Another two episodes today with one a tale about seeing creepy crawlers and another about O’Neill killing a creepy crawly.
We begin with the SGC receiving SG-1 from an off-world scouting mission where they’ve retrieved an Ancient device of some sort emitting harmless radiation and Carter looking forward to studying it further. While on the ramp however Jonas believes he saw something on the ceiling that no-one else could see, sparking a lockdown of the base by Hammond. After the lockdown is lifted and no proof of the creature is found Hammond puts it down to general fatigue after the team being on active ops for so long but privately Carter and O’Neill raise concerns about Jonas’ mental health after working on the naquadriah for so long. With the team put on downtime and O’Neill deciding to go on a fishing trip Jonas and Carter proceed to work on the new device and decipher the writing on the device. Soon after starting however Jonas sees another creature emerge from the device, causing him to be admitted to the infirmary for a full workup.
After a full round of physical health checks Fraiser is unable to find any signs of illness related to the naquadriah testing but that doesn’t rule out mental illness. Despite being kept on lockdown Jonas receives permission to continue working on the writings but only via video and photo record as the device is to be sent to Area 51 for long-term study. While walking the corridors with Teal’c, who states that Jonas is lucky not to have been invited fishing with O’Neill, Jonas observes a flying creature in the halls but this time so does Teal’c along with him.
Somewhere in rural Colorado O’Neill pulls into a fuel station to fill up his ‘pig’ of a pickup. While making conversation with the attendant he observes an alien creature near the guy’s sign and immediately resorts to trying to shoot it with his M9 to no effect, scaring the crap out of the attendant in the process. O’Neill immediately phones the SGC, who are also now suffering mass observations of the creatures, and calls for backup to his location. The SGC get the local National Guard to quarantine the local Colorado Springs area just in case as the problem seems to be spreading.
Back on the base Jonas is allowed to translate the text directly on the device, with himself and Carter theorising that the creatures may be from another dimension that shares the same space as theirs. They report to Hammond that they think anyone who comes into contact with the device or the radiation/particles it emits will start to see the creatures as well and while it may be a harmless effect in and of itself it could cause the SGC to go public and a massive effect on life as a whole if large amounts of people start to get effected. While the two of them manage to shut the device down the effect unfortunately continues. The team, minus O’Neill who is still offbase, return to the planet with the device to study the place where they found it and see if the device not being on Earth would stop the effect but this isn’t effective either, with even Hammond now observing the creatures.
Back in the Colorado Springs area the National Guard begin the quarantine, with the SGC now believing that the ability to see the bugs is passed person to person like a charge, but when O’Neill goes to check on the fuel station attendant he finds the man has gone on the run making him a potential vector for allowing it to still spread. Thankfully however the SGC have managed to create an opposite charge and begin applying it to those already exposed as a cure. The team attempt to hunt down the runabout attendant who it turns out is paranoid about the government due to his experience in the Gulf War, which saw many accusations of the US government exposing troops to toxic substances in tests, and manage to track him down to a small airport nearby.
At the airport the team move in on the attendant, with O’Neill cornering him in an aircraft hangar where he hides in a plane. While he initially refuses to come out O’Neill is able to coax him out with a half true story, admitting he deals with aliens but that they come in ships, not through the Stargate, and gets him to agree to keeping it a secret between them.
Sight Unseen is an episode that takes a lot of inspiration from the season 3 episode Legacy, which saw Daniel Jackson and others have paranoid visions, but dials it up to eleven, with it involving the seeing of creatures being able to be passed by simple contact with another.
The plot is fairly light and easy to follow. People start to see bugs after an alien device gives anyone who touches it or someone who has touched someone who has (and so on) and ludicrous situations begin to happen and interfere with people’s lives. While the power is harmless in and of itself the creatures it allows you to see are quite creepy crawly and monstrous looking, leading it to cause dangerous situations involving drivers becoming distracted and the like.
While this part of the episode is fairly easy there is an underlying tale of mental issues related back to the First Gulf War in the 90s. During the conflict many US personnel came down with a condition known as Gulf War Syndrome that went under-reported for many years and even to this day isn’t widely understood as to what caused it, with theories surrounding causes like “vaccines” given to the troops or chemical weapons being used. The difficulty with having to cope with the illness is referenced in the episode, with the attendant the team hunt down inferred to suffer from the syndrome himself and suffering paranoia about the military as a result.
One little thing to note is how far Jonas as a character has come along by this point. Even though he’s only been present on the base a few months he’s seen as part of the facility much quicker than Teal’c was, with Hammond automatically taking his belief of alien creatures at his word in the gateroom despite the fact everyone else claims it never existed. It’s only later on do they understandably question his past experiences with naquadriah as a cause, having seen its effects on mental health before, but even then they don’t push him on it, letting him have the chance to first prove his theory.
In conclusion it’s clear that while the episode is a fairly gimmicky one it does make a few allusions to the issue of mental health and how it can effect someone’s life.
· Anderson Air? Gee who could that refer to
· Fishing as an in-joke finally makes a reappearance.
Quote of the episode: “You’re suggesting I’m delusional?”
“No. No, it’s just possible... that you were seeing something that wasn’t entirely... yes, that’s what we’re suggesting.” – Jonas and O’Neill
Smoke and Mirrors
The episode begins with Senator Kinsey making a campaign appearance at a small store before being shot and killed by an unknown sniper, only for the sniper to emerge from the building revealing it to be O’Neill. Back at the SGC O’Neill returns from vacation only to be informed of the situation and then arrested for his murder being the prime suspect. Major Davis arrives to show the rest of the team CCTV footage that shows O’Neill in the building from which the Senator was found and that the weapon that was used was found near his property, with the assumed motive being O’Neill’s well known hatred of Kinsey. While the civilian authorities begin their investigation Hammond secretly authorises SG-1 to do the same but to clear O’Neill of the murder.
Teal’c and Jonas head to the jail where O’Neill is being kept to get information from his that could help free him but O’Neill states he was alone at his cabin which is why he went there in the first place, meaning he has no alibi to clear him of the murder. Taking his word and heading back to the SGC they instead look at what could’ve been used to create the appearance of O’Neill being the shooter, with them believing it could be the mimic devices from Foothold as they and the incident were kept off-the-record for fear of causing the SGC shutdown, but when they go to check on them in Area 51 they find they’ve all been replaced with fakes by persons unknown.
While Teal’c and Jonas look at those who had access to the devices Carter heads to the NID in Washington D.C to speak to Agent Barrett, who they worked with/against during the events of Wormhole X-Treme!, but she fobs her off audibly before setting up a meeting in a nearby park through a hand-written note. At the park he reveals that he’s working on a secret investigation into the NID to root out the corrupt elements of the NID along with Kinsey (who he was coercing) but that Kinsey was likely killed by the corrupt organisation when he found crucial information for the investigation. The two of them head to an underground weapons seller who Barrett uses for information about illegal weapons who provides them with information and a weapon that the buyer handled, providing them with fingerprints that prove O’Neill didn’t kill Kinsey but instead belong to rogue NID officer Mark Devlin. When they attempt to arrest him at his house it instead blows up, nearly with them still inside.
During their part of the investigation Jonas and Teal’c find that one of the scientists, Doctor Langham, who had access to the devices has been recently declared dead which they find suspicious. They instead believe his death was a coverup to cover the theft of the devices as the Doctor had made a breakthrough in how to use them for long period which up to then had been impossible. Enlisting the help of Fraiser they work out where Langham is currently hiding due to his medication order, capturing him as he attempts to flee his hideout. While Langham initially refuses to talk Teal’c’s technique of staring in the interrogation convinces him to speak, revealing just what the corrupt NID (called The Committee) are planning to do. The SGC offer to keep him off-world to not only keep him safe but also to stop any of the events going public.
Back in Washington Carter and Barrett reveal they’ve both been keeping secrets, with Carter revealing the SGC investigation while Barrett reveals that Kinsey survived the shooting but is being kept in security. He also reveals that Major Davis is visiting Kinsey, unaware that Davis was one of those who has a device that can be used to pretend to be him. Devlin, disguised as Davis, appears at the hospital holding the Senator seems to have killed Kinsey in his room. Devlin reports back to The Committee, made up of NID and Big Business interests. It turns out however that Devlin was stopped at the hospital and that Carter was able to get the device to mimic Devlin, allowing the NID and SGC to arrest the entire Committee. With O’Neill released everything seems to turn out well for the SGC but O’Neill is forced to publicly shake Kinsey’s hand to appear vindicated, basically ensuring Kinsey a path to the White House.
So there we have Smoke and Mirrors, a return to the traditional tale of political intrigue on the show and also the return of longstanding pain in the arse Senator Kinsey. Here however things appear initially with O’Neill having gone rogue and deciding to the remove him once and for all but it quickly turns into a tale of Big Business and government conspiracy at the heart of the US and trying to gain control of the SGC once again.
The episode largely plays out like many of the previous ones featuring the NID, with a bunch of rogue agents making life a pain for the SGC but this time having appeared to have eliminated another crux at the same time. Soon however it becomes clear this time it’s less the NID and more certain political factions and business interests wanting the incredibly profitable off-world technologies that have been adapted for commercial use in the US itself. In the end things become so upturned that the NID, now under major investigation and reform by people like Agent Barrett, help arrest and contain the threat of The Committee.
One of the more interesting and questionable things about the episode was how it quite happily portrayed SG-1 going against the legal system to free their friend. While in the end this ended up well, seeing the corrupt civilians and big business goons arrested and charged with attempted murder, it’s a questionable decision that can be debated in depth about the show’s ties to the US Air Force in general and how it portrays it as an organisation above the law.
Overall though it’s another great intrigue based episode by the show and great fun to watch as they piece together the clues in more of a ‘greatest hits’ fashion than many other, relying on a number of callbacks to earlier episodes featuring the NID.
· Teal’c should have a detective show you know.
· So the NID runs illegal guns and no one questions it later on. OK
Quote of the episode: “I understand this man had some injuries when you brought him in.”
“Dr. Langham was reluctant to accompany us back to the SGC. He required some convincing.” – Hammond and Teal’c