Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Stargate S1E1: Children of the Gods

Once upon a time there was a very low-budget science fiction film called Stargate and despite the fact it only cost a few million to make it was quite a good film and people liked it so much they decided to make a television series based on the same premise. Unfortunately it doesn’t have James Spader in it but we enjoy it anyway. With 10 seasons, more than 200 episodes, a spin-off and two DVD films in the works, this concept has defied all the odds to become a science fiction franchise on a par with Star Trek and Doctor Who. This is the beginning of its story.

Gate room: Uniforms are playing poker. All are alpha males except for one, who looks like a catwalk model. They’re playing Poker and generally being manly. They’re in a grey room with some sort of observation deck above them and a ramp leading up to a large metal ring with a sheet over it. Apparently they’re not supposed to be there (or maybe they’re just not supposed to be playing Poker?) because The Model asks why they’re not afraid an Officer’s going to find them. The sheet billows out and The Model, who’s a bit nervous, asks if it always does that.

“The only thing that ever did is cost money,” says Hardened Sergeant with a cigar in his mouth. Another hardened sergeant agrees and says they’ve been transferring personnel away for months. The sheet billows again and…note to Stargate fans: I happen to really like this show. It’s just that coming back to it after ten years reminds me of how terrible this first scene is. Why are they there? Why doesn’t Sergeant Model know what the Stargate is? If no new personnel are being rotated in she must have been there a while. Why does the sheet billow a full 2 minutes before the gate starts dialling. Why does Apophis come through himself when this is a task he’d normally leave to his serpent guards? Why can Apophis and co. dial the gate without a DHD? And why can’t Jaffa armour be penetrated with normal weapons when from here on in they can?

Anyway, hardened sergeants are convinced that Sergeant Model is trying to distract them from her bad hand. She walks up to the ring and stares as it slowly begins to shake and spin. The sheet is pulled off by the rotating sphere and one of the hardened sergeants tries to call for help. He’s distracted as a wormhole is established inside the ring and a gush ejects from the metallic structure, like a contained burst of water. The hardened sergeants don’t actually call for backup, instead they flank the ring with their weapons cocked. Inside the metallic boundaries is what appears to be a pool of glowing blue liquid, shimmering with its own light. The Model decides to investigate, despite the fact that this would be against all her training. My family, who are all military, love the show but hate this scene. Everyone in it is so, well, unmilitary about things.

A metal ball comes flying through the ring and scans The Model. As the other sergeants question her actions, she leans to pick up the ball and a man in metallic armour shaped liked a Serpent comes through the horizon of flickering blue liquid. He grabs The Model and disarms her. One, two, three, four, five other Serpents come through the gate, the last is clad in gold. His serpent head pulls back and we see he is a man, or manlike, under his armour. He says, hee, for the very very first time “Jaffa, kree.” How many times in the first few seasons did someone say ‘kree’? 100? 200? It’s right up there with “Shal'kek nem'ron” (I die free).

Aaanyway, the Jaffa who’s holding the girl also de-armours and he’s a broad-faced man with brown skin and a large gold tattoo on his forehead.
“Teal’c,” says the golden-armoured one, “kree.”
Teal’c drops The Model’s weapon and hands her over to the golden-armoured one. “Let her go,” shouts nameless hardened Sergeant as the gold-armoured one shines a red light into her eyes rendering her passive.
“Let her go,” yells other hardened Sergeant. One of the metallic serpents fires at him with some kind of energy weapon and he returns fire. There’s a fire fight and one from each side goes down. One Sergeant finally calls for help and, as he does, the group prepares to withdraw with their hostage. A second combatant goes down from each side.
Ooh, blood.

As another contingent of armed soldiers runs down the corridor, the serpents of all colours retreat through the Stargate. Just before they leave, the golden one’s eyes glow. A General who’s joined the soldiers in the gate room sees this and looks pensive.

As a nice cut takes us from behind the gate to the aftermath (and there’s a lot of great long single shots and crane shots in this show) pensive General walks up the ramp and looks at the object that will define his life for the next 8 years.

And scene.

Credits. The camera caresses the gate, it loves the gate, it adores the gate. The show stars Richard Dean Anderson of MacGyver fame as well as Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Don S Davis.
The episode is called Children of the Gods and it’s a double episode pilot.

It’s night and a car pulls up alongside a house. Two men in airforce uniforms get out and as they knock on the front door, the camera pans up to a roof where Richard Dean Anderson, known from now on as RDA, is using a telescope. The two men climb the ladder and ask the man if he’s Colonel Jack O’Neil. “Retired,” says O’Neill wryly as he tries his best to ignore them.
One of the airforce Majors introduces himself as Samuels and says he’s the ‘General’s executive officer.
“Little piece of advice, Major,” says O’Neil still looking through his telescope, “get your ass to NASA, that’s where all the action is gonna be, out there”.
A more ironic statement has never been made under the circumstances.

Samuels says he’s under orders to bring O’Neill to see General Hammond. O’Neil says he’s never heard of him and Samuels says he replaced General West (the General who was in charge of the Stargate in the film).
Samuels says it’s to do with the Stargate and O’Neill turns to look at him for the first time.

At an underground military base in Cheyenne Mountain, O’Neill is being escorted to the sounds of rousing, martial music. Because this episode was approached as more of a film, it sets the measured pace that future Stargate episodes are known for and contrasts with the frenetic intensity of other sci-fi shows.
For example, they spend more than a minute here just having O’Neill make his way through the base.

In General Hammond’s office (Hammond being the General from the introductory sequence) O’Neil is introduced and re-enforces the ‘retired’ part of his rank.
“I can see that,” says Hammond, obviously noting Jack’s casual attire, “me, I’m on my last tour, time to start getting my thoughts together, maybe write a book.”
He asks Jack if he’s ever thought of writing a book and Jack pulls out the old chestnut about how if he did he’d have to shoot anyone that read it.

Blank faces greet this pronouncement and RDA’s expression is all ‘oh crap, no sense of humour’ before explaining that most of his career involved work that was classified. He asks Hammond about the Stargate and Hammond takes him to the morgue and shows him one of the dead Jaffa, complete with forehead tattoo and pouch.

“Anyone you know, Colonel?” asks Hammond, as they view the man on the slab.
“He’s not human,” says the pathologist, in a blinding statement of the bleeding obvious.
“Ya think?” says Jack, ironically.
“Best we can tell,” says the pathologist ignoring Jack’s sarcasm,” these slits are actually a pouch, like that found in a marsupial.”
“Like a kangaroo,” says Samuels, but he says it in a way that we already know he’s a bit of a goose.

Pathologist says they haven’t done an autopsy yet and Hammond says “these people, aliens or whatever you want to call them, came through and killed four of my people and kidnapped another using advanced weapons.”
Jack asks about the weapons and a soldier brings forward a staff weapon, almost identical to that used in the film. Samuels says they don’t know how to operate it but Jack turns it straight on.

Hammond notes he’s obviously seen one before and Jack says yes but that there were no Jaffa on Abydos; the people living there were human.
“Ra brought them there thousands of years ago,” he says, recapping the film, and Hammond says he read the report thank you very much.
“But your report said this Ra was some kind of alien that lived inside a human body.”
“Yeah, his eyes glowed, that was our first clue.” Again with the sarcasm. I already like this subtle and ironic Jack O’Neil way more than Kurt Russell’s ‘hoo ha’ representation.

Hammond looks appraisingly at Jack before asking if he’s sure Ra is dead. “Unless he could survive a tactical nuclear warhead blowing up in his face, positive. Why?”
“Colonel,” begins Hammond, “these people, whatever they are, were guarding another man who retreated back through the Stargate. I got a good look at his eyes, Colonel, they glowed.”
Serious looks all round, without going overboard. Man the simplicity, moderate pacing and understated tension of this is a blessed relief after all those months recapping Torchwood. What a refreshing change.

As they walk back from the morgue, Hammond asks Jack about his feelings regarding the Abydos mission. As they pass a door, Jack sees Kawalsky and Ferretti being escorted into an interrogation room.
As Jack, Samuels and the General walk into a briefing room, the General asks Jack about Daniel Jackson.
Jack ignores him and asks why his men are being questioned.
“They’re not your men anymore, Colonel. Daniel Jackson?”

“You read the report,” says Jack but he’s not meeting their eyes, “It’s all there.”
“Is it?” says Samuels, a little too aggressively. Jack twigs there’s something else going on.
“What’s this all about, General,” he asks.
“You didn’t like Daniel Jackson much, did you?” asks the General.
Jack says Daniel was a scientist who sneezed a lot. “Basically he was a geek,” says Jack.
“So you didn’t have a lot of time for him,” says Samuels again with the aggressiveness. We’re not supposed to like Samuels and I’m so getting that already.
“I didn’t say that,” says Jack, “he also saved my life and found a way home for my men and me. A little thing like that kind of makes a person grow on you.”

Jack knows he’s being interrogated now but he’s not sure what they’re looking for.
Hammond, Samuels and Jack continue recapping the film by saying that according to the mission brief Jack’s team was supposed to go through the gate, assess any possible threat to Earth and, if found, detonate a nuclear device and destroy the gate. They didn’t do it initially because Ra’s forces overpowered them. With Dr Jackson’s help they were able to regain control and detonate the weapon.

“To the best of your knowledge,” says Hammond getting to the point, “Daniel Jackson and everyone else you knew on Abydos is dead?”
“That’s correct,” says Jack, with only a slight pause.
Hammond gets up and says “good, then you won’t mind if I authorise a go-ahead on our plan.”

Is it wrong that this show has just had a whole 3 minutes of exposition and I totally buy it? That’s the sort of stuff I’m supposed to pick on.

As they walk to the gate room, Hammond is saying that the material the Stargate is made from must be tough stuff if it can withstand a Mark 3 nuke. Jack notes that they sent a probe through after they got back and the other side was flattened. He says the Abydos stargate was buried in the rubble.

“Somehow it got unburied,” says the bald one as they enter the gate room to find a Mark 5 warhead ready to go through the gate to Abydos.
“If these creatures did re-open the Abydos gate then we intend to re-seal it for good.”
I’ve always wondered if this was truly a case of the military ‘if in doubt, blow it up’ mentality or if they went to all this trouble to call Jack’s bluff. The look on Hammond’s face suggests the latter, although I suspect they’d send the bomb through anyway.
Either way, Jack decides to ‘fess up.
“General Hammond, sir, I regret to inform you that my report was not entirely accurate,” says Jack.
Hammond looks vindicated as he accuses Jack of not detonating the bomb. Jack says he did and that it was onboard Ra’s spaceship at the time, which did eliminate the threat to Earth.
“However,” he concludes, “Ra’s ship was in orbit above the planet at the time. Neither the gate or anything else on the planet was destroyed. Daniel Jackson is alive and living with the people on Abydos.”

