SG5-18: The Warrior

Teal’c and Bra’tac believe K’Tano and his growing rebel army will bring freedom to all Jaffa.  However, Jack doesn’t trust him.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: The team kept a massive asteroid from hitting Earth.

 

The Jaffa’s Deliverance?

K’Tano, a black man, is giving a speech to a crowd of cheering Jaffa about how he used to be Imhotep’s First Prime but killed his god and is now a free Jaffa.  He rallies the crowd, although acknowledging it will be a difficult road to freedom, especially given their limited resources.  There’s a mention of Kheb as the Jaffa afterlife of freedom, as well as how this place Cal Mah is a sanctuary for Jaffa.  Teal’c and Bra’tac, both cloaked in beige, are among the crowd.  The latter is hopeful that K’Tano will be their kind’s “deliverance”.  Although he doesn’t respond verbally, Teal’c seems hopeful at the notion.

After the credits, Bra’tac is in the briefing room with SG-1 and Hammond.  When he uses the same word in relation to K’Tano, Jack is dubious as he knows of a movie called Deliverance which has a bad ending.  Sam and Jack are rather dubious about teaming up with K’Tano and his army.  Daniel notes that “Word of its very existence is a threat to the Goa’uld”.

Sam agrees that the Goa’uld system lords will not be happy about an army of rebel Jaffa.  It’s explained that Imhotep was the first pyramid builder, an influential person later deified by the ancient Egyptians.  However, he’s a minor personage in the Goa’uld and never a system lord or anybody with power.  Jack sums it up as “[K’Tano] took out a nobody”, which why there hasn’t been major retaliation yet.

Hammond is willing to give food and medical supplies, the humans deciding to send along some human weapons as a good faith gesture as well.

While the Gate is being set up, Bra’tac admits that some of these Jaffa have met Jack in battle and “Jaffa have long memories”.  Jack shrugs it off, saying, “Well, that’s all right, ‘cause I don’t.”

Bra’tac and Teal’c just stare at him.  Jack weakly explains, “It’s- it’s a… joke.”

Amused by this bit of interaction, Hammond speaks up to Bra’tac about hoping that K’Tano lives up to his faith in him.  Jack is still dubious as the trio travels through the Gate, where Sam and Daniel are with their ‘cart’ of supplies.  Bra’tac introduces himself and the others to the crowd of Jaffa forming.  Jack goes, “Hi, guys!”

Rak’nor emerges and greets Teal’c, briefly alluding to their past encounter (in “The Serpent’s Venom”) to the crowd as his first taste of freedom.  Daniel has been translating Jaffa phrases for Jack to the older man’s annoyance.  It’s revealed that K’Tano is currently off-world on a mission.  It’s shown that they’ve brought food, supplies, and weapons.  It turns out that Jaffa prefer staff weapons and zats, feeling they are “true weapons”.  The whole group heads over to the Jaffa camp.

Culture Clash

Bra’tac gives a speech, which Rak’nor agrees with.  Sam is worried that there could be spies for the Goa’uld among them.  Bringing up the events of “Threshold”, Bra’tac is certain that K’Tano would be similarly able to tell if any Jaffa was still worshipping the Goa’uld.  The older Jaffa stands firm about their ways being different than the Tauri’s and for Jack to accept that.

A group of Jaffa men are doing the martial art Mastaba (AKA capoeira).  It was required knowledge for Imhotep’s Jaffa warriors.  The crew got actual capoeira masters to play the warriors.  Nearby, two Jaffa are using wooden ‘staff weapons’ known as Bashaak.  There aren’t enough staff weapons for everybody.  Bra’tac makes commentary on Tara’c and his method, as he feels balance in combat leads to balance in life.

Rak’nor counters that K’Tano teaches about single-mindedly pursuing fighting without regard for survival.  A fierce sparring match ensues, which Jack breaks up as he feels that was “beating the crap out of each other” opposed to training.  Jack nearly gets challenged in response by one of the youths, Teal’c and Bra’tac aren’t pleased by Jack’s dismissal of Jaffa ways either (since their symbiotes heal them faster than humans they can take more damage).

But when somebody calls out “K’Tano returns!” all the Jaffa leave the area so that a cheering crowd can welcome back their leader.  Thanks to the commentary, this time I caught that Jack checked his breath before following the Jaffa.  Jack observes dryly to Sam and Daniel, “You know, we never get this when we come home.”

Their raid was against Zipacna’s forces.  Three Jaffa were killed, but a chest of zats has been obtained.  K’Tano and Bra’tac greet each other, and then K’Tano and Teal’c.  The leader is aware of the quartet’s deeds: “Slayers of Ra, Hathor, Setesh, Heru’ur, Sokar, Cronos, and Apophis”.  It makes sense that the death of Heru’ur is accredited to them rather than Apophis, given how Rak’nor knows and presumably spread the tale of what actually happened.

Jack notes, “Well… somebody’s been keeping score.”

It’s time to enact diplomacy with the army.  When K’Tano is dismissive of Earth weapons, Jack wants Sam to give a demonstration.

18demo

They all go to the long-distance, crude firing range.  Rak’nor is to wield a staff weapon against her gun.  The Jaffa manages to hit the target twice out of three tries.  K’Tano is dubious about Sam being a warrior, Teal’c coming to her defense.  His mild sexism wasn’t much of a red flag to me, given how there seems to be that inherent to Jaffa society (all the fighters seen in the camp are male though there are female Jaffa present).

Jack has a Jaffa in a ‘skirt’ get the target log swinging on its rope before having him get out of the way.  Sam basically partially demolishes the log with rapid gunfire.  Then Jack has her use it in single-shot mode- and the blonde cuts the rope.

Grabbing the staff weapon from Rak’nor, Jack states, “This… is a weapon of terror.  It’s made to intimidate the enemy.”  Dropping it, Jack holds aloft his own gun.  “This is a weapon of war.  It’s made to kill your enemy.”

Sam contributes, “And it’s capable of doing so effectively at five times the range I just demonstrated.”

“We’ve used it to win about every skirmish we’ve had with the Goa’uld and the Jaffa who serve them.  Those of you who have gone up against us and survived, and you know who you are, you know what I’m talking about.”

“We accept your gifts with gratitude and humility,” states K’Tano.  “Now, let us celebrate this new alliance.”

The Jaffa crowd cheers before leaving.  Jack is bemused by this habit of theirs to Sam’s amusement.

Time to have a meal with K’Tano in his tent.  The ritual of “Joma Secu” is brought up as a “challenge of leadership”.  Jack is genre savvy enough to know it’s “to the death”.  Bra’tac does his best to mediate between Jack and K’Tano.  It turns out their next raid is against some of Nirrti’s Jaffa to obtain a shipment from them.  K’Tano offers SG-1 a share of the spoils if they help, but is condescending about the humans needing several hours of sleep.

Divided Loyalties

Later on, Teal’c and Rak’nor (now in robes, not armor) are having drinks together.  The term “the Jaffa nation” is first used.  Teal’c is afraid that the day all Jaffa are free is farther off than K’Tano believes.  Rak’nor believes the army will be strengthened even more with the Tauri as allies.

Teal’c refutes, “Of that I am not so sure.  K’Tano’s ways are difficult for the people of the Tauri to understand.”

Having just arrived, K’Tano states, “We shall gain our freedom with or without them.”  He adds that he doesn’t want to abandon Jaffa ways for “neither human nor Goa’uld”.

Teal’c inclines his head.

In their tent, the human trio is talking about K’Tano and his adoring followers.  Well, Daniel’s also writing in his journal.  They’re a bit confused (and hurt) about Teal’c opting to spend time with his fellow Jaffa over them, even though that’s understandable, given how he spends almost all of his time with his teammates and other Earthlings.  They’re also a bit confounded over the army’s behavior and their devotion to K’Tano.  Jack knows that no one will be willing to challenge him.

Jack grumbles, “Well, they have no problem with dying.  I have a problem with that.”

Daniel asks, “You have a problem with dying or you got a problem with the fact that they don’t have a problem with it?”

“Both, I think,” Jack decides before lying down.  Sam does as well.  Jack’s a bit grumpy over this whole situation.

No Fear

The lighting is reddish and the commentary states the raid scene is inspired by Laurence of Arabia.  There’s a cargo ship some distance from a pyramid.  A group of Jaffa with a chest are walking along a path.  They get ambushed by SG-1, Bra’tac, Rak’nor, K’Tano, and some rebel Jaffa.  A firefight breaks out, some of the Jaffa using the Earth weapons.  K’Tano opts to approach despite the firing of weapons.  Jack emits a surprised “Hey!”

Rak’nor states, “He does not know fear.”

“Well, he knows stupid!” retorts Jack sharply.

Teal’c is astonished as K’Tano approaches and has his men stop firing.  K’Tano gives Nirrti’s Jaffa a speech about denying the Goa’uld as gods.  One puts his staff weapon against K’Tano’s chest but K’Tano remains blasé.  The Jaffa draws back his weapon, making the other rebel Jaffa cheer.  The humans are shell-shocked while Teal’c goes, “Do you believe in him now, O’Neill?”

The enlarged group returns to Cal Meh.  Teal’c is pleased, full-heartedly believing in K’Tano.  Jack feels that his tactics are dangerous.  After Teal’c stalks off when a horn is blown, Sam and Daniel approach.  Jack doesn’t like that Teal’c is buying into what K’Tano is selling.  Sam feels that K’Tano isn’t pretending in regards to his beliefs, an assessment Daniel doesn’t refute.

“I think K’Tano believes he could walk on water,” Jack states.  I have to wonder if Jack’s recalling the events of “The First Commandment” and thus afraid they’re seeing the early stages of that mindset and its results.

They all return to the main tent where the chest is revealed to have “weapons-grade naquadah” within.  A ha’tak, or mothership, is mentioned.  Rebel Jaffa are currently rebelling on one of Yu’s.  Jack is worried about the possibility of failure while K’Tano has faith in his cause.  The commentary brings up how that’s a medieval belief that the righteous will be victorious.

The crowd heads over to the Stargate, as K’Tano wants to cover their tracks regarding Nirrti finding them.  The white Jaffa from the sparring match, Tara’c, is chosen to lead a squad of warriors.  There’s another mention of Kheb.  K’Tano gives them a speech and puts something in the device on the chest of Tara’c.

Daniel worriedly translates a phrase as “victory or death” when Jack is visibly confused while Sam realizes that the device is a “naquadah-enhanced bomb”.  The brunet concludes, “He’s sending them on a suicide mission.”

Jack tries to intervene but Rak’nor holds him back.  When Jack tries to express his upset, K’Tano stands firm that they shouldn’t abandon centuries of Jaffa tradition for Tauri ways.  That’s… not what this is about.  This is about sending the men under your command off to die with scarcely a care.  Bra’tac and Teal’c go with K’Tano and the other Jaffa back to the camp.

Yu Knows Who

In his tent, K’Tano is planning a personal attack on Yu, who survived the attack back in “Last Stand” thanks to his sarcophagus.  By taking out him and his personal guard, they can conquer his home world.  Teal’c gets in an “indeed” as he, Rak’nor, and Bra’tac are with K’Tano.

Jack shows up, wanting to leave and would like Teal’c to return with them.  K’Tano insists that his place is here, and Teal’c wants to stay and take out Yu.  Teal’c wants Jack and the others to join them.

“Can’t do it,” Jack states.  With a single nod, Teal’c turns back to the table to continue planning.

The humans are preparing to leave, Jack is dubious about K’Tano’s long-term plan.  He’s afraid that he’s basically setting himself up as another system lord, as Jack can’t see any difference between how loyal Jaffa treat their god and how these Jaffa treat their leader.  Sam and Daniel are silent, but clearly worried.

Jack doesn’t trust K’Tano and doesn’t think that Teal’c will return from his mission.  Teal’c is hurt that they don’t trust his own skills nor K’Tano.  It’s time for the squad to leave, K’Tano promising to make Teal’c his second in command upon his return.  Teal’c, who’s now in Jaffa armor, leaves through the wormhole to the trio’s worry.   That’s a neat bit of symbolic costuming: Teal’c has been in Jaffa attire this episode, first robes and now armor.

There’s a shot of Yu’s palace compound before cutting to Teal’c being brought before Yu in a chamber.  The system lord has a deal for him because Teal’c lacks blind faith and wants the Jaffa to know something.  In hindsight, there’s also the implication that Yu doesn’t want to do K’Tano’s dirty work for him.  Apparently they did film the scene where Teal’c got captured, but ended up deciding it wasn’t necessary to see.

Both Bra’tac and K’Tano want Jack to reconsider an alliance with this Jaffa faction.  Jack is prickly about the dangers being faced by Teal’c, and isn’t amused by the reference to “petty differences”.  K’Tano walks off back to the camp as the trio heads over to the Gate.  Bra’tac is silent.

Sam is about to dial in when the wormhole opens.  Teal’c runs through and down the road.  Jack tries to ask what happened but Teal’c keeps running.  Sam and Daniel make to follow their teammate.  Before doing the same, Jack grumbles, “Thanks for the update.”

Teal’c is utterly furious at K’Tano for deceiving them.  He reveals that the mutiny has failed, and Yu knows the rebels’ number and location.  It turns out that the system lords wanted to basically corral the rebels into one place before wiping them out.  That approaching mothership will doom the rebellion, not save it.

First quietly, then loudly, Teal’c goes “Joma Secu”.  The two men end up using the wooden staff weapons for the fight.  Bra’tac warns Jack against interfering as that would mean Teal’c has forfeited and have to die.  Although Teal’c is furious at K’Tano, it’s the other man who calls him “Shol’va”.

The fight is impressive, but Teal’c is clearly losing, his weapon getting broken into two pieces.  K’Tano demands, “Beg for mercy.”

“I die free,” refutes Teal’c.

As a final blow, he whispers to Teal’c that “You die at the hand of your god Imhotep,” his voice dropping into the Goa’uld voice on that last word.  He makes to attack but Teal’c stabs him through the chest with a pointy end of the broken training staff weapon.  His eyes momentarily glow before he topples over.  I have a sneaking feeling that his revelation, meant to break Teal’c, only gave the Jaffa his second wind.

Presumably having spotted that, Rak’nor opens up the dead man’s tunic to realize he lacks a symbiote pouch and thus isn’t a Jaffa.  Daniel clues into what was Imhotep’s plan: to use the Jaffa’s desire for freedom to gain real power for the first time.  Teal’c reassures the crowd that while K’Tano was a lie the cause is not, and tells them to leave them to survive.  Bra’tac and Rak’nor back him up.

From above, blasts start to hit the camp, beginning to destroy it.  They make to leave through the activated wormhole, Sam standing by to help guide the Jaffa through.  Bra’tac helps the battered Teal’c to the Gate, and reassures him, “Our time will come, old friend.  But not this day.”

Conclusion

This episode was written by Christopher Judge, who plays Teal’c, and my favorite director Peter DeLuise, well, directed.  They made a pretty good team.  It’s pretty clear that this episode was written in the aftermath of 9/11, where the US learned about suicide bombers and the pain/chaos they can cause.  It is unusual that they were depicted somewhat sympathetically as having been led astray by their charismatic leader.  It helps that they’re apparently going after military targets, not civilian ones.

Never mind, Peter clarifies that this episode was filmed before that tragedy.  He acknowledges the parallels and how the crew felt this episode was “uncomfortably close” to the later reality.  Peter brings up the parallels again later on, highly discomfited with how prescient this episode was.  I didn’t realize how far ahead episodes were filmed; I knew there had to be some lead time due to the special effects, but not this much, as “The Warrior” debuted on April 12th, 2002, almost exactly seven months after 9/11.

Peter DeLuise and Dan Shea (stunt coordinator/Siler/RDA’s stunt double) teamed up to do the commentary, which makes it more awesome than usual.  I hope they’re trolling about Tony & Christopher being naked under their robes, but sadly it looks like the ‘giant wrench’ seen with Siler has seen its last action.  It’s revealed that Brad Wright added in the “P-90s versus staff weapon” scene to showcase why the humans kept winning.

A lot of Jack’s sentiments and actions make perfect sense once I recalled how Jack himself had a ‘death seeker’ phase after his son’s death- that’s how he got involved in the original Abydos mission.  He personally knows how bleak that mindset is.  And he hates losing members of his ‘pack’ to warfare, so deliberately sending off your underlings to die is a horrifying concept to him.

While I appreciate how it was shown yet again that just because Earth’s culture is technologically inferior that doesn’t make it a non-threat.  The fact that the Goa’uld prefer ‘weapons of terror’ over war makes sense given their grandstanding, and helps explain how the Tauri in general have been not only surviving but thriving in this war.  However, I’d appreciate a more nuanced take on the culture clash issue later on.  A lot of what happened here was rendered invalid by K’Tano being a Goa’uld manipulating the Jaffa.

We saw mostly black and white Jaffa here, mostly from the dead system lords’ planets.  We did see other Jaffa with Imhotep’s symbol on their forehead (K’Tano has it in gold), so I wonder how exactly Imhotep enacted his scheme.  But it was nice to have three core black characters, two of whom were heroic and lived (Teal’c and Rak’nor).

I finally got to watch Christopher Judge’s Video Diary, as it centers on this episode.  There was an even mix of behind-the-scenes footage and of episode footage.  It was both informative and amusing.  Dan Shea briefly seen in casual garb, which is weird given how used I am to seeing him as the uniformed Siler.  Brought up in the commentary, the video also shows the turntable rig used to create ‘bullet time’ as a practical effect instead of as a CGI one.

As mentioned in an earlier episode, this is the episode where the Jaffa allies took a hit.  Bra’tac did return, as did Rak’nor.  Alas, K’Tano turned out to truly be a false god rather than the hope for the Jaffa they had thought.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: Daniel is fascinated by the android (gynoid?) Reese, but his teammates are more wary- and with good reason.

 

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