Stargate SG-1 season 5

Daniel appears farthest back on the DVD/iTunes cover for this season, which echos what happens to his role this season.

Season 5 is basically the nadir of the main SG-1 team, continuing its decline from breakout “six seasons and a movie” potential to fating it to live in SF obscurity.

Many dark episodes with impossible choices.  Everyone angry.  Angry Jack, angry Daniel, angry villagers, even angry Dr. Frasier.  No fun.

The overall theme of the season is fallibility.  Teal’c goes from calm to obsessed with revenge.  Jack goes from a strong leader to angry with everyone all the time.  Sam goes from Stargate expert to her technical decisions causing problems.  Basically they go from hypercompetence to hyperfallibility.  Daniel goes basically nowhere.  This is no fun to watch.

It’s worth mentioning that part-way through the season, between 5×12 and 5×13 the events of 2001-09-11 happened in the real world, which can’t have had a positive effect on the mindset of the writers and everyone else involved.

A good article from 2002, albeit with many spoilers, is’s Fan rebellion threatens “Stargate” (note that 2002 is after the end of season 5).

You should basically just read a plot summary of the season and skip watching the episodes.  Be aware that a number of my plot summaries include episode spoilers, unlike in the writeups for previous seasons.  There are episode summaries as well as detailed episode walkthroughs on Stargate Wikia.

5×01 – Enemies – direct sequel/conclusion of 4×22 cliffhanger – watch

Why didn’t they Zat Teal’c? Why would they risk shooting him?
Why don’t they Zat him to undo the problem?

End of the Apophis arc.
Start of the Replicators arc.

Dr. Jackson doesn’t have anything to do.

5×02 – Threshold – Master Bra’tac! – watch

Dr. MacKenzie is always useless.

Teal’c sweating out his madness is kind of tedious.

Why doesn’t the Zat gun undo it like it did for Seth’s mind control and for the mind control Apophis used on Rya’c?

Dr. Frasier’s decision makes no sense.

Basically a replay of Teal’c’s history.  A history which doesn’t particularly make sense, considering his father was First Prime of Cronus.  But nevertheless the story of how he became who he is.

Master Bra’tac announces that at 137 he has at most two more years to live.

Overall a good episode for Bra’tac and for Teal’c.

Given that the previous episode closed the arc begun with the series premiere, this is a reasonable coda to give fans time to come to grips with the fact that the show has to start onto new material.

5×03 – Ascension – watch

This is an ok episode, although Sam’s behaviour is a bit odd.

It introduces the concept that there are many ascended beings, and that humans can ascend.

Unfortunately this episode introduces Col. Frank Simmons (same actor as Q in Star Trek: TNG).  He is part of the terrible NID arc.  All I can recommend is fast forward anytime he appears on screen.  It doesn’t make sense that he wears a suit while everyone else wears a uniform; it is an obvious on-screen choice to make us dislike the outside suit being imposed on us.

5×04 – The Fifth Man – watch

This is an ok episode, except for Col. Simmons who should be fast-forwarded.

It doesn’t make any sense that the alien doesn’t use its powers to deceive the Jaffa though.

Dr. Jackson doesn’t really have anything to do.  He’s wearing that weird bandana-hat thing again too.  Jack is wearing what looks like to be a warm black toque.  I expect it was a cold shoot.

5×05 – Red Sky – skip

I tried to find something redeeming in this episode, but part-way through, as Jack switches into full angry lecture mode, it just falls apart.

Yes I suppose it’s good to remember that SG-1 makes mistakes, they aren’t using the technology properly, they can’t always rely on more advanced civilisations to rescue them.  But where’s the fun in that?

5×06 – Rite of Passage – watch

This is ok.  More or less the completion of the Cassandra arc.

5×07 – Beast of Burden – skip

Daniel starts a civil war.

5×08 – The Tomb – watch

This is an ok episode, but it has Angry Jack again, jackass Jack.  Angry at the Russians.  Always angry.

Why don’t they put the injured soldier in the sarcophagus?  I guess we’re to assume the Russians broke it?

It also portrays the Russians as being rough and untrustworthy, very different from the tone in Watergate.

