The Stargate Rewatch: The First Commandment

Stargate SG-1 Review: The First Commandment

Synopsis

SG-9 is missing. General Hammond sends SG-1 to go look for them, and they find them. The only problem is that the leader of SG-9 thinks he’s a god and is now ruling that planet

Review

Man, these first few episodes really are a bit of a struggle aren’t they? After the pilot and The Enemy Within, it’s been downhill from there and this one doesn’t really up the game- despite a solid premise and some notable guest stars. What could have been a pretty deep episode focusing on what it means to be a God just falls flat. Instead it chooses to focus on the concept that Jonas (not that one) is crazy. I can’t even say William Russ plays the role that well, despite being a fine actor (who didn’t love him on Boy Meets World?). What exactly were his motives? Carter says that he was a manipulative and controlling man? Okay fine. But he was the sort of person who would travel off-world and try to rule the natives through fear and murder? How did this dude even close to the Stargate? Surely there would be a stringent look at who the SGC employees. I know that Carter knew him personally, but she doesn’t even look surprised when she hears what he’s been doing; he must have been pretty unhinged for quite some time.

stargate first commandment carter

Whoever is doing the psych reports at the SGC needs to be replaced pronto, because they less a whopper of a mistake through the cracks with this one. The thing that makes this even more difficult to accept is that members of his team just went along with it! Russ, unfortunately, hams up the role a great deal. It’s hard to take him seriously when he’s hissing “you’ll see” to people and rambling about being the planets saviour. It’s like the writers have just lifted him out of a ‘standard maniacal villain’ textbook and added nothing else to him to show nuance. The episode doesn’t serve Carter particularly well either. She has the opportunity to take Jonas down, even with just a leg shot, but instead, she stands there with the gun pointed at him and just lets him take it from her. No fight or anything. I hope she starts to become a better-written character soon. She was admittedly the best thing about Emancipation, but there were issues with how the character was treated there, and in the previous episode, The Broca Divide. This now makes three in a row and it’s a shame to see it. At least I have the knowledge of how brilliant she would go on to become. Luckily, the others are keeping the show going. Jack continues to be a great character with Richard Dean Anderson proving that even with the weaker material, he is a natural leading man. Michael Shanks’ understated performance also continues to impress. Teal’c even gets a chance to shine here, providing some much needed light relief from all that is going on with his hideously awkward smile. I also enjoyed him sharing his wisdom on what it is like to betray those who claim to be Gods.

stargate william russ

The addition of the Goa’uld presence, felt but not seen, is welcome and the device to combat the suns rays is a relatively good part of the episode; at least when it doesn’t focus on Jonas spouting his hideous “I am God speeches”. It’s just, unfortunately, an aspect that isn’t fully explored. It feels as though it is there as an afterthought rather than an integral part of the plot. And then there’s the troublesome end to the episode. It starts well enough with Daniel effectively selling the fact that Jonas is just a nut job, but it descends into a farce with him grabbing Carter to die with him. Why did he do this? Who knows. Jack, of course, saves the day and the team then sit and watch as he is killed in front of them. Now the guy had it coming sure, but would they really do that? Would they not be more interested in getting him home to be committed/given a court-martial than allowing him to be murdered? It just comes across as the writers assuming the audience would want him dead, and not really allowing themselves the time to consider what the SG team would really do in that kind of situation. I would have been interested to hear them explain the events to Hammond. Oh, and in that final scene where Jack and Carter are talking, is it just me or is that almost note for note the score from Independence Day that’s playing?

 

I Know That Face!

William Russ has appeared in numerous shows over the years, most recently in two episodes of Colony. He is best remembered though as Alan Matthews in Boy Meets World, a show that he was actually on around the time he filmed this episode. He returned to the role of Alan in its recent spin-off, Girl Meets World.

Roger Cross also appears in this one as Connor. To list everything notable this guy has been in would take up a lot of time. He’s perhaps best known as Curtis in 24, and as Six in the unfairly cancelled Dark Matter. A few other shows that he has been in: The X-Files in multiple roles (including one in its most recent season), Star Trek: Enterprise, Sliders, Fringe, Chuck, Arrow, The 100 and many many more. If you love TV, chances are you’ve seen him more than once.

Quotes

Daniel : This tastes like chicken.
Sam : So what’s wrong with it?
Daniel : It’s macaroni and cheese

Jack : Hey, how ya doing? You know, we’d love to stick around, but some brain-dead sycophant left my buddy out here to die- so we’re outta here.

Verdict

It’s lucky I know how good this show gets as these early standalone episodes haven’t done a lot for me so far. This one is no Emancipation, thankfully, and the premise is solid. It’s the execution leaves a lot to be desired. To add some positivity to the mix, the next one is much better!