Arthur’s MantleEPISODE #918
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 02.24.06
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 04.30.07
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 5
WRITTEN BY: Alan McCullough
DIRECTED BY: Peter DeLuise
Jarvis George (Volnek), Doug Wert (Major Hadden), Bill Dow (Dr. Lee), Gary Jones (Chief Harriman), Eric Breker (Reynolds), Tony Todd (Lord Haikon), Darren Giblin (Conway), Andrew McNee (Technician), Morris Chapdelaine (Prior)
Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter is studying an Ancient device recovered from the Glastonbury cave (“Avalon, Part 2”). Cameron Mitchell suggests she needs a break and hashbrowns as its breakfast time. He also points out that as she and Dr. Bill Lee have been examining the device, with no breakthroughs, for six months, it’s time to send it on to Area 51 and move on.
Carter suddenly finds a fluctuating EM output, indicating that the device is interactive. As she attempts to stabilize it, a flash of white light dissolves her and Mitchell. They can now see the device projecting a display — in Ancient.
Dr. Lee enters the lab and they attempt to show him the discovery. When he walks through Carter, she realizes they are out of phase, sent by the device into a parallel dimension within our universe. They need to find Daniel, who experienced a similar problem several years ago (“Crystal Skull”). His grandfather could see him because the older man had also visited the alternate dimension, indicating that Daniel may be the only one on the base who can see and hear them.
General Landry approaches Teal’c (who is fresh from a workout) looking for Mitchell and the rest of SG-1. SG-12 has returned from P8T-474, where the natives indicated the doomsday plan that the Ori Priors have been preaching about may be only days from implementation.
Carter and Mitchell find Daniel, who promptly walks through Mitchell indicating that they are not in the dimension he shifted to. He can’t see or hear them at all.
An unauthorized off-world activation draws Landry and SG-1 to the gate control room. A garbled radio message, eventually cleaned up and understood to be a request from the Sodan for immediate assistance, is received. As Mitchell hasn’t been located, Landry orders Teal’c to take SG-12 and investigate.
Jackson informs Landry that both Carter and Mitchell are apparently missing. A review of security camera tapes reveals that somehow Carter and Mitchell vanished from the lab, but the cameras in the corridor outside prove that they didn’t leave through the door.
Teal’c and SG-12 find the Sodan village burning and bodies lying everywhere. Only their leader, Haikon, is barely alive. His symbiote dead, they administer tretonin to try and save his life. Haikon tells Teal’c that the murderer is Volnek, one of his own people. Elsewhere, Volnek attacks members of SG-12. Teal’c soon discovers that one of the control crystals has been removed from the “Eye of the Gods,” making it impossible to return to the Stargate via the Ancient-designed transportation system. They are trapped on the planet, far away from the gate and any help.
Dr. Lee suggests the missing Colonels have been miniaturized. When they aren’t found, he mentions traces of lepton radiation to Jackson. He recognizes it from his own experience with the crystal skull. Delving into various texts, Jackson concludes that Merlin built the device in question for use in another dimension. The lepton radiation means Carter and Mitchell are probably trapped in another dimension and invisible to anyone in the S.G.C. The invisible Mitchell cheers on Jackson for figuring it out.
Teal’c decides to hunt down Volnek while awaiting rescue. He takes one of the Sodan personal cloaking devices and sets off into the forest. As they missed their check in time, Landry orders Colonel Reynolds to prep an extraction team (SG-3 and SG-22).
Jackson surmises that the Ancient device Carter has been studying is actually a keyboard, its display visible only in the other dimension. Mitchell can interact with the device, and he pushes a button to get their attention, thereby establishing rudimentary communication. Only Sam and Cameron can see the display, written in Ancient, but only Daniel has the knowledge to translate it. Since no one knows what random activation of keys will do, Jackson decides they must describe the display one letter at a time using only “Yes” and “No.”
Mitchell tells Carter he is going to accompany the extraction team, even though he is out of phase. He feels he may still be able to help. She protests, but he points out that Jackson was able to go off-world when he was out of phase. Mitchell is going to observe, and is effectively invincible, and he promises to come back when the team checks in.
Teal’c, using the Sodan cloak, locates the invisible Volnek, who attacks him. Volnek is growling and zombi-fied in appearance, obviously transformed from a man into some hyper-violent beast. Teal’c riddles him with bullets from his P-90, but it only temporarily stops Volnek.
Wounded, Teal’c retreats to the Sodan village. Haikon, now somewhat recovered, reveals that Volnek encountered a Prior while on another planet, who told him that the Sodan must be punished for their unforgivable treason against the Ori (“The Fourth Horseman, Part 2”). He exposed Volnek to a blast from his staff. A few days later, Volnek fell ill and soon became irrational and violent. He escaped slaughtered everyone — including his own brother, Jolan.
Reynolds, the extraction team, and out of phase Mitchell arrive on the Sodan homeworld. Teal’c advises that the only sure way to kill Volnek will be to destroy his body. They decide to use a claymore blast with Teal’c as bait.
