Divide and Conquer

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | Review

When a member of the S.G.C. tries to kill a Tok'ra, it is revealed that O'Neill and Carter may be victims of an untraceable form of Goa'uld mind control.

FAN RATING - 6.15 
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 2
WRITTEN BY: Tor Alexander Valenza
DIRECTED BY: Martin Wood
GUEST STARS: Vanessa Angel (Freya/Anise), JR Bourne (Martouf), Kirsten Robek (Lieutenant Astor), Andrew Jackson (Per'sus), Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser), Phillip Mitchell (Major Graham), Bill Nikolai (Technician), Roger Allford (The President)
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When S.G.C. personnel visit the Tok'ra homeworld of Vorash, they are introduced to the Supreme High Councilor Per'sus. He will visit Earth to sign a formal treaty with the President of the United States, formalizing the alliance.

When Martouf introduces Per'sus, Major Graham pulls a weapon of Goa'uld origin, firing at the High Councilor and killing several Tok'ra and another S.G.C. member. He turns to fire at Anise, but Jack O'Neill pushes her out of the way and saves her. Graham is in pain, unable to control himself. He actives the hand weapon, which self-destructs and kills him. SG-1 is stunned at what has happened.

Martouf soon reports that Per'sus will recover. Freya believes that Graham was a "za'tarc" – an assassin subconsciously programmed by the Goa'uld. She has seen evidence of this mind control technology three times before, and presented her findings to the Tok'ra High Council – but they do not believe her.

Freya has theorized that a Goa'uld needs only moments with a victim in order to program him or her with a specific mission and cover it with a false memory. Not even the victim know she has been compromised. When a visual or auditory trigger is encountered (such as Graham's meeting Per'sus), the programming kicks in. Soon after, he becomes self-destructive. In each instance, the victim's brain has been so damaged from the suicide that a study could not be made in order to learn more about the za'tarc technology.

Clearly, if Freya is right, the summit is in danger. There may be other za'tarcs in the ranks of the S.G.C. or the Tok'ra – and someone might be programmed to kill the President, and not even know it.

Freya has developed a method she believes will detect a za'tarc, although the effectiveness of that is also in question. Nevertheless, she brings the device to Earth to begin testing all S.G.C. personnel. On Vorash, the Tok'ra test Per'sus and all his aides who will accompany him to Earth.

Freya's test works by using a device that reads the subconscious memory and compares it to the conscious, to determine if memories have been overwritten with a false alibi. She asks a series of questions, where the subject is asked to recall in detail the events of previous missions. If the conscious memory does not line up with the subconscious, it indicates that either the subject is lying, or is recounting a false memory implanted by the Goa'uld.

They begin with Graham's team. On a recent mission to P6Y-325, they came under fire from the Goa'uld. This is most likely where Graham was programmed. Soon, they learn, Lieutenant Astor was also compromised.

Freya's only course of action to suggest is a dangerous procedure, where the effected part of the brain is actually damaged to destroy the implanted program. If this is not done, Astor will inevitably become self-destructive – whether or not she is able to complete her programming.

Astor agrees to the procedure. It is painful, so much so that she soon pleads for Freya to stop. Martouf orders her to stop the procedure, and Astor goes ballistic. She breaks her bonds and overpowers the two SF guards, taking one of their guns and firing several rounds into the observation room where the team watches. Jack rushes to the room and tries to stop her, but Astor puts the pistol to her head and kills herself.

The programming appears to have protection to keep it from being tampered with. But Freya believes that the procedure may still work, if given a chance to fully run its course.

SG-1 is next to be tested. Jack, Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c all take turns recalling past missions – especially their unauthorized trip to destroy Apophis's new battleship, with the help of the Atoniek armbands ("Upgrades"). O'Neill and Carter were isolated from the others during the mission, and unconscious for several moments. Freya is concerned that this may have provided the Goa'uld opportunity to program them.

During the mission, Carter's armband (which gave her super speed and strength) failed. She was trapped behind an energy shield when her armband fell off. O'Neill tried to return for her, but his armband fell off, too. He was trapped on the other side of the shield, with noway to reach her.

