Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 9: "Off the Grid"

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Episode Information

Title: "Off the Grid"
Written by: Alan McCullough
Director: Peter DeLuise
Rating (out of 4 stars): **
Reviewed on: October 3, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


This episode wandered through confrontations with the Lucian Alliance, a plethora of Baals, and, oh yes, corn.

Colonel Reynolds and SG-3 have just returned from a new planet with a piece of produce that looks like corn, but is apparently extremely addictive and is called kassa. The member of SG-3 that tried and got hooked called it "sweet corn heaven". Boy, doesn't that sound yummy. Landry, Reynolds and SG-1 debate whether kassa could be some evil Ori plant (pardon the pun), but decide it's unlikely. Nevertheless, SG-1 travels to one of the planets apparently producing kassa in order to investigate.

Mitchell decides to pose as a drug dealer looking for a supplier. This is after a lengthy debate between SG-1 about which of them could most likely pose as a drug dealer, with Mitchell dismissing Carter as "Mary Poppins" immediately (although I doubt Mary Poppins ever showed that much cleavage). One gets the impression that SG-1 has trouble taking this mission seriously, since after all, they are investigating addictive corn.

Mitchell makes contact with the local kassa distributor, Worrel. Worrel is a second-string Lucian Alliance member. (We first heard about the Lucian Alliance in "The Ties That Bind".) Negotiations do not go well, forcing Mitchell and SG-1 to make a hasty retreat to the stargate. But before they can dial Earth, the stargate and DHD are beamed away, apparently via Asgard transporters.

Worrel takes SG-1 captive. He believes that SG-1 had something to do with the stargate disappearing, refusing the logic that they wouldn't beam away the gate before they had the chance to escape. He and his minions abuse SG-1 for a couple days, but get nothing of use from them. In fact, SG-1 takes this abuse pretty lightly, and refuse to take Worrel seriously. I suppose each of them has faced much more serious threats, but they seemed almost glib.

Meanwhile, at the SGC, Landry has been unable to dial SG-1's planet via the stargate. Dr. Lee has determined that kassa is in fact a psychotropic drug, and that it was deliberately engineered. Landry sends the Odyssey, who is still undergoing final testing, to pick up SG-1. The missing stargate mystery is made even more perplexing when Tok'ra reports indicate that a number of other stargates in the area have been stolen.

Colonel Emerson on the Odyssey beams up SG-1 just in time to prevent their demise at Worrel's hands. The head of the Lucian Alliance, Netan, is peeved that Worrel let his stargate get stolen and lost SG-1. Netan is determined to get the stargate back, in order to keep the flow of kassa going.

General Landry makes a deal with Nerus, the Goa'uld the SGC retained as a "guest" in "Beachhead", to find out what Nerus might know about someone stealing stargates. Nerus says that it must be Baal; Baal plans to move the stargates to now gateless worlds in order to rebuild his empire. In return for this information, Landry releases Nerus. Our clever general has planted a beacon on Nerus, so when he returns to Baal, SG-1 is able to find him.

Landry also had Dr. Lee implant viruses in Nerus's devices, so when he interfaces them with the computers on Baal's ship, bad things happen. Baal's ship's shields go down, allowing SG-1 to beam on board. They locate the stargates (it's a very weird and funny thing to see dozens of stargates just piled into a big room) and place locator beacons on them so the Odyssey can beam them off. Of course, they have to keep Baal's Jaffa at bay to do this.

While SG-1 is on Baal's ship, three Lucian Alliance ships arrive, demanding their stargate back. When Baal is uncooperative, they begin attacking. This places the Odyssey in the odd position of hoping Baal's ship will survive until SG-1 can leave it. In the end, SG-1 uses one of the stargates to travel back to Earth. The Odyssey beams away the rest of the gates, and the Lucian Alliance ships destroy Baal's ship (and a number of Baal clones).

This episode touched on a number of different on-going plots, but didn't accomplish much with any of them. First, the idea of addictive corn is just a little strange. While the idea of crime lords taking advantage of the lack of authority figures to keep them in check is believable, it's just not all that interesting. The SGC is not an intergalactic police force. SG-1's visit to the kassa planet didn't seem to be taken seriously by the writers, the actors, or the characters.

Dr. Lee said that kassa was engineered to be addictive. By who? The Lucian Alliance? Do they have anyone that smart? Earlier, the SGC decided that kassa didn't follow the Ori modus operandi - were they wrong? It seems like getting people addicted to a drug would be helpful to the Ori only if they were controlling the distribution so that they could give out the drug in exchange for worship; however, we did not see any evidence of Ori involvement.

The episode also had a weird teaser: the teaser showed SG-1 trying to escape from Worrel, and the stargate being beamed away. Then the episode jumped back to eight hours before and proceeded chronologically. There was just no reason for this odd order of events.

The Lucian Alliance again appears to be no more than a trumped-up group of thugs. The leader, Netan, does have some courage, since he does go up against Baal without a second thought (although three-to-one odds in his favor probably helped). But what did he hope to accomplish by destroying Baal's ship? Then he'd never get his stargate back.

Baal's ship was destroyed, apparently with a number of Baal clones on board. How many of the clones were killed? Was the original Baal aboard?

A practical issue: how could the Odyssey beam away so many stargates at once? We got the impression that there were a couple dozen gates, at least. That's a lot of mass. Where on the Odyssey is there room to store them? Is the Odyssey's structure capable of supporting them (since the artificial gravity is pulling them down toward the floor)? Apparently the ship can do all these things, since we didn't hear otherwise, but these are not insignificant issues.

A couple smaller details were noteworthy. Apparently the SGC is still in communication with the Tok'ra and are exchanging information. Also, each member of SG-1 has a locator beacon chip implanted inside them so that they can be easily found and beamed away, without relying on an external device that could be taken away from them.

So what long-term effects does this episode have? Well, I suppose the kassa situation is unresolved...I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing more about that. The missing stargates will presumably be returned, so that's not an issue. The Lucian Alliance is still a galactic player - one wonders what they are doing vis a vis the Ori invasion. Some Baal clones have been killed, but presumably others are still around. Nothing was found that can help repel the Ori invasion or defend Earth.

What about our characters? We don't learn much more about them. They can take a licking and keep on ticking.

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