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Stargate | ‘The Other Side’ and Befriending the Bad Guys

Stargate SG-1's ‘The Other Side’ asks us to weigh up the benefits against the consequences of supporting the wrong side.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘The Other Side’ (S4, Ep2). Proceed with caution.

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 Nines 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.

The Philosophy of Stargate is a column from Dial the Gate and Wormhole X-Tremists host David Read that deals with some of the ethical dilemmas raised in the show.

You can find the rest of the series here.

The Eurondans’ Proposition in ‘The Other Side’

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?

Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) thinks Earth has struck gold. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) thinks it’s too good to be true. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) is somewhere in the middle. Teal’c (Christopher 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.

Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) meets Eurondan leader Alar (Rene Auberjonois) in the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘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 with. 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!”

Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) emerges as the dissenting voice at taking the Eurondons at their word in the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘The Other Side’ (S4, Ep2). | MGM, 2000.

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!”

Getting to the Truth in ‘The Other Side’

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.

The Eurondan defenses are coordinated in the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘The Other Side’ (S4, Ep2). | MGM, 2000.

Euronda base is finally quiet. Alar is strident:

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

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