to be them, but also what they are capable of doing after they evolve past blind devotion; as well as the crosses they carry by carrying out their Goa'uld masters' temperamental demands. In short, it adds a whole new layer to them, and paints them sympathetically as generally well-meaning warriors who are stuck between a rock (religious fanaticism) and a hard place (evil masters).
Interestingly, the episode features key scenes set in the snow. As it hardly ever snows in the lower elevations in the greater Vancouver area, I initially thought that the production team had deliberately searched it out. It turns out that it was an (un)happy coincidence as it snowed heavily the night before they went to the location they had scouted. Nevertheless, the shots of Christopher Judge lying shirtless in the snow is a testament to both his physical toughness, as well as his commitment to his craft.
Ascension is in the tradition of the episodes that initially appear to be about one thing, but turn out to be about something quite different. The episode starts with Carter being apparently shocked unconscious by an alien device that she may have accidentally activated. The episode starts asking probing questions about the physical and mental costs and damage from being deployed on SG missions. As we've seen all manner of negative things happen to SG personnel over the preceding few years, it's a concerning topic. However, the episode switches things up with the revelation of Orlin, an alien who is not only invisible when he chooses, but has fallen in love with Carter! The twists continue piling up, and the episode winds up in a completely unpredictable place.
The highlight is watching Carter squirm while her teammates question her sanity. The episode also gives us a glimpse of what our heroes are like off base during their down time. While the episode doesn't have anything to do with O'Neill's fishing hobby, it adds a whole new context to why he does it. Nevertheless, Ascension is filled with wonder, as not only is there the intrigue around the high-tech device on the alien world, but also what Orlin is able to do with the things he finds around Carter's house and purchases on her credit card. And that's not even mentioning the glimpse at the society of the ascended beings!
The Fifth Man has everything that you want in an SG-1 episode: there's mystery, suspense, and a heck of a lot more action than we're generally given! The mystery is Lt. Tyler—as we've never seen him before, we're left to believe that what the heroes of the show say about him is right. However, the episode puts us in the position of having to question their reliability as witnesses. The suspense comes in two forms: can O'Neill hold out long enough for help to arrive, and will Carter, Jackson, and Teal'c be able to get out of their predicament and help O'Neill in time? The action is, in short, a tour de force by O'Neill's Richard Dean Anderson. While we've seen most of the combat moves and tactics before, it has never been sustained for as long or at as high an intensity level. On top of that, there are some new twists that come from unexpected places.
One suspects from the number of slip ups in their conversation that O'Neill must have known that Lt. Tyler wasn't what he appeared to be long before he reveals who he truly he is. Nevertheless, it's a testament to O'Neill's convictions that he continues to treat Lt. Tyler as one of his own—even in the face of eminent death. The great thing about this episode is that it shows everyone working the various problems that they face this time. Not only do we have Dr. Fraiser unearthing the medical aspects, we also have Hammond working hard to discover who Col. Simmons is really working for. While Hammond doesn't call in any presidential favours, we can see him mulling over his difficult choices long before Simmons warns Hammond about playing that particular card one time too many. It's a testament to Don S. David that he conveys so much with just body language and facial expressions. This is an episode that shouldn't be missed!
Red Sky is an intriguing episode. It initially appears to be about a Norse civilization that has been allowed to develop in peace, free from Goa'uld persecution. However, the catastrophe that SG-1's arrival precipitates soon reveals the cracks in that society. On the one hand, there's the local leader Elrad, who is reasonable and fair-minded. On the other, there's the spiritual leader Malchus, who is closed minded, and perceives SG-1 to be evil visitors signalling the beginning of Armageddon. While Elrad patiently interacts with SG-1, Elrad actively works against them—even willing to martyr himself for his cause!
There is a clash inside SG-1 as well, with O'Neill willing to reveal the truth of the Asgards—thereby invalidating and destroying the locals' religious beliefs—and Jackson not only accommodating those beliefs, but also arguing that SG-1 must do its best to protect them. The show also makes the topical point that an entire population must not be judged by the beliefs and actions of a few. On top of that, we are also treated to a revelation of what the Asgard can or cannot do with the places covered in their protected planets treaty with the Goa'uld. While the show doesn't mention it, there's an implication that the Goa'uld are watching, or at the very least monitoring the protected planets for treaty violations! An intriguing episode that sees SG-1 struggling for a solution, Carter facing self-doubt and fallibility, and O'Neill trying to force a solution on the planet's inhabitants.
Rite of Passage has all sorts of challenges for our heroes. It starts with the challenge of a parent (Dr. Fraiser) raising a rebellious teenager. This is complicated by a heretofore unknown virus that in the process of rewriting the teenager's DNA, puts her life in imminent risk. The virus also gives her abilities that make her a risk to friends and family. While the medical staff race to find a cure, SG-1 has the challenge of finding a cure on the girl's homeworld, and it leads them to surprising places. Finally, we have the infiltration of SGC itself by someone who is invisible and is keenly interested in Cassandra! This is another episode who's journey and ultimate destination are completely unpredictable.
While it is nice catching up with Cassandra after all these years, because it comes more-or-less out of the blue, it feels like Carter's ongoing relationship with her is being shoehorned into the series. I'm not saying it doesn't work, just that if their relationship is as deep and as constant as the episode purports it to be, why hasn't it been mentioned before? Nevertheless, the episode mostly makes up for that with a race to find a cure before time runs out—much better than a visible countdown clock, as we never know when the proverbial bomb will go off! We also get to revisit past locations, and get some answers regarding why Nirrti was interested in Hanka, and what she was doing there. However, perhaps because of the shoehorned nature of the Carter-Cassandra relationship, the episode ultimately doesn't develop as much tension as this kind of story ought to have.
Beast of Burden dives right into an unwinnable moral debate. While the Unas are anything but human, SG-1 can't help but feel responsible as Jackson had effectively put the bait (the chocolate bar) into the trap Burrock and his men used to capture Chaka. During the story, the debate morphs from what SG-1 is willing to trade for Chaka's release, to how much human life they are willing to risk to rescue Chaka. Things get even more complicated when indicates that he won't leave without rescuing his fellow imprisoned Unas. Throughout this, we see O'Neill's opinion of the Unas gradually being changed as he observes them as sentient beings yearning for their freedom.
Intertwined in this debate is the vilification of Burrock. While it is true that his pre-industrial civilization has a different moral code—further complicated by a history where the Unas enslaved the humans in the distant past—he is particularly vile, killing Unas when they get too rowdy or are out of his control, and imprisoning and torturing fellow humans for his personal gain. It's no wonder Chaka responds to Burrock the way he does, and eventually decides to stay on the planet to rescue his fellow Unas. Which leads to perhaps the greatest moral quandary in the episode: O'Neill protesting that they didn't come to start an armed rebellion, and Jackson pointing out that the Unas have armed themselves. In doing the right thing, SG-1 may have precipitated the worst possible way to resolve the wrongful enslavement of a people.
The Tomb takes us back to Stargate's roots: ancient pyramids, unravelling archaeological mysteries, and long-buried and forgotten alien threats. The twist this time is that it's not Egyptian but Babylonian, and the Goa'uld was apparently so bad that when his servants rebelled, they not only locked him away inside his sarcophagus, but with some kind of nasty critter that continued eating him alive for a millennia! The first two thirds of The Tomb are when it's at its best, as not only do we have plenty of mysteries, the episode refrains from showing us what the creature is—preferring to spook us with the sounds it makes as it shuffles around in the dark corners of the ziggurat, and giving us glimpses from its point of view, as it stalks the characters.
Concurrent to that, we have O'Neill clashing with Zukhov over things like the chain of command, what the ultimate mission objective is, and cultural differences. The episode ends up painting the Russians as rather hard core, but it does give a refreshingly new perspective on the policies of SGC, and O'Neill as a leader. While the episode isn't as genuinely scary as Stargate Universe's Time (season 1), it is still spooky in the lighthearted way that we love SG-1 for.
Between Two Fires is, at its heart, a mystery. On the one hand, we have the dubious circumstances of the apparently healthy Omac suddenly dying. On the other hand, there is the mystery of why the Tollan authority have suddenly made an about face and decided to offer their greatest technology—something that O'Neill and SGC have had their eye on from the very beginning—despite the Tollan's highest laws forbidding it. Initially, it appears that Omac was the individual blocking the rest of the Tollan authorities from making the offer. However, once SG-1 and Narim start digging into that rabbit hole, they uncover truly troubling revelations.
