ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 07.02.1999
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.09.2000
DVD DISC: Season 3, Disc 1
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Glassner
DIRECTED BY: William Corcoran
"Seth" had the potential to be a solid episode, combining action and adventure with interesting characters and snappy dialogue. Unfortunately, less-than-believable premises marred this otherwise good episode.
Although I was interested by the concept behind "Seth," I felt the script could have used a significant overhaul. Many of the elements of a good story -- interesting characters, smart dialogue, development of the overall series story -- were present, but the plot had more holes than a hunk of Swiss cheese.
For example, I thought the only remnant of the Tok'ra in Sam was a protein marker -- how could Seth sense that? Does this mean Sam is going to be a liability every time they do an undercover operation close to a Goa'uld? Why did Jack tell that lie about being a deprogrammer after Sam let slip about the Tok'ra connection? He had to know Seth was going to see right through that -- no human is supposed to know about the Tok'ra.
I groaned aloud when Seth said ordered his guards to take SG-1 away and kill them. He gives them the chance to escape served up on a silver platter. I'm surprised he didn't tell them all his plans for world domination first, a la the James Bond super-villain who always makes the mistake of not killing his nemesis in plain sight at the first chance.
Additionally, those were fairly quick recoveries Jack and Daniel made from the hand device blast. And of course, Seth doesn't kill them after he blasts them back, when he has the perfect opportunity to fry their brains or just shoot them with one of the zats lying on the floor. No, he decides they can wait for the bomb, giving Jack and Daniel that crucial escape chance again.
Then, all the escaping cult members just happen to put their hoods up, making Seth more difficult to locate?
I also found it hard to believe that Sam could overpower an experienced Goa'uld with a device she can't control. After her battle with Seth, Sam looks decidedly conflicted about the power she has just used. I'll be interested to see if this is dealt with in a future episode.
I was willing to overlook most of the problems with "Seth" because of how much I liked to concept and the character information. Many of the questions above didn't occur to me until after my second viewing of the episode, when I was less caught up in the plot. The action and clever dialogue covered a multitude of sins.
My favorite part of this episode was the development of Jacob Carter. I've been interested in the character since his introduction in "Secrets" and blending in "The Tok'ra, Part 2." I'm glad the powers that be chose to show us more of him, including his complex relationship with Sam and his son.To blend him and drop the character would not only be cheap plot device, but a waste the interesting idea of symbiotic life with an alien organism. As the first modern earthling to host a Tok'ra, his character would have unique and interesting insights into both cultures,and could serve as a bridge in the show, breaking down the mystique of the Tok'ra and giving the viewer greater insight into their life and society.
It is interesting to see the teething troubles of his relationship with the symbiote,Selmak, including their conflict over Jacob's relationship with Mark. From Jacob's interaction with Agent Hamner, including his easy authority, it is clear he's still very much Jacob. Besides time-sharing a body, one would think sharing each others' thoughts is bound to change both characters. How much Jacob will be affected will be interesting to see.
While were on the topic of the Tok'ra, I love how the not-always-so-flipping-helpful Tok'ra barge in to the S.G.C. and ask for our assistance with a rogue Goa'uld. These people need to be sent tapes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood so they can bone up on the elementary concepts of sharing and respect. Another thing I have wondered about the Tok'ra is, given their apparent technological advancement, what is with the nearly animal-skin style outfits and fuzzy boots?
The "Jaffa jokes" scene is my favorite. This was one of the series' more entertaining attempts at demonstrating cultural barriers. How utterly delightful to get a less gruesome look into Jaffa life, and to see Teal'c's wonderful laugh and smile! Do it again, please! I'm waiting anxiously to hear "A Serpent guard, a Horus guard, and a Setesh guard walk into a bar ..."
Not at all humorous but just as interesting was the exchange between Jacob and Teal'c regarding parents and children. I loved the expressions of both Teal'c and Jacob when Teal'c informs him that "many things are complicated, General Carter. In Jaffa society,loving one's children is not one of them."
The episode contained plenty of the snappy dialogue I have come to expect from the writing staff. The exchanges between Jack and Agent Hamner were sharp and indicative of Jack's feelings for the overly bureaucratic and officious. Jack's introduction of the team to Seth had me in stitches, as well as the scene in which Daniel informs Sam and Jack of the fate of those who fall under Seth's power. The look exchanged between Jack and Sam is classic,as is Jack's disbelieving clarification of situation, which happens to be my favorite line of the episode: "Eunuch ... as in 'snippity-do-dah?'"
The effects were also great. I liked the floating gold pyramid, and I never cease to be impressed with how realistic the transportation ring effect looks. I enjoyed the look of Seth's compound. Modern godhood apparently has its perks: get all the trappings of a jeweled throne, but you can dress casually. You can't beat leather and cotton for comfort.
My production qualm for this episode concerns the lighting of certain scenes. Any time the director chooses to finally force the production staff to light Daniel's office properly would be fine with me. It's always dark and shadowy, which is OK for alien planets but annoying in the S.G.C.
"Seth" is long on action, production quality, character development, and dialogue. Unfortunately, this otherwise solid episode falls short in plausibility department.
Rating: * *