Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sundays through the Stargate - SG1 Season 7


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 is a season of dramatic highs and lows for me.  On the one hand it has some of my favorite episodes of the whole show - Grace, Heroes, Lost City, Death Knell - but the team dynamic starts to fall apart and O'Neill begins to mysteriously disappear.

RDA wanted to cut back on his work load and time commitment so there are all these awkward gymnastics to try and hide that he is absent during scenes that Jack should be in.  Sometimes the storytelling is creative enough to give him a chunk of an episode off without it being awkward (like Fragile Balance) but other times it is painful to watch.

And it's not just RDA.  The changes to his role are the most noticeable, but the rest of the cast must have also negotiated for a less rigorous schedule.  They split the team up a lot so the actors all get more breaks and it effectively starts eroding the foundation of what made the show so great. Even the character of Jacob is pulled out later in the season and remains absent for most of season 8. 

We also have the introduction of Stalker Pete.  This is Sam's new boyfriend and he was written really extraordinarily poorly. To the point where it frankly undermines Sam's character that she is so smitten with him.  The Carter curse (all the men in the past that have had a thing for Sam [except Jack] seem to die) is broken but in the worst possible way. 

Despite all the negative things that occur this season, it is obvious that some of the obstacles give the writers a spur to be more creative.  There are many episodes that I really love.


✮ = 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 7.1 Fallen

SG1 travels to a planet that they think may be the Lost City from the tablet found on Abydos and find Daniel Jackson with a case of amnesia.  Daniel's back - Whoop Whoop!  You know I prefer Daniel with the longer hair and glasses.  Just sayin'.  Daniel does not only not remember who he is, he is actually pretty rude to SG1 and again, LITERALLY brushes off Carter all hostile like.  But then Sam gets through to him and convinces him that he shouldn't be afraid of who he is because he was pretty awesome. She's so convincing, that Daniel asks whether there was ever anything between he and Sam.  Sam says no that they were just really, really good friends.  And all the Sam/Daniel shippers quietly turn off their TVs and mope.  Ahhh... I forgot how much I missed the Jack and Daniel show.  Actually, this episode is in fact hilarious.  There are lots of little scenes that are gems.  The briefing scene where Carter is trying to fill everybody in on their elaborate plan to take out Anubis' main weapon is comedy gold.  Hammond gets off world the old coot!  Good for him.  This is an all hands on deck mission. Sam and Jack are in the X 302, while Daniel and Jonas are on Anubis' ship and Teal'c is on Lord Yu's vessel.  Hammond is on the ground directing things in Basecamp.  Sam and Jack succeed in taking out the weapon but Jonas is captured.  Duh, duh DUH!  To be continued...
THOUGHTS:  A surprisingly funny episode for one that wasn't designed as one of the comic relief episodes.  It's good to see Daniel back but I am glad they didn't immediately dump Jonas as I like him.  I kind of wish they could keep Jonas....  The episode starts the season off with a bang.

Episode 7.2 Homecoming

Continued from Episode 7.1.  Daniel and Jonas are still trapped on Anubis' ship and Jonas has been captured.  That bastard Anubis has taken his ship to Kalowna after learning about the Naquadria from probing Jonas' mind.  He takes all the Naquadria but is still hanging around.  Carter figures out that he's after some crystal with information on it.  In a spectacular coincidence that SG1 is famous for, Daniel and Jonas ring down at the precise perfect moment to save Sam, Teal'c and the Kalownan Ambassador.  Too bad the Kalownan leader turns out to be a douche and has betrayed them all to Anubis.  But Baal comes through and attacks Anubis' ship causing chaos of which SG1 takes advantage.  Sam is a bad ass and flying tackles Anubis' First Prime!  Jonas gets shot but he's okay and is welcomed back to Kalowna.  He goes and it's sad but okay.  Jack's hair does really look a little floppy and weird.  The end.
THOUGHTS:   Daniel after a brief stint with amnesia seems to be getting his memory back and by the end of this episode he's ready to join SG1 full time again though he seems a bit nostalgic and pensive about it.  Jack does his thing  - giving Jonas his much valued approval and keeping a protective eye on Daniel.  Seriously, I am already starting to get a little weepy thinking about him leaving at the end of next season. 