Samantha briefly wears the Tilley hat before going through the Stargate.  Daniel wears his ridiculous bandana-hat.

5×09 – Between Two Fires – skip

Basically they destroy the entire new Tollan homeworld in order to make a plot point.

Blah blah government conspiracy, untrustworthy, politics, evil, blah blah blah.

Plus which it seems like one of those phase-shifting bombs would have come in handy.

5×10 – 2001 – SKIP

Senator Kinsey appears, always a sign of a terrible episode.

Sequel to 2010 episode (4×16).

Government negotiations, politics, evil, conspiracy, blah blah blah.

World’s most convenient library featuring exactly the newspapers needed.  Handy.

Plus which the gate address they gave the Ashen probably destroyed their entire planet, killing everyone.  Stay classy, SG-1.

5×11 – Desperate Measures – SKIP

Maybourne AND Colonel Simmons, always a sure sign of a terrible episode.

Entire episode on Earth.  Wow, good thing they have that Stargate to explore the galaxy.

Kidnapping, conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, anger.  The usual season 5 mess.

5×12 – Wormhole X-Treme! – the 100th episode of SG-1 – ?

It’s ok, just them making fun of themselves.  You can watch it but it’s a pure inside-joke show.

As plots go, it doesn’t make much sense that Martin Lloyd would go back on his medication.  And nothing the other soldiers do ever makes any sense.

More or less a sequel to 4×11.  I wonder again why a bunch of soldiers are experts in memory-altering chemicals.

Because of the suckiness of season 5, it of course includes some NID junk.

It 4th-walls in the “Making Of” coda at the end.

5×13 – Proving Ground – SKIP

This episode only works, for the short duration that it does, because the viewer won’t believe that they would use their actual planet-saving secret base as a training facility.

This is because no real organisation anywhere would ever jeopardize a key asset in this way.  One wrong move and an offworld team is dead, or a bomb comes through the gate, or the Stargate is permanently broken.  It’s insane.

IF they were going to do a training run like this they would do it in Hathor’s copy of SGC or more likely their own copy of SGC.  They have lots of money.  Making a fake base would be easy.

Plus which, who reveals all the details of the most Top Secret of Top Secret programs BEFORE deciding who will be on the team and need to know?  Rejecting a bunch of young ambitious people right after you fill their heads with Top Secret information is a recipie for disaster.

So it’s basically best if you assume this episode never happened.

In terms of the episode itself, it takes place entirely on earth, which is almost always a bad sign (although cheap for the producers).  I guess it’s some kind of 44-minute-long audience test with these characters, as part of this season’s endless attempts to reach the young male demographic and to figure out how they can twist their show to make it more popular.  Halley returns (from 4×19).  The other female candidate is played by Grace Park, who would later go on to fame as Number Eight in Battlestar Galactica.

They use the Intar weapons from 3×09.

Lieutenant Kevin Elliot takes part in the 5×15/5×16 mid-season double episode; it’s possible his character was created in part just for that purpose.  Lt. Grogan reappears in 5×20.  The other candidates are never seen again.

5×14 – 48 Hours – SKIP

This episode has all the elements of season 5 disaster: Maybourne and Col Simmons, plus almost the entire thing takes place on earth.

What you need to know:

  • Tanith is thankfully, if anticlimactically dead.  The tedious Jaffa Revenge arc is closed.
  • As we heard previously in 5×05, Carter has bypassed lots of gate protocol things, in trying to get it working without a DHD.  She ignores something like 220 out of 400 possible gate result codes.
  • The gate stores incoming “patterns” in a buffer.
  • Patterns can be reintegrated long after the gate has shut down.
  • Daniel gets the exciting task of negotiating with the Russians (which he does quite well).
  • Russian DHD kablooie.

Why don’t they ever take a DHD from some useless planet that they will never visit again?

Why do they show Simmons interviewing the Goa’uld in a luxurious, furnished cell, but later show the Goa’uld in a bare cell?

Teal’c carries the giant deathglider gun from 5×04 The Fifth Man.

This is the introduction of Dr. McKay, a kind of mysterious SG character.  Like everyone introduced this season, he is hyperfallible and cartoonishly annoying.  As with Kinnsey and Simmons, you’re supposed to viscerally dislike him.

He’s there more or less to lecture Carter about how imperfect she is.  As a character, it’s not clear what they were thinking.  Is he maybe some sort of parody of the Stargate superfan, hyper-picky, hyper-geeky, hot for Carter?  He continues the lamentable trend of SG introducing hyperfallible annoying scientists.  Basically other than Carter, every scientist we meet in SG is a loser.  McKay’s throwaway line “I wish I didn’t find you so attractive. I always had a weakness for dumb blondes.” is despicable.  The desire of the writers this season to take everyone on SG-1 down multiple pegs is wildly misguided.

People want to like their television “community”, they want the team to be something they can imagine being a part of, something to aspire to.  They want heroes.  This show was delivering heroes.  Bringing in all this X-Files human imperfection stuff breaks the show.

McKay, oddly enough, goes on to be the main character of Stargate Atlantis, where eventually almost every episode is a McKay ex machina, where he pulls out some technobabble miracle solution at the last minute.  I guess this means he really was a relatable character for the fans, otherwise his lead role is inexplicable.  I assume they made him Canadian as some sort of satirical revenge on their nice Canadian hosts.  He continues to be hyperflawed and hyperannoying, although eventually they writer-declare him to be desirable enough that he wins Jewel Staite’s heart, perhaps the most improbable of all the McKay improbabilities.

He does have the occasional good episode, McKay and Mrs. Miller (SG Atlantis 3×08) as a mostly comedy episode is the best episode of Atlantis IMHO.

5×15/5×16 – Summit/Last Stand – skip

They do assemble many pieces of previous episodes together for this mid-season double, which shows either they had planned the season well, or they were very good at writing quickly.

Begins the Anubis arc.

In this mid-season, the combination of the decisions the writers have made and the direction the show has gone begin to weigh heavily on the story.

What you need to know:

  • Daniel dresses up as human slave, if that’s your kind of thing.
  • The Tok’ra make a symbiote poison.  This is a kind of sucky weapon, as it will also kill the Tok’ra and the Jaffa.  Genocide is a poor way to win a war.  Plus a superweapon that will kill your own people is a bad weapon.
  • Daniel makes a series of bad decisions which through writerly magic work out fine.
  • Lt. Red Shirt (Kevin Elliot) dies, with Martouf’s symbiote Lantash.
  • The bad guy is Anubis, whom we’ve never heard of before.
  • We meet Ba’al, who goes on to be the “new Apophis” as the lead bad guy in future seasons.
  • Most of the Tok’ra die, because everyone in season 5 must suffer.

So basically all you need is: Daniel does nothing, the bad guy is Anubis, and SG-1 escapes unharmed as usual.

The second episode ends rather abruptly.  We’re supposed to be moved by Lt. Red Shirt’s last stand, and to get final closure from the Martouf arc.  But we could care less about Lt. Red Shirt, and we identify with Martouf, not some imagined symbiote inside Elliot.

If they hadn’t blown this by pre-killing Martouf, they would have had an actual poignant ending by Martouf/Lantash sacrificing himself.

We don’t even get to see the final escape, because the Elliot/Lantash sacrifice is supposed to be the big finish.

Also all of the crystals look exactly the same, despite the shapes Lantash keeps claiming for them.  This is perhaps a slight bit of humour, as emphasized by the “diamond” request for the last one.

I can’t imagine Shanks can have been very happy with Daniel’s role in these episodes.

5×17 – Fail Safe – skip

This is basically a direct sequel to 5×16.  Again the choices made in the season weigh heavily.  They want to call on their allies, but Jack just argues with the Asguard (again), the Tok’ra are mostly dead, and the Tollan are all dead.

This last point is particularly irksome.  Ok so first of all, Anubis has infinite technology, what does he need with the Tollan to make him weapons?  I guess we’re supposed to believe only the Tau’ri have access to enough Trinium?  It vaguely makes sense (assuming Anubis has infinite technology) for him to destroy Tollan, although having access to all their already-built gadgets along with lots of technologically-advanced slaves seems like it would be handy.  Second of all, SG-1/Earth is just like “Tollan?  Screw you guys.”  So you have the gate address and the planetary location for the most technologically-advanced people other than the Four Races, and you don’t try to at least go and pick up some gadgets?  Let alone try to rescue anyone?

And their plan makes no sense.  “We have only 11 days before the earth is destroyed, so let’s go with a plan that takes almost exactly 11 days, what could go wrong?”

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the episode where Michael Shanks decided to pitch it in, because he literally has nothing to do.  He seriously just sits or lays around the ship with obviously, clearly nothing to do, radiating boredom.

As a minor note, the sky coordinates at the beginning are wrong.  Coordinates are not in hours, minutes, seconds, they’re in degrees, minutes, seconds.  Some amateur astronomer that guy is.

Also I’m not sure the Red Sky people (planet K’tau) can be all that happy with Jack, what with him denouncing their gods and all.  Seems unlikely they would be happy to let him back in to their holiest temple.  I’m not sure the Tok’ra would have either resources or interest to help, what with the failed plan and most of them being dead.

Jack gets in some good lines.

It seems to me that a short-hop hyperspace jump through the middle of a planet can’t be a good idea.  Although in fairness nothing in the Stargate universe rules prohibits it.

5×18 – The Warrior – Master Bra’tac! – watch

The explanation of the staff weapon being useless is some good show canon.

The Tek’ma’te (a greeting of respect) / Tek’ma’tek (“Friends well met” / “We come in peace”) banter is good.  Presumably it fixes variations in pronounciation in previous episodes.  It’s not clear why the warrior would challenge O’Neill with “tek’ma’te kree!” though, other than to continue to garble up the language.

This episiode was written by Teal’c (Christopher Judge).

Suicide bombers.  Angry Jack shouting that they should change their entire society.  All part of the season 5 gloom.

It is very generous of Lord Yu to send Teal’c back.  Presumably this is to ensure the demise of Imhotep?  But that is a pretty generous considering he was going to bomb Imhotep to oblivion anyway.  That being said, it is roughly in line with his personality as the most reasonable of the System Lords.

5×19 – Menace – watch

Ok, so this is an ok backstory for the Replicators.  Although it makes no sense they went to another galaxy instead of staying in ours.

Plus which

1. If you arrive on a planet, and everything is destroyed except for a single structure containing a single object, DO NOT TAKE THAT OBJECT

2. If you find a robot on a destroyed planet, maybe it’s, you know, a KILLER ROBOT

3. If you find a potentially dangerous thing, do not bring it back to the BASE ON YOUR HOME PLANET

Plus which, WTF does Carter care about “advanced robots” anyway?  They already have a guy who can make them advanced robots whenever they want, which they mention within the episode.  But instead of say, investigating Harlan’s technology, or helping him to get a permanent powersource so that he doesn’t have to spend eternity alone is a crumbling power plant, they just… leave him there.

Anyway basically everything from the moment they discover she can make replicators makes no sense.

And Daniel is mean to Jack.  Because in season 5 everyone must be angry and self-righteous.

5×20 – The Sentinel – watch

This is a good episode.  Although it’s not clear why Daniel Jackson works on the forcefield and not Carter, other than to give him something to do.

Lt Grogan (from 5×13) unexpectedly reappears, despite being basically a non-character.  The last gasp of their “let’s have handsome young men on the show, the kids today like that” strategy.

5×21 – Meridian – ?

Daniel and New Daniel (Corin Nemec, character name Jonas Quinn).

Kelowna (country name) is one of a relatively small number of Canadian inside jokes on the show.

This was when Shanks had had it, and they thought they could just slot New Daniel in as a replacement.

You can skip or watch.  Basically dead ascended Daniel.  Slow horrible death.  Plus which he wants to die.

The fan response was, shall we say, not positive to this development.

5×22 – Revelations – watch

We learn that at some unspecified time and in some unspecified way the Replicator-creating robot was sent to the Asgard.

Overall a good episode.  A bit more info about Anubis.

NEXT: SG-1 season 6

PREV: SG-1 season 4