The First Ones

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | Review

After Dr. Jackson is taken captive by an Unas while on an archaeological dig, the S.G.C. mounts a rescue operation -- but discovers a danger of their own.

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OUR RATING -
FAN RATING - 7.05 
EPISODE #408
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 08.18.00
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.22.01
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 2
WRITTEN BY: Peter DeLuise
DIRECTED BY: Peter DeLuise
GUEST STARS:

Dion Johnstone (Chaka), Jason Schombing (Dr. Robert Rothman), Vincent Hammond, Gary Jones (Technician), Barry Levy, Steve Bacic (Major Coburn), Russell Ferrier (Captain Griff), Rob Lee (Pierce)

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Dr. Daniel Jackson has spent the last three weeks on an archaeological dig with SG-11. He and his colleague, Dr. Robert Rothman, study artifacts uncovered on an ancient world, and they conclude that the planet — P3X-888 — was likely the original homeworld of the Goa’uld parasites. The symbiotes they uncover have been fossilized for hundreds of thousands of years.

But all is not dead on this world. A large creature rushes from the woods nearby, killing one man and wounding several others. He renders Daniel unconscious, and drags him off into the woods.

Hours later, Rothman makes it back to the Stargate and returns to Earth, where he reports the attack. With General Hammond’s permission, Colonel Jack O’Neill and the rest of SG-1 mount a rescue operation to find their comrade. SG-2, led by Major Coburn, accompanies them.

Daniel awakens and finds himself bound by the creature: a primitive Unas. Though he fears he is about to become the evening meal, Daniel tries to communicate with the creature. He does not seem to speak any intelligible language — though he does engage in a ritual chant. Daniel theorizes by his appearance — less pronounced chin and facial bones — that this Unas is a subspecies of the Unas previously encountered by SG-1 (“Thor’s Hammer,” “Demons”), and perhaps a juvenile.

With Coburn’s men guarding the Stargate, SG-1 and additional men from the S.G.C. trek the three hours to the dig site where Daniel was taken. With Teal’c tracking the Unas, they proceed — but are unable to contact SG-11 by radio.

Daniel continues to try and communicate with his captor, and learns that his name is (probably) Chaka. The beast is startled to hear Jackson say his own name. Eventually, they stop to rest. Daniel takes a drink of water from a lake, and the Unas sets down the rope by which he has Daniel. Jackson sees the opportunity and runs.

Chaka catches up to him soon, and Daniel flees from him into the lake’s cold waters. His hands bound, he carefully swims across — but Chaka runs around and is waiting for him on the other side. Jackson stands up in the water, looking for a way out — and sees a creature swimming quickly toward him. He flees toward Chaka, who saves his life by grasping the Goa’uld symbiote as it leaps from the waters at Daniel. Chaka kills the creature, and marks Daniel’s face with its blood.

Though Jackson and Rothman had believed the Goa’uld to have left this world many thousands of years ago, he now sees that the parasites still thrive in the primordial waters of this world.

O’Neill’s men find Major Hawkins, commander of SG-11, just staring off into space. He seems to be in shock at what has happened, and at the terrible tragedy that his men are dead. He joins their ranks in searching for Daniel.

Jackson, meanwhile, has been taken into a cave by the Unas. Chaka roasts the Goa’uld head on a stick, and gives it to Daniel to eat. Daniel refuses, and the two engage in a game of “toss the symbiote head” as Chaka insists that he eat. Finally, Jackson takes food from his vest pocket and offers it to Chaka. The two are beginning to establish a relationship.

Teal’c discovers the lake teeming with Goa’uld parasites, and realizes that anyone among them may have been taken as a host. He explains this to O’Neill, insisting that all of them put down their weapons. O’Neill orders the team to do so.

O’Neill binds the hands and feet of everyone present, and then Teal’c binds his. Teal’c is the only one they can be certain was not taken by a Goa’uld, since a symbiote cannot blend with a Jaffa (he already has a larval symbiote within him). Teal’c leaves them, intending to find and rescue Daniel on his own.

Hawkins soon breaks his bonds — he has been taken as a Goa’uld host, and thus possesses exceptional strength. He picks up a weapon and moves to shoot Colonel O’Neill — but receives two blasts in the back from Teal’c’s staff weapon. Teal’c had been watching, knowing that anyone possessed by a symbiote would be able to free himself.

Teal’c frees O’Neill, Major Carter and the others — but finds one more Goa’uld among them. Dr. Rothman has also managed to free himself, and he overpowers Teal’c and shoots Captain Griff with the staff weapon. O’Neill riddles Rothman with bullets, killing him.

In the cave, Daniel has examined pictographs drawn on the cave wall. He understands now that he is not simply the evening meal; Chaka is a young warrior going through a tribal rite of passage. To prove himself as an adult warrior, he must capture a beast (in this case, Daniel), bring him back to the tribe, and kill him.

Chaka pins Jackson to the wall and scrapes his face, spreading his blood on the cave wall. Daniel recognizes that he has been marked for death.

The group proceeds on and locates Daniel, as Chaka brings him before the leader of his tribe. But with O’Neill and Carter’s weapons trained on the Unas, Daniel tells them not to shoot. Chaka, he believes, is pleading with the tribe’s alpha male for his life. He does not wish to kill Daniel, but to bring him into his clan. The two have become friends through their experiences.

The alpha male finally refuses, and rushes at Daniel. O’Neill and Carter shoot him — which slows him down, but does not stop him. Chaka attacks the alpha male, though, beating him to death. The others in the tribe look on, and recognize Chaka as the new alpha male.

He invites Daniel to stay with them, but he must decline.

ANALYSIS

  • Jackson and Rothman discovered multiple fossilized Goa’uld in their three weeks and five dig sites on P3X-888. One was physically different, which they believed to have been a queen. The two named the fossils Cleo (after Cleopatra), Julius (after Julius Caesar) and Brutus (after Caesar’s friend and assassin).
  • The Goa’uld present on P3X-888 (believed to be the original homeworld of the Goa’uld) did not contain naquadah (the powerful mineral on which all Goa’uld technology — and even the Stargate — is based) in their make-up — unlike every modern Goa’uld the S.G.C. has encountered. It is the presence of naquadah that allows Goa’uld to sense the presence of other Goa’uld in a host, and to use naquadah-based Goa’uld technology.

    Naquadah is also present in Major Carter’s system because of her blending with the Tok’ra Jolinar of Malkshur (“In the Line of Duty”), and allows her the same abilities (“Need,” “Thor’s Chariot”).

    Although it has not been explicitly stated before that the Goa’uld actually have naquadah in their systems, it was implied by General Trofsky (who spoke of Carter having naquadah in her system, and thus able to sense the presence of a Goa’uld) in “Out of Mind.”

  • Water is, indeed, a Goa’uld symbiote’s natural environment. This was pointed out by Major Carter a year ago (“Demons”).
  • The officer killed by the Unas while defending Dr. Jackson was named Loder, after writer/director Peter DeLuise’s girlfriend. Anne Marie Loder guest starred as Farrell, Alar’s second-in-command, in Season Four’s “The Other Side.”
  • Why are there still under-evolved Unas and Goa’uld on P3X-888? It seems logical that both species would continue to exist on the world after some left the planet through the Stargate — two entire races wouldn’t all leave the planet forever. But as the Unas learned to defend themselves from the Goa’uld (hiding in caves, wearing bone necklaces to guard their necks, and keeping their distance from the waters), the Goa’uld would have been kept in the water — and thus limited in their development.

    The Unas, though, were obviously not all taken over by the Goa’uld. It seems strange that they would not have evolved beyond this point in hundreds of thousands of years — unlessall Unas were taken off the planet by the Goa’uld in centuries past, and these Unas evolved up from a lower state (just as their Goa’uld-possessed ancestors had).

  • O’Neill and Teal’c both accidentally addressed Major Coburn as “sergeant” — O’Neill when telling him to guard the Stargate, and Teal’c when radioing him later.
  • “I met my father-in-law like this,” Daniel told Chaka as the two shared his food. He refers, of course, to giving Kasuf a “5th Avenue” candy bar in “Stargate” the Movie.
  • Someone may be infected by a primordial Goa’uld, and Carter (and other Goa’uld) would not be able to sense it. This adds a grave new danger to the Goa’uld threat, especially if they learn of this and enlist the service of those Goa’uld without naquadah in their make-up.
  • Are there still any of the first generation of Goa’uld living — those who were born on this planet, and do not have naquadah in their systems? Likely not, considering the vast amount of time that has passed since the Goa’uld first left this world (probably hundreds of thousands of years).
  • Dion Johnstone, who plays the Unas Chaka, played Captain Nelson in “Forever in a Day” and an alien invader in “Foothold.” Vincent Hammond (who guest stars in this episode), as a matter of fact, played the original Unas in “Thor’s Hammer.”

NOTES

  • The structure of the fossilized Goa’uld queen appears to indicate that the creature was predatory, not parasitical (as Goa’uld now are). Daniel believes this confirms his theory that the Goa’uld evolved in the prehistoric oceans of this world for millions of years before ever taking hosts.
  • Daniel believes that all Goa’uld originate from the primordial waters of P3X-888. The creatures first took the local Unas as hosts, and determined how to operate the Stargate.From there, they spread throughout the galaxy.
  • Some Goa’uld on P3X-888 apparently evolved to have wings.
  • The parasite shot by Teal’c was apparently cannibalized by other Goa’uld in the lake — a behavior not seen before amongst the Goa’uld.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Daniel JacksonDaniel Jackson – In spite of being kidnapped by an Unas and threatened with ritual sacrifice, Daniel established a report with his captor and even built a friendship. Chaka invited him to join his clan, but Jackson declined.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Was this really the world on which the Goa’uld and the Unas originated? Why was there a Stargate there? How did the Goa’uld learn to use it and escape the planet?
  • Why did the Unas apparently not evolve significantly over hundreds of thousands of years? Did their cohabitation with the Goa’uld in some way stunt their development?
  • Was Daniel’s interpretation of Chaka’s language and rituals correct?
  • When was Dr. Rothman infected with a Goa’uld? Though Hawkins was noticeably different, Rothman did not in any way act out of the ordinary while searching for Daniel with SG-1.
  • How was the rest of SG-11 killed?
  • Are there any more Goa’uld hiding amongst the ranks of SG-11, SG-2 or SG-1?
  • Will Daniel return to his new friend one day?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • Writer/director Peter DeLuise notes: “My inspiration for ‘The First Ones’ came from the films Enemy Mine, Robinson Crusoe and Iceman.”
  • Loder, the first soldier killed by the Unas Chaka, was named after writer/director Peter DeLuise’s fiance Anne Marie Loder. She previously appeared on Stargate herself, playing the Eurondan officer Farrell in Season Four’s “The Other Side.”
  • “Peter DeLuise kicks off his writers’ room stint in fine style with this episode, the first in a string of Unas episodes. Peter’s office was located across the hall from mine and, whenever someone would bring their kid to the production office, they would invariably stop to visit with Peter who had a whole routine for the lucky little guests, an act that always started with ‘Pull my finger’ and always ended with an imitation of Barney the Dinosaur. It goes without saying, the kids loved him and stopping by his office was always the high point of any tour. Until years later when I decorated my office with cool super villain-themed statues.” (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)