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SciFi Friday: SG1, SGA (08-25-2006)

SG-1 10.07: Counterstrike

telepresence totally recognized Sam right away in her CUNNING HAT, but I didn’t. It took me until the next scene. Which I suppose means it really did work, as a disguise. You know, it’s totally true what people in the SCA (and for all I know, at RenFaires) say: what truly **makes** your garb is the headgear. You don’t look finished without it.

Adria: it’s a good thing she’s so pretty, because judging by that particular balcony scene, she has, like, ANTI-charisma. Not, I guess, that any of the Priors we have ever seen had charisma either. Hmm. Okay, so, that fits. It’s not like the Orii’s modus operandi is enticing followers with attractive and/or charismatic preachers, the Priors being Exhibit A for that. Adria therefore is a step up merely by virtue of her physical beauty. Got it.

In all honesty, I was disoriented for a moment when they got back to the ship and Daniel was consoling Vala and the whole “I’m relieved” thing – you know, because I did not for a moment think Adria had been gacked, and it didn’t occur to me that they would believe it, either. Huh! But yes, I agree that it was a really nice bit there from Daniel, putting aside all snark and everything to talk honestly to Vala. I liked Sha’re being brought up, and more, I liked the parallel that was drawn between Sha’re and Adria, which I don’t think was the **most** obvious parallel, and I admire it for that. I liked the nuances of it, and I simply liked them remembering show history like that. Hey! Daniel had a wife! It was a whole Big Thing! Yeah!

(It was a little jarring, however, to think that Vala has been around for this long and as obsessed with Daniel as she is, and yet have her not know how Sha’re died, including that it was Teal’c who shot her, or even much about her. One of the things about Vala is – and lots of folks have complained about this – she’s a wily survivor and she’s also a con woman. This means that for her, knowledge is power, and she should be used to exploiting as many resources as she can in order to get that knowledge. They would have been smarter if they had shown in bits and pieces that Vala has been making “friends” with a lot of the ordinary folks around the SGC – Walter, the lunch ladies, the nurses, whatever – and collecting both gossip and facts from them. Even if Vala were given free rein with the SGC’s records, and I can’t quite tell if she has been or not, the smart thing to do would be to consult other sources of information, to check against the “official” sources or even just to find out what those official sources wouldn’t contain. Official sources don't give you the "lay of the land", necessarily, at least not the whole picture. And, c’mon, you can’t tell me that there aren’t people on base who wouldn’t love to bend a newcomer’s ear with the gossipy version of the past 10 years, and the Great Tragic Love Story of Daniel and Sha’re makes a GREAT story to pass around.)

I spent this entire ep worrying that Bra’tac was going to buy it. And while I’m ecstatic that he didn’t, let me tell you, given this show’s track-record, I am STILL worried about it. I’m afraid that as I look at the show, he is the “logical” long-time cast member for them to off, if they want the drama of offing someone in the course of ending the series. Dammit.

Landry deciding to take this mission to Dakara himself was… weird. I’m sorry, I’m just still stuck on too many years of “the commander of the SGC does not go offworld unless there are extraordinary circumstances, and this didn’t seem THAT extraordinary to me. (There is of course a notable example of this from way back in early S2, but that I would almost excuse as muddy thinking on what was still a comparatively new show. They had to use the excuse of Jack being the only one who could operate Ancient tech super-well to get **him** offworld.) I get worried about who’s in charge of the SGC, in case of emergency. I just… don’t like it.

But they could have made me buy it better by referencing the fact that when dealing with the Jaffa, but especially when dealing with the Jaffa in a situation like this, Status Matters. Upon reflection, I can see why Landry couldn’t just send SG-9 (the “diplomatic team” – remember them? No, neither do the writers) – because the Jaffa leadership just won’t respect underlings the way they will respect another leader.

Jack used to be able to get away with this, **sort of**, even though he was an underling, because at least he was team leader, but more importantly, he had street cred. I’m sure a lot of Jaffa just considered Jack a Big Leader even before he became a general – that whole “I killed Ra, etc.…” thing. But any SG team leader who hasn’t personally accounted for the death of several false gods isn’t going to be able to sit at the table with Jaffa leadership, so, fine. I also got the feeling that Hammond was respected because Jack - who already had the street cred - as well as Teal'c respected him. (That being the case, I wonder where Landry is getting *his* cred from...)

However – letting the commander of the SGC jaunt offworld into a dicey situation and not sending an escort with him? Dumb. And the handwave they gave it wasn’t plausible, either. Because, culturally speaking, the Jaffa ought to **expect** leaders to come with entourages. Indeed, a leader’s status ought to be dependent on how many men he commands. The Jaffa should not have been “offended” if Landry had brought guards with him; they should have seen that as a natural extension of his status. Indeed, his coming alone and unarmed should have been points AGAINST him, making him look weak and unimportant.


Okay, here’s my problem with their deployment of the new five-person SG-1. If I had to pick one out of the five to send off by themselves to explore the “deserted” enemy ship? Ah, that’d be Teal’c. I thought it was extraordinarily stupid to let the person going off alone be Sam. Not that it wasn’t a nice nod towards Sam’s competence (if that’s what it was, instead of “the plot later requires this”). But even if it worked out all right, it wasn’t a smart tactical decision. Sam, when she gets to her objective, is going to stick her head into the guts of whatever she finds to try to figure it out. She cannot do THAT and watch her own back at the same time. Ergo, you send someone with her to do that for her. Duh.

That said – I was delighted later that sending Sam off alone was NOT a set-up for something dumb to happen to Sam. I give this ep enormous points for this alone: Sam didn’t get captured in a stupid way (geez, even Teal’c got punked!), AND she came and kicked ass and rescued the guys, by herself. That was pretty awesome, so thank you, episode, for not fulfilling my worst fears and instead surprising me.

