Stargate: SG-1
Volume 39
(Season 8 - Vol 2)

Starring: Richard Dean Anderson, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Michael Shanks
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 28 March 2005

SG-1's sudden appearance sparks a civil war on the planet Tegalus, whose inhabitants were unaware of the Stargate's true nature. Intent on easing the situation, Jackson stays behind as the team returns to Earth... but finds himself pitted against a tyrannical religious leader with no tolerance for those who don't share his beliefs...

Icon is an interesting episode. The opening sequence reminded me of Back to the Future. Daniel Jackson wakes up in a strange bed to find a woman watching him. This almost mirrored, shot for shot, the scenes in Back to the Future where Marty wakes up in a strange bed in the past to see his younger mother watching him.

I had a few problems with this episode (although they are really anal and very minor ones). Firstly I didn't understand why humans that were raised on a different planet would have exactly the same fashion as we did in the '40s. And also this episode illustrates why O'Neill is not really suited to the role of commander of the SGC. Sure he's funny, but he is way too flippant and in instances where diplomacy is called for he wades in there and rubs people up the wrong way.

Otherwise, this is an solid story that examines a problem that hasn't been tackled on SG-1 before - how a race of religious people react to the Stargate being activated.

A virtual reality training scenario goes terribly wrong when the simulation begins to learn from Teal'c, trapping him and endangering his life. Jackson volunteers to enter the simulation on a rescue mission. But will he be able to rescue Teal'c or become a victim himself?...

Avatar drags, kicking and screaming, that old sci-fi cliché out of the woodwork - technology gone bad. Yup, plug someone into a computer, tell everyone it's perfectly safe and... oh, no! Everything goes pear shaped.

Remember the Star Trek: Next Generation episode Elementary, Dear Data? Well the bare bones of this episode are not dissimilar - asking a computer to defeat Teal'c in the same way as the Enterprise's computer was asked to defeat Data. This episode also has an element of Groundhog Day added to the mix. The virtual reality equipment is actually the same kit that the SGC acquired in Season Two's The Gamekeeper.

It's not in Teal'c's nature to quit, so when the big fellow realises there is no way to defeat the simulation there is something quite moving about the way he just sits there and lets the events unfold around him again and again.

A great episode that will please fans.

Given clearance to live off-base, Teal'c tries in vain to blend in as an ordinary civilian. But when his unwavering ethical code compels him to help ordinary people in trouble - specifically, a neighbour with an abusive boyfriend - he soon finds himself thrust into the spotlight as the prime suspect in the boyfriend's murder...

Affinity is another Teal'c episode and sees him attempting to fit into a 'normal' way of life. However, his constant insistence on doing the right thing ends up getting him into trouble as he turns into a bit of a vigilante. His new neighbour, who is in her 20's but looks about 16, takes an instant shine to him. But her old, abusive, boyfriend is still on the scene.

This episode is interesting for the way it leads you on a bit of a wild goose chase. Teal'c is wanted for questioning when the abusive boyfriend turns up dead. All the evidence points to someone with immense strength being the murderer and another neighbour heard Teal'c threaten that he would kill the dead man.

Affinity also tackles racism - there are racist remarks made towards Teal'c due to the fact he is an alien. No matter what he may have done for this planet in the past, he is an alien and there are questions as to his motives based purely on his race.

There's also a pretty major plot development for Carter's character - one that should prove interesting in later episodes.

Christopher Judge once again proves what a fantastic actor he is by carrying the weight of this episode on his shoulders. And I loved the way that the opening scene has him pay homage to Shaft.

When a billionaire industrialist threatens to reveal the existence of alien life at a press conference, SG-1 is charged with the job of keeping him quiet. Carter, who has worked with him in the past, tries to explain that the information will cause panic, but ultimately she must decide how far she is willing to go to stop this threat to national security...

Covenant shouldn't really work as well as it does. The premise has been done before (Season Four's Point of No Return), although this time around it is a powerful billionaire who wants to blow the cover on the SGC and not a crazy guy who believes he is an alien from another planet.

There are plenty of problems with this episode if you scrutinise it closely. Firstly (as is pointed out in the episode) why does billionaire Alec Colson insist on getting the government to come clean when he knows that it might mean that the jobs and lives of his employees are at risk - an argument he later uses to protect himself from another problem? A billionaire that doesn't have skeletons in his closet that the SGC can rattle around to discredit him? Does that seem likely? And if he is that passionate about telling the public everything, surely the very first thing he would do after going off world would be to release all his information and tell them about the Stargate project (although I suppose that would make him look like a nut).

However, despite my nit-picking, I really enjoyed this episode. It would have fallen flat on its face if the actor playing Colson was not up to the task. Thankfully Charles Shaughnessy is believable, and likeable, in the role.

Extras include a 25 minute featurette called Opening the Iris - a repeat really of everything that was said in Volume 38's (Season 8 - Volume 1) featurette The Lowdown; The Director's Series: A behind the scenes look at the making of Covenant with director Martin Wood; plus photo and production galleries.

It's a real shame that there are no audio commentaries for this season. But, otherwise this is another excellent collection of episodes.

Darren Rea

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