Saturday, February 26, 2005

Biggest Night of Sci Fi Ever 2/25/05

Stargate SG-1
Stargate Atlantis
Battlestar Gallactica

Stargate SG-1

The Replicators have begun a full scale onslaught of the gouaould (bad guys) and the system lords in a bid to take over the universe. The Replicators are a machine borg-like type species led by a clone of Col Samantha Carter. There is only one weapon that can stop them and the replicators are on their way to destroy.

Yet again, the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance and SG 1 will have to save the universe once more. A side story is that the Jafar rebellion, the Jafar are a race of warriors who worship the gouaould, thinking they are really gods, is well on its way and they have recaptured the most sacred temple and through it they'll be able to show their fellow Jafars that the gouaould are really not gods. Ah, but Annubis the big bad gouaould was expecting them and has ordered his fleet back from engaging the replicators to crush the Jafar rebellion once and for all.

To be continued next week.

It was a good episode. Here's something funny, Issac Hayes, the voice of the Shaft song, made an appearance as part of the Jaffar rebellion. You almost expected him to burst out with a "can you dig it?"

I'm never quite sure what to think about the whole black race is mysterious thing. In sci fi shows when you have a race that is a warrior race and about honor and bravery and loyalty and stuff, they tend to cast blacks in those roles. There's the Jafar and of course, the Klingons. The Klingons were are interesting blend of technological advancement and barbarism and everything in between. With the exception of Star Trek Voyager's Tuvok, you don't find too many black Vulcans. The Vulcans are a self controlled intellectual race that thrive on logic and eschew emotions. Even then, Tuvok is depected as controlling untold rage within and in a sad story line, the series finale had him in committed in a mental instiution as a raving lunatic. They'd never have done that with Spock, a white Vulcan.

This, black is mysterious, is a staple of movies: Green Mile, Bagger Vance, (the Queen latifah/steve martin movie), and it goes on and on. Black people are portrayed as the mystic mysterious magical figures who make things right for others. Even children's animated stories buy into this. The Little People are popular characters for kids. Each Little People character has their "thing." Michael, the black kid, his thing is magic.

Going back to sci fi, Commander Sisko of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, was very mystically inclined and ended up a monk or something like that. Mr LaForge of Star Trek Next Generation, who had no vision and wore that visor thing, which gave him that mystical edge. Both were the primary black characters in their respective series. Well, Wharf, the Klingon, of course, was a main character in both, but he again is as described earlier.

The stereotype is being taken too far, but it does tap into a sense of the symbolism of blackness. For some reason I think black peoples tend to embrace a vibrant "black" mysticism and are more culturally attuned to spiritual world. I was at a conference of black scripture scholars and theologians and there was not shortage of "everyone in the bible is black" rhetoric. A speaker then came up and joked that we know that Moses was not Black, because only a white person would see a bush burning like that and then say, "let me go up and see what is going on." A black person would say, "get me the hell out of here!"

In Christian mysticism there is a couple of mystical traditions defined by the way God is portrayed. There is the apophatic tradition in which God is definied in a positve way, it's a "way of light," happy, clear, etc. Then there is the cataphatic mysticism which is dark and characterized by negation. The higher into God you ascend, the darker it gets until you arrive at divine blackness in which God is best revealed. It is a way of negation: God is not a lion, God is not wind, God is not light, God is beyond all these and by sticking such titles on him it takes away from what he is. This divine blackness I think captures something of the cultural mystical blackness of black peoples: searching, vibrant, undefined, joy intermingled with pain, hope, power, etc. BTW, even the world famous Anselmian ontological argument for God's existence has that cataphatic twist to it: God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived. That's pure positive negation. You name something and God is greater. In fact, there nothing you can name that God is not greater than.

Okay, I'm not even sure how I got here, I was talking about the biggest night of scifi ever. Alright, back to the shows.

Then there was Stargate Atlantis. Last week they found a frozen version of Dr Wier who is the leader of the expedition to Atlantis. Apparently, the first time around on the expedition things went horribly, but they stumbled on a time machined and she was thrown back in time to the time of the Ancients. One of the Ancients then configured things so that when the humans arrived (again), things would go well for them. To keep things going, Dr Wier was frozen for 10,000 years, 3.000 years at a time to adjust controls and stuff. So of we have two Dr Wiers. Anyway, she reveals that there are a few much needed power sources scattered around the galaxy and so this episode was about the search for one of those.

Good episode, nothing earth shattering. For once, the fate of the entire galaxy did not depend on them. They eventually find one of the power sources, called a ZPM (zero point module), but their efforts are thwarted by trickery as one of the ladies who helped them seized the ZPM and in the tradition of her ancestors has taken it for safe keeping until the Ancients return. One the side, a Wraith ship found Atlantis and broke through their defenses, scanned the structure and sent a long range transmission deep into space and then self destructed. So now the Wraith know where they are. The Wraith are these nasty hungry humanoid creatures with three rows of shark-like teeth. They were the reason that the Ancients fled Atlantis. So they are very bad news.

Battlestar Gallactica. They find cylon on board and Lt STarbuck is sent to interrogate it. She delves into torture since she believes it to not be a human but a machine. At the same time, this thing plays games with her head and her faith. Eventually, it is ordered thrown out into space to die. In a separate development, one of the crew belives that she may be a cylon infiltrator and goes to the on board scientist to see if he can test her. This guy has hallucinations (it's bizzare and stupid) and he has this blonde lady who does not believe in clothes follow him everywhere and whisper stuff in his ear. I suppose she is suppose to be eye candy for the cadre of nerds who watch the show, but she is downright annoying. Anyway, scientist guy tests her and it reveals that she is a cylon but he is afraid to tell her. So that is where we are.

BTW, Battlestar Gallactica doesn't have any main black characters, in fact, I have seen absolutely NO black characters. Stargate Atlantis has no major black characters either. Oh well, why burden a good show with equal opportunity.


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