Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The First Commandment

This is an interesting episode - it explores one of the main themes of Stargate - the goa'uld as false gods - without using any goa'uld characters. The leader of another SG team has gone mad with power while on a mission to another planet, and proclaimed himself the god of the native people. He also happens to be Captain Carter's former fiancé. He believes he is saving the native people but in fact he is working them to death in the planet's intense heat and UV radiation.

Captain Hanson argues at one point that because the people believe in him, it doesn't matter that he's not actually a god - although later in the episode he's shown as genuinely believing that he is the god of the Abrahamic tradition, and thinks that by having the natives build him a temple they are being saved when in fact they are dying from exposure and exhaustion. Two of his team tried to depose him and as a result, one was killed and the other almost killed, along with Col. O'Neill. Ultimately though, he's exposed as a fraud, and attacked and killed by his former subjects.

Hanson's belief is in contrast with those of the goa'uld, who see humans as no better than cattle, but both use religion as a tool of oppression and both routes lead to the same outcome - slavery and tyranny. This is something I love about science fiction as a genre - it's often used as a way to explore the world we live in by going to extremes and situations that would be impossible in the real world. This episode begins to explore the theme of what a 'god' really is, and if gods are necessary. This is the main theme of the goa'uld (and in later seasons the ori), but interestingly other Earth characters are shown as still remaining faithful to their own gods despite these questions.

One part of this episode that I didn't like so much was the scene where Hanson talks capt. Carter out of shooting him, and is able to take the gun away from her. She has the opportunity to shoot him but lets her personal feelings get in the way (despite the two not being together any more). She does talk about this to Col. O'Neill, though, who tells her that "Killing a man is no badge of honour". I think the Sam of later seasons would have put her personal feelings aside and fired, perhaps not lethally, for the greater good, and maybe this was an important step for the development of that character.

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