And here we are into season 3 of SG-1 where we have the first episode I remember ever watching way back when I was a child and an episode about Scientology.
Into The Fire
We begin, following the cliffhanger at the end of the last episode, in the SGC with Colonel Makepeace, leader of SG-3, returning to inform Hammond that they’ve found out where SG-1 are and that Hathor is holding them after gaining a map of the base from the Tok’ra. Despite protests from the Pentagon liaison Major Davis regarding their plan, Hammond sends all currently on base SG teams, comprising of teams 3,5,6, and 11, in an attempt to rescue SG-1 from the planet.
In the fake SGC on the planet Hathor has decided that O’Neill is to be implanted with the symbiote but he attempts to overpower her only to be Zatted by the lab assistant from the last episode. After being moved to a cryotube he’s implanted by the symbiote but Hathor’s celebrations are short-lived as the SGC strike force enter the base and start making their way deeper into the facility. After Hathor and the others leave the lab assistant reveals herself to be the Tok’ra operative on the base and tells him that the cryo process should kill the symbiote.
Inside the facility the strike force manage to free Carter and Daniel and prepare to pull out the base. However the team defending the Stargate are suddenly cut off by incoming Jaffa, losing control of the Gate by the time the main force returns. The team find the Gate abandoned but upon attempting to get to it they find it is now cut off by a forcefield with two heavy turrets emerging to ambush them, inflicting multiple casualties. The turrets however expose the Tok’ra tunnels below the base into which the remainders of the strike force retreat into.
Several hours later the SGC, worried by the lack of contact, dial the Gate to establish contact with the team and are informed of the situation and that the Gate is controlled by a number of Jaffa. Hammond attempts to get reinforcements he promised for the team but is stonewalled by the Pentagon as the higher ups are unwilling to sacrifice more troops. In the tunnels, where they’re expecting reinforcements, Carter decides to go back to the facility to find the power generator for the forcefield and destroy it so reinforcements can arrive while the remnants of the team try to hold the tunnels.
On Chulak Teal’c has returned to the city to find his wife’s former home ransacked before being attacked by a wounded Bra’tac who had been left to die by Apophis loyalists still in the city and informs Teal’c that the city is in fear of being taken over by another Goa’uld and are unlikely to help him. While searching the city for supplies Teal’c is confronted by the same loyalists but fends them off, leaving them with a message to gather everyone at the hose tomorrow so he can address them.
At the address Teal’c tries to bring Jaffa to his side, telling them how he saw Apophis die and that the Goa’uld are only as strong as their armies, but is unable to bring many to his cause, only inspiring a handful of volunteers including a cloaked man, who reveals himself to be Hammond, who has come to seek help in freeing the strike team and SG-1 after his inability to get help from the military. Given their low numbers Bra’tac finds and retrieves an old ship that used to be used to fly through Stargates but has since fallen out of fashion due to the difficulties of flying them.
Back in the facility Carter makes her way to the cryoroom and frees O’Neill from his cryopod, only to be ambushed by Hathor who is wielding a hand device. O’Neill however is able to find the strength to restrain her and throw her into the cryoliquid to her death. The badly wounded Tok’ra agent manages to inform them that the generator is hidden behind the fake Stargate they were at earlier, which they are able to find and place explosives on. Despite achieving their goal they return to the Gate to find that the strike force has been captured with only about half of the team still alive. With reinforcements only minutes away O’Neill decides to get the leader of the guards at the Gate distracted until the Gate dials. Upon activation Carter destroys the generator and Teal’c’s team quickly overwhelm the guards while himself and Hammond take out the towers in the ship, allowing them to celebrate the rescue of not only the SG strike force but also the first victory of what would become the Jaffa Rebellion.
So there we have the conclusion to the clip show that ended season two and here we can already see changes in the show going forward. Season’s 1 and 2 largely focused on a single plot angle with some minor side plot or SGC scenes but here were already see quite an intricate plot that at times has four different threads for the same story going on, with O’Neill’s side, Carter/Daniel and the strike force, Hammond at the SGC, and Teal’c on Chulak. Not only does this give way to more complex plotlines for the show but means that you can further develop characters separately from each other.
In this episode in particular it was nice to see Hammond once again having to go above and beyond to help those under his command, not only going off-world to get support from Teal’c and Bra’tac but also taking part in the rescue as the weapons officer in the ship. It’s a shame we don’t see him out and about more often on the show as he is a great character who sometimes gets relegated to phoning it in.
Outside of this the show has also improved massively between seasons 2 and 3 on the technology side, with a very noticeable visual fidelity upgrade where previously the show had a very grainy, lower focus camera film while now the picture is much clearer and in better focus. Alongside this upgrade the vfx have also been improved as now they blend much better into the live-action while in previous seasons (the first especially so) they often looked jarring when put side by side and clearly fake.
Overall a great episode to open a wildly different third season that adds more action to the show without losing focus and also begins the dropping of the pre-Medieval Earth cultures that have dominated the previous monster of the week episodes.
· This episode once again reminds the viewer just how small the SGC really is, with their strike force being only around 15-20 people and no air support of any kind.
· Is it just me or does RDA’s hair get more and more grey as the episode goes on?
Quote of the episode: “There is an old Jaffa saying General Hammond. They do not build them as they once did.” – Teal’c
We start with the SGC welcoming Jacob/Selmak who has brought information from the Tok’ra. Over the last few years the Tok’ra have been trying to complete records about which Goa’uld are currently active and their allegiances but in their findings they’ve found that one Goa’uld, Seth, has been missing since the times of the Ancient Egyptian rebellion, leading them to conclude he must still be on Earth. The team quickly works to finding out his location while Selmak reveals that he asked for the assignment due to getting fed up with Jacob’s issues with his son and that he wants to solve them before going back off-world, something Jacob is reluctant to do. Meeting up with the others in the lab Daniel reveals a common thread throughout history of a cult following a man called Seth periodically appearing only to end with the finding of the bodies of the cultists before Seth moves on again, and that there is a form of the cult currently active in the US.
The team and Jacob head to the location of the cult where they liaison with the local sheriff department. Nearby they are greeted by a man who introduces himself as the father of one of the cultists who’s been camped out and trying to get help. The team reluctantly agree to let him stay nearby as they go in for recon, finding the cultists heavily armed but also carrying Zats, confirming a Goa’uld presence. As they leave however they’re confronted by the ATF and their leader Agent Hamner, whose jurisdiction the situation falls under due to the illegal weapons, and butts heads with the team due to them not informing why the Air Force is interested in the place. The matter is settled however after the President personally intervenes to place the Air Force in charge, which Hamner agrees to despite misgivings about being in the dark regarding the situation.
The combined group quickly get to work looking for an escape tunnel out of the facility they can use to make their way in. After finding it their only problem is having a way to deal with the drug used to create uncompromising devotion to Seth that is given to the followers, which Carter comes up with a solution for, after Jacob says a Zat blast would do the trick, by placing a small electrical device into their covert earpieces to snap them out of it when ready. With the plan in place O’Neill, Carter, and Daniel head into the cultist facility to get deliberately captured which goes as expected.
Later, after a bunch of creepy name calling, the earpieces are activated, clearing them of Seth’s control but he catches on before being informed that others are moving in. He sends the team off to be executed but they overpower and free their guard from Seth’s control, who then brings them to the armoury where they pick up more Zats and proceed to free other cultists while Carter and the freed guard (the distraught father’s son) evacuate the now free cultists. Seth himself however manages to escape into the tunnels after confronting both O’Neill and Daniel, both of whom barely escape before a Goa’uld grenade goes off.
Inside the tunnels both Carters are checking for Seth whom Jacob finds but is also disabled by him while Seth himself is chased down by Sam who crushes him into the floor itself. With the mission accomplished and all the cultists freed Selmak is able to bring Jacob to reconnect with his son as he intended.
This episode is very much one of two halves and as a result there’s one I like very much and one I don’t enjoy that much.
The former part of the episode was the focus around family and not only the continuous family issues present in the Carter clan but also how the job effects them all, with Jacob’s issues being reflected in the father of the cultist and Teal’c offering sage advice as always. The latter part of the episode however was the very creepy worshipping stuff which I’ve always found a bit bizarre to watch whenever I see this episode as it takes an almost sexual tone when it comes to Carter.
Despite that however it was nice to see the Earth of Stargate widened again partially with the showing of the difficulties of inter-agency working due to different chains of command and information, something that has become a hot topic in Europe over the last few years due to intelligence fuck ups. However it probably was a bit unrealistic with Agent Hamner almost immediately giving up control of the situation to the pissant Air Force Colonel from earlier.
Overall I find Seth to be a decent episode overall that doesn’t leave a bad taste but doesn’t exactly leave an imprint anyway.
· Teal’c really can’t do humour can he.
· Also Teal’c giving parental advice is a bit hilarious given he’s abandoned his son multiple times now and continues to be a sore point in the show going forward.
Quote of the episode: “A Serpent guard, a Horus guard, and a Setesh guard meet on a neutral planet. It is a tense moment. The Serpent guard’s eyes glow. The Horus guard’s beak glistens. The Setesh guard’s nose drips.” – Teal’c’s ‘joke’