Back with another two episodes tonight. One is a fairly weak look into Daniel’s past while the other explores the growing pains of the Jaffa Rebellion.
We begin with a student, a man called Steven, visiting his professor, with the two studying Ancient Egyptian artefacts that are about to be sent back to Egypt, in particular a sealed canopic jar. Overnight however the professor is killed in a ‘lab accident’, with Daniel, who once studied under him, finding out via a crappy magazine O’Neill is reading.
At the professor’s funeral Daniel is noticeably ostracised from the rest of the party while Steven gives the eulogy, hinting in his speech to a rivalry between the two former colleagues. After the party breaks off Daniel is left with Steven and another colleague, a woman called Sarah who is on much better terms with Daniel. While the three initially keep things civil Steven eventually leaves in anger at Daniel’s sudden return, believed to be lingering jealousy over Daniel’s past role as a star student, leaving the other two alone with Daniel alluding to his time at the SGC when explaining why he disappeared for five years. Sarah brings Daniel to the professor’s office where the artefacts to be returned are residing but Sarah notices one is missing which Daniel attempts to track down in the storage rooms. While he is unable to find the missing item he does find another canopic jar, one that is covered in Goa’uld symbols.
Meanwhile at the SGC the others are placed on their overdue leave until Daniel returns whereupon O’Neill drags Teal’c on a fishing trip that Carter has repeatedly wriggled out of. Too late Teal’c realises just how boring the activity is, especially when told the pond contains no actual fish to catch anyway, but is momentarily rescued when called by Daniel to help with the translation of the Goa’uld writing. Unfortunately however he isn’t able to get Daniel to take the hint to request his presence back on base, leaving him trapped with O’Neill.
Back at the SGC Daniel finishes the translation which identify the jar as relating to the legend of Osiris and that there should be another jar to go with it. While Carter runs and MRI on the jar they have Daniel returns to the storage facility the professor looked to find the other jar, running into a suspicious acting Steven and a dead clerk whom he met earlier. To add to the growing issues Carter finds the canopic jar contains a preserved dead Goa’uld symbiote and that the disappearance of the other jar means they may have a Goa’uld on the loose.
Daniel returns with Sarah to their professor’s office to search for more clues as to what happened the night of his death, finding that someone has removed files from his computer and destroyed the floppy disk backups. Using the network however they find an email that contains results that prove the jars are more than 10,000 years old and that Steven had also received the email, suggesting he may have orchestrated the lab accident.
Returning to the SGC the team decide that Steven is most likely a Goa’uld and that he’s trying to cover up his existence and find a way off-world, with the SGC picking up that he’s bought a flight to Egypt. Daniel, Carter, and Fraiser head off in pursuit. Steven however has arrived much earlier, finding a Goa’uld hand device in a hidden cabinet, but is attacked by an unseen individual. While distracted with treating the injured Steven they’re attacked by Sarah, who has been taken by the Goa’uld Osiris. Despite being able to hit her with a Tranq dart she overpowers the team, escaping on an ancient Tel’tak-like vessel buried in the sands near the ruined temple, which itself had contained transport rings.
The Curse is an episode that I’ve never really enjoyed if I’m perfectly honest. While there are some good moments to the piece it never feels like it comes together as one successful piece, instead lurching uncomfortably from scene to scene, with most likely rushed editing to blame. Many of the scenes feel out of sequence or rushed, such as Carter finding out that the canopic jars contained Goa’uld symbiotes but no one seemingly telling Daniel this vital bit of information before he goes back to the professor’s office for the last time. Also the episode’s need to once again take us back into Daniel’s past wasn’t the best decision as it drags more skeletons from a closet that is already quite big but also Daniel’s problems with the academic community have already been previously acknowledged in the film and show, meaning it feels more like a rehash than new material.
Despite these problems the episode does have one of my favourite sequences of the show, with Teal’c forced into taking part in the world’s most boring fishing trip. While this could’ve been little more than a wink at the recurring gag Teal’c’s obvious uncomfortable demeanour and humorous attempt to get out of it are memorable compared to the rest of the episode.
Overall the episode is a bit of a misfire with a couple of good moments, largely related to O’Neill and Teal’c’s B plot, but is flawed in execution and sadly sloppily all put together.
· Of all the things Carter would end up being I didn’t think a fan of Motorcycles would be one of them.
Quote of the episode: “If you require assistance, I would be more than happy to return to the SGC.”
“No, thanks, I think I can take it from here.”
*Sideglance at O’Neill* “Are you certain?” – Teal’c trying to get out of fishing while talking to Daniel
The Serpent’s Venom
We start with Teal’c attending a clandestine meeting with other Jaffa to discuss and propagate the growing Jaffa Rebellion which Apophis had earlier tried to stop by bombing Chulak. While Teal’c tries to convince them to join their cause it’s revealed that the entire meeting is an ambush to capture Teal’c.
Meanwhile at the SGC the rest of the team and Jacob/Selmak, who is there for a vacation, are contacted by the Tok’ra who inform them that Apophis and Heru’ur are planning an alliance to go after the System Lords, thereby eliminating the warring balance of power and replacing it with one strong enemy which is the Tok’ra’s worst fear. The meeting between the two is taking place in a smart minefield of a long-lost planet, ensuring that if either tries to kill the other both will be destroyed as a result, with the Tok’ra plan being to reprogram one of them mines and use that to trigger a fight between the two in an effort to weaken them.
Meanwhile Teal’c has been taken to an unknown location to be tortured into submission by an unknown Goa’uld. After being tortured for some time one of the Jaffa who betrayed him, Rak’nor, offers him water but Teal’c refuses. During the subsequent conversation it becomes clear that Rak’nor holds a grudge with Teal’c as Rak’nor’s father had been an early believer in the Rebellion, subsequently being executed for ‘blasphemy’.
The team arrive at the minefield in a cloaked Teal’tak and set about completing the mission, managing to ring a mine into the cargo hold. This leaves Jacob/Selmak with the unenviable task of flying to avoid the mines outside and at the same time not allowing one in the hold to touch the ship while Carter and Daniel have to crawl underneath said mine and correctly reprogram it with a numerical code. The team initially face difficulties trying to reprogram the mine, with the correctly translated code not inputting into the panel, leading Jacob/Selmak to give control of the ship to O’Neill. Carter however manages to work out the problem in that they’ve been assuming that the alien number system stars at 1 rather than 0.
Back in the torture chamber Teal’c is continuously tortured but during the breaks in between is slowly able to break the Goa’uld’s hold on Rak’nor. Later dragged from his cell it’ss revealed that he’s been on Heru’ur’s ship the whole time, being his bargaining chip for an alliance with Apophis. When the time comes for Teal’c to be sent to Apophis’ ship Rak’nor kills the Goa’uld torturer, having decided instead to rescue Teal’c when the torturer decides to kill the shol’va.
On the Tel’tak the team finish reprogramming the mine and release it, seemingly to not effect. Deciding to move on they plan on what to do about Teal’c, choosing to use the same plan as he did to save them on Sokar’s moon by intercepting the transport beam. Despite the attempt they miss the transport signal, instead only revealing their position to the Goa’uld, but it’s revealed to be the Goa’uld torturer when it arrives on Apophis’ ship. The mine however finally strikes Apophis’ ship which, combined with the torturer, is taken by Apophis as a trick by Heru’ur. Rather than leading to all-out war it turns out Apophis had cloaked his fleet, which quickly destroys Heru’ur’s ship and then sacrifices at least part of itself to protect Apophis’ flagship from the now active minefield.
Despite what appears to be a complete failure, with Apophis killing Heru’ur and most likely now absorbing his forces, the Tel’tak intercepts a lone Death Glider, which is revealed to be Rak’nor and Teal’c who had managed to successfully escape Heru’ur’s ship moments before it was destroyed.
The Serpent’s Venom is a very good standalone episode in season 4, with clear linking between the main episode plot threads of Teal’c’s torture and SG-1s mine mission along with good placement in the ongoing plotline regarding Apophis’ growing power at the expense of the other System Lords.
While the plot of the minefield mission is a good one it’s Teal’c’s storyline that really stands out this episode. Not only does it show just how far Teal’c is willing to for his beliefs in withstanding immense torture that could end anytime he chooses to submit to the Goa’uld but it also brilliantly shows just how indoctrinated most Jaffa still are and the uphill struggle the Rebellion will face, with Rak’nor maintaining complete obedience to his oppressors despite having seen them kill his family just for the act of questioning their overlords.
There are a couple of issues in the episode. The torturer comes across a bit stupid at times, largely because of the voice effects, which does undermine the tension to some degree but isn’t that distracting as much of the scene’s draw are the conversations between Rak’nor and Teal’c. O’Neill also has a lack of stuff to do in the episode which makes him largely surplus to requirement throughout which is also a bit of a shame.
Overall the episode is a good one that keeps the story of the show moving while exploring not only the major issues the characters on the show will face but also how far they’ll go in fighting for them.
· A campy sounding torturer and Apophis being stroked by a Harem of women. Yeah this is a bloody campy episode.
Quote of the episode: “Ah! Wait a minute. Just stop, hold it. If you’re about to say you’re gonna explain along the way, I’m gonna lose it! I’ve just about had it with the way the Tok’ra do business. I want know exactly what we’re dealing with here. Every mission detail you’ve got right now, or we go nowhere.”
“I was going to tell you, Jack.”
“Ok, never mind.” – O’Neill and Jacob/Selmak