Off the Grid


Before I start this review I’d like to take this opportunity to appeal through Grapefruit’s large readership to whomever transmits chinese CCTV at 2.4 gHz near our house. You’re interfering with our streaming of Stargate from my computer to the TV. It’s difficult to get a clear signal when so much other crap is being broadcast on the same frequency. Perhaps we could jointly pay to line a wall between us with aluminium foil. But you’re not here to hear of my troubles, so without saying without further ado in an attempt to delay you longer and pad out this review because I can’t think of enough pseudo-intellectual comments to fill this space about this week’s episode, I give you ‘Off the Grid’…

Despite last week’s horrific loss of the Prometheus, life continues on.1 The pain is softened by the news of the near completion of a new ship, the Odyssey. The speed at which this ship was built surprised me, with less than a season since the Daedalus was built, but the Prometheus would have taken the longest to build because it was Earth’s first ship. Building the Daedalus took time because it was designed after building the Prometheus to incorporate the lessons learned building that ship and built to include Asgrad shields, hyperdrive, and transport beams. Earth also gained posession of a naquadah mine in ‘Enemy Mine’ (707). The lack of naquadah had been holding up production of the Daedalus. So now I expect two new ships per season. My biggest problem is just the coincidental timing of the new ship’s appearance. I hope Earth’s ships are able to stand up to the ships that the Ori are sending. If the Rand Protectorate were able to build a satellite that could destroy the Prometheus, then the Ori must have very powerful ships. But this doesn’t worry me much; SG-1 never win by using overwhelming force.

Another sign of life continuing is the new locator beacon implants. Having watched the seventh season of Buffy and the fifth season of Angel reiterate character development and plot threads, it makes me very happy to see the constant and constructive change in the Stargate universe during these later seasons. A locator beacon strapped to one’s arm is the easiest way to find someone to use the Asgard beam transporter but a device strapped to one’s arm will be removed when that person is held prisoner. As that was used that last week to prevent Daniel’s rescue by transporter beam,2 the writers prevent themselves from reusing that plot device and show that the SG personnel learn from their mistakes. It may not seem like a big thing, but to me it’s a strong indicator of the health of the show.

Mitchell is following his instinct again this week, and despite his rash mistake of trying to negotiate with the corn-dealers, it’s a trait I like in him. His actions go far outside the scope of their mission briefing as the rest of SG-1 point out but Mitchell’s not the laying low type. This trait, combined with his inexperience and enthusiasm for his job shows that the writers and Ben Browder have a solid idea on who his character is and how he is distinct from O’Neill or Crichton.

Another odd decision this week was made by Colonel Paul Emerson, captain of the ship Odyssey, who decided to fire upon the Lucian Alliance vessels while they were attacking Baal’s ship. It draws their fire away from Baal’s ship and prevents SG-1 and the Stargates being destroyed but places the Odyssey under great risk. I would have beamed SG-1 aboard in the seconds between Baal’s shields failing and Baal’s ship being destroyed. I might even have shot at Baal’s ship to facilitate this process.

The reappearance of the Lucian Alliance and Baal, as well as the recent Jaffa plot lines give the galaxy a suitably busy feel. When all SG-1 does is visit isolated worlds, it seems unlikely that two ships could meet accidentally in space as they are wont to do. When there’s Lucian and Baal’s and Earth’s ships flying around, the milkyway has a pleasant lived in feel. Speaking of pleasant…

Watching Sam I am, as for the first time in ages she’s not wearing a military uniform or fatigues. Her off-world disguise reveals her to be more gifted than I remember. I chalk that up to her recent pregnancy. Maybe Sam is display her feminimity to get boys back on her side before Vala’s likely return. She also manages not to kill the humorous conversation about which member of SG-1 is the most likely drug dealer.

  1. Not for the 39 of the 115 Prometheus crew members who didn’t make it.
  2. “Beam Daniel up,” we yelled at the tv screen last week as the Prometheus came out of hyperspace.
    “Beam Daniel up,” said Carter as we smiled smugly with the knowledge that we were one step ahead of SG-1.
    Up beams the locator beacon, sans Daniel.
I believe the three of you to be equi-distant. — Teal'c

7 Responses to “Off the Grid”

  1. If you can find a different picture of Sam, Tom, you can put it up. Gateworld has different criteria to us for choosing its photos.

