Stargate SG-1 Episode 1.06: "Brief Candle"
Let's go to our first "bad guy experiments on humans" plot!
The Plot Thickens
SG-1 visits a planet with a culture based on Mycenaean Greece. Immediately upon arrival, Daniel helps deliver a baby boy. SG-1 returns to a village with the child's parents, where they're treated to food and drink. Jack is given a special cake by a woman named Kynthia, and he begins feeling strange. Kynthia seduces Jack. When the sun sets, everyone in the village falls asleep right away--including Jack.
The next day, Jack begins to age rapidly. SG-1 meets the baby Daniel delivered, who is now a precocious toddler. The villagers reveal that their god Pelops (identified by Teal'c as a Goa'uld) gives each of them 100 days to live. Sam returns to the SGC with a sample of Jack's blood; she and Doctor Fraiser determine that Jack has been infected by nanites. Daniel and Teal'c, meanwhile, translate some of Pelops' research and discover he sped up the human evolutionary cycle to study us.
Hammond gives the order to abandon Jack to prevent contaminating anyone else. Jack continues to age, but Kynthia provides companionship. When Jack and Kynthia travel outside the bounds of the village and don't fall asleep, Jack realizes there must be a transmitter for the nanites. With some help from the rest of SG-1, they destroy the transmitter, saving Jack and giving the villagers their entire lives back.
Themes and Thoughts
This episode always makes me go hmmmm. It's impossible to discount the creep factor. The people of this planet only live 100 days, so Jack's relationship with Kynthia feels icky (and then feels ickier as he ages).
But I do like the general concept behind this episode, the nanites left behind by the experimenting Goa'uld. It's "morally dubious science" as a plot, and it's one of my favorite tropes. Though you have to wonder why Pelops just left his research lying around--seems like a bit of an oversight.
My preference for sketchy science aside, this episode is only okay. We know Jack can't die, or at least he can't die this early, so there's not a lot of suspense to go around. There are no memorable new characters, nobody who provokes any major emotional reaction. Much like "The Broca Divide," this episode is just "meh." There's not much to discuss, because there's not that much here.
After a few episodes that dig into Sam, it's finally time to focus more tightly on Jack. Granted, we're not delving too deep into his past (though that's coming and soon). But this episode does give us a glimpse into his psyche as he ages. For all that he's sarcastic and prickly, Jack hides a surprisingly tender side. Once his rage at Pelops and his situation starts to subside, Jack lets his guard down and rejoices in the little things. He's acquired a lot of wisdom over the years, which he shares with Kynthia.
With the rest of the cast, we see here one of my favorite qualities about the show: we don't leave people behind. Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c have the determination of a dozen bulldogs, and they do not want to leave Jack to his death. Fortunately, they don't have to.
He Said, She Said, It Said
Holy Bad Guys, Batman!
I'm going to talk about the nanites below, since they're not bad guys per se. So here, let's have a few words about Pelops.
This is not last time we will see aliens in general (and the Goa'uld in particular) experimenting on humans. So it's not like Pelops is unique in his disregard for human life. But on the scale of Goa'uld experiments, this one is pretty tame. The people of this planet have a pretty blissful existence, other than their clipped lifespan.
It might've been interesting to meet Pelops later in the show, so that SG-1 could directly confront him for what he did, but alas we don't get that chance. We will, however, get that chance with another Goa'uld experimenter soon to be mentioned.
Nanites! I love that we get nanites so early, because nanotechnology is such a cool field. Here, the nanites are artificially aging the population--and who knows? I'm no scientist, but based on what I know of things like telomeres, future nanites might actually be able to do this. Science aside, it's pretty cool that the nanites are shaped like pyramids. The Goa'uld have a BRAND to maintain, dammit.
Also in the world of Goa'uld tech, this is the first appearance of the tablet device, with its stone "page-turner." These things are pretty sweet, if a little impractical (you'd think they have enough tech to come up with a smartphone).
New Eyes, New Viewpoint
My best friend thought this episode rather predictable. That is all. (Seriously, that's all she gave me).