Revisions

Review

Summary | Production | Transcript | Review

The team gates to a climate-controlled environment amidst a toxic wasteland, whose people are all linked to a central computer.

EPISODE #705
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 07.11.03
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.18.04
DVD DISC: Season 7, Disc 2
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: Martin Wood
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Review by Alli Snow

"Revisions" has many of the elements of a great episode: a neat setting, pleasant minor characters, an intriguing twist on a familiar idea ... even a cute kid. However, it remains to be seen how memorable this episode will prove to be in the long run. Although it is a solid story, it lacks a certain, nearly indefinable spark that denotes a truly great episode.

SG-1 encounters another domed city, although this dome isn't keeping out ice and snow (see "Beneath the Surface") ... it's keeping out a toxic environment. Within the dome is what appears to be a prosperous civilization, the last remaining on this world, who are all connected -- via a Borgish temple-piece -- to a computer network they call the Link. It allows them to bring up information almost instantly and has relegated books to musty archives. While Sam and Daniel salivate -- Sam over the computer system, Daniel over mustiness -- Jack finds that he's still the Pied Piper of cute little native kids; one follows him around, idolizes him, and even wears his decontamination suit (although, considering the monochromatic wardrobe on this planet, maybe that one isn't so hard to explain). Teal'c looks on, bemused.

The more SG-1 deals with the people on this planet, however, the weirder things get. Two women vanish, and no one else seems to miss them ... or even remember that they existed in the first place. Although the possibility exists that the natives are simply trying to gaslight them, suspicions quickly turn to the little metal doo-dads on their heads. Sam quickly theorizes that the Link is somehow affecting their minds and their memories. The real danger, however, doesn't emerge until later, when she discovers that the protective dome is losing power ... and getting smaller.

Daniel does a little timely translating to discover that the population used to be much larger; over the years, hundreds or even thousands of people have, directed by the Link, walked out of the dome to their death in order to maintain a livable environment for those remaining. The computer would then update the Link -- and all of the minds attached to it -- in order to maintain the illusion that nothing was wrong.

Some people have mentioned 'big brother'. In our culture of incessant reality shows, however, the 'big brother' this review was reminded of was the television show -- only on this planet, if you get voted out, there's no reunion show.

In the end, Sam, Daniel and an unlinked friend figure out how to control the Link and the people attached on it, who were most interested in bringing Jack and Teal'c into the collective. The truth is revealed, although the natives' memories are still lost, and relocation begins. An open-and-shut case, as it were. A perfectly palatable dish of an episode.

However, although palatable, this dish was also somewhat bland. The fact that generations have been forced by the computer to walk to their deaths ... that adds a little seasoning, yes. But in the here-and-now of the story, as far as SG-1 is involved, there isn't much spice.

We don't learn anything new about the characters; Revisions simply reinforces what we already were aware of: Sam likes computers, Daniel likes translating, kids like Jack, and Teal'c likes trading food with Jack. True, these characters are now six-plus years old -- one shouldn't expect new epiphanies for them every week -- but it's still possible to expand on what has already been created.

The episode also lacked a sense of danger. There is the possibility of the dome collapsing, of course, but the audience knows that's a remote possibility since it would mean the death of SG-1. Even with the zombie-like townspeople going after Jack and Teal'c, all they're armed with are connections to the Link. Jack and Teal'c are never in real danger of having their minds tampered with, nor are any of SG-1 fearful of ending up on the other side of the dome without their suits. What this episode needed to make it stand out was a little zing, a little angst, a little excitement ... in short, a climax.

What's great about this episode: As always, Martin Wood's directing was a joy to behold, and the setting used for the domed city was beautiful and believable. The truth behind the Link and the dome was darned creepy. What's not so great: Lack of serious suspense and lack of serious obstacles lead to an anticlimactic ending. Such an otherwise-solid story deserved a much more memorable finish.

Rating: * * 1/2


Review by Lex

For the first time this season, it's hard to pin down what I think of an episode. I keep vacillating between the comfort factor of seeing the team go off-world together to dig beneath the surface of what remains of a civilization, and the itch of a somewhat odd storyline that lacks depth and warmth. It's as if "Revisions" was an attempt to go back to the early days where SG-1 explored other planets and made fascinating discoveries, but the episode didn't quite manage to capture the old magic.

And that's a shame, because the concept had such potential (as demonstrated by the number of times it's been used in other sci-fi shows and movies, such as The Outer Limits, "The Matrix," and Star Trek). For the first time in a long time, I think the director didn't quite capture enough of the dark atmosphere that was needed to give this episode the right balance. The interesting camera angles, the seemingly perfect location, the feeling of being closed in -- all were subtle hints of threat that worked well to start with. But the sheer amount of talking, exposition or otherwise, frequently overwhelmed the subtle direction.

That's not to say the direction was all bad -- perish the thought. The smoke and contaminant-filled atmosphere outside the dome was in stark contrast to the dome's interior, creating a very visible line of demarcation; the challenge of filming in what appeared to be very confined spaces was met with originality; the air of confusion that surrounded SG-1 each time they faced another change in the environment was clear. However, the tension, the sense of danger that this episode needed in order to succeed was missing.

A group of people whose lives are controlled by a computer is a concept that comes up so frequently in sci-fi that it's hard not to compare "Revisions" with other examples of the type. For that very reason, the aim should have been to make this episode stand out from the crowd, to make it different or original in some way. But the predictability of the computer finding the newcomers to be a threat to its people and want to destroy them, and the "Night of The Living Dead" behavior of the rather subdued mob that came after Jack and Teal'c, simply didn't have that much-needed spark.

On the up side, it was lovely to see Jack and Teal'c together with some lighthearted moments, just as it was nice to see Sam and Daniel working together solving problems, doing what they do best. It was good to know that the team has learned something over the years, and they didn't jump at the chance to try alien technology when it was offered to them.

However, "Revisions" tended to give us plot at the expense of character development and character interaction amongst SG-1, which was a shame considering the plot wasn't original enough to stand out as worth that sacrifice.

There are so many unanswered questions that could have added some depth to this rather average episode. What was real? How did the people survive -- where did their water come from, their food, their soap, clothes, toothbrushes? As the dome shrank, did everyone need to move house? Why did Carter not wax lyrical about the computer itself and want to experiment with it? Why was it left to Sam to tell Pallan about his lost wife when Sam had spent very little time with the woman? Did the team ever realize that their arrival in the dome and their use of precious resources would have sped up the death of the inhabitants?

Overall, a "could do better." An average score for an average episode.

Rating: * * 1/2