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05 August 2006 @ 10:03 am
SG-1: "Insiders" Commentary  
(little side note: I acquired strep from my rugrat, so I'm not exactly in top form today. sorry in advance)

To follow my usual pattern of episode reviewing, first is the SQUEE! and then the more thinky comments.



Only one to tell the lotar to do it; the trouble is trying to decide which one should give the order...

First, obligatory SQUEE!: BAAL! YAY! :D

I fangirl Baal. This is, er, not a secret. As I've said lately, I wouldn't want him to dinner, but y'know, as a villain, he has everything I adore: he's evil, he's smart, he's good looking, and he has a sense of humor. I love that Cliff Simon gets into the role so much. The best thing about Baal is that sometimes he's not really wrong. LIke in Stronghold, with the brainwashing of the Jaffa Council, he went about it all wrong, but he was right that the Ori were going to pick off the Jaffa one by one, as long as they were so divided.

But unfortunately both Stronghold and Off the Grid were poor showcases for him -- what good is a villain if he's so easily defeated by the good guys? He becomes a caricature, and I was very frustrated by it. I was a bit worried that the pattern would continue in this one: cardboard villain gets whacked down by SG-1 without breaking a sweat.

But luckily no, not only was Baal running a very clever scheme in this one, but it succeeded. The good guys didn't win against him (thanks a bit to some plot contrivances, which I'll discuss in the not-squee portion). He was playing them the whole time, but not the game they thought he was playing, which was why he won. If I'd been at the SGC, his knowledge of the designation for the Ancient's library would've been a far bigger warning bell --- it says the guy knows a lot. Think about it, he could've learned the existence of the Ancients' library thing fairly easily, even from Jack during Abyss. But the designation? That's information not even useful to him, since it's not the address of the planet. Dropping that tidbit should have been a warning that he is deeply informed about the SGC. But of course he had them all running around trying to find out which one was the original one (none of them, I suspect), distracting them from the main point of his mission.

While on the Baal subject, I think Baal was just playing with them when he agreed to their "grand unified theory of what the hell he was doing in "Stronghold" and "Off the Grid"." Because it really doesn't make any sense. Even if I buy that he would destroy the rest of the galaxy, he'd already lost the Jaffa Council before starting to steal the gates. He certainly seemed amused by the imputation of even more sinister motives, so why not accept it?

In general I have to give cookies to the writer here: Baal's scheme played with both the SGC and the audience's expectation of what was going on. The SGC thought they had the monster in hand, even knowing that was what he wanted, just wrong on the why or the how. And the use of an outsider character in Barrett was excellent. First he's a rather Woolsey-like foil for Landry (so it looks like he's being set up for the B-plot of the episode) and then turning him into the key for the A-plot.

The actor did a fine job of being slightly off kilter as well. From the moment he walked in he was not the Barrett we'd seen before. Which I dismissed at first as a writer-director-actor misfire, rather than the deliberate choice it so clearly was, in retrospect. By the time of his blow up at Sam I was convinced he was a goa'uld, and for the rest of the story, I thought he would end up as one of the poison casualties. Well, he was a casualty all right. Poor Barrett. Probably better to have gotten goa'ulded than brainwashed -- at least with the goau'ld they could take it out.

Speaking of Poor Barrett, let's slam that Sam/Barrett ship into the ground one more time, why don't we? Man, the PTB don't give any other Sam quasi-ships a break do they? (Let's see, last week we stomped on Sam/Rodney -- this week, let's stomp on Sam/Barrett. Next week, maybe we'll get Sam/Cam stomped on since they've been rather friendly these past few eps.)

But now let's talk about how stupid everyone was in order to make this, admittedly, cool plot play out properly:

-- although there are many at fault, the most obvious is Landry. He should never have brought all the Baals back to the SGC. Never. The first, okay, he landed on top of them and where else was there? But the rest? Keep them away. Far, far away. Especially when he knows Baal's running a play. Did he not bother to read the "Replicarter destroys the Alpha Site 3.0" report? And there was a bit of smugness in his interactions with Barrett that rubbed me the wrong way. Barrett's not Woolsey, Landry, and he's definitely not one of those IOA jerks, so stop running your little fief like you're not subject to anyone.