☺Episode 7.3 Fragile Balance

A teenage boy shows up at the SGC claiming to be Jack O'Neill. They are all disbelieving until Daniel (thank YOU!) points out that stranger things have happened.  I'm surprised that they are even taken by surprise by events such as this! The teenage boy is Colonel O'Neill - sort of.    Carter tells Jack that he's kind of cute which earns her a nasty look and a reprimand of "That's Sir to you" and does it with enough of Jack's personality to make her swallow hard.  She recovers though and smilingly tells him that while they figure out how to fix him that he "Should try enjoying this as much as we are...Sir".  He had 4 cheese burritos with guacamole on the side with a beer for dinner - uh..,wow.  How is he still alive?  The disrespect shown to Carter in the briefing of the pilots about the X302 pisses me off and it's kind of irritating that Jack doesn't back her or at least dress them down for it.  Anyway, it turns out that teenage!Jack is a clone and he is dying.  They once again address the question of what is a viable life form. The Asgard which caused the problem is Loki.  RDA's delivery of "What's going on?" on Loki's ship makes me smile uncontrollably.  O'Neill apparently represents an important step forward in human evolution. 
THOUGHTS:  This is mostly a comedy relief episode and it was a pretty creative way to give RDA most of an episode off.  It made me laugh a bunch of times.  I also feel like it suggests that Jack would probably have been a pretty awesome dad:0).  And of course its not the first time he's demonstrated his reluctant talent with kids, which makes the loss of his kid that much more sad.

☺Episode 7.5 Revisions

SG1 travels to a planet where the entire civilization lives in a bubble of paradise surrounded by a toxic wastelandNevin's pretty adorable and Jack is pretty adorable right along with him.  Christopher Heyerdahl plays a major role in the episode - I really like him from his roles on Sanctuary and Hell on Wheels and Stargate Atlantis and.... I think he's cool.  He usually plays someone a little sinister but here he's all nice and accommodating.  All the townspeople wear a device that links them directly to an electronic library which is pretty awesome.  It also allows their memories to be re-written.  SG1 starts to run up against anomalies, people who are disappearing and who nobody remembers. Carter discovers that the barrier that forms the bubble is losing power but the link appears to be keeping anyone from believing any warnings SG1 is gives.  SG1 figures if they can find some information that directly contradicts the information on the link, they may be able to convince the townspeople.  Daniel finds that their used to be over 100,000 people in the dome, there are now only around 1,000.  The dome has been compensating for the energy losses by shrinking and programming citizens to walk out of the dome and commit suicide.  Carter and Daniel convince the local computer geek that all that he believes is a lie and that he must disconnect
THOUGHTS:  This is a lovely creepy idea decently well told.  I like the puzzle and how they figure it out.  I like how at first it seems like a nice and friendly village which then becomes increasingly strange in a gradual way.  I like how the sinister nature of what is going on is actually the computer set up to protect the village trying to do its job in the only way it knows how.  It's not malicious just 100% logical.  It ends up being scarily manipulative.  A good off world adventure and mystery!

Episode 7.7 Enemy Mine - I don't really like this episode but it does provide a unique and fitting description of Daniel - A pain in the ass well worth the effort. In other important news it is our first introduction to Lorne.  I love Lorne.
Episode 7.8  Space Race

Sam joins Warrick of Hebridan (from the season 6 episode Forsaken) in a race through space.  My love for this episode starts almost immediately as Sam jogs in, clad all in leather obviously just off her motorcycle.  Her glee at the idea of a race of spaceships and the way she bullies/charms her way into the race is too adorable for words. Sam: "...if participating in this race just happens to be a little bit um...I don't know..." Daniel: "Fun." Sam: "What's a girl to do?" My only complaints are shallow ones - I would have liked to have had O'Neill there to get a little bug-eyed at Carter's attire :) and I really don't like how they are doing Sam's hair and makeup this season.  On a deeper note it is worth lodging the first of likely many more complaints at how sad it is that we get so many fewer team scenes these days.  The briefing with Hammond is just Sam, Warrick and Daniel.
WARRICK: "Major Carter ... if you are to be my co-pilot, you will need to know how the ship works." He hands her a large book. 
CARTER: "What is this?" 
WARRICK: "A complete operations manual for the Seberus. I had it translated for you." 
Jack and Daniel come to look over her shoulder. 
CARTER: "Thank you." 
O'NEILL: "That's not our language." 
CARTER: "It's mine ... sir." 
O'NEILL: "Right." 
Eamon, Warrick's brother, who is initially prickly turns out to be hilarious.  The whole episode has a vague Firefly vibe which probably has a lot to do with my love.  Sam is pretty mad they lost - a little competitive maybe?  Last line of episode from Sam: "Next year, we'll kick butt."
THOUGHTS:  Okay, it is no secret by now that I adore Carter and this is a really fun episode for her. Pair that up with its ever so slight Firefly vibe and I'm in love.  I wish we had more teaminess of course but even without it this episode makes me happy.  We get to see a different side of Carter  - her more reckless, need for speed, competitive side.  After all she is an Air Force pilot:0).  

