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SciFi Friday: SG1, SGA (09-22-2006)

I, um... had a lot to say about these mid-season finales. "tl;dr" seems to be my middle name (what a surprise).

SG-1 10.10: The Quest, Part 1

The teaser kind of brings the love right from the start, doesn’t it? I’m referring to permutations of teaminess and… hints of other things, of course.

Cam and Teal’c come to see if Daniel wants to go out for Chinese with them, which of course he doesn’t. Cam is ready to take this at face value and leave Daniel to it – so Teal’c’s low-placed blocking hand is great in several ways. First, just because I love seeing Teal’c be the Token Responsible Adult. Second, because aside from it being a cute potential Cam/Teal’c moment (for once, I would like to point out, Teal’c is not the afterthought, the third or fourth wheel invited along out to dinner; **Daniel** is the third wheel being invited along after Cam and Teal’c have decided on their plans) – it’s also a nice little demonstration of how Teal’c still knows and reads Daniel better than Cam does. Teal’c knew not to take Daniel’s light snark at face value, he knew there was more to be said and heard there, if you only fade Daniel with another prompt. And so it was.

I’m still interested by the fact that Cam continues to call Daniel “Jackson”. I’ve gone back to check. In their first scene together they **did** go through the standard indication to call each other by their first names – and both of them routinely ignore this thereafter. I like it, but then, I like in general noticing the modes of address between various people on the show, especially since this is a detail that the writers do generally pay attention to. And sometimes when the mode of address changes, that creates a significant moment.

I also find it interesting that Cameron’s fanboy enthusiasm has, at length, been wrung out of him. Back when he first joined the SGC, can’t you just imagine that he would have been the one to press further and hang on Daniel’s every word, just because it was **Daniel Jackson** doing his typical thing? Oh, how jaded they become, and how quickly…

So meanwhile, Vala comes rushing in all comic-relief to announce that the answer to the problem that has been eluding Daniel has come to her in a dream… and apparently this makes nobody suspicious. Hmm! But nevermind, as it leads to a very cute moment when still-sleepy Vala decides to lean up against Sam for some more shut-eye. Aw.

It’s nice that the villagers they encounter this time are not particularly fussed by their arrival, and even somewhat snarky. Especially since Ba’al and his Jaffa have apparently been through recently, and you can’t imagine that they were all that pleasant. Which does make you wonder a bit – if Library Guy showed that map to Ba’al and Ba’al decided he wanted to take it, and he had a bunch of Jaffa backing him up… then why wasn’t he successful? And/or why wasn’t Librarian Guy dead and the map gone? Given what we find out later, I’m surprised that SG-1 didn’t wonder this as well, because “tried to take the map and then departed peacefully when balked” – that just doesn’t sound like a Goa’uld, does it?

I really did like the chick in the tavern, though; she had great snark. And I liked her even more later when she pulled out the crossbow and shot that guy herself. Plus the parting shot, “I’ll blame everything on you”. Yay! Smart, practical villagers!

There’s nothing quite so effectively anvilicious as shorthand for “Evil!” than a big ol’ bookburning, is there? And you know, the thing is – I spent some of that scene thinking to myself… were those blank prop books? Or did somebody go out and buy a bunch of regular used books, to use? The thought actually made me somewhat uncomfortable, even though as a practical matter there are lots of individual books nowadays that are hardly rare items and it isn’t a big deal if you take a bunch of remainders and burn them for a scene on a tv show. But my own kneejerk reaction proved to me that it is indeed a powerful visual symbol. It was way more powerful than if they had burned a bunch of scrolls or something.

But really? I’d already got the memo that the Orii are Evil. Thanks.

Is there a reason, though, why the team isn’t all armed with zats as well as P90s? And why, in a situation where not-being-heard would have been helpful, they used the hugely noisy P90s to take out the Orii soldiers instead of quieter zats? I mean, zats just come in handy in so many situations.

I didn’t mind the maze portion of the puzzle-solving, although I had an odd moment when they were stuck and Vala suggested going back, and Mitchell pointedly asked if she knew the way. Because, um… as that scene started, it was impossible not to be struck by that particular forest location, with its open sandy floor. I was left thinking, “Um? Couldn’t you just carefully retrace the fresh path all your army-boot-treads just made in that sand?”

I was honestly confused by it because they seemed to have gone out of their way to select that location in the first place. Had it been regular ol’ grass or forest floor – well, fine. Had it been stone, even better. But no, the locations team had **specifically** chosen ground that would show their tracks; they couldn’t have chosen better unless they had chosen mud. I don’t get it.

Still, it was nice to see Sam figure it out with her brain even after her technology failed her. And we got another cute little Vala-Sam moment, where Vala hit Sam on the arm in congratulation. Little things, but nice to see nonetheless.

I thought that having Ba’al sitting there muttering to himself was… a little strange. It would have made more sense to me if he’d been standing and yelling his imprecations in the general direction of his departed Jaffa. I’m also not quite sure why Ba’al wouldn’t regard a chest sitting in the middle of a forest as a possible trap, and send one of his Jaffa to poke at it first before going over to it himself, but… ehn.

Ba’al as quasi comic-relief doesn’t quite work for me. I like Ba’al as a character, don’t get me wrong. I like him even better because he is (usually) smart and a worthy adversary. But I never forget who and what he is. “Abyss” is never, ever far from my mind, when Ba’al is around, and that is an edge that I wish they would keep sharper, with him.

Perhaps with SG-1, their increasing familiarity with him breeds contempt. Or maybe it’s just that since they can never be sure this is the Real Ba’al, indeed they know it’s probably more likely that he’s Just Another Clone, that’s why they relax around him. But I don’t care how pathetic Ba’al seems – I wouldn’t relax around him at all. And deep down, I want to see them be **meaner** to him, and deadlier. Ba’al himself may want to act all falsely chummy, but I wish our folks would give him less slack than they do.

I’m left wondering whether Cam pulling out Ba’al’s knife “of great sentimental value” was **meant** to be as big an “oooooh!” moment as it apparently was to a lot of us. It would have been cool if they’d given that an even more menacing few beats – and even cooler if they had thought to actually go and get one of the knives that Ba’al used on Jack (I knew it wasn’t, immediately). I don’t have a shot of the knife from this ep (it’s got a black grip, and a silver pommel and short quillions, though), but for comparison, here’s a good shot of the ones from “Abyss”:


Of all the people there, of course, only Daniel would be able to pick up on the significance of that – and he **does** have a moment of reaction, although it’s a small moment. So I’m not sure if they realized that they'd created a really cool continuity reference there that was really creepy, or not. (In truth, my first thought was, “just have Ba’al take his jacket off and put **that** in”. Props to the costumers for putting the symbol that Ba’al’s Jaffa wear on his belt-buckle, too – even if I’ve never been able to figure out why that’s his symbol.)

I’m sure many folks had a “WTF?” moment with Vala’s hairdryer (where is she going to **plug it in**, on missions? Plus, honestly, her hairstyle isn’t one that requires blow-drying anyway), but it just made me laugh (as intended, I’m sure). (Partly this is for personal reasons – I’m still getting teased for having taken a hairdryer on an archaeological expedition, but at the time, my hairstyle was one that looked really stupid unless I blow-dried it, and besides, the camp **did** have electrical outlets, so there.)

This is as good a place as any to voice the complaint about how all of SG-1, starting with Sam, pooh-pooh the idea of a “dragon”. And yes, it sounds kind of dumb, but… look, people. You’ve been doing this for a decade. You’ve seen tons of weird shit. I mean, c’mon – you FOUND THE LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS, and really, it doesn’t get any fruitier than that, does it? You’ve been to Hell, you’ve met someone impersonating Satan, you’ve seen “monsters” and fairy-like beings (the Nox). Why, at this juncture, would you be all, “oh, it can’t be a **dragon**, surely not!”

I appreciate that here they began to discuss options for what the “dragon” could be – a dangerous hologram; a ship; some other kind of defensive system. That’s smart, as is the idea that the name is a passcode of some sort. But… but… why is the idea that an alien planet could have megafauna that would more or less match the Earth legends of dragons such an implausibility? Seriously? Daniel’s all, “it could be a ship that has these characteristics and that’s a mistake a medieval storyteller could make” – yes, yes, very Connecticut Yankee of you, Daniel. But the show was only PREMISED on the idea that there are all these fantastical ideas from mythology which turn out to have a basis in alien beings – why **NOT** dragons as well, when you’ve met GODS?

I will say that I liked Adria in this episode better than I did in her last (first) outing, although her outfit here is kind of stupid-looking. Her menacing asides at Daniel were nice foreshadowing, too, and one wonders when we’ll get the payoff of that (in part 2? Or later?). So Adria threatens Sam (since I don’t believe that Adria would think to threaten her own mother, for whom she clearly still has plans, still wanting to bring Vala over to her side), and Daniel caves like a big caving thing – and Cameron and Sam let him, notably.

But I can’t even blame Daniel or the rest of them that much. They’re faced with a Big Boss whom they know they cannot effect, let alone defeat, and whose powers have been proven to them. While they probably ought to be suspicious about why Adria isn’t being much heavier-handed and clever about using her power to force someone to help her get the Sangreal (why did she go through the elaborate ruse with the Librarian disguise in the first place? Which, let the record show, I did not suspect at all), once revealed, I can see how the only really viable option is “play along and hope for an opening later, because we can't deal with her right now”.

