Thursday, August 2, 2012

Classics: SGA 1:4 - Suspicion

Overall Rating: 7.8

This was a fair-minded and necessary episode, though I almost wish they had dragged out the suspense about the wraith a bit longer and gone further down the path of wrongfully accusing Teyla of being a Wraith spy since she can sense them coming and has more of a connection to them than the other Athosians.  I would have liked to see her go through some tough times before being cleared (just to keep the drama going and perhaps heighten the good vibes when she was cleared).

Plot Synopsis:

The Stargate Wiki has a full summary - read away.

The Skinny:

We don't know much about these Athosians...they needed to prove themselves to the viewers just as much as they needed to prove themselves to Weir.  And we needed to see Weir in her true element - as a savvy and battle-tested diplomat with the experience to smell deception and the skill to avoid making an enemy of a friend.  This episode, even more than the pilot or the previous story (38 minutes) establishes that Weir will in fact be Stargate's first true strong female character (and Teyla will join her).  I love Sam Carter, but they spent all of five episodes in the entire run of SG-1 emphasizing that Carter was a woman and showing off her femininity and all of those episodes were romantic in nature.  Weir doesn't need to be an ingenue to be distinctly female in the way she handles herself, nor does she need a man's approval to take command of a situation in the way that Carter always looked to O'Neill.  Don't get me wrong...Amanda Tapping plays romantic parts VERY well and she has a movie-star face for the classic ingenue role...and it's not like she can't be a "guy with tits" (as some in sci-fi fandom would put it) and fight dirty against the Goa'uld when that is what is called for...but I don't get the sense that Sam Carter is written with her femininity in mind very often, except when they feel they want a love story.  Weir clearly thinks like an archetypal female - she's egalitarian, obsessively social, sometimes a bit defensive when surrounded by alpha males, prone to more emotion than we'd see from, say, General Hammond. :)  And those aren't played as weaker traits - she still gets the job done.

The rest of the plot is pretty standard - though I do enjoy Sheppard's verbal sparring match with "Bob" in lock-up.  He's quickly establishing his snarky, self-motivated, scrappy qualities that make him ideal for this environment.  And I appreciated that Teyla, stuck in a very difficult situation as the go-between communicating our lack of trust in the Athosians (and supporting Weir despite her own belief that her people can't be the cause of the problem), manages to play it right down the center and keep everyone together and happy (thought the Athosians do choose to go to the mainland).  The way they gradually open up our eyes to the scope of this new galaxy is perfect as well.  They really thought through this series' first season beautifully.

Writing: 8.0

Good character work lifts a run-of-the-mill mystery plot (that is perhaps a bit rushed in its conclusion) into solidly enjoyable territory.

Acting: 7.5

Higginson was doing a better job staying within herself this week...sometimes she got a little too hungry for scenery in the first episodes but she's getting used to her role.  "Hot Girl" also does a nice job...the rest of the cast was there when they needed to be and there were no major missteps.

Message: 8.0

They managed to do a wrongful accusation story without finger-wagging and explaining to us that we humans are too jaded and selfish to deserve respect the way that Farscape always managed to do when you least desired it.

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