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FAN REVIEWS: The Quest, Part 2

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    FAN REVIEWS: The Quest, Part 2

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    When the team finds Merlin himself, they must help him complete the Sangraal weapon before Adria and her Ori forces can track them down.



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    As The Quest part II hurtles towards its ominous finish, Daniel has had his brain overloaded. He's taken in too much information, he's seen too much, and his head's whirling.

    Watching The Quest part II runs the risk of similar overload. Not since Reckoning part II, perhaps even earlier, has so much happened in one episode. It is a particular treat as it follows a run of episodes which, while nicely scripted, have tended to be fairly thinly plotted - were the plot points being rationed because they were saving them all up for today?

    As would be expected, given the cliffhanger that needed resolving, it opens with our heroes running from, and occasionally towards, a marauding dragon. While the design of the dragon didn't impress (is it petty to want more wing and less leg to a dragon?) the execution was good enough, even in this age of SFX riches, to suspend disbelief. The problem with a dragon, though, is that it cannot be allowed to be as bad as Adria and the Ori, and there's a lot to get through in the next 52 minutes, so the battle against the fearsome dragon risks becoming trivialised. Cam, Teal'c and the ever-trusty C4 kept the suspense going however, and Baal's arch disdain kept the situation from becoming too worthy.

    On to the next stage of the puzzle, which is in keeping with the first part of this story by being more than it seems.

    Merlin was never going to quite live up to expectations to anyone familiar with the original Arthurian legends, let alone the wealth of more recent fiction that his myth has inspired, so perhaps it was a good thing that in Stargate there was no attempt to make him the terrible and mystical wielder of power that might have been expected. As it was, the portrayal of the slightly confused, tired old man full of memories was touching; and at least he was suitably cryptic and machiavelian in his final words and actions.

    Daniel, in taking Merlin's place as the would-be creator of the new Sangraal, is able to link the viewer neatly to the classic episode The Fifth Race. Richard Dean Anderson twice gave us great television after Jack had his downloads from the Ancient devices, so this was a pleasant nod to the past, but the plot and the excellent acting of Michael Shanks made these scenes suitably fresh and different. And although we get only a few glimpses of Daniel's new power, the rate at which it increases and the effect to which he uses it rather compensate for the absence of awe that Merlin brought to the episode.

    Vala and Cam, fretting and arguing over Daniel, arguably come the closest they ever have to being part of the 'classic' SG-1. As Vala resents Cam's decision to give Daniel free reign, Cam tells her that the hardest part of their job is not to risk onesself, but to watch one's comerades risking themselves. Telling her that now she knows that she's part of the team, Cam himself has never before seemed so natural a part of SG-1.

    SG-1 were all in fine form, and though separated into two parties the closeness of the locations and the shared peril kept them dramatically connected. Sam, struggling to manage the prima donna system lord whose expertise she had to use, was as diplomatic and persuasive, as mollifying and as reasonable as she could be; until Baal's behaviour pushed her to a step which seems wonderfully in keeping with the Sam Carter of earlier years, and which will have fans everywhere grinning. Also giving lightness to the episode as we approach an increasingly fraught climax is a perfectly aimed barb from Teal'c that stops Sam and Baal in their tracks for a moment.

    The suspense of Adria's hunt for SG-1 is minimal at first. One need only look at a wristwatch to know that the Orici will not find the gang for some time to come. However by the time she finds their ultimate location the stakes have risen so much - with a half-cooked Sangraal, a souped-up and faltering Daniel and a sheer enjoyment factor from the excellence of the characterisations in the preceeding few scenes - that Adria's final arrival is edge-of-the-seat stuff.

    The closing scenes at the SGC are predictable; there's always someone saying that it'll be very hard to locate the missing colleague, and there's always someone bemoaninig their impotence, and another someone to offer hope or comfort. Still, the acting was above par and the scene was necessary to avoid the question the rest of SG-1's status hanging over into next week; sometimes there's a reason why predictable things happen.

    And what a way to bow out. Adria triumphant. Daniel drained, in more ways than one. Whatever's next, it won't be good for SG-1. Which is good news for viewers, with a promise of plenty of surprised and drama to come.

