All War is Based on Deception*

MajorSamFan October 31, 2011 No Comments »

Stargate fans may remember Brian Markinson as the holographic or biomechanical being “Lotan” generated by its spaceship to communicate with SG-1 in the episode “Scorched Earth”. The ship had begun terraforming the planet on which SG-1 had previously resettled the Enkarans, who refused to move (again). Markinson has had various series regular roles in Canadian-produced programs, including the Battlestar Galactica prequel spinoff, Caprica. That he showed up on Sanctuary didn’t surprise, nor did his butting heads with Samantha Carter Helen Magnus.

Having reviewed Source Code for SpaceGypsies previously, I commented how repetitions of the same event can become tedious rather than building tension. Especially in a 45-minute television episode, seeing the same scenes repeatedly uses up a lot of minute real estate without adding much to the story. Here first Henry tells his girlfriend, Erika, who has shown up with her own news (the B Plot of the episode) about a mission in Jakarta to capture an abnormal called the “Crixorum”. From there, Will and Magnus add information with each retelling the Jakarta incident from their perspectives – sort of – and answer to Markinson’s U.N. inspector for the way the mission went pear shaped. By the time Magnus kicks Greg Addison and his team out, we think we have the full story, but only after the U.N. team leave do we learn the truth.

The writers take the chance that having the viewer find out what truly happened in bits and drabs along with Addison will work like a Perry Mason episode, intriguing the viewer as the truth comes out through various witnesses’ testimonies. Only my faith in Magnus to come through in Perry fashion kept me tuned in through Addison’s relentless obnoxiousness (and his primary techie’s arrogance). I felt badly that Magnus and Will left Henry and Biggie out of the loop, too, even if they didn’t seem to mind.

Speaking of Addison’s insufferable manner, which Magnus “hangs a lantern on” early on, the writers have Magnus and Zimmerman play “good inspectee/bad inspectee.” Helen seems uncharacteristically calm about the UN inspection. Will even calls her on her “zen” attitude, but I would classify it more as “resigned”, which isn’t the Helen Magnus we have come to know over three seasons. It begs the question, “How much has 113 years of solitude and reflection changed Helen, and will we like this version?”

Will responds with the most vocal irritation through most of the episode, including to Addison calling him “Sport” and profiling him; his physical threats ring empty because he does not follow through. I don’t buy Zimmerman as any sort of menace any more than Addison does. We have no doubt, however, that Magnus will keep her promise – the real zinger of a retort – when she tells the pompous blowhard, “You come near us again, and I’ll arrangefor you to be eaten.” I much prefer this Helen to the zen one.

The B Plot, Erika’s HAP pregnancy, raises some questions. With Kate Freelander’s absence, will Erika appear regularly? Magnus says her pregnancy could last as long as 22 months, but, with everything going on, “The Sanctuary is no place for a baby.” Might this forecast Henry’s departure? I hope not, though I know Ryan Robbins has many projects on the go. Henry provides so many comedic, tender and fun geek moments – his opening scene with Erika arriving (“Stopping? Listening!”) provided one of the best of the episode – that his exodus would leave a gaping hole. I’d sooner see Will leave.

*Sun Tzu, who also said, “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”

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