While it is great to see the SG-1 production team filming at the Simon Fraser University again—showcasing the beautiful views from the top of Burnaby Mountain—the high point of the episode is the revelation that a here-to-fore unknown Goa'uld has stepped into the power vacuum left by the death of Apophis. The episode goes to great pains to not name him or her. However, it starts to fill in the broad strokes of how this person operates: has technology more advanced than the other Goa'uld; instead of invading and subjugating, makes a Faustian bargain with the Tollan to produce weapons of mass destruction that can pass through solid matter; and finally, using the Tollans to send one of the weapons to Earth, to get around the Asgard's protected planets treaty! It is a truly worrisome development, as not only is this new villain introduced, SG-1 loses one of their allies in the process!
Even though 2001 is a prequel of sorts to season 4's 2010, it illustrates both how the initial contact with the Aschen may have happened, and what the ultimate fate of the Earth may have been in that alternative timeline. The episode starts with dialogue that sounds too good to be true. The initial scenes on Volia also give the impression that the Aschen are hands-off, benign benefactors that cooperate peacefully with the various worlds in their confederacy. However, even before the opening credits start, we know exactly who the antagonists are, and the question has shifted to: will SG-1 figure out in time what the viewers already know and protect the Earth from a truly terrible fate?
As both Christopher Cousins and Dion Luther reprises their roles from season 4's 2010 as Faxon and Mollem respectively, there is more than a few winks and nods at the audience. We know that there is more going on behind the smiles and friendly banter shared by Carter and Faxon when they first meet, and are infinitely frustrated when O'Neill doesn't immediately leap across the table when he meets Mollem and punch him in the face! In addition to that, Senator Kinsey appears and—with great delight—worms his way into the action while rubbing it in SG-1's and Hammond's faces that the treaty negotiations are now a civilian matter. The ending is also bittersweet, with certain people getting their just comeuppances, and others getting undeserved fates for their heroism. It is a shame that the Stargate SG-1 production staff were never able to get around to making the proposed third episode in their Aschen story arc, as it would have been nice to learn the fates of certain people.
Desperate Measures has all the right elements for a great mystery/thriller episode. It even has two separate antagonists that may be working together, or hindering each other. However, something keeps the episode from gaining enough momentum to take off. It may be that Carter is rendered either incapacitated or helpless for large stretches of the episode, or that the true intentions of her captors are kept hidden until very late in the episode. My suspicions lie on the former, as we expect the plucky heroes in SG-1 to be resourceful, and able to overcome challenges with hardly any outside help. Nevertheless, this episode is well composed, with plenty of misdirection and dead ends as Jackson, O'Neill and Teal'c exhaust every avenue in their attempts to find Carter.
The highlight of the episode is seeing Maybourne and O'Neill together. Their barb-filled banter when they are together is a warmly welcomed break from the melodramatic way of the Goa'uld talk, or the pithy sarcasm of SG-1's Earth-based antagonists. The MacGuffin (if we can call it that) this time is a Goa'uld larvae. The source of it, while plausible, seems to be drawing from a plot contrivance that is just shades from being used once to often, and one hopes that the production staff doesn't rely on it much more. The ending has a thought provoking—but highly predictable—result that produces just as many questions as it answers. It bodes dark things while also setting up plenty of storytelling opportunities in future episodes.
The overall plot of the episode is intriguing, but in many ways it is just the thinnest of plots as the episode is really about the show itself. The more the viewer knows about the production side of TV shows—and of Stargate SG-1 in particular—the funnier and more enjoyable the episode becomes. There are two themes in this episode: spot the production staffer, and name that reference to other SF properties or Stargate SG-1 itself.
The 'set' of the show is the production studios themselves, and in many ways, that alone makes the episode worthwhile. It also highlights the struggles of the production staff as they juggle the concerns and creative choices of the writers, directors, and actors (who aren't always in agreement with each other) with those of the producers that hold the purse strings to a show's budget. Alas, as a lot of the humour comes from in-jokes, it may be lost on the uninitiated or casual viewer. The base plot is also a bit lacklustre, and while it does conclude the story arc of 'Martin's race', it is rather predictable with few truly unexpected twists. In other words: this episode is about the pit stops and diversions on its journey, not the ride itself.
While Proving Ground has the SG-1 team playing key roles, the episode is really about the 4 recruits: Elliot, Grogan, Hailey, and Satterfield. Due to that, it feels a little off. It doesn't help that the recruits are shown making rookie mistakes that the SG-1 team either never made, or stopped making way back in the first season. Nevertheless, the episode does show a side of SGC that we haven't seen before: the day-to-day training and testing of new personnel. One wonders how much fun the SG-1 and SGC personnel have during these training scenarios, as it looks painful to be shot with an Intar—a non-lethal Jaffa training weapon (season 3's Rules of Engagement).
It's also great seeing Elisabeth Rosen as Lt. Hailey (season 4's Prodigy) again. This time, she (thankfully) doesn't appear to have a massive chip on her shoulder, and is arguably put to a more realistic use. However, given the character's penchant for disagreement and fireworks in her first appearance, she comes across as rather too subdued in this second appearance. Alas, the show seems to have forgotten how smart she is, and doesn't really put her to good use. Grace Park is given a little bit more to work with in Satterfield. However, all 4 of the recruits are generally written unremarkably, and the guest stars don't leave much of an impression. It's a shame, as some of them are recognized more for their work outside of this episode than what their roles in this episode let them do. Ultimately, while this episode is a diversion that rounds out SG-1's and SGC's activities, it is inconsequential overall.
48 Hours is a tour de force episode. While concurrently resolving a number of dangling story threads, it delves deeper into the inner workings of the stargate and the jury-rigged system SGC uses to operate the gate, as well as the ongoing backwards-engineering of alien technology at Area 51, AND the involvement of the Russian's in the US's stargate program! In addition to the resolution of the Tanith-Teal'c conflict, Col. Simmons comes to SGC to blackmail Hammond with information on how to recover Teal'c from the stargate. Maybourne also shows up, and unofficially helps O'Neill learn the secret N.I.D. location of the Goa'uld Simmons captured on Earth (season 5's Desperate Measures). Not only that, Dr. Rodney King appears for the first time in the SG-1 world. What an initial impression David Hewlett brings! It's no wonder that they resurrected the character and made him a lead character in Atlantis.
And then there are the Russians, negotiating for access to their stargate and DHD in exchange for access to the technologies that the Americans have acquired through the stargate. It bodes for big changes at SGC in the coming episodes when Russian Col. Chekov appears in the gateroom in the episode's climax. The only disappointment is that Tanith is reduced to a non-speaking part—while the character's comeuppance is satisfying on one level, it is regretful that the Tanith-Teal'c conflict was resolved without dialogue from a face-to-face confrontation between the two characters.
Summit is an episode that both brings together a lot of dangling story elements as well as shakes things up and sets the stage for the next big overarching developments in the SG-1 series. The biggest reveal is Anubis's name. He was first hinted at by Tanith in season 5's Between Two Fires. The dialogue between Zipacna and Osiris about Anubis is very telling—all the more so for viewers who know what happens in later episodes and are rewatching the series. This episode is also notable for the introduction of Baal. As he goes on to become a major antagonist in the latter parts of the SG-1 series, it makes this episode a must see.
Cater, O'Neill, and Teal'c are also put to good use first introducing SG-17 to the Tok'ra's new base on Revanna, and later defending the base from the Jaffa when Zipacna's forces attack. Lt. Elliot (season 5's Proving Ground) also reappears as the fresh-faced newest member of SG-17. While it's disappointing that J.R. Bourne couldn't appear due to scheduling conflicts as Martouf (apparently killed in season 4's Divide and Conquer), his symbiote Lantash does. The person that Lantash merges with during the Jaffa invasion of the base takes the story into completely unexpected directions. Coupled with the preceding 48 Hours, Summit wraps up a lot of dangling story threads, and takes the series in a bold new direction. One hopes that Last Stand, this episode's Part 2, will not only resolve this episode's cliff hangar ending satisfyingly, but continue the excellent storytelling and callbacks to previous events in the series.
Last Stand continues the trend of taking unexpected twists and turns. Not only do we learn that Anubis is out to destroy the Tok'ra, but he also has his sights set on destroying Earth—which partially explains why he isn't making a personal appearance with the System Lords. It's dubious that he could strike the Earth without violating the Protected Planets Treaty (season 3's Fair Game) that the Goa'uld have with the Asgard, but his audacity is striking. At the same time, Osiris has snuck a dagger into the supposedly weapons-free meeting venue. Not only does she use it to threaten Jackson, she also stabs Yu with it. As Yu continues fighting her, it's doubtful that he's mortally wounded. However, it'll most likely add greatly to the animosity that Yu already feels towards Anubis.
Carter, O'Neill, and Teal'c spend most of the episode confined underground. There are some comedy bits whenever O'Neill and Teal'c try to figure out which Tok'ra crystal Lantash is telling them to use—made all the funnier as it is performed silently for the most part. On the other hand, Carter is given a chance to have a final heart-to-heart with Lantash. It's a shame that the episode decides to do away with Elliot, as an ongoing relationship between Carter and a love-struck Lantash in the body of her military subordinate is an intriguing idea. This episode ends on a grim note, with Zipacna's ground forces encircling Elliot. However, what is more troubling are the questions about how much damage the Tok'ra have suffered as an organization, and what Anubis's plans for Earth are. The conclusion of this two-parter isn't as satisfying as the first half was, but it brings closure to Carter's relationship with Martouf, and lays the foundation for great things in coming episodes.
This episode feels predictable perhaps because the 'asteroid threatens the planet' trope has been overused. It doesn't help that the episode also throws in a lot of recurring motifs from other SF shows, such as the engines failing just when they are coming in to land. Not to mention some cliches about putting nuclear bombs into asteroids, and the inevitable failed attempts at defusing them. Nevertheless, the episode hits its stride in the opening scenes—with the entire SG-1 team working together to solve problems—and toward its conclusion, when the episode introduces complications and solutions that are unique to the Stargate universe. Critiques aside, the visual and special effects are very well done, and this episode is as clear a sign as any that the Stargate SG-1 TV series is finally getting the appropriate budget for the stories that it wants to tell.
One of the joys of Fail Safe is that it continually makes references to earlier episodes. Not only are their references to recent events from the immediately preceding episodes, there are call backs to such things as The Hall of Wisdom (season 5's Red Sky), the Protected Planets Treaty (Season 3's Fair Game), and even Naquadah-enhanced nuclear bombs (from 1994's Stargate film)! The highlight of the episode is O'Neill's dialogue—at times it is both extremely funny but also conveys the enormity of the situation. Jackson's actions during the 'repair' montage are also both fun and completely in-character. However, it's not enough to negate the overall feeling of 'been there, done that' that this episode is permeated with. That said, one wonders if SGC or someone from the Earth ever went out to mine the remains of the asteroid for the Naquadah it carried at some later date.
The Warrior delves deeply into the effects that Teal'c and Bra'tac's rebellion against the Goa'uld have caused among the Jaffa. It also looks into what happens to the Jaffa that survived the defeat of their former master, weren't subsumed into a rival Goa'uld's armed forces, and are disillusioned by the current order. The episode also takes a sober look at the cultural differences between SGC (mainly the US's culture) and the Jaffa. In a way it highlights the simmering tensions between Earth and its allies—Jaffa, Tok'ra, and so on—that are generally swept under the carpet for the greater good.
Ricky Worthy's K'tano is also a marvel to watch. Not only does he strike the right notes in his inspiring speeches to the crowds of his followers, but he also displays a certain pathos in the quieter moments when he asks his brave warriors to make big sacrifices. The highlight of the episode is the tracking shots when Worthy displays his martial arts prowess in hand-to-hand combat with fellow Jaffa. I don't think we've seen anyone as capable, or shots filmed as dynamically in this series. Heck, in most any other television production from the same era! The episode also steadily lays a firm foundation for the twist ending that tops it off. Looking back, a lot of the clues that were used to suggest that something wasn't quite right, all make a lot more sense.
Menace is an intriguing episode that starts out with a pair of mysteries—what could wipe out an advanced planet and why Reese was left untouched—morphs into a meditation on what constitutes a living being, and ends up exploring the origins of one of the greatest antagonists in the Stargate SG-1 series. The parts discussing living being are made all the more potent with the reminder that O'Neill and the rest of SG-1 were once also transferred into artificial bodies (season 1 's Tin Man). The outcome of the episode is also very tragic, not only on a personal level, but also because it strongly feels like a great opportunity has been lost.