“I didn’t know you could use one of those” – I hope Cam was joking deliberately, there, because it wasn’t like she actually used the Prior’s staff as anything but a Big Stick.

Now, more Adria. And, I’m sorry… I love Morena Baccarin, I really liked Inara… but I think that Adria is a complete pill. Maybe it’s that they’re shooting for her to be a “little girl trapped in an adult body”, but I’m not really **feeling** that. I’m just feeling like she’s a cliché. telepresence noted that MB is an actress of limited range, and the problem is that Adria is not really written for that range. The way I would put it is just… Adria is written boringly, MB doesn’t have much to work with there, and I’m really not sure there is any actress I can think of who could have pulled off that stuff. Ehn. It makes me feel bad for MB. It also makes me feel bad for us, the audience, because it means that Adria just isn’t all that much fun to watch, and we’re sort of stuck with her for a bit.

As expected, Landry is not that good as a diplomat or negotiator or whatever he is trying to be. Maybe I should cut him slack for being hampered by the writing. He just didn’t bring up a lot of good counter-arguments to Head Jaffa Guy. I wasn’t sure how much of the ineffectiveness was Landry in particular, and how much was M&M just not knowing how to write this political situation – not least because this is one of those “you’re doomed to fail, because that is in the dramatic cards” moments.

For a big Jaffa ep, neither Teal’c nor Bra’tac were as forefronted as they ought to have been. Bra’tac’s main function was to come grab the Tau’ri to help. But I think this is a problem they have had for a long time. We were discussing the fact that given Jaffa culture, Teal’c and Bra’tac ought to have a lot more stature than they do, and their voices should be a lot more respected. I grant you, the other Jaffa made a stab at this early on, and they were rebuffed. But Teal’c and Bra’tac just **saying** “no no, don’t revere us, don’t replace the old gods with us” was a nice gesture but it shouldn’t necessarily have WORKED.

Yet in a sense, I guess, this works too, because what it plays up is the fact that the Jaffa were split into inimicable factions for thousands of years, and you don’t just erase the tendency to factionalize overnight. The biggest strike against Teal’c and Bra’tac (besides the alliance with the Tau’ri) was always, I thought, that they were Apophis Jaffa, and thus the leaders of other Jaffa factions were always going to have a deeply-rooted instinct to oppose them.

On the one hand, I would have liked to see them leaving Bra’tac set up as “first among equals” on Dakara, and have Teal’c’s continued presence with the Tau’ri be the result of him and Bra’tac simply feeling that the Jaffa should have a “representative” there in this fight against the Orii. On the other hand… I guess that’s just too simplistic, and what they are doing now, although it is somewhat clumsy, politically, is also more realistic because it’s messy. It’s like a living example of “if you give people freedom, that’s great, but that means they get the freedom to make bad decisions and to be buttheads”. And it’s hypocritical of you to stand on the sidelines and say, “you’re doing it wrong!” when the point is simply that they’re doing something you don’t want them to do. The problem with democracy is that it’s the will of the people, and the people? Are often pretty stupid. Unfortunately.

Oh, but it’s not a problem any more… Dakara is gacked. Whoops!

Well, at least we don’t have to worry about that Phallic Doomsday McGuffin sitting there any more. Ba’al, for example, can’t get his hands on it now.

And I’ll tell you – I was never all THAT into Dakara, as such. It always felt to me like something they pulled out of their asses during S8 (“the never before mentioned Most Sacred Planet of All Jaffa!”), not something I was invested in. Me, I’m just glad that gacking Dakara wasn’t accompanied by gacking Bra’tac. In whom I am ENORMOUSLY invested. (*sends mental warnings to TPTB*)

Oh! And so “nice” of them to just drop in CASUALLY that Hebrida and Langara have fallen to the Orii! **DAMN**, people. For those who can’t remember: Hebrida is the planet from “Space Race”. (And it was never adequately explained why we didn't get a whole lot more from those allies, given they were way more advanced than us and not noticeably reluctant to share tech, or at least, to SELL it.) Langara is the new name for KELOWNA.

(This occasioned a really stupid moment in the car on the way home, when I was saying to Telepresence, “oh, but we knew about Kelowna. Because Jonas came and told us that a Prior had come there and…” And he was looking at me like I was NUTS. For good reason. Because I realized a moment later that it hadn’t actually happened on the show, and I had just read it in a fanfic the other week. Eeeeeg! Honestly, I do not usually do that, mix up fanfic with canon. I swear! All the more reason for me to go and write that big piece of feedback to moonshayde for “A Priori”, which really was **that good** that it wormed its way into my brain and made me think that something had actually happened in canon that hadn’t. Yikes.)

Vala’s little speech at the end, and Daniel’s response to it, irked. Because dammit, Vala is a mother AND A KICKASS WARRIOR. Remember? **grrrrr**.

So, in essence: Adria: I’m underwhelmed. Especially if you are supposed to be the new face given to the faceless Big Bad. Jaffa: you’re being asshats. But I guess you’re free to choose to do that, so… um, yay, freedom. Daniel: I’m sorry, I’m fickle. I’m back to not liking your new glasses, again.

Promo: the crew? WHAT “crew”?

SGA 3.07: Common Ground

I have a feeling that this ep may have been made or broken for you by that bit in the middle where the Wraith guy was all, “You are the strongest human I have ever fed on”. I have a feeling that either you were in rapport with the ep and you took it in stride, or else you adore Shep and it made you squee… or it sent you into gales of laughter because oh my god, that line is kind of cheesy, as is the concept behind it. I’m afraid to say, we belonged to the third group. my_tallest had to leave the room. I can roll with the cheesy, actually, once I accept it, but that sort of sunk my ability to take the ep fully seriously.

I also, unfortunately, spent a fair bit of the ep in some anxiety over what method they would use to fix John in the end, especially when it became clear that they were indeed going there, and showing him partially “aged”. Obviously, some kind of solution was necessary, so the anxiety was just for whether their solution would be one that really made me roll my eyes, or what.

Which is not to say that I think the whole ep was a dead loss. Even for me – who’s not deeply invested in the team, or of course in any of the various ‘ships – I thought that the bonding and concern of the characters for each other was the best part of it. That really came through, and I liked that. The difficulty of the situation really came through, too. And I bought Elizabeth as a tough leader, which is always nice.

(One question, though: why, at this point, haven’t they learned not to let Ronon be in the room, **unless** they want to use him for intimidation? It should be abundantly obvious to them at this point that if emotions are running high, and you let him be there, then you are pretty much going to get what you got in that scene in the Gateroom when Ladon came through. At that point, though, it just wasn’t helpful. Ronon’s bad impulse-control and his anger could be useful tools, but you have to know when to use them. Getting to see, in that scene, Ronon’s anger coming out of his great concern for John was not, for me, an adequate trade-off with the basic question of why someone in charge, like Elizabeth, didn’t see that problem coming and forbid him to be there in the first place. And no, I didn't get the sense that it was a calculated move on her part and she wanted him to be there to be angry at Ladon.)

Apart from anything else – such as, it turning out that his fellow prisoner was a Wraith, and boy didn’t it take a long time for John to figure THAT wrinkle out – John’s incuriosity about the other guy in the jail with him was… kinda weird. Certainly, it set up the whole “the enemy of my enemy” scenario that this ep was based on. But before John knew that, from a tactical standpoint – you know, it’s the oldest trick in the book, to put a ringer into the cell next to your prisoner, in order to mess with his head in various ways. John was very incautious, there… including failing to try to go see what his cell-buddy looked like.

I guess we’re supposed to figure that Kolya (nice to see him back, btw – Robert Davi always gives good Villain) was assuming that the Atlantis folks were just week, or that Elizabeth was, and that’s why his little hostage-exchange thing would work. Or else maybe we’re supposed to get out of that that it would have worked in reverse, on the Genii? See, that, I’m not buying. They struck me more as the “go ahead and kill your hostage, we’re not giving up our prisoner” type in prior encounters. In which case, the thing is that unless you totally disrespect your enemy (which as I say is possible here), your first rule of using tactics like this should be to think about whether it would work if you were on the other end of it. I can well believe that Kolya wouldn’t ever have yielded no matter who they held hostage, so… as I say, I guess that is supposed to be our indication of how little he thinks of Elizabeth as a leader, that she would bow to pressure that he wouldn’t.

I’m interested by the fact that this season, Carson is all over his hinkiness about going offworld, and now he’s all P90-toting and everything. And yet… since he is the CMO, I’m not real sure what he’s DOING, going offworld. It’s like the other week, when Elizabeth went offworld, and it was like, okay, good, Elizabeth doing her job (even if she went all that way just to do it so poorly), but on the other hand – um, shades of Original Trek and complaints about putting the entire command team in one basket, and all. Carson, don’t you have people who could go along on these missions FOR you? Shouldn’t you look into that?

There was a moment in that scene where the team is about to go on its mission, and Rodney is striding along behind them doing a passable imitation of John or any other military commander, and we were all, WAIT A MINUTE… but thankfully they pulled it out, with Carson asking him what the hell he was doing. Thank you.

It was nice to see Ronon kind of leading that strike-team, too. That felt like a shout-out back to “Sateda”, where it became clear (to me) that Ronon really is his world’s equivalent of Special Forces (even if he’s a soldier rather than a leader himself), and yes, we should see him being that more often.

However, it irked that, between John and Ronon, Teyla’s warrior status feels entirely marginalized. Entirely. It **feels** like Teyla’s function now is just to be cautious and wise and sometimes big-sisterly; not to be a leader (god forbid), or to kick ass herself. Teyla needs to hit something with sticks. Soon. That’s all we’re saying.

To be honest, I didn’t really get what the point was behind Rodney freaking out with the P90 over the mouse. It’s not that I’m super-offended by them letting Rodney be the comic relief in combat yet again, just… it didn’t go anywhere or accomplish anything to move that scene forward, and that on top if it being comic relief kind of bugged me.

I liked that leadership moment with Elizabeth, where she spelled out very firmly why they weren’t considering handing Ladon over. Because he’s a head of state, which trumps a lot else even if they personally don’t LIKE him. Because we have a policy of not giving into terrorist demands anyway. Yes, thank you. If they had showed Elizabeth wavering on that point even a little bit, I would have been pissed off.

And we get to the “you’re the strongest human I’ve ever fed on” moment, and… sorry. I’m gone.

Since then I’ve been trying to examine my reaction to that, and put it in context alongside reactions to similar things.

Here’s the thing. It feels like a big Mary Sue moment – if it’s possible, that is, to Mary-Sue a main character. Maybe that’s not the right term for it, then. I don’t know. But, I get itchy when we’ve got this guy who’s the Hero anyway, and then the script is trying to beat me over the head TELLING me how cool and extra-special he is. Look, don’t TELL me. Show me, and I’ll decide on my own, from watching him, whether I think he’s cool. But you telling me that he’s s00per special and cool? Isn’t going to do it.

Trying to be fair, I am looking back on my reactions to this sort of thing when/if they have done it with SG-1. Because that’s my bias. I’m not deeply invested in the SGA folks, particularly John (who kinda annoys me). So what happens if you do essentially the same thing to… Jack? Do I accept it, because I’m more in tune with the sentiment, or what?

The thing is… I don’t **think** so, but if anyone can come up with an example that calls bullshit on my reactions, I’m willing to consider it. I just don’t recall the bad guys on SG-1 spending that much time feeling the need to observe, **sincerely**, that any given member of SG-1 was super-special in comparison with other humans (except for reasons explained below). And if they did, not only do I think I would have rolled my eyes, but I think the **characters themselves** would have rolled their eyes.

The SG-1 folks were special, in a sense, from the POV of the bad guys they encountered. They were unusually defiant and free-thinking and persistent. But that was because they were the product of a different culture/world. I always thought the implication was that most Tau'ri (the good ones, anyway) would be like that. Later, of course, various members of SG-1 became notably special, due to various things happening to them along the way, or things they’d done. But those were extras, add-ons, and it was only right that their specialness be acknowledged; especially since acquiring those special traits often came with notable drawbacks as well.

As luck would have it, the ep of SG-1 this week provided a counter-example to this bit – when Adria notes that Daniel’s mind is unusually strong, and then she says “we’ve got plans for **you**”. Why didn’t this bug me? Because of the context. I took it to be specific references to Daniel’s experiences as an ascended being. His having that experience and goodness-knows what remnants of it still inside his brain (see: struggle with RepliCarter in “Reckoning”) does in fact make him Special, and it’s a reasonable suggestion for why Adria would perceive his mind and his ability to resist mentally as being different from that of your run of the mill human. Put it this way: I think that Sam, Cam, and Teal’c are strong people, too. But I don’t think they would have occasioned that observation. Daniel’s post-ascended status is important to this specific conflict, and since it would be nonsensical if it **wasn’t** mentioned, I’m okay with statements like that.

My problem is that… John is special, because of the ATA gene. I totally accept the idea that he has that to an unusually strong degree. That, to me, is just one of those character facts. (I truly **want** to see a comparison between his strength with it, and Jack’s; I’m hoping we get some sort of reference to that, even just in Atlantis’s reaction to Jack or vice versa.)

But this “you’re stronger than any other human I’ve fed on” wasn’t connected to that. It’s just a statement about John Sheppard’s personal qualities. Not about a special feature that he possesses by coincidence (the ATA gene). Not about qualities that come from his cultural background, I don’t think (like noting that the Tau’ri are feistier than your average downtrodden goa’uld-enslaved human population). Not even qualities that come from his training as a soldier, I didn't think. If it was meant to be in a context like that (or else something like, well, this particular Wraith has always just fed on particularly wimpy humans), I wasn’t getting that.

As I said, I guess I just don’t want to be **told outright** how extraordinary and cool the hero is. I want to be shown it, but have it be left up to me to see it. Saying it outright like that just feels like the script is trying too hard. It feels like something a 14-year-old roleplayer would feel the need to say about his character. It’s too blunt. It’s too much of an anvil.

For me, anyway. If it worked for you, more power to you.

During the climactic scene, my_tallest actually called the whole, “the Wraith is going to reverse-suck the life back into him”. At this point in the game, that seems like pulling a new Wraith wrinkle completely out of their asses, but… nah, I’ll give it to them, mainly because it was a far less clunky solution than having John either just recover on his own, or having Carson pull something “medical” out of his own butt. They set it up with that bit where the Wraith (curious that he remained nameless the whole time) sucked the life out of two guys. Although, the bit where we see the Wraith hunching over Old Dessicated John, and then we cut away to everyone else’s reactions, and then Normal John just pops up into frame, all better – yeah, that staging was a little goofy.

But overall, really, it’s no more conceptually dodgy than the idea of Wraith “sucking life-force” out of people with their hands, to begin with. And given the nature of the Wraith, it’s not that surprising that it is a feature we simply have not seen before. (Though I wonder if it is the sort of thing that Michael would have told them about, or shown them, eventually.)

(Is the idea of Wraith putting lifeforce BACK into someone an idea that anyone had actually done in SGA fanfic? I’d be interested to know, or whether this is the show truly catching fandom by surprise with expanded canon concepts.)

Nice of them, of course, to give the Wraith distinctive facial tattoos, so that we have a hope in hell of recognizing him again. To be frank, given these people’s track records, I’m a little surprised they didn’t try that Cure thing on him. Just to see if maybe it would take, on a Wraith who himself was unusually moderate and altruistic already. I know that John had to keep his bargain, and all, but I was interested that nobody noted that letting the Wraith go means turning him loose to feed on a lot of innocent people… I guess we’re supposed to take that as read.

So Nameless Wraith could come back. And Kolya of course could come back, and I’m glad about that, because I like him as a villain. And John is “younger than ever”, although I hope they don’t mean us to take that literally, because none of the cast is getting any younger and they’re just going to have to deal with that, as SG-1 did. Age gracefully, folks.


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC)
heh, i missed sam in the hat too. but in my defence, i was distracted by daniel. ;)

and i did love the conversations between daniel and vala, as well as the pattern of sha're and adria. i wondered about vala already knew the story, but wanted to hear more from daniel in regards to what it *meant* to him?

i'm also worried about bra'tac. gah, they just need to restrain themselves and let him go fishing with the rest of them at the end of the series.

good points about landry going off world. and yay that nothing awful happened with sam going off alone. i as worried about that too. and i still think teal'c's been teaching sam to use staff weapons and anything similar to them in their spare time. *bg*

bwahaha! "Phallic Doomsday McGuffin" :::faints laughing::::

and it's nice to know that other people have that fanfic confusion of realities too. there are days when the good stories are so visible in my mind as i watch an episode that....well..... hee!

oh, and crew? space pirate crew that is.

as for sga, heh, ronon he loometh very well. and kolya (ack, i can never spell his name) deserves the kind of ending kinsey got. er, meaning he does evil and bad very well.

you've made intriguing and vital points about both the shows and the characters. i'm especially struck by your reference to daniel and replicarter and how the context of that and ascension shifts my response to adrias comment.

the layers of a show's history drives my ability to handwave a scene or situation. and you've made me wonder how much of that reflects my emotional investment in the characters rather than the story. huh, not sure and too sleepy to figure it out. ;)
Aug. 27th, 2006 04:40 pm (UTC)
*nods* That's why I'm wary of my own reactions to it, as well. Also, as I remarked in some other discussion earlier this summer, my ability to consider meta effectively is becoming hampered by my command of recent canon (or lack of command, that should be).

So I should probably emphasize more that I really suspicious of my own ability to analyze SGA effectively. I just don't have the kind of command of that show's canon that's necessary -- viewing it all once isn't "command" of canon, at all. My reactions to it are therefore only useful in the sense that they *are* the reactions of an uninvested viewer.

Telepresence and I were discussing a similar phenomenon in the car yesterday, in reference to the whole Jaffa political thing. I was talking about how I was "reading" what was happening with the Jaffa Nation -- but how much of that was me doing the bulk of the work for the writers by filling in my own theories in and around what they'd *actually written*. His point was that what they've actually written is pretty clumsy and poorly conveyed and so on. The show itself is not doing a great job with the Jaffa Nation. I, as a fan, am giving it layers of richness that it doesn't actually have on-screen.

So, similarly, I wonder if it's an actual problem with SGA, that it requires too much for the invested audience to "fill in" like that... Or, on the other hand, whether it's just that I'm a careless viewer, because I'm not keeping as close track of all of those details. Hmm.
(no subject) - jenlev - Aug. 27th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
OMG, your posts are so long and thoughtful and complex it makes my brain hurt. I haven't posted my thoughts yet. I suspect they shall not even graze the surface.

That said, I will think upon your post and get back to you.

Oh, and the Kelowna bit? Ha, when that part came on the air, I had to laugh.
Aug. 27th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
*hugs you* Dude! You broke my brain! But in a good way. :)

(I did it *again* today when I was reading over others' comments, and someone said they thought it would be effective if the show dropped in more hints that worlds we knew about from farther back in the show's history had fallen to the Orii -- and I swear to god, the first thought that popped into my head was, "Well, we already know about the Land of Light, because... DAMMIT! I've done it again...")
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
The only thing that I could bring up that corrolates to the "you're so special" moment for SG1 was how the Asgard were all "you're a leap forward in human evolution, Jack O'Neill". Eventually that ended up being explained as the ATA gene (I think) but at the time it seemed more like "ooo, special". But that may be different than what you're talking about.

I also wouldn't be surprised if the "strength" thing had more to do with the Iratus bug stuff- I didn't take the comment as a "strength of personality/will" thing as much as I did "funky genetics".

Aug. 27th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
Eventually that ended up being explained as the ATA gene (I think) but at the time it seemed more like "ooo, special". But that may be different than what you're talking about.

Hmm. Yeah, that's a good example. But it didn't work that way for me, because I didn't see those earlier seasons of SG-1 "live", as they were unfolding. By the time I came into the show, those were established history, so I was evaluating them differently. Although at that time I think we still hadn't found out about the ATA gene thing.

Thor's crush on Jack has always been weird, though, you're right. The thing is that when I first saw "The Fifth Race", and that line came up, I never for a moment thought that the Asgard meant that Jack, specifically, was unique amongst humans. I mean, that his brain and his brain alone was this "evolutionary leap forward". I immediately figured that he was perhaps *representative* of a change in Earth's population and perhaps he was just the first they'd encountered and received proof of.

And I guess the way they played "Fair Game", I figured that the point was that we were supposed to think it was really odd that Thor had singled Jack out. That it was supposed to be kind of mysterious, really. And that other characters were looking at Jack and kind of frowning and going, "Um, why?" as well. Plus, that it had mostly to do with the previous set-up of "we see something in your brain's physiology that's different, and we have empirical proof of it".

But that's also a case where it's kind of like... almost a factual point. Pointing at the character and saying, "hey, look, his brain's physiology is different in some weird way". And as I say, emphasizing John's special-ness with regard to that doesn't bug me. I mean... you know, if the Wraith's line had been more like "your brain is different" or something like that... something that felt more like it was tied into something physical rather than metaphysical. I just got this vibe off the line that it was supposed to be a metaphysical compliment, rather than a dispassionate evaluation.

By the time SG-1 got around to having Thor naming a *ship* after Jack... things were just beyond weird, at that point, and again, that was kind of the vibe I got off it. Including them kind of playing it for laughs, though gently.

As I said, one of the things that bugged us about that moment was that it seemed to be played as a sincere "ooh, you're special" thing from the Wraith and there was no post-modern undercutting of it. (Hmm. Would that also be an example of "hanging a lantern"? If you have someone like the Wraith make a statement that could be kind of worshippy and cheesy, but then you -- meaning the writers -- show by the characters' reactions to it that you know that it's kind of cheesy? That was always one of the things that I appreciated about SG-1 -- the bad guy might come out with some cliche, but the protagonists would react the way the audience might react.)

If the line was indeed just meant to refer to the Wraith encountering something different in John's brain-chemistry or genetics or whatever -- great, and that would make sense. It was just that that wasn't the way the line came across, to us.
Aug. 26th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
Yay, thinky!

Adria was anti-charismatic on the balcony. I'm thinking MB doesn't have stage experience? Because there's a certain amount of projection you have to do to a crowd before you (even if you are just talking to yourself on a TV soundstage...). But I like your "Priors aren't charismatic" point. Heh, I'll take that handwave. She didn't bother me in the one-on-one scenes, though. I thought she did a credible job of being naive and closed-minded in both the sense of being childlike and being a fundamentalist, and creepy-scary with her power to enforce her limited worldview.

I was also surprised that Vala hadn't heard the story of Daniel and Sha're before, as that is one of the defining stories of the SGC and SG-1. But I loved the way CB sold the empathetic "oh my god, that explains so much" look. ♥

ITA agree on Landry going offworld alone. Also, kinda, on him not having the street cred the original SG-1 has, but then new Jaffa leader doesn't either. How many ex-First Primes are there around? Just Teal'c and Bra'tac? We don't know any of these other bozos from battles in the trenches, pre-freedom.

I wasn’t sure how much of the ineffectiveness was Landry in particular, and how much was M&M just not knowing how to write this political situation – not least because this is one of those “you’re doomed to fail, because that is in the dramatic cards” moments.

*sigh* This happens A LOT (see Disclosure, worst ep EVER). Obvious arguments aren't made, obvious actions aren't taken, stupid things ARE done -- all to advance the plot.

On the other hand… I guess that’s just too simplistic, and what they are doing now, although it is somewhat clumsy, politically, is also more realistic because it’s messy.

I was thinking the exact same thing. Yes, we want them to be sensible, but good fiction comes out of recognizing the impossible holes people dig themselves into because they aren't sensible.

*cries for Hebrida* Screw Langara (hope Jonas is hiding out somewhere, though).

A few people have said they didn't like Daniel's "mother" comment. Huh. I totally took it as giving huge credit to mothers, as opposed to denigrating Vala. Plus, this episode was more about her being a mother, as opposed to being a warrior -- in the physical sense, anyway -- and he had a front row seat for all of it. (Favorite line: "Well as your mother, I'm putting my foot down. You're too young to have your own army!" Hee!)

(cut to two comments for length)
Aug. 27th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking MB doesn't have stage experience?

Ooh! Very good point! I don't know whether she does or not, but you're right that whether an actor is trained for film, tv, or stage, can make a difference to how they come across on screen. (It was remarked early on in S9 that you could kind of tell that Beau Bridges is a film guy.)

How many ex-First Primes are there around? Just Teal'c and Bra'tac? We don't know any of these other bozos from battles in the trenches, pre-freedom.

*sigh* Yes. Although, I think part of the problem is that pre-freedom, most of the time when we saw Jaffa First Primes, it was because we were fighting them, and then we killed them.

But overall, the show has always had trouble with the casting of its Jaffa opposition. Even pre-freedom, they very, very seldom cast a First Prime who FELT like a creditable First Prime, in comparison with Teal'c and Bra'tac. Always an interesting dilemma -- I mean, that they struck home-runs with both of those two, so completely that the simple screen-presence of those two characters overwhelmed almost everyone else the tried to cast opposite them.

You're right, though -- the entire complexion of the Jaffa Nation politics would be vastly different if they had personified more of the factions with familiar faces from the past, using actors who had established an effective sense of presence in their role.

It is a damned shame, for example, that Yu's First Prime (whom everyone loves) was not nabbed as a recurring character to play a part in this ongoing Jaffa Nation storyline.

Instead, they wind up pulling in a series of new guest actors, and not only have we no history with them (and they often aren't First Primes anyway), but, their effectiveness is undercut because we spend part of the time looking at them and thinking about how we aren't convinced by them as Jaffa, let alone Jaffa leaders. I'm talking about the guy Landry was arguing with this ep. I just never really bought him as a Jaffa leader. *shrug*

Daniel's "mother" comment wouldn't bug me if I felt like the WRITERS (and therefore the characters) had never forgotten that Vala is a kickass warrior. The woman who, after all, singlehandedly took over the Prometheus. It's just that, the way they usually write her now and the way they *treat* her, it feels like they have forgotten that. I think I would have been fine with it if Daniel's remark hadn't been "close enough" (grrr!) but more just, "She's a mother *as well*" or something along those lines.
(no subject) - moonshayde - Aug. 27th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 26th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Wow, I guess the "strongest human" comment did influence your view of SG:A. It didn't bother me at all (well, it was slightly clumsy), since they've established that carriers of the ATA gene, especially natural carriers, do have an especially strong, desirable "taste" for the Wraith. There are few humans left in the Pegasus Galaxy with the ATA gene --John's very likely the first this Wraith has ever come across. It made sense to me, anyway.

I also didn't twig too much on John not knowing his fellow prisoner's identity. He did try to get a look at him during the first conversation, but the guy was in a shadowed corner and sounded too weak to move. And during their second conversation, John was pretty much too weak to move. He shouldn't have been incautious about talking about trying to escape with a stranger, though -- you're right.

Yeah, Elizabeth leaving Ronon free to menace their guest was pretty lax, especially after his first go at him. But good for her for standing strong against terrorist threats.

I loved Rodney being Mr. Macho Lead the Charge, and also Rodney Mouse Killer. But then I adore Rodney, so... The mouse thing, I think, was meant to punch up the fact that they had one good lead, they investigated from top to bottom, and they found one lousy caretaker and a mouse. No John. *cue frustration* *add a dollop of Rodney cuteness*

As far as SG-1 Mary Sue-ness, the only example I can think of is Thor's Jack worship. It was Daniel and Sam who figured out the Asgard test in Cimmeria, but Jack was the one who got the ship named after him. (And then Sam went to their homeworld and saved it, and the next ship was named the Daniel Jackson.) Thor's faith in Jack was proven in later interactions, but to start with Jack didn't do as much as his team.

(I truly **want** to see a comparison between his strength with it, and Jack’s; I’m hoping we get some sort of reference to that, even just in Atlantis’s reaction to Jack or vice versa.)

There was one cute fic in which Jack came to visit, and Atlantis automatically responded with all sorts of lighting up and doing tricks things that even John had taken time to learn, and he feels a bit jealous. I would so love to see something like that when Jack comes later this season. :-D

I liked the Wraith putting lifeforce back in idea. Wraith worshippers are seriously creepy, but now there's a smidgeon more justification for why they might do it.

I look forward to seeing both this Wraith and Kolya again.

Two good eps, I thought! Atlantis, especially, felt like a good fanfic to me -- a compliment, as I think the fanfic in Atlantis is generally better than the canon. ;-)
Aug. 27th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
As I'm sort of musing above in response to other comments -- I'm willing to admit that part of the problem may simply be my own. For me, too, part of the problem may simply have been the method of delivery and the way it was put. It *felt* too much to me like a metaphysical thing, rather than something referring to a basic physiological difference. A tweaking of the line could have saved it, and turned it from something that felt kind of twinkie to us, to something that was a reminder of continuity.

Part of my problem, too -- which I didn't get into above -- is just a big problem with the whole Wraith concept, in the first place, and I've had this problem from the beginning of SGA. I don't like the Wraith as the show's Big Bad simply because "spaaaaaaaaaaace vampires!" feels really twinkie to me. As soon as you start talking about "sucking the life-force out", we've wandered into a realm of fantasy that is going to have a hard time selling itself as "science fiction" to me. (Especially given the visual effects they use for it. I'm sorry -- making the body look aged without that being what actually happens? Er, maybe, although that is very dodgy, medically speaking. But please explain to me the "reality" of already-grown hair turning grey/white... and then suddenly going back to being all black and perfect two seconds later?)

(And yes, SG-1 has a notable S1 example of something similar to this -- but everyone pretty much agrees it's a horrible ep, so...)

So SGA always has an uphill battle in getting me to take the Wraith concept seriously as a scientific premise. This is undoubtedly why my brain goes right to the metaphysical place when a Wraith starts talking about "you're so *strong*".

I honestly would have forgiven all if the line had been tweaked to remind us that the Wraith was referring to the ATA gene tastiness. (Because I, and the guys who watch it with me, are casual viewers, rather than fannish viewers with a high level of command of SGA established canon. So yes, we do require reminding. Not to mention? With the SG shows, and I am including both of them here -- I need reminding on a regular basis that the WRITERS remember *their own canon*.)

See my above longer response to drlense -- the Thor worship of Jack is a good example. But then I always thought that was damned weird, and I sort of got the feeling in the show that everyone there thought it was weird as well. Not, "well, of course Thor loves Jack, because everybody loves Jack, 'cause he's so kewl", but, "um... Jack, why does Thor have such a hard-on for you?" Jack: "Damned if I know." (And then you can decide between whether it's because Jack really is kind of cool... or simply because the Asgard like his spicy brains, i.e. because he is simply the first human they met with the whole ATA-gene brain configuration thing that they had empirical proof of.)

I think that fic you're thinking of is Icarusancalion's "Colony Atlantis". So much love for that fic. :) And yes, I totally want to see something like that. I don't need them to determine for us once and for all which of the two men is "stronger" when it comes to the Ancient tech. I'm happy with it being a tie, and even happier with it just being something unknown. But, Atlantis should react to Jack, period. And I hope the writers take advantage of that in some fun or interesting way.

Wraith worshippers are seriously creepy, but now there's a smidgeon more justification for why they might do it.

Excellent point. So that's another good reason for them to have done it. Because prior to this we were trying to figure out why the hell anyone would want to worship the Wraith. And seriously, except inasmuch as the *entire concept* of "spaaaaace vampires" makes me roll my eyes, I *don't* have a problem with this as their dramatic solution to that situation. I think it does fit in a number of ways. And it ain't like there weren't things about the goa'uld and symbiotes and that kind of stuff that SG-1 didn't find out about *years* down the line.
(no subject) - green_grrl - Aug. 27th, 2006 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 26th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
I thought the exact same thing about Landry going off-world to see the Jaffa. They would have *expected* him to bring a few marines as bodyguards. He would have been expected to have an entourage. I'm not sure how that would have shown distrust since nearly all of the big Jaffa leaders we've seen so far have had entourages of underlings as well. But yeah. Because the plot needed it to happen that way, I guess.

While we've seen Jack and Hammond of Texas earning the respect of the Jaffa, we're simply having to assume the same thing of Landry. But seeing him sort of waltz in there like Jack and be taken seriously and not strung up by his toes was a little, eh, incredible. The Jaffa are really not used to free-thinking, as you said. They won't be going on Spring Break or creating punk rock anytime soon. They aren't even ready to all wear different clothes yet. So to them, SG-1, and O'Neill in particular (seeing the System Lord's temper tantrums over him) were sort of legendary, but Landry? Hmm. But like you also said, maybe it's the power of association.

I've been a bit thoughtful on how they're handling the entire free Jaffa nation anyway. It's odd because they seemed to start out with a relatively peaceful and organized structure. Robes instead of armor and a round table with delegates who were appointed to represent their Jaffa factions. Any kerfluffles were sort of quelled with reason. Which... actually didn't strike quite true to me. Considering the Jaffa were coming off of thousands of years of slavery and mind control I would have expected it to take a while to reach that peaceful plateau.

And now there's a bit more in-fighting and bad decisions and lack of control, and I'm not really sure of the true state of the Jaffa nation anymore. (maybe that's the point?) Or where they're going with it. Maybe this is par for the course though, because the Jaffa need to be bad shots and a bit dumb and easily led, or else the show ends with the death of our heroes. Hm.
Aug. 27th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
If Landry had taken more people with him, I guess that would have made it harder for all of them to escape the destruction at the end. But yeah, as a reason, that makes me go :P.

(It would be a lot more INTERESTING if he'd taken a Marine escort, and LOST some of them in the scramble to get out. But then, you know, Landry would be responsible for having gone on that mission and lost them... and the show is just not prepared to show those consequences.)

And I just don't believe that Landry *does* have cred with them, is my problem. Nor does Mitchell. They just haven't DONE anything tangible. Neither had Hammond, mind you, but then Hammond didn't try to go offworld and talk to Jaffa leadership, either.

Yeah. Telepresence and I had a long discussion about ways the Jaffa Nation thing SHOULD be going, but aren't. It's possible to fanwank the early stages of them all trying to put a veneer of cooperation on the concept of unity... and say that this is the inevitable falling-apart that happens because, I'm sorry, you don't take a people (who aren't "a" people but rather a loose coalition of members of the same race who have been politically separate peoples for their entire history) who have been enslaved for that long, give them freedom, and then have them get it right within a year. Um, no.

The whole "the Jaffa are one people" thing is illusory anyway. They're a race. But, you know -- so are Caucasians. Yet our racial similarity has STILL failed to entirely stop us from warring with each other. We hardly have anything that can be called "racial unity" on this planet -- not amongst Caucasians, not amongst Asians, not amongst Africans. Nevermind species unity. So why the hell would we think that we can take a Jaffa race/species that has up until recently been existing in a political state that looks sort of like Earth circa the 17th century... and expect them within two years to achieve what our planet has failed to achieve in 400? Eh? Pfft.
(no subject) - surreallis - Aug. 27th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 27th, 2006 02:38 am (UTC)
OMG, I hadn't catch the Kelowna slip! I hope it doesn't mean Jonas is dead!! Maybe he is setting resistance underground there. It's possible!

They should totally make an episode that recall old worlds and which have fallen. It could be fascinating to revisit all those worlds we have forgotten (at least, I have).
Aug. 27th, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC)
Honestly, with an offhand reference like that -- I truly hope that isn't where they leave it! Hebrida, I don't care so much about, although it's very sad that it's gone because it did have potention. But Kelowna? *Damn*. It occupies a much bigger place in SG-1 mythology, plus, as you say, there's Jonas. Whom we haven't forgotten, PTB! No, we haven't!

I really hope we get some follow-up on that.

For one thing, I'm unsure whether "fallen to" means "knuckled under/was suckered and now worships the Orii", or instead, "told them to fuck off, and the Orii stomped on them".

What I find interesting about this -- and I'm kind of afraid that it was a throwaway by M&M, that they didn't actually give it that much thought (I know, I don't give them much credit, do I?) -- is that Hebrida and Kelowna/Langara were not, say, the Land of Light. By which I mean (and I do mean this entirely condescendingly), they were "modern" societies, not "simple" ones.

By the common wisdom (which I question, but that's a different discussion), you might think that one of the more primitive former-Goa'uld worlds, like the Land of Light, would be more ripe for Orii conversion. Whereas, I think there'd be this tendenc to assume that modern/advanced-looking societies, *like our own*, are perhaps a mixture of religiosity and post-modern secularism.

I guess the reason I'm thinking about this is that all of the Orii-worshipping worlds we have been shown so far look like RenFaire planets with people at a pre-modern (where "modern" is defined by our society) state of cultural development. But Langara looks like us in about the 1940s, and Hebrida looks like us in, perhaps, 2100 or 2200.

Even just in offhanded mention, they are (I think?) the first two planets to have fallen that weren't at the developmental level of "RenFaire World".

So again, I'd find it really interesting to know whether "fallen to" means "worshipping now" or "destroyed by".
(no subject) - moonshayde - Aug. 27th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 27th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
In all honesty, I was disoriented for a moment when they got back to the ship and Daniel was consoling Vala and the whole “I’m relieved” thing – you know, because I did not for a moment think Adria had been gacked, and it didn’t occur to me that they would believe it, either.

Glad that wasn't just me. I went through the beginning of this scene wondering what the hell Vala was relieved about.

However – letting the commander of the SGC jaunt offworld into a dicey situation and not sending an escort with him? Dumb.

Very dumb. For exactly the reasons you stated. They should have picked out a squad of the biggest, meanest looking Marines, told them to arm themselves -- resulting in more weapons than any sane person carries -- and had them challenge the Jaffa to a scowling match on the other side of the gate.

I wasn't worried about Bra'tac though. Not at episode 07 -- around 18 or 19, then I'll worry.
Aug. 28th, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
I loved your review on both eps. I guess one always looks to compare their reactions to that of other fans, but you had some of the exact same thoughts I had, so, yay!

I was totally squeeing during both episodes anyway, though.

Random comment about the tattoos: When they 'humanize' the Wraith, they don't keep the tats. Why? Isn't it ink? Does it 'peel' with their ultra-green wraith skin? *inquiring minds want to know*

also, about this: (Is the idea of Wraith putting lifeforce BACK into someone an idea that anyone had actually done in SGA fanfic? I’d be interested to know, or whether this is the show truly catching fandom by surprise with expanded canon concepts.)
I don't know if they stole it from fanfic (I would be so-NOT-surprised if that had been the case), but neery wrote a fic a while bac which totally called on this whole 'giving-life-back' thing. It was also one of my favourite fics ever.

I'm so freaking pleased, though, that fandom is finally coming around to a point of view that I've had since season one, which is, yeah, the Wraith might be bad guys because they feed on sentient beings and also use their power and technology so said beings don't defend themselves (which for me is why they are evil) but hey! they are not mindless drones, and they do need to feed to survive.
I always hated how the 'humans' in the show, that are supposed to be better in some moral sense than their enemies (if only because they are our heroes) went all gun-ho and Terminator-like on them. Finally they have begun showing the other side of the coin, the fact that they also are intelligent, sensitive beings.
In the end it's always going to come down to and us vs. them, and yeah, they need to survive but they aren't trying anything else either, but I love that we might begin to see some other moral implications and basically mind-fucking before then.
so yay for 3x07 and 10x07.
Aug. 28th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
Sorry to be OT, but do we know what Ronon's tattoo means? Has anyone asked the actor or the writers? I am curious. It's also quite pretty.
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Sep. 2nd, 2006 05:14 am (UTC)
For those who can’t remember: Hebrida is the planet from “Space Race”. (And it was never adequately explained why we didn't get a whole lot more from those allies, given they were way more advanced than us and not noticeably reluctant to share tech, or at least, to SELL it.) Langara is the new name for KELOWNA.

I did not remember this so thanks for the refresher.
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