We have another race with advanced technology, and again they’re unwilling to share with us scrappy whippersnappers.
Spoilers below the cut.
Upon exploring a planet with a recently erupted volcano, the SG-1 team discover a small gathering of humans who are about to die from suffocation because of the ash in the air. Some are dead, but the ones that are alive are brought back through the gate and into the infirmary of Stargate Command. The team sends a flying drone to check the situation and soon discover that the temperatures are way beyond human-sustaining. And also there’s so much ash in the air they wouldn’t be able to breathe anyhow. Which means the people they brought back are stuck on Earth for the time being.
Speaking of, they start to stir in the infirmary. One introduces himself as Omoc and literally says nothing about his culture or technology. He scrutinizes the way the SGC staff took their belongings and tested them and offends every Earthling in the room all in one fell swoop. He does say they called their planet Tollan (which I think of as “talon” with backwards vowels). Omoc declares that SG-1 should have let the Tollans die on their planet because there was a rescue team of their own on the way.
Meanwhile, Carter gets cozy with another Tollan named Narim who is sincerely grateful to be alive. He thanks Carter and likens her to a sher-mal, which Carter translates to angel. Narim also reveals that he’s never really seen an animal so Carter gives him a cat named Schrodinger. They have a nice little laugh about quantum physics and bond even more.
Narim’s lore for sher-mal and Carter’s lore for angels seem oddly familiar. Though neither reference the Christian God in particular, it seems meaningful that there is a shared lore with both their worlds. Maybe we’ll learn in a later episode that the Christian God is an alien too. It sounds too controversial to be canon, especially in the 1990s, but you never know. Maybe that sort of storyline is done in the later seasons as a way to earn back some viewers.
To make matters worse, Colonel Maybourne, who replaced the last dude of authority that came to talk trash about the Stargate Program, turns up and starts talking trash about the Stargate Program on their own turf. Specifically, because the Tollans refuse to give up information regarding their planet and technology, Maybourne wants to take them away for study by the NID (National Intelligence Department). Major General Hammond, meanwhile, recognizes this as a bad idea and pulls rank to get Maybourne to calm the fuck down.
Maybourne and O’Neill have the same rank yet Maybourne acts like he has more authority than O’Neill. Or O’Neill acts like he has less authority than he actually has. Either way, with Hammond out-ranking Maybourne, Maybourne showed some ridiculous insubordination in this episode.
The Tollans get their possessions back and test the theory that they’re not prisoners by escaping to look at the stars. The stargate staff go after them with sniffer dogs and weapons and the Tollans, already on edge, get more on edge. Later, they reveal that they shared a piece of technology with another planet in their system that were as technologically profound as Earth. The simple piece of technology was a self-sustaining battery with never ending power, and the civilization used it as a weapon of war and ended up destroying themselves. The repercussions of which threw the Tollans’ planet off balance, hence the devastating volcanic activity. As a result, most of the Tollans moved to another planet not on the stargate system. This planet is so far away that they would have no hope of seeing a rescue ship in their lifetime.
Stargate Command, however, offer their help in finding a place for the Tollans to resettle as refugees somewhere. This is discreetly, of course, because Maybourne is determined to have the Tollans come with him. SG-1 calls in some favors to bring a diplomatic party from the Land of the Light (from “The Broca Divide”). Omoc is angry that these people are less advanced than Stargate Command. They are the only diplomatic party we see but there is a reference that the Tollans turn down multiple opportunities. Eventually Jackson decides to call on the Nox. Unfortunately, they would need the help of the Tollans in contacting the Nox since their stargate was closed after SG-1’s last encounter with them. On top of that, assisting the Tollans escape would result in a court-martial. Lucky for SG-1, Jackson is a civilian and thus unable to get court-martialed. Therefore, Jackson leads the mutiny.
There is a cute little scene where Omoc, as the signal to the Nox homeworld is being sent, attempts to teach Jackson why the signal wouldn’t take thousands of years to reach its destination. Jackson calls the theory “bending spacetime” but Omoc sighs in defeat and says he wouldn’t understand. Jackson concedes, but now that we’re almost 20 years after this episode’s airdate, I want to know what other kind of explanation is there? Omoc bends a tree branch in his example exactly the same way a physics professor bends a piece of paper to represent spacetime. I blame a writer who doesn’t fully understand the science behind the theory.
In the end, Arya from the episode “The Nox” arrives through the stargate to be greated by weapons trained on her. She tells Jackson that his race has learned nothing, but he has. As Maybourne goes crazy trying to shoot everyone walking towards the stargate, she makes everyone’s weapons disappear and leads the Tollans to her homeworld.
This is the second episode where a species of advanced technology refused to share it with the stargate team. From a production perspective, I can understand not wanting to get the science behind the technology wrong, but from the point of view of an audience member, I wanted more creativity in this regard. Will we eventually meet a race of advanced technology that is willing to share scientific data with Earth scientists? I sure hope so!
This episode’s adorable mascot is Schrodinger the Cat, the chillest cat to ever cat.