SG5-13: Proving Ground

Four recruits must prove themselves to SG-1 that they can be part of the Stargate program.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: There was a show-within-a-show to celebrate reaching triple digits!

 

Training Exercise

Jack and Teal’c are outside a warehouse, looking for the missing Sam and Daniel, along with a quartet of young Air Force people.  The two SG-1 members go in and gunshots are heard, Jack calling for backup over the radio.

The quartet heads into the warehouse, which has been used as a set in multiple past episodes.  Sam’s upright, with a gun aimed at the lying down Daniel.  Jack and Teal’c are on the floor as well.  The blonde claims she’s Tok’ra and he’s a Goa’uld, her voice symbiote-deep.  Daniel’s voice is normal and he claims it’s the other way around.  Grogan shoots Sam down to the others’ annoyance, Daniel using an intar gun on everybody else while briefly using the Goa’uld voice to spell things out.  Afterwards, Daniel ‘blows’ across the barrel.  It turns out they use the ‘weapons’ seen in “Rules of Engagement” for their training exercises, even if the events of that episode aren’t ever mentioned in this one.

Jack ‘wakes’ up as everybody else gets up, cranky at how things ended.  The recruits leave the warehouse.  Daniel then comments that Jack’s being too hard on them, an opinion which Jack refutes.

In the warehouse, Jack is particularly upset with Lt. Elliot.  Sam is also present for the debriefing.  Satterfield is an Asian woman; Jennifer Hailey, last seen in “Prodigy”, notes that she believed Daniel’s story because she thinks he’s cute.  Hailey correctly theorizes that what they should have done is zat them both to sort things out later.

Elliot got stuck on how Jack and Teal’c could have been taken out, given their combined experience and abilities.  Jack thinks the younger man is overthinking matters and points out they have just one more day of training left to see if they’ll be assigned to a SG team before dismissing them.

As they leave, Sam admits that Elliot pointed out a valid ‘plot hole’ in the exercise.  Concurring, Jack wants to fix that for next time they do it.

Outside the warehouse, Elliot apologizes to a still prickly Jack.  The young man is certain he’s capable of going off-world but Jack remains dubious.

The four recruits are at the Jeeps.  Hailey has some hero-worship for SG-1, including Jack.  Her fellow recruits are fed up with her recounting the events of “Prodigy”, but to be fair this is probably one of the few times she’s been able to talk about it at all.  In any case, she wants all four to pass and is aware that it is partially up to their performance if they’ll join SGC when the others claim that it’s not up to them if they get in or not.  Hailey corrals two of her teammates into going onto a run.  I think Elliot is the one who stayed behind.  I’ll admit that I’m kind of fuzzy telling apart Elliot and Grogan, given their similar appearances.  Mostly Elliot is the one that talks and does stuff and there are usually context clues in most scenes.

Sam is at the SGC mess when Jack shows up to sit across from her.  The two of them debate the merits of this latest batch of recruits, both of them still approving of Hailey.  Sam tries to get Jack to think about when he was their age, Jack denies he was ever their age so Sam leaves to his confusion.

Things Get Blurry

The next day, Jack gives the four their final mission objective to retrieve some alien tech from within a warehouse.  There’s twelve minutes of ‘portal time’ left and the Stargate is half a mile away.  At the push of a button, Jack sets the cars between them and the warehouse on fire.

The quartet gets started, the air getting smokier as they approach the building.  Once inside, they spot somebody on the second floor so they take cover.  A ‘firefight’ breaks out, with Jack’s intar on max.  Grogan gets left behind and told to leave when he gets hit.  The others keep looking for the alien tech.

Hailey is aware there’s ‘radiation’.  Lights come on as something wrapped in canvas lowers from the roof.  Elliot opens it up to reveal a silvery orb that opens up to reveal wires and such within.  Hailey accidentally triggers a booby trap and wants to disarm it.  Elliot refutes that there’s not enough time.  Hailey wants to know her orders.

Jack is checking his watch just outside the warehouse when the trio comes out.  Elliot admits to the failure as there’s a small explosion within.  Hailey tries to support her team leader to Jack’s irritation.  Elliot first says he didn’t want to risk his teammates but then admits what happened with Grogan.  Jack makes it clear that leaving behind one of your men is the only flaw he will not tolerate, pointing out that Grogan ‘died’ because he was still in the warehouse.

