Shows like this are as good as their villains, and “Enigma” introduces just about the most repulsive and infuriating villain this show comes up with. Going back to what I said a few chapters back about loathing our country’s military-industrial complex, Col. Harry Maybourne, played by Tom McBeath, makes his first of about a dozen appearances in this story, using his position in military intelligence to undermine the Stargate Program, ignore everybody’s wisdom and experience, and try to acquire alien technology at any cost. I really wish that the series never took this direction. McBeath will later get a couple of chances to make his character less repugnant and more human, but it never really works with me, and the program as a whole would be more satisfying to me without him in it.
I also picked this one because it introduces an important new alien race, and their leader is the episode’s other central antagonist. These are the Tollan, and they’re centuries ahead of humanity in their understanding of science. Unfortunately, their people’s first contact with another species led to that species blowing themselves up with their new toys, so they have become strict isolationists and refuse to share knowledge or tech with primitives like us anymore. Unfortunately, ten of them got caught up in a volcanic eruption on their dying planet and can’t get to their new homeworld, which is outside the Stargate system and accessible only by spacecraft. So they’re refugees on Earth, and their leader is a deeply unpleasant and obstinate jerk who stinks up every scene he’s in.
But since the Tollan will become a more interesting bunch once he’s out of the way, and central to some key episodes, we needed to watch this one. Garwin Sanford starts a recurring part here as a Tollan called Namin, and this time it’s Carter’s turn to share some lip time with somebody who wants to know more about this Earth thing called kissing. Well, the Tollan know it already. Our cultures share a few oddball customs. Eventually one of the Nox, the fairie folk that we met in episode seven, comes to Earth and brings this mess to a conclusion.
That said, there’s a much, much more interesting story here that we did not see. One of SG-1’s pals, from an episode that we skipped, happily comes to Earth, the first representative of his people to do so, to offer the Tollan refuge on their world. It’s staged well, with the USAF members in formal dress, and the pal thanks General Hammond for allowing him to visit. The Tollan leader is a snide and dismissive jerk because the pal’s people are even more primitive than Earth, shutting down that possibility. But I’d like to think that the rest of the pal’s visit went really well after the embarrassing awkwardness of the meeting, and the pal got to visit the Denver Art Museum, and the Botanic Garden, and either see a show at Red Rocks or a Nuggets game. Maybe get to know more about this Colorado thing called Coors.