SG5-3: Ascension

An Ancient falls for Sam, while the Pentagon wants to try out the mysterious weapon found on an abandoned planet.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: Bra’tac visited to undo Apophis’ brainwashing of Teal’c, which entailed Teal’c mentally reliving his actual life path.



SG-1 is exploring a deserted city that’s in ruins.  SG-16 will soon be arriving with an UAV.  Daniel is failing to understand a language on a column near a domed structure containing a large device that’s unlike everything else in the city.

Jack and Teal’c go in opposite directions; the latter to further explore the area and Jack to go check on Sam who’s investigating the device.  She’s struggling to figure out the very advanced technology.  Having secured the immediate vicinity, Jack and Teal’c will go check out other parts of the city and Jack doesn’t want Sam to turn on the device.

As he leaves, Sam continues to study the crystal-filled control panels.  There’s a skylight and something is studying Sam from above in a POV switch.  From this perspective, the world looks like it does when Bilbo/Frodo wears the Ring.

Daniel is doing stuff and misses a flash emitting from the structure.  He fails to get a response from Sam when he asks for the camera and when he goes inside he finds her unconscious.  After checking her pulse, Daniel alerts Jack via radio to “get back here now”.

Post-credits, Sam is now awake in the infirmary with Janet.  The doctor is worried Sam passed out from exhaustion.  She points out the events of “In the Line of Duty”, “Beneath the Surface”, and “Entity” with the modifier, “And that is just for starters.”

Sam is snarky to Janet’s resignation.

General Hammond, Jack, Daniel, and Colonel Reynolds are having a briefing.  The guys have no clue what the device is but Jack wants it be to a “big and honkin’ space gun”.  Sam arrives, reporting that she did notice the power core is missing.  Jack makes light of the incident and says she just “dozed off”.

Last seen as a major in “Touchstone” at Area 51, Reynolds is acknowledged as a new transfer from there as well as the new leader of SG-16.  Sam starts to use technobabble before Jack points out that it’s now SG-16’s responsibility to figure out the device.  Hammond is firm on wanting to know what the device is before they turn in on.

While Daniel helps translate the language, the other three will have some time off before their next mission.  Sam wants to help but Hammond is siding with Dr. Fraiser about her needing to “take it easy” for a while.

Jack agrees with their assessment about her being “tense” and is concerned she’ll end up crashing and burning as he’s seen her be so the entire time he’s known her.  He suggests she take up golf or flying a kite.  While I know Jack (and Teal’c) play golf, I have to wonder if the kite bit is a reference to Mary Poppins.  There’s a good chance he watched that film with Charlie or even saw it as a teenager himself.

Sam is upset but does go to her house in suburbia, now in civilian garb.  Her long white coat reminds her of what she wore some of the time in “2010”.  Evidently she has a sense of style.  Her landline has no new messages, but the presence from the planet has followed Sam home.

Her living room has on a bookshelf a family photo of Jacob, his wife, and their then-young two kids.  Later, Sam is brushing her teeth and there’s momentarily a shadowy figure in her room.  The perspective shows it watching her as she gets into bed and goes to sleep.

The next morning, Sam heads out into her yard to get the paper.  There’s a man in the street who strikes up a conversation with her, quickly making her confused and wary.  Going inside, she locks the door and checks through the curtain that he’s gone.

She gets a glass and picks up the phone to call Daniel just as he arrives in his study.  636 is the planet; the first three digits/letters aren’t ever mentioned.  Daniel is snarky as Sam’s kettle boils.

After the phone call, the guy is now in her kitchen and Sam understandably freaks out.  His name is Orlin and he followed her back through the Gate.  As an Ascended being, he can become intangible and/or invisible.  Apparently he’s in love with her but Sam has bolted.

Ancient with a Crush

Hazmat guys are at her house and Sam talks to Jack about the experience.  The government lied about there being a gas leak and there’s now a surveillance system in place.  Jack offers to stick around but Sam declines the offer so he tells her to “take care”.  As seen by the security footage, Sam then hangs out at her house.

Teal’c and Daniel are working in the latter’s study when Jack drops by.  There’s a chance Sam needs a psych evaluation.  Evidently Jack was right about what the device was.

Incredulously he goes, “I was right?”

As the discussion progresses, he refers to his comment in the earlier briefing.  Daniel talks about what happened to them- as their culture became more technologically advanced, the Goa’uld made a move to crush them but failed.  Yet clearly someone/something got them even if they can’t figure out who.

That evening, Orlin is in her living room as the cameras are gone now.  He understands why she acted the way she did, but Sam’s upset as she just underwent a psych evaluation.  636’s ‘actual’ name is Velona and Orlin was there alone for centuries.  Ascending beings are evidently capable of telepathy as well as “a sort of exchange in spirit”.

That’s what he tried to do with her back on the planet, but since she was unprepared for it she got knocked out.  But Orlin now knows her and sees her as good, pure of heart, and beautiful inside and outside.  He wants to try the exchange again and will leave afterwards if she still wants him to.

Sam closes her eyes and Orlin goes into that mostly glowy/floaty mode seen used by Oma Desala and Shifu.  And I just realized the latter shares his name with the red panda from the Kung Fu Panda movies.  Okay then.  From out in the street, the flash of light can be seen.  Sam is astonished by whatever happened during the exchange.

The next day, she arrives on base with a clock.  A device was left behind in it and Sam’s worried that somebody is keeping an eye on her without her awareness.  Jack is grumpy and concerned.  She does a ‘hypothetical’ situation which Jack agrees to: for her to collect as much data as possible and hopefully proof of its existence before bringing up the alien again.  Then Jack ducks into the bathroom while Sam remains anxious.

Sam is in her lab and Daniel shows up to tell her that the Pentagon wants to activate the weapon using her jerry-rigged solution, which must be fired at something once on.  Daniel’s mainly nervous as he would feel better if there were survivors to explain how it works (and to ensure the weapon didn’t cause the genocide).

Orlin is waiting for her at home, upset she’s an hour late but has set up a romantic dinner.  She can now touch him but she’s still hesitant to start a relationship with him.  Jack’s now at the door and Orlin reveals he has retaken human form and thus lacks most of his previous abilities.  She hides him in a room before answering the door.


Teal’c and Jack are on the doorstep.  Teal’c is going for a cowboy look while Jack has on a beanie.  His gold emblem isn’t quite hidden by the hat.   They’ve brought over a Star Wars VHS (probably A New Hope) and two pizza boxes.

“We brought pizza and a movie.”

“Star Wars,” Teal’c clarifies.

“He’s seen it, what, eight times?”


“Nine times.  If Teal’c likes it, it’s got to be okay.”

Sam is bemused that Jack hasn’t seen it before.  He claims he’s not a fan of sci-fi but he used both Star Wars and Star Trek references in “1969” so I think he’s just messing with his teammates or he’s just aware of them in a pop culture osmosis way.  Jack clues in that she already has company.  Sam admits this was unexpected to her too and unusual in general.  He gives her the two pizzas.

Sam closes the door, Jack still having the VHS.  She opens the door and Orlin admits he can’t Ascend again without the help of the others.

As the guys walk down to the pick-up truck, Jack asks, “So, now what?”

“I have read of a place where humans do battle in a ring of Jell-O.”

Tossing a cell phone over to him, Jack tells him, “Call Daniel.”

They get into the pickup truck and Jack starts to drive away.  There’s a van nearby.

There’s a photo of just a young Sam and Jacob seen before the camera moves onto Sam and Orlin having a dinner together.  Oma Desala is brought up and Sam explains that situation.  Orlin got banished for accelerating the Ascension progress of the humans on Velona because he “couldn’t just watch them die”.

Orlin gave them the knowledge needed to build the weapon, which is why it’s so much more advanced than anything else in the city.  After they defended themselves from the Goa’uld, they started to plan conquest of other planets so the others attacked.

They broke their own rules because they deemed it necessary to “prevent a disaster that [Orlin] was responsible for”.  He was forced to live on Velona afterwards and it’s because of such domino effects that such rules exist.  I’m kind of afraid that not everybody agreed with such a plan and yet everybody was killed off.  Certainly the children wouldn’t have had the awareness to agree to that plan.

Now a mortal, Orlin wants to be with Sam but he also de-Ascended because he couldn’t go on like that anymore.  The people inside the van are eavesdropping on them.

Colonel Frank Simmons is at the table with Reynolds, Sam, Hammond, and Daniel.  The weapon is highly dangerous but the Pentagon thinks the risks are worth the reward.  Sam and Daniel are arguing against activating the weapon.  When Sam insists, Hammond gives her a fortnight to come up to with any valid reason to not fire the weapon first.  Simmons is irritable and makes Hammond prickly, reluctantly impressing the other man.

Sam comes home and Orlin has made her an emerald, her birth stone, as he has retained a lot of his knowledge.  But now Sam needs a new microwave.


They go on a walk near her house as Sam discusses the weapon with him.  Orlin is aware she’s afraid she’s been spied on.  The atomic bomb is brought up and Orlin doesn’t want to be responsible for another civilization’s death.  Having removed the power core, Orlin didn’t think anybody would solve that issue and admires Sam’s intellect.    Sam doesn’t want to betray him and Orlin’s pleased that she likes him a lot.  Amused, she doesn’t deny it.


She heads down to Hammond’s office where he, Jack, and Simmons are.  It’s only been nine days but the Pentagon wants to activate the weapon now.  Orlin has been using her home computer and the spies have gotten photos of him.  The Pentagon people have been spying on Sam without her or Hammond’s knowledge.

Jack is vaguely reassuring that at least they now know there’s an alien.  Jack is grumpy at Simmons and honestly says he told her to collect as much data as possible.  A Special Forces team is at the ready to take the alien into custody.

It’s now nighttime, with Simmons, Jack, and Sam present.  Jack suggests to send Sam in to talk to him since he’s worth more alive than dead to them.  Simmons agrees so Sam heads into the house to find Orlin down in the basement.  Sam explains the situation and he knows she didn’t turn him in.

They go into her garage (I think) where he’s jerry-rigged a Stargate that will do one wormhole before burning out.  He used Sam’s credit cards and toaster to create it.  Orlin is going to Velona to stop the weapon from being fired.

Simmons is trying to contact Sam and then Jack contacts her about the group coming in.  Orlin is worried as the Special Forces team enters the house and turns on the mini-gate, causing a mini-woosh.

“You know how I feel about you,” Orlin tells her.  “I hope this isn’t goodbye.”

He goes through and Sam’s worried.  By the time Jack and the others reach the room there’s the burned out mini ring but no Sam or Orlin to his confusion.

Orlin and Sam are in the city where there are ominous clouds above.  SG-16 is doing their thing and are wary when Orlin shows up.  Reynolds is firm on starting the weapon due to Hammond’s orders.  Orlin leaps to disconnect something so Reynolds shoots him.  The machine starts to power down but the naquadah reactor is going to blow.

They can’t use the Stargate and risk the blast wave hitting Earth.  Apparently the others are giving Orlin another chance and it’s the only way he can save her.  Orlin Ascends and Reynolds freaks out.  Picking up the gizmo, Orlin leaves through the skylight.

The clouds start to dissipate as there’s a boom and the device gets struck by lightning, leading the clouds to fade away completely.  Sam is both astonished and sad.


For the first time I watched the episode again with the commentary on.  Clearly this is something I need to do from now on and at some point do for the earlier seasons as much as possible.  It’s explained that Richard Dean Anderson isn’t generally a sci-fi fan and that Amanda Tapping head-canons that this is actually Jacob’s house she moved into after he left to be a Tok’ra.  That makes the dad-and-daughter photos all the sweeter, really.

Colonel Frank Simmons is played by John de Lancie, AKA Q/Discord.  Unfortunately, the commentary spoiled me that he’s taken over for Maybourne’s previous role in the NID.  I knew Maybourne would return in time, but evidently he’ll show up sometime this season.

This was a solid episode and proves that “love at first mind-meld” can be an actual trope.  Orlin comes across as a lovesick puppy with awesome cosmic powers and knowledge.  Well, mostly the latter during this episode.  I can see how they bonded over this episode and where they could have had a romance had he been able to stick around.

Any creepiness is deflected by just how isolated Orlin was and by the fact that he acknowledged Sam was right in her early actions towards him.  And I really appreciate that any misunderstandings were avoided; probably helped by Orlin having gotten up close and personal with Sam’s psyche so he knows she wouldn’t do that.

Happy Halloween!


Next time on Stargate SG-1: The team is tricked into thinking they have a fifth teammate.


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