Friday, November 28, 2014

REVIEW: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride & Prejudice NovelThe Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride & Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Original Publication Year: 2013
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Series: NA
Awards: None
Format: Paperback from Library
Narrated by: NA

I make no secret that I am a fan of published Jane Austen fan fiction because that is what all the re-tellings or continuations written by modern authors essentially are.  I have yet to meet one that really lived up to the source material but I love Austen’s characters and settings and I am obviously not enough of an Austen purist to be offended by all the little things that make these tribute stories to fall short of the originals.  I especially like stories that focus on another character within one of Jane Austen’s creations, which is the category this book falls into.


It especially caught my eye because I’ve always been intrigued by the middle Bennet sister. Mary is almost certainly the most unloved of the Bennet sisters. Lydia and Kitty may be silly but they have spirit while Mary is dull, priggish and socially awkward. She is also the isolated sister sandwiched in between two pairs of sisters who are close in age and as friends. In short, I feel bad for her and am curious how her life eventually turned out.

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet begins a few years post Pride and Prejudice. Both Lizzie and Jane have been happily married a few years and have children. Lydia and Wickham are also still together though less happily and the scandalous dissolution of their marriage plays a large role in the plot. Mary has mostly grown out of her prim and moralistic ways but she is still not the most socially minded of young ladies. She’d rather take long walks and read than attend balls or socialize. Years of being treated as the least charming and attractive sister and an assumption that she will never marry have weighed heavily on her. It is assumed that she will play nursemaid to her sister’s children before than retiring to care for her aging parents. She is understandably resentful of this plan and wants something different from her life but isn’t sure what. Marriage she doesn't even think is an option.

Enter Henry Walsh, a friend of Jane and Bingley’s who seems to find Mary’s more serious and intellectual demeanor appealing. However he has a secret and Mary has been too used to being disregarded and misused to really accept any interest or kindness from him. To complicate matters Lydia has showed up at Longbourn pregnant and having left Wickham. When the baby is born, Lydia shows little interest in caring for it and Mary must step in, at first resentfully but then perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

In general the premise of the book worked well even if it is perhaps it perhaps a tad too sensational for an Austen novel. It kept my interest and I was invested in the developing romance between Mary and Henry Walsh. I also liked her portrayal of Mary who was still recognizable as the middle, less charming sister but had shed some of the more unlikeable traits that had been the result of immaturity. It was easy to see the Mary portrayed, as an older wiser version of the character from Pride and Prejudice. After all she has had the lesson not only of her sister Lydia’s folly but also of the happy outcomes for Lizzie and Jane.

I was less content with Lydia and Kitty’s portrayal which seemed a bit too exaggerated. Not that Austen is averse to creating over the top characters but Kitty in particular is initially appallingly selfish, stupid and downright mean to Mary. It wasn’t enough of an issue to dim my enjoyment of the book however. What was big enough to dim my enjoyment a bit was the drama Mingle decided to use to prompt Mary’s further growth as a character. Basically she has Mary become obsessed with Lydia’s baby to the extent that she wants to take the baby away from Lydia and adopt her as her own. I found it a little crazy and decidedly odd, to be frank. It definitely broke my feelings of empathy with the character. This may just be a me thing though as I’m not a big kid person myself so really couldn’t relate. I just felt like Mingle took it a little too far and crossed a line into crazy town. For example at one point, Mary lets the baby suckle on her breast. It was too much for me.

In the end it averaged out okay though. I enjoyed seeing a more mature Mary and also seeing her find her happiness.

FINAL VERDICT: Definitely not a book for Austen purists but an enjoyable enough read for folks curious about Mary Bennet’s future after P&P. 3 out of 5 stars. ✪✪✪


Thursday, November 27, 2014

REVIEW: Brain on Fire by Susanna Cahalan



Brain on Fire by Susanna Cahalan
Original Publication Year: 2012
Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Medical
Series: NA
Awards: None
Format: Audio (from Audible.com)
Narrated by: Heather Henderson

In 2009, Susanna Cahalan was a 20-something with a successful career as a journalist when her behavior became decidedly odd and erratic.  It signaled the beginning of a weeks long odyssey into brain dysfunction most of which Susanna does not remember.  Through the accounts of her friends, family, doctors and even some video footage, Cahalan tries to piece together the story of what happened to her brain and how by the slimmest of margins, she was able to recover.

For me, this book was a good example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  While reading, I wasn’t actually that engaged even though Cahalan lays things out as they happened, like a jigsaw puzzle and a mystery to solve.  Through the first half to ¾ of the book she focuses on the personal, on how her friends and family reacted to her, how strangers and initial doctors responded to her and what she can remember of her thoughts and feelings as she got sicker and sicker.  It’s interesting but there was something about her style and approach that was off-putting for me.  Not awful but it kept me from really connecting with her and her story. 

The story got more interesting as the ultimate team of doctors were able to, finally, figure out what was going on and she focuses a bit more on the science of neurology.  Cahalan does her job as investigative reporter, following up with all the doctors that she had encountered during her illness and connecting with patients and families of patients who have gone through similar things as she.  She also does not flinch away from describing everything that happens to her, no matter how embarrassing or upsetting. 

The real strength of the book for me was when I put it down and reflected.  Cahalan’s behavior was seriously bizarre and extremely out of character but a visit to a neurologist with a good reputation, showed no abnormalities and had him suggesting, based on little evidence, that she was an alcoholic going through withdrawal.  A psychiatrist thought she may have been exhibiting the first signs of a bipolar disorder.  Even after a couple of weeks in a hospital with a team of doctors there were still no clear medical results to explain her behavior, seizures and physical tics.  In fact she may not have even gotten into the hospital as soon as she did if she hadn’t been who she was – a young woman with a strong social network and from a well to do, professional family who pushed for Susanna’s case to get the incredible amount of attention that was needed to get a diagnosis. She also lives in a big city (New York) where medical care is more sophisticated. She was extremely fortunate and a little bit lucky.  Now think of all the people that don’t have her advantages and imagine all the missed diagnoses and even possible needless deaths and institutionalizations.  Cahalan does a very good job making this point.  There is also the point that with all the advancements we have made in medical science there are still a lot of unknowns, with the brain being one of the more complicated areas to study and understand.  It is all, quite frankly, terrifying.

Final Verdict:  While I found it hard to connect with Cahalan as she struggles with a “month of madness” the book packs more of a wallop when taken as a whole and was ultimately an interesting read, particularly if you are interested in medical science. 3 out of 5 Stars. ✪✪✪

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Winter TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists.  It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

My reading is in such a muddle right now it is harder even than usual to project forward and think about what I'd like to read this winter. Here goes nothing.  

First a couple of ARCs that I'm excited about:

1) The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

The description calls this book "The X-Files meets Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series and set in Victorian London and New York City".  Sounds like my kind of book.  Publication date: February 3, 2015.

2 and 3)   The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas

These are books one and too in the new Veronica Mars based mystery series.  I have Mr. Kiss and Tell which comes out on January 20, 2015 as an ARC and want to catch up with book one first.  Looking forward to spending some time back in Neptune.

Then a few that are sitting around demanding to be read.


4) Sabriel by Garth Nix

This books wins the award for the most appearances on these lists. I currently have the audio, in my car, waiting to be read.

5) Zenn Scarlett by Christina Schoon

I don't remember where I first heard about this book but it sounded fascinating. A science fiction YA book about a girl studying to be an exovet -a veterinarian of extraterrestrial animals.

6) The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

It appears to be about a girl falling in love with android.  Obviously I am in the mood for science fictiony goodness.

7) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

And continuing with that theme....  This book has won all the things and sounds like a great read.

These last three are books I'd like to finish before the end of the year in order to complete the 2014 Eclectic Reader Challenge.




8) The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams (ANTHOLOGY)

This is an anthology which gathers some of the best Holmes short stories written in the last 25 years.  It includes stories by Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Anne Perry, Naomi Novik, Laurie R. King etc....

9) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed (TRAVEL)

I read Tiny Beautiful Things by Strayed a couple months ago and it confirmed my desire to read this one.

10) Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (GOTHIC)

I know of at least a few people who think Collins is better than Dickens.  We shall see.

On top of these add in all of the available sequels I mentioned in last week's list and that is my tentative, likely to completely change winter TBR. 

What's at the top of your list?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sundays through the Stargate - SG1 Season 3


Sundays through the Stargate is a weekly series that I am doing on Stargate SG1 which you can learn more about in The Beginning post. It is mostly for my own dorky edification but if there are any other fans out there I'd love to hear your thoughts!
This season aired initially in 1999-2000.

Season three continues the trend of increasing TV goodness.  The show is still on the upward trajectory and is getting better with each season.

There are a number of significant occurrences.  Earth signs a treaty with the Goa'uld brokered by the Asgard that is meant to keep Earth safe from attack.  However, that doesn't stop a new bad guy from rearing his ugly head, and Sokar takes over where Apophis left off.  You can't count Apophis out yet though as he also makes an unwelcome but brilliant re-appearance.  Shar'e, Daniel's Abydonian wife is killed this season and a new quest is initiated to find the son to whom she gave birth.  There is also a more pleasant resolution of Skaara's possession by a Goa'uld, with the Tollan removing Klorel from him.  Finally, SG1 first meets an enemy, the Replicators, which will continue to be a menace for seasons to come.   

On the good 'ship Sam and Jack there are some significant developments this season.  The first two overtly 'shippy episodes appear with episode 3.6 Point of View and episode 3.17 A Hundred Days.  In Point of View our Jack kisses an alternate reality version of Sam in front of our Sam no less.  In A Hundred Days, Sam finally accepts that her feelings for Jack run very deep indeed.  The scene is set for Season 4 which is by far the 'shippiest season of the show.

On an individual note, Sam is promoted to Major.  She is also forced to commune a bit more closely with Jolinar's memories than she has had to in the past. The protein marker Jolinar left in her blood also saves the day when SG1 is attacked by a Goa'uld killing virus.  She is clearly conflicted about all of this but by the end of the season I think she has become a little more at peace with this part of her.  Her relationship with Martouf also continues to deepen.

Jack starts the season being taken over by a Goa'uld but the symbiote is killed so quickly it does not seems to have any lasting affects.  Probably the most significant thing to happen to him is being stranded on a planet with a more primitive civilization.  He must face the fact that he may not be able to return to Earth and after much moping begins to embrace the simpler life on the planet and even tentatively starts a relationship with one of the women.  When he is rescued however, he does not hesitate to return to Earth - duty or relief?  It is also worth noting that Jack has become quite the favorite of the Asgard and it is interesting to speculate on what exactly they admire in him.

Daniel has a big season with the death of Shar'e and his search to try and find her son the Harcesis.  His initial reaction to the loss of Shar'e is intense and it causes huge ripples in his relationship with Teal'c who is the one who had to kill her.  Daniel had already forgiven Teal'c for the role he had played in Shar'e being chosen for Ammonet but this sets their relationship back significantly.  It is only mended by the gentle urging of Shar'e in post death visits to Daniel in dreams. We also learn a good bit more about Daniel's childhood.  After his parents died Daniel was raised by his archeologist grandfather who was not particularly attentive or affectionate.  He was also thought to have gone mad when he claimed to have seen alien beings after digging up an artifact in a Mayan ruin.  Daniel's relationship with him is rocky but is repaired to some extent in this season.

And what of Teal'c?  We learn that his father was first prime of Cronus and that Cronus had killed him in a terrible fashion.  Teal'c and his mother were forced to flee to Chulak.  This early experience was probably key to Teal'c being receptive to Master Bra'tac's teachings that the Goa'uld must be resisted. Teal'c is also as upset as we ever really see him about the rift between he and Daniel and that he had to kill Sha're. 


NOTABLE EPISODES (SPOILERS AHOY! DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!)

✮ = Episode has significance in the Stargate universe.  Important episodes.
☺ = A favorite episode of mine
♥ = Episode that has some significance to the 'ship (Sam and Jack of course!)

♥☺Episode 3.1 Into the Fire

A continuation of Out of Mind that ended season 2.  Jack is implanted with a Goa'uld and Teal'c and the SGC attempt to launch a rescue mission for the missing members of SG1.  There is some fun banter with Hathor before she chooses Colonel O'Neill as a host for Goa'uld.  Thankfully one of the Goa'uld scientists that was interrogating SG1 in Out of Mind turns out to be a Tok'ra and she puts the Colonel back in the deep freeze which kills the Goa'uld that has invaded him. In the meantime a full scale rescue mission is launched from the SGC led by SG3 (funny, I feel like we never hear about SG2 - what's up with that?).  It doesn't go that well and everybody is now trapped.  Sam wants to try and find and rescue Colonel O'Neill but the SG3 leader isn't for it.  She convinces him to allow her to try and go remove a force field that is keeping them trapped and as she sneaks off to do this she first goes to find O'Neill.  She finds him and starts to revive him but Hathor comes along, strikes down the Tok'ra and starts to use her hand device on Carter. Jack forces himself up and throws Hathor into the deep freeze. Bye By Hathor.  He then rushes to Sam and when he sees that she is all right embraces her, you know, because he's cold;0).

He then pretends to be a Goa'uld to provide a distraction which gives Teal'c and Hammond (unleashing an adorable Yee Haw) to come to the rescue in a glider.
THOUGHTS:  O'Neill has established a very strong tradition within SG1 that they don't leave anyone behind.  Carter has obviously embraced that philosophy enough that she goes against orders from a superior officer to look for and rescue the Colonel.  It's nice symmetry with Out of Mind as well when Jack had rescued her.  It is pretty surprising that Jack grabs and hugs Carter when he finds she's all right and they again cling to each other a little longer than strictly necessary.  I like these little moments but think the choice of these two episodes as ones in which to include them, is a little puzzling.  In both cases where some...affection... is shown they are under the belief that the other is dead or worse inhabited by a Goa'uld so perhaps the circumstances are dire enough for them to drop their guard a little?  It is really awesome to see Hammond get a little time off world AND in an alien ship!  Besides the death of Hathor, who isn't really a major Goa'uld anyway, this episode doesn't have a ton of long-lasting significance but it is a fun episode.
GRADE: A-

☺✮Episode 3.3 Fair Game

The Asgard propose to try and negotiate with the Goa'uld to bring the Earth in as a protected world under a treaty the Asgard and Goa'uld have.  This is the episode where Carter is promoted from Captain to Major - Go Sam and long overdue if you ask me!  Jack is looking very proud and is about to give a speech when he is suddenly whisked away by the Asgard.  It will not be the last time!  Jack is cast in the role of representative of Earth and negotiator in the meetings that follow with Thor of the Asgard and three Goa'uld System lords - Yu, Cronus, and Nirrti.  Turns out Teal'c's dad was Cronus' First Prime and Cronus actually killed him so Teal'c is not happy to see him again.  When Cronus turns up severely injured, Teal'c is accused and the whole negotiation starts to fall apart  They manage to figure out that Nirrti can make herself invisible and that she was responsible and they use this to maneuver the Goa'uld in the negotiations.  In the end, Earth becomes a protected planet and we keep our rights to travel through the Stargate.
THOUGHTS:  Lots of important things happen in this episode:  Sam is promoted, Thor reveals that the Asgard are fighting a much more formidable race than the Goa'uld on their home planet which will become a major plot point, and the Earth has become a protected planet.  There is no longer a constant threat of attack.  The Asgard's admiration for Jack and their faith in him is never really explained - they definitely revere him above all other humans.  Their choice of him here is perhaps not mistaken but it is decidedly odd.  Jack's lack of patience and straight forward communication style is not particularly suited for negotiations particularly with the diva-esque Goa'uld.  They insist that he is the best representative of Earth.  I wonder what Jack would have said in his speech....
GRADE: A-

✮☺♥Episode 3.6 Point of View

A Dr. Samantha Carter and Kawalsky from an alternate reality show up through the portal Daniel found back in Season 1.  The alternate reality/alternate universe episodes are interesting but often a little frustrating especially for 'shippers. In the reality Dr. Carter and Kawalsky come from the Goa'uld have taken over the planet and Jack has recently been killed.  And dead Jack?  Was also married to Dr. Carter.  She's grief stricken and seeing our Jack is very hard on her.  Amanda Tapping does a good job playing a Carter that didn't go into the military, who is still tough but also more emotional and ...well...less suppressed.  Needless to say there are all kinds of interesting character and relationship scenes.  In the end though there can not be two Samantha Carters in one reality and Dr. Carter begins to undergo convulsions.  SGC and SG1 develop a plan to refurbish the power source Jack created when he was in possession of the knowledge of the ancients and then take it back to the alternate reality and use it to contact the Asgard who had not made contact with Earth in that reality.  The mission is ultimately successful and the device that transports people to different realities is destroyed.
THOUGHTS:  Oh Boy.  So much to say here.  First, Teal'c.  Kills himself in the alternate reality with little hesitation.  Teal'c apparently has little thought for alternate versions of himself.  Second, Sam and Jack. Hoo boy.  So Jack seems somewhat uncomfortable but also very drawn to alternate universe Carter.  He is in the weird position of giving her comfort and heartbreak at the same time.  It's obvious that he does want to comfort her and doesn't run for the hills like he normally would in this highly emotional and somewhat awkward situation.   Early on AU Sam, after revealing that she was married to him in her reality, posits that he doesn't even see his Carter like that.  Is this something she's observing on his face or just a guess being born of emotional distress?  My favorite little scene is after he leaves AU Carter's room, he runs into our Sam and asks how she's handling meeting herself.  She replies "Got a couple hours?" and he looks at her seriously and replies yes.  She immediately sort of panics and says it was just a figure of speech that she's fine and runs away.  I take this as Jack showing his care for Carter and actually making tentative attempts at connecting beyond the military structure.  He does this a couple times in the early seasons (well season's 3 and 4) and Sam resolutely shuts him down in panic.  Their roles are reversed in later seasons (7 and 8).  Then there's the scene where Kawalsky is questioning Jack about his interest in our Sam - instead of saying he has no interest her, he says that in his reality Sam is an Air Force a Major and under his command.  SG1 is VERY fond of these coy types of conversations that could be interpreted any way that you like.  I find them equally fun to speculate about and frustrating in their vagueness.  Finally, I would love to get other folks thoughts on what the hell was going on with Jack kissing AU Sam while our Sam watches?  I think Jack's motive is provide comfort and maybe a tiny bit to see what it might be like kissing Carter.  He is drawn to this Carter that treats him as a man and not as a commanding officer.  But in front of our Sam?  The theory is that he doesn't realize she can see them.  And what does our Sam's expression mean (see above)?  It looks like consternation and embarrassment to me which begs the question of what internal ramifications did this have between our Sam and our Jack?  (See the Fan Fiction recommended below if you want one take on this.) Interestingly, AU Sam responds to the kiss by saying "you really aren't him are you?" making a point about the differences in the realities making a fundamental difference to the people within them.  Third Sam and Sam.  While at first clashing a bit, neither understanding the other's life choices, they end up getting along great.  It's nice to know Sam likes herself:0).  Finally, the alternate reality.  This is the second reality we've seen where things have not gone as well as in "our" reality.  It seems that some key elements might be: 1) Teal'c defecting, 2) Daniel involved with the SG Program, 3) Sam in the military, 4) Jack as leader of SG1 as a Colonel.  It makes the point that our SG1, it's team members and dynamic are absolute necessary ingredients for keeping Earth safe.
GRADE: A

✮Episode 3.10 Forever in a Day - This is a very significant episode but I just can't bring myself to write up a full account of it, basically because the whole Daniel-Sha're things just annoys me.  Basically, Sha're is killed.  She is killed by Teal'c in order to save Daniel's life because Amonett/Sha're is using the hand device on him.  Daniel's sad and pissed.  In dreams, Sha're convinces Daniel to a) forgive Teal'c , b) stay with the Stargate program and c) so he can find the son she bore.  The end.

Episode 3.11 Past and Present

 SG1 encounters a planet where all the residents have amnesia.  I include this episode because I just really like it. The set up is interesting with the citizens of the planet just waking up one day to have no memory of who they are or the people around them.  The first two folks SG1 meets think they are a couple because the first thing they remember is running along side one another but they don't get along very well and the husband is quite taken with another woman who is a leader among them, Ke'ra.  Ke'ra is obviously brilliant and has been working to figure out what has happened to her people.  Another mystery is that there don't seem to be any older folk in the population.  As the mysteries unravel, SG1 are shocked to discover that Ke'ra is actually the enigmatic, and evil, Linea  from episode 2.3 Prisoners. But she is young and has no memory of all the atrocities she has done.  She is kind and compassionate and only wishes to help her people.  They discover what has happened - all the people have been made young again but it also took away their memories.  A cure that will give the people back their memories is found but they discourage Ke'ra from taking it, telling her what they know of her.  She takes it anyway and when all her misdeeds come back to her she tries to commit suicide.  Daniel who has become VERY close to her, stops her and has her take the youth treatment again so that she is back to blank slate.  The first couple we met, who are indeed a happily married couple (and who now act like it), take her under their wing to ensure she never remembers.
THOUGHTS:  The placement of this episode is very odd as Daniel had literally just lost Sha're and been really upset about it but it does not stop him for falling for Ke'ra quickly and easily.  I didn't really care because I try to pretend Sha're didn't exist but folks who did like Daniel and Sha're must have been mighty put out by this episode!  I think the experience of the initial couple we meet is very interesting.  When they suspect they are a couple but don't know and have no memories of their past, they do not get along at all but as soon as their memories are back all is well.  It highlights how memories and shared experiences are crucial to bonding people.
GRADE: A-

☺♥Episode 3.12 and 3.13 Jolinar's Memories and The Devil You Know

This is a two part episode involving SG1 and Martouf trying to rescue Jacob Carter from a hell-like prison planet run by Sokar.  It's the Tok'ra and Jacob Carter so of course I love it.  Jacob has been imprisoned on an inescapable prison planet run by Sokar.  In fact, only one person has ever escaped and that is Jolinar.  Martouf comes to ask for Sam and SG1's help in rescuing Jacob/Selmak and the important intel he had gathered before being captured.  Martouf has a device that can awaken Jolinar's memories within Sam so she can figure out their escape.  All but Teal'c launch themselves in pods onto the surface of the planet.  Carter has flashes of some of Jolinar's memories but they are not complete and she ends getting herself into trouble but is "rescued" by a secondary Goa'uld.  This Goa'uld turns out to be Apophis!  Apophis takes over the prison and sets about gathering information from his old friends amongst the Tauri by torturing them.  But as Apophis sets in motion some plans to take out Sokar, SG1 use the distraction to escape despite the Tok'ra sending another operative to blow up the planet.  Apophis succeeds in defeating Sokar and he is now back in business.
THOUGHTS:  This pair of episodes is probably in my top ten of the whole show.  It's an action packed, suspenseful couple of hours with several twists and turns as Jolinar's memories are slowly revealed and then Apophis makes his surprise appearance.  There is also a lot of great character stuff.  Despite the fact that she is uncomfortable with the parts of Jolinar's consciousness that she carries, Sam is relentless in trying to figure things out.  It's her father's life at stake after all.  She also recalls things about Jolinar that she feels she must hide from Martouf because she is afraid it may upset him.  On his side, Martouf is a little cold and calculating, pushing Carter a little hard but on the other hand he is giving some subtle signs that he has developed some affection towards Carter and not just what she carries of Jolinar.  We also see Jack at the most protective he allows himself to get of his female officer - chastising Martouf for pushing her too hard and just generally being concerned about her considering it is her father who is in danger.  Apophis also uses a device and some drug to make SG1 and Martouf hallucinate in order to get information from them.  Sam must relive her mother's death, Jack is playing with his dead son Charlie, Martouf believes Jolinar is begging for his help.  They all manage to withstand the deception and emotional toil.  It's a nice well-rounded piece of TV storytelling!
GRADE: A+

Episode 3.14 Foothold

SG1 returns from an off world mission to discover the SGC overtaken by aliens.  Thankfully, Sam and Teal'c avoid being neutralized by the aliens and escape to save the day.  So by now it should be clear I like a good SGC-in-peril episode and this one is a good one.  The aliens have a device that allows them to access the memories and mimic the appearance of SGC personnel though this isn't immediately clear.  Sam escapes and goes to Maybourne for help, telling him there is something hinky at the SGC.  He doesn't believe her and turns her in and then "Jack" and "Daniel" show up to convince her all is well and that she's just hallucinating due to a gas leak.  They head back to the SGC but on the plane there Sam remains suspicious and finally figures out the alien device.  They get to the SGC, hook up with Jack who has been freed from the alien influence and kick some ass.
THOUGHTS:  Maybourne reveals himself to be an ass but perhaps not as bad as he at first seems.  The alien devices will play a key role in a later episode.  Best of all this is just a fun episode.
GRADE: A-


✮Episode 3.15 Pretense

Skaara/Klorel shows up on Tollan and Skaara is able to emerge long enough to beg for help to id himself of Klorel.  Things for Shar'e didn't go so well and SG1 gets an opportunity to do something a little bit better for Skaara.  The Tollan organize a trial of sorts to determine who deserves precedence, Klorel or Skaara.  SG1 argues for Skaara, a Goa'uld argues for Klorel, and one of the Nox serves as arbiter.  There are a lot of arguments on both sides that are actually rather interesting and convincing.  After all the Goa'uld are a life form that happens to be parasitic. They cannot help their nature - do they not have as much right to pursue life as other life forms.  In the end of course the decision goes in favor of Skaara.
THOUGHTS:  The episode packs enough action to keep it interesting but it also does a good job of being thoughtful and covering all the philosophical angles.
GRADE: B

☺Episode 3.16 Urgo

SG1 return from a mission with a tiny little Dom Deluise living in their head.  This is a pure comedy episode and is a lot of fun. Unbeknownst to them SG1 has a device implanted in their brain which is supposed to collect data about them and their culture for the person who placed it there.  Problem is the device becomes personified by an annoying man, Urgo, who irritates SG1 and can also make them do things against there will like eat a lot of pie and sing row row row your boat.  He is hungry for experience and adventure.  They finally risk going back to the planet and demand the device be removed and discover that Urgo represents the more carefree side of his stern creator.  SG1 convinces the creator that Urgo is a life form and that he should implant him in his own head.
THOUGHTS:  Dom Deluise plays Dom Deluise which is pretty perfect for the character of Urgo. Despite some arguments about what exactly is an appropriate definition of life which Carter and Daniel engage in while Jack and Teal'c roll their eyes, this is an episode of pure fluff. You know they never try to explain who these human like people they meet are.  Do they all represent humans from earth that have been transported by the Goa'uld or are some of them actually aliens that happen to look like humans?  They seem to exist on a wide spectrum of technology which is a little puzzling.
GRADE: B+


✮♥☺Episode 3.17 A Hundred Days

When asteroids start hitting the planet SG1 are on, the explosions knock the gate over and bury it, trapping Jack on the planet.   The episode that is simultaneously a shipper's dream and nightmare all rolled into one.  It's the episode that I think is universally recognized as the episode where Carter fully acknowledges/recognizes her feelings for Jack while in the meantime Jack is flirting and hooking up with a random lady (Laira) on the planet where he is trapped. That is of course an oversimplification.  There is an obvious attraction between Jack and Laira before any disaster strikes when SG1 is just working to establish a relationship with the people of the planet.  Once he is trapped, Jack works very hard to get back and grieves quite a lot about his situation.  He does pitch in with the villagers to help them rebuild however and slowly gets used to the rhythms of the simpler life.  He and Laira's relationship begins because she pushes it.  Jack likes her and she has been crucial in making his life on the planet bearable plus as time goes on he thinks he may be trapped there for a long time if not forever.  And at heart he is a good guy and feels like he owes Laira his loyalty when she pushes to get rid of his earth clothes.  Then he is rescued.  Carter has worked day and night for weeks to invent and build a particle beam that will break through hard naquadah  shell that has formed over the gate horizon.  It is clear to at least Janet that Carter seems extra especially motivated to get the Colonel back.  When they do finally rescue him and Carter is excitedly chattering at Jack about how they figured things out, he literally walks away from her while she is in mid-sentence to have a heartfelt goodbye with Laira.  Sam is embarrassed and obviously upset and jealous.  It's hard to blame Jack though.  He owes Laira nothing less and he does not stay with her.
THOUGHTS:   As a shipper, of course, I wanted  to believe that Jack was pining for Sam as much as she was pining for him and there is nothing here to say that he wasn't exactly.  There is also nothing here to say that he was.  At this point Jack almost certainly has and has recognized he has serious feelings for Sam but I don't think he believes they are reciprocated which likely makes it easier for him to bury his own feelings.  It is also unclear whether this episode is where Sam realizes how deep her own feelings run for him, in that moment of jealousy, or if her feelings are just brought very close to the surface by his disappearance so they are more visible.  This is all around a pretty controversial episode for shippers.
GRADE: B+

Episode 3.20 Maternal Instinct 

SG1 race against Apophis to find the son of Apophis and Shar'e and find him residing with some strange aliens.  The team follows a lead to a planet where they think the Harcesis (Apophis and Shar'e's son may be being kept.  They find an Asian monastery type place where the "monks" only speak in riddles.  Daniel briefly thinks he can set fire to things with his mind.  However he then discovers that there is a being which can be invisible or exist as pure energy who is very powerful and who is watching over the boy.  They leave the boy there but not before Daniel has made a friend.
THOUGHTS: This episode is significant because it introduces the Ascended which show up several times in the seasons to come and play a particularly key role in Daniel's character trajectory. 
GRADE: C+

✮☺Episode 3.22 Nemesis

This is the first of two episodes with the second opening season 4.  Jack is transported to Thor's ship to find Thor almost dead, the ship overrun by the Asgard's biggest enemy and  headed to Earth!  This is one of those great episodes where it really is suspenseful as to if and how SG1 is going to make it out alive.  Daniel is left out of this adventure because he (and I think Michael Shanks) has just had his appendix out.  Turns out Thor has mostly lost a battle with the Asgard's biggest enemy which he had mentioned back in episode 3.3.  They are called the Replicators and they look like large mechanical spiders that consume technology and replicate at an alarming rate.  Jack plans to blow the ship up with him on it and orders Sam and Teal'c not to join him but they do anyway. Sam starts crafting a plan that will destroy the ship and also get them off before it blows.  Very little goes as planned but eventually they put the dying Thor in stasis, beam up the stargate, and plan to detonate the ship and then crash it through the Earth's atmosphere.  They do it and it is all very exciting but the last thing we see is a replicator crawling up on a piece of flotsam from the spaceship's wreckage in the Pacific.
THOUGHTS:  First of all this is one of the best season finales and is jam packed with action and teamy goodness even with Daniel being MIA.  At the start of the episode Jack is actually headed on leave and it represents his first invitation to the team to go fishing with him.  His invitation to Carter is especially pregnant with angst as she is taken aback and says no but then changes her mind and runs to catch him just in time to see him beamed up by the Asgard.  It is also clear that she was never going to obey Jack's order not to come and back him up and thankfully Hammond agrees with her.  The Asgard continue to have a soft spot for Jack and even though Carter works with Thor quite a lot in this episode he doesn't seem to be as fond of her.
GRADE: A

WRAP UP
This season has another great and dramatic season-ender and is overall a a very strong season episode wise.  There's a run of episodes there in the middle that are some of my favorites of the whole show. 

The team faces a major bump in the road when Teal'c is forced to kill Sha're but they are able to get past it and bond.  The last episode represents the second time SG1 has saved the planet and their reputation continues to grow.  The final episode really highlights how the components of the team are all key to SG1's success.  Teal'c with the symbiote can endure things the humans can not, Sam's genius and technological knowledge help her come up with creative solutions and execute them, while Jack's bad ass skills and ability to support and motivate his team's strengths make it all gel.  I wish my team at work was that functional:0).

Sam and Jack's feelings for each other have started to become a more overt thing this season and their struggle between their feeling and the regulations will come to a head in season 4.   Season 3 sets this up well.

Top Five Episodes from this Season:
1) Episode 3.12/3.13 Jolinar's Memories and The Devil You Know
2) Episode 3.6 Point of View
3) Episode 3.22 Nemesis
4) Episode 3.1 Into the Fire
5) Episode 3.17 A Hundred Days

The Rabbit Hole 

The rabbit hole is where I point out other places on the web where you can waste spend a lot of time reading about Stargate SG1.

Jack O'Neill's 7 Rules of Gate Travel

FAN FICTION: SG1 is pretty much the only show where I have extensively turned to fan fiction to try and deal with the frustration about how the actual writers of the show handled/"resolved" Jack and Sam's relationship.  I definitely have two favorite authors: Rachel500 and Annerb.  Both of them are talented writers whose stories could easily be imagined as actual SG1 episodes. They both write the characters spot on.   Also on a personal preference level - the things they imagine are exactly how I would have liked for things to go down and they both have an admiration and reverence for the character of Sam in particular.  I'm sure there are other good writers out there but after wading through a lot these two are my reliable go tos.   Basically, give them both a shot! Below is a recommendation for seasons 3 and 4. 

Aftershocks II (Season's 3 and 4) by Rachel500:  This is a collection of TAGS or missing scenes from season's one and two of SG1.  It's what happened with SG1 in between their missions and adventures.  
PREVIOUS POSTS:
Season 1
Season 2

Well that's it for the Stargate this week.  Next week season four where the 'ship really gets going.