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GateWorld
July 28th, 2006, 07:38 PM
<DIV ALIGN="center"><TABLE WIDTH="450" BORDER="0" CELLSPACING="0" CELLPADDING="7"><TR><TD STYLE="border:0;"><DIV ALIGN="left"><FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, san-serif" SIZE="2" COLOR="#000000"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/sg1/s10/1009.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/sg1/graphics/1009.jpg" WIDTH="160" HEIGHT="120" ALIGN="right" HSPACE="10" VSPACE="2" BORDER="0" STYLE="border: 1px black solid" ALT="Visit the Episode Guide"></A><FONT SIZE="1" COLOR="#888888">SG-1 SEASON TEN</FONT>
<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/sg1/s10/1009.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">COMPANY OF THIEVES</A></FONT>
<FONT SIZE="1">EPISODE NUMBER - 1009</FONT>
<IMG SRC="/images/clear.gif" WIDTH="1" HEIGHT="10" ALT="">
Cameron Mitchell must go undercover inside the deadly Lucian Alliance to prevent his teammates from becoming casualties of an Alliance civil war.

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Carl
September 18th, 2006, 11:31 AM
After a disappointing episode last week, I came into "Company of Thieves" hoping for something good but not really expecting a great deal since the Lucian Alliance is far from my favourite villian group. Since their introduction in season nine they've been little more than a recurring nuisance and are thoroughly underwhelming as the apparent replacement to the Go'ould and the beneficiary of all Go'ould land.

That said, "Company of Thieves" is a decent episode although it does very little to improve the image of the Lucian Alliance in my eyes. There is just no evil there, only weak men with ugly faces, corruption and back-stabbing. When we're told that Earth has effectively declared war on the Lucian Alliance I didn't really feel all that much or fear what may happen. Despite that lack of dramatic impact, the episode was a solid piece of entertainment.

This weeks thumbs up goes to Daniel and Vala [again] for their interaction, humour and helpful antics [i.e. stalling bad guys, kicking computer panels]. Also, the general plot was pleasing to watch even though it split our team up again, took place onboard ship again and the enemy was rubbishly easy to defeat. Colonel Mitchell's acting ability was impressive and the twists involving the return of the strange alien and Mitchell's character change was a pleasant surprise. I personally thought it was a bit obvious that it was Mitchell and not Notan but I also found myself second-guessing my suspicion. If the weird-looking alien hadn't made such an obvious gaze down at his arm when Mitchell patted him it would've made Mitchell and Teal'c's plan more interesting as it unravelled. Finally, thumbs up goes to the ambush of the Odyssey - a brilliant sequence - I especially liked the mine field and the special effects of the ship running into them was impressive. It would have been made better if we had got to see a short fire-fight onboard the Odyssey.

Thumbs down goes to the Lucian Alliance. As I have said, I just don't see their badness appeal at all. They're clumsy, foolish and shortsighted. I did enjoy how they spoke of the "wrath" of the Tau'ri [that's right... fear us!!] but enough has not been done to flex their muscles. The Odyssey captor was slimy and pathetic and deserved no better death than the one he got [cue my evil laughter]. Meanwhile, Notan doesn't display any of the qualities we would expect of such a powerful leader. Frankly, they are no match for Earth, which is nice to see but still means that the Alliance lacks any fear or risk credibility whatsoever. Maybe that will change now that Earth has declared war upon the Alliance.

Overall, this is a good episode. The 15 minutes between the Odyssey ambush and the infiltration of the Alliance is quite slow but after that its a fairly exciting, interesting and humourous [thanks to Daniel and Vala] ride to the end. I'll also just say that I'm not at all affected by the short, unheroic death of Colonel Emerson... I never liked him anyway.

7-8/10 ... Good SG-1 episode despite the flaws of the "big players".

entil2001
September 18th, 2006, 06:19 PM
Enjoyment of this episode will depend greatly upon one’s opinion of the Lucien Alliance. Conceived as a wild card in galactic politics in the wake of the defeat of the System Lords, the Lucien Alliance is essentially the Space Mafia. They have the means, motive, and opportunity to make a nuisance of themselves, and they dislike anyone getting in their way. Yet they have enough resources to be a serious threat.

All things being equal, they should be interesting. The galaxy is a dangerous place at this point. The Ori are running rampant (though in the background at the moment), the Jaffa Nation is in disarray and playing “bad ally”, the Tok’ra and Asgard are nowhere to be seen of late, and the Lucien Alliance is taking advantage on all sides. They should be imposing. Instead, they come across as goofy and generic.

Avateo, one of the prominent members of the Alliance, is played by Rudolf Martin. Previously, Martin was best known for two roles: Dracula on “Buffy” (a semi-effective guest role) and Ari on “NCIS”. As Ari, Martin played one of the more disturbing recurring characters; he was quite good at being terrifying in his competence and control. This is a very similar character, but the performance is not even close to the same level of quality. Frankly, Avateo is incredibly annoying, and the line delivery is about as bad as it gets.

Even when recurring characters are being killed off (a sure sign of a story reaching for impact, when nothing else in the story works), there’s a sloppiness to the entire production. The guest cast is terrible and the apparent threat of the Lucien Alliance is tempered by the inability to take these events seriously. For me, some of the scenes meant to be funny came across as desperate, and to a certain extent, disrespectful.

