STARGATE SG-1: Flesh and Blood (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2006
There's something deeply satisfying about an episode that opens with the protagonists licking some seriously bloody wounds. STARGATE: SG-1 has had its ass handed to it in story terms while simultaneously claiming the title of longest running American SF series from THE X-FILES. Of course, the innovation that allows that kind of longevity is something the folks behind the series have clearly though about. Unlike THE X-FILES, which continued to keep its spotlight focused on its absent lead whether he'd been abducted or was on the run, SG-1 has allowed General O'Neill to fade gracefully into the background where he's still available for the occasional guest appearance, but not burdening the series with his absence.
In keeping with this philosophy, the new threat of the Ori re-centered the story in a fresh and interesting way that neither ignores what has gone before nor requires an intimate knowledge of earlier episodes to comprehend on a satisfactory level. As antagonists go, the Ori are powered by that most disturbing of engines: religious fanaticism. That their representatives, called Priors, have milky eyes that suggest blindness is a nice touch from the make-up department. "Flesh and Bone" finds the Ori refining their invasion of the Milky Way with the introduction of Adria, a hybrid Ori/Human who owes much of her characterization to the character of Alia in Frank Herbert's DUNE. Imbued with the full knowledge of her Ori forefathers, and born of a humanoid woman, the preternaturally maturing girl is, as Colonel Mitchell points out, a cheat allowing an ascendant being into the galaxy under the nose of the ancients. For the sake of SG-1, I hoper her personality doesn't mirror that of Alia Atreides or Mitchell and company are in for some pretty serious carnage.
Saving the best for last, tapping into the notion of keeping a decade-old series fresh, and providing a mother for the Ori Antichrist is the show's newly christened regular: Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran. Seemingly always delivering babies at moments of crisis, Black's arrival in the opening credits reaffirms the wisdom of the show's producers as the actor's energy is unmatched. Enlivening even the most tedious of exposition, Black's performance relies on her impeccable comic timing which manages to appreciate both the gravity of a given situation while gently mocking it for an amusing affect. Her scenes with Adria play more like a puppy that's messed on the carpet than a mother who's given birth and the interactions will be doubtlessly further enhanced by the casting of another SF TV luminary in the role of the adult Adria. "No leading of the ships and armies on a mass-murdering crusade!" Ah, parenthood and the challenges of setting limits.
Mania Grade: B
Reviewed Format: TV Show
Network: Sci-Fi Channel
Original Airdate: 14 July 2006
Cast: Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Claudia Black with Beau Bridges and Michael Shanks
Developer: Jonathan Glassner & Brad Wright
Writer: Robert C. Cooper
Director: William Waring