Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 1: "Within the Serpent's Grasp"

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Episode Information

Title: "Within the Serpent's Grasp"
Written by: James Crocker (story), Jonathan Glassner (teleplay)
Director: David Warry-Smith
Rating (out of 4 stars): *** 1/2
Reviewed on: September 12, 2014

Synopsis from GateWorld


SG-1 leaves the Earth to try to stop Apophis's imminent attack.

This episode begins where "Politics" left off, with the Stargate program in the process of shutting down. O'Neill beseeches General Hammond one last time to do something to keep the Stargate program going, but Hammond has no cards left to play. To be fair, when Hammond lists all the things he's done and all the people he's talked to, there doesn't seem to be much left that he could do. He's just not willing to go against orders; he should've realized that SG-1 was, though.

O'Neill relays the bad news to the rest of SG-1, and in short order they decide that they've got to do something while they can still get off-world through the Stargate (which is going to be buried). They gather some gear, use O'Neill's codes and Carter's hacking to lock other people out of the gateroom, and travel through the Stargate to the world given by the coordinates Daniel brought back in "There but for the Grace of God". Hammond and some soldiers break through the lock-out just in time to see them leave.

They arrive in a dark room that they quickly explore and realize is storage for shipping, either sending or receiving. There are many crates in the room. They discover weapons in one crate; O'Neill dubs the weapons "zat guns". The weapon is an energy weapon, but not as powerful as Teal'c's staff weapon. It is more versatile though, because one shot will disable and cause great pain to the victim, two shots will kill the victim, and the third shot will disintegrate the victim's body. Sometimes it's nice not to leave evidence!

Everyone except Teal'c experiences a sudden jolt that throws them around. No one knows what it was, but Teal'c recommends they return to the Earth immediately, and O'Neill doesn't argue with him. However, when Daniel dials home, the Stargate will not connect.

They hear Jaffa approaching and hide. The soldiers don't seem to actually do anything. They march in, and then one of the crates spontaneously opens, and a huge gray sphere floats out and suspends itself in the center of the Stargate. Then they leave. Teal'c says the sphere is a long-range Goa'uld visual communication device.

They begin reconnaissance of the ship. In the next significant room, they find a sarcophagus. They are distracted from figuring out which Goa'uld is in the sarcophagus by the view out the window, which shows they must be on a Goa'uld spaceship in hyperspace. The previous jolt they felt was the entrance into hyperspace. They couldn't dial home because the Stargate was no longer at the correct point in space for the coordinate system.

They realize they're on one of the ships that is going to attack the Earth. However, Teal'c says that typical hyperdrives can go about 10 times faster than the speed of light. Carter (accurately) calculates that at that rate, the ship should take over a year to get to the Earth - lots of time to prepare, if they can get back to the Earth to warn people. They explore the ship a bit more and find a launch bay for Death Gliders that will presumably be used to attack the Earth.

Meanwhile, on the Earth, we see General Hammond ordering SG-2 to go through the Stargate and bring back SG-1 - for court-martial. However, they are unable to connect to the same Stargate; we know it's because the Stargate has moved with the ship.

They see a Jaffa procession going somewhere and follow it. The procession returns to the room with the communication sphere. Apophis appears on the sphere and speaks to the Jaffa. He talks about how they are going to wipe out the humans on Earth (a "plague"). Then he summons his son, Klorel, from the sarcophagus. The sarcophagus opens up, and Skaara (last seen in "Children of the Gods" arises; presumably the Goa'uld Klorel is inside Skaara's body. To his credit, O'Neill does not burst out of hiding with his guns blazing. Klorel vows to help Apophis in the attack, and all of the Jaffa bow to him. The communication sphere turns off, and Klorel leads the Jaffa procession out of the room.

O'Neill decides that they will split up. He orders Carter and Daniel to sneak around the ship and start planting C4 explosives. He and Teal'c plan to find Skaara and see if they can talk to him (instead of Klorel). Daniel does remind them about how Kendra in "Thor's Hammer" said that she was able to exert some influence over her Goa'uld. Everyone seems dubious about O'Neill's success, but they realize they aren't going to stop him.

O'Neill and Teal'c find Skaara on the bridge of the ship with only a small contingent of Jaffa guards. They quickly kill the guards - O'Neill using the zat gun - and manage to grab Skaara before Klorel can use the Goa'uld hand device to stop them. Teal'c holds Skaara's hand with the device behind his back so it can't be used.

O'Neill begins trying to talk to Skaara, beseeching Klorel to allow Skaara's personality to come through for a moment, but Klorel is contemptuous and refuses. He begins taunting O'Neill about how Skaara was weak, and afraid, and so on. O'Neill zats Klorel; the incredible pain of the device loosens Klorel's hold, and Skaara begins speaking. Skaara is scared and in pain, and begs O'Neill's forgiveness for what "we" are about to do. O'Neill and Teal'c had closed and disabled the doors onto the bridge, but unfortunately that doesn't keep out Klorel's Jaffa for very long. They burst in, and after a brief stand off, Teal'c and O'Neill surrender.

Klorel has the Jaffa take O'Neill and Teal'c back to the room with the Stargate, so he can call up Apophis and show his father his prisoners. Apophis is quite pleased. He orders Klorel to kill Teal'c by removing his Goa'uld larva and to kill O'Neill by whatever means Klorel chooses. He urges haste, however, because their attack is about to commence.

The call ends, and Klorel orders a Jaffa priest to take Teal'c's Goa'uld. O'Neill begs Skaara's personality to stop Klorel from doing it. We don't know why, really, but Klorel does stop the priest for the moment and takes both O'Neill and Teal'c back to the bridge.

Carter and Daniel had placed explosives on the Death Gliders and in other places on the ship, but had happened to be back in the Stargate room at just the right time to catch the events with O'Neill and Teal'c. Carter decides that they will rescue O'Neill and Teal'c. As a back up, she sets a timer on the explosives: if they do not turn off the timer, it will detonate the explosives in 24 hours. I think that's way too much time to allow the Jaffa to possibly find and neutralize the explosives, but at least she planned something.

Once O'Neill and Teal'c arrive on the bridge, the ship leaves hyperspace with a jolt. Through the viewing window, they see Saturn. Clearly the ship traveled through hyperspace a lot faster than Teal'c had estimated. Klorel begins gloating about how they're going to get to see Earth one last time before it's destroyed by the Goa'uld.

On the Earth, General Hammond has been informed about two large ships in Saturn's vicinity on course for the Earth. The US is mobilizing all its forces and keeping in communication with NASA and its Deep Space Network for more information on the ships.

On the ship, Carter and Daniel attack Klorel and the Jaffa holding O'Neill and Teal'c. The distraction of the attack lets O'Neill and Teal'c join in the fight. Things are going well for SG-1 until Klorel starts to use his hand device on Daniel. O'Neill tries to call for Skaara to stop, but Klorel continues. After an agonizing hesitation, O'Neill shoots Klorel with Daniels' handgun.

O'Neill goes to Klorel's body, and it seems that Skaara calls his name before Klorel/Skaara die. When they look out the viewing window, they see that the ship has arrived at the Earth. TO BE CONTINUED....

This was a fun episode. It is satisfying to see Daniel's prediction come true, even if it means bad things for the Earth, because SG-1 has proved the bureaucrats wrong. It's also nice to see Skaara's character return, since that's one of O'Neill's main motivations in continuing with the Stargate program. The cliffhanger is also welcome, especially since I'm watching it on DVD now so I don't have to wait!

The only drawback to this episode is that it's a little slow while SG-1 is wandering around on the Goa'uld ship discovering things.

The Earth is now in a very bad situation. Even with the US mobilizing all its armed forces, what can it really do? The Goa'uld will likely bombard the planet from space, like in "There but for the Grace of God". The US military doesn't really have anything to attack ships in orbit; ballistic missiles and similar weapons do not have trajectories that high, and they really can't be reprogrammed and repurposed that quickly. The military might have some hope of defense against Jaffa troops, but even there they will be outgunned, as we saw in the alternate universe.

If the Earth has any hope, it's that SG-1 can do something while they are on board Klorel's ship. Currently they seem to be in control of the ship they are on, but they will have to figure out what to do with it and keep the Jaffa on board from re-taking the ship.

I might say that Teal'c could help a lot in controlling the ship, but he was remarkably unhelpful in this episode. The entering/exiting hyperspace jolt was apparently just different enough for him to not identify it, yet after the first jolt he recommended immediate evacuation. It was a good point that most ships don't have Stargates; however, his estimate of the ship's speed was also way off. Is he already that out of date on Goa'uld technology? Or did Apophis develop some new technology specifically for this attack?

The concept of having a Stargate on a spaceship is very interesting. I can see how it would be useful to move a Stargate to different locations so that you can use it, especially for a military force. Where did this Stargate come from? How do mobile Stargates fit into the Stargate coordinate system? Carter thought that the Stargate had the gate coordinates of the planet it was orbiting, but is that correct? Does that mean you can't use a Stargate on a ship if it's out in the middle of space somewhere and not near a planet?

It's an interesting, but not unexpected, development for Skaara's body to have been taken as a host by a Goa'uld. After all, he was chosen in "Children of the Gods" for some reason. What's more interesting is that Klorel is apparently Apophis's son. Does that mean Klorel is also Sha're's son? Or rather, the son of the female Goa'uld inhabiting Sha're? Why would a nearly-immortal being like a Goa'uld be interested in procreation? It seems like offspring would be likely to become threats, since they are born with the genetic memories of their parents. Wouldn't the offspring want the power, wealth, and so on that its parents have? Apophis does seem to have some kind of plan for Klorel, and for the moment, Klorel seems to be loyal.

Why was Klorel in the sarcophagus at the beginning of the episode? It's not clear what transportation circumstance might require that. Was he injured or ill and needed to be renewed? Or perhaps Klorel only recently took over Skaara's body and somehow needed the health benefits of the sarcophagus. At any rate, since O'Neill doesn't really want to see Skaara die, it seems likely that it will occur to him to place Skaara's body in the sarcophagus to be regenerated. That will probably regenerate Klorel, too, but at least there is still a chance for freeing Skaara later.

Daniel and O'Neill were really being far too optimistic about the likelihood of Skaara's personality being able to overcome Klorel's. Or perhaps Daniel didn't tell O'Neill how Kendra really described her actions against her Goa'uld: she played the part of an insidious voice that kept taunting and goading and insulting her Goa'uld until it took an inadvisable action. This certainly occurred over a very long time period. Kendra never said she was able to actually re-take control of her own body and speak or act contrary to the Goa'uld's wishes. Consequently, it's not surprising that O'Neill didn't get more than a few words from Skaara. It does, however, show that Skaara's personality is still alive, so maybe there will be a way eventually to free him.

While watching this episode, a question about the Goa'uld occurred to me: why do the Goa'uld choose physically attractive hosts? I mean, hosts that humans would consider physically attractive. For example, both Sha're and Skaara are attractive humans, but they are also both very strong-willed. It seems like a Goa'uld might be more interested in a host with a meek personality so that it is more easily controlled. I would not expect a Goa'uld, which is a slug-like being, to have the same standards of beauty as a human, but somehow it seems like they do. Why? Is this an example of the hosts' personalities influencing the Goa'uld without them being aware of it? In reality, it's probably mostly because the TV show writers and producers know audiences like attractive actors better.

An oddity I thought was worth mentioning: when SG-1 initially arrives on the ship through the Stargate, the first thing they do is return the MALP to the Earth. Why? So the US government will be a little less angry at them? They don't seem to have sent a message with it, which could've been one reason. I suppose they didn't want their enemies stumbling upon the MALP as evidence that SG-1 was nearby, but SG-1 had no idea at first that they were in such a confined space. I just thought it was a little odd.

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