Review by Alli Snow
Although "Evolution, Part 2" and "Grace" were both fine episodes, "Fallout" is especially refreshing and fun, a nice mixture of action, intrigue and humor that reminds us what a versatile show Stargate really is.
"Fallout" marks Jonas Quinn's return to Earth with a rather serious problem: the naquadah in his planet's crust is somehow transforming into naquadria, an extremely unstable element that, with enough heat and pressure, could have devastating consequences. With the help of Sam, Jonas and his "assistant," Kianna, deduce that this process was tripped off by Kelowna's testing of the naquadria bomb. Therein, of course, is the irony: the weapon that was meant to save Kelowna from its enemies -- and indirectly lead to a cessation of hostilities -- now threatens the future of that entire world. Whoops.
In a way, the entire theme of this episode is knowing when to ask for -- or at least accept -- help from others. In order to have any chance of saving the planet, Sam, Teal'c and Jonas must accept the Goa'uld's offer of help, to look past their mistrust ... not because they want to, but because they have no other choice. Meanwhile, on the home front, Daniel Jackson has finally run into a diplomatic quandary that he can't quite negotiate around, leading Jack to deal with the problem is his own particular style. More on that later.
While not action-packed, some of the most sparkling scenes were those held around the briefing room table. Your humble reviewer really does enjoy learning more about cultures and worlds that the team has already encountered, especially one -- such as Langara -- in which the S.G.C. has a rather vested interest. The simple dialogue between the Andari and Tiranian councilors, as well as the new Kelownan minister, filled in the back-story of those nations' conflict very nicely. Perhaps it even led some viewers to draw parallels between Langara's situation and some of the international disputes faced here on Earth.
It was also interesting to see how technology has progressed in Kelowna in recent years (although their fashion has progressed ... not so much). They seem to have taken some significant steps since we last saw them, perhaps because of the knowledge Jonas brought back, or perhaps because they've been trading naquadria to Earth in return for technology. One can only speculate. The dichotomy of computer screens and typewriter-like keys -- not to mention the integration of Tok'ra crystals into the mix -- gives a gritty distinctiveness to Kelownan science.
Since it seems one can hardly discuss a new episode without mentioning how prominently (or not) Jack O'Neill is featured, let's return a minute to our favorite colonel. Although his presence wasn't large, his screen time was put to good use. Certainly the phrase "dicking around" will stay in fan's minds for some time. And Jack's take-charge attitude (and Hammond's deference to him) near the end of the episode could be compared to the way that Sam has been taking on increasing leadership responsibility of SG-1.
What was great about this episode: Naturally, it was wonderful to see Jonas again, even with his new hairstyle. And although it might not have come as a complete shock that Kianna was more than what she seemed, she does stand as a somewhat unique example of a Goa'uld. Although her motivation seemed at least partly based in greed and desire for power, she did opt to save her host in the end. And although she still regarded humans as technologically inferior, she seemed to move past the typical Goa'uld viewpoint of seeing their hosts as nothing more than cattle.
What wasn't so great: Like almost all episodes, "Fallout" is open to nitpicking. Yes, the idea of drilling down to plant a bomb is a little reminiscent of films like "Armageddon." Yes, it's a little peculiar that the Goa'uld in Kianna knew to take precautions against being sniffed out by someone like Sam, unless Baal had specific information about Langara-Earth relations. But put up against the bigger picture, these are small things that don't detract from one's overall enjoyment of the story.
What remains to be seen: Now that Jonas has joined the exclusive club of Those Who've Fallen for Someone with a Snake in Their Head, we'll have to wait and see if he and Kianna have any chance for a symbiote-free future together. (Psst, guys -- that's a hint to start working on a Jonas story for next season!)
Rating: * * *
Review by Lex
In an episode where the sense of urgency and danger were palpable, SG-1 as a whole seemed as relaxed with one another as I've seen them this season. "Fallout" had Jack and Daniel back in their rhythm (something that's been generally missing of late), Sam and Jonas' back-and-forth chatter as natural as it's ever been, and Sam and Teal'c were in synch. The team was one entity, comfortable, working together towards a solution to yet another problem the universe had thrown at them.
