Review by Alli Snow
When last we saw our heroes, Jack and Sam had successfully destroyed Anubis' super-weapon, but Yu was nowhere to be seen, his Jaffa were holding Teal'c captive. Anubis was holding Jonas captive, and Daniel was crawling through Anubis' ship, wary of his magical Tok'ra isotope losing effect. Things indeed looked grim. But they, that's what makes for good television!
"Homecoming," the latter half of the 2-part season premiere, flowed from the first half, "Fallen," with more ease and less plot-whiplash than Stargate typically exhibits.
Like a scene from Independence Day -- not that that comparison has ever been made before -- Anubis' ship drops out of hyperspace above a planet ... more specifically, above the nation of Kelowna. It seems that Anubis, after poking through Jonas' magnificent noggin with one of those painful looking pokey things, was quite interested in acquiring the naquadria present there. Jonas later berates himself for leading the Goa'uld to his world, when all he really wanted to do was protect his people, once more establishing his highly-developed guilt issues.
Jack, on the other hand, has trust issues -- namely, trusting-Goa'uld issues. Yu, after all, didn't show up with his fleet at the appointed time to blow Anubis out of the sky, and the SGC has no idea as to Teal'c's fate. But we later learn that Yu's betrayal was not altogether intentional, as his pint-sized Jaffa tells Teal'c of his master's increasing forgetfulness and lengthening sarcophagus retreats. Yu, after all, is one of the very oldest Goa'uld, and apparently time has not been kind. The mind, as they say, is the first thing to go.
However, in order to save his master's honor and his own meaning of life, the First Prime agrees with Teal'c that something must be done. Through all of this, and through the events in "Fallen," we see further examples of how Teal'c -- a leader in his own right -- is increasingly becoming the point man for Goa'uld/Jaffa relations. What's truly unfortunate is that the only Goa'uld with anything less than contempt for the Jaffa and the Tau'ri is losing his marbles.
In any case, it's nice to see that Teal'c -- as Christopher Judge promised during "The Lowdown" special -- is becoming a bit more talkative.
It's also worth pointing out that, in the later dealings with the ambassadors in Kelowna, Sam becomes the point-woman for explaining many tactics and strategies, offers to hunt down the elusive crystal, and even gets to whale a bit on Anubis' First Prime, Herak (who unfortunately escaped intact, as did the Enigmatic One himself). If Richard Dean Anderson really needs to take some extra time off this season -- and honestly, the fans won't begrudge him if he decides to change his mind -- the grooming for leadership of both Teal'c and Sam is excuse enough. Whether she ever gets a team of her own, whether those Jaffa are ever free, it should be great viewing watching both of them go through the struggles, the triumphs and failures of the entire learning experience.
For many fans, the pivotal moment of the episode was not when Anubis' ship was blasted into a million particles, but when the "changing of the guard" occurred on SG-1 for the second time in a year. With Kelowna and its neighbors on speaking terms once more, with one of its leaders reduced to charcoal, and with Daniel Jackson back -- physically, if not yet mentally -- Jonas Quinn makes the decision to take the recently vacated post back home, to return as a hero instead of a traitor. In a very moving and very mature scene, Jonas had his moment with Hammond and with each of the members of the team.
As much as this reviewer, personally, will miss the character in the coming season, I can't find much fault in the way in which it was done. As with Daniel in "Meridian," Jonas makes a choice to go in one direction while his friends go in another. And just as Jonas was inexperienced and extremely green in "Redemption," Daniel (gaps no doubt lingering in his memory) as the seventh season's "new guy" will have his own hurdles to jump and obstacles to overcome.
And it's worth remembering that Kelowna is only one short gate trip away.
What's great about this episode: The flow of the story, the way all the pieces worked together. Jonas and Daniel: The way that the characters work together could teach a lot to fans,if they'd be willing to listen. The visual effects: Do I even have to say it? Probably not, but I will anyway, because those guys deserve it (and since awards shows, politically biased as they are, won't give them their kudos, it's up to us)!
What's not so great: Not a whole heck of a lot, other than the loss of a popular character. A few points taken off for the arrogance of the Goa'uld who thought he could figure out naquadria in a couple of hours, and the Kelownan who thought making a deal with Anubis was a smart career move. Sure, they were important plot points, but still! It seems intelligent villains are still in high demand.
