Stargate SG-1: Cor-Ai and Singularity
I’ll give early Stargate credit – they make alien worlds look real. Too much sci-fi suffers from the Star Trek syndrome of redressing a studio soundstage to look like any planet. Stargate shoots on location a lot, and things are believable. To think this was being shot at the same time as most Star Trek makes me angry for how much better Star Trek could have been. Which goes to show…
Vancouver sci-fi > Los Angeles sc-fi.
Stargate SG-1 – Season One – Episode 14 – Cor-Ai
The title of the episode refers to the inhabitant’s version of a trial.
Visiting an alien world, SG-1…and particularly Teal’c…discover that Apophis, Teal’c, and the rest of the Jaffas had been to that world before. Teal’c, under Apophis’ orders, killed one of the inhabitants. That man’s son now wants vengeance, and Teal’c is put on trial. Submitting willingly to the proceedings as penance for his crimes, Teal’c’s trial does not go too well. Common earth notions of justice and law aren’t so common on this planet. It’s revealed that that inhabitants of the planet run to the hills to hide from the Goa’uld when they arrive, and when Teal’c is ordered to kill someone as an example, he picked a cripple incapable of escaping to kill; an act of compassion on Teal’c part. Midway through the trial, the Jaffa return to the planet, let by a Jaffa that Teal’c knows personally. Teal’c kills the Jaffa, helps save the people, and the man’s son now claims the Jaffa who killed his father is dead and Teal’c is not him. SG-1 then returns home.
Good episode. Dealing with war crimes and especially the actions of soldiers is a poignant topic to bring up. Who is responsible for atrocities? The general commanding the troops? The soldiers who pull the trigger? The politicans who set up the whole fight? I’d argue everyone shares in some of the blame, and yet no one in particular is often directly responsible. Again, we run into this pesky postmodernist notion of things being relative.
It’s easy, as a Christian, to “step back” and say “well, murder is murder, so the man who pulled the trigger is a murdered, as well as the man who ordered it since Jesus said he had murder in his heart”, but that’s just the sin and theology angle of things. Ultimately, from the Christian worldview, everyone is guilty and deserving of justice, so all are guilty equally, regardless of who committed an action. Hence, man has created laws to govern these things in an modicum of justice and fairness. So the soldier won’t pay for pulling the trigger, but the general may. Or vice versa in some instances.
Rather complicated stuff.
Stargate SG-1 – Season One – Episode 15 – Singularity
This is one of those episodes that I halfway love and halfway dislike. I think the reasons for my dislike will become obvious…maybe dislike is too strong of a word. Let’s use “indifferent to”.
SG-1 walks through the Stargate and arrives on the Earth from Stephen King’s The Stand…or rather, a planet where it appears everyone has died from some plague. Place is deserted, bodies lying everywhere. SG-1 freaks out and puts on protective gear. They had been at this planet to observe a unique singularity, a black hole, up close. They discover a little girl apparently still immune to the plague, and bring her back through the Stargate. She has traces of Naquadah in her blood, which is the same element that the Stargates are built of; Dr. Fraiser theorizes this may have protected her from the plague.
Back on the planet, O’Neill and Teal’c are attacked by a Jaffa aircraft. Together they run to the Stargate, and successfully stop Carter from sending the little girl (Cassandra) back through the Stargate. Turns out, with all that Naquadah in her system, and with a little help from the Goa’uld, Cassandra is a walking bomb. Believing that the bomb will go off when Cassandra dies, the AirForce transfers her to an abandoned nuclear testing facility, where Carter defies orders and stays with Cassandra over 30 floors below ground. As the timer counts down, and then goes to zero and beyond, it’s figured out that proximity to the Stargate will trigger the bomb within Cassandra, otherwise she’ll be fine. The episode ends with SG-1 and Cassandra relaxing in a park somewhere in Colorado Springs; Cassandra will live on Earth, and if anyone asks, she’s from “Toronto.”
I mentioned I am of two minds regarding this episode. On one hand, I really love the plague planet stuff, as it’s beautifully shot, epic, vast expanses of desolation and nothingness, and really well done. You feel like this place has died. It reminds me a lot of movies like 28 Days Later and books like Stephen King’s The Stand, where so much of the population is ravaged and destroyed. I really dig post-apocalyptic stuff.
And then there is the Cassandra side of the story. Child actors, typically, aren’t that great. The actress playing Cassandra ain’t that bad, but it gets annoying when Carter and Fraiser go all motherly on her, Carter more than Fraiser being military. I don’t hate children, far beyond that, but things take a different tone when they become such an important part of the story, and especially if they are sick or dying or refugees, or all three. The idea of the Goa’uld striking at the heart of Stargate Command through a bomb implanted in a survivor of a plague is a great story idea, tactically genius as well. And putting it in a kid, great idea. But after a while, it becomes a little soapy for me.
Still, good episode.