Today Teal’c almost gets blown up and learns a valuable lesson about ticket scalpers.
We begin with a large SG force exploring a burnt out Jaffa encampment where, amongst the dead and wounded, they find Bra’tac and Teal’c. In a flashback it’s revealed that both Jaffa were in the village debating the current Jaffa situation regarding the Ori when Teal’c recognises a man nearby. As he heads over to check him out a tent goes up in a massive explosion. Teal’c soon wakes up inside the infirmary whereupon he’s told that Bra’tac also made it but is still in intensive care due to his more severe injuries. When he recovers Teal’c believes the man responsible for the bombing to be Arkad, a violent and extreme Jaffa leader who wants to build his own force, but Landry is unwilling to commit the SGC to opposing yet another enemy without better intel. Angered at the decision Teal’c soon leaves by himself to find more information first-hand.
Meanwhile in the SGC Bra’tac soon regains consciousness though is still unable to leave his bed. Bra’tac reveals the longstanding issues between Arkad and Teal’c and that Teal’c is unlikely to stop at any cost. Other intel soon comes in that Arkad is now an Ori collaborator and is using Jaffa forced labour to mine naquadah for them as part of a coordinated attack on Earth. Arkad soon contacts the SGC and asks for a meeting where he attempts to proclaim his innocence in the whole affair, simply being a humble Ori follower and claims to want to help stop the extremists himself with their help. While the SGC don’t believe him the higher ups want to leave him for now as they aren’t sure who’s actually doing the bombings and instead want the team to stop Teal’c before he causes an incident.
Off-world Teal’c is continuing his own investigations, before long able to hunt down and capture the Jaffa he recognised from the bombing. When the Jaffa refuses to give any answers Teal’c seemingly walks away only for the stump the man had been tied on to explode. After interrogating another person of interest he soon finds the location of Arkad’s base and heads there, coming into conflict with SGs 1 and 3 who were waiting for him. Teal’c easily deals with SG-3 and soon takes out most of his teammates on SG-1 as well, only Mitchell escaping when he checks on the now unconscious SG-3. Teal’c and Mitchell soon end up in a fistfight which Teal’c easily wins before moving onto Arkad’s base itself. There he quickly takes care of many of his guards but is eventually overpowered and brought before Arkad wounded. In the following fight Arkad easily overpowers Teal’c multiple times before stabbing him. Arkad however monologues about having killed Teal’c’s mother which drives Teal’c mad, ending with Arkad impaled on a spike.
The once again heavily wounded Teal’c is brought back to the SGC and placed in the infirmary. Teal’c and Bra’tac share a moment, with Bra’tac admitting that Teal’c is the son he never had.
Here we are in the final four episodes of the show and we get the final dud of the show’s history. Talion as an episode is nothing short of a mess that in many ways sadly shows just why the show was ending this season rather than going for another.
First off let’s talk about the story which is largely yet another Teal’c-centric revenge episode and we’ve had multiple of these over the show’s run and this is definitely the weakest. After so many years of working with the team watching Teal’c fight them after seeing them as the enemy just feels wrong as a plot move. Yes this happened at the start of season 5 but that was due to him not being in his own mind. It also doesn’t help that the actions Teal’c takes are so at odds with the character we know. Torturing people and then blowing them up unarmed is a very worrying direction to take the character as it’s completely against the honourable warrior he’s always been before.
The world itself also handicaps itself by deciding to create an entirely new enemy for the team to face and make them someone Teal’c had a longstanding feud with. Previous characters like this such as Cronus were built up over several episodes and it had actual payoff when they were finally dealt with but this one just has no weight. At the end of the day Arkad is just some guy despite the episode trying to make him this dark Ori worshipper and never has the presence needed to make the stakes higher so when he was offed in a final fight it was pretty much eh.
Finally it has to be said this is probably the episode where the budget cuts of the last two seasons are the most visible with the once shining and well-made Jaffa armour looking terrible. You can easily see the plastic nature of the armour with the “metal” plating moving like the cushioned faux leather it’s clearly made of.
It’s a shame this episode exists as it’s nothing but a disappointment from start to finish. Bad characters, bad motivations, and only leaves you with the bitter taste of realising just how old the show has become.
· Wow the armour’s really gotten old.
· The IOA, the SGC number one bad guy.
Quote of the episode: “Where are you going?”
“I am leaving. You are about to explode.” – Bak’al and Teal’c
We start on the base with Carter and Vala having returned from a shopping excursion only for the base to be contacted by a man Vala identifies as Jacek, her father. It immediately becomes clear the two don’t really get along despite the family relation, with Vala refusing to even vouch for him. Jacek’s story however is checked out by the team when he claims to have information regarding the plan Arkad was involved in. The team take the Odyssey to the intel site and find that Jacek was telling the truth when they destroy a tel’tak from orbit triggering a large naquadah explosion. Given the threat to Earth Jacek is provided asylum on Earth in return for his info against Vala’s wishes.
Elsewhere on the base Landry is facing issues of his own with the Medical Chief Dr. Carolyn Lam, who’s his somewhat estranged daughter. Landry wants to make peace with his ex-wife/her mother and asks if she’s ok with that. While somewhat put off by the prospect Lam agrees to try and set it up for him to make it easier.
Three weeks later Vala is still ignoring her father and his attempts to contact her on the base though Landry talks to her to try and convince her to at least give him a chance. Vala opens up about her early childhood and the times Jacek had let her down and still seems deadset on not talking to him but Landry’s arguments seem to shake her dedication to that course of action.
Off-base Daniel and Mitchell go to find if Jacek is keeping to his terms of asylum, finding him running multiple scams including a bingo scam and selling “stardust” via infomercials. Jacek tries to pass it off as small mistakes but asks them to bring Vala to visit, unaware that she’s already decided to. When Vala soon visits however she goes on a tirade against him for his actions of attempting to ruin her life once again. Jacek however argues for a chance to try and change her view of him, offering her another trinket of affection, but Vala refuses. The SGC also soon clamps down on Jacek’s scamming behaviour and despite claiming to change he quickly starts again, selling a theatre ticket for the “Virginia Monologues” to Teal’c.
Soon Jacek goes walk about, having removed his ankle bracelet but unaware he’s had a subdermal one put in. Daniel and Vala give chase into the local woods where they find the conman talking to a Jaffa contact. It turns out that a naquadah laden tel’tak is already on Earth and the Jaffa want out of the attack, not wanting to kill innocents, and instead is now simply trying to sell the naquadah with Jacek. While the SGC wants to send in tactical units to seize it Jacek claims the tel’tak is rigged to blow and only he has the override codes, leaving with them no choice but to go themselves with Jacek.
In the forest Jacek and Vala are quickly captured by the Jaffa who were going to trade the naquadah as their leader had “disappeared”. The others however soon rescue them as planned allowing Vala and Jacek to get away as the others focus on the Jaffa. At the cloaked tel’tak Jacek tells Vala to stay outside while he goes in and defuses the device, giving her the trinket he’d tried to give her earlier. Inside however Jacek immediately steals the ship and flees with the cargo, his plan all along. Turns out however the SGC knew this would happen and had instead placed a decoy tel’tak there in the first place to fool Jacek while they got the real thing. Watching from the SGC Landry rushes away to make it to the dinner with his daughter and ex-wife.
Somewhere off-world Jacek is soon back to his old ways, attempting to sell the dummy lead bars placed in the hold to a buyer. When the buyer claims its lead Jacek instead claims the real prize are the packing peanuts which he claims are potent “virility enhancers”.
Later on at the SGC Vala places the trinket in the box of other Jacek had given her which she’d claimed she’d destroyed years ago along with his letters before she’s soon joined by Carter for a girl’s night in. Teal’c heads to the play he’d been sold a ticket to, sitting very uncomfortably when he finds out it’s the Vagina Monologues.
Family Ties is one of those episodes it’s a shame that only happened now when the season was cancelled. From start to finish this is an episode that is nothing but laughs and heart as we see two main characters cope with their family problems of the past with a strong focus on the reformed smuggler Vala and her completely unreformed smuggler father Jacek. Black and Willard play the role of daughter and father so believably well it’s uncanny and Willard in particular as Jacek really does steal the show in this episode as the incredibly lovable smuggler Jacek. Even though his ploys clearly have victims who he’s conned the way he does it with the twinkle in his eye and the silver tongue that are always able to get him out of trouble almost as soon as his cons get him in it. It really is a shame this is his only appearance as if he’d been introduced in season 9 I can’t help but think the show may have continued a bit longer than it did.
Elsewhere we also had Landry’s issues regarding his failed marriage, implied to be down to his military career preventing him from being there when he was meant to be. It’s a shame as the acting all round with this segment is also stellar but the problem is that Dr Lam is a character that’s been gone for a season now and never really had time to place any roots on the show in the first place. Just like the problems with Arkad in the previous episode it’s hard to be invested in something that hasn’t been built up.
Outside of the emotional aspect of the episode I can’t help but love how the show just took the opportunity to take multiple not even veiled shots at Syfy’s decision to drop the show, point blank mocking both the network and the show that replaced it. For a show that has never shied away from confronting the people who supported it the fact it decided not to shy away now just makes me love it even more.
We also get a final hurrah of the off-base lifestyles of the characters that have been so few and far between. The idea that Vala and Carter go on shopping trips and have casual get togethers is so believable it’s probably little more than putting what the actresses did behind the scenes on the screen itself while Teal’c is still trying to experience more of Earth’s culture are the sort of thing I wish we’d seen sooner what with Teal’c’s last experience of having a flat in the city. Just that final scene of Judge being so brilliantly expressive at his awkwardness at the play is so memorable that his character’s lack of emotional range is such a shame that we only get it on the rarest of occasions. The civilian aspects of the show were always underplayed to its detriment but the lack of it always produced gems like this.
Overall Family Ties is probably a late example of the show at its best and providing the perfect encapsulation of what it always wanted to be, a fun-filled romp with enough heart at the centre to make you care for the characters and almost make them real.
· Earth really has a lot of aliens living on it now.
· Oh look, it’s the doctor who disappeared for a long time.
· Daniel’s quite trigger-happy these days.
Quote of the episode: “The Stargate program just doesn’t get the support it used to from the people in charge.”
“That’s too bad because after all your Stargate program has accomplished for this network of planets, I would think the decision makers would show it the respect it deserves.” – Carter and Jacek