It’s the strategically responsible decision, because again, at this point, sacrificing each other’s lives in balking her would be a temporary impediment to Adria at best – sure, she wouldn’t get to destroy the Sangreal, but then, neither would anyone be left who knows about how it can be used against her and the Orii, not in time to actually use it. Except, perhaps, for Ba’al, but if I’m Daniel or Cameron, I’m not willing to leave the fate of the Milky Way in Ba’al’s hands. The whole thing would have worked for me better, though, had they skipped right to that realization without even gesturing towards Adria having to threaten Sam (or anyone else) to force Daniel's cooperation.

So now we get the dungeon-crawl portion of our program – see, this is why I can’t take this whole Arthurian plotline seriously, because whenever we are heavily back into it, it feels less like Stargate, the science-fiction show, and more like a D&D module. And oh goodie… riddles. Not particularly challenging riddles. That just makes me yawn. My favorite parts of this sequence would be [a] Teal’c threatening to squeeze Ba’al through the bars of the portcullis (that’s more like it, Teal’c my MAN!); [b] “get a room” (boy, when Adria backed down from bitch-slapping Ba’al on such a flimsy excuse, that should have sent up HUGE red flags to Sam – tsk); and [c] the wall of fire itself, which I thought was a nice moment, extremely Daniel.

I really enjoyed Daniel’s “Yup” response to Adria’s “Do you really want to test me?” – and initially, I failed to understand why he didn’t “test” her by kicking her off the platform and down into the abyss. I suppose, though, that that wouldn’t have been very “true of spirit” or whatever, and he still hoped to pick up the Sangreal. That itself was quite interesting – that **Daniel** himself couldn’t pick the thing up. But I’m left to wonder if that’s because nobody can pick it up until they figure out the last puzzle.

Which is, of course, the dragon. The all-too-“real”, bad-CGI dragon. D’oh!

I will say that I am indeed intrigued to see what happens in Part 2 – not because I am all that worried about how the whole dragon thing is going to turn out (though I suppose they could always actually gurk Ba’al, and that would truly surprise me) but because I’m interested to see where they go from here, having found the quest-object at long last. But first you gotta figure out how to **pick it up**, I suppose. And also because I have suspicions about ways this two-parter is going to get wrapped up that will lead into other things, of course. As cliffhangers go, though, I can’t work up all that much tension over this one.

SGA 3.10: The Return, Part 1

SGA really won the Fannish Love sweepstakes this week, though. My **goodness**, but what a lot of fan-service! I didn’t think it was unflawed – in particular, I thought there were pacing problems, even though I think I understood the desire to give weight to the various leave-takings and all.

I guess my problem with that was… the previews and the commercials and all, as usual of course, had told us what the Big Exciting Problem really was. So as much as the story wanted to do right by the notion that “oh no! we’re forced to leave Atlantis! But we don’t want to! It’s unfair! And we’ll miss each other!” – I thought it was difficult as audience to really get deeply invested in worrying about that when all of the previews had been telling me that the thing to worry about was something else entirely. And besides, everyone who believes that there is a serious chance that we will [a] never go back to Atlantis, or [b] have to nuke it, raise their hands?

I think that really, the answer is that the tension is hardly ever “will they succeed? Will things be fixed?”, but rather, “HOW will they get there?”, with a possible promise of some thrills and chills along the way. You know the expedition is going to go back to Atlantis. That isn’t the question. The question is how it will be accomplished.

Similarly, you know that the SGC is not, in fact, going to nuke Jack (and Woolsey, and Atlantis – although the thing is, you’d be willing to believe that it **might** nuke Woolsey, with some regret; but Atlantis, hey, it’s in the credits, and Jack is… well, he’s Jack, and he’s just not going to get nuked, period.) But that doesn’t mean Jack isn’t in danger and that things couldn’t be pretty sucky for him until the problem gets solved… but more on that later.

What I’m saying overall is that I **did** appreciate the ep giving some weight to the leave-takings and all, but I thought they spent a little too much time on that. Because, as folks commented at the time (this week, raqs and her Serial Killer joined telepresence and my_tallest and me), oh great, it’s supposed to be a big exciting “finale”, so… er, let’s spend a half-hour watching everybody be **really depressed**.

Anyway, on to the ep…

HOLY CRAP, but that first-officer guy from Daedalus really DOES look just like Major Marks from the Odyssey! I remember folks commenting about that last week, but I was thinking of the wrong guy and wasn’t quite sure what they meant. Now I’m honestly wondering if they’re meant to be brothers, or what. (The actor’s name appears to be Kirby Morrow, and the character, Capt. Dave Kleinman? And Major Marks is played by Martin Christopher. Okay, so not brothers, just eerily similar.)

