Another two episodes of season 5, introducing new NID pain in the arse Frank Simmons.
The episode begins with the team on a ruined planet that clearly used to be inhabited by an advanced civilisation, with the only remaining structure that is largely standing being a very advanced building that is similar to that of the Ancients or the Goa’uld. While working Carter begins to have the feeling someone else is watching her, moments before this unseen force knocks her unconscious.
On return to Earth Carter is taken to the infirmary to recover, with Fraiser ruling it down to fatigue and requesting her to take some time off. This advice is echoed at the debrief as another team will be taking over the work, to Carter’s annoyance, while Hammond requests that SG-1 take some downtime. Returning home Carter is unaware that the presence has followed her back through the Gate. The next morning Carter is met by a strange man in the street as she collects her paper, with the stranger giving off a major serial killer vibe. Despite locking her door he reappears inside the house, trying to explain himself to her. He introduces himself as Orlin, an ascended being who was on the planet the team were exploring, and has become enamoured with the Major.
Carter decides to alert the SGC but despite adding surveillance gear and taking scientific measurements the Orlin doesn’t reappear for many days, with the SGC deciding to remove the cameras and unofficially the base starts to view her as potentially mentally ill. When she returns home after this Orlin reappears and attempts to convince her to let him stay again, this time allowing her to see his thoughts and memories via some advanced form of telepathy.
During her blacklisting from the base the SGC discover that the advanced building was an extremely advanced weapon which the civilisation built soon after discovering the Stargate and the Goa’uld appeared. This leaves the question as to how the civilisation ended up destroyed given they had defeated the Goa’uld. Upon her return Carter adds her thoughts to the mix, finding that device is essentially a giant bomb that requires a naquadah reactor to go into near overlord to power it.
After returning to the SGC Carter confronts O’Neill, finding that despite being told that all surveillance gear had been removed a number of devices were left behind hidden. O’Neill, while claiming to have no knowledge of the continued spying, defends the practices to a degree by claiming that if anything they’d help clear her side of the story given that many personnel now regard her as mentally unstable. Carter however disagrees but covers for the rearrival of Orlin by stating that if the alien were to reappear it’d make more sense for her to gather intel than to alert the base.
On leaving the base that night she finds that Orlin has made himself fully corporeal, still wanting a real relationship with her. They’re interrupted however by an off-duty O’Neill and Teal’c (who has disguised himself as a cowboy) who have brought over Star Wars and pizza to hang out with Carter but they’re moved on by Carter who hints that there’s someone else there (which they infer as a date), instead only leaving the pizza and deciding to go somewhere where “humans do battle in a ring of jello”. Unbeknownst to any of them an unmarked van is keeping surveillance on Carter.
During dinner that evening Orlin reveals to Carter just what happened to the planet. Very similar to the Tollan situation Orlin gave the people of the planet the technology to defend themselves from the Goa’uld. Despite initially using it defensively they soon decided to use it instead to conquer other planets, leading the other ascended beings to wipe out the planet and exile Orlin there as punishment for interfering. Carter uses this knowledge at a subsequent SGC briefing to fake concerns about a weapons test, getting Hammond to delay the firing by two weeks despite the complaints of an NID official, Colonel Frank Simmons.
Despite both Carter and Orlin believing they delayed the testing long enough the two week period is cut short after nine days when it turns out Simmons, who was keeping tabs on her, has compiled enough evidence to force the issue and SG-16 are already setting up the test during which time Carter’s house will be raided to capture Orlin. Carter heads into the house, seemingly in an attempt to talk him out, to find that Orlin has built a miniature Stargate inside the basement good for one trip to stop the weapons test, with the two of them barely making it through before the assault force enters the basement.
Now back on the planet Orlin attempts to stop the weapons test, sacrificing his life in the process. While Carter and SG-16 expect to be killed by the now critical naquadah generator a re-ascended Orlin is able to move it to a safe enough distance and also destroy the weapon, saving them.
Ascension is a bit of an odd episode in my view. While it introduces a number of new tidbits about the Ancients and how they operate, via the introduction of another ascended being, and finally shows Carter’s personal life it on the whole feels a bit of a mess with parts feeling rushed and squished together.
In regards to Carter I really did enjoy how they finally showed off her home life, with her previously being the only main character not having been seen off-base like the others. In many ways it confirms much of what we already knew about the character in that she’s a career-driven woman with little to no social life outside of her work and longs for her family to be what it was like during her childhood. However we also see that she’s remarkably average in how she keeps her house. There’s no mad experiments or a clutter but just run of the mill suburban life, putting her in stark contrast to the Egyptian mess of Daniel’s apartment and O’Neill’s cabin in the woods.
For the Ancients the character of Orlin provides us with scant details to their ideology. Much like the Tollans they’re staunch anti-interventionists, believing that their advanced knowledge would cause too much harm on the ‘lower planes’. This is proven when the people Orlin saved decided to make war with their new weapons and were therefore exterminated by the Ancients, making them even more hardline than the Tollan which is saying something. Despite this however they’re not incapable of forgiveness, choosing to help Orlin in the end when he proves himself worthy by destroying the weapon and preventing another massacre.
The biggest weakness of the episode however has to be the entire Orlin-Carter romance subplot. Not only do the characters have zero chemistry to begin with but it once again has Carter be the receiver of alien advances, an annoyingly routine element of the show. Orlin is also portrayed incredibly creepy throughout, having only observed Carter for a few hours before deciding to woo her. It’s just a poorly explained mess of a plotline that goes nowhere and has zero personality.
Overall more or less bog-standard monster of the week episode that, while having some hints to the wider continuity, doesn’t really effect anything at all and contains some poorly done plot decisions that have little impact on the viewer.
· Carter’s wine glasses look ridiculously big.
· So despite now having the ingredients and plans to build miniature Stargates the SGC never uses them as a bug-out device for certain worlds?
Quote of the episode: “Take it easy?
“Yeah, you’ve been a little tense.”
“Tense? Me? I’m not tense. Am I? When did you first notice?”
“As we met.” – Carter and O’Neill
We begin with the team fighting the Goa’uld as they retreat to the Gate, with O’Neill and a man called Tyler cut off from the others. While Carter, Daniel, and Teal’c make it through the Gate they demand to go back to rescue O’Nell and Tyler, but no one on the base seems to know who Tyler is. Hammond is forced to have the three taken under armed guard to the infirmary, suspecting it could be yet another Goa’uld trap.
On the planet O’Neill takes the injured Tyler to a nearby ruin to wait for backup. With the anticipated rescue having not arrived O’Neill becomes concerned about the supply situation, deciding to go for on a scouting run for more water while Tyler stays and guards their current supplies. After Tyler puts his weapon down however we see that the MREs they’re equipped with were made “with pride” in Tyler, Texas, U.S.A.
At the SGC Hammond is unable to make contact with O’Neill and is joined by Fraiser, who so far hasn’t found anything to explain their claims of a Lt. Tyler. Given the possibility of it being an alien attack the team are quarantined on-base. Meanwhile in the infirmary the team are confused about the events, believing that the base is either under group amnesia or they may have gone to a parallel dimension. They attempt to use the base computer to confirm their story but find no trace of any person called Tyler but do find that someone has also been looking for a ‘Tyler’ and also secretly looking into the team’s files.
Still with no communication Hammond sends through a UAV to establish a radio link with the stranded Colonel, managing to make contact but the drone is soon lost. During their brief exchange O’Neill makes mention of Tyler, forcing Hammond to rule out any rescue mission due to the risk of further contamination. His planning is further interrupted however by the arrival of Simmons from the NID, who is taking charge of the investigation. In the infirmary Fraiser oversees the bagging of their mission clothing and notices a weird substance on the inside of the bag which, even through the thick plastic, causes her to suddenly remember Tyler appearing in the SGC.
In the briefing room Simmons begins interviewing the members of SG-1, demonstrating his desired goal in getting them shut down by first implying that Daniel is a Goa’uld sympathiser, Teal’c is a potential traitor, and that Carter is compromised by her decisions over Orlin. Hammond meanwhile attempts to find out who is running Simmons, only to get stonewalled by higher-ups, finding his access to top flight politicians and military alike is suddenly curtailed. Fraiser however comes through to the team’s defence, working out that the chemical on the clothes were a mechanism that created false memories but required proximity to work, meaning a rescue team can be sent.
The next day on the planet O’Neill and Tyler’s position is buzzed by a Death Glider, leaving them compromised. While O’Neill manages to take it down with a grenade launcher they know that Jaffa will be on the way soon, forcing the pair to dig in and fight. Moments before the battle however Tyler reveals his true nature to O’Neill, that he’s an alien from a race called the Reol that the Goa’uld are hunting for their ability to chemically create false memories. Before they can do anything else however a large Jaffa attack force arrives, which the two of them are barely able to hold off with Tyler forced to kill a Jaffa who made it into the ruins. The two are saved at the last moment however by the rest of SG-1, who arrived to rescue them.
While the team attempt to go back to the Gate they find a much larger force of Jaffa already there. Tyler, knowing the Jaffa are there for him, attempts to convince the others to let him draw the forces off but O’Neill refuses, instead having Teal’c use a handheld Glider cannon while Daniel and Tyler watch Jaffa. Tyler however zats Daniel and attempts to lead the Jaffa away anyway, quickly getting captured. While this does give the team the opportunity to escape they instead go back to save Tyler from his captors, managing to ambush the large Jaffa force and eliminate them. Tyler leaves through the Gate back to his world, hoping to convince them that they could one day leave their isolation, stating that one day he could go fishing with O’Neill.
Compared to the previous episode The Fifth Man is a much better piece, focusing both on the monster of the week but also on the resumed introduction of a new Earth based threat from the NID.
Much of the action takes place on yet another very green planet with O’Neill, unknowingly at first, protecting an alien from a large Jaffa force hunting him. Throughout this there are lots of hints towards Tyler’s real identity that are sprinkled in, such as him having little knowledge of Earth locations and taking O’Neill literally when he jokes around. Also his backstory is built from a great source, being common yet unnoticed by most people which is the product origin location sticker stamped on foodstuffs, this one thankfully detailed enough to give both a name and birth location.
The Reol themselves, of which Tyler is a member, are also a nice change for the monster in the episode. While most races the SGC come across are fairly standard or willing to use their technology or skills aggressively the Reol instead try to hide away from outsiders and refuse to abuse this power. This would’ve made them a good ally for the SGC and an interesting depiction on the show which is why it’s sad they never reappear.
On the Earth side of things the episode spends great time on the character of Frank Simmons, the new NID threat. While in the previous episode he was largely absent, only appearing towards the end as a largely bureaucratic but also pragmatic annoyance this time he’s made to be a conniving menace looking to get the team shut down by any means he can, going so far as to illegally breach the SGC mainframe to look at the team’s files to find weaknesses he can exploit. This makes him possibly more of a threat than Maybourne as while the latter was doing it largely for country Simmons seems only in it for himself.
Overall a good action-packed episode showing the team doing what they do best, helping others on an alien world, with just enough Earth-based intrigue thrown in to set up future plotlines.
· The Airman, who wore thin gloves, were unaffected by the chemical but Fraiser was. Bit of an oversight.
Quote of the episode: “If I were still loyal to the Goa’uld you would know it.”
“It would become immediately apparent as I would not hesitate to kill you where you sit.” – Teal’c and Simmons in the interview