"The Road Not Taken" is the thirteenth episode of the tenth season of Stargate SG-1.


While experimenting on Arthur's Mantle, a freak accident sends Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter into an alternate reality where her alternate self is still a Major and the Ori are planning on invading Earth and the Stargate Program has been made public, resulting in martial law being spread across the U.S. Carter attempts to get back to her own reality but soon learns that it may not be possible as the government won't allow Carter to return.


Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter is experimenting with Merlin's Arthur's Mantle in one of Stargate Command's isolation rooms in hopes of creating a larger phase-shifted field. Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell enters and informs her that a recent sighting of the MIA Dr. Daniel Jackson was a false alarm. Mitchell asks her to go to lunch with Teal'c and himself so they can discuss the mission report. Carter wants to run one more test, and tells Mitchell that he can watch from the observation room.

Carter activates the device and phases. While phase-shifted, she hears a strange sound. The device emits a strange glow which quickly encompasses the phase-shifted isolation room. As the glow subsides Carter reappears to the sound of blaring sirens. Mitchell is not in the observation room, which now looks a bit different, and there are signs of an explosion on the floor. Carter lowers the force field as Dr. Bill Lee enters. He asks "Major Carter" if she is all right. Carter is further puzzled when Major Evan Lorne enters the room. Upon asking him why he is here and not on Atlantis, he says he has no idea what she's talking about, and mentions that he is the "leader of SG-1."

Carter suspects she has somehow entered an Alternate reality. She asks to see the footage of the incident in the lab. Major General George S. Hammond, watching through video link, tells Lee to show her the footage. The video depicts Major Carter's power capacitor experiment. A sudden power spike in the experiment leads to an explosion and results in loss of the video feed. It is at that point that Lee entered the room and found Carter. Lee explains that Major Carter was drawing energy from parallel universes and storing them in power capacitors in order to power the Ancient Control chair. The explosion resulted in the death of Major Carter and, combined with Carter's phase-shifting experiment, resulted in her transfer to this parallel universe.

In the universe Carter is now in, when Anubis attacked Earth three years earlier, the President of the United States was forced to reveal the existence of the Stargate Program to the world. A month ago the Ori attacked. The lone Ori warship was destroyed by the Antarctic outpost in Antarctica, but the Zero Point Module was depleted. Reports indicate five Ori warships are on course to reach Earth in five days. They need Carter's help to finish Major Carter's work in order to power the Chair.

Carter also discovers that the Carter of the other universe used to be married to Dr. Rodney McKay, who is a dot com millionaire. Vala Mal Doran is imprisoned at Area 51. Atlantis has never been discovered. Daniel is missing still, and Lorne doesn't know where "former 302 pilot" Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell is. Also in this reality, the Tau'ri have cut ties with the Jaffa and other allies, and become isolationist.

Realizing Major Carter's work is incomplete and she is unable to catch up in time, Carter decides to work on extending the range of her phase device. Carter tells them she was working on the device in her world to hide Earth from the Ori. Without the ZPM, she needs an alternate source of power. Henry Landry, the President of the United States, whose office is now part of the Cheyenne Mountain facilities, promises Carter that she will get all the power she needs. Carter estimates her needs are about 80% of the entire United States' power grid. Landry already worked up a system to draw power from the entire U.S. power grid.

After a few days of feverishly working on Earth's defense, the Ori ships appear. Energy is redirected to the device and the United States plunges into darkness as a result. The power level increases to 93% before time runs out, and Carter activates the phase-cloak. Earth vanishes in a flash of light. The Ori ships, assuming Earth is just cloaked, open fire but hit nothing, while the SGC folks watch the Ori weapons' rays cascading through them harmlessly. Landry congratulates Carter on a job well done, and then, with no warning, ushers her into a press room, where her victory is publicized and celebrated.

Shortly thereafter, Carter attends a celebratory party given by the President. But it is interrupted by a protester chanting “No security without freedom.” Security guards armed with a Rod of Anguish neutralize him. Landry and Carter are beamed onto Prometheus, which the president has commandeered as "Air Force One". Carter learns the President instituted martial law and is disliked by many people.

Later, at the SGC, Carter watches the news and sees an F-302 fighter-interceptor bombing an Irish village. Hammond asserts that they were bombing terrorists. Angry, Carter accuses him of using the 302's against political enemies. Hammond replies that the “threat is still out there” to which Carter replies “that’s the problem; it always will be”.

The Road Not Taken 1

Alternate Rodney McKay.

Wanting to return home, Carter seeks out McKay for help with Major Carter's inter-universe bridge, since he and his sister worked on it in her universe. They have a humorous conversation, in which Rodney thinks she's there to tell him that she is a lesbian. Meanwhile, Hammond and Landry have a brief discussion, agree they cannot afford to lose Carter, nor can they let her knowledge of advanced technology disappear. During the discussion, Landry indicates he has always hated politicians, but Hammond adds that he had to do it (possibly means that US was pushed into a military rule under threat of anarchy).

Lee finds the device she described, in the same cave in Glastonbury that it was in Carter's universe, and tells Landry. Lee informs him they don't know anything about it, but Carter would. Carter returns to the SGC to find her equipment has not returned. Landry tells her the timing is not good for her to go back, and she learns that Landry has suspended all democratic elections and replaced them with a plebiscite. Carter realizes that Landry may never let her go.

Carter visits Mitchell, now in a wheelchair and living in a dilapidated building; he is a depressed, bitter alcoholic and his apartment is strewn with garbage. After the dogfight over Antarctica, the wounded Mitchell was used as a tool to boost national morale. When he became troubled by the policies of the government and would no longer play along with their propaganda, they punished him by dropping him, and, no longer with access to good medical care, his condition worsened. He warns Carter about the price of non-compliance with the government. Carter spots a black car with tinted windows on the street outside Mitchell's building. She calls Landry's chief of staff, Charlie, and tells him she'll play ball. Landry arranges for Carter to deliver a live televised interview. During her speech, Carter states that as Presidential advisor she will push for the restoration of civil liberties. Charlie orders the broadcaster to cut the transmission, and mention of her appearance is censored in print.

Afterwards, Carter is attacked and rendered unconscious by Secret Service Agents. She awakens on Air Force One with Landry. In a talk with her he says that public relations and the phase technology are important, that her world still has freedom and the Stargate program is one of the greatest secrets that the government has ever known. She then talks about General Hank Landry and how he would not allow the rest of the galaxy to fall to the Ori.

Carter returns to the SGC to discover that McKay is now working on the device discovered at Glastonbury, with an implication that he was forced to do so, and that Landry has realized he'll have more control over McKay, but that Carter will be too much trouble to control. McKay has also replaced Carter as special adviser to the President. McKay informs her that they are going to be allowed to build the inter-universe bridge to send her home. Carter tells McKay to nudge the president about galactic threat.

Back in Carter's world, Dr. Bill Lee uses a sound device to scan the isolation room. Carter suddenly reappears behind him in a flash of light and goes unnoticed until she says his name. Back in her lab, Carter talks with Vala, Teal’c and Mitchell. She has been gone for two weeks and no information about Daniel has surfaced. The others embarrassingly say that, thinking she was stuck while phased, they had been taking turns keeping her company, talking with what turned out to be an empty room, for hours at a time. Vala gives her a hug.


Appearances for The Road Not Taken





Sentient Species



Notable quotes[]

Lorne: I'm not quite sure how to explain this, sir, but there's been an accident. It's Sam. She claims she's not the Major Carter we know.
Hammond: What's that supposed to mean?
Lorne: She says she's from a parallel universe.

Carter: There must be some reason why I was brought here, of all places. I need to know what was happening in that lab.
Lorne: I'm not authorized to give you that information.
Carter: Maybe I could talk to Daniel. Is he here?
Lorne: Dr. Jackson was captured by the forces of the Ori several weeks ago.
Carter: Okay. What about Colonel Mitchell? Cameron Mitchell.
Lorne: The 302 pilot, went down over Antarctica?
Carter: That's right. Is he here?
Lorne: I have no idea where he is. The last I heard he quit the military.
Carter: Teal'c? Vala?
Lorne: Teal'c went back to the Jaffa several years ago, and if you're talking about Vala Mal Doran, I hate to break it to you but she is currently occupying a cell at Area 51. Care to take a stab at anyone else?

Carter: The General Hammond that I know is retired from service.
Hammond: Well then he's a lucky man.

Hammond: You weren't here for the riots. You didn't see American citizens shooting each other over food, water and gasoline. Hank Landry brought us back from the brink of chaos.
Carter: That was three years ago.
Hammond: The threat is still out there!
Carter: That's the problem. It always will be.

Vala: I'm bidding for a timeshare on eBay. (she rushes out, only to rush in a moment later) Welcome back, Samantha. We really did miss you.
Carter: Thank you. It's good to be home.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • The Irish Prime Minister is mentioned. Technically, the Irish head of government is called "Taoiseach" (pronounced "TEE-shock"). His role is analogous to that of a Prime Minister in other countries that have a fused legislative and executive (such as the Westminster system) and he is often referred to as such in international media.
  • The title of this episode is an allusion to the original script of "Lost City, Part 2", in which the Stargate program would have been made public following Anubis' attack on Earth. When an eighth season of Stargate SG-1 was confirmed this part of the story was cut to keep options open for the following season. This episode shows a glimpse of what could have been, the road not taken by the writers.
  • The title of this episode is also the same as the seventh episode of Season 2 of MacGyver.
  • The episode takes place over the course of two weeks.
  • Given that Vala was imprisoned, it was most likely done after the events of "Prometheus Unbound", meaning that Adria never existed in this universe.
  • Given how the inhabitants of the alternate Earth are still alive, Ba'al's plan to use the Dakara superweapon to wipe out the rest of the galaxy (as seen in "Off the Grid"), must have failed in some way or never been implemented. Depending on the severity of his failure, Ba'al in the alternate reality could be: dead (him and all clones killed by the: invading Ori, Free Jaffa, and/or Lucian Alliance), still hiding on Earth, living in his own disconnected gate system, on the run, or some combination of the latter three if he still chose to clone himself without knowledge of the Trust research.
  • To attain the level of internet censorship implied in the scene at 36:36, an American Great Firewall would've had to be instituted three years prior. And due to the already globalized nature of the Internet by 2004, this would've been a massive undertaking.
  • Despite the worldwide fame Carter attained due to her plan, the alternate Mark Carter chose not to contact her.
  • Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson) does not appear in this episode. This is the last of four episodes of Season 10 not to feature him. Shanks had recently become a father again, and wanted extra time off. This is also only the fifth and final episode - not to feature any characters from the original Stargate film either, the others being "Nightwalkers", "Insiders", "Uninvited" and the preceding episode of the tenth season, "Line in the Sand".


  • The entire premise of Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter's solution, while temporarily effective, is quite convoluted, risky, and would actually be incredibly costly in the long term. This is because with the Earth out of phase, its gravitational effect would be suddenly removed from the solar system (causing all objects that were orbiting Earth to suddenly fly off on stellar orbits, including the Moon). So, when the Earth is returned to phase all satellite based operations would be damaged/useless and the Moon would either: immediately be pulled straight towards the Earth, be caught in a new Earth orbit with its own planetary effects, or become a new minor planet in the solar system (depending on how long the Earth remained out of phase). A more feasible solution would've been using the phase shifting technology in conjunction with a ship, nuclear silo, or orbital weapon platform by shifting phase before launch and then shifting back once a weapon is past any possible defense systems (analogous to how the Daedalus often beamed Mk. IX nuclear warheads into Wraith vessels).

Other languages[]

  • French: Dimension Parallèle (Parallel Dimension)
  • Italian: La Via Del non Ritorno (The Road of Non Return)
  • Spanish: El Otro Camino (The Other Road)
  • Czech: Cesta, po níž jsme se nevydali (The road along which we did not set off)
  • Hungarian: A járatlan út (The Road Not Taken)
  • German: Die Parallelwelt (The Parallel World)

Links and navigation[]

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at The Road Not Taken (Stargate SG-1). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with SGCommand, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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