Another two episodes. One a thriller that sees the team on the chase for a rogue team and another that badly stereotypes Native Americans.

Spirits

Synopsis

The episode starts with the team in the briefing room with Hammond, who shows them a newly found metal called Trinium that is supposed to be stronger and lighter than Titanium, and that SG-11, who were surveying deposits, have gone missing in the process. The Gate activates, with the team expecting it to be SG-11 but a trinium dart flies through the gateroom and through the reinforced glass window, impaling O’Neill in the arm. A bedridden O’Neill is informed by the others that the dart is of Native American design and that they’re likely responsible for SG-11s disappearance. Hammond commissions the rest of SG-1 to find SG-11 and negotiate a mining treaty with the tribe on the planet.

At the mining camp on the planet they find signs that point to SG-11 must’ve been taken by surprise but there is no trace of whoever did it or signs of battle. They explore further and find a totem pole that has Trinium alloy as part of the design that tells of ‘spirits’ who drove off the Goa’uld. The team, while looking for a wolf that is following them are suddenly ambushed and knocked unconscious by Salish Native Americans and taken to their settlement. At the settlement they observe that the Natives have further incorporated Trinium into their design and are met by a Native called Tonane. He not only returns their weapons but informs them that SG-11 are ‘with the spirits’ and that he will bring SG-1 to the spirits, something the team find ridiculous.

In the forest Tonane introduces them to T’akaya, a wolf, and Xe’ls, a raven, but the team, still finding the situation stupid, fabricate responses from the raven call to say that he will let SG-11 go. However only a short while later SG-11 walk out from the forest after Xe’ls says they’ll be released, leaving all of them confused. SG-11 have no idea what happened between when they disappeared and then reappeared but that Tonane told them to stop just before they disappeared. SG-1 decide to talk to the elders of the village who deny their request for the Trinium but agree to let Tonane go back to the SGC to explore other mining options.

Back at the SGC Tonane explains the other methods are also wasteful and that the only method they accept is ‘asking the mountain’. Hammond suggests that Daniel show Tonane information of his ancestors and when he leaves Hammond reveals they’re going to mine the mountain anyway as soon as the Salish migrate for the winter and that ‘what they don’t know won’t hurt them’. SG-1 leave the room as a result but Connors stays, causing Hammond to disappear, revealing that SG-11 aren’t who they claim to be. The imposters start to move throughout the SGC, removing everyone who steps in their way, with O’Neill putting the base on lockdown and Daniel hiding with Tonane in a storage cupboard. O’Neill, Teal’c, and Sam are the only ones to make it to the Armory and begin systematically clearing the Base.

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In one of the science labs they find one of the imposters now pretending to be the chief scientist, Dr Warner, who reveals that they are the spirits Tonane spoke of before being taken hostage with a Zat blast. This reveals his true form, a humanoid but with gill like elements instead of a nose. Daniel brings Tonane to the lab to find the others and reveal to him what the spirits actually look like but expresses doubt at this. With little other option they decide that Teal’c and Daniel should try to get back to the planet and tell the elders the truth.

In the gateroom they T’akaye and others who disappear Teal’c but Daniel manages to convince them to let him speak. He leads them to the lab where they also make Tonane and Carter disappear but leave O’Neill alone after Daniel tells him they just want to heal Xe’ls. After doing so Xe’ls wants to destroy the base for what they did but O’Neill convinces them to instead bury their Gate so that no one can come back, negating the potential for treachery. They however fear that the Salish will now turn against them but Daniel convinces them that the Salish are peaceful and won’t try to wage war on them if they reveal the truth. Tonane, upon finding out the truth decides that they can be whoever they want as they’ve always been kind. Before they leave the spirits cause everyone to reappear, including the real SG-11 and depart.

Analysis

I honestly don’t know how this episode was ever seen as a good idea from the initial idea in the writers mind all the way to editing. You can tell this is a product of the 90s as this would never get made today just because of how bloody offensive it would be seen as.

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I don’t know if they’re trying to go for an ‘evil white settler’ angle to this episode but they miss it badly. The Salish characters, despite meant to have advanced in some way technologically have remained stagnant in all others, including stereotypes it seems, with them all having a puppy-dog like trusting quality to them but also a script them makes them come across as slow or dim-witted at the same time. They never once seem to question anything and trust everyone, deciding that the strangers can have their weapons back immediately after capturing them.

Also what was up with General Hammond this episode? It seemed like this had been written for early season 1 as this is a man who already has broken orders several times when they’re stupid or unethical but now is suddenly agreeing to steal the resources of the Salish just because they won’t know about it. It makes no sense for the starting of the concluding act of the episode to have a character act so out of it.

Overall probably a bad idea of an episode that comes across, like a number of things have recently, of bad research on one hand and bad stereotyping on the other, something that even modern tales haven’t learnt from when it comes to the portrayal of Native Americans.

