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Thursday, November 18, 2010

SG-1: Emmancipation

Stargate SG-1 Season One Episode Two: Emancipation

So we begin this episode with...Ahh the ever present young person being chased by dogs...or bad's a sci-fi fantasy stand by. And we find out that this young man being chased by said dogs is called, Abu. Here's a question though, why the heck would Abu know what Okay means? O'Neil asks him if he's okay after his little run in with the dogs and Abu is totally like "Yes, I'm fine" or something like that. We totally made that word up and it actually doesn't mean what we think it means. (Note from Andrew: Oh yeah? What does it mean, then? Me, I am thinking that after all that time spent with Aladdin, he knows our slang quite well by now.)
So we find out from Abu's horrified glances at Sam that women are not...exactly...treated in the way Earthers are used to. So here's the thing, it's pretty obvious that women are not respected and the last thing I would do if I knew I was on a planet that was weird about women is go over into their face and start to say something about it, which is what Sam proceeds to do. (Note from Andrew: Which is, if I recall, the exact OPPOSITE of military policy in less enlightened companies like Iraq- or at least was at the time this episode was made. Female soldiers wore veils to conform to local standards, not agitate them.) I would stay quiet and in the background til we figured out what the heck was going the heck on. I wouldn't be all "Um. Did I do something??" I would be SHUSH! And can I say that they are really lucky that this is like the only world that they've gone to so far that hasn't had these kind of weirdities. I mean...yeah there is some weird stuff, but not so much the whole "women are weird" type thing. Which is good...seeing as Sam is a woman...and stuff. (Note from Andrew: Hey! Don't call her that! Just because her reproductive organs are on the inside...)
As an aside I'd like to mention that this is the first SG-1 episode that I recall seeing before I was a fan... (NFA: Wow! It's a wonder you gave the show a chance!) and can I tell you that what I saw made me not really want to continue to watch the show, as I was not and am not very big on any stories involving discussions about why or why not the sexes are equal and blah blah blah, as they are usually embarrassing and one side goes a little too far to prove they are equal and everyone just generally comes off looking like a big stupid. My way is that I know we are equal, and I am confident enough in this fact that I don't need to make an issue about want to carry this heavy box for me? Go for it! You want to hold the door open for me? You are a real gentlemen and there aren't enough of those left! I am not going to assume that you think I am not strong enough to carry this box and even if that IS why you are doing it I don't care because I KNOW I am strong enough to carry that box; I don't have to carry it for me to know that though. I think most of the time when guys offer to do things for women it's because they genuinely either care about us, or because men are sweet and they love to make life easier for women by using their abilities. I think that when we constantly start fights about how females are equal and all that all that it shows is that we are insecure about being a female and all worked up about whether people respect us or not and that if we let a guy buy us dinner that means he's better than us or something?! Anyways, I say leave the arguments to the extremists and let them realize one day that they aren't getting anywhere.
Once again...if I was in a place that didn't like women...I am PRETTY sure that I wouldn't talk OUT loud to the guy who appeared to be a chief. (Note from Andrew: Not to mention, that's just bad military protocol- in first contact, your CO takes point, and you don't offer your opinion unless called for, male or female. Daniel ignores this, but he gets away with it because he's a civilian. Sam, with all the credentials she so eagerly hauled in the pilot to prove that she could do what men could do, ought to know this if she's advanced that far in the military command. And later in the show... she does!) I think I'd have a sneaking suspicion that maybe he had something to do with making sure those laws are carried out... but I could be just grasping at straws here. In reality I realize that Sam has to act like this in order to move the story along; it's an unfortunate reality of script writing...sometimes the characters have to be exceedingly stupid to move along the plot. (This is something that somewhat continues throughout the shows long run but isn't to the extreme all the time.) (NFA: This is what we in the bis call 'bad writing for stupid fools.' If you have to make your characters do things they wouldn't do to tell the story you want to tell, then you shouldn't be telling the story with those characters at all! The whole point of a story is to create a reality in which your fiction is real- having characters act out of character fundamentally undermines that reality. The stories should unfold from the natural actions of the characters... or not be written at all. Stargate is hardly alone in this issue, of course- it's as old as story writing itself!)
