Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Classics: SG1 7:7 - Enemy Mine

Overall Rating 8.7

A feature episode marred only by the writing for one character - "evil colonel man!!"

Plot Synopsis:

The stirring details can be found here, courtesy of the Stargate Wiki.

The Skinny:

A combination of language barriers, the human instinct to mistrust anything radically different (an evolutionary advantage run amok in a world where differences evolve both culturally and physically), and a desperate need for resources - that about sums up the vast majority of nascent conflicts (that may eventually turn into long-running holy wars and the like as philosophies diverge and old wounds fail to heal) ever experienced in human history.  No...religion doesn't cause war, silly atheist.  It is only an excuse (one of many readily available ones) for the real problems.  When cultures develop naturally and produce conflicting needs, there will frequently be conflict.  Here we have a well-constructed plot centered on the Unas' need for territorial sovereignty and spiritual rights and our desperate need for a means to defend ourselves against the Goa'uld.  We arrive desperately seeking a scarce resource, the Unas hide, we desecrate their sacred grounds, they send us a warning (killing a man to do so...but in their world, that's just a warning shot), we respond with force...and a conflict is born.

Now in any conflict, it is necessary to look for points of common ground, and we have a great one in this story.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  But we don't get to see a simple resolution because of another staple in nascent warfare.  The cross-cultural miscommunication.  It happens...it's no one's fault (and is portrayed as such, which is refreshing) and it calls out for the perpetrators to take responsibility for their mistakes (which we do, however reluctantly).  I actually VERY MUCH like the way this whole plot is structured.  The Pentagon guys are understandably twitchy to get juicy Naquadah, the military guys are understandably intimidated by the big scary Unas, and the Unas are understandably peeved at us for wrecking their homes and burial grounds after years of being slaves to the Goa'uld.  No one is portrayed as a boor.

Except for the colonel in charge of the friggin' mining operation.  Who is written like a cross between the title characters from Weird Al's song "Trigger Happy" and that stereotypical Army drill sergeant who appears in every Hollywood movie that involves a boot camp scene.  Zero brain, zero patience, zero ability to resistance grabbing a gun and shooting it if it moves.  If they'd just written him a little more humanely, this would have been a feature, no Q/A.  As is...I still greatly enjoy the conclusion and Daniel's antics throughout the episode as he works with the Unas, and I think this is a fairer portrayal of military conflict than I've come to expect from science fiction, so I'll take what I can get.

Writing: 9.0

As noted...if they had a better character blueprint for Colonel Jackass, I'd have been happier.  Otherwise, well done boys!

Acting: 8.0

The Unas bit parts were a little on the...um...maudlin side.  But...it's hard to act with that much make-up on.  The regular players were fine with the exception of RDA, who was rather phoning in his scenes this season as he grew tired of the rigors of shooting the show and was having his part downsized.

Message: 9.0

As many close to me have observed, we humans do have a tendency to strive so hard for the things we need to make our lives better that we stumble into situations we don't fully understand and pay the price in blood. That is the cost associated with our best quality - our tenacity and curiosity.

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