New Ground

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions

Jack, Sam and Daniel are imprisoned on a planet and become pawns in a war of ideology, while Teal'c must rely on the kindness of a local man after being badly injured.

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EPISODE #319
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 02.18.00
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 04.30.01
DVD DISC: Season 3, Disc 5
WRITTEN BY: Heather E. Ash
DIRECTED BY: Chris McMullin
GUEST STARS:

Richard Ian Cox (Nyan), Daryl Shuttleworth (Rigar), Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser), Desiree Zuroski (Parey), Jennifer Copping (Mallin), Bill Nikolai (Technician), Finn Michael (Soldier)

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The S.G.C. gates to a world populated by technologically advanced humans (P2X-416), where the Stargate has only recently been unburied. General Hammond sends through a M.A.L.P. probe,and the team finds a young man and woman standing near the gate, alarmed but curious.

SG-1 visits the world, and learns that the young man — Nyan — is a scientist on the continent of Bedrosia. Bedrosia is at war with a rival continent, the Optricans, over their beliefs regarding the origin of human life on their world. The Optricans believe that aliens brought humans there thousands of years ago through a portal, while the Bedrosians steadfastly believe that their god — Nefertum — created life on Bedrosia.

Nyan is convinced that SG-1 and the Stargate are proof that his own beliefs — and the beliefs of all Bedrosia — are wrong, and that the Optricans have been right all along. But others in Bedrosia believe differently: the military arrives soon and captures O’Neill, Carter, and Jackson, believing them to be Optricans sent to present a grand hoax that supports their views.

Teal’c and Nyan escape the military force, led by an imposing and stubborn man named Rigar. Teal’c soon comes face-to-face with a Bedrosian soldier, and the two exchange fire. Teal’c is hit in the face with an energy weapon, and blinded; the other is killed.

Nyan soon finds Teal’c, and brings him to safety in a nearby cave. He wants to help heal Teal’c, and soon shows up with a medical device capable of regenerating the optic nerve. Teal’c is committed to mounting some sort of rescue operation to free the rest of SG-1, but is genuinely afraid when faced with his own helplessness.

Meanwhile, Rigar has erected an energy field around his encampment, and is holding O’Neill, Carter, and Jackson in small, electrified metal cages. He refuses to believe their story, and plans to soon kill them.

After SG-1 fails to check-in, General Hammond redials the planet and tries to communicate with them. Rigar tells him that he is holding the three, and threatens to kill them if any rescue mission is undertaken.

Rigar’s men soon find the soldier killed by Teal’c, and the leader demands that Daniel tell him what happened. He believes there is a fourth from their team still at large — but SG-1 continues to deny Teal’c’s presence on the planet. Rigar shoots Sam, and then Jack, with a zat gun, but Daniel refuses to cooperate.

With further treatments from the device, Teal’c’s eyesight gradually improves. He convinces Nyan to help him free the team, and together they overpower two Bedrosian soldiers and hijack their transport vessel. They use the ship to penetrate the energy barrier, and a firefight ensues.

While Teal’c dodges shots from the Bedrosian energy weapons, Nyan makes his way to the holding cages and frees the rest of SG-1. They fight their way back out, stunning more guards and rendering them unconscious. Daniel makes it to the newly unburied D.H.D., and dials the Stargate to Earth. The five people — SG-1 and Nyan — flee from the remaining soldiers and dash through the Stargate, leaving Bedrosia behind for good.

Nyan is granted refugee status by the United States, and agrees to become Daniel’s new research assistant. Though not exactly groundbreaking science, it will allow him to do what he has always wanted: learn more about where his people came from.

ANALYSIS

  • An underlying theme of this episode is the ideological war between religion and science. Nyan is a true scientist, who has no unfounded allegiance to abstract belief, but is eager to change what he believes when presented with new evidence. The Bedrosians are dedicated to their faith, and are presented as arrogant and stubborn — unwilling to consider that their beliefs might be wrong, even when presented with hard evidence. This dichotomy is manifested in the characters of Nyan and Rigar.
  • Carter referred to the planet as the first hit on her new cold dialing program — the first successful Stargate connection to an address previously dialed unsuccessfully. How did she know that the Stargate would connect, when all seven chevrons had not even been encoded? And how does a remote Stargate know it is being accessed before all seven chevrons are locked and the address is completed? The chevrons on the receiving gate began to light up before the S.G.C. had finished dialing the address.

    This principle has not been sufficiently explained yet. It seems, though, that the Stargate system is much smaller than the 2 million plus possible addresses. A remote gate can apparently recognize that it is being dialed — and the S.G.C. can determine that they are dialing a valid gate — after the first few chevrons have successfully locked.

  • An SG team, when needed, can now bring a naquadah reactor (developed in “Learning Curve”) to a planet missing a D.H.D. in order to power the Stargate and dial back out manually. This indicates: 1) that the S.G.C. has potentially developed additional reactors to the prototype seen in “Learning Curve,” and 2) that the D.H.D. does supply its Stargate with power.

    The reactor brought by SG-1 to Bedrosia, though, appears to have been left behind.

  • The Upheaval — a cataclysmic event on Bedrosia consisting of violent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions — buried the Stargate some 2,000 years ago.
  • The Bedrosians are technologically advanced, possessing anti-gravity ships, energy weapons, force fields and more. It is likely that the Optricans are on approximately the same level.
  • The humans of this world were apparently brought there as slaves many thousands of years ago by the Goa’uld Nefertum, an under-System Lord of Ra. Nefertum is still worshiped by the Bedrosians as a god (though he is apparently now long gone from their world), and even has a holy book that bears his name (the “Book of Nefertum”).
  • Nyan finds Teal’c examining his Goa’uld larva in the cave. He was likely checking its health, since it was not rapidly healing his injury. Teal’c soon reveals that his symbiote was injured by his own staff weapon blast, and must heal itself before it can heal him — if it can heal itself.
  • Teal’c gave Nyan a zat gun to use in the rescue operation, but did not instruct him on how to use it (one shot stuns, two shots kill, three shots disintegrate). During the surprise attack, Nyan shoots a guard twice and unknowingly kills him, though he had previously expressed to Teal’c that they should only stun the guards, not kill them.

NOTES

  • Major Carter has developed a “cold dialing program.” The S.G.C. computer periodically redials an address from the Abydos Cartouche that failed to connect the first time.
  • A single blast from a Goa’uld zat gun will completely disable a M.A.L.P. probe.
  • The D.H.D. (dial-home device) appears to require all seven symbols to be dialed in order to establish a wormhole to another planet, before the center panel is pressed to activate the Stargate. Daniel clearly presses seven panels, plus the center globe, to dial the gate back to Earth.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Teal'cTeal’c – Teal’c’s struggle with his own helplessness is profound. He is a proud, strong warrior, who has learned to rely on his acute senses. When blinded, helpless and alone, Teal’c shows fear — though his courage and commitment to his friends will not be overcome. He is determined to rescue them, even when blind.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Does the S.G.C. still possess a working naquadah reactor, or perhaps multiple reactors?
  • How does Jackson (or anyone, for that matter) know the address to Earth from any given planet? How does he determine the unique seventh symbol for each world (the point of origin in the address system). Are the first six symbols in the Earth address always the same, regardless of where they are in the galaxy? Or are they always in the same location on the D.H.D.?