I like how Rodney admitted earlier that the intergalactic Gate bridge was, if I’m not mistaken, Sam’s idea… but of course, it’s the “McKay-Carter” bridge, not the “Carter-McKay” bridge.

Now – having found out a few eps ago that orbital Gates in the Pegasus Galaxy are powered by “nodes” that are attached directly to them, my question is this: how then are the Milky-Way Gates powered? Where did we find a whole bunch of those nodes just lying around? And how'd we know how to hook them up? Or else, how did they overcome that issue? (I'm not even asking how they got that many Gates that relatively quickly; I'm just accepting that.)

You know, a half-hour of watching the wormhole do its thing? Would get really old, really fast. I hope there’s a way to dim the windshield of the jumper, or something. Also, are people going to arrive on either end wanting to puke? I realize that people got used to the Milky Way wormhole in time, but still, you’d think that if you actually “see” what they always show us on-screen for the wormholes when you go through them – which I have always assumed to be the case – then you’d think that could become a problem when it lasts for 30 minutes, if only a psychosomatic one.

Even though completely spoiled for Jack’s inclusion in this ep (“… it’ll be in the commercial”), it still made us jump when he stepped up right beside Landry like that. :D Eeeee! Jack! And? John and the puddlejumper coming in and stopping suddenly right before the control-room window? Too cool.

I love the way so many people familiar with SG-1 (including raqs -- I’m so proud of her!) had that kneejerk “AAAHHHH!!!” reaction to Megan Leitch, aka Samantha Mulder, aka Kera/Linea, Destroyer of Worlds, with whom Daniel almost got all snugglebunnies way back in S3. Given the way the Stargate programs have always reused actors prior to this (I can think of a number of prominent examples just within SG-1 itself, nevermind between the two programs), I have to assume that TPTB don’t **really** mean anything by it. It would be kind of cool if they did – if we are supposed to feel suspicious of Helia because of the face she wears. But they’ve done this too often in cases where it was equally prominent (Narim/Simon springs immediately to mind) and yet where it meant nothing.

I guess it would be kind of cool if it did turn out to be a sort of Easter-egg – if in part 2, it turns out there’s some other shoe to drop concerning Helia, then we will have been justified in the negative reaction to her that we just can’t shake. But obviously they can’t be **counting** on that connection – between the number of people who watch Atlantis but who aren’t that familiar with SG-1, to the number of SG-1 viewers whose recall isn’t **that** good, I’m sure there were plenty of people who didn’t recognize her at all. (Actually, I think that the years have been **really** good to her, and she looks better here than she did 7 years ago in “Past and Present” – some of that could be the fact that she no longer has that horrid poodle-perm, but I always thought her face was a little odd-looking in P&P, and here she looks much better.)

Anyway – anybody surprised when a bunch of Ancients show up and turn out to be total ASSHATS? Yeah, thought not.

I’ve already had some discussion with folks (paian, for one) about “wait a minute, that’s not the back of Jack’s head” in the next scene with Helia talking to Jack and Woolsey. On rewatch, then, I paid especially attention to this… and I find I have to retreat from my certainty that there was some kind of re-shooting going on. I’m starting to think that the back of Jack’s head… simply looks a little neater than we expect it to, given how sublimely tufty his hair is this ep.

I’m basing this on the fact that in that first scene with Landry, we get to see Jack from behind and then see him turn within the same shot, so we know that it **is** him. And the back of his head there really does pretty much match the back of his head in the scene with Helia. Watching that one closely, I could also see other indicators where he’s turning his head enough that I can tell it’s Jack. But it really is odd. I don’t know how they managed it, but basically the upshot is that his haircut from the back doesn’t look like it could result in the way his hair looks from the front.

(Speaking of odd details – I keep looking really closely, but you know what? I think they forgot to put in Jack’s eyebrow scar. Tsk!)

It’s not that I don’t think Helia and the Ancients have a point… sort of. But they’re pretty annoying about it. I mean, check me on this, but – Atlantis is HUGE. It’s a huge city. Our expedition probably fills very little of it. And there’s only about a hundred Ancient survivors in this ship? I’m thinking they could totally occupy part of Atlantis, and the place would still probably be echoingly empty.

Why can’t they share? Indeed, why don’t they want to keep more of the expedition around to help… I don’t know, orient them to this new time-period? To the status quo of the current Pegasus galaxy? Etc. But no. Not only don’t they want that, but they kick the Athosians off the MAINLAND? (So much for their crops.) For what conceivable reason?

