SG4-18: The Light

SGC finds an abandoned Goa’uld palace that has an addictive light show in one chamber.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: The Harcesis dropped by and ended up teaching Daniel about the consequences of accessing the Goa’uld genetic memory via a dream.

 

Just a heads up: this episode discusses depression, suicide, and addiction so if that sort of thing triggers you then stop reading here.  In terms of overarching plot, all you need to know is that SG-1 has been working hard (duh) and that the Goa’uld have to take extreme measures to get ‘high’.

 

Into the Woosh

Jack heads down the stairs to the control room as the chevrons are being encoded.  He gives Lt. Barber some money to give to Daniel as he’s lost a bet with him.  Sam asks what the bet was, but he initially doesn’t clarify and when she asks again he claims it was about “curling”.  The blonde understandably is dubious that Daniel is invested in that sport.

Barber is anxious as he enters the Gate room.  Jack wants some time off and is incredulous that Sam isn’t inclined to take any off herself.  She’s miffed when she realizes the bet was whether or not she’d take any leave.  As the wormhole materializes, Barber suddenly runs into the ‘woosh’ and is thus dematerialized to the shock of Jack and Sam.

Daniel returns with the rest of SG-5, excited about the ruins found and “the light” but his mood is dampened when Jack informs him about Barber’s death.  SG-1 has a briefing with Hammond about the suicide; nobody picked up on any signs of depression and that Daniel thought he was fine during the mission.

Hammond has to get Daniel’s attention for him to discuss the Goa’uld palace ruins and the “light matrix hologram” in one of the chambers which is “absolutely stunning”.  However, Daniel isn’t sure what its purpose is and has brought back a Goa’uld device akin to a handheld computer.  Plus there’s an unknown dialect on the walls and on the device; to Daniel’s relief Teal’c volunteers to help with the translation.

Jack later visits the duo in Daniel’s study.  Teal’c is studying video footage of the wall symbols and has spotted somebody’s shadow occasionally in said footage… and it’s not one of the SG personnel.  Daniel is frustrated by the device not working although it did so on the planet.

“Check the battery?” snarks Jack.  Daniel wants to go back now to get data on the device instead of tomorrow like Jack suggests.  The brunet heads to Hammond’s office to press his case, but the general points out that Daniel ought to get a night’s sleep as SG-1 has been working hard lately.  Daniel gets short enough with the general that Jack intervenes and tells him to “knock it off”.  It doesn’t help that Hammond has been writing a letter to Barber’s family and is upset with himself over how little he can tell them about his work and death.  Daniel storms off to the concern of Jack and Hammond.

Yet the next morning, Daniel is off-base and after stopping halfway through her first call Sam hasn’t been able to contact him.  She, Jack, and Hammond are all confused.  Jack heads over to Daniel’s apartment, where the door is already cracked open.  Warily Jack enters; the phone is off the hook (heh, it has a cord) and the teapot is boiling away on the stove.  There’s also a piano; I wonder how often and well Daniel plays.

Daniel is sitting on the edge of the balcony over the street, looking awful.  Jack is baffled by the sudden and drastic downturn in Daniel’s mood.  Confused, he tries to be reassuring but Daniel isn’t impressed.  He briefly gets a little more normal and both men are uneasy but Jack gets Daniel off the edge.

Back in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Daniel is in the infirmary.  Janet reveals the PET scan reveals his brain activity is off and is worried if SG-5 will exhibit similar symptoms.  Furthermore, such a drastic shift can’t be normal.  Jack wants to find out what or who is causing this.  To top it off, Janet’s also afraid of what the long-term effects will be.

Enchantment

In hazmat gear the trio travels through the wormhole.  I wonder whether the Goa’uld built the palace around the Stargate or if they shifted the Stargate into a suitable chamber once the palace was completed.  When Jack comments on now getting why Daniel was so excited, Teal’c responds, “Indeed.”

Sam assures them her scanners haven’t picked up on anything in the air so they remove their full-head masks before heading down the steps.  Then they catch sight of the person’s shadow.  Using the rune-covered columns as cover, they approach… but when the figure runs by they realize it’s just a kid.

18TheLight

Up ahead they spot the light matrix in another chamber.  As seen above, it is indeed gorgeous.  Obviously I can’t really show it, but the light changes color periodically.  Jack isn’t amused when Teal’c states the obvious.  Sam is briefly entranced before Jack gets her attention.  All her gizmos pick up on is visible light so she suggests it’s merely decorative.

Somewhat entranced, Teal’c suggests that nothing so beautiful could be dangerous.  Jack is less awed than his teammates and wants to leave.  The other two just stand there so he has to call out a second time to get their attention.  As they walk down the hallway, Sam suggests there could be a relationship between the light and the occurrences despite her earlier claim that it’s not dangerous.

But then they come across a cracked open door- very cautiously they approach and enter.  Jack finds the teen hiding in a corner and introduces himself.  After a moment, the anxious teen introduces himself as Loran, claiming he lives here with his currently absent parents.  It’s here that Jack reveals to the teen (and thus to the audience) that SG-5 is also suffering the same effects as Daniel.

Sam contacts him that Hammond is on the radio via activating the Gate.  The two head back to the Gate chamber where the MALP’s camera and radio have been activated.  The trio was under the impression they’ve been in the palace for a few minutes but according to Hammond it’s been over an hour.  Everybody on SG-5 is now dead while Daniel is in a “deep coma”.  Okay, was SG-5 all wearing red t-shirts under their uniforms or something?

The iris is opened so Jack can come through.  Janet and a male nurse are waiting for him as Jack obtained some samples for them to test (including from Loran).  She admits that Daniel’s condition is unchanged, upsetting him.

Sam is setting up to do some science when she gets distracted by the light.  In his room, Loran explains to Teal’c that he came here with his explorer parents from another world.  He gets out a mock weapon that was a birthday gift, briefly causing Teal’c to get out his zat before the teen reassures him that it’s just a toy.

In a callback to “Bane”, Teal’c comments on how children of the Tauri also enjoy fake weapons.  On Chulak they don’t celebrate birthdays but Teal’c knows when his is.  As his birthday is “forty-seven days” away, Loran gives Teal’c the toy weapon as an early birthday gift.

… Please tell me in the near future there’ll be an episode where the subplot is giving Teal’c his first ever birthday party.

Costs of Addiction

Jack is waiting in the infirmary where Daniel is, Janet working in the background.  His frustration is initially excused as being over Daniel’s condition, but soon the two realize he’s starting to suffer from what happened to SG-5 and Daniel.  Now in a bed, Jack has been tested.  Janet and Hammond are present as well.

Apparently “narcotic withdrawal” occurs once off the planet; Jack is grumpy about getting unwittingly addicted after “all those years of saying ‘no’”.  Hammond can’t contact Teal’c or Sam but he can’t risk sending another team.  Daniel’s condition is worsening, however, they think he’ll recover once on the planet.

As he starts to flat line, Jack carries him through the wormhole.  He stresses over his friend once through.  Loran approaches and reveals that Teal’c and Sam are entranced by the light.  Jack is starting to clue in to the problem.  Daniel is at least not dead.

Loran admits he’s not allowed to enter the chamber of light as Daniel regains a degree of alertness.  Jack sits down next to him while Loran manages to get the other two’s attention.  Sam and Teal’c weren’t aware that Hammond tried to contact him.  Along with the data gained from Janet, Jack explains the situation as he currently sees it.

Jack also clues in that Loran might know more than what he’s been saying but Loran just says he wasn’t allowed in due to his youth.  Yet if it’s the light then how did merely arriving help Daniel is the question now facing SG-1.  An angry Jack wants to shut off the light but soon gets entranced but snaps out of it when Teal’c calls out his name.  Sam suggests it’ll be safe to focus on the pedestal.

Via the MALP Hammond contacts Daniel, who apologizes for yelling at him.  Hammond accepts the apology, especially as it’s now clear the younger man wasn’t in his right mind at the time.  Daniel gets back the device and turns off the light when he finds his entranced teammates.  Evidently Jack was right- the device is powered by something here.  Apparently while the others were entranced he and Loran translated some of the runes.

The palace acted as an “opium den” for the Goa’uld while the symbiotes kept their minds stable once they were off-world.  Apparently there’s some secondary factor that’ll keep them from getting depressed immediately.  Jack tries to get Loran to tell him what happened to his parents but the teen won’t talk.

