Review of New Order
by Charlotte Miller
Stargate SG-1 is back, and better than ever in the season eight opening two-parter, New Order.
International negotiations have stalled for exploration of the Ancient outpost that was discovered under the ice of Antarctica in the season seven finale, Lost City, while Colonel Jack O’Neill remains frozen and in stasis to preserve his life after the download of Ancient knowledge that threatens to overrun his brain. Dr. Daniel Jackson is forced to remain on Earth due to the value of his translation skills in Ancient while Samantha Carter and Teal’c make an 11th hour bid to reach the Asgard to try to save Colonel O’Neill. Daniel’s knowledge of the Ancient language, learned from Jack after the previous download of Ancient knowledge the colonel suffered in the season two episode, The Fifth Race, will be Jack’s final hope of survival should Carter’s and Teal’c’s mission fail.
Shortly after Carter and Teal’c depart Earth, a message from the Goa’uld arrives at the SGC. The System Lords would like to negotiate use of the Earth’s Ancient weapon in the wake of Anubis’s defeat as Ba’al has seized control of Anubis’s “super soldiers” to threaten the Goa’uld as well as the planets formerly protected under the Asgard’s Protected Planets Treaty. Daniel and Dr. Elizabeth Weir, current head of the SGC, begin negotiations, with Dr. Weir quickly discovering the Goa’uld to be as untrustworthy as Daniel has warned. The System Lords intend to force a test of the Ancient defenses used by Jack in Lost City to protect Earth. Dr. Weir considers removing Colonel O’Neill from stasis in the hope that he can again fire the Ancient weapon, making Daniel only more concerned over the further threat to O’Neill’s life. The delegation of System Lords starts to depart Earth but Daniel stops them, having learned the Goa’uld have already dispatched a ship to test their defenses in an attack on Earth, a ship that is destroyed by Ba’al in route.
Meanwhile, Carter and Teal’c have come out of hyperspace into the gravity well of a black hole created by the Asgard in an attempt to destroy the Replicators. The Asgard supreme commander, Thor, rescues them at the last minute as their ship is destroyed, but the Replicators manage to infest Thor’s ship, the Daniel Jackson, kidnaping Carter in the process before they depart with the intention of infesting the Asgard’s new homeworld. The Asgard fleet is waiting and manages to destroy the Replicator ship at the believed cost of Carter’s life, but the destruction takes place too close to the planet’s atmosphere, allowing a sufficient number of Replicators to rain down on the surface to begin to take over the planet. Now Jack O’Neill and his Ancient knowledge is the only hope for the Asgard as well as Earth, causing Thor and Teal’c to depart at once to retrieve the frozen Jack from Antarctica and Daniel from the SGC.
Thor proposes uploading the colonel’s mind into his ship’s systems in an attempt to preserve the Ancient knowledge taking over Jack’s brain. Daniel resists, wanting the knowledge erased completely as it is the most assured way of saving Jack’s life, but he is overruled by a holographic Jack that the colonel’s mind has created through the ship’s systems. Jack knows the Ancient knowledge could be the only hope for both Earth and the Asgard’s new homeworld. He begins to construct a virtual weapon in the computer’s systems, but is stopped before he can explain use of the device as his body, in stasis, begins to fail. His mind must be immediately restored to preserve his life, leaving Jack with no conscious knowledge of the Ancients, but the weapon he has created does destroy the Replicators infesting the Asgard’s homeworld. Sam Carter is found on the surface of the planet, unhurt, having been released by the human-form replicator, Fifth, who believes himself to be in love with her. The team returns to Earth. Jack is promoted to brigadier general and head of the SGC, and Sam Carter to lieutenant colonel, assuring the viewer that this truly is a “new order” for what is touted to be the final season of the show.
New Order is a remarkable blend of science fiction and human feeling, and a long-waited-for return to the team feeling of the early seasons of the show, a return marked most notably by the undeniable display of the strong friendship that is the cornerstone of Stargate SG-1, that between Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson, the core characters of the series since the major movie that launched SG-1. New Order is also marked by stellar performances by all the actors involved, most notably Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel, now Brigadier General, Jack O’Neill, the strong and very human leader who has saved the Earth time and again; Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson, the heart and emotional center of the show; Christopher Judge as Teal’c, the brave warrior whom this reviewer was delighted to see given both lines to speak and hair in this first episode of the season; David DeLuise as the human-form Replicator Fifth’s hallucinatory version of Carter’s love interest, Pete Shannahan; and Amanda Tapping as Major, now Lieutenant Colonel, Samantha Carter, an Air Force officer who suffered trauma in this episode without the need to fall into the arms of her male commanding officer, a notable and welcome improvement from the character’s often puzzling behavior the latter half of last season.
With episodes of the quality of New Order, this reviewer is holding out hope this will not be the last season of SG-1, and at the very least that this level of quality carries over to the new Stargate spinoff series, Atlantis, premiering shortly in the United States.