And here we are with the sadly not great opening two parter for season 8 of the show that thought it’d end after season 7.

Synopsis

We pick up pretty soon after the end of last season’s cliffhanger with Daniel prepping to head out to Antarctica to help resume the exploration of the Ancient Outpost there and finding a solution to save O’Neill from his deepfreeze. Before he can leave however Elizabeth Weir, a woman with the same name as the previous Weir who had left to join the Canadian Police, stops him as the diplomatic talks regarding the status and control of the Outpost have stalled once again, requiring him to stay behind and help.

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Teal’c and Carter are also stuck on base for now as the SGC is once again effectively mothballed during the negotiations as leverage over the others. While the two of them try to get permission to use the heavily modified Tel’tak to find the Asgard but their request is blocked due to Pentagon orders. Behind the scenes however Carter is able to use her position at the SGC to effectively hold them hostage until they allow the mission to find the Asgard. On the way to the old Asgard homeworld the two of them try to have small talk but both find discussing their personal situations uncomfortable. Their situation is made even more uncomfortable when they arrive to find instead of a planet they find a blackhole.

Back at the SGC to add to the failing diplomatic efforts regarding Earth nations over the Outpost the base receives word from the System Lord of the Goa’uld who wish to sign a treaty, now fearful of the Tau’ri’s growing position as the leading power in the Milky Way. Once again the delegation consists of three Goa’uld; Camulus, a Goa’uld of Celtic origin, Amaterasu, a Goa’uld of Japanese origin, and their old friend Lord Yu, who is increasingly senile which his First Prime Oshu is still hiding. It turns out that the real reason they are there is that they want to SGC to destroy Ba’al, who has managed to acquire the remaining Kull warriors that Anubis had left behind following the destruction of his fleet.

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In orbit around what used to be Hala the Tel’tak is falling apart under the strain of fighting against the blackhole’s gravity. Just as it pulls apart however the two of them are rescued by Thor who had arrived when the Asgard noticed a ship in the proximity of their old homeworld. It turns out that the blackhole was an attempt to stop the Replicators but once again some have survived the attempt to wipe them out, with a Replicator ship now on approach to Thor’s ship. While Thor attempts to get away the ship is successfully struck by a Replicator missile full of Replicators which invade the Asgard vessel. As Carter and Teal’c attempt to eradicate or at least delay them Carter is beamed away and the Replicator ship suddenly enters hyperspace. On the Replicator ship Carter is confronted by Fifth, the Human-Replicator who is creepily obsessed with her.

On Earth Weir has been left hanging as it turns out Ba’al is willing to attack those planets supposedly under the Protected Planets Treaty, a bluff on the part of the Asgard who no longer have the ability to actually protect them due to the war with the Replicators. Tired of Weir’s playing for time the trio of Goa’uld leave but as they attempt to leave Daniel discovers they’ve launched a signal for a Ha’tak to attack Earth, basically calling the SGC’s bluff on both the Asgard and the SGC.

Back on Thor’s ship Thor and Teal’c attempt to stop the Replicator ship before it reaches the new Asgard homeworld but are unable to, leading it to being destroyed on exiting Hyperspace by Asgard ships which is believed to have caused Carter’s death. The Replicators however rain down on Orilla, meaning that those blocks need to be destroyed before they destroy the Asgard once and for all. The ship immediately makes its way to Earth to seek more help, allowing both the Asgard to get help while also allowing them to call the Goa’uld’s bluff. While the SGC detains the three emissaries Camulus, who it turns out is a paper-tiger of a Goa’uld, requests asylum. Soon after the others are sent home.

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Thor beams Daniel aboard the ship moments before O’Neill. It turns out that Thor will use the information stored in O’Neill’s mind to save the Asgard from the Replicators and then remove it from him. Thor manages to interface O’Neill’s mind with the ship, an ability he immediately uses to muck around, before appearing to them as a hologram. After creating an anti-Replicator device O’Neill is reawakened, once again cured of his Ancient knowledge.

In an unknown location Fifth has placed Carter in a bizarre dreamstate of a farm where she supposedly lives with Pete after quitting the SGC. Carter quickly sees through the lie and Pete is revealed as Fifth in disguise, who claims to love her while looking like someone who appeared on Crimewatch for the rape and murder of multiple women.

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Thor’s ship returns to Orillia to find that the Replicators have already begin creating prototype human-form brethren, one of which Thor brings aboard to interrogate for intel. While they are able to find the location of the base holding Carter and Fifth the human-form Replicator breaks free of containment but O’Neill is able to destroy it with the device he created, which is essentially a gun. The three members of SG-1 are beamed down to the planet in an effort to rescue Carter, while Thor begins to use a wide area variant of the anti-Replicator device from his ship, and are met by Fifth who threatens to kill Carter if they continue attacking but they do so regardless to prevent the Replicators from escaping. The Replicators however once again escape in a small ship but leave Carter behind, likely in an attempt to stop the other chasing them.

Sometime later at the SGC Weir is packing up her office, revealing that she is no longer the leader of the SGC but will instead supervise the Ancient Outpost, before revealing to O’Neill that they’ve chosen a much more suited commander for the SGC, O’Neill himself who is to be promoted to Brigadier General. O’Neill is unsure of his promotion, preferring to be the one taking orders in the field rather than running the base, but with encouragement from his friends he decides to take up the role. At the ceremony to introduce him as the new commander O’Neill also announces Carter’s promotion from Major to Lieutenant Colonel.

Somewhere in the Universe we find that Mr Rapey Replicator has finally finished what he was working on, a human-form Replicator of Carter because that’s not creepy.

Analysis

New Order is probably the messiest opening the show ever had and it really shows in the resulting episode. The result of a planned one successor show turning into two simultaneous projects led to a number of issues from season 7 needing to be resolved fast and the SGC needing something to actually do this season had to be set up.

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In terms of the plot the episode is all over the place and while some parts work out others are truly just awful. In terms of the SGC that only really shows up during the first half of the two-parter, with Weir having to both carry out her job and then resign to make way for O’Neill. Thankfully however they manage to pull it off, if barely, with a scenario that fits well to what we know of the character’s diplomatic background and sets her up again for Atlantis. Not only does she deal with a Goa’uld summit but manages to show herself as an effective leader by forcing them on the defensive and knowing where to give ground, once again by secretly allying the SGC with Lord Yu.

The Asgard and Replicator plot however is so incredibly hamfisted it would make bestiality participants blush. It was obvious the writers tried to kill two birds with one stone by getting first the Asgard to save O’Neill once again while also setting up the Replicators as a major villain once more (having been dealt with seemingly back in season six). However handwaving writing of the Moffat nature not only sees the Replicators escape scenarios that make no sense (such as magically escaping a blackhole) but also sees O’Neill easily fixed and building anti-Replicator guns which then mean the Replicators can’t possibly be a threat like they’d just spent 60 minutes trying to set up as one.

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Despite this the most awful part of the plot has to be everything revolving around Fifth who has clearly been taking lessons on blending in from the bastard love child of Jimmy Saville and T2’s T-800. While Fifth had originally had a childlike interest in Carter during the events of Unnatural Selection here it just becomes pure creep and not in a good way. The character repeatedly tortures Carter for her betrayal previously but then decides to create a dreamworld in which he pretends to be her lover and claims they’ll be happy there. When she inevitably rejects him he then becomes once again nutty, intending to hold her his prisoner for all time. This bizarre personality just comes off as awful with the almost sexual predator vibe from the character unappealing to watch, with his final twist of creating a Replicator Carter even more disturbing.

Outside of the plot the major change for season 8 was definitely in the visuals, with the series being filmed in HD for the first time. While this meant going forward entirely new elements of the show will look much better here the reuse of some older items really does show the age of the show and not in a good way, with the model for the Prometheus looking even more ugly than usual. It does appear that out of the two shows it was Atlantis that got the higher effects budget for the season with the city itself and the frequent use of space battles compared the mainly ground affair of SG-1 seeing it steal lots of visual elements.

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Overall the opener, rather than being its own thing, largely existed to fix the issues caused by season 7 being written as the last season of the show and the need to move around many characters to their starting positions for Atlantis. Combine this with attempts to rebuild a nemesis for the SGC after seemingly killing off Anubis at the end of season 7 sees an episode that is barely comprehensible and has character motivations that make uncomfortable viewing.

Assorted Musings

· Seriously, no talk about Teal’c suddenly having hair?

· Not related to the episode but can I just say the fact they put adverts for SG-1 DVDs on the DVDs for Season 8 is a pretty stupid selling pitch.

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· Between now and season 8 Weir decided to undergo drastic plastic surgery.

 

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Quote of the episode: “And the last one is Lord Yu.”

“Yu?”

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“Oh don’t. Every joke, every pun, done to death seriously.” – Daniel and Weir