So here we are today exploring more Earth based issues. I’ve switched the episodes around as they were aired in the wrong order, with Affinity containing references to The Trust before they were introduced in Covenant.

Covenant

Synopsis

Somewhere in the US major industrialist Alec Colson is speaking with his confidant Brian Vogler, with the latter attempting to dissuade his friend regarding a certain course of action. It turns out that Colson is holding a major press conference and its purpose is to reveal the existence of alien life and that the government is covering it up, with lies such as the USS Nimitz task group being destroyed/heavily damaged by a “meteor shower” (in fact it was Anubis’ fleet), giving the US government a 24 hour deadline to reveal the truth or he will. At the SGC Carter and Daniel watch the announcement, knowing the game could soon be up.

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After the announcement the team decide what to do regarding the situation which is delicate given Colson’s connections all over the world and in particular the US government, and the fact some of his companies helped build projects for the SGC including the F-302 (though he was kept in the dark due to his transparent approach to running a company). Carter and Daniel visit the man himself and attempt to personally convince him not to release his proof, which he reveals to be images of both the Goa’uld fleet and the Battle of Antarctica involving the Prometheus. Their attempts fail as they find Colson to be a true believer in letting the world know the truth, with the only people wanting to hear from the two are journalists they met over the course of the show. The next day the press conference goes ahead with Colson revealing his hidden proof, a real-life Asgard.

Given the situation the SGC try to work out how Colson got his hands on an Asgard, finding out that the SGC contracted one of his biotech companies to sequence Asgard DNA and that clearly they kept their use of it to grow a full clown off the books, meaning all they have is an empty shell. It turns out however that the SGC have their own trump card in the form of Thor, who helps them by first beaming out all of Colson’s evidence and the clone before then appearing as a hologram on the news with a report by Carter to cover it up with the line that it’s all CGI. Before they can celebrate news comes in that someone sabotaged Colson’s plane and it almost crashed on takeoff. Carter calls Colson to check if he’s ok and assure him it wasn’t her or anyone she worked for. While he accepts her assurances he also tells her he’s still going to reveal the truth.

Given the turn of events Carter decides they should go all out and just reveal the full truth to Colson, in the hope of getting his silence due to the real dangers. Colson finds himself beamed out of his office and straight to the SGC, where he’s not only introduced to Thor but also shown the Stargate itself. Later she takes him to the brand new Alpha Site, this time modelled directly on the SGC having been built inside a mountain with its own aerial detachment of F-302s which Carter takes Colson for a spin in but it doesn’t change his mind.

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Back on Earth however it’s revealed that Brian is working with person’s unknown and that he’s been sabotaging the company since the attempted assassination to make it look like the company has been fiddling with the books and in serious financial issues. When Colson returns to Earth with Carter they both go to confront Brian. He turns out the group he’s been in contact with was The Trust, a shadowy group of businessmen who want to privately profit from the Stargate and off-world tech and who the SGC has been fighting for some time now. Carter decides to try and get Brian to turn on his contact but later that night he kills himself to protect his family.

Carter goes back to Colson to talk to him, finding him in his office with a gun and likely contemplating suicide. Carter attempts to convince him that it isn’t the end for him, offering him the opportunity to join one of the SGC’s off-world research bases where he can continue to apply his technological brilliance whilst remaining safe from The Trust.

Analysis

Covenant is yet another surprisingly dark and serious episode in a run that both shows seem to have been having at the time, this time once again going into the murky world of an Earth-based thriller.

The story largely sees a surprisingly naïve/well-intentioned CEO, Alec Colson, attempt to release the truth of the SGC to the world only to be repeatedly obstructed first by the SGC and then The Trust, with the latter being revealed to have been doing this for months. The episode’s focus in this is once again plot clean up duty left over from season 7 in many regards, with it trying to first confront the destruction of a US Navy Battle Group which had been left dangling in universe for several months before hand despite the deaths of thousands of sailors (with a slight joke reference to the cover once more being a “meteor shower”) and then also add reasoning to the decision to keep the SGC a secret still when so much of its advances have made their way into the eyes of the public.

If there’s one real disappointment to this season it’s the fact so much of it seems to be these sorts of problems in the need to clear up from the sudden change of plans from no show to recommissioned, with the last part of season seven being entirely “well the truth will be out soon” while now it’s “quick, let’s keep the truth hidden”. It not only takes up valuable episode time but stops the show being as creative as it’s been in the past.

Outside of this the episode also spent some time going over and criticising the Military-Industrial Complex in the US, more specifically the contracting out to private companies. Many NATO countries, such as the US, have historically been increasingly shifting the burden of military production and research to specific companies and there have been longstanding concerns of those companies either selling secrets on to others or using it to their own ends which here in the episode is what gave Colson the ability to not only build things for the SGC but also obtain the evidence to show and the ability to create an Asgard clone. Some of the set design seems to prominently display the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, a notoriously badly run program that, while eventually delivering a great aircraft, was beset by repeated delays and cost overruns. Both issues give the message that while outsourcing to private companies provide and easier logistical situation, the high cost and potential for security breaches should put an end to such practices.

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The owner of the fictional company at the heart of the episode, Alec Colson, is also the episode’s most interesting character. In many ways he’s the epitome of the American Dream, having worked his way up from more humble beginnings to own one of the world’s biggest companies, with a tragic backstory regarding his family. Despite his wealth and insider connections he’s still remarkably noble in his outlook, wanting to reveal the truth of the SGC even if it destroys his company simply because he feels the people deserve to have the knowledge. To counter this however there’s an almost childlike giddiness regarding what others see as life and death situation, regarding the attempts to stop him as nothing more than a game until his friend’s betrayal and suicide show him just how serious this really is. He’s yet another addition to the collection of great one-off characters who never got another look in.

Overall the episode is moody and dark, filled with twists and turns of corporate intrigue, betrayal, and murder. Yet another great episode by the show if dulled slightly by the tone being similar to ones that came before.

Assorted Musings

· I love the fact they used a puppet to play the “CGI” Asgard when the show has used actual CGI for the Asgard before.

· Hey Kinsey got the sack.

 

Quote of the episode: “He’s also a little nuts isn’t he?”

Carter – “You’ve test-flown experimental aircraft.”

Daniel – “We all go through the Gate.”

“This isn’t about us.” – O’Neill, Carter, and Daniel

 

Affinity

Synopsis

In a picture perfect suburb in the US a group of thugs drive into the back end of someone’s car, stepping out to attack the driver only to be stopped by a Teal’c who seems to have stepped out of That ‘70s Show who deals with all of them single-handed. It turns out that O’Neill managed to get Teal’c permission to live outside the base given his history but a number of incidents, like stopping the thugs, is drawing unwanted attention and the higher ups are getting tired of having to deal with it. O’Neill has Daniel sent to visit the Jaffa to try and explain the incident and why his behaviour is abnormal as Americans don’t like to help each other and avoid intervening in other situations. Their discussion is interrupted however by the arrival of a young woman, Krista, who’s Teal’c’s neighbour and friend, with Daniel leaving when he accidently thinks the two are involved when she asks Teal’c to “fix her pipes”.

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Elsewhere Carter is with Pete, the boyfriend who the fans despise, who not only reveals that he’s gotten a transfer to Colorado Springs but also proposes to Carter. Later at the SGC O’Neill notices her odd behaviour and goes to chat with her in the lab under the disguise of needing a report. Carter reveals to him Pete’s proposal and the fact she still hasn’t made her mind up as to accept it even after 2 weeks.

Back with Teal’c the Jaffa is going shopping with Krista, only to once again become involved in an incident when a man attempts to steal a woman’s bag. While he initially tries to head Daniel’s advice to not get involved he eventually gives in, throwing a piece of fruit some distance to stop the assailant. While those nearby praise him for once again helping he’s being watched by an unknown person. Later on Teal’c intervenes once again in his apartment building when Krista has an argument in the doorway with her drunken and controlling boyfriend and helping her to get the guy to leave.

Teal’c goes to the SGC to talk with his friends and get their advice regarding Krista’s situation, only for both Teal’c and Daniel to be shocked by Carter’s sudden obsession with the topic of relationships and how they work still unware of what’s happening in her personal life. Teal’c returns to his suburban lifestyle to find Krista, who has since broken up with her boyfriend, and decides to help her train in Jaffa Martial Arts when she takes an interest in the exercises he was doing in the park. After a brief training montage he finds that Krista is suddenly not interested in training with him anymore, finding that her boyfriend is back and is now beating her up.

