Bra’tac visits SGC to put the brainwashed Teal’c on the path to recall his true beliefs, despite the risk to his ex-student’s life.
Last time on Stargate SG-1: Daniel, Jack, Jacob/Selmak, and Sam worked together to get home as well as take out some Replicators and Apophis.
Time Skip and the Flashbacks Begin
The episode opens with Dr. Mackenzie’s efforts to rehabilitate Teal’c having failed. Evidently it’s been a few weeks since “Enemies” and there were off-screen shenanigans to get Bra’tac to SGC. While I understand why that wasn’t an episode, I do wish that mission had been one because it sounds interesting. Once he zats Teal’c, Bra’tac reaches into the other Jaffa’s pouch to pull out his symbiote as part of his plan.
General Hammond is holding a briefing with the trio and Bra’tac about said plan. Bra’tac more or less implies that the real Teal’c would rather be dead than be “loving a false god” and that certainly his teammates don’t want him to be like this. He’s certain that “the rite of M’al Sharran is the only way”.
Daniel translates that as “last rite”. The plan is to have Teal’c relive his true path as he lies dying as a variant of the ‘life flashing before your eyes’ experience, which Daniel compares it to in-show. Bra’tac has done this twice in his life, but both times the Jaffa died, albeit he’s certain they died free.
Janet’s in the infirmary where Teal’c is strapped down and there are lit candles everywhere. His immune system is already failing and it goes against Janet’s morals to do nothing and wants to take this up with Hammond. Bra’tac wants Janet to stay to help Teal’c return to them when the time comes.
Teal’c currently believes that Apophis will come for him.
Jack says, “I don’t think so, buddy. I know we’ve been over this a few times, but in case you weren’t listening, I am one hundred percent s-sure…”
Sam and Daniel look uncomfortable at this assessment, so Jack amends, “Ninety-nine percent sure Apophis is dead.”
I am amused and suspect that one percent will come back to haunt them. In any case, Teal’c is still brainwashed and Bra’tac wants Teal’c to remember the truth.
I can’t call this a clip show as it’s almost all new footage, but there are a lot of flashbacks in this episode. This first one has Bra’tac bring Teal’c and two other Jaffa before Apophis because the three did well in the most recent battle. Ro’nak and his fate is brought up. Teal’c believes his father did not fail his god by losing an unwinnable battle nor was he a coward. Thinking Ro’nak should have died trying, Apophis uses the hand device on Teal’c for defending his father.
Daniel is unnerved by Teal’c screaming. Bra’tac explains it’s a “conjured memory”. Janet is worried about the pain so he points out that the path Teal’c took was full of suffering. Teal’c is now unconscious which is for the best as that’s the part of him that must be reached.
Bra’tac accepts that his ways are strange to them but he knows the ways of the Jaffa. He asks them to speak to Teal’c even as he sleeps while he meditates to restore his strength. Jack suggests that Sam takes him to the VIP room.
As the two walk down a hallway, Bra’tac admits that he knows his symbiote will mature within two years and that a new one would reject him due to his age. He has come to terms with his fate as he has lived a good time and is equally sure either Teal’c will return as they know or he’ll die and not be a threat/problem anymore.
Janet is busy in the background as Daniel sits on a stool by Teal’c but can’t think of what to say so Jack takes his place. It turns out that Jack considers Teal’c his best friend and that him being a fake defector makes no sense as that would make him the “most ineffective double agent in the history of double agent-ing”.
Va’lar is said by Teal’c twice. Jack and Daniel are confused.
Teal’c is reliving a memory where all the young Jaffa are in their bunks, possibly on a ship. He tells a friend about his encounter with Apophis and his confusion why his god punished him for loving his father and is conflicted despite the friend’s faith in Apophis as their god.
Jack and Daniel continue to discuss the word; Jack heard Valar while Daniel heard velour, the fabric. Teal’c states that Va’lar was his friend. It’s here that the time skip is confirmed as having been a few weeks. Daniel asks about the guy; they served together in Apophis’ personal guard and that what happened to him was that Va’lar failed his god. Teal’c starts yelling, unable to be distracted again, and is angry, leading Janet to want to start an IV.