Hammond gets a bit pissy and asks him why he violated a direct order. Jack says the people on Abydos were no threat and that if he’d reported the gate still existed they would have bombed the crap out of Abydos.
“It wasn’t necessary to let those people die; the threat from Ra was gone.” He says that after they got back to Earth, Daniel buried the gate so no one could come through.
“Well, those four bodies lying in the infirmary (dead bodies…in an infirmary?) say otherwise, airman,” says the General. Airman? Ooh, he’s pissed.
I guess the whole thing wasn’t a bluff because Hammond orders them to send the bomb through on schedule.

Overacting time as RDA and DSD go way OTT delivering the lines “There are innocent people on that planet.”
“There are innocent people here.”
Back down at ground level, Hammond says “I have my orders too, Colonel. I obey mine.” And burn. He orders his military minions to take Jack to a holding cell while they decide what to do with him.

In the holding cell, Jack walks in and Kawalsky jumps to attention and salutes. Jack mentions yet again that he’s retired and Kawalsky should lose the salute. He says he and Forretti didn’t say anything about the kids on Abydos.
More movie talk as Kawalsky says, “That one kid idolised you. Remember him? Weird name, what was it?” Jack looks sad as he answers, Skaara. Kawalsky reminds Jack how Skaara used to salute him all the time and Jack looks even sadder as he says that his kid used to do that too.
“Man Colonel,” says Kawalsky, “you and me went through that whole mission together, I never even knew you had a son.”
“He died,” says Jack, “just before the Abydos mission.” Kawalsky apologises and then the awkward silence is broken as the door opens and General Hammond walks in. He’s had a crisis of conscience about the people of Abydos and asks Jack how many people they’re talking about.
“That we saw, maybe 5000,” says Jack. Meaningful looks all round and Jack asks if this means he’s reconsidering sending the bomb. Baldy says he’s open to suggestions and Jack offers to take a team through the gate to Abydos to check it out. He says he and Kawalsky know the people and the lay of the land. Hammond points out that Jackson could be dead and they don’t know what they’ll be walking into.
“Sir,” he says earnestly, “there is one way to find out.”
Hammond says he’ll have the prototype probe shipped from MIT and Jack says it won’t be necessary. He grabs a box of tissues and they all head back to the gate room.

The gate room has guns and armed soldiers and more guns. They’re dialling the gate to Abydos and behind them a disembodied voice is saying “Chevron 4 encoded, Chevron 5 encoded”.

“Do you want to explain this process”, asks Hammond and O’Neill says Jackson has allergies. “He’ll know this came from me instead of someone…” he pauses and nods to the stars on baldy’s uniform “ yourself”.
The gate is spinning around wildly with steam coming out of it. “Chevron 6 encoded”, says the Technician and Jack moves from the viewing deck to the gate room itself. “Chevron 7, locked,” is spoken and the wormhole forms.
The camera moves down behind the gate and through the shimmer of the event horizon we see O’Neill walking up the gangway. He throws the box of tissues through.

Inside the viewing deck, they’re tracking the object as it moves through the system to the Abydos Stargate. Hammond asks what they do now and Jack says that they wait for Daniel to get back to them.
“What if the aliens get it?” asks Samuels.
“Well, they could be blowing their noses right now,” quips O’Neill. Hee.
Samuels, who seems to be auditioning for the goose of the week award, says “they could be planning an attack” and Jack tells him to chill.

Time has passed in the briefing room, where a bunch of men in uniforms are trying to look important. Through the walls they hear the shaking of the gate and everyone goes to the briefing room window to look down at the vortex before moving down to the gate room. There’s a small noise as the box of tissues comes through again, this time empty. Jack moves forward to pick it up and it has “Thanks send more” written on the side of it.

Jack asks for permission to take a team through the Stargate and Hammond says yes, with the President’s permission. “Consider yourself recalled to active duty, Colonel,” he says.

Back in the briefing room, everyone is now properly attired in their dress uniforms, RDA is looking very snazzy. The Balded General asks everyone to take their seats. Oh no, this next scene is painful. As much as this two-parter is a solid introduction to the show, there are one or two cringe-worthy scenes in it and this is one of them. Oh well, I suppose it’s part of my job as The Recapper. I guess it’s just like a bandaid.

Anyhoo, General asks where Captain Carter is and tells Jack that he’s assigning ‘Sam Carter’ to this mission. Jack says he’d prefer to put together his own team and the General shoots him down on this idea. He says Carter’s their expert on the Stargate. “Where’s he transferring from?” asks Jack and from the door Sam says “she is transferring from the Pentagon”.

Yes, she’s a GIRL. A tall blonde girl with a short haircut in fact. Considering this show was filmed in 1997, I would have thought this whole “but you’re a GIRL” thing would be so over. Apparently not. So, she salutes and Jack salutes back, rather half-heartedly and Kawalsky makes some comment about how she goes by ‘Sam’ and she rather sarcastically says that he doesn’t have to worry because she played with dolls as a kid.
“GI Joe?” asks Kawalsky and Carter says “Major Matt Mason”. This triggers a rather funny discussion between Carter and Ferretti about the astronaut doll and whether she got the backpack that made him fly. Ha!

So, we think the whole GIRL thing is over and we’re relieved but no, wait, there’s more. O’Neill says he’s going to brief them on what to expect from gate travel and Sam says she’s memorised the report from the first mission. Kawalsky says, “I think what the Colonel is saying is ‘have you ever pulled out of a simulated bombing run in an F16 at 8+ Gs’?”

Sam says yes, which shuts him up briefly before he tries to recover by saying that gate travel is “way worse than that”. Ferretti says that when you come out the other side you’re frozen stiff; like you’ve been through a blizzard, naked.
“That’s a result of the compression your molecules undergo during the millisecond required for reconstitution,” Carter says in a voice starting to brim with annoyance.
“Oh here we go,” Jack whines, “another scientist. General, please,”
“Theoretical astrophysicist,” Sam elucidates.
Jack asks what that means and the General says it means she’s “way smarter than you are, Colonel, especially in matters relating to the Stargate”.
Kawalsky’s laughing so he’s obviously won over.

“Colonel,” says Carter, “I was studying gate technology for two years before Daniel Jackson made it work and before you both went through. I should have gone through then. Sir, you and your men may as well accept the fact that I am going through this time.”
“Well, with all due respect, Doctor,” starts Jack but before he can finish she interrupts to tell him he should refer to her by her rank, not her salutation.
“You should call me Captain, not Doctor.”
This is the longest pissing contest ever, I’m surprised they’re not all dehydrated from the effort.

Anyway, the General says that Carter’s assignment to the mission is not negotiable and, can this scene go on any longer? Yes, apparently it can because there’s actually even more.

“I’m an airforce officer just like you are, Colonel,” continues Carter. And then she says, oh God, this is the second worst moment in this episode (the worst is still to come).
She says, “and just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of on the outside doesn’t mean I can’t handle whatever you can handle.”
The parody of that line in ‘200’ is hysterical. I guess I’m not the only one who cringed.
That shuts the room up, until Jack decides to go on the offensive by um, being offensive. He says it has nothing to do with her being a woman, that he likes women (line delivered in suitably suggestive and patronising tone) but that he just doesn’t like scientists.

“Colonel, I logged over 100 hours in enemy airspace during the Gulf War. Is that tough enough for you or are we going to have to arm wrestle?”

Samuels, who for once I’m relived to hear speak, says he still thinks the mission should be scrapped and they should bury the gate like the Ancient Egyptians did so the enemy could not return. Jack makes quite a good counterpoint in that Ra had a ship so large it could fit over the great pyramid of Giza and just because we bury the gate doesn’t mean we’d be protected.
“They don’t need the Stargate to get there, they could do it the old-fashioned way. With all due respect to Mr Glass-is-half-empty over there, don’t you think maybe we should use the Stargate to do a bit of reconnaissance before they come back…again.”

The General thinks a bit and then says he’ll give them exactly 24 hours to either return or send a message (no Kleenex boxes) before he’ll assume the worst and send a bomb through to Abydos. And, finally this scene is over and someone can come and clean up all the urine on the floor.

In the room of gate embarkation, the geared-up soldiers are preparing to leave. Man they had so much gear in these early episodes. They also have the helmets, which I think got ditched in later episodes for aesthetic reasons, even though a real team of this sort would definitely wear them.

The Balded General tells Jack to obey orders this time and to make sure he brings Daniel Jackson home. There’s saluting and then the men move out and through the event horizon of the wormhole, until only Jack and Sam are left. They have more conversation about her being a girl (dear God!) and then move up to the gate itself. “You know you really will like me when you get to know me,” says Sam and Jack ironically says he adores her already. Man it’s strange seeing Carter young and insecure.

Sam stops at the event horizon, awestruck. She says the amount of energy the gate has to release to create a stable wormhole is astronomical. “You can actually see the fluctuations in the event horizon.”
At this point, Jack pushes her through.

Their journey through the wormhole is based on the film, something that’s been updated considerably since then. As they come through the other side, Jack is frozen and Sam has motion sickness.

They’re in the main room of the pyramid on Abydos, again looking remarkably like the film. They look around for a bit, noting that the room is used (there’s even a cooking pot over a fire in the centre) before some armed youngsters pop up and they find out they’re surrounded.

Before anyone can do anything stupid, Daniel jumps out and says “Cha-hari. Cha-hari. Lower your guns.” Oh, I love how they used to speak other languages in the ‘old days”. I guess they got tired of it because these days everyone in the Galaxy apparently speaks modern American English.

Anyway, Daniel Jackson is not, unfortunately, James Spader, but I love Michael Shanks anyway so I’m ok with this. One of my nieces, who’s six, isn’t so forgiving and she prefers the film solely because it has James Spader in it. So young to have such taste.

Daniel, who is also so unbelievably young, (particularly when I’ve just finished watching Season 10), is in traditional Abydonian dress i.e. robes and is wearing his trademarked glasses that go all the way above his eyebrows.

“Hello Jack,” says Daniel, seemingly a bit confused, “welcome back”. Jack walks towards him slowly as if he’s going to give him a hug but pushes right past him to Skaara, played by the same actor as the film. He still has his big pile of black dreadlocks. Skaara salutes, which is kind of cute, and Jack salutes back. Then they embrace and Skaara says he didn’t think he’d ever see him again. That done, Jack deigns to notice Daniel finally. He turns around and asks him how he’s doing.
“Um good,” says Daniel, “you?”
“Much better, now that I see everybody’s ok.”
The rest of the guys push forward and Ferretti says “Greetings from Earth, Dr Jackson” and Kawalsky hands him some tissues.

