Another two episodes tonight. The first with the team investigating a suspicious town and the other watching O’Neill get tortured over and over again.
We start with Carter being contacted by a man called Richard Flemming in the middle of the night talking about some project related to Adrian Conrad, the man who kidnapped Carter in Desperate Measures. Before he can talk further however he is seemingly run off the road by an unknown driver. The next morning at the SGC the team, minus O’Neill who is still off-world, discuss the nature of Conrad and Flemming’s work and how it has been scaled back to a small town in the middle of nowhere called Steveston ever since Conrad went missing.
The three of them head to Steveston to take a look around with Carter attempting to get help from the local police, finding that he’s gone walkabout from the crash and that his lab was mysteriously burnt down the night before. The team instead go to Flemming’s house to try and find anything at all but the place has already been scrubbed of any evidence, though the team do intercept a package containing a syringe of an unknown substance.
Going back to the motel that is working as their base of operations they decide to wait till morning before investigating again. Unknown to them however the entire town’s population congregate at an old wharf, where they decide that if SG-1 keep digging then they’ll have to be “dealt with”. The next morning the team go to the local diner, where Jonas alone notices that everyone in the town is acting half-asleep and making obvious mistakes. Carter however is brought away to talk with the town’s Sheriff who reveals that while nobody wants to talk about the company (as it provides the town’s main source of employment) he does provide her information about another man who went missing, Peter Stofer.
That night Teal’c and Jonas head to a local bar to investigate further, only to find themselves the subject of scrutiny by the other patrons. While the two of them attempt to enjoy their drinks three of the people at the bar start a confrontation, only backing down when the Sheriff arrives. After the two members of SG-1 leave the Sheriff confronts the three men, telling them if they compromise the ‘operation’ then he’d kill them himself.
The next morning the team head back to the diner for breakfast, where Jonas recognises one of the men from the night before. While Jonas attempts to apologise to the man the man, whose demeanour is radically different, claims he’s never seen Jonas before and was asleep in bed last night. As they leave the three of them notice they’re being tracked by a man who keeps popping up wherever they are. As he attempts to follow them they nab him and question him. The man reveals himself as a former guard at the company and that Flemming had come to him for help claiming that something was going on and that while he first thought Flemming mad when the doctor disappeared he knew something was up. After Jonas realises he saw tracks on the way into town the team head to the old wharf.
At the wharf the team break in, finding that the mysteriousness of the town may relate to an alien spaceship being built there. The team once again pull back to the motel where they attempt to work out just who is building the ship. Jonas and Teal’c stakeout the wharf while Carter continues working on the computers they found, finding that soon after dark most of the town goes to the old wharf while Carter finds evidence that proves the town is infested by Goa’uld. As Teal’c and Jonas attempt to leave they’re stopped by the local deputy and other men and are forced into a van, where they reveal themselves as NID agents who want to take the spaceship for planetary defence. Carter however is instead attacked by a mob of the infected townspeople and implanted with a Goa’uld symbiote.
Upon returning to the motel and finding Carter gone Jonas and Teal’c have Agent Cross, the lead NID Officer, call for a quarantine of the town. It turns out however the Goa’uld already had a mole inside the NID the whole time. The three of them are taken to have symbiotes implanted, with Cross receiving his first. The new plan of the Goa’uld is to take over the NID itself rather than escaping Earth. While the lead Goa’uld wants to infect both Teal’c and Jonas Carter’s Goa’uld instead calls for killing them. Sometime later the NID containment team arrives, finding that all the Goa’uld in the building are unconscious but Teal’c and Jonas are very much alive.
At the outer perimeter Carter catches up with the infected Cross and other NID agent. When the two are distracted Carter stuns the two of them, revealing that she wasn’t a Goa’uld all along. It turns out the syringe had a substance that’d kill the symbiote and that Carter played along until she could turn the tables while the rest of the twon is cured and sold a coverup of inoculations. After the debrief Jonas questions why Carter had to slap him so hard.
So here we have the show’s take on the small town conspiracy film, with the team going to small town USA to find a sinister conspiracy lurking in a seemingly nice community.
Despite the seriousness of the plot I found myself rather enjoying it as it was a nice break, especially after the advertisement of last week’s episode. It was very much a homage to old mystery films with the team being the outsider’s drawing the ire of the locals. Of course this sees rather than a group of old people running things or a mysterious organisation that is in control of the town it’s instead a Goa’uld conspiracy that has seen everyone unknowingly turned into slaves at night while by day they go back to their normal lives with no knowledge of what happened, creating the perfect cover story.
Like most of the intrigue episodes set on Earth the NID once again make themselves known in an annoying way, seeking in some way to shadily steal advanced technology. In this one however the hint is that increasingly the top levels of government are looking to conduct operations outside of the SGC, with Cross confirming that the operation in Steveston is an officially sanctioned one, as opposed to the “off-the-books” ones that happened under Simmons and Maybourne. Whether this is down to officials getting tired of the slow progress under the SGC or wanting to get technology they don’t have to give to the Russians under the treaty.
One of the more interesting aspects of the episode is just how humourless it is. Without RDA there it doesn’t have the snarky, mocking of tropes that has always been there. Instead the show plays it remarkably straight almost like an episode of Trek or Battlestar with the threat being taken as a real one and the main characters taking an unmocking view of this. This is in stark contrast to the constant mocking of other adversaries far more powerful such as Apophis who would routinely get called stupid names even while talking to him directly. It just goes to show how even at this stage it seems RDA was still core to how the humour was injected into the show, with the writers still using O’Neill as the touchstone to bounce other, more humorous, interactions off of.
