A little later than usual but here I am with another two episodes from the SGC, with one starting a minor subplot and another a standard filler with both sadly squandering some of their potential.
The episode starts with Carter giving a lecture at the Air Force Academy on wormhole theory, with the students believing it all to be theory only. At the end of the lecture one of the students, a cadet called Jennifer Hailey, takes a further interest in her equations, pointing out that the calculations are wrong on the board. While her professor rebukes her for questioning Carter’s work Carter herself agrees, realising she had jumbled up a fraction on the board, and takes an interest in the young woman.
Teal’c and O’Neill meanwhile are deployed to an off-world science mission to relieve SG-2 who are glad to finally rotate back to Earth, having had enough of the civilian scientist in charge who refuses to observe military oversight and constantly makes demands for extra requisitions. While checking out a series of caves in advance of the civilian team the two of them encounter a Will-o’-the-wisp like creature that appears to be harmless but they decide to play it safe, stopping the civilians from exploring the cave.
At the Academy Carter meets with the CO, who also was there during her training, to gain knowledge about Hailey who he confirms that while the cadet has the intelligence and potential to become a great Officer her disciplinary issues, which stem from boredom and the lack of challenge, risk getting her thrown out the Academy. Despite meeting with the cadet in attempt to encourage her to stay on the straight and narrow Hailey later breaks another cadet’s nose, threatening her with immediate expulsion. Carter decides to meet with Hailey again to measure her dedication and, deciding that she is worth the effort, manages to get her clearance to see just what she could end up working on, the Stargate Program itself.
On the science mission the civilian scientists are interrupted by the appearance of one of the Will-o’-the-wisp creatures which can seemingly go through any material and decide to go after it, despite the prior warnings of O’Neill. In a clearing they find a large collection of the creatures, which the lead scientist decides to go into the center of. Seemingly finding no threat O’Neill goes to meet Carter, who has brought Hailey with her, and brings them back to the field unit to study a captured Will-o’-the-wisp the scientist gathered which is later released due to fears it may be intelligent life. O’Neill’s earlier caution however is later justified when one of the other scientists is killed when a group of the creatures repeatedly attack him by flying through him.
The science mission retreat to one of the metal field structures as the swarm approaches the base, using a generator to electrify the walls as the creatures seem to avoid electrical fields, and hunker down to think of a strategy to deal with them. Hailey and Carter come up with competing theories as opposed to why the creatures became violent with Carter believing the creatures of territorial and therefore waiting will make them worse while Hailey believes their behaviour is due to the EM field of the planet. Either way O’Neill knows that waiting will put everyone in danger so decides to make a run for the Gate, taking a zat blast to function as a temporary shield against the creatures. While he makes it to the Gate he is almost overwhelmed by the creatures before Teal’c saves the day, allowing them to dial the Gate and use its EM field as a shield over the area, allowing the successful evacuation of the base.
Prodigy marks the introduction of a fairly small and sadly later unused element to the franchise that I think could’ve worked really well which is the idea of the ‘next generation’ of SG Personnel. Up until this point apart from a few random SG member deaths the setup of the SGC has remained largely stagnant, with no new blood arriving onto the scene. Cadet Hailey however represents the fact that the Air Force is always growing and bringing in new personnel and eventually that means so will the SGC, stealing the best and brightest from this pool of potential recruits. This idea however only sees a couple more appearances in season 5 before being ignored entirely until the major cast changes in seasons 8 and 9.
The monster from the episode was also a nice change. Up until this point the visible biological ‘threats’ they’ve faced have always been some form of sentient life so the appearance of quite a basic form of life in the form of the Will-o’-the-wisp creatures switches the threat as it behaves entirely instinctually with the team unable to communicate with it after they seemingly provoke it, forcing them to abandon the planet. The episode also uses this to play with the idea of science always trying to find an answer to questions which in this case leads to the death of one scientist and endangerment of those on the base, effectively putting forward the idea that sometimes it’s more useful to get out alive than to take actions that are dangerous just to be proven right.
Overall the episode is one that had a sadly squandered idea for the future of the show but is still a good standalone one, largely looking at how the selfish search for an answer can end up putting people in danger.
· The scene at the start was a cameo by the then actual Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Ryan. Wouldn’t be surprised if this real-world military connection helped fan the growth of the ‘TV show is cover’ conspiracy.
