Stargate SG-1 8.1 – New Order (part one)

July 9 and 16 2004 saw one of the biggest publicity blitzes that the Sci-Fi Channel had ever undertaken. They really pushed the debut of SG-1 season eight and the launch of Stargate Atlantis. For the previous seven years, I was only vaguely aware that a TV show based on that silly Stargate movie even existed at all, somewhere, but that summer, they penetrated my bubble and made sure that even I knew about it. I didn’t watch it, mind you, but I heard people talking about Atlantis. There was definitely buzz, probably more than the franchise ever had.

Unfortunately, I’d love to say that SG-1 took advantage of this buzz with a ground-level, action-packed, and viewer-friendly relaunch and a two-hour event to thrill new audiences. Instead, they carried on, business as usual, with an extremely dense continuation of everything that’s been seen before. The “previously on Stargate SG-1” montage covered two episodes, but many more than that were necessary to make any sense of this. Even stranger, the previous story had been shown as a two-parter over two weeks but the DVD presents it as a single movie-length episode. This was shown as a movie but the DVD splits it in two. Make up your mind, guys!

So the kid was kind of disappointed in this, because the amazing revelation of the Antarctic outpost station of the Ancients that we saw last time, with its underground super-cannon and stasis chamber, is only talked about. And talked about, a lot. The action is with a separate plot, as Sam and Teal’c deal with the return of one of the human-form Replicators that we met in season six. Back on Earth, Daniel and Dr. Weir, now played by Torri Higginson, get to talk endlessly about the outpost with three of the villains.

The peace treaty is actually the episode’s biggest surprise. I couldn’t resist; when the Gate is activated off-world, I told our son “You won’t believe who that is.” In the weeks since the previous episode and the apparent death of Anubis, all the System Lords were taken off-guard when Baal struck first against all of them, and now three of them – two new-to-us and the welcome return of Vince Crestejo as Yu the Great – have swallowed their pride and come to try to get Earth to use some of that underground super-cannon action to take out Baal. Even he’s offscreen! One great little touch, though, is that Yu’s First Prime must remain on-hand to cover his master’s ever-increasing senility. As we learned a year previously, this villain is dying.

This really does feel like a miscalculation on so many levels. This is all seen-it, done-it stuff for fans with long memories, and not the hundreds of thousands who tuned in for the first time that Friday night in ’04. We’ve even seen Yu the Great at the same conference table before, back at the beginning of season three. We’ll see how things go when we check out part two later tonight. I know it gets more exciting, but will our son manage to stay awake for it?

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