Here we are, halfway through the run of Stargate SG-1.

Menace

 

Synopsis

 

The team are off exploring he ruins of what appears to have be an advanced civilisation, following energy readings. It turns out however that they’re being emitted by a very well preserved woman who it appears has been put in suspended animation. The team confirm that the woman is actually some form of artificial person and the team get permission to bring it back through the Stargate to the SGC for observation and hopefully reactivate it.

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The team are able to revive the lifeform, who identifies herself as Reece, and wants to know where her father is. While she initially provides some detail she is still timid and avoiding of Daniel’s questions regarding her planet, instead wants to know more and more about the planet she’s on. Meanwhile O’Neill and Teal’c return to the planet they found Reese on, with them finding Replicator blocks located all around the facility where they found Reese. Upon return the two groups meet and discuss what to do, hoping that Reese knows how to repel the Replicators but that the woman has the mind of a child given her avoidance of topics and instead wanting to play.

Daniel returns to Reese to talk further while the others observe, finding that she somehow has a metal figurine. While he attempts to begin questioning her again she immediately refuses to answer anything he has to ask, again demanding to play. When Daniel reveals Reece’s true nature as a machine to her she immediately becomes defensive, throwing Daniel into a bookcase. When Daniel returns sometime later while he forgives Reese the woman claims that he attacked her first, clearly trying to pass blame onto others. Instead of answering more questions she shows him a ‘toy’ she’s made, a full-size Replicator. Reese reveals that she created the Replicators as toys and when the people on the planet try to confront her and her creator she sends the Replicators to kill everyone.

While the team attempt to contact the Asgard for help their allies send no response, suggesting their war with the Replicators isn’t going well, and instead decide they should shut Reese down. It turns out however that Reese has already built many dozens of Replicators who begin attacking base staff and attempt to escape. Knowing the threat to Earth the mountain is sealed and cleared section by section, with the bugs managing to cut base power in sections and seizing control of key areas such as the control room. The team decide to split up with Daniel attempting to negotiate with Reese, Teal’c and O’Neill defending Daniel, and Carter and Hammond setting the self-destruct just in case.

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As the base fights around them Daniel attempts to talk with Reese but isn’t seemingly able to break through despite his attempts, with her still refusing to admit fault or that she’s been built wrong, and that her control over the Replicators on the base is already failing. O’Neill’s team finally break through the door to the Gateroom and O’Neill shoots her, moments later the Replicators dying as Reese herself does. While Daniel tries to admonish O’Neill for having killed Reese, who he believes chose to destroy the Replicators on the base, O’Neill remains unapologetic, stating that Reese has every opportunity to stop beforehand and it was only her death that stopped the threat.

 

Analysis

 

So here we are, with an episode that essentially becomes a tale of why just having advanced technology is never a good idea if the person with it isn’t mature enough to understand and correctly apply it. Here we have the android Reece who in every other sense is remarkable being the lone survivor of a long-lost civilisation. Of course it’s only once we get to know her that we find she’s the cause of it being a long-lost civilisation due to her inability to understand others. While it’s not entirely her fault for doing what she did as it was a mob of angry citizens demanding she be shut down due to her creating machines like the Replicators who caused her to feel threatened. However instead of just accepting they may have a point she instead decided to create even more and let them loose, killing untold planets in the process before she was successfully deactivated.

Once Reece is brought back to the SGC history repeats itself due to her flawed nature, with her being unable to understand a connection between her actions and the repercussions they cause, internalising that Daniel must’ve attacked her first as otherwise why would she push him through a shelf. This gets to the point where even as people are being attacked and killed by her creations she still refuses to see herself as the villain or net negative of the situation as she has internalised her belief that everyone wants her destroyed and therefore it’s fine to kill them first. It’s only when O’Neill actually gets involved by killing her does the cycle end.

The conflict towards the end between Daniel and O’Neill is yet another display of the differences between the two close friends, with Daniel refusing to let go of the diplomatic option even as hell falls down around, while O’Neill wants to go in guns blazing. Daniel’s stubbornness in this episode however is shown to be stronger than usual, going so far as to insult O’Neill at the end of the episode for his actions despite knowing himself that the situation had gotten desperate enough to require the military option. O’Neill however is unphased throughout the episode, having known that as soon as the Replicators got involved that there was no ‘happy ending’ possible.

Overall the episode is one that focuses on a child-like character and the dangers of putting so much power into the hands of someone clearly unable to handle it.

 

Assorted Musings

 

· Apparently the reason Teal’c isn’t really seen at the start is because this was filmed on 9/11 and Judge had family in NYC at the time.

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· I love how despite the fact Reese beat up Daniel someone is still adding more and more items for her to use in her room.

· This is the middle episode of the entire show’s run.

 

Quote of the episode:“She’s kind of hard to pin down in a conversation, her attention wanders. It’s like she has the mind of a child.”

*All look at the non-attentive O’Neill who’s messing with a magnifying glass*

“What?” –Daniel and O’Neill

 

The Sentinel

 

Synopsis

 

The SGC is attempting to make contact with SG-9 who have been overdue for half a day while conducting a diplomatic mission on a planet one of the NID rogue teams went to. The SGC however make contact with the team who are under attack from Goa’uld forces and most likely killed in the process before communications drop out completely. The team watches over old footage from the NID mission to the planet, which reveals an inquisitive if naïve society of humans, called the Latonans, who have never needed to worry about the Goa’uld due to a planetary defence system called “The Sentinel” and that the NID have clearly messed with it which explains why some forces were able to reach the planet and attack SG-9. Knowing they’ll need the help of the NID agents who broke the machine in the first place O’Neill recruits two of them, Grieves and Kershaw, to help on the mission in exchange for commuting their death sentences.

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The team along with SG-3 begin the mission, using a UAV to spot for missiles launched from the SGC to clear out Jaffa emplacements on the other side of the Gate while SG-3 chases down the survivors before they inform anyone else of their arrival. A short distance away they find a survivor from SG-9, Lt. Grogan from Proving Ground, who had gotten separated the night before from the others during the attack. Grogan agrees to bring O’Neill to the leader of the Latonans to ask him about “The Sentinel” while the others head to the device to hopefully fix it. While the leader knows of the device it becomes clear that because the society has no threat left they’ve regressed in terms of technology as no one needs to know how lots of things work anymore, meaning the Latonans will be of no use in fixing it.

Outside the city the rest of the group find the cavern containing “The Sentinel” and let the NID officers try and break back into the device, which is protected by a forcefield. A Jaffa patrol however has followed them leading to a firefight outside the entrance which gives away their position to others, with Grieves deciding to help the members of SG-1 while Daniel works on the forcefield. The group manages to get the forcefield down but Goa’uld forces arrive in orbit and start landing troops, forcing the group to retreat further into the cavern and seal themselves behind the forcefield as the option of retreat is cut off but Kershaw is badly wounded in the process. Back in the city however O’Neill and Grogan are captured by Goa’uld forces.

The group attempt to get the device operational but can’t, with Daniel only able to partially decipher some of the writing that speaks of ‘life force’ or ‘two as one’. Kershaw and Grieves reveal that the night they broke into the machine they shot and killed someone who attempted to attack the others, revealing that the real reason it no longer works is because it requires human sacrifice to power it. The Jaffa outside are joined by others including the captive SG members, who they threaten to kill unless the forcefield is lowered. Grieves however sacrifices his life by touching “The Sentinel”, allowing it to work by removing all the Jaffa on the planet, while Kershaw finally dies of her wounds leaving SG-1 alone in the cavern.

 

Analysis

 

The episode The Sentinel brings in quite a common science-fiction trope of societal regression, where a society will go backwards in some aspect such as culture over a long period. In this case however it’s not due to a calamity or warfare but due to the fact that because they became so good at defending themselves and their technology peaked that no one cared for advancing it, which created a scenario in which they slowly regressed to the point where “The Sentinel” has become less a machine and more of a mythical protector that will come at their time of need. Given the military nature of the show it may not be a surprising tone (pacifism is dangerous) but it’s still an interesting one as it’s no secret that many of the innovations the modern world is reliant on such as GPS, Satellite Communications, and the Internet were all either military project or had funding from them so the idea that no having something to compete or protect against has meant that it has forgotten how to defend or advance isn’t the most bizarre one to understand.

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Outside of this the episode ties up the plotline from the very early seasons of the NID off-world operations, which have caused complications for the SGC in the past. Here we see one of the worlds the SGC has been slowly trying to re-establish relations with after the NID conducted operations there. In this case a team led by Grieves and Kershaw had first attempted to talk their way into “The Sentinel” but then decided to secretly infiltrate it during the night and taking it apart for study, leading to the death of the man who operates it and the contents of the episode. One of the more interesting aspects shown slightly was how civil Grieves and Kershaw were compared to other NID teams shown before. While previously they’ve been portrayed as ‘no consequences’ strike forces who’ve killed first these two have been surprisingly held back, first having tried to gain fair access to the machine before trying force access. In the end they’re also shown to be loyal to the SGC and regretful of their actions, with both helping out as best they can and then giving their lives to save the others.

Overall the episode is one that types up a couple of loose ends from the first seasons and aims to expand the background given to the NID in the early days which is largely succeeds at, while portraying a civilisation that has come so far it no longer understands how to use it.

 

Assorted Musings

 

· The Latonans aren’t exactly the nicest in the past were they, relying on human sacrifice to stop the enemy.

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· Once again we see the progression of the SGC with it now having the ability to launch missiles through the Stargate to act as drone weapons.

 

Quote of the episode: “(sarcastically) You don’t think it’s possible for an NID operative to lie?”

“I believe it is, Daniel Jackson.”

“Right…” – Daniel and Teal’c