Rating: * * *
Review by Lex
Part two of the season opener is a reliable enough episode, if not a stand-out. The action, when it happens, is dramatic, the story is interesting, and the obstacles that stand in the way of SG-1's victory range from the usual well-armed Jaffa (via the usual well-armed Goa'uld) to the very people who asked for the S.G.C.'s help in the first place.
"Homecoming" continues the Star Wars theme that was unmissable in "Fallen." But instead of Princess Leia being brought back home in the Death Star, we have Jonas Quinn on Anubis'mothership, locked in a cell. Sadly, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker aren't about to come to the rescue, but SG-1 and Daniel Jackson are excellent substitutes.
However, it's a good thing the threat to Kelowna is seen from Jonas' extremely concerned perspective, because the others from his planet are so unsympathetic that Anubis threatening to destroy them would otherwise not be high on the list of things to be worried about. Their constant sniping and bickering is only topped in its irritant factor by the female ambassador slapping the male -- more reminiscent of thirties' Hollywood melodrama than a professional politician. But Jonas' guilt at being the reason his planet has come to the attention of Anubis is just enough to make the viewers care whether the final victor is these unlikeable people, or the uber-villain.
Once again, though, Anubis' speech and mannerisms are peculiarly at odds with the threat we know he represents. On the other side of the coin, Yu's mental breakdown turns a once-powerful enemy into a weak, confused and sick individual. It's beginning to stretch the boundaries of belief that the System Lords could have held so many in fear for so long that the Tok'ra couldn't defeat them, yet one team from the S.G.C. has managed to thin their ranks so considerably. But despite Anubis' defeat by Baal, in the long run he's going to be a little harder to destroy than your average snake.
There were some gems woven into the threads of "Homecoming." Teal'c is becoming a master at manipulating the System Lords, and it's a joy to watch. And I have to say, I really like Anubis' own First Prime. He's got an air of menace, of confidence, of knowing that he's very much the alpha male despite his short stature, that adds that necessary little something to the atmosphere. Daniel's slowly-returning memory was dealt with in a delightfully subtle manner. And it's reassuring to know that Jack's distrust of the Goa'uld is something that never changes.
It was also very interesting to see the Jonas-Daniel dynamic, especially with such a history between them. It brings home the difference between the two characters. The depth of characterisation just isn't there in Jonas in the way it is in the other main characters, but he certainly shone a little brighter in this two-episode arc. It's a shame that the personality that we knew had to be lurking somewhere under the "up" exterior only came to the fore with Daniel. Perhaps we'll see more of it if Jonas returns -- the potential for discovering more about what makes this man tick is limitless.
Since this was mainly an action-focused episode, the running about in corridors from Daniel and Jonas degraded the tension that could otherwise have been kept high due to the very real danger they were in. And the scene where Jonas saves Daniel from a staff weapon blast needed to be a little more quick-fire to be convincing -- perhaps the directing fell down here, perhaps the editing. But it was a really nice gesture to mirror Daniel's saving of Jonas' life in "Meridian," and it demonstrated that Jonas has learned a lot from his year with SG-1.
There are plenty of unanswered questions. Did Anubis escape with any naquadria? Does Jonas, one man, really have a chance at bringing peace to his planet, considering the people he has to contend with? After several comments about Jonas' special physiology, will we learn whether it's a trait all his people possess, or will that information be left for the audience members' imaginations to play with?
And exactly what did Jack mean when he told Jonas, "You earned it?" Who knows. Perhaps a scene was cut. Perhaps it was simply one of those things that was deliberately meant to be open-ended.
Farewell, Jonas Quinn. He's returned to his planet a stronger, hopefully wiser man. It's a planet ravaged by war, with a population shocked by the revelation that they are not alone in the universe. Jonas has big tasks ahead of him.
And welcome back, Daniel Jackson. He's back with his team, his memories slowly returning, and his passion intact. The final scene with Jack and Daniel was just the right balance of nonchalant affection from Jack and wonder from Daniel at the way his life has come full circle.
Rating: * *