From the back of the room, a door covering pulls back and a nervous woman peers through. It’s Sha’re, the porn star version.
“Sha’re, don’t be shy,” says Daniel and she walks into the room. Oh, I guess porn star is a bit extreme. But the actress who played Shauri in the film actually looked like someone from a nomadic tribe. Vaitiare Bandera is very beautiful but has capped teeth and breast implants, which aren’t what first comes to my mind when I think of stone-aged nomads.
She comes over and Daniel puts his arm around her. Jack says it’s good to see her again and shakes her hand.

Down to business now, Daniels says he supposed it was only a matter of time before Jack had to tell them that the people of Abydos were still alive.
“Why the militia?” asks Jack, referring to the armed youth, “has something else come through.” Daniel says no, that they’re just taking precautions.
From the gate, Sam’s voice flows across, all excited. She’s looking at a round device on a pedestal with a large red button in the middle and astronomical symbols on it. I’m not going to pretend I don’t know it’s a DHD (dial-home-device).

Carter says the DHD is what was missing from the dig at Giza and it’s how the Stargate is controlled. “It took us 15 years and three supercomputers to MacGyver a system for the gate on Earth.” MacGyver, hee. Is it scary that my spell check recognises MacGyver as a word?
“Look how small it is,” she says, still amazed.
“Captain,” barks Jack. Sam apologises and introduces herself to Daniel as ‘Doctor Carter’.
“I thought you wanted to be called Captain”, says Jack, sarcastically.

“What’s going on, Jack?” asks Daniel and Jack tells him that “six hostile aliens came through the Stargate”, killed four people and kidnapped another.
“One of them looked like Ra,” says Kawalsky and Daniel twigs instantly and says that they definitely didn’t come from Abydos.
“They boys guard it 36 hours a day, every day. We’d know if they came through here.”
Jack says they had to have come from somewhere and that he’s going to have to look around. Daniel says he can help him find out who it was but they have to wait till the sandstorm is over. He invites them to join in their evening meal.

Sandstorm shots of Abydos and inside the pyramid the tribe and their visitors are eating and generally having a good time. Skaara brings round some liquid and asks Jack to try it. Jack sniffs it and looks up at Skaara disbelievingly. “Moonshine?” he asks.
“Moon…shine,” repeats Skaara and Jack says yeah, moonshine as in booze. “Daniel, what are you teaching these kids?”
Skaara asks him to try it, Jack takes a sip and nearly dies. “Smooth, very smooth,” he breathes. Everyone laughs and Kawalsky says their little soldiers are all grown up and Jack, again with the sarcasm, says he’s so proud. Oh, this scene is so cute. You just know something bad’s gonna happen.

The cuteness just get cuter and slightly sadder as Skaara, who reminds Jack so much of his dead son, tries to hand back his lighter. Wow, this is good continuity from the film. Jack tells him it was a gift and that he should keep it. Daniels says he’s never had the lighter out of his sight the whole time Jack was gone. Aww.

“So this man who looked like Ra,” says Daniel, “he must have come through another gate.” This has Jack and Sam’s attention. They both say there are no other gates and that the Stargate on Earth only goes to Abydos.
Daniel says he’s think they’re wrong but Sam points out that they ran hundreds of permutations on the gate. Daniels says they didn’t have what they needed. Skaara tells Daniel the storm has passed and Daniels gets up to leave.
“Sha’re, ben quar ri. Jack and his friends to see the vili tao an.”
“Bonni wai,” says Sha’re and Daniel says he won’t be long. Sorry, I just love that the Abydonians are actually speaking Abydonian. Or a version of Goa’uld, however you want to see it.

He kisses her on the forehead and she grabs him and seriously lays a kiss on him that makes his head disappear. This is such a branding of property, isn’t it? His friends have come back and she’s worried they’ll take him away. She’s saying, he is mine.
Everyone whoops and Daniel looks a bit nonplussed but not unpleased, for obvious reasons.

Outside the pyramid, Jack, Daniel, Sam and Kawalsky are looking out on the desert sands of Abydos. Kawalsky says he really couldn’t say that he missed this place. Sam is still in awe mode and says it’s just incredible. Nice establishing shot of the pyramid, to give us some scale and then we’re in another temple or cavern. I was never sure where this place was, geographically. Maybe it’s the same set of tunnels where Shauri helped Daniel in the film.

Daniel’s saying that he thought there had to be more to this place so he started exploring around the village and the pyramid before finding this place. So it’s not the tunnels from the film.

“Captain-Doctor,” he says, “you’re gonna love this.” I think he should have kept calling her Captain-Doctor all the time. It was funny. They enter a large cavernous room with symbols from the Stargate all over the walls.

“Oh my God, this is amazing,” says Sam, “this is the archaeological find of the century”.
Jack asks Daniel if he’s had a chance to translate the walls and Daniels says yes but that the writing doesn’t ‘say’ anything.
“Actually, it’s sort of a chart,” he says, “more of a…map”.
“Of,” says Jack, in his ‘get to the point’ voice. Daniel says he hasn’t been able to analyse all of it because it would take his whole life.
“Well Daniel,” says Jack in his ‘I’m trying very hard to be patient’ voice, “we don’t have that long. What’s it a map of?”

Daniel starts to get hyped up and excited in the way only Daniel can (he’s so enthusiastic in these early days; it’s only in later years he gets ground down to his new cynical self). He says the cartouches seem to be separated into groupings, each grouping attached to the others with a series of lines and each grouping of glyphs has 7 symbols.
“So you can see where this is going, of course,” says Daniel to a blank-faced O’Neill who of course doesn’t have a clue.
“Tell us anyway,” O’Neill says and Daniels says all the symbols are on the Stargate in the Abydos chamber and that he’s also managed to chart some of them in the Abydos night sky.

“Jack,” he says excited and finally realising that he is actually going to have to spell it out, which is the story of his life from here on in, “I think that this is a map of a vast network of Stargates, Stargates that are all over the galaxy.”

Jack is still nonplussed but Sam says she doesn’t see how that can be because after the Abydos mission her team tried hundreds of symbol permutations using Earth as the point of origin with no success. Daniel says he also tried the same thing but figured the destinations he tried were either destroyed or buried but that some of them must still exist. Sam disagrees and Daniel wisely asks where she thinks the Ra lookalike came from.

“I don’t pretend to know anything about astrophysics but couldn’t the planets change, I mean uh, drift apart or something like that to throw this map off.” Jack’s pretending he knows what the hell they’re talking about but Sam’s nodding and smiling.
“I knew I’d like you,” she says.
“You mean I’m right,” Daniel says, surprised. Which cracks me up because as far as this show’s concerned Daniel is always right. In fact, there’ll be a ‘Daniel is always right’ episode in every single season from here on in.

Sam says that according to the expanding universe theory, all bodies are constantly moving apart. She and Daniel then start finishing each other’s sentences (very sweet and I can understand why some fans always wanted these two to get together instead of having the annoying Jack/Sam thing going) as they explain that in the thousands of years since the Stargates were built the co-ordinates have changed but that it still works between Earth and Abydos because Abydos is the closest planet in the network to Earth. In a few thousand years it won’t work between Earth and Abydos either, unless they can adjust for the displacement and with the Abydos map that should be easy.
“All we have to do is correct for Doppler shift,” says Sam, “ then I should be able to make a computer model that will predict the adjustments necessary to get the gate working again.”

Kawalsky asks what they just figured out and Sam says that any civilisation advanced enough to build the Stargate network would be able to adjust for 50,000 years of stellar drift. She looks up at the cartouches covering every wall in the chamber and Jack says “so, the Stargate can go places.”
“The aliens could have come from anywhere,” Sam concludes.

Back in the pyramid, the tribesmen and the rest of the soldier are chilling out having a good time. There’s some sexist soldier prattle about how Daniel is somehow a cooler person because his wife’s hot. Then the gate starts activating and they all yell that they have company and should take cover. All the tribesmen hide and the armed men take position. As the serpent guards walk through the gate, they all open fire and a prolonged gun battle ensues. The machine guns prove ineffective again the guards’ armour and the staff weapons. As the tribesmen get gunned down we see that Sha’re is still in the room.

“Sha’re, Shim Rota,” yells Skaara as he keeps firing at the advancing guard. He comes out into the open but his weapon jams. He tries to hit the guard with it but is easily disarmed. Sha’re yells as the serpent guards grab her. The armour on one of the guards pulls back and it’s Teal’c from the beginning.

“This is not your weapon, where did you get it?” says Teal’c. Skaara spits in his face. Apophis, in his gold armour, retracts his serpent head and says in a distorted Gou’ald voice, “Good choice, Teal’c, perfect specimen.” He brings his hand up with the device on it and shines the light of insensibility into his face. He falls unconscious.
Apophis then inspects Sha’re’s teeth, says she may be the one and also shines the light on her. They use the DHD to dial the gate again (see, they need it to establish an outgoing wormhole and there wasn’t one on Earth so in the first scene how did they…?) and take the unconscious Skaara and Sha’re back through the gate, leaving most of the other soldiers dead behind them.

As the tribesmen start to pile back into the room, Daniel is running around yelling for Sha’re. One of the injured tribesmen named Bolaa calls for Daniel and says there were so many and that it was Ra. Daniel says that Ra is dead and Bolaa says he saw him and that it was Ra and he took Sha’re and Skaara into the Chaapa-ai (Goa’uld word for Stargate). Then he dies.

“What’s going on, Daniel,” says Kawalsky, “could there be another Ra?”
“How the hell should I know,” says Daniel running around, lost, “I should have left the barricade up, this is my fault.”

Jack kneels down beside a soldier and Sam yells that Ferretti needs medical attention. Daniels says they should go, that he can send them back and Jack says Daniel is coming with them because he has orders.
“I don’t care about your orders,” fumes Daniel, “My wife is out there, so is Skaara.”
“And the only way we’re going to get them back is for you to come with us,” pronounces Jack, “Ferretti might have seen those co-ordinates.” He asks if Sam has the video and she says that she has everything she needs.

Daniel looks pensive and then makes his decision.
“Ni-ya, ni-ya,” he says to the remaining upright tribesmen and they gather round. “After we go through the Chaapa-ai, you have to bury it like we did before and then leave this place.” One of the boys asks if he’ll come back and Daniels says he can’t, that nobody can. He says as soon as they leave, they’re to close it, bury it, put a big coverstone over it and that nothing good can ever come through this gate.
“Do you understand me,” he yells and one of the tribesman says “you came through it, Daniel.”

