SG4-6: Window of Opportunity

Jack and Teal’c are the only ones aware of the time loop going on.  Shenanigans ensue.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: Anise and Martouf were involved in helping the team ensure that a treaty summit between the Tok’ra and the US went smoothly.

 

Flaring Up

SG-1 is doing a follow-up investigation of a long-abandoned desert city.  That feels like the reverse of most missions where SG-1 does the preliminary stuff with another team landing the later actions, typically off-screen.  Instead of their usual olive green garb, they’re in beige camo attire due to the whole desert thing.  Jack expresses concern about what the planet’s sun is doing.

“It’s a coronal mass emission, like a giant solar flare,” explains Sam.  When Jack checks whether it’s safe for them to be here, Sam comments on the gauge getting data on the effects.  So he tries again, and this time Sam concedes that “as long as we don’t stay here too long, yes [we’ll be fine], sir.”

Daniel and an alien archaeologist (well, he’s human but he wasn’t born on Earth) whose name is later revealed to be Malaki are studying the symbols on the walls and on a device.  Apparently the symbols are close to Latin; when Malaki translates a phrase as “conqueror of time” Daniel amends it to “master of the uncertain past” as he got to hear the language out loud a year or so ago.  It’s later clarified that this was an Ancient colony, and ergo Daniel was referring to the events of “The Fifth Race”.

When one of Malaki’s devices beeps, he knocks out Daniel and drags him behind a pillar.  He then activates the blocks on the table, triggering the device.  Jack fails to contact Daniel via radio and they spot Malaki doing stuff.  Electricity crackles through pillars with holes near the tops that form a path to the Stargate, which then activates.

Back on base, Hammond and the technician are equally clueless about the incoming wormhole and how electricity crackles around it despite the iris.

On the planet, Jack’s annoyance is heightened when the trio gets close enough to see the unconscious Daniel.  Sam goes to check on him.  Teal’c and Jack are trying to manhandle Malaki by the table when there’s a bright flare of light.

Loop Number One

Jack’s suddenly back in the commissary with Daniel and Sam on the other side of the table.  They’re eating breakfast- Jack has Fruit Loops while Daniel has waffles (I can’t tell what Sam has- possibly a type of cereal).  Apparently Daniel has just wrapped up a spiel by asking for Jack’s opinion.  Amusingly enough, it’s never clarified on what Daniel was talking about.  When Sam asks if something’s wrong a confused Jack goes, “Maybe.”

Soon the team is having the pre-mission briefing with Hammond with Sam doing the talking.  Both Jack and Teal’c remember the mission.  When Jack knows about the corona whatever and asks how else he’d know that, Sam tries, “Maybe you read my report.”

An incredulous Daniel echoes, “Maybe he read your report?”

Teal’c and Jack affirm they’ve done this before.  There’s an off-world activation, which Jack correctly predicts is SG-12 returning early.  And Teal’c adds that one of them will injured- and it does turn out one of them fell and broke his ankle.  Hammond and Sam have a walk and talk on the topic, the latter not dismissing the possibility that they’re telling the truth.

In the infirmary, Janet is checking Jack’s eyes while a nurse puts a thermometer in the mouth of Teal’c.  Daniel is asking them (well, mostly Jack) questions about what happened on the mission.  Sam and Hammond come in; Janet comments they seem to be in good health despite not getting the tests back yet.  Hammond decides to delay the mission until they know what’s going on.

Jack is wandering the hallway when Daniel stops him, his arms full of files and documents.  The younger man has barely started to theorize when Silar crashes into him.  It looks like Silar has made a full recovery since “Upgrades”, making me again wonder about the show’s timeline.

Later, he’s in the commissary having tea when Sam comes over.  He comments that it’s “all different now” since they didn’t go on their mission.  Sam suggests that Jack and Teal’c were brought back to the past and “1969” is brought up before using technobabble on Jack, bemusing him.

Hammond informs Jack and Teal’c that Janet’s tests can’t find anything wrong with them but the alarm blares before Hammond can put them back on active duty.  Jack goes “d’oh” as he exits Hammond’s office; apparently it’s his new catchphrase.  The electricity thing is happening again to the Stargate.

Loop Number Two

Suddenly Jack is back in the commissary.  Soon afterward, he and Teal’c express their annoyance at having to undergo the briefing again.  Hammond, Sam, and Daniel are understandably confused.  Jack is certain that this mess has something to do with that planet.  His timing for SG-12’s return was off by a few seconds but it does happen (or maybe his watch was off by a bit).

The same scenario happens again in the infirmary, despite them both being certain that the tests will come back fine.  Jack comments that postponing the mission didn’t work last time.  Wandering the halls, Jack is found by Daniel again.  This time Jack can predict Daniel’s comments but apparently forgot about Silar crashing into Daniel, making him go “oops”.  Or he was being a bit of a jerk.

