Episode: Season 1, Episode 1 (two-parter)
Title: "Children of the Gods"
Previous: Stargate (movie)
Next: "The Enemy Within"
A grim room at a military installation, no doubt an Elaborate Underground Base. Five soldiers are playing cards near something big and round, which is covered. It zooms in... Okay, one of them is bound to be female — after all, this is a clear setup for a Five-Man Band, and the token female is The Chick. And look, this is exactly so! But don't get attached to this group: they'll all be dead by the end of the episode.
The sole female is bothered by strange sounds coming from the Big Round Thing, but since we can't have them rush to the phone immediately, everyone dismisses this: It's Probably Nothing. They're quickly proven wrong when the tarpaulin cover flies away, revealing that the Big Round Thing is, in fact, the Stargate from the movie. Except... since when do the glyphs protrude from the Stargate instead of being engraved into it? A Wizard Did It, probably.
(And if your reaction is "Wait, there was a movie?", go read Adaptation Displacement.)
The Stargate opens. One of the soldiers, in a sudden moment of lucidity, rushes to the phone — and drops its without calling after looking at the Stock Footage of the funnel. You call this the battle-hardy United States military?
What emerges from the other side? A superweapon? A technological marvel? Energy Beings? Well, there's a ball... followed by a bunch of people in low-budget suits of armor with snake masks. It seems more goofy than menacing. Their leader, denoted by his golden armor, grabs the Token Female and hands her to his second-in-command, a bald black guy with a golden snake on his forehead (seen after they reveal their faces for some reason).
The other soldiers fire without even bothering to take cover, while the snake-people just stand there, not taking cover either, and some don't even bother to fire back. Of course, all the soldiers are killed, losers. With the exception of the now-Damsel in Distress.
The door to the gate room opens, and reinforcements come in, followed by Captain Pic— I mean, General Hammond. Same thing. The leader's eyes sport a CGI glow, and he lowers his mask and casually departs through the open Stargate. Let me reiterate: He. Leaves. Through. The. Fricking. Stargate. What ever happened to them being one-way? Even if he redialled it, how? He didn't exactly have access to the dialing computer. After all of them leave, the Stargate frivolously decides not to let the soldiers follow them through and automagically closes.
Following Bellisario's Maxim and ignoring the strange miracle that caused Villain: Exit, Stage Left, we get to the opening. Since this is the pilot and any footage would be spoilerific, they just recycled the movie opening with new names overlaid — among them Christopher Judge, playing the Token Black Second-in-Command, so it's spoileriffic anyway. Wait until they reuse this opening for seasons 4-5, cheapos.
Anyway, it's time to move from Red Shirts to introducing the heroes — or rather, scrapping them from the movie and throwing immediately into action, introduction is for sissies! Major Davis drives all the way to Colonel O'Neill's house to pick him up. Yes, that's two L's, not one — the one played by Kurt Russell had no sense of humor, but he's the same person, Take Our Word for It. Note his sheer badass attitude, he's clearly being set up as a Standard Hollywood Action Hero.
He arrives at Creek Mountain, which has since morphed into Cheyenne Mountain (A Wizard Did It). He meets General Hammond, and they engage in lengthy exposition about Abydos and the previous mission, which doesn't make sense anyway for those who didn't see the movie, and is redundant for those who did. Well, we do need some Padding to stretch this into a two-parter! Hammond quickly prepares to Shoot the Dog, or, rather, bomb five thousand dogs just because he believes the Big Bad is Ra and he came from Abydos. He doesn't reconsider even after O'Neill spills the beans about falsifying his report, something that should have immediately got him court-martialed... but don't worry, he has Ultimate Job Security.
Eventually, Hammond reconsiders, and from this point onward, his resilience will continue to diminish until he's a complete doormat. Yes, he's a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant. O'Neill, being the loonie he is, grabs a box of tissues instead of agreeing to send a probe, and goes to the gate room to toss it through the Stargate while the Living Prop Walter is announcing Engaging Chevrons.
Chevron one encoded!
Chevron two encoded!
Chevron three encoded!
Chevron four encoded!
Chevron five encoded!
CHEVRON SIX ENCODED!
CHEVRON SEVEN LOCKED!!!
