Collateral Damage

Summary | Notes | Production | Transcript | Review

Colonel Mitchell stands falsely accused of murder – but he remembers committing it, thanks to technology that grafts memories into someone else's mind.

FAN RATING - 7.16 
NIELSEN - 1.7 
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 3
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: William Waring
GUEST STARS: Anna Galvin (Dr. Reya Varrick), Warren Kimmel (Dr. Marell), Benson Simmonds (Dr. Amuro), Gary Jones (Sergeant Harriman), William Atherton (Emissary Varta), Ian Robison (Mitchell's Father), Maximillian Uhrin (Young Mitchell), Brian Drummond (Security Officer), John Treleaven (Colonel)
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Colonel Cameron Mitchell awakens in a confused state. Images of him bludgeoning a woman flash though his mind. He examines blood on his hands. Security personnel seize him and haul him into an adjoining room where the woman lies in a pool of blood. Mitchell is arrested for murder.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Mitchell was the test subject as the Galarans, led by chief scientist Dr. Reya Varrick (the murdered woman), demonstrate their memory technology – developed from a Goa'uld memory device they have been studying for one hundred years. Capable of inserting one person's memories into the mind of another, the machine gave Mitchell the memories of the Emissary as he congratulated Varrick on being named to lead the memory device project. It is an effective first demonstration of the technology, which the Galarans hope will help them to advance more quickly by easily passing on knowledge.

Back at Stargate Command, General Landry and SG-1 discuss the trip to Galar. As they debate the merits and dangers of the memory technology, Carter reveals that the Galarans want help with hyperdrive technology. A trade relationship seem immanent, as Landry says that the Joint Chiefs are salivating over the prospect of training jet pilots in mere days.

At a subsequent reception to honor the scientists, Mitchell chats up Reya while the rest of SG-1 debates the merits and dangers of the memory device with the Emissary. Dr. Marell, Reya's colleague, speaks privately with her. Reya then loudly confronts the Emissary about the military taking over her project. Observing the discussion, Mitchell approaches Reya. He ends up, at her invitation, agreeing to walk her home.

In her apartment, Mitchell recalls having been there before – courtesy of his implanted memories. He ascertains that Reya was married, but lives alone. They have a drink, and are soon kissing.

Daylight dawns and Carter, Jackson, and Teal'c visit the Emissary's office for help in locating Mitchell. The Emissary reveals that Mitchell has been arrested for Dr. Varrick's murder, citing various items of evidence ... and Mitchell's own confession.

Visiting Mitchell in his cell, Jackson, Carter, and Teal'c quickly realize that Mitchell's mind has been tampered with; the murderer has framed the Colonel and used their technology to implant the memory in his mind. The Emissary offers to release Mitchell and send him back to Earth, in order to preserve the negotiations. Despite his lack of knowledge about the Galaran judicial system, Mitchell refuses to leave without clearing his name. He also wants to learn the truth and have the horrific memory of the murder removed from his mind, but he refuses a memory replacement.

While Mitchell remains on Galar, the rest of the team briefs Landry. They quickly return with Carter agreeing to remain with Mitchell while the project scientists attempt to ascertain if his murder memories are false. Meanwhile, Jackson and Teal'c will conduct their own investigation.

Back in the memory project lab, Carter arranges for a sample of Mitchell's blood that was taken when he was arrested to be sent to the S.G.C. for corroborative tests. She grills the scientists, Drs. Marell and Amuro, about who they think killed Reya. They suspect the planet's military leaders, since Varrick was going to do everything she could to prevent the military take-over of their work.

Colonel Mitchell is hooked up to the machine as they search his memory for key moments in his early life. He recalls childhood memories of the first time he saw his father, a test pilot, after crash injuries forced the amputation of the man's legs at mid-thigh. Mitchell also relives a subsequent memory during which his father resolves to walk again.

Comparing these memories with the murder memories three times, no evidence of an implant can be detected – and the scientists start to suspect that Mitchell may have committed the murder after all. Dr. Marell, who it turns out was married to, but separated from, Reya, refuses to continue. When the blood sample tested by Stargate Command reveals that Mitchell was stunned before the blood was drawn, the scientists are persuaded to continue.

In order to continue, Mitchell must summon a memory with emotional resonance akin to that of the murder. He recalls the horrible day he was ordered to bomb a truck convoy, only to learn later that it was a convoy of innocent refugees. Comparison establishes, finally, that the murder memories are false. Determined to find out who did kill Reya, Mitchell relives the murder a number of times again. Eventually, he finds the murderer's face in a mirror and realizes that one of the scientists, Dr. Marell, killed his ex-wife.

Confronted, Marell is bewildered and puzzled. Dr. Amuro establishes that Marell killed Reya and gave the memory to Mitchell, then replaced the memory in his own mind – thereby removing his own link to the crime, and freeing himself from the guilt of murdering the woman he once loved.

In a final meeting, SG-1 learns that the memory technology has been used to remove any knowledge of SG-1 and the murder from Dr. Marell's mind, in order that he may continue his work with the device.

Home on Earth, Mitchell is preparing to go off duty when Landry comes to the locker room to check on him. Mitchell reveals that he almost resigned because of the bombing, but it was his father's courage that helped him move forward. Looking at a photo of his father, Mitchell flashes back to that moment – one memory he can happily hold on to.

- S. Fetter


  • The Galaran Emissary's name is never given in the episode (nor does it appear in the show's credits) – but it is in official casting documents, which list his name as "High Emissary Varta."


  • "Collateral Damage" originally carried the working title "Remembrance of Things Past."
  • "'Collateral Damage' is a one-off episode in which the team travels off-world and gets into trouble. Well, specifically one member gets into some serious trouble and the rest of the team have to help. We've just finished the first draft." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • "Given the production demands of the past couple of years, Paul and I have taken to writing scripts separately. In the case of 'Collateral Damage,' I wrote the outline and he went on to write a terrific script in which, besides the cool SF premise, we are treated to a glimpse into Mitchell's childhood." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his GateWorld blog)
  • "Tomorrow, Paul and I are going in to watch the day one mix of 'Collateral Damage' (a great Mitchell episode that is not only an off-world adventure, but focuses on Cameron's relationship with his father). To all of you complaining that we hardly know Mitchell – wait 'til the second half of the season. We're just getting started." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his GateWorld blog)
  • "Wil Waring did a phenomenal job directing 'Collateral Damage' which is one of the darkest SG-1's we've done in a while." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his GateWorld blog)
  • "I loved this episode and, as much as I'd like to lay some claim to it, this was all Paul, my writing partner (I was busy working on the next episode, 'Ripple Effect'). One of the things I loved about working on Stargate was the freedom it gave us as writers. We could tell a variety of stories – standalone, arc-driven, Earth-based, set off-world, SF, fantasy, horror, comedic, or dark. In the case of 'Collateral Damage' – standalone, off-world, SF, and dark, and it does all four incredibly well.

    "In the original pitch, it's Teal'c who ends up imprisoned on an alien world, charged with a crime he didn't commit despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Given Teal'c's existing arc that season, we elected to make it a Mitchell story as it allowed us the opportunity explore his past.

    "The part of the doomed victim in this episode, Dr. Reya Varrick, is played by the lovely Anna Galvin who is one of a handful of actors who have appeared in all three Stargate series – as the mysterious Vanessa Conrad in one of my fave Atlantis episodes, 'Remnants,' and then as Chloe Armstrong's mother in Stargate Universe." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)