Hmmm. Another hole in my memory. Last month, we ran into a third season episode of SG-1 called “A Hundred Days” and I swear I didn’t remember a frame of it. That’s happened again. It’s not just Vanessa Angel’s character of Freya that I had completely forgotten; this entire hour felt brand-new to me. And let’s be clear and let’s be honest: a costume like that and a viewer like me, that’s not the sort of thing I’m prone to forgetting.
And it’s not that the episode’s at all bad, either. It’s about our heroes and their allies trying to get to the bottom of an alien scheme to brainwash people and turn them into Manchurian Candidates for assassinations, and addresses the increasing romantic feelings that Jack and Samantha have for each other but can’t do anything about, what with them being a colonel and a captain in the same unit. They got really close to admitting it on their last action against the Goa’uld, and now the situation forces them to quietly admit it in front of witnesses. How’d I forget this?
But here’s the really weird part: J.R. Bourne’s recurring character, Martouf, gets killed. Because with Stargate, I’m reading a little ahead to see what’s coming and remind myself of these old installments, this was a big surprise. It’s not as though, having been reintroduced to Martouf last month, I’ve lost any time or sleep trying to recall his fate or his character arc, but I was still surprised to read this happening. I remember some of these recurring characters’ dramatic exits very, very well – the gut-punch that Stargate Atlantis pulled toward the end of season three most of all – but poor Martouf going down like Sonny at the tollbooth was all new to me.
Marie admitted that she didn’t recall it at all either. She didn’t enjoy it, but she says that she must have seen it twice – once to decide she didn’t like it and once when she showed to me and my older kids. But maybe she didn’t. Maybe she just discreetly skipped it in our last run so we could get to the genius of episode six.
This is as lousy as Stargate gets, honestly. Musetta Vander guest stars as an old flame of Teal’c’s with some intel for the humans and their allies. It’s most notable for introducing Peter Wingfield as a new recurring villain, Tanith, but he plays him so incredibly wrongly this time out. Go back to what I was saying two episodes ago about the character within the narrative not necessarily being a good actor. Tanith is full of crap and instantly obviously lying through his teeth, but nobody within the narrative picks up on it. His betrayal could have been much more interesting if we’d have believed him; instead it is boringly obvious and inevitable. Jack’s even angrier at his allies – who, in fairness, really are a bunch of jerks – than the guy who’s clearly about to do the heel turn.
“Upgrades” is the first of three episodes to guest star Vanessa Angel as a Tok’ra called Freya. I had completely forgotten this character existed. Since I’m reading ahead at the SG Command Wiki to remind myself what’s coming up in future episodes, I was surprised to learn that they gave this character and her skimpy costume a little trial to see whether she could work some ratings magic, noting that one of the Star Trek shows started getting all sorts of media attention when they put the gorgeous actress Jeri Ryan in a skin-tight silver jumpsuit. Since I didn’t remember Freya at all, but I know exactly what Jeri Ryan looks like in that costume without ever seeing one minute of that show, it’s safe to say this tactic didn’t work.
The kid enjoyed this episode hugely. The Tok’ra have found some legendary armbands that are said to increase their wearer’s strength, speed, and reflexes, and basically give them superpowers. The armbands don’t work on the Tok’ra, so they come to Earth to conduct some human trials. This leads to lots of comedy super-speed gags, and eventually they sneak out of the base to visit the local O’Malley’s Bar and Grill and chow down like Joliet Jake at the Soul Food Cafe because their metabolisms are so messed up by the bands. Then they do a field trial to go beat up some bad guys and our kid was every bit as happy as he would haven been had it been the Marvel superheroes coming out of the Stargate to thump the mob of villains guarding it. It’s all very exciting, even if the hearts of any kids watching were sure to break as the armbands run out of juice.
Interestingly, the scenes at “O’Malley’s” were filmed at a really popular restaurant in Burnaby called Horizons. It actually shut down for good earlier this year after a 34 year-run. A little photo at that link shows that the fight on the other planet was staged literally just below the restaurant, and that diners could have watched it being filmed. Round of applause for that location scout, I think.