Stargate SG-1 season 7

In this season, both Teal’c and the show get their mojo back.  They return to the strength of the show, which is the team going to a planet, facing a challenge, and surmounting it.  Some episodes are standalone science fiction, some introduce elements that are woven into future storylines, and some are part of the main Enemy Arc (in this season, Anubis and the Goa’uld).

Unfortunately and almost inexplicably, after a string of strong episodes, the season falls apart starting with 7×17.  The season just sputters out.  In the final double they try to push JackCarter again.

In many ways, in terms of team integrity and character development, it would have been better if they had ended the entire series with 7×15 Chimera.  If you stop watching there, you will have a more-or-less satisfying conclusion.

Whomever did the photoshop for the DVD/iTunes cover managed to screw up Carter’s face and Teal’c has an odd and uncharacteristic smile.

SG-1 Season 7 started in 2003.  Season 1 of Stargate Atlantis started in 2004.

It is kind of sad that they fixed their misguided trajectory two seasons too late to get breakout status and transition to doing movies.

6×22/7×01/7×02 – Full Circle/Fallen/Homecoming – watch

This is a three-parter, you really need to watch all three episodes.

Introduces the storyline that will lead to Atlantis in the next season.

Daniel is twice referred to as having been found “in the forest” although he is shown being found in ruins in a desert-like terrain.

This may be only the second time that we see Hammond off-world, an event so notable that Carter comments upon it.  The first time was in 3×01.

7×03 – Fragile Balance – watch

This is basically a light episode to relieve the tension of the preceding three-parter.  The actor is good at playing Duplicate Jack.

The conclusion is ok, until you think about the fact that it’s a guy in his 50s going back to High School in the body of a 15-year-old, which is kinda creepy.

7×04 – Orpheus – Master Bra’tac! – watch

Trying to work out some of the consequences of Tretonin.

7×05 – Revisions – watch

A good commentary about what can happen if you only get your information from electronic sources.  A solid science fiction episode.

7×06 – Lifeboat – watch

Good science fiction and a chance for Michael Shanks to show his acting abilities.

7×07 – Enemy Mine – watch

This is a good episode.  In the background it resolves the civil war Daniel started in 5×07 with (very improbably) a negotiated peace.

On the downside, Chaka is played by Patrick Curry instead of Dion Johnstone and Curry just isn’t very good.  It’s possible the suit doesn’t fit well.  Anyway he never opens his mouth, everything his says is mumbled through his teeth.

The episode is Daniel Jackson centric, and pretty much a direct companion to 4×08.

This the first time we see Major Lorne, who will show up again.

Enemy Mine of course a reference to the 1985 movie of the same title.

7×08 – Space Race – watch

Comedy-adventure with main focus on Sam.

The alien was first met in 6×18 (played by Dion Johnstone) and returns played by Alex Zahara (who just played Iron Shirt in the previous episode 7×07).

An unexpected brief burst of racism in the plot doesn’t fit with the overall tone of the episode.

7×09 – Avenger 2.0 – SKIP

Yet another comedy episode, with Patrick McKenna, Canadian comedian.  Follow-up to The Other Guys 6×08 (which would have been better if it had all been a dream).  Dr. Felger is basically the Lt. Barclay of SG-1.  Fortunately after this episode Dr. Jay Felger is not seen again.

Very weak comedy that depends on Dr. Felger being a loser scientist stereotype plus assorted sexism.  I didn’t find it funny at all.  It’s best if you decide 6×08 and 7×09 never happened.

It doesn’t make sense that Felger is doing his research at SGC rather than Area 51.

Ba’al continues to be a major bad guy (although not actually seen all season).

Also SGC can send software into the gate network.

7×10 – Birthright – skip

So you’re Christopher Judge (Teal’c) and you’re writing another episode about your own character, and you think, hey, I have an idea, what if Teal’c goes to a planet where there are only women.  Attractive women.  Attractive and scantily, tightly-clad women (rather improbably, since neither is appropriate for a warrior).  And what if say, the leader is the most attractive (Jolene Blaylock, who played T’Pol on Star Trek: Enterprise) and what if she sleeps with Teal’c and what if…

Well you get the general idea.  It’s a wonder Teal’c didn’t wake up and find it was another dream.

Some rather off-colour humour, including hopefully the only time on the series that Jack says the word “penises”.

7×11/7×12 – Evolution – watch

The midseason double.  Michael Shanks wrote some of part 1.

This is ok, a bit weird on the Honduran plotline and Burke subplotline.  The tone is just a bit off.  Also a very un-Stargate topic.  Some unexpectedly off-colour final comments from Burke.

Plus which, guy was shot and has been lying in the jungle for days, but he’s fine and still perfectly shaven?  They get two suits of super-armor and four arm-shooter weapons, and all they use is one arm-shooter?

Daniel’s long-neglected grandfather (from 3×21) is mentioned, but they still don’t actually go talk to him.  I guess one is to assume he somehow found writings and copied them, not actually wrote them in obscure ancient Goa’uld (which seems to have a rather conveniently large number of “obscure dialects”).

The ring effect is cool, and I guess since we’ve never seen rings used that way, their behaviour is reasonable.

A major role for Dr. Lee, who continues to show up frequently after this.

7×13 – Grace – WATCH

This is an excellent episode, one of the best in the series.

For a show so often driven by action and explosions, this episode creates the perfect sense of space, quiet and solitude necessary for the story.

The use of the various other characters as avatars, drawing on their roles in the series, is very apt.  Teal’c gives a (plausible) warning of danger.  Daniel gives a (plausible) scenario for interspecies communication.  Jacob gives fatherly advice.  Carter gives herself the solution without realising it.

The writers finally give Carter an opening to escape the artificial O’Neill relationship they have been trying to conjure for seven years, admitting that it closes off possibilities for love and that it is a kind of safe choice that kept her from having to take any emotional risks.  (The Jack/Sam relationship is ill-conceived by the writers on many levels, including the fifteen-year age gap, the work authority hierarchy, and the total lack of chemistry.)

The episode also gives a possible clue as to why Sam may be reluctant to have a relationship.

A great performance by Amanda Tapping.  She received a well-deserved award (a Leo for “Dramatic Series: Best Lead Performance by a Female”).

7×14 – Fallout – skip

Contractual obligation episode?

This isn’t a terrible episode, but it’s just a kind of pointless standalone.  You’ll never see Jonas Quinn again.

The negotiations subplot is pretty annoying.  Why would they have Jack (and Teal’c) sitting in on the negotiations?  Everyone knows Jack is terrible at negotiations.  Which leads to the remarkably unfortunate “that’s what you get for dickin’ around” line from Jack.  A phrase one hopes he never utters again.

It seems remarkably improbable that they programmed their descent graphics display to include the option for a tiny side tunnel.

It doesn’t make much sense that after mistrusting Kianna Cyr all of a sudden they decide they should all risk their lives for her.

The countdown to the surface doesn’t make any sense either.  If they only make it to within 100 metres of the surface, they can just dig them out.

The ending, with secondary-Jackson (Quinn) and his secondary-girlfriend (Cyr) having to go through the gate to obscurity, never to be seen again, while Dr. Jackson gets to continue on being a star… awkward.

The idea of a Gou’ald being able to love is vaguely interesting I suppose, but also doesn’t really lead anywhere.

7×15 – Chimera – watch

Building on the opening they gave Carter in 7×13, she finally gets a boyfriend.  And there’s actual chemistry and humour, unlike the strained and artificial writer push for O’Neill-Carter.  (The boyfriend is yet another DeLuise, not that this particularly matters.)  Also the relationship includes, not to put too fine a point on it, Carter finally getting laid after 7 years.

Almost everything in this episode works well.  The interaction between Sam and Pete is just the right level of playful, with genuine chemistry.  The elevator scene is just the right tone. A nice light touch on the Sam-Jack interaction, either some improv or some very good writing and acting on the quarks line, Sam breaking the fourth wall, Jack coining “humworthy”.

(For the elevator scene Stargate Wikia reports Amanda Tapping wanted to hum the MacGyver theme but couldn’t remember it.  In fairness, MacGyver ended a over decade before this episode filmed.)

The only awkward element is Pete basically stalking Sam, although one can somewhat forgive this as part of the necessary plot mechanics of getting him to the right place at the right time.

We also get to think about the fact that Sam has basically the same problems as a superhero – she has a secret identity, and anyone she is involved with is in huge danger.  It’s hard to have a relationship when your actual job is a matter of Top Secret national security and you have many enemies.

In many ways, by releasing Carter from the artificial O’Neill relationship and by closing the second girlfriend-is-a-goa’uld arc for Daniel, this episode would have been a good concluding one for the series.

7×16 – Death Knell – watch

The main plot of this episode is actually the crumbling of the Tok’ra-Jaffa-Tau’ri alliance, to some extent it is the “death knell” of the alliance.

The subplot of this episode could have been called “Grace Under Fire” – in some ways it’s a companion to 7×13 Grace.  That episode is a reminder of the challenges of Carter’s internal life – working to come up with brilliant solutions despite physical and emotional constraints.  This episode is a reminder of the challenges of Carter’s external life – incredible physical danger and exertion yet a requirement for constant intellectual ingenuity.  However, Carter’s storyline this time only really starts about 20 minutes in, and is told very economically

They are both a reminder of the issue raised in 7×15, which is that Carter lives an incredibly dangerous life, which adds additional barriers to having a relationship with anyone outside of the SG teams.

This episode is a sort-of closure to 7×11/7×12 Evolution.

7×17/7×18 – Heroes – SKIP

Just a bunch of terrible things all together.  Supposed to be a kind of celebration of heroes and I guess supposed to be humourous.  Fails on both counts.  Has Senator Kinsey (always a bad sign) – a character basically designed to be disliked.  Introduces Woolsey (Robert Picardo) – a character designed to be annoying.  Adds Saul Rubinek playing an annoying, intrusive and disrespectful character.

Carter says in-show that the filming is to document the 1000th trip through the gate, it’s actually a special double episode in part because 7×18 marks the 150th episode of the show.

You can get a faint taste of what they were probably aiming for, a kind of light self-satire in the vein of Wormhole X-Treme, but it just doesn’t work.  At all.

Part of the awkwardness is that Saul Rubinek is essentially playing an outsider observer, which is to say, he is in the role of a fan – much in the same way the character of Q gets to be an observer of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  This fan role is very hard to write well though – it usually comes off criticising the fans as obsessive and annoying.  Q often walks that line with limited success.  It works best if the show is clearly in on the game of making fun of itself, as in SG-1 5×12 Wormhole.  Unfortunately, neither the actor nor the writers manage to make this work in 7×17 – Rubinek just comes across as persistently annoying.

The only scene that works for me at all is when he asks Carter about the blinkenlights in the SGC control room – which one can imagine a fan touring the base doing – “why don’t you ever explain what all this equipment is for?”  The answer is perfect, which is to remind viewers that SG-1 is essentially an opera – we only see the most dramatic moments of characters’ lives.  No one would want to watch the months of Carter staring at a screen, trying to make the gate work, nor would we want to know her day-to-day work of incredibly technical research about the gate and other things.  So yes, mostly we see the gate spinning around, because it makes for good TV (although I always thought it was liquid nitrogen coming out from supercooling the superconducting interfaces, not steam as Sam says).

In addition to being full of annoying minor characters, the worst part of this episode is that an important character dies.

Apparently they thought the show was going to end this season, and wanted to make a major statement about heroic sacrifice.  (Although they also thought they show was going to end in seasons 5 and 6 as well.)

According to Stargate Wikia, ‘At the 2008 Comic-Con, Amanda Tapping, Martin Wood, Michael Shanks, and Christopher Judge all agreed “Heroes, Part 1” and “Heroes, Part 2” were the best in the Stargate SG-1 series.’  I just don’t understand this.  Both episodes are terrible.

7×19 – Resurrection – skip

A standalone episode.  Written by Michael Shanks, directed by Amanda Tapping.  It’s basically like a different genre trying to fit into the Stargate world.  In some ways like Atlantis 5×19 Vegas, although not as extreme a genre shift.

The episode is not completely terrible, but it basically doesn’t contribute anything either.

7×20 – Inauguration – a clip show – skip

7×21 – Lost City, Part 1 – skip

All you need to know is Jack gets The Knowledge in his brain again.

7×22 – Lost City, Part 2 – watch

This is a reasonable season finale, despite having to endure VP Kinsey doing his usual over-the-top bad guy.

Dr. Weir is a completely different actress from the main Dr. Weir we see in season 8 and in Stargate Atlantis.

First time we see a ZPM (Zero Point Module).

Last season that Don S. Davis is part of the main cast.

You can think of 7×22 as a kind of partial conclusion of the series, with the final conclusion coming in 8×18 and then in a kind of comedic echo-conclusion, in 8×19/8×20.

For the season overall, there are some issues, most notably with the Evolution double.  You have a super-suit that can resist all kinds of weapons, but you never actually wear it for fighting (although it’s vaguely possible that it led to the developments that Dr. Lee was working on in 7×17).  Plus which, you have nuclear bombs, but you don’t either bring one to Anubis’ secret base, or send one through the gate to Anubis’ base (wrapped in a super-suit, so that it gets through the shield)?  You just kind of… visit the secret base and then leave, like a sort of extremely dangerous holiday.

On the plus side, the season breaks out of the “go do a thing to a Goa’uld” model that the series sometimes got stuck in.  Season 7 was much more about characters and adventures.

It’s a testament to the strength of the show that seven seasons in, they were still able to deliver up strong, entertaining episodes.

NEXT: Stargate SG-1 season 8

PREV: Stargate SG-1 season 6

2 thoughts on “Stargate SG-1 season 7

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