SG-1 goes to Russia when their new, previously secret Stargate program runs into trouble.
Last time on Stargate SG-1: Jack and Teal’c were the only ones aware of a time loop.
Sam is doing a last-minute briefing of sorts before the four go through the Gate… when, as Walter reports, the seventh chevron won’t engage. Apparently there was an energy spike eight minutes before they tried to dial in their Gate. SGC has been under the impression that the Stargate was destroyed in the explosion that destroyed Thor’s ship.
Um, guys. Stargates have survived meteoroid strikes, who-knows-how-long in Antarctica and its ice, and being buried for centuries or even millennia. Yeah, it was an impressive explosion, but I doubted even back in “Nemesis” whether or not it was destroyed.
Back on track: Walter reports that there was a seismic event that matches up with the time of the spike in Siberia. Hammond then has a briefing with SG-1 about how the Russians salvaged the second Stargate from the ocean floor and have been setting up their own Stargate program. They evidently have a source on the SGC. And they’re being helpful about this as their Stargate won’t shut down. And that’s why they can’t dial in their Gate; it’s like Earth is a household with two landline phones and one can’t be used if the other is currently in use. The events of “A Matter of Time” are brought up, but then dismissed as no such anomaly has been detected in the area.
It doesn’t hurt that the Russian president had his reservations all along about the program. Its head scientist is Doctor Svetlana Markov, who Sam considers “brilliant”, and who wants SG-1 to go to Siberia and help her sort out the issues.
Jack is agitated about helping out the Russians, quite possibly due to his earlier military experiences at the tail end of the Cold War. Daniel and Sam both point out that it’s sort of necessary if they’re to ever use their Stargate again, so Jack silently but grumpily gives in.
The music for the Siberia parts of the episode is pretty great. Jack promptly does a twist on an iconic greeting by going, “Doctor Markov, I presume?” when she’s there to greet them as they get off their plane.
I do appreciate how there’s another female scientist here- and this one is mostly benevolent. Okay, she was complicit in the Russians keeping the second Stargate but I’m not sure I’d have the scruples to resist the temptation of interplanetary travel. Sam and Svetlana have a fangirl moment over each other. Then Svetlana reveals she already knows of the whole team due to reading files on the SGC. When Jack asks how, she retorts that she learned English when she was six.
In the back of a plane (benches along the walls opposed to seats, maybe it’s a military one?) Svetlana explains how their subs swept the area following the explosion of an alien spaceship and they found the second Stargate. The fact that one of their subs went missing during this process is brought up but Jack lies about not knowing about that.
She’s second in command to Colonel Sarkalov. Maybe that’s another sign of the Russian president’s wariness about the program if no generals were assigned to it. That’s further underscored when she informs them that “[the Russian Stargate program has] been in operation for thirty-seven days, albeit against the wishes of certain very powerful people in the government.”
The Russians want access to intergalactic technology like the US; Markov convinced the higher-ups it’d be better to have their own Stargate program than trust the US. Which is fair enough. So now two countries know of the Stargate. Though by the time Atlantis starts the Stargates will be more or less an open secret; I remember distinctly that McKay is Canadian while I’m pretty sure Beckett is Scottish.
Apparently back after WWII the Russians got the DHD from Giza by taking it from the Germans. Despite not knowing what it was? Okay then. But in any case, that’s how they’ve been able to travel off-world without McGuyvering a system like the US had to. Svetlana was off-base when whatever happened went down, so she legitimately doesn’t know what’s happening and apparently hasn’t been able to contact anybody there.
A co-pilot reports that the runaway is iced over, so Svetlana tells SG-1 that they’ll have to jump. In a nod to “Thor’s Chariot” Daniel promptly looks unnerved. Jack is still grumpy and states he doesn’t really care about the forty-seven people at Markov’s base but does about the seven teams stuck off-world until he, his team, and Markov fix this mess. But he’s down for the jumping, although Teal’c is baffled by how a parachute works.
Jack affirms that they brought hazmat gear because “we thought someday should be prepared.”
Svetlana asks, “Is he always like this?”
More amused than anything by Jack’s mood (particularly as it’s not aimed at her), Sam responds that “actually, this is quite charming.” I suspect this is a “flaw made endearing by love” moment. Svetlana is not amused, however.
Their trunk of gear is shoved off first by crew members. Jack reassures Teal’c that “it’s easy. Just jump, then pull this,” as he pats the area in question.
“This does not seem wise, O’Neill.”
“I said it was easy, not wise.”
