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Throwback Thursday - Stargate SG-1 - Singularity

 

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite
TV episodes from the past. 

Season one of Stargate SG-1 started as the series’ weakest, with problematic episodes, and a writers' room still trying to figure out Sam Carter - until episode 15: Singularity.
With Singularity came not only one of the season’s strongest episodes, but one which proved to be a turning point for Carter. It allowed us to see more of the inner conflict that comes with being a woman in the military, built on the establishing bonds between the team, and added substance to Janet Fraser through her interactions with both Sam and Cassandra. Singularity moved me; it made this fan of the Stargate movie, who had the highest of expectations, sit up and pay attention after a disappointing first half of the season. It made me excited for the storytelling that lay ahead, and helped turn me into a fan for life. And that is why Singularity is my choice for Throwback Thursday this week. 

 

The singularity of the title is a black hole, which can be viewed from Hanka due to an eclipse, however it could be argued that Cassie herself is the singularity. One girl, immune to a bacterial infection, a survivor, who unwittingly becomes a Trojan horse of sorts, delivering a bomb to the Tau’ri. If Cassie had foreseen the death coming to Hanka, would her people have believed her? There was so much potential here for Cassandra of Troy connections, it’s a shame Cassie appeared in just two more episodes after this one. 

 

The plot involves SG-1 visiting Hanka to view the singularity, but upon arriving discover the entire population has been wiped out by a mysterious illness, with just one little girl surviving.
Janet suspects a bacterial infection is responsible for the deaths. After testing Cassie, Janet finds traces of naquadah in Cassie’s blood.
Jack and Teal’c stay to photograph the black hole, while Sam, Daniel, and Janet head back to Earth with Cassie, who may be the cure for what killed everyone.
When Cassie’s potassium levels drop and she collapses, Janet orders a chest x-ray and discovers a device inside the girl. It is revealed to be a bomb, one that is counting down, and which will destroy the SGC if it explodes.
Viewing the black hole through the telescope, Jack sees something unusual. Teal’c identifies it as a Goa’uld attack vessel. It’s Nirrti, who is responsible for wiping out everyone on the planet except Cassandra. Nirrti has led the Tau’ri to believe it’s their fault the people of Hanka died, planting the weapon in the child because she knows the Tau’ri’s compassion means they won’t leave the child behind. Jack and Teal’c run back through the stargate when Nirrti sends gliders to the planet, and arrive just in time to stop Sam’s returning Cassie to Hanka.
Running out of options, the team takes Cassie to a facility, a bunker, thirty floors down, where, if the device explodes, everyone else will be protected. It’s a dark moment, knowing a child is being taken down to her death, and that she will spend her final moments alone.
Sam takes Cassie down in the elevator, but once down there, Cassie wakes up, her condition improving. Sam leaves, distraught, however as the elevator climbs, she realises taking Cassie far away from the stargate may have saved her. Unable to leave the girl, Sam returns to sit with Cassie as the clock counts down.
The bomb doesn’t explode, and Cassie is free to leave the bunker and live with Janet, who will look after her until other caregivers are found. Those who watched the whole series know Janet keeps her permanently, although we’ll never know what happened to the dog Jack gave her.

 

Throughout this episode, there are moments of pure grief, and more understated ones where just few words are said to give us insight into what Sam is working through.
The scene where Sam leaves Cassie and re-enters the elevator is a stand-out scene for Amanda Tapping. Tapping lets every ounce of sadness, anger, frustration, and fear come out of Sam, before a realisation hits her, and she goes back down to be with the girl.
The understated scenes, the more subtle ones, are just as important, and just as moving. In Singularity, Sam wrestles with her military training and her emotions. It makes this an episode where the audience sees all aspects of this character, where Sam becomes more relatable, and we are reminded that it’s okay for her to have a nurturing side.
That doesn’t make her weak. It doesn’t take anything away from her training. 

 

Singularity softens everyone’s edges a little bit. Teal’c wins Cassie’s trust first, Jack brings her a dog, Daniel stays with Sam while she watches over a deteriorating Cassie, and Janet ultimately becomes Cassie’s guardian. Every character is better for having met Cassie, and Cassie herself has both a new family and hope.
Stargate SG-1
reminded us that sci-fi could have heart. That bonds could be formed and strengthened, and that team members could evolve with each other. Once the Hathor episode was out of the way, and Samantha Carter could finally begin to find her footing, she became of the most beloved female characters in sci-fi – who inspires still. Who will inspire always. 

 

Final Thoughts and Fun Facts: 

Hanka’s designation is PX8 987.

No, the telescope on Jack’s roof isn’t used solely for spying on the neighbours. 

Assistant Art Director gets an observatory named after him on Hanka. While Executive Producer N. John Smith is surely the inspiration for the John Smith commanding the Hanka project. 

The look everyone gives Daniel when allergies cause him to sneeze is a daily experience for many of us. I imagine an older Daniel Jackson now, exclaiming with complete exasperation, "It's not Covid! It's just allergies!" This episode hits different in 2021.

The similar sounding Hanka and Hantavirus can’t have been unintentional.

If you’re an SG-1 shipper, this episode delivers for both the Sam/Jack fans, and the Sam/Daniel fans. Whether you shipped Sam and Daniel, saw them more like siblings, or just best friends and co-workers, they share scenes with subtext in all of those options. However you interpret their interactions, their bond grows firmer in this episode.
For the Sam/Jack shippers, we get one of the first instances of Jack using Carter’s first name, something he does twice this episode. It’s those little moments that make us melt. 

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