Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 1: "Bloodlines"

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Episode Information

Title: "Bloodlines"
Written by: Mark Saraceni
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: June 26, 2014

Synopsis from GateWorld


Teal'c returns to his home planet to save his son.

As the episode opens, Teal'c is in an operating room. Dr. Frasier has tried removing Teal'c's Goa'uld symbiote and replacing it with drugs. The goal is to be able to study the Goa'uld without harming Teal'c. However, the drug doesn't work, and they must return the Goa'uld. While under anesthesia, Teal'c had a dream about Jaffa and priests and a young boy.

At a debriefing later, Teal'c suggests that SG-1 go to his home planet, Chulak, to obtain a Goa'uld for study, since many of them are there. O'Neill reminds him that the last time they were there (in "Children of the Gods"), they had to shoot their way out, and so it would be a suicide mission. Teal'c cuts short his discussion with more than his usual brusqueness, causing O'Neill to worry.

O'Neill visits Teal'c in his quarters to find out if there's some kind of problem. With a bit of prodding, Teal'c reveals that he has a wife and son on Chulak. His son, Rya'c, is just about old enough to be put through the ceremony where a Goa'uld larva is implanted within him. Teal'c doesn't want that to happen - he doesn't want his son to be a slave to the Goa'uld. He hadn't told SG-1 about his family, because he was worried they would think he was compromised and wouldn't trust him. Honestly, he was probably right - trusting him was a very sketchy thing after "Children of the Gods". Teal'c also says that there are other Jaffa that believe the Goa'uld are false gods, such as his former teacher, Bra'tac.

Later, O'Neill, Carter, and Daniel try to convince General Hammond to let them go on the mission to Chulak. Besides the goal of obtaining a Goa'uld for study, they push the idea of finding rebel Jaffa and encouraging them. Hammond isn't buying their story and speaks to O'Neill privately. Eventually O'Neill is forced to reveal that Teal'c has family on Chulak.

Teal'c has taken things into his own hands and started the Stargate dialing for Chulak. Hammond can't allow Teal'c to go alone, because if he's captured, he knows too much information about the SGC. After a bit of a stand-off, Hammond relents and says that SG-1 can take on the mission.

Since Rya'c ceremony could occur any time now, they embark on the mission almost immediately. Teal'c wears his old Jaffa serpent uniform, which does look right on him. The others are disguised as Jaffa priests in robs. A little imperiousness on Teal'c's part gets them past the priests guarding the Stargate on Chulak.

The first thing they do is go to Teal'c's house. They find that it has been destroyed, and the mark of a traitor has been put on it. Teal'c visibly breaks down at the thought that his family might be dead.

Teal'c's old master, Bra'tac, arrives and Teal'c introduces him to the group. After some testing of each other's prowess, O'Neill and Bra'tac seem to agree to be friends. Bra'tac says that Teal'c's wife and son were not killed, but have joined one of the shanty-towns outside of the main city, since they are now outcasts from society.

O'Neill sends Carter and Daniel back to the Stargate in order to take up good positions to aid O'Neill and Teal'c if they need a fast escape. Teal'c, Bra'tac, and O'Neill (so many apostrophes in those names!) go to find Teal'c's son. O'Neill is a bit taken aback by how Bra'tac takes charge of everything, but given that it's Bra'tac's home, he makes little protest.

When the arrive at the shanty-town, the inhabitants run in fear, seeing Teal'c and Bra'tac as two of Apophis's Jaffa. Teal'c spies the ceremonial tent that Rya'c would be in, and runs in to stop the priest. During their struggle, a third figure comes in and also attacks Teal'c. The priest is accidentally killed, along with the Goa'uld larva. The third figure is revealed to be Drey'auc, Teal'c's wife.

Drey'auc is furious with Teal'c, for many things: betraying Apophis and causing them to lose their status and goods; stopping Rya'c's ceremony; returning and messing things up when she was just getting the priests to remove their outcast status. It's not clear if she thinks Apophis really is a god, and that's why she's upset about Teal'c's betrayal, or if it's more because of the loss of their comfortable life. Teal'c thinks she is upset at the loss of status primarily - he doesn't necessarily seem to have a lot of good feeling toward Drey'auc.

Teal'c declares that he refuses to allow Rya'c to become a slave by having a Goa'uld larva implanted in him. It doesn't seem like he's really through this through - Jaffa cannot survive without a Goa'uld, so what is he planning to do with his son? Surely he doesn't want him to die. However, the situation is more urgent, because Rya'c is seriously ill; a Goa'uld would have cured him.

O'Neill thinks Rya'c is sick with something similar to scarlet fever and gives him some of his first-aid medicine; he says that Earth doctors may be able to cure Rya'c if they get him to Earth in time. They have little choice, since now they don't have a Goa'uld larva to give him.

Meanwhile, Carter and Daniel encounter some kind of priestly procession while en route to the Stargate. Carter decides that they should follow the priests and investigate. The priests are going to a small ceremonial building of some kind. When the priests leave, Carter and Daniel check it out. Its purpose seems to be to house a fishtank full of Goa'uld larva. They seize the opportunity, fishing out a larva and storing it in a big thermos that they brought. (For some reason I found it hilarious that they put the Goa'uld in a thermos!)

Daniel realizes they also have an opportunity to kill a bunch of Goa'uld larva, thereby saving the victims that would eventually be called upon to host them. Carter says that if they kill them when they are so vulnerable, then they are no better than the Goa'uld. Daniel seems to digest that, and then he machine guns the fishtank anyway. While Daniel is usually so empathetic toward other beings, I can understand his hatred here - after all, the Goa'uld have taken over his wife and others that he knows. Why let more of them do that?

At this point, all of SG-1 is converging on the Stargate. Carter and Daniel are discovered and engage in a firefight with a few Jaffa, which they win. Rya'c's health is deteriorating rapidly, and he stops breathing. Drey'auc is in a panic. Teal'c realizes there is only one choice: he must give Rya'c his own Goa'uld. This means that Teal'c himself will die within hours.

The Goa'uld larva is transferred. Rya'c starts improving almost immediately, while Teal'c gets weaker just as quickly. Carter and Daniel meet up with them. When O'Neill explains to them that Teal'c/Rya'c are short a Goa'uld, Daniel gets the best line of the episode, "Ahh, we have one." Carter quickly pulls out the thermos with the Goa'uld, and they give it to Teal'c. The look of pain and horror on Teal'c's face as the Goa'uld is implanted is horrible to watch.

They hear horns indicating that Jaffa warriors are searching for them. Teal'c says good-bye to Rya'c and Drey'auc. He asks Bra'tac to watch over them and to teach Rya'c. He tells Rya'c that eventually he will free the Jaffa from false gods.

As they approach the Stargate, Bra'tac pretends that he is bringing the others to Apophis as prisoners. The ruse does not work, and Bra'tac single-handedly renders all three opponents unconscious. SG-1 returns to Earth.

This episode had some excitement and suspense, and it was very interesting to learn more about Teal'c's family and life on Chulak. It was definitely a bit of a plot device that Teal'c had a family that he did not bother to mention until now, but he is a very private person, so it's at least marginally believable.

However, Teal'c was not thinking clearly about some of these events. First, why was he so surprised that Apophis had taken revenge on his house and family after Teal'c betrayed him? The Goa'uld are nothing if not spiteful and vengeful. I'm surprised Apophis didn't order Drey'auc and Rya'c found and killed, just to send a message to the other Jaffa. Perhaps Apophis sees the Jaffa more as ants scurrying around, beneath his attention to individuals.

Second, Teal'c really did not think through his plan to stop Rya'c from receiving a Goa'uld larva, as I mentioned above. It's possible, although it is not mentioned, that if a Jaffa never receives a larva, his/her immune system might develop naturally. After all, one would think the children must have some kind of immune system before they receive a larva. If not, the infant mortality rate must be enormous, and I suppose that's not completely unbelievable in a Goa'uld-controlled society. At any rate, Teal'c seemed to be acting completely emotionally and not rationally, not planning for what would happen to Rya'c instead. I think eventually he would have realized that there was no choice for Rya'c except to let him receive a larva.

However, this dovetails with the testing that the SGC was doing at the beginning of the episode - trying to find some way to replace the Goa'uld's effect on Teal'c so that they could remove the symbiote. If they could achieve this, it would be ground-breaking. As Daniel pointed out in the episode, the Jaffa are dependent on the Goa'uld not only as their gods, but also to keep them alive via the Goa'uld larva. If the Jaffa did not require larvae to survive, then it would be much more likely that they would be willing to rebel against the Goa'uld's evil and excesses. This is an idea that the SGC will pursue throughout the series, and this episode was the seed of it.

In the end, Rya'c was left in Drey'auc's care with a symbiote. What will Rya'c grow up to believe? He is surrounded by a culture brainwashed into thinking that the Goa'uld are gods. In the episode, Drey'auc seemed to come around to thinking that the Goa'uld were false gods, perhaps based on her interactions with SG-1 and their tools and medicine. However, is her change of heart genuine? Is Teal'c right that she doesn't really care either way, as long as her life is comfortable? What will she teach Rya'c? Bra'tac should also be teaching him, but if Drey'auc's message is different, what will Rya'c end up believing? Teal'c may find out that his order to Drey'auc about how Rya'c is raised does not have much effect.

One of the things I like about the series is that it raises a lot of interesting moral questions. In this episode, Daniel and Carter briefly debated about killing the Goa'uld larvae. Carter asserted that to do so while they are so vulnerable is as evil as the Goa'uld. I'm not sure if I can agree with this. Yes, the larvae are physically vulnerable in the fishtank, but mentally they are just as evil as they will be when they are physically mature.

As we learned in "The Enemy Within", Goa'uld have genetic memory. When each larva is born, it has the knowledge and experience of each of its preceding relatives. In essence, the Goa'uld are born evil; they do not necessarily have a time when they are mentally maturing and can be guided and taught. In that case, is it morally wrong to kill one of the larva? Knowing that as soon as it is given a host, it will do evil? Is killing a born psychopath wrong? This is a very interesting question. In the episode, given that Carter and Daniel had no way to ensure that those larvae would not be able to take hosts, I don't have a problem with pre-emptively killing them. As I said in my synopsis above, I think it's fitting that Daniel decided to do this.

We don't get to see General Hammond's reaction to the mission - they failed in retrieving a Goa'uld larva, and they didn't "save" Rya'c. However, they did make an ally in Bra'tac, they killed some of the enemy (the Goa'uld), and they have cemented their ties with Teal'c. After this, his loyalty to SG-1 would be unwavering.

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