"Legacy" is a well-conceived and executed episode. The acting, writing and production are excellent. It also proves that it is not necessary to "blow stuff up real good" or threaten the future of Earth in order to produce an engaging and memorable episode.
Michael Shanks hands in an outstanding performance; I believe it is his best work to date on the series. He deftly exhibits the symptoms of schizophrenia without going over the top. His scenes in the mental hospital were particularly haunting; his facial expressions and body affect aptly conveyed his mental state. Particularly evocative were Daniel's oddly accepting and embarrassed look during the team's visit to the hospital, and the way he let the words out in his explanation about the glasses.
We learn something of the character of Daniel Jackson in the generally calm and reasoned way he attempts to deal with the hallucinations caused by Machello's Goa'uld-killers. While others might have panicked or given over to the delusions, Daniel is still, as much as he can, attempting to order the symptoms, look at the facts and come up with an explanation.
After the Goa'uld-killer has left him, Daniel is still on high doses of very powerful anti-psychotic drugs, which themselves cause delusions and unstable behavior. Yet he is still plodding away at the problem and manages to have one of his patented "Daniel Jackson Intuitive Leaps."
The highlights for me were the Jack and Daniel interaction scenes - in the infirmary, the chess scene, and in the hospital room. It was interesting to see how much comfort and support Jack conveys simply by being there, rather than directly addressing the issue or taking overt action (though it became frustrating for me to watch this). Although Jack does not believe in the theories and ideas Daniel espouses, he believes in Daniel, and silently conveys that support.
At times Jack seemed to be straining out of his own body to do something more concrete, but is held back by some concern or hang-up of his own, the further exploration of which would be interesting. The quirky dynamics of the evolving relationship between these two very different men is one of my favorite aspects of the series.
I was also impressed with the work of the other actors. Sam's look of utter heartbreak in the hospital scene felt authentic; it was almost painful to look at. Janet's turn on the crazy train was also quite good (though my eyes nearly popped out when, for a moment, I thought we were going to see way more of the good doctor's assets than is strictly proper).
"Legacy" is a very well-written episode, producing some of the most memorable lines of the season. Jack's apology for his impending craziness, his claim to have a "calming effect" on the stressed, his exchange with Daniel over the gin cards and why the Linvers would chose Daniel's closet, and Daniel's question to Doctor MacKenzie about whey everyone was so quick to assume that he's insane are highly quotable and sure to provide signature line material for email-happy fans.
My favorite is Jack's solution to the Gate-related illness problem: "Why don't we put a little sign at the base of the ramp that says 'Gate travel may be hazardous to your health?'" Yes, in addition to losing your mind, you can get blown up by snake-headed aliens, thrown back in time, or sucked into a black hole. Obviously, some sort of Surgeon General's warning is required!
In addition to good dialogue and character exposition, I thought Legacy's plot was well conceived and intriguing. Although Doctor MacKenzie seemed a little quick to put Daniel in a padded cell, the powers that be do only have 42 minutes to get through an episode, and it is not unusual for scientists to try to apply the facts of a case to fit preconceived theories. My only gripe is that I wish there could have been a slightly more concrete tag scene at the end. The episode lacked a bit of emotional resolution.
I've really enjoyed the addition late last season of Peter DeLuise to the rotation of directors. I thought his shots of Daniel in the mental hospital really got across the character's point of view, particularly the expression of blurred vision and the long pan down the empty floor of the room, which gave the viewer a sense of how Daniel was seeing things (no pun intended).
My hat goes off to the make-up artists who created the Linvers Goa'ulds. The scene where the Linvers in S.G.C. clothing looks up to Daniel in the briefing room is one of the spookiest things I've seen on television. I'll be opening my closet with a higher sense of trepidation than usual!
"Legacy" receives high marks all-around for plot, dialogue, acting, direction and production. There's quality on every level of this thoroughly enjoyable episode.
Rating: * * * 1/2