Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sci-Fi Friday round up--Feb. 3

Stargate SG-1: Ethon

The upshot: Daniel Jackson is held captive on a world under the influence of the Ori, while the Prometheus is caught in a firefight during the rescue attempt.

In a previous episode, SG-1 visited the planet Caledonia, where two rival nation-states were embroiled in a cold war (think U.S. and the Soviets) until it heated up into Armageddon. The episode opens with a Caledonian native from one of the two nation-states come to warn SG-1 of the Ori.

The Ori have sent a Prior to the planet, unleashed its plague to force worship and conversion and given the Soviet-like nation assistance in building a killer, energy blasting satellite. (Think Strategic Defense Initiative/SDI). Jackson goes to Caledonia to negotiate and is captured.

The Prometheus is dispatched to take out the satellite. The satellite’s defense shield holds but the satellite’s energy weapon punches through the Prometheus’ shields given to them by the Asgard. The ship is cut to pieces and the most (but not all the crew) abandons ship.

The team finds a way to destroy the satellite but as Jackson brokers a compromise between the two nations but in the end it doesn’t hold and they destroy each other after all. Not a happy ending and unlike our complaint about last week’s episode, there are consequences—the destruction of the Prometheus.

Stargate Atlantis: The Tower

The upshot: The team finds a world that possesses Ancient defense technology, where Lt. Col Sheppard finds himself a pawn in a rivalry between two heirs to the throne.

What appears to be a world of peasant villagers out of the Middle Ages gets a lot more interesting when the team discovers the ruling family living out of “The Tower” with distinct Atlantian architecture—it turns out a whole city identical to Atlantis is buried underground. The royal family rules the village with an iron fist—the price the peasants pay for the family’s protection from the Wraith—thanks to their possession of the Ancient gene and the remnants of ancient technology.

The Lord Protector is dying and Sheppard, who has the gene, is being groomed/courted to be the next leader. Dr. McKay, the wacky Canadian scientist, finds a way to deplete the city’s ZPM power source—removing the source of the ruling family’s power over the villagers.

It works out for the team as they are able to pick up city’s supply of Puddle Jumpers and defense drones in exchange for medicine and other supplies. It also dangles the plot twist that there is at least one other Atlantis-like city out there.

Battlestar Galactica: Scar

The upshot: The fleet is plagued by a Cylon raider that is picking off Vipers one by one and menacing the fleet with hit and run attacks.

This is a Starbuck episode as Capt. Thrace is mourning the resistance fighter/lover she left behind during her return to Caprica to retrieve the Arrow of Apollo earlier this season. Despite her impassioned pleas to return the fleet to Caprica to rescue survivors, Admiral Adama and President Roslin are unmoved—opting not to risk the last survivors of the human race and rather to continue their quest for Earth.

Even Starbuck realizes the wisdom of the decision but it doesn’t keep her from mourning the loss for the lover who surely must be dead and/or captured by the Cylons by now. As she descends into self-pity and self-destruction, Starbuck is still has a job to do...which is being in charge of the Viper pilots.

While the Battlestar Pegasus is dispatched to protect the colonial fleet, Galactica is an asteroid belt protecting a mining ship as they drill for the metal ore—the raw material needed which will allow the fleet to construct more Vipers and finally start replacing losses. What’s harder to replace are the pilots that are being picked off one-by-one by a Cylon raider they’ve named “Scar.”

As pilots die, Starbuck is slipping. Her subordinate pilot Kat has been nipping at her heels. Cocky and every bit as skilled as Starbuck, Kara Thrace is faced with the mirror image of what she used to be before she was put in charge and before she started slipping.

We find out via Cylon Sharon that Cylon Raiders are not only alive but they can reincarnate when they die just like “human” Cylons—or they could before the Colonials destroyed the Resection ship. The episode tease told us that there was going to be a one-to-one dogfight with Scar and a “nothing-to-lose” Starbuck but she realizes that she has something to live for and she lures Scar into Kat’s gun sights for the kill.

In typical Galactica fashion, there are no easy resolutions at the end of the episodes. Starbuck still has her issues, particularly with Kat, but she’s got hope and something to live for now, not just die for.


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