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General Landry has scheduled a getaway for himself and SG-1 to relax and bond. Conveniently for the set budget, he has arranged to use General O'Neill's house in the woods (O'Neill being mostly in Washington, DC, these days). Landry and Mitchell get there first. Daniel is in England studying up on Merlin, so he won't be joining them (this is the second episode in a row without him). Carter, Vala, and Teal'c are delayed at the SGC: Carter is in command until Col. Reynolds of SG-3 returns from off-world, but the colonel has been delayed by developments on that planet.
Reynolds report that some vicious animal has suddenly been attacking the locals, ripping them to shreds. Carter sends Teal'c and Vala to the planet with Reynolds to help him figure out what's going on and track down the animal. There is some concern that the animal may be some insidious attack by the Ori. They eventually kill the animal and bring it back to the SGC for dissection. Inside it they find a still-live worm of some kind that is emitting radiation. Similar bestial attacks are beginning to be reported on other worlds.
Meanwhile, Mitchell is trying to deal with "relaxing" with Landry. I haven't compared General Landry to General O'Neill for quite awhile, but I couldn't help thinking that this scenario would never occur with General O'Neill. O'Neill might order SG-1 to take time off and relax, but he would never try to force some touchy-feely bonding event on them. He respected the fact that one can relax more easily without one's commanding officer around. Landry doesn't seem to quite appreciate this. He keeps entreating Mitchell to relax, but then when Mitchell does or says something that's a bit out-of-line, Landry jumps on him. It makes for a nerve-wracking situation for Mitchell.
At the SGC, progress is made in determining where the beasts on the different worlds are coming from. It turns out that the modifications the SGC made to the Sodan cloaking device (first seen in last season's "Babylon") are to blame. The device emitted radiation moderately harmful to humans, so the SGC "fixed" them. However, the radiation had a purpose: it repelled the worm-creatures. Without the extra radiation, the worms are attracted by the cloaking devices. The worms are partially extra-dimensional, but can enter our dimension via the cloaking device. Once here, they infest an animal and begin altering its DNA to make it monstrous. There is some reasonable internal consistency here with previous episodes, such as season 6's "Sight Unseen", but I'm not sure that's a plus.
Meanwhile, in the state park adjacent to O'Neill's house, some kind of animal is beginning to kill hunters. Because of a storm which knocked out power and phone lines, Landry and Mitchell are not up to date on developments with the extra-dimensional worms. Landry figures it's an angry grizzly bear, and he and Mitchell join the game wardens in trying to track it down. More hunters are killed and it becomes clear that more than a bear is involved. Mitchell incidentally apprehends a Trust operative using a cloaking device to spy on him and Landry; we assume that the cloaking device has lured at least one worm into the area and is the cause of the rampaging beast.
Communications are restored, and the rest of SG-1, plus several other SG teams, travel to the area to track down the monster. They are successful: there are actually two of the beasts. With the threat averted, SG-1 and Landry retire to O'Neill's house for some poker.
As I said, this episode was painful. The effects for the "monsters" were pretty bad; fortunately, the monsters were wisely kept off-screen and unseen for most of the episode. The plot was painful, because it was sort of a horror story, but not really. It just wandered around a bit and didn't seem to have much of a point. The characters were painful, because the interaction between Landry and Mitchell was so awkward; I think this part was intentional, but it wasn't much fun to watch. Mitchell just can't tell when Landry is joking or being serious, and frankly, neither can I.
There were some good points. I like that Mitchell is again being shown to be young (for his rank): he prefers video games to chess, has a hard time being away from his laptop, and needs to be doing something all the time.
I appreciated getting a better feel for the command structure of the SGC. As was implied throughout the series, if Landry is off-base, then the commander of SG-1 is in command of the SGC. Carter isn't technically commander of SG-1, but she holds the same rank as Mitchell, so it seems reasonable for her to be in command when Mitchell and Landry are both gone. I think she enjoyed throwing Teal'c and Vala together for their off-planet trip.
Vala's tendency to be a know-it-all was mildly amusing, and I appreciated the fact that she was sometimes right and sometimes wrong.
Finally, the end poker scene was very reminiscent of Star Trek: the Next Generation. I think I would've guessed that Teal'c and Vala would be good poker players, what with Teal'c's stone-faced expressions and Vala's deviousness. I also probably would've guessed Carter would be an indifferent player, because I just don't think she's the type to enjoy bluffing. However, I wouldn't have guessed Mitchell would be so bad. I guess he got into the video game craze, but missed out on the recent poker craze.
What does this episode do for the series? Not much. I like the idea that the SGC might be inadvertently causing problems with their misuse of alien technology. However, this twist on that just wasn't very appealing. They will be able to keep this from happening in the future, but in the meantime it just distracted them from their efforts against the Ori.