By Morjana Coffman
It has to be tough being Jack O'Neill. As the commanding officer of SG-1, he's been through a lot over the past five years. Yet despite all the trauma, tragedy, and injuries to his psyche and body that he's endured, O'Neill and SG-1 have managed to save the world seven -- no, eight times. And now SG-1 has been chosen for another undercover assignment involving their reluctant allies, the Tok'ra.
And that's when things all go horribly wrong.
Damian Kindler, the new Stargate SG-1 staff writer and producer, wrote "The Other Guys." His previous SG-1 contribution was the story idea (with Robert C. Cooper) for the second season's "Need." "The Other Guys" is a witty episode, that skewered some long-standing science fiction themes and icons (particularly Star Trek and, more slyly, MacGyver), poked fun at SG-1, and even managed to reference at least three key plot elements for the sixth season.
The casting of John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox from Enterprise) as Simon Coombs (who was the Trekkie) was brilliant. Normally an Applied Math teacher at Yale, Coombs made an unwilling hero, but gamely went along with Jay Felger's plan to rescue SG-1 from the Goa'uld. (Is there a more terrifying statement than "I have a plan?")
Also astounding casting had Patrick McKenna (the nerdy Harold Green from Canada's The Red Green Show) as Jay Felger -- a lecturer in residence at M.I.T. Felger has a serious case of hero worship for Jack O'Neill (who mispronounced Felger's name throughout the episode). And the fantasy at the end of the episode revealed another type of worship for Sam Carter.
The third scientist, Meyers, had a role of duct tape attached to the back of his equipment belt. Duct tape was a featured item on The Red Green Show -- and it was something MacGyver never left home without in MacGyver.
Equally interesting was the casting of Adam Harrington as Khonsu. This actor previously guest-starred on SG-1 as "Goa'uld #2" in "Children of the Gods"; could he have been an undercover Tok'ra even back then?
Some of the Star Trek inspired themes in the episode included: the Klingon style bat'leth weapon hanging on the wall behind Khonsu's throne; Coombs actually being a Trekkie; the ventilation shafts Felger and Coombs crawled through were reminiscent of the various Enterprise's Jeffries Tubes; the reference from Coombs that he and Felger might as well be wearing red shirts (the red shirted Star Trek security officers were often the first to die) -- and Lord Khonsu dressed in red is killed by his own First Prime. Even the red drapery behind Khonsu's throne, decorated with the various swords, seemed similar to the decorations in Spock's quarters aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701 during the original series of Star Trek.
I have to admit, though, my favorite was Coombs telling Felger where SG-1 was being held captive -- in either an armory or a bathroom. Only a Trekkie, who has read the official blueprints of the U.S.S. Enterprise, would understand the humor of finding a bathroom on the schematics of a Goa'uld pyramid.
SG-1 isn't spared from the spoofery. O'Neill had mentioned to Teal'c in "Redemption, Part 1" that Hammond wanted to appoint to SG-1 a "socio-political nerd" to offset their "overwhelming coolness." Felger's first remark about O'Neill and Teal'c is, "They are so cool!" The often-used being incarcerated for their own protection is again employed in this episode. And how about that cell aboard the Ha'tak? It had a double set of doors -- but a convenient escape panel that is magnetically locked.
Mention is made of Carter's D.H.D. reports ("Frozen"); Felger had studied every SG-1 mission report (shades of Jonas Quinn); Felger goes to rescue SG-1 because they never leave a man behind (although, technically, it's the scientists who were left behind); Sam teased Jonas about not smiling ("Descent"); Coombs went the wrong direction on the ha'tak (which Jack has done on more than one occasion); and Jack even lectured Herak about ending a sentence with a preposition.
A key plot element in this episode was the fact that Lord Khonsu was an undercover Tok'ra. If there's one Tok'ra impersonating a Goa'uld, it's possible there could be more than one. Could this explain the recent developments with Lord Yu? After the events of "Abyss," it appears that the alliance has not been broken with the Tok'ra. And -- will the S.G.C. find out where and how Anubis is obtaining his new technology?
The sixth season has been blessed not only with clever writing and magnificent direction, but also enriched with the gorgeous set designs from Bridget McGuire. Other essentials include the exquisite music from Joel Goldsmith (in this episode, we heard some Season One themes woven in among the new themes), fantastic special effects, and beautiful matte paintings by Kent Matheson and Matthew Talbot-Kelly.
And the lovely opening shot of the episode -- the placid lake, the Stargate, the Goa'uld pyramid rising up above the trees, the three death gliders flying over head -- helped emphasize that it's not only the SG-1 team, but also all the component production elements of this series that elevate Stargate SG-1 from typical TV broadcasting to an entertainment art form.
Rating: * * *