Last night, our son expressed some pretty intense unhappiness with the twisty continuity unveiled in the most recent Doctor Who episode we watched, “The Almost People”. I suspect, though, that what really has him cheesed off isn’t ongoing continuity so much as a reliance on piecing together a lot of tomfoolery that we didn’t see on screen, and making connections about what might be going to happen in future installments.
I feel that’s probably true because tonight’s Stargate SG-1 is very continuity-heavy, and he didn’t mind a bit. This one reintroduces some characters that we saw exactly once, in an episode originally shown more than three years previously, “Tin Man”. These are the robot copies of the SG-1 team that an oddball lonely fellow on an isolated planet built to keep himself company.
I like this episode for lots of reasons, but a big one is the way the episode wrong-foots us by making us believe these characters are our SG-1 for quite a long time. There are a few clues that something weird’s going on, though. The team upgraded to FN P-90 automatics earlier this season, and the robots are still using the old guns, the robot Daniel isn’t wearing glasses, and the robot Teal’c doesn’t have a staff weapon. There are at least three other clues I didn’t figure out until later, but I never notice anybody’s hair, for some reason. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have noticed they were armed with the wrong guns either, but they mentioned it at least twice previously.
And speaking of reintroducing old characters, the villain Cronus finally resurfaces. We met him toward the beginning of the previous season, in “Fair Game”. A few weeks ago, I remembered to remind our son that Cronus had warned the people of Earth that their species is only protected on Earth itself, and he’d better not catch them on other planets. Cronus is so pleased to be a big mean teevee bad guy that he missed all the clues that viewers should have been considering.
Cronus is about as surprised as some of the TV audience must have been to learn these are robots, because – as the show makes clear, and as I pointed out to our son in preparation for Saturday night’s episode – there is a lot of technology out there that the alien baddies have never run into before. The alien “gods” are lazy, unimaginative parasites, and 99% of the things they run into can be bludgeoned and beaten into submission, but every once in a while they meet something that wrongfoots them, and reminds the slaves under their thumb that they are not gods at all.
The episode ends with Cronus dead and all the robots destroyed. I think it’s a pretty effective sequel since it wraps up a lot of plot threads and doesn’t leave anything hanging. There’s plenty to fuel speculation, though. Teal’c seems confident that Cronus’s forces will welcome the chance at freedom, even though I think it’s more likely many of them will want some new “god” to worship and will end up in service to somebody like Apophis. And what about the poor lonely dude who built the robots? He only had four friends and now they’re all dead. I wonder whether anyone would want to volunteer to have a robot copy of themselves made to keep him company? It’d be the human thing to do.