"A Matter of Time" is the fifteenth episode of the second season of Stargate SG-1.


SG-10 is trapped on a planet that falls victim to a newly formed black hole. While gating to retrieve them, the gate cannot shut down, and the effects of the black hole are being translated into Stargate Command by the Stargate. The distortion could put Earth at jeopardy of being sucked into the black hole through the Stargate.


Jonathan Reed

A panicked SG-10 tries to leave P3W-451.

From space, above the planet designated P3W-451, which orbits a binary-star, one of the stars starts to collapse, while drawing energy from the other star. It then collapses into a black hole, pulling space debris in its path. The hole is starting to affect the planet. On 451 in "slow motion", or time dilation caused by the black hole's gravitation, SG-10, commanded by Major Henry Boyd, runs through the desert surface to the Stargate. Boyd orders Captain Watts to dial Earth. The team seem panicked, and fear that they won't make it. Boyd tells them they will make it, and they dial the Stargate.

In Stargate Command, Colonel Jack O'Neill asks Captain Samantha Carter to explain to him how wormhole physics work. Even Carter's metaphor of a worm burrowing through an apple rather than go around the surface confuses him, but he claims that he knows how it works. They are interrupted by an unscheduled offworld activation. They wonder who it could be, as there are only three teams on mission currently. They include SG-4, SG-6 (Dr. Daniel Jackson is with them on a dig on PX3-808), and SG-10. They receive a transmission, but they are unable to read it. Carter notices a low frequency, repeated signal, and orders Lt. Graham Simmons to play it faster. After running it at 600% speed, they read SG-10's IDC, and as a result they open the iris. They await SG-10's arrival, but a few seconds later, the Stargate shuts down. O'Neill requests a rescue mission, but Major General George S. Hammond holds them off, at least until they launch a MALP.

P3W-451's moon

The SGC realize what Boyd is so afraid of.

Major General George S. Hammond tells SG-1 that Boyd's team went on a mission to 451 to determine the cause of the planet's recent extinction of indigenous life. After they activate the Stargate, they launch the MALP through to see what is happening on the other side. However, all they see is a distorted infrared images. Carter believes the image from the MALP has red shifted, and asks Simmons to implement a shorter wavelength. They see a clear image of the team, but according to Simmons, from the teams perspective, 11 frames (less than half a second) went by in the last six minutes. O'Neill thinks SG-10 is in trouble and asks to go in, but Carter believes the team is beyond help, and wants the MALP's camera to tilt upwards to see what Boyd is so afraid of. They are stunned to see a black hole, and a newly formed one at that.

They believe that due to time dilation, when they tried to Gate to Earth, from their perspective, it could not have been opened for as long as a second. They eventually agree there is nothing they can do to help, and Hammond orders Simmons to disengage the wormhole. However, they cannot shut it down, even after two attempts.

Outside Cheyenne Mountain, Colonel Frank Cromwell and a team of United States Air Force Special Forces, dispatched by The Pentagon arrive and asks a Guard for a situation. Apparently, they lost contact with Stargate Command four hours earlier and, before losing contact, things went "funky": personnel in the SGC speaking by telephone spoke slowly, with low-pitched voices. Fearing an alien incursion of some kind, Cromwell and his team start going down the emergency shaft to Level 28.

In his office, Hammond tries to make contact with the President of the United States on the red phone, but he can't get through to anyone. When he returns to operations, he hears news that they lost contact to anyone below level 24. Carter has MSgt. Sylvester Siler run several possible solutions to shut down the Gate, but nothing is working. They have passed the 38 minute window, the maximum time a Stargate can normally imaintain an open wormhole, and due to the stresses of the black hole, the event horizon starts to swirl. Hammond plans on getting online to the President above the surface, leaving O'Neill is charge for the meantime.

Bending the laws of physics

Smoke is pulled by the black hole's gravity.

After he leaves, O'Neill proposes that they should just "pull the plug." He and Siler go to the power vault. Heavily gloved for safety, they shut down the circuit breakers, but nothing happens. The technicians and Teal'c are asked to leave the Gate room while O'Neill and Siler plan to shut down the main breaker. However, this causes an overload, and a power surge injures Siler. In the Gate room, the surge sends currents coursing round the Stargate, causing a series of small explosions, burning Teal'c as he evacuates.

However, the gate still does not shut down. Carter believes the wormhole is powered by the black hole itself. While a medical team assist O'Neill and Siler, Carter checks on Teal'c, who has some major burns on him. She then sees smoke from the fires being pulled to the wormhole.

A Matter of Time

Carter holding her dog tags up to the black hole gravity coming through the Stargate.

Carter walks up to the event horizon and holds up her dog tags. They are being pulled as well and as she lets go, they disappear into the black hole. Carter believes the black hole's gravity is responsible, and orders Simmons to close the iris.

Major General George S. Hammond goes to the main level, NORAD to get to the next secure phone to contact the President. However, he arrives and exits the elevator to see several heavily armed soldiers aiming their guns at him. A man orders them to stand down, and introduces himself as Major Paul Davis. He tells Hammond that he will escort him to an aircraft to debrief the President himself. On the way to the air field, Davis tells Hammond that they believe they lost contact with the SGC because of time dilation; time is passing slower in the base than the rest of the World, which is caused by the black hole. They arrive at the field so Hammond can talk to the President via tel-conference about the situation.

Black hole incident 1

Cromwell's team storms the SGC.

Meanwhile, Colonel Cromwell and his team have arrived to storm the SGC and encounter a very startled Dr. Janet Fraiser, who is on her way to treat Siler. However, Cromwell believes that the SGC is in the middle of an alien incursion, and thinks Fraiser is one of them. Time is starting to warp further within the level. O'Neill encounters Cromwell and scoffs at the prospect of Cromwell "rescuing" them. When hearing five hours has passed (relative to the outside world), rather than just a handful of minutes, O'Neill is confused. Carter confirms this, and when they arrive at operations, Simmons reports that the distortion field is expanding, having read 7 Gs from the iris. Carter believes that the black hole's gravity, causing the time dilation field, may cause the SGC to slowly suck through the wormhole, and eventually the Earth.

Carter wants to talk to the Pentagon, though Hammond later arrives and tells her he already has been, and to his perspective, 18 hours has passed. He has set up a command post above the mountain, so they could monitor the expansion rate, and destroy the base to stop the threat, though Carter believes that the wormhole would still be intact. Hammond overrules her, and orders an evacuation of the base. O'Neill and Cromwell stay behind and wait five minutes to activate the Self-destruct. As they arrive outside the base, they realize that 22 hours has passed, as opposed to 20 minutes. It would take around six hours for them until O'Neill activates the self-destruct. Carter, not believing the Pentagon's decision (the military's ideology is blow up something they don't understand) tries to work on a solution herself, but can't think of anything, even with Teal'c's "assistance".

By morning, Major General George S. Hammond checks up on Carter, who tells him that she thinks the best the explosion would do is dampen it; the Gate would still be active and suck the mountain through within six months, and Colorado six months after that. Hammond says that hopefully she will be wrong and proposes, if the explosion does work, they can still use the second Stargate to restart the program. This gives Carter an idea; they will use an explosion, but only one to give the Stargate enough of a power surge to jump the wormhole to another world, so they could shut down the Stargate with ease. They rush in to stop O'Neill.

Meanwhile, only five minutes are gone from O'Neill and Cromwell's perspective. Cromwell reveals that the two men used to be good friends, and he made a judgment call to save the rest of his team when O'Neill was injured, and he was forced to spend the next four months in an Iraqi prison. Cromwell asks for his forgiveness, but O'Neill doesn't give it to him. Cromwell compares it to Major Boyd's terrified face, still frozen a few seconds later on the screen. The glass shatters from the control room, and they are about to activate the self destruct, but are stopped by Carter, who tells them it won't work.

A Matter of Time 2

Cromwell and O'Neill rappel "down" to the Stargate.

They gear up in G-suits in preparation to rappel "down" to near the Stargate, and activate a Shaped charge.

Shaped charge

Teal'c carrying the shape charge bomb.

Teal'c, having been gone for several days in his perspective, arrives with the shaped charge from Travis Air Force Base with Carter's collaborations. Since a remote detonator won't be practical, O'Neill and Cromwell rappel to the Stargate and set their own time limit (20 seconds).

However, as they struggle to hold on to place the bomb, the rest of the glass from the control room fails, and rushes towards the Colonels, and smashes straight to the iris. One glass shard has lodged onto Cromwell's rope. O'Neill then starts arming the bomb, but before activating it, the iris completely fails, and is sucked through the wormhole, which now looks like a backwards vortex. This forces the two and the bomb even closer.

A Matter of Time 1

Cromwell being sucked into the black hole.

Furthermore, the glass breaks the rope, and Cromwell holds on to O'Neill, but knowing that one rope will not hold both of them, he lets go, and is pulled straight to P3W-451.

O'Neill struggles up to get to the bomb, and sets the timer. As he gets up, Teal'c, Carter and Siler use their strength to pull the rope from the black hole's strong gravity.

After a while, the shaped charge detonates.

A Matter of Time 1

The team sees O'Neill making his recovery.

Sometime later, O'Neill awakens in the infirmary, where he sees Carter, Major General George S. Hammond, Teal'c and Jackson, who returned from his mission to PX3-808. They inform him the plan worked; the shaped charge sent the wormhole to P2A-870, and they easily shut off the Stargate from there. Hammond informs them that a new Trinium-strengthened iris will be placed over the Gate from now on. When O'Neill asks what day it is, Jackson tells him "Well, this might be a little difficult to accept, but since you reported for duty yesterday, two weeks have actually gone by." O'Neill decides to sleep in.


Appearances for A Matter of Time





Sentient Species



  • Worm (Mentioned)



Notable quotes[]

O'Neill: Look, I know I should know this by now. I swear it'll be the last time I ask. These wormholes we go through, they're not always there, right?
Carter: No, sir. It can only form between two open gates.
O'Neill: What's with the worm part? The worm thing. I-I don't get that.
Carter: That's just a metaphor.
O'Neill: Right. I knew that.
Carter: Imagine the galaxy is an apple. We burrow our way through the apple like a worm, crossing from one side to the other instead of going around the outside.
O'Neill: (after pause) Okay.
Carter: Now, of course, the diameter of the apple is just a two-dimensional representation of space-time and well, the hole isn't a hole per se, but an interdimensional conduit. (stops while noticing O'Neill's confusion) Colonel?
O'Neill: (closes his eyes and thinks) Okay. I'll be all right.
Carter: (amused) Okay.

Carter: Sir. By some fluke of Stargate technology, we are witnessing something that the laws of physics say we can't possibly witness.
O'Neill: We are witnessing good men die in slow motion, Captain.

Cromwell: Sergeant, how long have you been out of contact with this facility?
Sergeant: Coming on four hours ago, sir. But it was funky for a while before that.
Cromwell: Is that proper military terminology? What exactly does "funky" mean!?

Cromwell: The Pentagon suspects alien hostiles.
O'Neill: And they sent you?

Hammond: Captain, relativity gives me a headache.

Carter: For some reason, the warping of our space-time is in advance of the gravity field rather than as a result of it. It's probably a lensing effect of the Stargate itself, but I can't be sure.
Cromwell: (In response to Jack nodding) Don't even pretend you understand that.

Simmons: Do you think they'll be able to shut it down, sir?
Hammond: We'll know sometime tomorrow.

O'Neill: What day is it?
Jackson: Well, this might be a little difficult to accept, but since you reported for duty yesterday, two weeks have actually gone by.
O'Neill: Two weeks? I think I'll sleep in.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • Colonel Jack O'Neill saw the first black hole in the Stargate universe in "Singularity", though at a safe distance. His astronomy hobby is demonstrated in both episodes, as he instantly recognizes a black hole and its implications.
  • This is the first time the 38 minute window is mentioned in this reality.
  • On other occasions, the memory of the incident with the P3W-451 helped SG-1 solve or understand their current problem. For example, in the Season 9 episode "Ripple Effect." In that episode, a version of Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter from an alternate reality refers to this episode, indicating that these events likewise occurred in her reality.
  • This episode features a strudel behind the gate, probably caused by the extreme forces working on the wormhole. This effect has not been seen since the Stargate film.
  • After "Hathor" and "Politics", this is the third episode in which SG-1 are not seen to travel through the Stargate.
  • In the Australian and Region 2 releases of the DVD Box set, this episode is switched with "The Fifth Race". This order is also used on the Australian streaming service Stan, and the US streaming service Hulu.
  • The scenes on P3W-451 were filmed at the Richmond Sand Dunes.
  • Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson) only appears in the final scene of this episode and also only has two lines of dialogue. He is mentioned to be on off-world mission with SG-6.


  • After the SGC sends the MALP through the stargate, the SGC receives 11 frames of video in 6 minutes, meaning that the MALP is experiencing extreme time dilation relative to Earth. However, when Captain Carter tells Lt. Graham Simmons to move the MALP's camera, the camera moves immediately and the new video frame is displayed within seconds.

Other languages[]

  • French: Question De Temps (A Matter of Time)
  • German: Das schwarze Loch (The Black Hole)
  • Italian: Stato Di Massima Gravità (State of Maximum Gravity)
  • Spanish: Cuestión De Tiempo (A Matter of Time)
  • Czech: Černá díra (Black Hole)
  • Hungarian: Egy végtelennek tűnő pillanat (A seemingly unending moment)
  • Russian: Вопрос времени (A Matter of Time)

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