"Brief Candle" is the ninth episode of the first season of Stargate SG-1.


On a visit to Argos, SG-1 discover that a Goa'uld, Pelops, engineered the Argosian race to live for only 100 days. Colonel Jack O'Neill is inadvertently infected with the nanites that cause their rapid aging and grows older by the day, while the team try to stop the process before it is too late.


SG-1 arrive at a beautiful planet, Argos, and immediately Dr. Daniel Jackson has to deliver a baby for two of its inhabitants, Alekos and Thetys. Successful, they thank him immensely and name the child Dan-el.

Daniel observes that the culture worships an ancient Greek hero, Pelops, as a god. This suggests that the myths surrounding the man originated from him being a Goa'uld able to inspire or possibly force worship from the Argosians. Pelops must have transferred these people to Argos a long time ago for his own purposes, but he is no longer here except in statue form.

Temple of Pelops


The Argosians treat SG-1 very well, and one woman, Kynthia, takes a strong liking to Colonel Jack O'Neill; they have lots of close contact. That night, however, all of the Argosians, as well as O'Neill, suddenly fall asleep at exactly the same time. Captain Samantha Carter supposes that there is something in the Argosian diet that has caused this, considering O'Neill ate some Argosian food that was "only for him" and was the only team member to pass out with the rest of the Argosians. The next day, all of them wake up at exactly the same moment, and this is apparently a normal thing.

Soon, they meet the young newborn Dan-el again, except he somehow is already a toddler. A little investigation reveals that Argosians live for only 100 days, and the normal human life-span is squashed into that time-limit: they grow old extremely quickly, but savor "all that Pelops has given to them."

Marriage cake

Returning to Stargate Command, Carter and Dr. Janet Fraiser identify Nanites in O'Neill and the Argosians' blood which is responsible for making them grow old at this fast rate. Pelops was experimenting on the Argosians: he wanted to see what the human Goa'uld host would eventually become, hence he sped up the evolutionary process. He left before his work could be completed.

Ultimately, SG-1 cannot work out how to cure O'Neill, who now looks about 80 years old, and he refuses to return home in case he infects others.


The nanocytes

Stuck on Argos, O'Neill walks and talks with Kynthia, and they walk beyond Pelops' boundary of the village. Then at night, they don't fall asleep. O'Neill realizes that there must be a transmitter of some kind in the village that is responsible for the functioning of the Nanites.

The transmitter is discovered in the statue of Pelops, which O'Neill convinced the Argosians to destroy earlier, and with the return of SG-1, the Nanites are stopped. The Argosians will now live full human life spans and can go to sleep when they please. Carter also realizes that the Nanites only imitated the effects of age, and so now that they are deactivated in O'Neill, his own immune system will return him to his original age.


Appearances for Brief Candle



Weapons, equipment and technology

Science and biology


Sentient Species




Notable quotes[]

Jackson: Push. Push. Push. You're doing just fine.
Carter: Where did you learn how to do this?
Jackson: Uh… Uh, on a dig in the Yucatan. Um, after the first one, I made friends with the local midwives and they taught me a lot.
Carter: How many babies have you delivered?!?
Jackson: Uh...two. Counting today.

Jackson: Wow, this place is incredible. It's like we just stepped into the citadel at Mycenae.
O'Neill: I thought you said it was Greek.
Jackson: Oh, uh, Mycenae was an ancient city in the Southern Peloponnesus region.
O'Neill: Where's that?
Jackson: Greece.
O'Neill: Why do I do that?

O'Neill: Um, do things feel a little... off here?
Jackson: Are you crazy? It's a paradise!
O'Neill: Yeah, sure, have an apple, what could happen?

Jackson: A hundred-day celebration? I guess we should pace ourselves.

O'Neill: From now on, I'm sticking to rations.

Kynthia: Will you live the rest of your days without making love?
O'Neill: God, I hope not!

O'Neill: Don't worry. Aside from a little prostate problem we won't go into, it's not so bad.

Teal'c: Our tests indicate that your body has been cleansed of the machines that plagued you.
Carter: I figure the immune system must attack them if they aren't operating.
Jackson: (to Kynthia) From now on, you and your people should age at a normal rate.
Kynthia: What about Jack?
O'Neill: Me? Oh, I'll probably move to Florida, get into a little retirement home of some kind.
Carter: You'd look pretty out of place there at your age.
O'Neill: Why? I look like my grandfather.
Carter: Look is the operative word here. If our hypothesis is right, the nanocytes in your system were only meant to imitate aging. They weren't meant to start the process in a full-grown adult.
O'Neill: What are you sayin' to me?
Carter: Without these little buggers in your system to maintain the changes, you should return to normal within a week or two.
Kynthia: That is wonderful news.
O'Neill: (sitting down with Kynthia) I don't know. I was kinda looking forward to a little shuffleboard with the fellas.

O'Neill: I've learned so much from you. I'll treasure every day of my life because of you.
Kynthia: For thousands of days?
O'Neill: I sure hope so.
Kynthia: That is almost forever.
O'Neill: Almost.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • This episode takes place over approximately a week and a half: Dan-el is born on the first day of the mission and looks to be around eleven or twelve when the Argosians take down Pelops' statue the day before it ends.
  • Colonel Jack O'Neill gives his age as forty in this episode. In the episode "Fragile Balance," the year he was born, as shown on an I.D. card, is 1952, which would make him forty-five in 1997. Of course, here he may not have been giving his exact age.
  • The episode title refers to the brief, ephemeral lives of the Argosians before SG-1 released them from the work of Pelops. It is also a quotation from William Shakespeare's play Macbeth: "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Macbeth: Act V, Scene V)
  • O'Neill makes a reference to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit and were expelled from Paradise.
  • O'Neill laughs at the idea of a 'good Goa'uld' in this episode, which is a possible foreshadowing of the Tok'ra.
  • This is the first episode in which the term "Death Glider" is used.


  • The Stargate is only active for a fraction of a second before shutting down. However, SG-1 is shown to have completely come through, all side by side, while it has been established that it takes a few moments for a Stargate to dematerialize something, send it through the wormhole, and rematerialize it. It has also been established that protocols within the Stargate prevent it from shutting down while there is matter within the wormhole, or its buffer unless its power is cut from both ends.

Other languages[]

  • French: Les Désignés (The Designated)
  • German: Die Auserwählten (The Chosen)
  • Italian: Alterazione Biologica (Biological Change)
  • Spanish: Los Elegidos (The Chosen)
  • Czech: Jepičí život (Mayfly Life)
  • Hungarian: Úgy rohan az idő (Time Flies)
  • Polish: Krótka świeca (Brief Candle)

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