Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 10: "The Quest, Part 1"

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Episode Information

Title: "The Quest, Part 1"
Written by: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie
Director: Andy Mikita
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: December 24, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


SG-1 finally determines the location of Merlin's anti-Ori weapon and sets off to get it. Along the way, they form an unusual partnership with some of their enemies.

Daniel and Vala have finally figured out the location of Merlin's anti-Ori weapon. They do this by realizing that the three planets they had visited following Arthur's quest and the Camelot planet form a tetrahedron in space: some nice 3-D work, since writers often forget that space is three-dimensional. They deduce the planet is inside the tetrahedron, and Vala has a dream telling her the stargate address of the planet is a combination of the gate addresses of the other three planets they have visited. Sure enough, only one stargate that they know of fits that criterion, so they quickly set out.

The planet has another small, medieval civilization. They are told that if they are searching for the Sangraal, they need to speak to Osric, keeper of the archives. Osric shows them a cryptic parchment written by Morgan LeFey, which tells them they need to employ virtues on their quest: prudence, charity, kindness, wisdom, and faith. Osric warns them that a dragon guards the Sangraal. He also says there is a map, but refuses to show it to them, because the last questers (deduced to be Baal and his Jaffa) didn't want to give it back.

Ori forces arrive and take over the village. They clearly have been told that Osric knows some important information, so they come searching for him. SG-1 and Osric escape from the village with some help from the locals, and begin the quest for the Sangraal, using Osric's memory of the map as a guide.

Now begins the literal interpretation of Morgan LeFey's words, which is not that satisfying, because it doesn't demand that much ingenuity from our heroes. They encounter a region where people seem to be frozen; this is really pretty eerie-looking. Using her instruments, Carter determines that this is a time-dilation region, and the people inside it have their time slowed down by thousands of times compared to "real" time.

The region is too big to go around, so they must find a way through it. Carter finds a path of normal time leading through the region: a maze. They begin going through it using her instrument, but then the instrument fails and they must continue on using prudence. Carter realizes that not only are people "frozen" in time, but also objects, so she tosses a rock to see how far it goes before "freezing": that's how far the normal time extends in that direction. This is a clever idea, but I was frustrated that someone didn't think of expanding this more practically: there's lots of sand around, so why not toss handfuls everywhere? You'd make essentially walls of sand at the borders of the time dilation region, outlining very clearly the edges.

They get through this test and head into the woods, where they encounter Baal sitting on a treasure chest dejectedly. He tries to warn them not to come closer (I'll give him credit for that), but it's too late, and they are caught in the same forcefield trap with him. The treasure chest is empty. Daniel realizes they need to demonstrate the opposite of greed, which is charity, so each of them gives something to the treasure chest. Baal does so unwillingly. Once this is done, the forcefield is turned off. Baal convinces them to spare his life and take him along by saying that he knows the name of the dragon.

This trap was pretty perplexing. First of all, since Baal was there for 2 - 3 days, you'd think he might have thought of that solution. Second, what kind of technology could actually interpret their actions so well? The trap "knew" how many of them were there and apparently which of had contributed to the treasure chest. Of course, we don't know that putting the correct number of rocks in the chest wouldn't have worked as well.

They reach some caves as the next part of their journey. Daniel calls Osric out as an impostor: he quoted the Book of Origin earlier, and the ring he put in the chest was Ori design. (Daniel's suspicions were illustrated rather subtly with odd looks in each case, but it's nice to make it apparent if you're watching for it.) Osric reveals that he is actually Adria, in quite an impressive disguise. She knows the basics of the quest, but she also knows that she cannot actually retrieve the Sangraal herself, because she doesn't have "truth of spirit". Consequently, she's planning on making Daniel retrieve it, and she threatens to kill off SG-1 if Daniel doesn't agree. With no choice, SG-1 agrees to let her come along.

Once in the caves, they encounter a number of riddles. First, they rescue a lost child (who is an illusion), demonstrating kindness. They they choose directions based on answering riddles, demonstrating wisdom. The last riddle is a wall of fire. After some searching for a way around or a riddle clue, Daniel realizes he must demonstrate faith, and walks right through it. The fire disappears, leaving a narrow walkway out to a platform over a bottomless pit. On the platform is a red jewel, the Sangraal.

Daniel and Adria go to the platform to retrieve it. Daniel puts together a few previous observations (Adria threatening Baal, but not following through, and Adria physically helping to lift something instead of using telekinesis.) and realizes Adria's special powers don't work in the caves. He refuses to pick up the Sangraal for her, and Adria essentially admits that he is correct. He then tries to pick up the Sangraal for SG-1, but it is a hologram. And then the dragon arrives.

Well, this episode is good because it finally will (hopefully!) result in securing the Sangraal. However, it is frustrating that the team's actions are essentially written out for them. Once they solved traps using prudence and charity, it seems clear that the other virtues are keys to the remaining tests. What's puzzling is that Baal and Adria in particular don't seem to realize that, especially when helping the lost child. I suppose this is showing that evil people doesn't want to preform good acts, even when it will benefit them.

So a lot of this episode felt like SG-1 jumping through hoops. Osric turning out to be Adria was a nice twist, as was the revelation that she's been waiting for them to get here and so even planted the gate address dream in Vala. Assuming that SG-1 does get the Sangraal, how will they keep it from Adria when they leave the Ori Neutralization Zone?

Bring Baal into the plot is a little weird, although I suppose it makes some since, given that we knew he was searching for the Sangraal himself. However, he doesn't seem to do much here. Presumably his knowledge of the dragon's name will be key in the next part. I did enjoy the contrast between Baal and Adria's attitudes toward SG-1: Adria is spouting her own propaganda and trying to persuade them, while Baal has a more casual attitude of an old enemy and doesn't even mention the Goa'uld as gods aspect anymore. Actually, a discussion between Adria and Baal about their respective "godhoods" might have been interesting. However, I think Baal realizes he's outclassed.

There's not too much more to this episode. I did enjoy Vala squealing that she loves riddles, only to have her not solve any of them. Also, it seemed perfectly obvious that with how many times Carter was going to state that dragons didn't exist that we would get an actual dragon. Overall, the characters seemed to just be pawns for Morgan LeFey's riddles. Hopefully the second part will let the characters be themselves.

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