Tonight we have the two episodes that began SG-1s short-lived ‘stick a girl in a revealing dress for ratings’ run.
We start in the SGC with the base about to receive a Tok’ra visitor, with O’Neill expressing his increasing annoyance and distrust with the group, only to be greeted with a new face from the group bearing technology from a long extinct race that is meant to increase a person’s ability. These armband devices however don’t work with anyone containing or melded with a symbiote, with the Tok’ra wanting to test them out on the human members of SG-1. While the SGC want to take things slowly the Tok’ra Anise instead plays for immediate testing, threatening to take the armbands to someone else if they do not cooperate.
While the team initially don’t seem to have any benefit from the armbands improvements start to rapidly become apparent, with O’Neill’s strength and speed massively improving and winning a boxing match with Teal’c, Daniel finding himself able to rapidly read and absorb information, and Carter experiencing much better eyesight. Despite the successes Fraiser is unconvinced, wanting to pause the experiment as the long-term effects are unknown, but the three of them find themselves unable to remove them, even with their increased abilities, leaving Hammond deciding to place the team on lockdown for observation. The three of them quickly grow tired of their confinement and want to leave for a mission, with O’Neill driving Hammond up the wall with his begging to go on a mission (during which he also knocks a chunk of the wall out). Hammond’s fears are realised when O’Neill accidently pushes Silar over a balcony when unable to control his new strength.
In an increasing display of personality changes and growing lack of thinking ability the three abscond off base to go to a local steakhouse, where they end up beating up many of the other customers. After being recovered Anise conveniently reveals that the Tok’ra have suddenly just received word of an experimental Ha’tak ship being built by Apophis and that they’d like SG-1 to deal with it, which Hammond correctly guesses was the Tok’ra’s goal all along. Despite being ordered to stay on base the now completely irrational members of SG-1 go on an unsanctioned mission to destroy it, knocking out the SGC and Goa’uld personnel who get in their way. While the adhoc mission initially goes to plan, with the team grabbing some Naquadah along the way, Fraiser’s earlier medical tests reveal that the three are building up resistance to the effect of the armbands and are likely to reject them entirely. Teal’c, sent as backup, manages to reach the team just as the armbands start to fail, rescuing Daniel, but Carter gets trapped behind a forcefield just as hers and O’Neill’s wear off. Despite Carter’s pleas for him to leave her O’Neill tries to take down the forcefield to no avail, seemingly leaving them to their fate. The forcefield collapses however when the C4 to destroy the ship goes off, giving them the chance to barely escape before the entire complex goes up. While the team are forgiven for their actions by Hammond the same cannot be said for Anise, who leaves in shame with the Tok’ra-Tau’ri alliance set back as a result of her subterfuge.
As an episode Upgrades is one that has always made little sense to me in how they play the characters and factions on the show. While the Tok’ra have always played their cards close to the chest with everyone, including the SGC, they’ve never before actively used others in such a blatantly Goa’uld like fashion, with SG-1 being used as Guinea Pigs for their armbands. While this does come back to haunt them by the end of the episode the idea of including it seems very odd to begin with and was a definite step in the wrong direction.
Talking about wrong directions this episode was the start of the ‘hot woman’ era during season 4 where the higher-ups feared getting destroyed by Star Trek Voyager in the ratings with their introduction of Seven of Nine only a couple of seasons before hand (who also got seen as a deliberate sexing up to shore up the ratings decline). Anise being a sexually attractive Tok’ra, compared to the normally wise and calculating look they’d been designed as before, was a definite bad move by the show so I’m glad they got rid of her after only a couple of appearances.
Despite the problems with Anise I did enjoy the characterisation of O’Neill, Daniel, and Carter who over the course of the episode slowly descended into being excitable kids on a sugar high. O’Neill’s giddy conversation with Hammond and the latter’s obvious awkwardness at having to deal with the situation is a definite highlight of the episode.
Overall Upgrades is a decent but completely forgettable episode with decent character moments being weighed down by an out of place plot and characters that are patronising to the fans.
· Don’t get how building up resistance would’ve cause the original race to go extinct. It just means they could only use them during battle which, given how quickly the effects started, wasn’t much of a hindrance.
· Remember no matter how stupid Anise’s dress is in this episode it’s only downhill from there.
· The scene where O’Neill refuses to leave Carter is one of the first hints as to their growing feelings for each other.
Quote of the episode: “I thought the devices were supposed to enhance them physically, not make them stupid.” - Hammond
The episode begins much in the same way as last episode, with the SGC receiving an off-world visitor. Despite believing it to be Bra’tac the individual reveals themselves to be Shan’auc, a Jaffa priestess with whom Teal’c was once involved. Her purpose on the base however is more of a surprise as she claims to have knowledge that could bring about the destruction of the Goa’uld. During the following interview she reveals that she has managed to connect with the symbiote she carries on a spiritual level and convinced it that the Goa’uld are evil and instead that it should fight them with the Tok’ra but that they must hurry as the mature symbiote is ready to emerge.
After Shan’auc’s condition begins to worsen the team become conflicted as to what they should do with the symbiote, with Daniel and Carter thinking they should at least try to place it in a host while O’Neill is deaset against it. Teal’c, in an effort to prove or disprove Shan’auc’s theory, communicates with his own symbiote which shows him images of Cronus killing his father for failure in battle, proving that Shan’auc is correct in her theory. Deciding to move forward they invite the Tok’ra to come talk to Shan’auc and see what they have to say about her proposal. After meeting with her Anise agrees to share it with the Tok’ra High Council, who believe that the knowledge the symbiote would possess being too great an opportunity to pass up. That night Teal’c and Shan’auc seemingly restart their relationship.
The next morning the team head to the current Tok’ra base, having been informed that the High Council have accepted her offer. Meeting with the new host Shan’auc quickly worsens again, with the symbiote taking the host after he accepts the offer. The newly hosted symbiote reveals its name as Tanith, also seemingly revealing that the host is still ok and that Tanith is true to his word. Once again however Anise screws them over, with the Tok’ra keeping Tanith’s intelligence for themselves, leading O’Neill and SG-1 to angrily leave. Teal’c however stays behind a few minutes to converse with Shan’auc, revealing he intends to quit SG-1 and return to Chulak with her. Soon after they leave however Shan’auc is killed by Tanith, who reveals that he never betrayed the Goa’uld cause.
Back in the SGC Teal’c’s explanation is interrupted by the Tok’ra, who have come to present Teal’c with Shan’auc’s body so she can be properly buried. Teal’c, once again melding with his symbiote, realises that Shan’auc was murdered and, along with the rest of SG-1, returns to the Tok’ra planet intent on having his revenge. In a final subterfuge by the Tok’ra they reveal that they knew that Tanith had murdered Shan’auc but they intend to let Tanith believe he has successfully entered the Tok’ra ranks and use him to pass misinformation back to his masters. Teal’c meets with Tanith one last time, with both stating they will meet again likely with the same meaning.
There’s not really much to add about this episode as it largely shares the exact same issues as the previous one. This time we have not one but two ridiculously revealing costumes that the women wear and yet more stupid writing of the Tok’ra that by the end of the episodes makes them seem no different to the Goa’uld in many respects.
Once again an episode that is not that bad but is totally forgettable due to how it handles the characters and mythology of the show.
· The symbiote emergence scene was very Alien-esque. All you needed it to do was run along the floor to escape.
Quote of the episode: “Incoming traveller, sir. It’s the Tok’ra.”
“Here to share squat with us, no doubt.” – Harriman and O’Neill