Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Classics: SG1 1:12 – The Nox

Plot Synopsis:

When the military utility of the Stargate program is questioned, Teal’c proposes a trip to P3X-774 to track down a creature which supposedly has the power of invisibility. When SG1 arrives on the planet in question, they are, to their dismay, cut off from the gate, which seems to disappear entirely. Jack and Daniel then discover that Apophis has also come to this planet with his own hunting party. At Daniel’s urging, Jack agrees to order an ambush. This plan goes horribly awry, however, and Jack, Daniel, and Sam are all killed by Apophis and his Jaffa.

Later, Daniel and the others awaken, completely healed - and disarmed. Their hosts, the Nox, tell them that they will be returned to the Stargate. Daniel tries to gather information about their miraculous methods of healing, but Anteaus, the apparent leader, is not forthcoming. It is then revealed that the Nox also revived one of Apophis’ Jaffa. Teal’c attempts to convince this Jaffa, Shak’l, to join him in the fight against the Goa’uld, while Jack and Sam fashion rudimentary weapons to defend the Nox and themselves.

After Jack attempts to kill the flying creature native to this world to defend Nafrayu, the youngest of the Nox, Anteaus reveals that it is the Nox who possess the stealth technology – the flying creatures are entirely ordinary. Certain that the Nox will be victimized by Apophis – especially when Shak’l escapes and brings word of the Nox to the Goa’uld – Jack offers to protect Anteaus and his family, but Anteaus is curiously unafraid. In the end, it is revealed that the Nox are far more advanced than they may at first appear.

The Ratings:


Writing: 0

I despise this episode with the white-hot intensity of a thousand fiery suns. We’ll discuss why this episode is profoundly insulting on a thematic level in a moment; here, I will address the episode’s two other fatal flaws.

First, it is mind-numbingly tedious. Dear writer: while it may be true that explorers will, upon encountering an entirely foreign culture, have a lot of trouble making themselves understood, long scenes in which our heroes clumsily attempt to communicate to stony-faced aliens are simply not engaging television.

Secondly, the principal characters come off looking like complete idiots. Reader, I don’t know about you, but if the gate suddenly disappeared on me, my first response would be to try to walk towards its previous location in the hopes that I bump into it. But do our heroes try to do this in this episode? Of course not – because apparently, the Nox stealth technology also emanates retardation rays. One hopes this is the explanation, at any rate, given how inept Jack and the others are when they are called to justify their actions. Is “Dur… he’s a bad man. He’s very bad. Yeah.” (I’m paraphrasing here) really the only thing SG1 is able to say about Apophis? These people have personally witnessed evils perpetrated by the Goa’uld; you’d think their defenses would be far more persuasive.

Acting: 6

I feel sorry for Armin Shimerman and the regulars in this episode. I think they did the best they could, but they are all utterly lifeless.

Message: Less Than Zero

Pacifism doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked in history, it doesn’t work in game theory, and it certainly doesn’t work in our ordinary lives. If you always cooperate with people regardless of what they do, you will lose out every time. We can see this principle in microcosm when we consider, for example, my father’s first year French class. Said French class, you see, was riddled with cheaters – and worse, they were never caught. Thus, these cheaters threw off the grading curve for everyone else, and students like my father were sorely tempted to cheat themselves just to keep up. If cheaters are never punished, more and more people start to adopt the cheater’s strategy - in other words, people start looking out solely for themselves. This is not a recipe for pro-social, small-l liberal behavior. For cooperation to succeed, you have to retaliate, swiftly and severely, against all those who take advantage of your niceness.

Now, advanced stealth technology might change the playing field by minimizing the consequences suffered at the hands of “cheaters,” a.k.a. our human-rights-violating Goa’uld. BUT - this only works for those who actually have the technology. When Anteaus tells SG1 that their way is not the only way, what Jack should have said was, “Yeah? Well, if we had boffo technology like yours, perhaps we would consider pacifism. Thing is, we don’t. We can’t hide the six billion people who live on our planet behind a cloaking shield – nor can we hide the millions of human beings on countless other worlds who are suffering at the hands of the Goa’uld. So if it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer it if you’d keep your sanctimonious moralizing to yourself – unless, of course, you’d like to come down off your high horse and help us out down here.” But instead, Jack approvingly quotes the wisdom of the Nox, and he and the others leave the planet properly chastised. Please - please - spare me.


  1. LOL...I love that you bothered to look up that link. :)

    When Nafrayu asked O'Neill why he fought with the Goa'uld and he responded that he didn't like fighting them...and Nafrayu had the temerity to suggest that if we didn't want to fight the Goa'uld, we shouldn't fight them...and all Jack could say was "it's not that simple...they don't give us a choice"...I had an overwhelming urge to punch a hole in my TV. A man of his military experience would not just disagree with Nafrayu...he would deeply insulted and he would lash out. It's not just a bad's inconsistent with the characters of the people involved. Why wasn't Daniel howling at the Nox about his wife? Why didn't he get PISSED OFF when their every efforts to understand these people were being rebuffed? He gets mad when stuff like this happens on other planets. :)

    It's not just a bad messgae and it's not just character's heavy handed to the point of non-seriousness. Was it really necessary to paint the Nox as the complete paragon of virtue and leave the humans in the corner to think about the error of their ways? If you want to teach us something, don't give us a race of people who are above questioning...don't give us a cheap foil...give us a real debate.

    Of course, real debate would be impossible for a Hollywood writer to win when it comes to Pacifism vs. self defense, so maybe I'm asking too much.

  2. Incidentally, Plato would call the Nox attitude toward the Goa'uld "idiot compassion." So, apparently the self-superior Nox are idiots.