SG4-14: The Serpent’s Venom

Teal’c gets captured and tortured.  Meanwhile, his teammates go with Jacob/Selmak to prevent an alliance between Heru’ur and Apophis.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: Daniel had some uncomfortable interactions with his two former colleagues.

 

Betrayal and Blasphemy

The opening scene shows how Teal’c gets captured due to the actions of Rak’nor, a Jaffa who’s loyal to the Goa’uld and views the actions of Teal’c as blasphemy.  I really hope the other rebel Jaffa in the area didn’t get killed off, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were.  The scene also gives Teal’c a chance to restate his theory that the armies of Jaffa are the foundation of the power of the Goa’uld as well as them serving as incubators for the larva.

Hammond, Sam, and Jacob come down to the control room when the Stargate gets activated.  Evidently Jacob has been on vacation; odds are good he was with his son and grandkids last episode and that’s why he wasn’t present.  Jack wanders over, hopeful it’s Teal’c but nope, it’s a transmission from the Tok’ra.

There’s a mention of their unwitting source being Tanith from “Crossroads”.  Heru’ur and Apophis are planning to form an alliance to take out the system lords.  Daniel is put to translating a Phoenician-like language.  Jacob stresses to Jack in particular that this would be bad as the system lords’ infighting is preferably to there being a single Goa’uld in charge.  When Jack tries to demand a full explanation before they leave, Jacob takes the rug out from under him by assuring him that was his intention.

And that means a briefing!  They’ll be going to the Tobin system where there’s a planet whose people are no longer around.  But there’s still a minefield surrounding said planet that hones in on weaponry.  The plan is to reprogram one of the mines to attack Apophis’ ship so that the alliance won’t be formed as it’s inconceivable they’d wage a battle in a minefield that often acts as neutral ground.  It’ll be particularly easy as Apophis and Heru’ur have never liked each other.  And there’ll be a Tok’ra operative on Apophis’ ship to set up the signal that’ll attract the reprogramed mine.  Daniel’s expertise is needed to translate the manual to reprogram the mine.  Jacob wants both him and Sam to accompany him on this mission; after Jack clears his throat, Jacob agrees to let him come along as he’s always “fun” to have around.

Teal’c gets chained up in a chamber.  A Goa’uld, Terok, enters to torture Teal’c.  But first he sets up a recording device so that all Jaffa will see how weak Teal’c really is.  The goal of the torture is to force/gaslight Teal’c into praying to the gods (Goa’uld) for forgiveness.

14PushingUpGlasses

To make amends for that level of scariness, the next scene is made of cute.  Jack, Sam, and Jacob enter the elevator to affirm their plan to effectively divert the energies of Apophis and Heru’ur onto each other.  The elevator stops and Jack steps out to find Daniel carrying two backpacks of books as the iPad does not yet exist.  Once the two are on the elevator, Jack pushes up Daniel’s glasses as seen above.

The quartet boards Jacob’s ship once it’s uncloaked.  There are no escape pods or bulkhead as they’ll need all possible to contain the mine (which can’t touch anything or it’ll explode).  Jacob pilots, Sam and Daniel read, and Jack fiddles with his watch.  When he asks if Sam can read the book, she jokes, “It’s all Phoenician to me, sir.”

In between torture sessions, Rak’nor offers water to Teal’c but the other man refuses it even after Rak’nor assures him the device isn’t recording and that it’s just water.  It turns out the father of Rak’nor believed in Teal’c but now he’s dead along with the rest of his family.  But before that, he took away his son’s forehead marking (I suspect it hasn’t been replaced to make missions like the opening scene’s one easier).  Rak’nor believes that Apophis is a god; and apparently Sokar is dead or lying very low (like he did in the millennia after the Ra/Apophis alliance against him).

Terok affirms what Rak’nor said as he comes in and turns the device back on.  He then lies about Bra’tac breaking and then dying.  I half-wonder if this bit was in case Tony Amendola didn’t return to the show.  Rak’nor tears open/off the shirt Teal’c is wearing so that Terok can torture him by striking at the symbiote directly.

Minefield

The ship approaches the minefield, the size of which impresses the three humans.  As Sam sets up to use the rings, Jacob puts on a device to help with his piloting.  Jack and Daniel clear the space of books and Jacob cues Sam to activate the rings to mine onboard the hovering mines.  Very soon Daniel goes, “Uh-oh.”

Terok is trying to break Teal’c and by this point Rak’nor is uneasy.  Teal’c is physically battered but still refuses to be ‘saved’ by praying to the Goa’uld.  It’s definitely creepy that Terok might actually believe he’s saving Teal’c from eternal damnation by getting him to worship the Goa’uld.  In any case, the enraged Goa’uld knocks down the recording device before storming off.  Rak’nor is definitely uncomfortable with the situation while Teal’c is just exhausted (albeit a bit smug the device is recording Terok’s humiliation and not his).

Sam is able to get under the mine as Daniel keeps reading.  Jacob admits that the last time this was tried the Tok’ra in question wasn’t heard from again.  Sam nearly touches a thing before Daniel tells her to wait.  But then he confirms it’s what can be touched.  Touching the emblem, Sam causes the mine to open up to see panels and flashing lights within.  Jacob warns them to touch it nowhere but within the opening.  Daniel gets down under it to help Sam out.  Jack crouches down to check on the “kids”.

14Rak'Nor

Rak’nor picks up the recording device and puts it back on its pedestal.  Teal’c knows he’s in the right that the Goa’uld are not gods.  He reveals he’s been to their home world and points out he has no reason to lie.  Then he affirms that he is fighting to live and for a day when all Jaffa are free from the Goa’uld.  What it boils down to is that Teal’c is pretty sure he won’t be damned in the afterlife for rejecting the Goa’uld as gods.

Daniel and Sam are working together to reprogram the mine.  Jacob spots a mine nearing the ship.  The mine in the ship starts to near the floor as a result of his piloting.  Daniel scoots out and Jack helps Sam out as it continues to do so.  Jacob manages to get the situation back to its previous state so Daniel and Sam can go back under the mine.  But then Jacob warns them that someone’s something.

14TryAgain

Apophis’ ship drops out of hyperspace.  The lights are now flashing green to the concern of Daniel and Sam as that’s not part of the plan.  Jacob gets Jack to take over piloting of the ship so Selmak can help out the duo, even if it’s just to say “try again”.  Sam and Daniel accidentally triggered a failsafe so they have to enter the right combination or the mine will explode anyway in five minutes.  As Jack adjusts to this form of piloting, the other three focus on figuring out the right combination to prevent it from blowing up.

Teal’c is taken down from the ceiling, upsetting Terok.  On the bridge of his ship, Apophis is surrounded by adoring female attendants.  An image of Heru’ur shows up in front of them.

On the ship, the quartet is alerted to the ship of Heru’ur having arrived as well.  Jacob is translating their conversation… and Heru’ur has a gift for Apophis before they swear an oath to solidify the alliance.  Teal’c is brought forth onto the bridge of the ship of Heru’ur, pleasing Apophis.

Jacob reveals worriedly that the ‘gift’ is Teal’c.  Daniel is confused and Jack worried.  Sam is more focused on figuring out the combination.  Then she realizes Daniel has been acting as if the Tobins were like the ancient Phoenicians, which had no zero.  The blonde points out that this level of math requires knowledge of zero thus the two manage to reprogram the mine.

Surprises

Teal’c is dragged back to the earlier chamber to be hung up again.  Terok ‘offers’ him one last chance to repent and then die.  But Teal’c just finds that amusing as Apophis would just revive him again (and again) just to kill him.  He only slumps down once Terok and the other guy leave; Rak’nor is still present.

Jacob points out the high risks and under the circumstances Teal’c is “expendable” and basically voices Spock’s belief about one life not weighing a multitude of them.  I’m starting to suspect that Jacob is a Trekkie.  Once the mine is reprogrammed, Jacob gets ready to deploy it.  Jack is a bit worried about the Goa’uld shooting at each other but the mine is sent out.

Sam and Jacob are worried that the operative got compromised.  Daniel is more worried that the mine wasn’t reprogrammed correctly.  Then they decide to use the same method Teal’c used on Netu about intercepting the matter stream so they can snag him mid-transport.  Jacob retakes the pilot seat to do the fancy flying required, especially as the ship must be uncloaked for the maneuver to work.

Rak’nor is baffled by the endurance of Teal’c but does get him to drink some water now.  Terok and the other guy come in to transport Teal’c to Apophis’ ship.  When Teal’c attempts an escape, an unamused Terok tortures him some more (this time with his hand device) with the intent of getting to see Teal’c die at least once.  Rak’nor decides to knock out Terok with the torture device Terok himself had handed over to Rak’nor moments ago.

The Tok’ra ship tries to intercept the matter stream but it fails.  And the mine is heading for Apophis’ ship thanks to the Tok’ra operative on board.  However, Terok got transported instead of Teal’c.  Between that and the minor explosion that happens moments later, Apophis is utterly certain that Heru’ur betrayed him.

Jack wants to go back for Teal’c but more ships get uncloaked.  This includes a mothership, which Jacob/Selmak states was previously incapable of being cloaked.  A glider gets off the other ship before it explodes and other mines are triggered.  Apophis’ ship is flying off; Heru’ur and his ship got blown up.

Jacob contacts the glider since they’re concerned Heru’ur is on board; Rak’nor apparently knows a Tok’ra password (hmm… maybe Tanith’s knowledge is going both ways).  Teal’c speaks up when Jack asks for confirmation that Rak’nor rescued him, relieved to hear Jack’s voice.  They schedule where to meet up as mines continue to blow up between them.

But this is basically the “worst possible result” as Selmak spells out for the humans.  There will be no war as Heru’ur is now dead and “Apophis will easily absorb Heru’ur’s forces into his own”.  Thus Apophis will be “a bigger threat than ever before” to the system lords and thus the galaxy.

Conclusion

This was an awesome episode.  Then again, it was directed by Martin Wood and written by Peter DeLuise.  Jacob/Selmak returned and is as snarky as ever.  Jack’s snark hides his affection for his teammates.  Sam and Daniel are the brains of the operation- Sam with an emphasis on math and science while Daniel is better with languages and archeology/anthropology.  Together they make a pretty good team.

Teal’c got a subplot to himself this episode, centering on his determination that the Goa’uld are false gods and that the Jaffa should be free of them.  He refuses to even bend, let alone break, under torture.  While not overly graphic, the show didn’t shy away from showing the pain and consequences of torture.

This show of willpower converts Rak’nor, along with some of the other arguments Teal’c gives.  It’s nice to see another person of color (particularly one who survives the episode) and even nicer to get a glimpse at the ‘typical’ Jaffa perspective of the Goa’uld.  I wonder if Rak’nor will return and I know that Bra’tac will (despite Terok’s claim).

By the end of the episode, Apophis is on the brink of having more power than ever.  On the one hand, the plan to break the alliance worked perfectly.  On the other, they couldn’t have predicted that Apophis would cloak a lot of ships (including, for the first time ever, a mothership) that could cover his escape while the mines (and the ship of Heru’ur) exploded.  But it’s definitely a bonus that the rescue of Teal’c was hastened by this chain of events.

Originally at the original airdates, it looks like this was the midseason finale.  Decidedly a high note to leave the show on.  Hang on, let me check.  Season one’s was “Hathor” (um), two had “Touchstone”, and three didn’t really have one.  I mean, there was a month-long gap after “Rules of Engagement” but there was a three-week gap after “Foothold” and close to that after “Urgo”.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: Jack has to deal with Maybourne.

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