I’ve often said that the writing staff sometimes takes the audience for granted, though I’ve said it a lot more for “SGA” than “SG-1”, especially in recent seasons. I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse them of coasting in this episode, because the plot points were communicated. Earth is at war with the Lucien Alliance, so one more possible ally against the Ori is out of the question. That makes the search for the Sangraal even more important, which is logically the point of the exercise.

My issue is with the execution. The writing wasn’t particularly sharp, and some of the lines that were supposed to be imposing or humorous fell flat. The acting, especially from the guest cast, was far below the usual modest standard. The direction also didn’t help, because there was a casual nature to scenes that should have been more animated. It was just an episode with a lack of cohesiveness, and given that it featured adversaries that have been hard to take seriously, this amounts to another misfire.

Rachel500
December 14th, 2006, 03:29 AM
Company of Thieves is a decent outing for the SG1 team; the story is cohesive and well-planned and even manages to keep an element of humour in an otherwise sobering tale. Unfortunately, what it does miss is decent characterisation for the majority of the SG1 regulars.

Alan McCullough manages to do better with the characters here than in his last outing Insiders. Mitchell who carries much of the rescue arc of the story is well-drawn; his propensity to be a risk taker is incorporated in his plan to go undercover and later in his plan to takeover the second Goa’uld ship by pretending to be Netan. He is written well as a leader; recognising that the transponder is probably an ambush and thinking on his feet throughout. All in all it’s a great story for Mitchell and certainly, Ben Browder seems to relish it even if his acting muscles are never truly challenged as he easily excels in the action hero role.

Landry and Teal’c are also written in character although both are not required to do much except the usual standard fare; Landry to bluster a little in the briefings and Teal’c to relay information about the Jaffa and get tortured. Teal’c does get a moment to protest how sick he is of torture; a feeling shared by most of the audience. Torturing Teal’c has definitely been overplayed as a plot device although here it does have its place within the story as a whole.

However, Daniel, Vala and Sam’s characterisations are all ‘off’. Daniel has very little to do except participate in comedy routines with Vala and his major scene of playing at being captain of the Odyssey while adding a note of humour to the proceedings fails to ring true for the character. Michael Shanks delivers his lines in the right places and with the right inflections but for me without any passion or urgency given the various situations; whether this was in part down to how the actor chose to play the scenes or the direction, he is certainly not assisted by the dialogue or by Daniel’s ‘undercover’ wardrobe which frankly makes him look silly. Daniel’s dynamic with Vala particularly in the scene where she offers to get a ship and later on the ship itself is also more reminiscent of S9 than S10 to date.

Indeed, Vala seems to have regressed to her S9 persona as a one-dimensional note of being a thief with initiative instead of the more rounded character she has since become. This is exacerbated by the use of her primarily to provide humour whether in kicking the cloak device into working, beaming Anateo into space or making various quips. The humour is appreciated in the darker storyline but it does nothing to further Vala as a character. Claudia Black manages to convey some underlying depth through sheer acting talent in the scene where they are following up on the transponder and when they meet up with Sam but she certainly isn’t helped by Vala’s dialogue any more than Shanks is with Daniel’s.

McCullough’s main failing though in terms of characterisation is Sam. Whether he truly doesn’t understand this particular character or whether he has difficulties putting himself in the head of a strong, intelligent female is uncertain but what is certain is that although her arc could have been just as strong as Mitchell’s, it isn’t. Firstly, she barely gets any dialogue – Emerson holds court until shot, Anateo does most of the talking otherwise and even Marks gets more dialogue when she returns to the hold; secondly, she’s portrayed mostly as ‘fixer and odd-job-man’ rather than as a leader with scenes of fixing the ship rather than leading the crew; thirdly, her scenes of being reunited with Daniel and Vala are played for laughs rather than seriously and once the couple are on the scene, the impression left is that Sam takes a back seat to their antics with Vala even being the one to finally fix the hyper-drive. Amanda Tapping does her best with the material especially in the shock scene of Emerson’s shooting but she can only do so much with so little. It’s not a bad arc for Sam – she does come up with the successful plan to retake the ship – but with more tweaking McCullough could have delivered for Sam just as much of an action hero role as he did for Mitchell.

Overall, the story is excellently planned with the pieces nicely laid out. It is good to see the Lucien Alliance fleshed out with the various infighting and leadership issues incorporated to good effect in Mitchell’s undercover work and Anateo’s betrayal although again their characterisation is one-dimensional. There is a good flow to proceedings and a good pace. The only criticism here is although the story presumably took place over a period of days especially with all the back and forth Mitchell and Teal’c did to the SGC, it feels like it was set over a few hours. Off the Grid had the same issues and whether this is the writing or direction, it’s a definite area for improvement.

Nevertheless, the story is otherwise coherent and the direction of it accomplished especially with the Kefflin/Mitchell duel shots. Every scene looks set-up for maximum effect and the special effects are used wisely. The initial attack on the Odyssey, the mine-field, the battle between the Goa’uld ships, are all excellent and well placed making the whole seamless.

Company of Thieves does give the Lucien Alliance some substance as an enemy and it’s a decent episode with an engaging story. But with improvements in characterisation; by not just using Daniel and Vala for humour and in allowing Sam to be as much an action hero as Mitchell, it could even have been a stand-out episode. So close, but for this particular viewer, not close enough.