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GateWorld
July 28th, 2006, 07:36 PM
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<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/sg1/s10/1007.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">COUNTERSTRIKE</A></FONT>
<FONT SIZE="1">EPISODE NUMBER - 1007</FONT>
<IMG SRC="/images/clear.gif" WIDTH="1" HEIGHT="10" ALT="">
The Jaffa take the fight to the Ori, using a genocidal weapon on their new worshippers and landing SG-1 in the middle of a war they can't control.

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Poseidon
August 28th, 2006, 01:08 PM
Being the first episode after the spectacle that was '200' counterstrike had its work cut out, trying to re-establish SG-1 as a serious Sci-Fi drama. Its definitely a stark contrast to the previous episode - and comedy it isn't!

We start with an Ori declared victory - a planet converted to worship the Ori and the teachings of Origin, then the population of the planet is rapidly wiped out. And its not long before we realize this is only the tip of the iceberg of the problems facing the Milky Way Galaxy. The episode starts on a downward emotional feel and continues as events surrounding SG-1 from bad to worse.

The Jaffa - are acting independently genocidal - threatening Earth - and pretty much anyone else that disagrees with their current strategy of fighting the war against the Ori.

And the episode ends with a rescue but not a victory in sight.

This episode is the first to be aired following the heart-breaking news last week of SG-1's cancellation on Sci-Fi, and its written almost as if it had been anticipated, the writing dialogue, acting, and plot are decisively above par from the rest of the season (excluding The Pegasus Project).

The story moves ahead at reasonably fast pace, only slowing down to reveal key points about Adrias continued conquest and her future goals in her campaign to rid the Galaxy of non-believers.

There's also a great deal of interaction between Daniel and Vala, which demonstrates there's more to Vala than the flippant, self serving persona that she displays.

The acting all round from all of the cast was top notch, Teal'c and Cam - being involved more in the action side of things, Daniel and Vala being more involved in the confrontation of the Ori. Meanwhile Sam is playing on that damn computer again!

Which brings up my only complaint, being Sam's relegation to being the space mechanic - we all know she's much more than a computer interface! And there's heavy evidence of product placement with Sam and her Dell XPS laptop - how big was that notebook! Poor Sam her back must be killing her!

The dialogue - was a par above normal, the idealistic Daniel confronting Adria of the true nature of the Ori, Vala's dialogue with her daughter though seemingly flippant - was actually quite touching - she obviously cares for her daughter - but is terrified of her power that she now wields. There's definitely a bond signified here - however strange or unusual.

And as for the 'new' Adria - she's wonderfully portrayed by 'Morena Baccarin'.
Since Flesh and Blood Adria has been a very welcome addition to the stargate universe, and for once we really get to see the face of the Ori - something sorely lacking in the new SG-1 enemy. Morena Baccarin - definitely adds a definite sense of danger to the Orici.

This episode really shows you what the Ori are really all about, the Goa'uld merely posed as gods with technology. The Ori, or Orici at least - have the powers of a GOD! They are Invincible, extremely powerfully telekinetic, ruthless and unwavering in their devotion to their cause. It really is about time we actually saw why the Ori are a threat - as we've heard more than we have seen regarding the Ori's power.

There's a lot of continuity references in this episode- S'hare, Hebridan, the Ancient weapon on Dakara - amongst others, and their welcome nods to the greater universe SG-1 is representing.

The production values - were surprisingly high, the interiors of the Ori ship were superb, lots of cool blue tones, a slight industrial/clinical feel coming from the steel set pieces (the chair) indicating a cold hard logic, the interiors again are reminiscent of Ancient Architecture.

There was also a good sense of loss, with the loss of the planet Dakara, the realization from Vala - that she may not reach her daughter, the loss of yet more planets (Hebridian etc) to the Ori. The definite sense of foreboding comes through - indicating that worse is yet to come for Earth and the rest of the galaxy.

I have to say this episode marks a triumphant return to form for Stargate SG1, they have re-established the threat to the galaxy, highlighted the unstoppable nature of this new foe, and we also got some great moments of character exposition and interaction - between the old SG-team members and the new ones.

A gripping episode that was seemingly written as if the writers knew of the terrible news of its cancellation last week. - Sci-Fi should be ashamed of themselves. A++

<edited for spelling>

entil2001
August 28th, 2006, 03:55 PM
Coming off an episode with absolutely no connection to the overall season arc, the writers must have known that the time had come for a stiff shot of mythology. Coming about a third of the way into the season, it’s the right time for the plot to become more complicated. Adria’s ascendance and display of power fits the bill, as does the loss of Dakara. Add to that the fragmentation of the alliance between the Jaffa Nation and the Tau’ri, and things are not looking good for the Milky Way.

