SG4-17: Absolute Power

Daniel learns a lesson from the Harcesis.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: Sam spearheaded the covert mission to get a message to their past selves to prevent an ultimately harmful alliance between Earth and the Aschen.


Return to Abydos

The team is in the desert with Kasuf, who recently heard someone saying “Sha’re” out in the desert.  Apparently some Abydonians still believe the Goa’uld are gods due to how advanced and powerful they are.  The five reach the location but there’s nothing noticeable present.

Sam brings up there’s a build-up of “static electricity” and then Daniel hears his name spoken.  A massive dust devil forms.  Jack acknowledges that’s impressive and urges Daniel to try communicating with it as it nears them.


It shrinks down into a boy in an outfit clearly inspired by Tibetan monk garb.  I’m aware this episode predates Avatar: The Last Airbender by years, but all I can think is “Aang with hair” when I see him.  The boy introduces himself as Shifu and the Harcesis to the surprise of Kasuf, Jack, and Daniel.

The credits double as a time skip since they’re back among the village’s tents now.  Daniel goes over to his teammates to confirm Shifu is the Harcesis.  Teal’c suggests that Apophis used Goa’uld technology to speed up his growth.  Oma apparently taught him to forget the genetic memory of the Goa’uld contained within him.  They decide to bring him back to SGC; Shifu wanted to learn more about Sha’re and Oma let him come alone since he was old enough.

Proverbs and Dreams

Upon their arrival, Shifu greets Hammond with an extended candle-related proverb/metaphor that Jack tries to translate while Daniel stays out of it.  Next Daniel and Shifu go to the infirmary where Janet wants to run some blood tests on the boy.  He ends up accepting that he won’t get said blood back via stating a metaphor about trees losing their leaves.

At the briefing, Janet confirms that there is nanite technology in Shifu but it’s inactive.  The odds are either Shifu reached the preprogrammed age or Oma turned off the technology.  Teal’c recaps the knowledge the Harcesis contains and how one is conceived.  Sam returns from contacting the Tok’ra about encountering him.  Janet and Daniel are both worried about how Shifu would be impacted by the Goa’uld genetic memory being brought back to the surface.  Sam suggests he could learn to forget again.

In Shifu’s guest chamber, Daniel has been talking to the boy about Sha’re.  Thanks to her actions while Amaunet tortured him, Daniel got the chance to say goodbye and a reminder about how important the Harcesis is.

Oma taught Shifu to forget the Goa’uld genetic memory since they’re too powerful to resist if engaged at all.  Daniel doesn’t think they can stave off the battle against the Goa’uld forever nor is this about the two of them.  After they trade proverbs, Daniel acknowledges he wouldn’t be asking except for how important it is.  Then Shifu knocks out Daniel.

A Slippery Slope

When Daniel wakes up in the infirmary, Janet promptly calls Jack.  Evidently she doesn’t know what Shifu did to him… but Daniel has a flash involving a Goa’uld ship.  Jack arrives just as Daniel is figuring out he’s been given telepathically data on Goa’uld technology.

He sketches some diagrams of the technology for Sam to use while they’re in his study.  At a briefing they reveal their plan to create a network of satellites to detect Goa’uld ships long before they near Earth.  Daniel doesn’t want to involve the Tok’ra since they’ve had problems with Goa’uld spies in the past and besides, SGC can just bring in outside human help.  Hammond, despite his concern over what exactly Shifu did to Daniel, agrees to talk to the Pentagon about getting more personnel.

Teal’c arrives at Daniel’s study since the other man had contacted him during his meditation.  Daniel ‘flashes’ on the image of Teal’c bowing in typical Jaffa garb before using Teal’c to double check his translation of a word.

Daniel leads the next briefing where Sam, Hammond, Major Davis, and two random guys are present.  The brunet has only grown more paranoid, unnerving the entire group.  After Daniel leaves, Major Davis expresses his irritation over the situation.

Jack drops by Daniel’s study just as the other man is putting on a Goa’uld hand device.  Despite being unable to use it due to a lack of naquadah in his bloodstream, Daniel is now aware of how it works.  Concerned by Daniel’s recent behavior, Jack tries to call him out on it but they end up squabbling.  Daniel doesn’t get Jack’s objections since he feels Jack’s primary focus has always been on fighting the Goa’uld.  He briefly ‘flashes’ on blasting Jack with the hand device when the older man asks after Teal’c, who’s currently off on a mission.  A baffled Jack soon leaves.

One Year Later

Daniel wakes up from a dream/nightmare where he uses the hand device to torture Apophis and then there’s a caption clarifying the time skip.  He’s in a mansion under heavy security and Sam has come for a visit.  He’s now exclusively in charge of developing the satellite system it seems and doesn’t want to see Sam to the point of having her security pass revoked.

Shifu is living with Daniel now as they have breakfast together.  Sam manages to enter the room, furious with his ultimate goal for the system.  The blonde was relieved from her position due to ‘cracking under the pressure’ and being ‘jealous’ but she knows she knows the real plan.  And she’s not happy with Shifu either, blaming the boy for causing the situation.  She’s dragged away and Daniel’s female assistant is bemused by her behavior.

Jack ends up visiting an imprisoned Sam, equally confused about her actions.  Sam’s been shut out by everybody else.  Somewhat understandably Jack is in denial about Daniel of all people going ‘dark side’.  It’s never quite spelled out, but something bad happened to Teal’c that possibly ended in his death.  While hurt by Jack no longer fully trusting her, Sam wants him to talk to Daniel about his actions.

Unknown to them, an upset Daniel’s been watching and listening in via the security camera.  I’m not sure whether he hacked in or actually gained access to it.

Jack goes to the mansion and ends up knocking a pink flower out of its vase.  He’s putting it back when Daniel enters the room.  It’s the day of the launch, so they get beamed by the ring transporters to Daniel’s bunker/control room.


Daniel gets into the central seat while an impressed Jack wanders around.  There are a few other people stationed in the chamber as well.  When Jack is snarky towards Daniel, the brunet scoffs at Sam’s belief he’s planning to take over the world as the military put in safety measures so he alone can’t control the satellite network.

General Vidrine shows up via Skype for the launch itself and then the champagne is broken out.  But then the general reports that the Russians and Chinese are both on high alert now.  Particularly the former who feel betrayed (as they had a Stargate-related agreement with the US) and view the network as an “act of aggression”.

Both men want to showcase the system’s power and off-screen the President has been pressed into it.  So a satellite locks onto the nearing Russian one and blows it up.  Jack sits in silence, his hands together, as he’s probably aware this will trigger World War III.

But Vidrine doesn’t want to risk a nuclear war even if that means backing down.  Dismissing him as weak, Daniel hits the override button to take total control and force the Russians to back down.  As they’re in a secure bunker, they can’t be attacked.  Daniel shuts off contact with Vidrine and wants to showcase just how powerful the satellite network is.

Jack tries to shoot him before he can act but Daniel’s protect by an energy field.  Daniel points out that wasn’t it too easy to get a loaded gun through his security?  Next he snarks about Jack not being bright and when Jack agrees, I suspect he’s referring to having trust in Daniel.  Jack tries to suggest this is a Goa’uld plot to get humanity to destroy Earth themselves.  Daniel claims that he wanted this all along, which Jack doubts.  The satellites fire to destroy Moscow via special effects.

A New Path

Janet and Jack are watching over Daniel in the infirmary.  When Jack calls it a coma, Janet refutes that Daniel has rapid eye movement so he can’t be in one.  Jack exits.  A Tok’ra guy has arrived and suggests maybe the Harcesis isn’t the real deal.

Sam admits that Shifu will only say that he’s teaching Daniel.  They want to use the device from “Divide and Conquer” to see whether or not the boy is lying; Jack references “Singularity” in regards to the Goa’uld using unwitting children in their schemes.

Sam ends up strapping in Shifu to the chair and comments on how the device was used on her in the past.  Shifu is blasé about the situation.  Jack, Hammond, and Teal’c are all watching form the adjoining room.  The Tok’ra activates the device, so Sam asks after Daniel.  Shifu states he is teaching Daniel about the battle between the conscious and subconscious as well as that the evil buried in his mind is too strong to resist if engaged with.

Daniel arrives to confirm this.  Janet shows up in the adjoining room to tell Hammond and Jack that he woke up a few minutes ago.  While he doesn’t want to discuss the dream, Daniel will acknowledge it’s time for him to take “a new path” as it’s not safe for anybody to access what’s in Shifu’s subconscious.

Shifu thanks Daniel for telling him about Sha’re.  When Daniel tells him she’d be proud of him, Shifu responds that she’d be proud of Daniel as well.  He claims they’ll meet again “eventually”.  The Tok’ra guy is confused but Sam is aware they don’t have a choice about letting Shifu go.

Shifu Ascends into a glowing energy being and exits the chamber.  As the alarms start to blare throughout the base, Jack tells Hammond to tell everybody to stand down and “get the heck out of the way”.  Although dubious, Hammond does use the intercom to give an order to that effect.

The Gate is activated as Hammond and SG-1 enter the control room.  As he approaches the wormhole, Shifu briefly reveals his human face as he looks back at the four to wave goodbye.  He goes through the Gate, which then shuts down.  Everybody is quiet and astonished, while Daniel is also worn out.


I’ll admit that until the time skip was stated I didn’t realize it was an extended dream sequence.  I feel particularly sheepish as the episode deliberately brought up “Forever in a Day” right before it started that chunk of the episode.  I am grateful the aftermath of Moscow’s destruction wasn’t seen, since I suspect it featured a lot of nuclear attacks.

Apparently over the millennia, the Goa’uld have grown more and more evil due to the expansion of their genetic memory.  That’s creepy.  Shifu, the Harcesis, makes an appearance here.  Evidently Oma helped him forget that aspect of him so that he can be a good person and eventually Ascend.

The episode title refers to the saying ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.  There might be benefits to accessing the Goa’uld genetic memory, but the cost to the person doing the accessing is too high and would also lead to countless deaths.  SGC and its allies need to find a different way to defeat the Goa’uld.

A secondary moral is that there is the potential for evil in everybody, but in most cases it can be successfully denied like with the members of SG-1.  It’s just that the Goa’uld genetic memory effectively guarantees that those who inherit it (or get access to it) become evil since nearly all of their ancestors were evil as well.

Hopefully Daniel’s psyche isn’t too shaken by this brush with his inner diabolical dictator.  Also, I wish we’d seen more of him and Shifu talking about Sha’re in order to better flesh out her character, even if (or especially since) she’s dead.


Next time on Stargate SG-1: Daniel gets himself into trouble (yet again).


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