The best revenge out there? Have the cast of Farscape take over Stargate SG-1 and hand Brother Kneumsi a basket full of the Best of Both Worlds! Yep, last season's appearance by Claudia Black was just the appetizer, Gate-Scapers, because Ben Browder is back in finest form as Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, a war hero once responsible for saving the lives of the SG-1 Team during an Alien Attack... at great peril to himself! In return, General Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) has granted him any commission he wishes! What's his wish? I'll give you three guesses... and it sure as slime ain't a commission on Stargate: Infinities!
Naturally, reinvention is the name of the game here! At the end of the 8th season a certain air of finality floated through the Stargate and into the noses of the Sci-Fi viewing public. Bringing in not just fresh blood, but this fresh blood is, at worst, brilliant! Too bad old Mitchell doesn't automatically think that!
When Mitchell tries to commiserate with the aforementioned new C.O., he finds that even Bobby's dad from Twin Peaks left a season ago, and has finally been replaced by General Hank Landry, who looks a hell of a lot like Beau Bridges! Yes, Yes, Kemosabes, in case you were ever worried about the career of that star of major motion pictures and network hits, you can now find him on Channel 131 dealing with weirdly made-up aliens and ray guns. Wonder what Jeff's doing lately.
Regardless, after a character-building setup that proves that Mitchell is up to the task of MacGyvering the Stargate into the future, Browder's excellent balance of intelligence, machismo and humor finally takes over. Cameron Mitchell isn't a clone of John Crichton, by any means, but he is a hell of a cool cousin, distinctly Browder's own! It's at this point that the season really gets going, and a de-facto SG-1 team of convenience is formed. Claudia Black's Super-Hot extra terrestrial Vala (how'd they think of her for this part?) pops through the gate like the night-time fantasy of a comic-shop owner! From there she attaches herself (quite literally) to Shanks' Daniel Jackson, preventing his re-assignment to Atlantis. Luckily for viewers, unluckily for the newly-free Jaffa, Teal'c's black-garbed ass is pulled into the fray too as Vala's stolen artifacts lead to the Ancient treasure trove of Merlin himself.
It's a hell of a quest that leads to many retroactive continuity moments, and the great fun of having Black and Browder together (in-jokes and sarcastic commentary are subtle, but hilarious), not to mention the joy of having this particular group manning the Prometheus make this episode a winner. However, this also serves to remind one that Stargate SG-1 gets by on its coolness, humor and clever writing, not so much its originality. Much of this one, and its sequel will work best for fans of the show, or the casual viewer who can take the show on a piecemeal basis. However, under a microscope (microscape?) much of this feels like its been done. "Transporters", "Beaming" and yet another Scientifiction linkage to King Arthur are as stolen, or borrowed as the plot of House of Wax. YYY1/2
As if the Cliffhanger of "Avalon" part 1 wasn't enough, "Avalon" part 2 brings us yet another impossible scenario for the non-SG-1-ers to break through. The treasures of Avalon have led to the true meanings of the communication stones that linked O'Neill to Homer Simpson last season. Vala and Jackson (still linked) have placed the stones into an intergalactic communication device, in the hopes of discovering the one true "Gate Builders" (possibly not "The Ancients"). The machine immediately causes Vala and Jackson to pull a respective Captain Howdy and Pazuzu, possessing the bodies of a pair of Elizabethan Peasants on the planet Boredom!
While initially the Elizabethans appear to be the very gate-builders The Air Force has sought, the truth is revealed that these are subjugated humans controlled by the religious teachings of a powerful godlike race known as the "Ori". (By the way, "Ori" is pronounced /Oh-Rye/... but you'd know that if you can pronounce "Goa'uld").
I wonder if, in an episode that quite literally features a machine built by a race of gods, any complaint about a Deus-Ex-Machina ending would hold the water a Thimble would... but dudes, that's there! And, since we're reveling in the presence of Ben Browder and Claudia Black (two recent stars of Science Fiction inexorably linked together and now showing up on this show) it's noteworthy that this episode marks the first appearance of another new star, Lexa Doig, who played the title character from Andromeda, and is, in real life, married to Michael Shanks! That doesn't even mention the new addition of Mitch Pileggi (of The X-Files) over on Stargate Atlantis (a show kicked off by guest-star Robert Patrick)! How much more Sci-Fi celebrity can this show take, man? Hell, the next episode stars Louis Gossett Jr. as an Alien! I tell you what, if he stays on the show and eventually has a baby with one of the Quaid brothers, I'm... I'm going to crap an actual brick and then... then I'm taking a hostage, mother!
Luckily, the presence of Browder and his funny, yet believably military, Mitchell provides some fantastic release, helping one to forget that Anderson has been missed. Well, him and the fact that there is now not one, but two incredibly hot babes to distract from the borrowed premises and plot holes you could drive the Daedelus through. YYY1/2
The show, as always, has a hell of a lot of promise, and is still so very accessible because it's funny, it takes place right now, and it's action packed. While fans will miss some of the elements of the "Big Four" of O'Neill, Teal'c, Jackson and Carter, the presence of the Farscape refugees makes this hardly a problem. Kiddos, if you honestly believed that Michael Shanks was leaving for good this time, let me remind you of the 2002 - 2003 season, sparky! Three and One Half stars out of Five for "Avalon" Parts 1 & 2, the 9th Season Opener of Stargate SG-1. It's not the creative powerhouse that Farscape was, but it's definitely more fun to watch than a snail cleaning an aquarium wall! Now, if you'll excuse me, some jackass kids are blowing off some "Bang Snaps" in my front yard. Methinks its time to introduce them to my "Astria Porta" and let the Goa'uld deal with them. I hear the disembodied ghost of Ra is in need of some new helpers!
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as conceptually repetitive as a slayer album. Call the Daedelus at 838-7389!
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