Daniel reminds them that the people on Earth buried the gate to cut themselves off from Ra and that’s exactly what they need to do. He says in one year they should take the cover stone away and he will try to bring Sha’re through with him on that day but if he doesn’t then they should bury the gate forever.
“You tell Sha’re’s father in one year.” He starts crying as he says it and all the tribal people gather around him to hug him and stroke his hair. It’s nice but also a little bit…um, gay. Jack’s all like, wow, they really love him.
Then Daniel moves forward to dial the gate.

Back at the SGC, the gate is dialling and as the wormhole establishes, they come through with Kawalsky yelling for a medic and Sam dragging Ferretti’s body. “Close the iris,” yells Samuels and as they watch in astonishment, a metallic rotates down over the event horizon. “Wormhole disengaged,” says the voice of Walter Harriman over the PA. I think at this stage he’s still credited as ‘the technician’.

Jack asks what the metallic shielding is and the Baldy General says it’s their insurance policy against more surprises, being pure titanium and hopefully impenetrable. He then looks down at Ferretti bleeding on the gateroom floor and asks what happened. Jack says base camp was hit by the same hostiles while they were on recon. “Jackson’s wife and one of our kids was kidnapped,” he says.
“Your kids?” asks Hammond, confused, and Jack explains it was one of the kids from the previous mission.

Daniels chooses this inauspicious moment to come up to the General, introduce himself and demand to be on the team that goes after his wife. Hammond angrily tells him he’s not in a position to make demands.

On a planet somewhere, in one of those rooms where they have torches burning instead of electric lighting, thereby signifying it’s a mediaeval prison, the serpent guards are walking into a large group of people, all obviously prisoners. Teal’c tells the guards to grab Sha’re and Skaara tries to fight them off. Teal’c unarmours and says that Skaara’s death can’t help Sha’re. “I’m not afraid of you,” says Sha’re as they drag her off. The gate of the prison closes down leaving Skaara on the other side, frustrated.

SGC and Jack walks into the infirmary where Kawalsky is sitting by Ferretti’s bedside. Jack says Ferretti’s gonna make it but Kawalsky seems unconvinced. He’s planning to stay by his bed all night.

Back in civvies, Jack is leaving for the day but stops to visit Daniel on his way. Daniel says they don’t know what to do with him and that he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Jack invites him home.

Jack’s house, which is really nice btw, and Jack and Daniel are having a few beers. Daniel sneezes (oh, the allergy thing, that got ditched nice and early in the show) and says that gate travel makes his allergies flare up. He tells Jack about the events after they first left Abydos; that the Abydonians suddenly realised they were free and had a big big party. He says they treated Daniel like he was their saviour, that it was embarrassing but that Sha’re kept his feet on the ground.
He says she’d fall down on the floor laughing every time he tried to do something they took for granted, like grinding yaphetta flour.

Then he has a Daniel dork moment (I love those) and says the beer is going straight to his head and he must have gate lag or something.
“You’re a cheaper date then my wife,” says Jack and Daniel asks when he’s going to meet her. Jack says he’s not, because they got divorced. He says when he got back from Abydos the first time she’d already left.

“I think in her heart she forgave me for what happened to our kid, she just couldn’t forget. I’m the opposite. I’ll never forgive myself but sometimes,” he stops and looks at this beer, “sometimes I can forget. Sometimes.” The camera pulls back and we see them both in the loungeroom, two lonely, heartbroken men having a beer. That was a nice scene. Sad, but nice.

Back in the fortress of torches, in a different room, the Sergeant from the beginning (remember her?) is sitting against the wall. They’ve dressed her in some feminine clothing and done her hair. Teal’c walks in and looks around the room appraisingly. It’s full of women, all similarly decked out, looking worried. Teal’c’s gaze alights on our Sergeant and the guards grab her and drag her out of the room. All this time she’s demanding they tell her where she’s being taken because she’s a Sergeant in the US Airforce.

She’s still struggling when they take her into a room with Apophis who tells the guards to bring her forward. He says she’s lovely and shines the red light of docility upon her. “You could be the vessel for my future Queen,” he says but notes that he’s not the one she must finally please.

They strip her naked (which is shot from behind) and lie her down upon a table. Apophis calls forth someone called Yametha, who’s some sort of Jaffa priestess. She walks into the room, pulls aside her shirt and a snake-like creature (oh alright, it’s a Goa’uld, we all know this already) comes out of the slits in her stomach and examines Sergeant.

“Does she please you, my love,” says Apophis and I guess the answer is no because the Gou’ald moves back into the Jaffa’s pouch. Apophis kills Sergeant and asks his guards them to send another. We end on a shot of Teal’c’s face and realise he’s not a happy little Jaffa. In fact, he seems disgusted by Apophis’ behaviour.

Gates of Cheyenne Mountain again. Underground, a briefing is taking place between General Hammond and a bunch of uniforms. The Baldy General says that the briefing is classified ‘SCI Top Secret’. He then asks Jack what they know about the hostiles that they didn’t yesterday.

“Not a hell of a lot,” says Jack. He’s back in dress uniform, as is Carter, and Daniel is in Earth civvies. He says the Abydonians who survived the attack thought it was Ra. General says he thought Ra was dead and Daniel says “he’s dead, he’s definitely dead…bomb…I mean he’s got to be dead, right.”

Baldy General asks who’s coming through the Stargates and Daniel says “Gods” as though he’s just worked something out. He says he doesn’t mean “God God” but that Ra played a God, the Sun God. He borrowed the religion and culture of the ancient Egyptians and then used it to enslave them. He wanted the people of Abydos to believe he was the only one. Carter says that would mean Ra wasn’t the last of his race, as they’d originally thought.

“The legend goes,” says Daniel, quoting the story he found written on the wall in the film, “Ra’s race was dying. He survived by taking over the body of his human host, an Egyptian boy. But who’s to say more of his kind couldn’t do the same thing? This could happen anytime, anywhere there’s a gate. This could be happening right now.”

Hammond says that Jack has the most experience fighting these hostiles and asks him if he feels he’s up to defending himself in the field. Jack says, “we beat them once” and Hammond doesn’t skip a beat when he says, “I’ll take that as a maybe.”

“Captain Carter, you’re confident the Stargate will take us where we want to go with this new information?” She responds with the news that they’re feeding the revised coordinates into the computer and that the program should spit out two or three destinations a month.

“People,” starts Hammond, “let’s not fool ourselves here. This thing is both vast and dangerous and we are so far over our heads we can barely see daylight. We’d all be much better off if the Stargate had been left in the ground...”
Carter interrupts to say that they can’t bury their heads in the sand and Hammond says the President agrees with her.

“In the event your theories pan out, he’s ordered the formation of nine teams whose duties will be to perform reconnaissance, determine threats and if possible make peaceful contact with the peoples of these worlds.”
Wow, I forgot they started off with so few. I think by Season 10 they have like, what, 23 teams or something.

Anyway, the General goes on to say the teams are to operate on a top-secret covert basis and that no one will know of their existence except for the President and the Joint Chiefs. He says that, unlike Torchwood, this doesn’t mean they get a branded car and can run around the city yelling “We’re Torchwood, coming through.” No, he doesn’t say that really, but he would have if he had to watch an episode.

He says that Colonel O’Neill’s team will be called SG1 and will consist of Captain Carter and…Daniel interrupts and says he wants to be on it too. The General says they need Doctor Jackson to work as a consultant with the other SG teams.
“Your expertise in ancient cultures and languages is far too valuable to…”
“No,” Daniel interrupts again. He says he knows it’s the General’s decision but that he needs to be on SG1. “My wife is out there, General. I need to go.”

The General says he’ll take it under consideration and tells Kawalsky he’ll head up SG2 as Colonel O’Neill keeps telling him it’s time Kawalsky had a command.
“I had a moment of weakness,” says O’Neill and Kawalsky looks really pleased. Awww. Shame he’s about to get Goa’ulded.

Someone slips a note to Samuels who says that Ferretti’s conscious. In the infirmary, Jack and Daniel gather round Ferretti’s bed and Sam totally kicks one of the physicians out of the room. That’s very un-Samlike.

Jack says they know he’s not felling well but that they need something from him. Ferretti’s got a laptop in front of him and he starts pulling up images from the Stargate.
“It looks like he’s way ahead of you, Colonel,” says Carter and Jack comes round to the laptop, watching as Ferretti picks the seven symbols he saw the Goa’uld dial into the gate. They know exactly where the Serpent guards went.

SGC corridor, the team is preparing to embark and Samuels is saying that rescuing Dr Jackson’s wife is a secondary objective. He says they have 24 hours to contact base camp before SG2 scrubs the mission and returns without them. He explains the function of their iris code transmitter: they transmit a code to open the iris and that if they lose their transmitters they won’t be able to get home.

As they enter the gate room, Hammond says that if they don’t return in 24 hours their remote transmitter codes will be locked out and the iris will be sealed permanently. The teams have a little less gear this time, thankfully, but still the practical helmets.

As they go up the gangway, Samuels says he wishes he was going with them and Kawalsky says he’s glad Samuels is staying behind. Ha! Jack looks amused and Samuels looks at him like somehow this is his fault just ‘cause he witnessed it.

They go through the gate and are thrown out the other end down a flight of stairs, frozen stiff. Daniel’s glasses are iced up. He sneezes and asks if anybody has a Kleenex. They move out to set up camp.

In the dungeon of torches, Teal’c is back to choose Sergeant’s replacement and he inevitably chooses Sha’re. She yells and screams and kicks. Man this Sha’re is a screamer, isn’t she?

Back at the gate, Daniels is going all geek scientist and saying that the position of the gate shows that it’s an integral part of the local culture’s spiritual life. He says it was built for worshippers. Jack says something along the line of “I don’t give a crap, can you dial out?” and Daniel says yes he can. He then tries to explain all the exciting stuff about how he worked it out but Jack is in his usual place of not giving a damn.

SG2 is about to move to a covered place to camp and one of the soldiers says they found a trail into the mountains that has seen foot traffic in the last few days. Carter says she’s set up a line of claymores along the ridge and Kawalsky and Jack make another, “she’s a GIRL” joke. I’d better get used to it though. I don’t think the show gets over reminding us of this until Season 2.

Now for the worst scene of the episode. We’re back with Apophis and Sha’re is being dragged in. This scene is often cited as evidence that the original Stargate premise was for a show that’s more ‘adult’ in content. Really it’s just gratuitous and disturbing.