· When the scientists find the initial swarm in the woods if you look closer behind the scientist on the right you can see a car doing a turn in the background.
Quote of the episode: “Are you ready O’Neill?”
“No. Give me a warning.”
“I am going to shoot you.” – Teal’c and O’Neill
We begin with what seems a routine MALP exploration of a new planet. While it all seems normal to begin with, finding signs of an advanced civilisation, the MALP suddenly starts travelling through the air and is brought to some kind of electrical hub, with the resulting surge getting sent back through the Stargate which ends up shocking Carter and Harriman. After being released from the infirmary Carter gets to work trying to work out what actually came back through the Gate, with it slowly becoming clear that a hostile alien force has rooted itself inside the base computer system and is attempting to gain intelligence on the SGC, with it later revealing its work during a briefing. Realising the potential damage it could cause to base security Carter conducts a complete purge of the SGC computers and restoring them from clean backups.
Upon restoration of the backups they find that while the purge of the main computers was successful the unknown entity has managed to survive by constructing a makeshift computer out of MALPs and connecting itself to the emergency lighting grid. Aware that they don’t know what it is, Carter decides to use a keyboard to communicate with it while O’Neill is one standby to cut the power. After only a couple of questions however the entity starts electrocuting Carter and O’Neill cuts the power.
After being placed in the infirmary they realise that the entity has moved once again, this time into Carter’s brain. Through Carter the entity is able to reveal its purpose at the SGC; to find out and eliminate the threat to its planet and is now using Carter as a host to prevent the others from trying to kill it again. It turns out that the entity’s race is able to be damaged by radio waves that the SGC uses with the MALP, therefore viewing it as a threat to their race. While Daniel attempts to take a more balanced approach O’Neill, fearing for Carter’s safety, threatens the entity with claim that they’ll send through countless MALPs through the Gate to its world unless it leaves Carter immediately. The entity, with motives unclear, leaves the observation room and enters the hallway, where it remotely interfaces with the MALP room computer, with O’Neill zating Carter twice as a result.
Following this Carter is placed on life support but shows no sign of brain activity, with the others discussing whether they should respect her wishes and pull the plug. During a subsequent reboot the makeshift mainframe starts activating, with it becoming clear that Carter was placed on the mainframe by the entity in exchange for not sending more probes to the planet. Hooking Carter up to the mainframe they manage to transfer her consciousness back to her body, with the SGC as a result keeping their end of the bargain and locking out the entity’s planet from the SGC computers so no one can ever return there.
Much like the previous episode Entity largely focuses on a threat that hasn’t been seen before, in this case a form of life that exists as some form of computer. This allows some new possibilities and also brings up just how vulnerable to this form of life the SGC is, being an underground bunker that is totally reliant on computers not just for basic operations but also to maintain life support from the surface. Given the possibility of this new form of life it’s a shame it was largely wasted however, not only with the show never visiting this race again but also it quickly became another ‘Carter is host to an alien’ storyline with it finishing in much the same way as with Jolinar; the controlling entity sacrificing itself to save Carter in return for a deal with the SGC.
While the potential was wasted to a degree and the mechanics of how the entity moves around the Earth-based systems being somewhat hard to believe I did enjoy the variety of technical props that were placed in the episode, such as the jury-rigged computer mainframe used by the entity to protect itself.
One thing the episode does do right however is once again bringing back the differing views between O’Neill and Daniel on how to resolve situations they know nothing about, with them both being proven right and wrong. In O’Neill’s case he was right that the threat of force would allow Carter’s rescue but wrong in thinking the entity was trying something while for Daniel he was right in O’Neill jumping the gun but his peaceful settlement was a disaster waiting to happen as the rest of the entity’s race would’ve likely attacked as soon as the Gate was opened.
Overall this was very much a standard filler episode for the season that had potential but never takes advantage of it and is sadly rather forgettable as a result, even with some interesting visual design and dialogue.
· My god, they actually got computer systems relatively correct for once when it came to their plan to purge the alien.
· Directly contrary to the previous musing how this alien managed to use Earth-based computers in a flash is stupid.
Quote of the episode: “Forget to change a light bulb, Siler?”
“Not my job, sir.”
*Sees O’Neill’s face
“Yes sir, light bulb, very amusing.” – O’Neill and Silar