Ex Deus Machina

Stargate SG-1 Episode Review

After the recent Ori-centric episodes, a return to concerns like The Trust and the Goa’uld is actually a little bit of a slowdown. At least, that’s how I felt about it. The writers had already tossed about a dozen plot elements into the season arc, and now that we’re a third of the way in, it seems overkill to slip in this new aspect of Ba’al and his growing control over the human economy.

I’m also not sure that I like the idea of Ba’al clones, even if it means that things get to be more complex. Even if it has some tenuous connection to previous NID-related episodes, it strikes me as a little too convenient. Not only that, but I was left wondering if the writers were trying to suggest that the real Ba’al wasn’t in the same body anymore, but rather, in the fit young woman that was pretending to be his “First Prime”. What better hiding place than in plain sight?

Anyway, for me, the real interest was the chess game between Teal’c and Garek. Previous episodes warned that Garek was an isolationist with a great deal of popular support, and this episode confirms it without a doubt. Garek knows politics and how to use information (or the lack thereof) against his rivals. Time and again, Teal’c was put on the defensive, and no matter how powerful his words might be, the message was lost in the process.

As annoying as the “Goa’uld on Earth” plot thread promises to be, there are some interesting aspects to it. All this action on Earth continues to erode the secrecy of the SGC, which was already on the skids over the past few years. The previous episode also raised an interesting issue: what happens if Ba’al decides that an alliance of convenience with the Ori can solidify his power on Earth?

One thing is for certain: the alliance between the Tau’ri, the Tok’ra, and the Jaffa has all but fallen apart, and Garek is more than happy to let it happen. His use of the old methods employed by the Goa’uld suggests that he could turn those weapons against his own people in the near future. What would Garek do to preserve his own power? At what point does this isolationist stance become the basis for a dictatorship?

This is more properly the return of Lt. Col. Carter, since the previous episode had few meaningful moments for the character. This introduces a few questions that have probably been on the table for a while, but couldn’t be addressed until she was back on-screen. For instance, she notes that she’s not exactly “single”; is this some kind of reference to the end of the eighth season? I’ve always taken it that Jack and Sam accepted that they can’t be together, yet can’t be with anyone else because of their feelings for each other. Is that how the comment was meant to be read?

And then there’s the question of command. If the writers play this honestly, Carter should have issues with Mitchell running the show, sooner or later. Unless, of course, they continue to make the team feel more like a temporary convenience than the institution that once was. Carter may simply see this as a temporary situation, so it doesn’t matter who runs the team. But what happens if Mitchell makes a call that Carter doesn’t agree with?

Even if this wasn’t my favorite plot thread (I’m actually rather tired of the NID/Trust/Goa’uld episodes), I continue to give credit where credit is due. The entire cast seems revitalized, the writing is the strongest it’s been since the series went to SFC, and the series is back to being a “must watch”. It’s like the writers and producers felt like they had something to prove, and so far, they’ve hit a very nice stride.

Reviewed by Entil

Find His Full Review Archive at: http://www.entil2001.com

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