And yet… they allow Woolsey to stay as some kind of liaison? And they allow Jack to come back? I don’t know… it just seems weird.

I do realize why Woolsey is there, with Jack – as the representative of the IOC or IOA or whatever they are calling themselves now. And Jack is… well, presumably there as the Head of Homeworld Security and ultimate commander of the Atlantis Expedition or something – not that they’ll be so kind as to TELL us that. But his presence is fairly suggestive. There’s no reason for him to be there if he’s not a fairly Big Gun.

But in terms of arguing with these newly-emerged Ancients, during Woolsey’s scene, I couldn’t help but wish that they had sent Daniel instead. He’s so much better at arguing with passion.

Others have noted that it’s really difficult to tell what the shows’ comparative timelines are – thus we have no real idea what’s going on with SG-1 during the action of this ep. Now that the Intergalactic Gate Bridge is up, getting from Earth to Atlantis wastes very little time, so it really isn’t that Daniel couldn’t be spared from the fight against the Orii for the time it would have taken to have this meeting, or even a couple of days of meetings. Oh well – needs of the show and the plot.

There’s a more egregious missed opportunity, though – and it follows from Rodney’s reasonable point that Elizabeth should have been in there, with Jack and Woolsey. Having Elizabeth say “I don’t know what I could say at this point that would make any difference” is… AAAIGH! Look, I know that the show has not done right by Elizabeth for YEARS, forgetting all the time either that she is supposed to be not only a career diplomat but one of the “best Earth has to offer” (the way the character was set up way back in “Lost City”), or else having no clue how to actually **write** a good diplomat when they do remember. Somehow, though, them fumbling this never fails to irritate, even though I should be used to it by now.

At the very least, by definition, Elizabeth’s strength is supposed to be in words **AND** in having an uncanny ability to talk hostile or semi-hostile opponents around to a working compromise. If she cannot honestly think of how she might plead with Helia for the case of the Expedition, then how does she deserve the title of career diplomat at all? Ugh.

In the “no talking, listening” with Helia, Jack came across as unusually toned-down, to me – but in the subsequent scene, breaking the news to Elizabeth and John and Rodney, I felt like I could see Jack’s natural impatience and annoyance and tension not that far beneath the surface. The overall impression I got was Jack trying to **be** what he still is not used to being – making the effort to be the general, but not liking it.

I was fairly satisfied with Jack’s part in this ep. He did not feel like the sharpest-written and sharpest-played Jack we have ever seen, which is a pity, because of course that is what we **want** -- we don’t just want more Jack, we want **really good** Jack on top of that. Yet I can see how these guest-spot things make that unlikely. I’ve read a few interviews with RDA now where he’s gone so far as to comment on how working on Atlantis was fun or interesting (particularly, getting to work with Robert Picardo), but how it was coming back and going to work with “their family”, not “his family” – which is how he put it, and I think that’s very telling, both that he would put it that way and that he would say anything about it at all.

Here, we had Jack written by a writer who has never written Jack before; a director who hasn’t handled the character or actor in many years; and RDA working amongst people whom he knows of and who I’m sure are lovely people and a welcoming family in their own right, but who aren’t the people with whom he’s most familiar. I feel like what we seen on-screen must be influenced more than we might think by the many more hours the actors spend behind the scenes waiting for bouts of filming, and in all respects, the behind-the-scenes milieu for SGA is not the one on which RDA is used to relying as he builds the character of Jack (or in this case, **re**-builds, since he also hasn’t played Jack regularly in quite a while).

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t dislike Jack in this ep. But I felt like there was something about him that is hard to define or explain that made him not quite the Jack I most wanted to see – even as I was terribly glad to see him. I felt like there was a sense of constraint or discomfort, perhaps. And the upshot is – this was Jack, but a Jack who seemed aware himself that this was not his show, that he was a guest somewhere else.

But that also worked for me, and I think worked for the ep, subtly. I think it works for the overall characterization of Jack. As I said above, in the scene with Helia and then the following scene, I could read all of those undertones in a way that I think makes sense for the character. Because, to me, Jack as the general has always had problematic undertones. I have never truly thought he was that happy being The Man, and in this ep, that’s what he’s being asked to be. Woolsey is not his comrade. And Elizabeth, John and Rodney do not see him as a member of their family, their team. He’s an authority figure, and in this case, the voice of unwelcome news.

He must know that. This can’t be a job he is enjoying doing. And in that second scene, as he tugs at his collar and gives them the bad news, and betrays a bit of his impatience (even though I think he was still trying not to burst out the way he would have, once upon a time, back in the SGC when Hammond was in command and Jack could indulge himself and be the voice of dissent), I thought I really did see that in him. It’s a more nuanced portrayal of Jack than we are accustomed to, and I’m not even sure how much of it may indeed be deliberate – but it’s what I can get out of what I was seeing, definitely.