So they take them all to the camp and they make Sam put on a dress...which I must say while it IS a nice moment when all the guys see Sam in the dress...I have to say...I still feel like they could have come up with a nicer looking dress for her to wear. It kind of looks like everything they make Sam wear...awkward with a hint of style, although I could be looking at it from a girls' point of view and you guys all think it looks stellar. :) I give Amanda Tapping props though for her acting, she's playing up the whole Tomboy thing in the dress and it really works. It's interesting because now that I think about it they've really kept up with that whole arc of her character, her going from painfully obvious tomboy to being more confident in being a woman and realizing that looking pretty is not a sign of weakness or that people won't take her seriously when she does look pretty (unless your name is Rodney McKay...). (NFA: He does have a weakness for dumb blondes...) Maybe this episode, ironically, is a little bit instrumental in that. I love how O'Neil calls her "Samantha" in this part, it makes me laugh how annoyed she looks at him, and the face she makes when he leaves right before saying "You look great." It's kind of a: "maybe there is something to this dress thing!" :-D
So Sam isn't allowed to leave the tent because of the whole, her being a girl thing; and she goes to a tent...which is all they have in the camp but let me just say ANYONE who sleeps in a tent...seriously...bad things are going to happen. You always get kidnapped or killed when you sleep in a tent in sci-fi. And what do you know? Sam gets kidnapped by Abu who wants to take her to the neighboring village and trade her for the Bad Chief's daughter, Naia, whom he is in love with. (NFA: I'm sure you mean "Whom he wants to posses as his property," based on the heavy-handedness of this episode.)
So he takes her into bad chief's tent and he's all like "Yep, I got something worth trading" and goes to take down Sam's veil to show off her whole face...I have to say if I was Sam, the second that Abu took off my veil I would start making this really disgusting face and I wouldn't stop making it. Seriously...even the most gorgeous women can make their faces really ugly with the right facial contortions. Oh and....I would let him slit my throat...I so wouldn't turn around...especially not slowly. No how. did Naia even come from?!? She's the Bad Chief's daughter and she's so's....well she's rather white. It's really weird and out of nowhere. Was she the directors daughter and they were like " one will notice that she's not Asian, it'll be fine."
Like I might have bought her if she was just like one of the random women in the place but she's not, she's his daughter. Maybe one of his wives was someone from Off-world and she just so happens not to take on any asian characteristics from her father? Yeah...we'll go with that one.
I do really like that moment between the good chief and Daniel when he says "Because you love her?" of the chiefs wife. I like their smiles, it's a nice moment and it's well acted. Here is another question I don't think they ever answer; how in the world did Abu ever even get to know Naia?
Once again...I'd probably get killed. Cause I don't think I would actually say "I'm sorry...I guess you know what's best for her." to the bad-chief cause...he really doesn't and he's a big pigjerk. (NFA: Seriously, hon- you are just as bad as the people we always complain about in movies! :-) It's called 'playing along until you can be rescued.' Now you are NOT allowed to get your throat slit for being obstinate when I am on the way to rescue you, and that is FINAL!) (Note from Sarah: What are you saying!? That because I am a woman I can't rescue MYSELF!??! Huh!?)
Also when Sam is trying to escape, here's a prime reason why you should ALWAYS wear pants under the dress someone made you'll come in handy.
"If you need to beat a woman to feel like a man, try me." That's a GOOD one liner. And p.s. Bad chief...if you value spirit in your horses and not your women then why the heck did you say that and then grab Sam's head and kiss her really hard? It seems your actions point to the contrary...unless you did it because you knew it would make her really angry...because if so: good job cause that worked then. If he kissed me like that I would get all my spits ready and just "BLEAH" it all out all over him. Yeah...i'd probably have gotten killed before anyone could come rescue me. (NFA: Stop it!)
OH what?! Naia just said to Sam "I heard what you did for my mother..." regarding Sam saying that line to keep the bad chief from hitting the ASIAN WOMAN earlier (he was going to punish his wife for letting Sam escape...even though she had no idea Sam was even gone). Which means that the off-world wife is out of the question and their daughter is just a non-asian for no reason.
So by this time O'Neil and the gang have realized Sam is missing and that Abu is missing, and the Good chief takes them all the way over to spy on the bad village. They ask the Good Chief what is going to happen if they wait til morning to rescue Sam, and he says:
"*Bad Chief's Name* will partake in his newest purchase." "Oh there's not a chance in HE**" line spoken in this episode EVER! Makes me remember why I love O'Neil...that know..if I'd ever forgotten for some reason...which I never have, even when John Shepherd bats his little eyelashes at me and waves around his shooty gun. *AHEM, ANDREW* :) (not that I'm saying that John isn't cool...but he CERTAINLY wouldn't win in a fight against O'Neil. No sir. He even spells his name weird...I mean 'Sheppard"?) (NFA: Excuse me??!! "The Storm, Part II"? O'Neil is great, I love him, but... Shepherd has the youth to back up the skills, and tactics to boot!) They go into the camp and have a word with the Bad Chief, trying to barter with him in order to get Sam back.
Daniel's gamble about Sam being a woman of power is the dumbest gamble EVER! I mean...if you heard all the good stuff about her like her being a shaman and stuff...would you give her back? Basically it's like just say you stole someone's Ipod and they were like "give that back!" And you were like "It's a really nice Ipod though." and they were all "Fifty dollars! I'll give you fifty dollars!" and you were like "It's so sleek, and brand new and exotic looking." and they were like "FINE! 200 dollars then!" And to that you said "Why do you want it back so badly, when you could take that 200 dollars and buy an even newer ipod??" and you said "You don't understand, that ipod can tell the future, it can levitate and it also works as a telepathic link into anyone's brain! Oh and there's that app where you can download any album that ever comes out for free! I need it back!" Do you think you'd be in any hurry to give it back? It's a long metaphor but I think you get the gist of it...and no I am NOT likening Women to Ipods...although this guy is basically doing the same. :) Luckily O'Neil realizes that when in this situation....the bad guy always falls for the gun trade. I got to say it's priceless watching the Bad Chief firing off the gun and jumping up and down comically.
(I am guessing that about three million fanboy fanfics recounting the events of P3X595 that were mentioned in passing by O'Neil have been written since this episode was first aired.) (NFA: I'd say... you underestimated the number.)
As the bad guy is comically firing his gun, the team takes the opportunity to leave the premises as fast as possible.
I have to say...while I would forgive Abu for handing me over to a gross icky bad chief who was gross and icky so he could barter for the daughter of said bad chief I don't think that I would be that quick to be all: "OMG....I totally don't even blame Abu for what he did now either! For seriously!" like Sam does. Okay...I added the valleygirl part...but it's kind of funny thinking about Sam saying it that way. :) (NFA: Why not? She wouldn't be anymore annoying or out of character than she is in the rest of this episode...)
Word reaches the team that the bad chief intends to have his daughter, Naia, stoned for trying to escape and run away with Abu. And then we get into the also ever present "When or when do we not interfere?"'s funny how this only comes into it when the writers want it to, there are so many times they've interfered before they've even THOUGHT about thinking whether or not they should interfere (although not yet..seeing as this is only the second episode). The same goes for Star Trek with the Prime Directive, it only applies when the writers think it will add drama to the story, when all it does is drive fans nuts so that they scream at the tv: "YOU never cared about the Prime Directive so much in your LIFE before this! You never considered saving people from certain DOOM a matter of the prime directive before! I mean you totally LANDED on that planet to hang out with the Edo even though they weren't even heck warp capable because you thought it would be cool to run around with a bunch of half naked people!!! WHERE WAS THE PRIME DIRECTIVE THEN!? NOW GO SAVE NIKKI COX dang it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you saying that because she's orange and has freaky fingers and isn't wearing a bikini because she's only a kid MEANS SHE HAS TO DIE!?"It's a very powerful moment when Naia calls out for her father to forgive her before he stones her, and the bad chief leans forward and whispers into her ear that he forgives her, even though he's a real jerk you can see this is tearing him apart to have to order to have his daughter killed; and probably these dudes don't make a habit of forgiving people. But he does forgive his daughter and you can see it in her face how much it means to her, almost as if she has the strength to die now, I have to give credit to this actress because she does really well conveying that when she only has her eyes to do so.
