Monday, September 28, 2009

Classics: SG1 1:5 – The First Commandment

Plot Synopsis:

SG1 is dispatched to P3X-513 to discover what has befallen the missing SG9; there, they discover that team leader Captain Jonas Hanson has come to believe that he is a god and is working the inhabitants to death to construct a temple. Sam, who was once engaged to Hanson, believes she can get through to the man and intervenes when she sees a native being beaten, thereby allowing herself to be captured. Hanson insists to Sam that what he is doing is for the indigenous people’s own good, and after Sam loses her nerve before shooting him, he demands she help him turn on a Goa’uld device that will create a shield against the sun’s unusually high UV radiation. Meanwhile, Jack infiltrates Hanson’s compound to rescue a member of SG9 from certain death by sun exposure and is also captured, and Daniel and Teal’c manage convince one of the natives, Jamala, that Hanson is not a god – that he merely has access to powerful technology. With Jamala’s help, Daniel and Teal’c are able to demonstrate that Hanson is a fraud by turning on the other half of the Goa’uld shielding device. Hanson is mobbed by the natives and thrown into the Stargate.

The Ratings:

Overall: 4.3 – A derivative storyline with some questionable messages.

Writing: 4

If Jonas Hanson displayed emotional instability severe enough to be noticed by his fiancé, he surely would not have been cleared for a classified mission to another planet in the real military. I also do not believe that a god delusion can be switched on in a matter of four to five weeks without heavy substance abuse and/or an underlying psychological disorder (that, again, would’ve been caught on a psych screen) being involved.

This episode also suffers from the fact that its basic plot – “Our Heroes must convince a planet’s primitive inhabitants that the beings they believe are gods are really just more technologically advanced mortals such as themselves” – has been done to death in science fiction, as has the “power-mad commander abandons his oath, kills his teammates, and oppresses the natives” storyline. Please, writer – either come up with a new twist or let the idea lie fallow.

Acting: 6

I’m hesitant to blame William Russ for his over-the-top portrayal of Hanson, as this could be the fault of an unsubtle script, but the performance really did strain credibility in several places. I can’t say I found anything wrong elsewhere, however. For the regulars, this was a definite improvement over the silliness of The Broca Divide.

Message: 3

I have a real problem with the comparison this episode draws between murdering people in order scare a populace into worshipping you and killing a person who is a demonstrated threat to both you and thousands of others. The two circumstances are not even remotely the same; tradition has always granted the right of self-defense.

I further object to this episode’s selective use of Scripture. If Hanson was indeed toting the Bible around and using it for inspiration, then we should’ve seen him displaying mercy as well as wrath. But instead, Hanson behaves according to an apparently anti-Judeo-Christian interpretation of the Old Testament - and there’s absolutely no evidence that the writer is at all familiar with the New.


“No, sir? Does it say ‘colonel’ anywhere on my uniform?” – Jack boggling at everyone’s refusal to follow his orders. This did elicit a chuckle.

“This tastes like chicken.”
“So what’s wrong with that?”
“It’s macaroni and cheese.” – Heh. Yes, those MRE’s aren’t always the greatest.

“Smile. Look friendly.”
(Teal’c’s smile looks decidedly unfriendly.)
“You’re gonna have to work on that a little bit.” – Hee.


  1. I did like the fact that Sam obviously knew the ten commandments and quoted them easily...that suggests the writers take no offense at their personnel believing in God.

    BTW, one point that needs minor clarification...Hanson's God complex may have been radiation madness. Some people overexposed to radiation become mentally unstable beyond their normal limits due to brain damage and the other member of SG9 thought that might have been the case here. Though I do agree that when Sam started talking about this having always been "in him"...and the reason he was her ex...I boggled, because you just don't see people like that selected for command on missions where we're representing the United States in an at east partially diplomatic capacity.

  2. Hanson's God complex may have been radiation madness. Some people overexposed to radiation become mentally unstable beyond their normal limits due to brain damage and the other member of SG9 thought that might have been the case here.

    Ah, but then why didn't we see some of the natives lose it after laboring in the sun to build Hanson's temple? Is Hanson the only one susceptible to "sun madness"?