Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sundays through the Stargate - SG1 Season 5

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!
Going through episode by episode, I realize that Season 5 has two major trends.  It is not kind to Earth's allies nor to Major Carter's alien admirers. 

  1. The Tollan are completely destroyed in this season and while they were not that terribly interesting, it is quite sad especially considering they had just narrowly saved their race from extinction 5 years earlier.  Narim is lost along with his entire race.
  2. The Tok'ra and the Jaffa rebellion are dealt huge blows by the Goa'uld.  Lantash is lost and many of the dwindling number of Tok'ra.  The Jaffa rebellion's confidence is dealt a serious blow when their most charismatic leader turns out to be a Goa'uld.
  3. The Asgard are also struggling, fighting a war on two fronts. The Goa'uld are developing weapons and defenses that match the Asgard's technology.
No good times to be had by friends of the Tau'ri!


Carter, Teal'c and Daniel all have a big season and it's not ALL bad stuff.  Carter comes into the season having blown up a sun, which has to be a high point for her. I wonder how she lists that on her resume`? Unfortunately, she then proceeds to lose three of her alien admirers (Lantash, Narim, and Orlin) and is kidnapped here on Earth because of her brief time with a symbiote. On the plus side, she also plays a key and nearly solo role in preventing a new potential enemy, the Aschen, from invading Earth. 

Teal'c starts the season having been brainwashed by Apophis and must be brought almost to death in order to regain himself.  He also allows himself to be taken in by a new Jaffa rebel leader who turns out to be a Goa'uld.  These things must undermine his confidence but we don't really see any backlash from this on screen.

Daniel is incredibly heroic this season.  He is no longer the sort of vague intellectual, living in his mind and not too aware of his surroundings.  He runs his own mission on behalf of the Tok'ra and gathers valuable intelligence about the new Goa'uld threat while facing another woman of importance in his life that has been taken over by a Goa'uld.  Because of his compassion and interest in people, he has become the SGC's ambassador as well, which sometimes puts him at odds with the more distrustful and blunt Colonel O'Neill.  Then he saves the world of Kalowna and condemns himself to death but because of his pure heart he is given the opportunity to become an ascended being. 

Seriously how are these people even sane any more?

Jack is the only one with no real big occurrences or shifts.  He is kind of in the background this season though of course crucial to keeping the team working.

Apophis is finally dead which is exciting but of course a new Goa'uld menace is set to rise.  Anubis makes his presence felt but doesn't really appear until the last episode of the season where he reveals that he has technology to rival the Asgard.

Finally, I think this season may earn the award for the least 'shippiest of seasons which I like to think is a direct response to episode 4.20 Entity.


✮ = 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 5.1 Enemies 

Continuation of Exodus. SG1 minus Teal'c and Jacob are 125 years from home having been blown there by the shock wave of an exploding sun and their friend Apophis has unluckily accompanied them.  Soon upon an arrival a vessel approaches Apophis' ship and then nothing else is heard from the Goa'uld.  SG1 (minus Teal'c) and Jacob's ship needs replacement crystals in order to go anywhere so they decide to brave the unresponsive enemy ship and see if they can scavenge something.  Guess what?  Guess why Apophis's ship is unresponsive?  Replicators, those little buggers!  Our friends have a fight on their hands but they get the crystals they need and head back to their ship.  As they are getting ready to leave they are hailed by Teal'c!  He's alive and in a transport from Apophis' ship. They welcome him but he turns on them  - he has brought Apophis with him and has been brainwashed into serving him again.  That's just the start of their troubles - the replicators have followed them and start monkeying with the ship.  The upside?  The bugs make the ship go much faster so they get back to the Milky Way Galaxy in record time.  The bad side?  Then the replicators will be in the Milky Way Galaxy.  Sam and Jack rig the ship to blow upon reaching its destination, then they kidnap Teal'c and escape in a cargo ship.  Apophis and the replicators go down in a ball of flame and crash on Apophis' home planet.  He is now really and finally dead.
THOUGHTS:  I'm going to miss old Apophis, I must say.  Teal'c gets brainwashed awfully fast and the brainwashing is very strong as we will see in the next episode.  Having Jacob around is fun as always.  Decent episode but nothing too special.

✮Episode 5.2 Threshold - SG1 and Bra'tac employ drastic measures to try and recover Teal'c's soul after his brainwashing by Apophis.  I don't generally like the Jaffa focused episodes but this is a really a key episode for the character of Teal'c.  It provides a larger chunk of his back story and how he came to choose freedom and renounce Apophis.  It's sometimes easy to forget that Teal'c is a revolutionary with a lot of passion hidden under his stoic exterior. 

☺Episode 5.3 Ascension

An advanced alien being develops a big crush on Carter. Again.  As is usual I love Sam centric episodes, especially when she is accidentally causing alien life forms to fall in love with her.  Even if they are all a little ... odd looking and a tad creepy.  Everybody thinks overwork has caused Sam to go a little crazy because the alien won't show himself to anyone but her. It is a little irritating they don't believe her since she's not really acting crazy and they have seen WAY wackier things than this. Orlin ends up being pretty cool and actually builds a mini one-shot stargate in Sam's basement.  Sam helps him to derail her fellow SGCers who have been instructed to use the weapon that Sam found on Orlin's planet.  He convinces Sam that it would be disastrous and so she disobeys orders and helps him and then is quite sad when he must sacrifice himself.   THOUGHTS:  There are some other pretty cute character moments like Teal'c dressed like a cowboy and the fact that he has seen Star Wars nine times.
Carter: "Tense? Me? I'm not tense?  *pause* Am I? *pause* When did you first notice?"
O'Neill: "As we met." 
What it comes down to is that I just really enjoy seeing someone be a little openly smitten with Carter AND to see Carter go a little rogue.  We never see any consequences of her actions which is pretty suspicious.  Jack likely covered her ass for her like a good CO. 

✮Episode 5.6 Rite of Passage

Janet's adopted daughter Cassie whom SG1 saved several seasons ago, is going through an alarming change and they must figure out what is happening to her.   Cassie is a teenager now and definitely acts like it but it is clear that all SG1 especially Sam still have a strong bond with her.  At first Cassie appears to be very sick and then she begins to be able to move things with her mind and have increased intelligence.  She also very much wants has a strong compulsion to go back to her home planet.  SG1 investigates and discovers that the Goa'uld Nirrti had been monkeying around with the genetics of Cassie's people trying to create super hosts but she had not been successful. All the young people of the planet were drawn to her lab when they started showing the changes Cassie is exhibiting and Nirrti would fix them.  Nirrti actually ends up infiltrating the base and is captured and forced to fix Cassie in return for being able to leave.  Allowing her to leave will bite SG1 in the ass in the very next season.
THOUGHTS:  It's nice to see Cassie again and that she is still connected with SG1 and Sam.  This is one place where the show isn't that great with the follow up and continuity and in fact I don't think we see Cassie again. The  Goa'ulds ambition for an advanced breed of human to use as hosts is introduced in this episode.

✮Episode 5.9 Between Two Fires

When SG1 goes back to Tollana for Omak's funeral, it is clear not all is well with the Tollan.   Jack is in rare form in this one "Big honking space guns", "Sire these little chats of ours bring me great joy...", "Do you people practice being vague?"  SG1 knows something is fishy when the Tollan government starts offering them technology.  It is revealed once and for all that Narim is pretty creepy - he has Sam's voice programmed as his house AI's voice.  It's embarrassing and awkward.  Narim's also a little wussy though he does redeem himself by pretty much sacrificing his whole world so that the Goa'uld will not get hold of a horrible weapon.  Apparently the Tollan society has been wiped out.  Sam is sad.  One of her many alien stalkers is dead.
THOUGHTS:  I find it odd that a) Earth wouldn't have sent troops to help and b) that the Tollan would have been defeated so easily.   The Asgard and Nox are more interesting but the Tollan were a more advanced human civilization so their passing from the show is a little sad.

✮☺Episode 5.10 2001

Through an intermediary race SG1 meet an advanced culture that is willing to share their technology. This is a companion episode to 4.16 2010, because the advanced culture turns out to be the Aschen, that quietly dastardly race that had been slowly enslaving the Earth.  They had delivered a message to themselves about avoiding the Aschen home world but they are not alarmed because they've met them through a culture on another planet.  SG1 is so adorably excited that finally, after 5 years, they've had one successful attempt at fulfilling the Stargate program's mission, lol.  The ambassador that was married to Sam in 2010, shows up in this episode and is immediately smitten with Sam, shamelessly so.  It's great that the reason O'Neill doesn't trust the Aschen is because they don't have a sense of humor. It is probably a pretty good measure.  I also really like how they solve the mystery in this episode - Daniel finds an underground city and realizes that the Vollans, the people who introduced them to the Aschen, used to be a thriving urban civilization and that they have de-evolved to a small agrarian population under the Aschen's influence. Major Carter (being faced with a possible suicide mission): "I know, Sir. When do we leave."  Sam is awesome, never hesitates to do the right thing. She and the Ambassador are able to trick the Aschen into revealing their true nature and Sam is able to escape through the stargate by jumping off the floating ship into the horizontal stargate.  Unfortunately the ambassador stays behind to make sure the Aschen won't cause further trouble and is never heard from again.
THOUGHTS:  This is just a great episode.  I like it better than 2010.  And it has a a very dramatic ending with Carter saving the day.  I would have liked a third episode where they encounter the Aschen again and find the ambassador.  As it stands we don't know what has happened to him but we assume he is killed.  I was a little perplexed by Hammond and the rest of SG1 just standing there casually while Sam writhes in pain on the gate ramp at the end.  It was odd.  They all seem blithely unconcerned especially considering that the ambassador had to be left to the Aschen. 

✮Episode 5.11 Desperate Measures

Carter disappears on Earth under suspicious circumstances.  Jack investigates and much to his chagrin must bring in Harry Maybourne.  Turns out Sam has been kidnapped by a very sick rich guy who is hoping to figure out a cure for himself through a Goa'uld they have captured and from her, because of her experience with Jolinar.  The idea is to implant the goa'uld for healing but then to quickly remove it.  As you can imagine, it doesn't go well. The rich guy is possessed by the Goa'uld. Jack and Maybourne track Carter down and then work on rounding everyone up but the Goa'uld "escapes" and Jack is shot.
THOUGHTS: Some folks point to this as a 'shippy episode in season 5 because of Jack's persistence in trying to find Carter.  However, Jack would have done that for any of his team mates and it's kind of hilarious that when he finds Carter, he just hands her a gun and starts giving her orders to sweep a part of the building, she in her scrubs and bare feet.  I'm glad that he recognizes that Carter is tough and doesn't treat her like a delicate flower but lord.

✮Episode 5.14  48 Hours
Teal'c gets trapped in the gate when it shuts down prematurely and everybody does their thang to try and rescue him.  The team is separated in this episode which is kind of a bummer but there is lots going on.  We have the advent of Rodney McKay and he calls Carter a dumb blonde - I'd forgotten how much of an insufferable ass he is. Thankfully he gets sent to Russia.  That'll teach 'im. The Goa'uld kidnapped by the NID in episode 5.11 makes an appearance though it is not clear why.  Daniel is hobnobbing with the Russians trying to get them to cooperate and lend the U.S. their Dial Home Device.  The Russians end up agreeing and Carter promptly destroys it - tee hee - but does succeed in re-constituting Teal'c. 
THOUGHTS:  I think the episode suffers from the team not being together but the introduction of McKay is entertaining.  He and Sam's interactions are lots of fun. 

Episode 5.15 Summit

SG1, particularly Daniel get an opportunity to eliminate much of the Goa'uld leadership when the system lords gather for a summit. Yay! The Tok'ra are back after too long away!  Daniel takes center stage here as he poses as a human slave to one of the Goa'uld system lords.  Back in the Tok'ra stronghold Sam learns that Lantash (Martuf's symbiote) is still alive and she's pissed that they let Martuf die without letting Lantash try to heal him.  And then the Goa'uld attack!  Excitement.  Back with Daniel - Ba'al!! Yoo Hoo! And then his ex girlfriend turned Goa'uld, Sarah, shows up and the plan is thrown into chaos.  Back with the Tok'ra, tunnels start collapsing and Lantash goes into Lieutenant Elliot (from ep. 13).  Seriously, so much is happening and this is just the first of a two parter.  It ends with Daniel cornered by Osiris/Sarah and Jack, Teal'c, Carter and Elliot trapped in the Tok'ra tunnels while the Goa'uld attack overhead.  Also rumblings of Anubis begin.
THOUGHTS:  Again the team is separated a lot which is a bummer however it is still a great episode.  Amongst all the action are also some questions about the Tok'ra's new poison which is deadly to all symbiotes (yes, it will take out the Goa'uld but also the Jaffa).  I've always liked the Tok'ra storylines and their complicated relationship with Earth.  Jack is always annoyed by them but Sam has always been a fan what with her dad as one and her strange feelings for Martuf but she is really angry about the decision the Tok'ra made in regards to Martuf/Lantash and believes they favor the symbiote over the host.

✮☺Episode 5.16 Last Stand

A continuation of Summit, O'Neill, Carter, Elliot and Teal'c must find a way out of the Tok'ra's destroyed stronghold and Daniel's mission morphs into finding out all he can about Anubis.  Apparently Lantash is in love with Carter as much as he once loved Jolinar  - he doesn't want Carter to feel responsible for Martuf's death - he regrets the Tok'ra's decision as well.  It's sweet and we had some small inklings of this previously.  At the System lord's summit, Yu is the only negative vote on welcoming Anubis back into the Goa'uld fold after they had banned and thought they had killed him years ago.  Also we find out that Goa'uld are cannibals.  Lovely.  Back with the Tok'ra,  Lantash flares up to convince them to let he/Elliot do a suicide mission to save the rest of them which he says while staring directly into Sam's eyes.  He can't save himself but he can save them.  The scene gives me shivers and brings tears to my eyes.  Then it just ends. 
THOUGHTS:   The stuff going down in the Goa'uld council is interesting and will have lasting impacts for the show and the more personal story of Lantash/Elliott and Carter is a really nice balance. Sam is certainly confronting all of her alien admirers this season.  Lantash's confession that he (and probably Martuf) had fallen in love with her is not surprising.  The polite and reticent Martuf had given some clues like when they rescued Jacob and he indicated that he could not let Apophis hurt Sam.  Also, that he appeals to Sam to shoot him when he turns out to be a Za'tarc.  Anyway I thought that it was a really nice ending for Lantash/Martuf, very touching.

Episode 5.17  Fail Safe

SG1 tries to prevent an Asteroid from destroying Earth. This is just a good old fashioned, all the team's together, let's save the world Stargate adventure.  The asteroid headed towards Earth is almost 45% Naquadah which is not a naturally occurring element so they know that this is a dastardly plan of the Goa'uld meant to circumvent the Asgard protection treaty.   I love that Sam is always being pushed about whether she's certain about things and she has to hedge that she's not 100%.  This is a thing I run into quite a lot as a scientist so I love how true to life it is.  The action crescendos to a crazy solution which Carter makes work under incredible pressure.  It's fun and awesome and I love it!
THOUGHTS:  Interesting that the Asgard are the unhelpful ones in this episode and the Tok'ra are able to save SG1.  This is two weeks in a row the Tok'ra have been pretty heroic.  Might Jack's opinion of them change?  I also find it funny that when Carter is under time pressure trying to do hard math the rest of the team pester her which just slows her down.  There is a switch off at one point between Carter and Teal'c - Carter is meant to be the one in the space suit with Jack - but she gets a nasty bump on her head so Teal'c steps in.  It plays no real part in the episode and I am wondering why it's in there.

Episode 5.18 The Warrior

A new charismatic leader has emerged among the Jaffa rebellion and is having much success.  Jaffa, ugh.  But this episode does signal a bit of a shift in the Jaffa storyline.  The rebellion gets larger and more prominent.  I do enjoy the scene where Carter demonstrates the P-90. Too bad Carter and Daniel just spend the rest of the episode following O'Neill around looking bemused.  Teal'c and Bra'tac are pretty easily brainwashed by the leader.  He turns out to be too good to be true as they often do.  He is actually a Goa'uld trying to undercut the rebellion.
THOUGHTS:  Jack's "jealousy" over Teal'c's adoration of the new charismatic Jaffa leader is good to see; he is very worried about losing him.  It does make it hard to point out his feelings for Carter as special - he really does love all of his team.   The overtones of this leader are sort of religious fanatic complete with suicide bombers.  However, the Jaffa leader isn't wrong about Jack being a little holier than thou on behalf of human ways. 

✮☺Episode 5.19 Menace
SG1 find an artificial life form on a planet with a long-deserted civilization and she may have a connection to the Replicators. This is one of only a few Stargate SG1 episodes that is..well..menacing and just a little bit creepy.  Yes, I find teenagers terrifying especially when they are AI. This episode kind of opens the door for the replicator storyline to get very interesting and for them to turn into a big bad that is actually pretty scary.   Turns out that Reese's creator gave her enormous powers but was unable to give her the emotional maturity to deal with them.  She is incapable of empathy and lashes out thoughtlessly when she feels threatened, which is often.  The replicators it turns out are little toys that Reese made to entertain and protect her.  She can control them to a point but she let them get out of control on her planet and that is why it was wiped out.  She ends up creating a small army of replicators to help her to escape the SGC.  Daniel convinces her to shut them down but right at that moment Jack bursts through the door and shoots her.  All the replicators disintegrate and Jack and Daniel have a big argument.  Daniel had compassion for Reese. 
THOUGHTS: The conversation between Daniel, Jack and Sam after they awaken Reese (the AI) is intriguing and a common one they seem to have about the nature of life.  The idea that the scourge that is the replicators started off as an AI's toy is pretty clever and I kind of love it.  We get to see Hammond in combat mode which is worth something!  Daniel is a better person then I am as he weeps at Reese's end though it's a good indicator of the empathy of his character. I was on Jack's side who shot her.  The conversation Jack has with Daniel also shows just how these two friends work.  I like the new level this episode takes the Replicators to and I again like the team working together with each bringing their strengths.  

Episode 5.21 Meridian

While visiting a human civilization called Kalowna, Daniel is exposed to a massive dose of radiation.  This is the beginning of the end, at least for a season, of Michael Shanks (Daniel).  A contract dispute keeps him mostly out of season 6 so they wrote a story to see him out and introduce his replacement, Jonas.  We see Jack at his most dogged for his friend. His fight to clear Daniel's name, to make Daniel's point to the Kalownans and his admission that he admires Daniel all brought tears to my eyes.  Carter and Teal'c's goodbyes are also touching.   It's a nice heroic and emotional exit for Daniel as he ascends to a higher plain.  This episode is also significant for the introduction of the substance Naquadria which plays a role in seasons to come.  Daniel's discussions with Oma Desala are a little tedious but they give some insight into how Daniel sees himself.  Jacob arrives from the Tok'ra but it's too late. Daniel decides he wants to ascend and tells Jack to let him go.  He thinks he can do more as an ascended being.
THOUGHTS:  I really love Daniel as a character though his role and personality have shifted somewhat and will continue to shift in future seasons to something that is not quite as brilliant as the first couple seasons.  I also really love Jack and Daniel's friendship and this episode showcases it almost better than any other.

Episode 5.22 Revelations

SG1 agrees to rescue an important Asgard scientist from the Goa'uld.  It's the season finale and it's a big Uh, Oh.  The Goa'uld have developed shielding that can withstand Asgard weapons and Thor is captured.  Thankfully there is some continuity from the last episode with Carter being very upset and confused about Daniel. There is actually some conflict between Colonel O'Neill and Carter as O'Neill wants to deal with his feelings by jumping into battle and work.  Too bad he's dragging Sam with him.  The mission gets even more challenging when they discover Thor is alive on the Goa'uld ship.  Then Lord Anubis arrives - his evil reputation has hung over much of the season so it is good to finally "meet" him.  Jack and Teal'c are trying to sneak around Anubis' ship with Carter directing them by hologram.  Then the tables are turned and Carter is under attack.  In the end, they are all rescued by the Asgard.  O'Neill and Carter still haven't dealt with their differences but in the end they all go out to dinner.  
THOUGHTS:  It's a pretty good episode but kind of lackluster for a season ender.  It can't really compete with the previous episode's loss of Daniel.  Despite their different way of dealing with things, they still work well as a team.  One revelation is that the Asgard are all clones and are working to re-evolve themselves.  


The first half of season 5 is a little slow going for me but from episode 14 onward things pick up and there are a lot of great episodes.  I think season five represents the sliding downward edge.  The series is now well established and the characters greatly loved.  This, coupled with the fact that they are five seasons along now gives the actors some leverage to give themselves a lighter load.  This translates into fewer episodes and scenes with the entire team and a slightly dulled dynamic.  This trend will just continue and get more pronounced through the next three seasons.  Apparently Richard Dean Anderson had only intended to do five seasons so it's great that we have him for another three seasons but his role becomes increasingly diminished and nothing ever quite recaptures the awesome of seasons 1-4.

That sad little diatribe said there are still some great episodes in this season and to come.  Some of my favorites are listed below.

Top Five Episodes from this Season:
1) Episodes 5.15 and 5.16 Summit and Last Stand
2) Episode 5.17 Fail Safe
3) Episode 5.10 2001
4) Episode 5.3 Ascension
5) Episode 5.21 Meridian

What are your favorite episodes from this season?

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 for each episode. 

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 III (Season's 5 and 6) by Rachel500:  This is a collection of TAGS or missing scenes, from season's five and six of SG1.  It's what happened with SG1 in between their missions and adventures.

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4

Well that's it for the Stargate this week.  Next week season 6 in which Daniel is absent and that's sad but it's still a surprisingly good season.

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