Jack and Teal’c go to Hammond’s office, concerned if they don’t go back to the planet soon the time loop will start over again.  Jack concedes that this must sound crazy, adding, “Hey, if it was just me, I’d agree.  But what about Teal’c?  Come on, is this the face of a crazy man?”

He manages to convince Hammond to let them go back to the planet… where Malaki is.  When Jack finds Malaki’s knock-out device, he comments about what kind of archaeologist carries a weapon.  Daniel points out that he does.  Jack concedes the point, going “bad example,” (which seems to be another catchphrase of his for this episode) and also finds a pull-out device that shows a ‘gif’ of a woman; apparently Malaki’s wife.

The device turns on, being powered by the ionization of the atmosphere.  Letting slip that he knows who Major Carter is, Malaki inadvertently reveals he does remember the previous loops.  The Gate starts up…

Loop Number Three

Back in the commissary, Jack promptly face-palms.  Daniel’s a bit offended, thinking it’s a reaction to his query, while Sam is just confused.  At the briefing, Jack announces they’re in a time loop and he with Teal’c start explaining stuff, as seen below.

6JackExplains

Jack: Now, there’s this alien device on six thirty-nine.  It shoots a beam at the Stargate which- subspace something- what?

Teal’c: Accesses the subspace field the Stargate is capable of generating.  It is powered by ionization.

Jack: In the atmosphere, right, which is caused by- ah!  I know this one.

*pause as Jack thinks*

Jack: Magnets!

Teal’c: The geomagnetic storm.

Jack: Close.  Anyway, I don’t know why none of you remember any of this, but I do know for a fact there’s no point in having ol’ doc Fraiser examine us again.

After brief reaction shots of Hammond, Sam, and Daniel the show cuts to the duo back in the infirmary being looked over by Janet and the nurse.  Teal’c is fed up with having his temperature taken by this point.  Sam is bemused by Jack mostly using technobabble correctly.  Hammond and Sam again comment on how in the next loop they won’t remember having had this conversation.

Daniel is stopped from leaving his study with the files by Jack, who’s followed by Teal’c.  The two explain the importance of the alter but Daniel stands firm that to best understand the technology he must translate all of the ruins.  Sam leads a briefing; she theorizes if they dial out elsewhere just before the time loop is due to start again, then the time loop will be broken.

They engage six chevrons… but the seventh won’t lock in.  The Stargate activates on its own, the iris remaining shut.  As the electricity starts up again Jack waves goodbye.

Loop Number Four

Once Daniel yet again asks for Jack’s opinion, the older man just goes, “Ash me tomorrow.”

The pair are once again in Daniel’s study (apparently this time we skipped over the convincing).  Jack apparently taped their conversation in the last loop… but the recording is now gone.  Teal’c comments, “Did I not say that your plan would be unsuccessful?” to Jack’s annoyance.

Daniel suggests the only way to cumulatively figure out the translation is if Jack and Teal’c learn and remember the translation throughout the loops.  Elsewhere, Sam is explaining why the plan in the last loop failed.  Apparently the desert planet is in the center of a “subspace bubble” which includes Earth and Alaris (the planet SG-12 was on).  Sam admits that stopping the loop is up to Jack and Teal’c.

Jack and Teal’c are helping out Daniel in his study when the alarm sounds.  It turns out Teal’c starts out the loop getting hit by a door being opened by a technician of some kind.

Getting Loopy

At some point Jack and Teal’c get tired of learning the Latin-like language of the Ancients (apparently Jack didn’t remember any of it from “The Fifth Race”).  So Jack spins around in his chair before starting to juggle golf balls.  Then Teal’c gets a turn.  When Daniel turns around it’s to see them both doing so.

Jack’s in the commissary when Teal’c comes over; apparently Jack is taking this loop off.  Jack grumbles, “I’m telling you, Teal’c, if we don’t find a way out of this soon, I’m gonna lose it.”

Teal’c raises an eyebrow and tilts his head.

6SmileyFace

“Lose it.  It means go crazy.  Nuts.  Insane.  Bonzo.  No longer in possession of one’s faculties.  Three fries short of a Happy Meal.  Wacko!”  Jack holds up his ‘masterpiece’ of a smiley face made out of ketchup and mustard which he made during his speech.  Yeah… apparently he’s having a bad loop.

Jack is at work in Daniel’s study as he and Teal’c watch on.  Daniel is bemused as Teal’c gets at turn at the chalkboard with Jack taking the Jaffa’s vacated seat.  He points out that Jack and Teal’c could do whatever they want without consequences as time will just ‘reset’.  Inspired, the pair then walks out of the study.  I don’t think Daniel has realized what he’s done, judging by his confused expression.