Basically the team and the good chief come storming in right before they stone her and use a loophole of some kind that says that the Bad Chief has to fight someone for some reason...I confess I wasn't paying as close attention to that part as I should have. So then Sam steps forward and says she'll challenge Bad Chief to a duel.
Here's a tip. This will apply to any sci-fi fantasy movie or show you ever find yourself suddenly transported into. If someone challenges you to a duel, a fight, or a showdown of some kind or you challenge them....ASK WHAT THE RULES ARE!! It is almost a 99.9999999% certainty that there is something you don't know that you are going to have to do that will be against your moral code, and most always that will be that the fight is 'TO the DEATH!" Everyone always acts like this is a shock, or supposed to be a total surprise to the audience but we all see it coming a mile away. (NFA: Amok Time, Code of Honor, Tsukan... Tsuksa... Tsu... The Voyager episode with the Rock... etc.) I am pretty sure you might actually get a gasp of shock and surprise from your audience if you wrote into the script that the fight is: " the first one to scream "UNCLE!"" seriously..the to the death thing is the most cliche thing in television/movie history.
I'm really happy that they gave Sam the fight against the bad chief in the end, it feels nice after the whole yucky kiss thing and it would be just the thing to wash that taste out of my brain. She beats the bad chief, of course, and doesn't kill him-she just makes him at knife point say that his daughter is free to go with Abu and that he won't make war with the good camp people and that Sam can go free too. There isn't anyone yelling about how 'IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE TO THE DEATH!" or the bad chief standing up and trying to throw a hidden knife from his boot into the retreating Sam's back I am thankful they avoided those cliches. (NFA: "No second chances- I'm that kind of Sam.")
They prepare to leave this planet with an anesthetic and a pocketful of "thank goodness we didn't get a whole bunch of people killed." Before they go, they offer their good wishes to Abu and Naia who are now living in the good camp together and about to be married.
All of a sudden all the women are standing around and they take their veils down, and the good chief says that this will be how Sam is remembered. This is a good thing that the chief has done unless all he changed was that women are allowed to show their faces but still get smacked around and killed when they talk...hmmm. Either way I guess it's a step in the right direction!
(I am wondering if we heard anything more about this miracle anesthetic since they kept talking about it?) And we end with a shot of the team from behind walking through a field to the Stargate, and thus we end with the second best line in the whole show: "What is an Oprah?" Classic, Tealc. :)

Overall I give this one 4 Veils out of 10. (NFA: 4!?!?!?!?! You mean... 0.4 out of 10?) It was kind of filled with Cliches, it's not very imaginative at all; especially when compared to the Pilot and the first episode and not to even MENTION the entirety of season One. (NFA: And, to add my two cents in, this is the debut of what I call Incendiary Sam- well, not the debut if you watch the original pilot with its reproductive organs line, but still... this Sam is very whiny and insecure, with something to prove, and seems to go out of her way to exacerbate tensions- as if she was going around with a teaspoon of pepper between her thumb and forefinger, just waiting for someone's eye to flick it into... and nowhere more than here. In later seasons, she was calm, levelheaded, and respectful of protocol... presumably when the writers realized that O'neil was good enough at increasing tensions, irritating potential allies, and screwing over diplomacy on his own.) The acting was good though and there were some genuine moments, it helps establish them as a team and that they would do anything to save one another even though they don't know each other very well. The characters were really it's saving grace because when I dissect it down to story alone it really feels like a leftover script from a Sci-Fi show in the late 80's...and not in a good way.
p.s. I actually do think that John Sheppard is cool even though his name is spelled dumb.

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