Svetlana tells the others that they’ll meet up at the base if they get separated. The two ladies jump first. After Teal’c repeats “this does not seem wise,” Jack gives him a comforting nudge before the Jaffa jumps out of the plane. An uneasy Daniel jumps next, and Jack goes last.
As he, Sam, and Svetlana trudge through the snow towards the base, Jack is unable to contact Daniel or Teal’c by radio. But once they’re inside, Jack is able to contact Teal’c. Sam and Jack ask about the base’s original intention as it couldn’t have been built for the Stargate program.
“It was an experimental power station,” according to Svetlana, which was shut down two years ago. It’s dark as well, as all non-essential functions have been shut down. The group, all of whom are in hazmat masks, regroup. Apparently Daniel and Teal’c have found several bodies, only some of whom were shot.
Svetlana uses her access to open up a pair of large red doors. The large chamber on the other side contains the active Stargate and a large number of dead bodies. Svetlana is understandably saddened by her underlings’ deaths. The group travels to another room containing multiple computers as well as more bodies; it’s likely their version of the control room. Once a dead guy has been removed from the chair, Markov can use that computer station. Removing her mask, she affirms the air is safe to breathe.
Teal’c removes his next and confirms that so the other three do so as well. Svetlana is visibly emotional over her colleagues’ and friends’ deaths. Apparently the colonel released “nerve gas” yesterday, which has since dissipated, and locked down the Gate room. Jack reasons that some of the people were shot before the gas was emitted.
Svetlana hands over a clipboard with a sheet of paper listing all the workers on base. She then expresses confusion about how the Stargate is running long past its usual shutdown time and also brings up the events of “A Matter of Time”. Jack expresses annoyance about how much she knows of the SGC.
Heading out to another room, Svetlana checks within a large containment vessel but whatever was there in is now gone. As he and Sam approach, Jack comments, “If I ask what [is missing] and you say it’s classified, I’m going to shoot you.”
But Svetlana explains that the seventh address the Russians went to had a submerged Stargate. They managed to retrieve a sample of the water, which turned out to have unusual properties but she had to leave for Moscow before “any significant analysis” could be done to the water, which was being kept in a sealed container within the larger container.
Furthermore, the Gate is currently dialed in to that watery planet. Svetlana is confused by this, stating that “they were supposed to continue on to the next two planets on our planned sequence and not revisit the water planet until I got back.”
Since they left the reconnaissance drone there, all Svetlana has to do is reactivate the receiver to confirm that the Gate is there. Jack contacts Teal’c and Daniel via radio about going back to the control room; the duo is in the Gate room, taking a body count. Apparently the scientists are the ones shot.
The footage from the drone shows the watery planet and some drowned men. Sam suggests that since radio signals go both ways and can travel through wormholes, it’s possible that the drone transmitter is likely what has kept the wormhole open. But Svetlana can’t shut it down and since it’s nuclear-powered it’ll take about a decade for it to run out.
In a Yellow Grey Submarine
She then takes them to the sub, which was used to obtain the water sample. Jack lies about never having been in a sub before. When Daniel asks about the air supply, she assures him there’s over a day’s worth. Daniel, Sam, and Svetlana are the ones to go through, as the sub can only carry three people. Svetlana is the pilot as the sub goes through the Gate. It’s on a cable that lets go once the sub starts to head through the Gate.
The image gets fuzzy on Jack’s end as the sub goes through the wormhole, but clears up once the sub is on the other planet. Although there are five bodies in the water, Teal’c points out there are still people missing. Svetlana’s plan is to deactivate the drone and thus shut off the Gate.
Once the wormhole shuts down, Jack and Teal’c leave to look around the base. Although they’re relieved Sam’s theory was apparently right, both ladies realize there’s still major issues left unresolved. Daniel is more interested how the ruins near the Gate indicate that the planet wasn’t always submerged. Indeed, the way there are pillars lining the way to the Stargate indicate the now-lost culture used the Stargate. I know better than to suggest it’s Atlantis.
But the controls are no longer responding to their confusion and as the sub comes to a complete stop a fire breaks out in the back. Daniel uses the extinguisher to put out the fire and Svetlana starts on repairing the damage. Sam and Daniel look out the window, unable to see anything would have impacted the sub.
Their guns at the ready, Jack and Teal’c are exploring the base. They end up in the commissary where there are a few more bodies. Floury footprints lead to the freezer. Opening the door, they find somebody frozen over. Jack goes, “Holy frozen bad guys” as he recognizes Maybourne.
As she makes the repairs, she responds to Daniel’s dig about Soviet goods by saying the sub is Swiss. Daniel goes, “So, they occasionally catch fire, but they keep perfect time.”
When Svetlana gives him a look, Daniel says, “Sorry. Think I’ve been hanging around Jack O’Neill too much.”
