Two standalone episodes today. I’ve decided to skip episode 12 and go straight to episode 14, instead doing the Jolinar’s Memories two parter on Wednesday together.
Past and Present
We start with the team arriving in a warehouse off-world, where the Stargate and DHD have been placed in storage by unknown peoples. The team are confronted by two individuals questioning their identities, who reveal that the entire planet has been struck by a collective amnesia called ‘The Vorlix’ that caused them to forget anything prior to that date. The two of them bring them outside, to reveal they are on a world, Vyus, that looks to be in the middle of something similar to that of an industrial revolution, where the man, Orner, chooses to bring them to one of their provisional leaders, a woman called Ke’ra who he’s clearly enamoured with, while the other of the two, a woman called Mayris storms off, clearly annoyed by his obsession with Ke’ra.
At the local hospital where Ke’ra works the team quickly get grips with the situation, looking through a makeshift archive of all knowledge of previous information that includes mention of a visitor who came through the Stargate recently with a great scientific knowledge who they believe died during the Vorlix. The identity of this supposed benefactor however is confirmed to be Linea, the mass-murderer the team accidently released while incarcerated in Prisoners. The team, clear that the people of Vyus are no threat, bring medical personnel including Fraiser to help treat the victims while the team and Ke’ra look through the archives for information on a solution, with Daniel spending a lot of time with the young woman, with Carter managing to find Linea’s diary. Fraiser, giving the people a clean bill of health (apart from the amnesia) believes they should bring a few volunteers back to the SGC to start work on an antidote to the Vorlix.
The team arrive back at the SGC, with Ke’ra, Orner, and Mayris in tow where they are greeted as usual by Hammond. During testing conducted by Fraiser it’s confirmed that the problem is being caused by a substance in their brains that is blocking connections in the brain that should be treatable with the right compound. Meanwhile Daniel and Ke’ra relationship turns romantic in nature while Carter finds information in Linea’s diary that not only confirms that she was experimenting with a pesticide that had caused mass infertility on the planet, explaining the lack of kids, because a side effect was slowing the aging effect which Linea tried to use as a fountain of youth, meaning that the Vorlix is likely a side-effect of her experiments that caused everyone to regress age wise. Not only that but the lab tests and diary confirm that Ke’ra is a de-aged Linea.
After briefing the others and Hammond the decision is made to leave Ke’ra’s future off the table for now until the Vorlix situation is resolved but to keep her under heavier guard and away from any scientific equipment. Daniel meets with her to reassure her but Ke’ra is already suspicious given his sudden coldness and the guards posted outside her door. In the lab however, despite Carter and Fraiser’s best efforts, little progress has been made as they have no knowledge of the chemicals and require Ke’ra to help, with both Hammond and O’Neill against the idea but with little choice agree to let her help as long as she doesn’t get to take the cure or work unaccompanied. Despite making headway and coming up with a test formula Orner reacts badly to the substance and suffers cardiac arrest but is able to be revived. After this failure Ke’ra is taken back to her room and speaks privately to Daniel, where she reveals that she has worked out they believe her to be Linea and that she won’t be allowed the antidote even if they do get it to work.
After a new round of testing Carter, Fraiser, and Ke’ra are able to come up with a sample that works in lab tests. Ke’ra however steals a sample of it for herself before they test it on Orner, who regains his memories realising his real name is Nodal and that he and Mayris (real name Layale) had been married for 43 years. Daniel brings Ke’ra back to her room but realises, after she quotes Linea, that she has used the antidote and intends to kill herself, managing to stop her before she can do so. Given how she can’t live with herself the team remove her memory again, letting her live in blissful ignorance as to her true self, removing all trace of her relationship with Daniel along with it. Both Nodal and Layale agree to take her back to Vyus where she can work with them to restore their planet.
As should be quite obvious the moral theme of this episode was an exploration of whether someone’s personality and moral/ethical views were fixed or are they more a result of the environment that person is brought up in. Here we explore that idea via the character of Linea/Ke’ra, where in both personalities they have the same scientific knowledge and genius level intellect but use it in very different ways, with Linea using it to establish dominance and fear over others while Ke’ra chose to help those in need around her. This comes to a head late in the episode where she is unable to cope with the two personalities competing for dominance and instead chooses to go back to her more helpful and altruistic role on Vyus without being dragged down by knowledge of her past crimes.
Despite this however the episode sadly feels the need to force in a romance subplot that was unneeded and is just odd to begin with, with Daniel, who had only just lost his wife, ending up getting it on with Ke’ra who suddenly feels incredibly attracted to Daniel. Not only does this do damage to the idea of Ke’ra as this person giving all to others at the sacrifice of self but also makes Daniel’s grieving for his wife almost uncaring as a result.
Outside of this main arc I did find myself enjoying the side act of Nodal and Layale, who spent the episode unsure of who they were but still arguing like an old married couple, eventually finding out they actually are an old married couple. It was fun to see a relationship between two characters on the show that wasn’t the centre of attention but was this little branch happening largely in the background.
Another thing to note is that the planet of Vyus and the people who reside there are the first civilisation we see on the show who are post-renaissance comparative wise, clearly at a 18/19th century level of technology, with clear signs of early mass industrialisation, with some cultural issues of the 20th, such as the beginning of discovering how humans had fucked up the planet via chemicals such as DDT or CFCs. While this isn’t the focus of the episode itself the Vyus use of pesticide that causes mass sterility is the source of the Vorlix that forms the mainstay of the episode.
Overall Past and Present is an interesting episode that introduces a new era of culture to the show and once again takes a cursory look at philosophical conundrums that we are still obsessed with even today. While it does make some small errors regarding how it treats character motivations it does succeed largely in the attempt to make us sympathise with the character of Ke’ra despite her horrific past crimes as Linea.
· Daniel moved on from his wife fairly bloody quickly.
· Despite meaning to be a makeshift archive it’s very well stocked. Also if there was a blast at the lab how did Linea’s notebook survive completely pristine.
Quote of the episode:
Hammond: “Doctor, you’re asking me to allow a known homicidal maniac to work with potentially lethal substances?”
Frasier: “Yes sir. But with all due respect, Daniel may be right. Ke’ra may be an entirely different person than Linea, without the memories that made her the person she was.”
O’Neill: “Excuse me, amnesia check? ‘Destroyer of Worlds’”
The episode begins with the team arriving back at the SGC from a planet clearly undergoing massive storm activity before being sent to the infirmary as the base in undergoing a chemical clearup. The team however are rendered unconscious by the staff via injections. Teal’c however wakes up, still in the infirmary with Carter, and overhears a conversation between ‘Hammond’, ‘Fraiser’, and unknown aliens, clear indication the base has been taken over alien and the staff replaced by them. Teal’c subdues the Silar copy and locks him in a closet before gearing up and rescuing Carter. Not knowing who has and hasn’t already been replaced the two decide their only option is to try and escape the base and alert the relevant authorities to what has happened. Their disappearance is discovered however and the base put on alert, leading Teal’c to decide to stay and hold the aliens off while Carter makes a run for it. Despite getting shot and eventually recaptured after being gassed his delay allows Carter to make it off base.
At a nearby airport Carter manages to make contact with Maybourne, an officer at the NID who SG-1 has a rocky relationship with, informing him that the base has been compromised and the SGC has a ‘foothold situation’. Making it to DC Carter meets with Maybourne at a café who reveals that he’s made contact with the SGC and invited ‘O’Neill’ and ‘Daniel’ to the meetup after buying the alien cover story about a chemical spill. Despite knowing they’re walking into a trap Carter is unable to convince Maybourne that it’s a trap, knowing that his fail-safe of having to call in is flawed, leading them to take a private jet back to the SGC. On the journey back however the ‘O’Neill’ disguise momentarily fails, revealing its true form which Carter kills. It turns out that an alien is also wearing a disguise of Major Davis too who is also killed. Maybourne, to prove he is who he says he is, cuts his hand before agreeing to help keep an eye on the ‘Daniel’ while Carter checks the cockpit.
In the SGC the real O’Neill wakes up in a harness strapped to the sealing, stored alongside the other copied personnel who are still unconscious. Moments later Major Davis also wakes up and the two attempt to escape, stopping midway to observe aliens create another disguise using a scanner in the room before placing the original person in a harness. When alone again O’Neill tries to wake the Fraiser original but it triggers an alert that summons the alien disguised as her, who they instead knock out and hide. Elsewhere Carter makes it back onto disguised as Daniel and finds the two of them, initially confusing them due to her appearance. The three of them split up with Carter heading to the lab to replicate the sound that caused the disguises to fail while O’Neill and Davis head to the armory, following which Davis goes back to guard the harnessed staff while O’Neill frees Teal’c.
In the lab Carter is able to replicate the signal and deploy it via the base’s intercom, rendering all the disguises useless just as Maybourne’s special forces make entry into the base. The combined forces are able to force the aliens back to the gateroom after they sustain heavy losses where they proceed to evacuate. SG-1 is able to retake the control room and shut down the Gate, managing to also shut the blast doors as the alien leader blows himself and the remaining aliens up. At the post-mission debrief where Hammond and Fraiser reveal that SG-6, who were off-world, were captured and imposters sent through who later opened the Gate to allow reinforcements through and that given they know all the current codes all they can do is lock out the address they came from and change all their GDO codes. Maybourne interrupts and in a rare moment of mutual respect both the SGC and NID thank each other for their work in the matter.
Foothold in a way is what I would call a post-incident episode where we focus on the aftermath of a successful takeover of the SGC rather than the takeover itself. Here we largely focus on Carter as the central character as she tries to escape the SGC to avoid the incursion and summon help from the outside. As usual this ends up going wrong before miraculously getting it right towards the end.
Much of the episode is largely devoid of things happening with a lot of filler moments but they’re all fun to watch, such as Carter getting one over on Maybourne as usual while O’Neill and Davis try to escape from the storage room. The only filler parts that feel pointless are probably the Fraiser scenes with Teal’c as they don’t have any real humour or bearing to the plot at large either.
In terms of characters the real change in this episode was probably the expanding of Maybourne as a person. Up until now he’s largely been a mix of exposition machine and also an Earth based foil to the SGC. Now however we see him in a new light as more of a complex character who, while still not entirely on the SGC’s side, is willing to help them out in protecting Earth, going so far as to even congratulate Carter on her work when previously he’s been condescending to the job the SGC has done.
Overall Foothold is a more self-contained episode that, while not being a game changer or expanding the show as a whole, offers a nice change of pace as a SGC focused episode that portrays more of the relations between the differing US agencies of the show than the usual Earth vs Goa’uld plotlines.
· I don’t think there is any way to describe Don S Davis in the harness as anything other than a beached whale.
· I love how awkward the whole knocking out and searching the ‘Fraiser’ alien scene is.
· Michael Shanks makes a habit out of playing other characters on the show it seems.
Quote of the episode: “Maybourne, you are an idiot every day of the week. Why couldn’t you have just taken one day off?” - Carter