18Fight

Sam, Jack, and Teal’c head outside the palace to take a walk along the shoreline.  Sam and Jack get cranky and argue with each other before realizing they’re both suffering from withdrawal.  Interestingly, the fight is over whether or not to retain military chain of command if they’re stuck here.  Sam’s against it while Jack’s for it… I have to wonder if it’s code for continuing to pretend to be just friends or not.  Look at the above screen-cap: I’m not sure whether they’re about to come to blows or make out.  Meanwhile, Teal’c has found a pair of shallowly buried skeletons which are mostly likely Loran’s parents.

Daniel is sitting on the MALP as Loran shows him the image of the happy family taken years ago.  Given permission, Loran takes an image of Daniel as well.  Daniel half-suspects Loran wanted company and that’s why he didn’t warn them about the light’s effects, which the teen denies.

The trio returns from the beach.  Daniel’s been fine the whole time and once back in the palace Jack and Sam feel better as well.  Ergo the secondary factor must be within the palace.  With the light show not on, the pedestal’s top consists of crystalline spires.  All five are present as the adults reason out that while the light enhances some of the effects there’s something else causing the overall addiction.

Jack is upset when Loran remains in denial about his parents as somebody had to bury the bodies.  Loran gets the pedestal’s innards to be revealed before running off.  Telling Sam to figure it out, Jack heads over to Loran’s living space.  He apologizes before taking a seat nearby.  Jack sees the image of Loran and his parents taken years ago.

Loran claims he killed them as all his parents would do is stare at the light when they arrived.  Due to being too young he wasn’t allowed in and he brought them things everyday but one day he stopped.  It took days, but eventually their hunger outweighed their addiction.  Once they were out of the chamber, Loran shut down the device.  But this caused serious withdrawal in his parents and they ended up going into the water.  Despite Loran turning the device back on, they just went deeper into the water.  The next day he found their bodies on the shore.

Jack assures the teen that their deaths weren’t his fault and he was trying to help.  When he confesses that he misses them, Jack pats the back of the teen’s head.  The others are working on the device when they return.  Loran’s scared that they’ll die as well if the device is turned off.

Sam reveals that the device is designed to slowly lower the output and thus after a few weeks of gradually weaning themselves they’ll be fine.  Jack’s pleased at the notion of an extended, required vacation in a beachside palace.  As his symbiote will protect him from withdrawal, Teal’c will leave to report to Hammond.  After the humans assure Loran he can come back with them, the four leave the chamber to say their farewells to Teal’c.

Conclusion

This episode brought up some serious topics: suicide, depression, and addiction.  The main focus was on the last alongside the consequences of withdrawal.  There was an emphasis that addiction is bad and often has unintended results.  Of course, some of that moral gets lost when the addiction occurs without any consent by the person in question rather than even just the initial choice to ‘try’ a drug of some kind.  It’s definitely dark to see a suicide on screen (Barber’s) as well as see Daniel clearly considering falling off his balcony to his death.

I do hope Loran gets therapy and a good foster home once arriving on Earth.  Yet I suspect he’ll blame himself for his parents’ deaths for a long while despite Jack’s reassurances… which is similar to Jack blaming himself for Charlie’s accidental death.  Huh, that’s an interesting parallel and probably a deliberate one.

It makes sense that the Goa’uld have to take extreme measures to get a high thanks to the healing abilities of the symbiote.  I wonder if this means that a symbiote can’t turn off its ability to heal its host, which would make biological sense.  This apparently also goes for Jaffa, but I doubt the Goa’uld let their minions get distracted by an addiction when they ought to be serving their gods.

All four members of SG-1 got some good scenes.  But I want to say Jack was the focal figure of the episode, as Daniel’s and Sam’s scenes also involve him while the main plot mostly followed him as well.  Of course, Jack is the central character of the show so it makes sense for him to get the most attention throughout the season.

I’m acutely aware of the fact that Mystic Force also had an episode called “The Light”.  If there’s ever any other titular overlaps I notice, I’ll point them out as well.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: Sam meets a brilliant but arrogant cadet while Jack deals with some stubborn scientists on a planet moon.

 

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