StargateCommand.co‘s Editor, Kieran Dickson, picks the 10 episodes of Stargate’s flagship show that mean the most to him. Let us know in the comments which episodes you can’t get enough of.
Working with Stargate every day is an absolute joy. Not only does the franchise have some of the best fans in all of pop culture, but it also has one of the (if not THE) greatest offerings of science fiction storytelling ever created. Over the course of three movies, three TV shows, and a new digital series, the Stargate franchise has given us well over 300 hours of gate-hopping adventure. The vast majority of those stories came from Stargate SG-1’s 10-season run, which at the time gave the show the title of ‘Longest Running (Consecutive) Science Fiction TV Show,’ an honor it gained after overtaking the X-Files midway through its final season.
Such is the power of the Stargate franchise, the fanbase remains as rabid today as it was when SG-1 first hit the airwaves more than twenty years ago. So, with SG-1 making its return to COMET later this month, I thought I would take on the almost impossible task of picking my 10-favorite episodes from Stargate’s flagship show.
I should note, these are the episodes I am drawn to time and time again, that is when I’m not watching a particular arc or researching something specific. If I were to list out ALL of my personal favorites, we would be here all day, so please don’t take this as a slight on other SG-1 greats such as ‘Thor’s Chariot’, ‘The Serpent’s Lair,’ or ‘The Devil You Know.’
10. Disclosure – Season 6: Episode 17
Ok, stay with me here. Yes, ‘Disclosure’ was a clip show, and we all know that clip show episodes are never exactly the pinnacle of a series. However, Stargate SG-1 always excelled at this particular format, and ‘Disclosure’ is one of the best examples of a clip show done well.
Framed around an intense briefing in which the Stargate program is disclosed to a number of international diplomats, ‘Disclosure’ sees Senator Kinsey, one of the franchise’s most brilliantly unlikeable villains, attempt to usurp control of Stargate Command. The clips of SG-1’s daring and heroic feats all serve to remind us why we love the show and its characters, while the very nature of the episode’s plot: disclosure of the Stargate Program, is something that almost all fans have fantasized about and debated over the years.
Despite all that, the reason I truly love this episode is that it contains perhaps one of the show’s single greatest moments. After enduring 45 minutes of Senator Kinsey’s snakelike posturing, General Hammond appears to have lost the battle to maintain control of Stargate Command…that is until the Asgard Fleet’s Supreme Commander, Thor, beams down to give Hammond and SG-1 the most ringing endorsement the galaxy has to offer. Best of all, Thor even has the time to drop a bit of sass in the direction of Kinsey. Classic.
9. The Pegasus Project – Season 10: Episode 3
Speaking of things that Stargate did very, very well….the franchise’s deep mythology was one of the elements that really made it stand out from the pop culture crowd. Sweeping from Ancient Egypt to Medieval England to Norse Gods and beyond, Stargate SG-1’s mythology was particularly dense. The show’s mythology episodes often required an in-depth knowledge of past canon, but once you had that, you were rewarded with some of the most mind-bogglingly wonderful storytelling. While much of the Ori arc failed to quite live up to the Goa’uld adventures of the first 8 seasons, ‘The Pegasus Project’ was arguably one of the show’s most thrilling.
With SG-1’s quest for a weapon to defeat the Ori bringing them to the Pegasus Galaxy, ‘The Pegasus Project’ finally gifted us the chance to see Daniel Jackson’s dream of visiting Atlantis come true. This brought the franchise’s original egghead right alongside one of its newest: Rodney McKay, and there was something thrilling about seeing our SG-1 heroes exploring the bright and shiny interior of Atlantis. The interactions between the SG-1 and SGA characters were joyful to watch when the episode first aired, and ‘The Pegasus Project’ remains a personal favorite of mine to this day.
8. Fragile Balance – Season 7: Episode 3
It’s no secret that Richard Dean Anderson was a huge reason that fans tuned into SG-1 each week. The legendary actor did such an incredible job of making the Jack O’Neill character his own, it was hard to imagine anybody being able to match it. But, in Fragile Balance, that match was made to dazzling effect when Michael Welch portrayed a version of Jack O’Neill who had become stuck in a teenager’s body. Welch’s performance and the duo of the two O’Neill’s produced some genuine laugh out loud moments, and when you add in a rogue Asgard to the mix, it was all enough to make you forget that Daniel Jackson was, all of a sudden, somehow over that whole memory loss thing.
7. Moebius Pt.1 & 2 – Season 8 – Episodes 19 & 20
Is selecting a double episode cheating? Maybe. Will it be the last time I do it on this list? Definitely not.
Season 8’s double-header finale was special for a multitude of reasons. With Richard Dean Anderson reducing his role on the show, Moebius gave us a chance to see the original four members of SG-1 in action together for what we thought might be the last time. But, while we all would have happily taken a more traditional off-world mission for this season closer, Moebius gave us much much more by taking us back to the mythology that started the whole franchise back in 1994.
Following the emotional passing of the Stargate Program’s matriarch, Catherine Langford, Daniel discovers evidence that a Zero Point Module (ZPM) might have been present during Ra’s rule on Giza. Knowing that this ZPM could help open the wormhole to Atlantis and power Earth’s defenses in one fell swoop, SG-1 (somewhat surprisingly) decides to travel back in time to 3000 BC and seize the ZPM for future use.
Seeing Ra, the Horus guards, and Ancient Egypt was just a small slice of the fun that these two episodes gave us, though. Over the next two hours, Moebius provided all kinds of treats, including Kowalski, Hammond, McKay, and of course, a Sam and Jack kiss! Maybe this was a finale that was written as a farewell to fans, maybe it wasn’t, but the sheer goofy fun of seeing all these alternate timeline versions of beloved characters was a wonderful trip. And, thankfully, we were given two more seasons to enjoy afterward.
6. Lost City Pt.2 – Season 7: Episode 22
Another entry, another finale. Lost City was one of those episodes that left you feeling absolutely exhausted by the time the credits rolled. This is actually the episode I often show people who haven’t seen Stargate before, mainly because it does such a good job of showcasing its many strengths, all while throwing in a little bit extra. That ‘little bit extra’ came in the form of a magnificent battle sequence that, in my opinion, might be the franchise’s very best.
What makes this episode extra special, though, is the fact that it was Don S. Davis’s last appearance as a series regular. The man who had expertly portrayed General Hammond over the years went out in epic style, Captaining the Prometheus in an epic aerial battle against Anubis’s fleet over Antarctica. This was white-knuckle stuff, and I loved every minute of it.
5. Camelot – Season 9: Episode 20
The pivot away from the Goa’uld and on to the Ori was a little jarring at times, but towards the back end of Season 9 things really started cooking away nicely. By the time ‘Camelot’ rolls around, we’re starting to get an idea of just how much of a threat the Ori are….and then by the end of ‘Camelot’, our jaws are left on the floor.
While the aforementioned ‘Lost City Pt.2’ still wins my vote for ‘Best Battle Scene,’ ‘Camelot’ rightly follows up closely in second place. With Tau’ri and Goa’uld ships on one side, and the hulking Ori Warships on the other, viewers were expecting this to be a close contest. It was not…
So many times throughout the show’s history, SG-1 and the rest of the Stargate Command had successfully snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. But, in ‘Camelot’ the allied fleets were handed such a crushing blow we were left wondering if there was any way our heroes could possibly all come out of the situation alive. And, wonder we did…for a painfully long Spring/Summer break as we waited for Season 10 to give us the answers we so desperately craved.
4. Heroes Pt.2 – Season 7: Episode 18
Still the only episode of a TV show to turn me into a weeping mess. Growing up with SG-1, my favorite character wasn’t Sam, Daniel or Teal’c, nor was it even Jack O’Neill. No, I grew up with a very strong attachment (and even a slight crush) on Doctor Janet Fraiser, so I’m going to stop discussing this incredibly powerful episode before I start to tear up again.
3. The Fifth Race – Season 2: Episode 15
When you strip back a lot of the storytelling, the theme of just about every Stargate story is essentially the same. Stargate, in its purest form, is a story about Earth and its inhabitants finding their place in the galactic food chain. That is the central plot that always fascinated me, and it’s for that reason that I simply adored episodes like ‘The Fifth Race.’
While much of the episode served to show off Richard Dean Anderson’s considerable comedic chops, the closing moments captivated me when I first watched them as a young teenager. Blowing the show’s mythology wide open, Jack comes face to face with the Asgard, who inform him of the Four Great Races before stating that the people of Earth are a long way off of being able to reach such heady heights. We were all already in love with SG-1 at this point, but it was the events of ‘The Fifth Race’ that showed us just how big this show could go, and just how far the writers were willing to push the envelope of what it could achieve.
2. Window of Opportunity – Season 4: Episode
A true fan favorite, and for good reason. I actually make a habit of rewatching Window of Opportunity at regular intervals throughout the year. In fact, sometimes I feel that I know the escapades of Jack and Teal’c’s timeloop so well that I think I could be stuck in there with them.
What I find fascinating about ‘Window of Opportunity’ is that it doesn’t do a great deal to progress the plot of the show, yet you leave the episode with a sense that you have gained new insight into two of SG-1’s key characters. With each loop, Jack and Teal’c loosen up a little bit more. With each loop, you start to peel back the layers of their characters and understand them at their very base level.
That aforementioned character insight is, however, just the icing on the cake. The real reason Window of Opportunity is so popular is that it’s so damned funny. From going “Wacko,” to playing golf through the stargate, to slamming their colleagues in the face with a door, Teal’c and Jack’s capers never fail to entertain, even after dozens of rewatches.
1. Children of the Gods Pt. 1 & 2
Call me old fashioned, but I genuinely cherish ‘Children of the Gods.’ I was first converted to Stargate when I saw Roland Emmerich’s movie as a wee lad back in 1995 (we had to wait a few months to see it in UK cinemas), so when ‘Children of the Gods’ was able to bring that same magic into a TV show, I knew I would be hooked on SG-1 for as long as it lasted.
These days, a lot of folks have seen SG-1 so many times they tend to skip through some of the earlier episodes, cutting instead to the later seasons. But, every now and then, I like to throw on ‘Children of the Gods’ and look fondly back at where the Stargate TV universe all started.
Even taken out of that context, ‘Children of the Gods’ is still an excellent piece of TV. Not perfect by any means (hands up if you were a little surprised by the nudity), but excellent nonetheless. From the very first moments when a young Airman is abducted by Serpent guards, right through to Christopher Judge’s powerful delivery of the line “I have nowhere to go,” this was an adventure that deserves a place at the top of any self-respecting list of ‘Best Series Openers.’
Stargate SG-1 returns to COMET on April 30.