Unlike Stargate: The Ark of Truth, Stargate: Continuum is a very satisfying way to wrap up the whole Stargate SG-1 storyline. It’s hard to put into words exactly what makes it better than The Ark of Truth, but as my son put it (and I read at least one review that says the same thing), this one feels like a movie, while the other felt like just an extended episode.
One thing I definitely liked was that it brought back characters from earlier in the series, such as Jack O’Neill and General Hammond. It also had plenty of humor – the dry, understated sort that always made watching SG-1 such a pleasure. And particularly pleasing to me, this movie revolves around the idea of time travel.
It’s not the first time SG-1 went back in time. The two episodes when they did so previously, 1969 and Moebius, are among my favorites. But the plot this time is far from a repeat of either of those. Vala is seen in quite a new role, as the Gao’uld-possessed Katesh (there were plenty of references to her having been Katesh, but I don’t remember seeing Katesh on screen before). Daniel Jackson tries to talk to the version of himself in another timeline. Samantha Carter has to deal with being a famous astronaut – who happens to have died, heroically, four years earlier.
I’m not sure I would agree with those who say you don’t need to have watched Stargate SG-1 to appreciate this movie (would you understand Sam’s reaction to Jack’s death? would you understand what is going on with Vala as Katesh? how much would you really care whether the “original” timeline is restored?), as a Stargate fan I certainly enjoyed it a lot.
There are of course the usual paradoxes involved in time travel. Cam Mitchell has to deal with a form of the “grandfather paradox” quite literally, as preventing the disaster that changed history so drastically will also prevent his own grandfather’s death. There are some minor questions left unanswered, at the end, because history still has been altered very slightly. But as with the earlier Moebius episode, apparently the restored timeline is “close enough.”