Skip to main content

Members Latest

Stargate | SG-1's 'The Other Side': Do the Ends Justify the Means?

As a member of The Companion, you’re supporting original writing and podcasting, for sci-fi fans, by sci-fi fans, and totally free of advertising and clickbait.

The cost of your membership has allowed us to mentor new writers and allowed us to reflect the diversity of voices within fandom. None of this is possible without you. Thank you. 🙂

“The way we win matters.”

Ender Wiggin, Ender’s Game

As ‘The Other Side’ (S4, Ep2) opens, we have been battling the Goa’uld, and escaping by the skin of our teeth, for three years now. Stargate Command, with much thanks to the Asgard, has managed to rope Earth into the Asgard Protected Planets treaty, but no one is convinced that this places Earth out of danger. The Goa’uld will return, we know they will return, and it will be for blood. 

Alar (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Rene Auberjonois) comes along. He’s been trying to dial Earth from his planet. 

Alar is the representative of Euronda Base, a last outpost of a civilization of people in the eleventh hour of a fight they appear to have no chance at winning. Despite his people’s advanced technology in comparison to ours, they appear to be nearly down for the count. An unseen force is attacking the Eurondan underground bunker from the air. Even though the planet is now a wasteland, the Eurondans believe they have the technology to restore it. Their home is still worth fighting for.

Stargate Philosophy is a regular feature from Dial the Gate‘s David Read that deals with some of the complex ethical dilemmas raised in the show. 💭

New articles are published every two weeks so make sure you check back on March 18th.

Proposition

The Eurondans have technology that makes our own look like stone-age tools. They possess weaponry that will clearly be a match, if not superior, to take on Goa’uld death gliders. Perhaps more. Surely, the price for all of this technology to bring Alar’s people back into the fight will be to commit a considerable number of Earth’s resources. Perhaps more than Stargate Command can bring to bear.

No. They just need water.

No ordinary water, mind you. Deuterium. We use it in conventional nuclear reactors. It is produced from seawater at a cost of approximately one US dollar per gram. This is what the Eurondans say they need to recharge their generators, fend off their attackers, and hand over the specs for their technology. In the scheme of things this is no sweat, right?

O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) thinks Earth has struck gold. Daniel (Michael Shanks) thinks it’s too good to be true. Carter (Amanda Tapping) is somewhere in the middle. Teal’c (Chris Judge) is mostly quiet. Each team member is occupying his or her typical quadrant when it comes to dealing with the situation. SG-1’s mandate, to seek out alliances with other races and acquire technology to defend against the Goa’uld, appears to have been fulfilled for the first time ever.

📺 Stargate’s Richard Dean Anderson and Brad Wright Share Memories of SG-1

Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) in ‘The Other Side’ – S4, Ep2. | MGM, 2000.

Allies like the Tollan, Tok’ra, Asgard, and Nox have all been in complete support of us, but without promising any hardware. They all believe we as a species are not to be trusted with advanced weaponry. They’re probably right.

The Eurondans don’t have the luxury of wrestling with their consciences. They are about to be annihilated. Jack’s intent is clear: get Alar and his people back on their feet so they can resist their enemy. Sign the documents for the alien technology. Eat some cake.

Daniel, God bless him, is more introspective. He is in overall agreement with both mandates of SGC, but he is never willing to run full steam ahead into a situation, regardless of the lives at stake. He wants to know who these people are fighting. He wants to know why they’re fighting. There are unseen consequences that will ripple across this planet, and Jack is willfully ignorant of them. 

“You don’t give a damn what’s going to happen to them,” says Daniel. “You want their technology and you’re taking advantage of the situation!”

We’ve watched O’Neill lose friends in the war with the Goa’uld. Good men and women have been lost in the pursuit of defending Earth. 

“Yes I am, Daniel,” responds Jack. “They’re getting something they want. We’re getting everything we want! I don’t have a problem with that!”

SG-1 in discussion with Alar (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Rene Auberjonois). | MGM, 2000.

Execution

O’Neill orders Carter and Daniel to return to Stargate Command and inform General Hammond (Don S. Davis) of the situation. Back on Earth, the base’s immediate supply of deuterium is readied to be transported through the Stargate.

In the meantime, Hammond is briefed. Carter makes it clear to Daniel that she agrees with Colonel O’Neill. The Eurondans are fighting for their lives and deserve to be helped. Daniel finally poses the question. Who are they fighting? Why are they fighting? What is this conflict all about? Carter agrees his concerns deserve answers, and Hammond orders them back to Euronda to obtain them.

With the base crumbling from the enemy onslaught, Alar has his people refuel the reactors with Earth’s fresh supplies. As a show of strength, the generators will be cranked up to full power to deflect the assault.

Euronda base is finally quiet.

“If you’re concerned about the lives lost, remember, they’re your enemy now.”

Alar, ‘The Other Side’ – S4, Ep3.

Consequences

At full strength, Euronda base is essentially invincible. In the underground bunker, the ongoing attack cannot be heard. It is in this time of calm that Alar encourages SG-1 to formalize their agreement in the form of signing documents so that they can get the process of sharing technology and deuterium underway.

Dr. Jackson still wants answers, though. It is at this point that Jack, for the first time in the series history, cuts his friend off at his knees. “Daniel, shut up.” 

We’d think that would be the end of the conversation. But perceptions are slowly beginning to change. On the way back to the Stargate, Alar casually requests that Teal’c not be invited back. Jack is willing to accept a certain amount of flak with regards to Teal’c. He has from the first day of the Jaffa joining SG-1. But Alar is firm on his point. Teal’c is “not like us.”

Alarm bells.

It is with these three words that Jack begins to understand. The voice he has been putting off – not Jackson, but the one in the back of his own mind – is growing louder. He immediately pivots to discover the truth for himself. Immediately, his primary objective has changed. Jack apologies to Daniel, and invites him to get to the bottom of the situation.

O’Neill confirms his suspicions by reviewing the database of all Eurondans in stasis. “They’re the same,” he says. “Every damn one of them’s the same.” 

The Eurondans are, to use an earth analog, white supremacists. Their enemy, sometimes called Breeders, “reproduce indiscriminately, with no regard to genetic purity.” The ideology of Earth’s new allies is finally manifest.

Euronda Base is not just a bunker. Carter discovers it is a toxic waste factory that is poisoning the surface of the planet in an attempt to snuff out the enemy. Alar and his people cannot help but wonder why they have been unable to push the Breeders back. The resolve of the enemy is inexplicable. 

📖 Stargate | Understanding the Arthurian Myth Behind SG-1’s ‘Morpheus’

Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping). | MGM, 2000.

Course Correction

Determined to stop the Eurondans, O’Neill and Teal’c offer to man fighter drones and defend the base against the ongoing attack to help with the “delay” of more deuterium. But instead of taking out the enemy bombers, they escort them to the doorstep of the bunker.

Carter and Daniel take the control room at gunpoint long enough for Jack to do critical damage to the base with his automated aircraft, killing several personnel and destroying the Eurondan tech blueprints promised to Earth. 

Jack warns Alar not to follow as SG-1 makes their way back to the Stargate. Upon reaching the other side, the colonel orders the iris closed. We are led to believe Alar attempted to get through anyway. Jack informs General Hammond that they were not able to secure any Eurondan technology.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” says Hammond.

“Don’t be,” replies O’Neill.

Wrap-Up

SG-1’s encounter with the Eurondans tells us so much about what motivates each member of the team. Now three years into the war with the Goa’uld, Earth has managed to stave off utter destruction. But just barely. It has been a conflict with tremendous cost. It is a war being waged on behalf of a civilization that is totally unaware of its existence. Sooner or later, Earth’s time will be up. Jack O’Neill recognizes this.

But if humanity is to achieve victory against interstellar slavers, it is unacceptable to bring about their defeat using technology obtained by those who would enslave just as willingly. 

No one knows the stakes more than Daniel Jackson. He lost his wife at the hands of the Goa’uld. But if Sha’re were still alive, it’s fairly clear his argument will be the same. Helping ourselves to the technology of genocidal maniacs may indeed move us toward our goal of greater galactic freedom of billions. But we will have exchanged it for the destruction of millions on one planet. 

It is too great a price.

📖 Stargate | ‘Crystal Skull’ and ‘Learning Curve’ in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s

Teal’c (Chris Judge) pilots the Eurondan drones. | MGM, 2000.

Lingering Thoughts

This story, brilliantly penned by Brad Wright, is one of many in the Stargate canon which invite us to ask questions of ourselves and humanity. ‘I have something I want or need, and someone else is willing to offer it to me. Does it matter if we share the same values? Is the transaction all that matters? Or are we going to be willing to get ourselves tied up in other business that is beyond the immediate sphere of the exchange?’

In a more Earth-based story, Major Paul Davis takes Daniel Jackson’s side of the argument in Season Five’s ’48 Hours’ (S5, Ep14) when Daniel arguably takes on Jack’s perspective. We need Russia’s Dial Home Device to save Teal’c, and they want naquadah reactor technology. Daniel argues that this would ultimately help stabilize a post-Soviet Russia, but Davis fears Russia will turn the technology over to someone who could weaponize it. Once the plans for the hardware are out of our hands, there is no way to know for sure.

‘The Other Side’ is not just a science fiction story. It is an open invitation to explore your part in every decision where you have been willfully blind, when you didn’t ask every question you probably should have, knowing the answer might lead to something uncomfortable. And there are some uncomfortable answers out there in the world.

In a world of seven billion humans, is it reasonable to believe they all share your values? They don’t. And just because they may not be in your day-to-day life doesn’t mean they don’t have an influence on your world. Perhaps the sharing of technology and resources will help build bridges to greater understanding. But the truth is not every culture values your existence as much as you might value theirs.

Here’s another truth. Slavery is alive and kicking on Earth. Countless “free-loving” governments (perhaps yours) and large corporations openly trade with those who behave very much like the Eurondans, in full knowledge of these crimes against humanity. Is the discounted cost of a T-shirt, or raw material to build a smartphone, enough for us to turn a blind eye to the outright imprisonment and subjugation of those who are different? 

Is that not too great a price?

As we move into the 21st century, with the near-ubiquitous reach of global information, we will all have the opportunity to take a look at The Other Side and address or ignore these broader concerns. But even we can’t die on every moral hill. It’s not realistic. We all have to make things work for ourselves, our families and our community. Draw the line somewhere. Give the Earth-based Eurondans their water.  But don’t have an iris separating us from them.


Recommended Articles


Testimonial Author Image

David Read is the host and executive producer of Dial the Gate. He has been reporting on the Stargate franchise via GateWorld.net since he was 18 years old. He has written for the Official Stargate Magazine, sold Stargate costumes and props through the Propworx auction house, and managed the online community of the ill-fated Stargate Worlds Massively Multiplayer video game. When not working on a Stargate-related project, you’ll likely find him watching Star Trek.

Looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.