Sunday, 25 September 2011


Aptly titled, there are a whole bunch of secrets in this episode. Sam keeping the secret of the work she's doing from her father, the secret harcesis child of Apophis and Amonet's host, Sha're, then Kasuf hiding the child from the goa'uld, Amonet not revealing SG-1 to Apophis and his guards, and last but not least, the reporter who has discovered the secret of the Stargate program.

Two concurrent stories are shown; Sam and Jack going to Washington, D.C. to receive medals from the President, and Daniel returning to Abydos as he promised them a year ago, along with Teal'c. Sam's father, Jacob, is also present at the medal ceremony, and is trying to meddle with her career and get her into NASA, so she can follow her dream and go to space. Sam, obviously, doesn't want to go in a tiny shuttle all the way out to orbit when she routinely goes lightyears away to other planets around the galaxy. Meanwhile a reporter approaches Jack looking for details about the Stargate program, about which he already knows a lot, meaning there's a leak somewhere. On Abydos, Daniel and Teal'c find Daniel's wife Sha're, who is not under the influence of the goa'uld Amonet due to being heavily pregnant, and the goa'uld not wishing to risk the life of the child, whom Apophis wishes to be his future host.

Sam does a pretty awful job of keeping her cover story intact to her dad, who knows it's a cover story, but doesn't pry too much. He's baffled by Sam's insistence not to take the opportunity he's created for her to join NASA, though, and of course she can't tell him the real reason. Conversely, Jack keeps an air of aloofness (not hard for him, I know...) when confronted by the reporter, and even manages to think up a quick explanation for being caught talking about navigating the galaxy. Unfortunately, the reporter is run down by a car before he can report on his findings, which leaves Jack very suspicious.

It's never made clear if this is actually an accident or whether the DoD arranged his death to avoid the story breaking. Regardless, Jack thinks it was no accident, and when told by general Hammond that "it wasn't us", his eyes betray his feelings. It's brilliant acting by Richard Dean Anderson, and shows disappointment in his superiors and 'the system', and sadness that it had to come to this. Carter says her goodbyes to her dad, who tells her quite bluntly that he has terminal cancer.

Afterwards, Jack and Carter head to Abydos to find Heru'ur there, who came to steal the baby, but he escapes (baby-less) and not a second later, Apophis turns up to take Amonet. She tells him that Heru'ur has the baby, which is what Teal'c tried to lead her to believe, but she looks right at SG-1 before leaving, so she knows that's not the case. She keeps her mouth shut, though. Is she, too concerned about the baby's fate? Is she plotting against Apophis (Knowing the goa'uld mindset, this isn't hard to believe)? Or is Sha're exerting some control over her, the way Skaara managed to overpower Klorel for a few seconds in The Serpent's Lair?

This question goes unanswered, as does my own wondering why Daniel didn't carry Sha're off to Cimmeria to go through the new Thor's Hammer device? Maybe he feared for the child's safety through the ordeal, and wanted to take her after the birth, but ran out of time.

The episode did a good job of moving the main story forwards, and features some of the best acting from Richard Dean Anderson, which is the highlight for me. It also introduces Jacob Carter, who'll become an important, and likeable, recurring character.

Thursday, 22 September 2011


Master Bra'tac sends an emergency signal through the gate, and on arriving on Earth, tells Teal'c that his son Ry'ac has been taken prisoner by Apophis. The team are slightly taken aback - they thought they'd taken care of Apophis and Klorel when they blew the ships up in orbit. Apparently, though, they managed to escape (the audience saw the two of the use the rings before the ships exploded), and Apophis has set up on Chulak again, albeit much weaker, and vulnerable to attack from another system lord.

Realising that Ry'ac's kidnapping is a trap to catch Teal'c, they go to Chulak anyway to mount a rescue mission. Teal'c learns that his wife Drey'auc has remarried an old friend of his, Fro'tak (who, unfortunately, doesn't sport a 'fro), and isn't too happy about it. The first rescue attempt fails when Ry'ac is shown to have been brainwashed by Apophis, but he leaves Teal'c a hidden message asking to be freed once he has apparently broken through the brainwashing.

After killing Fro'tak when he turned informer, they follow Ry'ac's clue and bring him safely back to Earth, but he was just one of Apophis' pawns - he had false teeth with poison inside, designed to wipe out all life on Earth. The teeth are removed, though, and all that's left is to deprogram him, ultimately through a zat'nik'tel blast.

The episode features some really great acting from Neil Denis, playing Ry'ac. He was only 10 or 11 years old at the time, but did an excellent job of playing someone playing a role, when Ry'ac is still under the influence of Apophis' brainwashing but trying not to let on. The moment he spits on his father's face is really powerful, and Christopher Judge is fantastic as a concerned father, too.

It's also always a pleasure to see Tony Amendola as master Bra'tac. He always declines returning to Earth, though, and I have to wonder what there is for him on Chulak? I guess he's trying to stir up more rebellious jaffa, especially now that Apophis is hugely weakened, but it's got to be a dangerous game. He no longer needs to look after Drey'auc and Ry'ac, either, as they have moved to the Land of Light (from the season 1 episode The Broca Divide).

Message in a Bottle

After bringing back a mysterious orb from a huge temple on a desolate, uninhabitable planet, the team are flummoxed as to its purpose and workings, until something causes it to suddenly heat up very quickly. They take it to the gate room to try and send it back before anything happens, but it shoots out rods to attach itself to the floor and walls and, unfortunately, to Jack's shoulder. Weapons and cuttons tools have no effect and an organism starts spreading from the device through to Jack, the structure of the SGC, and the computer system.

Everybody races to try and save Jack and remove the device but nothing works. Eventually the infected computer system starts showing a strange glyph that appears on the orb itself and Daniel realises it's trying to communicate. They stop trying to hinder the organism and instead allow it to flourish, including in Jack's body, from which it speaks to them.

It turns out the orb was the last remaining part of a long-dead civilisation waiting for someone like SG-1 to come along and bring it somewhere it could reestablish itself. They come to a compromise to send the orb and its inhabitants to a primordial planet, so that both parties may survive.

This episode has no relation to anything else, but is pretty cool nonetheless. It features a completely alien race, and shows how badly things can go without communication. However, despite them clearly being a highly advanced race, it seems that after packing them off to a new homeworld, the SGC never has contact with them again, which is odd. They initially brought the orb back to Earth to study its power source, which could last an unimaginably long time, but upon relocating it they seem to lose all interest. Perhaps they decide the risk is too great, but as Teal'c points out to O'Neill, they must always take risks to try and find technology that will help defeat the goa'uld.

Teal'c remains a strong friend to Jack in this episode, barely leaving his side through the ordeal of being pinned to the wall and overtaken by microorganisms. He even tries comforting him by making a joke. Their already close relationship is strengthened a lot by what happens, and is shown by lots of close-up face shots of the two. Jack is Teal'c's closest Tau'ri friend, on what is an alien world without family or many of his friends from home.

Thor's Chariot

This is a follow-up episode to season 1's Thor's Hammer, where SG-1 destroyed an Asgard device that protected the planet Cimmeria from the goa'uld. Of course, now the goa'uld (a son of Ra and Hathor, called Heru'ur, or Horus the Elder) have invaded the vulnerable planet and are killing and enslaving the population, who believe Thor has forsaken them.

Whil Jack and Teal'c do some recon and fighting, Daniel and Sam follow Gerwyn (the woman who greeted them the first time they visited, and called them for help this time) to see the 'Hall of Thor's Might', in the hope of finding a weapon to fight the goa'uld. They are tested by a hologram of Thor (like the one from Thor's Hammer and solve a riddle showing mathematical prowess, which gives them a direct link to the real Thor, a Roswell-type alien. He has no weapons for them, but returns them to the planet's surface and minutes later sends an Asgard mothership to remove the goa'uld presence from Cimmeria and replaces the Hammer.

This is the first time we really see the extent of the Asgard's power, and the first glimpse of what they're really like. They seem friendly, if a little aloof, but willing to help the fight against the goa'uld - in fact, they've apparently been at war for some time now. They've also been visiting Earth, which is probably what led to the myths of 'Greys', as the similarity is uncanny.

On being returned to the planet's surface, Gerwyn tells the team that the Asgard are going to leave someone with them to help them develop and answer any questions they might have, and that the Hammer will always make an exception for Teal'c. This seems like a blatant invitation for the tau'ri to return and talk to the Asgard, but they apparently never do.

Another thing that annoys me about this episode is that the humans on Cimmeria are at the level northern Europe was at about 1,000 years ago, and this matches with the Norse mythology they believe in, but Thor's test for seeing how advanced they are is seeing if they understand the relation of pi to circles. The value given is '3 14 15 9', and pi was approximated to this level (3.14159) long before the middle ages. Also, pi has no relation to the radius of a circle, which is what Daniel demonstrates. It is actually the relation of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

One more thing we learn in this episode is that Sam, like Cimmerian ex-host Kendra, has retained Jolinar's ability to use goa'uld technology. She sends a blast out from the hand device, but can't get the healing device to work. This is yet another reminder, as in the previous two episodes, that her blending with Jolinar had more effect than anyone realised.


This episode reveals more of the power of goa'uld sarcophagi. The team are captured on a naquahdah-mining world and enslaved in the mines by the ruler of the planet. A failed escape attempt leaves Daniel critically injured in a rockfall, and he is revived in a sarcophagus by the planet's princess, daughter of the 'god slayer', the old ruler. She convinces Daniel to keep using the sarcophagus even when healthy, which has an addictive, narcotic effect on him. This means he has difficulty remembering he's supposed to be helping his friends, who are really struggling in the mines, but he eventually does arrange for them to be set free and return to Earth to arrange things for his impending wedding to the princess. When back on Earth, he experiences severe withdrawal symptoms, but eventually comes back to normal and the team return to the planet so he can explain that he can't go through with the wedding.

We learn that the sarcophagus has this personality-changing effect on repeat users, and can extend longevity a great deal, as the god-slayer is hundreds of years old. We also learn, in continuation from the previous episode, that Sam's blending with Jolinar had lasting effects; she 'senses' that the old man in charge isn't a goa'uld - or more specifically, doesn't get a sense of a goa'uld within him. She revelas that lately she's been getting a 'funny feeling' when she's around Teal'c (quoth Jack: "Hey, who doesn't?"). She also has a dream/vision where she 'remembers' that the tok'ra don't use sarcophagi, and speculates that the overuse of them could be what drove the goa'uld power-mad.

There's one line that stands out to me in this episode. When Jack is trying to calm Daniel down during his withdrawal-fueled rampage, he looks him right in the eyes and tells him, "I know what it's like." This suggests more dark periods in Jack's past - in Prisoners he mentions he was in prison, and now he implies he's been a drug addict in the past, too. Maybe the two were related, and perhaps the drug use was to try and get through some of the black ops stuff he's seen and done (as mentioned in Cor-Ai and Solitudes, and shown in The Gamekeeper).

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Gamekeeper

This episode mainly serves as giving a little (really, not much at all) backstory for Jack and Daniel, independently of each other, when the team are forced into virtual reality devices. The devices draw on the user's memories and imaginations to create completely believable virtual worlds in their heads.

For Jack and Teal'c, this means reliving a mission to infiltrate and East German compound and capture a soviet Russian agent. The mission is one apparently strong in Jack's memory, as it went horribly wrong and the commanding officer was killed. Daniel and Sam, meanwhile, are shown a pivotal moment in young Daniel's life - the moment his parents were killed. After a couple of iterations of each memory, everybody realises it's not real - in part due to the weird, shrouded crowd spectating - and the 'gamekeeper', a flamboyant, rather annoying character pops up to tell them what an amazing chance he's given them - a chance to change what happened. Everybody's annoyed at this misstatement, and the gamekeeper himself isn't helping matters, so he lets the team out of the machines and they return to Earth.

But of course, he didn't really. This leads to a GREAT scene where Jack is trying to "pull [general Hammond's] mask off", searching behind his ears and slapping his bald head. The rest of the episode revolves around the team and the natives of the planet leaving the machines to see the real planet, a lush garden kept by the gamekeeper.

Apart from the 'mask' moment I mentioned above, another nice thing is seeing Jay Acovone again, reprising his role as major Kawalsky. He obviously can't keep appearing too much or he may as well never have died, but I do enjoy seeing him whenever he has a guest appearance.

Something interesting the episode brings up is that while the keeper can't access Tealc's memory because of the naquahdah in his blood, neither can he access Carter's, due to her having been host to Jolinar. This is the first hint that the experience has had a lasting effect on her, something which will be explored more in the near future - a good thing, since it was disappointing not to have seen any of her past in the machines, or any of Teal'c's (although he never really gets good character development until much later in the show). At least his hair was better in this episode than in There But For the Grace Of God in season 1.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


I Liked this episode, but I can't say I liked what happened in it. SG-1 are put into a very awkward situation when they are sentenced to life imprisonment on an inescapable planet (It has a stargate for incoming wormholes, but no DHD for dialing out). Given that the prison is used for all criminals, regardless of the severity of their crime, it's turned into a kratocracy, where those strong enough to seize power have done so. As such, the brutish Vishnoor is the boss of everybody except the mysterious Linea, to whom everybody listens.

Jack and Carter pay Linea a visit after she grants them her protection from the other prisoners, and find that she has a (natural) nuclear fusion power source, which could be used to power the gate and dial manually (like they did with lightning in The Torment of Tantalus in season 1). In return for this power, she wants them to set her free. She tells Sam about how she was convicted for her part in trying to cure a plague that ravaged her planet - letting Sam fill in the blanks. Another strange thing is when Linea cures a man's blindness, and upon seeing her face, he scampers away in fear. Despite this, SG-1 still trusts her and brings her through the gate with them, which is a very irresponsible thing to do. Perhaps it's Jack's black-ops training, to use any means necessary to escape, but Carter's happy to go along with it and neither Daniel nor Teal'c have any objections either.

In the meantime, a diplomatic relations SG-team are liaising with the authority that imprisoned SG-1, and even general Hammond makes his first trip through the gate to argue for their release, offering himself in their place (in vain).

When back on Earth, Carter shows Linea how to use the computer system to model the cold fusion reagents for them. Linea, clearly a polymath and genius, learns to control the computer system to do whatever she wants, while SG-3 bring back the cured blind man, who tells them who he saw when he regained his sight - 'the Destroyer of Worlds'. It turns out Linea didn't try to cure the plague - she started it, which explains the way she was treated in the prison. It's too late, though - as she escapes through the stargate, the SGC's self-destruct count reaches zero...
but doesn't blow up. Instead the whole computer system shuts down and restarts, showing the message that "all debts have now been repaid," leaving SG-1 with the knowledge that they let a mass-murderer loose on the galaxy once more.

It's an episode full of action and intrigue, but adds to the list of bad things SG-1 has done to the galaxy. Just because you're fighting goa'uld oppression doesn't mean you're shining stars.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

In the Line of Duty

This episode is a showcase for some great acting by Amanda Tapping. There are a few 'phases' of her character and she plays each one differently. The first 'phase' is after the teaser, when Carter has been infected by a goa'uld but before the characters know about it. She remains aloof and slightly out-of-character, exactly as if she were being played by another actress who didn't fully understand the Carter character. Even in the background of scenes where she doesn't talk, Sam is seen staring into space, not giving her full attention to what's happening.

The second stage is once the other characters have found out about her infestation by Jolinar of Malkshur. At this point the audience and characters know as much as each other. Jolinar is portrayed as a stereotypical goa'uld - arrogant, mean, and tricksy. Thus, when he claims to be a member of the Tok'ra (anti-System Lord resistance group) Jack and co. are loth to believe him. It's only after the ashrak tries to kill him (and Carter in the process), and after Jolinar dies saving Sam's life, that the characters realise they could have trusted him, after all.

It's after this that we see the third phase of Carter - emotionally unstable. Nobody else can begin to imagine what she's gone through. Having another personality in your head, mixing with your own, only to have it taken away from you through torture, it must be distressing to say the least. The start of the healing process is shown in the final scene, when Cassandra (from season 1's Singularity) comes to visit Sam in the infirmary and comfort her.

One thing I don't think is quite right with the episode is that Jack doesn't seem concerend enough when he learns there's a Goa'uld in Sam. The same thing happened to his friend, major Kawalsky, who died as a result of them trying to take it out (The Enemy Within); for all he knows, the same could soon happen to Carter, to whom he's as close as, if not closer than, Kawalsky. Sure, he's seen Kendra (Thor's Hammer) and learned that safe extraction is possible, and he's keeping that hope alive for Skaara and Sha're too, but the Kawalsky situation must have been going through his head at the time. He does show more of that soap-opera-level emotion later when Carter's on the operating table with Janet trying to save her life, though.

Speaking of Sha're, we're both reminded of her (which is really the driving force behind SG-1's exploration of the galaxy) and given a tidbit about story development, as Jolinar tells Daniel he knows where Sha're is. Of course, it's entirely possible he was lying, but seeing as he's dead by the end of the episode it seems we'll never know. Something tells me it won't be long before she shows up again...

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Serpent's Lair

Season 2 got off to a great start with this episode, a conclusion to the cliffhanger at the end of season 1 (Within the Serpent's Grasp). SG-1 are captured aboard Klorel's ship as it and Apophis' ship are approaching Earth. Klorel's placed in a sarcophagus by one of his jaffa, who is then ordered to kill SG-1. He goes to follow these orders, and reveals himself as master Bra'tac!

Bra'tac and his two fellow unbelievers help SG-1 lead an assault on the two ships, capturing Klorel and using him as a hostage to gain entrance to Apophis' control deck where they disable the controls, then run off to disable the shields so Klorel's ship will do a lot of damage when the two collide.

Meanwhile on Earth, major lieutenant-colonel Samuels is back, seemingly for no reason other than to gloat about the new 'goa'uld-buster' missiles he's developed. Said missiles both detonate harmlessly on the goa'uld ships' shields, leaving Samuels embarrassed and sheepish. It's nice to see general Hammond chewing him out, as he's always been a slimy, unlikeable character.

Despite the impending attack, and gen. Hammond wearing his combat fatigues, there's really no sense of tension in the Earth scenes, as there was in There But For the Grace of God. Granted, the attack was fully under way in that episode, and in this one the ships were just sitting there, but it didn't feel like there was any real threat to Earth. There was some tension on the ships, particularly as Daniel was left behind, but that didn't last long. In fact, the team didn't seem too bothered about what they thought was his death, only showing emotion when they were reunited in the SGC. Neither did Daniel seem to care about the fate of the team when he came back through the gate. But, when reuinted, he and Jack do share a big hug, and all's well again - particularly now the Earth is saved from Apophis and Klorel.

Speaking of those two, it's not made clear where they went - they're shown using the ring transporters, but the only place within range was Klorel's ship with the stargate - but you can probably guess that it's Chulak. Which makes you wonder, why does Bra'tac want to go back? He said he already had a hard enough time regaining the goa'uld's trust after the events of Bloodlines, and this time he openly told Klorel about his hatred for the race.

I heard somewhere - maybe a DVD commentary from a later episode, I'm not sure - that originally Skaara/Klorel wasn't in the shot of Apophis escaping through the rings, but after seeing the huge positive fan response for his appearance in Within the Serpent's Grasp they decided to edit him in so he could return in future episodes. Thank goodness they did!