Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 6: "Paradise Lost"

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Episode Information

Title: "Paradise Lost"
Written by: Robert C. Cooper
Director: William Gereghty
Rating (out of 4 stars):***
Reviewed on: April 17, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


This episode is presumably the last to feature Col. Harry Maybourne. Maybourne is in fine form in the episode, still able to bullshit, cover his ass, and manipulate people with the best of them. As soon as Maybourne said he wanted to go on the mission to the planet, we knew he would find a way to do so. When O'Neill threatened to take the key to the planet without him, he immediately revealed that there was a "combination" to the lock that only he knew. I was sure that this was complete fiction, so I was surprised when there actually was a sequence of turns of the key in the alien device.

Maybourne's escape into the transporter device is masterful. I do believe he feels some friendship with O'Neill, so he zats O'Neill rather than shooting him. He also realizes that if he causes any harm to Carter, O'Neill will be after him forever, so he zats her as well.

The "paradise" that Maybourne escapes to (and O'Neill is also transported to) has a nicely ironic twist: Maybourne didn't realize how old his "invitation" was, and so everyone is dead. Even so, I will say that the scenery and setting were stunning and very beautiful. One wonders if Maybourne would have been happy here by himself, roughing it, if the flora had turned out to be completely innocuous.

The transition of the paradise from an innocent place to a place of paranoia starts out very subtly. The remains of the former inhabitants are somewhat spooky, but obviously they are long-dead. We get a view of O'Neill refilling his canteen from the lake, and if you watch closely, you will see him put in a water-purification tablet and shake the canteen. This is a nice lead-in to Maybourne's later revelation that he's been drinking the lake water "straight up", at which time we also see him munching on native plants. This shows why Maybourne slides into paranoia so much earlier than O'Neill.

The tensions between O'Neill and Maybourne mount, as Maybourne becomes more paranoid from the drug-plant, and O'Neill completely fails to understand WHY Maybourne is becoming that way. Maybourne's transition is probably also helped along by his inherent paranoid nature from all his work at the NID and on the run.

We finally see O'Neill cross the line into paranoia, with a nice change in lighting and cinematography. It definitely gives a desperate feel to what O'Neill is seeing and hearing, also helped by the cranked-up spooky noise effects.

I'm not sure how O'Neill managed to figure out that the plant acted like a drug to induce paranoia. I realize he examined the remains and noted that they all died by violence, but how does he know they ate much of the plant? The Goa'uld symbiote remains were definitely a good clue that something was fishy, however.

Still thinking like part of a team, O'Neill tries to find Maybourne and tell him what their problem is. However, he runs into one of Maybourne's booby-traps: a grenade on a trip-wire. When the grenade explodes, he gets some nice shrapnel in his leg. Maybourne claims the booby-trap was to kill the local wild pig, to which O'Neill has one of his best lines, "With a grenade?!"

Later, Maybourne's paranoia has finally gotten him to track down O'Neill to eliminate him. O'Neill now is still injured from the shrapnel, but appears to have stopped eating the plant and to be sober. He tries to explain the situation to Maybourne, but is forced to shoot him (there's a silver lining in everything) - in the leg. O'Neill subsequently tells Maybourne that he (Maybourne) is losing a lot of blood, so O'Neill has to do something, but we're not clear what that something is. When Maybourne awakens, O'Neill is sitting over him with a hollow reed - did he try to do some kind of blood transfusion? That seems way beyond O'Neill's knowledge.

In the end, the two are finally rescued by the Tok'ra. O'Neill agrees to let Maybourne go with the Tok'ra and remain off-world and thus escape permanent imprisonment.

The other plot in the episode is the attempt by the rest of SG-1 to find O'Neill. This seems to be an effort supported mostly by Carter; while Teal'c says they have not given up hope, and Jonas gives some help, they don't seem as concerned as I might have expected.

Carter gets Dr. Lee and other scientists assigned to come to the planet to study the alien transporter. Somewhat shockingly, I thought, the scientists decide on their own that their efforts have gone far enough and head back to Earth, despite Carter ordering them to stay. Carter appears to have completely lost control of the situation with them. I'm not sure how to take this, because while the scientists on the show have been show as insubordinate, they generally will obey a direct order while the orderer is standing right in front of them. I tried to picture this same scene happening with O'Neill in charge instead of Carter, and I just couldn't. I think this reflects on two things. First, Carter's obvious emotional upset at having lost O'Neill, which she blames herself for. Second, the fact that Carter is still not quite the experienced leader that O'Neill is - she was unsure of herself enough to let the situation get away from her, and once the moment was lost it was too late. Finally, I was also surprised that Teal'c did not back Carter better in the situation - even a stern look by him could have worked wonders.

Later on, we do have a nice scene between Carter and Teal'c where she feels free to show her grief at having lost O'Neill. It's good to see her mentioning Daniel, as well, since that type of loss would be felt for a long time. It is also good to see the trust between the team members.

Eventually, Carter redeems herself (to herself, if no one else) by figuring out that O'Neill was transported to the moon of the planet. Presumably the SGC then arranges the rescue by the Tok'ra that we see. It's unfortunate that we don't get to see the reunion between O'Neill and SG-1.

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