Many of the major plot elements in this story work surprisingly well - one element doesn't work at all.
Part I: A New Danger Rises
Part II: 'Crazy Crap' Happens
Let's go plot thread by plot thread and talk about what works well or doesn't.
- The Kull Warriors
- What Works - The suit is effin' BAD ASS. Those suckers just LOOK like death walking. Their weapons are elegant and frightening, their evil robot eyes remind me of the terminator movies and their armor is far more logical than the goofy bronze age suits of mail worn by normal Jaffa. The presence of an army of non-Jaffa warriors was absolutely necessary. The Jaffa aren't scary to the audience anymore because we've proven that they can be reasoned with and because we know and love one personally. Also, we've now established that their weapons (staff weapons) are, in fact, spectacularly inefficient and this explains why they are such terrible shots. The new guys on the block just point at you and you die. It also logically follows that Anubis, seeing other system lords felled by their own Jaffa, would want insurance against a rebel takeover.
- What Fails - They can't seem to make up their mind whether these new Kull Warriors live for a few weeks or maybe a bit longer (we blew up their only loyal Goa'uld queen...if they live for just weeks, that would mean that Anubis would have just weeks to find another loyal queen (they're rare, theoretically)...that should neutralize the whole army in a big hurry. They also can't decide whether they're suppressing the Goa'uld mind or using blanks. The blanks from Pangar had no consciousness to dull, no knowledge of any kind. They were functional vegetables. These blanks can talk and fight and apparently go on the fritz and vanish. That was a bit confusing to me.
- The Fountain of Youth
- What Works - It's actually been a while since Daniel got to be a real archaeologist and solve a puzzle like this one and it was fun to be reminded of that part of the show's history. Also, this particular puzzle was pretty elegant - I especially enjoyed the water trap.
- What Fails - Dr. Lee is so impractical that he shouldn't have a job this important. Sorry...but every time he appears, I just want to smack him.
- What Works - This base is VERY atmospheric and intimidating, much more than your average Hatak vessel or Goa'uld pyramid. Not only that, but Goa'uld security actually makes sense here, whereas frequently, we take advantage of hilariously stupid guards and inadequate safeguards. Also, the moment when the Kull army is revealed is like a cross between "All We Are, We Owe Her!" and a rally in Nazi Germany. This works quite well. I actually thought the security alarm was even scary.
- What Fails - The fact that the supposedly impenetrable planetary defenses that had to be shut down for us to get in there in the first place completely whiffed trying to shoot down a very slowly moving cargo ship on the way out. That always seems to happen in sci fi!
- Nicaragua vs. Honduras - One Kidnapping at a Time
- What Works - Actually, I thought they did a very authentic job representing the typical rebel gangs you find in Central America without being racially offensive. They gave the Nicaragua-sympathizing bandits some basic motivation and the guy playing their leader was pretty convincing. The whole back-story was well-researched IMHO.
- What Fails - The likelihood of a kidnapping gang being extremely interested in an unassuming-seeming artifact and a pair of unarmed archaeologists strikes me as slim. But...we'll hand-wave that.
- O'Neill vs. Burke
- What Works - The guy they cast to play Burke was pretty funny when he wanted to be...though that sometimes felt a little out of place.
- What Fails - They've tried to give O'Neill bad blood with some former black ops colleague on more than one occasion and it never seems to work because it always feels tacked on and for no particular reason. In the 2nd season episode about the black hole (Relativity), an ex-colleague of Jack's shows up and they fight about their past and it never connects to the actual story going on at all. The same thing happens here. The conflict adds nothing to the story, the resolution to the conflict is hard to fathom (why would O'Neill just instantly believe Burke's explanation about the turning of Woods when they were friends and he's been holding that grudge for a long time?), and the whole thing feels tacked on and superficial.
- Evil Dead
- What Works - Burke mocking the silliness of Stargate doing zombies.
- What Fails - The fact that Stargate did a Frankenstein device plot at all. :)
All in all, this two-parter succeeds at being attention-grabbing and thrilling and at significantly raising the stakes going forward, which is always a plus in my book. The parts that don't work do drag things down just a tad, but overall, I'm happy to do this review because I was happy to watch this two-part episode.
Good dialogue, good plot pacing, and great atmospherics make this episode fun.
Carmen Argenziano and Tony Amendola always elevate the acting of the people around them whenever they show up and this episode is no exception. But I should also give a shout out to Frank Roman (head Nicaraguan douchebag Raphael) and Enrico Colantoni (Burke) for adding depth to the acting roster.
Anubis is still a big ugly threat...it helps to be reminded of this going forward. Otherwise this is just an actioner.