Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sundays through the Stargate - SG1 Season 4

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!

The first and most important question to ask heading into Season 4 is...what exactly have Sam and Jack been up to during the week in which they were stranded on a uncivilized planet???!!!  What? You thought the most important question would be about the deadly replicator last seen floating in the Pacific Ocean ready to breed and destroy the world?  Nah!  Season 4 (much like season 6 of the X Files) is arguably the shippiest of seasons and I'd like to revel in that a little bit.  It is the only time in the series where the 'ship sees anything like the fringes of the limelight and boy did it apparently make some people mad.  There's a little 'shipper vs. anti-'shipper conflict on most shows where romance is not the primary focus but I think it was particularly vehement for this show.  There were a lot of folks who watched Stargate solely for the strong military focus and the shooty/running bits and woe betide any character development, relationship crap that gets in the way.  I like both strong character development AND big explosions so shake my fist at such romance naysayers. Even in this, the 'shippiest of seasons, the 'ship takes up a VERY small percentage of air time which as a shipper, I am fine with.  So the anti-shippers should also have to deal.  As I said I'm gonna revel a bit ;0).

Ahem... back to the point.  So why am I so curious about what Sam and Jack were up to between season 3 and season 4?  Because the season starts with a decided shift in how Sam and Jack interact with each other which reaches a significant climax by episode 5, no less, when Sam and Jack actually admit they have inappropriately warm feelings for one another.  It is, I believe the only time they will do this on camera while they are not under alien influence or in an alternate dimension.  From here on out its all vague innuendo. I will likely speculate on this a bit more in the episode discussions.  If your interested in one take on that week stranded off world I strongly suggest you check out Rachel500's Aftershocks TAG. It's a nice imagining of what went down between the two characters to cause the shifted dynamic between them.  All in all there is overt 'shippiness in 5 of the 22 episodes!  That's almost a 1/4!

This may also be a good time to point out how well managed the 'ship is at this point in the game.  Intentionally or not, the powers that be did a pretty brilliant job at plotting the 'ships trajectory. Where they end up running into enraging, horrible problems is with closure, but more on that a few posts from now.  Up to this point, things were moving along swimmingly.
SEASON 1: There's some attraction between the two of them but Jack's still dealing with his recent divorce and Sam's laser focused on impressing the Colonel with her abilities.  After all, she was the only member of his team that he did not choose and she has a very eager to please, duty oriented character.  Their personal relationship deepens with their bonding experience being trapped on Antarctica together but that mostly just relaxes the formality of their relationship a bit.
SEASON 2: Somewhere along the line in this season Jack realizes he's fallen for Sam.  A lot of people point to Episode 2, In the Line of Duty when Sam is taken over by Jolinar and almost dies.  This serves as a trigger for the Colonel's feelings and by the end of season 2 he's pretty smitten though hiding it (mostly) well.  See the last episode of Season 2 and episode 1 of Season 3 for evidence of his smittenness.  Sam also seems to have relaxed a little around him and conspicuously finds all his jokes hilarious.  I think she's fighting/denying her feelings harder than Jack though because falling for her CO is not something she would be happy with herself about.
SEASON 3:  The first two overtly shippy episodes occur.  Jack explores what it might be like to be with Sam by smooching the  AU Doctor Carter which gives our Sam a lot of food for thought. Also to Kawalsky, Jack does not deny an interest in being with our Sam but just holds up the regulations as a barrier.  In A Hundred Days, Sam has her cathartic moment where she finally realizes or at least gives in to the idea that she, in fact, has fallen for her CO.  The stage is set for...
SEASON 4:  A week of hanging out casually while being stranded after the season 3 finale serves to relax Sam and Jack around each other enough that they are now openly flirty.  Their feelings are very close to the surface and they are only just keeping them tamped down.  Numerous situations during the season force those feelings to bubble up to the surface and they actually admit there feelings to one another for the first time (under duress).  It's a revelation for both of them as clearly they both thought the feelings were one-sided.  A devastating incident towards the end of the season causes another shift in how they interact and as a result we head into an almost 2 season long dead zone.
So that's the 'ship up to this point and it's a realistically developed slow burn.  Which is why it is so heartbreaking when it all goes down in flames a few seasons from now.  sigh...

