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SciFi Friday: SG1, SGA, BSG 01-27-06

Technology… has betrayed me. I refer to my DVD-recorder. Which worked just fine on Wednesday when I dumped a movie to DVD. But which, when I went to do the same thing on Saturday, gave me an error message that said the DVD drawer was BLOCKED. (It said it in all-caps, just like that.) Which turned out to mean – get this – that I have to return the damn thing to the manufacturer (*cough*MAGNAVOX*cough*), and they will replace it. In 7-15 business days. Words cannot express how livid this makes me. Also, I have a fairly small TiVo, so things are gonna be tight for a while. And figuring out how to ship the damn thing back is going to be a bitch. Blah.

Have finally caught up on all of SciFi Friday, so…



SG1: Stronghold

I realize that Teal’c and Bra’tac were all fixated on “she promised to support us and now she’s reneged!” – but I was somewhat offended that they were so dismissive of what was, on the face of it, a fairly reasonable counter-argument about how pure democracy was unlikely to serve the Jaffa women well. Frankly, anyone who understands the history of, say, the formation of the U.S. at the Continental Congress would recognize immediately the issues that small populations have with the idea that a majority that is uninterested in the minority’s concerns can easily dominate the minority. Yes, let’s talk about that a little more, without implying that the concerns of the Jaffa women are trifling.

I liked getting more backstory for Cam – gosh, he’s just piling up the ol’ angst, isn’t he? This is the third angstful, character-forming incident that we know of in his past, now. Well, fourth, counting his father. Man, how many years did it take us to learn the equivalent amount of backstory about Jack, Daniel, and Sam? Extra points for the poignancy of Cam getting to actually tell a friend about all the wacky, wonderful stuff he was going through now, but then losing that friend before he even really got a chance to talk it through with him.

I really liked the doctor, too. “Dr. Kelly” is kind of a lame name to give a cool East Indian character, though.

I thought this ep did a better job of masking that Daniel didn’t have a lot to do – he didn’t contribute much as he accompanied Bra’tac. It was also sly in the way that it seemed to give Sam a lot to do (she led the mission! W00t!), but in reality… well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

Ah, Baal. Even when your grandiose plans don’t quite make sense, it’s fun to see you. I can actually kind of believe that Baal is shit-scared of the Orii and would like to make an alliance with the proven winners in past battles against impossible odds, except he can’t see any way to do that except this way, by subterfuge and secretly taking them over… yeah, he’s having some trouble with the definition of the word “alliance”, there. It was also kind of refreshing to hear him give the “Yeah, we’re not gods… except, what is a god, really?” speech. Because Baal really was always the smartest of the Goa’uld.

Two notes, though: one, it feels really, really wrong to hear Baal using his unmodified voice. I don’t even mean the accent. I just mean… it’s creepy. It just doesn’t sound like him. Two, he’s still pretty hot, though. I don’t really know what to call the outfit that he had on, but I thought he was workin’ it. It kind of amuses me that since his stint on Earth, he’s now trying to rock a Goa’uld’s version of seriously pimpin’ Earth clothes. Which still involves gold, and wacky collars. That’s cute.

Oh hey, look! The SGC sure DID get the problematic memory-sharing technology from a few episodes ago! And there’s just no way for THAT technology to be misused by Earth, is there? Naaaaah…. I’m sure everything will be FINE.

I liked how Cam’s buddy had put together so much of what was really going on already. Dude. They might as well just go public at this point. Clearly things have gotten to where it’s almost impossible to keep the Gate and aliens a secret any longer. In a sense, it’s nice that there’s been this development over the life of the series – that the Big Secret is in more and more danger the more time that passes and the more odd occurences build up.

I liked that Cam came in late, so Sam got to lead the rescue mission. (Nitpick: why wasn’t Sam wearing a cap? Daniel I can understand, but… that’s a military regulation thing, it’s part of the uniform. Which is why during earlier seasons she is always wearing some kind of headwear when she goes through the Gate – we don’t care if it covers up her pretty hair. Notice how everyone else BUT Daniel was wearing caps. But the point is, Sam used to, too. Also? Her hair is bright, and bright is a target. Man, you can SO tell that they don’t have a military advisor any more; but it also disappoints me that wardrobe hadn’t learned little facts about uniforms like that by now.)

Also: you are sending in a strike-force that big, and you can’t arm one of them with a shoulder-launched Stinger SAM or even some AT4 rocket-launchers? Yeah, I know that they didn’t know about the cannon emplacement prior to going through. But here’s my point. The Stinger at least is reloadable, and heat-seeking. (It’s what Kawalsky’s men used to take down the death-glider in COTG.) If you’re going to a planet where you expect resistance that heavy, including gliders from a ha’tak, and you can easily guess there may be cannon emplacements… why would you NOT arm one guy with a Stinger? (The show has in recent years tended to show the use of the AT4 – Teal’c in “Full Circle”, for instance – but the problem with those is that they are one-shot only, and they don’t fire heat-seeking missiles.) (For the info on the AT4, I am indebted to a write-up by wildernessguru over in icarusancalion’s LJ.)

Seriously. We know the SGC has these things. We know they have sent them out on past missions as optional weaponry (i.e. without knowing for sure there would be a use for them). Prior experience attacking a Goa’uld-held Gate (a situation with which the SGC has roughly eight billion examples to draw on) suggest you’ll meet both gliders and cannon emplacements (seen before in numerous episodes, dealt with in various ways). It is tactical foolishness to rely entirely on one al’kesh to take out all of those things. So why not?

Tsk.

Further… my big problem is not the nitpicks over caps or weapons, honestly. It’s the fact that while Sam was nominally in charge of this mission, she didn’t really do that much. No, the big actions got taken by Mitchell, who was all maverick and impulsive and stupid and shit (just as his conversation with his buddy had presaged – fancy that!). And the moment when Sam and Daniel and Cam are all standing there at the rings, and Sam is all, “if we all go we could get trapped up there – YOU go”???? Oh no, my friend. No, no, no.

Possibly, for the lt. Col. In charge of the mission, that was the proper thing to do. (Hint: if you feel you have to stay back to lead the men, then send Daniel to cover Cam’s back!) But look… this is SG1. Sticking together like glue and all going up to the ha’tak and just trusting that you’ll all manage to get out – frankly, that is what SG1 has always done. Not always tactically sound, but emotionally satisfying.

It just struck me forcibly at that moment that earlier SG1 would never have done that. The way they write this team now, they split up more naturally than they stick together as a team. Back in the day, they tended to stick together whenever possible. Which, not incidentally, created a cohesive sense of TEAM, and ensured that all the characters were doing stuff.

But my further problem with that split-up of the team was this, and telepresence articulated it much better for me – why does Mitchell get to go? Of the three people standing there, who is it who has the strongest emotional attachment to Teal’c and therefore ought to be most likely to take a risk in order to rescue him? Answer: it’s not Mitchell, it’s SAM and/or DANIEL. Mitchell being all riled up shouldn’t supercede Sam’s and Daniel’s deeper attachment to Teal’c. And, under no circumstances should Mitchell (who has been on how many ha’taks in his career? Anyone? Yes, you there, in the back…) be sent WITHOUT BACK-UP. (Or someone who’s maybe done a few desperate missions on ha’taks in their day; let alone, someone who could speak Goa’uld…) Way to give the guy lousy odds of success, Sam! You’ve got the remaining dozen guys you brought through the Gate, so you don’t actually need Daniel to help you hold your position, whereas it’s good odds that Cam is going to run into some opposition up there on the ship. Besides, who lets a team member go off alone, if there’s a choice? Again, an instance of this team not acting like a TEAM.

Cameron, honey, I like you. I like that you are developing a distinct personality. But god love you, Cam – you’re a pilot, not a commando. You’re apt to go all lone-wolf at a moment’s notice, but you’re not in your aircraft any more, and you do not have 15 years or more of Advanced Covert Skulking and Mayhem under your belt. You’re part of a team, but I’m not REAL sure yet that you are a team-player.

This is the same problem that I have with John over on SGA, actually. Jack, as the leader of a ground team, was a pilot turned commando, but one with 15 or more years of intense training in the latter profession. I wish there were some acknowledgement sometimes that piloting as a career takes different qualities, and by the same token, you shouldn’t expect to plunk a pilot down and have him turn into a great leader of a ground-based team and a great commando overnight. It could be really interesting, actually. But instead, we get these guys cowboying it up, without any criticisms of the mistakes they make both as leaders and as members of a team being led by someone else.

Some good points. Some bad points. Right now, I’d give a lot for an ep that used Sam or especially Daniel effectively.



SGA: Grace Under Pressure

Why does hallucination!Sam have BETTER HAIR than SG1!Sam has had for about the past 2 seasons? And, can we keep it?

Churlishly, I have to admit, I didn’t like the pilot guy that much, and I felt like his self-sacrifice had an odd tone to it. Like the actor was playing it too casually or something. It felt weird to me. Rodney’s reaction, on the other hand, was great.

Anyway, Hewlett proves he can carry a heavy load, which actually nobody disbelieved, I don’t think. I thought that Amanda Tapping was livelier and more fun to watch as this version of Sam than she has been on SG1 yet this season – she and DH play well off each other, and she seemed freed from the constraints of having to be the one on whom the technobabble depends.

I felt kind of bad for Zelenka throughout this ep. We kept making “Zelenka’s plan to murder Rodney is going awry” jokes.



BSG: Black Market

Oh, please. Normally, BSG does a good job of planting the seeds of things it will develop and examine later on. This ep had way too much whiplash induced by big plot elements that we had never seen before, not even an inkling. I felt disoriented, like I had suddenly missed half a season while in a coma. “What? Lee has been seeing some space-hooker regularly? What? Lee has some angsty backstory with a blond chick on Caprica of whom we have never before heard? What? Everybody except Admiral Adama and Pres. Roslin has been hitting this big extensive black-market? What? And where is Starbuck this week?”

It’s a pity, as a Lee episode wouldn’t go amiss right about now – but this wasn’t the episode I would have liked to see. Except for the confrontation at the end and his pragmatic solution to the problem. That was interesting.

I was disappointed by Fisk’s quick descent into clear-cut bad-guy, and him being offed. I’d had hopes of him as a nicely ambiguous character who would keep us guessing for a while. Apparently not.

You’d think that Roslin would understand BETTER than the military that complete eradication of a black-market isn’t possible. But maybe that was supposed to reflect some hard-line shift of hers following her near-death experience.

And: could Baltar be a WORSE liar? Seriously, didn’t he used to have a better instinct for self-preservation? Didn’t he used to be able to act, and lie, even if he looked kind of squirrelly doing it? Because he so clearly could have played both of those confrontations much better. It would have been pretty easy to come up with a plausible lie regarding why he’d been about to meet with Fisk – he didn’t really even bother. I guess the gloves are coming off him, as well, and he’s turning more into a real villain, but… it just seemed so oddly unlike the way we had seen him be, before.

I am further disappointed, in light of this, that we never got to see Baltar having to explain how it was that Gina got past him on Pegasus to go kill Cain and subsequently escape. The assumption is that someone MUST have asked and he MUST have explained largely to everyone’s satisfaction. But what did he say? What story did he spin? And we would have learned so much by watching the reactions of those hearing the story. Roslin’s deep suspicion of him now is likely based on her glimpse of him and Six… but dude, I would not take a death-bed vision into a court of law. I would have liked to know if the whole fuck-up with him and Gina and Pegasus and Cain was one of the puzzle pieces that caused Roslin to suggest he resign. Wouldn’t that have made more sense?

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
katie_m
Jan. 30th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC)
I realize that Teal’c and Bra’tac were all fixated on “she promised to support us and now she’s reneged!” – but I was somewhat offended that they were so dismissive of what was, on the face of it, a fairly reasonable counter-argument about how pure democracy was unlikely to serve the Jaffa women well.

Yes. I'm glad that they ended up at least going with the brainwashing angle, rather than Those Untrustworthy Women, but really... she had an excellent point. You could arrange the voting to allow at least a Hak'tyl representative (do it by planet, or whatever) but... I dunno.

I felt kind of bad for Zelenka throughout this ep. We kept making “Zelenka’s plan to murder Rodney is going awry” jokes.

LOL! Poor Zelenka. I agree that AT's Sam was tremendously likeable here; I always enjoy her when she gets to be a little snarky. Poor Sam, though. I mean, did she get useful hallucinations? No! She got her father bugging her about her love life, a little girl blowing bubbles at her, and Daniel telling her to talk to a space cloud.
eregyrn
Jan. 30th, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
You could arrange the voting to allow at least a Hak'tyl representative (do it by planet, or whatever) but... I dunno.

Maybe they were just simplifying wildly, and some of that was supposed to be implicit. But it sure came across as "pure democracy: what could go wrong?" Hell, it took the US Continental Congress ages to hammer out an agreement that everyone thought was fair, and they were really only concerned with the equal representation of white male land-owners.

Poor Sam, though. I mean, did she get useful hallucinations? No! She got her father bugging her about her love life, a little girl blowing bubbles at her, and Daniel telling her to talk to a space cloud.

Plus she got to snog Jack. Which also wasn't useful, and didn't really make up for the rest, but... eye-rolling aside, it was her best value, hallucination-wise.
katie_m
Feb. 4th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
But it sure came across as "pure democracy: what could go wrong?"

Which is a very American way to look at it, of course.

Plus she got to snog Jack. Which also wasn't useful, and didn't really make up for the rest, but... eye-rolling aside, it was her best value, hallucination-wise.

True. But she got to kiss him in a fantasy inside a hallucination! Which pretty much sums Sam up, right there, but still. Seems unfair.
eregyrn
Feb. 8th, 2006 07:07 am (UTC)
Which is a very American way to look at it, of course.

Yes. And it always makes me want to tear my hair out and scream, "We don't have a pure democracy in America for VERY GOOD REASONS, people!"

True. But she got to kiss him in a fantasy inside a hallucination! Which pretty much sums Sam up, right there, but still. Seems unfair.

True. But I'm just saying, in comparison to the other not-useful hallucinations she was having, at least that one was fun.
advection
Jan. 30th, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, let’s talk about that a little more, without implying that the concerns of the Jaffa women are trifling. -- Yes yes yes. That's a kinda big honkin' thing for the ptb (or Allan McCullough the credited writer) to say about later, 'Well we didn't mean it in a sexist way.'

What you said in another comment thread (about the Philip Pullman stuff) about how a pilot's mentality differs from a ground operative's was in my thoughts while I watched Mitchell do his lone-wolf thing here. All your points about him ringing up to the ship alone are really well taken. And The way they write this team now, they split up more naturally than they stick together as a team -- I think that's what bugs me most of all. But also that Mitchell has no ground experience -- that we know of, anyway (unless they have a bunch more flashbacks to pull out of their hats). Carter didn't when she started out, either, but she sure does now. In fact, Mitchell has the least of anyone on the team. I've been thinking since they introduced him that that could be a serious hindrance. The whole set-up requires an awful lot of wanking.

Really interesting comments about the ordnance, too.

I think Daniel and Bra'tac should be spun off as whacky sleuths in a mystery-of-the-week show. A little Cadfael, a little archaeo-CSI. It would rock, man.
cofax7
Jan. 30th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
es, let’s talk about that a little more, without implying that the concerns of the Jaffa women are trifling.

Yes, please. Or, to be blunter, let's take the only Jaffa woman with any authority in Jaffa society as a whole and completely undercut her credibility. Even while she's saying something sensible.

That made me very grumpy.

I don't have any real disagreements with your other comments on Stronghold: it really made no sense to send Cam off by himself, other than to let him be The Hero. And I do wish we'd get more team stuff; it's been too long.
tealc_junky
Jan. 30th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
Can I just say a hearty hell yes! to pretty much all your comments about SG-1? I want team, I want team with all the team actually doing stuff rather than standing around being a cheering section for Cam while he does stuff, even stuff he's patently unsuited for. Also with the Hak'tyl representative getting undercut. Wasn't happy with that, because her arguments totally made sense and they totally treated them as proof that she'd been ZOMG Compromised!!! So, yeah, hoping things will improve in weeks to come, wasn't impressed with this outing.
jenlev
Jan. 31st, 2006 03:59 am (UTC)
sorry about the recorder. ack.

good point about ba'al. him and his delicious outfit (i still think he bought the shirt at target before he left earth) are terrified spit-less of the orii. and i can see him bowing to practicalities and making any alliance he can think of. er, not before he tries to take over the universe though. ;)

and oh yes to what you said about the big not so secret at this point. i keep wondering if they're going to do something about that next season? and nodding to what you said about cameron going alone to the ha'tak.

as for david hewlett, oh my he was astounding. *g*

also disappointed that fisk was killed. i was looking forward to his impact on adama. and i keep waiting for gaius to actually...well....get caught.
thegrrrl2002
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:59 am (UTC)
I don’t really know what to call the outfit that he had on, but I thought he was workin’ it.

LOL! He was, wasn't he? It was definitely shout-out to the fabulous goauld outfits of the past. (I still miss Apophis). No matter what Ba'al is wearing, he looks marvelous. And hot. It's quite a talent, I tell you.

I also loved his "okay, so we got a little carried away with the whole 'god' thing". Damn it, I really wanted to believe his intentions were somewhat honorable.

Nitpick: why wasn’t Sam wearing a cap?

Actually, I was wondering why they weren't all wearing helmets. People shooting at you, wouldn't you be required to wear as much protective gear as possible? But I suppose it just doesn't film well. ::does the handwave of 'okay, whatever'::

I totally agree that AT was fun to watch in "Grace". I get the impression she really enjoys DH. And DH, while being extremely talented, also makes everyone around him look good. Not that AT is without talent, it's just that he doesn't steal scenes from people, even though he could. In my humble fangirl opinion, of course.

As for BSG, I was very disappointed in this ep. I was starting to really enjoy the show, too. This ep was a clunker.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )