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"Thirty-Eight Minutes" is the fourth episode of the first season of Stargate: Atlantis.


While on the way back to Atlantis, a Puddle Jumper is stuck halfway through the Stargate. The team has thirty eight minutes before the Stargate shuts down, and the team will be blown into space. While another team back on Atlantis works out a way to save them, an alien bug with wraith-like self-healing properties which had previously attached itself to Major John Sheppard's neck, is slowly killing him.


Major John Sheppard leads a team that includes Lt. Aiden Ford, Dr. Rodney McKay, and Teyla Emmagan back to the Wraith homeworld to do reconnaissance on the Wraith. They intend to survey the Wraith stronghold where they were taken prisoner, but soon learn that it was actually a massive ship that has now taken off and left a huge crater in its place (see "Rising"). In awe, they prepare to return to their Puddle Jumper and head back to Atlantis. On the way back, they are attacked by three Wraith warriors.


An Iratus bug attached to John Sheppard.

Sheppard orders the rest of his team back to the Puddle Jumper, but stays behind to provide cover by shooting at the Wraith. He manages to kill one, but as he is retreating, he is attacked by a large, black parasitic creature. He is immobilized, and one of the Wraith approaches him. Sheppard is surprised when the Wraith leaves without killing him. He soon realizes that the action was not one of altruism but sadism, since a death at the hands of the parasitic creature is slower and more painful than a death at the hands of a Wraith.

Ford returns for Sheppard and discovers the parasite. His attempts to detach it from Sheppard prove unsuccessful. Ford then takes out his pistol and shoots the creature with it. This, however, instead of killing the creature, causes severe pain for Sheppard near to killing him, while the creature simply heals itself. Ford and Sheppard conclude that the creature acts like a Wraith; that is, it feeds off the life of its host, and any attempts to damage it only hurt the host. The team brings Sheppard aboard the Puddle Jumper and take off. In an effort to return to Atlantis as quickly as possible, and get Sheppard into the hands of a medical doctor, Sgt. Markham approaches the Stargate in orbit around the planet at a high velocity. But the jumper's thruster pods, which were damaged by the Wraith as the craft took off, do not retract in time.
Ford ready to shoot an iratus bug

Ford trying to kill the Iratus bug with his pistol.

The vehicle becomes lodged in the Stargate, with half of it demolecularized and half of it still outside the gate in space above the planet.

Only thirty-eight minutes can pass before a Stargate's wormhole shuts down. In this case, such an event would destroy the part of the Jumper that had demolecularized and would leave the rest open to the vacuum of space. The team members in the still-intact section of the Jumper inform Atlantis of their predicament.

Dr. Carson Beckett in Atlantis works with Ford and Teyla to help Sheppard. They notice that the creature has a soft underbelly, and Beckett suggests that pouring various substances onto it could kill it, in the same way as pouring salt on a leech can kill it. They try several substances, everything they have onboard, including iodine, which have no effect. When the team tries salt, then a few drops of water, the bug reacts, tightens its grip, causing Sheppard a great deal more pain. As Sheppard gets weaker, the team search for a solution by discussing the creature's similarity to the Wraith, conjecturing that the two species could be related by evolution, some kind of ancient ancestor of sorts. Sheppard is then struck with an idea. He tells the team to electrocute him with a defibrillator, suggesting that if he is dead, the creature will no longer keeping feeding on him, perhaps detach itself. Ford reluctantly agrees, and he then kills the Major with a large jolt of the defib'. Though it seems not to work at first, given a few moments longer, Teyla is able to pull the creature off him, after which Ford shoots it repeatedly. Ford then uses the defibrillator on Sheppard several more times in an attempt to revive him, but this proves unsuccessful. Not wanting the Major to die, Teyla accompanies his body into the wormhole, where it will stay 'safe' in the meantime through demolecularized stasis.

Meanwhile, a team of scientists in Atlantis, including the American Dr. Peter Kavanagh and the Czech Dr. Radek Zelenka work to find a solution to the immobility of the Jumper and the impending death of its crew. Kavanagh voices his concerns to Dr. Weir, about the possible risks to the Atlantis base, and she responds by accusing him of being too concerned about his own safety. He complains to Dr. Elizabeth Weir about his dislike of taking orders, working with the military, and being undermined by her in front of his whole team, and she angrily responds by threatening to send him through the Stargate to an uninhabitable planet if he continues to be disruptive and concerned only with his own ego. When he scoffs at this threat, she responds by asserting that she will carry through with it, if he remains a problem, then orders him back to working on a solution.

Medical recovery

Zelenka proves to be more useful, as he finds a way to manually retract the Jumper's thrust pods after experimenting on a Jumper in Atlantis. He relays this information to McKay, who has also been experimenting. McKay is successful in manually retracting the pods, but the Jumper remains stationary, which they surmise is probably due to inertia, from the interrupted move-through. Time is running short, and Kavanagh realizes that that there is only one way to get the rest of the Jumper through the Stargate and remolecularized in Atlantis before the wormhole closes and the crew is killed. He states that the team must blow the rear hatch of the craft in the hope that the evacuation of the craft's atmosphere will provide enough momentum to propel the craft through the gate in time. Ford agrees to stay behind and manually blow the hatch, and McKay then goes through the wormhole's event horizon. The plan is successful, and the craft passes through the wormhole and arrives in Atlantis before the Stargate deactivates, where Ford and Sheppard are successfully revived by Beckett.


Athosians; Atlantis conference room; Atlantis infirmary; Back to the Wraith homeworld; Chocolate; Claustrophobia; Control crystal; Culling; Czech Republic; Defibrillator; Dog tag; Event horizon; First aid kit; Flashlight; Heart; Hive ship; Hypoglycemia; Iodine; Iratus bug; Jumper bay; Puddle Jumper; Rubbing alcohol; Salt; Star Trek; Tylenol; Wraith; Wraith homeworld; Wraith warrior

Notable QuotesEdit

Beckett: I'm told you have something of a Klingon. (Klingon, Cling-On)

Ford: Why'd you close the door?
McKay: So that when the Stargate shuts down and the forward section is severed, we're not directly exposed to space.
Ford: Will it hold?
McKay: Like a screen door on a submarine. I just prefer hypoxia to explosive decompression. It's a personal thing.

(about the Jumper)
Weir: Is there anything I can do to help?
Zelenka: Stop talking, please.

McKay: If you know of some way of manually retracting the mechanism...
Sheppard: In the cockpit, on the left.
McKay: The cockpit is regrettably demolecularized at the moment.

McKay: Oh, I apologize for being the only person who truly comprehends how screwed we are!
Sheppard: Don't talk to me about screwed! And let's not give up on Markham and Stackhouse either. There's plenty of time to solve this thing, but you've got to stop using your mouth and start using your brain!
McKay: I'm sorry. It's just, um, I react to certain doom a certain way.

McKay: Well, if you'll excuse me, I'll be a foot and a half over there taking some readings. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Grodin: The Stargate transmits matter into discrete units... the front half of the ship cannot rematerialize till the whole ship is crossed into the event horizon. The Stargate is essentially waiting for the continuous component, that's meaning the Jumper and everything inside to enter completely before it can transport them...
Weir: (Beckett stares then looks at Weir) He says the Gate only sends things through in one piece.

Kavanagh: I happily left the SGC because I had had it up to here with the military running things; and you just busted me like a private.
Weir: Don't be so dramatic. Besides, the Air Force doesn't have privates.
Kavanagh: Neither do I. You just cut them off. Right in front of my research team.
Weir: That's what this is about? You're embarrassed?
Kavanagh: Well, humiliated would be a little more accurate.
Weir: I haven't worked up to humiliation yet.


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  • When the Puddle Jumper gets stuck in the Stargate, Lt. Aiden Ford should have already passed the event horizon by the time of the impact, and would thus not be affected by the sudden stop and knocked over.
  • Lt. Aiden Ford managed to have opened the rear hatch of the Puddle Jumper for it to gain enough thrust to go through the Gate. However, when it went through, the hatch was closed.
    • The rear hatch was not opened, it was jettisoned. There should not have been a rear hatch later on anyhow. Another goof inside a goof.
  • At the beginning of the episode, on approach to the gate, only five chevrons are dialed.
  • When Ford asks McKay if the bulkhead door in the Puddle Jumper will hold against the vacuum of space, McKay says, "Like a screen door on a submarine," suggesting the air will leak out into space once the Stargate shuts down. In numerous other episodes, the bulkhead door is used to retain atmosphere in the cockpit while the rear section is exposed to space and or underwater (ATL: "Grace Under Pressure," "The Return, Part 2")
    • Although this may be a simple mistake based on his lack of experience with the jumpers at this time.
  • Halling says it is rare for their people to know where and when someone dies - while that can definitely be true when the Wraith are culling worlds, it is very unlikely during their hibernation, as they probably do not cull in huge numbers, and they hibernate long enough for several human generations to change.
    • I think it's supposed to mean "where and when someone WILL die", which is seldom known. The 38-minute time windows gives quite an exact point in time.
  • Quote:<<"Grodin: The Stargate transmits matter into discrete units... the front half of the ship cannot rematerialize till the whole ship is crossed into the event horizon. The Stargate is essentially waiting for the continuous component, that's meaning the Jumper and everything inside to enter completely before it can transport them...">> according to this theory, Ernest Littlefield would have died in SG1 The Torment of Tantalus. He was connected with rope and air hose to his diving suit. 
    • However, according to Stargate canon, the active gate also has the capability to determine exactly what is going into the event horizon and is also designed to compensate for similar situations. This could have also been caused by insufficient power supply or technical problems due to limited technology available in 1945. It should also be noted that this issue regarding Stargates deleting objects that are incomplete was not raised until nearly 10 years after this episode aired, making this a retcon rather than a goof.
  • When the defibrillator is used on Sheppard back in Atlantis, he can be seen taking a deep breath just after being shocked while he is still 'dead' and not being administered oxygen.
  • Its almost guaranteed that the show stuck with the same abbreviated designation system for the Stargate teams for the sake of congruency. SG-1 and AR-1 respectively. However, it should be pointed out that if they did not stick with that naming scheme then the First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team team could have been called FART-1.
    • Actually most AR teams are named after their commanding officer, only Shepards team has a numerical designation, his team should actually be called Shepard's Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. Although the other teams could have numerical designations too but it is not shown in cannon.

First appearancesEdit



In Other Languages Edit

  • Portuguese: Trinta e oito minutos (Thirty-Eight Minutes)
  • Russian: Тридцать восемь минут (Thirty-Eight Minutes)
  • Czech: Třicet osm minut (Thirty-Eight minutes)
  • Hungarian: 38 perc (Thirty-Eight minutes)

External linksEdit