The team encounters another Asgard-protected planet and ‘Ragnarok’ nearly ensues.
Last time on Stargate SG-1: An alien tried to hide as the fifth teammate due to being hunted by Jaffa.
The First Domino Falls
After the wormhole, the team tumbles down the steps. Daniel is confused by the unusually rough landing while Jack asks Sam about the situation. There’s some technobabble to justify the reddish color filter going on. Next Daniel is bemused by the presence of food offerings and notices some Cimmeria-like runes so this planet might be linked to the Asgard.
A group emerges from nearby. Daniel introduces himself and his friends. Their leader states, “I am Elrad, flamen of the thirty-ninth order of K’tau.”
He and his congregation were approaching the “Annulus” for morning prayer when they spotted the quartet. Jack is honest about them being buddies with Thor, while this planet is protected by Freyr in particular. They all head back to the village and at this point I was aware that the other shoe was going to drop soon.
It’s a picturesque village, with Daniel noting it’s more modern than the usual civilization they encounter. By which I think he means it’s only a few centuries in the past opposed to millennia. Malchus is the “chief acolyte” and doesn’t trust the quartet. Elrad doesn’t approve of the other man’s fearmongering tactics. As a whole the villagers think the quartet are elves. I’m a bit surprised that none of the three humans joke- even amongst themselves- about the lack of pointy ears. Maybe none of them read fantasy?
Daniel briefly explains what elves were in Norse mythology but then the sun starts to act up and the camera filter gets even redder. Jack asks Sam for an explanation while Elrad is concerned about the “eye of Odin.”
“Some sort of shift in the light frequency,” theorizes the blonde.
“Good. I thought I was having a stroke.”
Malchus accuses the team of causing it. Jack automatically denies it before checking with Sam that they didn’t cause the solar issue. Now Malchus is utterly convinced the four are harbingers of doom.
Sam is doing science as the sky remains funky. Elrad figures they can’t blame the messengers for the gods’ decisions and they need to go pray for forgiveness. A Hall of Wisdom is mentioned. Jack heads over to Sam, who does technobabble that he quickly stops.
Jack refers to the Gate as the Annulus and sets up a plan. He and Daniel go to where the villagers are, Elrad and Malchus leading the session in their temple. Elrad accepts their offer to accompany the duo and all four get teleported to a cave. Jack is annoyed his gun is gone.
A hologram of Freyr appears, Freyr and Malchus explain the situation. Daniel tells Jack what Ragnarok is. Malchus is willing to draw and quarter the outsiders if need be, upsetting Jack. With a final message, the hologram disappears and Jack waves.
Daniel tries to tell Jack it was a recording but Jack already knew. The four teleport back into the temple, Jack getting his weapon back. Jack doesn’t think it’s the end of the world but Elrad must agree with Malchus that things are dire. Interrupting, Jack offers the possibility that they’re interpreting the message wrong.
“Sure you want to get in the middle of this?” wonders Daniel.
“I’m not sure how to get out of the middle of this,” Jack admits. He goes to point out the importance of free will, ingenuity, and courage as well as the possibility of divine miracles. Daniel is still hesitant about getting involved. Mistrusting the team more than ever, Malchus storms off with a few villagers following after him.
Elrad is worried and fatalistic about the situation. He exits the temple, followed by the rest of the villagers.
“Miracles?” Daniel echoes.
“Yeah. That’s what it’ll look like to them.”
“That’s what what will look like to them?”
“Whatever Carter comes up with. I don’t know.”
The two men head down the street to meet up with Teal’c and Sam. The blonde admits the wormhole might have passed through the sun, leaving behind some trace elements that are damaging it. Jack is more worried than ever while Teal’c reasons they couldn’t have known the consequences. Sam admits that at the SGC some steps were bypassed in the dialing so it is their fault and she doesn’t know how to fix matters.
Jack Meets the Asgard High Council
The four go back to the temple, its exterior briefly seen. Jack tells Teal’c to stay outside if case of any Asgard devices reacting poorly to a Jaffa’s presence. The three humans go inside and near the column. Daniel starts to recreate the entire experience while Jack just pushes the button that will teleport them to the cave. I appreciate the differences in worldview seen here: while Daniel tries to use the whole picture, Jack focuses on the part that will cause the circumstances he wants to happen.
