By Morjana Coffman
"Welcome to the dark side," responded Colonel O'Neill to the Tok'ra Ren'al's plan of taking out the Goa'uld System Lords. The events of "Summit" seem to forecast what could be dark days ahead for the S.G.C. and their allies, the Tok'ra -- and for the Goa'uld as well.
"Summit" was a busy episode, not only in plot exposition and character development, but also in the introduction of new characters; an update of what happened to Martouf/Lantash after "Divide and Conquer;" the return of some characters introduced in previous episodes; and sadly, the loss of several semi-recurring characters. It's so busy, in fact, that the events are to be continued in the next episode.
From the moment Apophis and his Jaffa stepped through the S.G.C. Stargate, killed four S.F.s and kidnapped a sergeant, Earth has been fighting an undeclared war against the Goa'uld. Over the last five years, we've seen SG-1 encounter and defeat (some more than once) a number of major Goa'uld System Lords (Apophis, Cronus, Hathor, Heru'ur, Sokar). And various minor Goa'uld players (the Ashrak, Amonet, Klorel, Marduk, Nirrti, Seth and Tanith among them) have either been eliminated or neutralized.
With "Summit," a new player enters the battlefield -- the Goa'uld Anubis (as yet unrevealed) -- and the battlefield itself transforms into several new fronts. Anubis, Zipacna ("Pretense") and Osiris ("The Curse") have allied themselves to go up against not only the Tok'ra, but also the surviving System Lords. And, apparently in a cowardly move for Goa'uld tastes, they do so covertly.
Daniel, who in "Absolute Power" learned it was time to turn to a new path, has seemed somewhat adrift at the S.G.C. ever since. To add to the burden of moral dilemmas he has countered, now the Tok'ra recruit him to implement their plan. His concern over the ethics involved is resolved by the fact that there is no better option available in overthrowing the Goa'uld. Given their past history -- particularly in the death of Sha're ("Forever In a Day") -- it is significant that it was Teal'c who approached Daniel to discuss this issue.
Sam, we discover, has been following up on the status of Martouf/Lantash for months after the events of "Divide and Conquer." Martouf's body was kept in stasis ... until the Tok'ra determined that Martouf's body couldn't be repaired, and Lantash was removed. Lantash is still recovering from its injuries when Zipacna attacked the Tok'ra base on Revanna. I found it interesting that having the choice of a healthy Sam or an injured Lieutenant Elliot ("Proving Ground") nearby, Lantash chose Elliot to blend with. Elliot needed him to survive, and Lantash would not blend with Sam even though he would have had a much better chance at his own survival.
Jack's distrust of the Tok'ra is tweaked throughout the episode: the unveiling of the Tok'ra plan by Ren'al; his discussion with Jacob in the Tok'ra tunnels about the eradication of the entire Goa'uld population (watch Jack work his jaw -- his trouble radar alert just went off); and to confronting Ren Au about the depth of the Tok'ra personal commitment towards their goal. Are they willing to sacrifice themselves, as they have asked SG-1 to do on numerous occasions?
Among the new characters we met are the Goa'uld System Lords Bastet, Kali, Baal, Morrigan, and Svarog. I liked Daniel's comment about a "Goa'uld Mardi Gras" regarding their appearance. And Anna-Louise Plowman's performance as Osiris seemed to lend itself to high camp in theme with the Mardi Gras reference.
We were also introduced, briefly, to SG-17. Unfortunately, Major Mansfield and two others under his command were killed on Revanna. Also killed in this episode were the Tok'ra Aldwin and Ren'al (among many other Tok'ra), both recurring characters.
"Summit" is a virtual SG-1 reunion. Other returning characters included were Osiris, Zipacna, the impressive Yu ("Fair Game") and the remarkable Jacob Carter. It was curious to hear Jacob address Daniel as "Danny," as they hadn't appeared to be that convivial with each other in the past.
The special effects, sets, costumes, matte paintings and the space station model for this episode were outstanding. Yu's palace was splendid -- both the exterior and interior shots. It always intrigues me how the Goa'uld blend advanced technology (space ships) with anachronistic features: using torches for illumination, for example.
I was also fascinated in the Chinese language characters on Daniel's lo'taur costume (on his armbands and about his waist). I noted at least eight different characters, and wondered what they represented. The one character on the armband -- the square box with the vertical line intersecting it -- appears to look like the shu character, which has a meaning of "enclosure, bind or tie," which aptly describes a slave's status.
As this episode is to be continued, hopefully the main plot questions we were left with will be answered in "Last Stand." However, I am wondering about a few things in particular.
Ren Au makes a comment about a dying symbiote releasing a poison that kills the host. This is new information, and yet it was announced as an established fact. In "Crossroads," we learned that Teal'c's father, Ronac, was killed when Cronus crushed Ronac's symbiote, allowing the blood of the symbiote and Ronac to mix. Is this toxin in addition to the danger of mixing the symbiote and Jaffa blood?
And -- if this has been an established fact -- why haven't we seen it used by the Goa'uld before as deterrent against being removed from their hosts? For example, in "Pretense," between Klorel and Skaara; or in "Exodus," between Tanith and Hebron?
"Summit" was an episode filled with Machiavellian twist and turns, not only for the politics of the combatant organizations, but also for the affect on the individual combatants. I look forward to watching "Last Stand" -- to see if anything, or anyone, unravels.
Rating: * * *