Moebius, Part 1

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Production | Transcript

SG-1 travels back in time in a daring plan to steal a piece of Ancient technology from Ra, the powerful Goa'uld who ruled in ancient Egypt.

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EPISODE #819
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 03.18.05
DVD DISC: Season 8, Disc 5
STORY BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie and Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper
TELEPLAY BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: Peter DeLuise
GUEST STARS:

David Hewlett (Dr. Rodney McKay), Don S. Davis (General George Hammond), Robert Wisden (Major Samuels), Colin Cunningham (Major Paul Davis), David Lewis (Cameron Balinsky), James Purcell (Dr. Hirschfield), Alessandro Juliani (Katep), Georgia Craig (Sabrina Gosling), Jay Williams (Ra), Benjamin Easterday (Ra’s Jaffa Commander), Neil Schell (Mr. Crandall), Maurico Vasquez (Student)

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Colonel Samantha Carter briefs Dr. Daniel Jackson and Teal’c on the status of the Daedalus, Earth’s first inter-galactic space craft. During the same meeting, Jackson receives a call informing them of Catherine Langford’s (“Stargate” the Movie) death.

At Langford’s funeral, her niece, Sabrina Gosling, hands Jackson Catherine’s eye of Ra amulet and arranges to send him “a few” other items Catherine bequeathed him. Later when it arrives, the material from Catherine fills Jackson’s entire office. Apparently she has bequeathed to him her entire collection.

Later, Daniel rescues Jack O’Neill from a mind-numbing briefing with SG-22. He has found evidence of a Zero Point Module depicted in Catherine’s copy of an 1889 volume entitled “The Eye of the Sun.” In a painting, the god Ra is holding something called “the heart of light,” which bears a striking resemblance to a Z.P.M. — one that has never been found.

Later, Carter reports that satellite scans of Giza reveal no hidden Z.P.M. She thinks its there, but depleted. Jackson says it was a religious icon, never used as a power source. Teal’c suggests Ra may have taken it with him when he left Earth, but Daniel points out that they may not know where it is now, but they know it was in Giza — in 3000 B.C.

He suggests they use the time-travel-equipped Puddle Jumper (“It’s Good To Be King”) to retrieve the Z.P.M. — despite Carter’s strenuous objections. When Daniel argues that Ra didn’t know of the Z.P.M.’s significance (that it’s not historically important and open a wormhole to the Pegasus Galaxy), Carter acquiesces.

While no one at Area 51 has made the ship work, Jack has the ability to control Ancient technology. Once in orbit in the Jumper, Jackson and Carter instruct O’Neill to concentrate on 3000 B.C. The time travel device pulses. They radio the S.G.C. but get no answer. And as the star patterns and clouds below are different, they decide they have succeeded.

Carter councils minimal interaction before SG-1, dressed in native Egyptian garb, remotely activate the Jumper’s cloak and head for a peasant camp. Jackson meets Katep and his brother Selatis, who will be taking an offering to Ra, and convince the brothers to let them join in.

The next day, they accompany the offering to the temple. Displeased with what has been presented before him, Ra kills Selatis. O’Neill, who wants to kill Ra now rather than wait 5000 years, is prevented by a reminder from Carter. Jackson suggests the Z.P.M. will be in the treasure room, so O’Neill zats a Jaffa for his Horus guard uniform, which Teal’c dons. Teal’c successfully breaches the treasure room and returns with the Z.P.M.

They return to the Jumper only to find it still cloaked, but partially outlined by sand from a recent storm — and surrounded by Jaffa. O’Neill wants to attack before reinforcements arrive, but Carter insists they can do nothing more to alter the time line.

Stranded, SG-1 reluctantly decides to wait until the human slaves rebel (which Jackson knows will happen eventually) and Ra leaves Earth. They can only hope to keep their impact to a minimum.

Jackson also suggests a way to get the Z.P.M. back to the future, even if SG-1 doesn’t make it. A month before they left, an archaeological dig discovered a tomb near Giza. Placing the Z.P.M. in the tomb, along with the video camera, will ensure its future discovery.

Time passes, and history is made again.

Daniel, with different glasses and a different haircut, is teaching an English-as-a-second-language class when Air Force personnel approach him. At the Department of Aerospace Research in Washington, D.C., Sam, in glasses and a civilian outfit, is railing about a male colleague stealing her research when Paul Davis appears. O’Neill is on a fishing boat when Samuels comes to take him back to DC, but they are unable to convince him to go.

At the Cheyenne Mountain complex, the altered timeline Sam and Daniel meet for the first time. Brigadier General Hammond shows them a tape from a video camera discovered in a canopic jar at Giza. The recording, made by the trapped SG-1, was designed to help their future selves set the timeline aright. The Z.P.M. was with the video camera. Dr. Langford, who previously excavated the area did not find a Stargate, but he did discover a hieroglyphic tablet no one can translate. Hammond asks if Jackson would like to try.

According to the tablet, actually written by the trapped Jackson, in 2995 B.C. there was an uprising against Ra that forced him to leave. But Ra took the Stargate with him. Daniel learns that there’s another Stargate on Earth, in Antarctica. Desperate to remain involved, Daniel and Sam try to convince O’Neill to help them. Again, he refuses.

Davis shows Sam and Daniel the recovered Jumper used by their trapped counterparts. He also introduces them to Dr. Rodney McKay, the lead scientist on the project. Sam asks if they have dialed the Stargate from the ship. McKay confirms that they have, but with negative results. Sam escapes McKay and proves herself the better scientist when she correlates seismic activity and the dialing attempts to pinpoint the location of the second Stargate at Earth’s southern pole.

Despite their efforts, Sam and Daniel are dismissed from the project, just as the recovered Stargate is lowered into position in the Gate Room.

– S. Fetter

ANALYSIS

  • Catherine Langford, founding matriarch of the Stargate program, has died. Catherine’s father had discovered the Stargate on the Giza Plateau in 1928; and it was she who first recruited Daniel Jackson to join the program (“Stargate” the Movie). Though she hasn’t been seen (in present day) since Season One (“The Torment of Tantalus”), Daniel has kept in regular contact with her. Now, she has left him what appears to be her entire archaeological collection.
  • The once-powerful Goa’uld System Lord Ra possessed a Zero Point Module — though he apparently didn’t recognize its real significance. But he either took it with him when he was kicked off Earth by an uprising in ancient Egypt, or he left it behind and it was depleted over the millennia.
  • Stargate Command is in possession of a ship capable of traveling through time because they found it on Arkhan’s planet just a few weeks ago (“It’s Good To Be King”). The Puddle Jumper was created by the Ancients (Lanteans); the time manipulation device might be an invention of Janus, the Ancient scientist whom Elizabeth Weir met 10,000 years in the past (Atlantis: “Before I Sleep”). Janus traveled to Earth from Atlantis for resettlement, and may have continued inventing technologies now present in the Milky Way. (A time-traveling Jumper was also present in Atlantis 10,000 years ago.)
  • Despite their best efforts to stay out of the way of history, SG-1 has clearly altered their own timeline in significant ways. It is possible that they were either caught by Ra, or involved themselves in the uprising enough to change its outcome.
  • Aside from the many differences of personal history and personality, in this altered timeline the Stargate was never discovered buried in Egypt. The only way to set things right was for the team to send a message to U.S. government personnel in the future, altering them to the existence of the second gate in Antarctica (“Solitudes”).
  • No one seems to have fared better in the altered timeline (other than Kawalsky, who is still alive). General Hammond is a one-star Brigadier General, rather than a two-star Major General.
  • Alt-Sam is critical of her own line “Even though my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside …” The line comes from the show’s pilot episode, “Children of the Gods,” which Carter said to Kawalsky and the others doubting whether she was fit to join the mission to Abydos. (Producers hated the line, which was subsequently removed from the “Final Cut” edition of the pilot.
  • The officer sent to recruit Jack O’Neill out of retirement is none other than Major Samuels, who also recruited him in the original timeline (“Children of the Gods”). Samuels never had a great relationship with Stargate Command, and hasn’t been seen on the show since the second season premiere.
  • Jack’s boat in the alternate timeline is named “Homer” — another reference to his
    favorite show, The Simpsons (“Frozen”).
  • Carter also makes a Simpsons allusion of her own, saying (in the ancient past) that she’s afraid she is going to step on a bug and change the future. This is just what Homer Simpson memorably did in the 1994 travel episode “Treehouse of Horror V.”

NOTES

  • In mathematics, a “Möbius strip” (or “Moebius strip,” named for nineteenth century German mathematician August F. Möbius) is a one-sided geometric surface that is created by rotating one end 180 degrees and joining it to the rectangle’s opposite end. The result is a single surface that, if traveled, would go on forever like a loop.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “It’s the time travel / alternate timeline story to end all time travel / alternate timeline stories — a story so full of twists and turns that one of the producer’s heads actually exploded trying to understand it.” (Writer and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “Our last two episodes, ‘Moebius’ 1 & 2, are going to be quite funny. You see a bunch of different versions of us. There are alternate reality versions of Daniel and Carter, and Michael and I had so much fun playing that.” (“Samantha Carter” actress Amanda Tapping, in an interview with Dreamwatch magazine [#124])
  • “What ever happened to all that cool tech SG-1 amassed over the course of their many adventures: the sarcophagus, the healing device, that time-traveling Puddle Jumper from ‘It’s Good To Be King?’ Well, glad you asked because the Jumper makes a return appearance in this episode — before heading back for continued R&D (or, in our timeline, just staying right where it is).

    “Sabrina Gosling, Catherine Langford’s niece, is named after Sharon Gosling — author, editor, and freelance writer — who interviewed the cast and crew on numerous occasions over the course of SG-1‘s lengthy run.

    “Alt. Carter’s ‘Now, just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside doesn’t …’ is a callback to the SG-1‘s opener, ‘Children of the Gods,’ and what has long been considered one of the most cringe-worthy lines in the history of the franchise.” (Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)