What's that you ask?  Is there anything else besides Sam and Jack ogling each other that happens in this season?  Umm.... Well, I guess so.  Actually it's a good season with or without the 'ship.

This season kind of represents the peak of the Earth - Tok'ra Alliance.  A formal treaty is being drafted and the Tok'ra show up quite a bit in this season (6 out of 22 episodes).  Some of the players change with the sad death of Martuf and the only constant becomes Jacob/Semak.

Apophis rears his slightly uglier head as chief bad guy for most of the season though nothing huge really happens on that front.  There are lots of run ins but no big set piece or overall story arc.

The Asgard are mostly absent except for the first episode of the season.  The robot SG1 from the earlier episode Tin Man are encountered again and are all "killed" which makes even Jack sad.  The Harcesis (Sha're and Apophis' son) shows up and "gifts" Daniel with what it would be like to have all the power of the Goa'uld.  I believe this is the last we ever see or hear of the Harcesis?  The experience is significant for Daniel as he sees how he might be with power and it ain't pretty.  Daniel also has a pretty life-changing experience when he meets and befriends an un-goa'ulded Unas, a species which were the Goa'ulds first hosts and generally pretty violent and brutal. Daniel also must deal with the death of one of his archeology mentors and an encounter with an ex-girlfriend who ultimately becomes invaded by Osiris.  Sara/Osiris will continue to plague Daniel and SG1 for a few seasons to come yet. 

The opposition to the SGC (mostly in the form of Senator Mackenzie) becomes more pronounced.  At one point General Hammond is forced from his job and Jack must team up with an in-hiding Maybourne to get him back.  Good thing too, as the person they replaced Hammond with, forces Sam to make a bomb and detonate it against her will which is bad but not the first time she is forced to do that this season.  Jack himself had also forced her to make and detonate a bomb in episode 9 even though she objected  This is the problem with being Sam - you're smart enough to build bombs and you're not in charge. The Americans also discover that the Russians had stumbled upon the gate that had gone down with Thor's ship and since they have a DHD that they had found on earlier explorations, they have started up their own stargate program.  Jack is thrilled (aka 'he is not too fond of Russians).


✮ = 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 4.1 Small Victories
SG1 saves the world again

Teal'c, Jack and Sam arrive back at the SGC from a week stranded to discover that their hardship is not yet over - the replicators have a toehold on Earth and are over-running the Asgard home planet.  Sam and Jack are in Love, Ya'll!  I will probably say that before almost every episode this season, it's so gloriously 'shippy.  Anyway, Sam and Jack shamelessly and adorably flirt with each other before Hammond calls them into an emergency briefing - no fishing for Jack.  They've just been told a Russian submarine crew was killed in it's entirety by a large mechanical spider when the stargate unexpectedly activates and Thor shows up.  Seems the Asgard are in big trouble from the replicators as well.  Sam goes with Thor in hopes that her "stupidity" (compared to the Asgard) will come up with some plan they're too smart to think of and Jack, Teal'c and Daniel travel to head off the disaster brewing on Earth.  Jack(after Carter offers to go with Thor): "I don't know Carter, you may not be dumb enough." Carter: "I think I can handle it, sir." The Asgard have named a ship after Jack.  Sam comes up with a sufficiently stupid idea to relieve the immediate threat to the Asgard and she and Thor zoom back to Earth just in time to save Jack and Teal'c from a sticky situation. They have saved the world. Again.  On a shallow note I like when SG1 wear the black uniforms.
THOUGHTS:  Something SO happened between Sam and Jack during the week they were stranded between last season and this.  I'm not sure I totally buy Rachel500's hypothesis in her fan fiction piece (see above) that they actually talked about having feelings for each other but everything else in that story is what I'd like to believe.  It totally makes sense that they'd need to secure supplies from elsewhere and that Jack would encourage Teal'c to go spend some time with his son, leaving Jack and Sam alone for most of  a week of downtime.  I think it is as simple as they relaxed the "sir" and "Carter" and perhaps allowed themselves to get a little too cozy and have a little too much fun.  Whatever happened it changed the whole dynamic of their interactions, most visible in the scene of the gif above, likely by bringing their mutual feelings closer to the surface.  And if that smile of Sam's is not a "Squeee! The boy I have a crush on is talking to me" smile I don't know what is.  There is plenty of action in the episode with the rescue of Jack and Teal'c being truly last second.  There are also a couple of other good character moments. Watching Sam work through the problem, learn and come up with the solution is illuminating and fun - to get a peek at her thought processes.  Daniel being put in a position where he must make the call to blow up and kill Jack and Teal'c was probably extremely traumatic for him.  He's not military and those type of calls are not what he does.  It's odd that Jack tells him to make the call rather than Major Davis.  Regardless, It's good that Jack and Teal'c are rescued because I'm not sure Daniel would have gotten over it, if they had died.