Sam had told the Colonel to get out while he still could (the ship was about to explode), but he refused. He did everything he could to destroy the shield, but was helpless.

In the end, Sam and Jack said, the C4 explosive detonated and disabled the shield, allowing them to escape together. "Are you sure you are telling me everything?" Freya asks. "Yes," is the certain reply.

The machine tells them that Carter and O'Neill have false memories – they are za'tarcs. The two are put into isolation quarters while Hammond considers a course of action. The summit is only hours away.

They could try the procedure, and allow it to run its course. Or, they could keep them isolated until their trigger event (likely the summit between Per'sus and the President) has passed. The latter is dangerous, Freya says. In at least one past occurrence, the victim became self-destructive when it became clear to him that his mission could not be fulfilled. Even keeping Jack and Sam isolated could be a danger.

Martouf encourages Sam to undergo the procedure. He has grown quite fond of her, he tells her, and recognizes that the choice she is faced with is a terrible one. Either undergo the dangerous procedure (which may destroy her mind, even if it is successful), or be restrained and sedated until the summit is past and a better solution can be found.

Freya, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to thank Jack for saving her life back on Vorash. She kisses him, and offers herself to him. Jack is taken aback – he likes Freya, but doesn't much care for her symbiote, Anise. And he sure isn't comfortable with the whole "two people in one body" thing. Jack turns the beautiful Tok'ra away.

With the summit only minutes away, Sam refuses the procedure, and Dr. Janet Fraiser sedates her. Jack agrees to it, though, believing that if he doesn't survive Freya can study his brain and perhaps learn enough to save Sam.

As Sam grows more and more sedated, she begins to mumble about the testing device. "The machine is wrong," she says. "We lied." Janet is listening, and decides to take action. She stops Freya from starting the procedure on Jack, and revives Sam.

Carter goes to speak with O'Neill in private. She theorizes that the two of them are not za'tarcs. The machine indicated so because they weren't telling the whole truth, and didn't realize it – that's why their conscious statements did not line up with their subconscious.They weren't admitting to the real reason why Jack refused to leave Sam to die on Apophis's ship – a reason they could not admit to given their working relationship and ranks.

Sam tells Freya to retest Colonel O'Neill. When he arrives to the part of the story where he had refused to leave Carter behind, he is forced to make a startling confession: "I care about her ... a lot more than I'm suppose to."

Carter is retested, too – presumably confessing her romantic feelings for Jack. They are not za'tarcs, Freya confirms. The two agree that this confession does not have to leave the room. Only Freya, Teal'c and Dr. Fraiser know about it for now.

In the Gate Room, Daniel, Martouf, Per'sus and the rest of the Tok'ra await the arrival of the President.

Jack asks Freya if she's ever been tested on the machine. She tells him that she has never been in a situation where she might have been compromised by the Goa'uld. Carter stops. "What about Martouf?" she asks. He was on Earth while the S.G.C. was being tested, and while the Tok'ra were being tested back on Vorash.

Hammond enters the gate room, and introduces Per'sus to the President of the United States. Martouf's programming is triggered, and he begins firing with a Goa'uld weapon. Per'sus and the president duck for cover, and Martouf is shot in the leg. He keeps going, firing left and right, until his chest is riddled with bullets. Still, Martouf does not fall. Teal'c enters and shoots him with a zat gun to stun him – but Martouf remains conscious.

Carter orders them to stop as she enters the room with a zat gun. Martouf falls to his knee and moves to activate the device's self-destruct button. His face is desperate as he looks at her. "Samantha ..." he pleads. Sam shoots him with her zat, killing him.

The room is silent. Hammond reveals that this is not the real President – he is standing by on Air Force One, waiting for their signal. Freya promises that she will make sure Martouf's death is a noble sacrifice – he can be studied, so that they can learn how to combat the za'tarc technology.

Sam kneels on the floor, with Martouf's head lying in her lap.


