"Enigma" is the seventeenth episode of the first season of Stargate SG-1.


SG-1 rescues a group of technologically advanced Humans, the Tollans, whom they find near death on a volcanically unstable planet. The Tollans don't want to share any of their knowledge with the more "primitive" Earth Humans, and because of this, the NID and Colonel Harold Maybourne plan to take them away for study. SG-1 tries to stop the NID by having the reluctant Tollans use their technology to escape.


SG-1 reaches a planet which is at the brink of destruction, something which happened only recently. There they find several survivors of an advanced civilization fleeing the destruction of their planet, and despite the protests of one of them, the team brings them all back to Earth. However, the survivors, known as the Tollan, flaunt an arrogant air about Stargate Command over their advanced knowledge and technology. Especially their leader, Omoc, behaves very arrogantly and is even angry about being rescued by SGC since a rescue transport was already on its way. However, another Tollan named Narim becomes interested in Captain Samantha Carter, and they even develop some kind of relationship. SGC offers to find the Tollan a new home, but the Tollan are doubtful of SGC's ability to help them. This becomes evident when SGC offers the Tollan a place in the Land of Light, to which they had been some time ago, but they react very arrogantly about the primitive civilization on that world.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle launching

The US government, seeing their first chance at securing some advanced technology, places the Tollan under lock-down. They also send Colonel Harold Maybourne to get information from them. Nevertheless, the Tollan, using their advanced technology, are able to walk through walls and easily escape to the surface. This proves that their technology is far superior to that of the Goa'uld. However, they are unwilling to share their technology with what they see as primitive cultures because of what happened on their home planet. In former times, the Tollan discovered another inhabited world named Sarita near their planet, and when they became advanced enough, the Tollan shared an unlimited energy source with them. Within one year, the people had used the gift to make weapons and destroyed their entire civilization. This, in turn, was what caused the orbital alignment of Tollan to shift and caused the destruction of their world as well.

Inverted phase communicator

Dr. Daniel Jackson and Omoc contact the Nox.

Because SG-1 and Major General George S. Hammond are unhappy about how Maybourne is treating the Tollan, they decide to help Omoc and his people through Dr. Daniel Jackson, as he is a civilian. He tells the Tollan about the Nox and leads Omoc outside, where he sends a signal to the coordinates Daniel provides for the Nox homeworld. Daniel leads them to the gate room, where Lya of the Nox comes through the Stargate and offers the Tollan a home with them until they can leave to their new homeworld.

Rescue of the Tollan

The Tollan return through the Stargate.

Maybourne intervenes and says that if Dr. Jackson allows them to leave, he will be court-martialed, but Colonel Jack O'Neill reminds him that Daniel isn't in the military, and therefore can't be court-martialed. Maybourne threatens to have the guards in the gate room open fire, and actually issues the order when he is ignored, but Lya uses her abilities to disarm the guards and hide the Tollan. Daniel says goodbye to the Tollan, and the Nox take the Tollan home with them. Lya tells Daniel that, "Your race has learned nothing, but you have." Later the team recalls "what the little guy with funny hair" once told them, "The very young do not always do as they are told."


Appearances for Enigma





Sentient Species





Notable quotes[]

Jackson: Well because they felt about us kind of the way you do. They called us 'very young', which I guess is a hair politer than calling us 'primitive'. But same idea.

O'Neill: What?
Jackson: Oh, just thinking what the little guy with the funny hair once told us.
O'Neill: The very young do not always do as they're told?
Jackson: Yeah.

Carter: (describing Tollan) Temperature — ground 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. Air — seems to be in pockets, ranging from 1500 degrees down to 200.
O'Neill: Sounds like L.A.

Jackson: I was just down in the infirmary with one of the Tollan, trying to get them to talk to us. They only ask questions, they never answer them. As a matter of fact, one of them was asking a lot of questions about you.
Carter: I thought they weren't interested in us.
Jackson: Oohh... I didn't say us. I said you.

Narim: There was a time before reason and science when my ancestors believed in all manner of nonsense, like the sher-Mal. The story goes that if a sher-Mal appears at the moment of death, she will take you to her dwelling in the stars.
Carter: Ah, we call them angels.
Narim: Then you still believe in them?
Carter: Some of us do.
Narim: Ours were reported to be quite beautiful, and when I saw you, well, you seemed to fit the description.

O'Neill: Intelligence? What happened to Kennedy?
Maybourne: Promoted. I took his place.
O'Neill: Promoted? Talk about failing upwards.

Hammond: Why don't you ask the airman outside to show you to our guest quarters?
Maybourne: That's OK. I'll wait.
Hammond: That wasn't an invitation. It was an order, Colonel.

Narim: You are anything but primitive, Samantha. What your mind doesn't know, your heart fills in.
Carter: I don't know what that means, exactly, but it's beautiful.
Narim: Which is exactly what it means.

Jackson: I'm no astronomer, but won't that take thousands of years?
Omoc: Why should it?
Jackson: Well it's light. Light can only travel so fast.
(Omoc takes a long branch and indicates the ends.)
Omoc: The distance between these two points seems far, until you do this. (Omoc bends the branch ends together)
Jackson: Oh I know this. One of our scientist talked about this. What you are talking about is folding space.
Omoc: (Smiling humorously) No, you wouldn't understand.
Jackson: I guess not. Let's hope the Nox do.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • In a conversation between Narim and Captain Samantha Carter, Narim indicates that the concept of Schrödinger's cat is a "misconception", prompting Carter to exclaim in disbelief that the Tollans have "licked quantum mechanics". Though impressed, Carter is incorrect; Narim has in fact only indicated that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is incorrect. Other interpretations of quantum mechanics exist, including the many-worlds interpretation that posits the existence of parallel universes, universes that would later be visited over the course of the series.
  • Narim mentions that it would take a lifetime for a Tollan ship to reach Earth from the new home world, despite the fact that it's within the Milky Way Galaxy. This would mean the Tollan don't have the intergalactic hyperdrive technology used by the Asgard and later the Tau'ri. Tollan technology is comparable with that of the Asgard and the Ancients, implying that a cultural reason may have prevented its development. Their Isolationist nature and lack of a desire for exploration would support this theory.


  • When Omoc takes Dr. Daniel Jackson's hand to activate the Phase device on Omoc's left arm, Omoc's left hand is holding Jackson's right hand. When the shot changes to the moment where they are actually passing through the wall, they have switched hands, and it is Jackson's left hand in Omoc's right hand.
  • When Hammond informs SG-1 that the President William Jefferson Clinton has overridden him, Jackson remarks "I voted for him!". Assuming elections take place in the same years as our universe, the most recent election would have occurred in November 1996, whilst Jackson was still on Abydos. However, it is possible Jackson voted for Clinton in the 1992 election.

Other languages[]

  • French: Les Réfugiés (Refugees)
  • German: Enigma (dubbed in English)
  • Italian: Enigma (dubbed in English)
  • Spanish: Enigma (dubbed in English)
  • Czech: Záhada (Mystery)
  • Hungarian: A titokzatosak (The Mysterious Ones)
  • Polish: Tajemnica (Mystery)

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