Can we take a moment to appreciate just how good of a job the makeup team did in making Peter Williams age several decades over the course of this episode? Round of applause; it’s a great job.
I paused the episode after the first mission gets back to Earth to remind our son of the old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I cautioned that probably wouldn’t be the case in this series, where, since the bloodthirsty and power-mad System Lords are involved, it’s more like the enemy of my enemy is a really pissed off enemy. It’s an interesting setup. What we learn as the show goes on is that offstage, the System Lords have been infighting and waging their wars, and the show’s principal enemy, Apophis, has been losing ground on every front. His main rival for power is Heru’ur, who we’ve met briefly a couple of times. However, he’s been captured by a new-to-the-show villain, Sokar, and has spent weeks or months being tortured. Apophis somehow gets free, sends a message to Earth with coordinates of where he can be found, and makes a break for that planet.
So the humans find a great intelligence victory: their main adversary is broken and beaten, and both his legs are shattered, and he can be brought back to Earth for interrogation and imprisonment. Except that’s a terrible idea. Their new allies the Tok’ra send one of their agents, Martouf, who we met a couple of episodes previously, to tell them no, send Apophis back. Sokar, who we don’t meet in the flesh this time, wasn’t done with him yet and is prepared to destroy Earth to recover him. Meanwhile, Apophis is dying and cannot be returned to full health without a Goa’uld sarcophagus.
Even though it isn’t an action-packed episode, the combination of the setup and the drama, once Sokar starts screwing with the Earth Stargate, kept our son fascinated by where this one was going. For me, there’s a real low moment that weighs over the whole episode. Debating their options, Jack says that they should “beat whatever information we can out of old Snake Boy.” That’s an ugly sentiment from any hero, but since we know that Colonel O’Neill has been tortured for information before, both in the show and prior to it (in episode 15, we learned that he had been captured during an operation in Iraq [Desert Storm?] and held for four months), I think it’s out of character. O’Neill should know perfectly well that Apophis isn’t going to give up information under duress. After all, Jack didn’t. What would be the point, therefore, other than cruelty?