The Stargate Rewatch: Emancipation

Stargate SG-1 Review: Emancipation

Synopsis

SG-1 goes to a planet designated P3X-593. On that planet the women are treated as second-class citizens. Carter has to deal with that the best she can, but somehow is caught in the middle of the traditions of that planet and sold to a warlord named Moughal.

Review

Yeesh. When I first decided to go back and review Stargate from the beginning of the TV run, there were certain episodes I was less than enthusiastic about. ‘Space Race’ is one of them. This is most certainly another and whilst it fares a little better upon a rewatch, it’s certainly one I’m in no rush to go back and watch again. What is particularly frustrating about this one is the timing of it. This is the first time we see the team head off-world for a stand-alone adventure and it’s a wonder anybody tuned in to watch the second as there is almost nothing redeemable about this one. Did the writers really think it was a good idea to have the first episode to focus on Carter be about her gender? After all the fuss about her being a woman in the pilot? It’s almost as if they thought the viewer needed proof that a woman can handle herself in the team. There were any number of ways to show how badass she is without having to resort to her gender being the driving force of the story.

stargate carter emancipation

The problem is though this was 1997 and I don’t think there were many out there who assumed that she couldn’t cut it based on the fact she’s a female. It’s borderline offensive. Interestingly this is a level of bad reserved for first season episodes of Star Trek : The Next Generation; a show that is renowned for having a rocky start and there are a lot of similarities with that show’s early beginnings here. Thankfully we aren’t quite in racist territory as happened with TNG but it certainly isn’t difficult to compare this to them with the way in which this tribe is portrayed. And the other members of SG-1 aren’t much better here either. They have no issues with sticking Carter in a tent with the other women and having a laugh at her expense as she is forced to wear a dress that makes her look ridiculous. That whole scene where she first wears it is so awkward thanks to the reactions of Jack and Daniel. Daniel stares at her like he’s never seen a female before, while Jack behaves in the exact way a commanding officer shouldn’t. At least Teal’c didn’t say a word.

sg1 emancipation

Would it not have been a better idea to send her back to the SGC out of harm’s way? It is addressed, but her reasons for sticking around are flimsy. She’s confined to a tent and all she can do is have an early night, surely she would better off just going home? The only reason I can see that she didn’t is that she had to stay to give us a plot. It’s a plot that I could have done without though as it isn’t given anywhere near enough attention to detail as it should. Carter is put through the ringer here in more ways than one. You wouldn’t know it by the ending though. SG-1 laugh and joke about the whole thing as they head back to the gate because apparently Carter being forced to fight to the death and experiencing mental, physical and sexual abuse is a laugh riot for the early SG-1 team. There’s just too much awful here. The guest cast is fine for the most part, that’s a plus but they are hardly a memorable bunch. If there is any positive to find again it’s that there was some nice banter between the team early on and the show (from memory) never gets quite misses the mark like this again. And hey now it’s reviewed on the site I don’t have to watch it again!

But, it isn’t as awful as I remember and that’s largely down to Amanda Tapping. I can only imagine what she must have been thinking when acting all this out, yet she commits to the material and elevates everything as a result. The awful script comes to life at times purely because there’s a capable actress on hand to make the best of it. But yeah, it’s a lousy script that squanders what could have been an interesting tale. I still have no idea why the boy at the start was being chased by some random dogs for example. Who’s dogs were these? It’s a sign of a poor episode when a little detail like this is more intriguing than the actual plot.

The Stargate Costume Of The Episode Award

stargate carter dress

There are no words…

Star Turn

stargate carter

Amanda Tapping. All credit to her for making the best of a bad situation. I would love to hear her thoughts about this episode as they surely can’t be positive. Yet, she gives her all to it and it becomes just about watchable as a result.

Quotes

Jack : The hell with culture – a member of my team has been neutralised. That’s a hostile act.
Daniel :
How is it that you always come up with the worst case scenario?
Jack :
I practice

Native : That one is a woman.
Jack :
Observant bunch.

Carter: Daniel, find me an anthropologist that dresses like this and I will eat this headdress

Verdict

Despite Amanda Tapping’s best efforts, this is an early clunker of an episode. If you are trying to get someone into the world of Stargate, I’d advise skipping this. And if you’re a fan of Emancipation, please tell me why in the comments, I’d love to know!