Two relatively interesting episodes today, that try new ideas on the show to good effect.

Rules of Engagement

Synopsis

The episode begins with the team off-world responding to the sounds of weapons fire. Moving closer to the source they find an SG-Team under fire from a Jaffa unit. Believing them to be SG-11, who went missing in action several months back, the team move in to help them but are rendered unconscious by weapons fire from the very large, unknown SG team, after their leader thinks they’re an attacking force. The team wake up in a tent, confused after surviving what they thought was MP5 fire, only to be confronted by a full of himself kid who refuses to answer their questions, only taking them to ‘the Captain’.

Outside the tent it’s shown the team are in a large training area for a series of wargames, with a round 30-40 people in SG uniforms. Upon meeting the Captain, who goes by Kyle Rogers, Teal’c realises that the entire thing is a setup to train human servants of Apophis as SG teams to infiltrate the SGC and destroy it from within. The group head to the armoury, filled with ‘Intar’ stun weapons which can be made to replicate any weapon, to find their equipment but their own weapons have been taken by those currently engaged in exercises. To try and find their equipment, and also cancel the wargames, they use a hologram of Apophis to gather all of those at the camp for inspection. The men however view it as another test, refusing to listen, returning to the wargame. SG-1 and Rogers find a dead recruit and Roger’s himself is wounded by Teal’c’s Staff weapon, with blood being spilt being seen as the signifier to move to ‘the final challenge’, a final wargame where real weapons are issued.

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The team bring Rogers back to the SGC, under the lie they’re bringing him to Apophis, so that they can treat his injuries. In the infirmary after treatment Rogers refuses to eat or talk to the personnel on base but eventually relents when O’Neill comes to talk to him. While he gives in to eating very quickly he is still steadfast in his belief Apophis is a God and can’t die, it is only upon showing him the footage of Apophis’ death that he finally sees the truth and agrees to help the SGC to stop the wargames from going ahead. He also reveals that SG-11 was brought to them to teach them but were later killed by the Jaffa on the base, who later left the planet leaving the humans by themselves.

Returning to the training ground they begin stunning other recruits, who’ve equipped real weaponry from a nearby cave, before heading to the camp itself which they manage to secure. The team plan to use the hologram device to play Apophis’ death, to show the other trainees that he is not a God and the wargames are therefore over. Despite coming under heavy attack the team are able to finish the message and show it to the recruits. Upon seeing the message the recruits decide to go home.

Analysis

Rules of Engagement is quite an interesting episode in how it functions as part of the wider narrative. While it initially seems to be yet another Goa’uld plot episode it actually goes someway to explore the universe and fill in some quite large gaps in the timeline.

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In terms of exploring the universe we see to some degree just how wide and varied Apophis’ empire was, with it being referenced that the training facility serves multiple different ‘quadrants’ of the empire. By the end of the episode what initially seemed like a small base serving maybe two dozen men equipped with basic weaponry becomes the focus point of a couple of hundred attackers equipped with machine guns, mortars, and anti-vehicle weaponry. For filling in the gaps the episode reveals just how badly Apophis’ was weakened by the failed attack on Earth and subsequent attacks from competing Goa’uld, with the facility set up due to him losing many of his best soldiers and now forced to use weaker human slaves instead. The fact that Teal’c is the first Jaffa they’ve seen in a long time goes some way to confirm that many of Apophis’ former supporters either deserted him or died long ago by this point but the facility has been cut off from the rest of the galaxy.

The characters in this episode also go some way to revealing just how indoctrinated Goa’uld supporters are by the belief of them as Gods, with them willing to accept the words of what is obviously a recording as fact, even though anyone could use it to their own ends. This belief goes so far as to them being willing to fight to the death against their friends without being commanded to by any Jaffa or Goa’uld, but believing they have been told anyway. Despite this it is questionable just how quickly they came around in the end, with Rogers, who was willing to fight restraints and starve himself, almost immediately going against previously deeply held beliefs after being shown a clip of Apophis’ dying without ever questioning its authenticity. This however is likely a result of time requirements than a deliberate oversight.

Overall this is a good standalone episode that has interesting characters and situations while also revealing a little bit about Apophis as a leader and the empire he once commanded.

Assorted Musings

· Despite being a good episode there is some ridiculousness at how a small training base has access to Tau’ri weaponry and equipment even the viewer hasn’t seen deployed off-world.

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· That guy in the infirmary tent at the beginning really is a complete dick.

Quote of the episode: “It’s poison.” “It’s hospital food, of course it is.” – Rogers and O’Neill

Forever in a Day

Synopsis

The episode starts with a large SG force under attack off-world from a large Jaffa force as they attempt to free a large group of captured Abydonians, including Daniel’s stepfather Kasuf. The abductor of the group was Amaunet, intent on capturing the Harcesis child who had been hidden by Kasuf. While the main SG force holds off a large group of reinforcements Daniel confronts Amaunet in her tent who, after saying she has hidden the child, attacks Daniel with a hand device. Teal’c, having dealt with the guards outside, enters the tent and prepares to fire his Staff weapon.

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Daniel later wakes up in the infirmary unsure of what happened. O’Neill reveals that Sha’re is dead, with Teal’c having killed her to save Daniel’s life, but Daniel is adamant they had a Sarcophagus and that Sha’re is still alive. To break his belief in this O’Neill and Teal’c bring him to her body which is being kept on base until they can perform her funeral. After seeing her body Daniel still refuses to accept what happened, lashing out at Teal’c saying he should’ve waited longer. Back in his infirmary bed Daniel talks to Carter where he relates a story about how Sha’re thought Daniel’s pen as magic. After their conversation Daniel falls asleep only to wake up with Sha’re by his side along with the others. When the others leave Sha’re tries to tell him about the child but is suddenly sucked away by some force, upon which Daniel wakes up again in the infirmary.

After recovering Daniel goes to see Hammond to hand in his resignation, feeling that he has no place on the base given how he failed to save his wife. While packing his lab O’Neill comes to see him to try and get him to reconsider, if only due to the annoyance of the new guy, but Daniel is still adamant about leaving, saying the only person he’d miss is Carter and that all he’d be able to think about is failing his wife when going off-world. While leaving Daniel bumps into Teal’c, who tries to ask for forgiveness, but is brushed aside. That night at his apartment however he once again dreams that Sha’re is still alive, who tries to get him to forgive Teal’c, but he once again falls asleep in the dream, only to wake alone in his room.

Days later the funeral of Sha’re is taking place on Abydos, surrounded by SG teams for security, where Daniel performs the customary rituals to cleanse Shar’re’s soul, before she is buried for the final time. After the ceremony Kasuf speaks to him, also aware of the dreams contents, telling him that he hasn’t heard what Sha’re had been saying. He encounters Sha’re again who, along with Kasuf, asks him to find the child to make sure he is safe. Sha’re is once again sucked away however, waking up to find the ceremony was all a dream.

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Daniel returns to the SGC to speak with Carter about what Sha’re talked about and the hand device, while also giving a half-hearted apology to Teal’c, who agrees that it would be possible to send a message through the hand-device. Getting his answers he returns to his apartment to find O’Neill and Kasuf, where they also try to convince him to stay on SG-1 to find the Harcesis child. Going through a door in the apartment Daniel finds himself back on the planet the episode began at, where Sha’re, dressed as Amaunet draws him into the tent, revealing it to be another dream.

Daniel once again returns to the SGC to talk to Teal’c, who further explains what a Harcesis child is and that they are outlawed due to possessing the combined knowledge of two Goa’uld in a human child. Daniel decides to re-join SG-1 and goes off-world with them to yet another planet. Daniel however redials the Gate and goes through it, returning to the original planet and Amaunet’s tent where he finds Sha’re who explains where the Harcesis child is. The episode shifts back to the end of the prologue where Daniel is on the receiving end of the hand device. Teal’c shoots Sha’re, who manages to say goodbye before dying, revealing that the entire contents of the episode was likely one long hallucination.

Analysis

While Forever in a Day may not be one of the best episodes of the show it is definitely one of the most interesting and unique ideas they attempted and it does work out very well for them. Much of the story is told via a ‘sliding-doors’ style set-up, with Daniel experiencing two realities (both later revealed to be hallucinations) where in one Sha’re is dead and has quite the SGC while in the other Sha’re survived but he still quit the SGC. This allows a lot of exploration of Daniel as a character we haven’t seen before as we see him dealing with the final loss of his wife and how it effects not only his job but also his personal relationships. The use of the mechanic however does have some weaknesses, especially towards the end of the episode where it gets increasingly hard to tell where one of the two realities ends and the other begins but that could be what the writers intended.

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The episodes sub focus on how Daniel treats Teal’c inside the vision is also one of the highlights, with it being used to show him not only first hate him for killing his wife despite having no choice but then slowly come to forgive him, by the end accepting that what Teal’c did was not out of hate or anger but to save his friend’s life. The fact that this entire grieving process happens before the event even occurs also changes the dynamic and allows the show to deal with any animosity between the two of them here and now without it spreading to other episodes or being skipped entirely.

Overall Forever in a Day is a slightly flawed episode but is an interesting one as well, which tries to use a relatively new concept as the focus of the episode and largely succeeds in that regard.

Assorted Musings

· I do love how they position the characters during the initial infirmary scene, with Fraiser, Hammond, Carter, and O’Neill at Daniel’s bedside while Teal’c, feeling guilty for killing Sha’re, stands off by the door, effectively removed from the group and once again the outsider.

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Quote of the episode: “O’Neill: Ok, you’re being replaced.” “Why?” “Because I’m intimidated by your intelligence. Where’s the confusion here?” – O’Neill and Daniel’s replacement.