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    FAN REVIEWS: Morpheus

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    SG-1 investigates a problem off-world and soon finds that they have become victims themselves: they cannot stay awake. Meanwhile, Vala Mal Doran undergoes an evaluation on Earth, hoping to join SG-1.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 6, 2021, 10:14 PM.

    "Morpheus" Put me to Sleep

    The 2nd installment of Season 10 of "Stargate SG1", written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie and directed by Andy Mikita, started with promise in a traditional opening with the Archaeologist Dr. Jackson running through SGC shouting. "I got it!"

    As far as what I look for in a Stargate adventure, things were looking very good. Daniel Jackson was acting like an archaeologist again, Carter was in charge, Mitchell was acting professional and Teal’c actually had something to do. Alternating with this was a sub-plot back at SGC with Vala going through psychological testing in scenes that ranged from irritating to laugh out loud amusing.

    I liked the planet scenes, once again on the Village Set, decorated with cobwebs and skeletons. The colors were washed out, grey and ominous. However, almost immediately the episode went downhill for me. The set-up was very obvious, if you’ve seen any of the unavoidable commercials giving away the mystery of the sleeping parasite. It was also obvious who was going to fall victim to the parasites. We knew the guy who worked the double shift was going to fall asleep... permanently.

    Solving the mystery was done by TV science "by-the-book": 1 )Look in a microscope; 2) Figure out what’s causing the problem; 3) Find an immune person or animal and bring it back and 4) create an instant cure. Ho-hum. Watch SG1 trying not to fall asleep for the entire episode. Ho-hum. Everyone was so cooperative, it was boring. They should have been upset or at least grouchy. They should have been seeing Teddy Bears crawling up the walls with all the amphetamines they were taking.

    One interesting bit was the casting of Robert Mosley as a doctor. He’s the actor who played the tragic scientist in the wonderful time loop episode "Window of Opportunity". Unfortunately, he falls to a tragic end here, too, but not enough was done to develop his character so the viewer would truly care. Michael Shanks had an unintentionally amusing line in this scene when he harkened back to "Star Trek" and Dr. McCoy when as he said with gravity, "Sam...He’s dead."

    The cave scene with Teal’c and Mitchell chasing the lizard was interesting and amusing, but it lost me at the end. I just didn’t buy Mitchell giving up so easily. He should have crawled out of that cave if that’s what he had to do. I understood Teal’c leaving him there. He was probably as disgusted as me. As a viewer, I should have been upset at Mitchell falling victim to the parasite deep in the caves, but while Mitchell was giving his speech telling Teal’c to go on without him, Teal’c was crouched next to him holding a huge green lizard in a bag. I couldn’t take this scene seriously.

    In the end, the guys from SGC, in Haz Mat suits, came and rescued everyone who was mostly laying around being useless (except for Teal’c arriving with the lizard). Really pitiful.

    I used to love reading Arthurian tales, but I must I admit that I’m getting tired of the writers stretching Arthurian legend so far passed credulity. In this episode it was a drawing of a sword with a Gate address engraved on it. The script was boring and predictable and the direction didn’t correct the problems with the script. There was really no tension, the scene in the cave was unintentionally funny, and the brightly lit SGC/ Vala comedy scenes were jarring when juxtaposed next to the scenes of people dying on the dark misty planet. The acting was fine except for the strangely unemotional acting from Ben Browder in the scene in the cave.

    In the epilogue, Claudia Black had the best line of the entire episode when as Vala, she half seriously accused Woolsey of making sexual advances toward her. I laughed at that and at Robert Picardo’s mortified reaction as Woolsey.

    Yes, they woke me up, just as the show ended.

    Bonnie Arbuthnot
    Hatshepsut, Queen Pharaoh


      After the premiere, I was left wondering if this season would continue to pave new ground or fall back into familiar patterns. In particular, I wondered if Merlin’s weapon would become something like the “Lost City”: something that would be the focus of a season-long search, with the solution being found in the season finale. While this is not automatically a bad thing, it is repetitive. And for that matter, so are episodes built around a virus or condition encountered on a planet, forcing the team to race against time.

      So this episode was somewhat disturbing, because it fell into those familiar patterns. The virus itself is hardly unique, nor does it serve to reveal anything particularly meaningful about the characters. Is it such a surprise that Teal’c would struggle to the bitter end, the last to fall to the effects of the virus? Nor is it surprising that the parasite had no long-term effects on the team. By episode’s end, they’re back to normal, no worse for the wear. Even a couple weeks of lag time can’t account for that!

      But, there are some interesting twists. If the Goa’uld gave the writers an excuse to mine Egyptian mythology for story concepts, then the Ancients War is the perfect chance to play with Arthurian/Celtic mythology. Arthurian concepts are often fun, and in this case, the idea of Merlin being an Ancient is a nice touch. Equally fun is the idea of Morgan LeFay running around, making things difficult, and a connection to Atlantis, furthering the deeply interwoven nature of the franchise.

      It remains to be seen how far the writers choose to take this Arthurian conceptual connection. It could be taken to extremes, and then the fun new direction becomes trite. If the writers try to cast Mitchell as the new “Arthur” figure, that would be the immediate effect. (I can hear the screaming from the fandom now, cascading from that possible future timeline!)

      To make another reference to “Babylon 5”, those Arthurian comparisons have been made before, and they’ve worked. So long as those references are metaphorical, played out visually and thematically, it can be subtle enough to avoid the worst excesses. It remains to be seen whether or not the writers will be able to pull it off in the “Stargate” universe.

      For all the familiar elements, the virus plot thread is at least a solid (if uninteresting) storyline. Vala’s psychological evaluation doesn’t pass the same muster. In fact, while revealing some measure of progress in Vala’s moral development, it doesn’t go nearly far enough to justify the outcome. Vala doesn’t really prove that she can be trusted. I would have felt better if the end scene played out, and then Landry pulled Mitchell or Daniel to the side, making it clear that they should deal with her if she poses a problem. But that kind of dark territory is out of the question, despite the moral ambiguity at play on “SGA”.

      For me, Vala’s plot thread kept the episode from succeeding. With the rest of the episode being average at best, it was really a matter of how well they dealt with a tricky situation. I, for one, was left unimpressed and disappointed. Hopefully this is just a minor blip for the tenth season.

      Writing: 1/2
      Acting: 2/2
      Direction: 2/2
      Style: 1/4

      Final Rating: 6/10


        After last weeks great episode, I was hoping for another piece of high quality television in Morpheus. The first minutes seemed to offer just that, but the rest of the episode just didn’t live up to that promise.

        The episode continued with what will probably be a huge part of this seasons main arc, the search for the Sangraal (or Holy Grail). We’ve seen a similar search in season seven with the lost city of the Ancients and like back then, the Sangraal probably won’t be found until the end of the season. The episode sets off with the familair sight of Daniel being very excited about a big discovery he’s made and the team going after it. We’ve seen this before, but it usually leads to good episodes, so why not?

        On a little side note, in my Flesh and Blood review I wondered why nobody tried dialing out the supergate again. I was very pleased to see that the writers hadn’t forgotten about that and offered some sort of explanation. It was probably the best one they could give, keeping it vague en accounting it to the Ori. In any case, my appreciation for last weeks episode went up another point because it was mentioned.

        From this point on, the episode seemed to follow the standard format without adding anything new, making it really boring. The sets of the village did look nice, with all the grey and decay adding to the ambiance of death around them. When Daniel finds the skeletons, there’s still some promise of a decent episode, but it pretty much came down to watching SG1 stay awake as the people around them start dying and still try to find a cure. The characters did pretty much all get to do what the are best at, Daniel plays archeologist, Sam helps the docter and Teal’c and Mitchell get pro-active. I believe all the actors played their roles to the best of what they can do, but they just didn’t get much to work with. Even the guest stars didn’t deliver (if the docter looked familiar, that’s because it’s the same actor who played the alien scientist in Window of Opportunity).

        The B-plot, with Vala trying to pass her tests, was clearly there for comedic relief, but it didn’t work. The first time through the episode I cracked one smile, the second I was irritated by pretty much all the scenes. Again, Claudia Black did the best she could, but Vala’s only strong moment was her speech as she’s was entering the elevator. Vala’s last joke, insinuating Woolsey had come on to her, just wasn’t that funny either. It was just too obvious and I really didn’t like Woolsey’s reaction (it suddenly made me feel like I was watching the Docter from Voyager). The episode just didn’t need another attempt at being funny.

        Back on the planet, I felt Carter and Mitchell gave up quite soon. We know Mitchell will never accept defeat and Carter isn’t exactly a push-over either. An immune reptile as the answer to the parasite felt rushed as well, like the writers suddenly realized at the end of the episode they had to fix the problem. ‘No matter, we’ll think up a big lizard for Teal’c to catch and let’s the guys in Hazmats take care of the rest!’ It just felt too much like a quick and easy answer.

        Back at the base, the episode was quickly wrapped up. The whole team was cured and one planet can be striped of the list for potentially finding the Sangraal. Vala of course passed her mental exams, probably thanks to her heartfelt speech I mentioned before. That Woolsey was in on the test, was quite obvious from the start. Woolsey can be a pain in the backside, but he is a good person at heart.
        One of the best parts of the episode was Daniel telling us they will probably go to Atlantis (no way he’ll let this chance slip through his fingers). This has been long in the making and I think the timing is perfect for a major crossover between the two shows.

        Overall, Morpheus is a less than average episode that’s makes me hope with all my heart the rest of the season will be much better than this. I’m afraid I can only give it 5 sleep inducing parasites out of a possible 10, partially because it sets up Daniel finally going to Atlantis. Well, at least they got the hormones and their functions right...
        *And that's all I have to say about that*


          Despite a few kinks left in the chain, this episode does a fair job of harking back to traditional SG-1 style - problem, effect, solution, cure - and although it may not have been the most adventurous or unique storyline, it was both interesting to watch and a pleasant return to episodes of old.

          The episode started well as we saw our team back together AND they clearly said that dialling out from the supergate hadn't worked, an issue SG fans have been complaining about. In a style reminiscent of many episodes of the past, Daniel makes a great discovery concerning a planet and a gate address and after long and confusing explanations, the SG team set off through the gate.

          Other strong factors in this episode include the funny lines, unity of SG-1 throughout the episode and Daniel's appeal on Vala's behalf which shows a link between the start of NEW SG-1 and the very first episodes of OLD SG-1 where Jack did the same for Teal'c. General Landry continues to prove himself as a strong, fair and approachable leader.. more compassionate than his predecessor.
          Overall, the episode ran quite smoothly, the Vala sub-plot adding humour to the apparent peril facing SG-1 offworld. However, there were numerous problems with this episode.

          First of all, the plot could have been stronger. It was sluggish and certainly nothing new. It was very similar to numerous previous SG-1 episodes while the sleeping effect strongly reminded me of a Star Trek: Voyager episode. The ending was a shambles. First of all, why did Landry choose to send people into a dangerous situation when SG-1 had told him not to? Secondly, why was that creature immune? Thirdly, how was SG-1 saved? Fourthly, how did they find Mitchell in time without Teal'c's help? This is just a portion of the problems I had with the ending... although it was nice to see Vala's tantrum, followed by her inception into the SGC. Truly an important advance for the future of SG-1 and hopefully one which'll pay off.

          Also among my problems with this episode were the "disposable" cast. Not only has one of them appeared on one of the most popular SG-1 episodes ever but not one of them seemed particularly important or helped much at all. More should have been done with them to increase the drama surrounding the 'disease' and it's slow effects on the human body.
          Finally, the Arthurian legends and myths being used in SG-1 thus far are weak and not enough is being done to clearly outline the root of the mythology, it's relation to the Ancients and the associations between mythical and real-life characters within the Stargate universe. By this point in SG-1, though admittedly helped by the film, the Egyptian-Go'ould tapestry was both strong and well-weaved. The family ties within the Go'ould were clear, as were the different characters and their link to the mythology. The problem with the Arthurian legend is that names are simply being spewed out without any explanation, backstory or links between characters. It's difficult to buy into something you barely understand and it's weakening both the Merlin and Ori storylines.

          In conclusion, this episode was enjoyable for the simple fact that it reminded me of the good ol' SG-1 days. However, that is not enough. We should be enjoying the episodes based on their merit in this NEW SG-1 universe and not for the fact that they remind us of the old days. As a new episode "Morpheus" is weak both as an individual episode and as part of the greater arc in the search for Merlin's weapon.

          Rating: 6/10

          O'Neill: Phasers?
          Carter: Sorry sir.



            Morpheus combines a return to Stargate’s classic formula while addressing Vala’s continued presence at the SGC. While the story flounders, the episode retains an enjoyable quality thanks to the excellent characterisations of the individual characters and the SG1 team as a whole, buoyed by the performances of the actors.

            The main plot has the ingredients for a classic SG1 tale; Daniel finds an obscure reference in mythology leading to an off-world mission where the team get into trouble. Ultimately it trips up on the issues thrown out by the nature of the ‘trouble’; the fatal sleeping sickness caused by an alien parasite. These issues are never satisfactorily addressed.

            Issue one is that none of the regular characters can be killed. Cue the arrival of extraneous characters on the pretext of finding out why the village is full of dead people. It does beg the question why they don’t turn up in hazmat suits given the likelihood that some kind of plague had killed the village en masse and as a side-note, the casting of an actor who has already appeared in SG1 is an irritation.

            Issue two is why the supplementary characters succumb first. Cue tale of the two soldiers pulling an extra duty shift which begs the question why Landry has sent these men. Doesn’t the SGC have guidelines governing the health of its soldiers? The snarkiness to Mitchell by the soldiers is disconcerting; are they the same rank as Mitchell because otherwise it’s inappropriate that junior officers, even sleep deprived ones, speak to a senior officer that way.

            The explanation for the sleeping sickness is issue three. While medical terms such as serotonin, melatonin and delta waves are used to give the impression of a credible explanation, too much time is spent on explaining the sleeping sickness to the audience. While it is realistic the team would spend time finding out what was wrong, it doesn’t make for exciting drama; examining the fears and regrets of the characters as they face imminent death would have been much more interesting.

            The resolution is issue four. The discovery of the lizard is a convenience without any explanation provided for how the lizard had managed to survive in the cave without any obvious food source for so long. While the hazmat team may have been intended as a way to do something original with the classic formula (usually the heroes save themselves), with their arrival and the sudden ability of the SGC to create a serum which cures our heroes in an extremely speedy way, the story feels like it ultimately had no where to go and ran out of answers.

            Setting aside the plot issues, there are parts that work extremely well. The detail given to the desolate planet; the washed out colours; the haunting air of lifelessness is well done and lends an eerie quality. The overall Ori arc feels naturally woven into the story, and it does move the arc forward setting up a trip to Atlantis and the introduction of Morgan Le Fey with ease. Additionally, all the SG1 characters are used to good effect and the actors make the most of what they are given. It’s great to see a return of classic Daniel, the enthusiastic academic and explorer, and even better to see Teal’c well-utilised and getting to be the hero. Neither Sam nor Mitchell are ignored or pushed into the background with Sam being used primarily to provide scientific answers and Mitchell to provide much-needed levity on the planet.

            Indeed, the plotline is successful in evoking a sense of SG1 as a working team that cares for one another. It is packed with little moments; Sam and Teal’c’s pride in Daniel’s discovery, Teal’c’s belief in Daniel about the cave, Teal’c’s offer to carry Mitchell, Sam and Daniel supporting each other, all hanging out with each other afterwards. SG1 teaminess seeps from the screen.

            The sub-plot focuses on the continued introduction of Vala. A combination of the writing and direction makes it feels like it competes as a main plot given the time devoted to it but the questions of why Vala would choose to stay on Earth and why the SGC would have her are important and need answering. The latter is answered in Daniel’s championing of Vala to Landry while the psych exam is a clever mechanism for providing further justification for the SGC in allowing Vala to stay and providing an opportunity to answer why Vala would want to.

            It is a good character study from her initial reaction in reverting to the behaviour that has served her well in the past (lying and cheating) to her impassioned honest speech about someone finally having faith in her, and her heartfelt response to the result – all acted outstandingly by Claudia Black. The sub-plot also makes good use of other characters; Woolsey works well for the loyalty test; Hutchinson does a good job as the beleaguered psychiatrist and Landry excels as he apparently wins the battle of wits that Vala had in some ways rightly declared it was.

            There are two problems; firstly, the sub-plot is played mostly for comedy and misses an opportunity to delve deeper into Vala’s psyche. Given her reaction to the polygraph test, it would have been interesting to have seen her being asked the questions she felt humiliated her rather than the playful scene shown. Secondly, Vala’s temper tantrum in the gate room begs the question why Landry doesn't change his mind. At least, Mitchell’s warning confirms her acceptance is conditional and serves notice that she has work to do with the rest of SG1.

            It seems the entire story calls for a suspension of disbelief above and beyond the call of duty. It relies heavily on the charm of the characters, and the performance of the actors, to carry it through. Vala’s antics and SG1’s team spirit do evoke a warm fuzziness that glosses over the gaping plot holes and Morpheus is enjoyable if insubstantial.
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