Back again and today we have two episodes; one quite good and one utterly dreadful. So let’s get started.
The Enemy Within
We begin with the base under repeated attack from the Goa’uld which all have been blocked by the Stargate Iris. While the team discuss whether the Goa’uld are trying to send people through Kowalski suffers increasingly painful headaches, with them all still unaware of the symbiotic cause of this. Due to the continuous attacks Hammond has had a final safe measure installed into the facility; a tactical nuclear weapon that will destroy Cheyenne Mountain and hopefully destroy or bury the Stargate.
The fate of Teal’c is currently a source of tension on the base, with O’Neill arguing for his release and attachment to SG-1 based on his actions, the US military who want to study and interrogate him for intelligence about the Goa’uld threat, and Hammond caught in the middle with him doubting his true intentions but still treating him with dignity due to his actions. Teal’c himself appears to understand why he is currently held prisoner but still wishes to help the SGC in fighting his former masters. Despite all these problems we start to see the beginnings of the friendship between himself and O’Neill with O’Neill promising to help him get attached to SG-1 and also show him Earth when he gets released.
Kowalski by this time has admitted himself to the infirmary due to his headaches. A doctor checking him out discovers the symbiote, causing it to take control of Kowalski for what appears to be the first time and killing the doctor to maintain his cover. When found in the gateroom Kowalski regains control but doesn’t remember anything, leading the others to think he has had a black out.
Following this Teal’c has begun to be questioned by the Pentagon official and O’Neill ‘barges in’ to help him out and make sure he isn’t harmed. Here we get the exposition of the current state of the galaxy; the Goa’uld control much of the galaxy through their slaves and war with themselves and the entry of the Tau’ri (Earth), from whose inhabitants all Jaffa and human slaves are descended from, into the battle threatens the balance but so far haven’t made themselves a target for the Goa’uld beside Apophis.
While this is going on Kowalski’s true predicament is found out with another doctor finding the symbiote and Jackson finding the original doctor’s corpse on a bed. About to be discovered the symbiote takes control again and tries to activate the Stargate so he can get off-world. He takes Carter hostage and retreats to an elevator but by the time the doors open it loses control of the body again, not remembering again. Kowalski is finally made aware of what happens and works out how he was attacked in the first place. Despite this knowledge the doctor doesn’t give a good prognosis for removing it.
With few choices they go to Teal’c to not only make sure his symbiote is still there but to give them information as to what they should expect from the parasite. His only advice is that they have to let it talk and see how they can get it to leave but Kowalski begs them to kill it, even if he dies in the process. The symbiote takes control once again and refuses negotiate, demanding only to be released, and gives up control once the guards prepare to kill him.
Seeing the opportunity the Pentagon officer argues to let the symbiote stay in control to attempt to get its information due to their ‘genetic memory’ (they remember the information of all Goa’uld who came before) and that saving Kowalski is futile. Hammond instead refuses and tells the team to try to save Kowalski’s life at any cost, even if that means the symbiote dies in the process. O’Neill and Kowalski proceed to have what is likely to be their last chance to talk, with Kowalski lamenting the fact this would’ve been his first command and O’Neill asking if he can have his stereo if he kicks it. Just before the operation Kowalski asks to be killed if they can’t remove the parasite, not wanting to become a host.
The operation appears to be a success with Kowalski asking to see Teal’c (before Teal’c is taken away for ‘study’) however once the guards leave attacks him, revealing that the Goa’uld has taken over completely. While O’Neill and Hammond argue about Teal’c fate the Goa’uld attempts to once again dial the gate, this time also activating the self-destruct. Teal’c makes it to the gateroom first however and tries to prevent the Goa’uld from leaving while O’Neill and Hammond shut down the self-destruct. Teal’c holds the Goa’uld partially inside the event horizon of the wormhole, decapitating the Goa’uld. Teal’c apologises for killing Kowalski with O’Neill lamenting that ‘my friend died on the table’.
As a result of his actions Teal’c is added to SG-1 and the team head off on their first mission together.
This episode is one of my favourites from the early period of the show as it actually shows the risks the members of the SGC in quite somber terms. Despite their technology and confidence they will face situations in which they simply can’t win, with Kowalski dying simply due to sheer bad luck of being near a symbiote he didn’t see in the season opening.
Despite the A plot of Kowalski’s fate, the B plot of Teal’c’s fate as a scientific curiosity takes precedence at times and largely functions as exposition to build the world for the rest of the season by setting out how the world functions in terms of who the enemy are, what they do, and what they control but also how the idea of humans and Jaffa relate back to Earth on a galactic scale for those who didn’t see the original film. While it’s good to get much of this out the way now it does mean that any latecomers may be left confused regarding why events are happening, especially as the show gets more and more complex as time goes on.
For the characters this episode largely focuses on Teal’c and Hammond and expands what we know as they were the weakest of the main cast following the premiere. Teal’c hatred of the Goa’uld is more set in stone in this episode, with him putting his own life on the line to help the SGC not only in killing the Goa’uld but also allowing them to test anaesthetics on his symbiote which might kill him as a result. For Hammond we see a lot more of his loyalty and respect for those around him and under his command. In this episode, while still not sure of his intentions, he repeatedly tries to prevent Teal’c from being shipped off base due to the fact he knows he’ll be treated as an object of scientific curiosity rather than as a person by others and wants to protect him from that fate. When he finally sees Teal’c risk himself to save others like O’Neill did he puts out all the stops to get Teal’c placed on SG-1, a task he succeeds in.
In terms of the sets I quite liked how they use this episode to largely show off the different facilities the SGC have to offer and really give the impression that this is a major US base with all the added amenities such as on-base quarters for personnel, medical facilities to deal with large numbers of patients, and experimental labs/operating theatres. This really expands off of what we see in Children of the Gods which was largely the gateroom, control room, and briefing room.
· Teal’c literally crosses his finger when told to figuratively by the Doctor clearly demonstrating his still woeful knowledge of Tau’ri sayings, something that becomes a running joke on the show.
· Anderson’s humorous portrayal of O’Neill takes center stage on numerous occasions in the episode, with him asking permission to ‘barge him’ and joking around with Kowalski on multiple occasions. This too would also become a running theme in the show
· Despite the show being seen as incredibly friendly to military it already shows the fact it will portray corruption or callousness that is present in both civilian and military life, with the main enemy of this episode being a Pentagon official with little value for Kowalski’s life or fate.
Quote of the episode: ‘Permission to barge in sir?’ – O’Neill
We open with the team arriving in a field on the site of a destroyed temple and commenting that something must’ve happened. Quickly they find a man being chased by dogs who they rescue. When talking however he refuses to speak to Carter or look at her BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. Three riders appear and also get angry at Carter BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. The leader of the riders appear and questions them about their weapons. However Carter answers the question and must die BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. However she is let off because she saved the man’s life and therefore can’t be killed BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN.
They arrive at the leader’s camp where he reveals that he has no problem with women but that many of the others believe she must die for showing her face or wear clothes of a man BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. Despite this she is made to wear traditional clothes BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. The other members of the group however explore the camp, finding what appears to be a new type of anaesthetic. Upon returning to the tent they find Carter dressed in native dress and suddenly everyone objectifies her BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. While the others get to go to a party in their honour Carter must stay in the tent BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. During the party however Carter is kidnapped by an unknown individual and come the morning the team can’t find her. It is revealed that the man who they saved originally has kidnapped her to be traded to another camp as she is property BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN.
The others find out the man in question is the son of the camp’s leader and that they can try to track him down. The leader offers to help them due to the fact he feels betrayed as well. By this time the son has arrived with Carter at another camp where the women are dressed like herself. The son meets with the leader of this camp, who immediately shows his muscles and wants to have a better look at Carter, saying he will beat her BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. More objectification follows BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. It turns out the son wants to trade Carter for the daughter of the leader but the leader is selling her in marriage to another leader and feels he can do it BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. Beating and crying follows.
According to the nice leader the said reason they treat women like garbage is to protect them from Goa’uld but he believes it’s BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE and want to feel strong and superior. Despite this the nice leader offers to pay them off rather than go after Carter. The son tries to rescue the evil leader’s daughter while the evil leader goes at Carter, expecting her to do women work. When she explains she does the work of men he reveals how powerful he is due to killing and pillaging BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE.
Carter tries to escape but fails. As a result the evil leader tries to beat other women and when Carter challenges him he forces herself on her and threatens her with rape BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE. The daughter of the evil leader tries to justify his beating of women because he’s simply doing what’s best because she’s been beaten into submission BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE but Carter tells her nothing will change until a woman just says no.
While the others and the nice leader try to trade for Carter’s release Carter instead sets fire to the camp, allowing the daughter to escape. However the others buy her release for a single M9 with 5 rounds in the clip. Upon thanking them O’Neill’s first thing is to bring up the time she got drunk and tried to strip BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE. The son finds them to reveal the evil leader caught them and took back his daughter so she can be stoned to death BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE.
The team go back to challenge the evil leader, whose daughter begs for his forgiveness for making him have to stone her out of submission BECAUSE MEN ARE GARBAGE, but the evil leader refuses to fight the nice leader because he’s a cripple. Carter however chooses to challenge him BECAUSE WOMEN ARE STRONG. Carter uses a small combat knife against a much larger blade and wins BECAUSE WOMEN ARE STRONG. The team promptly leave the messed up planet and never visit again.
This is by far the WORST ever episode of Stargate SG-1. Instead of a more feminist episode by having an episode centred on Carter showing her skills and being equal or better than her male comrades they instead had a god-awful mess that twisted every single thing into men treat women like dirt simply because they’re women and men are in fact garbage faux-feminism BS. This episode has absolutely zero redeeming qualities.
· Despite her parents being very Asian it’s funny how the daughter of the evil leader looks incredibly like a white girl or mixed race.
Quote of the episode: ‘What a mess.’ – Jackson, literally the first line of the episode