Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 10: "Talion"

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Episode Information

Title: "Talion"
Written by: Damian Kindler
Director: Andy Mikita
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: June 4, 2007. Revised on January 15, 2008.

Synopsis from GateWorld


This episode gave Teal'c a chance to really cut loose: I have to say that if Teal'c ever became a mercenary, the galaxy would have to watch out! However, I'm not sure if much of anything else came out of this episode.

This episode begins with a meeting between Jaffa leaders. They are trying to decide how or if the Jaffa should unite against the Ori. (So we finally find out that the Ori forces are still wreaking havoc in the galaxy. Are the Ori themselves still alive or not?) Some of the Jaffa apparently consider Origin to be a legitimate religion and some have converted to it. This is a very interesting - the Jaffa have just gained their freedom, so they've hardly contemplated what we would consider to be First Amendment rights, but here they are. Of course, since the Ori are trying to convert people by force, which makes it hard to defend their position.

The meeting is bombed, immediately after Teal'c spies a suspicious-looking Jaffa with a scar. Dozens of Jaffa (warriors, women, and children) are killed and many are injured, including Teal'c and Bra'tac. We see these events through Teal'c's flashbacks, which are very nicely shot - the different cinematography and effects really bring a sense of panic and terror.

Dr. Lam (returning out of nowhere) manages to save both Teal'c and Bra'tac. She says Teal'c had multiple surgeries to repair serious damage to his spine; she had been afraid he would never walk again. Presumably Teal'c has a very long recovery ahead of him. However, unlike season 7's "Orpheus", his recovery goes by in a flash.

Teal'c believes that a Jaffa named Arkad is to blame for the massacre. Who is Arkad? He was First Prime of a Goa'uld enemy of Apophis while Teal'c was First Prime. Since the overthrowing of the Goa'uld, Arkad has converted to Origin and is trying to help the Ori. He apparently was a clever and ruthless enemy of Teal'c's. Now Teal'c wants revenge: he wants to track down and kill Arkad. He does make the point that if Arkad continues to gain power he will be a threat to Earth soon.

General Landry does not permit Teal'c's mission, saying that it's not certain Arkad is to blame. Teal'c explodes and breaks his ties with the SGC. The General lets him leave Earth.

I find it extremely hard to believe Teal'c would act so rashly, although the revelation later that Teal'c believes Arkad murdered his mother could be contributing to this. Of course, I have wondered why Teal'c was still with SG-1. O'Neill, with whom he had the strongest bond, is gone, and his original goal of freeing the Jaffa has been realized. Even though he wants to fight the Ori, I have thought that he could be more effective in rallying the Jaffa to this cause.

Teal'c then goes on an assassination spree, finding different bad guys to lead him to Arkad. He shows no remorse in killing some of these intermediaries. We know that Teal'c is a Jaffa warrior, but this seems excessively ruthless even for him. Although I did enjoy the exchange with the captive into whom he put a timed explosive: "Where are you going?" "I am leaving - you are about to explode."

While Teal'c is gone, Bra'tac regains consciousness, a sign that he is well on his way to a full recovery. Bra'tac gives Landry and SG-1 more information about Arkad; as Daniel says, he sounds like a real charmer.

Meanwhile, information is uncovered that indicates Arkad and his forces are planning a major attack on Earth on behalf of the Ori. However, Arkad himself visits the SGC and claims that he is not the one behind the planned attack. Arkad is an interesting character - he is very smooth and well-spoken. If we didn't have Teal'c and Bra'tac's good word to go on, he'd be very convincing. It's too bad that he's killed at the end of the episode, because he'd be a good continuing antagonist. At any rate, the SGC doesn't know what to believe: they don't really trust Arkad's story, but they don't want to risk him being killed by Teal'c and thereby lose their means of heading off these attacks. General Landry assigns the rest of SG-1 to tracking down Teal'c using whatever means are necessary.

I feel like this was the whole point behind the episode: an excuse to pit SG-1 against Teal'c. SG-1 finds Teal'c on the planet where Arkad is headquartered. Despite the fact that they have the drop on him, Teal'c quickly neutralizes all of SG-1 except Mitchell. Mitchell and Teal'c go hand-to-hand, but Teal'c defeats Mitchell rather handily (as one would expect, although I might have thought Mitchell's training with the Sodan would help him give a better account of himself).

I couldn't help but try to imagine this scene when O'Neill was on SG-1. First, I could hardly believe O'Neill would take SG-1 on a mission to track down Teal'c. If he did, he certainly would never go up against Teal'c like Mitchell did - he would understand Teal'c's feelings and commitment, and he would let Teal'c go. After all, he went along with Teal'c's (unsuccessful at the time) revenge on Tanith in season 4's "Exodus" even though it might kill him along with Teal'c.

Teal'c goes after Arkad. He is shot twice, captured and beaten by Arkad's forces. Then he and Arkad have a duel, during which Arkad stabs Teal'c in the gut. Arkad boasts about killing Teal'c's mother, which goads Teal'c into a final effort and he succeeds in killing Arkad. You know, we've always accepted that Teal'c is super-Jaffa, but this is taking things a little far. He was near death just weeks (?) ago and wasn't even certified for active duty. He had a little fight with Mitchell, then was shot twice (with a staff weapon, which in our prior experience created very serious wounds), and stabbed. I really don't think that Teal'c could actually survive this. I could potentially believe his final push that impales Arkad on the wall, but then for him to deliberately disembowel Arkad? No way.

Back at the SGC, Mitchell fakes a report, covering up Teal'c's assassination of Arkad as self-defense. In one nice moment, Bra'tac verbalizes both his and Teal'c's feelings: that they consider each other the father and son that neither ever had.

What is the result of this episode? A villain with a lot of potential was introduced and killed off. We know the Ori are rampaging through the galaxy, but nothing more. We found out that Mitchell's loyalties are still more toward the chain of command than toward the members of his team, when push comes to shove. We really didn't learn much new about Carter, Daniel, or even Teal'c, despite the fact that the episode was centered on him.

Overall, I found the episode's premise (Teal'c gone rogue) somewhat unbelievable, and the consequences unimportant.

A final note: I checked out the meaning of "talion", the episode's title. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary says that it means "exaction of compensation in kind", and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says it means "a punishment identical to the offense, as the death penalty for murder." Teal'c clearly believes in this idea.

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