The First Ones…
Peter DeLuise kicks off his writers’ room stint in fine style with this episode, the first in a string of Unas episodes. Peter’s office was located across the hall from mine and, whenever someone would bring their kid to the production office, they would invariably stop to visit with Peter who had a whole routine for the lucky little guests, an act that always started with “Pull my finger” and always ended with an imitation of Barney the Dinosaur. It goes without saying, the kids loved him and stopping by his office was always the high point of any tour. Until years later when I decorated my office with cool supervillain-themed statues.
The first script we ever wrote for Stargate, the one that got us our staff position, was produced as the fourth season’s ninth episode. Before Paul eventually came up with the Scorched Earth title, I was simply referring to the script as “Whose Planet Is It Anyway?”. The onscreen version of this episode differed in several respects from the early script, the biggest difference being the ending. In the original version, Daniel convinces Lotan to make a difficult decision and the caretaker does, destroying his ship and the building blocks of an entire race, leaving the planet to the Enkarans. In the episode’s final scene, Daniel sits alone in his quarters, listening to Lotan’s parting gift: the music of a now extinct race. The ending was changed to allow for a compromise that led to a happier resolution for all. While I didn’t mind the shift to a more positive conclusion to the story, I still regret that the solution to the issue seemed, in hindsight, somewhat convenient and obvious.
Another aspect of the script that didn’t make it onto the screen was a resolution to the Jack/Daniel conflict at the core of the episode. At one point, Jack makes the painful decision to trigger a bomb that would destroy Lotan’s ship, knowing Daniel is aboard. The bomb never detonates but the intention was there – an attempt to save an entire race by sacrificing the life of a close friend. A defensible decision? Fandom was split – and the divide was made even greater by the fact that there was no apparent resolution to the conflict. No apology from Jack. Nothing. Well, in truth, one had been scripted – an apology of sorts that saw Jack approach Daniel at episode’s end and say something along the lines of: “Just so you know, I’m glad I didn’t blow up that ship.” To which Daniel responded: “Just so you know, so am I.” For some reason, the actors found it too on the nose and suggested they would come up with something on the day. Which, unfortunately, never happened. That was a big learning experience and, from that episode on for as long as we did table reads, if I knew an actor didn’t like a line, even if they didn’t ask for an alternate, I would supply one.
Beneath the Surface
No concept art 🙁
I liked the premise of this episode and the first couple of versions of the script even more. Whether it was because the episode came up short or simply because I was aware of those early drafts, Beneath the Surface came up short for me. In the end, it seemed to lack the emotional core present in those early versions where the relationship between the amnesiac Jack and Sam was a lot less nebulous. They WERE together and, given the ground work we’d laid in the episodes leading up to this one – the admission of feelings, the time loop kiss – it seemed like a logical progression. However, there was some feeling (most notably from Amanda) that it was too much too soon and that the arc might prove a disservice to the characters, so the episode’s romantic elements was stripped away. I loved the notion of our two main characters having to abandon their established relationship for a forgotten life in which they are no longer together.
Some fans were disappointed. Others breathed a sigh of relief.
Point of No Return
No concept art 🙁
This episode was borne out of Paul’s perusal of several online conspiracy sites that maintained the Stargate program did, in fact, exist and that the t.v. show was part of a plausible deniability campaign (something we would use in later episodes). Lots of great memories from this episode: Teal’c on the motel bed, the great onscreen chemistry between Rick and Willie Garson (who got along famously off-camera), and some bizarre notes we received at the script stage. In one scene at the military camp, we hear a helicopter fly away. We received the note: “Can we see the helicopter?”. Brad responded: “No, we can’t see the helicopter because it doesn’t exist. All we have is the sound of the helicopter.”. Another note was a request to convey the sense of some alien quality in Marty at episode’s end, something to let us know how out of this world he truly was. There was a suggestion that, in the final shot of the episode, Marty could wiggle his ears in a other-worldly manner. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fly.
Michael Cassutt was the perfect guy to write this episode. With his heavy science fiction background (having written many short stories and novels in the genre as well as countless non-fiction articles) and hard SF experience, he delivered a first draft that any one of us would have been hard-pressed to match for its authenticity in circumstances and terminology. For months after “No joy on the burn!” became my go-to phrase whenever I was disappointed with something, be it a scripted scene, a production issue, or my lunch order.
I was damn proud of this episode for a number of reasons, the chiefest being its ability to mine an aspect of Daniel Jackson’s past that had yet to be fully explored. My inner comic book geek is in full display here as Green Lantern references abound: Professor Jordan Sarah Gardner, The Stewart Expedition, Steven Raynor – all GL’s past and present. Anna-Louise Plowman’s terrific performance ensured she’d be coming back for a return visit, while Ben Bass’s performance as Steven Raynor should have done the same except that the follow-up story I had planned for his character never got past the room. The basic premise of the story involved SG-1 heading off-world and discovering they’d been beaten to an incredible archaeological find by another team headed by Steven Raynor and bankrolled by a wealthy industrialist who had swung a deal to make use of the Russian gate. This episode also marked my first experience with the networks’ dreaded give-everything-away promos. In this case, the promo included a shot of Osiris blasting our heroes, thus ruining the fourth act reveal of exactly who Osiris was. It was a surprise-ruiner of such epic proportions that it remained unrivaled for years – until their “You won’t believe the last five minutes!” promo for Kindred 1 that revealed Carson Beckett. What’s not believe? You just showed them!! (P.S. Special mention to the German broadcasters that renamed Forever in a Day “Sha’re ist Tod” (Sha’re Is Dead).
To be honest, I don’t remember much about this episode outside of the Mallozian mines (named after yours truly), the “intercepting the transmission” beat, and the uber-cool pain stick used to torture Teal’c that now resides in my garage.
No concept art 🙁
The fact that the late Don Davis considered this episode one of his personal favorites makes me exceedingly proud. It was one of those rare episodes that explored Hammond and offered us a peek of the man behind the uniform. Don was his usual brilliant self and the palpable love and respect SG-1 held for their commander reflected the similar love and respect Don commanded, not only from his fellow cast members, but the entire crew as well. Although I got along well with the entire cast, Don was the one I would occasionally go out to dinner with, sharing a love of food with the fine, Southern gent.
Cheese Grilled Rice Balls? Yes/No https://t.co/ZjSn2ObGAW
— Joseph Mallozzi 🏴☠️ (@BaronDestructo) January 17, 2023
3 thoughts on “More Stargate SG-1 season 4 concept art and episode insights!”
I love this. Thanks for the commentary with the pictures. I hope you don’t stop after SG-1 is complete and do Stargate Atlantis next.
I wish we had seen more of the Gadmeer. Would’ve been neat to follow up with them after they had terraformed and rebuilt
” Another note was a request to convey the sense of some alien quality in Marty at episode’s end, something to let us know how out of this world he truly was. There was a suggestion that, in the final shot of the episode, Marty could wiggle his ears in a other-worldly manner. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fly.”
That wouldn’t make sense, anyway, since he’s a transplanted human.
“This episode also marked my first experience with the networks’ dreaded give-everything-away promos. In this case, the promo included a shot of Osiris blasting our heroes, thus ruining the fourth act reveal of exactly who Osiris was. It was a surprise-ruiner of such epic proportions that it remained unrivaled for years – until their ‘You won’t believe the last five minutes!’ promo for Kindred 1 that revealed Carson Beckett. What’s not to believe? You just showed them!!”
Do they want people to actually watch the whole episode or not?