Season 2 Episode 20 – Tell me Carter, where are we going this time? Is it the 60s or 1999?
Synopsis: Before SG-1 can embark on their next mission, Sam has to tinker with the equations because of something-something-solar gravity. When they finally go through the gate, they arrive in the embarkation chamber and then it turns into a room for a missile burn test. Teal’c prevents the test from happening with his Zat gun, and then soldiers come in and take away the team. At this point, they realize they traveled through time so Carter lectures everyone on the importance of not revealing who they are or where they came from. So Colonel O’Neill is purposefully evasive during his interrogation. The team are then transported, during which the vehicle gets a flat tire arranged by Lieutenant George Hammond, the younger version of General Hammond. He found a note in Sam’s pocket instructing him to help them and does so by removing their handcuffs. O’Neill takes out the guards with the Zat gun which Hammond squirreled away from the rest of their things, which O’Neill then destroys by blasting it three times. They knock out Hammond, find the interstate, and start hitchhiking. Teal’c stops the most colorful hippie bus imaginable and the occupants are going to the same place SG-1 is going: New York City. Well, the hippies are actually going to Woodstock. On the way, the team dons period-appropriate attire and take turns driving the bus. In New York, O’Neill and Teal’c confirm that the dates on Hammond’s note are in fact solar flares which can help them return home. Meanwhile, Jackson and Carter visit Katherine and ask where the stargate is being kept. They then road trip to Washington DC, break into a military facility, and are flung too far into the future. Cassandra, now old and wrinkled, is waiting for them and sends them back to their time.
This is the type of fun adventure that makes me love this show. Who wants to road trip America in the height of the hippie movement? Well, I do, and at least one writer for the show maybe. The episode didn’t rub me the wrong way in terms of executed time travel theory. Everyone understood that they couldn’t say anything. No one attempted to reveal secret information from the future to people from the past. It was all one giant loop.
Which, I believe, is the only way to effectively tell a time travel story. For instance, Hammond’s note to himself is written because his younger self receives the same note. But Hammond wouldn’t have known to write the note if he had not seen the note when he was younger. None of the information is acquired outside of that time loop. Thus, we have the perfect time travel story, where two different times communicate with each other but they can only communicate with each other in that one way.
Michael and Jenny, the hippie couple with the converted bus, aren’t given much development. Michael reveals that he was drafted and they were considering running away to Canada. That seemed to be enough to give him some depth, but I wonder if the effect of getting drafted for Vietnam will ever lose it’s luster to history. For the nonhistorians in my readership, getting drafted to fight in the Vietnam War was treated like a death sentence. Though the episode didn’t outright say “Vietnam War” it was implied in the same way Woodstock was implied without being directly stated. A lot of things were happening in 1969. I appreciate this episode for assuming the viewer will understand the events at the time, but I have a feeling it will be lost on future generations of viewers.
To end this on a positive note, let’s all appreciate the myriad of things to appreciate in this episode: Michael and Jenny believing the team are aliens from another planet; Teal’c’s more effective way of hitchhiking; Teal’c’s face of utter sadness when another car drives past without stopping; Teal’c driving; Teal’c dressed for the disco. Okay, fine, Teal’c in the midst of historic American culture is the best thing about this episode. Deny me this, I dare you.
This episode’s adorable mascot is Lieutenant George Hammond who, I gotta say, was a real looker in his younger days.