Stargate SG-1 season 8

I won’t be giving the same attention to reviews for this season, because as previously mentioned, the entire season is really more SG-1: Coda than a main SG-1 season.  In fairness to the cast and crew as well, in this season they not only have a reduced budget and changed character mix, but they’re also doing full simultaneous production of Stargate: Atlantis.  As well, Richard Dean Anderson was only working 3.5 days a week instead of 5.  With less money, a changed cast and their attention elsewhere, season 8 is just kind of an awkward caboose stuck on seasons 1-7.

Having basically completed their story arc in the previous season, they’re kind of lost for something to do.  Basically the Replicators, Ba’al and Anubis continue as enemies.  The Trust (NID version 2) shows up, inevitably in bad episodes.

Honestly, you’re better off ending at 7×15.  Only watch this season if you really can’t let the characters go, but be aware it is a very diminished SG-1.  The team going through the Stargate together and having an adventure on an unexplored planet is over.

If you want a reasonable plot with action and a (re)conclusion to the series, just watch 8×16 through 8×20.

The terrible photoshop for the DVD cover strikes Teal’c, again.

8×01 – New Order, Part 1 – skip

This is just all positioning, with (new actress) Dr. Weir.  It doesn’t make sense for the Goa’uld to come to Earth, but in the real world of making the show, using the base set is much cheaper than doing a different set or shooting on-location.

A good scene between Carter and Teal’c addressing the reality of trying to bring more character life into the show – Carter has to abandon Pete all the time, sometimes for likely suicide missions, and Rya’c and Bra’tac basically just do their things in the background.

Dr. Weir has a satchel behind her desk.

I guess the large black watch that Daniel very prominently puts on is the new GDO?

8×02 – New Order, Part 2 – watch

This is a reasonably entertaining episode, as usual enlivened by Jack.

Another take on the impossibility of Carter just settling down and living a happy life with Pete somewhere.

Seems rather unlikely Camulus would ask for asylum but this is necessary to set up future episodes.

Sets up the Replicator arc.

Unfortunate that Hammond isn’t present to do a full farewell to the team.

Ridiculous as usual that they do ceremonies right in front of the gate, where an incoming wormhole would vapourize them.

Dr. Weir has a satchel on her desk.

8×03 – Lockdown – skip

This episode shows the problems of the constraints of just using the base set (and Jack no longer going on missions).  There aren’t actually that many things you can do entirely on the base – it’s pretty much only foothold + selfdestruct, every time.  There’s only so many times you can tell that same story.

The actor who played 1969 Hammond shows up as an SGC airman.

As far as I know, planet KS7-535 is the only time we ever hear of an alphanumeric planetary designation that doesn’t start with a ‘P’.

8×04 – Zero Hour – watch

This is ok, it’s reasonably amusing as one would expect for an episode centred around O’Neill.  It’s the first episode where we see Harriman in his role as O’Neill’s aide (which is a pretty cool role for Richard Dean Anderson to give to the actor, after 7 years of reliability as a secondary character).  Filmed mostly on base set to save money.  It is about the only other mostly-base-set kind of episode they can do (negotiations plus focus on “days in the life of the base”).

If you want more details, see Wikipedia – Zero Hour.

8×05 – Icon – watch

This is ok, but a standalone episode.  It’s one of the most emotionally complex episodes, and with an unusual narrative structure (mostly telling the story in flashback, for a while).  It’s also one of the few episodes where the team (and Daniel Jackson in particular) directly kills humans.

8×06 – Avatar – watch

Also ok, also a standalone episode.  I had thought there were a limited number of ways in which they could save money by using the base, but I hadn’t imagined the virtual reality foothold situation.

It of course makes no sense to connect people to a simulator that can cause brain damage if shut down.

The plot is more or less Edge of Tomorrow (2014) except Stargate did it in 2004.  There are also very explicit references to the videogame nature of the narrative (unlike in Edge of Tomorrow).

8×07 – Affinity – skip?

Another standalone episode. It starts off ok, basically a meditation on the fact the characters are all trapped in the SG-1 narrative.  They are all superheros (as Pete explicitly mentions in this episode) with all of the associated danger for themselves but more importantly for anyone they come in contact with.

Teal’c moves off-base after seven years and it doesn’t work.

Sam says yes to Pete’s proposal of marriage, but we are well aware of all the challenges they face in having a relationship.

Goes from a day-in-the-life episode about the challenges of SG-1 in the outside world when they’re not being SG-1, to a rather dark place.

The Trust (basically NID version 2) which is always a bad sign.  Warehouses, skullduggery.

It seems unlikely that Teal’c would have such good driving skills.

The girl seems remarkably blithe about what she has just done.

8×08 – Covenant – SKIP

It’s just bad.  All interiors.  Bizarre over-acting emotional scene near the end, followed by very dark ending.  The Trust (NID version 2), as always a sign of a terrible episode.

8×09 – Sacrifices – skip

Another episode written by Christopher Judge, with Jolene Blaylock again.  (It’s the fourth episode he wrote.)

Horses in Stargate Command.

Rya’c has a satchel, Ishta has a satchel, lots of people have satchels.

8×10 – Endgame – SKIP

The Trust.  Warehouse.  Cayman Island bank account.  Glowing blue liquid.  Millions killed to make a plot point.


8×11 – Gemini – skip unless you really like Amanda Tapping

Basically the start of the (short) Replicarter arc.

Once again the budget constraints drive plot decisions that make no sense.  You invite the killer robot to the Alpha site?

Plus which Teal’c would have disintegrated Replicarter before she could touch Carter.

This season is very big on having imaginary scenarios in SGC where various characters get shot (another aspect of the budget cuts).

They also cheap out by not having Carter in the same room as Replicarter for a while, and by not showing bullet damage to Replicarter.

Vaguely interesting to see Tapping play against character.  Not bad plot twist.

Some strange thing going on with sleeveless outfits, which I don’t think Carter has ever worn before.  First Carter and then even more oddly Replicarter, who doesn’t actually have clothes, but nevertheless remodels her external appearance for no discernible reason.

8×12 – Prometheus Unbound – SKIP

Vala Maldoran.  Could be thought of as a prequel to season 9.  Creepy inappropriate character.

Unsuccessful attempts at comedy including ridiculously awkward scientist.

Even the presence of General Hammond can’t rescue this episode.

Does raise the question of why SG-1 never uses the supersoldier suit.

8×13 – It’s Good to be King – skip

Comedy episode with return of Harry Maybourne.

Harmless but no point in watching.  Makes no sense they would send the entire team while there is a giant war underway.

The main purpose of this episode is to introduce the Time Jumper, a time machine which will be used later in the season.

8×14 – Full Alert – SKIP

The Trust.  Stuff happens on Earth.  Kinsey.  All signs of a bad episode.  And indeed the episode is terrible.

8×15 – Citizen Joe – clip show – SKIP

Standalone comedy episode.  A clip show.  Basically a bit Martin Lloyd all over again.  Unfortunately in the attempt to poke fun at themselves, they diminish some important and poignant moments in the show.

8×16/8×17 – Reckoning – watch

The actual plot of the entire season is all packed into these two episodes and the secondary conclusion in 8×18.

It’s an exciting season finale.  It’s well-done.  Daniel vs. Replicarter is particularly good.

Is it an awkward way to (re)-end the Goa’uld arc?  Yes.  As Master Bra’tac says, “years of effort, all but undone in a matter of days”.  The elaborate stepwise Goa’uld domino effect turns into a particularly ignoble end for Lord Yu followed by a Replicator wave.  But what can you do when you’ve already ended the series and the arc in the previous season?

Jack mentions they have a time machine (it was acquired in 8×13).

8×18 – Threads – watch

Essentially the (second) series finale.

If you’re a fan of JackSam, then this is a pretty clean ending to the series.  If you are not, then not so much.

The Daniel/Oma/Anubis arc is cleanly closed, with the diner being a nice approach and the conclusion signaled but unexpected.

The focus on JackSam leaves Teal’c and Master Bra’tac quite ill-served.  This is their moment of triumph.  While neither is big on emoting, they could have cut a JackSam scene and put in a scene of Teal’c and Bra’tac looking back on how far they have come in their long lives, hailing the fall of the false gods and the rise of the Free Jaffa.

The closure of the Jacob/Selmak is good and appropriate to give an overall sense of finality to the episode, except for the parts where it intersects with the Jack/Sam plotline.

If you’re on Team Pete, as I am, this is a disappointing episode.  If you’re on Team Jack, then probably you like how it goes, although it doesn’t take things all the way to the logical solution.  I hadn’t remembered just how very much of the episode was Jack/Sam.

The closing scene with the SG-1 team safe and hanging out together fishing in Jack’s fishless pond is a good and satisfying conclusion to the giant 8 year SG-1 arc.

8×19/8×20 – Moebius – watch

Comedy echo-ending of the series.

Another arc closes as befits the finality of this ending, although one wonders where Ernest is and why Daniel is totally dry when everyone else has an umbrella.

More minutes than I would have expected taken getting to them to the improbable choice that leads to them being positioned in the necessary time and place.

Unlike in some previous attempts at self-satire, there is very good use of humour.

There are many many jokes in the episode that work well.  Basically there is a single off-note when AlternaJack makes a comment about AlternaDaniel, and the episodes could have done without MacKay entirely, but everything else is very well done.  I won’t touch on all the jokes or character re-appearances – if you’re a fan you will enjoy them.

I enjoyed the skill with which Tapping and Shanks stepped into their goofy alternate characters, after 8 years of their primary roles.  And it is nice to see General Hammond again.

As for the gift to Team Jack, it does actually make sense that mousey Alternate Sam would be attracted to Alternate Jack, and a reasonable amount of sense that bored and lonely retired Alternate Jack would be attracted to Alternate Sam.

I actually do sympathize with the writers’ dilemma on JackSam.  TV shows have real constraints (constraints which make them rather poor as relationship guides).  In particular, you have a main cast that you pay full-time, and then a bunch of secondary characters on contract.  Putting main characters together costs you nothing and adds minimal complexity to the show, plus it pleases some fans.  Giving main characters other relationships just introduces issues: what are you going to do with Pete?  Does he just show up sometimes?  Do you spend minutes in episodes where he doesn’t appear explaining why he’s not there?  The writers even play with this issue in 8×01 – are you going to review the current status of every fan-fave secondary character at the beginning of every episode?  What if the episode calls for Sam’s home life, or Sam in danger, and the actor who is Pete isn’t available that week?  This is why almost every long-running show tangles the main characters up in various combinations of relationships or near-relationships with one another.  Every time you match two main characters together, some fans are happy and some are dismayed.  It’s a difficult problem to solve.  I personally think they would have been better never conjuring up SamJack in the first place, or leaving it as an alternate-universe scenario.

The show made pretty good use of alternate universes, in particular making it clear the extent to which the timeline we see in Stargate SG-1 is improbable.  In almost every other timeline, Teal’c doesn’t betray Apophis and the Earth is invaded.  But that wouldn’t make for much of a show.  Fortunately, we get to see the improbable space opera.

Overall they did a solid science fiction show, with a great team dynamic, action and humour.

After this in seasons 9 and 10 it’s a different show, basically Fargate: The Ori.  I won’t be reviewing those seasons.

PREV: Stargate SG-1 season 7