Saturday, November 7, 2009

Classics: SG1 2:2 – In the Line of Duty

Plot Synopsis:

When this episode opens, SG1 is helping the inhabitants of Nasya escape a Goa’uld attack – the first this planet has experienced in three centuries. Sam attempts to revive a severely injured Nasyan via mouth-to-mouth and is, without anyone’s knowledge, infected with a Goa’uld.

Back on Earth, the others notice right away that Sam is behaving differently; she is far more abrupt – almost cold. Sam does agree, however, to visit Cassandra at Dr. Fraiser’s urging. This visit does not go well; Cassie detects the Goa’uld’s presence in Sam and is immediately frightened of her. Jack is called to talk to Cassie, who tells Jack that Sam – or, rather, the Goa’uld – threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the Goa’uld’s presence. Upon Jack’s return to the SGC, Sam is apprehended after a struggle.

Daniel goes to the Airforce Academy Hospital to question the wife of the Goa’uld’s former host. Jack is assigned to interrogate Sam’s Goa’uld, who is decidedly uncooperative. The Goa’uld demands to be released, promising that if she is allowed to use the Stargate, she will find another host and voluntarily leave Sam. Jack is dubious and refuses to agree. The Goa’uld then asks to speak to Teal’c; with Teal’c, the Goa’uld identifies herself as Jolinar of Malkshur, a member of the Tok’ra (Resistance). Jolinar explains to Teal’c that the Tok’ra oppose the Goa’uld System Lords and seek power for the common good.

Meanwhile, one burn patient who was brought to the hospital miraculously recovers, overcomes one of the physicians, and escapes the hospital. Jolinar identifies the patient in question as the Ashrak, a Goa’uld whose charge is to hunt down and kill the Tok’ra. Daniel is sent to question Jolinar about the Ashrak, and Jolinar claims that the Tok’ra know where to find Sha’re. This, obviously, gets Daniel’s attention; he tries to convince the others that Jolinar is telling the truth, but Jack declares firmly that he will never, ever trust a Goa’uld.

Using his hand device to hypnotize several airmen, the Ashrak infiltrates the SGC and tracks down Sam/Jolinar in her holding cell. He hits Sam/Jolinar with his hand device, or Hara’kash, then flees, leaving Sam for dead. Sam is discovered by Jack and Teal’c and is brought to the infirmary, where Dr. Fraiser fights to save her life. In the meantime, the Ashrak takes Daniel hostage in an attempt to escape through the Stargate. To end the stand-off, Teal’c shoots both Daniel and the Ashrak with his zat.

Sam ultimately survives the Ashrak’s attack, but Jolinar is killed. When Sam comes to, she reveals that Jolinar gave her life to save Sam.

Overall: 7.7 – The script doesn’t really sparkle (hence the sparseness of the highlights), but this episode does add a very important element to the Stargate universe and thus deserves some credit for that alone.

Writing: 8

Jolinar is an interesting character: she represents the hope of a new ally in the fight against the Goa’uld, but she is also not exactly unambiguous. After all, to ensure her own survival, she violates Tok’ra tradition and takes control of Sam against her will; she also threatens to kill Cassie and behaves in a very magisterial manner with the others. So, while Jolinar’s sacrifice for Sam’s sake is indeed quite moving and heroic, her behavior otherwise telegraphs what we will one day come to learn about the Tok’ra as a sect: that despite their defection from the Goa’uld, they still carry arrogance as a racial trait and tend to prioritize their own self interest above the interests of others. These nuances render the Tok’ra a valuable addition to the Stargate mythos.

Acting: 8

Amanda Tapping does a nice job conveying the difference between Jolinar and Sam, particularly in the scenes before Jolinar is discovered, when said differences had to be portrayed with greater subtlety. Other than that, no one else stood out as either extraordinary or horrendous.

Message: 7

Greater messages are difficult to discern here, just as they were in my previous review. However, the writers deserve credit for allowing the military characters – Jack in particular – to maintain their quite justified distrust of Jolinar. Indeed, Jolinar is never released despite what she reveals about herself and her intentions. This is a fantastic nod to psychological and military realism.


(After Teal’c shoots the Ashrak and Daniel with his zat.)
TEAL’C: (to Daniel) “Are you injured?”
DANIEL: (still feeling the effects of the zat) “Dumb question. But thank you. I think.”
TEAL’C: “You are welcome.”
DANIEL: “Just don’t ever do that again.” – Indeed!

(After Sam comes to.)
JACK: “You did it, Sam. You won.”
SAM: (haunted) “It wasn’t me.”
JACK: “Oh, yes, it was. You hung in there. You beat it.”
SAM: “The Goa’uld gave its life for me. It saved me.” – And thus, the show adds an interesting – and poignant - wrinkle to its portrayal of the Goa’uld.

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