Overall Rating: 8.8
Following up on the alternate universe story 2010, this episode, taking place in modern time, re-introduces the threat of the Aschen. And scores big again- this time by directly confronting the true threat they represent, rather than by clicking magical heals three times and wishing that scary world away.
Find the full disclosure at the Stargate Wiki.
When we reviewed the episode 2010, we talked about the creeping threat of government dependency and social engineering that threatens us in the real world (both of which are captured wonderfully by the Aschen and their superior scientific minds and dark motives). The same themes are on display here as well...we are once again promised a series of miraculous technological and scientific marvels (to be handed out benevolently by the Ashen as long as they get to control the process) in exchange for...seemingly nothing of great importance (the Ashen seem to mostly want stargate addresses). Again, O'Neill's cynical (and usually accurate) belief that you can't get something for nothing leads him to doubt the sincerity of the Aschen.
This time, we are shown a rather frightening picture of what would happen to Earth eventually when we meet the Volians. Very simple-minded, uneducated people, these Volians. They've been encouraged by the Aschen to eschew higher pursuits for productive crop harvests and when they encounter problems, they turn to the Aschen exclusively to solve them. Seems like the good life to a liberal perhaps. There is essentially no crime, no suffering, their planet is in ecological harmony, etc. All of this dependency is made clear on three separate, alarming occasions. First, we offer them C4 in exchange for the right to house refugees on Volia and search for needed supplies (Naquadah, food, minerals etc)...we show them how C4 could be used to more easily clear stumps and open up land for farming, but they refuse our offer, saying the Aschen do that sort of thing for them and they have no need. Then, while out walking in fields doing some recon, O'Neill trips over a large piece of metal sticking out of the ground, and the Volian farmer giving them the tour describes it as "iron root" and says he'll send for the Aschen to help him pull it up (he can't ANYTHING by himself, aparently...let alone understand the basic logic that a huge piece of metal has no place in a wheat field!). Finally, with the Volian totally lacking curiosity, SG-1 does some digging and discovers an underground city lost in time. There are signs of a Volian riot and newspapers strewn around the subterranean streets reveal a headline "vaccine causes sterility." Just like on Earth in 2010, the Aschen pacified this world by rendering her population sterile to curb overcrowding (so they claim...though it is nice to see the Gate writers call that motive into question and posit a more realistic explanation...they simply seek control just as greenies on our own world do when they talk about the need to reduce the human population).
You know...to a far left democrat, the vast majority of common men in Iowa are about as complacent and stupid and uneducated as the farmers on Volia. They figure...since we know better how to run a society than the idiots in flyover country, what harm can it do them if we take control of their lives? We'll be helping to civilize them and make their lives better with modern technology and knowledge...rather like a parent...or a big brother, perhaps. Oh wait a second...didn't we used to say that about the Native American populations? Aren't most liberals still mad about how we treated native peoples? Or African slaves...for that matter? That's right...subservience to a government elite is no different than subservience to a slave owner or a man with a musket taking your land and trampling your sacred burial places.
This episode is once again on what I believe to be the correct side of the moral line...the Aschen are no better than the Goa'uld and neither are today's gaggle of beltway insiders. Fortunately, because we humans are still free thinkers, SG1 is able to discover the Aschen treachery in time to save Earth...and with their secret out, the threat of peaceful Aschen domination is over. It's much easier to discover and shun an identifiable enemy than it is to root the same elitist philosophy out of our own government...but a story that gives us inspiration to pursue such a goal is well worth the viewing.
The dialogue does tend to be a little on the nose, but the plot concept and the literary devices used to drive home the threat the Aschen pose are outstanding nonetheless.
The stuff between Amanda Tapping and Chris Cousins really doesn't work...and the Aschen are still played as utterly humorless and wooden, which still doesn't work for me. But the rest of the cast does a fine job...including the Volians.
See above comments on the threat of government dependency.