Stronghold

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

Baal kidnaps Teal'c as part of a plot to brainwash those Jaffa advocating a move toward democracy. Cameron Mitchell learns that an old friend is about to die.

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EPISODE #914
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 01.27.06
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 02.05.07
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 4
WRITTEN BY: Alan McCullough
DIRECTED BY: Peter DeLuise
GUEST STARS:

Tony Amendola (Bra’tac), Cliff Simon (Baal), Reed Diamond (Major Bryce Ferguson), Dakin Matthews (Maz’rai), Yan Feldman (Til’Vak), Don Thompson, Veena Sood (Dr. Kelly), Eric Breker, , Simone Bailly (Ka’lel), Gardiner Millar (Yat’Yir), Ken Kirzinger (Jaffa Commander), Hugo Steele (Jaffa Guard)

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Teal’c and Bra’tac sit at the Jaffa High Council table on Dakara, attempting to push through a referendum calling for the free Jaffa to vote on democratic representation rather than maintain governance by council, where representatives are granted seats based on military might. Maz’rai, an elder friend of Bra’tac’s, supports their position.

When Ka’lel surprisingly voices opposition to the motion, the Council is thrown into turmoil. Maz’rai offers to speak with Ka’lel, who, when she is alone with him, zats him. At the follow-up session Maz’rai mysteriously tables the referendum, stunning Teal’c and Bra’tac. All of their political allies are falling away. Their haste in bringing about this vote was based on the fear that Gerak’s remaining supporters might gain control of the Council and continue Gerak’s plan to force the Jaffa to submit to the worship of the Ori.

Puzzled and angry, Teal’c tells Bra’tac he will go to Chulak to confer with their allies, and also speak with U’kin, another member of the Council.

Colonel Mitchell, on personal leave, has pulled a number of strings to get an old friend, Major Bryce Ferguson, admitted to the USAF Academy hospital for follow-up testing. Ferguson, diagnosed with a fatal brain aneurysm caused by shrapnel, was wounded four years prior, saving Mitchell’s life. Because of Ferguson’s actions, Mitchell made it into the top-secret F-302 program and, eventually, into his current position with SG-1.

As they play video games and talk, Ferguson presses for details of the job that Mitchell cannot share. Up-front about his impending death, Ferguson tells Mitchell he must let go of his guilt over the way events unfolded. He is dying, and Cam has to forgive himself for surviving.

Teal’c fails to return to Dakara, prompting Bra’tac to seek help from General Landry and SG-1. Jackson goes with Bra’tac on the search for Teal’c. They soon discover that someone is brainwashing influential Jaffa, and they have kidnapped Teal’c. Held prisoner on P2M-903 aboard a Goa’uld Ha’tak as the young Jaffa warrior Til’Vak attempts to brainwash him, Teal’c’s superior resistance forces Baal to reveal himself. Afraid of Ori power, Baal wants to unite the Jaffa into an army under his leadership, with which he will combat their new common foe.

Meanwhile, Bra’tac and Jackson confront Maz’rai. Later, Maz’rai removes his symbiote as he attempts the dangerous Rite of M’al Sharran. Shamed by his failure to prevent the brainwashing, Maz’rai dies in the attempt to free himself from Goa’uld control — but not without first leading them to Ka’lel.

On Earth, Ferguson reveals what he has pieced together — namely, that Mitchell was shot down in Antarctica in a fight with aliens (“Avalon, Part 1”). Knowing Mitchell must have more important things to attend to, he tries to push him away, telling him to get back to work. Still determined to help, Mitchell reacts with anger and impatience when Dr. Kelly informs him that there is nothing anyone can do for Ferguson.

Mitchell updates Landry and asks him for a favor, and learns of an impending operation led by Carter and Jackson to free Teal’c. Cameron is torn between his loyalty to one friend and his desire to help rescue another.

As Baal watches Teal’c’s condition deteriorate, he holds out the promise of tretonin should Teal’c cooperate. He leaves the drug just out of reach. Fighting to survive, Teal’c finally crawls to the tretonin and injects himself; the brainwashing process resumes.

Before the mission to rescue Teal’c begins, Carter takes a slimmed down, revamped version of the Galaran mind device to Mitchell at the hospital. Wheeling the device into Ferguson’s room, Mitchell connects his friend to the machine. Mitchell’s own memories of events he’s experienced since becoming involved with the S.G.C. unfold in Ferguson’s mind. Having granted the dying man’s wish, Mitchell heads back to the S.G.C. He enters the gate room as Carter concludes her briefing of the enhanced team that will try to free Teal’c. Jackson points out that Teal’c may be brainwashed, and may not go willingly.

