Review by Alli Snow
"It did look a little vacant ..."
- Daniel Jackson
With "Covenant," Stargate SG-1 unfortunately continues the trend from last week's "Affinity": a lot of talk and very little action. While it is an improvement in some ways -- we get to see the Stargate again, for example -- it in many ways comes off as a vehicle for Charles Shaughnessy (who was apparently in some show about a nanny -- I personally know him best as the squirrel from "The Wild Thornberrys Movie").
The episode starts out with a promising premise: After years of sending DNA, spaceship plans, and other extraterrestrial goodies out into the private sector, the S.G.C.'s lack of discretion finally bites them in the butt. Alec Colson, a brilliant engineer (and apparently a less than brilliant businessman) makes a declaration to the world that aliens exist and have been visiting the planet. This is the first shot in a public relations war between Colson and the United States government, as both use the media to make their case.
It's cool to see an Asgard on television. I can't complain about any opportunity to see Jack and Sam in dress uniform. Sam has a neat little car, and the incorporation of Julia Donovan and Emmett Bregman -- characters from past episodes -- into the story is clever. The idea that the Stargate program could be compromised is a very big issue indeed, and the way that SG-1 and Thor worm their way out of the problem made me laugh out loud.
But overall the episode suffered because it was ... well, boring. I can identify with Colson's plight to some extent, for some time. But by the half-way point I found myself wandering away during the commercials.
While Shaughnessy does a perfectly adequate job as Colson, the character itself -- a genius with a tragic past for whom Sam has great respect, who knows the truth but is not believed -- is tiresome and something of a cliché. And since almost the entirety of the episode is focused on that character ... well, he isn't exactly a boon.
For the second time in as many episodes, the lack of Jack O'Neill also weakens the episode. I can and do respect Anderson's reasons for reducing his schedule, and know that the staff of Stargate is doing the best they can in these conditions. However, dress uniform comments aside, if General O'Neill is going to sit around, getting beamed over to the White House and looking like he has either gas or ulcers, I have to wonder if they should even bother.
The lack of Teal'c is a problem as well, and although it can be explained in terms of production schedule ("Avatar" and "Affinity" had very heavy Teal'c components, and we may expect the same in "Sacrifices") it does qualify as another point of weakness.
Is there a point to this story? After a little digging around, we find it: the introduction of the Trust, a nasty little group we were actually introduced to in "Affinity." Whoops. We also know that there's one more Asgard running around the universe, that Sam is a leather jacket junkie, and that it's apparently very easy to get anyone's cell phone number through various super-mysterious methods. "Covenant" is apparently a "bridge" story to future episodes -- a very long, wobbly, rope bridge.
This episode is the story of the man who knew too much and the Air Force lieutenant colonel who feels bad about making him out as a wacko on national television. It just isn't enough for an hour of television. Although there is an effort made to add suspense and drama -- Colson's plane being forced down, Brian's suicide, financial troubles -- this tedious Ron Wilkerson leftover earns its place in the annals of forgettable Stargate episodes.
Rating: * 1/2