Freyr’s hologram starts up again and Jack tries to communicate with it, but it is stuck as a single recording. Sam messes with the controls, causing the cave to power down. Daniel is briefly concerned but then the real Freyr shows up. Thor is off fighting the Replicators in a far part of their home galaxy and thus unavailable.
Apparently O’Neill is famous among the Asgard, and the short-lived warship named after him is referenced. Jack assures him that the natives’ belief system is undamaged but his snark doesn’t go over as well with Freyr as it does with Thor.
Sam confesses the situation awkwardly as they’re “still experimenting” with their version of the dialing computer. Freyr and Jack are both grumpy at the possibility of a whole planet getting wiped out. Apparently it’s not Freyr’s decision so Jack wants to meet with whoever’s decision it is.
Jack claims he’s prepared to meet with the Asgard High Council and Freyr teleports away after giving some instructions. Then he admits, “I’m sort of prepared.”
He follows the instructions and ends up as a hologram in the middle of a vast chamber. He promptly calls out “echo”. Four Asgardians teleport into their chairs; their chief is Archon. Jack double-checks Thor isn’t present; half because he likes Thor and half because the grey beings do look a lot alike.
Jack points out that they could have warned them about what not to do with the dialing computer and/or given them a list of off-limits planets. He’s also irritable about the Asgard pretending to be gods since the other civilizations aren’t yet ‘ready’ to be treated as equals. The Asgardians concede both points but that doesn’t change the present. He admits they made a mistake but they’re sorry.
Although they can’t see the other side of the conversation, Daniel and Sam are concerned by what they can hear and the latter is particularly worried about Jack’s lack of tact.
Jack asks why they can’t help. As the Asgards speak amongst themselves, back in the cave chamber Daniel goes, “Little grey butts.”
“Yeah,” concurs Sam. I’m not quite sure of the context, but it’s amusing.
It’s revealed that directly interfering would violate their treaty with the Goa’uld and thus nullify it completely. Due to their war with the Replicators, the Asgard can’t defend every planet and many would be impacted. Even if Jack is willing to risk Earth’s odds, he can’t speak for all the possible planets affected. Determined to find a way regardless, Jack’s awareness returns to the cave chamber.
“That went well,” Jack sighs. As he rejoins the other two, the three get beamed out.
Finding A Way
All four out on a street, Sam says to Jack, “Sir, I’ve been thinking.”
“I’d be shocked if you ever stopped, Carter.”
The blonde does a demo entailing apples and another food to showcase her theoretical plan.
“I have great confidence in you, Carter,” Jack tells her. “Go on back to the SGC and confuse Hammond.”
Back on base, Hammond and Sam pass by the briefing room to head into his office as they discuss her plan. There’s a three-month deadline before the damage is irreversible and the planet life will slowly be extinguished. The rocket plan has fifty-fifty odds while the other plan has one in a million odds. Sam’s aware how expensive the rocket will be but also what price could be put on the K’Tau people.
Malchus heads over to where the guys are with Elrad three weeks later. He’s convinced they’ve failed the gods’ test and all the outsiders should leave.
In the Gate room, there’s Silar with his huge wrench. There’s another part of a rocket about to head through. Sam returns to report to Hammond they’re ahead of schedule. No super-heavy element yet but then it arrives with its creator Dr. MacLaren. The scientist is giving them the stuff, which took five years to create this much of it, in exchange for a look at the SGC.
Sam flatters the guy by calling the new element MacLarium and an offer that someday he could visit the planet saved with it. She heads through the wormhole to be greeted by Jack. He refers to “friendly elves” as he’s already in a mood.
Then the half-built rocket structure explodes due to arson, two members of SG-6 killed and others injured. Malchus was the plot’s mastermind and two villagers died for this cause. Calling him a coward for not going himself, Jack punches him. I’m reminded of Hammond scorning Samuels way back in the season two opener. It’s definitely rare for Jack to lose his temper to this extent.
In any case, Jack is furious and gets out his gun, pressing it to the other man’s chest. An unnerved Elrad points out that “More death serves no one” and that their culture should punish the man for his actions.
“More death is exactly what you people are going to get,” Jack refutes, but he doesn’t shoot Malchus. His fate is not mentioned nor he is ever seen or referenced again after he shrugs off Elrad’s effort to help him up.
Injured people and a pair of body bags are heading back to the SGC through the wormhole. Jack just wants to go home. Daniel points out that not everybody agrees with Malchus’ perspective and that a whole civilization shouldn’t be doomed because of a few people’s actions. Sam feels this whole situation is her fault.
Irritable, Jack will listen to reason although he doubts these people want help. Daniel suggests relocating them while Sam has the start of a new plan.
At the temple, Daniel gives a speech about relocating them but Elrad is accepting of them sharing the planet’s fate. Jack watches on, frustrated by being proven right. Teal’c was waiting for outside for them, Daniel quickly cluing in that Jack has a plan.
Going into the center of the village the snarky, angry Jack does a big speech in an effort to unmask the Asgard while standing on a crate. Obviously this doesn’t work. Daniel is downcast and resigned about the situation.
Sam has showed simulations on her computer with Hammond and Jack back on base. Option two’s odds are now up to one in a hundred. Jack says, “It’s your call, General. I only understand about one percent of what she says half the time.”
Hammond wants it run by him again, which leads Sam to go over to a whiteboard to sketch out the plan to stop the wormhole partway through the travel so the element gets stuck in the sun. Jack to his surprise got something right about Stargate physics: that in that case, the element will be mostly disintegrated. Sam points out that’s bad for humans, not so much for raw element. Hammond gives the plan the go-ahead.
A MALP heads through the wormhole with the payload and the controlled shutdown occurs. Now they can just wait and see if it worked.
Elrad is opening an open air speech. Daniel and Teal’c are present, with Jack and Sam showing up. It’s brought up they’re only allowed back as long as Jack doesn’t deny the Asgard are gods. Jack doesn’t want to stick around and Sam’s afraid the target was missed.
Daniel wants to tell them and say goodbye so he heads over to apologize and hope they’ll change their minds about leaving. Elrad contines to pray to Freyr. Daniel joins in a bit and says goodbye to the other man. With a faint humming, the sun starts to go back to normal.
“Am I having a stroke?” wonders Jack in a call-back to the start of the episode.
Elrad is pleased and it’s now time for more prayer as they thank Freyr.
Sam is pretty sure they didn’t do it on their own. Jack realized the Asgard just couldn’t help overtly and used a “technical loophole”. Daniel posits they’ll never know for sure what happened, probably because if asked the Asgard will deny it whether or not they actually had any involvement. The camera pans up from the village to the reddish sky. The commentary is even more vague about what happened.
This was a solid episode. The commentary reveals they seriously considered having the team ‘lose’ this episode and the culture ending up destroyed. I’m glad they didn’t, though that does add an extra element of “deus ex machina” to the end with the implied Asgard aid.
Jack has a rare show of rage here. Usually he’s far more in control of his temper. There were several elements to this. One, he lost men under his command, thus part of his ‘pack’ even if not immediate members. Two, he has often in the past been at least irritated when offers of help are rejected or when somebody doesn’t help him out like he would in their shoes. Three, he apparently feels even more strongly about cowards than General Hammond. Due to these factors, Jack briefly lost it and continues to be on edge for the rest of the episode.
Then he lashed out against the idea of anybody pretending to be gods. He clearly mistrusts the concept of “needing” a god to have a functioning society. Apparently the Asgard opted to feign godhood like the Goa’uld to make the transfer easier. Maybe these early societies needed somebody to worship once free of Goa’uld control? Or maybe by having the people worship them, the Asgard wanted to avert any resurgence of Goa’uld worship and what comes with it.
Hopefully SGC will be more careful with what they bypass in the dialing computer from now on. Certainly Sam will be after her mistake nearly took out a second sun and a human-inhabited planet with it. And maybe the Asgard will give them those two list of “don’ts” that Jack suggested in his meeting with their High Council.
I do wish Malchus’ fate had been revealed. Maybe it wasn’t deemed important enough to be mentioned, let alone shown? The commentary doesn’t say anything about it either. It’s unlikely that K’Tau will be visited again.
Next time on Stargate SG-1: Cassandra undergoes a rite of passage.