I like how the plot resists simple categorization. Events unfold, with a slight tinge of predictability, but there’s also the feeling that things could go out of control at any moment. And sure enough, the Jaffa are in complete disarray, pointing fingers at anyone and everyone. It’s as if the loss of Chulak and other worlds had frightened them into believing that they might lose it all again, and they would rather alienate the rest of the galaxy than risk servitude to the Ori.

The irony, of course, being that their actions are more likely to lead to their downfall than maintaining their current alliances. This has always been one of the more interesting complexities of the series: the struggle to keep groups with natural tensions in an alliance of defense. It’s bad enough when everyone is working together, but once the in-fighting starts, the defense becomes nearly impossible. Add a practically indestructible hottie to the mix, and it’s a fun time had by all.

Morena Baccarin doesn’t show too much range in the role, but she really doesn’t need to, since any deficiencies fall within the whole twisted psychology of the Orisi. Her relationship to Vala could be her eventual Achilles’ Heel, but the writers may recognize that such a plot element would be too obvious. More than half the season remains, and if the usual plot progression is in play, there’s still a lot of complication and fragmentation of alliances to come before things look remotely promising.

I’m still a little worried about the whole “Merlin’s weapon” thing, especially in light of the cancellation. It would be all too easy to have SG-1 find the weapon just in time for the series finale, ending the threat of the Ori once and for all. I think the Ori arc would work better with a little more time to grow, since I doubt that the writers had planned to use the entire season to cover all the arc elements. Either the solution will be rushed, or the series will end on one hell of a downer. (I’m envisioning a situation where the SGC is forced to relocate to Atlantis as the Ori influence spreads, in some bid to protect Earth, thus justifying the movement of “SG-1” characters like Mitchell and Vala to “SGA”. Hey, one can dream, right?)

Carl
September 1st, 2006, 01:47 AM
The milestone has passed and its back to business as usual for SG-1 and the story continues with a winner. Counterstrike is an *almost* perfectly balanced episode, in which a lot happens to SG-1 but also to the entire Galaxy. Dakara is gone, the Jaffa Nation is crumbling and the Ori have taken another 5 planets. Meanwhile, the Earth/Jaffa alliance is almost dead, Daniel apparently has "plans" made for him, Vala is suffering as a result of her daughter's role in the conversion of the galaxy and Earth is under greater threat than ever before.

The storyline for "Counterstrike" was sound. It clearly demonstrates that the majority of the Jaffa are just as violent and unable to understand that killing is bad as they ever were. Their use of the weapon at Dakara demonstrates no appreciation for life or even the intelligence and patience to realise that there may be another way. Their arrogance and attitude towards the Tauri - i.e. their saviours - is enough to make any viewer happy to see their nation being dismantled. It was a pleasure to hear the sounds of Jaffa marching through a ship once more, although their interaction with Teal'c and Mitchell was a little unbelievable given the developments of the past few years. The introduction to adult Adria was equally as satisfying. Her character has something sweet and innocent yet terrifying about it. It was a pleasure to see General Landry off-world. I have really grown to like him as base commander and am impressed with Beau Bridge's portrayal of the character. His scenes with the Jaffa leader were the most compelling as they had me yelling at the screen in anger.

Character development was also impressive. Adria, Vala and Daniel were the stars of this show - especially Vala's interactions with her evil warlord daughter. The foreshadowing of Daniel's near future was chilling and make you wonder just how much the Ori know about Daniel and his past. On the downside, Teal'c and Sam didn't really do that much this week and, in Teal'c's case that was a little surprising since he was being held hostage by those he helped free. I was hoping for some sort of speech from him but got nothing. Meanwhile, Sam proved nothing more than a device to facilitate the convenient beaming and her interfacing with the ship was a little too Rodney Mckay for my liking.

It was disappointing to have to hear that Jonas' world has been taken over at the very end. I would hope that, given more episodes, a full ep would have been done there but understand the time limits.

On a slightly different note.... The speed of this story arc progression is quite astonishing. I am beginning to think that the Ori plot may actually be finished by the end of the season at this rate. Adria said they should have the entire galaxy converted within a year and during one episode 5 planets were converted and two were wiped out. Can Earth really survive much longer without finding Merlin's weapons and destroying the Ori. Could the writer's really justify ending season 10 with a cliffhanger when the Ori are so clearly indestructable. At this stage I really don't think the story of Ori expansion and conversion could last through a whole 11th season with Earth still fine and dandy. So, unless the writers intend to have an Ori-controlled galaxy for our team to fight - just as the case was with the Go'ould, I think its a possibility that the Ori could be defeatable by the end of season 10.

To conclude, this was an entertaining episode, which raised many questions I hope to see answered by the end of season 10. For the most part, the story was good, although I want to know why the weapon at Dakara is still there almost 2 years on and was not destroyed as promised and how the Jaffa are able to use it so easily. Adria, Vala, Daniel and the Jaffa Nation were portrayed well in this episode. Mitchell, Teal'c and Sam Carter's roles were a little disappointing under the circumstances.
I am looking forward to the development of this story arc as we move closer to what may be the series finale.

Rating: 8/10 - Good but certain inconsistencies, convenient beaming and yet another ship episode where the Odyssey serves as a taxi and the stargate is left abandoned.

Rachel500
November 30th, 2006, 11:21 AM
Counterstrike provides a return to the Ori arc in a story that illustrates the vast superiority of the enemy and the comparative weakness of Earth and its allies. Its purpose is to further the arc and it is never meant to be an uplifting episode but under the expected down-note of the ending is a sense of disappointment with the overall dramatic effect, (or lack thereof), despite the acting talents of the cast and great special effects.

The lack of drama in the piece is its main failing. The episode relies too heavily on the trappings to provide drama rather than the story itself. The musical underscore, the scenery design, the lighting and the special effects are all invoked well to create atmosphere but overall there is never a sense that our heroes are in real danger. This in part is because convenient beam-outs have become the usual escape route and with the Odyssey flying to the rescue, the end denouement is never in doubt.

But there is also no sense of urgency; for example, had SG1 been aware that they are about to be hit by the Dakara weapon, their diligent actions to lower the shields to escape to the Odyssey might have had more drama. Further, the dialogue is bogged down in speeches about rights and wrongs of the military strategy employed or about Origin again slowing the overall pace which is sometimes also thrown off by the use of humour. No doubt the Dr. Phil stuff was meant to provide some levity but it just feels jarring as does the attempt to lighten the moment with the ‘mother/battle seasoned warrior’ remarks right at the end.

The direction occasionally manages to find a moment of drama; the close-up of Mitchell, his fingers trembling on the trigger for the explosive is neatly done and the special effects of the Odyssey leaping into hyperspace just before the radiation wave of the weapon hits is nicely timed. But the direction also misses; the blocking of Sam, Teal’c and Mitchell at the moment SG1 realises that it was the Dakara weapon that was used seems awkward rather than dramatic and the blocking of Adria, Vala and Daniel just before the latter two get beamed out leaves the impression that the all-powerful Adria just stands there like a lemon.

The other problem the story has is with the Jaffa element of the plot. The new leader of the Jaffa is a wonderful creation and is brilliantly portrayed by David Andrews. Unfortunately, this is Se’tak’s first appearance (and presumably last) and the fragility in the Jaffa/Tau’ri alliance with the sudden decision of the Jaffa to use the weapon (and yes it is irritating that canon was slightly tweaked to retain its existence) seems jolting. The lack of lead-in means it feels like the audience is playing catch-up; it is discomforting suddenly being asked to view an ally (albeit a prickly one that has caused problems in the past) as an enemy.

A bridging episode was needed in terms of the overall arc for the Jaffa before this one. Had Se’tak been introduced and the fractures in the alliance already been seeded and the audience been shown how badly the Jaffa were faring rather than simply being told in prior S10 episodes – all would have deepened the understanding of the audience about how the Jaffa had come to reach this point and made more sense of the plot.

The other jolting moment in the story is the discussion between Daniel and Vala regarding Sha’uri. For me, it doesn’t fit and the premise on which the subject is introduced weak; Daniel’s situation with Sha’uri is very different from that of Vala’s with Adria. There is no real basis for a comparison of the experiences. It feels like the writers have jumped on the vaguest similarity (perceived death of Adria) simply so the two of them are seen to have discussed it but it does provide a nice moment between the characters that is well-acted by Michael Shanks and Claudia Black.

Indeed, despite its failings Counterstrike is uplifted by some superb acting. Claudia Black and Morena Baccarin have created a nice dynamic that makes the mother/daughter relationship feel very real and Baccarin excels as a powerful, precocious and brainwashed child in the body of an attractive woman. She and Shanks also seed the beginnings of a relationship here between their characters very effectively. Tony Amendola and Chris Judge deserve kudos for their characters’ understated, yet very evident, portrayal of disappointment and disillusionment in their brethren. Browder’s acting where Mitchell presses the button to blow them up only for it not to work is spot on and worth a mention, as is Tapping’s ability to play scenes all on her own and still demonstrate the requisite emotions. Beau Bridges manages to inject some drama in the scene with the Jaffa firing the weapon as he protests that his people might be on the ship. The Odyssey crew and the Free Jaffa are solid and believable. All perform outstandingly.