Jackson is the focus of the episode, with his efforts to both befriend Reese as well as learn what he can from her about her civilization. Concurrently, he promotes the possibility that Reese is a living being who ought to have rights, while also pushing for a non-military solution. Perhaps inevitably he only partially succeeds in one of those, as we are reminded once again that he is a civilian working in a military organization, and that his teammates (and employers) often don't see eye-to-eye. Reese's actress, Danielle Nicolet, also does a commendable performance, as she successfully embodies the innocent naivety of what amounts to an emotionally underdeveloped child—and whose unpredictability can be terrifying as she is also able to produce lethal weapons at a whim!
The Sentinel revisits and delves deeply into the activities of the NID while they briefly controlled the second stargate and were sending teams off world to acquire technology. The chilling aspect is that the teams were under orders to do it "by any means necessary". While Shades of Grey dealt with the subterfuge of the sting operation, this episode takes a sober look at the ramifications of the NID's missions, and the trouble they caused not only the local inhabitants, but also the personnel that SGC has to later dispatch to clean up after them. While Grieves and Kershaw ultimately get their comeuppances, their story is also tragic—just like SG-1, they were looking to acquire help to defend the Earth, they just did it in a much more selfish way.
The Latonans also provide an interesting twist on an advanced society: the people had technologically regressed over a couple hundred years, and are fine as long as everything works, but are clueless when something breaks down! The regression is a thought-provoking, intriguing idea. Nevertheless, it injects some fun into the episode when the stubborn Latonan leader Marul insists that the Jaffa will be defeated—without going into any detail at all on the how or when—which causes intense frustration for the Jaffa leader.
The filming location for The Sentinel also appears to be the one used in Children of the Gods (season 1) as the setting for Chulak's stargate. It's boggling how quickly nature in the rain forests around Vancouver has retaken the former quarry in the intervening 5 years!
Meridian feels like it has come out of left field. The direction the story takes is unprecedented, and the outcome is completely unexpected. There's an unexpected spoiler at the very beginning in the credits when Oma Desala appears (season 3's Maternal Instinct). However, for the casual viewer, that may fly under the radar. This is also the episode that introduces us to Jonas Quinn, who goes on to make a vital contribution to the Stargate SG-1 series throughout season 6. Corin Nemec makes a great first appearance, showing us both Quinn's naive enthusiasm, as well as his later frustration and great disgust with the Kelownan leadership.
That said, the highlight of this episode—in an extremely grim way—is the relatively accurate depiction of radiation poisoning. And this episode cannot be missed, simply because of what it sets up for the conclusion of season 5, and the story direction in season 6 and beyond.
Coming right on the heels of Meridian, this episode has no choice but to deal with the loss of Jackson and how that affects each team member. Teal'c faces it stoically, Carter is upset and sad, and O'Neill... well, it looks like he'd rather distract himself by staying occupied. Hammond also raises an interesting point that Jackson isn't necessarily dead, either—he's simply moved on. Teal'c reinforces this when he adds that Jackson has achieved something great that many Jaffa have attempted. Also, was it just me, or was Osiris genuinely saddened when she learned of Jackson's fate?
When it gets back down to business as a Stargate SG-1 episode, it returns to the more high-paced, lighthearted content that we watch this series for. While we've seen many episodes with SG-1 sneaking around inside an enemy-controlled Ha'tak, the twist this time is that they are backed up by the Asgard, who come fully equipped with an array of tricks to help outwit the Jaffa that guard the ship. Things get even more dramatic after Anubis arrives and we finally get to see what he looks like—which is a visage that has been left surprisingly cloaked and hidden. The tension level gets ratcheted up even higher when Anubis continually produces more advanced technology than any that the Goa'uld are known to possess. To the extent that even after rescuing Thor, he asks that he be left behind as the Goa'uld are still connected to him and able to track their fleeing ship! The other big revelation is the nature of Heimdall's research. While likely to cause a giggle, it does explain many things about the Asgard, and is vital to how the Asgard play out in future seasons and Stargate series. For those reasons, this episode can't be missed.