♥Episode 7.9 Avenger 2.0 -  Just a quick note about this one.  This is a comedic episode which I really hadn't remembered too much about.  It's mostly Felgar (the geeky guy who hero worships SG1 from an episode last season) and Sam who accidentally strands everybody off world with a computer virus that disabled the DHDs.  This includes Jack and Teal'c on one world and Daniel on another.  Again the team split up for the entire episode - boo hiss.  BUT I am putting on my 'ship-colored glasses to proclaim that Jack's rescue of Sam (and Felgar) at the end was all about his undying love.  After patiently (for Jack) being stuck on another planet for many days, he takes over an enemy ship and his first destination is the goa'uld occupied planet Sam is on without back-up just in time to keep her and Felgar from being overrun by Jaffa.  Never mind that Daniel, on his world, is cut off from the gate and being threatened by flood waters.  Yes, It was probably just a neat trick the writers could use to create a tense scene but whose to say that Jack hearing of Sam being virtually alone, stranded on a dangerous planet didn't spur him to rash action?  So Earth has a new enemy ship to play with all because of Sam and Jack's love.  So say I.

✮Episode 7.11 Evolution Part 1

Here be super soldiers! Yay for the return of Jacob!  That is one good thing about this season - Jacob shows up on a regular basis.  This is one of those episodes where Jack's episode is odd.  Sam and Jacob are briefing Daniel, Teal'c and Hammond on the super soldier - no Jack to be found.  Bah!  Daniel heads off to Central America to find a ruin that may contain a device that will fight this super soldier.  At minute 15, Jack makes his first appearance.  Bah! He shows up so that Carter can tell him they need to capture a super soldier alive and she has a plan.  Her plan doesn't work at all.  They have to surrender.  Meanwhile in Central America, Daniel and Dr. Lee are finding fun artifacts and getting kidnapped by bad people.  It's fun to see Daniel hanging out with other archeologists.  Sam, Jack and Teal'c escape when the super soldier attacks and they figure out a way to capture him before he leaves.  They ring him into the cargo bay of a glider and vent the life support until he passes out.  No surprise they find out the super soldier was created by Anubis and they figure out where he is made.  Daniel is now overdue and Jack is getting worried.
THOUGHTS:  I included this episode because of the introduction of the super soldiers which come in to play a few times this season.  The episode suffers however and once again by splitting up the team and by Jack inexplicably being absent from key scenes.  Jack's the heart of this show - he glues all the pieces together into a coherent whole.  His sidelining makes everything feel choppy and not quite right.  Also, part of the joy of the show is the whole team interaction which we rarely get these days.  So not a favorite ep but not the worst either.

Episode 7.12 Evolution Part 2 - Enrico Calantoni! "You guys are into some crazy crap, man!" The end.  Okay there is also a strangely fraught and angsty conversation between Jack and Sam which I think is meant to convey their concern for each other going off on separate dangerous missions. Mostly Jack concerned about Sam who is going with Teal'c, Bra'tac and Jacob to raid Anubis' super soldier making facility. And Sam reassuring him but actually really wishing he was going with them. 

☺♥Episode 7.13 Grace

Sam is injured and trapped alone in Prometheus in the middle of space until she starts to have some unusual visitors. So a lot of SG1 fans don't like this episode.  It's introspective and is entirely focused on what's going on in Sam's head and heart.  I like when Sam gets some attention and while not all of it holds together I am grateful to get some insight to the character.  Evasive maneuver delta apparently means turn tail and run.  First of all before we get into the heart wrenching stuff, I love how much joy Carter takes in her job. She finds herself completely alone on the ship and suffering from a bad concussion. Almost immediately she sees a little girl but only for a split second.  Teal'c is the next to visit her - he is fierce and and direct.  Daniel appears and starts to question Sam - why is she doing what she's doing?  She should be studying the cloud - why isn't she studying the cloud?  It's new and needs exploring!  He's kind of annoying and hyper, appealing to her curiosity and her inner explorer.  She then discovers that her problems have gotten worse  - hull breach in 8 hours.  Then we're back at the SGC with Daniel and Jack in the elevator.  They talk about the Prometheus being 18 hours past do on a contact.  Jack is cranky and not in his usual adorable way.  In a scary as shit way.  He doesn't really want to talk to Daniel and is obviously not dealing well with not being able to do much of anything.  Daniel's all confused by him.  Back on the Prometheus, Teal'c shows back up to Sam expressing all the suspicious thoughts in her mind.  Then Daniel again posits that the cloud is alive and that she should try talking to the cloud.  Jacob then pays a visit and asks Sam if she's happy. She says yes.  Jacob think she's content, satisfied and in control and that's a problem.  That's she missing something vital. She's always alone.  She's missing love.  She thinks that love will only end in loss and unhappiness. Back to the SGC where Jack is extremely frustrated - Teal'c tries to talk to him by telling him that Carter experienced similar feelings while he was stranded and lost with Maybourne. Jack does not want to talk about it.  Then we're back on Prometheus and it is finally Jack's turn to visit Carter.  He's the motivational one.  He is, interestingly, dressed in civvies.  And part of their conversation deserves transcription remembering that this is all happening inside Carter's head:

CARTER: Came to give me a pep talk? 
O'NEILL: That's what friends are for. 
CARTER: Friends? 
O'NEILL: Hey. This is you talking here. Might as well be honest. 
CARTER: What if I quit the Air Force? Would that change anything or is it just an excuse? 
O'NEILL: I would never ask you to give up your career. 
CARTER: Because you don't feel anything for me? 
O'NEILL: Carter. 
CARTER: I'd let you go right now if I knew. 
O'NEILL: That easy? 
CARTER: I didn't say it would be easy. 
O'NEILL: Then what's stopping you if you really wanna know? 
CARTER: I'm trying. 
O'NEILL: Maybe it's not me that's the problem here. Let's face it, I'm not that complex.
O'NEILL: Sam. I'm a safe bet. 
CARTER: As long as I'm thinking about you, setting my sights on what I think is unobtainable, there's no chance of being hurt by someone else. 
O'NEILL: Jacob was right. You deserve more. I will always be there for you, no matter what. Believe me. 
CARTER: So what now?
O'NEILL: Go save your ass. 

CARTER: One last thing. 
Sam imagines them kissing. 

The little girl blowing bubbles gives her an idea on saving her ass.  And she does and also saves the rest of the crew because she's awesome.  The final scene?  She wakes in the infirmary, Jack sitting by her bed.  She unthinkingly calls him Jack and he replies "excuse me?" She corrects herself and apologizes, "Sorry Sir."  They lightly banter a little more, we hear the girl from the ship singing and the end.
THOUGHTS:  One of the main questions that is asked is who is the little girl, Grace?  Theories are that she is Sam's unborn child, she's a personification of the gas cloud or some part of Sam herself.   I subscribe to the latter idea.  She keeps singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star which at its basic level is about a little girl wondering and dreaming about the stars.  So. Sam herself.  I think she represents the purely creative Sam with the childlike wonder.  In the end the girl gives her the idea that saves her life.  It is that creative side of her that makes her a brilliant scientist and problem solver as McKay pointed out a few episodes ago.  Then of course there is what to make of Sam's internal conversations particularly with her dad and Jack.  Sam is probably somewhere between 35 and 37 at this point.  Her career is rewarding and fulfilling but it is also her entire life.  I think Sam naturally, as well as  spurred on by the episode referenced by Teal'c when Jack was stranded, has begun to question what she really wants from life.  Is her job enough?  Is being able to work closely and intimately with the person you love enough even if you can never express that love?  The father living in her head doesn't think so.  We are given the impression by both conversations that fear of commitment is what's holding Sam back.  I call BS on that.  We're all a little afraid of commitment but Sam is no chicken, about anything.  I'm not saying it's not a factor in the equation but I think there is a lot more going on.  Remember that this is Sam psychoanalyzing herself so some of her beliefs about herself and her behavior may not be entirely accurate.  I like the idea better that she hasn't  given Jack up because she doesn't want to - there is no one she trusts, admires and loves more in the world  - who would want to give that up.  As she reveals, she has thought about quitting the Air Force - drastically changing her life but she's not really certain how Jack feels about her anymore.  Since way back in Entity in Season 4, he's kept his feelings bottled up and stowed away pretty convincingly.  She's gone along with it but his disappearance with Maybourne brought them to the surface again and she has pushed him, prodded him a little and hasn't really received any real strong positive feedback.  Sure there are moments where there is a certain look in his eye when she thinks and wonders but she doesn't know.  And that's on top of all the doubts of whether things would really work out with them if they try to come together under no life or death situations.  When all they must deal with are the mundanities.  Cranky Jack when facing the Goa'uld is one thing, what about at home on a Sunday afternoon?  That's a lot of gambling and there's a lot at stake.  But can she really give up the dream of Jack to find someone lesser and settle?  She wants certainty, she wants to be in control, and it's impossible.  This is what she wrestles with in my mind. I think her doubts about his feelings and desires are reinforced by his rather abrupt correction of her when she accidentally calls him Jack upon awaking.   Finally, the kiss in her imagination.  It's hot and I think it is the only time we get to see Carter's more lascivious desires.  We get the occasional peek at Jack's but this is it for Sam.  Basically this is a turning point episode for Sam that will end up leading her to making all kinds of faulty decisions.  But I don't blame her.

Episode 7.14 Fallout

Jonas finds a huge deposit of Naquadria on his planet that is on the verge of exploding to what would be disastrous effect so he asks for Earth's help to solve the problem.  Jack is at the briefing!  It's like old times!  How did we get this lucky!?  Oh. Because a couple scenes later he storms out of negotiations amongst the three nations of the Kalownan planet declaring to Daniel that he's reached the end of his patience, seconded by Teal'c before they get in the elevator and disappear entirely from the episode.  Sigh....  He might as well have said - I'm leaving because I have reached the limit of the time I am willing to work!  So we are left with Sam working on Kalowna with Jonas and his mysterious colleague/love muffin while Daniel and General Hammond deal with the delegation from the Kalownan Planet.  I love Sam's big sister conversation with Jonas about Kianna  - I do miss Jonas.  It then turns out that Kianna is a Goa'uld, probably dispatched by Ba'al.  Sam figures it out when she examines some of systems on the large drill that they will be using to tunnel to the Naquadria vein.  They initially send the Goa'uld to jail but then they realize they will need her help to run the drill.  Teal'c joins them as well.  Gee, Daniel has very little to do this episode.  The drill ends up crapping out before they reach their destination but they have enough Tok'ra crystals to create a shaft big enough for one person - the Goa'uld volunteers as the only one able to withstand the heat and gases. When more problems occur she insists they leave her behind but they will not.  It's a suspenseful few moments.  It seems this Goa'uld has fallen in love with Jonas.  They make a nick of time return to the surface.  The symbiote ends up giving her life to save the host Kianna so Jonas perhaps does not have to give up his lady love.  Awww...
THOUGHTS:  Despite Daniel and Teal'c having next to nothing to do and Jack inexplicably dicking around somewhere off screen while Carter and Teal'c risk their lives, it's a really nice episode.  It's good to see Jonas again and the mission is a fun one - riding a big drill 20 Km into the Earth!  The added intrigue of the Goa'uld and their divided loyalty provides some relationship spice.   All around good adventure episode.

Episode 7.15 Chimera

Daniel is having dreams of Sarah and Sam starts dating this bozo named Pete.  I had to really psyche myself up to watch this one.  Oh, powers that be why do you torture us like this?  So in the first scene between Sam and Pete at the coffee shop, Sam looks absolutely stunning.  I so wanted the dude flirting with her to be Jack instead of Pete:(.  The scene between Sam and Jack in the elevator is pretty adorable if only she wasn't humming about Pete.

Seriously, Pete doesn't like Singing in the Rain?  He is obviously evil and may even be the son of Satan.  The Daniel storyline isn't terribly interesting but at least it's a break from the disaster happening in the rest of the episode. Oh how lucky, we get to see sexy times between Sam and Pete.  And then he stomps out of bed and proceeds to stalk her (gets the FBI to run a background check on her, then follows her secretly and almost ruins SG1's mission) because she tells him her job is classified. Our impression is that they have known each other a few days and he's going to throw a freakin' hissy fit because she won't "share herself with him."  UGH. I HATE him.    AND seriously, Jack is averaging like 2 scenes an episode now.  So at the end, why is Sam not screaming at Pete. Instead she gives him a framed photo of the two of them.  I think I have to vomit. 
THOUGHTS: DISGRUNTLEMENT is VERY high by the end of this episode.  The fact that Sam likes Pete so much is frankly insulting.  The fact that she is not incandescently pissed at him after he crashes their stakeout is unbelievable. And with that I just can't say more.  With the exception of the scene in the elevator embedded above, this episode makes me want to spit nails and then scream.  It is however significant because unfortunately we don't lose Pete for another year.  

