Watergate

Review

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | Review

The Russians recover a Stargate from the bottom of the ocean, and turn to the S.G.C. for help when their experiments go awry.

EPISODE #407
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 08.11.00
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.29.01
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 2
WRITTEN BY: Robert C. Cooper
DIRECTED BY: Martin Wood
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By Debra Kraft

"Watergate" was a suspenseful episode. It truly kept me guessing. I enjoyed the fact that each time one mystery was solved, it simply gave way to another. There were also some wonderfully intriguing concepts introduced, such as the nature of a hitherto unknown lifeform, that were brilliantly presented with the usual finesse of Stargate SG-1's special effects artists.

My only complaint with "Watergate" was the "empty" nature of its ending. An open ending is almost to be expected, leaving hints for future episodes. But this ending gave me no sense of closure. The story simply seemed incomplete.

I like the new twists "Watergate" has provided. The Russians now have a Stargate. Will they continue to have a Stargate program? How involved or informed will they be with regard to our own program? And, of course, what will happen to the apparently traitorous Colonel Maybourne?

As for characterization, the part of Dr. Markov, the Russian version of Samantha Carter, was well contrived and acted. Although her heavy Russian accent was overdone, the character seemed real to me. She was much like her SG-1 counterpart: intelligent without being arrogant; determined to do what must be done regardless of what it may cost her personally; and able to accept the fact that she can have emotions without being emotional.

Forty-seven people were dead, many of whom Dr. Markov admitted to having known "very well." She shed a few tears in acknowledgment of that, much as I would expect Sam to if she were to return to the S.G.C. under similar circumstances. Yet, as I would also expect of Sam, Dr. Markov did not let those tears encumber her in continuing to press onward, to solve the puzzle of their deaths and to close the Stargate.

I would like to see more of Dr. Markov in future episodes. I would also like to see Daniel's reactions to her explored.

Daniel was uncharacteristically acerbic with Dr. Markov. His statement that he's been spending too much time with Jack might somewhat explain the sarcastic remarks made on the mini-sub, such as his comments suggesting that, being Russian (although Dr. Markov later informed him it was Swiss), the sub must be of poor quality. But I don't believe this provides the full explanation.

Dr. Jackson is very attuned to cultural differences, and continuously exhibits exceptional decorum. Yet that decorum was clearly lacking during the dire moments in the sub. Perhaps he was simply frightened, as anyone who was trapped in an imploding sub would be. After all, how could anyone be expected to maintain their best behavior in such circumstances? But there would still appear to be some deeper, underlying reason for his bitterness,perhaps even a sub-conscious prejudice against Russians in general -- a bias not uncommon in those of his parents or grandparents generations, given the cold war events of the fifties and sixties, but not normally so deeply ingrained in those of his (and my) own generation.

It might also have seemed out of character that Daniel jumped out of an airplane without an excess of hesitation. Not even a push from Jack was needed. I liked that angle. Daniel is not a wimp, though sometimes he may be perceived as one. This moment emphasized his strength. He, like his teammates, always comes through. He does what he knows must be done.I further liked that it was Teal'c, a man who epitomizes strength, who was the most reluctant. "This is not wise," he was heard to say more than once, until Jack finally had to give him a little nudge.

Two last little notes relative to characterization cannot be ignored. First, with all the Sam and Jack relationship teasers we've been given this season, "Watergate" gives us one more, albeit extraordinarily subtle, as Jack bids the three occupants of the mini-sub a soft "good luck," yet only Sam acknowledges this with her own even softer "thank you."

Second, I can't help but wonder how it is that Colonel Maybourne is the only survivor found on the Russian base. Perhaps it's just an ironic coincidence. However, I do not believe Stargate's writers would give us something that trite. There has to be a reason. It might be as simple as a bit of cowardice which managed somehow to override the organism's own desire to reach the Stargate, and instead lead Maybourne to the relative safety of the freezer. In my own imagination, this explanation makes sense, and would seem in keeping with the weasel Maybourne has been perceived to be.

Imagination is something that the show's writers have never lacked, and "Watergate" provides a prime example: water that is alive with conscious micro-organisms, and as such can make decisions, leading the "water" to grab hold of Dr. Markov's sub and slowly tighten that grip until implosion is imminent -- then, once the sub's glass bubble has broken away, allowing the "water" to choose not to flood it and drown its occupants. This was a phenomenal use of imagination, and it was all beautifully orchestrated with superb special effects, particularly in the way the water was depicted as it enveloped Daniel, Sam and Dr. Markov.

While these organisms allowed an entire base of personnel to perish (with the single exception of Maybourne), they also allowed SG-1 and Dr. Markov to escape their clutches. Perhaps they learned a little about fear from Maybourne, and a lot about ethics from SG-1. If so, this could explain the "change of heart," in addition to Jack's theory about an exchange of hostages.

I liked this episode. I would have been happier to see one, final scene closing the "loop," so to speak, and making the story more complete. But perhaps there were enough loops with last weeks "Window of Opportunity."

Rating: * * 1/2