Teal’c flashes back to training blindfolded with Bra’tac in the snow. He doesn’t get the importance of the blindfold and certain he’s stronger than Bra’tac. But the other Jaffa is wily and more experienced, easily defeating him.
“I was not prepared,” he claims. Anybody else instantly think of Mark Oshiro?
Bra’tac is frustrated with Teal’c not learning and knows that Apophis isn’t all powerful nor all-seeing. He feels that faith, “blind faith least of all,” will not save Teal’c or anybody else in battle.
“Rely on your own strength and your own wits or you are of no use to me.”
Daniel and Jack are trying to talk to Teal’c about him being illogical in claiming to have been a double agent and know he has questioned his faith in the past.
“Do not test my temper, woman!” Teal’c shouts, seemingly in response to Daniel’s commentary. He is in fact flashbacking to a discussion with Drey’auc about Bra’tac doubting Apophis. Drey’auc fully believes that Apophis is a god and points out that Teal’c is currently serving two masters before going to him for a kiss.
“A woman?” goes Daniel. “Did- did he just call me a woman?”
“Yes, I believe he did,” confirms Jack.
Sam returns to the room and the guys give her an update. Next she goes over to Janet to check on the symbiote, which is fine for now. Janet plans to resign if Teal’c dies because this is going against her ethics. Sam is aware they’re not doing nothing but Janet remains uneasy.
Returning over to the guys, she asks after Teal’c.
“He talked about fabric briefly,” claims Jack. I think he’s just messing around or he’s legitimately convinced Teal’c had a friend named velour.
“He just called me a woman.”
“So I think it’s working.”
“Well, something’s happening,” acknowledges Daniel.
Sam suggests they take turns sitting with him. Jack wants to rest a bit before returning and then it’ll be Daniel’s turn. So it’s time for Sam to sit with Teal’c, certain he won’t die but Teal’c thinks otherwise. A discussion about Earth religion is sidestepped; mostly because the Christian god hasn’t personally led rampaging armies against other gods. She knows he actually believes in freedom, justice, and stopping the false gods.
Failing His God
Teal’c is still stuck on Va’lar and his fate. He flashbacks to being in a hallway where there’s a battered Va’lar as in the battle against Ra’s forces the gliders forced them to retreat. Va’lar knows it wouldn’t have profited anyone to just fight only to die.
Telling him to go to their sleeping quarters, Teal’c goes to Apophis and Bra’tac on the bridge. Apophis feels that Va’lar is a disgrace. Teal’c tries to protect his friend but admits he wouldn’t have done what Va’lar did. To be fair, Teal’c is actually not one for retreating and can withstand a lot, as seen in “The Serpent’s Venom”.
Apophis wants Teal’c to kill Va’lar. Bra’tac is horrified but silent. So he heads back to the sleeping quarters where Va’lar is. He’s brought to the ring room in handcuffs as other Jaffa watch on silently. They beam down to the burning, rubble-filled city.
Va’lar accepts the knowledge he should have died on the battlefield and kneels, despite his fear. Teal’c puts his staff weapon to his neck and tells him to rise. Getting out a small knife, Teal’c cuts the handcuffs and tells him where to go as well as warns him not to get captured by either side. Va’lar doesn’t want Teal’c to get into trouble for his sake, certain Apophis will know Teal’c spared him. But Teal’c tells him to go.
As Va’lar leaves, Teal’c finds a nearby dying Jaffa. He beams back onboard where Apophis is waiting. He holds up the symbiote he took from the dying Jaffa, pleasing Apophis. Suddenly I’m reminded of Snow White. Maybe that was a deliberate parallel? Teal’c silently realizes that Apophis is no god.
Sam is dabbing a cloth on the face of Teal’c. Hammond is in the adjoining glass-walled room and Jack comes in to sit next to him. He tries to assure the general they did the right thing. But Hammond is afraid what will happen to Teal’c if the rite fails and he survives. Jack tries to reassure him yet both remain worried.
In a flashback, Teal’c gets out of bed to splash water on his face. Drey’auc awakens and is concerned. He’s been having nightmares as after leading a battalion to retake one of Ra’s planets, Teal’c was commanded by Apophis to burn down a village.
Drey’auc doesn’t see the problem with this as she’s mainlined the Kool-Aid. Teal’c points out innocent women and children were killed and that was the village he sent Va’lar to. Drey’auc tries to reassure him but Teal’c remains uneasy. At this point she’s heavily pregnant with Rya’c and points out their son needs a father and will be lucky to have a real home. Yet Teal’c is still ashamed of himself so she hugs him to her.
Bra’tac is training out in the snow again when Teal’c runs up to him, excited to be First Prime. Actually, it’s drizzling. Bra’tac isn’t happy about Teal’c being excited as he knows the other Jaffa knows the truth about the Goa’uld. He’s aware that currently there’s no other option but to serve them yet is aware they are the source of much of the Goa’uld power. In his time as First Prime, Bra’tac has been able to save many lives but at other times he had to carry out Apophis’ orders, meaning he has also done deeds he cannot forgive himself for and knows Teal’c will do the same. The goal is to “make a difference” as often as they can. He walks off, leaving Teal’c alone in the snow.
The Choice is Made
Next is a flashback showing a new scene from “Children of the Gods” of Teal’c showing the captive trio to Bra’tac from the gates’ grille. Bra’tac is not impressed but Teal’c rightfully suspects they are strong and have tasted freedom. The older Jaffa is afraid that his dreams of freedom will be the undoing of Teal’c. He thinks their best fate is not be hosts.
In the present, Teal’c is clearly suffering and goes, “What have I done?”
Jack makes a call for Bra’tac to come down before he’s starting to flat line. Upon arrival, he warns them that this is the moment of choice for Teal’c. Hammond has Janet stand aside and she’s not happy about it. Bra’tac goes to Teal’c to state his options.
Teal’c continues to flashback to the events of the pilot. Bra’tac shouts in the other Jaffa’s face while Janet wants to do something, so Bra’tac yells, “Choose!”
When Teal’c is silent, a miserable Bra’tac lets Janet do her medical stuff: putting the symbiote back in and using the defibrators. Teal’c continues to flashback to the bit where Jack makes his plea to Teal’c and he acts to rescue the group. Then come a veritable storm of clips from past episodes.
“I choose freedom,” Teal’c says to everybody’s relief.
Bra’tac checks on him by staring into his eyes like he did at the start of the episode and states, “The rite has succeeded. He has returned to us.”
Jack double-checks that Teal’c is himself again and agrees, “That’s good enough for me.”
Relieved it worked out, Janet starts to remove the restraints. Teal’c greets his teammates and clasps forearms with Bra’tac. Pledging allegiance to Earth and the Tauri, Teal’c wants to rejoin SG-1, a request Hammond agrees to.
This was a great episode that gave us a look at how Teal’c became a disbeliever about the Goa’uld being gods. Bra’tac makes a return and Drey’auc is seen in flashbacks. It’s probably telling that SG-1 went for Bra’tac over her, though I can get why they wouldn’t want Rya’c to see his father like this. Given what Teal’c endured through in “The Serpent’s Venom” I don’t want to know what exactly Apophis did to brainwash him so absolutely in such a short timeframe. Maybe a more potent version of whatever Set did, so that an electric charge didn’t undo it?
I have to wonder if the name of Va’lar is a deliberate nod to Middle-Earth’s Valar, which were basically the gods of that realm although there is a singular creator in Eru. There seems to be a sort of parallel if that’s the case, though I’m not quite sure what as the Valar were benevolent beings and the Goa’uld definitely are not. Then again, Va’lar seemed to accept the Goa’uld as all-powerful gods.
Va’lar seems to never stop believing in Apophis and I have to wonder if he’s actually dead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we didn’t see a village getting razed, but now I doubt if Va’lar ever reached it and Teal’c just thought he was concealed among the residents. It’d be interesting to see him show up in a future episode and learn whether or not he has changed his beliefs.
Jack, Sam, Daniel, Janet, and Hammond were all minor characters here, as this was very much a Teal’c episode with some Bra’tac on the side. It looks like Bra’tac has a far more pessimistic view of how long the Goa’uld will rule the galaxy and is generally more accepting of ‘fate’.
Janet is determined to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and do all possible help towards injured beings. She’s admirable like that. I know why the others were firm on her doing anything and they were evidently right about it, but I still admire her unwillingness to stand by idly while someone was in pain and/or dying.
Next time on Stargate SG-1: An Ascended being is smitten with Sam.