Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The First Ones"

"The First Ones” is Stargate SG-1 meets Hell in the Pacific. Or, if your film references run only towards the science fiction, Stargate SG-1 meets Enemy Mine It is the story of two adversaries brought together who, though separated by culture and language, gain a mutual respect. The main plot does not play out as obviously as one expects at first glance, and the B story drags it down quite a bit, but “The First Ones” is a decent viewing experience.

Daniel has joined the SG-11 team on an archeological dig on an original Goa’uld planet. The camp site is attacked and Daniel is dragged off by an aboriginal Unas. Rothman, Daniel’s archeological colleague, makes it back to the SGC to get help in rescuing Daniel.

The bulk of the episode involves the long journey the unas forces Daniel on to the cave in which the rest of his people are living. Although he does not speak the language, Daniel attempts to communicate with the Unas in order to find some way to save himself. He discovers the unas have taken to the caves in order to avoid becoming hosts to the Goa’uld who inhabit the waterways and can leap far enough to attack someone on the banks. Unfortunately, he appears to be part of a rite of passage in which an Unas must capture prey and bring it back to the others as a prize. By the time Daniel is brought before the rest, he has won the respect of his captor, who is forced to battle the current leader to spare his life. The leader is defeated, making our boy the new head honcho. He invites Daniel to join them. Daniel politely declines.

The scenes of the interaction between Daniel and the Unas are broken up by the SG teams searching for Daniel. The SG-11 team has only one surviving member other than Rothman. It is Hawkins, who is clearly shown early on to have been infected by one of the water dwelling Goa’uld. He is exposed by Teal’c, and in a twist, Rothman is also infected by a Goa’uld. The Rothman revelation was a surprise, but one wonders the point of it. He was infected since SG-11’s initial search for Daniel before he headed off to Sgc to recruit the others. Was his motive to make the others host, too/ if so, he blew enough golden opportunities to render the subplot all but meaningless. The episode could have broken up the main plot with the drama of the SG teams looking for daniel without adding the Goa’uld subplot.

I will grant “The First Ones” two points for featuring the Goa’uld. One, it is an incredibly disturbing scene to watch one fly out of the water in order to attack someone. Two, although you do not realize this until later, the Unas saves Daniel from becoming a host when he refuses to allow him to lap water from, instesd insisting Daniel scoop the water by hand. A Goa’uld jumps out of the water anyway, but the unas stops it from borrowing into daniel’s neck. I nearly jumped out of my skin regardless. It is a very effective scene.

The Goa’uld subplot drags the episode down, but the main plot is engrossing. It is probably moreso if you are into the anthropological aspects of the series. Daniel is far more in character here than in the previous episode. He ifar more interesting in learning about the Unas than being frightened of him. Contrast that with his contemptuous attitude towards Markov’s Russian background in yesterday’s episode. The special effects are good with both the CGI Goa’uld and the make up job on the Unas. “The First Ones” is a decent episode that could have been better if the subplot had been better thought out.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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