Stargate SG-1 Season 7
Executive producers: Robert C. Cooper, Michael Greenburg, Richard Dean Anderson
Consulting producer: Brad Wright
Original air dates: June 13, 2003 – March 19, 2004
Mission briefing. The theme of this season is the search for the Lost City of the Ancients—the initial part of which involves finding a naked Jackson, who has de-ascended and remembers nothing. Eventually, his memory of his previous life returns, but he recalls nothing of his time while ascended. Later, Osiris tries to goose Jackson’s quest for the Lost City through his dreams.
Anubis continues to be the major threat to Earth—and the other System Lords—throughout the season. He learns of Naquadria from probing Quinn’s mind and tries to acquire the unstable material from the Kelownans. Afterward, Quinn returns home, his exile lifted, and Jackson rejoins SG-1, though SG-1 eventually returns to aid Quinn in saving his homeworld from earthquakes caused by a new vein of Naquadria. Later, Anubis develops super soldiers known as Kull Warriors, who prove incredibly difficult to stop, as proved when one destroys the Alpha Site.
The Lost City is eventually found—kind of. There’s an Ancient base in Antarctica, which results in Anubis attacking Earth and the Air Force defending the planet against him in a slam-bang finale that includes Hammond in charge of Prometheus and Dr. Elizabeth Weir now in charge of the SGC. That last is due to a change in power: Henry Hayes is the new president, with Kinsey as his vice president, and once he’s briefed on the Stargate program, he insists in civilian oversight. This after his predecessor sends a camera crew to document the Stargate program for that future time when the public learns of the gate.
Prior to being used to defend against Anubis, Prometheus continues to be tested. One such test flight results in contact with an alien presence that causes hallucinations for Carter. Meanwhile O’Neill is cloned by the Asgard, which is something less than a success, and Jackson gets several personalities downloaded into his brain when they encounter a generation ship. He also conscripts Chaka to help negotiate between an SG team and a group of Unas.
Teal’c continues to help build the Jaffa resistance, converting several Jaffa, including Yu’s First Prime, as well as learning of a group of Moloc’s female Jaffa who have created their own rebellion. He also continues to preach Tretonin as an alternative to symbiotes, though he himself has some difficulty adjusting to a life where he doesn’t heal quickly.
Some old friends return: Felger tries to save his job at the SGC with a virus that can shut down a DHD that instead shuts down the entire Stargate network, while Warrick Finn, whom SG-1 rescued, asks for Carter’s help to win a race. And the rogue elements of the NID are still causing trouble, using a Nazi scientist to splice Goa’uld DNA into a cloned human, with disastrous results.
Gate travel still happens, as SG-1 finds a planet where the population keeps decreasing without anyone noticing, and SG-13 goes through the gate only to find a Jaffa ambush—one that claims the life of Dr. Janet Fraiser.
Best episode: “Heroes.” While this two-parter is mostly remembered as the one where Fraiser died—and which spent a lot of time misdirecting us into thinking O’Neill was the one who was killed—it had a lot more going for it, including spectacular guest turns by two brilliant actors in Saul Rubinek and Robert Picardo, as well as a delightful look at another SG team in the Adam Baldwin-led SG-13 that makes you want to know more about the greater tapestry of the SGC. (It also shows up how absurd the franchise’s conceit of concealing the SGC from the public is, but there you go.)
Runners up: “Fragile Balance,” in which Michael Welch does an amazing Richard Dean Anderson impersonation. “Resurrection,” which has a horrific experiment that ties into the show’s mythos very nicely, and is a rare Earth-based episode that feels significant rather than budget-saving filler. “Inauguration,” a clip show that works thanks to some amazing performances in the framing material by the assorted guest stars: Picardo, William Devane as the new president, James Fancy as the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, and old reliable Ronny Cox as Kinsey. “Lost City,” which is an exciting finale that would’ve actually been a worthy series finale if they hadn’t renewed it.
Worst episode: “Space Race.” A plot that belongs in a middling episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century or Space: 1999 or the original Battlestar Galactica or some other mediocre 70s show. Just awful on every possible level with one notable exception: Christopher Judge manages the biggest laugh of the entire season just by identifying himself as “Murray.”
Runners up: “Lifeboat,” like “Legacy” in season 3, spends too much time as an acting exercise for Michael Shanks and not enough as an interesting story. “Enemy Mine,” proving that the Unas still aren’t interesting. “Avenger 2.0,” which shows that “The Other Guys” mostly worked because of John Billingsley, whose absence is keenly felt in this unfunny disaster.
Special mention to “Death Knell,” which is actually a great episode on paper, but is a disaster on execution. Not enough time is spent on Carter’s plight, and the collapse of the Tau’ri-Tok’ra-Jaffa rebellion alliance is handled incredibly poorly. Jacob’s being marginalized is actually an interesting plot point, but neither Sebastian Spence’s Tok’ra nor Mark Gibbon’s Jaffa is anyone we give a damn about, so the entire subplot feels oddly removed and inconsequential for something that should be more major. The presence of Bra’tac and of a Tok’ra we actually know would have made this plotline much more convincing; as it stands, it feels irrelevant.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Lot of biological experiments gone awry this season, from Loki’s botched clone of O’Neill in “Fragile Balance” to Anubis’s creation of the Kull Warriors using blank-slate hosts in “Evolution” to the NID’s attempts to splice Goa’uld and human DNA together in “Resurrection.”
For cryin’ out loud! The Asgard have protected O’Neill from being cloned, which Loki finds out to his chagrin. O’Neill also gets to have an Ancient repository downloaded into his brain again in “Lost City,” which enables him to operate the device in Antarctica that takes out Anubis’s fleet.
It might work, sir. Busy year for Carter: she helps run a “Space Race,” she holds her own by herself against a Kull Warrior in “Death Knell,” she helps Felger stop “Avenger 2.0” from destroying the Stargate network, she has alien-induced hallucinations of her loved ones on Prometheus in “Grace,” and she starts dating a Denver cop named Pete Shanahan in “Chimera.”
Indeed. Teal’c has trouble adjusting to not having a symbiote larva to heal him, and—as usual—it takes Bra’tac whupping him upside the head for him to snap out of it in “Orpheus.” He also gets a new girlfriend in Ishta in “Birthright.”
I speak 23 different languages—pick one. Jackson is de-ascended, and alive and well, but he only remembers tiny flashes of his time as an ascended being (which proves handy in “Orpheus”). He also gets to save his ex, as he’s able to get Osiris removed from Sarah Gardner at the end of “Chimera.”
You have a go. With President Hayes’s election, Hammond is removed as commander of the SGC, replaced by Weir, in the “Lost City” two-parter. However, this is not a forced retirement, as Hayes wants Hammond closer to him. This is a prelude to season 8, when Hammond will be reassigned to the newly formed Department of Homeworld Security. More immediately, though, he’s in command of Prometheus when Earth forces kick Anubis’s butt.
How do I know what color to wear? Quinn is allowed to go back home, and then falls for a woman who turns out to be a Goa’uld. I hate when that happens…
Wayward home for out-of-work genre actors. In “Heroes,” we get Adam Baldwin, the first of three Firefly alumni to show up (Morena Baccarin will recur in SG-1‘s final two seasons and one of the movies, and Jewel Staite will join the cast of Atlantis); Saul Rubinek, past Star Trek guest and future Warehouse 13 star; and former Star Trek: Voyager star Robert Picardo, who launches his role of Richard Woolsey, which will continue to recur on both SG-1 and Atlantis before becoming an opening-credits regular in the latter’s final season. Jolene Blalock takes a break from Star Trek: Enterprise to play Ishta in “Birthright,” a role she’ll return to in season 9. Enrico Collatoni of Galaxy Quest fame shows up in “Evolution.” Marc Worden, who played Worf’s son Alexander on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, plays a Jaffa in “Lost City, Part 2.” And Ronny Cox and Ingrid Kavelaars return to play Kinsey and Gant.