☺✮♥Episode 4.3 Upgrades

A Tok'ra, named Anise (host Freya), shows up wanting to test a new technology on SG1.  Jack is starting to get a little irritated with the Tok'ra until Anise, who is stunningly beautiful, walks through the Stargate.  Then he just becomes speechless.  The armbands she brings don't work on the Tok'ra but should work on the humans to give them advanced strength and abilities.  It works and the three human members of SG1 become super human.  Daniel is most excited by being able to read really fast.  Unfortunately, or fortunately as that is what makes this episode fun, the armbands also affect their judgement.  They decide to go against orders and go through the Stargate to take out a new ship Apophis is building - they leave Teal'c behind.  Once on the ship they have to set explosives and navigate a bunch of force shields - no problem with their increased speed.  But then Daniel's arm band falls off and thankfully Teal'c has followed them and he helps Daniel out while Sam and Jack finish the mission.  However then Sam and Jack's arm bands fall off and they get trapped on opposite sides of a force shield.  Jack tries to free Carter but can't.  When the bombs go off the force shield is
removed and they high tail it out of their.   The ship blows up and they get back to the SGC.  THOUGHTS: Anise/Freya seems to have a bit of a crush on Jack which is not surprising since he is looking damn fine so far this season.  You may wonder why there is a heart on this episode because nothing particularly shippy happens. BUT just wait!  All will be revealed in time.  This is one of my favorite episodes of the show.  Love the team dynamics, the Tok'ra involvement, the humor and all the fun stuff (most of) SG1 can do.  Sam is typing so fast she has to wait for her computer to catch up with her.  Her and Daniel are so excited at how productive they can be while Jack is more enthralled by being physically strong.

♥Episode 4.5 Divide and Conquer

A summit is being set up between the Tok'ra leader and the U.S. President when they discover a new kind of enemy - unwitting sleeper agents of the Goa'uld are among them and everyone's a suspect.  Sam and Jack are in love , y'all!!!  Too bad this is the last we'll ever hear about it.  And well the love word is never mentioned but it is as close as we ever get.  A rant about that in a later post.  Moving swiftly onwards.  This episode heralds the introduction of the Za'tarcs - Goa'uld programmed people who don't know they've been programmed to do terrible deeds and then kill themselves.  The Tok'ra bring a device to identify who at the SGC might be Za'tarcs.  Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter test positive!  And then Freya, the overly voluptuous Tok'ra makes a pass at O'Neill, who tosses her to the curb pretty hastily and when asked if there is someone else he is loyal to, he dodges like a nerd on the playground (but doesn't say no).  Jack tries to sacrifice himself in order to figure out a "cure" for Sam which gets Sam all riled up and makes her realize that what might be setting off the machine may be the "something neither of them can admit because of their working relationship, their military ranks...." Jack of course makes Sam spell it out for him because he's a dork. So what's the big 'shippy deal?  We get to re-watch the scene at the force field from two episodes previously ( Ep. 4.3 Upgrades), this time with some added longing looks.  Jack's face seems to suggest shock and surprise while Sam is weepy and pleading.  And then Jack is forced to say, in the Za'Tarc testing machine:  "I'd have rather died myself than lose Carter.... Because I care about her. A LOT more than I'm supposed to."  Freya/Anise, Doc Frasier and Teal'c are present. We don't get to see Carter's re-exam but she passes as well after presumably admitting her feelings for the Colonel..  Her and Jack have a hurried 2 second conference where they decide to leave all of their "feelings" in the room.  Jack asks if they're okay with that and Sam quickly says yes and then they are moving on.  I think she's had enough putting herself out there for one day.  And then! And Then!  Martuf ends up being the Za'Tarc and he is shot and killed!  I actually kind of liked Martuf (much better then Narim) so that's sad.  In a sense Carter loses two people she loves that day - the part of her that feels what Jolinar felt, loses Martuf to death and Carter herself loses Jack to a hasty decision to lock away her feelings.  Boo Hiss!
THOUGHTS: First of all it is worth saying that while I appreciate the gymnastics the show did to orchestrate the scene, it is all a little ridiculous.  But we'll just slide on past that to get to the juicy stuff.  So at the force shield what is Jack's surprise/shock about?  It could be that he is just realizing just how deep his feelings for Sam are but I think he's known that for a good while now.  I think his surprise is realizing that Sam returns his feelings.  And it is probably a little shock at potentially having to watch Sam get shot by Jaffa.  I also think it is interesting that Jack maybe tries to discuss things with Carter after the final Za'Tarc testing and Sam shuts things down pretty hastily.  I am almost certainly reading too much into it but it reminds of the episode in season 3 (3.6 Point of View) where he offers quite sincerely to be a shoulder for her to lean on and talk to which she responds to by running away in a panic.  Sam says hurriedly that they can just leave all the feelings in the room prompting Jack to ask "Are we okay with that?" to which Sam replies Yes sir before quickly moving on.  Jack was probably asking if she was still going to be comfortable being under his command now that she (and others - Teal'c, Doc Frasieretc...) knows how he feels about her but what he asks is "Are WE okay with that...", which to me signifies that he is opening the door for them to talk about being together even though that would mean a big career change for one of them and the end of the current SG1 team.  Sam is not ready to go there and I'm sure she regrets the decision in seasons 7 and 8 when she tries to push Jack into talking about "them" several times and he consistently shuts her down.

