SG4-9: Scorched Earth

The team must prevent a planet’s terraforming before the newly arrived refugees are wiped out.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: Daniel got captured by a non-possessed Unas.


Rejoicing Interrupted

This episode follows up on a mention of the Enkarans’ situation early on in “Watergate”.  Apparently some kind of disaster struck the planet they were living on and thus SGC scrambled to find them a suitable planet to move to.  They’re humanoid, but apparently even low levels of radiation can blind and eventually kill them so a planet with a thick ozone layer was required.

Now SG-1 is attending a celebratory feast with the natives in honor of settling into their new home.  Apparently Sam is already worried the planet’s winters will be more severe than predicted, as a lengthy analysis was not possible given the short time frame.  But the Enkarans, including their blind leader Hedzarar, are just delighted to have a new home.


But then Caleb, from a neighboring village, rushes in to report that his village has been destroyed by a huge device.  SG-1, Caleb, and the leader’s son Eliam journey to the Stargate.  From there they can see a huge spaceship in the distance doing some kind of orange field technology that is burning away the pine forest.

The human members of SG-1 go back to SGC to hold a briefing with Hammond.  Apparently the spaceship is terraforming the planet in a manner Teal’c is unfamiliar with.  Daniel points out that the ship isn’t deliberately attacking, but Jack counters that doesn’t change the end result.  First the Stargate will be hit (and possibly destroyed) and then the main village.

It’s brought up here that these Enkarans’ ancestors were taken by Goa’uld motherships as their home planet has no Stargate.  On Earth they’d go blind in a matter of days, it’s unlikely they’d find another planet in time, and the original transplant took a fortnight so they wouldn’t be able to rescue them all in any case.

The guys visit Sam in her lab, where she’s studying what Jack terms “little fuzzy orange things” via a microscope that are from an atmospheric sample of what’s in the ship’s wake.  Sam uses technobabble about them, her and Daniel affirming that it’s a terraform that uses a sulfur-based ecosystem opposed to a carbon-based one.  Next the guys go back to the village to meet with Teal’c, who reports that the villages don’t want to leave.

They neither want to leave anybody behind nor abandon another home just after finding one.  Daniel wants to at least try communicating with the ship.  Sam arrives to set up a transmitter, and soon they get ‘beamed’ up.

Lotan and the Gadmere

The four are in a large white chamber that has bubble-filled tubes in it.  Teal’c suggests it’s some kind of storage facility.  When Jack looks up, he sees only darkness and no ceiling.  Sam points out that the air here is perfectly breathable, leading Daniel to suggest they’re expected.

Jack warns them not to poke around… so Daniel promptly gets a drawer open by accident to the older man’s frustration.  Trying to shut it, Daniel just gets another one open.  Sam suggests the ‘discs’ within are tissue samples; Daniel concurs they’ll become the species that the ecosystem will consist of.

Then Lotan comes in, affirming their hypothesis.  Jack is confused by his similiarity to the Enkarans, so Lotan explains he was ‘assembled’ based off of scans done of the Enkarans yesterday.  He’s meant to act as an intermediary between the spaceship and SG-1.  Daniel admits they’re not Enkarans but from Earth and makes introductions.  He forgets to clarify that Teal’c is a Jaffa, but maybe that’s on purpose given most species’ reactions to Jaffa.

Lotan has a message for the species below.  Apparently the terraforming began before the transplant occurred, so the spaceship (which is fully automated at this point) was under the then true impression that there was no sentient life.  Once started, the terraforming process must be completed.

Lotan concedes that the Enkarans can’t live on the planet once it’s been terraformed.  When Jack demands to talk to the boss, Lotan accesses a higher level of the ship’s functions and then leads the quartet into another room to show them a hologram of the sentient species that will move in once the terraforming is complete.


“Not exactly ET,” comments Jack.  Lotan explains there’s ten thousand years of knowledge on this ship.  A peaceful species, the Gadmere fell victim to a superior military power (possibly the Goa’uld or maybe the Replicators) and wanted a chance to rebuild their civilization via this spaceship.  It’s admitted that the terraforming process ‘must’ be completed as the spaceship only has enough power to terraform a single planet.

Despite Sam and Teal’c arguing that the Enkarans’ lives depend on the rare factors this planet possesses, Lotan teleports them back down.  When the team returns to the village, the Enkarans clue in fast that it didn’t go well.

Tough Choices

Back on base, another briefing with the same people is held.  Daniel points out that there is a second civilization getting the chance to be reborn- what makes the Enkarans more important than the Gadmere?  Jack points out that the Gadmere are currently freeze-dried.  When Daniel suggests trying to influence Lotan to get the Enkaran position, Jack scoffs that he’s a robot.

Hammond is concerned but won’t give Jack the firepower to take out the spaceship.  Jack admits it’s personal since they spent months with these people trying to save them and the Enkarans trusted the SGC to help them but now they’re inadvertently put them in danger.

The trio returns as the ship approaches.  Eliam, the head woman’s son, is understandably upset about this whole situation.  Matters aren’t helped by the fact that his wife is expecting their child, possibly their first.  Jack decides to try using the naquadah from the reactor they gave them to help keep them warm to blow up the ship.  When Daniel disagrees, Jack asks if Daniel has another option but the brown-haired man doesn’t have one.

Jack wants Sam to create a makeshift bomb out of the naquadah reactor despite her reservations as he can’t think of another way to help the Enkarans.  Nobody is happy about the idea.

Going to a lakeside on the other ride of the ridge, Jack and Sam put the makeshift bomb into position.  They go over to an inflatable raft to get to the lake’s far side quickly.  Daniel decides to go talk to Lotan again, with Teal’c not stopping him.

Daniel gets teleported back onto the ship to admit that the Enkarans have nowhere else to go.  Having tried out the sulfur-based air, Lotan admits it’s not good and humanoid ears apparently can’t appreciate Gadmere music.  Lotan is apparently incapable of thinking outside the box.  When asked what’ll happen to him after the terraforming, Lotan informs Daniel that he’ll be reabsorbed into the ship.  Daniel decides to try convincing Lotan to go down to the surface before it’s all terraformed.


Sam and Jack have arrived at the other side of the lake.  She expresses worry over whether or not they’re doing the right thing.  Jack can’t see any other options.  And apparently neither can Sam, as she hands over a device to him.  On the planet’s surface, Lotan is fascinated by the different quality to the air and by trees.

Jack has gone back to the village, where Teal’c reports what Daniel did.  When Jack asks if Teal’c tried to stop him, the Jaffa states he didn’t as “I do not disagree with his intentions.”

Jack is frustrated and tries to contact Daniel; Sam reports they only have fifteen minutes until the bomb has to go off since they don’t know what impact the orange field will have up close on the bomb.  Lotan realizes Daniel has bent the orders Jack gave him.  Daniel gets Lotan to teleport them to the village.

Jack is not happy with Daniel as Sam warns him it’s down to ten minutes.  Daniel introduces Eliam and Lotan, explaining Lotan’s role on the ship.  Lotan also meets Nikka (the pregnant wife) and Hedrazar.  The latter expresses her displeasure with the ship’s actions.

New Ideas, New Homes

Lotan knows Daniel is trying to make him sympathetic towards the Enkarans, so they go back on the ship.  Jack warns Sam that Daniel voluntarily went with Lotan back on the ship, upsetting them both.  The ship has detected the makeshift bomb.  Daniel honestly admits he dislikes the idea but also doesn’t want to see the Enkarans wiped out.

Sam alerts Jack that if the bomb is to go off, it has to be now.  Teal’c comments that Daniel made his choice.  Looking back at the Enkarans, Jack agrees to set off the bomb.  Daniel gets Lotan to admit he’s capable of stopping the ship, but Lotan stresses his duty is to protect the life on this ship.

Daniel realizes and gets Lotan to confirm that the Gadmere had laws, justice, and a respect for life.  He then argues that then reviving them in a method that entails mass murder would be against what they stood for.  Sam is worried for her friend when suddenly the ship powers down.  Everybody down on the planet’s surface is startled.

Jack alerts Daniel that they have thirty seconds until the bomb goes off.  Lotan teleports the device onto the ship.  He briefly looks over it before jettisoning into the atmosphere, where it explodes without harming anything.  Lotan warns Daniel that eventually he has to restart the process or the Gadmere civilization will be lost.  Apparently millions of planets were scanned but only this one met the specifications.


Hopeful, Daniel asks if it’s possible if there were any close matches that would suit the Enkarans’ needs.  Lotan checks and one option comes up, feeling bad for not considering this possibility before.  Apparently this option was rejected for a few reasons, one of which was that “intelligent life forms” were already there… and Lotan realizes they might be Enkarans.

Daniel and Lotan teleport down, where they reveal to the villagers that the original Enkaran planet has been found.  When Jack’s annoyed, Daniel tells him to cut Lotan some slack as he’s a day and a half old.  Teal’c points out there’s no Stargate there, but Lotan volunteers to take them there before being reintegrated into the computer system.  Hedrazar offers for him to stay with them instead, an offer which Lotan accepts (although Daniel has to translate that).  The episode ends with the last of the villagers being beamed up and the ship preparing to leave as SG-1 watches on.


This was a great episode showcasing a moral dilemma and how if people think outside the box sometimes hard decisions don’t have to be made.  It’s somewhat idealistic, I know, but I think it’s a worthwhile idea to consider as many options as possible before coming to a decision.  This is extra true when it comes to trying to prevent bloodshed.

As seen in other episodes, Jack is willing to do whatever he deems necessary to protect those under his watch.  Daniel is invested in protecting and helping as much life as possible, even at the risk of his own.  Sam loves science and falls somewhere between the two guys where she’d like to protect life but gets Jack’s willingness to do whatever it takes to protect his ‘pack’.  Teal’c seems to lean more towards Daniel’s perspective than Jack’s, which is due to knowing the cost of oppression and exile personally.

I’m kind of curious to learn more about the Enkarans, but I doubt they’ll be seen again.  Lotan impressively learned compassion, curiosity, and lateral thinking within two days of his creation.  I’m not sure if that’s all him or at least partial influence of the Gadmere technology.  Actually, it’d be interesting if the resurrected Gadmere civilization ended up visiting SGC to apologize/thank them.


Next time on Stargate SG-1: The team gets mind-wiped about their real lives while off-world.


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