The Curse

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | Review

When his former mentor dies, Dr. Jackson returns to his roots -- and discovers an ancient Egyptian artifact containing a Goa'uld parasite.

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EPISODE #413
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 09.22.00
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 01.14.02
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 3
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita
GUEST STARS:

Anna-Louise Plowman (Sarah Gardner), Ben Bass (Steven Rayner), Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser), David Abbott (Dr. Jordan), Lorena Gale (Curator), Dan Shea (Sgt. Siler)

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It has been five years since Daniel Jackson saw his friends and his former archaeology professor, Dr. David Jordan. He had distanced himself from the doctor to protect him, because the theories Daniel was presenting to the archaeological community made him an outcast and a laughing-stock: theories that ancient Egyptian civilization had its roots in extra-terrestrials.

But now, Daniel discovers, his mentor is dead. Dr. Jordan was killed in a lab explosion while analyzing the Osiris Jar, an artifact recently recovered from a “cursed” 1931 expedition to Egypt. Jackson travels to Chicago to attend the funeral and see his friends and former colleagues again.

The rest of SG-1 is given leave as well. Major Samantha Carter stays at the S.G.C. to work on personal projects, while Jack O’Neill drags a reluctant Teal’c off to go fishing with him in Minnesota.

In Chicago, Daniel meets Steven Raynor (Dr. Jordan’s assistant for nearly 15 years), and Sarah Gardner — Daniel’s former girlfriend. Sarah is pleased to see him, and greets him warmly. But Steven is among those who has ridiculed Daniel for his unorthodox theories, and is angry with him for abandoning Dr. Jordan five years ago.

Jackson decides to stay in Chicago for a time, and help his friends catalog the other artifacts from the expedition, in order to wrap up Dr. Jordan’s final project. He and Sarah catch up, but soon discover that one of the artifacts — an amulet in the image of the Egyptian god Osiris, laden with gold — is missing.

Daniel tries to help her track down the missing artifact. In speaking with the museum curator, he learns that the Osiris Jar studied by Dr. Jordan was not the only one of its kind. A second, the Isis Jar, had recently been found in a mislabeled crate. The object, Jackson quickly sees, has Goa’uld symbols on it.

He contacts Teal’c (who took a cell phone to Minnesota, against Jack’s wishes), who helps him with the translation: “Banished to oblivion” is inscribed on the Isis Jar. Daniel takes the artifact back to Cheyenne Mountain, where Major Carter and Dr. Janet Fraiser examine it more closely.

A scan reveals the jar’s contents: it is a Goa’uld symbiote, trapped in the vessel for thousands of years. The jar is more than it appears. Although ordinary ceramic on the outside, the inside is specially-lined and equipped with a tiny naquadah power source. It is a stasis jar, designed to keep the Goa’uld inside alive indefinitely. But because the seal has been damaged, the Goa’uld inside — Isis herself, presumably — is quite dead.

Daniel recounts the Egyptian myth: Osiris was the first pharaoh of Egypt, and Isis was his queen. Osiris’ brother, Seth, trapped him in a magic box and dumped him into the Nile River. The fate of Isis was the same, apparently, though she did not survive her long slumber.

But Osiris has survived. Somewhere out there, they realize, is the Osiris Jar that Dr. Jordan was studying. If it was opened, someone back in Chicago could be a Goa’uld.

Jackson returns, with reason to believe that the new Goa’uld host may be Steven. Sarah wants to help him, but Daniel cannot tell her what she wants to know. She pleads with him to learn what he has been doing for the past five years, and what is this great mystery about the truth of ancient Egypt. Struggling against his desire to tell her everything, Daniel refuses.

Steven has gone on the lam and is tracked to Cairo, Egypt. Daniel sets out to confront him — along with Major Carter and Dr. Fraiser. Daniel theorizes that, for some reason, Osiris may be returning to the temple where the stasis jars were originally found.

Armed with tranquilizer darts, they find him there. But he is not a Goa’uld, and has been badly hurt. Steven tells them that he learned Daniel’s wild theories were right all along: the amulet was tested and learned to be some 10,000 years old, predating Egyptian civilization. (It is the proof Jackson has been looking for.) Steven realized that the amulet was a key to something, and wished to make the discovery himself.

Suddenly, Steven’s assailant steps out of the shadows. It is the Goa’uld Osiris, who has taken the body of Sarah as his new host. Armed with a Goa’uld hand device, he sends Carter and Fraiser hurtling backward into the stone wall. Osiris then turns her hand to attack Daniel.

He refuses to tell the Goa’uld the location of the Stargate, or the Isis Jar. He also tells Osiris that the people of Earth no longer worship false gods, and that he will not be welcomed here. Furthermore, he and his companions are Goa’uld-slayers, having killed Ra, Seth, Hathor and Sokar.

Osiris moves to force the information from him with the hand device. But Daniel resists, and plunges a tranquilizer dart into her side. Osiris reels backward, and moves toward a console. She activates a Goa’uld ship long buried in the sands near the temple and, promising to return one day and to make the rivers of Earth “run red with blood,” Osiris uses transport rings to escape up to the ship and flee into space.

ANALYSIS

  • It is ironic that the “proof” Daniel has sought for his theory that ancient Egyptian culture was influenced by aliens is, in fact, not proof at all. While Steven and the archaeological community would learn that the amulet was 10,000 years old, it would not necessarily support the claim that ancient Egypt was influenced by extra-terrestrials. Daniel, however, knows that the amulet was probably not made in ancient Egypt at all, but brought there by Osiris.
  • Osiris and Isis were trapped in their prisons for many thousands of years — though probably far less than 10,000. The amulet, and not the jar, was dated as 10,000 years old. Egyptian culture did not exist 10,000 years ago, and that mythology records Osiris as being present to become their first pharaoh (less than 10,000 years ago).
  • Osiris and Isis were banished by Seth, Osiris’ brother and enemy. Seth remained on Earth after the Goa’uld left and the Stargate was buried (“Seth”).
  • Normally, a Goa’uld symbiote is capable of rendering a sedative harmless (such as Shau’nac’s symbiote, Tanith, in “Crossroads”). But the sedative that Seth put into the Osiris Jar and the Isis jar is quite effective. It has been established that the Goa’uld are more susceptible to the effects of certain sedatives (“Crossroads”), but it might also have something to do with the fact that Seth’s sedative was administered to symbiote directly, instead of to a host body.
  • It seems odd that General Hammond would send only Dr. Jackson, Major Carter and Dr. Fraiser to Egypt to apprehend Osiris. A powerful Goa’uld running free on Earth ought to warrant a much larger operation. That may have been prevented, though, by the fact that Hammond would have to deal with explaining such an operation to the Egyptian government.
  • Hathor’s ability to locate the Stargate appears to greatly surpass that of Osiris. It is unlikely that Hathor would have discovered top secret information about the gate’s location, but rather was instinctively drawn to it (“Hathor”).Osiris lacked this ability. It may be a unique ability of a Goa’uld queen, such as Hathor.
  • Osiris knows very little of the state of the Goa’uld empire, or the rest of the universe, having been imprisoned for thousands of years on Earth. He knows that the S.G.C. is responsible for the death of Ra, Seth, Hathor and Sokar (though the latter was, in fact, accomplished by the Tok’ra — “The Devil You Know”). But Osiris does not know if the Stargate is even functional on Earth (though it’s an easy assumption, considering their list of accomplishments against the Goa’uld and knowledge of them), or if his queen, Isis, is still alive.
  • Osiris reveals briefly that it was Sarah who freed him from the Osiris Jar. Most likely, she shared Steven’s opinion and decided to open it during its testing at the lab. Once taken over by the Goa’uld, he probably caused the lab explosion that killed Dr.Jordan.

    Osiris spent the following days discreetly searching for information on the Stargate,recognizing that Earth was no longer under the control of the Goa’uld and that humans had advanced much. He found no one who knew much of anything about the Goa’uld or the gate,until he encountered Daniel Jackson. He continued to press him to find out what he knows, but he refused to tell him (though he wanted to, recognizing the Goa’uld only as Sarah, his friend).

  • Osiris’ convincing performance as Sarah supports the theory that Goa’uld can impersonate their human hosts quite easily, suppressing their change in voice and their glowing eyes. He even had some access to his host’s knowledge and memories, recognizing Daniel and his past relationship with Sarah, expertly operating Dr. Jordan’s computer,etc.

    This is consistent with past Goa’uld behavior: Tanith,for example, impersonated his host (“Crossroads”). Many other Goa’uld have spoken without a “Goa’ulded” voice: Hathor, Apophis and Jolinar among them.

    The Goa’uld who infected Major Kawalsky, however, did not impersonate him — though this can be explained by the fact that the Goa’uld was not fully mature when it took him over, or simply didn’t try to impersonate him(“The Enemy Within”).

  • As he said, Daniel is getting use to being at the receiving end of a Goa’uld hand device. Ra used one on him (“Stargate” the Movie), as did Klorel (“Within the Serpent’s Grasp”) and Amonet (“Forever in a Day”).
  • Osiris’ hidden ship was her backup plan. She was more interested in finding the Stargate (and perhaps ruling Earth rather than escaping through it), and only fled after being injected with sedative by Daniel. The Goa’uld probably realized that he had only moments before being rendered unconscious, and wished to avoid capture.
  • It should be noted that Osiris is probably not bound by the Asgard Protected Planets Treaty, in which the Goa’uld System Lords agreed not to invade Earth (“Fair Game”). She is not a System Lord herself (having been trapped on Earth for thousands of years), and has a personal vendetta against Earth. Not only do the people of Earth refuse to worship her, but Daniel refused to disclose the location or status of Osiris’ queen, Isis.

    Thor has suggested, however, that if a rogue Goa’uld tried to make a move against Earth, and the System Lords knew about it, they would likely attempt to intervene in order to safeguard their treaty with the Asgard (“Fair Game”).

NOTES

  • Thanks to Seth, the S.G.C. may have an effective way to sedate a Goa’uld.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Daniel JacksonDaniel Jackson – Daniel has not been in contact with his friends and former colleagues since he left them five years ago. He originally distanced himself from his professor, Dr. Jordan, to spare him the embarrassment of being associated with Daniel’s unorthodox theories. Daniel has also published very little since becoming involved with the Stargate program.

    Now, his theories have found substantial proof — and his former colleague, Steven, knows it. But more important is Jackson’s former girlfriend, Sarah. Though their relationship apparently did not end particularly well five years ago, now the kind and beautiful young woman has been taken as a host by the Goa’uld Osiris. This is the second of Daniel’s love interests to be taken by the Goa’uld (the first being Sha’re, his wife).

  • OsirisOsiris – Banished by his brother Seth, Osiris spent many thousands of years trapped in stasis, sedated. He was freed when Sarah opened the Osiris Jar, and he took her as his new host. After failing to learn the location of the Stargate or of Isis, his queen (as well as learning that Seth, Ra, Hathor and Sokar are dead), Osiris escaped using a hidden Goa’uld ship. He vowed to return to Earth one day with a vengeance.
  • SethSeth – Seth was the brother and enemy of Osiris. He banished Osiris and Isis, his queen, removing the Goa’uld symbiotes from their hosts and putting them into stasis jars. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris was then cast into the Nile River.
  • Janet FraiserJanet Fraiser – Janet is a medical doctor, a scientist, and a trained Air Force officer. This is the first time she accompanied members of the S.G.C. on a dangerous mission, to our knowledge.
  • Teal'cTeal’c – Teal’c apparently enjoys reading tabloid papers. It may be a habit he picked up during a recent mission to Montana (“Point of No Return”).
  • Samantha CarterSamantha Carter – Sam is into motorcycles. Whether she actually rides them, or just enjoys working on them, is uncertain.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Why did Sarah open the Osiris Jar?
  • How quickly did Osiris take Sarah as his host, if he was sedated inside the stasis jar?
  • Did Osiris cause the explosion that killed Dr. Jordan? Was it deliberate?
  • Who erased the computer records? Sarah/Osiris?
  • What did Osiris and Isis do to end up banished by Seth? Was it simply a struggle for power?
  • What story will Daniel tell to Steven? What is the future of Steven’s archaeological career, following these new revelations?
  • Where will Osiris go? How long will it take her ship, small and thousands of years old, to get anywhere? Does she still have allies among the Goa’uld?
  • Will Osiris return to invade Earth?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “Well, I know the producers like to drop in their own personal references every once in a while. For Brad [Wright] it’s The Wizard of Oz. My reference pops up in ‘The Curse,’ but I’d be surprised if anyone noticed. Check out the episode and note the last names that pop up. Professor Jordan. The Stewart Expedition. Sarah Gardner. Steven Rayner. I’m a huge Green Lantern fan.”
  • “In the original script, Jack pulls the battery out of the phone and tosses it aside (not into the water). This suggested he wanted to be left alone, but also left the door open for them to slip the battery back and be on call if truly needed. On the day of shooting, someone suggested it was environmentally irresponsible to do so and the battery was dumped in the lake instead.” (Writer / supervising producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at SaveDanielJackson.com)
  • “There was no cover story [told to Dr. Rayner]. In my mind, Steven is now working for the government, and I would love to come up with a story in which he crosses paths with Daniel off-world. In fact, I pitched a story early this year in which this happens … but it got killed. Oh well. Back to the drawing board.” (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at Our Stargate)
  • “I was damn proud of this episode for a number of reasons, the chiefest being its ability to mine an aspect of Daniel Jackson’s past that had yet to be fully explored. My inner comic book geek is in full display here as Green Lantern references abound: Professor Jordan Sarah Gardner, the Stewart Expedition, Steven Raynor — all GL’s past and present. Anna-Louise Plowman’s terrific performance ensured she’d be coming back for a return visit, while Ben Bass’s performance as Steven Raynor should have done the same except that the follow-up story I had planned for his character never got past the room. The basic premise of the story involved SG-1 heading off-world and discovering they’d been beaten to an incredible archaeological find by another team headed by Steven Raynor and bankrolled by a wealthy industrialist who had swung a deal to make use of the Russian gate.

    “This episode also marked my first experience with the networks’ dreaded give-everything-away promos. In this case, the promo included a shot of Osiris blasting our heroes, thus ruining the fourth act reveal of exactly who Osiris was. It was a surprise-ruiner of such epic proportions that it remained unrivaled for years — until their ‘You won’t believe the last five minutes!’ promo for ‘The Kindred, [Part] 1’ that revealed Carson Beckett. What’s not believe? You just showed them! (P.S. Special mention to the German broadcasters that renamed ‘Forever In a Day’ ‘Sha’re ist Tod’ (‘Sha’re Is Dead’).” (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog

  • “After some 3+ seasons, we’d figured the backstories of our team had no doubt been good and mined – which is why it was a delight to come up with a story that explored aspects of Daniel Jackson’s life prior to his joining the Stargate Program. It’s a fun little mystery (spoiled by the network promo) with a healthy dose of Egyptian mythology, exploration and discovery, and one megalomaniacal surprise villain.” (Writer / producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)