Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 1: "Children of the Gods"

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Episode Information

Title: "Children of the Gods"
Written by: Jonathan Glassner, Brad Wright
Director: Mario Azzopardi
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: March 2, 2014

Synopsis from GateWorld


This pilot episode is an entertaining way to start up the series where the movie ended.

The episode opens with some random soldiers sitting in the gate room playing cards. From their bored attitudes, we get the feeling that this is pretty easy duty, and that the Stargate hasn't seen much action lately. A soldier mentions how personnel are rapidly being transferred to other posts.

Their card game is rudely interrupted by the Stargate opening up and admitting numerous soldiers with serpent-like armor, similar to what Ra's soldiers had. A firefight begins, and the US soldiers are rapidly overwhelmed by superior weapons. An important figure joins the alien soldiers, directing them. They abduct a female US soldier and leave; the important alien's eyes glow - like Ra's - before he goes.

This raid quickly stirs the Air Force (who is overseeing the Stargate) to action. Colonel Jack O'Neill (now retired) is called to the base. (It's a really nice touch that when they find him, he's looking through a telescope and gives the Air Force officer the advice to get to NASA as soon as possible, since that's where the future action is going to be. Apparently he's assuming the Stargate is not generally effective, but that we will be encountering aliens in the future by more conventional means.) We learn that its been a year since the events of the Stargate movie, and since then, the Stargate has not been used. As a reminder, when O'Neill and his men returned from Abydos in the movie, they claimed to have used the nuclear bomb to blow up the area around the gate, and Daniel Jackson died on the mission.

General Hammond is now in charge of the Stargate program. He tells O'Neill about the events and asks him some probing questions, clearly thinking that O'Neill's report on his mission to Abydos contained some lies. He is operating under the assumption that the alien raid must have come from Abydos, since that's the only place they could get the Stargate to connect to, and thus O'Neill lied about something. He's about to send another nuclear bomb through the gate to Abydos in order to close it again, but O'Neill convinces him to stop. O'Neill reveals the truth: the nuclear bomb killed Ra in orbit; Daniel Jackson is alive and living on Abydos; Daniel buried the Abydos Stargate, thus making it appear to have been bombed.

O'Neill also thinks the aliens might have come from Abydos, so he wants to talk to Daniel about it. He sends a box of tissues through the Stargate to Abydos, certain that Daniel will get the message. This is just one of several very nice connections to events and actions in the movie, making it clear that these characters are meant to be continuations of the ones in the movie and that everything is happening in the "same universe". In the movie, we remember that Daniel had horrible allergies, and thus would welcome modern tissues.

After some delay, Daniel sends back the tissue box, empty, with the message, "Thanks send more." General Hammond approves a recon mission to Abydos, consisting of O'Neill, Kawalski, various other soldiers, and Captain Samantha Carter, who has a PhD in astrophysics and happens to be female. She is said to be the single greatest human expert on the Stargate technology. After a lot of hot air on the part of the men complaining about her, Hammond makes it clear that she is part of the mission. Interestingly, O'Neill claims he doesn't mind that she's female, but does mind that she's a scientist.

When the team arrives on Abydos, they find Daniel Jackson alive and well, and married to a beautiful woman, Sha're (whom he met in the movie). The boy who took a shine to O'Neill, Skaara, is also alive and well and very happy to see O'Neill - the feeling is mutual. Daniel has been teaching the people English, so Skaara and Sha're and some others can now talk to the Americans.

Daniel says that there's no way that the alien raid on Earth came from Abydos, because they watch the Stargate constantly. However, he has discovered something on Abydos that may explain things. Daniel leads O'Neill, Carter, and Kawalski to a room that he has excavated that seems to have constellation maps all over the walls. He thinks that the maps show the locations of other Stargates they could connect with. Carter is dubious, since they tried a lot of addresses and couldn't connect, but a comment of Daniel's sends her into the first of what will become her classic scientific extrapolations that turn out to be correct. And O'Neill gets his first chance to listen blankly and ask for a translation. The short story: they couldn't connect to the addresses because stellar drift has changed their coordinates a bit. With some computer modeling, they should be able to adjust the addresses and connect.

I have to stop her and correct a major error that Carter unfortunately makes. She attributes the "stellar drift" explicitly to the expansion of the universe, which is COMPLETELY wrong. All of the other Stargates are located within our galaxy. The expansion of the universe is NOT causing the galaxy to expand, because the gravitational force of all the stars, planets, gas clouds, and so on are holding it at a constant size. In the same way, neither the solar system nor the Earth are expanding. However, stars are orbiting within the galaxy on mostly independent orbits, so they are moving at slightly different speeds. Thus, it is true that their distances and locations relative to the Earth will change over time. It's also true that astrophysicists should be able to model and calculate these changes and apply them to the coordinates given in the map.

This is a major discovery for the characters and revelation to the viewers. It means that it's very likely that there are many, many Stargates in the galaxy and thus many places our characters can visit. The characters realize that it's possible the raid on the Earth came from one of these other Stargates, so they need to find out more about them.

While they are in the map room, the same alien that raided the Earth brings troops through the Abydos Stargate. His warriors kill many of the natives and the US soldiers left on guard. He abducts Sha're and Skaara. His chief soldier, Teal'c, seems to choose Skaara, perhaps inadvertently, because he sees that Skaara is fighting with a machine gun, which is certainly not native to Abydos.

Daniel, O'Neill and the rest return after the fight. O'Neill realizes they need to return to Earth to report on all the events that have occurred. In addition, one of the wounded airmen may have seen the Stargate coordinates from the raid, which would allow them to find the alien's Stargate, so his need for medical care is especially urgent. Daniel is distraught by the abduction of Sha're, and O'Neill is nearly as upset about Skaara. O'Neill convinces Daniel that their best chance to find them is to convince the US military to send out search teams through the Stargate.

Daniel tells the Abydos people to block the Stargate for one year: if he does not return in one year with Sha're, they should bury the Stargate permanently. The Abydos people resist the idea of burying the Stargate. Daniel is exasperated and says something to the effect of, "Don't you understand what could come through there?" and in a very touching comment, the native responds, "YOU came through there, Daniel." After all, Daniel and the other American soldiers freed them from slavery to Ra.

O'Neill, Daniel, and the others return to Earth and report a much-changed situation to General Hammond. After some delay, Hammond reports that the President of the US feels that exploring through the Stargate is worth the risks. The President has authorized 9 teams (I think it was 9) that will explore the new Stargate planets, once coordinates are computed. O'Neill will lead SG-1 with Carter and Daniel. Kawalski will lead SG-2.

Meanwhile, we see that Sha're and Skaara have been put into a large pen of prisoners. Later, Sha're is chosen to be put into a smaller group of prisoners consisting only of beautiful women dressed in scanty clothing. The female soldier abducted at the beginning of the episode is also there. Teal'c comes in and chooses the female soldier, who is taken away by his subordinates.

The female soldier is taken to what seems to be the private quarters of the alien commander. He pacifies her by shining this device on his palm at her face. Then she is stripped and placed on a table. The commander calls for "his queen" to come out and tell him if she likes the woman. A female alien comes out and reveals an opening in her stomach, where a worm-like being pokes its head out. The commander addresses the worm, who apparently rejects the woman on the table, since it retracts into its carrier. The woman is apparently killed, which seems to bother Teal'c, who has watched the whole scene. The alien commander calls for another woman.

For the next woman, Teal'c chooses Sha're. Sha're fights the alien commander more, but cannot resist the palm device. This time, the "queen" seems to approve of Sha're. The worm exists her carrier, crawls up Sha're, and enters her body disturbingly quickly at the back of her neck. The alien commander seems extremely happy at these developments, although we're still not sure what they mean. Unfortunately the worm special effects are not all that good.

On Earth, the wounded airmen is able to give the Stargate coordinates to Carter and Daniel. General Hammond authorizes SG-1 and SG-2 to go to that planet and attempt to rescue Sha're and Skaara, as well as conduct reconnaissance on the alien threat. SG-1 will perform the rescue mission, while SG-2 guards their retreat to the Stargate.

The teams go through the Stargate, ending up on a planet named Chulak. SG-1 goes to the nearest village and in short order run into the alien commander and his queen, Sha're. Daniel leaps forward and exclaims to Sha're, but she doesn't even seem to recognize him. The alien commander uses his palm device to blow Daniel against the far wall. O'Neill and Carter pull out weapons to shoot him, but Sha're steps in front of him as a shield - apparently she remembers enough about them to realize they won't shoot her. O'Neill, Carter, and Daniel are captured and put into the pen with the majority of the prisoners, including Skaara.

Daniel has solved the puzzle of who the alien commander is. Everyone had been thinking he was Ra, even though O'Neill and company swore up and down that Ra was dead. Daniel realizes that the alien commander is another alien similar to Ra who is playing the part of Apophis, another god in Egyptian mythology. Apparently Ra was part of a race of powerful aliens.

O'Neill has a run-in with Teal'c, who asks about the technology on O'Neill's wrist: his watch. Apparently he has never seen any advanced technology that is not Goa'uld - the aliens represented by Ra and Apophis.

Later Apophis and Sha're show up with a bunch of troops commanded by Teal'c. Their forces begin looking through the prisoners, choosing those who will become "the children of the gods", not that we know what that means. Again, Sha're does not seem to recognize Daniel or the others.

Daniel tries to put himself forward to be chosen in order to be close to Sha're, saying, "Something of the host must survive." Apparently he has surmised that Sha're has been possessed in some way, similar to the mythological story of Ra, and that "the children of the gods" would suffer a similar fate. Although Daniel says this to O'Neill, we can see Teal'c shake his head. Fortunately Daniel is not chosen, but unfortunately Skaara is.

Apophis and Sha're leave, with Apophis ordering the remaining prisoners to be killed. The prisoners scatter as best they can, while O'Neill fixes Teal'c with a look and says, "I can save these people!". Teal'c responds, "Many have said that, but you are the first I believe could do it!" He shoots one of his own troops and tosses a staff weapon to O'Neill. Somehow, the warriors seem too confused to react quickly, and Teal'c, O'Neill, and the others manage to kill them all.

The good guys blast a hole through the wall of the prison and begin herding the prisoners out. Teal'c seems lost now that he has betrayed Apophis, and O'Neill convinces him to come with the Earthlings. They only have a short amount of time left before General Hammond must order the Stargate sealed, so they lead the prisoners back to the Stargate.

On the walk back, Teal'c explains a bit about the worm-beings, as he reveals that he is a Jaffa, which is a soldier bred to serve. He has a pouch in his abdomen that holds an immature Goa'uld, which is the worm-being. Right now, the Goa'uld does not seem to control Teal'c, so perhaps it has to be mature in order to do that? In that case, the Goa'uld that entered Sha're was one that was mature. In return for incubating the immature Goa'uld, Teal'c receives perfect health and longevity. Without a larva, he would die eventually.

We see that Apophis, Sha're, and entourage are also heading for the Stargate. SG-2 observes them from a short distance, but doesn't interfere. SG-1 and the escaped prisoners come under fire from alien aircraft, but eventually approach the Stargate. Apophis and his entourage escape through the Stargate. O'Neill calls to Skaara, who now seems to be possessed like Sha're, and uses a palm device to blast O'Neill away.

Once the Stargate is free to use again, O'Neill orders Daniel to dial up Earth so that they can escape. Strangely, Daniel does not have the coordinates memorized, but must waste time digging them up out of a notebook. Meanwhile, SG-1 and SG-2 are fighting off incoming soldiers and trying to protect the escaped prisoners.

The Stargate opens and they send their transmitter signal so Stargate command can confirm it's them and open the titanium iris. Carter leads the first of the escaped prisoners through the Stargate. The others fall back as people got through the Stargate. Unseen by anyone, Kawalski kills an alien soldier, and the worm inside it dives into Kawalski. O'Neill is the last one back through the Stargate. The iris closes, effectively stopping any pursuit before the Stargate can disengage.

General Hammond is taken aback by all the refugees that have arrived, and especially Teal'c's presence. O'Neill acts very confident about Teal'c, and even says he wants Teal'c to be part of SG-1. Quite a leap of faith!

O'Neill and Daniel privately agree that they will continue to search for Sha're and Skaara as they visit other planets. This effectively sets up the series, giving them an overall goal as they visit planets episode-by-episode. We also see Kawalski's eye glow - his takeover by the Goa'uld is complete. Nevertheless, he acts normally enough. How long can he continue that way?

This episode is a very good re-introduction to the Stargate universe and set-up for the series. It's fun meeting the characters again for the first time, although some of their initial conflicts can be a little frustrating.

One of the most intriguing things about the Stargate series are the issues of identity that it brings up and wrestles with. We have alien beings (the worm things called Goa'uld) that take over the bodies of humans. This seems morally wrong at a very basic level, as it seems that the human's personality is completely lost. But, if taking over a human body is the only way a Goa'uld can exist, is it wrong for them to do it?

However, it's not completely clear that "nothing of the host survives". We see the possessed Sha're apparently act on human Sha're's memories. Skaara may also have some memories of O'Neill, based on his reactions before he left through the Stargate. And then we see Kawalsky act pretty normally, even though he appears to have been possessed. Can the Goa'uld be in possession of the body but not actively control it? Can it allow the human to be in control? In that case, what kind of being is the combination?

These are issues that the series will encounter again and again in different ways, and it adds a depth to the series that I really appreciate.

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