Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 8: "Lockdown"

Warning: all of my reviews contain spoilers.

If you have any comments on this review, please email me at the address at the bottom.

Episode Information

Title: "Lockdown"
Written by: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie
Director: William Waring
Rating (out of 4 stars): **1/2
Reviewed on:July 24, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


This episode is a bottle show (few scenes outside of the SGC), but gives us a look at the "new order" of the show.

In the teaser, a Russian crew on the International Space Station is being directed in a maneuver to slightly alter the ISS's orbit to avoid debris from the battle with Anubis at the end of last season. This is actually a very nice dose of reality: the debris left over from the destroyed spaceships will present a very real hazard in Earth orbit. Some of the debris may fall to Earth and other bits may have been ejected from orbit, but most of it will continue in orbit around the Earth for quite some time. Even small pieces of material could damage and puncture the bulkheads of the ISS. This is an issue that has to be dealt with in real life. The specific debris being avoided in this maneuver is a piece of Anubis's mothership.

It's not clear how much time has elapsed since the events of "New Order, Part 2", but after the events in the teaser, at least a month passes before the meat of the episode. We see that Brigadier General O'Neill's desk has had ample time to become covered with paperwork. O'Neill has been coming under pressure from the Russian government to include them more in the SGC's programs, and Col. Vaselov, newly transferred to the SGC from Russia, campaigns to be O'Neill's replacement on SG-1. O'Neill has decided for the time being that SG-1 will be a three-person team.

Vaselov collapses during a welcome visit by Daniel. Dr. Brightman (a new doctor character that has appeared from nowhere) discovers that he is very ill with a high fever, white blood count, and lesions. When he regains consciousness, he doesn't recall anything he has done since leaving Russia. Dr. Brightman believes Vaselov may be carrying some kind of infectious disease.

O'Neill orders a lockdown of the base to prevent its spread. This occurs just as Daniel is about the leave Earth with another SG team. When he cannot leave, he grabs a gun and a hostage, shooting two of the gateroom guards. Teal'c zats Daniel, but he keeps coming, so O'Neill shoots him in the shoulder and he loses consciousness. When Daniel comes to in the infirmary, he cannot remember anything after talking with Vaselov.

The scene with Daniel in the gateroom underscores the differences between O'Neill's and Hammond's command style. General Hammond would have let the delegated guards and others (probably including SG-1) subdue Daniel. O'Neill, however, doesn't hesitate before grabbing a gun and running into the gateroom himself. Was this particularly wise? Probably not - what if he had been shot randomly? It is very true to O'Neill's personality, though, especially since Daniel was a member of his team.

Evidence is found that shows the problem is not some type of disease, but something more sinister. Vaselov has flashbacks to his missing memory, and feels like he was not in control of his actions. One of the Russian cosmonauts on the ISS mission (from the beginning of the episode) became ill and died with symptoms similar to Vaselov's - Vaselov was one of the last people to visit him in the hospital before he died. However, many other people had contact with the dying Russian in the hospital and were not afflicted. Daniel has flashback which clinch it - he realizes that Anubis was in control of his body.

Daniel and the others deduce that Anubis's noncorporeal being was not killed when his ship was destroyed - only his "exoskeleton" that let him manipulate matter was destroyed. Consequently, his essence was hanging out in a piece of ship debris until it passed close enough to the ISS for him to take over one of the cosmonauts. From there, he transferred between people with the goal of getting to the SGC and traveling through the stargate to another world where he can start over. At this point, he has temporarily been stymied, but Daniel believes he will not leave the SGC because the stargate is his only chance to leave Earth. Finally, Daniel states that Anubis hasn't used his ascended abilities because then the Ancients would notice and punish him.

So, how can they deal with Anubis? The difficulty of this problem is emphasized when Anubis makes another break for the stargate by taking over another airman, attacking several people, and trying to dial the stargate. The airman is zatted and made unconscious, but Anubis's essence simply leaves the airman, travels through walls, and disappears. How do you capture or destroy something that cannot be affected by matter? Well, I have my own comments on this (which I'll get into below), but the SGC personnel pretty much decide there is nothing they can do. So they devise a plan to force Anubis to use his ascended abilities in the hopes that the Ancients will deal with him.

The plan is to make it as difficult as possible for Anubis to use the stargate. The base is split into three parts that are kept completely separate: one part has the stargate, one part has the power for the stargate, and one part has the security controls to get between the various parts. Food and medicine will be split up between the sections so that absolutely no connection between them will occur.

This plan is implemented for about six days, with no incident. How can you tell if an noncorporeal being is still around? The President orders O'Neill to resume normal operations within 24 hours. O'Neill tries a bluff and announces base-wide that the plan will go on indefinitely. This spurs Anubis into action, and he takes over Carter. He uses Carter's computer skills to override the various security measures and sets up the stargate to dial automatically. But on the way to the gateroom, she is zatted by O'Neill.

Anubis takes over O'Neill and uses him to start the base self-destruct sequence. Meanwhile, Carter wakes up and realizes that Anubis is behind the self-destruct activation; she heads to the gate control room and convinces Teal'c she is not possessed, then shuts down the self-destruct. However, she cannot stop the stargate from dialing. O'Neill enters the gateroom, but before he can go through the gate, Vaselov charges in and grabs his gun. Vaselov tells Anubis to take his body instead, or he will shoot O'Neill. Anubis is apparently agreeable to this suggestion, and takes Vaselov's body through the stargate. Fortunately, Carter was able to change the destination the gate dialed, and she programmed in an extremely cold world, so Vaselov's body froze almost instantly. The episode ends with Anubis possibly not dead, but at least contained on the frozen world.

I have two general problems with this episode. The first is the idea of Anubis being an energy being, and how that is handled. Pure energy must be made up of light, which has no mass. If that light has the right wavelength, it can certainly pass through most matter (for example, radio waves and x-ray waves, which are both types of light, and can travel through walls). But, light has electromagnetic properties and therefore can be affected by electric and magnetic fields: why didn't Carter, of all people, think of trying something like this to attack or contain Anubis?

However, if Anubis's energy form can pass through matter, why doesn't it just pass through humans instead of possessing them? Another inconsistency: at the beginning of the episode, why was Anubis stuck on debris from his ship, when he can apparently travel safely without a human host? Finally, if Anubis is made of energy, i.e. light, he would not have been trapped in Earth orbit anyway, because his essence would be able to travel at the speed of light, which would certainly be fast enough to escape orbit, and indeed travel anywhere on Earth that he wanted to very rapidly.

Finally, a question about Anubis's behavior: why did Anubis agree to Vaselov's ultimatum and take Vaselov's body? Anubis has to have realized that Vaselov was gravely ill, and so his body would be usable for a shorter amount of time. If Vaselov did follow through on his threat and shoot O'Neill, then Anubis could take over Vaselov at that point. Heck, I would think that Anubis would prefer O'Neill to be shot, since Anubis is probably pretty annoyed with what O'Neill has done to him and his plans.

These are just some of the inconsistencies I feel are apparent in the treatment of Anubis as an energy being. They didn't bother me too much, but I hope they don't get any worse.

My second problem is with the three-part-base plan. The idea seems sound enough, but the implementation has a glaring omission. There are two people on the base that can sabotage the plan: O'Neill (by giving commands) and Carter (by using her computer skills). In addition, we have seen that Anubis can travel at least short distances within the base without a human host, which means he could possess someone without warning. Despite these two facts, no precautions are taken to ensure that neither O'Neill nor Carter are taken over by Anubis.

What precautions could have been taken? First, they could have been constantly under watch by multiple other SGC personnel to notice any change in behavior or shimmery Anubis presence. This is really the only way to guard Carter, since we assume her computer hacking skills could overcome any computer safeguards. In O'Neill's case, he could order (as part of the plan) that any key decisions by him must be seconded by at least one other high-ranking SGC member. One could argue that this didn't work, since Anubis used O'Neill to start the self-destruct; however, the major who confirmed O'Neill's decision clearly was not senior enough to go against O'Neill in any way. For this safeguard, the other member needed to confirm O'Neill's orders should have been Daniel or Teal'c, who would stand up to O'Neill.

Because these shortcomings in the plan were overlooked, Anubis managed to escape, making O'Neill and the SGC look silly in the process. Sure, Anubis didn't get to go to the planet he wanted to, but that was because of a last minute save by Carter.

This major plot issue really detracted from the episode. Despite it, there were definitely some good things. Watching O'Neill settle into command of the SGC is fun - his discussion of the base potato delivery was a hoot. Likewise was his avoidance of telling Daniel that he was responsible for shooting him. In addition, O'Neill's appreciation of the hassles Hammond had to deal with is growing almost visibly. He no longer only hears from the President when he saves the world, but also when he needs to get things fixed.

The appearance of Dr. Brightman in this episode mostly served in my mind to emphasize the loss of Dr. Frasier (in season 7's "Heroes, Part 2"). Dr. Brightman certainly lacked the same spark that Dr. Frasier had and came across pretty bland. Being reminded of Dr. Frasier made me think of how the number of characters on the series has been reduced: Dr. Frasier was killed, General Hammond was promoted, and the Tok'ra and Jaffa alliances have been ended so we don't see Jacob Carter or Bra'tac as often. This seems very limiting, so I hope new characters will be introduced or old ones return.

It's nice to see that the Russians are still making waves. Will anything change, probably against O'Neill's wishes, or was it just convenient for the plot?

Teal'c is getting an apartment off the base. What spurred this decision? Possibly the same thing that made him grow hair?

Return to my Stargate SG-1 reviews page.