In the opening salvo Bra’tac, in an Al’kesh ship, attacks the Jaffa guarding the gate. Carter’s team heads through the gate and begins fighting their way toward the mothership. Mitchell, playing an army of one, fights his way to the high ground where he takes out the Jaffa cannon position. Bra’tac’s ship is shot down. Carter orders Mitchell to wait for backup, but he proceeds in a dangerous run toward the transport rings as ship’s engines start.

Baal, concerned that Teal’c isn’t really brainwashed, has arranged a test. Bra’tac is hauled in, and Teal’c is ordered to kill him.

Mitchell has trouble activating the rings to gain access to the ship, and is quickly cornered by two Jaffa. Carter and Jackson zat them, and Sam activates the rings to send Mitchell to the ship alone. He searches for Teal’c, arriving just as Teal’c is poised to kill Bra’tac. Zatting several Jaffa, Cam provides the distraction Teal’c needs to free Bra’tac and take out Baal.

Back on Dakara, Carter and Jackson wait for the High Council to finally vote on the democracy motion. Teal’c and Bra’tac emerge with the news that in two months time, the Jaffa will hold their first election.

Later, Teal’c seeks out Mitchell in the S.G.C. locker room. Teal’c shares the good news and thanks Mitchell for saving him and putting the Jaffa on this path. Mitchell rebuts Teal’c’s gesture by suggesting its all just part of the job. He then asks Teal’c his secret to resisting brainwashing. Teal’c points out what Cam himself is trying to learn: “To resist the influence of others, knowledge of oneself is most important.”

– S. Fetter

ANALYSIS

  • Teal’c, Bra’tac, and their allies put forth a proposal to dissolve the Free Jaffa Nation’s High Council, to be followed by a referendum where all Free Jaffa can vote on their leaders. There was opposition from Gerak’s followers (now presumably led by Yat’Yir, his first lieutenant), and from a group of Jaffa brainwashed by Baal. But the proposal was finally put forth and passed. The High Council will be dissolved, and the Jaffa will hold general elections in two months’ time.

    It is a great win for Teal’c and Bra’tac’s cause, as the freedom of the young Jaffa nation has recently threatened to succumb to the will and might of the strongest.

  • Like Teal’c and Bra’tac, Maz’rai is a former servant of Apophis, noted by the serpent mark on his forehead.
  • Major Bryce Ferguson was a better pilot than Cameron, and Cam believes that he probably would have gotten his spot in the F-302 program if Ferguson hadn’t taken a piece of shrapnel in the head saving Cam’s life four years ago. He lived with it for several years, but finally succumbed to complications from the injury (a brain aneurysm) and died.
  • Gerak’s followers are still advocating submission to the religion of the Ori, despite Gerak’s last-minute repentance and death on Earth (“The Fourth Horseman, Part 2”). They are likely under the leadership of Yat’Yir, who was Gerak’s first lieutenant. Those Jaffa advocating democracy were seizing the opportunity to dissolve the Council before Gerak’s followers gained enough strength to force the unilateral submission to the religion of the Ori, as Gerak was intending following his own conversion to Origin.
  • Teal’c’s experience using the Rite of M’al Sharran to break Apophis’s brainwashing four years ago (“Threshold”) helped him fight the same brainwashing technology again. From Teal’c’s point of view, the best way to resist the influence of others is to know yourself — something that the Rite of M’al Sharran retaught him in a very powerful way.
  • Baal lost his flanged Goa’uld voice and talked to Teal’c honestly about the Goa’uld posing as gods — but only temporarily. The Goa’uld often drop their “boombox” voices and speak as humans to try and win sympathy from humans — or to fool them (“Hathor,” “Crossroads”).

    Baal attempted to gain Teal’c’s sympathy by confessing the Goa’uld knew they weren’t really gods, by highlighting the benefits that the Jaffa got from their enslavers (health, vitality, and long-life brought by the symbiotes), and by acknowledging that the Goa’uld may have taken the whole “gods” thing too far. He also suggested that while most Goa’uld knew that they were not really gods, some had begun to believe their own propaganda. With enough people worshiping them, he suggests, perhaps they really did become gods by definition.

  • The Jaffa number in the millions spread across the galaxy, and are very diverse. Presumably most of them are now counted as members of the Free Jaffa Nation, though there may well be pockets of those who still follow the downcast Goa’uld (such as the warriors in Baal’s service in this episode).
  • Ferguson suggests that the information about many of Earth’s top-secret projects is out there, if one knows where to look, because the U.S. government has had to outsource so much related to the F-302 and BC-303 programs (“Covenant”). He’s right: he’s figured out a lot of things about the ship programs and their use of alien technology, and correctly speculates about Mitchell’s participation fending off an alien attack in Antarctica (“Avalon, Part 1”).
  • Ferguson mentions the destroyed Seattle building (“Ex Deus Machina”) and the new influenza strain (“The Fourth Horseman, Part 2”) — both the results of alien interference on Earth, in which SG-1 and Colonel Mitchell were directly involved.
  • In addition to a brainwashing technique that makes use of the Goa’uld memory device, Baal also used Teal’c’s need for tretonin to wear him down. This took a serious physical toll on Teal’c, but ultimately may have backfired: Depriving him of tretonin may have accomplished the same effects as the Rite of M’al Sharran itself, in which a Jaffa’s symbiote is removed to take him to the brink of death, causing him to rediscover who he really is as his life flashes before his eyes.
  • Ironically, Gerak ascended to power and influence among the Jaffa in part because he managed to capture and execute Baal, once one of the most powerful Goa’uld System Lords — or so the Jaffa believed. Unbeknownst to any of them he had captured and killed a clone. In opposing the democracy referendum, the Jaffa were being manipulated by Baal himself, who wished to secretly lead them by controlling their High Council behind the scenes.
  • After his experience as a murder suspect on Galar, Cam swore that he would never let anyone use the Galaran memory technology. Nevertheless, General Landry was willing to allow Mitchell to use it to share his top-secret experiences with his dying friend, though doing it made Mitchell feel somewhat like a hypocrite.
  • There are several Jaffa in key positions within the Jaffa government who have been brainwashed by Baal. Goa’uld brainwashing has proved very difficult to break: Teal’c only broke Apophis’s control by going through a great ordeal that took him to the brink of death — the Rite of M’al Sharran, which is often fatal (“Threshold”). Presumably each and every turned Jaffa, including such leaders as Ka’lel, must go through this and risk death in order to recover their minds. But Bra’tac is confident that it can be done.
  • Earth apparently still has ongoing diplomatic relations with the planet Galar, where a murderer used advanced memory-grafting technology to frame Colonel Mitchell for his crime (“Collateral Damage”). Stargate Command has obtained a portable version of the technology (probably with fewer functions), and the U.S. is no doubt now studying how to engineer it and use it for such things as military training.
  • The military hospital in Colorado Springs has a number of unusual treatment options available to them, for certain personnel — probably medical technologies obtained through Stargate travel. Presumably the hospital is a secure facility, whose employees have a certain level of clearance — especially considering the fact that Mitchell left the Galaran memory technology with Major Ferguson unattended.
  • Baal managed to gather a significant army of Jaffa warriors. While it is possible that these men may have been Free Jaffa who were brainwashed one at a time, it seems more likely that they never joined the Free Jaffa movement and remained faithful to the Goa’uld (and Baal specifically) following their downfall last year (“Reckoning, Part 2”).

    Baal also still has control of at least one mothership.

  • Baal had his hand on a device attached to his wrist just before Mitchell arrived to zat his Jaffa. It is probably a personal shield device, which he was unable to activate before Teal’c shot him. Or, perhaps more likely, it may have been an Asgard transporter activator which has been his preferred means of escape in the past (“Threads”).
  • Tossing a ball against a wall during down-time on a mission is something Daniel probably picked up from Jack O’Neill (“Enemies,” “Urgo”).
  • The dissolution of the Jaffa High Council and the Free Jaffa Nation’s impending elections have paved the way for a new leader of the young nation, which still struggles with the threat of civil war as various factions vie for influence — and some still wish to follow the evil Ori. They need a strong leader who can unite the factions, Jaffa who have been in conflict with one another while serving various Goa’uld for thousands of years.

    The way may be paved for Bra’tac, who with Teal’c led the Jaffa resistance movement and who gained the position in an alternate universe (“Ripple Effect”), to be elected the new leader of the Jaffa people.

NOTES

  • One of the private contract companies that the U.S. government is Zephyr, an aeronautics firm with which Bryce Ferguson did some consulting after he went on disability.
  • The planet where Baal had parked his mothership is P2M-903.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Cameron MitchellCameron Mitchell – Mitchell has a temper, especially when it comes to losing his loved ones and being completely out of control. When is became clear that his friend was going to die — from an injury sustained while saving Cam’s life — he rashly charged through enemy fire to Baal’s mothership without waiting for backup, in order to rescue Teal’c. His actions were brave and daring, but also hot-headed and somewhat reckless. He’s impatient, and it’s a personality trait that Cameron is well aware of, and something he doesn’t like about himself.

    Cam’s life was saved four years ago by his friend and fellow pilot Bryce Ferguson, who took a piece of shrapnel in the head in the process. Now that Ferguson has died, Mitchell carries his grief as well as survivor’s guilt. He believes that this happened to Ferguson because Cam acted rashly.

  • Teal'cTeal’c – Teal’c’s dream of seeing the Jaffa free and self-governed is coming true, as the High Council has voted to dissolve itself (whose members are determined by military might) and elect its leadership democratically.

    Teal’c was kidnapped by Jaffa he trusted, and tortured by Baal as the former System Lord attempted to brainwash him and to win his sympathy. But because of his previous experience being brainwashed by Apophis and freed by the Rite of M’al Sharran, and the knowledge of self that that brought — he withstood the brainwashing attempts. He briefly faked submission to Baal and threatened to shoot Bra’tac dead, but they were both able to escape unharmed when Colonel Mitchell arrived to help them.

  • BaalBaal – Baal secretly kidnapped members of the Free Jaffa leadership and brainwashed them for his own goals. He wishes to be the leader of the Free Jaffa — not as their god or ruler, but as one who can command their armies to help defeat the Ori threat. Whether this motivation is true, or the full story, remains to be seen. As a Goa’uld he is self-centered and self-motivated, and is very likely not trying to valiantly defend the galaxy from an evil enemy.

    Perhaps in his long-game Baal sees the defeat of the Ori by the Goa’uld as the only way for he and his kind to regain the power they lost at the hands of the Replicators (“Reckoning, Part 2”).

    Baal was shot dead by Teal’c — or at least one of his clones was. He has been killed twice now (“Ex Deus Machina”), and it is not known if the original Baal is still among the surviving copies.

  • Bra'tacBra’tac – Bra’tac’s long-term goal of free democracy for the Jaffa people is nearly a reality, as the High Council has voted to dissolve and hold free elections in two months. To reach this great goal, Bra’tac had to overcome an insidious challenge: all of his closest friends turning on him because of Goa’uld brainwashing.

    Bra’tac has a keen intuition for discerning when someone is lying to him, as U’kin did. He once did the same with Teal’c when he was under Apophis’s control (“Threshold”), making the very same declaration: “He is deceiving us!”

  • Ka'lelKa’lel – Ka’lel, a prominent member of the Jaffa High Council and apparently the only female member, holds her position only because of the military might of the Hak’tyl — a group of female Jaffa warriors led by Ishta (“Birthright,” “Sacrifices”). Though she was among those brainwashed by Baal, her reasons for opposing democratic elections may have been legitimate; she and the Hak’tyl may lose their voice in Jaffa leadership, as some segments of Jaffa society still do not wish to grant women even the right to vote.

    It is not yet known if Ka’lel will be freed from Baal’s mind control, but Bra’tac believes that with the help of the Jaffa she and the other brainwashed Jaffa will prevail.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • What does Baal really have to offer in the fight against the Ori? What is his long-game?
  • Can a Jaffa who is on tretonin, and who has no larval symbiote, still go through the Rite of M’al Sharran? Will depriving him or her of tretonin have the same effect?
  • Will Ka’lel and the other brainwashed Jaffa be freed from the mind control?
  • In the absence of the High Council, how will the Jaffa government be restructured? Will there be a single leader elected? Who will it be?
  • Was the real Baal killed, or was it one of his non-Goa’ulded clones? (We’ve heard a clone speak with a Goa’ulded voice before [“Ex Deus Machina”].)

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • Actress Veena Sood, who plays Dr. Kelly, first played the Abydonian leader in Season Six’s “Full Circle.”
  • Actor Don Thompson first played the props guy in Season Five’s “Wormhole X-Treme!”
  • “In this episode, a Jaffa undergoes the Rite of M’al Sharran to rid himself of his symbiote — and dies in the process. The rite was performed a grand total of three times before and only one of those instances proved successful (Teal’c being the rare exception). Them 25 percent odds are pretty bleak. Compare to the Tok’ra extraction process which, if the Tok’ra are to be believed, has a better but still iffy 50 percent success rate. Paul and I called BS on that. Every time we could remember it being performed, it worked beautifully, so it seemed to be more like 100 percent. Which brings to mind one of the many amusing stories from our early days on the show.

    “Way back when we first started on Stargate, Paul and I wanted to know more about this Tok’ra extraction process. Brad suggested we check out an episode called ‘Pretense.’ Apparently, all we needed to know about the extraction process was covered in that episode. And so, Paul and I fired up the VCR and sat through 45 minutes of Stargate‘s version of Boston Legal and Zipacna walking around with a Carmen Miranda headpiece and, all the while we kept wondering: ‘When are they going to get around to extraction process?!’ Then, as the episode was drawing to an end, the character of Skaara was ordered to undergo the ‘extraction process.’ Finally! I was all sorts of curious. Would it be a surgical procedure or something much techier and advanced? Would Skaara be awake through the procedure? If so, how would he react? So many questions about to be answered! We watched as the court made its ruling, then watched a time cut to the next scene in which the Tok’ra trot out the Goa’uld symbiote and proclaim the extraction process a success! End episode. WTF?!!!

    “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention guest star Reed Diamond who plays the part of Mitchell’s doomed buddy in the episode. The former Homicide lead turns in a brilliant performance and, for the record, was terrific to work with.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)