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Bounty - Review

Bounty is the 15th episode in Season Ten of Stargate SG1.

Review

Romantic comedy is the theme of the day while the actual bounty hunt that gives Bounty its title ends up nothing more than an amusing sub-plot as the Lucien Alliance is once again reduced to a joke and the Ori arc forgotten. Still, the story is mostly well-constructed with good performances all round even if it never shifts out of ‘cliché’ mode and the surprises are never a surprise. While it won’t be setting the universe alight, in the end, Bounty is good fun with some laugh-out-loud moments and there is a definite feel-good factor when the end credits roll just as at the beginning.

 

The structure of the story provides a good framework for the set pieces from the end to the beginning, and the opening of Bounty is very well done. The SG1 mission is well-executed with fabulous special effects not only with the scanning of the team but also with the actual explosion. The whole segment neatly exudes an air of being business-as-usual for the team while providing the set-up and background for the Lucien Alliance’s bounty hunt of SG1 to begin. It also provides a nod back to the power struggle within the Alliance which comes to a head at the end. That is a major plot hole; while Netan’s demise provides a good conclusion, the implication that the team release a ruthless bounty hunter and allow him to get control of the Lucien Alliance is bizarre given there is no guarantee he won’t end up a worse enemy.

Perhaps the new management of the Lucien Alliance might enable the writers to redraw the enemy into a believable foe, something they are currently not despite best efforts in previous episodes. Bounty does nothing to help with the usual two-dimensional nature; the bad guys are cliché from the seduction acts and the leather ensembles to their actual dialogue. However given the light-hearted nature of the rest of the story, they really don’t require being anything more substantial.

Mitchell taking pity on a bored Vala to his high school reunion provides many opportunities for comic set pieces; Vala telling his mother about their sex life, Mitchell shocked at his mother being OK about them sleeping together, his clumsiness in front of Amy, his high school buddy propositioning Vala, Vala shocking normal people with her tales from her own background. Throwing Vala into a normal Earth situation – and really it can’t get anymore normal than this – does provide some laughs even if her wardrobe at one point seems a homage to Daisy Duke. Claudia Black does a great job at milking the most of every scene for comic effect as does Ben Browder.

Mitchell has never come across more normal than he does in this episode as he gets to be the high school hero and kisses the girl. The romance between Amy and Mitchell is well played out although it might have worked better had there been actual chemistry between the actors. I personally found myself rooting for Vala and Daryl instead. Daryl and Amy are both well acted but they do conform to the expected characterisation of ‘best buddy’ and ‘high school sweetheart’ with little originality as does the rest of the Kansas scenario. The Clark Kent-esque background complete with Mom and Pop adds little originality to Mitchell even if it provides him with additional back-story material, and even the hero with a double life is played out in the end make-out scene with Amy.

Romance, or variations thereof, is also suggested in the other scenarios; Daniel is propositioned in a museum by a beautiful woman (who unsurprisingly turns out to be an assassin); Dr Lee chats up women at the conference he is attending with Sam much to her bemusement. Again, these scenes are played mainly for laughs with even the mowing down of Daniel’s assassin by a bus having a cartoonish Road Runner air to it. Only Teal’c’s scenes are played straight. The attacks on Teal’c, Daniel and Sam do nicely escalate and provide some good action in between the Kansas scenes. It helps keep the plot moving and the episode never feels as though it lags because of that. It comes nicely to a climax as the bounty hunter takes the high school reunion hostage and SG1 saves the day.

Hands up all who got that the SG1 that ‘beamed’ in weren’t the actual SG1 even without the heavy handed hint that the Odyssey was unavailable? Keep your hands up if you also guessed that Sam wasn’t Sam on the stage before the assassination attempt on her? And on a minor quibble why would Sam be walking around with the holographic technology when they go to save Mitchell? Although I admit I did laugh as the team reveal how they did it a la the Scooby gang complete with meddling kids quote.

While the whole is light-hearted, I cannot help but feel that it is a little out-of-place given the end of The Shroud with more Ori ships entering the galaxy and Daniel’s return. It feels like this episode should have been a sober reflection of that situation rather than played for laughs with no hint of the Ori at all within the plot. Stargate has never done dealing with the consequences of one story in those following particularly well but the reset here feels jarring.

Bounty is clichéd with few surprises and the odd one or two plot holes but it is good clean fun in the main and holds its shape as a story very well thanks to good bone structure. Comedy episodes are always a bit hit and miss; some will love it, some will hate it. I personally find some parts funny and the whole amusing enough, and viewed as a stand-alone episode of SG1, it certainly doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of this second half of S10 for me even if adds nothing to the arc overall.

 

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