Various parts of this story interested me, and some of the little things made me think far more than the actions that were more up-front. The episode showed balance across the board, and, intentional or not, it was intriguing.
The dual approach to the threat to the Langarans -- the practical, scientific solution versus the political contingency -- showed a classic divide that anyone who has ever worked on a large project can relate to: those at the top seem to have no comprehension of real issues and how to solve them. The First Minister and other council members were portrayed beautifully, unable to see past their own prejudices in order to address the big picture.
Each member of SG-1 was deployed where they would be best used, their skills taken for granted these days. Sam focused on technology and theory, Daniel on diplomacy, Teal'c negotiated with the Tok'ra and kept a knowledgeable eye on the Goa'uld, and Jack ... well, Jack was focused on the practicalities of the diplomatic endeavor.
In addition, the Goa'uld inside Kianna was a balance in itself. Unlike those we've seen previously, this Goa'uld has an interest in humans for themselves, rather than merely as beings to be subjugated and used. Caught half-way between the selfishness of the Goa'uld and the decency of the Tok'ra, Kianna's Goa'uld is the first we've seen of a middle ground, and she represents potential in the species. Were Oma and Shifu wrong to say that the inherent evil of the Goa'uld is impossible to overcome? Perhaps. It's a shame this character was killed before we could find out more about her.
Showing Jonas Quinn in his own element, seeing his importance to his planet, was a nice continuation of his storyline. He's moved on in his life, has gained a reputation, a girlfriend, and a peculiar hairstyle. The relaxed way he and Sam worked together, the teasing from Sam about Kianna and Jonas' blushing denial, were a lovely touch. Even in the tense atmosphere, these two fell back into their previous, easy relationship.
Jonas' normal behavior was a marked contrast to the collection of raving lunatics that the Langarans had apparently chosen to govern them. The council members' behavior was appalling, as they concentrated on their prejudices once again rather than the problem at hand -- "fiddling while Rome burns" was a phrase that sprang to mind. Daniel's increasingly desperate attempts to find a solution that would be acceptable to all three councilors were laudable, but hopeless. Having gritted my teeth through the behavior of various incarnations of that planet's politicians, Jack's announcement of "Deal's off -- you're toast" had me cheering out loud. Not that Daniel would have let Jack get away with condemning a whole planet of people, but for that look of shock on the Langarans' faces, it was absolutely worth it.
"Fallout" was rather top-heavy with techno-babble, which could have done with a few more graphics to prevent this viewer's brain glazing over. Sure, at least some of the information was necessary, but it interrupted the flow and seemed an excessive example of the genre. It felt as if the research had been done in certain areas and that information was to be shown off, while areas that hadn't been researched were ignored, leading to holes in the technical basis of the story. A wider range of research would have leaned a little more realism to the drilling, the excavator, the behavior of molten lava, and the laws of thermodynamics.
I mentioned my appreciation of the little things. Continuity of the greater Stargate universe was slipped in here and there with the Tok'ra tunnel crystals, the Madronans, and learning that Baal is still a force to be reckoned with. A useful drug was introduced that could be of great help in keeping Tok'ra hidden from detection when needed, assuming the drug can be synthesized by the S.G.C. And there was an interesting twist to the naquadria tale, with news that it is created from naquadah. Will someone make use of that information on Earth to enhance their defenses against Anubis?
Speaking of things I liked, the whole look and feel of the excavator was really nice; the scene where it burst back through the surface at the end of its mission was a lovely effects shot. In fact, I liked the sets in general, the focus being a society that's not quite as advanced as our own, without going too far back in history or venturing into a "Journey to the Center of the Earth" cliché.
However, in general this episode didn't take us forward, beyond knowing that Jonas is now settled on his planet and the situation there is as volatile as it ever was. There were things hidden beneath the surface, however, that may yet come up for air: was Kianna's symbiote just a one-off? Is the S.G.C. being stretched too thin these days keeping up with all of the people they've met and the alliances they've made? Hopefully some of these questions will be answered.
Rating: * *