Stargate SG-1 3.15 – Pretense

“Pretense” is one of the reasons we watched a bunch of season one episodes I didn’t enjoy, because by this point, the show can be very dense with continuity. The Tollan, the Nox, and, briefly, the Tok’ra are all involved in this story about Skaara, who’d been kidnapped in episode one. We meet up with Narim, played again by Garwin Sanford, and he’s still got a crush on Carter, who doesn’t feel that she can reciprocate yet because of the days she spent with Jolinar living inside her. The Nox’s illusion power is vitally important to the plot, the villain Heru’ur, who we haven’t seen all season, loses two motherships in combat, and a new-to-the-show System Lord, Zipacna, loses one as well.

And yet it all works, and all those mostly dull building blocks from years one and two make this gel into a mostly solid hour built around an intergalactic trial held on the campus of Simon Fraser University, which regularly subs as outer space cities in sci-fi programs made in western Canada. Mostly solid. Given that Jack can certainly be a little too jovial when a situation is serious, this should have been one of those occasions where Richard Dean Anderson played the role of Skaara’s legal advocate as an all-business military hardass. The stakes were personal and deadly serious and he didn’t need to be the comic foil.

And I am amazed by a huge plot hole. The Tollan, obnoxiously arrogant as ever, have built a device that allows both a Goa’uld parasite and its host body equal opportunities for control and sentience, and the opposing counsel, Zipacna, is nevertheless convinced that the human host is lying; hosts are effectively dead and have no memory of what the aliens within them do. So Jack and Daniel should have suggested strapping one of those devices on him. That’d settle the argument in a huge hurry.

It’s still a solid and interesting hour and it’s rewarding to see it all come together so well, and the kid was thrilled with the climax, which not only had lots of explosions but a very solid win for the good guys. Zipacna is unfortunately as one-note as System Lords ever are, but they found a great actor to play him. Kevin Durand, who was Jason Woodrue in last year’s ill-fated Swamp Thing series, is a huge guy who moves with slick confidence and a cruel smile. Since Zipacna and Heru’ur and Apophis and Cronus are all pretty much identikit villains, I’d have rather they focused future stories on the baddie who looks like there’s a lot more going on than he’s telling. Unfortunately, we’ll only see him a couple of times more.

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