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Stargate SG-1

Season 1 Episode 11

The Torment of Tantalus

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Oct 03, 1997 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
407 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Daniel discovers that there was a previous Stargate explorer - Dr. Ernest Littlefield, who went through the Gate in 1945. But he never returned, so SG-1 sets out to recover him.

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  • Sweet

    Daniel discovers through old records that another person went through the Stargate in 1945 and never returned. When researching the event it leads to his old mentor and former head of the SG project, Katherine. The man that vanished was he fiance' and she had thought him dead. NOW they mount a research and rescue operation to see if he still lives.
  • Reveiw.

    This episode and story of this Stargate SG-1 episode is the best one out of the first season is a great one as Daniel finds that their was a man who went throw the gate in 1945 and never came home and SG-1 goes and tries to find him The effects in the episode looks great as always the offworld set looks amazing as always again the best and funniest part of the episode is when Littlefield is not excited to see Catharine and he goes hum and walks off then she talks to her self about what was she thinking was priceless the endmoreless
  • SG-1 learns the truth about the Stargate, when they investigate an experiment conducted in 1945 in which the Gate was opened.

    Daniel stumbles across footage of the Gate being opened in 1945, and SG-1 sets off on a mission to rescue Dr. Ernest Littlefield the man who went through. We also learn that the Goa'uld did not in fact build the gates. Remarkably Ernest is still alive on this planet after more than 50 years(we'll let that one slide ;)), and he show Daniel something incredible. The true universal language with I thought was a really unique concept. I loved how they set up the four members of the "alien United Nations" the Furlings, Nox, Asgard, and the Ancients, in this episode. However, the best part of the whole episode was Ernest's compassionate argument against Daniel's wish to stay behind with the device. "No prize is worth achieving if you cannot share it." Great line and very true.moreless

    Let's be honest not much happened in this episode and that meaning of life stuff has little meaning to the overall Stargate SG-1 story arc through the first season and beyond. I would easily say this is the worst episode of the first season of SG-1. The special effects are okay but I somewhat suspect this episode was made to save some production money. There are several flashback scenes that have none of the main cast members because the scenes themselves take place in the 1940's. The Torment of Tantalus' torment is watching it and I Tracey K. Nameth call it "cavity filler!"moreless
  • The team finds out that the Stargate had been made to work before ... in 1945!

    I liked this episode because we find out about the "coalition" of the 4 intelligent races in the galaxy ... and from what we can understand, they were all good (well, it's an assumption if you haven't seen the rest of the series). Unfortunately, the coalition doesn't exist anymore, as the place looked like it'd been left in ruins for a very long time.

    The storyline about Dr Littlefield was quite interesting, but could have been done in a better way ... or maybe it was the actors that didn't really inspire me. Anyway, I felt like something was missing from that part of the story, this is why I'm giving this episode a lower score than usual.

    Again, we see the character and personality of the SG-1 members revealed. Daniel's undying curiosity; Sam' brilliance; Jack's military mind and Teal'c's coolness under pressure.

    A very well done episode, which contributes to the story line and the personalities of the characters, even though it was effectively a filler episode.moreless
Richard Dean Anderson

Richard Dean Anderson

Colonel/Brigadier General Jonathan J. "Jack" O'Neill

Christopher Judge

Christopher Judge


Amanda Tapping

Amanda Tapping

Captain/Major/ Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter

Don S. Davis

Don S. Davis

Major General George S. Hammond

Michael Shanks

Michael Shanks

Dr. Daniel Jackson

Elizabeth Hoffman

Elizabeth Hoffman

Catherine Langford

Guest Star

Keene Curtis

Keene Curtis

Dr. Ernest Littlefield

Guest Star

Duncan Fraser

Duncan Fraser

Professor Langford

Guest Star

Gary Jones

Gary Jones

Technician/Sergeant Walter Davis

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Trivia: Heliopolis was designated P3X-972 by Stargate Command.

    • During the mission to rescue Ernest, Catherine wears the standard green jacket used on the show, but she also wears a SG-1 mission patch. She is not a member of SG-1 or even part of the SGC. Her jacket should be devoid of all such markings.

    • The flashback has the scientists decades earlier calling the stargate the "Door to Heaven", a reference to what the stargate was incorrectly translated as before Jackson fixed it. But in the movie it was Richard Kind's character who says he performed the inaccurate translation.

    • As established in subsequent episodes and in the Stargate: Atlantis episode "Thirty Eight Minutes," a Stargate must have all the information for an item to go through the event horizon before it transports someone to the other end. Then how could Dr. Littlefield have been transported when the hose for his suit had not fully passed through the event horizon?

    • How did Dr. Littlefield survive on that planet if he'd been there since 1945? A supply of food and water can't last that long.

    • How did the scientists in 1945 get the address to P3X-972? Did they intend to go to Abydos but they misdialed since the address to P3X-972 is only slightly different than that of Abydos?

    • At the end when they were dialing back to the planet, the computer displayed the Abydos symbols.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Catherine: You speak?
      Teal'c: When it is appropriate.

    • Jack: It's a piece of cake. Ready?
      (all go through the Stargate)
      Daniel: Are you okay?
      Catherine: Huh, that was some piece of cake.

    • Jack: All right, basic survival training. We know what we have, what do we need?
      Teal'c: We have the Stargate. We need the dial-home device.
      Jack: Thank you, Teal'c.

    • Daniel: (looking at the hologram of the four races) What's up, guys?
      Jack: Step away from the pedestal, Daniel.
      Daniel: What? Why?
      Carter: The Dial Home Device just fell through the floor into the ocean.
      Daniel: So what are we going to do?
      Carter: That thing may have a power source in it that we can use to get the gate working.
      Daniel: Ah... No. You don't understand. This book may contain knowledge of the universe. I mean, this is... meaning-of-life stuff!

    • Daniel: The Pentagon said this was everything.
      Jack: Oh please! The Pentagon's lost entire countries.

    • Catherine: (about Hammond) So far he actually sounds worse than General West!
      Jack: Ah, he's a teddy bear!

    • Jack: You know, you seem a tad obsessed with this stuff.
      Daniel: This was transferred from film of experiments done on the Gate in 1945. You don't find that the least bit intriguing?
      Jack: Oh yeah--nothing piques my interest more than repeated failure.

    • Catherine: When did you become an upstanding member of the military?
      Daniel: I'm not... exactly.

    • Dr. Littlefield: No prize would be worth attaining if you could never share it. Believe me, I know.

    • Dr. Littlefield: (re: Tantalus) He was reaching for something that was... out of reach.

    • Jack: I'm obviously no scientist, but couldn't we use that whole Ben Franklin thing?

    • Jack: Ernest was showing him a new toy.
      Sam: Really? What?
      Jack: Some fancy light show that may be a key our existence or something.

    • Sam: I don't think the heart ever grows old.

  • NOTES (4)


    • Title:
      In Greek mythology, Tantalus was a king who was punished for all eternity by having cool, clear water just below his chin and ripe, delicious fruit hanging just beyond his reach. His crime was generally said to have been dismembering his son Pelops (who, by the way, was mentioned as a Goa'uld in "Brief Candle") and serving him to the gods for dinner. His name is the basis of the word "tantalize".