Overall Rating: 7.2
Lofty aspirations and a very sweet take-home message get lost by a really boring NID plot and a lack of lofty writing.
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This episode could have been a bigger hit with me if they'd focused more heavily on its' moral strengths and less on its' political weaknesses. It's basically divided into two parts that fit together in that, for one part to work, the other part must be ongoing (for us to believe that Hammond wouldn't send the cavalry in after his people even with their apparent delusions of a fifth team member, he would need to be stopped by the Pentagon and yet another NID investigation), but not otherwise. One part - the stranding of O'Neill with an alien who has duped him into assisting by using a hallucinogenic compound to make the entire team believe he is a team member - is a near-feature-worthy celebration of the respect that our military (as a whole) has for life (be it American or foreign potential combatants). We see O'N3eill bond with the creature Kiaiael (first as a brother in arms, then as a brother in spirit (though not human). The take-home message being - you don't have to trick us into thinking you're American to get our help...you just have to be innocent and in need of our help. We don't leave people in need behind - even if they aren't "our" people.
The second part of the story involves the arrival of Colonel Simmons of the NID - who subverts normal operating procedure to investigate Hammond and the SGC, looking for ways to recommend that Hammond be asked to resign. Finding no real evidence that Hammond has done anything wrong, Simmons nonetheless concludes as he always intends to (this after some amusing interrogations - I especially liked his conversation with Teal'c where Teal'c basically said nothing at all) and smugly departs. Nothing actually HAPPENS in this part of the story though...not like Simmons is influenced by what he sees at the SGC or anything. This plot appears to be nothing but filler intended to prepare us for the real impending battle between Hammond and the NID.
Overall, the dialogue is not all that ear-catching...and I think the pace is slower than necessary at the SGC. The compound these creatures use to trick you into possessing false memories will be used to great affect later on and the NID returns to be a thorn in our backsides a few episodes down the line, but what started out as a potentially poignant idea got a bit watered down and turned into just a solid episode.
8.5 for Kiaiael's bonding with Jack, 3.5 for the NID sidebar. They should have focused on the more interesting plot, IMHO.
On the other hand, I very much enjoyed Dion Johnstone for his portrayal of Tyler/Kiaiael and RDA had a solid day in the field as well. Can't say the same for John De Lancie...which is a shame because I *really* wanted to be excited to see Q on Stargate...I thought his portrayal was horribly flat even for a character who is supposed to be cold as ice and all business.
Not only do we not leave OUR people behind...we come to the aid of the innocent at great personal peril when we're out on the battlefield. I've heard many stories like this from Gulf War and OIF vets in recent years and it will always be true so long as we celebrate that part of our nature with episodes like these.