Today on Stargate SG-1 the team go after an Unas and investigate a Nixon-era political scandal.
The episode starts with the team ready to start another mission at the SGC but the Stargate however is refusing to function, successfully dialling but not engaging the wormhole. Carter’s diagnostic however works out that the Stargate presumed destroyed after Thor’s ship crashed into the ocean has instead been recovered by the Russian Federation, who are now running their own Stargate Program. Surprisingly the Russians are forthcoming about the fact they have the Gate, hinting that they already knew about the US Program for some time, but they are unable to close it for unknown reasons, with their original plan having been to bomb the facility to cover up the existence of it but are now asking for SG-1 to come help a leading Russian scientist, Dr Svetlana Markov, deal with the problem onsite.
After rendezvous with the scientist the team drop just outside the facility to find it contaminated by trace amounts of chlorine and the personnel either shot or killed by nerve gas used as a last resort upon hostile incursion. Markov reveals that the world they found was entirely made of water that emitted heat, making it of interest as a potential source of clean energy. However during the time Markov was away the same brought back has disappeared and that those who were shot, rather than gassed, were the scientists experimenting on it. Using the remote drone the Russians already sent through the Gate they find more corpses floating in the water. Fearing that the drone is what is keeping the Gate active Carter, Daniel, and Markov take a submersible through the Gate to recover it while Teal’c and O’Neill explore the base further.
On the water planet the submersible finds itself unable to move, with Markov burning out the motors when they try to move further, seemingly trapped by the current. Despite trying to repair the stricken sub they remain stuck in place, with Markov stating they first experienced issues when they took the water sample just before leaving the planet. Stuck the three begin to question what the water actually is.
In the base O’Neill and Teal’c discover an unexpected survivor in the base’s cold storage unit, Harold Maybourne. Upon defrosting Maybourne begins to act strangely trying to leave the room before collapsing and throwing up, returning to normal after. Quickly he pushed O’Neill and himself back in the freezer, just before the liquid he threw up turns into a gas and takes over Teal’c, who leaves the room. Maybourne explains what happened on the base, with the liquid being a lifeform rather than water and upon taking over someone they tried to get through the Gate causing the unaffected personnel to start shooting the infected until the base commander released the Nerve Agent after the Gate was dialled.
In the sub the glass dome on the front begins to crack before being crushed but the ‘water’ doesn’t come through, confirming that it is indeed something else entirely. Daniel decides to try and interact with the organism but is sucked out of the sub along with the others as they try to rescue him.
On the base O’Neill tries to stop Teal’c, only to be overpowered locked outside the Gateroom. Eventually making it through the door he finds Teal’c have dialled the Gate before throwing the up the liquid which voluntarily goes back through the wormhole to its planet, with the Gate shutting down. Moments later it dials in, with Daniel, Carter, and Markov being thrown back through, with O’Neill likening the whole experience to have been a hostage exchange.
Waterworld is an episode that I’ve never really cared for as a standalone episode mainly due to the fact as while it has some nice ideas as a base, such as an alien that can change states and it not being obvious if its intentions are hostile or not, it never goes in depth for any of them, with the ending feeling very sudden and unexpected compared to many other episodes.
Where the episode does shine however is bringing the Russians into play in the overall mythology of the show, with it filling in what they’ve been doing the last three seasons and recently, with Dr Markov revealing that the Russians have been compiling information about the program for some time and took the opportunity to use the Stargate they recovered from Thor’s ship as a base for their own operations. It also sets the scene for a continuing political schism of their own between the Russian military who would prefer their own Program rather than a shared one with the US while the civilian government (which would be under Putin so it takes a lot of liberties) would rather have a treaty to share technology the US obtains in exchange for funding and supplies.
Despite this the setup for this introduction does have a few flaws, such as the Germans having a DHD despite Egypt being under the control of the British from the late 1800s through to after the Second World War making such ownership highly unlikely, but these are largely glossed over in the shows continuity rather than focused on.
Overall this episode is useful for worldbuilding for coming seasons, especially on international relations, but is flawed in many respects.
· You’d almost think that Teal’c is afraid of heights given his views on parachuting.
· Maybourne being in Russia makes no sense really as not only is he a US intelligence officer but also likely to be found in a FSB interrogation room than onsite even if he did defect.
Quote of the episode: “The sub is Swiss.” “So they occasionally catch fire, but they keep perfect time. Sorry, I’ve been hanging around Jack O’Neill too much.” – Markov and Daniel
On an off-world location Daniel has joined SG-11 for an archaeological dig of what appears to contain ancestors of the Goa’uld who don’t contain Naquadah or appear to take hosts. The dig however is being watched by an unknown individual who attacks the dig, killing a member of SG-11 and dragging off Daniel. Rothman, another scientist, reports to the SGC that it was an Unas who attacked them, with Hammond deciding to send the rest of SG-1 and SG-2 along with a UAV as backup for SG-11 in the search for Daniel.
In a forest somewhere else on the planet Daniel tries to communicate with the Unas, collapsing due to tiredness, before momentarily enraging it when he tries to call for help on his radio, which the Unas throws away before dragging him onwards. They later come to rest by a lake, with the Unas starting to engage in a meditative like behaviour while Daniel continues to use his Dictaphone to take notes on. Despite what seems initial attempts at communication, with the Unas getting across the point for Daniel to shut up, Daniel tries to make an escape when they come by a lake, ignoring the Unas’ warning about not going in the water. It turns out that the lake is home to other primordial Goa’uld, one of which tries to attack Daniel before being caught out the air and torn apart by the Unas.
Meanwhile the rescue party have made it to the digsite, only finding a dazed Major Hawkins nearby with the others having presumably been killed by the Unas. Following the trial left by the Unas they find the lake where Daniel was attacked by the Goa’uld before deciding to camp out for the night nearby, unaware of the threat in the water. During the night O’Neill becomes suspicious of Hawkins, not realising that the man has been taken over by a Goa’uld, likely being responsible for the disappearance of the rest of SG-11 himself.
In another location the Unas and Daniel have taken shelter in a cave for the night, with only cooked symbiote on the menu for dinner. Daniel’s refusal to eat it ends up in a small game between the two as they end up tossing the head between them over and over again. After throwing the head into the fire Daniel decides to use his power bar as an alternative meal, sharing it with the Unas who seems to enjoy it. Daniel chooses t study the pictographs in the cave, reading them to learn that the Unas he has been captured by is a descendant of a group who avoided becoming hosts and that his capture is part of a ritual for the Unas to prove himself to his tribe.
The next morning Teal’c kills a Goa’uld in the morning, realising that anyone in the group could’ve been compromised during the night. Teal’c decides to tie up the group until help can arrive and seemingly leaves to go hunt for Daniel alone. Taking the chance Hawkins reveals himself as a Goa’uld, breaking his restraints and picking up a P90 only to be killed Teal’c who was hiding nearby, revealing the whole thing to be a ruse. However it turns out Rothman was also a Goa’uld, shooting and injuring SG-2s leader before being killed by O’Neill. SG-2 decide to bury their dead comrades before heading back to the Gate while SG-1 goes after Daniel, finding the cave where the Unas and Daniel rested.
In the cave Daniel wakes up before the Unas, contemplating killing the beast before deciding against it, instead tries to earn the creature’s trust by treating his wounded hand with seemingly no effect in his treatment. The Unas leads Daniel deeper into the cave, meeting several other Unas including a likely leader. The rest of SG-1 catchup to them, shooting the leader when he attacks Daniel’s captor and then tries to kill Daniel’s Unas who finished the leader off, placing him in control of the tribe. The Unas however scares the tribe off and lets the team go, according to Daniel inviting him back in the future at the same time.
The First Ones is an interesting episode both in content and execution. First off we have the team separated right from the getgo but it’s also a story that for one half is a chase through the wilderness while the other is watching to completely different lifeforms trying to understand one another.
The most interesting aspect of the episode is definitely the latter part of the two aspects, with Daniel and the Unas, later called Chaka after his vocalisations during the episode, trying to understand each other to varying degrees of success, with Daniel acknowledging being told to shut up but not noticing his behaviour around the lake. Due to how long this process is and the time given to it the pseudo friendship/respect they have at the end is an understandable one, with Chaka allowing the team to leave as Daniel had not only proven himself not to be a threat, especially after what SG-11 were doing, but also that they can help each other, with the character becoming one of the few non-human recurring characters on the show and later episodes will also explore the tribal nature of the Unas.
Overall the episode is a definite improvement over Watergate with the focus on discovering new life and cultures as opposed to inept Russians, with the characters involved making smart and believable decisions as they try to not only find their missing friend but also not get torn apart by Unas and Gao’uld.
· That Unas vision at the start has a Predator like vibe to it.
· The Goa’uld testing scene with Hawkins and Rothchild is one of my favourite moments of the season.
Quote of the episode: “Okay anyone with a snake in their head, raise their hand” - O’Neill to which Hawkins actually responds.