SG4-3: Upgrades

Anise/Freya visits from the Tok’ra to test out some newly found alien technology on the human members of SG-1.  Then things get complicated.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: The team encountered a small society determined to wipe out the majority since they didn’t believe in ‘genetic purity’.

 

The Name of the Game

Hammond and SG-1 are waiting in the control room for the arrival of a Tok’ra after they received a vague message from them.  Jack’s grumbling is stopped when one of the new arrivals is a beautiful blonde.  The general makes introductions; the Asian male is Marnon (who isn’t seen again) and she is Anise, which means “noble strength”.  Nobody dares comment that on Earth it’s a plant.

Daniel brings up that his name means “god is my judge”.  Jack doesn’t bother with translating his name; it’s a nickname for Jacob (which means supplanter or substitute) or John (“god is gracious”).  Samantha, while not brought up in this episode, means listener or “told by god”.  “Past and Present” informed us that Teal’c means “strength”.

In any case, there follows a briefing where an extinct culture called the Atoneeks is brought up.  Anise has found armbands in their ruins- the first examples of the technology which is “supposed to give the wearer incredible speed and strength”.  The Tok’ra were hopeful to use them personally in the fight against the Goa’uld, but it seems the symbiote renders their physiology incompatible with the armbands.  While it’s surmised that Teal’c would also be unaffected, I don’t think they ever test that hypothesis.  Anise is eager to start human testing with SG-1; so eager, in fact, that her human counterpart Freya has to come forth to smooth matters over.

Superhuman

Down in a lab, Anise puts on a biosensor and then the armband on Jack as Janet watches on.  Afterwards, Jack makes a Superman reference by joking, “I don’t feel like jumping any tall buildings.”

Unaware that it was a joke, Anise clarifies that there’d be a gradual increase in abilities over time so Jack can just wander around for the time being.  While the range isn’t unlimited, he can go a distance and the biosensor will keep track of his biometrics.

He and Teal’c box, with Jack expressing doubt that the armband works.  However, Teal’c is struggling now to easily beat Jack unlike in “The Fifth Race”.  Jack has developed super speed and enhanced reflexes, enabling him to lay Teal’c out flat.

Janet checks over Teal’c in the infirmary with Anise and Jack nearby.  The latter apologizes but Teal’c knows his teammate enjoyed being the stronger one for once.  Anise gives Jack a small metal ball to squeeze which measures his strength, which is now “five times that of a normal human”.

His metabolism is up as well.  Anise sidesteps Janet’s desire to learn how to read/work her device which gives her the data, wanting more subjects.  Ergo, it’s now Daniel’s and Sam’s turn to get biosensors and armbands in a brief lab scene.

3StudyTime

Later, Jack drops by Daniel’s study.  Evidently a side-effect includes the ability to speed-read to Daniel’s shock.  He checks that Jack actually read the thick book by asking a question, annoying him that he’s comparatively such a slow reader.

Janet visits Sam in her lab, which is dark as Sam studies the armband’s materials.  Apparently her night vision has greatly improved and after a bit of complaining actually readjusts fairly fast.  Sam realizes that the other woman doesn’t fully trust Anise.  Sidestepping the question, Janet wants to do a full blood screen on Sam.

In the lab from before, Anise is testing Jack’s speed on a treadmill.  Jack suspects the treadmill held him back from his maximum speed and when given the metal squeeze ball again, he breaks it.  Daniel, after being able to read through all of his books “in an hour”, couldn’t find any cross-references with an Earthian culture.  That makes sense as the initial briefing on the Atoneeks included the fact that their demise predates the rise of the Goa’uld.

Anise hands over her notebook on the Atoneek culture, admitting that Freya “enjoys the tactile sensation of handwriting”.  Speed-reading the notes, he can now read the inscription on the armband.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” he reads.  Anise adds, “And the ability to effect great consequences.”

… That’s a Spider-Man reference.  Clearly at least one person in the crew has to be a Marvel fan: and this is back in the days when there was just the first X-Men film, the Tobey Macguire trilogy hadn’t begun yet, and the MCU was a distant dream.  I think even the comics version of Civil War is years into the future at this point.  Back on topic, I’m kinda surprised Daniel didn’t react to it; maybe he’s not a comics fan?

Daniel points out there was nothing in her notes about how or why the Atoneeks were wiped out.  Anise concedes her focus has been on finding the armbands and figuring out how they worked.  I am curious just how long this project of hers has been going on.  Suddenly the light on his armband turns green.

Apparently so have Jack’s and Sam’s; Anise theorizes the armbands have reached their “maximum potential”.  Anise, Janet, and Hammond have a meeting in the hallway because Janet is concerned about the team’s “significantly raised body temperatures”.  Apparently the armbands’ impact is due to them releasing a virus into their wearer’s systems.  Janet is worried for the team’s health, offending Anise by the implication she’d risk them.  The doctor wants to halt the experiment until they’re sure the effects aren’t “permanent or damaging”.

Hammond agrees that SGC’s history indicates that prudence is a good idea when dealing with alien devices.  Janet points out the armbands could have addictive qualities.  The trio goes back into the lab where they tell the other three to remove the armbands… but it turns out they can’t.

The two ladies have a briefing with Hammond in his office.  Anise is confident there won’t be a downside to the armbands, but Janet is just as sure there will be.  Teal’c, who is spotting a weight-lifting Jack, is also concerned by the armband’s inability to be removed.  Going over to a punching bag, Jack ends up getting his fist stuck in it before awkwardly removing it.

Sam is speed-typing and snacking in her lab when Janet drops by.  The blonde is writing a book on wormhole physics; something she’s been wanting to do but has lacked the time to do so given her SG-1 duties.  Jack has gone to Hammond’s office to argue for going out and “kicking some Goa’uld butt” while they have these powers.  Hammond points out they don’t know the long-term effects and the trio isn’t in full control of said abilities.  Conceding the point, Jack reasons that wouldn’t it be better for them to be causing havoc out there instead of in the SGC.  Eventually Hammond has to kick out an overeager Jack out of his office.

Actions and Consequences

3LockedDown

A friendly push from Jack causes Silar to topple over the railing and down the stairs to Jack’s horror.  The trio are promptly put in the “lock up” area, most recently seen in “Urgo” I believe.  When Jack grumbles it was an accident, Daniel points out, “Silar has a broken arm and a concussion.”

Jack refutes he sent flowers.  Daniel is starting to get concerned about them having this level of power.  Sam’s hungry, making the guys realize just how hungry they are as well.  Speeding around, they change into normal clothes and head out to O’Malley’s for steaks.  Jack and Sam wear their black leather jackets again.  There’s a bit where Sam orders a diet soda with her meal and when the guys look at her, she goes, “I like the taste better.”

Once the waitress leaves, Sam realizes they defied a direct order by leaving SGC.  Daniel shrugs it off by claiming they’ll be back before anybody realizes they’re gone.  After their meal, Sam cleans up at billiards.  Aggravated by Daniel’s amusement at his loss, the guy snaps, “What you laughing at, ya geek?”

Daniel freezes.  Though really, he’s not even wearing his glasses in this scene and overall doesn’t really look like a geek.  Jack echoes the ‘insult’ to himself.  Turning around, Daniel asks, “Excuse me?”

3LetItGo

“Let it go,” Jack advises the younger man.  Even though I know it can’t possibly be a Frozen reference, it’s still amusing (possibly because Jack has referenced movies in the past).  Friends of the man approach both Jack and Daniel, making the former snark, “Well, this is a cliché.”

Sam can’t help but be amused at that.  Cutting to the outside of the bar/restrarant, only the sounds of the ensuing brawl are heard.  Hammond gets a phone call and complains to Janet about the devices making SG-1 “stupid”.  Janet admits that “the increase in various hormone levels” could explain their “erratic behaviour”.

“You could almost describe it as a sort of intoxication,” she adds before moving on to a more serious consequence.  “Multiple organ failure” will happen to them if the devices aren’t removed.  Janet figures their best bet is to figure out a way to combat the virus which induces the heightened abilities.  The brunette leaves when the trio returns, escorted by soldiers.  They’re all in black t-shirts now.

Hammond isn’t so much upset as baffled.  The three are realizing the devices impact their ability to make rational choices, but that won’t help in the heat of the moment… or when they’re hungry.  Anise comes in to report that the Tok’ra High Council wants to put the trio’s “new skills into practical use” to Jack’s delight.  Apparently they’re got reports of a new class of battleship being built by Apophis, the data on which she’s added to the SGC’s system.

Realizing he’s been manipulated, Hammond is furious with Anise.  She and Freya both argue this is genuinely new information to the Tok’ra, but Hammond doesn’t buy it.  Freya points out that if completed, the new battleship will be trouble for the whole galaxy.

“We’ll Need Snacks”

Back in lock up, the guys get on either side of Sam as she uses the laptop to access the information on the battleship being built.  At the same time, Hammond is having a meeting with Teal’c about the same information.  Hammond is stuck- sending Teal’c alone would be a suicide mission but SG-1 as a whole can’t go because the three humans’ judgment is impaired.

Said humans are planning the mission, thankfully not just rushing through the Stargate.  So clearly they can still use foresight to a limited degree.  With their super speed, they can literally run through the facility’s force fields.  Jack’s flippant about them requiring substance while off-world.

The three knock out with injections the people in the control room and seal off the Gate room after Sam dials in the coordinates.  Teal’c shows up before they go through the wormhole but they leave without him.  Hammond and the technician played by Laara Sadiq show up in the control room, the latter soon realizing she’s been locked out of the system.

Using their super-speed, the trio knock out the guards near the Gate and zoom up to the facility.  At first the mission goes great, Daniel grabbing a block of dense weapons-grade naquadah while the other two set up the explosives to take out the whole facility.  But when they get back up, Daniel collapses and his armband comes off.

I’m not sure why Daniel’s came off first when Jack got his own on first.  Maybe carrying the heavy naquadah sped up matters for him, or to be blunt, his general physical capabilities are lower than the two military personnel and that was a factor.

3Anise&Janet

Anise and Janet report to Hammond that the last readings from the biosensors included the presence of an antibody that will cause the armbands’ removal.  It’s definitely interesting to point out where Anise has tidy, loose blonde hair Janet’s hair is up in a messy bun this episode.  That definitely highlights the contrast between them.

Hammond realizes that SG-1 is screwed since they won’t be expecting it and then will be stranded in enemy territory.  Freya apologizes and insists she and Anise didn’t about the Apophis-related mission prior to their arrival.  Given how the Tok’ra in the past have usually contacted SGC as soon as they can for missions, I’m inclined to believe Anise/Freya.

The trio are found by a pair of guards who are zatted by Teal’c, who comments wryly, “It seems my assistance was required after all.”

“Yes, thank you,” agrees Jack.  Daniel is waking up so he and Teal’c will go back to the Gate while the other two take out some approaching guards.  But the alarm has been sounded and force fields are put up at practically every entrance.

Sam runs into one and collapses, her armband falling off.  Jack runs towards her, only to crash into the other side of that force field and fall back.  His own armband then comes off and he collapses.  By this time Daniel and Teal’c have reached the entrance of the facility.  When the latter tries to go back for their errant teammates, he encounters a force field.  Sam wakes up and calls out “Sir?  Colonel?” for Jack to wake up, grumbling, “Should’ve brought more snacks.”

C4 Equals Ka-Boom

Meanwhile, the timer on the C4 is counting down.  Jack won’t leave Sam behind- not that he can but the sentiment is there.  Daniel double checks that Teal’c knows the consequences of staying, not that either of them would seriously consider leaving without their teammates.  I think this is more along the lines of ‘undying loyalty’ than suicide idealization.

The explosion shakes the facility and causes the force fields to shut down.  Teal’c and Daniel start to re-enter the facility but the other two show up.  Jack calls them out on not leaving and Daniel promptly blames Teal’c.  It’s now much slower going and there are guards in pursuit.  Teal’c zats them.

A guard is waking up near the DHD only to also be zatted by Teal’c before he starts to activate the Gate.  The facility starts to explode ‘properly’ as they run towards the Gate.  Anise, Hammond, and plenty of soldiers are in the control room when the quartet comes through.

Lying down on the entrance ramp, Jack points a finger at Hammond as he reminds him, “Just remember.  I retired.  You wanted me back.”

Hammond checks that they’re okay, which they are and they confirm that the ship got blown up.  They won’t get court-martialed since they were under the influence of an alien technology at the time.  Each of them apologize in turn but the still goateed Teal’c goes, “I have no need to apologize.”

“Teal’c was actually following orders,” clarifies Hammond.  I love how the general has learned to predict and enable SG-1’s antics by this point.

“Of course he was,” goes Jack.

Anise is a bit upset that the armbands got left behind, but accepts Sam pointing out that they had other priorities at the time.  Freya tells Jack that they both want to work with SG-1 again in the future.  In an equal mix of sarcastic and sincere Jack responds, “Can’t wait for that.”

Conclusion

So, I wondered why Vanessa Angel got a “special guest star” credit and therefore used Google.  Unfortunately, Wikipedia spoiled me that she’ll be showing up for the next two episodes but did clarify she gained fame as the central character on the eighties show Weird Science.

Her character(s) Anise/Freya were the secondary focus of the episode.  Anise was a scientist who apparently got a little too focused on doing science without thinking through all the consequences.  She got offended when she thought ‘mere’ human doctor Janet questioned her plans.  I think in this episode she began to learn and appreciate that humanity has a different but equally valid perspective.  Freya seems a lot more mild and retiring than her Tok’ra symbiote; I suspect more than more Tok’ra that they balance out each other.  Anise comes on too strong while Freya can be a bit of a doormat.

Janet also got more scenes than usual- or so it felt like.  Her strong ethics were reinforced here, as well as her strong desire to be careful when dealing with alien technologies interfacing with human biology.  She probably face-palmed when she heard about Jack and Teal’c using that neural interface last episode.  While Janet is curious about new technologies and the like, she clearly doesn’t want that curiosity to overrule common sense.

Jack continues to be hilarious, Daniel is called a geek in an episode where he misses a Spider-Man reference (not deliberate in-universe but still), Sam continues to be brainy, and Teal’c is loyal but also practical when dealing with an overly enthusiastic Jack.

It’s never quite clarified how/why the Atoneek culture got wiped out but the armbands were probably involved according to Anise.  It sounds like the armbands work only once on a person for a limited period of time.  But it’s definitely possible if a large enough proportion of the population had them on at the same time, that a famine could have followed due to the drastically increased food intake required for survival.  But overall, I did really enjoy this episode.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: Teal’c comes to a crossroads and Anise returns.

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