By Tere Campbell
Trust seems to be the dominant theme of "Redemption, Part 1," the much anticipated Season Six opener. Trust in self, friends, family, and newcomers; trust in equipment, both tried and true and untested, to work as expected; trust in the hope that Carter will come up with a solution to save the day, like she always does. Backed by strong dialogue and solid character scenes in a script by Robert C. Cooper and directed by fan favorite Martin Wood, the theme of trust is driven home again and again.
Set three months after "Meridian," the returning members of SG-1 are still coping with the loss of Daniel Jackson. The episode begins with Captain Hagman, the ninth attempt at a replacement, apologizing to an injured O'Neill while running to the gate, hundreds of angry natives in pursuit spilling over the hills in a sweeping panoramic shot reminiscent of old adventure films of yesteryear. Upon SG-1's return to Earth, a tranquilized Hagman collapses as Jack grumbles to Hammond, "Next." And, "next" is an often occurrence as unexpected hurdles, numerous faces, and a barrage of exposition (to bring newcomers to the series up to speed) fly past at hyperspeed.
Colonel Chekov, a Russian military liaison to the S.G.C., wants a Russian to be named a member of SG-1. Jonas Quinn wants to join SG-1 to prove his mettle to both himself and O'Neill. And Hammond wants a fourth member on the team to provide the type of unique perspective that Daniel Jackson did. Add the new X-302, "the first human designed aircraft that's capable of interstellar travel" (thanks to the naquadria provided by Quinn), Drey'auc's unexpected death calling Teal'c to return to a rebel Jaffa camp to deal with his son, and a dangerous incoming wormhole at the S.G.C., and we have an incredibly eventful episode.
Restricted to base, Jonas struggles to come to terms with his part in the accident resulting in Daniel's ascension and to adjust to an alien world with those who hold him accountable. In an amusing boxing scene, Teal'c tells Jonas that O'Neill doesn't trust him. "How can I even begin to make up for it [the accident] if he won't give me a chance?" Jonas asks. When Teal'c later suggests adding Jonas as the fourth team member, Jack disagrees because "he's an alien," and insinuates on that reason alone that Jonas can't be trusted. "You learned to trust me, O'Neill," Teal'c counters.
At the Jaffa camp, Teal'c deals with guilt when confronted with an angry Rya'c following Drey'auc's death. Teal'c accepts Rya'c's anger and physical assault because of his own grief and sense of responsibility that his choices have contributed to the circumstances surrounding Drey'auc's death. He also feels somewhat responsible for the current situation of the Jaffa rebels -- the Goa'uld do not trust the Jaffa priests with their young any longer, so the supply of symbiotes that keep the Jaffa alive is dwindling.
Rya'c doesn't trust his father or himself -- spillover from when Apophis brainwashed him in Season Two's "Family". Teal'c's recent brainwashing experience in "Enemies" and "Threshold" provides the much-needed middle ground for the two as Teal'c reaffirms his trust in his son.
Beautifully scripted, Teal'c's reaffirmation with his son on the threshold to the Stargate is poignant and Christopher Judge, showing more emotion than we have ever seen from Teal'c, is magnificent in this scene. "Whether you believe in me or what I have chosen to do doesn't change the fact that I have never doubted your heart, Rya'c. You never have to win back my trust, my son, for you have never lost it."
O'Neill and a wisecracking Carter deal with a wormhole threatening the Stargate. An extremely low power stream fed to the gate through the wormhole and the resulting power overload could cause the gate to explode -- a blast of two to three thousand megatons and its resulting effects could destroy all life on Earth. A dangerous attempt by the two to reach hyperspace and contact help on the untested X-302 fails. Back at the S.G.C., Carter ultimately retreats to her lab to reason out a solution which she can't see herself finding in time. Concerned at her absence from the control room, Jack seeks her out and tells her that he trusts she'll pull a great idea out of her ... head, and save the day.
Besides changing to The Sci-Fi Channel, moving to a new broadcast time, and instituting a new opening credits sequence, the show has switched to widescreen format -- which lends a very big-screen, movie-like sensation. Sweeping new background music, unique camera angles, new and improved lighting throughout the S.G.C. provides for a very cinematic experience.
Neil Denis reprises the role of Rya'c in a powerful and touching performance. Sgt. Davis, Sgt. Siler, the citrus-allergic scientist McKay, the long-missing Lt. Graham Simmons, and a huge pool of extras fill the S.G.C. and Area 51 to the rafters with life and movement I haven't seen since the original movie. The numerous supporting cast carries a lot of the bulky exposition needed to instruct a new audience in Stargate 101.
However, with the good comes a little bad. Shaq'rel, a Jaffa buddy, conveniently shows up at the camp at just the right time with the information that the S.G.C. is under attack by Anubis, and Bra'tac conveniently knows the gate coordinates to most of the worlds under Anubis's control -- a Goa'uld that the System Lords didn't even know was still alive just a few months ago.
As for costuming -- what's up with the flight suits that Carter and O'Neill wear? A very strange cross between athletic gear with elbow and knee pads and a confused mime's catsuit, I can only imagine what the characters said when handed the uniforms to wear, much less the actors.
Finally, the clichéd hologram of Anubis and his very clichéd dialogue wraps up the premiere episode. I echoed Jack's "puh-lease" as I half-expected to see someone pull back the curtain on the great, gloomy Anubis projection and find the professor from another MGM classic, The Wizard of Oz -- ignore that man behind the curtain.
All in all, "Redemption, Part 1" is a visually engaging episode, redolent with poignant moments of humor, resplendent with long-missing banter between Carter and O'Neill, and replete with heart from the usually reserved Teal'c. I can't wait to see who ends up saving the day in part two. I trust that the show's staff will pull a surprising solution out of their ... heads.
Rating: * * *