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Daniel believes he has found the planet Athena was looking for in "Memento Mori" that allegedly has a stash of Ancient weapons and technology. SG-1 (sans Carter) travels to the planet, after a MALP reconnaissance shows a benign-looking pyramid room with mixed up hieroglyphics.
Their initial survey reveals that yes, the hieroglyphics are mixed up: because they are on display. The building the stargate is in is a museum, and there is some kind of party going on in the main part of the museum. Mitchell quickly scrubs the mission, revealing an SGC policy that was not clearly stated before: first contacts are only initiated by communication with the natives via the MALP, and if the natives as them to visit, then they do. SG-1 apparently is no longer considered to be "equipped" for first contact situations, which is somewhat ironic, given the past numerous first contacts involving Daniel and Teal'c.
There is a snag, of course. The DHD is a non-functional museum replica, so they cannot dial home. (This is some of the first humor in the episode, because long-time viewers of the series will remember problems caused by not ascertaining, using the MALP, a DHD exists, then not ascertaining that it's not broken. Now apparently they need to ascertain that it's real!) They decide to stay out of sight and wait until the SGC calls them, at which point they will ask for equipment to be sent so they can dial home. They will be contacted in 6 hours. The party guests are not cooperative, and a couple looking for, ahem, privacy stumbles onto them.
The two natives panic and run back to the party. Mitchell and Teal'c follow, hoping to catch them, but are unsuccessful. SG-1 is mistaken for "rebels" and a firefight ensues. Some of the party guests escape, but an alarm is triggered, which causes the museum to lock down, trapping SG-1 and some guests and also notifying the authorities.
For everyone's safety, SG-1 gathers up the remaining party guests and puts them under guard. They are quickly contacted by local law enforcement, who asks what the rebels' demands are and that the hostages be released. Daniel wants to try to explain the true situation, but the rest of SG-1 believes that they should just play along as the rebels until the SGC contacts them. For the rest of the episode, Daniel has to play the unlikely role of a terrorist and negotiate with the local officials. This is one of the funniest on-going part of the episodes, because Daniel naturally is an agreeable person and tries to soothe the police, but then realizes he's not playing his part right and must make threats.
One of the "hostages", named Cicero, is a museum scientist who had hypothesized that the stargate was a way to travel to other worlds. He offers to help them out: the natives only uncovered pieces of the DHD, but some of the pieces may include the DHD's power source, which would let SG-1 dial out. Cicero leads Mitchell and Vala to the various museum labs, but Vala confirms that none of the pieces are what they need.
However, Vala does notice a Goa'uld naquaadah bomb in one of the display cases. They could potentially use it as a power source. This leads to a great sequence of Vala employing her talents as a thief to break into the alarmed display case; as is usual her actions don't quite work. At this point, they are accosted by a night security guard who had evaded the initial fight and now fancies himself to be the great hero who is going to save everyone. Of course, he's an idiot, which Mitchell and Vala realize immediately and barely take him seriously. With a little trickery, they turn the tables on the guard, and then use his security card to get the bomb out of the case. During their trick on the guard, Vala had started the bomb, and now she cannot stop it, which sets their time limit to leave at an hour. Vala and Mitchell begin altering the bomb and the stargate to utilize the bomb's power source.
Their new time limit is immaterial, because Cicero has sneaked out of the museum to contact the local military. He tries to convince the leader that SG-1 really is from another planet and just needs a little time to get home. Of course, that just convinces the military that they need to strike now, and they plan to storm the museum.
Vala and Mitchell get the stargate working and dial Earth just as the military attacks. All of SG-1 makes it to the stargate, but the soldiers manage to surround them before they can go through. Mitchell and Daniel both make nice speeches about first contact and peace, and the military leader finally decides to let them leave. As soon as they leave, the leader reveals his plan to cover up the incident: the night guard is a hero, having defeated the rebels single-handedly without any hostages being killed. Cicero protests, but upon threat to his life, capitulates. Back at the SGC, when they try to dial the planet again, they cannot connect, so they deduce that the stargate has been buried.
This episode was much funnier to me than the previous one ("Bounty"), and I think the humor was much more natural to the characters and the situation. While we have seen several first contacts that have gone wrong in a very serious way, the feel of the episode quickly told us that this situation was intended to be more light-hearted.
As I mentioned previously, the role reversal for Daniel was a scream. Without reminders from Teal'c and the others about who he was supposed to be, he would have soon negotiated a peace accord for the entire planet! Him having to deal with bratty hostages was also funny.
Mitchell and Vala are starting to make a nice pair to play off of each other, as they did for a lot of this episode. Mitchell is willing to let Vala strike out on her own, but knows just when to pull her back - literally, this time, as he yanked her out of the way of the bars in the display case. I also appreciated Vala's knowledge of Goa'uld technology (and some Ancient technology the Goa'uld would know about, like the stargates) being put to good use.
Teal'c was not as visible, but he did have a couple good moments, particularly when he recognized Mitchell's Die Hard reference when Daniel didn't - I guess Teal'c has really been working on absorbing Earth culture. I think he really would like Die Hard.
The ending was a little weird, with the final confrontation between SG-1 and the military leader. I think it would've worked better if SG-1 had just managed to barely make a getaway through the gate. Certainly the leader's cover-up plan then could have been articulated in the same way.
I would have rated this episode a little higher because it was quite enjoyable, but it had little effect on the series overall. The initial premise, search for the cache of technology, fit into the fight against the Ori OK, but then that never came to pass. It turned into another dead end for the SGC.