Stargate SG-1 Review: The Broca Divide
SG-1 its a planet that has two different sides; the light and the dark. In the light side they meet a very civilized civilization, and in the dark side they find what seems to be primitive and violent people. Soon after their return from that planet, some members of SG-1 begin to change their behaviour and act as if they are primitive. Soon those symptoms spread through the SGC.
A bizarre episode this. On the one hand, it’s a good science fiction tale with some interesting ideas and a somewhat tense outbreak situation (I do love outbreak situations on TV), But on the other, it’s one of those episodes that if you were watching with a non Stargate fan, you may be a little embarrassed by. It’s not that the actors here don’t give as good a performance as they can, they do commit to the story extremely well. It’s just that whenever you have an actor go caveman- it invariably comes across as a little silly rather than effective television. Buffy’s Beer Bad is another example that shows it’s not such a great idea to do this sort of plot. The only one who comes out of the infected shtick looking alright is Richard Dean Anderson, who despite the less than stellar wails he gave throughout, got the chance to show that he was fighting the infection. The scene where he tried to communicate to Janet was the highlight of the episode. As I say, the other actors do fine with what they’re given, it’s just that they aren’t given all that much.
Speaking of Janet I had forgotten we met Dr Frasier this early on and she is instantly likeable here. She fits in so well that it’s like she had been around since the pilot; it’s little wonder that she became the doctor of choice for the next 7 seasons as she has an instant rapport with the cast. As for the infection itself, the way in which it spreads is equal part amusing as it is threatening. The decision to have Carter to jump Jack is a little off (especially after the last episode), but then shortly after we get Jack himself attacking Daniel. The change in tone here is quite jarring, despite it being pretty shocking seeing Jack acting so violently. This all seems to be a way of telling us that the Jack and Carter have feelings for each other. It feels a little too soon to be going here. Also, in my mind, the relationship aspect is something that the show (and the franchise really) was never really able to handle all that well. Jack and Carter are only ever really alluded to when it comes to the two of them and the feelings they have. It’s an aspect of the show that I wish had been explored in my more detail. Luckily we don’t spend too much time on the symptoms, finding the cure takes centre stage and so the episode doesn’t veer too far into bad territory. That’s not to say all of the scenes showing the symptoms are bad. I enjoyed seeing Johnson attack Teal’c for example; mainly for seeing Teal’c stop him just by grabbing his fist. It was also interesting to see that there are those at the SGC who still have issues with having one of their enemies working alongside them. It would have been nice to have seen more of this in the shows early days.
The planet has an interesting set up with the whole land of the light/dark scenario. I like the idea that it was the Goa’uld that caused all these problems in the first place; it’s a much better explanation than it randomly occurring. Something that doesn’t help the episode is the tribe’s people of the other world they visit. There’s some questionable acting going on here with the extras that really cheapens things. The bizarre costume choices (see below) weren’t great either. The extravagant outfits that are seen a lot in the shows early days always bothered me. Admittedly, this is the kind of problem that is subjective. I’m sure there are many who enjoy seeing them. And even though he wasn’t himself, there is the small matter of it being heavily implied that Daniel had his way with a cavewoman. It would have been nice to have the fact he cheated on Shar’e at least brought up. Yes, he was isn’t in control of his actions, but surely it would have been something that he would have felt awful about. A line of dialogue at least would have done here. There’s also the small matter of Teal’c taking someone’s blood without their consent. It was a questionable thing to do certainly and it would have been nice to see that addressed. That being said, it was a pretty badass moment, right?
This is still a better instalment that then last, despite all the criticisms. SG-1 actually making an ally and doing something good is kind of the mission statement with this show.
The Stargate Costume Of The Episode Award
I Know That Face!
Teryl Rothery makes her debut here as Janet Frasier, a role she will continue in for the first seven seasons of the show. Rothery is a face you may well recognise from elsewhere as she’s popped up in a lot of things. Most recently she has been seen in Arrow, playing Oliver Queen’s lawyer, Jean Loring. She’s also guest-starred on shows including Supernatural, The X-Files, Wayward Pines and The Good Doctor.
This is also the first appearance of Steve Makaj as Makepeace. He’ll appear a few times until the third season. The actor has appeared in shows including Once Upon a Time.
It’s no coincidence that the leading character who doesn’t get affected wins the award for this episode. It was nearly Richard Dean Anderson, but Teal’s understated performance here wins out.
Janet : So, the question is, why haven’t you and Mr Teal’c come down with the symptoms?
Daniel : Ah, Mr. Teal’c…Teal’c’s symbiote probably protects him.
Teal’c : That would be likely.
Janet : What about you, Dr. Jackson?
Daniel : That beats me. You’re the doctor, Doctor. Ah, maybe I have a natural immunity.
Teal’c : Perhaps you will develop symptoms later.
Daniel : Thank you for the moral support
Jack : Lucy! I’m home!
Teal’c : I cannot be certain you are back to being your old self. You referred to me as Lucy
The Broca Divide does some things right and does deliver an at times fascinating story. There’s an interesting concept at work here that is let down somewhat by the execution. No TV show should try the revert to caveman idea, it’s seldom a success. Does anyone have an example of a show that has pulled it off?