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Later Krista comes to Teal’c’s door in tears and says she’s finally broken up with her boyfriend and asks him to take her on the road with him to get away from it all. Though hesitant the Jaffa, now having feelings for the young woman, agrees. At the SGC O’Neill is told that the boyfriend has been found dead in her apartment and that Teal’c is wanted for murder after a neighbour overheard him threaten the guy earlier. As the two of them leave Teal’c suspects they’re being followed but they manage to seemingly lose their tail and hide out at a motel. After what appears to be confirming their relationship Teal’c awakes alone only to be greeted by an entire SWAT team at the door.

Teal’c is brought to the SGC where it’s revealed that the government had him detained for the supposed murder of Krista’s boyfriend and that they received an anonymous tip of his whereabouts, making it seem that Krista killed her boyfriend and then framed Teal’c. Daniel in his lab however is contacted by an unknown group, believed to be The Trust, with Ancient writing who demand a translation in return for proof that Teal’c is innocent.

To try and first prove Teal’c was innocent without being blackmailed Carter has Pete come with her to Krista’s apartment to conduct his own investigation, believing that the investigation was wrong and that the body had been moved to frame Teal’c. They also locate the apartment across from the building that contained the observation team, finding evidence about who was there and when through their pizza orders.

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Meanwhile Daniel decides to meet with the man who sent the message, only to find himself taken hostage by them at the meet. Daniel confirms they’re The Trust and is brought by van to a warehouse where Krista is being held. The Trust also reveal that Krista had killed her boyfriend but in self-defence and they’d set up Teal’c to get the scent off of them. The Trust are able to force Daniel into translating the symbols and seemingly prepare to have the hostages killed as loose ends but instead only zat them. While Carter is able to track down their location via Pete’s detective work and manage to rescue the two of them the captors get away with what they wanted.

In the aftermath Carter decides to accept Pete’s proposal. Teal’c however has a sadder end, having to move back to the SGC and say goodbye to his new friends.

Analysis

Once again we have an episode focus on our Jaffa friend, this time instead of his job we now see him trying to function as an ordinary citizen to poor results with also scenes of Carter facing the same sort of domestic issues.

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With Teal’c we largely see the helpful giant struggle to understand everyday customs even after being on Earth for 7 years, largely due to being stuck inside a military-controlled facility for most of it. Here we see him fail to grasp why civilians aren’t always helping each other like people in the Forces are meant to, instead attracting attention due to it being bizarre to stop and help old ladies and nerds who are robbed or attacked.

The more important focus however is the interactions with Krista. Quite quickly we find that not only has he found companionship outside the base but also once again finds himself the unlikely saviour for her, training her to defend herself. This has unexpected repercussions and sees him later re-confined to the base when she kills her boyfriend in self-defence.

While it could be seen as a good thing they had an abused woman “fight back” as it were (especially given TVs issue of playing women as the frail victim) the placement of it as something that effects Teal’c and how he responds to it wasn’t the right one. Much like in other controversies around female domestic violence, the placement of a male POV can be seen to detract from the victim and instead make them look like nothing more than a plot item for that male’s storyline.

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Instead the more minor focus on Carter and Pete is probably the better put together one. When Pete was first introduced it was meant to be a stepping stone towards Carter and O’Neill ending up together and it showed it, with Pete basically stalking Carter’s history via his access to police records and tailing her because she won’t reveal everything about herself. Here however he plays a vital role in saving Teal’c from jail, proving not only that the death was staged but also tracking down The Trust’s location.

The episode is a rare look in at the domestic lives of the team members that while adding to both takes some missteps too.

Assorted Musings

· Seriously, you had Daniel right there and you didn’t kill him?

· “You never eat healthy on a stake-out”, well someone is stereotyping.

 

Quote of the episode: “It’s bad enough being on your own without every TV show and commercial and magazine ad trying to tell you how abnormal it is.”

“I think that’s what I just said?”

“I mean they make you afraid of being alone at the same time telling you not to settle for anything less than the perfect romantic ideal, like that actually exists anywhere in the real world. I mean either way you can’t win.”

“How’s things?”

“Good.” – Carter and Daniel