Overall Rating: Good
SGC utilizes a cold address program where they re-dial stargate addresses from the Abydos cartouche (“Children of the Gods”) that they could not establish a wormhole with before. They are doing this because … I do not know why they are doing this. Anyway, a wormhole is established with a cold address, and a MALP is sent through, surprising two humans on the other side of the wormhole. Their stargate had only recently been unearthed. The people are scientists on an archaeological dig. Their names are Mallin, and Nyan. Mallin hightails it out of there, while Nyan chats up SGC through the MALP, and invites them to visit. Gating to the planet, SG-1 learns from Nyan that there are two warring factions. One side, the Optricans, believe humans were transported to the planet via a gateway (a stargate). The opposition believes that humans were created by their god Nefertum, and evolved on the planet. The bad news for SG-1 is they are in pro-Nefertum land.
Nyan thinks proof of the gateway theory of human existence on the planet is fascinating, and exciting. Mallin believes SG-1 is part of an Optrican invasion, or worse, proof that her beliefs were wrong, and brings back some military muscle to subdue the team. Teal’c is injured, but escapes from the military zealots. The rest of the team is captured, and placed in cages that look like electrified doggy kennels. Nyan finds the injured Teal’c, and reluctantly aids the Jaffa in a plan to free the rest of SG-1.
The best scenes involve Nyan, and Teal’c. Richard Ian Cox as Nyan is intellectually engaging, but not emotionally engaging, through no fault of Mr. Cox’s. Nothing on a personal level about Nyan is written into the episode, resulting in a one-sided view of the character. Chris Judge is excellent as Teal’c, believably revealing one of Teal’c’s personal fears, and his determination to work through it. While dealing with his fear Teal’c is somewhat bullheaded and irrational, but essentially noble. Daryl Shuttleworth does a good job portraying the military commander, Rigar. Rigar realizes the implications of SG-1’s presence, and knows the situation is far above his pay grade. His reactions ring true. The rest of the regular cast performs well.
The story is a take on the debate between creationism and evolution, with the twist that both sides are holding different views of the same event. Come to think of it, that really is not such a big twist. Still, it is an interesting story. A big plus for this episode is the schism between the warring factions is not settled by SG-1. “New Ground” is about the team getting out of a bad situation, not restructuring an off-world society in 44 minutes.
Near the beginning of the episode, watch for Teal’c’s reaction when General Hammond is talking to O’Neill about manually dialing a stargate. Priceless.
Why doesn’t Teal’c carry a potentially non-lethal weapon, like a ‘zat gun, on missions?