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Headscratchers: Stargate
If you are referring to something from the TV Series, please say so for the benefit of those who haven't seen the series yet.
Why did Daniel need to go through the stargate?

The rationale offered was that Daniel needed to decipher the symbols on the destination stargate and allow the team to return home. That could have been accomplished simply by opening the stargate on a regular schedule from the Earth side. The recon team could simply return to the stargate at the conclusion of their mission, wait for it to open and return to Earth. They've already demonstrated that they could open the stargate at will.
  • Someone in the film asks that explicitly, and is told "It doesn't work that way." In the Spin-Off, it is established that the wormholes are "one way."
    • If that's the case then how did they receive the telemetry from the probe they initially sent through?
      • Well, in the TV series at least, it's stated that signals can go both ways, but objects cannot. I don't think they ever give a reason, though.
      • The implicit reason is that the sending gate has to disassemble the object and the receiving gate reassemble it and each gate can only do the one function, but because energy doesn;t need to be disassembled and reassembled to be sent it can go both ways.
  • The answer is a bit more obvious in the theatrical version:- When Gen. West informs Dr. Jackson that the mission would probably have to be scrubbed due to not having a clear way to 'dial' back, and Dr. Jackson responds that he can get the team back, Col. O'Neill whispers to Gen. West as he passes him, "He's full of shit." (not, as the TV version has it, "It's your call.") Gen. West then immediately responds, "You're on the team.". This tells the viewer two things: 1) Both Col. O'Neill and Gen. West know Dr. Jackson probably cannot do what he just claimed and 2) as soon as Dr. Jackson makes this claim, Gen. West seems to both authorize the mission and put Dr. Jackson on the team despite knowing the claim is false. If you consider one more point: the team leader is Col. O'Neill, a man brought back to active duty from the brink of suicide to take a nuke through the Stargate...Answer = Dr. Jackson is the fig leaf Gen. West needs to send in a team that isn't really expected to make it back in any case.
    • Except the whole point of sending a team through the gate was to see if there's anything they can bring back with them. If they just wanted to destroy whatever was on the other side of the Stargate they didn't need to send a team through to deal with it. Just rig a nuclear weapon with a timer and toss it through. Or Hell, if they're really that worried about off-world threats why not just rebury the Stargate? No, the most likely explanation is simple practicality. Sure, they could have just reopened the gate at regular intervals from Earthside but it'd be ludicrously impractical for a number of reasons. 1) They'd be totally reliant on a bunch of US Air Force officers to record, catalog, and analyze everything they find. No disrespect to the Air Force but those guys are soldiers, not archeologists, and probably wouldn't know what they were doing. They would undoubtedly miss things, break things, or destroy things as they stumble around trying to complete a task they were never trained for in the first place. Much easier to have Daniel come along with them to oversee the project and direct their efforts. 2) Activating the Stargate takes a HUGE amount of electricity and is ridiculously expensive. There's no point in pissing away millions or billions of dollars every day for who knows how many days when it would be much cheaper and simpler to just send Daniel along with them and have him do all the translating and calculating on his own.
    • It is not standard practice to equip a recon team with a nuke. O'Neill tells Jackson that his mission was to find any threat to Earth and eliminate it.
      • That was clearly the back-up plan, intended only just in case they found a threat. If there was no threat on the other side of the Stargate (which, for all they knew, was entirely possible) then setting off the nuke anyway would have been a huge waste of time and money. Again, if they had definite reason to believe there was a serious threat to Earth on the other side of the Stargate, simply tossing an armed nuclear weapon on a timer through the gate would have worked just as well.
      • If you've seen the extended cut, they DID know there's a serious threat to earth on the other side, in the form of fossilized Anubis guards that were discovered with the gate.
      • Fossilized aliens found near the gate are not proof of a current threat. They are proof of a past threat. Actually, they're not even proof of that because until they actually met Ra and found out what an asshole he was they had no reason to believe the aliens were hostile.
    • The "It's your call" line from O'Neill was in the original theatrical release, it's only the director's cut that makes it "He's full of shit." Not sure why the change, unless it was to ratchet up the conflict between Danial and the Colonel from step 1. Either way, this is not an indication that the General knows Jackson can or can't activate the Gate from the other side, since how the hell would O'Neill know he could or couldn't either? The revised line merely indicates Jack's skepticism and/or pessimism about Daniel.
The people who get up and leave during Daniel's seminar.

  • I just watched that scene for the first time in years. Everyone seems to think that Daniel was written off for saying crazy things about aliens building the pyramids. However, he actually only says that the pyramids were built years before the current assumed date. An audience member asks who he thinks built them, and Daniel replies that he doesn't know. This causes everyone to get up and leave. Why the hell would that cause them to leave? Presumably, he sent word out about this seminar, "Hey guys, I have some new theories about the date of Egyptian pyramid construction. Come hear me talk about them." Again, it's very likely that he wouldn't be putting his reputation on the line if he didn't have evidence. But the audience leaves before he can present anything. He states his thesis: the pyramids were built years earlier than we assumed. An audience member asks a question: who does he (Daniel) think built them. Daniel says he doesn't know and that somehow destroys his credibility.An argument could be made that this isn't the first time he's come out with a crazy theory, and this is just the end of the line. But that was a pretty large crowd. If most people had written him off, they wouldn't be there.
    • I agree here. I also recently watched the movie again for the first time in years (I got the first season of Stargate SG-1 out of the library and I wanted a refresher before getting started), and I felt the same way bout this scene. They aren't even letting a fellow academic state his case. To take a stab at a Wild Mass Guessing though, maybe this theory was the Elephant in the Living Room that every other academic was avoiding like the plague.
      • The spin-off series states that he openly said they were built by aliens, when he said no such thing in the movie.
      • The crowd also gets upset when he calls a presumably well-respected egyptologist a fraud.
    • The novelisation, though differing in several points, indicated that Dr. Jackson was already disgraced after publishing a number of controversial research papers. The presentation was arranged by one of his old colleagues as an opportunity to rebuild his reputation, but as we saw that didn't go so well.
    • The academic community can be extremely unkind to anyone that dares to go against what's accepted knowledge, and it's pretty much always been that way. You have to be able to club people over the head with the reality of your theory, even that doesn't always work, and Daniel basically just had a half-formed hypothesis. It's surprising they only walked out instead of burning him at the stake as a heretic.

If Ra was rejected and cast out by the ancient humans in Egypt, why the hell was he still worshipped for thousands of years afterwards? Did everyone forget what a colossal douchebag tyrant he was?

I suppose we're supposed to believe that over the centuries, his oppressive regime was largely forgotten and only his name and image and fanciful tales of his divine power were remembered and became part of legend. It makes no sense for a tribe of people to continue worshipping a being as a god if they themselves defeated that so-called god and drove him away. The rose-tinted glasses effect must have taken hold over the Egyptian people.
  • But this opens another can of worms: in the movie, Daniel Jackson stated that after the rebellion on Earth, Ra banned reading and writing on Abydos to prevent the masses from remembering the truth. It seems he had nothing to fear as the humans on Earth retained writing and still managed to forget what a prick Ra was, while still remembering he had "godlike" power.
    • Ra banned reading and writing on Abydos to prevent the masses from remembering the truth. But there was the scene where Daniel learns that Abydan is Egptian which has changed over the millenia. Daniel points to the hiroglyph for "god" and says "neter", Shahrey says "notcher"; Daniel points to the glyph for "altar" and says "hetep", Shahrey says "khotep".
    • Well remember that according to the movie's continuity the rebellion on Earth occurred many, many years before the civilization we now know as "Ancient Egypt" ever came to be. That's a long time for people to forget Ra's general dickishness and go back to worshipping his legends. Alternatively, it's possible that the humans who actually rebelled against Ra were in the minority and the rest still worshipped him as a god. After the Stargate was buried they probably slaughtered the vile heretics who drove their god away with their sinfulness and spent the next few thousand years praying to Ra, telling stories of Ra's power and love for his children, and building pyramids in preparation for Ra's glorious return. Thus, Ancient Egypt was born.
    • And there numerous precedents of mankind forgetting things after a few short years, not to mention several millennia. Julia Roberts was almost Mrs. Keifer Sutherland in the early 1990's. How many people remember that fact?
  • And further still, why in all that time did Ra not return to Earth to see how the humans were progressing? Earth was only the source of his labour force, for crying out loud. If he had returned after a couple of thousand years after the first rebellion, he would have been welcomed as the all-powerful god that the legends said he was, with the dirty parts of his reign forgotten.
    • He already had a source of labor on Abydos that were perfectly capable of breeding new humans and Earth didn't have any naturally occurring naquadah for him to mine, so there really wasn't any reason to go back.
    • Also the Stargate was buried,so returning to Earth wasn't an option.
      • Also, in the movie, Abydos and Earth are supposed to be in separate galaxies. That's one hell of a road trip if you've got other things to do. Maybe Ra decided to avert Honor Before Reason and write Earth off as not worth the trouble? Even on Stargate Atlantis, traveling to another galaxy by relatively conventional means doesn't become practical without the help of technology considerably more sufficiently advanced than what the Goa'uld have access to.
  • I was thinking about this and my best guess is that the coup itself was actually small and among the governing body, thus the truth kept to as few people as possible.
  • The prehistoric Egyptians likely already believed in Ra the mythical god. When the alien being abducted his host he learned their culture and assumed the identity of the god at the top of their pantheon. The rebels probably figured that this wasn't the "real" Ra and once they overthrew the alien tyrant they went back to worshiping the sun like they did in the past.

Why couldn't they open the Stargate before Daniel found the seventh symbol?
When the Stargate is being activated for the "first" time, Catherine mentions to Daniel on the sixth symbol that "this is as far as we have ever gotten". So they had tried to turn on the gate using the symbols from the cover stones before. Now, there are only a finite number of symbols on the gate. Even assuming that symbols could be repeated, it wouldn't be a long process to trial and error your way to the seventh. And similarly, once stuck on Abydos with the coordinates for Earth but no point of origin, why not just keep plugging in sequences finishing with a different symbol each time until they hit the right one and the gate opened?
  • They knew what the Stargate was supposed to do but had no idea how it operated. In the series it's revealed to work like a telephone but for all they knew it worked like a combination lock on a safe: enter the wrong sequence too many times and you're locked out for good. Or maybe it blows up to keep less advanced cultures from toying with it.
  • Another possible explanation: The Stargate dials 7 symbols for a normal gate address, however it has 9 actual chevrons. Dialing in with six symbols would not yield a stable wormhole and without the correct translation guessing the last three symbols would be alot more daunting for the team.
  • Given that they didn't know how the gate worked or what the symbols were, the behavior of the gate should have been a guide. When you hook the gate up and dial the six symbols they had, the gate starts with the second chevron from the bottom left, then second from bottom right, and works up the gate. That would leave the top chevron sitting there unlit. That would suggest to me a combination lock with a 7 digit code, and I know six of the numbers. I would then try randomly dialing a 7 digit code starting with the 6 given symbols and then trying the remaining 33 in sequence (since the given symbols don't repeat and the series establishes the gate has 39 symbols). Had that failed, I would then probably try 8 or 9 digit codes since there are nine chevrons on the gate.
  • It's even worse on the return trip. Daniel and Sha're found a cartouche containing Earth's address, but the seventh symbol is "worn off." They now KNOW the behavior of the gate system, and they know the point of origin symbol isn't one of the ones in the address. That means they have to try at most 33 times to open the gate.

The "special forces" in Stargate weren't particularly "special", were they?
Despite being better armed (with automatic weapons) than Ra's forces and having the element of surprise,they still got beat down.
  • The special forces had the element of surprise? Were you watching the same movie I was? Because I sorta remember them being the ones who ended up being taken by surprise and ambushed.
  • When Ra's ship landed on the pyramid, there was some time when they would initially BE surprised,but as trained soldiers they shouldn't have STAYED surprised and would have fallen back on their combat training. Being special forces,even w/ Ra's men's somewhat superior weaponry,they should have made a better showing than they did.
  • They did. They went and searched the pyramid, and while they were doing that they were ambushed; if you watch the scene, Ra's goons sneak up on them and shoot/club them into submission while they're searching.
  • "Special forces" doesn't equal "superheroes". They're still flesh-and-blood people, fighting guys in helmets with full sensory apparatus, bulletproof armored bits, and blaster weapons. There's a difference between "losing" and "being a loser".

How did they dial the gate from the Abydos side?

Yes, yes, Stargate SG-1 shows a DHD on Abydos. But: one, in the movie the concept of a DHD was never even mentioned; and two, even the series didn't particularly bother to explain this, saying that they dug up the device later.
  • Manually. Spin the ring and lock the chevrons. A power source is a different matter, as it is clearly mentioned in the TV Series that the DHD contains the power source.
    • Loath as I am to use SG=1 Logic when examining the film, the show does make it clear that a gate will retain enough power for one outward dial after being disconnected from the DHD.
      • It probably had more power in it than that, Ra had linked his ship's systems up to it so he could dial Earth, it probably had decently full backup batteries.

Daniel knows the ancient Egyptian word for "atom".

Ra says that Earth humans have "harnessed the power of the atom". Yes, I'm sure the ancient Egyptians had a word for a the smallest indivisible form of matter, and passed that info on down through the years - all this and modern scholars don't buy the Egyptians had alien technology. Right.
  • They very well might have. The ancient Greeks had a word for "atom", after all. It didn't technically mean the same thing, but it was their word for "the smallest component of matter".
  • No, they didn't. The Greek word just means "indivisible" and wouldn't have meant anything to most Greeks... especially because it was only a philosophical concept more or less unrelated to the current meaning (in fact, it directly contradicts the modern meaning). They might have had the word, but the only way it would have impressed her would have been as technobabble.
  • Maybe he actually said "the smallest indivisible form of matter" or something along those lines. I don't remember how long that sentence was, though.
  • Daniel doesn't need to know that at all. The audience knows since we're given subtitles by that point in the movie, but Daniel might have been able to infer what the new word was. He hears Ra say, "You have advanced much, harnessed the power of (something)." while he looks down at the bomb. Daniel probably already figured out that was a nuclear weapon and reasoned Ra said "the atom" or "uranium" or "fission."
    • Agreed. The ancient Egyptians may not have had a word for "atom", but the Goa'uld would've had to in order to develop their technology.

Ra severely overestimates the damage a single nuke can do

Col. O'Neill brings along a backpack-sized nuke as a failsafe to protect Earth from attack through the Stargate. Such devices don't generally have a huge yield, and in this case certainly wouldn't need it, being just a few feet away from the thing they want to destroy. So we're looking at a few kilotons, tops. Ra wants to send it back with a payload of naquadah to "increase its power a hundred fold" in order to destroy human civilization. Assuming an original yield of about 5 kilotons (which is really quite generous), that would put it at around the middle-range of our own strategic nuclear weapons arsenal, and would be detonated in a remote military bunker underneath a mountain. Apart from the poor saps in the bunker itself, would there even be so much as a single casualty? Even allowing for a little poetic license, Ra would have to increase the yield by another factor of 100 to even reach the high end of our weaponry, and a further 100 beyond that just to start getting into low-end civilization-ending events (wouldn't even be listed on The Other Wiki's list of significant asteroid impacts). The Chicxulub impact 65 million years ago was a further 20,000 times more powerful still. Either Ra thinks Earth's entire civilization is clustered within a few dozen kilometers around the Stargate, or he is severely overestimating our ability to pack an Earth-Shattering Kaboom into a tiny package.
  • Probably the former. As a Goa'uld, he probably is used to civilizations being centered around the 'Gate, so would naturally assume it's the case with Earthlings. He hasn't been to Earth, so he would have no idea that it's housed under a mountain in a secure bunker.

    That said, the bomb's probably a bit stronger than you're making out. Nuclear weapons have a bottom threshold, under which they won't set off the desired reaction. I don't know what it is, but the bomb dropped on Hiroshima is estimated to be about 15 kilotons, and nearly every nuke we've made since has had a higher yield than that.
    • Actually, the smallest nuclear bomb ever made (so far) was for the Davy Crockett, which is essentially a nuclear bazooka. It lobbed warheads with a yield which equal 10-20 tons of TNT.
  • It might be much more powerful than a standard tactical nuke. Given that the SGC pretty much knew what the stargate was before it was activated and that they had the weapon around just waiting to go, they probably wanted the highest yield bomb that could still be carried. They had no idea what kind of threat was on the other side and didn't want to skimp on destructive power. Plus if the nuke went off right after it got to Earth then the naquadah in the stargate itself would amplify the explosion as well. Still not enough to destroy human civilization unless the radioactive fallout is similarly enhanced.
    • It's mentioned several times in Stargate SG-1 that destroying a gate is very difficult, as they naturally absorb any energy directed at them. Even a single nuke might not do it. That is why they have to build those Mark IX Gatebusters, which are basically naquadah-enhanced nukes. Then you got Stargate Universe gates which can be taken out by a rogue plasma bolt.
    • Well, the Universe series gates are an earlier version of the others, so it might be from before they ironed out those particular details.
  • If it were a 5 megaton nuke (then it would be much bigger and heavier in real life, I know) then it would be 500 megatons going off inside a mountain. That would be 2 and a half times bigger than Krakatoa—and that's assuming the Stargate itself isn't enhancing the explosion along with the mineral—which is going to seriously impact the western US and cause a nuclear winter in the rest of the world. Not enough to destroy civilization on Earth, but it would hurt us a lot.
  • Also, it's very likely that Ra was using the phrase "hundred fold" as a figure of speech, and not as a literal reference to an exact calculation - ancient peoples were known for using flowery expressions that just indicated something was big/copious without giving a precise figure, and I can totally picture Ra saying something similar like "my wrath shall burn with the fury of ten thousand suns", meaning it in the metaphorical sense.

Why didn't O'Neill shoot or smash the nuke when he couldn't deactivate it?

Since nuclear weapons are precisely calibrated instruments with many safeguards to prevent an accidental or premature detonation, it's more accurate to think of them as "going on" rather than "going off." Shooting it with a staff weapon or finding some other way to break it would prevent it from detonating, though it would spray radioactive material all over the room. That seems preferable, given the alternative, yet it looks like he's out of ideas right before they use the ring transporter.
  • Jack doesn't necessarily know how the bomb works. He's a soldier, not a scientist. Besides, he just got over his suicidal funk, he's probably not looking forward to doing something that translates into a long, painful death for him and whoever else ever decides to go in there for the next 30 years.

Need for point of origin
  • Why, exactly, does the Stargate need a Point of Origin? Using the telephone metaphor the series is so fond of, each gate connected to the network should be aware of its own address, and thus where the wormhole is originating from.
    • A Fridge Brilliance answer: It's not telling the 'gate where it is, it's telling the 'gate when to engage – like the "Send" button on a cell phone. Granted, it's only relevant when the eight-chevron addresses come into play, but still.
      • It's probably a failsafe in the technology, ensuring a proper link up between the stargates.
      • Right. Remember, it's both gates linking up, not just the dialing gate tossing a wormhole out there. The seventh chevron probably tells the receiving gate "Here's where I am" to prevent the wormhole from drifting.
    • Unrelated question: Why do you require someone to translate the cover, if you've translated the other six symbols and there are only 36 possible answers? Much like the Show, it doesn't take a very long time to Dial the gate. Just test them all.
      • It might not take a long time, but it's expensive.
      • They didn't know how it worked, for all they knew it was rigged to explode if you put the wrong code in to many times.

What was that "fossil" anyways
It looked like a snarling canid head cast from molten metal. The Anubis guard's helmet was no where near that toothy.
  • That scene wasn't in the theatrical release, only the extended addition. Consider it a deleted scene. Or you could always say that Ra changed the design of the Anubis guard helmet sometime in the past 10,000 years.
  • And maybe the helmets have an "intimidate" mode that they just never got around to using in the movie, where they show more teeth.

All those dead kids.
  • Early in the movie, O'Neil has a chance to shoot Ra with a stolen energy spear (or whatever you call those weapons), but doesn't take the shot because Ra's all-child entourage forms a Human Shield in front of him and O'Neil Wouldn't Hurt a Child. OK, then. So what about at the end of the movie, when O'Neil teleports the nuke onto Ra's ship? All the kids are still there (or, at least, we didn't see them leaving). Oops?
    • According to the novelization, one of the older kids leads the others out before the ship takes off.
    • You'd prefer he let Ra nuke Earth just so he could feel better about his moral superiority? Ra wasn't in the process of nuking Earth the first time, the second time he was.
    • A little Fridge Logic might indicate a simple shift in mentality of the situation, combined with the adrenaline rush of the nuke about to go off combined with the battle having just ended. Basically, think of it from the perspective of the bomber pilot versus the special forces soldier. The special forces soldier kills face to face, often at close range sometimes with a blade or other melee weapon. He sees the faces of the enemies he kills and has to live with and/or justify his actions. Killing children would be abhorrent to him as they represent the future of a given civilization (even if said civilization is going to end up becoming a destroyer of worlds). The bomber pilot on the other hand kills far more people in one strike with a bomb drop, yet because he never sees any of the victims of his strike, he has a clearer conscience about the situation. It may not be any more morally just, but it is all a matter of perspective.

Why Didn't Ra Post Guards at the Abydos Stargate Terminal?
  • Abydos was a rather important world, and it makes no sense for Ra to not post a guard detail there. It was not as if logistics would have been a problem (the guards could be supplied by the Stargate from Ra's throneworld or his other worlds.)
    • Why would he need guards there? He wasn't expecting anyone he didn't know to come through. He's the absolute ruler of the place, after all.
    • Leaving guards might mean the guards get bored, wander off to one of Ra's enemies, start hanging out with the Abydosians and saying "Nah, he's not a god, he's just an asshole" or something like that. Ra's guards are in on The Masquerade so he probably doesn't want to leave them unsupervised amongst his slaves.

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