Earth seems to be have found the perfect ally in their fight against the Goa'uld, the Aschen, which SG-1 met while visiting the simple, low-tech, pastoral planet Volia at P3A-194. To negotiate with the Aschen, SG-1 is accompanied by ambassador Joseph Faxon, whom Carter quickly starts to like. They meet with the Aschen representatives on one of their big harvester ships (which harvests Volian fields and sends the crop through the Stargate). The Aschen not only offer them their advanced technology but also membership in the Aschen Confederation. Their bio-technology is particularly interesting because it would allow Earth to create a bio-weapon that could target specific DNA combinations.
After O'Neill's positive introduction to the Aschen, in which they proclaim their willingness to trade, negotiations endorsed by the President begin. However O'Neill starts to feel uneasy, a feeling strengthened by the fact that the Stargate would have to be revealed to the public (because the Aschen only want to negotiate with all the nations of Earth) and also because the Aschen representative mentions that Earth's current population growth is unsustainable (suggesting military action to curb it).
At Stargate Command at about the same time, General George Hammond and Carter discover that the Volian home-world is suspiciously close to a Stargate address that was locked out of the dialing computer earlier, when they received a mysterious note that they thought might be from the future SG-1. This note was not only in O'Neill's handwriting but also had his blood on it; it warned them away from going to P4C-970. Considering that the Aschen home-world is probably one of four near Volia, Hammond decides to send teams (specifically, SG-3, SG-12, and SG-15) to the other three nearby addresses to determine if the Aschen world is that forbidden address. However, the search is stopped by presidential order, because if one of the teams were to find the Aschen at one of the other three locations, they might feel their privacy invaded and trust betrayed, thus stopping negotiations.
In the meantime, Daniel and Teal'c start to investigate Volia in response to O'Neill's order to find out more about the Volians' relationship with the Aschen. After questioning a Volian farmer (who has only positive things to say about the Aschen), they find buried beneath the agricultural fields a city of technology and complexity far more advanced than that evinced by the Volians, yet that is only a few hundred years old. In an underground library the two find newspaper articles that reveal disturbing information about the Aschen.
Meanwhile, after learning of the likelihood that the Aschen are not all that they appear to be, O'Neill journeys to Washington to tell the President about his concerns. But Senator Robert Kinsey, one of O'Neill's Earth-based arch rivals, beats him to it and convinces the President not to listen to O'Neill, then meeting O'Neill and having him return to the SGC, to O'Neill's considerable frustration.
Daniel and Teal'c find the final issue of an old newspaper in the ruins, which they assume must have the last information available before the unknown catastrophe destroyed the civilization. Daniel can translate the newspaper to the extent that he knows that a drug the Aschen gave members of the society (in order to cure a plague) caused something, but he doesn't know the translation of that one word. In a later good-will meeting in which Earth would prove their benevolence by sharing a few of the Stargate addresses they know, Carter tricks the Aschen ambassador Borren into translating it. It means "sterility". Realizing Carter and Faxon have figured out the Aschen intentions, they lock Carter and Faxon in a room on a harvesting ship and dial Earth in order to send a powerful bio-weapon through.
Sam sets up a rope to climb down straight into the (horizontally oriented) Stargate, but as Faxon prepares to join her, Borren walks in and Faxon attacks him. With no time left for him to get away, he tells Carter to leave. She falls through the Stargate and quickly orders the Iris shut behind her. Earth is saved, and Sam never learns that the man who gave up his life to save her and Earth is the man who would otherwise have been destined to be her husband. It is then revealed that what had been given to the Aschen is a list of useless gate address, first one being a black hole.
Faxon: You look pensive.
O'Neill: No, I was just thinking.
- The title is an homage to Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it continues a story arc started in the episode "2010" - the title of which is an homage to Clarke's novel 2010: Odyssey Two. The concept of turning a gas giant into a star (one of the main plot elements of 2010: Odyssey Two) is mentioned in both episodes, and Carter quotes Clarke's name in reference to it during this episode. Coincidentally, Clarke's Space Odyssey series used the term "StarGate" to refer to one of its major plot devices, the monolith.
- When O'Neill is telling Kinsey how to spell his name, he says it has two Ls but he holds up three fingers. Possibly this is a rather clever way of giving Kinsey the middle finger.
- Official Stargate SG-1 site. MGM Television Entertainment. Visited June 8, 2006. Most of site requires Macromedia Flash.
- Screenplay (PDF). Distributed by MGM Television Entertainment. Prepared by Casablanca Continuity (2001-07-06). Linked to from Official Stargate SG-1 site.
- Summary from GateWorld. Visited May 3, 3006.
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