Dr. Lee continues to work on the Ancient device, and inadvertently sends Jackson out of phase. But Daniel can now read the display in the parallel dimension. He discovers that Merlin created this device to hide the weapon he was working on — a device to kill ascended beings. Merlin felt the Ori were a threat, so he completed the weapon and moved it off-world. The Stargate address to the planet is recorded on the display.
Lee accidentally drains most of the power from the device. But Jackson determines the key combination that will return them to their own dimension.
Pursuing Volnek, Teal’c activates the Sodan cloaking device and can suddenly see and hear the out of phase Colonel Mitchell. Because he can’t be hurt, they decide that Mitchell will be the one to lure Volnek into the claymore trap. Volnek pursues his old enemy relentlessly, and is surprised when he shoots Mitchell dead-on with no effect.
But when Jackson keys the device on Earth, Mitchell is also affected. He is no longer out of phase, and can no longer see or hear Volnek — who attacks him. Teal’c steps in and saves Mitchell as Volnek rushes into the claymore trip wire, where he is blown up.
Mitchell produces the transporter system’s missing control crystal as he and Teal’c head back to the village and, hopefully, home in time for dinner.
- By earning the trust of the Sodan, Colonel Mitchell secured from them the codes necessary to use their Ancient transportation system. These pillars transport people vast distances around the Sodan homeworld, allowing them to establish safe camps far away from the Stargate.
- Ten days ago Volnek, the warrior of the Sodan who visited the S.G.C. (“Babylon”), visited a neighboring world to trade for supplies. On his way back to the gate he met a Prior who told him the Sodan had committed great treason against the Ori. He threatened them, but they did not realize he had begun a process of transformation in Volnek himself. A few days later he fell ill, becoming violent and irrational. Eventually, Volnek became a brutal beast and killed everyone in his village. Only their leader, Haikon, has survived.
- Jolan, the Sodan with whom Mitchell established a bond when he lived among the Sodan, was among those killed by Volnek.
- Why would Merlin build a device that could transport him to another dimension? Merlin was conducting research on a new invention — a weapon capable of killing ascended beings. He likely saw the continuing threat of the Ori, and had no intention of turning on his own kind (the Ancients).
Merlin thus had to go to great lengths to try and hide the weapon, and so he invented the dimension-shifting device solely for the purpose of keeping it from his fellow ascended beings. He also had to retake human form in order to work on the weapon, but he believed that it was worth it.
- In spite of the fact that they recognized the continual threat posed by the Ori, the Ancients refused to do anything about it. This is likely not because they believe themselves to be invulnerable as ascended beings, but because they do not believe that fighting a war is an appropriate part of their own path to enlightenment.
- Merlin completed the weapon on Earth, and then had to relocate it to another world.
- There is some sort of sub-space connection linking Merlin’s dimension-shifting device to those it is affecting. This allows people to travel through the gate to another planet and still remain shifted (as Cameron was able to do). And when the dimension shifting is deactivated, that person becomes immediately visible even light years away.
- It seems logical that Merlin’s anti-Ori weapon is hidden somewhere in our dimension, and not shifted into another dimension, since he left his dimension-shifting device on Earth. It is also possible, of course, that he later constructed another one for the purpose of hiding the weapon.
- Why did Merlin have to take the weapon away from Earth at all? Perhaps he resettled somewhere else — or perhaps the Ancients from whom he was hiding found out about what he was doing. Though the ascended beings apparently cannot access other dimensions such as the one Merlin was using to create the weapon, they could — and likely would — monitor him after he retook human form, while he was in our normal dimension. It is likely that they were keeping tabs on him, and eventually intervened.
- Where did Merlin hide his anti-Ori weapon? Will SG-1 be able to find it on the planet to which they now have the address? Did Merlin hide it in our dimension?
- Why did Merlin move the weapon to another planet? Was he discovered on Earth by the Ancients?
- Did Merlin not ever use his weapon against the Ori? Why not?
- Did Merlin die as a mortal? Or was he able to later re-ascend?
- Will Haikon survive his injuries, and the loss of his Goa’uld symbiote? What will become of him, now that his people have been wiped out?
- Can Stargate Command adapt the dimension-shifting device for military or other strategic purposes?
- Actor Morris Chapdelaine, who appears briefly as the Prior who attacked Volnek, is a puppeteer on Stargate SG-1, performing the Asgard character Kvasir. He also plays Tenat, the alien bounty hunter in the employ of the Lucian Alliance.
- “Oh, damn, the whole ‘out of phase’ debate that rears its ugly head whenever we do these types of episodes. As Paul always points out: ‘Why don’t they just phase through the floor?’ While we’ve dealt with some equally far-flung SF notions, Paul always argued that those notions, at the very least, adhered to certain self-contained theoretical laws of physics phasing did not. The mechanics of gate travel while ‘out of phase’ was another matter entirely.
“After Carter explains their situation to Mitchell, he responds with: ‘That was alternate reality, this is alternate dimension. Hell, all I need is a good time travel adventure and I’ve scored the SG-1 trifecta.’ He completes the trifecta in the Season Ten series finale, ‘Unending.’” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)