Past and Present
"Past and Present" is a flawed but enjoyable episode. Although I enjoyed the premise and the performances, I found some of the plot elements less than believable and feel it would have been better received if presented slightly later in the season.
To start with the compliments, I was very happy to see the return of Linea. "Prisoners" was one of my favorite episodes of Season Two, and it would have been disappointing if the S.G.C. had not had to deal with the repercussions of the mistakes made in that episode. Picking up past threads and integrating the episodes season-to-season is one of the greatest strengths of Stargate SG-1. It builds a rich and realistic world for fans to enjoy.
Seeing our heroes make mistakes, such as being so utterly naïve in their relationship with this woman that they met in prison and who had evidently done something to earn the fear of the tough types that populate Hadante, makes the characters and the show seem more real.
In the closing scene of "Prisoners" we see the shock and apprehension on the face of the S.G.C. staff. "Past and Present" shows us how justified that fear was. The conversation between Sam, Jack and Teal'c in the library sums up how their previous actions not only permitted Linea to continue to be a threat, but magnified the threat and inadvertently assisted Linea in causing the crisis on Vyus.
I was impressed with the performances given, particularly Kera's powerful mix of fear, desperation, and self-loathing during the climatic scene in the guestroom. Unfortunately, the episode's occasional plot holes left me unsatisfied.
For example, could Kera really have a latent or instinctive knowledge of science and medicine if her memory is blocked? Though many people seem to have innate aptitudes for certain skills and subjects, I don't think even a strong predisposition towards the sciences would make Kera the amazing biochemist she would had to have been to help. Evidence suggests that the skills -- like dressing, drawing, or riding a bicycle -- are separate from "declarative" memory functions like remembering facts and figures -- what Kera might have needed to know to help.
Memory is very complicated; it's possible the memory she needed to assist in the research wasn't in the area of the brain, but it's also possible that what made her Linea was also in the unaffected section of her memory, or not part of memory at all. I wonder why Dr. Fraiser or Sam weren't more worried about Kera's ability to remember "latent" scientific information -- would that not also mean that she might remember, or have latent tendencies toward, her more sinister behavior? Dr. Fraiser seems disconcerted when Kera is so anxious to begin again after Orner is nearly killed by their first attempt at developing an antidote, but goes along with Daniel's plan to administer dargol and re-block Linea's memory. I would have thought that either Dr. Fraiser or another member of the medical staff might have thought to question that solution.
Linea is a fascinating character. She has many of the qualities typical of anti-social personality disorder (individuals sometimes referred to as psychopathic or sociopathic), including a lack of remorse for her actions, lack of empathy, a feeling that rules do not apply to her, egocentricity, and manipulation of others. Some of this seemed to be evident in her reaction (or lack thereof) to Orner's seizures, and her interaction with Daniel. Although what she did might have been simple seduction, it could also have been manipulation -- by using the feelings of a man she knew to be vulnerable, she created a very strong ally for herself.
(Daniel's emotions and actions seemed much more aggressive and angry than normal, which could have been the result of manipulation, although they could also be attributed to normal grief.)
Research indicates that antisocial personality disorder is related to brain wave patterns and neurochemistry, both factors which would not be affected by whether Kera's memories were blocked by the dargol. It's very possible that, though she may never regain her memory, Kera will still be a danger to the people of Vyus.
Even if the Dargol were able to block the memory of Linea and the factors that cause antisocial personality disorder, Kera is a curious person by nature. How long will it be before she begins to ask questions about the Vorlix and her history that Orner and Layale are unable to answer, or until she attempts to find a cure for her amnesia? Even without full access to her memories, she has proven to be a very capable scientist.
I was also confused as to how Kera managed to take the antidote. Although we see the slide she took from the lab, it seemed like the amount of the slide was very small, and she could not have injected it into her carotid artery, as Dr. Fraiser said was required.
In addition, I felt that placing this episode directly after "Forever In a Day" was a little tacky, due to Daniel's romantic involvement with Kera so soon after the death of Sha're.
Although "Past and Present" has its shortcomings, it is not a bad episode. The performances were strong, the characters and plot were interesting, and many of the problems I noted did not occur to me until my second viewing.
Notes: I used I.G. Sarason & B.R. Sarason, Abnormal Pyschology: The Problem of Maladaptive Behavior (Prentice Hall, 1993) in preparation for this review. Although I wrote my senior psychology paper on factors in memory loss, I'm not an expert in either antisocial personality disorder or memory. Your mileage may vary. No psychologists were harmed in the making of this review.
Rating: * *