SG5-6: Rite of Passage

Cassandra suffers from a retrovirus.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: The team nearly caused a planet’s Ragnarok.


Birthday Gone Bad

Janet (in blue) and Sam (in pink) want to celebrate Cassandra’s birthday.  The blonde even bought a cake, although apparently Janet thought at first the other woman made it.  Janet has lit fourteen candles on it, so I’m presuming that’s her age.  Cassie is being grumpy and generally a teenager as well as getting over a cold of some sort.  She’s wearing the third primary color, yellow.  It’s admitted on the commentary that Cassandra’s actor here is actually the same actress who played Ally in “Bane”.

She goes out on the front porch where Dominic is.  He got her a small prism since she loved the ones used in class.  They lean in and kiss; the light flickers out both inside and out before she collapses.  Suddenly I have déjà vu about Anna Marie’s manifestation of her mutant ability.

I swear on my copy of Once on a Time that I wrote the previous sentence before one of the commenters pointed out that exact same parallel.  Actually, I wrote over a page in Word before starting the commentary… I’m just editing as things come up while I continue writing the review.  For my other reviews, I got background music on while the episode’s muted while I re-watch and grab screen-caps.

The two women come out.  Checking on her unconscious daughter, Janet realizes she has a temperature.  Sam interrogates the panicky teen with help from Janet.

Sam’s in the infirmary with the still unconscious Cassie.  Jack comes in and Janet comes over to reveal that the teen is suffering from a retrovirus.  According to my dictionary, that means it’s a RNA virus that form DNA during the replication of their RNA, then transferring said genetic material into the DNA of the host organism’s cells.  That sounds like something out of science-fiction… um.  Well.  You know what I meant.

Cassie wakes up and is out of it; she thinks she’s back on her home planet and wants to go to the forest.  The lights overhead flicker as she falls unconscious again.

Hammond holds a briefing with Jack, Janet, Sam, and Teal’c.  Janet explains retroviruses and how it’s probably one from her home planet as they can be dormant for years.  She’s afraid there’ll be brain damage as a result.

Daniel comes in to reveal that back before the events of “Singularity” SG-7 noted that “mind fire” was a semi-regular event among teens on Cassandra’s home planet.  Some video footage of one such impacted teen is shown.  The elders refused any medicine as their plan of sending the afflicted teens into the woods alone worked just fine- somehow they returned in a few days, back to normal.

Teal’c points out there were issues with the atmosphere.  Sam refutes that was four years ago and besides, they can always use a MALP to check.

As the sun sets, the four travel through a wormhole to the planet.  They find a glowing handprint on a tree in the woods.  Teal’c notes there was once a campfire.  Sam suggests they collect plant samples in case there’s a natural cure.  By placing his hand on the handprint, Daniel starts up the campfire.

Moments later, Jack and Teal’c get ringed into a Goa’uld laboratory.  Jack tries to contact the other two over the radio.  I haven’t really discussed this, but Jack tends to call Sam ‘Carter’ but uses Daniel’s first name.  It’s probably a sign of him trying to maintain a professional relationship with her.  Similarly, Sam tends to call Jack ‘sir’.

Teal’c theorizes they’re in Nirrti’s lab and explains that again when Sam and Daniel ring themselves into the chamber.  Daniel gives a gizmo and suggests this place was core to the initiation rite.  Jack is baffled by the idea of Nirrti healing the teens, particularly as she later killed off the whole village save for Cassandra… and that was to wipe out SGC.

Daniel suggests it was part of a long-term experiment and accidentally raises up a bunch of items.  While bemused, the four figure they might be useful.

Down in the infirmary, Janet realizes Cassie has left.  The teen is heading down the hallway, determined to get to the forest.  She lashes out at Janet as she tries to reach the elevator.  Some guards get involved and ultimately Cassie’s anger causes a partial power outage as well as lots of sparks.

Lady Magneto!

Sam returns to give Hammond an update on what they’ve found as well as get one on Cassandra.  The general wants Sam to see Cassie for herself.

Janet’s in the glass-walled room as the teen sleeps.  Sam joins her.  The brunette explains things as they stand here before they go into the isolation chamber to talk to Cassie about what they found out and how Nirrti is connected.  Unfortunately, they don’t yet know what the experiment’s goal is.  Cassie doubts they’ll be able to stop it.

Jack finds a gizmo in the lab and asks Teal’c about it.  Daniel is reading and finds the term Hok’tar.  Suddenly nothing beams in.  Daniel figures he just pressed a button.  Uneasy, Jack wants to leave.  A POV switch shows that somebody is watching the guys.

In Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Sam goes to visit Cassie.  The two of them play chess every other Saturday if Sam’s on Earth.  Cassie thinks she’s changing into something else and they can’t stop it.  Cassie reminds Sam that her real/birth mother died when Nirrti poisoned their village.  Sam tries to refute that Janet has been a real mother to Cassie.

“It’s different now.  I’m different now.”

She demonstrates that she can now do a form of telekinesis, getting a knight to move into her hand.  It’s recalled that Jack still calls said pieces “horses”.  Cassie comments, “He always pretends he’s not as smart as he really is.”

Sam still sees Cassie first and foremost and always will.  Then the blonde resumes setting up the game.

Hammond is bemused by the footage of Cassie.


Jack explains, “Magnets.  Magnets.  Every one of those pieces got a little tiny magnet in the bottom of it to hold it on the board when you’re driving so they don’t rattle off.  Anyway, every one of those magnets has got a little electrical field around it.  That’s how she was able to manipulate them.  Magnets.”

Hammond is still bemused.  Jack adds, “They do look like horses.”

On the other side of the table, Teal’c, Daniel, and Janet are also confused.  It’s explained that Hok means advanced while tar is slang for Tauri.  Together it means advanced humans.  This is another reason why this is a reference to Amethyst Marie’s Legend of Korra blog post.  Generally, it’s because Cassandra is developing electromagnetic powers and suffered due to a genocide.  And chess is brought up.

The retrovirus is a catalyst for the powers.  A Hok’tar would make a powerful host.  It’s theorized that is another reason for Nirrti to wipe out the village- to keep SGC from learning about the experiment.  This experiment is long-term, taking generations to succeed.

Janet is concerned about Cassie’s still rising fever and then goes to visit the blonde, who’s making a knight piece spin around in midair.  Fatalistic about her fate, the blonde is also intrigued by the idea of becoming powerful.  When she tries to grab the piece, Janet gets a minor burn.  Cassie apologizes for that.  Janet wants Cassie to fight this illness and not just accept it, stroking the side of her face.  As Cassie starts to spin the knight in midair again, Janet awkwardly moves away.

Janet and Sam are in the latter’s study.  Cassie has been awake for thirty hours straight, which is yet another worry for the brunette.  Sam offers to talk to her about it when she visits next.  The invisible something is clicking and studying other scans on the computer screen once the women leave.

Sam goes to visit Cassie, who drops the piece when she arrives.  The teen brings up the climax of “Singularity” and it’s discussed that Sam had an instinct that Cassie would be fine.  Cassie explains she has a similar instinct about this situation.  But she still wants Sam around when the time comes… right now Cassie does want to sleep.  Sam kisses the teen’s forehead.

Janet’s in the infirmary, doing research despite being tired and worried.  She leaves, the door then opening wider.  Becoming visible, Nirrti in blue-black garb looks over the notes.  Walking down the hallway, Janet reaches the elevator to realize she’s left behind her pass card.  As she does her reading, Nirrti invisibles herself when she hears Janet approach.  The brunette is bemused by her clipboard being in a different spot.  Grabbing her card, Janet spots something on one of the scans.


Janet is talking to Sam about finding a bone fragment from one of the cremated bodies back on the planet to find a way to cure Cassie.  But then the alarms blare and the two head down to Cassie’s room.  A Goa’uld tried to attack, but ran away when Cassie screamed.  Sam gets on the phone to report the situation.

The others show up.  Teal’c reminds the group that Nirrti could become invisible.  Daniel realizes that the Goa’uld holding her prisoner- Cronus- died so it’s very possible she got freed.  The team puts together the plan and decide to search the base for the Goa’uld.

Jack opts to stay with Cassie and Janet.  The latter is confused why Nirrti only came after Cassie now if she’s been here for a while.  Sam and Daniel are a team while Teal’c explores with two guys.  Once cleared, the levels are locked off.

Cassie warns them just before Nirrti crashes through a window.  Jack manages to zat her before he alerts the teams via radio.  But then Cassie starts to convulse to Janet’s fear.

Healing Process

Nirrti is tied up in a cell when Jack and Hammond come in to ask after Cassandra.  Jack is angry, but the Goa’uld knows she has a trump card with her potential to save the teen.

Daniel does his best to reassure Janet.  The brunette goes to visit Cassandra, wanting her daughter to fight this disease but Cassie is still on the ‘let it happen’ train.  The teen asks after Sam.  Janet grabs a thing of morphine before leaving.  Going to Nirrti’s cell, Janet knocks out the guard before entering the cell to hold a gun on her.

Hammond hears out SG-1’s debate over what to do with Nirrti.  He and Teal’c agree it’s too risky to let Nirrti leave Earth but the other three point out all the humanitarian reasons to help Cassie as well as the personal ones.  They end up going to the cell where there are guards with guns at the ready.

It turns out Hammond has been convinced to let Nirrti help in exchange for her freedom.  Nirrti isn’t impressed by only leaving with her stuff once Cassie is healed.  Hammond ‘reminds’ her that Cassandra’s mother is the one holding a gun on her.

Surrounded by guards, Nirrti attempts to use two Goa’uld gizmos to try healing Cassandra.  She claims they waited too long.  Perhaps remembering her similar claim back in “Fair Game”, Janet tells her to try again.  Nirrti does so and the nurse confirms Cassandra’s life signs are going back to normal.

Cassie is confused as she awakens while Nirrti is irritable.  She does call Janet ‘mom’ at this point.  Jack stops to look back as Janet and Cassie hug with Sam nearby.  The Gate is activated with new coordinates.  The Goa’uld warns them that it’s not her final destination.  Nirrti will have to start her experiment all over again and is baffled by SGC upholding their end of the bargain as she knows she wouldn’t in their shoes.  She goes through the wormhole.

Hammond and Jack are acutely aware this will end up backfiring on them but it was to save Cassie.

The teen is in the infirmary, doing her piled-up homework.  Janet’s present as Sam comes in to visit.  Sam starts to tease her about Dominic before it’s time for chess again.  Janet’s delighted that everything is back to normal.


I do wish there had been a conclusion about Cassie’s claim that Janet wasn’t her ‘real’ mother.  It was spelled out by the other characters that Janet was indeed a mother to Cassie, but I wish Cassie herself had confirmed that.  Then again, people do tend to lash out when sick so hopefully there was an off-screen apology.

This episode centered around Janet and Cassandra rather than any of SG-1.  Well, Sam played a minor role.  The guys were all in the background; this episode was high in estrogen, even the villain was female.  And I do love how it was clearly shown that Janet and Sam are good friends as well as both invested in Cassie’s well-being and upbringing.  I wouldn’t go quite as far as saying Cassie has ‘two mommies’ but there’s certainly no father figure in her life, but it definitely seems that was always how things were for her as no biological father is mentioned here.  A little more about Cassandra’s home planet was revealed here.

I can’t necessarily blame Cassie for going on a bit of a power trip as she gained Magneto-like powers.  The process even happens during puberty like with mutants.  Hopefully Cassandra will return in a future episode… oh no, she’ll likely be in that “Heroes” two-parter, won’t she?  Eep.  In any case, the episode title comes from the fact that suffering from “mind fire” was a rite of passage to adulthood back in her village.

Nirrti returns to be so villainous she doesn’t get why SGC would uphold their end of their bargain.  She’ll probably return in a future episode.  Clearly Goa’uld in general are interested in genetically manipulating humans with the goal to get better (more powerful) hosts as seen here and hinted at back in “Brief Candle”.  This is liable to pop up again in a future episode.

I did love Jack’s speech about magnets.  The commentary confirms that Richard Dean Anderson was hilarious when they were filming that scene.  As always, a Peter DeLuise directed episode is awesome.  Furthermore, the next one is written by him!


Next time on Stargate SG-1: The team helps out some enslaved Unas.


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