The First Ones

Review

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.

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
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By Debra Kraft

It felt good to be on a new planet again, away from the hustle and bustle of the S.G.C. and the intrigues of the Tok'ra. And what an interesting new planet it was: the original home of both the Goa'uld and the Unas.

I enjoyed this excursion into new territory, and once again was thoroughly impressed with Stargate SG-1's special effects and story-telling artistry. Although one plot thread within "The First Ones" was a little too vague and understated for my tastes, the chief storyline, Daniel's captivity, was beautifully handled.

I found it intriguing, and not at all out of character, to see Dr. Daniel Jackson more interested in learning about his captor than frightened by it. Of course, with knowledge comes power, and surely that would have been Daniel's principle motivation to continue attempting a dialog -- even recording objective notes -- rather than taking any and every opportunity to escape.

Yet, ironically, Daniel seemed to hold far more animosity against the Russian scientist in last week's "Watergate" than he did against this scaly, sharp-clawed, pointy-toothed creature that dragged him across untold miles intending to serve him up for dinner. I can't help but wonder that he felt a greater degree of mortality in a confining, mini-sub in the depths of a strange, water-world than he did at the hands of a young, powerful Unas on good old terra firma.

Perhaps he was encouraged by the Unas' reactions. After the initial blow that brought Daniel into its possession, it made no further attempts to harm him. It growled. It threatened. It yanked on the ropes binding Daniel's wrists. But during their trek toward the caves it did not strike him. In fact, it even saved his life from an eager Goa'uld.

As a character study, "The First Ones" was a marvelous piece of work. This story would have been completely different if Jack O'Neill had been the captive, rather than Daniel Jackson. I would not expect Jack to do so much talking; and given the nature and the strength of the Unas, the continuous struggles that I would have expected from Jack would surely have resulted in the young Unas completing the intended ritual without trepidation. As it was,however, the Unas came to respect Daniel, so much so that the ritual lost importance.

The aboriginal Unas on this planet had long ago learned to protect themselves from Goa'uld possession, and had thus evolved along a path different from that of the more demonic Unas we've seen in past episodes. Through those previous glimpses, it seemed apparent that the Unas were nothing more than monsters, the likes of which children expect to find in their closets at night. But after seeing "The First Ones," I can no longer hold such a firm opinion.

While clearly a primitive, tribal species, these aboriginal Unas exhibited the ability to learn, and by learning, to grow. And, of course, it was our culturally obsessed Dr. Daniel Jackson who provided them with their first lesson.

Through some pretty phenomenal special effects, this young Unas really came to life for me, especially when the creature began its chanting and meditation. Its eyes, mouth, and tongue were all acceptable as the real thing. But the way it breathed, nostrils pulling in and flaring out, neck and throat swallowing air and billowing out, even the huffing, grunting sound associated with these actions was really quite extraordinary.

The fossilized remains of ancient Goa'uld were also impressive. The swimming Goa'uld in the water were believable. Even the single, mature Goa'uld which flew out of the water behind Teal'c appeared tremendously realistic. Yet I was most impressed with Daniel's captor.

The story of SG-11, however, did not impress me. There appeared to be a void in that plot thread, a black hole of obscure, or not particularly believable information. What happened to that team? Well, one team member was killed the moment before the Unas grabbed Daniel. The others went straight into search and rescue mode. Only two survived: Rothman and Hawkins, both of whom became possessed by Goa'uld.

We're told that SG-11 was attacked. Yet there was no evidence of other Unas outside of the caves, and surely Daniel's captor was not shown to take time out for battle. Presumably, then, the attack was by a "school" of Goa'uld. Why then were not more team members possessed? Or were they in turn killed by Rothman and Hawkins?

While holes like this can be made to work in a story, I don't think this story warranted them. There was enough going on with Daniel and the Unas. Unless this other Goa'uld thread is picked up in a later episode, it served only one purpose as I see it: this thread explained the demise of Dr. Rothman.

Rothman's death was a surprise in itself, but may have been accomplished by a variety of means. Even remaining with the theme of the Goa'uld possession might have worked if it had been better handled. Unfortunately, this portion of the episode was weak, and lessened the impact of the marvelously woven Unas thread.

Rating: * *