Prototype

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production

SG-1 finds a genetically advanced Goa'uld-human hybrid created by Anubis, and returns him to Earth for study. But even keeping him alive may not be worth the risk.

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EPISODE #909
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 09.16.05
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 11.13.06
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 3
TELEPLAY BY: William Waring
DIRECTED BY: Alan McCullough
GUEST STARS:

Neil Jackson (Khalek), Robert Picardo (Richard Woolsey), Gary Jones (Sergeant Harriman), Lexa Doig (Dr. Lam), Ivan Cermak (Altman)

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The Tok’ra have delivered Earth evidence that the Ori may be constructing another Supergate in the vicinity of P3X-584. With General Landry’s permission, Colonel Carter and SG-5 investigate. But almost immediately the team returns. Carter, dismayed, reports that they were sent to another planet, twelve thousand light years away from 584.

Sam and Sergeant Harriman find multiple “bumps” in the Stargate logs, and it is soon determined that these anomalies were the receiving gate sending out a request for an authorization code. Unlike the initial M.A.L.P., organic matter that has not delivered the correct combination before arrival is “call-forwarded” to a random Stargate address.

Carter devises a program to crack the combination, and during the next try a bacterial culture has been placed in the M.A.L.P.’s cargo compartment. The cipher works and the probe arrives on 584. SG-1 and SG-5 follow.

Major Altman initiates the gravity sensors to detect any anomalies in the vicinity of the planet. Meanwhile, Colonel Mitchell, Teal’c and Dr. Jackson investigate a hidden laboratory beneath the surface. Appearing decidedly Ancient in technology, they find a genetic manipulation device and a young man sustained in an Ancient stasis unit. Witnessing Daniel tamper with the gene manipulator, Mitchell presses a button on the chamber, which thaws and releases the man. Almost immediately he begins to convulse.

The team returns him to Earth. Fortunately the gravity anomaly was simply an uncharted black hole and not a new Ori threat. Dr. Lam compares the man’s physiology to that of the Ancients mentioned in their database, and determines that he is far along the evolutionary path. The man becomes conscious, and is informed that he is on Earth. Saying his name is Khalek, is claims that he was kidnapped by a “man” who manipulated his D.N.A. All he would like is to return home. Carter suspects that Nirrti was not the only Goa’uld who was interested in exploring the possibility of an advanced host, but Mitchell cannot help but comment that the lab looked far more Ancient than Goa’uld.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Teal’c return to Earth with a startling discovery. The lab belonged to Anubis, who created a Goa’uld-human hybrid (“Resurrection”) and infused him with his own D.N.A. from material of a time before he was ascended. He then used the manipulation device to enhance him. For all intents and purposes Khalek is the son of Anubis.

The staff is assembled to determine what will ultimately be done with Khalek. After repeated options to return him to one of the known stasis chambers, Daniel dares to reveal the potential risk of leaving him alive at all. For now, Landry opts to take every available precaution.

Khalek awakes, restrained in an isolation ward. Daniel sits on the other side of a wall of bullet-proof glass. At first he acts bewildered and afraid, but when Jackson informs him that they know about Anubis’s genetic tampering, Khalek drops the performance. He admits that he has the memories of his “father,” including a confrontation with Daniel. He attempts to bait the archaeologist, and promises him that before their encounter is over one of them will experience the taste of a kill.

Agent Woolsey arrives on behalf of the international committee to suggest that Khalek be left intact for study, lest repercussions fall upon the entire Stargate Command. Back on P3X-584, Major Altman has made a discovery: an Ancient brain scanner that can monitor Khalek’s mental advancement. It is sent back to the S.G.C. Daniel theorizes that it must reach 80 to 90 percent in order for Khalek to shed his physical body and willfully ascend. Once wired in and activated the scanner reveals that the hok’taur is at 68 percent, and he is evolving right before their eyes.

Khalek’s heart rate accelerates. He regains consciousness and blows out a monitor, taking Major Altman to the ground. Mitchell tries to discharge a zat’ni’katel but Khalek uses his powers to break his bounds and snatch it, missing Cameron but neutralizing Carter and Dr. Lam. Mitchell fires two bullets in his chest. Soon, though, he wishes he emptied the clip, because Khalek is regenerating at an astonishing rate … and the assault has hiked the ascend-o-meter by 5 percent.

Khalek has been placed back in his chair. There are now 50 thousand volts running underneath him with a one-way Tok’ra forcefield barring the door. Dr. Lam believes that his abilities can be controlled with a dopamine inhibitor. A shunt has been inserted into the base of his skull and a massive dose will be injected if he gets creative again. But while Woolsey is distracted with Landry, Khalek melts the dopamine injection tube.

Landry informs Woolsey that Khalek will be transferred back to his stasis pod immediately, regardless of the international committee’s opinion or pocketbook. Just as Mitchell and two airmen begin to move the prisoner the rest of SG-1 returns to Earth with more bad news. Khalek has reached a plateau in his mental development and he requires more treatments in the gene manipulator to get past the 80 percent wall. He wants to return to 584.

Khalek, now placed securely in his chair, uses his advanced hearing to learn that they are aware of his plans. He pulls the airmen through the Tok’ra shield, where they are electrocuted on the platform. He cuts primary power to the base and makes his way from Level 21 down to 28. Inside the Gate room he uses his powers to dial 584. “You should have killed me when you had the chance,” he says, and departs.

But soon the Stargate is activated again. The iris not closed, he emerges. Mitchell fires his gun at him, but Khalek focuses his energy in Cameron’s direction and blocks the bullets. His concentration focused, he did not anticipate Daniel entering through the other door; his bullet successfully penetrated. Mitchell and Jackson dump their clips in Khalek, who falls off the back of the ramp.

Carter did not have time to inform Landry that she had successfully installed the call-forwarding device in the Earth Stargate. In retrospect, she was glad she didn’t.

The data recorded may prove useful to constructing a defense against the Priors. Woolsey ensures Daniel that he will make certain the families of the officers who died will be well taken care of. Both men admit that they wish they were wrong about Khalek and his danger.

– D. Read

ANALYSIS

  • Any report of a newly-forming black hole must now be checked to see if the Ori are trying to create a singularity to power a Supergate for their invasion fleet, as they tried to do in “Beachhead.” The S.G.C. received a report in this episode from their allies the Tok’ra.
  • Anubis’s lab included the same Ancient DNA manipulation device that Nirrti once used to try and create a “hok’taur” — an evolutionarily advanced human to serve as her new host. This is presumably not the same identical device, which was going to be destroyed by the inhabitants of Wodan’s planet after restoring their people (“Metamorphosis”).
  • Khalek was in an Ancient stasis chamber, the same technology found in the Atlantus outpost in Antarctica, in which Jack was put (“Lost City, Part 2”).
  • Khalek is the second Goa’uld-human hybrid that SG-1 has encountered. They previously met a young woman named Anna, who had been created using the DNA of the Goa’uld Sekhmet, and who suffered from a split personality (“Resurrection”). Sometimes the human consciousness would be in control, sometimes the Goa’uld. Engineered by the more advanced Anubis, Khalek is markedly different, without a split personality.
  • The Goa’uld genetic memory is passed along to a Goa’uld-human hybrid who is engineered, such as Khalek. Normally an offspring would possess all the memories of the Goa’uld who fathered him up to the point of conception — but because Khalek was created using Anubis’s pre-ascension DNA that was engineered after the fact using the Ancient genetic manipulation technology, he possesses all the memories and knowledge that Anubis had even after his ascension. He even remembered Daniel Jackson and Anubis’s encounter with him (“Full Circle”).
  • Woolsey confirms that an international committee is now in a direct supervisory role over Stargate Command. General Landry considered allowing this when the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee cut the program’s budget by 70 percent (“The Ties That Bind”). The international committee represents nations that now contribute to the program’s budget to make up the shortfall, and Woolsey apparently represents them and their interests to some degree.
  • Khalek was using 68 percent of his brain when he was first hooked up to the sensor unit. Anubis’s research speculates that 80 to 90 percent use is required for possible wilfull ascension. Khalek continued to evolve now that he was conscious again, eventually reaching about 80 percent before plateauing and requiring another treatment in the DNA manipulator. He even gained advanced abilities such as telekinesis and telepathy, previously seen in humans who have been subject to the genetic manipulator (“Metamorphosis”).
  • Khalek also possessed an apparently less-advanced form of the Ancients’ healing powers. He began healing himself after Mitchell shot him twice at point-blank range. This healing ability even helped spur forward his evolution, showing him how to get used to his new abilities.
  • The DNA manipulator works incrementally in artificially advancing a human toward ascension. It gives a subject an advancement, then it requires weeks or months for the person to process their new abilities and get used to them before his brain fully advances and another treatment in the machine will be of value. It is likely that Nirrti did not fully understand the technology when she used it on her human subjects, as she caused major physical deformities as well as instilling them with special abilities (“Metamorphosis”).
  • The Ancients — those who lived in Atlantis, at least — were using various means to experiment with ascension (Atlantis: “Hide and Seek”). It is possible that the DNA manipulation device was created as part of just such a research project. Or, because it appears that the device itself is capable of helping someone reach ascension, it is possible that it was the final result of the research, and is even the manner in which the Ancients originally ascended.
  • Woolsey and the international committee viewed it as especially important to study Khalek because he is an evolutionarily advanced human — just like the Priors who now threaten our galaxy with the message of the Ori. He hoped to learn how to counter someone with his abilities in the field. But learning about ascension and human existence were also key goals.
  • Despite the fact that the international committee now pays for most of the S.G.C.’s budget, General Landry remains empowered to dissolve their relationship when they do not agree with his best judgment. (The Stargate and the S.G.C. facilities remain the property of the U.S. government.) Of course, this decision would have grave consequences for the program beyond the immediate situation that forces it, since the Senate Appropriations Committee has already refused to fund the program’s entire budget.
  • Khalek returned to the S.G.C. after escaping because he did not know about the authorization device that was guarding his planet’s Stargate — very likely because Anubis installed the device after Khalek’s creation and placement in stasis.
  • It is likely that the Ori Priors are more advanced than even Khalek was — but can a Prior be killed the same way that Khalek was? If he is distracted and does not consciously act to stop a bullet before it hits him, he should be able to be killed with normal gunfire. (Vala was unable to do this in “The Powers That Be” — even with a P90 — because the Prior was consciously acting to stop all the bullets, just as Khalek did when he was under rapid fire by S.G.C. guards.)