In a nutshell, this is a metaphor for a woman getting captured in war and raped. We get that already so I don’t think we needed to see the full-frontal shot of a naked Sha’re followed by her being penetrated by the very phallic Goa’uld, which writhes across her naked body beforehand.

Suffice it to say, the Goa’uld chooses her as a host and enters her brain through the back of her neck. Teal’c is once again watching and looks as though he’s about to throw up, as are we all.

Back in the woods, SG2 is about to set up camp and Jack tells them that if SG1 isn’t back in 20 hours, SG2 is to leave without them. Kawalsky is like, “we’re coming to rescue your sorry assess” but Jack pulls him up short and says he’s to go back before the iris closes and he can’t get back.

Jack, Daniel and Sam walk through the misty mountains and Sam asks Daniel how he met Sha’re. Daniel starts umming and ahing because he’s doesn’t quite know how to say it, but Jack jumps right in and says that she was a gift. Daniel confirms this, saying she was a gift from the elders of Abydos the first time they were there.
“And you accepted?” Sam asks, disbelievingly. Her tone is, well, I’m going to have to re-assess what I think about you.

Jack tells them to hold up. There’s a group of Jaffa priests moving through the forest. Jack is all about the giving of orders but before he can finish Daniel has leapt up and is going off to talk to them. Did I mention I love this na├»ve, enthusiastic Daniel? He’s so much fun.

As the priests move into a clearing, Daniel puts up his hands and says, “Hi”.
“The man has not changed,” says Jack as he moves forward to back him up. Daniel explains to the priests that they just came through the Chapaa-ai and the priests all start genuflecting. Jack asks if they’re friends of Daniel’s and Daniel says my favourite quote of the episode which is, “Unless we want to get ourselves a bad reputation, I just think we should avoid shooting the first people we meet on a new planet.”

Daniel moves back and tries to get the priests to stop genuflecting and the lead priest asks him, “Chula a lazla?” Daniel translates this as ‘choose’ and says they want to know if they’re there to choose. Sure, he says. He turns back and starts to tell Jack it’s a derivation of Arabic combined with…we’ll never know because Jack cuts him off ands says “yeah, whatever. Just ask them to take us to the nearest village or town.”

For those who are not Stargate aficionados, most Jaffa, including priests, have the symbol of their God tattooed on their foreheads. It’s only First Primes that have molten gold poured onto the skin.

Daniel forms his fingers into a building and asks to be taken to ‘Arash’. The priests understand and start to lead them to a place apparently called “Chulak”. I never knew if this was only supposed to refer to the town or the whole planet. After a while they seem to use it for the whole planet and not just the town, so I will too.

In Chulak, the architecture of which seems somewhat Roman, the locals are feasting when Jack and his team come in. “Atuhara a lazla,” says the head priest and the team is escorted to the table where they’re invited to eat and drink. Daniel explains that they think SG1 are gods.
“Now what?” asks Jack, and Daniel delivers his catchphrase, “I have no idea.”

Some kind of low-pitched instrument peels out and everyone bows, including Daniel, in a kind of ‘when in Rome’ way. Oh, Daniel actually says “when in Rome”. I’m good. Jack looks like it’s against his religion to bow or something but does it anyway. In come the Serpent Guards with both Apophis and Sha’re.
“Behold”, says Apophis and he pulls back a veil mounted on a ridiculously enormous headdress that looks like Princess Leia sneezed on her, away from Sha’re’s head, “your Queen.”

“Sha’re,” says Daniel disbelievingly and then he runs out, ignoring Apophis’ demand that he kneel before his ‘queen’. “Sha’re, it’s me,” says Daniel but she doesn’t acknowledge him and he of course doesn’t understand why. Her eyes glow and Apophis raises his hand. The light comes out, knocking Daniel across the room. He hits the wall and as Jack pulls up his weapon to shoot Apophis, Sha’re stands in front of him to protect him. Jack looks like he doesn’t know what to do and a Serpent guard hits him over the back of the head.

SGC: Samuels comes to see Hammond who asks if they can still get a transmission from the teams once they seal the iris. Samuels says yes but that there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t be the aliens or one of their own people under duress. Hammond asks how much longer they have and Samuels says it’s just under 2 hours.

In the dungeon of torches, Daniel is waking up. Sam says he’s been unconscious for hours and he’s all ready to go after Sha’re before he realises they’re trapped. Jack says if there’s a way out of the room he hasn’t found it yet but that he’s found Skaara. Jack welcomes Daniel back to the land of consciousness and call him ‘big guy’ for the first time. Skaara says Jack told him about Sha’re and Daniel says Jack has to help him find her. Jack notes that if they can’t find their way out of the room the mission’s a bust as the gate is going to be sealed in 90 minutes.

He and Skaara stand up to try and find a way out of the room when Jack’s arm is grabbed by Teal’c. He looks at Jack’s watch and notes that it isn’t Goa’uld technology. He asks where they’re from and Jack says Earth, Chicago. Teal’c interrupts and says that his words mean nothing. Daniel twigs and writes the Stargate symbol for Earth in the dirt. Teal’c quickly rubs it out so no one else can see it.

It’s morning and SG2 are waking up, commenting on the fact that both suns are coming up. Nameless airman says they can’t go through another night like that and Kawalsky notes that it does get a little chilly on that planet at night. He says Jack should’ve sent them a radio message by now. Nameless airman asks if he’s made a decision about going back through the Stargate and Kawalsky says that’ll be about when hell freezes over.

“I think that pretty much describes our current situation, Sir” says Nameless Airmen and Kawalsky says they’re not leaving without the Colonel, end of conversation.
“Another fine day on Planet Kawalsky,” says Kawalsky going back into the tent.

In the holding room, Jack’s found a window. Carter says Ra isn’t dead after all and Daniel says it wasn’t Ra.
“It was Apophis,” says Daniel and explains that in Egyptian mythology Ra the sun god ruled the day and Apophis was the serpent god, Ra’s rival, and ruled the night.
“It’s right out of the Book of the Dead,” says Daniel wonderingly, “they’re living it.”

Skaara asks Jack if he’s going to save Sha’re, accidentally using the movie pronunciation in the process (Shau’ri). “But you are a great warrior,” says Skaara, “we defeated Ra together.” Jack points out that they’re up to their necks in a lot more poo than last time but that he’ll try.

Before they can do anything, however, the Serpent guards are back, this time to choose the ‘Children of the Gods’. Apophis and Sha’re enter and oversee the room. On seeing Sha’re, Daniel gets all heroic and asks for Jack’s help but Jack rather wisely pulls him back. The Serpent guards and priests fan out and Teal’c yells “Benna! Ya wan, ya daru. Kneel before your masters.”

Jack kneels and asks Skaara to do the same thing. “Choose,” yells Teal’c and a priest chooses a little boy and takes him. Daniel looks helplessly up at Sha’re as the priests continue to move through the crowd. He thrusts himself forward, nearly crying, as he asks a priest what would happen if they took him.
“How much would I remember if you chose me,” he cries, “something of the host must survive.” The priest doesn’t answer but Jack sees Teal’c slowly shake his head.

The priest (oh, he’s a Goa’uld) says in his distorted voice, “we choose…” he pauses and then points at Skaara, “him.” Skaara yells ne, ne ne, and starts screaming for O’Neill to save him as they drag him away. Jack jumps up and a Serpent guard smacks him across the face with a staff.

“Kill the rest,” says Apophis and everyone starts screaming and trying to run. Apophis and Sha’re leave and the guards prepare to slaughter everyone in sight. They form a line of executioners and SG1 push the other prisoners behind them.

“I can save these people,” Jack suddenly yells, at Teal’c, “Help me.”
Teal’c swings around and brings his weapon to bear on Jack. He says “many people have said that.” Then he suddenly turns around, says “but you are the first I believed could do it,” and starts killing Serpent guards. He grabs another staff weapon and throws his to Jack. They kill the guards and then shoot open the window, forming a hole in the wall. All the prisoners start filing out the hole, with SG1 helping them, until only Teal’c is left.
“Come on”, Jack yells at him and Teal’c says softly, “I have nowhere to go.”
“For this you can stay at my place,” says Jack, “let’s go.”

On the mountain, Jack asks Teal’c his name and where they’d take Skaara. Teal’c says they’ll take him to the Stargate as now they have hosts for their children they’ll return home. You know, in terms of Goa’uld physiology, this actually makes little sense, particularly when Amonet only just came out of the Jaffa woman, but what the hey. If I can accept parasitical lifeforms that take over human bodies after gestating inside a different alien’s pouch in a symbiotic relationship…I can accept this.

Tthe refugees head down toward the gate while back in Stargate Command Samuels is trying to convince the General to close down the gate early ‘cause he’s such a well-established prat. The General says they have an hour and a lot can happen in that time period.

Back on Chulak, Jack is saying they have only an hour to get back to the gate. Sam says they lost a few of their ex-prisoners in the forest and Teal’c notes they’ll be hunted down and killed because anyone who does not serve the gods is considered their enemy. Autocratic religions – another theme of Stargate.

Exposition time as Teal’c explains that he’s a Jaffa and that he’s been bred to serve so that the Goa’uld may live. They ask him to explain and he shows them the baby Goa’uld in his pouch. He says it is the larval form of the Goa’uld and that he’s carried one since he was a child, as have all Jaffa. Teal’c explains that if he were to remove the Goa’uld he would die.

At the gate, Apophis, Sha’re, Skaara and their entourage are preparing to leave after ringing down from their ship. Since RDA is the main character and has all the clout, the whole episode’s suddenly about Skaara. Teal’c says Skaara is no longer who he was and Jack says he doesn’t want to hear that.

As Jack, SG1 and the refugees run through the forest, Apophis’ fighter fires at them from the air and then turns around to come back for more. Jack and Teal’c unsuccessfully try to shoot it down. Sam says they’re sitting ducks and should move quickly.

As Sha’re and Apophis are walking through the gate, the fighter is coming back again. SG2 shoots it down with a surface to air missile, a FIM-92 Stinger man-portable infra-red homing surface-to-air missile, to be precise. The refugees are rejoicing and SG2 is all ‘hoo ha’. Apophis and Sha’re see the craft go down before stepping through the gate and leaving the planet behind.

SG1, SG2 and the refugees come over the hill as Skaara is preparing to walk through the event horizon. Jack runs forward to stop him and Skaara smiles before his eyes glow and he zaps him with the hand device. Daniels runs up behind and asks if Jack saw the symbols and Jack has the expression that says no, he didn’t.

Back at the SGC, the deadline has been reached and Samuels is gunning to lock them out. Hammond tells him he needs another minute.