☺♥Episode 4.6 Window of Opportunity

The world gets stuck in a day long time loop (ala Groundhog Day) with only Jack and Teal'c being aware of the fact. Smooches! *ahem* This is SG-1's version of Groundhog Day and is generally one of the more whimsical and frankly awesome of SG1 episodes.  The best part of the episode is that after many days of going through the same 10 hours, Jack starts to take advantage of the situation and do all those things he'd love to do but normally can't because of consequences.  There's juggling, pottery making, golfing, and SMOOCHING. Probably the best kiss between Sam and Jack is in this episode as he really lays one on Sam dipping her towards the floor.  Probably more adorable are the sly little looks and smiles he gives a clueless Carter in the next time loop.  It is one of the more humorous episodes of SG1 and showcases RDA's talent at comedy.  Teal'c has some nice moments as well.
THOUGHTS:  So there is perhaps a little squickiness with the idea of Jack kissing Sam knowing full well that Sam will not remember it but he will.  It doesn't bother me too much because it is just a kiss.  If he had tried to go further than that, it would've been a problem.  His smug, lecherous smiles are too much fun for me to be too squirrelly about it.  What does all this mean for the 'ship?  Not a whole lot except that Jack apparently thinks about kissing Cater and if we are to believe her reaction (it is actually her, she just doesn't remember after), she wouldn't mind one bit even if it was as dramatic as it is .

☺♥Episode 4.10 Beneath the Surface

SG1 is stranded in an off planet work camp with no memory of who they are. It's pretty obvious from the beginning that Jack and Sam are a pair but Daniel and Teal'c have other alliances.  Jack as Jonah is endearingly protective of Sam as Thera.  All of the actors do a great job expressing a slightly different personality than usual while still being themselves. Sam is still really smart and has all these ideas for making the equipment safer. They are all hard workers with a good dose of heroism.  Interestingly, the woman that "Daniel" has paired up with does not like Thera (Sam) and is confrontational and tries to keep her from getting food.  It's unclear why except that she thinks Sam thinks too much of herself.  Teal'c is the only one for whom the memory stamp doesn't work and he plants ideas in Jack, Sam and Daniel's heads that something is wrong.  In the end the memory stamps begin to wear off and they rescue all the workers from enslavement.  It's a good deed and should have them feeling great but Sam and Jack had gotten close and are not anxious to go back to the way things were.
THOUGHTS: Jack/Jonah: "My dreams are about (sideways look at Sam/Thera) other things."  Calling Jack "Sir" is so ingrained in Carter that she lets one slip as Thera.  They look so sweet snuggled up and Sam admits that there are some things that she likes about the reality they are in and Jack admits that he remembers "feeling feelings".  The last scene between Sam and Jack as they shoulder on the full mantle of their true identities and realize what it means to them personally is pretty glum.  This is just in general a good episode and it has special significance for us shippers.  It gives us a little peek into what Sam and Jack would be like without the restrictions of the military and their ranks.  While Thera and Jonah are somewhat muted and simpler versions of Jack and Sam they do have the same basic core personality.  They do not maintain the bonds with Daniel and Teal'c but with each other it seems they immediately gravitated into close companions.  There has also been the question floated out there as to whether any deeper...affection...was shared while they were under the influence of the personality stamp but based on what we see, I think probably not beyond, perhaps, some kissing.  This may be my favorite 'shippy episode of the whole show.

☺Episode 4.12 Tangent

Jack and Teal'c are stranded in space in a booby trapped death glider. Teal'c and Jack are test flying a new modified death glider that they are hoping they can use against the Goa'uld.  This is kind of Earth's first attempt to start cannibalizing technology in fulfillment of the Stargate's mission to protect Earth from the Goa'uld.  Unfortunately the death glider has a recall booby trap that was installed by Apophis after Teal'c defected, so the glider is out of their control and headed to deep space back to Apophis.  Earth has no means of retrieving them and their life support will only last a few hours.  In desperation, the rest of SG1 tracks down Jacob and convinces him to help them retrieve Jack and Teal'c which they do just in time. 
THOUGHTS: I really like this episode.  It has some real tension to it even though we know they are not going to kill off Jack and Teal'c. It's a nice bonding episode for Jack and Teal'c and Sam kind of takes charge and saves the day.  We also get some Tok'ra action with Jacob which is always a plus in my book.  Their relationship (both Tok'ra and Earth AND Sam and her Father) is complicated which makes for some fun maneuvering.

☺Episode 4.14 The Serpents Venom

Teal'c is captured and tortured by the Goa'uld while Jack, Sam and Daniel help the Tok'ra sabotage  Apophis and Hera'ure by bringing a mine inside a Tok'ra ship.  Apophis and Hera'ure are forming an alliance and the Tok'ra have developed a plan to sabotage it.  They will go to the meeting location, which is surrounded by all these space mines, and they will transport one of the mines on board and re-program it to target one of Apophis or Hera'ure's ships so that the other will think they have been betrayed.  Jacob recruits SG1, except Teal'c who is off world, to help.  Unbeknownst to them, Teal'c has been betrayed and taken prisoner by Hera'ure who then turns him over to Apophis as a sign of friendship.  The mine plan doesn't really work and they discover that Apophis has some new weapons up his sleeve.  Everybody, including Teal'c, luckily escapes however.
THOUGHTS: Again this is a favorite because of more adventures with Jacob and some real suspense with the bomb in the ship and very high stakes.  It maybe loses some points in my book for the Jaffa stuff but overall great episode!  Also there is a little bit of 'shippiness as Jack pulls Sam out from under the bomb and sort of huddles with her in a corner at one point. 

☺✮Episode 4.15 2010

It's ten years in the future and everything is different, mostly in an ookie way.  This is a creative episode that explores the "benevolent" takeover of Earth in a near future.  Once the nefarious nature of their alien benefactors is discovered, Sam hatches the idea of using a solar flare to send a warning note back to themselves 10 years in the past (which would be the show's present day).  We get a look at a strange future where Doc Frasier has been made obsolete, Sam is married to some man we've never seen before, and Jack is estranged having warned of the danger of the "benevolent" aliens (the Aschen) and been ignored.  He is obviously somewhat bitter at Sam's marriage and the world.  IN the end, all of former SG1 give their lives to send the note back and it is a near thing.  The current SG1 and General Hammond receive the note, and take it seriously and block the gate address out of the computer.  Unfortunately this will not stop them from encountering the Aschen in a future episode.
THOUGHTS: Jack is VERY bitter in 2010 having been ignored by his friends and colleagues and perhaps because Sam has married someone other than him. We're used to seeing Jack cranky but not this cold, especially towards Sam.  There is obvious animosity between Jack and Sam's husband though whether it's to do with Sam or the fact that her husband is one of the major liaisons with the Aschen is unclear.  Basically we get to see what it would be like to be on Jack's bad side.  There is also some interesting dynamics - by deciding to do this they are negating everything in their current 2010 life, which is no small leap of faith.