Yes, the audience was particularly unlucky this time. Note recycled footage of the dialing computer from the movie. O'Neill casually throws the pack in, and they once again track it by radio, like in the movie... That's a textbook example of Hollywood Science. No, seriously: this is the example of Hollywood Science in its entry!
They wait. Daniel (still off screen) sends them the box back, now empty, with the words "Thanks, send more". How he got the means to write it on Abydos is a mystery. A briefing is held, consisting of Hammond, O'Neill, Davis, and several extras you will never see again, who nevertheless make things confusing. Samantha Carter appears, delivers the reproductive organs speech, and is forcibly shoved into the party. O'Neill is The Hero (that's why he wears that badass leather jacket), who's Carter — The Chick? Wrong! The Smart Guy. Even though she is Anviliciously appointed as the token female of the group.
O'Neill, Carter, Kawalsky (for character introduction, refer to the movie... actually, wait, he wasn't properly introduced in the movie either) and some non-notable-yet-confusing red shirts travel through the Stargate to Abydos. Yes, the Abydos Stargate has been moved for some reason, and don't ask how it fit into that small doorway behind it. A Wizard Did It. Daniel appears, followed by his arbitrarily renamed wife, and Skaara — of course, this touching scene makes absolutely no sense without the movie, but let's ignore that. By the way, who do you think Daniel is? The Smart Guy? Well, yes, sort of... but more of The Lancer.
Carter notices the DHD, which could be assumed to have been off screen in the movie... if Daniel didn't mention right away that he unearthed it after the original team left in the movie. Great Oneshot Revisionism, genius. How did they dial Earth in the movie, then? A Wizard Did It?
The huge crowd that has assembled in the Abydos gate room is having fun, but its hugeness makes it almost impossible to relate to any distinct characters. Eventually, Daniel leads O'Neill and Carter away from the pyramid to show them the cartouche of Stargate addresses, leaving the redshirts to guard the Stargate — an astonishing example of Genre Blindness.
While Daniel and Carter answer the inevitable question of "Why didn't he use these addresses right away?" with technobabble that will be invalidated later in the series (specifically in "Avenger 2.0"), thus failing to address the point, the inevitable happens and the Stargate activates. The Faceless Goons come through, wreak havoc, take Skaara and Sha're and leave — except now, their leader with Glowing Eyes of Doom explicitly redials the DHD from this side. Progress! Somehow Ferretti manages to lift his upper body without anyone noticing, see the leader dialing and even discern the glyphs. What's someone with photographic memory doing as an unimportant military grunt?
As usual, the Big Damn Heroes arrive just too late. Daniel vows to bring back Sha're, although it's a bit hard to sympathize with him when we have seen her for, what, five minutes? (Never mind the movie.) But still, it's a better motivation than "The enemies razed my Doomed Hometown, I seek revenge", like in many a Tabletop Games.
Back at the Cheyenne Mountain base, the Stargate activates, and the team returns. "Close the iris!" orders Hammond. Note the subtlety with which this crucial and iconic new element is introduced.
In a fortress on the Big Bad's planet, he proves just how bad he is by gloating over the prisoners. Meanwhile, Daniel delivers some angst to O'Neill. Still meanwhile, in the Big Bad's fortress (okay, these are really rapid cuts) the guards, now unmasked, take the Token Female captured in part one. Amusingly, she thinks that proclaiming she's an Air Force officer will help the situation. It doesn't. She is undressed (Fanservice!) as the Big Bad passes by with a close-up of his head and golden cap, which is so ridiculously low-budget you can see the glue. A well-dressed woman approaches; her stomach is cut in an X-like pattern (Squick); a snake emerges out of it and screeches (more Squick!.. also... how does it fit?), and the woman walks away. The Big Bad then kills the Token Female with his hand device (and we never hear of her again), which is followed by a suspicious close up on the concerned second-in-command's face...
Another briefing. Everyone is in shiny Air Force uniforms, except for Daniel, who has to do with an ugly brown jacket. Hammond announces that the President has created Stargate Command and nine SG teams, and the one with number one will consist of O'Neill, Carter and Daniel (at his request... Hammond is beginning to show his pushover-ness). Then they go to the infirmary, where Janet Fraiser notably does not appear (until "The Broca Divide"). Ferretti, half-unconscious and having a patch over one eye, types the complete address, including the point of origin for Abydos, no doubt specifically pre-programmed into the laptop (of course, with Viewer-Friendly Interface) just for this one occasion. The symbols are present on the Earth Stargate, which contradicts the movie... but you know the drill now.
SG-1 and SG-2 depart to Chulak, which is, for a change, a forest planet, not a desert planet. Although "for a change" should really be in sarcastic quotes, because most other planets in Stargate SG-1 are forest planets. Despite everyone knowing that one should Never Split The Party, they split anyway.
The natives invite SG-1 into a Greco-Roman-style house, to a table with exotic foods. Soon, the Big Bad enters. "Oh, hi, I'm the Big Bad. This is my new queen." It's Sha're. Daniel rushes to her despite her Glowing Eyes of Doom, and gets promptly thrown across the room by the Big Bad's hand device. Feh. Total Party Knockout.
[Earlier on, Mrs. Jackson was of course Goa'ulded. She ended up starkers too, but we see everything. Seriously, full-frontal. This is something the production team have stated they regretted and has been cut from later re-runs. It, however, remains intact on the UK DVD boxset, single-handedly giving it an 18 rating]
Back at the SGC, nothing interesting happens. Back on Chulak, SG-1 find themselves among the prisoners; Skaara is also there. The Second-in-Command notices O'Neill's pocket watch and asks where they came from, and Daniel draws the Sun-over-Pyramid on the sand, as if the Jaffa were somehow expected to remember all points of origin, especially for obscure long-forgotten planets. The guard crosses the drawing with his staff weapon and steps away.
Back at SG-2's camp (how come it wasn't attacked this whole time?), nothing interesting happens. Back in the prisoner room, the Big Bad enters again, and Daniel recognizes him as Apophis, the Egyptian god of the underworld and the archenemy of Ra. Sha're is beside him, and Daniel tries to approach her once again (some people never learn), but is held by O'Neill and Carter. Eventually, Daniel snaps, SG-1 is surrounded, and Skaara, whose sympathy for Daniel is noticed, is dragged away, giving Apophis yet another opportunity to Kick the Dog. Now it's O'Neill who snaps. Apophis orders the guards to execute the rest and leaves. As they approach SG-1, staff weapons drawn, O'Neill shouts in desperation to the Second-in-Command...
"I can save these people!"
Inexplicably, this helps (it makes sense, I promise... just wait until season 5), and the Second-in-Command promptly fires at the other guards, throws O'Neill a staff weapon, and together, they deal with the rest. O'Neill blows a hole in a wall and evacuates the prisoners, signaling the Second-in-Command to follow; the latter reveals his name: Teal'c. The Big Guy. Now, don't expect The Chick to show up, it won't happen: they're a four person team. Well, until season 10, which doesn't exist anyway).
Back at the SGC, Hammond decides not to prematurely close the Stargate and instead give the SG teams their full time. As if anything else was expected.
Back on Chulak, the crowd heads to the Stargate, and Teal'c provides some exposition on the Jaffa and shows the larval Goa'uld in his stomach (Squick!). Meanwhile, Apophis and his cohort arrive to the Stargate by ship (isn't it a little too big for a glider?); a glider (the same one or not?) spots the crowd and begins shooting at them. Since this is the pilot, SG-1 have Contractual Immortality, and only redshirts are hit. O'Neill and Teal'c try to bring it down with staff weapons, unsuccessfully, but then one of SG-2 takes it down with an RPG.
Apophis and Sha're see this just as they prepare to go through the Stargate, and... go through it as if nothing happened. What was the point of this scene?
The two teams unite and make a final push for the Stargate. Just as Skaara prepares to go through it, O'Neill, trading his military training for Plot-Induced Stupidity, tries to follow him through. Skaara grins, sports the Glowing Eyes of Doom (as O'Neill just stands there watching) and throws him back. And comes through. And the Stargate, once again, automagically closes.
They spot Jaffa approaching in their general direction. Daniel begins to dial (for some reason, he needs a paper with the address — didn't he dial Earth twice before?). Back at the SGC, Hammond reluctantly agrees to permanently close the Stargate, but just as Major Samuels goes down to give the order, the Stargate activates. Carter goes through, waving her arms to prevent the SGC guards from shooting the refugees on sight.
The battle continues, with the Jaffa suddenly becoming much more vulnerable to gunfire than they were in part one. One of the refugees strangles a Jaffa, which was officially the stupidest thing to do: his Goa'uld symbiote jumps out of his stomach and into Kawalsky's neck. As the last group goes through, Carter orders to close the iris; the Jaffa who followed them through the Stargate are presumably blasted to atoms.
The refugees and soldiers alike rejoice, hugging each other. O'Neill insists on Teal'c's inclusion into SG-1 for some reason unjustified by the plot, albeit justified by TV team composition guidelines. Hammond, of course, says that the decision is not his to make, and for a good reason: we still need one episode in which Teal'c can Prove Himself Worthy. The opportunity quickly presents itself: as Kawalsky walks away from the Stargate, his eyes glow...
Alas, poor Kawalsky. We hardly knew ye.
Although the security cameras really should have caught this.
"Children of the Gods" provides examples of the following tropes:
- Binary Suns: Chulak has two suns.
- Discriminate and Switch: O'Neill doesn't have a problem with Carter because she's a woman; he has a problem with her because she's a scientist.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Of the Jaffa killed and kept for study by the humans at the beginning of the episode, one was shown to have a gold forehead brand while another was female. Later episodes would establish that the golden tattoo is worn by First Primes only, while Jaffa culture rarely permits women to join the military.
- Gate travel is shown to cause freezing and, in Carter's case, vomiting, a side-effect that was dropped in subsequent episodes. (As the Stargate travel sequence is also contracted after this, the side effects and longer sequence may just be a result of trying to travel before the Abydos cartouche could be used to compensate for stellar drift; notably, they do reappear in "The Fifth Race" and "Red Sky" which involve unusually difficult Gate transits).
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Carter going toe-to-toe with O'Neill and Kawalsky in the briefing room.
- Teal'c turning his weapon on his fellow Mooks and joining the heroes.
- Everyone Meets Everyone: The premise for much of the episode, though several of the characters had already met in the original movie.
- Fan Disservice: The nude scenes are not meant to be sexy.
- I Fight for the Strongest Side: Teal'c already wanted to turn against his masters, but was too prudent to actually do so until got the chance to join a group that actually had a decent chance to defeat them.
- MookFace Turn: Teal'c.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Daniel unearthing the Stargate on Abydos is what ultimately leads to Sha're and Skaara being taken as hosts.
- Nipple and Dimed: Controversially averted in the original airing, which featured full-frontal female nudity in the scene when Sha're is implanted with a Goa'uld symbiote. Reportedly, the producers never wanted to show nudity, but it was forced on them by Executive Meddling from Showtime. The scene is typically cut or censored in syndication. It was included intact for the series DVD release, but it was reedited to remove the visible nudity for the "final cut" DVD release. Additionally, any nudity in subsequent episodes received the customary Scenery Censor treatment, so this scene is also an example of Early Installment Weirdness. Also, the dress the captured airwoman is put in is sheer enough to see her nipples fairly clearly, though when she's actually stripped the camera angles don't show anything.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Kawalsky intends to disobey a direct order from Hammond to go back for O'Neill and his team should they get into trouble. Which they inevitably do.
- Samus Is a Girl: There's a brief moment of confusion shortly before Carter is introduced wherein O'Neill assumes she will be male due to her Tomboyish Name.O'Neill: Where's he transferring from?Carter: She is transferring from the Pentagon.
- Something Only They Would Say: O'Neill sends a tissue box through the stargate so that if Daniel is still alive, he will know it came from him. Likewise, Daniel sends it back with a note that simply reads "Thanks, send more".
- Stock Footage: A good amount of footage from the movie is reused for the pilot, including the wormhole effect, the surface of Abydos, some close-up shots of the Death Gliders, and a few quick insert shots during the activating of the Stargate. Additionally, the film's musical score is reused rather liberally. Conversely, the pilot's original footage of the Stargate activating becomes oft-used stock footage in later episodes.
- "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: Jack answers Hammond's question regarding whether he could beat Apophis' Jaffa in combat in a reasonably confident tone of voice, but by this point Air Force personnel have been torn up pretty badly by the Jaffa both times they've met them so you can understand Hammond not sharing Jack's confidence.Hammond: Colonel, you've had the most experience in fighting this hostile. Assuming you have to defend yourself in the field, are you up to it?
Jack: We beat 'em once.
Hammond: I'll take that as a "maybe".