REVIEW: Stargate SG-1 – Season 9, Episode One

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Well. This is different.

“Avalon” is interesting, let’s put it that way. There’s a lot that works, and a lot that doesn’t. It doesn’t give me the return in energy and excitement I was expecting, and feels more like another slap to the SG-1 franchise. But it gives me hope. Mitchell and Landry are good, there is potential – a lot of it.

The opening is fantastic and we see (through a flashback) the battle over Antarctica a few years ago, but from Colonel Mitchell’s perspective. It’s exciting, lively, and interesting, and when he arrives at the SGC, everything has changed, and everyone has gone. O’Neill, Carter, Daniel, Teal’c – they’re all moving on. General Hank Landry is now in charge – and this character is good. A much more believable, yet a lot less fun General than O’Neill was, Landry seems as if he’s truly in charge. Mitchell too slots in, with his wonder and excitement.

However, things start to fall apart when they try to make Mitchell a new O’Neill clone, with the humour. I hope to God they realise they should have a serious lead again. To be fair, Mitchell is better than the later years of O’Neill in this regard, but I can see it going awry.

The first person we see again is Daniel, now sporting a rather fetching beard. He’s catching a ride on the Daedalus to Atlantis. Carter is over at Area 51, and Teal’c is offworld. Mitchell pleads with each to come back to a team that he dubs as being presently, “SG-ME.” This is a good sequence, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

However, things really don’t work once Vala arrives, and the plot begins. She comes looking for Daniel to help her work out where the “treasure” mentioned on an alien tablet is, since it’s supposed to be on Earth. She attaches a wrist band to him that’s not removable (as we find out through another appearance by the enjoyable Dr. Lee), and Daniel has no hope of escape but to join Mitchell in searching for the treasure. Teal’c tags along for the ride, with Carter staying at Area 51. This is the first creative decision I would have changed. Mitchell is full of energy, but Daniel and Teal’c look bored and depressed. While I’m certain this is intentional, this carries over to the audience as being “same-old, same-old” when it actually isn’t. I would have had Mitchell persuade the others, through more very very good pleading or a good plot device, to rejoin SG-1. Once the characters are willing and excited, the audience will be too.

So we set out to England to find the treasure, supposedly buried with Arthur. The mythology is a bit shifty, and doesn’t carry much weight, though I must say, the appearance of Merlin looks much better on screen than earlier photos indicated it would. The problem with the episode is the pacing – the story only really gets going about 5 minutes from the end (not surprising since this is a three-parter), but in my opinion, a far more effective cliffhanger than a clichéd ‘ceiling coming down slowly’ would have been Mitchell leading SG-1 out, ready to go. It would have filled me with hope and excitement and not a “meh” sensation.

The plot is lacklustre to say the least. However, there are some good character moments. Mitchell and Landry play well off each other, so too do Vala and Daniel though in a different way. O’Neill makes a few short appearances, not really doing much or meaning anything. Mitchell plays well off Daniel too (especially the gene-pool line, a nod to the fans noticing the likeness between actors Ben Browder and Michael Shanks – that was great). However we’re now missing the Jack – Teal’c dynamic, which regardless of how tired O’Neill had become as a character, will be sorely missed. I can’t really tell how Carter has been affected, since she’s barely in it (pregnancy in real life is the cause, I believe).

Browder does a good job, however. His character breathes life into the show, and hopefully into the other characters. When coupled with Vala, these two do refresh things a bit, but I was surprised by how badly this was cancelled out by Teal’c and Daniel. Browder definitely has potential, and rises far above the terrible dialogue given to him. The plot is dull and unimaginative – the characters make it worth watching.

So I’ll tune in next week, as I do believe there’s a lot of potential here for fresh, new storylines. But as a season opener, Avalon is middle of the road.

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