Chulak: SG2 has spotted movement in the trees. It’s a load of angry Jaffa. Kawalsky tells Daniel to get busy on the Stargate and Jack orders Sam to help him. He tells Sam that once Daniel dials the gate she should go through and tell them they’re bringing company with them. The soldiers prepare to fight off the battalion of Jaffa soldiers coming toward them.

At the gate, Jackson’s thumbing through a whole heap of paper trying to find the right address. Sam says “Dr Jackson, come on.” Odd to hear her call him Dr Jackson; it’s so formal.

Battle on the hillside, lots of shooting action. Back on Earth, Samuels finally gets his wish about locking them out as Hammond gives the order. Samuels looks far too pleased about it.

Daniel finally dials the gate as the battle rages behind them. Oh no, will they make it before their codes are locked out?? The suspense is killing me. My wait is over. The wormhole is established and on Earth Hammond belays his last order and tells them not to lock out the transmitter codes. On Chulak, Sam is sending the signal. Daniel is concerned it won’t work but Sam says if it isn’t she’ll be the first to know.

The signal is received at the SGC and the iris is opened.

Sam runs through the gate and Daniel starts sending through the refugees. Battle, battle, battle on the hillsides of Chulak. Claymores, explosions, dead Jaffa, dead soldiers, dead refugees. Kawalsky’s enjoying himself too much. With the refugees gone, Daniel goes through himself.

The SGC soldiers start to go through as well, with Kawalsky being last. He kills a Jaffa and a baby Goa’uld comes out of its pouch and launches itself at him penetrating his neck.

SGC and as the last of the refugees are coming through, Teal’c slowly walks toward Sam and hands her his staff weapon.

Back on the planet, the last of the soldiers walk though the gate and as they come out the other end, the iris is closed and we hear the staccato of metallic thuds against it as the Jaffa who followed them hit the Iris. The wormhole is disengaged and all the refugees start crying and hugging SG1 and thanking them. They all look a bit bemused by the attention.

Bemused also is the Baldy General who walks up the gangway and asks for an explanation. Sam just says that they can use the Stargate to send the refugees home.
Hammond asks about Teal’c and Jack introduces him as, “the man who saved our lives and hopefully a member of SG1”. Ok, that was a bit quick all round. Small quibble. They have run out of episode.

As they all file off the ramp, Kawalsky stumbles but says he feels ok. Hammond says the debriefing for SGs1 and 2 should be very interesting and everyone starts to leave. Daniel and Jack commiserate about the loss of their loved ones and Jack says they’ll find them.

As the walk off the gangway we pan toward Kawalsky…his eyes glow.

The end. Well, that was a marathon, wasn’t it? I certainly enjoyed that little trip down memory lane. I may even get enthused one day and write a few more Stargate recaps. But for now, adieu.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Torchwood 'End of Days': Rating C

Welcome gentle viewers to this evening’s production of the season finale of Torchwood. Tonight’s incoherent Buffy-mined mess is brought to you by Chris Chibnall who we hope will soon be moving on to new projects and leaving Torchwood to other writers. A lot of thought has been given to my rating and while at least one other recapper has given the episode a D, I have considered whether it really is worse than Countrycide or as bad as Day One. Both masterpieces, you’ll note, also the work of the great man himself.

So previously on Torchwood, no psychological testing was done on potential employees so everyone hired is an arrogant self-absorbed narcissistic mess running around pursuing their own agendas to the exclusion of all other interests including those of their own teammates. So Ianto hides Cybergirl in the basement, Gwen becomes the new Suzie by sleeping with Owen and drugging people with retcon at will, and Owen opens the rift because for some reason he blames it for losing a girl who was already tired of him after a whole week. And these are the people I’m supposed to care about? After everything bad I said about him, Captain Jack is fast shaping up as the guiding light of the show as he at least has integrity and Tosh should be my favourite character except I think Gareth David Lloyd is hotter. That’s shallow but hey, that’s me. My point is that the so-called alien menace at this point seems to be Torchwood themselves. Incompetence combined with arrogance: a lethal combination, as we are about to discover.

Owen, as I mentioned, recently opened the hellmouth. Oh, I mean rift. You know, I read somewhere recently where a writer called it the Riftmouth. I think that’s so cool I’m totally stealing it.

Now it’s morning in Cardiff and we pan across the Bay to the city where Gwen is lying in bed watching Rhys sleep. Now that she’s put her affair with Owen behind her and, you know, drugged Rhys into forgetting everything, she’s all happy and in love. Rhys gets up to make her a cup of tea and I so didn’t need to see his bare ass again. Of all the nudity we were promised in Torchwood, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

The phone rings and even as Rhys yells at her not to answer it she does and of course it’s work. They want to know if she’s seen the news.

In the living room, Gwen is in her robe watching the aforementioned news. She’s shot at the front of the screen like she’s in shock about what she’s watching, which is apparently the end of the world. It’s the apocalypse say the religious groups. The apocalypse apparently consists of a single UFO sighting in India and a police shootout with men in historic dress. AND THAT’S IT. That’s all. Less has happened in a single episode of Doctor Who and there’s none of this recycled garbage from ‘The Second Coming’. Oh, actually, now that I think about it, there is. Russell, like Chris, has not had an original idea in years. Anyway, apparently ‘experts’ have ruled out terrorists, probably because if it was terrorists something may have actually happened.

Rhys, who’s joined Gwen in front of the telly with a cuppa, asks if she thinks it is terrorists and as Gwen says no because terrorists bomb things, some woman on TV is crazyfying that judgement day is upon us. Man this ‘BBC feed’ device is so tired. It seems Buffy isn’t the only thing from which Chris ‘borrowed’. Oh, woman on telly says it’s ‘the end of days’, which makes no sense but gives us the title of tonight’s episode and leads us into the flick flick flick Torchwood.

"Sorry to barge in. I'm afraid we have a slight… apocalypse."
“Hand! Hey, that’s a quote from Buffy.”
“Well, I thought it appropriate under the circumstances.”
“Yes it is. So, what do you reckon? Do you really think Chris cut up little pieces of various Buffy scripts, threw them up in to the air and wrote the script based on what he could grab on their way down?”
“No I don’t, and that’s a terrible aspersion to cast on the creative talent behind this episode.”
“Yes!. He totally had bits of Angel and Doctor Who in there as well.”
“Oh, my bad.”

Anyway, all Buffy seasons have to end with an apocalypse so we cut to the hub where Ianto has inexplicably started quoting the Bible.
“And I heard, but did not understand and I said Master, what is the end of all these things? And he said go Daniel, for these things are closed up and sealed till the end of time.”

Gwen says the quote’s a “bit too close for comfort” and we cross over to Owen who’s investigating something to do with the hand in the jar.

“Hand, he said your jar is losing power. What will you do without your bubbles?”
“Enough sarcasm from you. Talk to the hand.”
“Oh, very funny.”
“Well, I wanted to say that at least once.”

Owen is clutching his shoulder as he asks sarcastically if Ianto is finished with his portents of doom. No, plenty more where that came from, says Ianto and he starts reading about Abaddon the great devourer. So, the world is ending and you’re going to throw quotes at it? Now there’s an innovative tactic.

“Yeah, thanks Ianto, I can do without the superstition,” says Jack then starts one of his ‘you funny humans’ story before launching into a pep talk about their next course of action. He says he’s been fielding calls from the Government, the CIA, Unit (high-five for UNIT) and a whole host of other people who all want to know just what Torchwood has done to imperil the fate of all existence. After all, it’s nearly been an entire year.

Tosh comes through with a statistical analysis of all the anomalous apocalyptic goings-on and it turns out Cardiff is the centre of the activity. Jack says the cracks in time are ripples and aftershocks caused by Owen’s recent bout of irresponsibility. Owen actually looks surprised that they would blame him and just because it was all his fault. How unfair.

“You opened the rift without knowing what you were doing. You’ve caused the temporal cracks to widen. Time is seeping through,” states Jack. Owen angrily says that Tosh and Jack would still be stuck in 1941 if it wasn’t for him (totally and rather conveniently forgetting the part where that particular motive was all sophistry) but the room isn’t on his side and he knows it. Ianto’s thinking he was right all along, Jack and Tosh are the two responsible ones, and no one cares about Gwen’s opinion ‘cause she’s such a complete goose. Owen’s pissed and says that instead of crying into their lattes they should do something about it.

Jack says that Phase 1 of the plan is to get everyone who’s fallen through time into the Hub’s vaults and then he’ll outline Phase 2. Owen is doing his regular routine of trying to divert attention from his culpability by putting the attention back on someone else. He’s saying that Jack can’t do anything to solve the situation, even though Jack has actually outlined a preliminary plan and Owen was complaining two seconds ago that they should stop talking and do something. Jack simply yells that they’ll think of something. “This is not the end of the world,” he says. And considering everything we’ve seen so far I’d have to agree. Couldn’t they have spent a bit longer establishing that something bad is going down?

Bleep bleep bleep bleep says the machine that goes ping and Ianto says there’s something happening at the hospital and a quarantine has been put in place. Owen says he’s off to deal with it and Jack basically says he doesn’t trust him so he’s assigning Tosh to go with him. Then Gwen the goose wades in on Owen’s side and starts prattling about his feelings. Um, Gwen, I know you’re the centre of the Universe and you’re feeling guilty about the whole Owen thing but I think deliberately and knowingly taking a course of action that could possibly end the world is reprimand time if I ever saw one. It’s not as if the whole thing was an accident. Jack essentially tells her he knows about the affair and as such her opinion doesn’t quite count for as much anymore. And she does exactly what Owen did by putting everything back on Jack to avoid the real issue.

Before Jack can retaliate, her phone rings. Oooh, it’s Constable Cutie! Oh, Constable Cutie, I’ve missed you. Anyway, Constable Cutie has a Roman soldier in his cells and says he didn’t know who else to call. Ghostbusters! Next scene, Jack’s trying to explain that Roman soldier fell through a crack in time. Constable Cutie’s sceptical (oh, his name’s Andy apparently; well you learn something new everyday) but asks ‘Mulder and Scully’ how he’s supposed to handle a prisoner who’s from 2000 years ago. Which one’s Mulder and which one’s Scully, do you think? The way this show’s going, Jack is both and Gwen is just someone who also happens to be in the room.

Jack notes that under any other circumstances, an angry Roman soldier would be his idea of a perfect morning but for now he’s going to tranquilise him and take him off Constable Cutie’s hands. He goes into the cells and we have more end of the world prattle between CC and Gwen. Yawn.

In the hospital, Tosh and Owen are all dressed up in quarantine suits. The suits, walls, floors and sheets on the beds are all white giving the whole scene a bleached look. A hospital employee of some kind is expositing that Patient 1 just appeared in the hospital then started coughing up blood. They isolated her but soon other staff started showing the same symptoms. Owen examines the first victim and even though I’ve already worked out it’s the Black Death there’s a long long time before he finally announces it. The good news is Owen seems to be ready to accept it’s his fault. The bad news is that Owen would sooner act to the detriment of others to make himself feel better then to wait around for the best solution to a problem. A guilty Owen is likely to make things worse.

As they leave, Owen recommends the standard treatment for Bubonic Plague but hospital guy isn’t letting him go so easily. He wants to know what they’re going to do about it because apparently everybody said that Torchwood would fix the problem. He must have seen the Torchwood ad on TV. Or maybe the Billboard? Na, it was probably just their standard community-paper advertisement.

Tosh says they’re working to stop the encroachments from the past and hospital guy starts yelling that it’s Torchwood’s responsibility to fix things. Owen says that people are going to start dropping through time with all sorts of diseases and they need to be ready. “Are you scared yet? ‘Cause fuck knows I am,” he yells and leaves. Tosh stays behind to remind hospital man to make sure the patients get their medicine and to call Torchwood if anything gets worse. “How much worse can it get?” asks hospital man and Tosh’s expression is, God knows but I don’t much like to think about it.

Outside the quarantine area, Tosh is looking for Owen when the film speed suddenly slows down, the soundtrack mutes and she sees an older Japanese woman standing staring at her in the corridor. “Mum,” she says disbelievingly, in Japanese, and her Mum says that the darkness is coming and that, if there’s no other way, Tosh will “have to do it”. Um, vague much? “Do what?” gasps Tosh but the vision is gone. Owen walks into the corridor and tells Tosh to stop pissing about. She looks around a bit wildly then follows him.

In the jail, the Roman soldier is now unconscious and Jack is scanning him with his sonic screwdriver. Gwen is saying…are you ready? If Owen could open the Riftmouth to get Jack and Tosh back, why can’t they do the same thing to get these people home? Since this is the end of the season, I will take this opportunity to ask for the last and final time: how stupid is this woman? They don’t know how to use the mysteriously-appearing rift manipulator safely and opening the Riftmouth was what caused all these fractures in the first place. Jack’s giving her his, ‘are you kidding’ look then ruins it with some bizarre response about how taking control of time is different from bringing two people back form the past. This is obviously one of those questions brought up in a story meeting where somebody says, why don’t they just?…and the writer has to have a character ask the question. Anyway, Jack ends it by asking if he’s ever let her down and Gwen’s face says ‘no’.

She turns around and walks off but stops when she suddenly hears her voice from inside a cell. She looks around and sees Doc Bilis. He’s not speaking, but in her head she hears the words, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Jack looks up to see her standing there staring at an empty cell and tells her to get on with it. She looks at him and when she looks back Doc is gone.

Back at the Hub, Jack is questioning Gwen’s vision of Bilis while they put still-unconscious Roman soldier in the cells. “What’s he got to be sorry for?” he asks but before Gwen can answer this obviously rhetorical question, Ianto comes in with a Weevil who’s moaning in a wee evil way. Gwen actually tells Ianto to shut the Weevil up (!) and Ianto says sure, got any suggestions as to how? Jack hypothesises that they might be time sensitive and can sense the disturbance in time emanating from the Riftmouth. So the Weevils are telepathic, time-sensitive and wear clothes. I said enough on this issue in Combat.

“We’re now full in all vaults across all nine levels,” says Ianto, forgetting to note that this is an aspect of Hub geography that he seems to have just totally made up. Then he says that there is room in the vaults below but that they’ve never used them before. Jack says fine then tells Gwen that following up her Dancehall buddy seems wise.

They leave but Ianto stays, staring at the Weevil moaning at him. I tell you, this thing is trying to communicate. There’s a flash in the lighting and when Ianto turns around, a very human Lisa is standing there in the corner. “Ianto,” she says and he flashes back to her death. “What do you want, why are you here?” he asks and then, “This isn’t happening.”

“There’s only one way to stop this before things gets worse,” she says. “People will die Ianto, thousands of people, unless you open the rift.” A flick of the lighting and once again he’s alone.

Upstairs, Owen’s back and he lets them know about the Black Death. “What! Oh my God,” yells Gwen helpfully and then I swear to God she starts looking around as though she’s trying to find the best place to have one of her patented panic attacks.
Tosh reports that the patients are being treated and the hospital’s quarantined. Owen notes that we have treatments for the Plague these days, but if something worse like Ebola or something from the future comes through then they’re screwed.

Then, because he’s freaked out and feels guilty and prefers action to planning, he turns on Jack and starts yelling at him to lead them and tell them what to do. “You’re all thinking it too,” he says to the others pointedly, “you’re the big man here, you keep all the secrets. Well now’s the time to tell us a few and tell us how the hell we’re going to get out of this.” Well, here we finally have the confrontation that they haven’t been building up to the whole season.

Jack turns around and then says the truth he’s been avoiding: there is no solution to the problem. If only Buffy were here, she’d know what to do. Oh sorry, the ‘right kind of Doctor’.
“This was never meant to happen,” he says, “The first thing you learn when you join Torchwood is ‘don’t mess with the rift’ (It is? If that’s the case, don’t you think someone might have mentioned it before this? Oh that’s right, they didn’t have a way of messing with the rift before the Riftmouth Manipulator’s sudden miraculous appearance last episode. Totally butted in on Jack’s sentence there, which ends like this) but you disobeyed those orders and now everything that’s happening is down to you.” Owen harps once again on how it was all to save the Cap’n and shouldn’t he get a medal for being so selfless? Jack’s answer is a definitive no.

“Who the fuck are you anyway?” yells Owen, “Jack Harkness! You don’t even exist, we’ve looked. So if you’re not even a real person then why should I follow your orders?” To which, Jack says fine, don’t follow them. In fact, bugger off. “I’m relieving you of your duty,” says Jack calmly. Gwen and Tosh say, “No!” but Jack’s adamant. “You’re done here,” he says and starts to walk away. Owen asks if the best Jack can do while the world’s coming to an end is fire him and, on the one hand he has a point but on the other, why bother keeping him there if all he does is disobey orders and whinge?

Gwen says they need to stick together but Jack makes the very good point that he can’t rely on Owen anymore. “If I can’t rely on you, if I don’t have your complete trust, you don’t belong here,” he says, “and that goes for the rest of you. Anyone who agrees with Owen, leave now.” But Owen is alone. He sadly notes that he probably has about 24 hours before Jack retcons him then hands back his equipment and says goodbye.

“Good luck with the end of the world,” he says and Gwen starts yelling at Jack to go after him. No Jack, please don’t. The best thing that could happen for Season 2 on this show is that Gwen goes after Owen, they both get retconned and we get new characters in their place. Ones that do their job without a constant ‘woe is me’ routine. Owen gets into the elevator to go to the surface and the orchestral music is momentous and I guess my main emotion at this point is not supposed to be relief that he’s gone? Didn’t think so.

On the streets of Cardiff town, Jack and Gwen are giving each other the cold shoulder as they track down the shop belonging to Doc Bilis. It’s imaginatively called a ‘Stitch in Time’.

The sounds of time ticking away fill the shop as Jack and Gwen walk in. Jack notes that Doc seems to scavenge antique pieces from the past and then sell them in the present. “We all have to earn a living,” says Doc as he enters the room from behind them. Jack says that Doc is from 1941 and Doc notes that Jack was as well.

“How can you be in two time zones at once?” asks Gwen and I nearly die with shock because that is actually a good question. “I can step across years, like you’d walk into another room,” explains Doc, “At first it was the most incredible gift. Now I know the reality; it’s a curse.” Gwen asks why and he looks past the camera with spooky eyes and says, “I can see the whole of history but I don’t belong anywhere within it.” He sounds like a Timelord; something that I expect Jack to realise. But as he steps forward, seemingly to speak, he doesn’t. Instead Doc outlines the impact their return to the present day had on the space-time rift under Cardiff: time splintered and according to Doc the only way to stop the effects is to open the Rift completely and let it suck back what it let through.

Jack looks sceptical and says, “no way”. He says that if they open the rift millions of people’s lives will be in danger and Doc counters that their lives are already imperilled. Jack pulls his gun on Doc and tells him that since he knows so much he’s coming back to the Hub. Doc apologises and flicks out of existence.

Jack says, “trace the temporal activity around this location, we need to find out where he is,” but I don’t know if he’s talking to Gwen or if his Bluetooth connection is on and his instructions are for the Hub. Either way, he runs out and Gwen is temporarily left alone in the store. Doc takes this opportunity to flick back and give her a vision of Rhys lying dead and bloodied in their apartment. Gwen doesn’t stop to question Doc’s motives or in fact anything; she just races off to save her boyfriend.

In the apartment of relationship angst, Gwen races in to find Rhys safe and well. She stuns him and then apologises.

In a Bar somewhere, Owen is drowning his sorrows. Did he break in ‘cause there’s nobody else there, not even a bartender? He hears his name, once, twice and then spins around to see Dianne standing behind him.

“I’m lost, Owen,” she says, “please bring me back Owen, you can do that can’t you?”
He says he doesn’t know because everything is out of sync and she’s still begging him to ‘bring her back’. A man comes between them and the spell is broken. Suddenly there’s loud music and bar staff and Dianne is gone.

Back in the Hub, Gwen has locked Rhys in the basement cells and does anybody else think this is a bad plan? Surely if he’s in danger he’d be better off upstairs with everyone else? Oh, I forgot: it was in the script.

Anyway, Rhys comes to and wants to know why she’s locked him in an ill-lit basement with only a few breathing holes in the door. He says he’s taken some shit over the past three months (it’s only been three months? Now her affair with Owen is even more ridiculous). Gwen asks him to trust her and tells him she loves him. Then she leaves him alone.

Upstairs, she asks Tosh to pull up the CCTV of the vaults so she can keep an eye on him and Tosh says she doesn’t understand how Doc was able to give Gwen a vision. Gwen explains that the vision was so real, the flat was her flat, she can still feel his blood on her hands. Jack comes over, takes her hand in his and says it’s not going to happen. Except that Doc is obviously manipulating her and he wanted Rhys in the cells for some nefarious purpose.

Ah, I think nefarious purpose is about to be revealed because the lights flicker and Tosh says they have an intruder. Downstairs, the door to Rhys’ cell opens and as he steps out into the corridor, Doc appears out of nowhere and stabs him.

Scene the next, Gwen bursts into the cells with Jack behind her and finds Rhys on the floor in puddles and puddles and lakes and oceans of blood. Jack checks his pulse and yells at her that there’s nothing they can do and she holds Rhys’ body to her and screams.

Rhys is on the slab in the autopsy room and a washed-out Gwen is sitting there, numbly watching him while Jack wipes her hand clean of the blood. Gwen’s saying that she’s going to have to tell his family that he’s dead. Ianto says “they’ll deal with him” and Gwen says that it’s her responsibility and he’s not a problem to be ‘dealt with’. Tosh says she’s sorry and Gwen laughs rather nastily and says that Tosh never met him. And that says more about Gwen than Tosh, really, but this is quite a little powerful scene so I’ll just let it unfold.

Jack puts down Gwen’s hand as she goes somewhat manic and states, smiling, that if you’re with Torchwood you end up alone. “Not me,” Gwen’s voice has dropped and is deep and quite powerful, “no way.” None of the others will meet her eyes. Gwen says Jack has to bring him back and…

...Jack says no and…

…all hell breaks loose…literally…

Gwen says there’s something wrong with time so they can go back and stop it from happening because if they can’t then WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT OF YOU! She loses it, leaping across the room and banging on Jack’s chest demanding that he bring Rhys back. Jack’s holding her and crying too and…

…Owen bursts in, sees Rhys lying there and Gwen crying and says, “Holy shit”. He comes down the stairs and ignores Tosh who’s all happy to have him back (Tosh my dear, you could do so much better, really) and tries to pry Gwen off Jack to comfort her but she’s in devoted partner grieving mode and wants no reminder of her previous crimes. Her voice breaks as she tells Owen not to touch her.

Owen finally sees an opening for his personal crusade and tells Jack he’s going to fix this by opening the Riftmouth. Jack looks at Ianto and Tosh and tells them to stop Owen. Ianto says no, Tosh says she’s going to help him and Gwen follows. She stops to tells Jack that Owen’s right because Doc said that if they opened the rift then everything will go back to normal and emotional trauma aside I don’t know how these people can believe anything so obviously blatantly antithetical to logic but then brains was never the main prerequisite for a job at Torchwood.

In the Hub, the music is telling us to get excited and mostly to ignore the fact that for some reason they have to ‘enter emergency protocol 1’ and that Gwen, who has no computing or mathematical knowledge, takes over to enter the mysterious ‘rift-opening equation’.

Jack comes up into the Hub with his gun and tries to stop them. Tosh is horrified that he would point a gun at them, but since they’re about to kill millions I don’t really blame him. They try to reason with him and he notes that in only a day they’ve become a united front against them. He says this is all part of Doc’s plan, but they’re too narcissistic to see anything but their own selfish needs, and he tells them a few home truths about their actions and motivations, finishing up with Gwen being so in love with Rhys that she spends half her time shagging Owen. At this, Gwen clocks him one, yells ‘fuck you’ and Owen grabs his gun.

Gwen turns to the machine and discovers that they now need every Torchwood employee’s retinal prints to open the Riftmouth. Jack must have installed this since last week, which shows just how much he trusts his employees. Well Jack, you hired ‘em.

Owen has the gun and as Jack gets up he yells at him to get back down. Jack taunts him about needing bigger balls to shoot somebody (which just goes to show how unaware he is of what a prat Owen truly is) and so Owen shots him…straight in the head. Gwen once again looks shocked and horrified, even though she alone of all of them knows that he can’t die. Urgh.
“I’m sick of people doubting me,” says Owen because that’s a justifiable motive. Having trouble making friends and influencing people? Try murder! Once shot between the eyes and I can guarantee they’ll never say anything negative to you again!

Still in the Hub, the fact that their brand new leader seemingly just slaughtered somebody in cold blood has not dissuaded the gang from their course of action. They’re obviously thinking that a mild genocide every now and then is really just part of their job. Owen takes a photo of Jack’s eye and they use it to feed all of Torchwood’s retinal patterns into the computer. Apparently, opening the Riftmouth will endanger the Hub’s infrastructure but hey, what the hell? Only live once, right?

As Gwen presses the Ok button, the opening of the Riftmouth is signified by a loud blaring sound from the Hub’s alarms and the Weevils escaping. A light shoots up the bit in the middle that looks likes a Tardis console and Jack wakes with a loud intake of breath. “What have you done?” he demands and Gwen’s all shocked even though, what did you think would happen, goose?

All the Rift-affected people start disappearing and Torchwood, instead of shutting the Rift down, stagger outside to find Doc waiting triumphantly in the street.

And can I just take a brief hiatus to point out what the annoying thing is about this episode? And I mean the most annoying thing. Parts of it are really really good. Eve Myles has just reminded us she can act; Jack dances around OTT but manages not to go overboard; the scenes where the main characters are being manipulated by their lost loved ones are quite powerful; and Owen shooting Jack in the head was very well done even if we know that he can’t die. Bilis Manger is also a gloriously creepy bad guy, so long as you ignore the fact that both he and this storyline are straight from Buffy, along with absolutely everything else. So although the overall quality of Torchwood is pretty poor, the episode up until now has not been that bad despite the usual plot holes you could drive entire Indian traffic jams, compete with cows and camels, through. But, to misquote the Boys from the Dwarf: everything from here on in gets rather silly.

As they’re standing in the street, Doc gives one of his patented creepy looks and says, “from out of the darkness, he is come. The son of the Great Beast, cast out before time, chained in rock and imprisoned beneath the rift. All hail, Abaddon, the Great Devourer, come to feast on life.”

No seriously, that’s actually what he said. That was his genuine dialogue: I didn’t make it up. Oh, and ‘bottom of the rift’. How can a rift in time and space have a “bottom”?

The gang looks up in horror and sees…a giant marshmallow man! Actually, that would have been more realistic and, the way this show is going, not entirely unexpected. But instead, my God! It’s a huge, computer-generated demon actually clomping across Cardiff but inexplicably not levelling any buildings. I’m surprised it wasn’t picking up handfuls of people and spitting bits of them out of its mouth as it chewed them with its big nasty teeth.

Doc explains that people die beneath his shadow (?!?) and as baby demon clomps through downtown Cardiff, people run screaming until his shadow falls upon them and they drop dead.

Doc says his work is done and Gwen looks around all like shocked and horrified because of all the people she’s killed. Then she comes up to Jack and asks him how they’re going to stop it, “tell me what to do.” Well, my suggestion was that she go and stand under the shadow but unfortunately she’s one of the stars of the show so you know, no luck. Jack tells her to get him to an open space.

In a field in Cardiff, the VOC pulls up and Jack jumps out, seemingly constipated, or something (no seriously, what is it with that pained expression and funny walk?). Jack says that if Abaddon feeds on life then let’s see how he copes with an inexpensive all-you-can-eat Jackmeister buffet. Gwen’s yelling, “no Jack, no,” as though she didn’t stand by and watch him being shot 10 minutes ago after totally undermining his authority, punching him, and doing something really homicidally wrong directly against his express orders. Jack just tells her to get out of there (so why did he bring her?).

Clomp clomp says baby demon: son of the Great Beast who existed before time and the Universe but somehow managed to procreate. Was it sexual reproduction, do you think? Is there a Mama of baby demon ‘destroyer of worlds’ out there somewhere? Maybe. Maybe not.

As Gwen watches, crying crocodile tears, demon clomps over to Jack who does stand there quite heroically waiting for it to come and get him because because life is his gift or something. The shadow falls over him and he starts screaming as the energy of the vortex streams out of him, suffusing the demon who, in the best tradition of Torchwood writing, explodes. Oh alright, it just glows white and disappears. Jack collapses and we…

…cut to another shot of unconscious Jack with Gwen running up to him and we…

…cut to another shot of unconscious Jack with goosy Gwen crying over him and we…

…cut to the apartment of relationship angst where Gwen runs in to find Rhys alive and well. Ok, how did opening the rift reverse time? Anyhoo, Gwen kisses him and she’s all happy and relieved and for some reason has been given yet another 'get out of jail free' card by the writers.

Back at the Hub, Jack is still unconscious i.e. dead and I must admit they’ve made him up to be a very attractive corpse. Death, as they say, does become him. Gwen finally tells the team that Jack told her he couldn’t die. She decides to sit with him, which would be all noble and sweet or something except, you know, she's a hypocritical bitch.

We have a short montage of Gwen sitting with him, demanding that he wake up, before cutting to Owen who asks Tosh how long Gwen is going to keep this up. In Jack’s office, Ianto is crying and cleaning up his desk. He takes down Jack’s coat and…smells it? Oookay.

“It’s been days,” says Tosh, who’s waiting with Gwen in the cryo chamber. Gwen has Vala hair and stays looking at Jack as though she’s about to say her goodbyes. She takes his hand and finally kisses him and starts to walk away. Oh, it’s the kiss of life, Sleeping Beauty! Interesting subtext. Anyway, Jack's voice says “Thank you,” behind her and she runs back and he’s weak but smiling.

In the Hub, Gwen walks in with Jack in tow. Tosh runs and hugs him, Ianto comes over and Jack totally lays one on him. Owen starts crying and Jack says he forgives him. No, goddamnit, no! Don’t forgive him! He’ll be in next season now. Goddamnit.

In Jack’s office, Gwen is asking Jack about the rift and he said it closed up when Abaddon was destroyed. This makes no sense but, you know what? This episode and this entire season is nearly over so, yay! Gwen mentions their Conversations with Dead People but instead of asking for the explanation we’d all like about what the hell that was about, who caused it and how they did it, she asks what Jack saw and Jack says he saw nothing. Then she asks what would have tempted Jack to open the rift. And Jack says, “The right kind of Doctor.”

He gets up and leaves the room wondering when the rest of the gang is coming back, ‘cause after nearly causing the end of the world, they've gone to get coffee. Bubble bubble, says the Hand and it starts to glow and pulsate. We hear the grind of the Tardis engines and when Gwen comes out of the office to find him…Jack is gone.

Back from their coffee run, the gang ask what’s happened and Gwen says that “something’s taken him, Jack’s gone.” And we pan out from the gang, above the Hub to Cardiff by day and…the end.

Wow. I know I should come up with some concluding thoughts about the final episode and the series generally but the most I can muster after these marathon thirteen weeks is the obvious: continuity, character development and originality. You need more characters and you need to introduce some that people like and want to watch. Just as the best comedies are the ones that can make you cry, the best dramas are the ones that can also make you laugh. We'd all be more forgiving of Torchwood's incompetence if they could laugh at themselves so more humour, people.

Mostly though, I will now be relaxing in the hope that my incipient alcoholism caused mostly by watching Torchwood really slowly will not come to fruition. Another martini? Yes, why not...after all there's always Season 2.