Overall Rating: 6.8 - half a point for gratuitous trailer-fodder kiss scene = 6.3
I went into this episode remembering it as "that really boring one that pissed me off for pandering to the fans without taking any actual risks" - I was right, but perhaps too harsh.
The slooooooooowwly evolving details of this episode can be found at the Stargate Wiki.
I wanted to hate this episode with the same passion I hated it the first time I watched it...but I was younger then, and not as wise. :) This episode is everything I remembered it being - incredibly tedious, plot-wise illogical, and overly atmospheric. It carries a sort of pretentious feel, as though the director tried way too hard to be inscrutable and artistic, rather than to entertain. It does, in fact, include a bit of naked pandering to draw in the crowds with a steamy-looking clip for the teaser, and the resolution seems...umm...unsatisfactory somehow. It just doesn't feel like it was ever worth the loooooong wait to get to the end.
And yet...on second viewing, there are several things that I actually REALLY like about this episode, giving me mixed feelings that make it a little tough to write this review. For one, although it annoys me that the kiss scene ruined the emotional momentum they had going, I am glad it was just an ill-advised mood-killing joke, rather than a real fantasy that Carter would seriously consider. Their handling of the Carter/O'Neill angst was perfect minus that annoying joke kiss - the bottom line is that Jack is indeed the "safe bet" and that their relationship is best left to the realm of "the perfect friendship," at least as far as I'm concerned. For another, the roles they selected for each of Sam's delusions worked well for me. Jacob was her soul (yearning for real human connections and the sweetness of family), Daniel her curiosity and intellectual stimulus, Teal'c her sense of caution and self-preservation and Jack her source of confidence and wisdom. That was well-thought-out and well-written...each of those individual interactions had something to like about it.
I still maintain that the random alien ship needed to be better explained or given some kind of a "face," that we needed to know more about why "Grace" appeared and why in that form (they didn't even attempt to explain that), and that they REEEEEAALLY needed to give us more to look at than Carter stumbling around taking inventory of her food stores and running computer engine simulations. Cause...wow...there are parts of this episode that are downright soporific. I don't want to be too hard on it...but it needed some editing. Badly.
The parts that work REALLY work...the parts that don't...are boring as hell.
But there's nothing wrong with the acting...in fact even the child playing Grace was a better than normal child actress.
Home is where the heart is...not your lab or the stars, no matter how interesting those other places might be. That piece of the story was worth slogging through the dull bits.