Point of No Return

Summary | Analysis | Characters | Questions | Production | Review

SG-1 investigates a conspiracy theorist who has detailed knowledge of the Stargate program.

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OUR RATING -
FAN RATING - 5.28 
EPISODE #411
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 09.08.00
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 11.19.01
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 3
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: William Gereghty
GUEST STARS:

Willie Garson (Martin), Robert Lewis (Dr. Tanner), Matthew Bennett, Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser), Mar Andersons (Bob), Francis Boyle (Sgt. Peters)

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The Cheyenne Mountain complex receives a bizarre phone call from a man in Montana. He rambles on for some time about alleged government conspiracies — the alien landing at Roswell, the J.F.K. assassination, and other such theories. But the man gets the attention of those in charge at the S.G.C. when he mentions a large circular object he knows to be deep under Cheyenne Mountain — something called the “Stargate.”

The man knows Colonel Jack O’Neill by name, and requests a one-on-one meeting at a Montana diner. General George Hammond orders SG-1 to locate the man, and find out what he knows and how he knows it.

Dressed in civilian clothes, the team travels to Montana. O’Neill meets with the man, Martin Lloyd — a short, bald, goofy guy with thick-rimmed glasses — while the rest of the team monitors their conversation covertly.

While Martin tells O’Neill about his knowledge of the Stargate — including his belief that he is from outer space, and doesn’t really belong here — Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson look up his records. They locate his address, and head off to investigate his home while O’Neill is left to stall him.

Jack allows Martin to lead him into the woods to show him his spaceship. They wander for quite some time; Martin is sure that the craft he landed in is buried in a clearing, but he can’t find it. O’Neill finally asks that he give up the search.

Back in Martin’s house, the others find very little of help. Martin is a conspiracy theorist, who spends his time forming theories about secret government plots. He catalogs all of his memories and experiences in a journal, suspecting government involvement when his hair brush goes missing.

They also discover a cabinet full of prescription drugs — anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and the like. Beyond this, the team finds nothing of substance about his knowledge of the Stargate program. It seems that there isn’t much more to Martin than meets the eye.

But all is not as it seems; the members of SG-1 are not the only ones watching Martin. A mysterious group of men has planted cameras in his home, and they see Carter, Jackson, and Teal’c as the team searches the place.

O’Neill asks that Martin stop taking his medication for a while, and he begins to remember more. He’s even had visions where he’s seen seven strange symbols, and writes them down: it’s a set of Stargate coordinates, complete with the point of origin for Earth. O’Neill realizes that there must be more going on than a paranoid guy with too much time on his hands.

Jack goes to find Daniel and Sam, who went to meet with Martin’s psychiatrist — Dr. Peter Tanner. But they are nowhere to be found — and even the doctor’s office has been completely cleared out. The doctor, it seems, is one of the men who has been watching Martin. He leads Sam and Daniel into a trap, and the four men interrogate them about how much they know about Martin.

Free of the drugs prescribed by the men working against him, Martin remembers the location of his downed space vessel. They return to the woods and find it, and O’Neill calls in a team to analyze the ship. Martin remembers that he had companions when he landed; they must be the ones who have Jackson and Carter. And when he recalls that they were soldiers, whose world was at war with powerful creatures that wanted them to worship them as gods, O’Neill is convinced: he and Teal’c tell him about the Goa’uld.

They set a trap for the four men, opening the ship’s cockpit — which sends a remote signal to the mysterious four. Martin stands in the clearing as bait, and is taken by the men when they arrive. O’Neill and Teal’c follow cautiously, backed up by armed forces. Before they leave, Tanner activates a device on board the ship.

Jack and Teal’c follow the men to the warehouse where Sam and Daniel are being held, and free them. They also find Martin tied up in the back of a van, but the four men are nowhere to be found.

Miles away, the buried ship explodes, leaving a nothing but a massive crater behind.

Martin remembers everything now. The five of them were soldiers, but they were also deserters. They came to Earth on a ship to hide, but Martin wanted to return home when he realized what he had done (a dream made possible when he learned that Earth has a Stargate). The others simply wish to remain hidden, and for Martin to remain silent.

Jack theorizes that the military won’t be able to find them; but he takes Martin back to his homeworld through the Stargate. When they arrive, they find the entire city leveled to the ground. The Goa’uld, it seems, won the war — and long ago. There is nothing left for Martin to return to.

ANALYSIS

  • Martin found out about Earth’s Stargate, Cheyenne Mountain, and Colonel O’Neill specifically, indicating that there is accurate and detailed information about the program out there amongst conspiracy theorists. Martin said he learned about the Stargate in an online conspiracy chat room.
  • Martin quite accurately theorized about human transplantation to other worlds. The Goa’uld scattered tribes of humans taken from Earth thousands of years ago (“Children of the Gods”) — including Martin’s own people. This may have been due to his hidden memories, if his people had been aware of the fact that they were transplanted from Earth thousands of years ago.
  • The sci-fi film Jack was so intently watching in the hotel room is the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.
  • Not everyone at the alien vessel recovery site had clearance to be informed about SG-1’s mission. They were not informed of the S.G.C. or of O’Neill’s mission, and Teal’c hid his forehead seal when a soldier approached.
  • It seems strange that the four mysterious men would refer to their hidden space vessel as “the experiment.” Why was it an experiment? Perhaps they referred instead to Martin himself when they said that the experiment had been discovered, and knew that only he would be able to locate the ship once his memory began to return.
  • Before being destroyed by the Goa’uld, Martin’s people were more advanced than Earth. They were, at least, capable of space travel.
  • In the end, the four men decided to simply cut Martin loose. They didn’t harm him, or re-drug him, or try to keep SG-1 away from him. They didn’t set up a trap; they simply led SG-1 to the warehouse where Carter and Jackson were being held, and left. So far as we know, they aren’t even watching Martin any more. This is in line, of course, with Martin’s later statement that they aren’t “bad guys” — they’re just hiding.
  • It is clear from an initial look at the rubble surrounding the Stargate that Martin’s people lost their war with the Goa’uld. But are any of them still alive? Were they taken as slaves? Or might pockets of survivors still live somewhere on the planet? It seems strangely irresponsible that O’Neill, Teal’c and Martin would not have looked around a little more before returning to Earth (although this was probably mandated by the dramatic needs of the script).
  • Now that Martin has returned to Earth and has complete knowledge of the Stargate program, it will be a big challenge for the U.S. government to keep him from spreading classified information. He is, after all, devoted to government conspiracies and secrets,and has just had one of them validated.
  • Production Error: one of the Stargate symbols that Martin wrote down doesn’t match the address dialed when Martin returned to his homeworld. The fourth, sixth and seventh symbols are shown as they are dialed; the fourth does not appear in the address that Martin handed to O’Neill.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Teal'cTeal’c – Teal’c rarely gets an opportunity to see much of Earth. But when he does, he finds something new and fascinating to enjoy. This time, the Jaffa discovered the vibrating bed of a cheap motel … and really seemed to enjoy himself!
  • Samantha CarterSamantha Carter – Carter knows how to pick standard locks.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • For how long have Martin and the others been on Earth? Why did they choose this planet? (How far away is Earth from their homeworld?)
  • If the five deserters came to Earth in an escape pod, what happened to their larger vessel?
  • How did Martin get his info on the S.G.C., including the fact that Earth possesses a working Stargate?
  • Does Martin really have an implant in his brain?
  • If Tanner was honest in the fact that he only writes Martin’s prescriptions (and does not fill them), how was his medication they laced with indeterminate chemicals?
  • Were the men familiar enough with the Goa’uld to recognize Teal’c as a Jaffa when they saw the symbiote in his belly?
  • How did Martin know the gate address from Earth to his homeworld?
  • How did the four men originally suppress Martin’s memory, when he knew fully who they were?
  • Will the U.S. government try to track down the four remaining deserters?
  • How long ago was Martin’s homeworld destroyed? Which Goa’uld(s) did it? Are any of his people still alive?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • Co-writer Paul Mullie had this to say: “The idea for this one grew out of the fact that there are lots of Stargate web sites, and there are actually people who think the Stargate is real and the show is a government cover-up. We wanted to play around with that idea, so our characters become involved with a conspiracy nut who has heard rumours about the Stargate. Not only that but he claims to have vague memories of an alien life.

    “This was an interesting episode because our characters got to go out into the real world in present day earth, which is something they don’t often have the chance to do.” (TV Zone’s Special Issue #38)

  • Regarding fan reaction to Sam and Jack’s developing relationship in “Divide and Conquer,” co-writer Joseph Mallozzi had this to say to IGN.com: “In ‘Point of No Return,’ fans focused on the scene where Jack and Teal’c enter the warehouse at the episode’s end and find Sam and Daniel tied up. Daniel is unconscious. Sam stirs. Jack asks Sam if she is alright. JACK ASKS SAM IF SHE IS ALRIGHT?!!! Fans immediately jumped on the fact that Jack asks Sam if she is okay, but doesn’t ask Daniel — in their minds, proof positive that the team dynamics have been forever changed. You could argue that the fact that Sam is conscious — and that Jack is being cautious lest they be walking into an ambush — could have something to do with it.”

    “All this to say — you can please some of the people some of the time … So, of course, by keeping Jack and Sam from acting on their feelings, we’re trying to walk that fine of pleasing none of the people none of the time (kidding).”

  • “This episode was borne out of Paul’s perusal of several online conspiracy sites that maintained the Stargate program did, in fact, exist and that the TV show was part of a plausible deniability campaign (something we would use in later episodes). Lots of great memories from this episode: Teal’c on the motel bed, the great onscreen chemistry between Rick and Willie Garson (who got along famously off-camera), and some bizarre notes we received at the script stage. In one scene at the military camp, we hear a helicopter fly away. We received the note: ‘Can we see the helicopter?’ Brad responded: ‘No, we can’t see the helicopter because it doesn’t exist. All we have is the sound of the helicopter.’

    “Another note was a request to convey the sense of some alien quality in Marty at episode’s end, something to let us know how out of this world he truly was. There was a suggestion that, in the final shot of the episode, Marty could wiggle his ears in a other-worldly manner. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fly.” (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog