by Alli Snow
In mythology, the Chimera was a deadly, fire-breathing hybrid of many creatures: the head of a lion, torso of a goat, dragon or snake's rear, or some other combination of nasty beasts. "Chimera" the episode, meanwhile, was a hybrid of two storylines with a similar theme, and one gets the feeling that the individual viewer will either love it ... or want to breathe fire.
To be fair, your humble reviewer harbors ever-so-slight tendencies to admire Sam and Jack -- together -- to the exclusion of most other relationships. Despite whatever noble intentions your humble reviewer had going into this episode, a certain bias was bound to exist towards Pete -- aye, even the idea of Pete.
But Pete wasn't a bad guy. A little mushy, perhaps, but not bad. And all but the most battle-scarred and hardened Sam/Jack fan will concede that, after existing so long with only a trail of corpses in her wake, Sam deserved a little fun with a normal human guy who wasn't marked for death from the word go.
But it was the execution of this particular plot that made it go sour near the end. Perhaps doing a background check on and following a potential partner around town comes off as cute and concerned to some. But to others, it possibly harkens back to Sam's propensity to attract guys with stalker tendencies (think Narim in "Between Two Fires" and Orlin in "Ascension").
Sam's decision to let Pete in on the existence of the Stargate (otherwise known as the Worst Kept Secret in the World) also raises a few eyebrows. True, he was possibly blasted by an otherworldly weapon and saw things most people don't typically see. But now he knows things about the Stargate program that (supposedly) very few people know about. One of the last guys to have that much unauthorized information got run over by a car with Washington, D.C. tags.
And the lingering questions: Will Pete come back? Was Sam's last conversation with him a goodbye, or not? Will he believe what she has to say? Can he "handle it?" Is he making any trips to D.C. in the near future?
The meat of the episode was devoted to the former lovebirds, Daniel and Sarah. Only it wasn't Sarah -- it was Osiris, up to her old kinky tricks. One of the best things about the episode was quite possibly seeing a bit of the past between the two characters, even though it was alien technology-influenced and therefore somewhat unreliable. In the end, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that Sarah makes it through in one piece, although it remains to be seen if this storyline will continue during Season Eight. Will Sarah have knowledge that could be of use? Will Daniel -- who could well compete with Sam in the Dead Love Interest Olympics -- find happiness at last?
The possible comparisons between Sha're and Sarah's situations are also interesting. Although Sha're couldn't be saved, Sarah was. Should Daniel have had either lingering guilt or anger about his late wife's fate, perhaps the salvation of another old flame will help in the healing.
What's good about this episode: Teal'c! Teal'c is very good, finally getting the opportunity to show some humor and extracurricular interests other than boxing. And after the last two weeks, it was nice to see the team moderately focused on the same issues and goals. It gave the opportunity for many of the nice character moments that tend to be all-too-rare in an action-oriented show.
What wasn't so good: At times it seemed as though the episode was built around an agenda, making the subplot the main plot, and vice versa. Although "Chimera" had its moments, could it be that it was more concerned with "getting Sam a guy who doesn't die" than writing a single, solid story?
Rating: * *
Review by Lex
"Chimera" is an interesting blend of relationships, secrecy, priorities, and a rescue that leaves a bittersweet taste in the air. While Sam seems to have recovered from the Carter Curse -- a love interest has finally survived getting to know her! -- Daniel must be sorrowful that he couldn't save Sha're from the Goa'uld in the same way he's now saved Sarah.
There were some fascinating insights into Daniel's past. After the strong relationship implied by "The Curse," it was a surprise to learn that not only had Daniel and Sarah only been a couple for two months, but that he hadn't been in love with her. With what Daniel said about the dreams showing Sarah as different, did we in fact see the real Sarah Gardner? She was made out to be quite star-struck by the illustrious Dr. Jackson, but perhaps that was a deliberate ploy on the part of Osiris to make Dream Daniel complete the required task without suspecting anything.
Sam was given some wonderful depth. What a relief it was to see her moving on as she decided to in "Grace." It's certainly a partial recovery from the disappointments that episode created, and we can only wait and see what the future of her relationship with Pete will bring. For the moment it was enough to see the great chemistry between the two characters, and the beautiful way the early days of an adult relationship were shown with Sam's hesitation and Pete's teasing.
The best part of this story, and the reason I wasn't too concerned with the strong focus on her love life, was seeing Sam so very relaxed and happy. Amanda Tapping played the part of a charmed and content woman beautifully. David DeLuise complemented that performance with a confident and cheeky portrayal of Pete.
The build up in the Osiris storyline -- from discussion of Daniel's dreams through that wonderful Teal'c-as-Freud scene in the gym, to the suspicions of Goa'uld interference -- was proficient. There were some marvelous moments, from Daniel's tiredness, Teal'c's fascination with all things new and his thorough research into dreams, through to Jack (despite his pretensions to stupidity) being the one to point out the flaw in the plan.
"Chimera" was a mixture of subtle insights and bare-faced plot devices. So much was referenced in tiny comments and understated actions that it would have been easy to miss them. The theme of obvious advances in technology that surround Anubis was continued with the new transporters, replacing ring transporters. Not so obvious was the lack of any residual marks from the memory device that Daniel wore each night, marks which were unmissable when SG-1 was captured by Hathor. The changes in Daniel's character from when he was a focused and determined scholar at the Oriental Institute to his slightly more laid-back approach these days was shown by the odd comment about him working through the night -- a nice detail. The idea of Sam Carter as a romantic at heart was slipped into a conversation about cinema. And on it went.
Unfortunately, as has happened before this season, there seemed to be a sacrifice of character for the sake of plot. I simply cannot see Carter prevaricating so much about her job. She has a cover story that she has stuck to in the past with no trouble at all, yet with Pete she seemed to be unable to say simply "It's classified" and be done with the conversation. Of course, that would have put a swift end to the plot, so instead we're presented with some amazingly implausible waffle.
Along the same lines, Pete was unconvincing in his investigation into Sam's job. She works for the U.S.A.F. -- why on Earth wouldn't he think, "Oh, military secrets," and leave it there? Again, because the plot would come to a screaming halt. And finally, if Osiris could sneak into Daniel's room without anyone at the S.G.C. having a clue, why the elaborate dream scenario? Why not simply kidnap Daniel and use the same memory device that was used on Thor and Jonas in order to find out what he knew? You guessed it: plot.
While the two plotlines had so many themes linking them, somehow they didn't quite gel until the very end. The story of Sam's love life was interesting in its own way, but some of the time spent on her and Pete's romancing could have been better used on the Goa'uld storyline. It was wonderful to see Sarah free of Osiris, but there was no explanation of what has happened to Osiris. Is he being interrogated? Did he die during the removal? Will things be learned from him later? It was also a little disconcerting and confusing to have Osiris referred to as "she," when in previous episodes the symbiote had been "he."
Some little nitpicks: Sam, Teal'c and Daniel discussed Daniel controlling the direction of his dreams as if that's a perfectly simple trick. Sam humming the show's theme tune wasn't amusing, yet again collapsing the suspension of disbelief that is such a fragile entity for Stargate; and I'm not sure I believed that Pete would really have been told the whole story of the Stargate program.
What will become of Sarah? Will we ever see or hear from her again, perhaps working at the S.G.C. to help fight the Goa'uld, or will she end up forgotten in the same cupboard that already houses such wonderful characters as Nyan and Ferretti?
At the end of the day, however, "Chimera" is one of those episodes that leaves you with a smile on your face. And sometimes that's all that's needed from entertainment.
Rating: * * 1/2