Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sundays Through the Stargate - Stargate SG1 Season 1

Sundays through the Stargate is a temporary weekly series about Stargate SG1 which I am embarking upon.  It starts with The Beginning post.  It is mostly for my own dorky edification but if there are any other fans out there I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Season one starts within a couple years of the end of the 1994 Stargate Movie.  Two of the main characters from the movie, though not the actors, reprise in the TV show.  Richard Dean Anderson takes over as Colonel Jack O'Neill, the Kurt Russell part in the movie, and Michael Shanks replaces James Spader as archeologist Daniel Jackson.
During the movie Jack, Daniel and company had traveled through the Stargate to the planet of Abydos and while there they had defeated Ra.  As in the ancient Egyptian God Ra.  Jack had returned to Earth and retired while Daniel had (secretly)stayed on Abydos.  Fast forward 2-3 years and there has been no gate activity until it suddenly activates and the gates hiding place at Cheyenne Mountain is infiltrated by  another "god" who kidnaps one of the gate's guards.  Thus it begins.

Jack is brought out of retirement by the Cheyenne Mountain base commander General George Hammond.  They believe at this point that the gate only goes to one location - Abydos -  so Jack reveals to the general that Daniel's is still there and suggests they contact him.  It is at this point that a new character is introduced Captain Samantha Carter.  She's an Air Force officer but also a scientist and was supposedly responsible for figuring out how the gate worked 3 years previous before the initial Abydos mission.  She's the military's top expert on the Stargate.  Jack immediately distrusts her but is forced to take her along to Abydos.

Once there Daniel explains that he has figured out that the gate goes to many locations so who knows where the alien who invaded Earth came from.  At this point, said Alien, Apophis attacks Abydos and kidnaps Sha're and Skaara.  When Jack and team go after them they are captured and it is during their imprisonment that Jack convinces the head of Apophis' elite guard to help them. With that the final member of SG1 has joined the cast, Teal'c.

The first few episodes of season one are focused on giving the main characters some background and personality and the rest of the season serves to establish relationships and SG1 as a team.  The focus this season is almost exclusively on Apophis though other Goa'uld are introduced such as Hathor in episode 13.

Some things of note.  It becomes apparent rather quickly that Jack is the hub of his little team in more ways than one.  He's the commander of the unit, yes, but he is also the tie that binds on a personal level.  After first despising each other, Jack and Daniel had developed a grudging respect  during the movie and had bonded over those shared experiences. They quickly fall into an odd couple friendship.  I think it's fair to say they become best friends. Though they bicker and clash quite a bit, they understand and admire one another.

Teal'c defected from Apophis almost solely because he liked what he saw in O'Neill - he recognized a fellow warrior.  Because of Teal'c's sacrifice to save them, Jack immediately trusts him and becomes his biggest advocate.  In this first season in particular, it is obvious that Teal'c fights with SG1 because of his respect for Jack.  They have a special bond because they are both the heavy hitters of the group and often have the same instincts and agree on strategies.
I had a hard time finding a picture of Carter and O'Neill from season 1, I think because season 1 is early days and their relationship hasn't yet gotten very interesting.  Carter, while initially peeved at what she perceives as her new commanding officer's chauvinism, quickly develops a respect for him.  Though wary of her being a scientist, he also doesn't take much time to thaw and trust her as a soldier and depend upon her quick mind. They end up meshing really well as commanding officer and subordinate  and by the end of the season they have bonded and genuinely like each other as well. Sam may have a bit of a hero-worship/crush on Jack and Jack certainly thinks Carter is attractive but he's still in love with his ex-wife.  The ship is being built but is still just a skeleton of wood at this point.

In fact, I remember the first time I watched the show I initially shipped Daniel and Sam who get along gangbusters from moment one.  They are both infinitely curious and enjoy solving puzzles and are on the same page about a lot of things.  They seem to pair up and work together a lot in this first season.  Teal'c's relationship with Sam and Daniel is not nearly as tight as that of he and Jack but he does like them in his reserved way and there is mutual respect.


✮ = Episode has significance in the Stargate universe.  Important episodes.
☺ = A favorite episode of mine
♥ = Episode that has some significance to the 'ship (Sam and Jack of course!)

✮ Episode 1.1 Children of the Gods

When a person comes through the defunct Stargate and kidnaps a female soldier, Jack O'Neill is called out of retirement to figure out what the heck is going on for crying out loud! 
Obviously this episode is important because it's the first one!  It tells the story of how the gang gets together which I really already wrote about above.  It's not necessarily clear why Jack is back in the game though he has developed a fascination with the stars since the events of the movie. Also, their new villain, Apophis, has kidnapped Skaara, a boy of which Jack is very fond.  Captain Samantha Carter is committed because she's a Stargate junkie who has been studying the device as an astrophysicist for several years.  Daniel decides to join because Apophis has taken his wife, Sha're and his best chance at finding her is by going on missions with SG1.  Too bad he has no interest whatsoever in exploring other cultures and planets (sarcasm alert). Teal'c throws in his lot with the Tauri (humans from Earth) because he secretly hates his job and especially his boss and he thinks the Tauri offer the best chance of bringing real change to the Goa'uld corporation.  And those are the bad guys.  The Goa'uld.  More about them next episode!
THOUGHTS: It's a fine introductory episode with plenty of action that establishes the Stargate, the cast and the overall tenor of the show.  Nothing much more in depth to say.
Grade: B+

☺✮Episode 1.2 The Enemy Within

Jack's old airforce buddy, Kawalsky, comes back from the inaugural Stargate mission carrying an enemy with(in) him.
This episode is kind of brilliant from the standpoint of establishing the characters and the team.  Jack's old friend Kowalsky has been infested? possessed? by an infant Go'auld which makes him do lots of crazy things and it comes to a head after he kills a doctor and injures Carter. This episode does the thankless job of giving the audience the low-down on the Goa'uld and how they work.  It also goes a long way to helping us get to know the characters a bit more, especially Jack.   Teal'c, unsurprisingly, is being warily assessed by the military and they are unsure of what to do with him.  Jack is loyal and pretty much 100 % on his side despite being wigged out by the fact that Teal'c carries a "snake" (a larval Goa'uld) around in a pouch in his belly. Teal'c  ends up winning the trust of the Tauri and a place on SG1 by assisting in the efforts to save Kowalsky.  Both Kowalsky's problems and Teal'c's predicament help to reveal the character of Jack O'Neill - he's uncomfortable with sentiment and emotion but he's loyal, a little rogue and a huge smart ass.  In other words he's AWESOME.  And the resolution of both these crises will have lasting impacts on future episodes which is nice continuity and storytelling.  For the others, we get less but we see that Carter and Daniel have become fast friends in their shared nerd-dom and General Hammond is a tough commander but fair and with a strong moral center - we are in good hands with him.   Basically, episode 1 introduces us to the world and the characters but in episode 2 we get to know them a bit better.  The episode ends with the complete SG-1 team going through the Stargate on their first mission.
THOUGHTS:  Looking forward, the does a good job of using the occurrences of this episode and its emotional fallout to give episode 2.2, In the Line of Duty some extra punch.

Episode 1.4 The Broca Divide

Most of the SG1 team bring back a virus from a strange planet divided by dark and white, primitive and advanced peoples and they start de-evolving.
This episode is notable for our first introduction to Dr. Frasier who is a character I love. This is also arguably one of the first episodes with a little Sam and Jack tension.   If anything it probably hints at some vague feelings of attraction between the two but nothing more serious. Basically when Sam has been affected by the virus and she has had her higher brain functions suspended the first thing she does is "attack" Jack.  Shippers love to point out that when Sam asks something along the lines of "What's the matter, don't you want me," Jack responds "No, not like this."  It seems to apply that he would not be averse to some sexy times with Sam but not in the violent and frantic way, Sam is pursuing things.  There is also the fact that in the next scene as Jack is trying to explain to Daniel what happened, Jack also starts to succumb to the virus and gets insanely jealous and violent when Daniel expresses concern for Sam.  I really like this scene for Daniel's delivery - when Jack says all hangdog and upset that Sam tried to seduce him, Daniel's line is "Oh.  You poor thing." and his delivery is perfect.  Finally there is Jack's parting smart ass remark to Sam at the end when all is returned to normal and she tries to apologize.  He at first says he can't remember a thing but then comments that he's glad a wound she received won't scar because then she wouldn't be able to wear the "sweet little tank top number" she wore when she attacked him.  It's pretty insanely flirty and out of character.  Otherwise, this is a relatively ho-hum episode though the citizens from the this planet do make another appearance later in the season.
THOUGHTS:  I think Sam and Jack have a good bit of attraction at this point but nothing more than that other than developing respect for each other as colleagues.  Jack also made a somewhat flirty and appreciative remark about her looks in episode 1.3.  These remarks disappear for the most part after this episode as they settle in to being work colleagues and their attraction to each other is forcibly pushed aside because nothing can come of it.

✮Episode 1.7 Cold Lazarus

SG1 returns from a very strange planet with an alien facsimile of Jack which sets out to "heal him" by fumbling around in his life. This is one of the few episodes with such an alien looking planet - yellow sand and bright blue crystals. It is also one of the few SG1 episodes that give us a lot of insight into Jack's personal life.  How his son died, why he and his ex-wife (Sara) split up, what their relationship is like now.  When the real Jack encounters Sarah for the first time in the episode, it's clear that he still cares about her a great deal.  He is also still keeping a lot of grief buried.   In the meantime Daniel and Sam are busy being adorable running around getting Teal'c to shoot his weapon in one of the labs and panicking the base:).
THOUGHTS:  Jack has had a pretty crazy life with a lot of bad things in it - he deflects with humor and is obviously really really good at shoving his emotions down deep.  It will serve him well in the seasons to come.

✮Episode 1.8 The Nox

SG-1 goes in pursuit of invisibility technology with hopes of gaining an edge on the Goa'uld but instead they get killed and find the Nox.  This is SG1's first encounter with a "superior" race and they generally handle it really poorly. They assume that because the Nox do not have weapons and don't believe in violence that they are weak and helpless and primitive.  Thankfully they are not irritating enough to ruin the relationship and the Nox show up again and play a small role in future episodes.
THOUGHTS: SG1 really are insufferable in this one and the Nox are kind of silly.  Sam is "killed" when she reacts to Jack being "killed".

✮Episode 1.9 Thor's Hammer

Jack and Teal'c are zapped into and then trapped in a cave on a planet with people who are descended from the Vikings and who say they are protected by the god Thor.  Daniel has developed a theory that there may be some benevolent higher beings who developed the gate technology which the Goa'uld then stole.  He thinks perhaps it's the Viking gods which leads the team to the planet of Cimmeria where they meet, sort of, the Asgard for the first time.  It will not be the last as the Asgard become fast allies of the Earth and they particularly like Jack.  The device that transports Teal'c and Jack away is meant to only zap Teal'c because he carries a Goa'uld but Jack gets pulled in trying to save his friend.  In other news we learn that the Goa'uld also have a hand device that can heal people.  And the team learns that Goa'uld can be removed from hosts successfully which kindles hope for Skaara and Sha're.
THOUGHTS:  It's important because its the first introduction to the existence of the Asgard though they don't really encounter them in the flesh this go round.

Episode 1.10 The Torment of Tantalus

Some old videos reveal that the Stargate was activated back in 1945 and someone was sent through so SG1 investigates.  This episode is important because it 1) introduces the character of Katherine who will be important in future episodes and 2) suggests that there are four advanced races who may have been working together as allies. This concept shows up over and over again in the show.   It is one of the many times that Daniel seems to forget all about Sha're even though he claims she is his only reason for being involved with the Stargate program.
THOUGHTS: This episode seems to have a theme about obsession with one's work and finding out what is really important in life.

Episode 1.11 Bloodlines

Teal'c must travel back to his home planet to prevent his son from being implanted with a Goa'uld.  I am not a fan of the Jaffa episodes and especially anything dealing with Teal'c and his wife.  Why couldn't have Teal'c petitioned to bring his family to Earth at least eventually?  Instead he seems mostly unconcerned with them.  Until then he is.  However this episode is important because it introduces the character of Bra'tac and reveals that Teal'c has a family.  It also provides a firmer vision of the Jaffa culture.
THOUGHTS:  Teal'c has so much effin drama sometimes and he treats his wife really, really badly most of the time.  Honestly he comes off in most Jaffa episodes as a big ole jerk head which upsets my equilibrium because otherwise I like Teal'c.

✮☺Episode 1.13 Hathor

A mysterious lady shows up who seems to have a curious affect on the men in the SGC.  Hathor is pretty creepy and the actress they got to play her was perfect.  She is also the original oppressed woman gone mad.  I love that the women have to save the day and at one point Doc Frasier uses her feminine wiles to help the cause.  I am pretty sure this is the first time we see an incursion in the SGC (an episode trope I like) and Hathor plays an important part in a few future episodes of the show.
THOUGHTS:  Hathor's a fun villain.   She chooses Daniel as her consort which is interesting and Jack as her first Jaffa.  I think that might be Jack's worst nightmare.

✮☺Episode 1.14 Singularity

On a planet where it appears the entire population has been wiped out, SG1 finds one living little girl.  That little girl turns out to be Cassie and she develops a special bond with Sam.  The episode is a key one for the development of Sam's character as even though it might mean her death and she is ordered to leave, she stays with Cassie even though it means they both may die.  Thankfully Cassie does not explode as expected but this scene shows Sam's integrity and compassion.
THOUGHTS:  Interesting that in the end, Doctor Frasier adopts Cassie and not Sam. The powers that be likely did not want to pin down one of their main characters with a kid but they wanted the character of Cassie to be available for use in future episodes.  In fact she does make an appearance in a couple of additional episodes.

✮Episode 1.15 Cor Ai

SG1 is caught in an off planet village where Teal'c is put on trial for past crimes when he was the First Prime of Apophis.   This episode illustrates Teal'cs honor and his true repentance of the things he did as First Prime.  It also becomes apparent that he made difficult decisions as First Prime and that he always tried to make the less evil choice.  This is a key episode for Teal'c's character and gives a different view than that from Bloodlines.
THOUGHTS:  This doesn't make the cut as one of my favorite episodes but it is one of my favorite Teal'c centric episodes.

✮Episode 1.16 Enigma

SG1 rescues a group of more advanced humans from a dying world but receive little gratitude for it. Ahh... the Tollan.  Constantly calling Earth humans primitive while creepily being obsessed with one of its silly females.  The Tollan once shared their advanced technology with a neighboring world which then proceeded to use it to destroy themselves and mess up the Tollan world's orbit which in turn led to the planet's death.  Understandably, they don't share very well anymore except when they wish to force their intimate feelings on others.  I speak of course of Narim and his crush on Captain Carter.  The Tollan and Narim show up from time to time over the future seasons usually in league with the Nox and on one occasion the Asgard.  This episode also continues what will be a running theme (starting in episode 2) of the SGC being rogue in regards to the brass in Washington and other branches of government.  They go against Pentagon orders to get the Tollan away from Earth before they can be used for their technology. I think this is also the first episode for the slimy Colonel Maybourne?  He shows up again and again in the future as well.
THOUGHTS:  It is sort of astonishing that Sam is as charmed by Narim as she is but we learned earlier in the season (in episode 1.5 The First Commandment) that she has pretty poor taste in men.  Until Jack of course (though you could argue with that I guess).  While most of the other men who like her verge on stalkerdom, Jack is really good at playing indifferent.
It's my sidearm, I swear!

☺♥ Episode 1.17 Solitudes

Carter and Colonel O'Neill are separated from Teal'c and Daniel in a rocky Stargate journey and end up injured and trapped in an icy cave.  I call this episode shippy not because there is anything overtly romantic that happens between Carter and Jack.  Jack is grievously injured with broken ribs and other bones as well as internal bleeding.  We see Sam for the first time panicked, frustrated and truly scared while Jack fights through his pain to reveal the motivational side of his command style.  It is an older experienced officer in authority giving strength to a young protege.  The shippiness comes in simply because this is a bonding episode for these two who at the beginning of the episode are a little stiff and unsure with each other.  It's a harrowing and trying ordeal that helps thaw a little of the formality between them.   There is also a check-in that indicates that Jack still has feelings for his ex as he calls out to her when he's delirious.  The episode is significant because it introduces the presence of a second gate on Earth.
THOUGHTS:  Jack:  "It's my sidearm I swear."  A little flirty but most important in showing Jack's ability to crack jokes even when in tremendous pain and dying.  It's a great episode that showcases both of these characters, and has a simple premise that never becomes boring.

✮☺1.18 Tin Man

SG1 are replicated as robots!  There are some interesting questions and themes hidden in this episode that I appreciate. What is life?  Do their robot replicas have any lesser claim to life then the originals? It is also interesting that so many people could not handle living as a robot replica of themselves.  There is also a follow-up episode several seasons along which I like a lot.  Com Trya!
THOUGHTS:  A good mystery episode as the team try to work out what has been done to them and some interesting ideas and themes that aren't over beaten.

✮☺♥1.19 There But For The Grace of God

Daniel finds a strange artifact that transports him into an alternate dimension where the Goa'uld are conquering Earth.  The dimension Daniel travels to has no him, no Teal'c as ally, and Colonel O'Neill is the top dog while Hammond is a Colonel.  All of these little things add up to an Earth that is not faring as well against the Goa'uld and Daniel also takes it as a cautionary tale - that his Earth is in danger from imminent attack as well.  It is pretty astonishing that he is able to convince the people of the alternate reality to sacrifice themselves and their world to save some his reality.  It is only possible because they know they are doomed.  The alternate dimension idea shows up a couple more times and the episode has repercussions for the last two episodes of the season.  It is shippy because in this alternate reality, Sam is not military and she and Jack are engaged to be married.  Jack comes across also as less irreverent and a little more hardcore but that might be because imminent destruction of the Earth and all that.  It doesn't happen until the next episode (but that episode is kind of a dud so I'm wrapping it into this one) but I love the scene where Daniel explains all the differences in the alternate universe including that Jack and Sam are engaged.  Sam and Jack both look shocked but Sam gets back to business very quickly while you can almost see the wheels turning in Jack's head.  Seed planted that their slight attraction to one another might be something more if they weren't restricted by the military?  I know it planted the idea of them together in my head during my first watch of the show!
THOUGHTS:  This episode is the start of one of SG1s first mini story arcs which the show does well.  The message seems to be that Daniel and Teal'c's involvement in the Stargate Program is part of the key to its success.  Also without the military in the way, Sam and Jack would so be getting it on by now.

✮☺Episode 1.21 Within the Serpent's Grasp

SG1 finally heed Daniel's warnings from his visit to the alternate universe two episodes ago and discover that the Goa'uld are on the way to Earth to attack.  Specifically Apophis and Klorel, his son are on their way.  Klorel inhabits the body of Skaara.  The episode and the season ends on a big cliffhanger - to be continued with episode one of season 2.  The Zat gun is introduced as well as the Goa'ulds communication device. I think it also introduces the concept of the sarcophagi which keep the Goa'uld healthy and can even revive them from death.  Jack has to kill Skaara which is emotional for him and the episode ends with Earth looming in the windows of the ship.
THOUGHTS:  Nice continuity from two episodes ago but also an exciting episode on it's own. 
Their situation is dire enough to create a lot of tension and this was probably a very dramatic season ender!


Phew!  That is almost every episode in the season!  I promise the list won't be as long for future seasons but this being the first, many, in fact almost all of the episodes, include significant developments.  It isn't even close to the best season however and I count only a few of the episodes as favorites.  Still, as a start it's pretty darn good.  Speaking of which here are my top five favorite episodes from the season:
1) Episode 1.19 There but for the Grace of God
2) Episode 1.2 The Enemy Within
3) Episode 1.17 Solitudes
4) Episode 1.18 Tin Man
5) Episode 1.13 Hathor

The Rabbit Hole 

The rabbit hole is where I point out other places on the web where you can waste spend a lot of time reading about Stargate SG1.

GateWorld:  This is like the mecca of all sites about SG1. There are detailed analyses of episodes, transcripts, photos, discussion forums, you name it!  Season one content is a little light but you should be able to find all sorts of good stuff here!

All the Myriad faces of Jack O'Neill

What did you think about season 1?  Any favorite episodes?  Any feelings about (Jack/Sam) feelings this season?

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