Stargate SG-1: Thor's Hammer

I've been pretty critical of the last few episodes, but I actually have some positive stuff to say about Thor's Hammer (episode ten). The main plot doesn't exactly move forward but some interesting pieces are put in place and it's a neat episode.

Uh, isn't the wooshy thing going to destroy that?
The episode starts with Daniel Jackson actually being less of a waste of space than usual and figuring out that aliens other than the Goa'uld probably visited Earth in the past. Somehow (magic? science? archaeology?) he's figured out that the Norse gods, particularly Thor, were probably these other, nicer aliens. He also thinks Mjölnir (actually he says "Thor's hammer" because I guess they didn't trust their audience to be able to cope with the proper name) was probably some high-tech weapon. And Teal'c just happens to know of a world symbolised by a hammer that the Goa'uld won't go to or talk about. So that's handy.

In case anyone was unfamiliar with who Thor is.
As soon as they arrive on the planet it's obvious that something weird's going on. The locals - instead of running in fear or trating them as gods - just stand around laughing at them and chanting "Thor! Thor! Thor!". And then a big hammer-shaped monument scans them all with a blue beam, which quickly zeroes on on Teal'c's stomach.¹ Jack leaps to his defence and both of them vanish.

Thor! Thor! Thor!
Before Daniel and Sam can react, a bunch of locals arrive, led by a woman on a horse, who immediately makes an obvious Star Wars reference.² It turns out James Earl Jones is in this episode, but it stands out before you even know that. Anyway, she assumes that since they came through the Stargate unharmed they must have been sent by Thor. I guess no Goa'uld ever tried coming through here with human slaves, just Jaffa?

Princess Leia?
They quickly explain the situation and ask what happened to Jack and Teal'c. The woman doesn't know but offers to take them to someone who might. This turns out to be Kendra, a former Goa'uld host. This is big news, because it proves definitively that a Goa'uld can be safely removed and that the host can go back to being themself again. Although we do also learn that the host remembers the whole experience, which is pretty unpleasant.

Meanwhile, Jack and Teal'c wake up in a cave. Teal'c's Goa'uld is fine, but the beam did cause it pain. And unlike proper Goa'uld hosts, Jaffa cannot live without their Goa'uld. That's going to be a big problem since it turns out that no Goa'uld can leave this cave alive. A hologram of Thor informs them that the host can leave but the Goa'uld will die. This seems like a really bad way to do things, since I can't see many Goa'uld willingly killing themselves just to give their host a chance of living, but whatever.

I bet the real Thor will look exactly like this when he shows up.
Back on the surface, Sam and Daniel meet Kendra, get brought up to speed on the Goa'uld removal process, and try to find out if there's some way to rescue Teal'c. Kendra is understandably reluctant to help them until a sudden thunderclap and gust of wind somehow communicate to her that "the Valkyrie" want her to help them. I don't know if she's crazy or if there is some entity communicating with her, it's really not at all clear. Regardless of the reason, she agrees to take them to the cave.

I mean, Thor does exist, but he's not here, so...
Speaking of which, Jack and Teal'c soon discover that they're not alone. The cave is also inhabited by a big scary lizard monster that recognises Teal'c as a Jaffa and identifies itself as "Unas, the First One" and a Goa'uld. Teal'c obviously recognises it, but as something he didn't believe existed, a legendary creature supposedly from the Goa'uld home world. It tries to get Teal'c to turn on Jack, which he refuses to do, and then Jack murders the shit out of it.

Voiced by James Earl Jones.
They set off to look for the way out (even though Teal'c won't be able to leave, as far as they know), only to hear a roar from behind them. The unas³ is still alive! It tries to bargain with them, but Jack just shoots it again and they run away. It follows them to the end of labyrinth where a sort of doorway blocks the exit and causes Teal'c immense pain when he tries to pass through. There's a big fights and Teal'c pushes the unas into the doorway, killing the Goa'uld and, in the process, also weakening the host to the point that it can no longer survive either. And then Sam, Daniel and Kendra also arrive.

The red is only there when it's killing Goa'ulds.
With the immediate danger passed and the whole team back together, the only remaining problem is that Teal'c can't get out. Now this is where the episode falls down. They've got time, they could easily send back to Earth for equipment and supplies to create a new entrance into this cave and seal it up behind them, but they don't. They just break the Goa'uld killing device. So now they can neither use nor study it and this world is no longer protected. Good fucking job, dickheads.

And I can't even see a good reason for the writers wanting to get rid of the device. It was a doorway, in a remote cave, on an alien planet. And with the teleporter at the gate it's even more inconvenient to use - even if you have a captive Goa'uld you've got to bring them to the planet and then trek to the cave and find them and recapture them within the labyrinth. It's not exactly a game changer. I guess that's just how invested '90s TV was in preserving the status-quo.

That looks like it hurts. You should stop doing it.

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¹ Those mid-word apostrophes make possessives weird.
² "You're a little short for gods."
³ It seemed like it gave "Unas" as its name but actually turns out that's the name of its host's species.

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