In the penultimate episode of season two, SG-1 needs to find a way back to the future.
Last time on Stargate SG-1: There was an invisible threat on base and Jacob/Selmak helped out.
Thirty Years Ago…
SG-1 is preparing to go through the Stargate, although Sam is concerned about the solar flares impacting the wormholes. Neither Daniel nor Jack understands her technobabble. General Hammond checks on the injury on Sam’s hand (presumably from last episode’s attack) and gives her a note to open once on the other side of the Stargate and he watches as they go through the wormhole.
However, the team comes out into the Gate room which then warps into a different room. They’re under a Titan missile which is about to be tested. The three humans understandably begin panicking and searching for a way out and/or a way to turn off the countdown, but Teal’c remains calm. He uses the zat gun on the missile just before it goes off. When Jack asks how Teal’c knew that would work, the Jaffa admits he did not.
Then soldiers come into the room, telling SG-1 on get on their knees. The team is put into a holding cell together. Sam realizes that they’ve traveled back in time roughly thirty years (they find out it’s exactly thirty years- the titular year). Daniel acknowledges they’re the first people they know of who’ve traveled back in time and is curious to see ancient civilizations as they were.
Teal’c suggests changing the past, which leads Sam to point out the ‘grandfather paradox’ where it’s a bad idea to change anything because of the potential ramifications. Teal’c shrugs it off, until Sam points out the potential of Teal’c never getting the chance to defect.
Jack points out they’re already changed history, which Sam admits and they need to focus on damage control. The cranky soldier (who already hit Jack with his gun’s butt for mouthing off to him) comes in with a few other soldiers as back up. Daniel causes more trouble by answering in negative to a question in Russian- in the same language.
Jack is taken to a separate room for further questioning by Major Thornbird. Being Jack, he utilizes both Star Trek (original series) and Star Wars references. Although the original series already existed by this point, it hadn’t become the widely known property it is today. I have to wonder if Jack was thinking of the episode where Kirk ended up on a 1960s military base. On the other hand, A New Hope won’t come out for another eight years.
When Thornbird asks Jack on the weapon used on the missile, he admits “it’s hard to say”. Thornbird suggests it’s a secret, leading Jack to correct him that “no, just difficult to pronounce.”
Throughout the interrogation, Thornbird smokes since it was a common habit back then. The show cuts back to 1999’s Hammond staring at the Stargate. A minion reports to him, and Hammond admits that the team is on their own.
Lieutenant George Hammond
While being transported to Albuquerque (or at least that’s on their way), Sam suggests they have to live out their lives in secret and there’s no other option. Jack is all, “Captain, where there’s a will there’s an or.”
Teal’c points out that once matured, the symbiote will take him over. Then the truck gets a flat and has to pull over. A soldier enters the back (since the other two are working on said flat tire) and reveals at Jack’s query that he arranged for the flat. Then he asks about the note.
Sam notices his nametag and reveals he gave her the note. The note had his name on it and was in his handwriting- it said “help them”. Jack and Sam start explaining things but George is understandably dubious.
Jack has to check what happened in 1969; Daniel says the moon landing. George points out everybody knows about that so Jack reveals exact details of where George was and who he was with at the time. Convinced, George agrees to help them. He starts unlocking the handcuffs and checks that Sam’s cut is okay.
George hands over the zat gun. Jack and Teal’c nudge George into calling for help so Jack can knock out the duo with the zat gun. A second truck with SG-1’s artifacts pulls up when they see the felled trio (George’s faking it). Jack stuns the duo and after getting out a device to open up the iris he disintegrates the two boxes via zat gun. George lends him some money, and Jack promises to pay it back with interest. Sam gets him to promise to keep it a secret. To prevent George from being court-martialed, Jack stuns him with the zat gun.
The Hippie Bus
Jack’s plan is to find the Stargate, particularly since he knows there’s one in Antarctica. Sam is baffled by what the note says. Besides “help them” there are only two exact dates. Going through a pine forest, they find a highway. Jack wants Sam to do the hitchhiking pose while the three guys are in the ditch by its side. Daniel wants to go to New York where Catherine Langford lives and ask her where the Stargate is. Sam and Jack argue against it and his idea of going as a foreigner but Daniel points out he speaks twenty-three languages so it’d be an easy task for him.
Daniel suggests due to a stable time loop, they’re the ones to inspire her research in the late sixties. Fed up with Sam’s ineffectual method, Teal’c stands in front of a hippie bus. A couple is inside and offers to take them with them since they’re going to Woodstock (not by name, but what other concert in upstate New York could it be?).
When Michael asks Teal’c his name, Teal’c comments, “I am not at liberty to reveal my identity.” Luckily Michael seems to be impressed by this. The female hippie (later in the episode her name is revealed to be Jenny) seems to be high or at least easily distracted.
Undeterred, Michael asks about the symbol on the other man’s forehead and is still impressed by the response of, “Slavery to false gods”. However, he is confounded by Teal’c thinking the war Michael is against is between the US and Canada. Apparently no one has gone into depth about recent Earth history with Teal’c.
A road trip montage ensues, complete with a red line on a map showing their progress and vaguely funky music.
Fashion It ‘69
Daniel has a mustard brown jacket over a red vest with orange patterning. The bottom layer is a white mock turtleneck. Teal’c has on a wig and a two-toned tie-dyed pink headscarf. He has on a paisley vest over a lavender/lilac shirt as well as peace emblem necklace.
Jack has on jeans, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket. Sometimes he adds a patterned-on-black skull cap and sunglasses. Sam has on a choker necklace, a white blouse with a pattern, a multi-patterned jacket, and a orange and blue skirt. She has rose-tinted sunglasses on at times as well as longer necklaces.
Young Catherine Langford
During a night near the woods having soup out of tin cans, Sam has a brainstorm. A solar flare must have triggered the time travel. The dates Hammond wrote down are the occurrences of solar flares on the other side of the sun, allowing them to travel back to their time.
Michael and Jenny have overheard part of this conversation, so SG-1 claims they’re actually aliens. It’s only three-quarters of a lie, anyway. Jack states they came here “a long, long time ago” so Daniel promptly picks it up with “from a galaxy far, far away”. The dorks. Jack uses the zat gun to flare up the fire to ‘prove’ they’re aliens.
SG-1 reaches an observatory in New York. Jack and Teal’c use the giant telescope within to check on Sam’s theory. When Teal’c points out a hobby of Jack’s is astronomy, Jack argues “not on this scale”. Meanwhile, the hippies take Sam and Daniel to Catherine Langford’s home, who offers them tea on the tea set from “The Torment of Tantalus”.
While understandably a bit hesitant about revealing classified information at first, Daniel manages to get the needed information out her (he’s added yellow-tinted sunglasses to his outfit while pretending to be the son of a German colleague of her father). I like her pink dress and hairband. Jack witnesses the first solar flare on the note through the telescope, proving the theory. The team unites back in the hippie bus, which takes them back to DC where the Stargate is being housed.
Off By a Few Seconds
Jack thanks Michael and Jenny, Daniel comments that the word Jack is looking for is “groovy”. Michael and Jenny want to go with them, but Jack talks them out of it despite Michael having been drafted (thus the earlier comment of possibly going to Canada). Sam warns Jack not to say anything and change history. The four leave the hippie bus, Sam and Jenny having a farewell hug. Then Michael and Jenny share an embrace as the team leaves.
They find the Stargate and Sam reassures them that Hammond did right by them. Jack has the idea to use the nearby Jeeps as power suppliers. A nearby black soldier, however, hears the increasing racket and comes in just as the Stargate activates.
Another comes in from above so Jack stuns them both with the zat gun. Sam’s worried about the exact timing but Jack insists they’re out of time so they leave as the two soldiers recover. They show up in a version of the Gate room full of white cloaked objects. Jack calls out, “Auntie Em, Auntie Em,” in a Wizard of Oz reference.
The door opens and an elderly lady in a white nightgown comes in. Getting up close to her, Sam recognizes her as Cassandra. Apparently being off by a few seconds meant they were flung into the future. Once Cassandra was old enough, Sam explains matters to ensure the stable time loop.
Using a hand gizmo, Cassandra activates the Stargate. Then she states, “I can tell you this: your journey is just beginning.”
I look over at my eight seasons of SG-1 to go, the five of Atlantis, and 0.5 of Universe (I have time to get the other 1.5, okay?) to see that she is telling the truth. Returning to their proper time, Hammond is aware it’ll be a long, long briefing. Apparently the cut on Sam’s hand ensured he’d know when give her the note. Also, “with interest” Jack owes Hammond $539.50.
Back to the Future
The Star Trek and Star Wars shout-outs were fairly obvious, as was Jack’s fallback to his favorite referential material The Wizard of Oz. But I think there were some parallels in this episode to Back to the Future as well. First off, there’s having Star Trek and Star Wars references so close together in a time travel story (particularly in a fake identity context). Then there’s having the circumstance of a certain natural, powerful element needed for time travel that can’t be predicted, only recorded, so the information for it has to come from the future.
Emphasizing the need not to change history is true in most time travel stories. But I have to wonder at the names of the two helpful hippies- Michael and Jenny. Jennifer was the name of Marty’s girlfriend while Marty himself was played by Michael J. Fox. I’m not sure if any of this was deliberate or if it was and I am just late to the party.
Aaron Pearl was astoundingly good at young George Hammond- so good I had to bend my rules and check on the Stargate wiki entry for this episode to make sure someone else did play him and the crew didn’t just make up Don S. Davis to look decades younger. Plus I wanted to see if the team’s emphasis on letting Michael make his own decisions meant anything- apparently it didn’t.
It was great to see Catherine again as well as the younger Hammond. The hippies were well-done for single episode characters. The technobabble mostly made sense to me.
This certainly puts some of Hammond’s earliest actions into new context. He knew the Stargate program needed to be based in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. Sam Carter needed to be alongside Daniel and Jack on SG-1 (so it wasn’t just her being the best person for the job, it was completing the stable time loop, which is a bit of a bummer). Hammond needed somebody (it ended up being Sam) to research solar flares so he’d know which ones would work to send the team back to their own time. And no wonder he was so astonished by the appearance of Teal’c in “Children of the Gods”; he knew of Teal’c but not at all how he’d joined the team. Now I’m wondering how old Sam was when Hammond first met her given his and Jacob’s long friendship- and how long it took for him to make the connection.
“1969” was a great episode. Stargate SG-1 does seem to have a habit of putting a fun spin on the traditional science-fiction tropes and plots. That’s probably part of why it got those ten seasons and two spin-offs.
Next time on Stargate SG-1: Jack, Sam, and Daniel are tricked into thinking they’ve each pulled a Steve Rogers, unaware of the others. Teal’c goes on a single Jaffa hunt for his teammates.