Divide and Conquer

Review

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.

EPISODE #405
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 07.28.00
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.08.01
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 2
WRITTEN BY: Tor Alexander Valenza
DIRECTED BY: Martin Wood
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By Debra Kraft

"Divide and Conquer" yields a wealth of surprises. Just as Colonel O'Neill and viewers like me are getting less and less trusting of the Tok'ra, the S.G.C. hosts the signing of a treaty between the Tok'ra High Council and the president of the United States. The plot thickens even further with an acknowledgment that both Sam and Jack care about each other a lot more than they're supposed to, and with the unfortunate demise of Martouf.

Considering all of the above, it might be easy to surmise that Stargate SG-1 is starting to go the route of a sappy soap-opera. However, that is far from true. The writing continues to be exceptional, and these little plot twists are only serving to strengthen the show.

The idea of a Goa'uld brainwashing technique is another good angle to add to the growing list of weapons the System Lords can use in their ongoing attempts to defeat both the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri (Earth). The possibility of Goa'uld influence on unsuspecting SG teams with mere seconds of contact is an intriguing one, and I'll be curious to see what, if any, precautions will be enacted to protect against internal sabotage by affected "za'tarcs."

It is also interesting to see the Tok'ra concealing yet more information from the S.G.C. But most intriguing was the fact that it was Freya, the Tok'ra I have come to trust least, who finally insisted on sharing her theory about za'tarcs, while Martouf, the only Tok'ra besides Sam's father whom I have ever truly come to trust, insisted instead that the theory was pure conjecture and not worth mentioning -- despite Freya's evidence to the contrary. Perhaps this should have prepared me for the discovery that Martouf himself had become a victim of this new Goa'uld threat.

SG-1's writers continue to surprise me. Still, they did leave some apparent "holes." If even the members of the Tok'ra High Council were tested for Goa'uld influence, why would Martouf not have been subjected himself to the test? With the intense levels of security being undertaken by both the S.G.C. and the Tok'ra, this lapse is not logical, and thus doubtful.

Martouf's death, augured by his being on the receiving end of at least a dozen bullets but hastened by Sam Carter firing a second zat blast, was another surprising and touching moment. I will miss this character, as well as the ongoing possibility of romantic involvement between him and Carter. However, it must be noted that this reduces the number of "suitors" interested in Sam, and thus increases Jack's own odds.

Yes, Sam and Jack have finally admitted to having stronger feelings for one another than they should, given their current military status. However, they have not acted upon those feelings, and have even agreed to keeping them under wraps. These considerations are crucial to maintaining the integrity as well as the longevity of the series. A certain contingent of fans will now be eagerly anticipating that first kiss. Still another contingent will be dreading that inevitability. Let's keep 'em all waiting, shall we?

I'm still not quite sure what to make of the Anise/Freya character. There's a definite duality which makes her challenging to interpret. Though I wish she would get rid of the MarvelTM comics wardrobe, I'm growing to like this duality, with Anise as the ultimate Goa'uld scientist, arrogant and secretive, while her human host, Freya, is more forthright and humane, even seeming distraught as the young lieutenant commits suicide after failing her Goa'uld-implanted mission.

This differentiation between symbiote and host is further emphasized when Freya acts on her growing feelings for Jack, yet states that her symbiote, Anise, is more interested in Daniel. Confusing? Absolutely. Entertaining? Well, that part I'm not sure about either. Freya/Anise certainly dresses for the role of someone's love interest, but I don't believe that type of romance is needed in this series.

There are some good Daniel and Jack moments in this episode as well. It was interesting to hear Jack ask Daniel what he would do, given the choices our favorite Colonel was faced with; and it was interesting also to hear Daniel comment about the Jack O'Neill moments he would miss the most, while Jack was utterly absorbed in untangling a yo-yo. But the messages told here go far beyond the words spoken.

These two characters have established a tacit closeness, even a reliance upon one another. Jack is admitting to trusting Daniel's good judgment. Daniel is admitting to a certain degree of frustration in their ongoing inability to communicate at a higher level. Later, when the Tok'ra leader Per'sus commends Daniel's word-smithing of the treaty, Dr. Jackson's mind is obviously elsewhere, presumably with the friends he may never be able to communicate with again, on any level.

My last comments are directed at the treaty itself. The last time a treaty was signed at the S.G.C., it involved the System Lords and the Asgard agreeing to give Earth protected planet status ("Fair Game"). This time, the President of the United States is representing Earth in an agreement with the Tok'ra to fight the Goa'uld. Will this new treaty nullify that first one? Here is another curious thread I will be expecting to see unraveled in the future.

Season Four is coming together nicely, indeed. However, I look forward to a bit more planetary exploration. All this intrigue is well and good. Just throw in some pure adventure now and then and I'll be quite satisfied.

Rating: * * 1/2