Jack starts to learn how to make clay pots before riding a bike through the halls of the base.  The two then play golf in the Gate room, hitting the ball through the wormhole to Alaris.  Then a clip shows that Jack has improved his pottery skills.

6BackSwing

When Hammond shouts at the duo off-screen for playing golf in the Gate room, Jack shouts back, “In the middle of my back swing?!”

6MakeOut

Teal’c gets to shove the door shut on the technician who continually keeps opening said door on him.  At the end of one loop, Jack gets into civilian garb and resigns so he can make out with Sam as a shocked Hammond watches on.  It’s definitely sweet that he respects the rules of the military enough to resign before kissing Sam, even though he knows the time loop will render the rule-breaking null and void.

Sam is bemused as Jack is still smiling when the next loop’s briefing starts.  They’re now finished the translation on the ruins.  The planet was a colony of the Ancients until some unspecified disaster struck which apparently put their whole existence there at risk.  The time loop device was created in hopes of going back in time to prevent said disaster from occurring.  However, as seen, it only creates a short-term looping effect rather than causing ‘proper’ time travel.  Unable to figure out how to alter the device, the Ancients eventually opted to shut down the device and let the end come.

SG-1 must go to the planet and hit the panels in the right sequence to shut down the device and restore the proper flow of time.

Breaking the Loop

They go to the planet; not bothering with secrecy, Jack calls out for Malaki.  Then again, the noise of the wormhole would have alerted him anyway.  Teal’c walks into a red force field.  Malaki set it up so that the quartet can’t reach the device and shut it down.  Jack throws a rock at the force field but it just bounces back.

Malaki is determined to master time.  His wife died twelve years ago; he’s determined to head back to see her again.  She died due to a congenital heart defect, so he can’t change the past but he’s still desperate to be with her again even briefly.

Daniel points out that the Ancients never got the device to work.  Sam reveals that fourteen worlds are unwittingly reliving the same day over and over again, making Malaki a bit concerned over that level of effect.  Jack argues that if the race that created the Stargates can’t make that level of time travel happen, then how can Malaki?

6Malaki

But Malaki is firm on wanting to her again and rejects Jack’s overture of sympathy.  This makes him shout back, “I lost my son!  I know!”

It’s interesting that Daniel- who did lose his wife- doesn’t speak up during this conversation.  In fact, only Teal’c and Sam are shown reacting to Jack’s above comment.  Teal’c, since he’s a dad while Sam was nearly on the other end (Jacob’s cancer).  Then again, Daniel did get an extended farewell with Sha’re during “Forever in a Day” which Malaki apparently did not.  Or maybe he’s aware that Jack did spend a more comparable length of time with his son as did Malaki with his wife.

Jack goes on to say, “And as much as I… I could never live that over again.  Could you?”

Malaki has to admit, “No.”

“Let her go,” Jack advises.  Malaki shuts down the device and turns off the force field.  Getting out the gif device, Jack hands it over to Malaki who looks at her image.

The team returns home to a grateful Hammond.  Jack comments, “Well, General, you know what they say.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again.”

Sam and Daniel are bemused by the relish with which Jack is eating oatmeal.  She got a message from the Tok’ra; apparently they’ve been trying to contact Earth for three months and it’s left up in the air how long before that their absence went unnoted.

Daniel asks if Jack was ever tempted to do anything crazy.  Jack responds that Daniel asked that before but doesn’t reveal anything as he continues his breakfast, although he does look at Sam slightly dreamily to her confusion.

Conclusion

It took me until the end of the episode to realize the importance of Jack having Fruit Loops for breakfast during the time loop.  Well played, Peter DeLuise, well played.  I forgot which featurette it was, but one of them in an earlier season actually discussed how much fun the cast and crew had with this episode.  And it shows; this episode mixes humor and heart spectacularly.

Most of the episode is light-hearted fun, but the final scene doesn’t feel out of place despite its more serious tone.  Charlie’s death still impacts Jack even after all this time, despite his typical happy-go-lucky demeanor.  I have to wonder how long he and Teal’c will retain knowledge of the Ancient tongue.

This was a wonderful episode.  Although most of the emphasis was on Jack and Teal’c, Daniel and Sam were still involved as much as they could be given the nature of the episode.  The bonus feature in an earlier season that discussed this episode mentioned picking Jack and Teal’c was deliberate as they’re the ‘not-brainy’ teammates and thus it’d be more interesting to have them deal with a scientific issue of this size.  And it was!  The loop montaging was great, particularly given how repetitive it could have been.  I suspect this will end up being my favorite episode of this season.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: When the Russians’ new Stargate program gets in trouble, their lead scientist asks for the team’s aid.

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