    The Quest, taken in its entirety, has an abundance of elements of classic Stargate. Action, puzzles remeniscent of Thor's Hammer, myths and legends, the Ancient head-sucker, nods to Oma Desala and the replicators, witticisms, angst, teamwork, a System Lord, and an alarming cliffhanger. In the closing weeks of its final season, it's good to know that there's still such an abundance of riches in the old show.




      If ever there was an episode where Stargate SG1 got its mo-jo back, it’s this one. The Quest Part 2 is everything Part 1 wasn’t; tightly associated with the mythology, tense and dramatic, exciting with lots of character moments and nods to canon that make the whole thing highly enjoyable. For the first time in a long time, Stargate SG1 ticks all the right boxes and then some to produce an amazingly great episode.

      Once the last fantasy element of the dragon is dealt with, the story takes the show back to its sci-fi heart with brilliant results. Here the fantasy elements of Merlin and the Arthurian mythology are directly tied into the storyline giving it a strong foundation. The team finding Merlin was a definite surprise, a real ‘wow’ reveal moment. It was fascinating to hear Merlin greet the team as though they were Knights of the Round Table and even more fascinating who Merlin thought the various members of the team were – for anyone who knows their Arthurian mythology and knows the characters, it provided a moment of ‘ah, of course that’s who Daniel would be!’ just as it was interesting to note who the others were perceived as being.

      The tension and drama are mainly provided by the race to build the Sangraal before Adria tracks them down. The scenes of a single-minded Adria determined to find them sandwiched between the scenes of building the Sangraal are excellent. The sharpness of the scenes is helped by the dramatic landscape of the two initial planets the team are transported to; one a desert and the other a cold wasteland. The lighting of the scenes is subtle but lends a creepy atmosphere especially on the second planet where Adria notes she is finding the planets quicker each time. The scenes are kept short but are enough to build the tension effectively and there is a fitting climax in the final act when Adria catches up with the team before the Sangraal can be finished by Daniel.

      Michael Shanks seems to truly enjoy getting his teeth into a great storyline for Daniel and excels throughout the episode. Here is a Daniel that is the sum of his nine and a half years of experience with SG1; archaeologist, thinker/problem solver, hero. There are some great Daniel moments; telling Merlin about his Ascension, his confusion when he thinks he is Merlin, with Adria both when he defends his team from her and in the last scene where he is her prisoner and they verbally joust.

      Yet Daniel is not the only character to spring three-dimensionally from the screen; both Sam and Teal’c also are drawn as complete characters here. It was fabulous to see Teal’c be the hero and take on the task of felling the dragon and get the laugh-out-loud moments both when suggesting the dragon’s name was Puff and in noting that Ba’al regaining his voice after Merlin’s death was ‘another reason to mourn his passing.’ Even more fabulous than a great Teal’c was a great Sam. Soldier, scientist, advocate of women’s rights – and the moment she hit Ba’al…priceless! Chris Judge and Amanda Tapping seem revitalised by the scenes and act their socks off.

      But even the newer characters of Vala and Mitchell are drawn with more depth here than ever before with their conflict over allowing Daniel to risk his life building the Sangraal and using Merlin’s memories. The scene where Mitchell tells a distraught Vala that the hard part of being in a team is watching friends risk their lives was tense, dramatic and powerful with that last line to Vala where Mitchell congratulates her on really being one of them now just heart-stoppingly good. Both Ben Browder and Claudia Black do an excellent job and really sell the scene.

      The sense of the team as a team zings across the screen especially with Teal’c stopping Mitchell, their concern for Teal’c with the dragon, the concerns expressed over Daniel, Teal’c teasing Sam, Daniel sacrificing himself for his friends, their worry over his fate back at the SGC…the team feel so well-established in S10 is given a great boost by this episode while never seeming obvious. It is also helped by mention of the past SG1 team leader, Jack O’Neill. He is mentioned often by the team both in regards to the stasis pod and the Ancient repository device. Indeed, the episode makes fabulous use of canon; Daniel’s Ascension and Oma, the events of The Lost City, Ba’al and dialling programmes, Sam’s feminist core, Mitchell’s bullets bounce remark, Vala and Adria, Daniel destroying the Ori soldiers with lightening…it all knits seamlessly for the die-hard fan.

      With so much right with this episode, it is a little difficult to say what went wrong. If pressed probably the horrendous special effect of the dragon deserves a mention. It improved slightly once out of the cave and in the field but its size/scale appeared to change in between and it never came across as believable. The special effects used in the final fight scene, in the building of the Sangraal and even the subtle telekinesis more than make up for it though.

      The Quest Part 2 is so good that Part 1 with its clichéd fantasy set-up are almost forgiveable. It’s also difficult to see why Adria was necessary in Part 1; Ba’al just about squeaks in as it would be difficult for him to suddenly appear in Part 2 and I wouldn’t have missed the excellent Sam-hitting-him moment for anything but Adria certainly could have just turned up in Part 2 without any major impact to the storyline in Part 1.

      Ignoring Part 1, Part 2 moves the overall Ori arc forward very satisfactorily but it deserves the majority of its praise for its well rounded characterisations, great direction, excellent performances and, at its heart, great writing by Mallozzi and Mullie. Kudos to everyone on a stand-out episode – I loved it.
      Women of the Gate LJ Community.
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        When I found out "the Quest part 2" was going to be shown so soon, I was like a child at christmas with so much anticipation of what the episode was going to be like. It didn't disapoint!

        The first half of season 10 had seemed to have been very sluggish in gaining momentum after the big Ori build up of Seaon 9 resulting in a somewhat of an anti-climax. The "Quest" for the Sangraal began satisfyingly quickly at the beginning of the series with the discovery of Vagonbrei, however similar "Quest" missions to Castiana and Sahal rather disappointingly never materialised, and were infact just glossed over as trivial and unimportant. "The Quest" as a whole, from my point of view, therefore represented the most important, yet somewhat missing arc of the series thus far with Part 2 in particular, having a lot to do to make up for the rather disapointing Part 1 (where the general speediness of the challenges, and the relative ease in which they were completed didnt leave the viewer much to consider for themselves).

        Although the Dragon was a little cliche and very obviously CG, the idea of speaking its secret name to destroy it was a good idea, and what was even better was that Baal actually didn't know what it was. There was, unlike in Part 1, time to think of what the answer could be, whilst Teal'c served the Dragon a light C4 snack. When Vala shouted out "Morgan LeFay" I knew where they were going, although couldn't think of her 'actual' name. When Daniel shouted out "Ganus Lal" (or however that may be spelt) I resisted the urge to shout "of course!!" at the screen - very well done!!

        I was so pleasantly surprised when they all were teleported off the planet, and shocked (in a good way) when I realised the figure in the stasis pod was Merlin himself. It all made sense - of course the ancients would have known that Morgan would have failed to destroy the Sangraal, something which I had consdiered ever since the thought of her hiding it instead was first mentioned it; however, I never expected Merlin to turn up in person! Again, very well done, and great work in weaving in more Arthurian mythology.

        Although the cleverness continued with the ever changing secret location (which I found to be a very clever, different, and cool idea!), it also seemed to disappear too. It was a very imaginative method of ensuring that Adria coudn't easily find them, (which would have wrapped up things quite early) but there were a few niggling inconsistencies which dampened its impressiveness...
        When Merlin is using the 'mind device' to build a new Sangraal, Vala mentions that he's been in there for "hours", and when you consider that it took Daniel quite some time to explain the situation to Merlin in the first place, the time frame for them being on the desert planet must have far exceeded that which Sam tells us is the interval between teleportations - 2hours.
        Adria finds the address of the planet which the team is transported to by using her powers to 'manipulate' the DHD. However, I'm pretty sure Adria couldn't use her powers on this planet, and it would seem like a dumb idea to lift whatever it is that keeps her from using them just because the Dragon had been slain and the successful party teleported away - a dumb oversight that an ascended ancient would not make. It also seems unlikely that such a security measure would not have been in place on all the planets in the isolated gate network Morgan created; afterall, Merlin himslef and the key to defeating the Ori are travelling round them.

        The idea of handing over responsibility to Daniel had both pro's and con's. Our mysterious ancient who nobly gave up ascended existence and has been an important presense, albeit holographic, for the last series and a half, was surprisingly in here in the flesh. It would have been good to see him assert more of his super-knowledge and abilities before he was so quickly threw out of the story. However, this did give the oportunity for Daniel to shine as he continued Merlin's work to re-build the Sangraal; which also in turn provided some excellent, and even emotional character interaction between Vala and Mitchell as well as deepend the Vala/Daniel relationship, when she evidently can't stand to see Daniel put his life at risk.

        One thing that was constant in this episode was the excellent character interactions, and the injection of humour just at the right moment. Teal'c was on form with the name "Puff" for the Dragon, as in "Puff the Magic Dragon". It reminded me of the time he gave "Darth Vador" as an example of a fatheless child. It was good to see Sam ask for help instead of knowing everything, and also assert a feisty side we rarely see when Baal insulted her. The Daniel/Vala relationship was deepened (see above) and even a Mithel/Vala relationship was emphasised too (also see above). Disappointingly however, Sam is the only one who is obviously upset at the prospect of leaving Daniel behing. It would have been good the reactions of the rest of the team too, even if it was just a cliche facial shot of them all.

        One character which disappointed me throughout parts 1 & 2 was Baal. His usefulness was only to reprogramme the DHD so they could escape and it almost seems like he was only included in ther story for that purpose alone. Although his purpose is somewhat pointless, he did however, have a few funny remarks to make, and provided some entertainment along the way

        The ending came a little rushed for my liking, and followed an uninspired course - Adria finds the planet, but the the team still escape. However, I was glad to see the Sangraal wasn't comleted and also how Daniel couldn't beat Adria. It's quite refreshing, if not a little frustrating that the 'good guys' didn't get the prize (the Sangraal), and that to escape they had to sacrifice something dear (Daniel).

        All in all, "The Quest part 2" was a clever, if not a thoroughly thought out and flawless story with many positives. It serves as both an end to "the Quest", answering many questions regarding Merlin, Morgan & the Sangraal, but also opens up the story for some much needed Ori continuation. It definetely makes up for what Part 1 lacked, and to some extent what the season so far has lacked. I can only hope that there are more episodes like this to come. Rating - 8.5/10
        Last edited by Madeleine; January 15, 2007, 05:16 AM. Reason: At the request of the author, correction of a typo.


          Part one of the quest didn't get a shining review from me because, in my eyes, it lacked any epic scale - it was little more than 'fine.' Luckily, my wish came true when I finished watching Part 2 and concluded that it was a fantastic episode that completely compensated for part one's shortcomings.

          The episode picks up where part one left off [obviously], with what appeared to be a lacklustre dragon. Thankfully, the continuation of the dragon's guest appearance is much better than his [or her] entrance. From the realistic fire to the elaborate crash through the mountain-top, the dragon's role is relatively short but incredibly sweet. The CGI is impressive, if a little cartoonish in one or two places and the real-life characters shine in these few minutes, with a good deal of comedy crammed into about 5 minutes of screen-time. Highlight must be Teal'c suggesting "Puff" as the dragon's name.

          Once the dragon is dealt with, the episode really gets going and it's nothing short of an exhilarating, incredibly busy 35 minutes. Now to delve into the specifics a little more:

          First of all, Merlin's character was a joy to watch and listen to. After this long arc it felt rewarding to finally be able to interact with an Ancient on any real level - the sense of continuity and use of canon from SG-1's long series history was impressive and should prove enjoyable for big followers of the show.

          Secondly, Daniel Jackson was brilliant in this episode - from his discussions with Merlin to the moments when Merlin's memories are overriding his brain to his final conflict with Adria and Oma-like powers - a pure delight. The conflict was especially exciting and, even for someone who knew what was going to happen, was incredibly intense. Of course, it wasn't just 'The Daniel Show' - everyone had their moments. Vala's heartache over what Daniel was doing to himself was incredibly emotional and her brief moment with Cam really highlighted how close this team is. Carter and Baal made a great team and Baal himself, though as annoying as usual, was better in this episode than in part one. Teal'c and Cam didn't have any major role but still had some great moments, many of Teal'c's being comedic - O'Neill's humour really has rubbed off on him well.

          The plot was fairly simple but, as I said, incredibly dense. This made it easy to follow and meant that there was rarely a moment when you could get bored. The use of the obelisk and 'planet-jumping' was a great device to keep Adria off SG-1's tail just long enough for things to get really exciting. By the time they're onto their third planet you know that Adria isn't far behind and the knowledge that the gate could activate at any moment keeps you on the edge of your seat. When Daniel realises and says "they're coming", you couldn't be blamed for having bitten your nails to the skin and, as I mentioned earlier, the best moment has to be Adria's appearance and when Daniel says "I'd say things are different now", you couldn't be blamed for jumping up and cheering. It was very reminiscent of Daniel VS. Replicator Carter in Reckoning.

          If I were asked to find one flaw in this otherwise perfect episode, I would say it's Adria. Although she's good at the end, her reactions and personality are a little bland in this episode. She doesn't really have anything to her - she's not evil, she's not aggressive, she's not vindictive, she's not soft - she's just the Orici. Hopefully we'll see a little more spark from her in episodes to come but thus far she's a little two dimensional.

          Overall, this episode is nothing short of fantastic. Unlike part one, it has real substance rather than being a collection of scenes and puzzles. It shows heart, it shows continuity and, more than anything else, it shows what SG-1 was and is meant to be. The team members were all fantastic - Daniel, Vala and Carter all being most notable. The plot was picture perfect and, in the short time that he lived, Merlin brought a certain human quality to the Ancients, which they've always lacked. A stargate gem through and through.


          O'Neill: Phasers?
          Carter: Sorry sir.



            It’s been several months since the last time a new episode of “SG-1” was on the air (at least in the United States), and it did not end the first half of the season on a high note. Despite a great deal of promise coming out the ninth season, the highlight of the tenth and final season has thus far been a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the past decade. The first part of “The Quest” felt less like a banner episode of “SG-1” and more like an odd retread of an old-style “Dungeons and Dragons” campaign.

            The conclusion of the story starts in largely the same thematic ground, with the SG-1 team and Ba’al fighting what appears to be a wyvern (like a dragon, but not). Once this relatively cute moment is over, the episode takes a turn into more familiar territory. The team is whisked to a new location off the beaten wormhole path where they encounter Merlin. He has a device that can help recreate the Sangraal, the weapon that can be used against the Ori. Only he is unable to use the device; Daniel volunteers, putting his life at great risk as a result.

            This entire plot thread includes a number of continuity references that help connect the Ori plot elements to the Ancient technology encountered during the Goa’uld days. Such an effort is quite appreciated, even if it won’t be enough to overcome the resistance of fans unwilling to give the new order a chance. Whatever the case, it’s nice to see the pieces fitting together, even if it’s still clear that there’s a lot left to do before the end of the series.

            While Daniel slowly falls apart at the seams, Adria pulls together her resources from around the galaxy to hunt SG-1 down. This aspect of the plot adds to the long list of Adria’s powers, and they are quite impressive. Unfortunately, this also exposes the weaknesses in Morena Baccarin’s performance. Some scenes are completely ruined by line delivery that undermines the intent of the scene. I loved Morena as Inara on “Firefly”, so it’s disappointing to see her falter. (Especially since the lack in acting makes it look like she was hired solely for her looks.)

            By the end of the episode, Daniel is weakened and in Adria’s hands. Despite his claims that the Ancient knowledge is gone, Adria’s powers are vast and it’s possible that she could find a way to extract the memories. SG-1 has part of the Sangraal in hand, but no means of returning to the planet with Merlin’s device. This is an interesting and unexpected complication for the season arc, and the writers have certainly given themselves a good starting point for the remainder of the season and series.