SG4-19: Prodigy

Sam encounters a brilliant but arrogant cadet at the Air Force Academy.  Meanwhile, Jack has to cope with some stubborn scientists on a moon’s research base.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: There was an addictive light show.


Actual Chief of Staff!

Jack heads over to Hammond’s office to grumble about the upcoming mission he and Teal’c are going on.  The then Chief of Staff, General Ryan, is present to his surprise.  Hammond reveals that the memo about his visit occurred while Jack was off-world (possibly he was still on that required detox/vacation).  In fact, General Ryan’s visit is due to what Jack just termed a “ridiculous mission”.  Apparently Ryan has read Hammond’s reports on Jack, who’s star struck by the Chief of Staff’s presence.  The post opening sequence credits reveal that the show got the actual General Ryan to show up.

The two generals want Jack and Teal’c to access N4C-862 to see if it’s viable as a permanent research station.  Daniel’s off-world with SG-11 while Sam is “giving a lecture at the Air Force Academy in theoretical astrophysics”.  Awkwardly Jack makes his exit; thankfully Ryan is mostly amused by Jack.  I forget which special feature brought it up, but according to the show’s military consultants Jack is actually a fairly mild maverick from their experiences.

At the academy, Sam is giving her lecture to a bunch of uninterested cadets.  The complex calculations she’s discussing are already useful when dealing with hyperspace and wormholes… not that these cadets are aware that the ‘future’ has already happened.  Afterwards, a female cadet comes over to claim that one of the equations has an error.  Professor Monroe scoffs, but after the cadet leaves Sam realizes she was right that two variables were switched.  The cadet in question is Jennifer Hailey, who the professor describes as “very intelligent” but has a “difficult personality”.

Parallel Plots

Jack and Teal’c arrive on N4C-862; the sky often shows both the gas giant it’s orbiting and two other moons.  The blunt Major Griff from “Beneath the Surface” was the one previously in charge of corralling the scientists, particularly their stubborn, bossy leader Dr. Hamilton.  He’s relieved to have been relieved by Jack.

Sam visits General Kerrigan in his office; apparently they’re close (presumably from Sam’s own days at the academy).   Upon Jennifer being mentioned, Kerrigan shows Sam a recent paper she got a D on.  Comparing her to a young Sam, Kerrigan theorizes that Jennifer is acting out due to a lack of challenge.  Despite her brains and brawn, the general is concerned that Jennifer is too much of a maverick to succeed in the Air Force.  He’s relieved when Sam asks to talk to her.

Hamilton is grumpy that Jack wants to check out the nearby caves before the scientists do so.  He also stresses how this is a moon orbiting a gas giant as well as that nothing untoward has occurred in the six weeks since the outpost was set up.  But Jack stands firm on his decision to Hamilton’s irritation.

Jennifer is doing stuff in a lab when Sam shows up to ask about the paper Professor Monroe gave a D to as it wasn’t on the assigned topic.  Apparently Jennifer thought the assigned topic was dumb; Sam points out whether she likes the topic or not she still has to do a paper on it.  Grumpy, Jennifer gets permission to leave for a class she’s late to.  Either Jennifer is lying or until her encounter with Sam she was planning to skip it.  Either way the incident showcases her behavioral issues.  Sam’s dismayed by how poorly the talk went.


Teal’c and Jack are heading back to the outpost after checking the caves off-screen.  Jack wants Hamilton to be wrong, if only to knock him down a peg and/or give them something to do.  Then they hear a strange humming and encounter a glowing yellow dot.  I’m rather reminded of how Tinker Bell is sometimes depicted when in scenes with humans.

Approaching them, the yellow dot seems intrigued before darting off.  Evidently it has the ability to phase through matter such as trees.  When Teal’c comments he’s never seen anything like that before, Jack goes, “Cool.”

On what turns out to be the next day, Sam visits Professor Monroe.  The blonde thinks that Jennifer Hailey has found a new way of looking at the speed of light involving “parallel realities” since she knows from experience that sometimes they do overlap.  But earlier that morning Jennifer got into a fight with another cadet and thus is likely to get expelled.

Three scientists are openly complaining about Jack as they walk towards the woods… and miss that Jack and Teal’c were sitting casually by some crates.  With the set-up, only if they had looked back (or, as did happen, Jack and Teal’c spoke up) would the scientists have spotted them.  The trio wants to go find the creature but Jack doesn’t want them to leave.

Jack points out as it can phase through matter they can’t defend themselves from it.  Hamilton scorns Jack for assuming it ‘must’ be a threat due to be strange but the colonel wants to play it safe.  Plus, just last episode SG-1 figured light couldn’t be dangerous… and although it was just a channel for the addiction, it did cause problems for the team.

Hamilton expresses his irritation that he thought he’d be the one in charge of the outpost.  Jack reasons that the other man is in charge of the other scientists.  When Hamilton doubts Jack’s qualified to be in charge, Teal’c speaks up to defend his friend’s capabilities and adds, “I strongly suggest you do what Colonel O’Neill says.”

“Thank you, Rocco,” Jack comments before deciding that he and Teal’c can head out to investigate further to the annoyance of Hamilton.  I have to wonder if Jack decided to head out just to mess with Hamilton; I wouldn’t put it past him.

To a Moon!

Sam goes to Kerrigan to ask about the fight.  Apparently Jennifer was helping out a less physically adept cadet named Chloe Bowen.  When a more senior, male cadet kept ‘teasing’ her despite Jennifer telling him to knock it off, the blonde punched him, breaking his nose.  Kerrigan clues in that Sam’s “deep space radar telemetry” is a cover for something that probably entails her supposedly theoretical astrophysics being practically applied.  While agreeing that Jennifer needs to be punished for physically fighting another cadet, Sam is certain that she shouldn’t be expelled as she’s aware the young woman would be a fantastic addition to SGC.

Jennifer is sent in and salutes.  Sam tries to get the younger woman to admit she’s acting out due to feeling she’s superior to those above her in the chain of command due to being smarter than them.  I have to wonder if Sam suspects that due to having once felt similarly.  In any case, Jennifer refuses to admit to that and refuses to quit.  Making it clear that it’s due to Sam’s intervention, Kerrigan reveals that while punished Jennifer will not be expelled.  Both adults are still a bit concerned after the cadet leaves.  I have to wonder if the other cadet will be at all punished for his comments towards Chloe Brown or if they’ll let it slide as ‘hazing’.

Sam finds Jennifer in a hallway and the younger blonde admits she’s bitter about being constantly compared to Sam.  The older woman isn’t impressed by Jennifer being upset due to not automatically being the best and brightest for once.  Although I get why Sam wouldn’t expose any of her weak spots when Jennifer is being so prickly, I have to wonder if Sam was compared to her military father during her cadet days and how much more sexist the male cadets were.  In any case, Jennifer doubts Sam has an exciting future planned for her.

Back in the outpost, the scientists are in their lab.  In the middle of Hamilton’s rant, the creature briefly shows up by phasing through a wall.  When it phases back out, Hamilton and two of the other scientists (Dr. Lee and Dr. Thompson) head out into the woods after it.  Thankfully Dr. Lee has the presence of mind to contact Jack and Teal’c via radio.

Awed by the cluster of creatures they find in the woods, Hamilton approaches them just as Jack and Teal’c show up.  Jack’s upset as Hamilton lets them fly around him.  The scientist believes “they’re harmless” but Jack isn’t convinced.

In the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Hammond is dubious about Sam having brought Jennifer on-base and furthermore is aware not everybody is cut out to be an Air Force officer.  The cadet has already signed the necessary paperwork and Sam thinks she’ll work much harder (and be less prone to outbursts) if given a glimpse of this potential future for her.

Both women are in SG gear; Jennifer admits to being nervous about what’s going on just before they enter the Gate room as the chevrons are being engaged.  Sam starts to explain the Stargate but then Jennifer jumps back when the wormhole is created.  As they approach, Sam explains some of the science behind it before they go through.

