Stargate Atlantis 1.6 – Childhood’s End

Hee hee! I like Rodney McKay enormously, but I like seeing him get hoist on his own petard even more. So how do you punch a couple of holes in this immature, petulant blowhard? Saddle him with two children. “You have a real gift with the kids,” Ford says after McKay loses his patience. “You do birthday parties?”

Anyway, before we got started, I reminded our son of the world of Logan’s Run, and it turns out he has a surprisingly good memory for its details, even recalling that the people of that city killed themselves at age thirty. I told him to be on the lookout for comparisons in this adventure, and it doesn’t initially appear that there is one. This group of people is led – for now – by their eldest, played by Courtenay J. Stevens. Three seasons previously, he had played the doomed Lt. Elliot in three episodes of SG-1. They believe that the Wraith have left them alone for 500 years because they commit ritual sacrifice at 25, but there’s a surprising reason behind this population control that all of these kids have never known, and it’s not unlike the flawed reasoning that kept Logan’s city killing everybody.

Our son said he really liked the premise, but wasn’t really sold on the episode itself. I don’t agree; I think it’s really interesting and they made me believe these kids somehow sustain a small civilization. I appreciate that they added little bits to the dialogue here and there to give the world color, and explain how they’ve never mixed their family lines in twenty generations. I suppose you could argue the antagonist is annoyingly immature and petulant himself, but of course he is. He’s a kid.

Stargate SG-1 5.16 – Last Stand

Sadly, this episode is Morrigan’s second and final appearance. She gets maybe three lines across both parts. So why do I say sadly? Because the actress is freaking gorgeous and I love that outfit. She could’ve come back two or three times a year and I’d have been just fine with that.

Anyway, no, the second half of the story is not as good as the first half, because what seemed like a promising introduction to a bunch of new villains takes a distant back seat to Osiris dominating the story by telling the other seven System Lords that s/he’s joined the service of a villain so vile that all the assembled System Lords deposed him and banished him to a distant corner of the galaxy a thousand years ago. He’s called Anubis, and though he doesn’t show up in this story, a solid majority of this bunch votes to allow him back in. Anubis will become the dominant villain over the next three seasons, as the show becomes consistently solid and watchable every single week.

(Actually, the promising “Mardi Gras” of colorful villains takes such a distant back seat that one of them, Svarog, not only doesn’t get any lines but the actor is uncredited. Apparently, Stargate‘s fandom has not uncovered the identity of the actor who plays him. Somehow, it reminds me of that Batman episode with six master villains played in long-shot by stand-ins.)

This is the last onscreen appearance of Kevin Durand’s character Zipacna, although he’ll be mentioned from time to time after this. Courtenay J. Stevens makes a last appearance this week as well, since he gets killed off along with a huge swath of the humans’ allies the Tok’ra. If all this wasn’t bad enough, Anubis sends word that just because there’s a treaty between Earth and the System Lords keeping the planet off-limits, Anubis is not a System Lord – yet – and is not bound by it. Yeesh.

I enjoyed this story overall because of the dense world-building and the huge blows that the heroes take. Our son was less taken with it, since just about all the action and the shooting was in part one. It’s a downbeat story, as the series really needs from time to time, but I think this one ended on such a low note that he rolled his eyes and curled his lips. “It had a few good moments,” he shrugged.

Stargate SG-1 5.15 – Summit

First things first: “Summit” features the first appearance of Cliff Simon as a new recurring villain, Ba’al, and he is freaking fantastic. He is by far my favorite of this show’s many enemies. If they gave me the reins of Doctor Who tomorrow, I wouldn’t use the Master very much at all, but I’d offer the part to Cliff Simon. Ba’al is malevolent and smart and has a cunning that far outstrips the blunt-object idolatry of the System Lords, and Simon is completely amazing in the role. There’s another Goa’uld that I also like quite a lot, but we won’t meet him for quite some time, and he’s still no Ba’al.

“Summit” is a major episode in developing the System Lords. Three of the villains we’ve met before – Yu, Osiris, and Zipacna – are all reintroduced, and we meet five others, who are mostly one-offs*, and everybody’s getting together because somebody’s been wiping out their armies. So Vince Crestejo, who we haven’t seen in more than two years, is back, along with Anna-Louise Plowman and Kevin Durand. There are lots more speaking parts in this story than we normally see. Coordinating everybody’s schedule for this one must have been a joy.

Another reason I really enjoy this one and its follow-up: the heroes get themselves well and truly thrashed. While Daniel is infiltrating the System Lords’ summit with our old pal Jacob, Zipacna leads his armies against the Tok’ra. We saw the humans’ powerful allies the Tollan wiped out earlier this year, and now the Tok’ra are decimated. Even more surprising: just two episodes ago, we met Courtenay J. Stevens’ character of Lt. Elliot, newly assigned to SG-17. They all get killed as well. Elliot’s going to survive into part two, barely, but could this situation possibly get any worse? Tune in tomorrow night…

Stargate SG-1 5.13 – Proving Ground

I was initially a little petulantly annoyed that this episode came up in the rotation, because it’s in the way of three really good ones. It’s not bad at all, and it does introduce a new recurring character, Lt. Elliot, played by Courtenay J. Stevens, who will become important in a couple of the really good ones which we will see next week. And there are a couple of amusing twists and it was fun to watch our son try and put the pieces together.

The story seems to have been made to give lighter work for most of the regulars; Col. O’Neill gets to lead four trainees against a possible foothold incursion. One of them is Haley, who we met last season in “Prodigy” and one who never appears in this show again is a character played by Grace Park, who went on to star in Battlestar Galactica and Hawaii Five-O. Naturally it’s all another training exercise, but our son didn’t figure that out until enough clues had stacked up, and it had the right amount of action and shootouts to keep him satisfied.