The Light

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

SG-1 finds a deserted Goa'uld palace, where a beautiful device causes suicidal tendencies.

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OUR RATING -
FAN RATING - 8.23 
EPISODE #418
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 01.26.01
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 02.25.03
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 4
WRITTEN BY: James Philips
DIRECTED BY: Peter F. Woeste
GUEST STARS:

Kristian Ayre (Loran), Gary Jones (Technician), Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser), Link Baker (Lt. Barber)

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Major Samantha Carter prepares to join Dr. Daniel Jackson on an offworld project on P4X-347, where Jackson and the members of SG-5 have discovered a Goa’uld palace deserted hundreds of years ago. The center of attention in the building — probably once used as a sort of opium den-like pleasure palace — is a pedestal that generates a huge, glowing, cascading light show.

Carter prepares to disembark the S.G.C. with Lieutenant Barber of SG-5. Barber seems distracted, staring at the dialing Stargate. When it engages, he suddenly rushes into the unstable vortex and is disintegrated. Carter and Colonel O’Neill are stunned.

Daniel and SG-5 are recalled from the planet, and are shocked at the news of Barber’s suicide. He showed no signs of depression — quite the opposite, in fact. But Daniel himself is more concerned with a magnificent holographic light displayed on the walls of a room on the planet, and with a small device he brought back but cannot get to work.

Growing more frustrated as the day wears on, Jackson decides he has to return to the planet to work with the device. O’Neill tells him that they will return the next morning, but that’s not soon enough for Daniel. He rushes to General Hammond’s office and demands to go now. But the General refuses.

The next morning, Daniel fails to report in. O’Neill finds him outside his apartment, moments away from jumping off his balcony to his death on the street far below. He is depressed and a little out of it, but O’Neill finally pulls him back from the edge.

In the S.G.C. infirmary, Dr. Janet Fraiser reports that Jackson’s neural activity is significantly diminished. There are no signs of a contagion, and no traces of foreign substances in his body — though Jackson’s symptoms look like drug withdrawal. And the members of SG-5 are showing the same symptoms.

O’Neill, Carter and Teal’c visit the planet where Daniel and SG-5 were working, and discover the magnificent light of which had Daniel spoken. It is beautiful, and the three find themselves momentarily hypnotized by it. But Carter detects no other forms of radiation being emitted.

The team soon discovers that a young boy is living in the abandoned Goa’uld palace. The boy, Loran, claims that his parents are gone but will return soon. They were explorers, and brought him here. SG-1 retrieves various environmental samples (including a blood sample from Loran), and O’Neill delivers them to Earth.

It isn’t long, though, before Jack himself begins to show symptoms of neural failure. He learns that the members SG-5 are all dead, and that Daniel is growing worse. And in the hours since he left the planet, Hammond has not been able to make contact with Carter and Teal’c.

When Daniel’s neural activity begins to fail, signaling that his death is near, Fraiser has no option but to send him back to the planet. Hopefully, it won’t be too late for him to still be saved by whatever it is that he’s addicted to. As Daniel’s heart stops beating, Jack picks him up and rushes through the Stargate. On the other side, Jackson slowly begins to recover.

Carter and Teal’c stand hypnotized in the light room, and Jack is betting that the light itself is the cause of their problems — and the death of all of SG-5. Jack, Sam and Teal’c attempt to shut down the device, but again become transfixed by its beauty. When Daniel recovers, he learns that the small device he’d recovered from the temple is a remote control for the platform that generates the light. He turns it off.

With a few hours to take advantage of before the withdrawal symptoms begin to affect them, Teal’c, O’Neill and Carter leave the palace to explore the surrounding countryside. They find themselves on a beach, and a short ways down the shore find the skeletal remains of two humans — surely, Loran’s parents.

The symptoms overtake them quickly, and the three return to the palace. They are weakened, but begin to feel better almost immediately upon their arrival.

Jackson, who stayed behind with Loran, has been fine the whole time. Something in the palace itself is causing the addiction — something other than the light. When the team finds that the platform emits radiation without the light being on (the light itself does not cause the altered brain chemistry, but simply takes advantage of the change), O’Neill confronts Loran.

The boy does, in fact, know how to turn it off. He opens the control panel and runs away,after learning that Jack had found the bodies of his parents.

O’Neill goes to talk with Loran, who confesses to killing his parents. They were addicted to the light. They went days without eating, and did nothing but stare at the light — though Loran himself was too young to be affected. Loran turned off the device, and his parents went crazy and drowned themselves in the ocean outside the palace. Loran found their bodies washed up on the shore the next morning, and buried them there.

O’Neill tells him that it wasn’t his fault. The two return to the light room, where Sam, Daniel and Teal’c have discovered that the device can be turned off incrementally. They need only remain there two or three weeks in order to properly rid themselves of the addiction.

They tell Loran that, when they leave, he can come with them.

ANALYSIS

  • The radiation emitted from the light pedestal accelerated neural activity and increased dopamine levels in the brain. This led to depression, and eventually death. The intensity of the symptoms seemed to be proportional to the length of exposure — though the addiction was almost instantaneous.
  • Dr. Fraiser risked Daniel’s life. It was a huge assumption for her to believe that re-exposing Daniel to the alien light would not only keep him from dying, but would also resuscitate him after his heart stopped beating.
  • Goa’uld symbiotes helped to keep the brains of those exposed to the light chemically balanced after they left the palace. Teal’c’s larval Goa’uld seems to give him the same advantage, rendering him immune to the long-term problems caused by the light’s radiation — but not its addictive effects.
  • SG-5 is not the first full unit lost in the line of duty. SG-7 was wiped out by the Goa’uld Nirrti (“Singularity”). SG-11 was apparently lost to aliens (“Spirits”). SG-10 was lost to a black hole (“A Matter of Time”). And the members of SG-6 were killed by aliens in a plan to infiltrate Earth (“Foothold”).

    The team will likely be replaced with new members (rather than having the team designation retired).

  • What will become of Loran, once he’s brought to Earth? This will make no fewer than three alien kids living on Earth, in addition to Cassandra (“Singularity”) and Nyan (“New Ground”). Is the S.G.C. going to need to start an alien halfway house?
  • Production Error: Barber (the man who killed himself in the show’s opening scene) is credited as a Sergeant, though Hammond refers to him twice in the episode as a Lieutenant.

NOTES

  • Daniel Jackson’s apartment number is 8-3.
  • The people of Chulak, Teal’c’s homeworld, do not celebrate birthdays.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Jack O'NeillJack O’Neill – Though addicted to the light, O’Neill showed more restraint and self-control than his teammates. Perhaps his black ops training helped here. And again, Jack showed his affinity for young people in need. He reassured Loran after having to confront him about his parents’ death, and invited him back to live on Earth.
  • Samantha CarterSamantha Carter – Carter’s withdrawal from her addiction to the radiation caused her to lash out against her commanding officer and the military ranking system, insulting Colonel O’Neill and refusing to keep up the “sir” if they were going to be stuck on P4X-347 for the rest of their lives. Could this be a sign of her true, though subconscious frustrations?
  • Daniel JacksonDaniel Jackson – Suffering from the effects of the light and its radiation, Jackson fell into depression and nearly killed himself. He came close to death again at the S.G.C. when his neural activity began to fail, but finally recovered when O’Neill brought him back to P4X-347.
  • Teal'cTeal’c – Teal’c is 101 years old — 102 in just 47 days. His fondness for children, first seen in Season Two’s “Bane,” is clear.
  • Janet FraiserJanet Fraiser – Doc Fraiser showed what she’s made of when she nearly had a violent and frustrated Jack O’Neill forcibly removed from the infirmary. She continued to show poise and confidence, though she was finally unable to cure SG-1 or save SG-5. The loss of SG-5 may have an impact on her; other S.G. teams that have been completely lost died in the line of duty, not in the infirmary.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • For how long has Loran been alone? When did his parents die?
  • Where is Loran from? Another planet, or elsewhere on that world?
  • Why did the Goa’uld abandon this world?
  • What will become of Loran on Earth?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “[‘The Light’] will put to rest any doubts any of you have about Jack’s feelings for Daniel.” (Writer / supervising producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a chat at the SG1 Fans Web club)
  • “While the final quarter of the show’s fourth season delivers some great hits (‘Entity,’ ‘Exodus’) it also offers up a few misses, this episode being a big one in my books. The beat of Jack rushing Daniel back to the planet aside, the episode never really delivers — surprising given what was, up to this point, a fairly strong season.” (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog