This morning’s episode is a splendid one done mostly on location, with Richard Dean Anderson only present for a portion of it. During seasons seven and eight, he really started reducing his Stargate obligations. His father passed away during the production of the previous episode, and he eventually decided to move back to Los Angeles to spend more time with his daughter. Amanda Tapping didn’t join the location shoot at all, and Steven Williams, returning for a short visit as General Vidrine, is also present in studio only. But we do get a new character, Kavan Smith as Major Evan Lorne. He’ll show up again in a couple of years in Atlantis‘s second season, where he’ll become a recurring player.
And speaking of recurring, this episode features the return of Chaka, last seen two years previously. I guess they couldn’t have done an episode with the Unas in season six, when Daniel wasn’t around, because nobody other than Daniel can be bothered to learn their language and customs. The plot this time is that an SGC mining operation on a planet thought to be abandoned and uninhabited, after three months of limited results, hits paydirt when they encroach on the territory of what turns out to be a very, very large tribe of Unas.
So a lot of this episode is Michael Shanks talking in a made-up language as he and Chaka, who agreed to come help and meet Unas from another world, negotiate the humans’ right to be here, meaning we’ve seen this before in seasons four and five. But it’s given an extra frisson and urgency because the Pentagon wants these resources at any cost, and this tribe isn’t going to budge without a lot of bloodshed. Fascinatingly, it’s revealed that the military’s flying battleship is still parked on the planet where it went down last season, which is a great little added detail!
While some of this story feels like business as usual, it’s still a treat to see unfold, it comes to an unexpected climax, and we all enjoyed it very much. Sadly, the character of Chaka isn’t used again after this one. As with the previous episode, though, I feel like there’s a really good story that must start up after the credits roll. The new peace on this planet to get the mining going seems like a fragile one, which is going to occupy a great deal of Daniel’s time for a few weeks, and part of me just wants to see the USAF personnel taking language classes and trading Earth trinkets, chocolate bars, and lighters with the Unas.