Daniel heads off to give Svetlana some space but she’s still frustrated. Matters aren’t helped when Sam reports that the outside pressure is increasing. Going over to check, Svetlana claims that “the gauge must be malfunctioning.”
“But it’s Swiss,” goes Daniel, further annoying Svetlana. Sam uses technobabble before summing up that if the pressure keeps increasing then the sub will implode.
Teal’c and Jack have taken Maybourne out of the freezer to place on the counter. For the sake of any new viewers, the former comments, “Now we know how the Russians acquired their information.”
There are two options here. Either Maybourne gave the SGC files to the Russians as part of the ‘dark side’ group brought up in “Shades of Grey” or he did it on his own after being disgracing by letting in a mole in that episode. Suddenly Maybourne exhales, making them both wary.
Svetlana explains that nothing like this happened on the previous mission. The sub did have to push extra hard to get through the wormhole, but she figured that was the wormhole’s way of keeping the water out. Sam concurs with that theory, making Svetlana admit that Sam’s theory is where she got the idea. The she-scientist bonding moment ends when the sub starts to creak.
Maybourne’s hand falls down. Teal’c reports his heart is beating slowly and he’s getting warmer. Then he wakes up. However, the show opts to cut back to a quick scene of the sub when Svetlana fails to get the sub working again. She and Sam discuss which way they’ll mostly likely die, causing Daniel to protest that can’t any action be taken?
Getting up, Maybourne then gags and gets on all fours to throw up some water. He then panics and wants them to get into the freezer now, but then the water goes into Teal’c as Maybourne shoves Jack and himself into the freezer. Maybourne insists that Teal’c can’t be helped. A confused Jack watches through the peephole as Teal’c leaves.
Daniel realizes that the problems might be stemming from the ‘water’ as not even a chemical analysis was done on it. It’s likely that the scientists simply couldn’t wait for their boss and opened it in her absence.
Back in the freezer, Maybourne reveals that “it’s alive”. Maybourne explains that he and the scientists were effectively possessed by the life forms in the water as they wanted to go home. Jack being incredulous might have more to do with the source (Maybourne) than the theory itself. Jack storms off, Maybourne staying behind, to see if he can’t help his friend.
Daniel theorizes that the liquid is alive and after humans took part of it away the liquid views them as a threat. The front bubble window of the sub starts to crack. Jack has followed Teal’c into the Gate room but is easily thrown aside when he tries to stop him. The bubble breaks as Teal’c dials in for the watery planet.
To their confusion, the sub isn’t filling with the liquid. Despite Sam’s concern, Daniel approaches it and then sticks his hand in. Daniel, no. As he starts to get sucked in, the two women try to pull him back inside the sub. But all three end up coated in the liquid.
Once Teal’c has finished dialing in, he then gags and gets on all fours as the water comes out of his mouth and through the wormhole, which then shuts down. Teal’c affirms to Jack that the life forms in it didn’t want him dead but simply wanted to go home.
Suddenly the Gate reactivates, so they duck. The trio, dry, are thrown onto the landing ramp. Jack is confused by the lack of a submarine but the three are just as confused about what happened to them. Jack suggests it was a hostage exchange and when everybody else looks doubtful about the idea, he shrugs, “It’s just a thought.”
It’s left up in the air whether or not the Russians will continue their Stargate program after this disaster in which the only survivor was off-base at the time. Plus, what’ll happened with Maybourne?
Overall, I did enjoy this episode a lot, which is especially impressive as it is right after the amazing “Window of Opportunity”. All four members of SG-1 got to play a role, and there was a great female scientist as a one-off character. Or maybe we’ll be lucky and Doctor Svetlana Markov will show up in a future episode. I love how the Stargate program is finally spreading beyond the US, though it might complicate matters when it comes to interplanetary diplomacy.
There were call-backs to “A Matter of Time”, “Nemesis”, and “Small Victories” as well as a brief nod to Daniel’s trouble with heights mentioned in “Thor’s Chariot”. Then again, he managed the narrow pathway in “Crystal Skull” just fine. Or maybe the earlier event helped him manage that aspect of his fear, but he’s still uneasy about parachuting. It was amusing to see Teal’c be concerned about this human invention for falling through the sky.
The mystery about the ‘water’ was well done, and I’m a bit relieved no Nixon jokes were made despite the episode title. Apparently the SGC has been getting off fairly easy about bringing back strange alien stuff these past few seasons… all it’d take is one slip-up and the whole base could be wiped out.
Next time on Stargate SG-1: SGC discovers the home-world of the symbiotes and Unas.