"Forever In a Day" is a difficult episode to pigeonhole. A gold mine of character development featuring excellent acting, the episode is a big risk that paid off handsomely.
I loved the opening scene, which throws the viewer straight into the action with little time to gather his or her wits. The battle scene and the reaction prompted from the viewer set an apt tone for an episode where nothing is what is expected. It was a thrill to see the show pick up one of its driving threads -- the very reason for Dr. Jackson's re-involvement in the Stargate program: the abduction of Sha're.
During the first quarter of the episode, I had resigned myself to the idea that the Sha're thread had been quickly killed, and that the rest of the episode would be a standard, though not necessarily bad, grieving episode. Oh boy, was I wrong. Delightfully wrong.
"Forever In a Day" kept me guessing as to what was really going on while delivering beautiful performances from each of the actors, who seemed unfazed by the peculiarity of Jonathan Glassner's script. The odd appearances and disappearances of Sha're and strange scene changes kept me engaged and on my toes.
In the visit off world, near the end of the episode, the color values of the planet seemed to have been flipped to their opposites -- an effect which was both eerie and appropriate for the episode. I congratulate Glassner on bringing such an inventive and intriguing episode to the series. If Sha're had to go, this was a great way to do it.
But did she have to go? Watching the seasons pass, I was wondering what would be done with this thread. Leaving the characters to search for her indefinitely creates a sense of vacancy. If Daniel did get her back, whole, what then does one do with the character? In a show of this type, focusing on the development of four characters as they depart on their weekly adventures, where does a permanent, stay-at-home love interest fit in? Taking Jackson out of the series would throw off the balance of the series, not to mention start a holy war between the fans and the powers that be.
In a way, Sha're almost had to die. But at least she gets an angst-ridden, romantic death, with the bonus of a new quest for Daniel, revolving around a plot point established in Season Two but embellished with the revelation that the genetic memory of Sha're's Harcesis child could help Earth defeat the Goa'uld.
"Forever In a Day" is chock-full of interesting character development and plot advancement, though matters are confused by the issue of the hand device. Since none of the things that happened in the episode actually 'happened,' presumably we are seeing how Daniel thinks he and the team would react to Sha're's death at Teal'c's hands (which hasn't "happened" yet, but somehow Daniel is aware of its imminence).
For example, Jack's somewhat flip response during the reunion scene in General Hammond's office, "You see, I miss that! I have no idea what he means, but I buy it," suggests that Daniel understands that Jack trusts him, even when Jack doesn't understand or agree with Daniel's intuitive (rather than concrete and systematic) way of thinking.
The attempts of each member, in his or her own way to console Daniel, despite their own discomfort, all seem authentic and mostly in line with their previous behavior -- particularly for Jack. Interestingly, Sam seemed a little more openly emotional and empathetic than she has been in the past, and Teal'c's direct request for forgiveness was a marked departure from his approach after the events of "Children of the Gods" and during "Cor-Ai." We never see what Teal'c would have actually done, as Daniel, having learned from the vision, immediately absolves him.
I was impressed by the outstanding quality of all the acting in this episode. Michael Shanks' work throughout was fantastic. I was particularly impressed with the funeral scene, during Daniel's intercession for Sha're. Both the funeral and the closing scene were utterly heart-wrenching.
I also very much enjoyed the scene between Jack and Daniel in Daniel's office, in which Jackson admits that he had been carrying his hope with him each time they stepped through the gate -- a hope Jack helped build and maintain. I loved the actor's delivery of the dialogue and the body language, which seemed to capture the essence of their characters.
I was also impressed by the depth of emotion Christopher Judge was able to convey, in view of the confines of Teal'c's character, who is not normally permitted to be very expressive. The elevator confrontation and the scene in Teal'c's quarters were very good. I was impressed by how much Judge could get across with simple movements and minimal dialogue.
The acting of the entire cast was great, particularly during the funeral. The actors made the most of expression and body language in this somewhat confusing and less dialogue-driven episode.
Many television programs have a habit of producing episodes that conform to a single, predictable pattern, in part due to the fear of producing something that is confusing, challenging, or unappealing to the lowest common denominator. "Forever In a Day" is a chance I am glad the producers took.
Rating: * * * *