Trivial matters. As with season 6, this was intended to be the final season, with the spinoff Atlantis taking over for the 2004/2005 season. However, ratings were strong enough for the Sci-Fi Channel to have two Stargate shows running at once, so plans were changed and SG-1 was renewed for an eighth season.
Richard Dean Anderson continued to have a reduced schedule, appearing minimally (“Fragile Balance,” “Space Race”) or not at all (“Resurrection,” “Inauguration”) in certain episodes.
Michael Shanks cowrites two episodes and Amanda Tapping directs an episode this season. Shanks joins Christopher Judge as an actor who gets a writer credit, while Tapping joins Shanks as an actor who directs. Indeed, “Resurrection” is the only SG-1 that is both written (Shanks) and directed (Tapping) by an actor.
After the president being off-camera and unidentified by name for seven years, the newly elected president is seen and named: Henry Hayes, played by William Devane. Devane previously played President John F. Kennedy in The Missiles of October (the first shot of him in “Inauguration” mirrors a shot of him as JFK in that film), and he’ll go on to play another fictional president on 24: Live Another Day. Devane only appears on the series in the final three episodes of this season, though he’s mentioned several times afterward. An alternate-timeline version of him will appear in the film Continuum.
Corin Nemec appears thrice as Quinn, reduced to guest star status with the return of Michael Shanks. He’s not seen or mentioned again after this season. As for Shanks, he goes from second-billed to getting the “and” credit at the end, allowing Amanda Tapping to keep the second-billed position she was “promoted” to in season 6.
David DeLuise starts the recurring role of Carter’s new beau, Pete Shanahan, making him the fourth DeLuise family member to appear on the show. Peter—besides being a producer and one of the show’s most prolific writers and directors—has made cameos in several episodes and appeared in “Wormhole X-treme!” alongside Michael, and Dom—the father of Peter, Michael, and David—appeared in “Urgo.”
The character of Elizabeth Weir first appears in “Lost City,” played by Jessica Steen. She’ll be replaced by Torri Higginson starting in season 8 and continuing through to Atlantis (and one or two more SG-1 appearances).
The anthology Far Horizons has two excellent sequels to episodes from this season: “Off-Balance” by Sally Malcolm, which looks in on the O’Neill clone from “Fragile Balance” several years later, and “Perceptions” by Diana Dru Botsford, which details the aftermath of Fraiser’s death in “Heroes.”
Chevron seven locked. And so begins the “oh, crap, we have to do another season?” era of SG-1. There are obviously still stories to tell, but at this point, there aren’t enough to justify a score of episodes. When the focus is on the big picture—usually in a two-part episode—then the writing and acting is usually at its best. It really would have been better for the storytelling to reduce the seasonal order to ten episodes or so.
Instead, we get a few standouts where important things happen and a lot of nonsense in between. In particular, there’s a tiresome trend of breaking the team up for individual storylines (“Orpheus,” “Chimera,” “Grace,” “Birthright”). There’s just a lot of mediocrity here, from the totally blown opportunity of “Death Knell” to the aggressively awful “Space Race” to the paint-by-numbers offworld adventures “Revisions” and “Fallout.”
Anubis is a good bad guy, a true threat to our heroes, and it results in a truly spectacular finale. But too much time is spent stumbling around looking for the Lost City, which is practically wearing a neon sign saying, “we’re setting up the spinoff.”
Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest fiction release is “Down to the Waterline,” an urban fantasy set in Key West, Florida involving nixies, ghosts, scuba diving, rock and roll, mysterious murders, and the evils of spam filters. The story is free on the online magazine Buzzy Mag. It’s one of several Key West urban fantasies Keith has written, many of which can be found in the collection Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet.