Zero Hour

Summary | Analysis | Production | Transcript | In the Making | Review

General O'Neill tries to settle into his new job, but faces never-ending crises -- including the capture of SG-1 by the Goa'uld.

RATINGS SCORECARD
OUR RATING -
FAN RATING - 8.30 
NIELSEN - 2.2 
EPISODE #804
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 07.30.04
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.10.05
DVD DISC: Season 8, Disc 1
WRITTEN BY: Robert C. Cooper
DIRECTED BY: Peter Woeste
GUEST STARS:

David Kaufman (Mark Gilmor), Cliff Simon (Baal), Bill Dow (Dr. Bill Lee), Eric Breker (Reynolds), Steve Bacic (Camulus), Gary Jones (Walter Harriman), Colin Cunningham (Major Davis), Pierre Bernard (O’Brien), Dan Shea (Sergeant Siler), Michael Ryan (John Prior), Jesai Jayhmes (Amra Delegate #1), James Ashcroft (Amra Delegate #2)

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Five days to zero hour.

Brigadier General Jack O’Neill is having difficulty adjusting to his new role as the commander of the most secure military installation on the face of the planet. Even before he can step off the elevator he is handed a coffee by Sergeant Walter Harriman, who serves as his interim assistant. As he informs O’Neill of his numerous morning appointments, every corner of the base is filled with gentle pleas for instruction, from upgrading security to approving buffet menu items. On top of this, the President himself is scheduled to arrive at the base in a matter of days.

Mark Gilmor, O’Neill’s new administrative aide, explains to the General that he is very excited to be aboard. Harriman shows Gilmor to his office and tells him how thankful the S.G.C. is that he’s there to help. Once Gilmor is alone, he makes a telephone call notifying someone on the other end that he is now in position — and that O’Neill suspects nothing.

Once O’Neill gets off a telephone call from General Hammond, Gilmor and SG-1 have a brief meeting with him. The rebel Jaffa have discovered one of Anubis’s planets that Baal has yet to discover in the months since the former’s defeat. SG-1 wants to infiltrate the base on that world to see what technology awaits pillaging.

With 14 teams currently off-world, O’Neill wants to wait until the next day, when SG-3 can cover their backs. Below in the Gate Room, SG-5 returns with delegates from the planet Amra to discuss a possible treaty with Earth. Major Paul Davis escorts them to the conference room. Finally, an alien seed brought back from P6J-908 has grown into a small plant — in just 20 minutes.

But this is the least of O’Neill’s problems. An hour has passed and the Amran delegates are unable to agree with one another, let alone negotiate with the S.G.C. O’Neill decides that until they are ready to get past childish arguments, the two delegates will remain under lock and key. O’Neill returns to his office and begins to write Hammond a letter.

Four days to zero hour.

The Amran delegates are furious about the manner in which they have been treated and swear that a trade agreement will never be negotiated with our world — but O’Neill suggests another day under locked guard might persuade them to get along. SG-1 and SG-3 travel to P2X-887, the world formerly occupied by Anubis. Meanwhile, the rapidly-growing plant has now occupied large portions of the S.G.C., forcing Siler and his men to take machetes to the growth.

Back on the planet, as Teal’c notices signs of recent Jaffa activity. The transport rings remote they are carrying sweeps the three away. SG-3, poised by the gate, lose contact with the team just as an Al’kesh makes their position. O’Neill authorizes SG-10 and SG-12 to move in as backup.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lee reports to O’Neill that the plant is proving extremely difficult to eradicate, and its growing still.

The S.G. units return without SG-1 and cannot report on the team’s whereabouts. Soon Baal contacts Earth and uses an Asgard holographic projection to appear in the Gate Room. He offers a trade: the former System Lord Camulus for SG-1, whom he says he is holding captive. Baal transmits the address to where he wants Camulus sent, and gives O’Neill one day to make a decision.

Three days to zero hour.

Camulus is transferred to the S.G.C. for questioning. He complains that he has been treated like a prisoner rather than one granted asylum (“New Order, Part 2”), and swears to O’Neill that nothing he does will bring back SG-1. With Baal’s coordinates dialed, Jack takes him to the event horizon of the gate, threatening to send him through to certain death at the hands of his enemy, Baal. Camulus relents, finally offering the General something of value: He offers to give him coordinates to a world where a device of Ancient origin can be found. SG-3 return from this world and discover the reason Camulus could never activate the device: Its Z.P.M. was unplugged.

The team returns the Z.P.M. to Earth, and discover its power is near 50 percent capacity, where the previous one they possessed is practically depleted. The base’s power shuts down, thanks to the still growing plant, and Lee recommends that the base be put on minimal emergency lighting until the situation is under control. The Stargate is also unable to dial out.

Two days to zero hour.

With the deadline passed, Baal returns to inquire about the delay in sending him Camulus. Jack assures him that the S.G.C. power failure is not a stall tactic. The Goa’uld offers O’Neill one more day, and disappears.

Major Davis reports that Area 51 has been steadily manufacturing a modified version of the Goa’uld poison constructed by the Tok’ra (“Summit”), and believes that they now have enough to wipe out tens of thousands of symbiotes of three Goa’uld-occupied planets. Unfortunately, Jaffa would be killed as well, and there is still no evidence as to which world SG-1 is currently being held captive on. And because he handed Earth Ancient technology, Camulus now demands to be released from his chains.

O’Neill continues his letter to Hammond, in which he resigns as base commander. Power is restored, gamma radiation has reduced the size of the plant, and the Stargate is again operational. But the same radiation has revealed a problem: the Z.P.M. is glowing blue. When Lee exposes a micro fragment of the device to active electrical energy, it explodes. If this 50 percent powered Z.P.M. had been connected to the Atlantus outpost in Antarctica or to the Stargate, the explosion could have decimated all of Earth — which explains why Camulus was so eager to leave after handing it over, even if it meant being delivered to Baal.

O’Neill approaches Camulus with this information, and makes an arrangement to give him the opportunity to destroy Baal with the same booby-trapped Z.P.M. Camulus agrees, and takes the device through the Stargate with SG-3 to await the return of SG-1. Still, the team is not handed over, and Camulus is gone.

One day to zero hour.

As O’Neill enters the elevator to go home for the night, Stargate Command receives SG-1’s I.D.C. O’Neill is extremely reluctant to open the iris to let the team through, because they have been in enemy hands and could have been compromised. Daniel radios back, stating that they were never captured by Baal and have been on P2X-887 the entire time. O’Neill orders Sergeant O’Brien to open the iris, and the team comes through followed by a blaze of staff weapon fire.

SG-1 had been able to access Anubis’s base secret base on the planet, but weren’t able to get back out. Baal’s Al’kesh had intercepted radio chatter, which told him where SG-1 was and gave Baal the opportunity to bluff O’Neill. When they finally found a way out of the base, Baal’s Jaffa ambushed them. Even more unfortunate, Anubis left behind no valuable technology.

Carter later reports that Dr. Lee’s estimates about the Z.P.M. were way off: It could have destroyed all of Earth’s solar system. If Camulus had been unsuccessful at destroying Baal, they might have given the System Lord a powerful weapon to use against them. Fortunately, O’Neill tells Carter, he gave Camulus the dead one. Camulus, now in Baal’s hands, is probably getting what he deserves right about now.

Zero hour.

Gilmor reports that the President’s motorcade has arrived on the surface, and explains that he will be departing the next day. He has been on a temporary assignment for President Hayes as a “civilian audit” of General O’Neill, before the President would officially endorse him as the new commander of the S.G.C. But O’Neill has known all along, thanks to General Hammond. Gilmor tells him that Hayes’ arrival makes it evident that he has a great deal of respect for O’Neill, through watching how he has dealt with so many problems over the past few days.

Gilmor also reports the Amran delegates are finally ready to negotiate with Earth. As O’Neill and Gilmor depart the General’s office, a piece of paper lays on the center of Jack’s desk — the letter of resignation to General Hammond, with the last words stated quite clearly: “Never mind.”

– D. Read

ANALYSIS

  • Earth possessed two depleted Zero Point Modules — the one discovered on Proclarush, and the one already depleted in the Atlatus outpost on Earth. One of them is likely in the hands of Baal, as is the former System Lord Camulus. The energy source is depleted, but may yet prove valuable to Baal, as it is the basic power source for Ancient technology — which Baal now possesses.
  • Baal has acquired some Asgard technology since taking over much of Anubis’ empire, including (but probably not limited to) holographic projection technology. Anubis gained much of this knowledge when he implanted a device into Thor’s brain two years ago, allowing him to download the Asgard commander’s knowledge into his ship’s computer (“Revelations”).

    The Asgard are also able to shut down the S.G.C.’s power before arriving through the Stargate, to prevent the iris from being closed. If Baal has acquired this technology as well, it would prove disastrous for Earth. But this seems unlikely, as Anubis was unable to do this when he previously tried to attack Earth through the gate (“Lost City, Part 1”).

  • President Hayes made his first visit to Stargate Command, and has officially endorsed General O’Neill as its new commander.
  • Earth now possesses an extremely deadly Z.P.M. recovered by SG-3. If it can be salvaged, it would allow Earth to connect to the new Atlantis base in the Pegasus Galaxy. If not, it could be used as a weapon of mass destruction.

PRODUCTION NOTES

    (Read more on this episode “In the Making …” by Joseph Mallozzi)

  • “Jack will have no choice but to evolve as a character in Season Eight. Circumstances will change at the S.G.C. and Jack will have to change with them. He will be a ‘fish out of water’ for the first little while, and will be fun to explore his character facing this sudden challenge.” (Co-executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a Q&A with Stargate SG-1 Solutions)
  • “‘Zero Hour’ is ‘A Day in the Life of General O’Neill.’ It talks about how hard it is to be the commander of the S.G.C. What the audience will find out is that General Hammond has been dealing with a whole lot of crap that we never see. When SG-1 is going off having a grand old time, there’s tons of stuff that needs to be dealt with off camera with other S.G. teams that we never actually see. And now we do see. In ‘Zero Hour’ we actually do see General O’Neill dealing with stuff that General Hammond always had to deal with, but we never knew it.” (Director and consulting producer Peter DeLuise, in an interview with the Richard Dean Anderson Web Site)
  • “This story shows audiences what my character is now being exposed to in his new position. We find out that he happens to be quite good at what he does as a general. In ‘Zero Hour,’ O’Neill is under the scrutiny of the Secret Service, C.I.A., or some other U.S. government organization just before a presidential visit to the S.G.C. There’s a crisis on the base and Jack has to deal with it. His negotiating tactics are no different in that he still gets up in your face to a certain degree. He also tries to be a little tricky. Of course, in the end O’Neill outsmarts the bad guy and makes the right decision. So in a quiet way he knows what he’s doing, even though all outward signs would indicate otherwise.” (“Jack O’Neill” actor Richard Dean Anderson, in an interview with TV Zone magazine [Special #58])
  • “There were plans to bring the Aschen back for an episode tentatively titled ‘Judgement’ — that was consequently shelved back in Season Seven. But in Stargate, nothing stays shelved forever. Witness the out-of-control plant from Season Eight’s ‘Zero Hour.’ That idea was first pitched out back in Season Four.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “A.K.A. — A Day in the Life of General O’Neill. It was sad to bid farewell to General Hammond, especially considering I considered the actor who played him, Don S. Davis, a good friend — but having O’Neill take over command at the S.G.C. opened up a host of welcome new story possibilities. In this episode, we see the long-time wise-cracking rebel in uniform really step up and take charge in a big way, maintaining his cool — and trademark humor — as everything seems to be coming apart around him. The S.G.C. being overrun by alien plant life was an idea Brad had long wanted to incorporate into a story and, finally, got the opportunity to see it done here. Chalk Siler’s wimpy flamethrower up to fire and safety regulations that prohibited us from using the real thing on set (when used in later episodes of the franchise like ‘Cloverdale,’ the flames were enhanced by our visual effects department).” (Writer / producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)