Overall Rating: 8.2
A very human and very well done first regular episode, this shows more accurately than most people realize the mindset of the US military.
Two wars are raging at the SGC. As Apophis repeatedly attacks the SGC iris with soldiers, the pressure to learn something about the Goa'uld is immense. Teal'c does everything he can possibly do to earn the trust of the "tauri" (the first ones), but Colonel Kennedy (from intelligence) orders him transported to a secret facility for "study." Meanwhile, Major Kawalski's goa'uld parasite slowly takes control of his body and he attempts escape - killing one man and injuring several others including Captain Carter. He is subdued, and a debate rages about whether to kill his parasite in an attempt to remove it or leave it within Kawalski so that it may be interrogated for information. A debate which General Hammond thankfully shouts down with authority. The surgery goes ahead as planned and appears to take hold, but the parasite leaves just enough of itself behind to control Kawalski for good, ending in a struggle at the gate between he and Teal'c which claims Kawalski's life and earns Teal'c the trust of the US President and a spot on SG1.
This script has many strengths - starting with the already burgeoning chemistry between the four that will become SG1. We see Jack and Teal'c forging a bond that will last throughout the series, there are touching moments between Jack and Kawalski which we'll see echoed in scenes between Jack and Daniel later in the series, and Carter is much less obnoxious in her second appearance, fitting in quite well with the team and even consoling Daniel when he expresses frustration over their failure to save Kawalski (and by extension, Sha're). As well, the writers here clearly understand very well the rewards of being a part of military hierarchy.
Kawalski's performance is particularly impressive here given the need for him to play two distinct personalities, to shift seamlessly between them, and to convey some pretty intense emotions (how would YOU feel if some snake got into your neck and stole your life?)...but it's hard to imagine Richard Dean Anderson or Michael Shanks appearing in anything professional and not giving a solid performance. :) Chris Judge definitely improves from the Pilot to here as well, showing much better balance and a greater degree of comfort with his role.
This episode gets high marks for placing a huge emphasis on the infinite value of every human life, for setting up Kennedy as a completely unsympathetic representative for the crowd that believes the ends justify the means, and for correctly recognizing the trade off of military service - putting your life on the line every day for your country always carries with it a promise that your superiors will look out for you when you need it most. We will hear many times throughout this series "we don't leave our people behind." It's one of the most endearing things about the Gates.
JACK: "So this iris is going to hold, right?"
CARTER: "Solid titanium less than 3 micrometers from the event horizon...it won't even allow matter to reintegrate."
JACK: (all science'd out) "So...this iris is going to hold, right?"
CARTER: "Well if it doesn't, the fail safe device will activate, this mountain will be vaporized, and we'll have nothing to worry about."
JACK: "Thank you, Carter, that's very comforting." - heh heh
JACK: "I think they're just afraid of you...it's a human thing. We tend to fear what we don't know."
TEAL'C: "Yet you are not afraid."
JACK: "I'm a soldier, Teal'c. I saw you give up everything to save my people...that's all I needed to know about you."
TEAL'C: "I understand. I will do everything in my power to earn their trust as well."
JACK: "I know you will, Teal'c...I'm just afraid it won't be enough..."
TEAL'C: "And when I do, you will show me your world."
JACK: "Oh you betcha...just...not all at once." - the bromance begins. :)
and speaking of bromances...
KAWALKSI: "Give me your hand, Jack."
JACK: (takes Kawalski's hand and nods)
KAWALSKI: "If I don't make it..."
JACK: "Don't talk like that...you'll be fine...piece of cake!"
KAWALSKI: "It hurts to talk, can you just shut up and let me finish?" (Jack nods, looking uncomfortable) "I want to be cremated. I want there to be nothing left of that thing inside me, do you understand me?"
KAWALSKI: "Drop my ashes on some other planet."
KAWALKSI: "It doesn't matter."
JACK: "Listen, I have to ask you something, and it's not gonna be easy."
KAWALKSI: "We're friends...what is it?"
JACK: "If you don't make it...can I have your stereo?" (Kawalski laughs, which is of course very painful)
KAWALSKI: "It hurts to laugh."
JACK: "You're gonna make it, Kawalski...I promise."
And the best line of the day...
HAMMOND: "Just what the hell kind of officer are you anyway, Colonel?! Now if there's any chance Major Kawalski can come out of this alive, then we're going through with it. That's the end of it!"
KENNEDY: "Sir, I feel compelled to take this to my superiors at the Pentagon."
HAMMOND: "Well I think I'll just call up the President and ask him myself, but sure, you go on ahead and talk to your superiors. In the meantime, people, let's get it done!" - awesome!
It's a minor thing, but in future gate episodes, we learn that the goa'uld is likely to die if it takes a human host too early (i.e. before it is mature). There seems to be some disagreement as to whether the parasite can survive before it is fully grown or whether it is merely in a weakened state. It's pretty common though for early episodes of a sci-fi series to have minor discrepancies like that, so I'll let it slide. :)