Stargate SG-1: Season One
By Dwip April 13, 2015, 9:02 pm Comments (1) RSS Feed for this post

As should have been hinted at by my review of the movie in last month’s log, my next big review project is going to be Stargate, starting with SG-1. I’m a pretty late arrival to the whole thing, with my first watch being in 2009, and I’ve been through the whole lot a couple times since then. But it’s been a few years, so maybe it’s about time to check them out again.

From the first, this is a pretty exceptional show. The writers and the people in charge pretty clearly had some ideas of the scope and potential of Stargate as a television series. Worlds to discover. Grand ideas to explore. This is science fiction in the greatest traditions of science fiction, using fantastic technology to help tell gripping stories that help us imagine things about ourselves.

And, from the first episode on, this is a well-done show for the most part. Unlike the very rocky first season of Highlander, Stargate SG-1 is high quality from the first, with exceptional writing and exceptional acting. The four main characters are superb – Richard Dean Anderson was born to play Jack O’Neill, Michael Shanks should forever be remembered as Daniel Jackson, and while Amanda Tapping as Sam Carter and Christopher Judge as Teal’c have a bit of a rocky start, they will both go on to become iconic in their own right.

There are a few bumps this early in the road, but this is going to be quite a ride.

JAFFA, KREE! THERE ARE SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT

Before we begin, a note on episode order. My Stargate SG-1: The Complete Series boxed set is a hell of a thing, 10 seasons of television in one giant box with a huge stargate on the cover, but it has the unfortunate flaw of having most of the first season completely out of order, which is the order I watched them in.

For the most part, these are fairly minor. Solitudes (01×18) and Tin Man (01×19) get flipped in order, as to Singularity (01×15) and Cor-Ai (01×16). These are fairly minor, as the episodes are mostly standalones.

Somewhat more gratuitous is the change in order of a large block of episodes: Cold Lazarus (01×07), The Nox (01×08), Brief Candle (01×09), Thor’s Hammer (01×10), The Torment of Tantalus (01×11), Bloodlines (01×12), and Fire and Water (01×13) are aired wildly out of order, like so:

Brief Candle (01×09), Cold Lazarus (01×07), Thor’s Hammer (01×10), The Torment of Tantalus (01×11), Bloodlines (01×12), and The Nox (01×08).

Why this was done is somewhat puzzling. Though most of these are relatively standalone, minor events in a few of these make events in others make no sense, and obviously the flow of the episodes is much different – one’s feeling about the races in Brief Candle, Thor’s Hammer, and the four races from The Torment of Tantalus are wildly different depending on which order you watch The Nox in. I think it’s actually probably better in the DVD order for the most part, but it IS different. I’ll be trying to watch in broadcast order beginning with season 2.

Now on with the show.

Children of the Gods

“Surely something of the host must survive.”

So this is one of my more favorite pilot episodes to anything, especially for a 90s show, when they played a little more fast and lose with, you know, the actual plot versus the explosions.

We’re a year after the events of Stargate the movie. Everyone assumes Jack O’Neill and team blew up the Abydos Stargate, killed Ra, and generally made Earth and humanity safe for democracy.

And then some crazy ass dudes with metal snake armor and these wicked laser staff guns come in through the Stargate, kidnap an Air Force woman, and boogie off to parts unknown after killing all and sundry. A somewhat more sane-looking O’Neill gets recalled to head up the hunt for the captive, and in the process lets slip that oh by the way Daniel Jackson’s fine and on Abydos and maybe we should go get them. Which they do about the time the snake dudes show back up and kidnap Sha’re and Skaara, but this time the team has a clue on where to go – Chulak. They go make a stab at getting them back, hijinks ensue, and they come back with a bunch of refugees and Teal’c, former Jaffa warrior of Apophis, the crazy gold snake armor dude with the glowing eyes like Ra.

As I said, I think this is a pretty tremendously solid pilot, and for an hour and forty minutes long this thing is probably about as good a sequel to the movie as could have been made, though as with all sequels I’m not sure how comprehensible it is without having seen the movie first. Even so, it does a good job setting up all the salient points from the movie while smoothing out some of the rougher edges and holes in the lore. More of that to come.

A few things I especially liked:

– As we’ll see, Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks were especially inspired choices for O’Neill and Jackson. Anderson’s a huge change from Kurt Russell in the movie, but I like it as a sign that O’Neill is as good as his word to Jackson in the movie – he is getting better. Shanks is still trying to be James Spader’s Jackson here, but he’s good at it, and as we’ll see later he’s got a hell of a range. He may be the best actor in this entire cast as far as that goes.

– I like the folks from Abydos showing up in the show, and I wish they’d done more of it. Too, the whole “We need to rescue Sha’re and Skaara!” thing is going to get undermined a bit later by the sheer amount of not rescuing them that happens, but their appearances (or in this case disappearances) are some of the most powerful moments of the show, one of the great central themes of the first few seasons.

– Too, I like that Jackson and O’Neill, more than anybody else, can bond and form an unlikely friendship over the experiences they’ve had and the losses they’ve shared. They understand each other in ways that Kowalsky, for instance, who served with O’Neill, never can.

– Man, the Goa’uld are such a great villain. Evil, arrogant, powerful as hell, and the whole snakelike thing is Alien levels of creepy.

And a few things I didn’t:

– Carter’s little “I’m a big girl and I can play with the boys” thing was not handled over well. I understand why they felt the need to do it, but Stargate tends to be fairly awkward as a gender relations show, as we will unfortunately see very soon.

– This is the period before they started getting decent military technical advisors, and man are these early uniforms hilarious even to somebody who barely knows what he’s looking for. Enlisted and officer insignia on the same coat? Oi.

– Apophis had a weird mix of styles going on in Chulak that didn’t entirely work for me. Ra was pretty much Egypt 24/7, while Apophis had some Egyptian mixed with Greek, Roman, maybe some Indian, and a really incongruous medieval-looking dungeon/castle thing. On the other hand, super thrilled to see the Greek and Roman stuff.

As complaints go these are some pretty weak tea. I like this show a lot, and I think it starts pretty strong out the gate.

And just because…

Daniel Jackson Death Count: 1
Killed by Ra in Stargate

Daniel Jackson Presumed Dead: 1
Children of the Gods (01×01) before Jack clues everyone in about Abydos

The Enemy Within

“I am a Jaffa. I have served as a warrior for your enemy. I have carried your enemy within me.”

“Oh God, Jack. You gotta help me. You gotta get this thing out of me.”

This is sort of a wrap-up episode for the things brought up in Children of the Gods. Ok, they sent the refugees home. Nobody trusts Teal’c yet except SG-1. Oh, and Kowalsky’s got a Goa’uld inside his head.

Oh shit.

As second episodes go, this one is fantastic. Post-pilot second episodes don’t always work so well (Highlander’s Family Tree would like a word), but this one sets up and resolves a number of things and does so very well. The episode title works on not one but three different enemies.

There’s the enemy without, Apophis, who slams Jaffa after Jaffa into the iris of the Stargate. Then there’s the first potential enemy within, who is Teal’c. He is, as he says, a warrior of the enemy. Maybe a traitor, maybe not. But, as O’Neill says, he watched Teal’c save his life, so that’s all he needs to know. Tells you a lot about both Teal’c and O’Neill. Then there’s enemy number two, Colonel Kennedy, who introduces one of the major early season sources of tension between various stripes of non-SGC politicians and bureaucrats and the Stargate Command itself.

And then there’s that third enemy, the Goa’uld inside Kowalsky. And this is real nightmare stuff. Yeah, there’s a lot of excuses in here to datadump on Goa’ulds, but the idea of a parasite in your head that can take you over and kill you off if it’s in danger of dying? I’ll pass, thanks. I’m with Kowalsky – shoot me instead. This episode goes a long way towards building the legend of the Goa’uld. Yeah, they’re evil conquerors, and that’s bad enough, but this?

Too, I’ve always felt that the guy playing Kowalsky, Jay Acovone, did a great job really selling how horrifying getting taken over was, how awful it was to lose yourself like that. And without delving too deep into the family history here, I’ve seen that happen in a different sense, and I’ve done the bedside vigil thing, and so this is one of those episodes that really resonates with me.

This is one of the really important ones.

Emancipation

“I’m not an anthropologist.”

“You are today.”

SG-1 goes through the gate and winds up on a world populated by descendents of the Mongols. Cool. Things rather immediately take a turn when everyone has a problem with Samantha Carter being a woman. Annoyingness ensues.

Hoo boy. How the hell did we get here from The Enemy Within. If this isn’t the worst episode in the show it’s at least within spitting distance. Here’s the thing – the show in the early days took a very in your face, I-can-beat-the-boys-at-their-own-game approach to bringing up gender issues. Which, hey, let’s talk us some gender issues, since god knows they’ll cover everything else in time and it’s important.

Only, well, it doesn’t really work in an episode that’s mostly about women sitting around ranting about their unfair oppression while the guys make jokes at her expense. It’s insanely boring, it’s insanely preachy, and it’s a concept that a better heroine, like, oh, I don’t know, later series Sam Carter or Sarah Conner or somebody would demolish in about 2 minutes. It doesn’t help that almost all the dialogue sounds like it was written by high school drama students.

I don’t actively hate on many things Stargate, but this episode is godawful.

The Broca Divide

“Lucy, I’m home!”

“I am not Lucy.”

“I know that!”

In which our team goes through the gate to some planet they never do get around to giving a better name and are assaulted in the dark by some not quite cavemen, which strikes everyone as a bit confusing until they meet up with some Minoan types on the light side who call the cavemen the Touched and think it’s a curse. Well, it’s a disease, and everybody’s got it. Oh dear.

This one’s trying to say some stuff about the nature of diseased people versus not, and maybe a few other allegorical things I didn’t pick up on, but the big takeaway for me here was that alien diseases are going to be bad bad days for the SGC. This one was pretty curable, but that ante gets upped later.

Other things of note:

– I forgot how early on they started the O’Neill/Carter romance thing. They’re pretty much flirting this entire episode, never mind the bit in the locker room.

– Dr. Frasier makes her first appearance.

– Also the first appearance of Colonel Makepeace as SG-3 commander. Forget he showed up this early.

– Teal’c begins his reign of being the comedy star of this show.

– It’ll take a while, but there will eventually be a payoff for the help SG-1 gives out here. I love that about this show.

– Caveman Daniel!

The First Commandment

“All along I’ve been looking for God…and here I am.”

SG-1 goes looking for SG-9, who all went missing. Or maybe the sun just drove them a little crazy.

This one is a mix between Heart of Darkness and Highlander’s Little Tin God. A rogue SG commander sets himself up as a god to a primitive tribe, and it’s up to SG-1 to stop things. Unlike Heart of Darkness I actually like this one.

I was a little surprised that this one was as early as it was – I had remembered this being much later, but coming off the first few episodes it was probably about time to deal with that whole “Well, they’ll probably think we’re gods, it’s not uncommon” thing. Because eventually somebody was going to actually believe the hype. Going crazy from the sun helped, of course, but still. And so we get an episode about the dangers of setting yourself up as a god.

And, for the most part, it works. Lots of cool little details in this one – using the Stargate as an execution tool (the many and varied locations of Stargates is pretty cool), the Goa’uld sun shield tech, and so on. The villain was suitably deranged. SG-1 takes a couple of stupid pills themselves while concocting plans, but it nevertheless all works out in the end.

Also, Carter’s taste in ex-boyfriends is terrible.

Brief Candle

“Unto every man the creator gives 100 blissful days.”

SG-1 comes to terms with getting old when Jack is seduced by hot Mycenaean women and infected with nanobots that speed up the aging process dramatically. Cranky old man factor is high.

In which Stargate poses the question, who wants to live forever, by comparing and contrasting the people of Argos, who get 100 days of life that are a constant party, with Jack, who suddenly has to deal with the idea of getting old very very fast and dealing with his regrets.

This continues to be surprisingly deep stuff for the first season of a show, especially in what Gateworld informs me is actually episode 8, not episode 5. For some reason the episodes on my DVD collection are way, way out of order. At this point in Highlander they were still dealing with Joan Jett and lame serial killer doctors.

Lots of stuff going on here. The obvious one is the question of whether or not it’s better to burn out than to fade away – on the one hand, your 100 days are going to be pretty sweet. On the other hand, as Jack rightly notes, if you had thousands of days, you could do a whole lot more even if some of them weren’t so hot. You can also do a whole lot more if you aren’t complacently shackled to a false religion, of course, which is not the first time SG-1 has contrasted science and religion, but thus far we haven’t seen Jack ranting and raving and pulling down statues of the false god like some kind of SMG-toting prophet.

One can go on in this vein, about Jack showing the childlike Argosians how to grow up and step out into the world on their own two feet, or about the religious systems of control Pelops threw down to keep the Argosians in line while he ran his little genetics experiment with nanobots. Which is yet another of those great wrinkles about the Goa’uld. Yeah, by the way, they will totally hijack a bunch of people to run twisted experiments on them, why do you ask?

Cold Lazarus

“Then how do you explain the other one?”

“What other one?”

SG-1 finds some weird blue crystals on a planet. One knocks out O’Neill. Weird doppelgangers happen.

Stargate continues to go to some surprisingly complex places for a show that’s all of eight episodes into its first season by contriving a weird alien to clone Jack and get he and his ex-wife to full on confront the death of their son. Lots of talking, lots of awkwardness, lots of heartwrenching tragedy. I’m not entirely sure it all works – we are after all not even halfway through the first season, and I’m not really sold on the whole energy being thing – but what the hell. Too, not really feeling the ending. But somehow it all still works anyway.

A note about the weird ordering – the comments by Jack in Brief Candle about his ex-wife suddenly make a lot more sense if this episode comes first, which it should by rights.

Not bad, but kind of wish they’d done it a bit later.

Thor’s Hammer

“OK. That’s no myth.”

“Something of the host survives!”

SG-1 is sent on a mission to try and contact a race of aliens who, while they pose as gods, may be benevolent and posing as the Norse pantheon. Unfortunately, their defense mechanisms have some problematic consequences for Teal’c.

Boy is this episode doing a lot of heavy lifting. It’s not really a concept episode like Brief Candle, but a mostly plot-driven episode with a whole lot of future ramifications. What do we get here?

– This is the first mention of Thor, which will become huge later.

– Likewise, Thor’s Hammer is a big deal, we’ll come back here.

– This is also our first confirmation that something of the host can indeed survive. There’s hope for Sha’re and Skaara!

– Our friendly labyrinth monster will also be making a comeback of sorts further down the line, and who knew.

– Humans can use those Goa’uld hand devices, which may have some further relevance later.

All of that said, something has never quite sat right for me about this episode, and I’m not sure what. Maybe it’s the supporting cast acting. Maybe it’s the B plot stuff, or maybe it’s the sort of meandering nature of the episode with a lot of infodump and not much action. Either way, I’m not quite as enthralled as I could be.

The Torment of Tantalus

“Thor was an alien?”

“Oh…yeah…that’s another long story. But a good one.”

While reviewing old materials on the Stargate from 1945, Daniel stumbles across evidence that somebody went through the gate 50 years ago, and better yet it’s not a world from the Abydos cartouche, which means no Goa’uld. The plot thickens when it turns out the guy who went through the gate was supposed to marry Catherine Langford, who ran the Stargate program in the movie.

There’s a lot going on here, all sort of coupled around a “the place is going to collapse” survival episode that frankly isn’t nearly as interesting as some of the things that get revealed. For instance:

– People went through the gate in 1945! Ernest Littlefield! Catherine Langford returns from the movie!

– The discovery of four races united in some kind of alien United Nations, one of whom were Thor’s race. This is gonna be big later. SGC is rapidly discovering the universe is way bigger than they thought it was.

– The alien UN races are way way super advanced.

There’s a sort of an A plot here about Daniel being completely wrapped up in the idea of learning all he could from the alien molecular thing, mirroring Ernest’s abandoning Catherine to go through the Stargate, but I was never really concerned about them getting trapped in a castle falling into the ocean, so the whole titular Tantalus thing didn’t really work for me.

These last couple episodes are expanding the lore at breakneck speeds, and that’s not changing any time soon.

Bloodlines

“You were calling out something…Rya’c. Does that mean something?”

“It means nothing.”

Come to find out, Teal’c has a family back on Chulak that he left behind back when he ditched being the First Prime of Apophis. But now his son Rya’c is about to get a Goa’uld implanted in his belly, and Teal’c wants to stop that from happening.

So, this is a pretty significant episode (he said, as if the last several had nothing going on). We’re finally back on Chulak for the first time since Children of the Gods, and we get a little bit of a glimpse into Jaffa culture and Teal’c’s family life.

– It must be said that Teal’c’s wife Drey’auc does not come off well here, more of a social climber than a true and faithful wife, though she’s got some reasons for it.

– First appearance of Bra’tac, crotchety old Jaffa of awesomeness.

– A weird moment where Sam tries to convince Daniel that slaughtering a bunch of infant Goa’ulds would make them no better than the Goa’ulds. Daniel does at least give her an “are you fucking kidding me” look before opening fire.

– At one point Jack picks up an obviously dead Goa’uld carefully, keeping a gun trained on it at all times.

– First mention of attempting to use drugs to get the Jaffa away from Goa’uld implantation.

– There should have been a character named Apos’trophe.

I confess that despite its significance, the central conflict here between implanting Rya’c or not fell a little short for me. The clearly obvious answer is to just take him back through the Stargate and dope him up with antibiotics for his scarlet fever. Reasons that don’t make much sense get handwaved for why they instead have to stick a Goa’uld in him anyway and then just, you know, keep Teal’c’s family there. Better drama, but not particularly sensible.

On the other hand, Bra’tac is never not awesome.

Fire and Water

“What fate Omoroca?”

SG-1 comes back from a mission soaking wet and in shock from losing Daniel to a huge blast of fire. But after the memorial service and the wake, they start to wonder…did it really happen?

Come to find out, Daniel’s actually been trapped in the lab of some mad scientist fish creature named Nem, who wants so very badly to find out what happened to his wife Omoroca. The answer is…somewhat obvious.

This is a weird episode. On the one hand, the Daniel half of the story pretty much falls flat for me. It’s meant to evoke the lengths a guy might go to for his wife, with Nem and Omoroca standing in for Daniel and Sha’re. Only, Daniel’s not the kind of guy to lock himself away for 4,000 years and go mad and start torturing people, so the whole thing mostly doesn’t work.

On the other hand, the slow discovery of the mental tampering is kind of creepy and effective. The half of the story that deals with everyone coming to terms with Daniel’s death and then the mind control is actually pretty good, it’s just a shame it wasn’t coupled to a more interesting plot. But they’ll fix that.

Things of note:

– Raise your hand if you kept hearing it as “What fate almond roca”

– The Daniel memorial stuff was neat. I do enjoy the Jack and Daniel friendship thing.

– Teal’c shows up in a fedora to the wake and has no idea what’s going on. Teal’c vs. Earth culture will never get old.

– Daniel’s apartment is pretty swank. Love all the random historical décor. He’s come a ways from the just-evicted guy with two suitcases to his name in Stargate.

– The flatness of the Daniel plot aside, this really is one of those episodes which shows you who Daniel really is. Yeah, ok, torture me, whatever. It’s cool as long as you can find out what happened to your wife I guess.

Daniel Jackson Death Count: 1
Killed by Ra in Stargate

Daniel Jackson Presumed Dead: 2
Children of the Gods (01×01) before Jack clues everyone in about Abydos
Fire and Water (01×13) before everyone realizes he was captured by Nem

The Nox

“The very young do not always do as they’re told.”

Wherein SG-1 goes to a planet to impress a Washington bigshot who wants to get his hands on some invisibility tech, only to encounter Apophis! Who kills them. But then they’re rescued by a group of people called the Nox, who are…well, forest dwelling hippies.

So, there’s some weird out of order stuff going on here – The Nox actually aired 7th in the list, after Cold Lazarus but before Thor’s Hammer and the Torment of Tantalus. I think it works better here (Nox references in Torment aside), although as I’m going to elaborate on I think “works” is somewhat of a strong term.

The central theme here, of course, is pacifism vs. militarism vs. militarism to protect the ability of others to be pacifists. The Nox fill the first roll, Apophis the second, SG-1 the last. And while my personal opinions are extremely strong in favor of the SG-1 route (it’s the only sane answer), this is perhaps a discussion that ought to be had.

The only problem is the whole thing comes off as wildly ham-handed and preachy. The Nox are essentially the world’s biggest assholes, talking down to Jack and the gang and being almost suicidally unhelpful. They also wear rag pajamas and huge wigs and look like completely ludicrous caricatures.

Which, can’t lie, pretty much describes every interaction I’ve had with hippies in Eugene, but still. Perhaps the side could be presented in a less obnoxious way.

Also, really, Apophis is rolling around on a planet with like 3 dudes? After all those Jaffa platoons we’ve seen running around?

SG-1 comes off the best of all the major groups, but even they manage to concoct bows and arrows out of nothing. Then again, they do have MacGyver on their team.

This is an episode that probably should have been slotted in about where it is, done with later season 1 levels of writing instead of as early as it actually was and as badly written as it is. As a result, I don’t have a whole lot of use for the Nox, though they do get tolerable later, which is good because they’re going to have a lot of later coming.

Also of note, the “Washington expects results” plotline will be resurfacing again soon.

Daniel Jackson Death Count: 2
Killed by Ra in Stargate
The Nox (01×08) where he gets shot by an Apophis Jaffa

Daniel Jackson Presumed Dead: 2
Children of the Gods (01×01) before Jack clues everyone in about Abydos
Fire and Water (01×13) before everyone realizes he was captured by Nem

Hathor

“Don’t be impolite, Captain.”

“Impolite, sir? She’s a Goa’uld!”

Some rogue archaeologists find an Egyptian sarcophagus in a Mayan pyramid marked with the name of the goddess Hathor. Who, of course, makes her way to the SGC and proceeds to seduce all the men. It’s up to the women to stop her reign of sex and trippy purple pheromones.

I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, season 1’s attempts at gender politics episodes are just…strange, and I’m sure there’s an essay to be written on all the messaging here, from the get out of prison seduction to the looks of joy on Carter and Frasier when General Hammond (a MAN!) rewards them. And the whole thing is decidedly campy as all getout.

Whatever. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on here.

– The whole “Daniel gets drugged and raped by a Goa’uld” thing is pretty horrific, considering what happened to his wife. Exceedingly creepy and disturbing. If I was Daniel I’d sit there being horrified too. It also doesn’t really jive with the tone of the episode, but still.

– Yeah, I know. I wanted them to keep the sarcophagus around in the SGC too. But that would be too easy.

– Speaking of which, oh shit! Jack’s gonna be a Jaffa! Oh whew, magic sarcophagus to the rescue. Although, why would it fix that of all things? Also, this could have been a major plot thing, you know? Well, you will.

– The Goa’uld queen bee revelation was pretty cool. I do so love all the details that go into the lore in this show.

– Speaking of which, Hathor now makes three major league Goa’uld we’ve actually met, the second one for the show. And her backstory with Ra and getting trapped in a Mayan pyramid is pretty cool.

Cor-Ai

“It is midday. I am prepared to accept my punishment.”

SG-1 leaps through the gate and finds themselves in Twelve Angry Men, where one man gets to judge Teal’c for his past actions as the First Prime of Apophis.

Considering how many places SG-1 has now gone where somebody or other has said “Oh no, it’s a Jaffa!” I think General Hammond is probably right – somebody somewhere was going to put Teal’c on trial for war crimes. And so as a result we get an episode that’s about concepts of justice and if our actions in the present can overcome our bad actions in the past. Can an evil man become good?

I kinda dig it. There are a few things to quibble over – Hanno is perhaps the most understanding man in the galaxy all things considered – but I like that they spent some time examining Teal’c’s character and finally slapping us in the face with what he used to do in the service of Apophis. In particular, I hadn’t really thought much about what Daniel must feel about the guy who chose his wife to be a Goa’uld host. Powerful stuff there.

The whole thing is a little contrived, I guess, but I find myself being pretty ok with this one. I like it when SG-1 gets to take some time to have bonding moments. And fire staff weapons.

Singularity

“You’re not alone anymore, ok?”

SG-1 is off to another planet to check out a black hole using their observatory. Only, when they get there, everyone has suddenly died of some kind of bioweapon, including SG-7 but strangely not including a young girl named Cassandra. But why?

Man, I forgot about this one. Singularity introduces Nirrti, another Goa’uld system lord with a penchant for performing sick, twisted experiments, and who among other things killed this whole planet and is now trying to set SGC up the bomb in the form of a little girl with a crazy naquadah bomb in her heart.

This is a heavy, heavy episode, maybe even bordering on the emotionally manipulative. Everyone dies! Little girl we must protect gets adopted by SG-1! But she might die suddenly! Oh no she’s a bomb! We need to lock her in this underground bunker that was also featured in that one episode of Highlander! Dogs!

Ultimately, though, it just ends up being heavy thanks to a tremendous performance by Amanda Tapping as Sam Carter. She hasn’t had a whole hell of a lot to do in this first season aside from be the plucky blonde sidekick, but much like Christopher Judge as Teal’c got a workout in Cor-Ai, here we get the whole emotional range, and you can really feel how much Carter would desperately love to have a little girl all of her own. She very clearly loves kids, even if she’s a bit awkward with them. Hell of an episode, and even though I knew the ending I still felt all the tension.

Other cool things abound:

– New Goa’uld! We haven’t met Nirrti for real yet but we will.

– Naquadah is first mentioned here as the Stargate material.

– Teal’c trying to be good with kids is hilarious. Of course, Teal’c is always hilarious.

– Lots of great SG-1 bonding moments. Love me some bonding moments.

– Also love that they just sort of drop in on this planet that SG-7 had dibs on. One of the neat things about this series is the strong sense that there’s a lot of people beyond SG-1 and a lot bigger set of things happening, we’re just chasing SG-1 around every episode.

Enigma

“Don’t…help us.”

SG-1 goes to check out a volcanic world. It’s in bad shape, and they’re about to leave when they notice other people, dying of suffocation. And now the SGC has some refugees.

Kind of like the Nox, most of this one is spent with the new race in the shiny suits telling our gang how primitive they are. Well, except Narim, who instantly has the world’s hugest crush on Sam. Our antagonist is played by Colonel Maybourne, who is now third in the line of officious Pentagon jackasses to attempt to barge in and ruin the fun. The Tollan aren’t much prize either – antagonistic for not much reason.

Almost all the interesting stuff in this one is about the extremely brief Narim/Samantha Carter romance. They play it pretty well, but this is mostly just the Nox with way less charm.

That said:

– Schrodinger’s cat, obviously.

– Maaaaaan does Tollan tech look silly. We’ll see it again.

– Hey Omoc, what the hell did Tuplo ever do to you? Dick.

– First appearance of the UAV.

– Maybourne will be back, unlike his unlamented predecessors.

– For as annoying as I generally find the Nox, Lya gets a super cool moment here when she waves her arms to open the Stargate, then makes everyone’s guns disappear to help out the Tollan. The Nox can be kind of cool when they’re not busy being annoying space hippies.

Tin Man

“Comtrya!”

SG-1 goes to a planet, gets knocked out, and gets turned into robots for the amusement of an old dude with too much time by himself.

Man what a weird episode. It’s kind of half comedy, with Harlan doing his thing (annoyingly), but half extremely serious, what with the whole “we’ve been turned into robots!” thing. It seems clear that the writers were going for a sort of Blade Runner type thing on the nature of humanity with robot SG-1 and all, but mostly it just ends up being a dark, boring slog when Harlan isn’t on screen, and when Harlan is on screen I want to punch him in the face.

I dunno. Other people seem to like this one. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. I’d rather watch Emancipation again.

Solitudes

“I’m stuck on a glacier with MacGyver!”

SG-1 comes back through the gate under fire and at high velocity when suddenly the gate overloads and shorts out. Except it’s not all of SG-1. Where are O’Neill and Carter?

This is about as good as bottle episodes will ever be, and one of the absolute best early SG-1 episodes. Pretty much all of it is Sam and Jack stuck in a glacial crevasse trying to survive, going through the various stages of grief, with the added twist that Jack’s so banged up Sam has to do all the work. And, we’re far enough into the show that the characters are settled. We know RDA and Amanda Tapping can act, and so they do. Their scenes together are at turns inspiring, touching, and deeply emotional even though you know they’ll almost certainly be rescued. This is good stuff.

Things of note occur here:

– Oh holy shit there’s a second stargate in the Antarctic! That’s amazing! And it’s got some unknown possibilities with regards to pre and post-Ra travel. What else do we not know? And what can we do with a second gate?

– This is definitively the episode that launched a thousand Jack and Sam ships. And for good reason. They’re cute together.

– That said, some kinda big Jack moments here. He’s still not over his ex-wife, and he once crawled out of Iraq in 9 days with a skull fracture, like a badass.

– Our first appearance of Sgt. Siler.

This episode is also responsible for the single greatest piece of humor in all of Stargate. God I love that clip.

There But For the Grace of God

“Who the hell are you?”

SG-1 goes through the gate and finds an alien lab with a weird control thing. Daniel touches it and gets sent somewhere else – an alternate dimension Earth where Jack O’Neill runs the Stargate program, everyone wears way cooler uniforms, and oh yeah, the Goa’uld forces, led by Teal’c the First Prime of Apophis, are about to destroy everything.

On the one hand, lol, alternate dimensions. On the other hand, Stargate has always known how to make cool episodes around the concept, and this first one is one of the best. It pretty much exists to set Daniel up with information he’ll need in the next couple of finale episodes, but there are lots of little neat things here, starting with the discovery that he’s actually in bizzaro-SGC.

Too, this is a good way of ratcheting up tension on the whole “Goa’uld are coming for Earth!” thing without the Goa’uld actually, you know, landing on Earth.

They’re coming.

High points:

– Teal’c has badass hair.

– Sam has hilarious hair extensions. And is engaged to Jack. Ride that ship.

– This is funnily enough the first time the idea of the beta site comes up, with a list of people to preserve humanity.

– All the non-SG people in SGC getting to be badasses in the fighting.

Tigerstripe camouflage. So cool.

Daniel Jackson Death Count: 3
Killed by Ra in Stargate
The Nox (01×08) where he gets shot by an Apophis Jaffa
Alternate reality Daniel bites it in There But For the Grace of God (01×20)

Daniel Jackson Presumed Dead: 2
Children of the Gods (01×01) before Jack clues everyone in about Abydos
Fire and Water (01×13) before everyone realizes he was captured by Nem

Politics

“Daniel, it’s not that we don’t believe you…”

“So you do!”

“…no, it’s just that we…don’t believe you.”

A high-ranking senator comes to the SGC to determine if funding should continue for the Stargate program to the tune of $7 billion per year. In the briefing room, tensions are high.

Unfortunately, Stargate clip shows are a pre-finale tradition of the show, and this is the first one. On the one hand, clip shows are impossibly lame substitutes for real shows meant to save money for the finale. And the clips are pretty lame.

On the other hand, this one’s…not too terrible, I guess? The premise is sound, and Senator Kinsey makes a great villain. There’s a lot of really solid acting here, too. By this point everyone’s figured out their characters and the whole operation is in full swing. It really is a tense and exciting episodes once you manage to tune out the clip show part.

Still a clip show though, and it slows down the tension leading into the finale. Lame.

A couple neat points:

– Sam and Jack’s reaction to being engaged in the alternate reality was amusing to me.

– Major Samuels is back (boo, hiss), and he brought Senator Kinsey along. This guy is going to make a great villain later, and I’ve always really enjoyed the whole “government factions attempt to take down the SGC” plotline.

– Yes, Daniel. Everyone’s totally going to believe you about the alternate reality thing.

– There’s a shot of Ra’s ship landing on the Abydos pyramid that I think is the only thing of the original movie that actually got shown in the series. I may be wrong.

– They’re coming.

Within the Serpent’s Grasp

“I always get a happy tingly feeling when I see those guys.”

With the Stargate program being shut down, SG-1 takes matters into their own hands and dials up Daniel’s coordinates from the alternate reality and quickly finds themselves on a Goa’uld ship bound for Earth. Apophis is coming, and he’s bringing all his friends. Unable to escape, SG-1 needs a plan, and fast.

Our first season finale is a big one. Lots of new stuff, and lots of returns of old stuff we haven’t seen in a while. Skaara shows back up as a Goa’uld cueing some poignant moments with Jack, and obviously the whole “The Goa’uld are going to leap in ships and come kill us” thing is in full force.

Misfortunately, in the tradition of Stargate finales, this one is half the setup for part 2 next season, so there’s lots of shots of people running down corridors and hiding from Jaffa without too much resolution, which makes the episode drag a bit. There’s also a bit of plot convenience going on with Skaara, who fades in and out of Goa’uld mode as necessary. Whatever.

Lots of cool stuff to be seen:

– SG-1 in Dirty Dozen getup is fun.

– Oh shit, you can put a stargate on a ship!

– First appearance of the zat guns, although they’ve got a disintegrate mode we won’t see much longer, thankfully.

– Obviously, this is our second trip on a Goa’uld ship counting Ra’s from the movie. Cool.

– Giant Goa’uld TV communications thing! In general, so much cool Goa’uld tech.

– On the other hand, “Does it get Showtime?” Oi.

– The shots of hyperspace and Earth were rad.

– Daniel dual wields pistols for a while.

– This is Major Ferretti’s last appearance as the final member of the original Abydos team besides Daniel and Jack.

– A hell of a cliffhanger here, with the second Goa’uld ship joining the first to attack Earth. Thankfully I don’t have to, you know, wait for these things if I don’t want to.


Movies and Television Comments (1) Trackback URL for this post RSS Feed for this post
Comments on Stargate SG-1: Season One
avatar Comment by Dwip #1
October 19, 2019 at 10:39 pm

Leaving this here for my future rewatching reference. DVD order for S1 is way out of whack, encompassing the entire second and third discs of the set. The proper order is:

0101 Children of the Gods to 0105 The First Commandment remain the same.

0106 Cold Lazarus (NOT Brief Candle) DVD 2
0107 The Nox (NOT Cold Lazarus) DVD 3
0108 Brief Candle (NOT Thor’s Hammer) DVD 2
0109 Thor’s Hammer (NOT The Torment of Tantalus) DVD 2

From this point forward, the order on DVD 3 is correct, though the numbers are off by 1:

0110 The Torment of Tantalus
0111 Bloodlines
0112 Fire and Water
0113 Hathor

DVD 4 then switches order again for some reason. Proper order is:

0114 Singularity (NOT Cor-ai)
0115 Cor-ai (NOT Singularity)

0116 Enigma to 0121 Within the Serpent’s Grasp remain correct.

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