Stargate SG-1 Season 3 Review

Greetings intrepid sci-fi lovers! I hope you find yourself well this week!

In this article I will talk about my recent experience watching one of my all-time favorite TV shows: Stargate SG-1. Well, in the last two seasons we witnessed our heroes grow and progress. We also saw bigger and badder threats crop up.

What will happen next in Stargate SG-1 Season 3? Let’s jump in!

The fearless Major Carter shines in this season

The first two episodes are called “Into the Fire” and “Seth.” Our heroes overcome Hathor and O’Neill seemingly kills her. I thought this episode started to go ‘by the numbers’ with the ritualistic ‘be captured and then escape with a firefight.’ “Seth” wasn’t nearly as repetitive. In fact, the episode features a Goa’uld cult here on Earth. However, the show’s writers don’t want to reintroduce the idea of spawned Goa’uld infesting locals. So, we get a lone cult leader who finally gets shot in his flamboyant mansion. “A” for effort.

Episodes Ratings: 4.3 and 4.5

Our brave heroes embark on a more political adventure in episode three; “Fair Game.” The Asgard, our beloved Roswell aliens, return to earth and warn the SG team that the Goa’uld are preparing an attack on Earth and that the only recourse is to negotiate with the mad despots. Some dry O’Neill humor ensues before SG-1 uncover a plot by one of the Goa’uld leaders to assassinate the others.

Episode rating: 4.5

Dr. Daniel Jackson nearly loses his mind after an experience on another planet. His visions are correct but his behavior is so erratic that he ends up in a padded cell.

As if our heroes weren’t weirded out enough by the parasite symbioses and the Roswell alien clones they are then forced to see one of their own lose his mind. In the episode “Legacy” we see Daniel Jackson systematically crack. He is troubled by hallucinations and nightmares. It gets so bad he’s confined to a padded room where his friends visit him out of pity. I actually was beside myself with Michael Shanks’ performance. I knew he was telling the truth about the visions but I couldn’t help but scream “calm down or they’ll take you away!” For a character-driven episode, I think Daniel Jackson really shines here.

Episode rating: 4.8 stars

I was pleasantly surprised to find another Jack O’Neill-centric episode in “Learning Curve.” In this episode we witness the SG 1 team encounter super smart children from a society named Orban. While studying with them the team sadly learns that the children are only smart due to nanites. These nanites will eventually be removed from the children leaving them as comatose vegetables.

O’Neill, already having been recently reminded of the loss of his son takes this very personally. Here Dr. Jackson argues that this is the Orbanian way and that it is not Sg-1’s place to interfere. O’Neill counters him and steals away the little Orban girl. He introduces her to kids her age and lets her play. He does this knowing he is disobeying orders in order to give her a chance. While he is unable to prevent the ovarium he does cause the Orban people to be infused with childlike joy and a love for playing. He hopes this will change their society. I was really touched by this episode.

Episode rating: 4.9 stars

In the episode “Point of View” we are introduced to two characters from an alternate Earth. They came through the mirror in season one and one of the travelers is an alternate Samantha Carter.

I tend to enjoy the character-driven episodes the most. “Point of View” is just that. In this slick episode the writers play with the characters’ dynamics in a very sly way. For, up to this point we haven’t really hinted at a romance between Col. Jack O’Neill and Major Samantha Carter. So, how do the writers create this drama?

By inserting another alternate reality plot!

Our heroes meet an alternate Captain Kawalsky and an alternate Samantha Carter. It turns out they’ve arrived to ask for help from the invading Goa’ulds. Kawalsky is all business while the alternate Carter is emotionally distraught. She, contrary to the stern and taciturn Carter we know, is a grieving lover who laments the death of her beloved: Jack O’Neill. This arrival stirs our team’s feelings (especially O’Neill and Carter). O’Neill chooses to comfort her and learn all he can about her world’s Jack O’Neill.

Meanwhile both Carters work together and the team return to the alternate Earth. There, our heroes come up with a cunning strategy: contact their universe’s Asgard to stop the invasion. This works just in the nick of time! O’Neill bids the alternate Sam farewell with a goodbye kiss. This encounter leaves Major Carter questioning herself (it is likely she has developed feelings for O’Neill at this point).

Episode rating: 4.9 stars

The bounty hunter, who makes our heroes look like chumps, takes center stage in the episode “Deadman Switch”

The episode “Deadman Switch” takes a turn from the very emotional episode preceding. In this short story our heroes come across a seemingly peaceful planet where they are hunted down and captured by a muscle bound, calculating and smug bounty hunter. His weapons and traps are impossible to counter and he skillfully anticipates all their attempts to flee.

At this point I actually began to hate him. This foe made our heroes look like rank amateurs while rubbing his victory in their faces. He gleefully confesses to them he is hunting down a Tok’ra. After some back-and-forth the SG-1 team become his unwilling allies. They try to reason with him, and in an unforeseen twist Major Carter finds something he may actually bargain for.

I loved this episode. It was fun, it stuck to drama in outer space, and it introduced a new villain who didn’t need to be megalomaniacal or brutal to be a threat. In fact, by the end I had a little bit of admiration for the bounty hunter. He was presented with intelligence, resourcefulness, wit and an unusual amount of personality (so many SG-1 villains walk and talk like robots…).

Episode Rating: 4.7 stars

The next episode re-focuses on the origin of the Goa’uld. In “Demons” we see a primitive medieval people who fear a ‘devil’ nearby.

Our team tries and tries to reason with a primitive village. But all of this is to no avail. The locals fear them and their village leader even appears to have a deal with the Goa’uld. We see again that fear and superstition are just as powerful as any alien space ship.

Episode rating: 4.6 stars

A hologram of Apophis appears before his child soldiers and our heroes in the episode “Rules of Engagement”

I love this show so much! One of the reasons I love SG-1 this much is for their fun and creative storytelling. “Rules of Engagement” is just such an episode.

This fun ride begins with our team arriving on a planet populated by children dressed in uniforms of the U.S. military fighting other youth dressed as Jaffa. To their great confusion and bewilderment the team discovers these child soldiers are a regiment left behind by Apophis to infiltrate Earth.

I don’t even know where to begin with the amount of story elements at play. First, this episode shows us how despicable Apophis was that he recruited young boys to die for him. Secondly, Teal’c is the expert in this situation and comically acts as O’Neills superior. Thirdly, O’Neill shows his petty side (being offended by Teal’c’s actingn superior) and his caring side by continually attempting to persuade the boys to leave Apophis despite not understanding their culture or point of view. Overall, the optimism of this team; to sacrifice themselves and what they’ve worked for to save children that may or may not kill them is beyond admirable.

I loved this episode. This is one of the highlights of season 3.

Episode rating: 4.8 stars

In the episode “Forever in a Day” we get another stellar tale centered around Daniel Jackson. We begin with his former wife trying to kill him while under the control of her symbiote. Teal’c barges in and unloads his weapon on the Goa’uld Queen, killing her. He saves Daniel’s life but also earns his hatred. The rest of the episode is a strange journey through time with Daniel living out his life with Sha’re only to awaken to her trying to kill him again followed by her trying to warn him; she urges him to forgive Teal’c for killing her and also telling him of a rare phenomenon he must protect: the Harcesis.

This episode is an excellent venture into character building. We get to see the world through Daniel Jackson’s eyes when he’s not busy saving the world. We see multiple scenarios and how he’d react to them. In this vein we also sympathize with him and struggle with him: should he remain angry or be grateful?

Episode rating: 4.8 stars

Teal’c arrives just in time to confront Sha’re who is poised to kill Daniel Jackson. However, will he defend Daniel or spare the life of his possessed wife?

The show follows this episode by throwing our heroes into yet another humanitarian mission. “Past and Present”, which returns its focus onto Dr Daniel Jackson, asks the question: ‘can people really be redeemed?’

Normally, I’d complain about having two episodes focusing on the same SG member back to back. I’d state how the show should emphasize Teal’c or (even) Samantha Carter.

However, this time it works. Our heroes travel to a planet where the denizens are unable to remember their past. Ke’ra, a brilliant scientist can help restore their memories. Jackson works closely with this beautiful young woman before learning she is connected to a rogue villain: Linea. It turns out that the senile genocidal maniac is responsible for the dark plight of this world. The team objects to trusting her but Jackson sticks his neck out for her. Jackson remains the only person firm in his conviction to not make Ke’ra pay for her dangerous association.

This episode was intriguing and even moving. But, I felt that the human drama was undercut by the episode’s short length. This is yet another example of an episode that falls victim to short length. This is a fine episode, nonetheless.

Episode rating: 4.4 stars

The new Goa’uld overlord, Sokar, is the major obstacle in the episodes “Jolinar’s Memories” and “The Devil You Know”

The following two episodes are a two-parter based around the new villain Sokar. “Jolinar’s Memories” begins with Sam Carter having disturbing memories of Jolinar escaping Sokar’s prison, which she believes are vital to defeating the Goa’uld. Her memories are immediately in demand when her father, Jacob, is kidnapped and held there. With much preparation, the SG team embark on a rescue mission to save Jacob. Unfortunately, they are captured and their mission is foiled.

“The Devil You Know” is all about the SG team rallying the courage and wits to escape this colossal prison. They discover Apophis, previously thought to be dead, is a prisoner here and also wanting to escape. His face is scarred and he resorts to underhanded tactics to gain power. This is opposed to his overbearing confidence with which he previously challenged anyone and everyone without much fear. Instead, this scarred miscreant devilishly tempts the SG team with his help. He smiles at them with a certain sense of smug knowledge that they will defeat Sokar. To think! The series’ main antagonist needs their help and he actually believes in their resolve! That’s good storytelling! This two-parter is certainly flawed (rushed final escape and sometimes clunky dialogue) but it manages to tell an impressive story through character dynamics: their despise of Apophis while he smugly admits his faith in them! What genius character development! The supposed ‘god’ admits his fear and now turns to his enemies to help him, knowing there isn’t much choice.

Episodes rating: 4.4 and 4.5 stars

The episode “Foothold” starts off on a very different beginning. Our SG team doesn’t seem right and security on the base is pretty tight. Our team is put under by “Janet Fraiser” and Teal’c awakens to see personnel speaking an otherworldly gibberish. Teal’c awakens Carter but is restrained, giving her time to escape.

Carter turns to the team’s primary rival: Colonel Maybourne. He agrees to meet with her after she claims they have a “foothold” situation. She meets with him, flanked by Colonel O’Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson. The two assert that Carter is acting under paranoid delusion due to a chemical spill. Carter, infuriated, insults Maybourne for contacting them and they all ride in a plane together back to SGC. O’Neills image flickers and Carter pulls a gun, killing O’Neill and Major Paul Davis.

Whoa! I know she has a suspicion, but dang! The two are revealed to be alien impostors, but imagine if they were the real members of SGC! Dang, Carter!

Carter interrogates Dr. Jackson and removes a small camouflage device from him, isolating and revealing the invading alien. She decides to use the mimetic device and free her fellow officers. Madcap mayhem ensues, and our SG team is able to repel the invasion.

This episode was creative for its use of suspense, use of a villain as an ally (like the previous episode) and the inclusion of a new antagonist with no connection to the Goa’uld. Nice!

Episode rating: 4.6 stars

In the episode “Foothold” we see Major Samantha Carter team up with Colonel Harry Maybourne (a minor antagonist) to stop a stealthy invasion that has overrun the SGC. Maybourne actually shines here.

I admire season three for its heavy use of continuity. In this episode, “Pretense” we follow up with two storylines at once: Skaara (O’Neill’s friend) and the technologically advanced Tollan.

In this episode our team of heroes are summoned to the planet Tollan where they request aid in a court case: the rights of Skaara vs the rights of his symbiote Klorel. The SG team blatantly condemn Klorel and O’Neill clamors to have the symbiote removed. On the other side Goa’uld lords advocate the wishes of Klorel.

Meanwhile our SG team espy the Goa’uld scouting the planets defenses. O’Neill and company determine they will come under attack but the furiously neutral Tollan dismiss their concerns as petty slander against the Goa’uld. (This made me want to slap some Tollans). Our heroes win the day and Skaara earns his freedom, having the symbiote removed!

Episode rating: 4.7 stars

In the episode “Urgo” our team is implanted with a sentient and childishly curious AI that wishes to understand the concept of being alive. Whacky antics follow thereafter thanks to an excellent performance by actor Dom DeLuise.

When I watch SG-1 I want to be entertained, and that means I want to have a good laugh. The episode “Urgo” does just that.

“Urgo” is a curious and childlike AI that has entered the minds of SG-1 after a visit to P4X-884. This being, played by Dom DeLuise, is a funny middle aged man who wants to experience everything. His wacky antics cause every emotion from grave irritation in O’Neill to silent curiosity in Teal’c. Our heroes want him removed but after several attempts they realize he may remain with them forever. Before O’Neill can lose his mind, however, the team devise a way that might get their giddy AI to leave.

I loved this episode. The fact that this show could make the ‘villain’ of this episode a lost and curious middle aged man who just wants to play with our friends is a testament to how good the writers can be. I felt sorry for Urgo while also sympathizing with how annoying and invasive he was for our heroes. This episode is a shining example of this show’s creativity.

Episode rating: 4.8 stars

“A Hundred Days” is the seventeenth episode of season three and it features O’Neill being stranded on a planet with primitive folk following a meteor shower. Teal’c volunteers for a dangerous rescue that Major Carter devises.

I am touched by how O’Neill settles down as a rustic man of the fields. He embraces the love of a local woman his age named Laira. She is a strong but tender widow who admires his strength and leadership. The two become romantically involved with a hint that they may have conceived. O’Neill must decide whether to return home with everyone he knows and his life as it is or stay with the woman who loves him on a primeval world with an uncertain future.

The show once again knocks it out of the park! I am touched by this torturous dilemma. Stargate SG-1 manages to create conflict yet again without an antagonist, and it excels. I strongly related to O’Neill’s painful dilemma and I was inspired by how Teal’c was ready to die of suffocation if it meant saving his friend.

The team travels to a primitive planet that comes under a meteor shower. O’Neill is stranded there after the gate is apparently destroyed. A beautiful young widow named Laira offers him a more among her people as well as her love. Will he accept it and leave his old home behind?

Episode rating: 4.9 stars

After the previous episode, which played out like a drama, our heroes embark on a different kind of adventure. For, Colonel O’Neill, storms off in a rage from the Tollan, stealing one of their devices! He does this out of rage following their refusal to help Earth with their superior technology. His teammates and his superior, General George Hammond, are shocked and appalled. They denounce him and General Hammond, in a fit of mercy, forces him to retire.

O’Neill, uncharacteristically rude, dismisses all of them and goes home to sulk. His friends attempt to meet with him but he rebuffs them. Their visit is followed by the slimy weasel, Colonel Maybourne. Maybourne, having heard of O’Neill’s dishonorable discharge, cordially invites him to join a secret project of his own. When O’Neill asks him about it Maybourne offers no details, only for him to one and see.

O’Neill, curious about this offer signs up. He lies to General Hammond; telling him he wishes to see Laira (previous episode) on P5C-768. O’Neill takes a large bag with him to the planet only to lie and meet up with a black ops tsk force organized by Maybourne. The young ops officers reveal they’re stealing alien technology from various sources; the Tollan, the Asgard, etc. O’Neill casually chides and dismisses them before playing his hand: he contacts the Asgard and offer the young renegades the chance to surrender. Bewildered, angry and dazed they refuse until a large Asgard ship appears in orbit, beaming up various stolen wares. O’Neill Leads them through the Stargate where they are promptly arrested. To my great surprise the SG-1 team were as shocked as I was to see him working for them all along. They lost faith in him!

This episode, for its amazing character-driven story earns 4.9 stars

Maybourne appears to O’Neill when he goes rogue by stealing technology and abandons his unit. The offer is too good to pass up.

“New Ground” is another SG-1 episode that centers around the war of faith and politics. Our heroes arrive on a rocky planet inhabited by humans of two different continents: Bedrosia and Optrica. The two peoples argue over the origin of life: the former believe they were created by Goa’uld while the latter correctly guess they were brought there as slaves. Unfortunately, our team is insulted, assaulted, captured and tortured by fanatical Bedrosians who refuse to believe the SG-1’s story. Their weapons, being far more advanced than Earth, subdue SG-1 with no recourse other than to hope someone believes their story. (Even a blinded Teal’c must trust the local who saved him)

While this is not my favorite episode in the series; it doesn’t focus so much on our main characters, it still manages to tell an important story: faith and fear. Because the local commander realizes their existence contradicts his faith (and thereby the system his government is founded on) he brutally chooses to kill and destroy anything or anyone that threatens his society’s safety. Meanwhile the native scientist accepts the truth even if it means religion and his way of life is founded on false truths. It is this battle of facts versus fear that make this episode a memorable one.

Episode rating: 4.8 stars

“Maternal Instinct” is one of my favorite episodes in all of Stargate SG-1. It tells a grand story about character, faith and serenity.

Daniel Jackson seeks out the planet called Kheb with Bra’tac’s help. The SG-1 team seek out the child of Sha’re and Apophis (the Harcesis) before the Goa’uld find them first. They instead encounter an Asian-themed palace with a Zen monk. The monk is young, peaceable but speaks only in riddles. Jackson communicates with the monk through riddles and parables seeking to find the child. The monk instead urges Jackson to seek enlightenment. O’Neill, being the hardened war veteran urges Jackson to put off the metaphors and get to the truth already. Jackson, understands his urgency but continues to immerse himself in the monks worldview. Meanwhile an army of Jaffa are on the way to make sure they find the Harcesis first.

This episode masterfully tells multiple stories at once: Jackson’s desire to complete the mission is at odds with the opportunity to find enlightenment, O’Neill’s faith in Jackson is put to the test due to the looming battle, and Teal’c and Bra’tac seek their own spiritual quest for answers. I also love this episode because it ultimately focuses on something far more transcendent than a battle between our heroes and ‘the bad guys.’

Episode rating: 4.9 stars

Daniel Jackson attempts to achieve enlightenment under the tutelage of a mysterious monk. The monk explains that this is the way to attain his goal: find and protect the Harcesis. The process is slow and tests the patience of many warriors seeking a quick answer. The story here is faith vs reason.

In the episode “Crystal Skull” we get an unusual treat: a mystical mystery. Daniel Jackson investigates a Crystal skull left on a pedestal on an alien planet. He is stunned unconscious and awakens to find he has become invisible and inaudible. His friends return home, yet again thinking he’s dead.

Jackson, frustrated yet determined to find a solution, reaches out to his uncle. His uncle, Nick Ballard, can miraculously see him since he underwent the same phasing event. Ballard tells him he was sorry he never adopted Jackson when his parents died.

Episode rating: 4.5 stars

The final episode “Nemesis” revolves around the Asgard, their Roswell alien allies, and their adversaries the Replicators. The Replicators are tough metal insectoid artificial life forms that devour technology. The Asgard have waged a losing war on the bugs, so they’ve recruited SG-1 as low-tech exterminators.

This idea alone is fascinating. Season one begins with our heroes wandering into the unknown to save their people and explore, while the second season revolves around their victory over the Goa’uld and how they’ve “made an impact” in their galaxy. But this season we see that they’ve managed to impress even the technologically superior Asgard!

Our heroes rush to their aid and do their best to support the un-creative Asgard in their battle. Their plan is a race against time because the bugs have a penchant for infesting every environment they encounter. What’s worse? Their battle takes place above Earth.

Episode rating: 4.5 stars

Our heroes, under Urgo’s influence, attack and ruthlessly destroy all the desserts in commissary.

This season was very strong. I loved all the character episodes and the strong use of continuity. Characters like Daniel Jackson and Colonel O’Neill especially shine in this season due to episodes like “Legacy”, “Forever in a Day”, “A Hundred Days”, “Shades of Gray” and “Maternal Instinct.” The acting and direction are also a lot tighter and more focused this season than the previous two.

But, there are a few duds this season. The beginning two episodes and the ending episode this season are particularly weak. Furthermore, episodes like “Foothold” and “The Devil You Know” seemed to suffer from rushed endings.

All in all, I loved season three. My wife and I made memorable moments watching O’Neill play farm boy, witnessing Dr Daniel Jackson go insane, laughing hysterically at Urgo playing with our serious soldier protagonists’ minds, seeing our team trying to teach kid soldiers and doubting whether O’Neill really did finally snap! My wife and I loved watching this show, and season three provided a lot of those feel good moments!

If you haven’t seen season three of SG-1 yet I highly recommend you do. This may be the best season yet!

Season rating: 4.7 stars

The amazing idea for Apophis to train children to go undercover as humans from Earth is genius!

Thanks for reading.

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