Episode 7.16 Death Knell

While working with Jacob at an off world camp to develop the weapon to use against Anubis' super soldiers, the camp is attacked and Sam is stalked by a super soldier.  Aww... Jacob gave up coffee for Selmak who doesn't like it.  Jacob and Sam are working away on the weapon at the Alpha site when it is attacked.  Back at the SGC, they learn that 90 people are still missing including Sam and Jacob.  The rest of SG1and then some additional backup go in to investigate and rescue.  Jack is stoic but there are some little tells that he is very worried about Sam.  How did Anubis find the alpha site?  Jacob thinks that Anubis knows about the weapon they have developed and that the super soldier is likely stalking Sam if she is still alive.  We finally see Sam and she is still alive but badly injured and being chased.  It turns out that Jacob/Selmak is no longer as well respected and thought of by his fellow Tok'ra - they think he is too friendly with the humans and they are keeping things from him.  The alliance between the Tok'ra, Earth and the rebel Jaffa may be falling apart for good.  The Tok'ra have come to the belief that their alliance with Earth has been a mistake because of the humans tendency towards direct confrontation, the Tok'ra have died in huge numbers and they cannot replenish their ranks.  And they kind of have a point.  So how can Sam look so stinking beautiful covered in dirt and blood?  Then there is the lovely scene where Carter just tries to gather herself. Jack looks on worriedly before breaking down and doing his inaugural "C'mere" putting his arm around her and pulling her into him allowing her to get comfort.  The contrast after the giddy, stalkery hysteria of the previous episode with Pete is stark.  We and Sam then get the sad news that Jacob won't be able to come around as much anymore.  The alliance has broken down and everyone is scattering.  To salvage anything Jacob/Selmak must try to mend fences with the Tok'ra.
THOUGHTS:  The episode combines a bunch of different elements and does so pretty effectively in my opinion.  Most of the action is between Hammond, Jacob and the Tok'ra and Jaffa leadership but it doesn't feel like a team-lite episode.  Jack and Teal'c and even Sam don't do much but walk around in the woods and Daniel kind of floats around ineffectually on base but it still feels like a lot is going on.  It helps that there are some lovely character moments - Jacob/Selmak realizing that he has lost the faith of the Tok'ra, the scene between Jack and Sam described above, Sam's general tenacity, and finally the two scenes with her dad.  I actually wish the show had done even more with Jacob/Selmak because the dynamic of the shared consciousness and his ties to Earth make for some compelling watching.  I am depressed just thinking about an ever shrinking role for him and then that which comes.  The moment between Jack and Sam is not particularly 'shippy on the surface but of course it so is when looked at how it is played.  His hesitation at offering her comfort speaks volumes - he can tell she needs it but does not want to push himself on her.  In the end, he can't stop himself and she readily accepts him.  It's a totally different dynamic than what we saw with Stalker Pete.

Episode 7.17 and & 7.18 Heroes Parts I and II

The SGC has been opened up to a documentary film maker who sets everyone on edge and forces the SGC to put on a show but when an off world team is attacked by the Goa'uld, things become very real very fast.  To be honest I have been dragging my feet and putting off watching this two part episode. It's one of my favorites of the entire show but it packs an emotional wallop that isn't really typical of SG1.  This is a action adventure sci-fi show with a very light touch.  No Battlestar Galactica here.  So first time around this episode can take you by surprise with its somber event.  The first half is in fact very light-hearted.  The film maker is not at all welcome and it seems that all of the SGC, except perhaps Sam and Janet make his job very very difficult.  Jack is cantankerous and ornery.  He also prefers vanilla to chocolate - I think this might mean we belong together although my preference is really only in ice cream. He also has a thing for Mary Steenburgen. Anyhoo, moving on.  Daniel is mischievous and obfuscating, Teal'c is spectacularly uncooperative.  Only Sam, dutifully provides him with interview after interview where she technobabbles adorably and admirably staves off questions regarding her and Colonel O'Neill's relationship.  It's worth noting that her description of the Colonel is charming and shows how much she looks up to and admires him.  There might be a little bit of hero worship there.  She also points out what we the audience have also noticed - that he pretends to be dumb when he is anything but.  We also get an adorably hilarious interview with Sergeant Harriman the Gate Technician about his job:0).  The actor who plays Harriman actually does a really nice job with it.  But while the SGC is in turmoil, ADAM BALDWIN is being awesome leading SG13 on an off world mission and giving a hilarious monologue on the "joys" of parenthood.  Why is the show not centered on Adam Baldwin??  His team shoots down a probe but not before it signals to a goa'uld ship.  Pretty soon they are in trouble and SG1 and Dr. Janet must go in to help and this is where the first part ends. We are soon thrust into the middle of a raging gun battle off planet and Jack is hit seemingly badly.  Carter is of course the first to notice and runs to him without regard for her own safety.  Soon they are gating back to Earth with casualties, Jack being one of them.  The film maker sees Sam and runs after her with the camera - she is crying uncontrollably and very upset - pretty much as upset as we've ever seen her as she screams/snarls at the camera man to shut that thing off.  It forces a pretty effecting rant from the film maker about the responsibility of the press to show the truth.  Woolsy comes in as an investigator to look into the rescue of SG13.  The rest of the action is told in flashbacks which Daniel captured on his camcorder and in answering Woolsy's investigative questions.  Hammond is NOT having a good day.  Daniel is forced to turn over the tape he caught during the rescue.  We actually see Janet get hit on the shaky camera  - it is sudden and devastating.  Janet is dead.  Now that we know that, Jack can be back on camera and Sam goes to see him.  They have a somewhat awkward, grief filled conversation until Sam breaks down, about how difficult it was to see him lying there after he got hit and that she is just glad that he's okay.  She's crying and her emotions are all over her face.  Jack looks like his normal stoic front is a little defeated, he steps into her and they stare at each other quietly before he deploys the "c'mere" and pulls her into a hug.  Daniel comforts the airman who Janet was working on when she was shot.  Sam cries quietly while she tries to write Janet's eulogy and Teal'c comes in with some words that he has written and comforts Carter.  By this time I have been weeping myself quietly for a good few minutes.  In the end, Sam delivers Janet's Eulogy by reading a list of the names of the people whose lives Janet has saved.  Hammond ends up liking what the film maker puts together ad Jack agrees to sit down and talk.  The airman who Janet saved, names his newborn daughter after her. 
THOUGHTS:  The first part of the episode has a documentary slightly unscripted feel to it which is  different than normal and sets a different  tone for the show, making it more grounded and real.  Also the lighter tone of the first part serves to the give the second part more weight.  It must also be said  that the second part is highly manipulative.  Apparently if you watched the show live there had been hints that someone big was going to die and the episode deliberately makes you think that it is O'Neill.  In fact it is Janet who has died and regardless of the manipulation it is heartbreaking.  Dr. Frasier was a character that was easy to like and admire and she added something to the show so it is very hard to see her go.  The scene between Sam and Jack is also especially nice.  Amanda Tapping does such a good job of portraying Sam on the verge of breaking down, trying hard to hold on and fighting with herself not to step over the line and just blurt out how she feels about Jack.  She seems ready to burst with the emotion which is raw and very close to the surface.  Jack responds to this and also seems to struggle with not crossing the line.  In 'shipper circles much is made of the fact that during the hug he turns his face into her neck which seems very intimate but I'm pretty sure I've seen Jack hug Daniel that way.  That's just how he hugs - all in:0).  This is a particularly nice Jack and Sam scene as there is a lot of physical tension between them which we don't see as often as emotional tension.  There's a lot of emotion too of course but there is also a palpable physical need to be close, as close as possible and provide each other comfort.  I think Jack would have really liked to kiss her and just barely turns it into a hug.  Also it's one of the episodes that deals better than most with RDA's ghosthood.

Episode 7.21 and 7.22 Lost City, Part I and II

Amidst much upheaval at the SGC, Jack downloads the library of Ancient knowledge into his brain again in order to try and figure out where the Lost City is.   First of all we have the introduction of Dr. Weir who will end up playing a crucial role primarily in Stargate Atlantis.  Jessica Steen who plays her here does not reprise the role in Atlantis which is taken over by Torri Higginson which in my mind was unfortunate.  Steen comes across as more natural and in general is a better actress I think.  Anyway, in this episode Dr. Weir is being recruited by the president to run the SGC.  Meanwhile, SG1 gets some intel and they end up being in a race with Anubis to download the ancient knowledge and figure out where the Lost City is.  It gets very dramatic with three SG teams being under fire, so with no more time Jack willfully lets the device download the knowledge into his brain again which also conveniently deactivates the device so Anubis can't use it also.  Back at the SGC everybody seems to accept that Jack is going to die (why can't they just call the Asgard to fix him again once he's got the information they need?) and he takes the weekend off to get his affairs in order.  After not being able to sleep Sam shows up at Jack's house and they have the most awkward interaction ever.  It's unclear whether Jack wants her there or not and any attempts she makes at conversation fall flat.  He still has a picture on the wall of he and his ex-wife and kid.  Sam asks if he ever talks to Sara and he says pretty abruptly that he'd rather they not talk about that in a tone that kind of says none of your business.  She then asks how he's doing, and he doesn't want to talk about that either.  Carter finally says that she should leave but Jack grudgingly but sincerely enough tells her it's okay for her to stay.  She chastises herself and says it should have been her that submitted herself to the device but Jack says no and very genuinely calls her one of the country's natural resources if not national treasure.  It had to go down the way it did and their is no use fussing about it.  At about this time Daniel and Teal'c arrive and a little while later Hammond.  Hammond announces he's been relieved of duty and Dr. Weir is taking over.  What will happen with Jack?  Back at the SGC, Bratac shows up and he announces that Anubis has amassed a fleet and will be coming to Earth in 3 days.  Weir shows what she's made of and stands up to Senator Kinzey who is trying to play down the threat and discredit SG1. On a shallow note they are finally doing Sam's hair and makeup better. PART II: Daniel and Sam begin to try and interpret Jack as he begins to do strange things.  They figure out the gate address but the gate appears to be buried.  They figure out where the planet is so they can get there by ship. Then Jack starts packing.  They board a Jaffa ship and Jack continues to be taken over by the ancient knowledge.  All the members of his team try to reach out to him.  We get this lovely cryptic conversation between Jack and Sam.  Sam: "Jack at your house before Daniel and Teal'c showed up I was trying to say..." Jack: "I know."  Sigh.... WTH.  Anyway.  But we do get this gem because Jack tells Sam it's okay for her to take over command of the team.  Sam to Jack:  "Sit down and take a look....That's an order."  Jack gives her a fun little expression at that but he does do it.  They find a chamber under the molten crust of the planet and they find a chair which Jack is able to activate. The chair seems to indicate that the lost city they have been looking for is under the ice of Antarctica on Earth.  They are all confused - why did they come this far only to have to return.  In answer Jack grabs the power source which is new to them and they head back to the ship.  In a tussle with a betraying Jaffa, Bratac is stabbed and is dying.  Jack is able to heal him with his hands.  The new president is pretty awesome by the way.  Okay, so Teal'c gets a hand on his cheek and then his shoulder with his attempt to tell Jack how he feels.  Hammond gets to command Prometheus as it takes to the air to defend Earth - yay for Hammond getting some action!  A huge honking air fight ensues over the scout ship above Antarctica.  The conclusion with the chair and the battle is super exciting.  This is the best season finale I think of the whole series!  Jack seems to be at the end of things after he has eliminated the threat.  Sam gets in his face and tells him that he better not leave them and then pleads with him, calling him Jack.  He responds by directing them to get him to one of the chambers in the dome which freezes him in suspended animation.  Sam is upset.
THOUGHTS: For a 'shipper this two part episode is a little frustrating.  Sam is pushing, and Jack is evasive and irritable.  It is no wonder that she is no longer certain about his feelings.  The way he snaps at her when she asks about his wife, and seems irritated that she is at his house is difficult to watch and sends a pretty insane mixed message.  However, at the end of the two-parter he does respond to her desperate plea to him, much as he did when he agreed to take a Tok'ra to save his life in season 6.  It is hard to know whether he is really not wanting to hurt her or if she is stimulating his own survival instinct.  Setting aside the 'ship it's a great two-parter though and I love it!


In my estimation Stargate still had some great stories to tell at this point in its run.  If the show is less cohesive and doesn't have the same joie de vivre that it used to it is almost entirely related to the actors.

It is one of the advantages of books over TV and Movies.  Books are pure story and you can let the fictional world and story go where it will.  TV and Movies require the time and continued energy of human beings and therefore by necessity the story must take into account the limitations of its cast and crew.  Season 7 is where Stargate SG1 began to be increasingly dictated by the behind the scenes stuff and as such it becomes more uneven and loses much of what made it special - i.e. the dynamic of the team having off world adventures.

All that being said, Grace, the Lost City duo and perhaps even Heroes would be in my top ten of the whole show.   The writers stepped up to compensate for some of the other turmoil and the actors still do a top notch job while on screen.  So I like season 7 overall and think it would probably fall into the top 5 seasons though I haven't given that much thought yet.

And what about over in 'shipper corner?  Season 7 seems to be all about Sam wrestling with her feelings for Jack.  Grace is the obvious epicenter of this and it is nice to actually see what's going on in her head because like Jack she is good at keeping things locked down.  I think she has gotten to a point in her life where she is wondering if her job is enough, if she isn't perhaps missing out on some important life experiences.  And when she thinks about those experiences, she immediately thinks of Jack.  But it is not possible in the current time nor for the foreseeable future, for Jack to be a part of her personal life.  And she's not entirely sure if he would even still be interested in being in her personal life if it became possible. Her suspicion that he sees her only as a friend is confirmed by his sharp response to her calling him Jack upon her recovery.  It prompts her to make her own attempt to break away.  Jack had done so after Entity and she had followed his lead but she hadn't truly moved on.  It may be why she is so quick to establish strong ties to Pete and why she puts up with his B.S. because she is determined to make it work.  It is also probably intoxicating for her to find a guy she likes, who is not an alien, and who actually shows her how he feels and can treat her like a woman. 

Despite the perceived closeness between her and Pete, it obviously does not change how she feels for Jack however.  She is still compelled to make the attempt to talk to Jack in Lost City and in the end begs him not to let go.  Jack does not make it easy for her and this will continue to be his m.o. until well, ever, that we see at least. 

Top Five Episodes from this Season:

1) Episodes 7.13 Grace
2) Episode 7.21 and 7.22 Lost City Parts I and II
3) Episode 7.17 and 7.18 Heroes Part I and II
4) Episode 7.16 Death Knell
5) Episode 7.8 Space Race (it's pretty close between this and Fall Out but this doesn't have the ridiculous disappearing Jack, [i.e. his small role is natural and explained better] so it gets the edge.)

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.

Best of...Video for Jack and Daniel Season  7

More Episode Reviews  

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 7. 

Aftershocks IV (Season's 7) 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.

Have Yourself a Shippy Little Christmas: A non-season specific shippy Christmas story by  ShoeQueen.

Tiny Little Fractures by Annerb - a post-Grace Fic

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4 
Season 5
Season 6

Well that's it for the Stargate this week.  Next week season 8 where Jack takes over the SGC and times, they are a-changing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment