Sadly, Stargate started on a different direction in season 4, a move which some feel took it from breakout “six seasons and a movie” potential to fating it to live in SF obscurity.
A good article from 2002, albeit with many spoilers, is Salon.com’s Fan rebellion threatens “Stargate” (note that 2002 is after the end of season 5).
That being said, some of my favourite episodes are from this season, between the terrible Anise arc and the terrible NID arc.
4×01 – Small Victories – concludes cliffhanger from 3×22 (season 3) – an ok episode – watch
The submarine subplot makes almost no sense. Plus which they might as well have put Baker and Stewart in red shirts.
The Asgard subplot with Sam is not bad, with some good special effects.
I don’t know where they got the submarine set, but it was very good.
Thor demonstrates that, like the Nox, the Asgard can open a gate wormhole without needing to do a dialing sequence and without an initial energy burst.
4×02 – The Other Side – the general storyline is good, but the team interactions are completely off – Jack is way too hostile and dismissive towards Daniel – skip
Plus which, Jack and General Hammond display the exact opposite perspective from the one demonstrated in 3×18. What happened to the moral centre of the show? This loss of moral centre is emphasized by how they chose to end the episode.
4×03 – Upgrades – Tok’ra Barbie (Anise) – skip
Jack’s tone wrong. Daniel’s tone wrong. Tok’ra tone wrong.
The start of the three Anise episodes, probably the least-liked arc in the entire series.
Anise’s presence and outfits were basically inspired by Seven of Nine and take the show in a sexist direction it never had before.
‘This was a time during the show when we were trying to bump up the ratings. We took our cue from [the “Star Trek” character] Seven of Nine, thinking that might help the show and in fact the show didn’t need help. It was perfectly fine the way it was…’
Above quote from Peter DeLuise in the (spoiler-filled) Fan rebellion threatens “Stargate”.
4×04 – Crossroads – Tok’ra Barbie – gratuitous Jaffa – skip
Tone is all wrong. Jack very confrontational with Tok’ra. Teal’c, who is married, inappropriately attracted followed by very inappropriately happy.
4×05 – Divide and Conquer – Tok’ra Barbie – skip
One of the least-liked episodes. Sam and Jack, stuck in the “single male and female leads must be attracted to one another” TV trap, forced to, humiliatingly, re-live and expose their attraction. An attraction which appears to exist entirely in the mind of the writers, because there is no evidence of this chemistry on screen. Plus which, we don’t need a lie detector to hammer this forced relationship home, they already did an entire segment on alternate-Sam’s grief in the second mirror universe episode (3×06), plus which Jack and Sam are also married in the first mirror universe (1×20). Yes, we get it, they like each other (according to the writers).
On this plus side, this is the last time we ever see Tok’ra Barbie.
“[negative fan reaction to] the continuing presence of the Anise character, introduced in response to then President of MGM Television’s Hank Cohen’s request for ‘a sexy female alien’ (a suggestion he got to repeat onscreen when he played himself in ‘Wormhole Extreme’).”
(Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
Above from Gateworld.
This is also the end of the Martouf arc.
4×06 – Window of Opportunity – humour with an unexpectedly poignant ending – watch
After a string of dismal episodes, rather surprisingly the best comedy episode of the series.
According to the Wikipedia article, much of the humour was inserted when it became evident the episode would run significantly short.
4×07 – Watergate – this is a good episode, with some humour – watch
Marina Sirtis is added to the list of Star Trek TNG stars who have appeared in Stargate (previously in this season we saw Odo, and in 2×04 we see Barclay).
4×08 – The First Ones – this is a very good episode – watch
A strong episode for Daniel Jackson. Very good makeup, must have taken hours to put on. Dion Johnstone very good as the Unas. Dr. Rothman appears, having previously been only part of Daniel’s dream and in Crystal Skull.
It’s in this episode that Dr. Jackson wears the odd bandana-cap that he has on the DVD/iTunes cover.
4×09 – Scorched Earth – overall a good episode – watch
We’re dropped in media res, with SG-1 very good friends with people we’ve never seen before. Jack’s final decision seems, shall we say, not very team-spirited. The ending is a bit deus ex machina, but overall the no-win scenario is interesting to watch play out. The lead male Enkaran is later Mr. Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica.
4×10 – Beneath the Surface – this is a standard “aliens kidnap team and brainwash them to be workers” episode – it’s ok but you could easily skip it
Jack this season is particularly judgmental. The writers continue to try to push Sam/Jack. Stop trying to make fetch happen.
This episode aired before the very similar ST: Voyager Workforce.
4×11 – Point of No Return – mostly a comedy episode but dark – it’s ok, but the conclusion is sad – skip
How would Sam have learned how to pick locks? Why are they so sceptical when he has exact information? Why are his friends so violent? What do his friends think they will accomplish? Why are a bunch of soldiers experts in memory-altering chemicals? The plot makes more sense.
Introduces Martin, who will be seen again.
4×12 – Tangent – this is a very good episode – watch
Classic science fiction problem solving. Jack’s helmet visor appears to be made out of duct tape though. I guess they couldn’t find two prop helmets that were the same?
4×13 – The Curse – this is a good episode – watch
Another episode that is basically all Daniel Jackson.
Sarah is basically New Sha’re.
Starts Osiris arc.
4×14 – The Serpent’s Venom – a good episode – watch
The Teal’c subplot is dark, but good.
The other subplot is good.
4×15 – Chain Reaction – SKIP
The start of the long and much-disliked NID cloak and dagger arc.
A bunch of people wandering around the earth, doing a bunch of political intrigue stuff. Passwords, hacking. Junk. No exploration, no other planets. A bunch of people going blah blah blah.
Senator Kinsey is a particularly annoying stereotype.
4×16 – 2010 – skip
Aired January 12, 2001.
This is basically the opposite of the 1969 episode (2×21) in every way. A pseudo-futuristic future (from the standpoint of 2001). Opposite in that it is in the future, opposite in that it is heavy and conspiratorial rather than fun.
The only interesting thing that happens is Chevron Guy Norman Davis begins his long journey to becoming named Walter Harriman. The first step being Richard Dean Anderson in improvising dialogue, calls him Walter. This is particularly ironic as this is the first time we see Chevron Guy’s nametag clearly and for several seconds, and it says Davis for his last name. In theory that should make his name Walter Davis or Walter Norman Davis, but that didn’t end up being the case.
Stargate Wiki dubs him Norman Walter Davis Harriman.
The reason for his being called both Walter Davis and Walter Harriman was that, originally, his name was supposed to be Walter Davis but it was changed in season 8 by the show’s writers, due to the existence of a “real” Walter Davis in the U.S. Air Force.
“Norman” was a result of the name “Sgt. Norman Davis” being visible on his uniform during many episodes of SG-1.
The name “Walter” came from an ad lib made by Richard Dean Anderson during the Season 4 episode 2010.
from Stargate Wikia
His name has been a source of confusion for many fans of Stargate SG-1. Originally, he was simply “Technician” or “Sergeant”, listed as such in the show credits. At some point, some of the writers gave him the name “Norman Davis”, which came with a name tag, but was never used in dialogue. In the episode “2010”, Jack O’Neill refers to him as “Walter”. Later, in the eighth season of “Stargate SG-1”, the character is addressed as “Sergeant Harriman”, with “Harriman” actually basing on General George Hammond addressing him as “Airman” what was misheard by fans because of Don S. Davis’s Texan accent, resulting in the final name of “Walter Harriman”.
4×17 – Absolute Power – skip
In and of itself, this is an ok episode. It’s also a reasonable conclusion to the Harcesis arc.
But as part of the series, it’s the same season 4 failings: mostly on Earth, mostly the team fighting with one another.
No team working together, no team exploring other planets. People are mean. It’s not funny. Who wants to watch that?
4×18 – The Light – skip
As a standalone this is ok.
In the context of the season and the series though, this is just another episode of death, anger and shouting.
Who wants to watch that for entertainment?
There’s no fun, no camaraderie. Just a heavy-handed drug addiction story.
The beach walk does feature a rare instance of O’Neill wearing a Tilley-style hat, which is what Dr. Jackson usually wears. The team actually has standard hats they wear:
O’Neill – a baseball cap
Carter – a square “military-style” cap
Jackson – a Tilley-style hat, usually with the strings hanging down
Teal’c – no hat
Dr. Jackson does in this season wear a weird bandana-wrap cap thing a couple times though.
4×19 – Prodigy – skip
This is kind of an episode with no point. Dr. Jackson doesn’t show up at all. The actual real Chief of Staff of the US Air Force at the time, General Ryan, does. I guess the main objective was to audience-test a younger, angrier mini-Sam? Wildly over-the-top annoying scientist Dr. Duncan Hamilton.
First appearance of Dr. Lee, who becomes a good amusing ongoing character.
The glowing bugs are similar in appearance to the ones in Stargate Atlantis The Defiant One (1×12) but completely different in behaviour and abilities.
4×20 – Entity – watch
Good team dynamic, good story. Some classic O’Neill humour of greater and lesser amusingness.
Similar storyline in Stargate Atlantis The Intruder (2×02).
4×21 – Double Jeopardy – amusing – watch
Directed by Michael Shanks (the only episode of SG-1 that he directed).
Dr. Jackson basically appears only very briefly, which is understandable what with him directing.
Concludes arc begun in 1×19. Although in 1×19 “comtrya” clearly meant “better”, not hello.
Does a good job of indirectly critiquing the SG-1 standard operating procedure, which is to show up, disrupt the entire society, get people to risk their lives fighting the Goa’uld, and then tell them that they can just bury the gate and everything will be fine.
Completion of Cronus arc. Completion of robot arc.
It seems unlikely that Robo’neill would trust Darian after what Darian did.
4×22 – Nemesis – direct sequel to 4×21 as well as bringing in other elements from the rest of the season – watch
This is a problematic episode.
The Jaffa Revenge thing makes no sense. Teal’c is a calm and honourable warrior, not an obsessed Jaffa who delights in the torment of his enemies. To some extent Teal’c deserves what he gets for pursuing his ridiculous obsession.
The Tanith escape makes no sense. The Tok’ra are supposed to be hundreds or thousands of years old, they’re guarding an enemy known to be deceptive, and they somehow fall for the “pretend to be ill in your cell” gambit, even with a Zat gun pointed right at Tanith.
Plus which, telling Tanith they have deceived him doesn’t seem like the cleverest way to trap him.
Dr. Jackson has nothing to do.
O’Neill wears the Tilley hat again.
Blowing up the sun is a cool plan, but how does the gate stay active long enough? How do they not experience the time distortion again?
Are we supposed to handwave that the shield blocks the time distortion and that the black hole powers the gate?
How do they see the supernova “coming towards them”?
Are we supposed to handwave that their sensors can see faster than light?
Some good humour.
Directly followed by sequel in 5×01.
NEXT: SG-1 season 5
PREV: SG-1 season 3