-- Carter. I realize that the way it was set up she didn't have a lot of choice. The file was already there, she couldn't change that, all Baal needed was the code to access it. She did give her people time, which should've been enough. And obviously she would have no doubt at all that Baal could kill Barrett without a second's thought. And in the end, it's just a list of addresses that may or may not have the weapon on it. So I'm not that sure that it was worth anyone's life. Could the SGC have doctored the file, so she would be giving up fake one? Sure. But my impression was that it wasn't that big a deal - they're not giving up the weapon itself. So I guess her decision just didn't seem that awful to me. Kinda dumb, but really not as stupid as the Replicarter fiasco.

-- the poison. C'mon, the whole base is an underground bunker. Except for the isolabs, are you seriously trying to tell me that it's not on one big circulation system? Dump it in the a/c filter to get most of the base and then take samples by hand to the isolabs. How hard is that? And does it really take exactly fifteen seconds too long? Lucky for Baal his transporter didn't take the poison molecutes as well. heh.


other stuff:

Daniel. I don't mind Daniel being gone, but really "he's not here" is all the explanation we get? How 'bout he stayed on Atlantis an extra week, he's at a conference in Zaire, or he and Dr. Lam are on vacation in Hawaii?

ETA: I have found out by dint of now reading other people's comments that Daniel is said at the very beginning to be visiting Camelot. Which is just so hilarious I'm going to have to rewatch just for that.

Speaking of Dr. Lam, she would be the one normally to take that genetic analysis answer (leading me to suspect that this week both of them weren't available), but it was nice to actually see that the SGC does employ more than Sam, Lee, and Siler in the science/tech department.

And Vala and Baal? awesome that he knew her when she was a host. That scene was great fun watching them play each other. Boy did he call her bluff or what? Is this the first time that her sometimes-excessive vampiness actually got turned on her? so fun.

I'm sure I had more thoughts but they've dribbled away during the day.

But as wrap-up, I found this one fun and well-written. Not as funny as last week's, but a good use of the guests and a clever story.

And BAAL. Lots of 'em. Nothing wrong with that.

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weissmanweissman on August 6th, 2006 12:27 am (UTC)
Great comments, thanks for posting. I also like it when the Villians and multi dimensional and sometimes win.

Hope you feel better, 11 more days to China!

Bob
lizardbeth: Elizabethlizardbeth_j on August 6th, 2006 04:50 am (UTC)
villains who can't win are just pathetic and not decent villains at all. So a villain has to at least come close. And me, I don't mind if my current favorite villain wins at the expense of my heroes once in awhile.

and stop taunting me with China! :D I'm jealous! My mother in law just went there a few months ago and had a fabulous time, and I wanna go! *sob*
weissmanweissman on August 6th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
I bought extra memory for my digital camara yesterday so I can take even more pictures! This will be my first time in Northern China, and I am really looking forward to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Our friend in Beijing also promissed top totake us to a famous restaurant for duck. (quack)

Bob
Rosierosiethehobbit on August 6th, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
Yeah. Good episode, albiet with a few holes. You knew that Baal had an ulterior motive, but I hadn't at all suspected what it actually was. I also thought that Barrett was a Goa'uld when he blew up at Sam. Keeping the Baal's all together was a bit of an obvious blunder. The Baals in the isolation room should have been dead, considering how small an exposure to the poison is required to kill. Though that wouldn't have made for as good of an ending.

So what happens to the Beta site now? Now that the address is no longer off the Goa'uld radar?
lizardbeth: Marty Squeelizardbeth_j on August 6th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)
I think that's why I enjoyed it so much: Everyone knew Baal had a plan (SGC and the audience), they just couldn't quite figure it out.

And yeah, those escaping Baals (typing that just makes me grin, I am so sad) should've been toast. But I will fanwank it that they were already in beam-out process so, the, er, energy of the transporter created a, uh, sort of energy field around them that kept the poison from reaching them. yes. *nods*

Beta site? Snort. at the rate Anubis was probing everyone's brains I'm dubious it hasn't already been exposed. but yeah, if it was still secret, adios!
Rosie: SamMartoufrosiethehobbit on August 7th, 2006 02:48 am (UTC)
LOL. Energy field. Yeah, that's it. heh. Either way, he got away. And that means more Baal epsidoes in the future. :)

Yes, but even Anubis could only get the information that the person already knew. There were hundreds of addresses in the ancient database, and I doubt anyone had all of them memorized.