Visit GateWorld every Friday for a new installment of the Friday Five, a countdown of our favorite episodes, characters, technology and more from 15 years of Stargate history! Use trackbacks to post your own Friday Five for this week’s topic on your blog, or post a comment below to let us know how your picks compare.
This Week: Best Character Intros
One of the great challenges for any writer is to introduce the audience to a new character … especially when he or she is going to be a main character on the show. That’s what we are looking at this week: Our five favorite character introductions from Stargate. To keep things manageable, we’re keeping this list limited to just the main characters from SG-1 and Atlantis. There are plenty of great entrances for supporting players, but that list is for another time. We’re also limiting it to the first time they appeared on screen, not a “reintroduction” later on.
Thanks to Candace for suggesting this week’s Friday Five! If you have an idea for a future installment, pass it on.
SG-1 Season Five’s “48 Hours”
The “great” Dr. McKay had a great entrance on the show in large part because he was a one-off guest character in “48 Hours,” years before he joined the Atlantis expedition. A malfunction has trapped Teal’c in the Stargate’s systems, and N.I.D. Agent Frank Simmons brings the brilliant McKay to Stargate Command to work on the problem … or, more accurately, to push his agenda. The prickly an obnoxious scientist insults Sam (“I’ve always had a thing for dumb blondes”) and nearly kills Teal’c before the day is over.
Because he was working for Simmons and had already decided that there was no way to save Teal’c, we decided up-front that McKay wasn’t just a jerk — he was a bad guy. (He wouldn’t begin to be redeemed until his return in “Redemption.”) It was a great introduction to one of Atlantis‘s best characters.
Atlantis Season One’s “Rising”
Stuck at the ass-end of nowhere, Major Sheppard is a helicopter pilot ferrying officers around at McMurdo Air Force Base in Antarctica (probably because he defied orders to do what he believed was right, going behind enemy lines on a rescue mission). One of those officers is General Jack O’Neill, who pays a visit to the international research facility at the newly-discovered Ancient outpost. But they find themselves targeted by a drone weapon gone awry, and Sheppard must use his skills to dodge the advanced weapon and keep the General safe.
When they land, Sheppard is introduced to a world he didn’t know existed — and drafted to the Atlantis expedition when it is learned that he possesses the gene required to operate Ancient technology. It’s the classic story of the everyman being pulled out of his ordinary life and sent on a grand adventure.
SG-1 Season One’s “Children of the Gods”
When you watch the 2-hour premiere of Stargate SG-1, you’ll quickly recognize that Teal’c’s part in that story is small. He shows up at the very end, turning on his fellow Jaffa and helping the team and the Abydonians escape from Apophis’s dungeon. But what an entrance it is! This big, butch alien warrior turns his intimidating staff weapon on Jack O’Neill — but Jack senses something in the man who would become his friend. “I can save these people!” he yells at Teal’c. “Help me.”
We all know the rest: “Many have said that — but you are the first I believe can do it!” Teal’c has been waiting for a chance like this for years (as revealed later in “Threshold”), and in a single act he turns his life, his family, and the Jaffa’s relationship with their slave-masters upside down. Bravo.
Atlantis Season Two’s “Runner”
When the writers wanted to introduce a new element to Sheppard’s team, they decided that he had to be dangerous — an unknown quantity who wasn’t just a warrior and a Pegasus Galaxy native, but a rogue who has only had to look out for himself for years, and who may not always follow orders. And so when the team headed off-world to track the missing (and also now rogue) Aiden Ford, John and Teyla were captured by Specialist Ronon Dex — a Satedan who has been hunted by the Wraith for some seven years, since his planet was obliterated by the Wraith.
Ronon’s intro is cool for a lot of reasons. Like McKay, he started out as an antagonist (and one who could decide to kill you at any moment). He has two of our teammates at his mercy, but finally concedes to allowing Dr. Beckett to remove his tracking implant (a little “Androcles and the Lion” for you). There’s also that awesome fight between Ronon and Lt. Ford, which recently made our list of Ronon’s top five fights.
SG-1 Season Eight’s “Prometheus Unbound”
Also like Rodney, Vala was introduced long before the writers thought about making her a series regular. Daniel is on board the Earth ship Prometheus, finally released to visit the lost city of Atlantis for the first time. But en route, the ship is hijacked and the crew transported off by a tall and forboding Kull warrior. Only Daniel remains hidden on the ship, and when he goes to take on the vicious creature … he discovers that it’s not really a Kull but a beautiful woman underneath that armor!
Vala showed herself to be a thief and a con artist from the first moment — but also a person with a sense of humor, adventure, and always in the mood for love (at least when it comes to Daniel). Dr. Jackson managed to sum her up nicely: “You’re a fruitcake!”
NEXT WEEK ON THE FIVE: The Best of Bra’tac. Blog about your five favorite episodes next Friday, and trackback to our post!