Sam Carter was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel a whole 12 episodes ago, and became head of SG-1. SG-1, if you remember, is the team that goes through the gate, makes first contact, and generally gets into trouble. We've seen General Jack settling into his new role as head of the S.G.C., but very little sign of Sam leading SG-1 off-world on an honest-to-goodness mission.
I'd like to be able to say I took the opening of "It's Good To Be King" in stride, but, to be truthful, I can't. I saw Sam in charge of an off-world mission and it took considerable effort not to bounce up and down on the sofa in pure glee. There she is on another planet, making the decisions, telling her team what to do and where to go, and generally being in charge. It suits her, it really does.
Add to that a time-travelling Puddle Jumper, Ancient text written on stone tablets, Maybourne fooling the locals, and Jaffa threatening the population, and we should be set for a real humdinger of a story.
But there is little humming and even less dinging. The Jack and Maybourne show doesn't have quite the same zing it used to. Maybourne being a mostly good guy rather pulls the rug out from under the feisty relationship we've come to expect from those two, and that's just one of the issues that dampen this episode. Daniel is shown some tantalizing Ancient text, but we barely see him investigating it. Sam's leadership disappears off the radar when Jack arrives on-site. The bad guys are coming to take over the planet, but there appears to be no real threat.
The problem, it seems, is that we're not given enough of an emotional connection to the planet and its people to make the threat actually threatening. SG-1 can simply go home, which is something that's pointed out several times. The Puddle Jumper is an interesting diversion, but it can be destroyed. The locals don't want to leave, but there's no real obstacle to prevent them from moving to a safe planet. And Jack apparently couldn't care less if Maybourne is blasted into tiny pieces.
This scenario has already been played out, although in a different form, in Season Four's "Scorched Earth." A tribe of people would die if they stayed where they were and their health would be threatened if they left. The connection to these people and to the threat was made through Jack and Daniel, and we cared what happened. But Maybourne, loveable rogue as he's become over the years, isn't sufficient to provide that kind of emotional connection.
The episode also seems to be missing the depth that we are accustomed to seeing in Stargate episodes. Sam plays with doohickeys, Jack shoots at Jaffa to give her time to play with doohickeys, Daniel and Teal'c are captured, Teal'c is threatened because he's the shol'vah. It all happens by rote: this is when Jack blows up a pyramid ship, this is when Teal'c fights another First Prime, this is when Daniel looks worried. The bad guys lose, the good guys win, and the audience wanders off in search of a glass of wine and a good book.
What I found most odd, though, was the idea that Maybourne can read Ancient well enough to make accurate predictions. A few episodes ago Daniel was being threatened by the Trust to make him translate some Ancient for them, and now I'm a little confused as to why. If Maybourne, who hasn't been on Earth for quite some time, can read the language, there surely must be several other people who can read it, too. This rather pokes holes in a major plotline in "Affinity."
All this probably gives the impression that the episode was a washout. It wasn't. There was enough to be interesting for an hour, with the return of Maybourne, the team running around off-world (which is something that will never, ever get old), and Jack rejoining his team for a bit of R&R. The introduction of the Puddle Jumper is a significant plot development that must be in preparation for an upcoming story, and the timely reminder that Jack can work Ancient technology is another notion that probably needed a reminder.
The episode overall is superficial, but entertaining. Everyone did their "thing" -- Daniel translated, Teal'c fought, Sam successfully connected her laptop to yet another piece of alien technology, and Jack ... er, Jack shot the enemy.
And did I mention that Lieutenant Colonel Carter got to be in charge? Still smiling, here.
Rating: * *