I watched ‘Abyss’ again today, after feeling for ages that I should do it. I was unsure what I would be meeting when I went into it, but after going through the episode again, I know that it must be one of the finest that Stargate SG-1 ever produced.
I am actually surprised how well it manages to come off with points that could traditionally be seen as Buddhist or Zen (and, yes, you can consider Zen part of Buddhism but the difference is substantial, so for the sake of the present, I’ll consider them separate). Indeed, while the pre-ascension beliefs can be summed up as very much part of that category, then ‘Abyss’ manages to transcend just that and add an aspect of humanity.
Just to demonstrate that, I would quote a monumental moment from a scene
Dr. Jackson: Come on, Jack. Y-You think the Asgard named a-a ship after you because they thought it was a cool name? Now’s not the time to play dumb, you’re a lot smarter than that. They saw our potential in you…because of who you are and what you’ve done. Humanity’s potential. That’s the same thing Oma saw in me.
Col. O’Neill: I am not you.
Dr. Jackson: Yeah, when has that ever stopped you from doing anything?
Col. O’Neill: Okay… put yourself in my shoes and me in yours.
Dr. Jackson: You’d be here for me.
Col. O’Neill: Damn straight! I’d have busted you out, blown this rat hole to hell and made sure that son-of-a-bitch suffered!
Dr. Jackson: The Others would have stopped you.
Col. O’Neill: They’d have a hell of a fight on their hands.
Dr. Jackson: You wouldn’t do that.
Col. O’Neill: Ba’al would be dead.
Dr. Jackson: Jack—
Col. O’Neill: And don’t think I’d stop there!
Dr. Jackson: [forcefully] You’re a better man than that!
Col. O’Neill: [yelling] That’s where you’re wrong!
Which I think is a nice insight into how much (or little) anyone can ever know of other people; or that people may have wrong ideas of themselves. Which might be what that episode reminds me of…