This episode really took my predictions from the pilot and pounded them into the wormhole. Or sliced them in half with a wormhole, as it were.
Spoilers below the cut.
The episode starts with the SG-1 and SG-2 teams being debriefed on potential recon missions on two different planets. Then unauthorized travelers try to appear through the stargate but is met by the iris, a titanium shield that greets unwanted visitors with a nice big SPLAT. That thing is itching to be tested. From there, we learn that Kowalski has been having headaches since the final battle from the pilot and, later, learn that he has been affected by the Gao’uld. An infant Gao’uld, which is why it hasn’t fused and destroyed him, but a Gao’uld nonetheless. This means a potentially life-threatening surgery for Kowalski, who laments his fate on the eve of his first command. Teal’c is also the source of a study of alien life from another division of the US military. He freely gives his information. But it is Teal’c’s assistance that finally rids the Gao’uld threat on Earth, and that earns him a spot on the field team.
So let’s break this down.
The second episode continues its awesome character development, particularly in relation to Colonel O’Neill who has grown sassier since the pilot episode. His sass makes him more relatable, but the show also pairs his sass with compassion for Teal’c and friendship with Kowalski. I love that O’Neill makes a point to be present at all of Teal’c’s interrogations and defends Teal’c against scrutiny at every opportunity. I also love O’Neill’s conversation with Kowalski before Kowalski’s operation. Kowalski wants to be all serious, but O’Neill distracts Kowalski with sass.
Major General Hammond has since taken on a fatherly role of the team. He defends O’Neill’s request to have Teal’c on the SG-1 field team and gets a bit protective of Kowalski when he’s on the operating table.
Come to think of it, the only characters getting any development are white dudes. Huh. Here’s hoping for more Captain Carter in future episodes.
Wait, Teal’c gets a little bit of development. He earns enough trust for a spot on the field team, and everyone that works directly with him trusts him, but the authorities that don’t work with him have a hard time treating him like anything other than a science project. I do enjoy that everyone on his team has no qualms against him, though. Bonus points for that.
This entire episode takes place at the stargate base. Meaning the studio didn’t have to fly the cast and crew somewhere fancy to shoot it. They probably didn’t have any natural daylight at all this entire episode. There were no outrageous special effects, besides perhaps the MRI machine and the rendering of the operation on the screen. I am not counting the activation of the stargate because I assume those are repeated effects. You spend money on them once and then you can use them as often as you like. Conclusion? This episode was a budget-saver. Score one for character-driven episodes.
The other big thing that happened was establishing that Earth is the lost planet where humans came from. This is a discussion I feel warranted more discussion with a better conclusion. Does Teal’c know of any archaeological findings of human origins on other planets? Does the Goa’uld also have their version of the Theory of Evolution? How do the Earthlings KNOW there isn’t evidence of human life originating on other planets? With what this sets up for future episodes, I think this needs more speculation.
My biggest disappointment with this episode was the death of Kowalski. I loved the banter between Kowalski and O’Neill, and it would have been great to have them work side by side. Still, it seems this show is fond of killing characters, or at least using them as motivational devices for the main characters. Kowalski was a missed opportunity of a character. He will be missed.
And now, a comparison to my predictions. Shau’re and Skaara were mentioned but did not play a direct role in this episode. The refugees from the first episode are mysteriously not a thing in this episode. Kowalski being a secret mole was blown out of the water completely. And Teal’c may have the trust of his immediate teammates, but I still want him to have a self-sacrificial moment that earns him the trust of the rest of the US military involved with the stargate project. I have a new prediction to add to the mix: the iris will be broken by an outside force. I don’t know when or how, but it will be.
The episode finishes with the final form of the Stargate SG-1 team: 2 warriors and 2 scientists. Two white dudes, a woman, and a minority.
Still no sign of an adorable mascot.