First aired: 21 July 1997
Richard Dean Anderson Col. Jack O’Neill
Michael Shanks Dr. Daniel Jackson
Amanda Tapping Capt. Samantha Carter
Don. S. Davies Gen. George Hammond
Christopher Judge Teal’c
Alexis Cruz Skaara
Peter Williams Apophis
Brent Stait Lois Feretti
Jay Acovone Maj. Charles Kowalsky
Roberts Wisden Col. Samuels
Vaitiare Bandera Sha’re
Plot: The events on the Abydos mission (portrayed in the Stargate movie) have left the Stargate project mothballed and the gate itself is guarded by 6 bored US Air Force soldiers. One day during a poker game, the chevrons on the gate light up and the portal opens with the same water-like surge. Through it comes a sphere which seems to scan the area before and shock-wave from it knocks the soldiers off their feet. Before they can get back on their feet six figures in grey armour with snake helmets emerge, surrounding a seventh, dressed in gold armour. The grey ones are carrying staff weapons and use them to kill four of the guards and take one of them, a woman, as prisoner. The final soldier starts shooting and with continuous fire, brings one of the armoured strangers down. Others arrive, led by General George Hammond who arrives in time to see the golden stranger’s eyes glow before the strangers and their prisoner escape through the gate. Hammond then sends for the one person who can deliver any answers, Colonel Jack O’Neil.
O’Neill, Kowalsky and Feretti, the sole survivors of the Abydos mission, are brought and eventually confess that whilst the alien Ra was killed the rest of the population of Abydos are alive and well, as is the previous team’s companion, Doctor Daniel Jackson. Hammond immediately reinstates the three men’s rank and sends a team to Abydos, this time including astrophysicist Captain Samantha Carter. They arrive on Abydos to find Daniel and determine where the aliens came from, since the fallen alien wasn’t a human like Ra’s Horus guards were. Daniel welcomes them and introduces them to his wife Sha’re and O’Neill reconnects with Skaara. Daniel has no idea where they came from, mentioning other gates, before showing them a large room filled with stargate addresses. Carter points out that a lot of them have been tried, but Daniel wonders if the addresses can change. The idea has traction, with the theory that the computers used to connect to the gate can compensate for stellar drift, caused by the universe’s expansion. This also explains where the other aliens may have come from.
While this is happening, the strangers from before now arrive on Abydos and start killing and abducting people here too. Several Abydosians and airmen are killed and others injured, including Ferretti and more are abducted including Skaara and Sha’re. After Daniel, Kowalski, O’Neill and Carter return to the gate, Daniel instructs the locals to bury the gate for one year, so no one else can return and the survivors from Earth, including the injuring go through the gate back to Stargate Command.
On another world, one of the armoured guards takes Sha’re from Skaara, counselling the boy not to fight back, since “Your death will not help her.” Meanwhile, the prisoner from Earth is taken before the gold clad alien who has her stripped, inspects here and brings in another woman, with a slit in her belly, like the fallen alien, from the pouch like area behind the slit comes an eel looking thing, that emerges, looks at the woman, but ultimately moves away from her. The woman is swiftly killed. The guard is instructed to go get another one.
Back on Earth, after an iris has been installed to prevent unwanted visitors, Jack and Daniel talk about the days after the Abydos mission and the death of Ra. The next morning it’s announced that 9 SG teams are to be formed to perform reconnaissance and threat assessment through the gate when new addresses whenever they can be calculated. Jack O’Neill is assigned to lead SG-1 and Kowalsky is given command of SG-2. Later Feretti gives them the address used by the kidnappers and a plan to rescue Skaara and Sha’re and deal with this new threat is formed.
SG’s 1 & 2 arrive at their destination, a world known as Chulak. SG-2 guards the gate, while SG-1 heads off to find signs of civilisation. Inside those same signs of civilisation, Sha’re is being stripped and we get some full frontal nudity (more on that story later) as the slave from earlier discharges the eel looking thing which then crawls over Sha’re and slips into her neck.
SG1 meet pilgrims and are taken to the same place, the town/city of Chulak. They encounter Sha’re and the man who took her. The team are knocked out by some kind of energy wave and awake in the dungeons below, reuniting them with Skaara. Jackson recognises the alien that attacked them, he isn’t Ra, but Apophis. The aliens, known as the Go’auld, have used the myths and legends of ancient man to pose as gods, one of Apophis’ guards takes Skaara and others and Apophis orders the rest of them to be extermined. O’Neill begs for the help of the guards’ leader promising to save the prisoners. This convinces him to turn on the rest and help the captives escape. O’Neill invites the guard, who identifies himself as Teal’c to come home with him. The prisoners and SG-1 high tail it to the gate.
On the way back to the gate, Teal’c explains that he is a Jafar, a race that houses the Go’auld in their larval form, receiving good health and a long life span as a benefit of housing them, till they are ready to take a host. There is a pitched battle to escape, but Apophis and the Go’auld-possessed Sha’Re leave along with Skaara. During the fight a larval Go’uald escapes the dead body of one of the Jafar soldiers and leaps at the neck of Kowalski. The team and the rescued prisoners arrive on earth and O’Neill suggests Teal’c join the team. Just out of sight, Kowalski’s eyes start to glow.
I enjoyed the 1994 Stargate movie, so was well placed to be a fan of the series, but never really happened until I watched a couple of them once years later, then picked up episodes on DVD years later. About 7 or so years back starting watching them, some season 1 episodes, then seasons 2-10 and you know what? It was alright, but changed quite a lot in cast, tone, appearance and scope. So it was interesting to see where it all started from. The first thing I noticed was the pacing, it starts off very slow and it does take a while before the principal characters are in place. The other was that it was very clearly a TV budget, the gate effects being from the film and the absence of the cool helmets from the serpent guards, but that was to be expected. Michael Shanks replaces James Spader quite easily, playing a more confident Dr. Jackson, but still nowhere near a man of action. Richard Dean Anderson adds a degree of wry humour to the world weary O’Neill and you can see how one character became the other, if you really look. The additions to the cast also add value with Don S Davis playing it perfectly straight as a man in charge of something he has no business being in charge of, but determined to do the job properly. He admits he’s in over his head, but will move heaven and earth for his people. A nice contrast to the near-cipher General West. Since we need an officious tool in there, we get Major Samuels, who we were all hoping would be dead by the end credits, no such luck there. The stand outs are Tapping’s Sam Carter, who despite being saddling with some atrocious dialogue, brings warmth and intelligence to a role that desperately needed both. Peter Williams’ Apophis isn’t given much to do, save be glam and evil, but he does that well, without mirroring what Jaye Davidson did as Ra in the film, you get the idea that he’s the same type of creature, but definitely isn’t the same man. My favourite of the new characters is the matter of fact Teal’c. You can see all the conflict in his face, but when he speaks it’s that calm, laconic tone. He’s your point of view on humanity character and also a great straight man and there’s a buddy cop chemistry between him and O’Neill straight away. The actors know what they are doing and do the best with what they have.
Now the negative, the direction is a bit spotty, with TV not having it’s resurgence and the fact it’s not a movie being very much a negative. The story is decent enough, with changes in tone and setting flowing adequately, but to be honest, the scripting is poor. The dialogue feels stilted and unnatural and when Carter points out where her reproductive organs are, well that proves that no man wrote that character, or really read the script before the actors did.
But it does it’s job, the series sets up that the gate can send people lots of places and that the aliens took people to other worlds from earth, will get away from the alien makeup issue. The SG team concept is a good one and allows stories to be told that we don’t see and builds the universe as it goes. The makeup and prosthetics are excellent, the baby Go’auld terrified my son during the 20 seconds it was on screen and had to find the fast forward button quickly when there was a scene with full frontal nudity that, well to be honest surprised the hell out of me. I honestly didn’t expect bush that wasn’t in Vancouver. This was almost a false start in the end, but it led to something that lasted over ten years with 3 spin offs, 2 TV Movies and a prequel in the works, so this episode must have done something right.
Does it work? It worked to bring the characters back and expand the universe of the Stargate and it did that very well.
Does much need fixing? The dodgy effects and dodgier scripting issues need sorting before it gets to series, but beyond that it was pretty well ready to fly.
Does it stand up? Not as such, but that’s mostly because the series improved so much and better series got up on their shoulders.
Did I want to watch the next one? Not really, although the cliff hanger was a good one, I really wanted my son to try it, since the rest of the program was less scary and nude, so this will go back on the shelf for a couple of years.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, despite it’s problems it was a nice bit of nostalgia to go back and see where it all started.
Overall: 3 out of 5
Fun and throwaway, but good fun and throwaway.