NOTES

  • The Stargate on P3X-584 — the planet with Anubis’s genetic lab where Khalek was found — has been wired with a security device that holds incoming organic matter in the gate’s buffer and requests an authorization code from the dialing gate. If the 7-digit code isn’t received within a set amount of time, it dials a random gate and empties the buffer into the new wormhole. The effect is that a person traveling through the gate winds up on a different planet without realizing what has happened.
  • Khalek has some physiological similarities to the Ancients (recorded in the Atlantis database).
  • The “ascend-o-meter” device recovered from Anubis’s lab reads a subject’s current physiological status and feeds it back into the DNA manipulator. Scientists at the S.G.C. were able to rig it to read Khalek’s brain development and usage as it happened and feed data into the base computer.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Daniel JacksonDaniel Jackson – Daniel is perhaps the only one who truly understands how dangerous Anubis was, and how dangerous Khalek is now. He makes the recommendation to kill the man — a startling move for his relatively pacifist, scientific character. Daniel was even the one who, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, shot Khalek dead.
  • Richard WoolseyRichard Woolsey – Apparently no longer an active N.I.D. agent, Woolsey has taken a position representing the international committee now funding Stargate Command. It is in keeping with his personal priorities: civilian oversight of governmental agencies. Woolsey not only pushed for Khalek to be studied, but actively conducted this investigation. But he recognized the fault in his judgment when Khalek nearly escaped, and hopes that he’ll make a wiser choice next time.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Is the Stargate security device Ancient in origin, created to take advantage of a protocol the Ancients originally built into the Stargate system? Or was it devised by Anubis, thanks to his knowledge of Ancient technology?
  • Is Khalek really dead? Can he heal himself even from so many devastating gunshot wounds? Or could his consciousness in some way still ascend while leaving his body behind?
  • What will be done with Khalek’s body? What can still be learned from studying it?
  • What was Anubis’s ultimate goal in creating Khalek? Why did he put him in stasis and not finish the project?
  • For how long was Khalek in stasis?
  • Are there any others like Khalek, or was this lab of Anubis’s unique?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • An earlier draft of the script for “Prototype” explained just what Anubis’s purposes were for Khalek. He was the prototype of an army of warriors called the Mashur (from the Goa’uld word for “mutation,” “mashur-nat”), which Anubis hoped to train to ascend and do battle with the Ancients on their own plane of existence and destroy them — something ultimately cut from the episode.
  • “As for Woolsey — I’m a big Robert Picardo fan and, if the right story comes along, I’d love to have him back.” (SG-1 executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “Watched the day one mix of ‘Prototype.’ Excellent episode (I’ll be the first to admit I was leery when the idea was first pitched out), wonderfully acted (kudos to our guest stars Neil Jackson and Bob Picardo), and wonderfully directed (kudos to the ever-lovely Peter DeLuise, especially for that Mitchell-Daniel ‘walk up the ramp’ sequence at episode’s end).” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his GateWorld blog)
  • “Richard Woolsey’s kind of a military think-tank guy, who stared out as a villain to threaten the leadership at Stargate Command. If they didn’t shape up, they were going to be replaced. The second time I was on, I was involved in this giant scheme engineered by the evil Senator Kinsey. When I realized I was being manipulated, I turned on Kinsey, took a huge risk, and basically spilled the beans on something Kinsey was involved in.

    “So I went from being this hatchet-man jerk to being totally redeemed. That’s my stock in trade now. I come back again as a short of the hatchet-man jerk, and I’m redeemed this time in the same episode. I’m hoping to get to the point where I’m so good I can do both extremes in one scene.” (Actor Robert Picardo, in an interview with Zap2It)

  • “Alan McCullough scripts his first Stargate episode and, based on his efforts here, is invited to join the writing staff. He’ll spend two seasons on SG-1 and four on Atlantis, working his way up to supervising producer, displaying not only good story sense but a real affinity for the editing room as well. A great guy and much-appreciated member of the raucous writing room of Carl Binder, Marty G., Paul, and myself that produced Atlantis‘s final two seasons.

    “This episode also marked the first appearance of actor Neil Jackson who would turn in an equally brilliant performance as the undercover wraith in Stargate Atlantis‘s fifth season episode, ‘Vegas.’(Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)