SG6-6: Abyss

Daniel keeps Jack company in between torture sessions when the older man has been captured by Baal.

Last time on Stargate SG-1: Sam, Teal’c, and Jonas went to a small town with a dark secret.

 

Captured!

A man and a woman are running in some rainy woods at night, chased by some Jaffa.  Up ahead, the Stargate is lit by nearby torches.  The woman can’t make it so the man tells her to hide until the Chappai has been activated.  But while at the dial-home device, the man gets struck in the upper shoulder by a staff weapon.  The symbiote leaves him for the woods.  The Jaffa approach the fallen man, turning him over to reveal to the viewers that he’s an unconscious Jack.  When he wakes up in the white glow of a sarcophagus; a Jaffa alerts his off-screen lord about this development.

Hammond heads down the stairs as the alarm blares.  Walter alerts him that it’s the Tok’ra’s signal.  Thoran, who was seen in “Frozen”, arrives as “the bearer of bad news”.  He, Janet, Hammond, and the three other members of SG-1 are seated in the briefing room.  It’s revealed that Kanan/Jack snuck off-base, not initially missed as the Tok’ra are still disjointed from the Revanna attack (seen in “Summit” and “Last Stand”).

Sam and Janet agree that it’s impossible that Jack took full control and thus whatever happened wasn’t his fault.  Thoran is offended by how the humans behave about the Tok’ra.  I admit that the two groups do tend to rub each other the wrong way.  Not helping is how SGC largely deals with Goa’uld symbiotes, not Tok’ra ones, which likely influences their opinions.

The Tok’ra Council has accepted that Kanan may be lost to them.  Hammond points out, “That’s the big difference between us, Councilor.  We don’t leave our people behind.”

Sam briefly smiles before hiding it due to the seriousness of the situation.  Thoran can’t come up with a rejoinder to that.

Two Jaffa guards take Jack into another room where he’s somehow compelled to ‘stick’ to a metallic web.  I thought it was electromagnetism at first, but it’s probably more of the altered gravity technology seen later.  The guards step back as Baal enters dramatically.  Jack forces himself around and is his snarky self.  Baal sits down with a knife and introduces himself to the prickly human.

Jack may or may not be feigning confusion over the Goa’uld being named “Ball” like in bocce and is probably faking not knowing what “impudence” means.  After Jack gets a knife to the chest, Baal notes how the Tok’ra fled out of “cowardice”.

I forget which specific TV Tropes subpage it was, but a theory was posited that it was more of a heroic sacrifice.  Because Baal would have only been more interested in torturing Jack if Kanan had remained.  Besides, by leaving Kanan likely doomed himself.  He must have thought there would have been a chance that Jack would survive or at least end up dead faster without his presence.  This way, Baal is less likely to obtain numerous secrets of the Tok’ra.

But Jack is, well, Jack so he gets a knife in the other side of his chest.  I ought to clarify that Baal isn’t throwing the knives- he’s just letting them go and allowing the electromagnetic forces active in the web do the rest.  As Baal gets out a third knife, Jack is confused as one of Baal’s female slaves has been ‘abducted’.  According to Jack, the last thing he remembers is agreeing to the “snake” to prevent his death.  Baal’s plan is keep killing Jack and reviving him in the sarcophagus until he confesses all that he knows.

Thoran tells the humans about Kanan’s last mission, which was a success.  None of them know where Kanan would go or why.  Apparently Thoran “can’t” let them see Kanan’s mission reports.

Daniel’s Return

Jack wakes up in the sarcophagus again and is put into a different cell.  When a device is activated, the gravity is altered, making the cells nigh impossible to escape from.  There are holes on the back of his shirt.  He briefly sees a woman before Daniel shows up (his presence spoiled by the credits as a “special guest appearance”).

Daniel is snarky, presumably due to Jack’s influence.  Although they’re happy to see each other, Jack’s convinced that the other man is a delusion and throws one of his shoes through him.  Daniel points out that he’s Ascended and therefore energy, so he’s not physically present.  There’s a bit of awkwardness as Jack retrieves his shoe.

Jack wants to be freed.  Daniel can’t “interfere” but can comfort his friend.  Upset, Jack tells him that the first thing he remembers is waking up here.  There is a vague memory of one of Baal’s slaves.  Given his own experiences in “Need” and “Absolute Power”, Daniel is both worried and horrified by Jack’s impeding fate if he’s continually revived by the sarcophagus.  He’s here to offer to help Jack Ascend himself.

Hammond heads down to the control room where Thoran is being cranky as Teal’c threatened to physically stop him from leaving via the Stargate.  Teal’c, Sam, and Jonas are determined to get Kanan’s mission reports to find out where Kanan (and therefore Jack) went.  Hammond is prickly by how evasive the Tok’ra are being as well.  A grumpy Thoran gives in to the Earthlings’ happiness.

Jack comments, “So… you want to be my Oma.”

“You could put it that way.  I mean, I wouldn’t, but maybe that’s just me.”

Jack is skeptical and Daniel concedes to being unsure about the results.  The metaphor about how if you see the lit candle, then the meal was cooked a long time ago is brought up as Daniel defending himself as NOT sounding like Oma.  Jack wants another way out with Daniel’s help, but the brunet leaves (although promising to return) just before the guards return to Jack’s annoyance.

He goes up against the wall but gets dragged off by them after the gravity effect is turned off.

The trio is in a lab (probably Sam’s) as Jonas theorizes that since Kanan’s missions had been all successful lately, then he must have left for a personal, potent reason.

Baal is using a special acid on Jack, who’s stuck on the metallic web again.  He’s pressuring Jack to reveal the name of the Tok’ra, who he’s angry at as a whole, comparing them to acid in their empire.  After Jack gives up the name, Baal uses a neutralizer on Jack’s injuries.  However, the Goa’uld rightfully suspects that there’s more data buried in Jack’s memories.

… Yeah, that’s another point for the ‘Kanan was trying to help Jack by leaving’.  If Kanan was still in Jack, then they’d be compelled to give up a lot more data to Baal.  It’s lucky that Baal seems oblivious that Jack’s part of SGC, otherwise this situation would have been even worse for everybody (except the Goa’uld).

A sore and hurt Jack ends up back in his cell.  The slave woman, clad in black, is briefly seen again as she worries about his return.  Rematerializing, Daniel is confused.  She disappears right as Daniel looks up… I wonder if that was meant as a clue/red herring that she’s not just in Jack’s head.

When Daniel goes “There’s nobody there,”, Jack retorts, “Look who’s talking.”

Daniel checks on Jack’s injuries, but he’s no longer hurting.  Jack doesn’t get why Daniel isn’t being more proactive.  As an Ascended being, Daniel isn’t allowed to change things on a large scale and honest feels that would be playing God like the Goa’uld do.  I think he’s thinking of the moral he learned in “Absolute Power”, since that situation was already relevant to this one even before Jack’s query.  Daniel knows that the woman must have something to do with why Kanan/Jack came here.

Jack has faith in Sam and Teal’c, then bringing up Jonas.  Yeah, this is confirmation that Jack still hasn’t fully accepted Jonas as a member of SG-1, especially not when Daniel is right in front of him.  It’s stated flat-out that repeated usage of the sarcophagus gradually damages minds.

Annoyed by Jack playing dumb, Daniel points out he knows how much potential he has in him.  Jack retorts about the ferocity he’d unleash on the captors if their places had been switched.  Daniel states, “You’re a better man than that.”

“That’s where you’re wrong!” Jack angrily retorts.  Yeah, Jack has a core belief in not leaving people behind.  I suspect it got heightened after the event discussed in “A Matter of Time”.

6Jack&Daniel

After a brief silence, Daniel admits he likes being Ascended and knows it was his choice but he’s afraid for Jack’s soul.

Jack points out he has another choice, initially baffling Daniel.  He basically asks for an assisted suicide, which Daniel refuses.  Jack tells him, “I’d do it for you, and you know it.”

He doesn’t want to see this cell again.  The weird gravity is removed and the guards come in to take Jack away.

Give and Take

Under the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the trio has failed to find anything of note in the mission reports.  Sam then has an epiphany- Kanan spied on a hidden outpost of Baal’s several months ago.  A lo’taur was a source for Kanan to get data, and even access to Baal’s personal chambers.  Sam notes that the slave was female, and given the usual level of devotion of lo’taurs to their masters the betrayal must have been for a reason.

Teal’c doubts that a physical affair would have been a sufficient motive.  However, the decision came post-blending.  Sam reiterates, “We don’t leave our people behind.”

Kanan would have accepted leaving her behind as the cost of the tactics used by the Tok’ra against the Goa’uld.  Jack refused to leave behind Tyler, who he barely knew, in “The Fifth Man”.  I can see where a Jack-influenced Kanan would decide to rescue someone he cared about.  And Jack is also capable of self-sacrifice, which further indicates that Kanan was trying to help Jack by leaving him.

The woman and Jack are in a room, which turns out to be the torture chamber.  Baal didn’t see or hear anything as he interrogates Jack, who keeps answering with “I don’t know”.  Baal has accepted that Jack likely doesn’t consciously know anything, but is sure that Jack subconsciously knows something.  Jack is still stuck on the metallic web.

Hammond is confused by SG-1’s report.  Similarly, Thoran is aggravated and baffled.  Sam wants to do a sneak attack on the outpost.  The general has to agree with Thoran that any kind of attack on the outpost is impossible with their current resources.

Waking up, an annoyed Jack is taken back to his cell where the weird gravity is turned back on.  He thumps his head against the wall before curling up in a corner.

Teal’c is meditating in his chamber, surrounded by candles, when his eyes suddenly open.

There’s a knock on the door as Hammond works on his desk.  Teal’c enters to talk about the outpost.  The general is going over the plans again but can’t see a way to do it.  However, Teal’c has a plan to get a Goa’uld mothership to attack the outpost as that will have the power to do so.

“A Fighting Chance”

Baal is interrogating a worn-down Jack, knowing he’s hiding something from him.  Jack ends up saying “Daniel” twice, seemingly ignoring Baal.

The group is in the control room.  Thoran is angry with how the SGC has used the data the Tok’ra gave them.  It turns out they sent the plans and data to Yu along with a message about taking out the power generators first.  I’m not quite sure why they’d think that Yu would go along with it.  Well, maybe he’d do it just to see if the information is accurate beyond the coordinates.  Also, taking the power generators out first does seem like a good tactic overall so he’d do it for personal reasons as well.

Back in his cell, Jack asks for Daniel, who shows up.  Evidently, he had to go do something but doesn’t want to leave Jack again until it’s over.  Daniel tries to reassure him, but Jack is losing hope.  He’s afraid that if he goes back, he’ll reveal to Baal that Kanan loved the woman and then she’ll suffer what he’s going through.

So… basically, Jack is protecting somebody he largely knows through whatever remnants Kanan left behind to the point he’s more worried about her fate than his own.  No wonder Kanan got the determination to rescue her after merging with Jack.

Daniel reassures him that “it’s almost over”.

“How?”

“You were right.  There’s always a way out.  Well, at least, there’s always a chance.”

Jack is confused.

“Your journey isn’t over, Jack, not yet.”

Realizing that Daniel is serious, Jack asks, “What did you do?”

He reports that the others have a plan, completely sidestepping the query.  I suspect that Daniel did ‘nudge’ Teal’c into having the idea.  Not that Teal’c isn’t capable of coming up with good tactical ideas, but the timing is suspicious.  Furthermore, Teal’c tends to be more straightforward than that.

There’s a distant explosion as Jack gains hope.  Daniel has faith in Jack as the weird gravity goes out along with the electricity.  The brunet ‘has’ to leave because this is Jack’s “fighting chance” that he wanted.  Exiting his cell, Jack soon tackles a Jaffa guard and beats him into submission as the lights go out.  Taking the zat, Jack leaves.  I suspect that leaving the Jaffa unconscious without using the zat on him at all was meant as a sign that Jack isn’t permanently damaged by the sarcophagus’ effects.  Sneaking around, Jack finds the black-clad woman in another cell and rescues her.

The show then cuts to Jack waking up in the SGC infirmary, probably because they lacked the budget to show the rest of the great escape no matter what the commentary says about providing gaps.  It’s reported that he’ll suffer from some withdrawal symptoms but will make a full recovery.  The woman, Shayla, opted to stay with the Tok’ra off-screen.

“Hey, trying to sleep here,” grouses Jack.  Sam apologizes and he gives the trio kudos in response.  When the blonde checks on him, he asks for water.  The trio steps out to get it.  What, it takes all of them to do that?

Clearly, the Doylist reason is so that Daniel can pop in to check on Jack.  The brunet notes, “I always seem to be saying goodbye to you.”

Jack wants him to stick around but he declines.  There’s a mix of humor and heart in the ensuing chat.  While sorry that Jack had to go through that because no one should, Daniel believes that his friend will be fine.  Jack trusts that Daniel is right and they make sure they’re both okay.

Sam returns with a cup of ice water and to say good night so Daniel disappears.  A quiet Jack just says “thanks”.  I suspect not just to her, but to Daniel as well.

Conclusion

This was a Jack-and-Daniel episode, which was actually filmed prior to “Frozen”.  It’s odd how the two of them seem to be more openly friendly after spending time apart than when they’re working regularly together.  It’s made clear that Daniel and Jack continue to care deeply about each other as well as respect each other.  I think that when push comes to shove, Daniel and Jack are very close but don’t expect them to admit out loud.

The commentary calls the gizmo in the cell chamber a grate, but it looks like a web and there’s a likely metaphor about Baal being a spider that’s toying with his caught, helpless prey (Jack).

Christopher Judge is involved with the commentary along with director Martin Wood and visual effects producer James Tichenor.  The story behind kel’no’reem is revealed here: back in the first season, Judge would nap during briefing scenes as he didn’t have lines and it turned into meditating.  Speaking of whom, those left at SGC were very much the B-plot.  Hammond is a practical but well-meaning boss, while the other three members of SG-1 pull together to find a way to rescue their leader.

The director’s featurette was half about showcasing the mini-sets used by the crew since non-standard sets usually aren’t ready until the day of filming.  Said mini-sets are used for blocking and planning out shots.  In this episode, they were extra-important because three variants of the cell set had to be made- a vertical one, a horizontal one, and a tipping one.  Similarly, Jack’s grate bits had to be specially filmed.  The other half was about Daniel’s return, with Michael Shanks, Richard Dean Anderson, and Martin Wood getting up to silly antics.  At the commentary’s end the guys express how they miss Shanks, so they clearly aren’t aware yet of his return to the show.

Despite being very dialogue-heavy, this episode is compelling in its plot, mostly due to how well Michael Shanks and Richard Dean Anderson play off each other (the commentary acknowledges that despite the cuts between them, they ended up having to film their scenes together to ensure their interactions came off as genuine, to the episode’s great benefit).

I can sort of see why the Ascended would have a non-interference policy.  Free will does matter and the other races shouldn’t have to depend on them to fix every tiff.  And there is a slippery slope thing where if they start meddling for good reasons they’ll end up meddling for bad reasons- or that the ones being meddled with will disagree with the meddling.  On the other hand, the Goa’uld are a dangerous threat to the galaxy that need to be stopped and no other race has been able to do so for millennia.  I understand that this is a complicated moral situation, but flat-out refusing to get involved with the rest of the galaxy doesn’t seem like the best solution.

 

Next time on Stargate SG-1: Negotiations are attempted with another civilization.

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