Overall the episode is an interesting one that tries a more serious X-Files tone to the show to debatable success, showing where the show succeeds on its own but also revealing the elements that are reliant on certain cast members.
· Jonas is too observant sometimes, to the point of almost being creepy.
· And the ship is never seen ever again.
Quote of the episode: “Mmm. I’m really starting to enjoy this “traditional American food.” Mmm.”
“We have another tradition. It’s called “hardened arteries.” – Jonas and Carter
The episode starts off-world, with a Tok’ra agent attempting to flee through the Stargate with an unknown woman. Moments before capture however the symbiote flees the body, revealing that the host is in fact O’Neill. Despite the Staff blast he suffers he’s revived in a Goa’uld Sarcophagus belonging to an unknown Goa’uld. The Tok’ra inform the SGC of what has happened but Hammond isn’t willing to hear it.
Back on the unknown planet it’s revealed that the Goa’uld in question is in fact Ba’al who is intent on torturing O’Neill for information as to why he was there in the first place, though O’Neill has no idea as to why his former symbiote was so interested in coming to the planet. Given his possession of a Sarcophagus Ba’al makes it clear he has no worry about killing O’Neill over and over until he finally gets the answers he desires. Upon reviving his prisoner again he places O’Neill in a cell, upon where he’s visited by not only a woman but also Daniel. Despite Daniel now having his ascended powers he informs O’Neill that he can’t do anything to interfere with the situation, though O’Neill insists he should be able to help him escape, but instead could help him escape further torture by ascending.
At the SGC the team continue to try and find O’Neill’s location and why the symbiote essentially stole his body for his activities. The Tok’ra liaison is less than helpful however, refusing to grant them access to Tok’ra intel until they threaten him with confinement. While the intel gives them no logical reason for any mission Jonas suggests that maybe the symbiote had an illogical reason for returning to a planet he had a former mission on. They soon realise that the symbiote likely fell in love with one of the slaves of Ba’al, the woman O’Neill saw, and went back to save her after blending with O’Neill’s mindset.
Back in Ba’al’s base Daniel’s attempts to get O’Neill to agree to ascension are fruitless, with the colonel unwilling to attempt it, while Daniel refuses to help in a more physical way. The argument is interrupted however by Ba’al wanting to torture O’Neill again, this time using acid until O’Neill gives him a name he knows from the symbiote but has no idea to its relevance. Unfortunately while this buys a temporary reprieve Ba’al makes it clear that he must have more memories buried that he intends to get. After being returned to his cell he’s visited by Daniel and the woman again, with Daniel revealing that the woman was a delusion. Once again Daniel attempts to get O’Neill but the man still stubbornly refuses.
Given how his methods to talk to O’Neill are failing Daniel instead sends a message to Teal’c during his meditation. Teal’c and the SGC use this to inform the Goa’uld Yu about Ba’al’s secret base, hoping Yu will attack it which would allow O’Neill to escape. On Ba’al’s base it’s revealed that his plan succeeded, with O’Neill able to rescue the slave girl and escape during an attack by Yu on the facility. Back at the SGC O’Neill is placed in the infirmary to recover, receiving a brief visit from Daniel who says goodbye to his friend.
So now we know what O’Neill has been doing in the meantime since getting sick which is essentially being turned into a form of transport for a rogue symbiote. In this case that’s been to try and rescue someone from the heart of Ba’al’s domain.
A lot of the story revolves around the conversations between O’Neill and Daniel and they’re the better part of the episode, with the two of them finally talking after months since Daniel died and almost immediately they fall back into old habits, with O’Neill mocking Daniel’s non-interventionist stances while Daniel feels like he’s talking to a brick wall when it comes to trying to get him to change his views on ascension. Despite these conflicts the two still have the same joking matter between them, such as O’Neill asking why he can’t use his lightning powers to bust his friends out of jail.
Outside of this you have the reintroduction of Ba’al, who was last seen in Summit and Last Stand last season, and he marks a noticeable difference to previous archvillains on the show. Here we have a Goa’uld that uses creative methods of torture but he doesn’t do it for show or fun like others in the past. Instead Ba’al straight up admits he only does it because he knows he’ll get answers eventually and he can do it forever as he can endlessly resurrect O’Neill until he gets what he wants. It’s this candid attitude towards the scenario that makes him a Goa’uld more aligned with the personality of Yu, but while Yu has a reliance on Honour Ba’al instead is ruled solely by cold logic.
Ba’al’s base is one of the most interesting one time concepts on the show, with his use of gravitational control with cells that are simply pockets on the side of the wall whose gravity has been turned by 90 degrees. It’s a shame this doesn’t come back later on in the show.
One the flipside the worst part of the episode was the SGC stuff. None of the scenes were really required for the resolution of the plot outside the final one where Teal’c receives the message from Daniel. While it was interesting filler backstory for why the symbiote went on the mission it wasn’t necessary and felt more to pad out and insert the other members of SG-1 into the episode.
Overall the episode is an interesting one with the expansion of a new Goa’uld while also having more conversations from the old days between Daniel and O’Neill. Despite some pointless scenes and sadly not reused concepts it still has some fun scenes between O’Neill and others that show how the series is changing with more morally ambiguous rather than evil cliché villains and how Daniel will continue to play a part in the future.
· Daniel skirts the rules a lot as an ascended being.
· For a group who try to act all secret spy the Tok’ra don’t half keep getting fucked over by their operatives falling in love.
Quote of the episode: “What good’s the power to make the wind blow or toss lightning around if you can’t use it to spring an old friend outta jail?” – O’Neill to Daniel