And in his subsequent tete-a-tete with Elizabeth, again, I got this feeling of a guy who really did not like bearing the message he was bearing. I liked, in fact, that he waited to get Elizabeth alone, to break the bad news to her that it would be Woolsey staying behind, not her – even though yes, she’d be the best one for the job. I thought that was kind of him, a thoughtful gesture – and I liked that he agreed with her. And finally, I liked that he took the moment to tell her that she’d done a hell of a job. She’s right – it sucks, but compared to losing the Expedition or having to leave because the city was destroyed or any number of things, this was not a bad ending.

(I am leaving aside for the moment the fact that I said not long ago, in all honesty, that if Jack were to go to Atlantis, I wanted him to kick Elizabeth’s ass and that of a lot of her people, for all the really stupid and unethical stuff they’ve done over the past couple of years… yeah. It’s not that I don’t still feel that way. It’s that this wasn’t the episode for doing that, really. Or else maybe it’s just that I’ve come to accept that the show isn’t going to do it, and I'm letting it go.)

I also liked, but would have preferred even more emphasis on, Jack’s point that it’s not like their homeworld can’t use them back. Since the Expedition left, things have changed in the Milky Way. The Orii threat is a really big one. I would have liked to see this show give more weight to that, appear to take it more seriously.

Most of the time, I can accept the fact that Atlantis has its own problems and it can toddle along doing its thing in Pegasus while mostly ignoring that their own home-planet is in fact under threat of destruction, and that threat is quite real. We don’t ever see any impact of this on the Atlantis folks, and I think that’s a shame. I realize that most of the people who went on the Expedition had to be people willing to leave Earth and whatever ties they had on it for a long time, possibly forever. But we’ve seen since then that they DO have ties to Earth that mean something to them.

Remember the plague? That was dire. It could have been an even worse disaster. I’d be surprised if there’s no members of the Expedition who didn’t lose somebody in that plague. They could have lost their entire homeworld. Yet I just don’t see the impact of that on them.

As I say, most of the time this doesn’t bug me and it’s just one of those things, albeit one of those things I don’t see why the two shows don’t do better given that they’re produced by the same company and often written by the same set of writers.

So anyway – with the Orii threat ramped up now, it is not an unreasonable thing to say “we could use you back at the SGC”, and mean it. And the chance to help more directly to save Earth from destruction shouldn’t seem like a lame consolation prize to the Expedition folks. I’m just saying.

But, okay… OH MY GOD, Ronon grabbing John around the waist and picking him up and whirling him around? THE CUTEST THING! **dies**

Wanting to put Carson on the surgical staff of the SGC (where presumably he will be too busy to do any more questionably ethical experimentation) is a sound idea – but I’m actually a little surprised at the assumption that Rodney will go to Area 51, rather than onto an SG team. I don’t know – it just seems foolish for the SGC not to take into consideration that Rodney has 3 years of field experience under his belt now, and it’s not like the SG teams don’t often need combat-worthy scientists of his and Sam’s caliber out in the field.

Watching Carson get all teary and Rodney being such a guy-like jerk about saying goodbye – that was pretty special, though. Awwww! Poor Carson. And they gave his “goodbye” the tinkly piano music of angsty sadness, too. Aw.

Despite my bitching about the pacing above, it’s not that I minded them giving various permutations of the regular characters leave-taking moments with each other. Taken individually, all of them were really good, seriously. I guess it’s just that, taken severally… it really was a downer. And I know, it was meant to be, but…

Seeing John in an SGC uniform, as leader of a team – cool! But again, I got this unfortunate sense of lack of urgency, both from Landry and from John himself – as I said, like being the leader of an SGC team instead of an Atlantis team is this lame consolation prize, which… aaigh.

Meanwhile, I find it hilarious and not a little suspicious to think of **Jack O’Neill** being sent anywhere or requested by anyone (except perhaps the Asgard, natch) as an **ameliorating influence** because Woolsey is too “trying”. Except, in all seriousness, that Jack is very **genuine**, and even when he tries to rein himself in, he’s a far cry from Woolsey’s type of bureaucrat/diplomat. (And I think if you had him around 24/7, he'd lose the ability to rein himself in all the time pretty quickly.) This is a point at which I could go off onto a meta tangent about how everyone always chuckles at the idea of Jack as an ambassador or representative, when in fact the history of the show is littered with examples of successful alliances made because of him, not just because of Daniel.

