And here we are with another two episodes for the festive weekend and what’s more festive than a Jaffa Concentration Camp and Asgard Cloning experiments.
The episode begins with Carter arriving at the SGC and being met by Hammond to discuss a security breach by a teenager who claims to be O’Neill. As the rest of the team are introduced to the believed imposter they find his knowledge of O’Neill’s history at the SGC and of them proves that he’s telling the truth, that he is O’Neill, and Fraiser’s lab tests acceptably match the kid’s records with O’Neill’s. The team try to get used to the prospect of a much younger O’Neill on the base though O’Neill is a lot more negative towards the prospect than they are.
The team head to O’Neill’s house to find out what may have caused his sudden regression to child, with the rest of the team also using it as an opportunity to nose around his stuff. While in his bedroom O’Neill has a flashback to being abducted by an Asgard. While Teal’c and Daniel look into other reports of abductions over the years O’Neill and Carter try to navigate the day to day changes, such as O’Neill ending up giving a lecture about the F-302 to a group of pilots who initially refuse to take him seriously.
Outside the base Teal’c and Daniel quickly find that the details of the abductions are all similar to each, involving the same series of events and Asgard present. The one difference however is that none of the others involved the age reduction. Upon return to the base and running further tests they find that O’Neill is dying, with the Tok’ra unable to help fix this with Goa’uld technology other than putting him in stasis. During the night however O’Neill takes the opportunity to escape the base, not wanting to leave his fate in the hands of the Tok’ra again. While O’Neill is on the run Jacob/Selmak and Fraiser read the results of more tests and conclude that O’Neill isn’t O’Neill but a young clone of him.
With the help of an Air Force Officer that the clone walked into the team are able to hunt him down to a local fishing spot and reveal to him the truth of his situation before bringing him back to the SGC. They plan to use the clone as bait for the rogue Asgard, having him hopefully switch the two back and also fix the clone. The switch goes ahead, with the real O’Neill dumped back in bed while the clone is able to zat the Asgard and bring the others onboard the ship. The Asgard, revealed to be Loki, reveals that he’s rogue even to the Asgard for performing illegal abductions on humans to try and fix the Asgard cloning problem. Given Loki’s unwillingness to help the team instead phone Thor up, who not only fixes the clone but also removes Loki, revealing that the experiments went wrong as Thor and others had placed mechanisms to prevent O’Neill being messed with by those like Loki.
Sometime later O’Neill takes his clone to a high-school, with the clone having decided that it’s best for him to completely leave the SGC and try to make a fresh start on his own.
As an episode Fragile Balance is one that might not have anything at all to deal with the seasons long arc of Anubis but is still a lot of fun simply through it’s bizarre premise of making one of the characters suddenly very young (in keeping with the history of episodes that change characters for humour) and rolling with it all the way to the end.
Here we have the plot of watching a 45-50 year old reduced to that of a 14-15 year old and all the bizarre juxtapositions this causes, made more fun by the nature of O’Neill being a colonel in the Air Force but still very much a child at heart. Now he faced the consequences that his behaviour would naturally cause, getting detained by base guards confused by his short stature, and struggling to cope with the changes. Later on it’s revealed that in fact he’s merely a clone which at first is a death sentence but by the end he realises this gives him a chance to use his knowledge to fix the mistakes of his past and the opportunities he missed.
Michael Welch’s portrayal of the young O’Neill is what makes the episode, with him accurately playing many of Anderson’s mannerisms as the usual O’Neill, such as his hatred of science babble or his tendency to insert here, there, and everywhere. Without this role stuck down it would’ve crippled the episode but here you really do think that you are still watching O’Neill, just now with acne as a new issue for him. The other actors in the episode also play off the young O’Neill well, maintaining the believability by respecting him as the person they know but still unable to stop themselves ribbing him slightly.
Overall the episode is a fun one, seeing the team having to deal with yet another bizarre body situation that turns out to be fatal while still having as much fun as possible with the scenario they place on screen.
· Surprised they didn’t just cancel the F-302 briefing all together.
· Fishing and beer, how did the others not guess where he’d go.