They arrive on the outpost’s moon to Jennifer’s confusion, so Sam explains how they’re on a moon, not a planet, and why things look so similar (basically: oxygen equals water and plants).  The younger woman is awed by the otherworldly sky.  Jack shows up to greet them and be his snarky self; Sam makes introductions.  Both are endeared by Jennifer only being able to call her trip “a trip” as Jack concurs it never gets old.

Right or Wrong, Do the Right Thing

Once in the lab, Sam and Jennifer are studying a captured creature.  Initially Jennifer finds it “cool”, leading Jack to comment on that’s what he said.  Dr. Lee has made a small electric field around the glass cyclinder to contain it.  Hamilton suspects they might be sentient but doubts they can feel pain.  Jennifer and Sam get concerned about the creature getting hurt and/or angry if he’s wrong.  Grudgingly Hamilton frees it and the critter dashes off.

Dr. Lee (the short one) and Dr. Thompson (the tall one) are out in the woods in different locations, looking for the swarm.  One of the creatures does show up and is clearly upset with Dr. Thompson, zapping through his hand.  Then the swarm arrives… from his location Dr. Lee can hear screams.  By the time he arrives Dr. Thompson is on the ground, clearly in massive pain, so he ends up fleeing from the creatures after one phases through his hand.

Jennifer is outside the outpost’s structure, checking out the MALP and other technology outside.  Then she comes across Teal’c and confirms he’s not human.  At first Jennifer thinks he’s from here, but Teal’c reveals to her that the Stargate network is massive and goes to numerous places.  The moment is shattered by Dr. Lee showing up in a panic.

Jack and Sam dart out of the building and learn that Dr. Thompson is under attack.  Sam’s put in charge of guarding the scientists while Teal’c and Jack head out to find Dr. Thompson.  But by the time they arrive, he’s clearly dead to Jack’s sorrow.

When they return, the others are still present despite Jack’s off-screen radio order telling them to leave.  Sam’s been tending to Dr. Lee while Dr. Hamilton wants to believe it was an isolated incident.  He’s proven wrong when the swarm starts to approach the outpost, so everybody heads back into the metallic structure that’s their lab.

Teal’c reminds them that the walls won’t protect them so Sam suggests the electronic blasts from zats might stave off the creatures’ attacks.  The three members of SG-1 get out their zats and use them against the creatures when they attack Hamilton, causing them to retreat.

The lab windows are closed and Sam prepares to electrify the metallic building to create a field that’ll keep out the creatures.  But Dr. Thompson is the last one to refuel the generator so they don’t know exactly how long the power will last and the generator isn’t close by.

Sam wants to use the Stargate’s wormhole to create an electric field large enough to repel the creatures far away enough so that they can escape.  By zatting Hamilton when he was attacked, Teal’c briefly changes his electric field enough to keep away the creatures.

Jennifer, having been reading Dr. Thompson’s notes, doesn’t think the attack is due to the capture.  Currently the moon is over the pole and thus the creatures might simply be reacting to that drastic shift in the electromagnetic field so in “a couple of hours” they might be back to normal or even back in hiding as they weren’t seen until the moon was close to the pole.  Also, apparently Jennifer is a Star Trek fan as she refers to the zats as phasers.


Sam and Jennifer get into a debate over why the creatures are attacking- Sam believes it’s due to the capture while Jennifer insists it’s due to the moon’s orbit.  They seem to think the options are “mutually exclusive”, but I have to wonder if the creatures do get more aggressive when the moon is over the pole but they got extra-aggressive after one of them got captured (and quite possibly hurt by the electric field holding it captive).  Or maybe that’s the point- they each think only one of them can be right in another hint they’re not so different.

Jack decides to get zatted and run for the Gate.  Jennifer’s confused by Jack saying doesn’t matter who’s right, particularly as she’s certain she’s right.  Sam points out, “If he makes a run for the Gate, he’s risking his own life.  If he waits, he risks everyone’s life.  He can’t do that.”

Jennifer becomes thoughtful as she considers that concept.  Of course, I half-suspect Sam is holding back from adding, “And that’s part of why I love him”.

Wanting them to run light once the wormhole is activated, Jack gives Sam permission to shoot Hamilton if “he brings so much as a file folder”.  Also, he wants a warning before getting zatted.

“I am going to shoot you,” Teal’c informs him.

“I was thinking more along the lines of ‘on three’.  One-”

Teal’c zats Jack.  From the ground Jack goes, “Two!  God, I said on three!”

Teal’c and Dr. Lee help Jack up.  When Sam wishes him luck he thanks her.  Once Jack safely exits Sam starts up the electric force field again… but there’s a momentary power outage, indicating that the fuel is indeed starting to run low.

Jack is running for the Gate as the swarm chases him, but isn’t able to attack him yet.  Once at the dial-home device he contacts Sam prior to starting to dial in the chevrons.  The swarm hovers around him… and one discovers they can now attack him, leading others to do so.

But then Teal’c arrives and zats the nearby ground, which sends the swarm back briefly.  Jack finishes dialing and the wormhole forms, causing the creatures to flee back into the woods.

“I’ll never complain about mosquitos again,” Jack comments dryly to the bemusement of Teal’c.  Everyone at the outpost (including a few other people who didn’t get speaking lines) heads to the Gate to head back to Earth.  Dr. Lee comments on them owing Jack thanks for saving them to which he responds “I suppose”.  When Dr. Hamilton comments on owing Jack an apology, he replies, “I suppose you do”.  Although the words are similar, he’s still clearly miffed with Dr. Hamilton… possibly since Hamilton didn’t actually apologize whereas Dr. Lee is aware they owe Jack their lives.

Sam admits to Jennifer that things are often more exciting than this.  The cadet points out to Sam that it’s a moon when Sam makes mention of there being “other planets” if/when Jennifer joins the SGC, which she accepts as right.  Then they go through the wormhole as the last ones to leave.


Daniel doesn’t show up at all in this episode- possibly because the writers wanted one less character to juggle for the plot or maybe because Michael Shanks was preparing to direct the upcoming episode “Double Jeopardy”.  Cadet Jennifer Hailey and Dr. Hamilton essentially fill in for him as both are academics who want to learn about the galaxy.  However, both are far more arrogant and get knocked down a peg over the course of the episode.  Jennifer is more sympathetic, partially because she’s young and inexperienced.

It looks like Hammond and Ryan won’t be getting a permanent off-world research base just yet.  At least this time only one person died opposed to last episode where a whole team got wiped out.

I appreciate how it’s not revealed whether Sam or Jennifer was correct in her theory on why the creatures were attacking.  But I do wish a little more was revealed about what Sam was like as a cadet; probably she wasn’t as brash as Jennifer due to her military father, but she might have had a phase where she thought due to her brains she didn’t have to respect some of her superiors.  Now I’m wondering what Jack was like during his cadet days.  Clearly he must have not pushed too many boundaries (otherwise he would have been expelled) but it’s likely the seeds of his determination to follow his moral compass over orders had already been planted.  Possibly Jennifer Hailey has both Sam’s genius IQ and Jack’s disregard of authority figures he deems stupid… which would explain a lot about her behavior.

It’s a low-key moral, but it’s clear that loyalty and courage matter just as much if not more than intelligence.  Basically that being a genius doesn’t automatically make you the best and that being right doesn’t always matter in a life or death situation.  Given the circumstances of the fight, it’s clear that Jennifer has loyalty and the determination to defend others.  The cadet just needs to learn how to properly apply her abilities and not to dismiss anybody less smart than her as not worth her time… or be upset at the few who are as smart or smarter than her.  While I know it probably won’t happen, I do wish that Jennifer Hailey will return in a future episode as a full-fledged member of the SGC.

There’s a bit of a scientist versus military feud going on here.  Doctor Hamilton at least doesn’t seem to appreciate that the soldiers are around to make sure he and his underlings don’t end up dead and that when on alien planets or moons risks ought to be avoided as much as possible.  I haven’t been keeping a count, but surely he’s at least vaguely aware of just how many people have died off-world or on-base due to off-world activity?  The military is not being overprotective and cynical- if anything, they’re being rather liberal about letting civilian scientists visit other planets by doing so at all.


Next time on Stargate SG-1: The base gets infected by an alien AI.



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