13recruits

Getting a call, he walks off.  Grogan comes out of the warehouse to ask how they did.  Hailey is the first to realize that something’s up with Jack’s call.  Ending the call, Jack returns to the recruits, telling them to go home to be contacted later.

Two Jeeps drive up, causing a cranky Jack to get out his weaponry.  He goes over to talk to the guys as the recruits translate the code he used during his call.  Evidently there’s a foothold situation going on in Stargate Command.  Jack takes out the guys, Elliot briefly holding back his trio.

Jack’s been injured and is prickly as he was about to fail Elliot.  Undeterred, the younger man points out that they’re the only backup he currently has.

In the woods near the entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, there’s a circular thingy that will take them into the base.  Jack wants to search for Carter as she was the one who called him, putting in his access code to open up the hatch.

Elliot goes in first.  Presumably he’s followed by his fellow recruits with Jack bringing up the end.  They manage to get into the base, security cameras watching them.  They go to the armory to get real guns as “backup”, with their intars put on maximum.  They hide in the armory and eavesdrop as Teal’c gives orders to two guys to find Sam as Daniel wants her put to death.  Hammond has been captured to be “conformed” as well.

Soon the group uses intars on a guard, using his card to get into a room, dragging him in.  In the lab, Jack stresses for them to use intar rounds only as these are their people under mind control.  Hailey uses the computer to look at the screens, learning that the Gate is active but the Gate system is isolated from the base mainframe so she can’t shut it down from here.

Yay for security!  In any case, it’s confirmed that Doctor Jackson looks to be in charge, making Jack grumpy.

They watch Daniel use a device in the briefing room as Jack snarks.  Satterfield realizes he’s been possessed or something similar.  Hailey zooms in on it but can’t get a good look.  They want to check out his study so Grogan and Satterfield leave.

Elliot and Hailey are to go shut down the Gate, the former wanting Jack to stay put and be safe.  They’ll use radios to stay in contact.  Jack gives his access card to Hailey and reminds them that these are their people.  As the duo leaves, Jack goes, “Damn.”

The two of them get into a firefight in a hall.

Satterfield and Grogan take out a guard before reaching Daniel’s study.  She’s in awe before Grogan points out, “We’re not here on a tour, Satterfield.”

She goes to his computer to look up some files.

Hailey shoots a guy, seemingly for real.  She’s distraught but Elliot tells her they have to keep going.

Satterfield learns that the object was brought back from Agros and might be a Goa’uld Trojan Horse of sorts.  It’s pointed out that’s the planet from “Brief Candle” which means nanotech.

Jack takes a phone call just as Elliot and Hailey near the Gate room; he has them retreat back to his position as a result.  Hailey does technobabble about the nanobots.  Jack is snarky and wants them to shut down the device in the briefing room.

Elliot has a plan to take out the device and shut down the Gate at the same time; all four recruits leave.  Jack gets up once they’re gone to make a phone call, giving the others a heads-up.

The recruits find Sam in a hallway, who feigns confusion and wants to find Jack.  Satterfield does a pat-down to ensure she doesn’t have any weaponry on her.  They return to find Jack with another guy; Elliot takes out the guard while Sam grabs Satterfield’s gun to point at Jack, pointing out he must have been compromised.

There’s a brief argument which ends when Elliots uses an intar on Jack.  It turns out the markers in Sam’s blood keep her from being influenced by this variant of Goa’uld technology.  The recruits are put in charge of shutting down the Gate while Sam works on a cure.  After they leave, Jack starts to blink awake, making the blonde go, “Whoops.”

The quartet reaches an area, Grogan put in charge of taking out Daniel and they go up a ladder.

Just Another Exercise

Jack and Sam are chatting, him irritated with her for ‘getting’ him shot.  She points out that he told them to put the intars on maximum stun, Jack refuting he did that to ensure Daniel didn’t get it easy for once.  It turns out that a Pentagon guy and Hammond are monitoring the situation from another room.  In a security room, said duo make a bet (the details of which aren’t specified).  This new training program is being more effective than past ones.  But since they have to cordon off several floors of the base once every few months at this point, Hammond hopes to put into the budget an off-world training facility.

The commentary admits they expanded this scene to fill out the rest of the episode’s time slot.  Apparently this guy got to tell Elliot about the special program he was picked for.  Jack and Sam enter the room as the quartet gets into place, having split up.

Jack suspects that Elliot knows it’s another test and it’s revealed that Jack had them pull back because the phone call told him that SG-3 was returning.  He’s now grumpy because surely they knew about the scenario being played out.  But it turns out the team returned because they were under fire by a Goa’uld and his forces.

Daniel is chilling in the general’s chair, which he enjoys as it’s “really comfortable” and furthermore just prefers this scenario to the last one.  Teal’c is sitting across from him.  Jack calls Daniel and is diabolically silent on whether Daniel will be captured or shot to the brunet’s concern.

It’s time to ‘battle’ it out in the briefing room.  Satterfield gets to take out both Teal’c and Daniel while poor Grogan gets injured.  She goes to set up the C4 to take out the alien device.  Grogan, Elliot, and Satterfield leave the briefing room to avoid the explosion.

Satterfield goes back as the timer counts down to ensure Daniel’s safety, pulling the unconscious man away from the open office door.  But then the C4 doesn’t go off to their concern.  It’s time for the adults, including Hammond, to confess that it was just another training exercise to see how they’d perform under seemingly actual pressure.  Jack points out that Grogan got himself shot again, then everybody realizes that Hailey is absent.

She’s hard at work as the Stargate starts to activate.  Sparks fly from the device and she falls down.  Everybody else heads down to the control, Sam going to the computer.  Apparently Sam can’t close the iris and there’s radiation coming through so they’ll have to evacuate.  Jack theorizes that Hailey is already dead but Elliot goes into denial.

They continue chatting, as Hailey’s meddling accidentally broke the iris it seems.  The group heads out but as they reach a hallway, Elliot turns back.  Sam reaches the door and realizes he must have pocketed her access card.

Elliot takes an elevator back to that level.  The others go to the security room and Hammond tries to order Elliot over the intercom to no avail.  The lietutant reaches the Gate room and goes to the ‘box’ on the wall to figure out how to shut down the iris.  Satterfield is worried for Elliot ending up dead due to the radiation.

The iris closes.  Realizing that Hailey’s alive, Elliot scoops her up and calls out medics.  The control room wall comes back up and the others clap.  Elliot is amused and resigned as he realizes this was another part of the test.  Hailey is also amused and tells the “hero” to put her down.

She admits she was in on it, explaining how she could show fake nanobots to her teammates, and alludes to how tough she had it in “Prodigy”.  Hammond comes in to tell Elliot that he will be joining SG-17, with the others getting assignments as there are openings in the future.  Hammond leaves.

Jack tells him “Good job” and checks that Elliot knew it was a training exercise by the time the other man ‘shot’ him.  Elliot admits “Maybe… suspected”.  The alarms go off again as the two head out into a hallway, Jack asking if Elliot knows that the test is over.

Conclusion

This was a solid episode, showcasing some SGC recruits and the current progress to vet potential team members.  It turns out there are at least seventeen teams in action at this point.  I have to wonder if Hailey and Satterfield will end up at least briefly as on-base scientists/researchers, given their interest in the sciences.  Poor Grogan is going to end up as a red shirt, I can just tell.

I strongly suspect that like Jack’s injury, the guy Hailey ‘shot’ was faked.  That definitely explains why Sam was so blasé about Jack bleeding all over her lab.  Furthermore, I wonder if somebody (not necessarily a member of SG-1) deliberately paired SG-1 and Hailey together.  To be fair, if Hailey can survive an actual mission with Jack, Sam, and Teal’c she can survive most things in the galaxy.  I have to wonder if Satterfield’s crush on Daniel was done for the meta reason that Hailey doesn’t hero-worship Daniel since she never interacted with him.

According to the commentary, some of these characters will return later on this season.  I think that’ll be largely Hailey and/or Elliot.  It was also pointed out that the first episode Andy Mikita directed was “Foothold”, thus making this situation/exercise a whole-episode reference to that.  Between then and here, he’s directed “The Curse” and “2010”.

I’m glad that SGC is doing all they can to vet their future team members.  The show has a point in that they have to be creative and challenging because these people will be protecting the world from unusual threats, not the US from the usual ones.  These sort of mind games are harmless compared to those that SG-1 has endured from the villains (remember the season two finale?).

While I appreciate the even gender split of the recruits, I accept the fact that three of them are white is basically truth in television at this point.  It helps that there have been frequent African-Americans as background/one-off characters.  I think Satterfield being Asian is more unusual, let alone her being female.  Though her surname is a bit confusing: either she’s adopted or she takes off her mom.

Maybe someday these four recruits will be reunited as a SG team.  That’d be cool and sweet.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: RODNEY MY DARLING GRUMPY CANADIAN!

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