Stargate SG-1

Season 2 Episode 16

A Matter of Time

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Jan 29, 1999 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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out of 10
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  • Apparently everyone's IQ got sucked into a black hole.

    I hated this episode. Which is a shame, because the ideas upon which it is based are very interesting. But unfortunately, it was marred by the fact that the writers seem to have suddenly got the idea into their heads that every single person watching is incredibly stupid, or at least that is my impression. The sheer number of times the Captain Carter is told that noone understands her is frankly rather insulting, and completely out of character with everything else I have seen thus far.

    Up until this point, the most we've got is the occasional request for Carter or Jackson to simplify and summarize their technobabble. But suddenly it seems that Carter is being treated as if she was a savant-like intelligence by everyone around her. It runs right the way through the episode - Colonel O'Neill suddenly has trouble understanding a simple analogy about wormholes right at the start. "Alright", I said to myself, "I'm willing to let it pass just this once." But it didn't stop. Every scene with Captain Carter in it, someone was telling her that they didn't understand what was going on, that she should stop, slow down, not even bother explaining. Now I can understand that perhaps not every viewer is completely familiarised with the physics of black holes - I certainly am no expert - but really? Can't we just let the technobabble flow for just a few seconds? It's not even particularly complicated by technobabble standards.

    So that was my main gripe. But there's plenty of other stuff wrong with this episode. Until the last 5 minutes, they manage to just about keep the effects of the wormhole fairly logical. The time dilation effect keeps expanding, gravity slowly increases behind it. But then it all breaks down. They decide to go down on ropes to set off a bomb and divert the wormhole somewhere else. Why can't they do it by remote control? "Variance in the gravitational field", says Carter. Cue another braindead O'Neill comment to the effect that none of it makes any sense to him. He's into Astronomy, for crying out loud! There is no way he could not know what a gravitational field is, and variance isn't THAT uncommon a word, is it? Or am I just deluding myself there?

    Anyway, back to the problems: there are going to be tidal forces acting on the ropes that should tear them apart. There should even be lethal tidal forces acting on Jack and Cromwell*, given how quickly they say they feel the extra weight. The human body is not built to withstand extra g-forces, so it makes things like lifting your arms above your head pretty much impossible. Yet O'Neill is able to reach up and turn on the bomb, after catching Cromwell (who should just have ripped his arm straight off on his way down). Right, ok, so they've some how set the bomb to go off (Did I mention there should be, you guessed it, tidal forces acting on the bomb?) and now Teal'c and Carter have to pull O'Neill out of there. I don't care how strong Teal'c is, it's not going to happen. O'Neill is HEAVY with an extra capitalised H, and the rope dangling beneath him is probably as heavy again, given the extra gravity. The Time Dilation issues involved mean that the act of pulling him up is going to be very odd and difficult to interpret - I can accept the makers of the series pulling out of trying to work out what would happen on this one. However, when the bomb goes off, O'Neill has somehow got far enough away to escape being killed by the explosion. It obviously takes a lot of kinetic energy to get out of the gravitational field, as the explosion was sucked in. But then surely, if O'Neill got out, he must have had more kinetic energy than the explosion? Which implies that Carter and Teal'c's arm muscles possess the equivalent strength of a rather large bomb. Oh dear.

    That's enough gravitational field weirdness errors for now. The Stargate writers have obviously bitten off more than they can chew in simulating the effects of a black hole. To be honest, I think I could have overlooked the rather large paragraph of mistakes above if it weren't for the incredibly patronising "Everyone watching this is stupid" vibes emanating from my computer screen.

    The disappointing thing was, I thought the first 5-10 minutes were excellent. As another reviewer has mentioned, the frozen image of SG-10 slowed to a standstill is an effective and powerful one. I just wished the rest of the episode had served to amplify it.

    Sir Thursday

    *And why the hell was Cromwell even in this episode? So we can find out that O'Neill spent 4 months in an Iraqi jail? As far as I can see the only other thing he did in the episode was die a gravity-induced death.