Quote of the episode: “Stranger things have happened.”
“Name but one.”
“Well, there was the time he got really old, the time he became a caveman, the time we all swapped bodies” – Daniel and Teal’c
We start with the team returning under heavy fire from off-world deployment, with Jaffa on their tail. After returning through the Stargate it’s revealed Teal’c took a blast from a Staff to the stomach where his symbiote pouch is. Thankfully given the fact he’s now on Tretonin he survives but now has to take the slow route to recovery, something he’s not used to. Teal’c begins to see himself as weak and unfit to serve on the team ever since using the Tretonin rather than a symbiote. While his friends try to break through to him he stays silent on the matter before relenting, stating that he believes that the Tretonin is a negative in the long run.
At the same time Daniel is troubled by dreams and memories of his time Ascended but can’t quite pin it down but knows it’s important to the team. Eventually while meditating with Teal’c he remembers that Bra’tac and Rya’c are working in a Ba’al slave camp to build new ships. He relays this information to the others who bring in another Jaffa, Rak’nor, to help locate the planet, with Rak’nor revealing that the planet they’re on has an Iris system similar to Earth. The team are able to synthesise the radio signal used to open the Iris by listening to one that came through in an unexpected off-world activation months before that Daniel had witnessed when Ascended.
A combined force of SG-1, SG-3, and Rak’nor successfully make their way through the Gate to the planet and set up an observation point overlooking the camp. That night Teal’c and Rak’nor infiltrate the camp and find both Bra’tac and Rya’c, who’ve been slowly weakening after running out of their rationed supply of Tretonin. While Teal’c is able to supply more Tretonin a Jaffa patrol find them inside the tents, leading them to be taken prisoner and beaten during the night. The next morning Teal’c is threatened with execution after Rya’c is caught interfering at another work station.
In response the SG teams begin to prep their assault to rescue the prisoners. Carter and Daniel infiltrate the under construction Ha’tak hovering nearby through transport rings and rig charges to cause it to crash into the planet. When this occurs the team launch a full scale attack on the guards, supported by the prisoners below. While the combined frces mae short work of the small number of guards Teal’c faces a larger challenge in hand to hand combat with the leader of the camp before eventually overpowering and killing him.
After returning back to the SGC Teal’c while heavily wounded again, no longer feels weakened by his transition to Tretonin, instead believing that while different he’s still as strong as he once was.
It’s no surprise what the main focus of Orpheus is as an episode, focusing on the big giant that is Teal’c and his mental state after a gruelling mission.
The plot follows Teal’c as he is forced to face the reality that making the transition to Tretonin isn’t without its side-effects, in this case a much slower rate of recovery to major injuries that he sees as a weakness on his part. This translates to feelings of inadequacy as a warrior, a death sentence for Jaffa. It’s only once he sees others fight and regains his pride, beating a David Bowie lookalike to death, that he sees that he still has his strength and abilities regardless of the change and that the changes bring new opportunities rather than just downsides.
While the episode and its issues regarding the transition to Tretonin are interesting as we never saw them before when introduced midway through season six it still begs the question of just why are they doing this now. Until now Teal’c has shown no sign of physical weakness despite all the fights he’s gone through in the run up to the end of season six which does make the mental shift feel forced.
The episode also looks briefly at the repercussions of Daniel’s time as an Ascended and just what he was forced to give up upon coming back down to the lower planes. Here the archaeologist learns that he saw many of his friends stuck in horrific conditions yet is unable to remember where they were until significant prompting for others. While here they were able to work out his half-remembered memories it does go to show that there may be many other areas that he’s not remembering at all with much more information to learn.
Overall the episode is a middling one. It has some great action sequences towards the end and some interesting exploration of the changes in the show’s mythology but many of the elements feel forced which does take away some of the impact.
· Must take a long bloody time to light all his candles.
· Wonder how many free Jaffa there are left given how they
keep getting killed or captured.
Quote of the episode: “And yet, I have never lost a sparring match to you.”
“Because for years, old man, I have let you win.” – Bra’tac and Teal’c