  • Once the Goa'uld za'tarc programming is activated, the victim exhibits great physical stamina – perhaps adrenaline-induced. Both Graham and Martouf were shot with zat guns, which seemed to have little effect (they were not rendered unconscious). Martouf was also shot multiple times in the leg and chest, but kept going. And Astor broke her restraints, took a bullet in the leg and overpowered two guards.
  • Whichever Goa'uld programmed Major Graham knew that he would be on Vorash to meet Per'sus, the Tok'ra leader. He or she also knew about the Tok'ra-Earth summit, and that Martouf would be on Earth to encounter the president.
  • Freya's method of detecting a za'tarc is unproven – though she claims that it worked on one previous occasion. The device is not capable of distinguishing between someone who is lying without realizing it (as in the cases of Sam and Jack) and one who truly has a false memory.
  • Science fiction fans will notice that the za'tarc detector (both the machine and the questioning process) are reminiscent of the cult film favorite Blade Runner. In the film, blade runners asked personal questions and measured such physical changes as pupil dilation to determine whether a subject was human (showing emotion) or a replicant (faking emotional responses).
  • There are at least 15 S.G. teams now operating out of Cheyenne Mountain. Astor mentioned SG-15 as being present with her team on their mission. Until now, we knew of only 14 SG teams (SG-14 was mentioned in "Show and Tell"), though General Hammond was planning to request three additional teams more than a year ago ("Into the Fire"). If his request was granted, does this mean that SG-16 and SG-17 also now exist?
  • The Jaffa who attacked Astor on P6Y-325 was a Horus guard. The Horus guards serve the family of Ra ("Thor's Chariot"), including Heru'ur (the only of Ra's clan known to be still living). It is possible, though, that the Goa'uld who programmed Astor and planted the false memory also changed the Jaffa soldier's identity in her memory.
  • Graham and Astor's team was on P6Y-325 for a standard "meet and greet" mission with at least one other team (SG-15). The planet is inhabited by the Lasarians – a primitive and peaceful people. The Goa'uld attacked the village for unknown reasons, and six SG team members died.
  • It took an unnerving amount of time for anyone at the S.G.C. to realize that neither Freya or Martouf had been tested for za'tarc programming. This seems grossly negligent, since all S.G.C. personnel were tested, all Tok'ra coming to Earth were tested, and because Martouf has had repeated exposure to the Goa'uld – including torture at the hands of Apophis ("The Devil You Know").

    It seems unlikely that Apophis programmed Martouf at this point, however. He would have had no knowledge of a summit between the President and the Tok'ra almost a year later. And if he had programmed Martouf, it is likely that he would have also programmed O'Neill, Carter and Jackson.
  • Freya has taken an interest in Jack, although her symbiote Anise favors Daniel for his intellect. This seems to contradict Martouf's explanation of the symbiotic relationship between Tok'ra symbiote and host. He told Sam that the two "feel as one" and "love as one." What one feels, the other feels ("The Tok'ra (Part 1)"). Martouf could not distinguish between himself and his host Lantash when he told Samantha that he was in love with Jolinar.
  • Hammond greeted the stand-in president as the real president, although there were no Tok'ra or untested S.G.C. personnel around. This was no doubt deliberate, to keep up the rouse in case anyone was there who had been compromised but not caught by the machine – a reasonable precaution considering the fact that the za'tarc test is not 100 percent reliable.
  • Hammond must not have been told that Carter and O'Neill suspected Martouf before he entered the gate room and introduced the President. If they had caught him in the hallway, he would not have introduced the president and triggered the program before Martouf could be tested. This may well have saved Martouf's life.


  • According to Freya, a "za'tarc" is a victim of Goa'uld mind-control technology. A specific mission is programmed, then covered with a false memory. The person is unaware that they have been programmed, until they encounter their visual or auditory trigger. Programming seems to require only moments with the victim.

    Freya has documented three similar incidents in the past two months, where Tok'ra operatives have suffered sudden extreme behavior episodes ending in suicide. She has presented her theory to the Tok'ra High Council, but they did not accept it.
  • After the event leading to Lieutenant Astor's death, Freya theorized that the za'tarc technology has a fail safe that prevents it from being tampered with.
  • The za'tarc testing device uses a modified version of the Tok'ra memory recall technology, and compares the subconscious to the conscious memory. It can tell if a person is lying, even if they don't know it. The machine was originally created to verify information obtained from the torture of captured Goa'uld.
  • Apophis' new battleship, destroyed by SG-1 in "Upgrades," was being constructed on PX9-757.


  • Jack O'NeillJack O'Neill - Faced with the possibility of being a Goa'uld programmed assassin, O'Neill was forced under close scrutiny to admit his feelings for Carter. He cares about her very much – more than he should, considering his role as her commanding officer. Jack was also propositioned by the beautiful Freya, but turned her down.
  • Samantha CarterSamantha Carter - Carter endured one of the hardest days of her life: she faced the chance that she might be a programmed assassin for the Goa'uld, she was forced to admit her romantic feelings for Colonel O'Neill, and she killed her friend Martouf to keep him from killing himself.
  • Anise/FreyaAnise/Freya - It is clear that the theories and methods of Anise and Freya are in question among the Tok'ra. But so far, they seem to be correct – though she does not seem to think much of the humans she puts in danger. Freya is attracted to Colonel O'Neill, and threw herself at him. (She came from a planet where people were more free to share affection with each other.) But Anise, her symbiote, favors Dr. Jackson for his intellect.
  • MartoufMartouf - Martouf was programmed by the Goa'uld to kill the President of the United States, then to kill himself. He resisted to the end, when Carter killed him to prevent this final act.


  • What was Lieutenant Astor programmed to do?
  • Who programmed Major Graham and Lieutenant Astor?
  • When was Martouf programmed by the Goa'uld? Who programmed him?
  • Which Tok'ra have been compromised and committed suicide? Which Goa'uld were they spying on at the time?
  • On what previous occasion does Freya believe her za'tarc test worked?
  • Why did Sam and Jack leave Teal'c and Daniel when they were on Apophis' ship? What else did they want to accomplish before escaping?
  • What will become of Sam and Jack's personal relationship? Their working relationship? Will Dr. Fraiser or anyone else present at the time of their confessions report them to General Hammond?


  • Regarding fan reaction to Sam and Jack's developing relationship in this episode: "As we all know, military regulations strictly forbid that sort of fraternization. There are no plans to build on a potential relationship."

    "Of course, judging from some of the online posts, we are doing just that. As I'm sure you've noticed, there has been a lot of venting on the S&J (Samantha and Jack) relationship. The admission in ['Divide and Conquer'] seems to have effected certain fans so deeply that it has tainted their viewing of subsequent episodes."

    Are the writers and producers dropping the Sam and Jack storyline after Season Four? "No. It's still there. In fact, many argue that we introduced it in 'Divide and Conquer' when, in reality, it was there for a long time before that episode. 'Divide and Conquer' afforded us the opportunity to bring it out in the open – not only for the fans, but to have Jack and Sam face the reality as well."

    "After three seasons (that's like three years in SG-time) things necessarily evolve. ... The Sam and Jack thread is not over. In spite of how many may feel, it did not begin with 'Divide and Conquer.' It was subtle, but there much much earlier. It will continue to be there, subtle perhaps, but still there." (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in an interview with IGN.com)
  • "Some point to this episode as the genesis of the grand shipper vs. anti-shipper debate as O'Neill and Carter finally admit their feelings for one another – and I suppose it was, except it didn't come as much of a surprise. Shippers rejoiced as, after after three years of unspoken mutual attraction, 'Sam and Jack' became canon. Anti-shippers, on the other hand, were less than enthused. And the forums lit up! And it wasn't just the ship they were referring to. It was also the death of their beloved Martouf and the continuing presence of the Anise character, introduced in response to then President of MGM Television's Hank Cohen's request for 'a sexy female alien' (a suggestion he got to repeat onscreen when he played himself in 'Wormhole Extreme')." (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
  • "[Vanessa Angel] was terrific, both in front of the camera and off. I remember watching her audition and coming away very impressed. While most of the other actresses simply said the words, it was clear that Vanessa had actually LEARNED the dialogue. There's a big difference. In the end, the decision not to revisit the character had nothing to do with the actress and everything to do with our inability to find a proper, satisfactory storyline for her." (Writer-producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog