Menu Icon Search Icon


The Torment of Tantalus

01.11 Episode 11 (#3963)
Airdate: October 3, 1997

Daniel Jackson discovers remarkable archival film footage showing that early experiments in 1945 had activated the Stargate, and a young professor, Ernest Littlefield, had been sent through. Catherine Langford, Ernest's former fiancée, joins SG-1's mission to the same destination, P3X-972. There they find Ernest, now grown old, and an ancient deserted fortress that was the meeting place of four great alien races. However, the dial home device is damaged, and a violent storm threatens to destroy the fortress and all its stored alien knowledge before SG-1 can find another way to power the gate and return home.

Written by: Robert C. Cooper
Directed by: Jonathan Glassner

Guest Starring: Elizabeth Hoffman as Catherine Langford, Keene Curtis as Ernest Littlefield, Gary Jones as Technician, Duncan Fraser as Professor Langford, Nancy McClure as Young Catherine, Paul McGillion as Young Ernest, Sheelah Megill as Martha the Maid

Reference: Ancient Alliance, Crystals, FRED, Heliopolis, Catherine Langford, Dr. Langford, Ernest Littlefield, MALP, Manual Dial, P3X-972, Stargate


Destinations & Inhabitants


Destinations & Inhabitants

Ancient Alliance

Destinations & Inhabitants

Ernest Littlefield


  • In 1945, President Roosevelt ordered experiments done on the gate to determine if it could be used as a weapon in the War. The experiments were headed by Professor Langford, Catherine's father. Catherine was 21 in 1945. After the program was closed, she petitioned several administrations to reinstate the program, finally succeeding 40 years later.
  • Declassified documents from the Archives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff establish that gate activation occurred in January of 1945 when Dr. Ernest Littlefield went through the gate to a destination later designated as P3X-972.
  • The alien device uses a 3D representation of the periodic table as a universal language among 4 distinct races and acts as a "Rosetta Stone" for a galactic "United Nations" which may explain the origin of the stargate system.
  • 146 elements are depicted, 111 currently known on Earth, 90 in 1945.
  • Heliopolis is the Ancient Egyptian city, repository of knowledge, and central place of worship for Ra.
  • Othala is the Norse ruin, thought to represent a collection of numinous power and knowledge from past generations. One of the 4 languages represents Thor's race.
  • Tantalus was a king in Greek mythology, banished to Hades and forced to stand in water that receded when he tried to drink, representing everlasting, unending temptation.
  • The gate element is a super-conductor which absorbs energy in many forms and will convert and store energy in reservoirs making it possible to unlock and spin the mechanism manually when enough power is stored.
  • The coordinates for P3X-972 are similar to coordinates for Abydos but it is not listed on the Abydos cartouche, indicating the Goa'uld did not build the stargates.
  • P3X-972 coordinates: 27-7-?-?-?-?


  • Yeah, nothing piques my interest more than repeated failure. [O'Neill]
  • Oh, please. The Pentagon's lost entire countries. [O'Neill]
  • Some fancy light show that may be the key to our existence, or something like that. [O'Neill]
  • All right. Basic survival training. We know what we have. What do we need? [O'Neill]
    We have the Stargate. We need the Dial Home Device. [Teal'c]
    Thank you, Teal'c. [O'Neill]
  • This book may contain knowledge of the universe. I mean, this is meaning-of-life stuff! [Daniel]
  • I'm obviously no scientist, but, uh... Couldn't we use that Ben Franklin thing? [O'Neill]
  • No prize is worth obtaining if you can never share it! There would be no point! [Ernest Littlefield]
  • Catherine, hug me... [O'Neill]


  • For crying out loud: 1
  • Ya think?: 1
  • Kids: 1
  • Sweet: 1