Review by Alli Snow
"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension -- a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into ... the Twilight Zone."
Thus far this season, I've started off my reviews with a memorable or catchy quote from the episode itself. It seemed like a good idea, since every episode has at least one signature line that's ever so memorable. But this time, Rod Sterling's introduction to The Twilight Zone seems far more appropriate, since the most Stargatey thing in this episode was a zat gun, and the closest we got to the Stargate was Jack's office.
Suspicious murders and abusive boyfriends, cops and hackneyed romance -- maybe Stargate didn't get sucked into the Twilight Zone after all, but 21 Jump Street instead.
Or maybe I'm being too hard on "Affinity."
If you've followed my reviews from Season Seven, you're well aware that the character of Pete Shanahan provokes violent emetic reaction in yours truly. I admit my bias. I embrace my bias! I also tend to enjoy an episode of Stargate more when it actually includes the Stargate, and when Jack does more than skulk around the S.G.C. Fortunately, being the understanding person that I am, I accept the reasoning behind all three elements: Richard Dean's time is at a premium; special effects funds are on a budget; and, well, it's the same reason Teal'c has hair this season. Enough said.
Let's be fair: The episode has humor, and it is humor that is different from what we've seen before. Different can often mean fresh and exciting, and watching Teal'c beat up a quartet of gang bangers as an honorary member of the D.M.V. was nothing if not amusing. The issue of how Teal'c would manage living outside the S.G.C., which has been his home for the last seven years, is a fair question to ask, and in fact the heart of this episode is Teal'c's freedom as a citizen of Earth and his ability to blend in a culture so different from his own.
Ultimately, the regrouped forces of the N.I.D. decide that he never can, that he is alien and therefore unable to be trusted, and Teal'c's freedom puts Daniel and Krista in danger. He has to return to captivity, so to speak, in order to protect those he cares about.
Like last week's Teal'c-fest, the concept had the potential to be rich when developed. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by so many other things, like the cyclic Sam/Pete B-plot. That story might have been interesting -- her doubts versus her desire for a normal life -- had it not been graced with an ending as quick and cheesy as the resolution of "Scorched Earth."
Then there were the little things, such as the inexplicable formation of a large body of water in the middle of Colorado (although it has made an appearance before), and the shoddiness of Colorado Springs' homicide department (they couldn't tell that 5-foot-nothing Krista was the killer, and not Teal'c of the Machine Gun Arms?).
Although thus far I've been more impressed with Season Eight -- in general -- than I expected to be, episodes like "Affinity" do give me concern for the remainder of this season and for the rumored ninth. Some factors, such as the limit on Anderson's time and special effects, aren't going to go away any time soon. And the logical progression is to even more uninspiring one-shot characters such as Krista, Colonel Vaselov and Dr. Brightman ("Lockdown"), Leda and Kane ("Icon"), as well as other recurring characters that the audience has little reason to find sympathetic.
Here's hoping that SG-1 is able to pull itself out of this rut, and return to the action and energy and connections between characters that make it Stargate ... and not some other show.
Rating: * 1/2
Review by Lex
There have been episodes of Stargate that have made me wonder what the writers were thinking when they decided it was a good idea to write that particular story, but I'm not sure I've ever wondered if they'd called in a novice because they happened to be a bit busy ... until "Affinity."
This is most certainly an episode of two halves. In the first half, very little happens at all. In the second half, things happen that are, frankly, rather mystifying. To be honest, I was skirting the edge of complete boredom with the predictable tale of Teal'c becoming the neighborhood hero, beating up bad guys and protecting those who couldn't protect themselves.
The predictability started me thinking about the originality of the show. When it first appeared, Stargate SG-1 was bound to be original, having the basis of mythology mixed with gate travel. When the show did a twist on an old concept, it was a very Stargate twist with a subtle tip of the hat towards its origins. But with "Affinity" we have conspiracy (previously done much better on The X-Files), detective work (done better on practically any police show you care to name), and the sadly inevitable big strong man protecting the helpless female (oh-so-many tired romance novels). Even stopping a thief by long-distance throwing of nearest available grocery item was done better in "Crocodile Dundee."
This is the type of writing you can only just get away with during an off-world mission, when a fascinating piece of technology or mythology is there to distract the audience. But on Earth? No.
This whole episode seemed to have been engineered to achieve a certain result, rather than following the natural evolution of the characters and events. The plot threads simply do not gel; rather they are forced together to produce an unwieldy and peculiar mix of romance, blackmail, and outright stupidity. Peter DeLuise's writing is something I have come to rely on to give me an enjoyable and coherent story; I can't begin to guess what happened here.
First, let me say how very disappointed I am that the build-up to Teal'c finally getting an apartment of his own off-base turned into a damp squib. Sorry, Teal'c, no freedom for you. The big, bad new N.I.D. -- the Trust -- just doesn't like aliens, because they're, well, alien. Then again, I think I might agree with them since as soon as Teal'c is out of the mountain it seems he is cheating on Ishta -- not exactly an attractive trait in the new neighborhood hero.
The Trust appears to be all powerful: They are able to gain access the S.G.C.'s computer system; they know exactly where Daniel is, and will be able to tell if he stops to talk to anyone at any point between leaving his office and arriving at a city park, or if he has written a note or made a quick phone call. I realize it's odd that I can believe people travel through a wormhole to other planets and not believe that the Trust are omniscient, but my believability quotient was overloaded right then and there.
The poor writing could have stopped there, but there were so many other opportunities. The idea that Sam, a 40-year-old woman, is complaining about the media showing perfect relationships when she is in one herself is bizarre. That is followed up by her inability to decide whether to get married or not, as if she is the only person on the planet to have to think about issues such as going to war and leaving the children at home. Sam has been so great this season that I had thought we were rid of the Carter who lost her ability to think of others when she has an issue of her own. But here she is again, asking Jack if his life would have been different if he still had his family. That's a whole new low to sink to.
It's possible this is an alternate reality episode of Stargate -- one where Sam is tactless and self-centred in the extreme, Teal'c chases after the girl-next-door like some anachronistic knight in shining armour, Daniel forgets he has a team to go to for help, and the bad guys are only missing their mustaches. It's not likely, though.
There was a point where I thought the plot might thicken, where it seemed that Krista is in fact a part of the whole Trust scam, but no such complexity comes into play; nor is there any comment on what the Trust wanted translated, and why; nor any kind of reaction to the fact that Daniel and Krista thought they were about to get bullets in their brains. It is just ... lacking.
Even amongst all of this peculiarity, there are some bright spots in "Affinity." The team is a team, caring for one another. It seems this is the norm in Season Eight, and I might actually get used to it enough that I can stop commenting on it. Additionally, Sam Carter has finally stopped prevaricating and agreed to marry Pete. Marvelous! I sincerely hope this storyline is concluded now. I'm not sure I could cope with more of Sam's teenage hormone-influenced love life without wanting to throw something at the television.
Rating: * 1/2