The special effects also add a touch of class to the episode; the battle between the Ori ship and the Jaffa ships superb; the destruction of Dakara chilling. The telekinetic ability of Adria in the suspension of the Jaffa and weapons is more subtle but equally impressive. Only the backdrop of the Ori ship behind the village seems a little false.

Ultimately, Counterstrike is not a bad episode; as a story it’s solid fare that successfully furthers the overall arc and it is definitely elevated by the depth and breadth of the acting talent on show and by the use of special effects. Still there is a lingering sense of disappointment because if the quality of the story had matched the rest, this could have been so much more than solid.

The Doctor
February 11th, 2007, 09:23 AM
Counterstrike sees the Jaffa really starting to get involved in the war against the Ori. Their entire fleet of Hatac proven useless, they turn to the one weapon they know will work. Unfortunately, using this weapon means killing thousands off innocent people, so SG1 and Landry simply can’t allow that to go on.

Off course, this is only part of the story. The other part is the proper introduction of Adria as a major player in this war. Until now, we’ve only seen her as a child who, although already somewhat scary, didn’t feel like a great threat just yet. Now she’s all grown up and her powers and plans have matured with her. All of this together should make for a very interesting and action-pakced episode. So why doesn’t it?

The episode gets of to a good start with SG1 undercover on a recently converted planet which comes under attack from the Jaffa’s new superweapon. The idea was immediately given that Adria died in the attack, but that would off course have been a far to easy and sudden death for such a major player. Even so, the scene between Daniel and Vala did show us the developing relationship between them and Vala’s continued hope that she could somehow turn her daughter to the side of the good guys. The later scene between Daniel and Vala on the Ori ship turned their roles, Daniel this time revealing he to had lost someone he loved to the enemy. It’s nice to hear Sha’re being mentioned and it’s made quite clear that Daniel will never completely get over what’s happened to her. But at least he’s moved on and can remember the good times. I also really liked how the soft, intermittant piano-music underscored the scene with sad tones but also ome happy notes at the end.

The Jaffa’s motives for using the weapon against the Ori are quite clear and show just how desperate the situation is for them. They are losing planets, ships and people at alarming rates and this is the only was to fight back. The Tau’ri simply aren’t there yet, so for them sacrificing all those lives just isn’t an option. It probably never will be.

Like I said, this is the first time we meet the fully grown Adria, palyed by the beautiful Morena Baccarin, who we know best from the role on Firefly. The writers really push the character we’ve seen in the first episode of the season further, showing us two sides of the Orici. On the one hand, all she wants is to convert the entire galaxy to Origin and kill those who refuse. There is however a small part of her that wants her mother's love and acceptance. Vala does seem to have a matter of influence on her daughter. How little this influence might be, it could grow in the future and Vala is SG1’s best hope for getting through to Adria. At first, it seems like Vala convinced Adria not to kill Daniel, but later on her reasons seem far more dark. She claims that she has plans for Daniel, but we don’t get any explanation what these plans might be. I can only assume it has to do with the time Daniel was ascended and spent with the Ancients. His subconscience may hold the secret to kill the Ancients, or the Ori for that matter.

In any case, Morena Baccarin does an excellent joh of portraying both sides of Adria’s personality. The rest of the actors also do a pretty good job with their parts in this episode. The members of SG1 do what they’re good at, with most of the emotional stuff falling onto Claudia Black. Vala goes through a whole range of emotiones in this episode and Claudia plays them with a lot of subtlety. It’s also nice to see Gen. Landry go of world and trying to keep the Jaffa from using their weapon again. He probably knows it’s pointless, but he tries anyway.

In the end, all this episode does is make the threat of the Ori even greater. Adria is fully introduced as the leader of the Ori army and she reveals that even more ships seem to be heading for this galaxy. To top this all of, the one weapon that seems to stand any chance against the Ori, is destroyed. Like stated in the end of the episode, all hope now seems to lie with the Sangraal. The quest for this weapon will be SG1’s top priority from now on, let’s just hope they find it sooner rather than later.

All in all, Counterstrike is an amusing episode that once again shows us just how powerless we are against the Ori. It also sees the disintegration of the alliance between the Tau’ri and the Jaffa. Unfortunately, it does nothing more and only just manages to rise above mediocracy. It give this episode 3 destroyed superweapons out of a possible 5.