☺Episode 4.18 The Light

A deserted Goa'uld pleasure palace brings nothing but depression and danger.  After exploring a planet with a strange Goa'uld temple with an unusual device a young airman commits suicide.  When Daniel, who was part of the original crew also starts showing symptoms of depression, the rest of SG1 go to check it out.  What they find is an orphaned teenage boy and a device that causes an addictive effect on the user though it takes a while to figure that out.  In the end, just like a drug addiction they have to wean themselves off of the machine over a period of time.
THOUGHTS: Though it uses the analogy of a drug addiction quite heavily, I think it is a creative look at the more insidious dangers they face in their explorations through the stargate.  It's an interesting mystery, trying to figure what is affecting them and what the boy they find there might be hiding.  We get to see a little of Jack's paternal instincts and Sam being surly.  She is not often surly.

☺♥✮Episode 4.20  Entity

An energy-based entity invades the SGC's computer and then Major Carter. Without realizing it the SGC declares war on a strange planet populated by energy based life forms simply by send through a MALP.  One of the lifeforms comes back through the gate and hides out, watching in the computers of the SGC before taking over.  They (well Sam) figure out how to isolate it and at that point both Daniel and Sam argue to try and communicate with the entity rather than taking Jack's route of blowing it up.  However when Carter attempts to communicate it leaves the computer and takes over her body and mind indicating that from its observations Sam is very important (to Jack and the SGC as a whole) and because of this, they will not kill her so it was the only way for the entity to be safe.  In the end, Jack is forced to Zat Sam twice (essentially killing her) but somehow the entity had downloaded Sam's consciousness into the computer so they are able to "reboot" her.
THOUGHTS: Not only is this a great episode with some moral conundrums (is the entity really an enemy?) but it is also a pivotal episode in Sam and Jack's relationship.  The entity implies that it invades Sam because it has observed her importance to O'Neill and the rest of the personnel but it specifically focuses on O'Neill's feelings.  We, the audience, know that the reference is to his romantic feelings because we get a snippet of the Sam and Jack Theme which is a way for the powers that be to say Ahoy! 'shippers, take heed. The entity believes that Jack and the rest of the team will not hurt Sam and therefore it is safe within her.  It doesn't not realize that Jack is made of some badass stuff however.  The whole experience has the result of causing O'Neill to back way off from Sam.  He has relaxed too much and let his feelings for her be too obvious - even Hammond seems to be aware and makes a comment about it - that it puts her and in fact the Earth in jeopardy.  Coupled with the trauma of being forced to make the very difficult and painful decision to kill Sam, I think  Jack is convinced that he needs to batten down the hatches of his amorous feelings as tight as possible. Season 5 and most of season 6, are as a consequence completely ship free.  It should also be noted that Amanda Tapping's performance while possessed by the entity is really great - her cold stare is something to behold.  It makes you realize how animated and expressive Sam's face usually is.

☺Episode 4.21 Double Jeopardy 

The real SG1 encounter their robot selves (from Tin Man, Episode 1.19) on an off world mission, much to their surprise.   I love that Stargate revisits this after three seasons and it's a great episode.  "SG1" shows up on a planet where they have apparently already visited and caused great havoc but they have no memory of this.  All but Jack are immediately captured by Cronus who has invaded the planet and it is quickly revealed that these SG1 are androids.  The human SG1 are tipped off that their android selves had ignored the mandate to bury their gate and have been running missions and exploring and they are now missing.  They figure out where they are and go in to fix the situation.  In the end they are able to free the planet from Cronus but all the android versions of SG1 are killed.
THOUGHTS:  This is one of the biggest strengths of Stargate SG1;  they do a great job, at least at the macro level, of continuity and weaving older storylines into new episodes.  It gives the show a more cohesive and real-world feel than most Sci-Fi adventure shows while not being two embedded in a long story arc.  You can watch each episode as its own thing, having not seen any other episodes, without being totally confused, but there is enough continuity to make watching it from start to finish rewarding.  This episode is a great example of that and is surprisingly poignant.  The android SG1 had obviously been programmed with an imprint of the humans so are in their own right, heroic and duty bound.  It would have been fascinating to explore a little more the ways in which the androids had diverged from their original templates in the last three years

☺✮Episode 4.22 Exodus

SG1 are helping the Tok'ra move camp and then...Sam blows up a star!!  Oh yeah and Teal'c is in revenge mode. The Tok'ra are shifting camp with SG1's help by using the Earth's newly captured Goa'uld mothership.  They choose this moment to finally reveal to Tanith (the Goa'uld spy who killed Teal'c's girlfriend) that they know he is a plant.  Tanith quickly escapes and sends Apophis the location of the Tok'ra base, calling for some immediate and drastic action to deal with the war fleet on its way. Sam and Jacob (well really Selmak) develop a plan to blow up the nearby sun in order to take out Apophis once and for all.   In the meantime, Teal'c is seething with hatred and unrealized revenge on Tanith and he starts doing all sorts of drastic things, endangering Jack and SG1's plan.  They end up having to escape from the exploding sun late and without Teal'c and are propelled to a far distant point in space along with Apophis' lead ship!

THOUGHTS: This episode is part super awesome and part frustrating.  I have no patience for Teal'c and his moody and obsessive pursuit of revenge for the murder of a woman who is NOT HIS WIFE.  And he drags Jack along with him.  "Mayday, Mayday, We are SO going in." - Jack Carter. On the other hand, Sam BLOWS UP A STAR.  She's pretty adorable about it as well.  * Big shaky sigh* "I've just never blown up a star before."  - Sam Carter.  Once the action gets going in this one, it's pretty relentless and they end up 125 years from home with Apophis on their tail!  It's an excellent cliffhanger season ender!


This is a really satisfying season with 12 out of the 22 episodes being significant or a favorite of mine.  Most of the other episodes are also solid B episodes and I probably could have included many more above (the Russian episode [Watergate], the episode where they learn the perils of too good to be true [The Other Side], the ep where we meet Teal'c's first love [Crossroads], and a significant ex-girlfriend of Daniel's [The Curse]) but the list would have been insanely long.

It should be mentioned that while Sam and Jack get closer this season, Jack and Daniel have some of their biggest and most vicious disagreements (The Other Side, and Scorched Earth).  In both cases, Daniel ends up being correct which is interesting and I think serves to illustrate how important Daniel's perspective is for moderating Jack's militancy and let's blow things up mentality.  Daniel also makes the rather poignant point in Entity, even after Sam has been taken over, that regardless of the consequences, Sam was not wrong in trying to communicate.  It seems to be Daniel's particular message to the world and to Jack in particular this season.

Then there is Jack and Sam.  I think Entity was a particularly sharp wake up call to Jack that he has relaxed too much and let his feelings for Sam become too apparent.  Not only does this have dire consequences as in Entity but it of course could have very negative consequences for Sam's career.  From his perspective, breaking the fraternization regulations is no big deal - his career is towards its end anyway, he's achieved what he has wanted to achieve and most of the primarily male dominated military structure would just pat him on the back for scoring with the incredibly attractive Carter.  For Carter however being even suspected of fraternization with her Commanding Officer would likely be a career ender.  If they didn't get court-martialed and booted out of the military, she would carry around the stigma of getting where she is on her back.  So besides just his strong sense of duty and belief that SG1 as a team is crucial to earth's security, he would not want to derail Carter's brilliant career.  If General Hammond is aware of the nature of his feelings than he realizes that it is just a matter of time before other, less sympathetic members of the SGC would pick up on it.  The result is that even though he knows that Sam feels the same way about him, for her sake and for the duty they both have to Earth's security, he needs to re-bury those feelings, something he is very good at. 

Top Five Episodes from this Season:
1) Episode 4.3 Upgrades
2) Episode 4.10 Beneath the Surface
3) Episode 4.14 The Serpent's Venom
4) Episode 4.20 Entity
5) Ties between Episode 4.22 Exodus and Episode 4.1 Small Victories

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.

GateWorld  Everything you ever wanted to know about Stargate as well as discussion forums. 

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. I mention one in particular above that fills in the gap between season's 3 and 4 which is great.  

Season 1
Season 2 
Season 3

Well that's it for the Stargate this week.  Next week season 5 in which Apophis is finally gone but all sorts of new Goa'uld start making trouble. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturdays in the Garden - The Gratitude Edition


The first seed catalog came!  It has caused bubbly excited thoughts of garden planning to begin.  Before I know it, this first catalog will be joined by many friends and full-fledged garden sketching and head scratching will break out.  Sigh.... Life is good.


Here in the U.S. we just celebrated Thanksgiving and despite its dubious beginnings and that it has morphed into a shove your face full of food day, it is still one of the better holidays we yanks have come up with.  It's a day for giving thanks.  How awesome is that.

I have much for which to be incredibly grateful.  In fact,  it blows my mind when I think of all the good fortune my life has been graced by so in order to save my mind I'm going to concentrate on some of the smaller, everyday things I am thankful for.  Well mostly.

Dexys Midnight Runners' Come on Eileen    Out of nowhere this song popped into my head yesterday and instead of being annoying, it made me feel uncontrollably and unaccountably joyful.  At one point I was belting it out while washing dishes.  Thanks DMR.  Too Ra Loo Ra Too Ra Loo Rye Aye.  Also, I owned this album and the whole thing is brilliant.  Seriously. It is. I mean it. 
Honest. Think I'll need to put that on the wishlist at iTunes.  Lord knows where my vinyl is. 

Hard Cider

This is this week's brand and to be honest it's not a favorite.  It's an Irish Cider.  I'm not sure what makes it an Irish cider, besides, you know, being made in Ireland, but this one is dry, with only a mild apple taste and is reminiscent of a light beer.  I think I like ciders that are crisper and a tad sweeter.  Regardless, I am still thankful for whoever first thought of fermenting apples into a tasty beverage.


For the past few weeks I have been listening to Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene and constantly find myself feeling awed by the simultaneous simplicity and complexity and also that with our human brains we a have the ability contemplate all this amazing stuff.  Biology is way cool, folks and I cannot tell you how incredibly fortunate I feel to be able to put biologist under my occupation.  Sure, I'm nowhere near the caliber of a Richard Dawkins but the fact that I get to dabble even along the fringes, in my corner of the garden if you will, is a constant reason for gratitude. 

My Mamaw's Coconut Custard Pie Recipe

It's so, so good.  There were several moments while I was cooking it that I thought it wasn't going to set and my heart was possibly breaking and then it did and the angels sang and it tastes amazing.  Way to go Mamaw.


While I haven't finished any of the books I have been working on over the last couple-three weeks, I have spent a lot of quality time with a few of them and am getting close.  More importantly I have been in the mood to read and have been enjoying them as well as looking forward to finishing them and getting into some of the books on deck.  I think making my Winter TBR (see below) and evaluating where I was at with my 2014 challenges was motivating.

I also signed up for something cool for the holiday season which I am excited about.  LeeSwammes Blog and Stiletto Storytime are hosting a Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange which looks simple and fun!  Who wouldn't love getting a bookish holiday card from a random book lover??

This past week on the blog:

SUNDAY:  Sundays through the Stargate - SG1 Season 3.  This is part of a series of posts I'm doing about one of my favorite Sci Fi TV shows while I rewatch.
TUESDAY: Top Ten Tuesday - Winter TBR.
THURSDAY: Review of the nonfiction Brain on Fire by Susanna Cahalan.  I thought the book had some impact and pretty powerful messages but wasn't super thrilled with the reading experience.  It is worth checking out.
FRIDAY: Review of The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle. This is a Pride and Prejudice follow up that seeks to illuminate Mary's story.  It's not bad but it does take the occasional turn  into the downright weird.

Next week on the blog:

SUNDAY:  Sundays through the Stargate - SG1 Season 4.  Season four is where the 'ship between Sam and Jack really heats up so if you want to read a grown woman having a mild spaz out about two fictional character's love lives, check it out. 
TUESDAY:  The Top Ten Tuesday topic this week is the books we are most looking forward to in 2015.  I will probably tweak this one because it is incredibly similar to some recent and future topics.  I'm thinking I might do the ten books I'd like to read from my 100 Books Project in 2015.
WEDNESDAY:  Review of Perilous Seas by Dave Duncan - Book 3 of A Man of His Word series.
THURSDAY: Review of Emperor and Clown by Dave Duncan - Book 4 of A Man of His Word series.  

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
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. ✪✪✪