Poetic title. Poetic story. And the show’s very first CLIFFHANGER.
Spoilers below the cut
The SG-1 team arrives on P3R-233 to find a complex of some sort completely destroyed by Goa’uld weapons. Teal’c recognizes the weapon blasts. Jackson and Carter spread out to investigate and Teal’c points to a Jaffa message that basically means “This planet is irradiated from atomic weapons. Turn back or get cancer” (my paraphrasing). Meanwhile, Daniel discovers a small collection of artifacts from different worlds. O’Neill announces that they’re going home and Daniel tries to take some stuff back with him. He finds a small remote that activates a mirror at the end of the room. Upon investigating the mirror, he touches it, and that’s when everything changes.
He finds himself alone on P3R-233 and grumbles that he was left behind again. (How many times is he left behind on a planet? Isn’t that unsafe?) He dials home and arrives at Stargate Command except everyone’s got their guns trained on him. This is when Jackson gets unruly. He’s dragged to medical where he’s sedated before an MRI. He wakes up in a holding cell. Katherine Langford, now called Dr. Katherine Langford, comes in for an interrogation. Jackson reveals his story, which was that he decoded the stargate’s symbols at Giza and went through the planet to Abydos and later joined SG-1. Katherine says that he did no such thing, and was in fact very rude when he turned down Katherine’s offer to decode the original stargate symbols. The kicker was when Jackson mentioned reuniting Katherine with Ernest. That’s when Katherine could trust him.
Katherine urges General O’Neill to meet Jackson. General O’Neill being the commander of the stargate base. O’Neill is skeptical until Jackson asks if he intended to blow up the stargate on Abydos with a nuclear weapon. And then Jackson mentions O’Neill being suicidal because of the death of his son. That catches O’Neill’s attention and they listen to what Jackson has to say. In the discussion, Jackson writes down the coordinates for Chulak, the Jaffa homeworld. O’Neill then sends a nuclear warhead through the gate to Chulak though Jackson insists he doesn’t.
Jackson learns that several months ago, the Stargate Command of this reality received a transmission from space that they couldn’t understand. Shortly after, the Jaffa attack on Earth started. It appeared to have started in Europe and then moved its way through the western world, also attacking along the Nile and moving towards the east coast of North America. When no one’s looking, Jackson looks up his double and finds that his last known address was in Egypt, and Egypt was basically wiped off the map. With nowhere else to turn to, Jackson decides to help this Stargate Command team.
He listens to the alien transmission and is able to translate it, bragging a bit that he learned how to speak ancient Egyptian on Abydos. The message reads “Beware the destroyers. They come from . . .” and then a series of pulses representing numbers/coordinates. The SGC team here has already analyzed them and gives them to Jackson. Jackson recognizes the combinations as stargate coordinates without the point of origin. All they had to do was find the point of origin and count from there. And Jackson used a video recorder when he arrived on P3R-233, so they can use that to find the point of origin.
Dr. Carter, who never joined the military in this reality, and General O’Neill have a surreal experience watching their alternate selves explore a world. Jackson also captured images of Teal’c and explained that in his reality, Teal’c is a traitor who joined Stargate Command in order to help free his people from the Goa’uld. Jackson, Katherine, and Dr. Carter identify the point of origin on that stargate and Jackson writes down the coordinates for what is believed to be the Goa’uld homeworld.
Before anything can be done, however, the Jaffa warriors land on a mountain outside Stargate Command. General O’Neill rallies the troops to defend the stargate because they need it to evacuate people to another world. The Jaffa have been holding a wormhole open as long as they could so the Earthlings couldn’t use it. However, they can only sustain it for so long. That window of opportunity they have to use for their last hope. Katherine decides to use it to help Jackson. While all hope is lost for them, it is not lost for Jackson’s reality. All they had to do was buy enough time until the next window of opportunity.
The Jaffa Leader invading Stargate Command is Teal’c, who did not turn traitor in this reality. O’Neill uses Jackson’s video recording to distract Teal’c. Upon mention of Teal’c’s family, the names of which O’Neill learned from Jackson, Teal’c murders General Jackson. The sustained wormhole fails so Katherine and Dr. Carter dial P3R-233 for Jackson. Jackson waits in the embarkation room. While he waits, Dr. Carter goes to retrieve the remote Jackson used to activate the alternate reality mirror but is held up by Jaffa warriors. Dr. Carter uses a grenade to kill them, which also kills her. Finally, as the final chevron is coded into the stargate, Jaffa warriors swarm the control room. Katherine closes the blast doors so Jackson doesn’t watch the Jaffa murder her.
Teal’c walks into the embarkation chamber. He eyes Jackson with suspicion. As Jackson runs through the stargate, Teal’c fires his weapon and it hits Jackson in the shoulder. After he goes through, Stargate Command explodes from the self-destruction sequence. Jackson runs through the destroyed planet from the beginning of the episode and touches the mirror again, thus returning him to his original reality.
We learn that the rest of his team had been looking for him. They find him injured in the alien lab room with a piece of paper with the Goa’uld homeworld coordinates and a message that the Jaffa are coming.
And thus we have possibly the coolest episode of Stargate SG-1 yet. It was a cinematic movie experience reminiscent of the original Stargate movie and it had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. Jackson is possibly the most “go with the flow” of the SG-1 team and thus most adaptable to these kinds of situations. But I also like sending the scholar into a confusing and/or dangerous situation and making them truly think to get themselves out of it. That’s one of my favorite plot-based tropes so I love that this episode also uses it.
It’s interesting to see alternate versions of the SG-1 team and their differed relationships with each other. For instance, O’Neill and Carter were engaged in the alternate reality, to Jackson’s confused horror. O’Neill was also more of a hard-ass, less Colonel Sassmaster and more of the silent and stoic badass from the movie. Dr. Carter had the same personality but was less upbeat, most likely a result of the entire world being destroyed around her. She was more science and less warrior but still involved in the stargate program. Perhaps the most shocking revelation was Teal’c having hair. Not just plain old hair, though, long and straight hair held in a ponytail. It’s as fabulous as his eyebrows, which retained their signature arch.
This episode’s adorable mascot is the show’s writers catering to the O’Neill/Carter ship.