Stargate SG-1 Episode 1.02: "The Enemy Within"
The pilot's down, and now we move into the first 45-minute episode of season one!
The Plot Thickens
Following directly from "Children of the Gods," Lt. Kawalsky is experiencing headaches and blackouts. After an episode where he kills a doctor and ends up standing in front of the Stargate, the team identifies the problem: an immature Goa'uld has taken up residence in Kawalsky's head. The only solution? An extremely dangerous surgery to remove the symbiote.
Meanwhile, Colonel Kennedy arrives to question Teal'c. When Kennedy hears of the symbiote in Kawalsky, he tries to convince Hammond to let it take control so they can grill it for information. Hammond refuses, and Teal'c helps the medical team find a sedative that will work on the Goa'uld.
The surgery goes better than expected, and Kawalsky appears to be recovering with no spinal damage. Kennedy, with no fully grown symbiote available, tries to have Teal'c shipped out for study. But when Kawalsky attacks and begins dialing the Stargate, under the control of a piece of the Goa'uld which survived, Teal'c must come to the rescue and earn his place at the SGC in the process.
Themes and Thoughts
This is an early (and thus rare) example of the serial continuity the show will develop in its later seasons. Honestly, "The Enemy Within" is really Pt. 3 of "Children of the Gods," or at least that's how it feels.
This episode has the first mention of Earth as the Tau'ri, the first planet where humans evolved. It's a concept that will come up time and again throughout the show.
This episode establishes one of the show's recurring themes: can we sacrifice morality for the sake of some "greater good" (specifically as it pertains to government choices)? Here, that shows up in the form of Colonel Kennedy. His endgame is good--he wants to protect the Earth from the Goa'uld--but he's willing to take the morally dubious steps of sacrificing Kawalsky and/or experimenting on Teal'c to reach that end. Fortunately, our heroes know there are better ways.
It's a good episode, in a season where a lot of the episodes will be mediocre. The problems presented here are smaller, but more easy to grasp. The focus is tighter and rests more heavily on consequences for the characters, vs. a world-ending catastrophe. And while the show knows how to do a bombastic episode, a lot of its best episodes are like this one: smaller, softer, with a quiet punch.
It's a smart decision to center this episode's problem on Kawalsky. For people who've seen everything since the movie, he's one of the longest running characters--but he's also more disposable than Jack or Daniel. His death sets the stakes high early on, without depriving us of a core character.
I'd argue that the episode has the most emotional resonance for Jack. Kawalsky is his good friend, and it's Jack who convinced Teal'c to join the SGC. This episode will start a long trend of opposition to government interference in the SGC, from all the characters but Jack in particular.
Teal'c, meanwhile, shows up in spades. This episode serves as his test of loyalty; by volunteering to help with sedative experiments and stopping Kawalsky himself, he proves his value to the SGC as a formidable ally. After this, there's basically no doubting Teal'c dedication to the cause, and he becomes a trusted team member.
He Said, She Said, It Said
Holy Bad Guys, Batman!
The Goa'uld symbiote in Kawalsky isn't much of a threat, all things considered. It's immature and can't maintain control over him. But in the course of this episode, we do learn more about the Goa'uld. Teal'c reveals that each Goa'uld contains the genetic memory of all the Goa'ulds that came before it--a wealth of knowledge which explains in part why they're able to dominate the galaxy. We also get some basic Goa'uld psychology: they view humans as inferior, they rule by fear, and some control many planets.
There's another villain introduced here: the U.S. government. The U.S. government's relationship will be cautiously supportive at best and downright antagonistic at worst over the course of the show. The bigwigs always want to shut down the program or make morally gray decisions, and that trend starts here with Colonel Kennedy. The faces will change over time, but the underlying tension stays the same.
We get our first view of both the iris and the SGC self-destruct sequence in the opening section of this episode. Good news--the iris works. Better news--we don't find out if the self-destruct works.
This is the first episode where medicine plays a major role. Over the course of the show, we'll see major advances in medicine as a result of technology we bring back and things we encounter on other planets. Here though, we're still working with late 90s Earth tech. Kawalsky's surgery is a huge risk, but Hammond gets the world's best surgeons brought in.
We also get a bit of new Stargate info. It's not called out specifically, but this episode has the first evidence of a basic Stargate principle: the Stargate transmits objects (including people) as a whole. This is why, when Teal'c is holding Kawalsky's head in the event horizon and the team turns off the Gate, the back of Kawalsky's head ends up sliced off. That information is lost. His head will not appear on Chulak.
New Eyes, New Viewpoint
On the whole, I think my friend liked this episode. She thought Kawalsky's death was rather gruesome and felt sorry for him. And in her words, "the government wasn't wrong" about wanting to take Teal'c for questioning. She said she would authorize that decision if it meant saving humanity from a terrible threat. (I have a feeling she's going to like the government plots later in the show).
Coming soon - my review of "Emancipation"!