Assorted Musings

· Despite being a terrible episode this isn’t the worse of the season.

· How is a wolf meant to be able to make people disappear given how they can’t touch their paws together?

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Quote of the episode: “Wow this is a great idea for an episode. People definitely won’t be offended by this” – Whoever greenlit the episode.

Touchstone

Synopsis

Once again we start in the Briefing Room where SG-1 are informing them about a planet that has a device that allows them to summon seasons and weather as needed and that the team want to return to take a closer look at it. Upon return however they find the weather is running amok, with the natives who are greeting them accusing them of stealing it. The natives inform them a team dressed and equipped much in the same way appeared and stole the device before escaping through the Gate. The team, clueless to the identity of the thieves, manage to convince the natives to let them go so that they can find the device.

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Back on base O’Neill goes straight to Hammond to ask if he’s been getting covert orders to steal it, an accusation he strenuously denies, leading to O’Neill to ask if there’s anyway an SG team could’ve snuck through the Gate, which he also denies, leading to Hammond giving permission for Carter to check back through the dialling computer to see if anything sinister did happen. During this process not only do the team notice several unusual weather events being reported but that there was an energy spike during a Gate activation similar to the one that happened when the second Gate on Earth sent O’Neill and Carter to the Antarctic.

O’Neill reports the finding to Hammond who informs O’Neill that he’s being stonewalled by people up the chain of command as suddenly he can’t get hold of the President. Hammond reveals that during the setting up of the SGC there was a political fight between those who wanted a diplomatic focused mandate that is currently used and one that used a ‘at all costs’ method of obtaining technology. Hammond is able to find out that not only was the second Gate sent to Area 51, which is used to store all off-world technology, but that Maybourne, the NID officer who previously tried to obtain Teal’c and the Tollan, has also been assigned there and informs the team of this and that he’s sending them there to check up on the second Gate.

In Area 51 they find a number of top secret research efforts, including work on the Death Gilders the team brought back from the attack on Earth, before finding Maybourne, who Teal’c informs that he could dismember by right, but he denies all knowledge of the unsanctioned mission to take the Touchstone and that the second Gate is still in storage. Opening the crate they do find a second Gate but Carter realises that it isn’t real but an elaborate fake, causing a clearly confused Maybourne to state it was the one brought back from the Antarctic but gives away that he is aware of the group who likely stole the actual Gate and has the team removed.

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With no other leads the team get Hammond’s go ahead to deliberately overcharge their Gate to send a MALP through from the Touchstone planet to end up coming out the second Gate, with the irony that it’s quicker sending something across the galaxy and back just to find something a few hundred miles away not lost on Hammond. The plan succeeds, with the MALP ending up back on Earth but is destroyed by someone at the Gate’s location before they get the coordinates to its location other than the general area of Southern Utah. Hammond however manages to use one of his old contacts to find out the exact location who informs him that a C-5 Galaxy was requisitioned for a pickup at a remote airstrip.

The team make their way to the airstrip where they find disused hanger with 3 guys and what appears to be the Gate inside and decide to confront them. O’Neill heads over to the nearby truck which is carrying a fourth guy activating a DHD. The team, under orders not to shoot anyone, are unable to stop the 4 men as they escape through the Gate to an unknown location but manage to stop them taking the Touchstone with them which they return to the planet and use to fix the weather problems. At the SGC however they discuss what’s going to happen regarding the rogue off-world unit and the second Gate, with the Gate having a permanent Iris attached and placed into SGC custody. At the placing of the Iris Maybourne reveals to O’Neill that he’s being reassigned and further hints that the conspiracy controlling the off-world team goes higher than he realises.

Analysis

This is once again more of a thriller episode, which seems to be the case whenever Maybourne appears, with the SGC trying to track down a rogue off-world team that is trying to steal any technology for unknown benefactors. There’s a chase, a hidden threat, a government conspiracy, and a ticking clock, all hallmarks of the genre.

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In terms of the characters this sees a much increased role for Hammond from many of his previous appearances, with him being thrust front and centre of the power plays that are being fought in the corridors of power with his previously near perfect access to the higher echelons of government suddenly limited to calling interns and having to also take part in the cloak and dagger via old contacts from unknown history. We also see Maybourne reappear as part of a more sinister part of the intelligence community but this time even he is found blindsided by events as he isn’t aware of the Gate being moved in the first place but still seems to know more than is let on, with him seemingly recruited into the plot at the end of the episode.

Overall it’s a nice little episode that switches things up from the straight scifi so far this season and instead looks at other genres once again.

Assorted Musings

· That smile Teal’c has after threatening Maybourne has to be one of the few times he shows emotion on the show that isn’t anger or sadness.

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· That clip of a C-5 landing is clearly in no way stock footage shoved in. No sirree.

Quote of the episode: “We came here in peace and we expect to go in one... piece.” – O’Neill