    This makes 5 reviews in 5 days, a new record for Grapefruits.

  2. That sounds a plausible statistic. Have you checked?

    Gateworld often have an odd selection of photos. I can’t really blame them for not having a suitably glamorous shot of Sam. I don’t think Stargate fans care about such things as much as, say, Charmed fans. This was the cutest pic I could find. She keeps scowling all the time. Which is acceptable during the torture I suppose.

    I didn’t like Mitchell’s Shaft joke. It wasn’t funny the first time, by the fourth time I could hear creaking noises coming from the telly. The related ‘Mr’ joke was similarly lame. However the discussion of drug-dealer-ness you allude to was awesome. Overall I liked this episode, but then, I’m a sucker for Baal. I like over-the-top, charming, gloating villains. They’re a stereotype perhaps, but a tremendously fun one, and pretty rare these days. I’d like to get the Master back in Doctor Who as well.

  3. However, I’m pretty sure that she was in civvies only two episodes ago. You probably meant: haven’t seen her in a slinky leather fantasy-style costume for ages.

  4. One other thing. It’s a bit rich to bag both the recurrent character arcs and lame plotting of late Buffy and Angel if you’re only really comparing the latter. After all, most people on Stargate are lucky to get a character arc at all, let alone a recurrent one. However I completely agree that the implant thing is a good idea. It just seems like you’re drawing a long bow if you’re trying to compare it to Gunn still not knowing where he fits in the group.

    And I think it’s rough to put Angel 5 and Buffy 7 on the same quality threshold. That means Angel 4 was worse than Buffy 7 and I don’t think that’s true. Ahem.

  5. A bit rich yes and I apologise for the implication that Angel 4 is below Buffy 7. I should have used a paragraph by itself to compare aspects of Stargate to later seasons of other shows. I couldn’t remember Buffy 7 repeating plotlines so I mentioned Angel 5 to refer to the possession of female characters by demons. Gunn’s repeated issues crossed my mind at that point but I was mostly talking about the plotlines for Angel 5 and character development for Buffy 7. Perhaps a well-placed ‘respectively’ would have cleared things up slightly.

    Buffy 5-7 displayed a marked decline towards the end of the show’s lifetime that Stargate so far hasn’t, which was my point. Angel didn’t live long enough to display a long slow decline. A better example would be the Simpson’s lack of change, reuse of plots and character developments in seasons 15+.

    A slinky leather fantasy-style costume is civvies as far I’m concerned. I won’t stop people wearing them in a casual setting. Sam wore civvies in Deus Ex Machina but they were in cold Seattle so she was rugged up.

    Mitchell’s Shaft joke weighed down what could have been a funny middle section of the episode. Not having seen any form of Shaft, I can only conjecture that the mister thing is something Shaft says.

    I can’t complain about photos I’ve borrowed but Gateworld doesn’t have pictures involving special effects. I can’t find anywhere that as high definition screencaps (Regular screencaps I can do myself) so I use Gateworld’s photos as I prefer a clear photo of an actor than blurry special effect.

  6. 2 bad points I didn’t mention. There was a cut from Mitchell being held hostage to when they had escaped. It’s not worth complaining about – maybe they wanted to save money for the final fight scene or it was cut for time reasons – it was odd given the slow speed of the episde up to that point.

    Th other was the final fight. I like SG-1’s sensible approach to a fire fight. Hide behind rocks provide cover for other team mates. Looks realistic and exciting. SG-1’s entrance into Baal’s ship looked cool as they covered multiple directions and made their way quickly to the cargo hold. Once the firefight started, Teal’c and Mitchell decided they were in the Matrix. There were never more than two Jaffa soldiers in the corrider at a time, so Mitchell and Teal’c’s gun blazing looked wasteful. A simple sniping the Jaffa as they rounded the corner would have sufficed.

  7. Only 2 weeks to go until season 10. Gee, I wonder if SG-1 really are all dead? That seems likely.

    Can’t wait! :)