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[S2E16] In The Black



Throughout this comedy of errors, we notice Mikasa Charisma Black dinnerware sitting in the cabinet behind the anxious Richard and Monica. The Charisma Black pattern features a striking black band around the outer rim, decorated by blooming white flowers and trimmed in gold.




[S2E16] In the Black


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Right before Burke starts cutting, Alex bursts in and says they really have to talk. Burke walks up to him and Alex asks if there was an exit wound. Burke says no and wonders why. While Alex delivers the news to Burke, Hannah asks Meredith if Alex is single. The OR staff wonders what's going on. Burke turns to Hannah and asks what she feels inside the patient, metal maybe? Hannah says her fingertips are touching something hard. The anesthesiologist, Milton, realizes something's wrong. Burke tells Hannah she can't move. Hannah says she's scared. Burke tells her everything will be fine, and he asks Meredith to go tell the charge nurse to call the bomb squad, because they have a code black.


In the OR, Derek's pager goes off. Cristina checks it while Derek says he's still trying to find the source of the bleeding. Izzie can go tell Addison that Tucker's condition is worse than he thought. As Izzie leaves, Cristina tells Derek that they want them to evacuate. There's a code black. Derek says it might be a drill. Whatever it is, he can't leave Bailey's husband with a skull flap open. If anybody wants to go, they can go. Everybody decides to stay. He verifies if it was really code black. Cristina confirms.


George tells Addison he doesn't like lying to Bailey. Addison says now is not the time. George gets the page about code black. Izzie gets on the elevator with them and delivers the news about Tucker. George asks what a code black is. Izzie gets the page as well. They turn to Addison, who tells them to go back to the locker room and wait for instructions from their residents. They say they don't have a resident. They ask if it's bad. The elevator doors open and reveal a hallway filled with people, some of them law enforcement. Addison says it is bad.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The stargate establishes a connection to a planet caught in the gravity of a black hole and will not disengage, trapping the base in a time dilation field and threatening to pull earth into the black hole unless the gate can be shut down.


  • First appearance of Major Paul Davis."A Matter of Time" provides examples of the following tropes: Admiring the Abomination: Carter is pretty excited by the black hole at first, until the gravity of the situation (no pun intended) becomes clear.

  • Bottle Episode: Takes place almost entirely inside the base or just outside.

  • But What About the Astronauts?: It's mentioned a few times that Daniel is still off-world, along with a couple of other SG teams, and that they, at least, will survive even if earth is sucked into the black hole.

  • Cold Open: The episode opens with a shot of a sun being pulled into the black hole, followed by SG-10 on the surface of the planet, running in slow motion in a desperate attempt to reach the stargate.

  • Continuity Nod: O'Neill's interest in astronomy shows when he actually recognizes a black hole on sight without needing Carter to tell him what it is, and even possesses a decent amount of expert knowledge about its operation, even seeming to be able to follow along with Carter's Techno Babble for once (in contrast to only a few minutes prior, in which he had absolutely no idea what a wormhole is and Carter's attempts to explain it only went over his head). At the end, Hammond mentions that they're installing a new iris reinforced with trinium. Somebody must have worked out a treaty with the aliens from "Spirits."

  • More context is given to O'Neill's time in prison that he alluded to in "Prisoners."

  • Cruel and Unusual Death: SG-10 is stranded on a planet caught in the gravity of the black hole, desperately trying to dial earth but unable to do so fast enough as time slows to a crawl. And that's not even the worst of it: Carter spells out the process of spaghettification for O'Neill and Hammond, explaining that they will eventually be pulled apart atom by atom. A little over a year later, SG-1 would suck a good portion of a star through said planet's stargate in order to blow up that star, so if the black hole hadn't gotten them yet due to the time dilation the superhot stellar matter would have. A novel later released would later reveal that SG-10 was indeed rescued due to SG-1 discovering alien tech that would protect them from the gravity. However, it does happen that the stellar matter does come through that Stargate and incinerates the planet, even killing one of the SG-10 members.

  • Dark and Troubled Past: O'Neill mentions that he spent four months in an Iraqi prison after a black ops mission gone wrong.

  • "Eureka!" Moment: Hammond mentioning the second stargate prompts Carter to realize that if they detonate a bomb close enough to the wormhole, the matter stream should jump to another planet and allow them to safely disengage.

  • Gravity Sucks: Played straight, with larger and larger objects getting sucked into the wormhole from ever-greater distances as the gravitational field increases.

  • Guilt Complex: It's made pretty clear that O'Neill blames himself for Major Boyd's fate, echoing Cromwell's guilt over leaving O'Neill in Iraq.

  • Hollywood Healing: Teal'c receives a pretty nasty burn near the beginning of the episode, but is almost entirely healed by the end. Justified due to the time dilation effects of the black hole. Also explained by Healing Factor due to his symbiote.

  • Layman's Terms: Carter trying to explain the concept of wormholes to O'Neill at the beginning of the episode.

  • Narrow Annihilation Escape: Subverted. SG-10 has become caught in a gravity time warp caused by a newly-formed black hole; time is slowing down so much for them that their chance of escape would take ever longer each second, on the planet, that goes by. (i.e. Zeno's Paradox) Stargate Command is only able to stop Earth from being pulled in through the Stargate by setting a bomb close to the gate wormhole, which overloads the gate and diverts its path to another planet in the network. Played straight, however, in the Expanded Universe Novels "A Matter of Honor"/"The Cost of Honor", where 5 years after, the SGC are able to rescue SG-10, even with the time-warp (thanks to alien technology), where all the events that happened in the interim have caught up; from SG-10's POV, due to the time-warp, it was only a few hours, and the wormhole that SG-10 dialed to Earth was indeed active for 38 minutes on the alien planet, but only for a second on Earth. Furthermore, the matter from the sun that Sam detonated had not yet arrived, only for it to arrive later and incinerate one of the SG-10 team. Thankfully, the rest of SG-1 and SG-10 are able to escape just as the planet is destroyed by the heat of the solar matter.

  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted; it's revealed that Cromwell left O'Neill behind on a Special Forces mission in Iraq some years ago after mistakenly believing him to be dead, allowing him to get captured. Neither one of them has forgiven him for this.O'Neill: What happened to "nobody gets left behind"? The same trope is immediately thrown back in O'Neill's face, as the impossibility of saving SG-10 and essentially leaving them to die is considered the same situation as what Cromwell had to deal with.

  • Oh, Crap!: Happens at least twice: When O'Neill, Carter and Hammond see the black hole on the probe footage and realize just what exactly is is that has Boyd so scared.

  • When Carter watches her dogtags get sucked into the event horizon and realizes that the gravity from the black hole is able to travel through the outgoing wormhole to earth.

  • Out of Focus: Daniel is absent for most of the episode, only making a brief appearance at the very end to visit O'Neill in the infirmary.

  • The Political Officer: Major Davis is introduced as the official liaison between Washington and the SGC, in a much more sympathetic portrayal than most examples.

  • Red Shirt: SG-10 and Colonel Cromwell.

  • Redemption Equals Death: Unwilling to let history repeat itself, Cromwell refuses to arm the bomb while O'Neill is so close to the black hole. Naturally, this results in him getting sucked in when an errant shard of glass cuts through his safety rope.

  • Rewatch Bonus: The slow motion in the Cold Open initially appears to be for dramatic effect, but on second watch it's apparent that it's actually Time Dilation and the viewer is being shown how much time has been slowed.

  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Initially the orders from the White House are to set the base self-destruct, but Carter is convinced that this will only make the situation worse by blowing up the mountain while leaving the stargate - and by extension, the wormhole - intact. Eventually she comes up with the alternative solution of detonating a smaller charge close enough to the wormhole that it will cause the matter stream to jump.

  • Slow Motion: Used to demonstrate how time slows down the closer a person is to the black hole.

  • Techno Babble: A lot in this episode, as Carter attempts to explain the concept of relativity to everybody else. Hammond probably says it best:Hammond: Captain, relativity gives me a headache.

  • Time Dilation: The effect of the black hole's gravity means that time appears to slow down closer to the wormhole, so that Hammond is able to travel to Washington and back for an overnight conference with the President while only minutes appear to pass in the control room. When Daniel returns at the end of the episode, he reveals that two weeks have gone by in the space of what feels like about a day for those inside the mountain.O'Neill: Two weeks? I think I'll sleep in.

  • Two-Keyed Lock: Two officers are required to enter a passcode in order to set the self-destruct.

  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Actually averted, for the most part; barring some slight liberties taken for dramatic effect, the science is generally pretty sound. Carter makes a comment that the time dilation is happening in advance of the gravity waves, when they should be happening at the same time (which is what is currently believed in real science). Her explanation (the only one we get) is that it's "probably a lensing effect of the Stargate itself".

  • What the Hell, Hero?: O'Neill chews Carter out over her initial excitement at the prospect of getting to watch spaghettification firsthand.Carter: By some fluke of the stargate, we have the opportunity to witness something which that laws of physics dictate we should never be able to see.O'Neill: We are witnessing good men die in slow motion, Captain.

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