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SG-1 Season 1 Review

Updated: May 12, 2019

While not every episode of SG-1 is worth a full After-Action Review (AAR), I decided to write a season 1 military perspective. I'll do the AARs where it makes sense, but quite a few episodes don't involve the kind of direct kinetic conflict that we prefer to focus our AARs on.

One of the longest running true Military SciFi shows

Stargate SG-1 as a whole tends to shape their episodes around three core concepts:

  • Military Operations (MilOps) (Direct Conflict, Military Ops, Reconnaissance)

  • Culture Clash (CC) (Politics, Misunderstandings, un-God-ing the enemy)s, Misunderstandings, un-God-ing the enemy)

  • R&D (Archeology heavy or understanding Alien Tech)

Season 1 rolls in and rolls in heavy reestablishing the franchise in 1997. The series started on Showtime (prime cable) and the pilot had some naughty bits of T&A (so be warned if you decide to buy the blurays and sit down with the family, after that, it's full basic-cable ready.)

As for DoD-accuracy, the show ripens over time, as the actual USAF lent a hand as the show progressed. Despite the later involvement, early episodes weren't way off. Granted, you're not going to see USAF typically (or ever) act as Special Forces spooks (they start off as a weird Green Beret homage in some respects and later almost go full SEAL Team 6 or MARSOC). Excusing that as the movie set that up, they do establish a "tv troped", but not disingenuous to the heart, military organization.

While Season 1 is (in Nate’s opinion) actually fairly lackluster compared to some amazing later seasons, it paves groundwork that is leveraged very well for the rest of the series and beyond. It’s amazing on my (probably 5th) rewatch how many callbacks there are later. Just about every episode has plot threads in other seasons. (Unlike some later episodes with unresolved plots or potential for revisit). Season 1 is also much more focused on Culture Clash and R&D episodes as it’s fleshing out the universe. Later seasons are certainly more MilOps focused.

Also appears that some of Season 1 may air differently on SyFy then it aired on Showtime or as it’s ordered on disc.

S1E1/2 – Children of the Gods (1&2) - MilOps | AAR

Not going to beat this one down, as we did an AAR on it.

S1E3 – the Enemy Within – R&D

SGC has to learn how to deal with the Gao’uld as an alien organism, with the (incidental?) infiltration by an immature symbiote fights for control of Maj Kawalsky (he died too soon and kept being brought back in strange ways).

S1E4 – Emancipation – CC

The Mongol hordes are at the gate! No seriously. In a send up to the tribes of the Mongolian steppes (wouldn't they speak Mongolian? SG1 did a bad job about logical languages after they got out the gate, English wasn't even a language when the humans of the Tau’ri were abducted by the Gao’uld. I mean… maybe they could have retconned it by saying English was derived from a form of Gao’uld?) Some of it certainly rings true to the bs that can happen when dealing with “local yokels”. Despite taking place years before OIF/OEF, it certainly mirrors cultural clashes there.

S1E5 – the Broca Divide – MilOps (Recon), R&D | AAR

Some echos of the classic Time Machine Morlocks vs Eloi. This episode saw the intro of SG3 (the first Marine unit) so it earned an AAR on that alone.

S1E6 – the First Commandment – MilOps (SAAR)

SGC goes all “Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now” when one of their own from SG9 goes all Colonel Kurtz on the locals and takes over mining operations. Some groundwork is laid into Gao’uld terraforming and tech. Not a terribly thrilling episode, but a slow burn psychological piece.

S1E7 – Cold Lazarus – R&D

SG1 brings back some intelligent crystalline life and has to deal with a Jack-o-ganger (SG1…. Always copied, never duplicated). Gang has to defuse the fake Jack. Meh. Scientifically interesting, but not so military. We've really highlighted some crap quarantine SOPs throughout S1.

S1E8 – the Nox – CC/R&D

The gang goes off in search of a cloaking wasp, only to end up stranded on Gaia with the Nox (one of the four elder races, we never do figure out the Furlings). Apophis runs with a small team of guards, also in search of the same capability. Non-violent space hippies put the team to pasture with their overwhelming technological advantage. Also trope proven: The slow stuff goes thru shields.

S1E9 – Brief Candle - R&D

Jack gets his Kirk on with a local and contracts the team’s first space STD. Way to go, Jack. Medical is so proud! He starts aging way to fast until Carter pulls a last minute science save, which she excels at. Hits on the Gao’uld obsession with R&D of their own, using humans as lab rats.

S1E10 – Thor’s Hammer – R&D/CC

We get our first taste of Norse culture in SG. Amusingly, while the Norse gods were often painted as harsh, cruel, and sometimes capricious; here they are the noble saviors. Norse culture is high-held in the military subculture, so it’s not a huge surprise and with honor held as a pillar, it isn’t a huge pivot. While we don’t get to see the legit Asguard, we are introduced to the proto-Gao’uld Unas (and the always enjoyable voice work of the legendary James Earl Jones). We also get solid proof that “something of the host survives.”

S1E11 – the Torment of Tantalus – R&D

Little bit of a throwback episode (possibly given attention in the new streaming service?) where an early 1945 experiment caused a lost researcher. How the hell did Ernest survive? Fishing? I saw little to no evidence the crazy coot actually set up home. I always look for this stuff.

S1E12 – Bloodlines – MilOps/R&D

Team infiltrates Chulak to capture a symbiote for R&D purposes and deal with Teal’c dependent problems. We uncover that he failed to log his family in DEERs. Fortunately his wife isn’t a nasty dependa or a space stripper and can mostly keep her head after she gets over her deployment rage and benefits loss.

S1E13 – Fire and Water – CC

Danny boy gets left on his own after the others are brainwashed into thinking he’s dead. Part Enemy Mine, part Dances with Space Fish. Meh, slower episode.

S1E14 – Hathor – R&D?

Finding it hard to put this episode into one of the buckets. Might be more of an infiltration/MilOps as Hathor walks into the SGC with her magic space mojo and seduces all the men. Definitely time for the ladies of the SGC to step up to the plate. Very “gurl power” episode, but it absolutely works and makes 100% sense for the plot. Folks bitch about forced PC, but SciFi has always injected strong women in natural ways. That's when it's great. It’s when it’s forced that it feels awkward and painful. Honestly, "kid power" drives me crazier, when done poorly. Oh yeah, and Teal’c magic symbiote keeps him safe as (almost) always. There is some weird Jaffa pouch magic here that seems a one off.

S1E15 – Singularity – R&D

We get our first Gao’uld Trojan Horse in the form of a cute little girl. Naquidah is now a magic boom-boom rock. Though, they do explain its magic energy properties, so it works in universe.

S1E16 – Cor-ai – CC

Our first Stargate On Trial episode. Part of me wants to argue the level of super-solider BS here as the SG1 team has already been outed as pilots, SpecOps, astronaut, astrophysicists… so now we tack on space lawyers. That said, all officers have some level of judicial responsibility under the UCMJ. Commanders have some NJP and Courts Martial authority and even your faithful Nate executed a few summary courts martial under direction. So space lawyer isn’t a huge leap. However, given the moment SG1 informed Hammond, he’d likely send in some real JAG-offs.

S1E17 – Enigma – CC/R&D

Introduction of the Tollans (little tie to the previous episode in that the Tollans take SG1 to court themselves later). Carter gets her own Kirk moment with Narim. Maybourne is a colossal prick. No surprise.

S1E18 – Solitudes – R&D

Another hard to pin episode, as it’s more of a survival/SAAR episode, but I’d argue we’re exploring more how the gate network functions. We get a spare gate out of it, which keeps popping up til it’s destroyed.

S1E19 – Tin Man – R&D

SG1 gets xeroxed and doesn’t realize it. Seems like even advanced cultures have battery issues! Touches off on some ethical issues, but largely a sleeper episode. It’s not great, but pays off in a later season where the copies become heroes in their own right.

S1E20 – There but for the Grace of God – R&D

Takes the time to play with physics and alternate realities. Always a fun trope and we get the return of Kawalsky. Guessing the writers realized they killed him off too early. This alternate Sam isn’t as big a stretch as a later alternate Sam. Teases the fans with the Jack and Sam romance.

S1E21 – Politics (1 of 3) – MilOps (Boring ass briefings)

This is a “clip episode”. Hate clip episodes. They exist to save money and inform anyone who jumped on late in the game to allow them to catch up. Pre-internet necessity. No longer really a thing. Still hate it. Though having sat thru budget arguments, this is sadly accurate to the arrogance in the beltway. Kinsey might as well have cried “bone spurs”.

S1E22 – Within the Serpent’s Grasp (2 of 3) – MilOps

Probably should do an AAR at some point for parts 2/3 of the S1/S2 cliffhanger bridge. SG1 goes rouge and decides to trust Daniel’s alt-history vision. They infiltrate a hot-rod Ha’tak; giving us basis for relocating gates and leverages some twists on the gate system. Have a hard time pushing the “I believe” button with Teal’c this episode. He doesn’t recognize the jump transition (maybe because of the advanced hyperdrive? Which makes its way around the System Lords pretty quick, BTW) and he feels lost in what seems to be a standard Pyramid ship, something the First Prime should know pretty well. Chalk it up to bad writing, I guess. Decent cliffhanger.

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