So perhaps it’s not so irrational a notion as it first seems, although – the thing is that, as noted, the Ancients are ASSHATS, and therefore they don’t seem like they’d belong in the category of people who in the past have liked Jack and vice versa. I keep expecting Jack to break out with “boned by the Ancients again” or something – particularly considering that he **knows** that the Ascended, of whom he does not think highly, are nothing but ex-Ancients, the lot of them.

You know – that communication with Jack and Woolsey would have been a really good time for John to remember to mention little things like, oh, we might have screwed with the Asuran/Replicator base-code when we last met… ehn. Nevermind. John did offer to talk to Landry. And you know what? The SGC, and Jack and Woolsey, are just as capable of reading and learning from Atlantis mission reports as we are sometimes complaining that the Atlantis Expedition is capable of doing so from the SGC’s. If they didn’t dig up those reports immediately and pore over them, or if they or the Ancients ignored or discounted the information in them, that’s their look-out. (I did get a bit of whiff of irritation from Jack’s “They’re **Ancients**!” – subtext, “They’re arrogant assholes, Hank, of course they think they can handle it!”)

Before I get to the squee that is the John/Rodney phone conversation (and I use the slash advisedly), let me just say… DAMN, will you look at John’s office??? I mean, that looks like his office, not his base quarters per se. (Desk, credenza, lateral files… dart board.) In which case… either the SGC has happily been cannibalizing levels that NORAD used to occupy, and they’re expanding… or for YEARS we have been grossly underestimating the size and comfort of the personal office that Jack is supposed to have had in his former capacity as Hammond’s 2IC.

I am also bummed, by the way, that John is wearing a generic SGC patch, rather than a patch that shows his SG team number.

“You? You I’m talking to on the phone with right now, and having dinner with tomorrow.”

That’s it, ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for playing! But there we go – John and Rodney are DATING. In CANON. I mean, seriously… this scene? “Wow” just doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Meanwhile, I realize that the level of slobbiness of Elizabeth’s apartment was supposed to be visual code for severe dysfunction, but… well… look, I just enjoyed seeing a television home/apartment, let alone a woman’s, that was depicted as “lived in”, okay? Because I maybe… identify with that… **ahem**.

But in all seriousness, I just don’t really understand this “sulking” phase of hers. She admits within the scene that the SGC, the IOA, and Homeworld – they have all wanted her to “consult”, and to be honest, even that seems kind of lame. There’s just too much that Elizabeth could be used for – either on Earth, or hell, heading up her own diplomatic team at the SGC, not unlike SG-9 (remember them?). There’s too much work she could be doing that is in fact important.

So I don’t get this reaction. If it’s meant to characterize her… it’s not working for me, because I can’t even really comprehend it, and if I accept it, it tells me something about the character that I find pretty disappointing.

Maybe it’s just me – but if I were in Atlantis and it was under attack, and I had to get an emergency message out, I think that I would give Woolsey the job of sending the message, and I would give JACK the job of being the guy with the GUN. Just saying. (That was hilarious, but somewhat unintentionally so. I mean, I understand production-wise why you give the lines to Jack, but still – the idea of Jack letting Woolsey guard his back is pretty priceless.)

The “apportioning blame” meeting was another one of those things that I would have liked to be streamlined – I felt like Landry was kind of a jerk, and John was right, who was to blame wasn’t the problem, the problem was what to do NOW. It was the Ancients themselves who were all “oh, they can’t harm us”, so it wasn’t like it was the Expedition’s fault that either the Ancients or the SGC wasn’t taking the Asuran threat seriously. Although, the exchanges of glances around the table gave me an uncomfortable feeling that the Atlantis reports about the last encounter with the Asurans was perhaps not as thorough as it ought to have been – and if that was the case, then I take back what I said about the SGC being capable of reading the appropriate reports.

Landry’s “I want to get a nuke through” was kind of an “ooh!” moment, and I liked that. I also liked John’s response of “Give me SIXTY MARINES” – it was really nice that he didn’t try to lowball or anything.

This goes back to what I was talking about, about creating tension. It’s not that I actually believe that Jack is going to get nuked. (Woolsey, maybe, as I said.) How they get him out of that predicament is of course what interests me. And that being the case, I actually love it when a story creates the tension out of some of Our Guys being willing to or having to make the Hard Decision and possibly dooming others of Our Guys. Even though we know that the ones in peril will almost certainly be saved, the angst inherent in the situation is still nice.

As it is – I’m left feeling unsure whether John et. al. are going because they feel the need to save Jack and Woolsey (to give John credit, that is the first thing he mentioned, that they might still be alive), or because they want to keep their own people from nuking Atlantis, which they feel is “their city”. But that’s an interesting tension, in itself. If SG-1 were involved, of course, you would have no doubt but that their involvement was primarily directed towards rescuing Jack. For John and the rest, rescuing Jack and rescuing the city are one and the same, and I think we have to conclude that their mission would have proceeded even if they’d had direct evidence that Jack and Woolsey were dead.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT – BWAH-HAH-HAH! But okay, look – first, I know plenty of women who play it quite avidly. But I suppose fighting the “there are too women gamers” thing is always a near futile battle. **rolls eyes** I have never even played the damn thing (only looked at screenshots friends have made of their characters), and even **I** know that “mage” is a CLASS, not a RACE. Sheesh!

I know that there were some folks who were bugged by the “shades of the end of S1” in the whole notion of John, Rodney, Elizabeth and Carson done up in black BDUs and planning to hijack the Gate to send themselves off, against orders, on a suicide mission… but actually, I kind of liked it. I think that part of the reason I liked it was that I felt like the parallel was so obvious that they were **trying** to evoke “The Serpent’s Lair”, and I can go with the idea of “it’s an homage, not a rip-off” when it’s that deliberate.

Poor Wallace. No, no. POOR SILER.

You know what would have been really smooth? If they’d engaged the jumper’s cloak.

The thing is – at this point you totally know that either they’re going to be successful, in which case they really don’t have to worry about their respective careers, because hell, SG-1 didn’t... or they won't, and then it won't really matter anyway. Of course, SG-1 was actually saving the Earth, on similar occasions, whereas these guys aren’t… but I think Jack will be in their corner, if they save him from being nuked and all.

Meanwhile, the Genii offer to Teyla and Ronon was… interesting. I can’t quite believe that Teyla was actually considering it, but hey, whatever.

Again – why not cloak the jumper, to go through the Gate to Atlantis? Wouldn’t that buy them a few minutes, perhaps? Or am I missing something about how the jumper cloaks work? Is it not possible to retain the cloak through a wormhole, or something?

Aside from the cliffhanger – AAAAUUUUGH!!!! – there are just all kinds of things that intrigue me about the ending. There are all kinds of unseen dramas, that we probably won’t get to see at all, anyway. Such as when SG-1 finds out about Jack and his predicament – whoa.

Of course, as mentioned, we have no idea how the shows’ timelines mesh. We don’t know what’s going on with SG-1 at this moment when Jack is trapped on Atlantis and written off by his own orders. We have to assume SG-1 will be upset when they find out – and it’s the drawback of a partial crossover episode like this (as opposed to a sweeping crossover story) that SG-1 cannot do what by right they ought to do the moment they find out, which is try to involve themselves in rescuing Jack if not the city. We’re left to wonder why they aren’t involved, and I have the feeling that the answer is always going to seem somewhat unsatisfactory to us – though I can hope for some interesting interim fic to be written.

And then, pretty please, I would like a Jack in Part 2 who is doing some more dynamic things than just standing around in various places. I forgive Part 1 for having a more static Jack in it -- but that just makes me want Part 2 to ramp it up and give me the things I'm missing, including commando!Jack, and getting to see Jack interact with Atlantis itself. (I am deeply, deeply hoping that defeating the Asurans might involve Jack and John having to deploy their natural affinity for Ancient tech -- pleeeeeease?)


SIX MONTHS? They want us to wait SIX MONTHS for the rest of the seasons? I feel a poll coming on…


Sep. 28th, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC)
Well, Jack's job is Homeworld Security. And in the stakes of "the Ori are taking over our galaxy" versus "the Alterans have asked us to stop squatting in their city in another galaxy," even the president would say Jack needs to stick around if something's going down with the Ori fight. That Jack wouldn't want to be across the universe from SG-1 would be a happy coincidence for him, from an orders standpoint. (And like you say, he doesn't look worried in the check-in.)

If Jack can work out a way to get the SGA team back into the city, with help from actual Alterans in running it, there may be information that would help with the Ori fight. But the Ancients did, after all, have to give up on fighting the Wraith, and the Ori threat came post-ascension. With Helia herself, it would be like asking Napoleon how to take on a nuclear threat from Iran after he'd already lost to Wellington. Still, I imagine it's one of the first things Woolsey asked. Helia didn't seem like she was stonewalling on that type of thing, just on having the Earthers living in "her" city.
Sep. 28th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah. That's why I think we have to assume that for some reason (it's hard to tell why), the higher-ups don't consider the Orii threat "chronic" at the moment. They can afford to let Jack go off to Atlantis, whereas I think if it were a serious state of emergency, they would indeed want him present.

I think that the new Gate Chunnel (as cofax memorably christened it) makes a big difference to this, though. Letting Jack go offworld when you can get him back to Earth in about a half-hour is FINE. Hell -- it would take the Pentagon longer than that to recall him into his office if he is living in a DC suburb and had to *drive* in.