Stargate: Season 2 Review

Season 2

Episode #1: The Serpent's Lair—Nice pay-off to Season 1's cliffhanger.

Episode #2: In the Line of Duty—Quite good episode! It introduces Jolinar and the idea of the Tok'ra. I hadn't realized until watching the episodes in order, how early the Tokr'a were introduced (one thing I like about Stargate is the writers' willingness to explore cracks and exceptions in supposedly monolithic cultures. As Daniel constantly reiterates, our main characters really know very little about the Goa'uld).

Episode #3: Prisoners—Good episode introducing Linea. Linea is a great character and is paid off well later on. The only snag is the whole genius-who-can-master-an-entire-alien-computer-system-in-fifteen-minutes syndrome. I just don't buy it. Sci-fi uses this motif A LOT.

Episode #4: The Gamekeeper—Good episode with, of all people, Dwight Schultz. Now, there's another sci-fi acting junkie!

Episode #5: Need—A rather odd episode. It explains why humans don't use the sarcophagus, but the plotting is kind of random. Diplomacy just isn't that hard; Daniel should have been able to get his friends released days before he turned into evil-sarcophagus guy.

Episode #6: Thor's Chariot—Pay-off episode to "Thor's Hammer," which also introduces the Asgard in the most in-your-face deux ex machina resolutions I've ever seen. (It really is totally unbelievable.)

Episode #7: Message in a Bottle—One of those the-supposedly-evil-alien-that-has-taken-over-our-base-is-only-trying-to-communicate episodes. There are days I actually prefer the Independence Day version of aliens.

Episode #8: Family—Pay-off for earlier Chulak episode. Eh.

Episode #9: Secrets—The introduction of the Harsisis (kid born to two Goa'ulds). Switching Daniel's focus from his wife to the baby is an example of something I think Stargate does very, very well. They don't try to keep one single problem going for ten, or even three, seasons. In fact, by Season 3, they have disposed of both Skaara and Daniel's wife; this is smart. Giving a character the same problem for ten years may be "real life" but isn't good television.

Side-note: The actor who plays Mulder's half-brother in X-Files shows up as the reporter who suspects the Stargate secret and gets killed for his suspicions. The Stargate folks are serious sci-fi nuts (they know Classic Trek!). I wondered if this was a tribute to X-Files.

Season #10: Bane—Eh. I don't mind episodes with children, but I don't really get into The Feisty Helpful Street Kid motif.

Season #11 and Season #12: The Tok'ra—Pretty cool introduction of a not-completely-trustworthy ally and the wonderful Carmen Argenziano as Carter's dad and Tok'ra-to-be.

One thing I love about Stargate is the casting. I think it is inspired. The writers avoid existentialism (they never make the claim that all alien races look and/or act alike), but they use casting to remind the reader what group you are dealing with. The majority of the male Tok'ra are dark-haired, muscular but wiry young guys who all have the same dark-haired, muscular but wiry look. It is visually smart casting.

Season #13: Spirits—I didn't care for this episode the first time I saw it. I kept hearing "Message! Message! Message!" Rewatching it, though, I very much enjoyed the guest star: Rodney Grant as Tonane.

Season #14: Touchstone—Episode with the second Stargate. Other than guest-starring the awesome Tom McBeath as Maybourne, it's kind of a throw-a-way.

Season #15: A Matter of Time—An interesting reflection on time moving at different speeds, but that's about all.

Season #16: The Fifth Race—I love this episode for the ending. First, I like the Asgard. Second, I like Jack being the focal point of Asgard-human relations. Third, I love the Asgard music.

Season #17: Serpent's Song—Fascinating episode with Apophis played by the stellar Peter Williams. I don't watch it often because it's so sad: as the Goa'uld starts to die, the host reemerges; the host has been controlled by Apophis for over 2000 years and is completely confused. The part where Daniel says the Egyptian prayer-for-the-dead for the host is non-saccharine touching.

Apophis almost enters the realm of ambiguous bad guys, and I like ambiguous bad guys as long as the good guys don't forget "this is a bad guy." On a side-note, one of my favorite Stargate: Atlantis episodes involves "Steve," one of the Sheppard-named Wraiths. Steve is used in an experiment and then dies. Sheppard's reaction isn't to beat his chest and say, "Oh, the Wraith aren't our enemy after all/we're just as bad!" but he does evince concern for Steve. It's a great episode.

Season #18: Holiday—One of my absolute favorites with Michael Shanks playing both Daniel and Ma'chello. One of the things I really love about Michael Shanks playing multiple characters is that he will subtly insert verbal differences, like pronunciation. So, Shanks as Ma'chello (in Daniel) pronounces "Goa'uld" differently than Shanks as Daniel (in Ma'chello). Shanks is completely consistent.

Season #19: One False Step—Odd but not totally awful episode. We get to see Daniel and Jack yell at each other and then make up (guy fashion) which is always inexpressibly amusing.

Season #20: Show and Tell—Not a bad episode except for the glaringly stupid decision to go to a planet of invisible terrorists who can sneak undetected through the Stargate. But then, if they didn't, the episode wouldn't have worked.

Season #21: 1969—I really like this episode. I'm a fan of time travel episodes in general, and I get a huge kick out of, well, everything, including Jack's interview with the 1969 Cheyenne Mountain CO where he refers to himself as "Captain Kirk" and then as "Luke Skywalker." I also love the part where the team is locked up in Cheyenne Mountain; a suspicious guard comes in and says, in Russian, "Are you Soviet spies?" Daniel, who speaks seven languages, shrugs and says, "Nyet." Jack glares at him. As he is being escorted out, you hear Jack say, exasperated, "Nyet?!"

The best part, however, is the actor who plays the young General Hammond. He is so pitch-perfect in terms of behavior, voice, and appearance, I looked him up to see if he is related to Don S. Davis. He, Aaron Pearl, isn't, but boy, is he fantastic! (By the way, I just learned that Davis died in 2008, so I'm feeling very, very sad.)

Season #22: Out of Mind—Season ender with rerun flashbacks (have I mentioned how boring flashbacks are? I'll rewatch entire episodes six, seven, eight, nine times, but episodes with flashbacks bore me silly). The premise is completely ridiculous (why on earth would villains, who torture without compunction and have mind-reading devices, bother to concoct elaborate subterfuges like building replicas of the hero's hometown, etc.?). However, one of the refreshing things about Stargate is that story is more important than message and even more important than good sense! There's never the self-consciousness that I sense when watching Star Trek or Whedon's stuff. It's like the director and writers go to work every day and go, "This is so much fun! What a great way to earn a living! Let's do it again!!"

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