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The episode begins very abruptly, with SG-1 thrown into a firefight with Amonet's Jaffa as they struggle to save a group of Abydonians, including Daniel's father-in-law Kasuf. Kasuf and the Abydonians had been on some unnamed planet guarding and raising Amonet's son, who was born and then stolen away by Daniel last season in "Secrets".
Amonet, of course, is the Goa'uld possessing Daniel wife's Sha're's body, so immediately Daniel is consumed with reaching Sha're at all costs. He kills a couple of Jaffa guarding Amonet; he has such a strange look as he fires his gun, as if he can't believe he's actually shooting someone.
Daniel bursts into the tent with Amonet/Sha're and tries to talk to Sha're. Amonet contemptuously turns her hand device on him. Teal'c had seen Daniel following Amonet and bursts into the tent. He must make the horrible decision: kill Amonet and thus also kill Daniel's wife, or let Amonet kill Daniel by using his own wife's body.
The next thing we know, Daniel is waking up in the infirmary of the SGC. The others on SG-1 sorrowfully inform Daniel that Sha're is dead; Teal'c says that he had to shoot her with his staff weapon so that she didn't kill Daniel. Kasuf is there and testifies that the Abydonians were saved.
At first, Daniel is convinced that Amonet/Sha're will be brought back to life because her Jaffa will take her away and place her in a sarcophagus. However, SG-1's victory was exhaustive and no Jaffa remained. O'Neill takes Daniel to view Sha're's body in the SGC's morgue. Daniel is shattered, of course.
But then when he goes to sleep in the infirmary, he wake up again as if it's just after the battle again, but this time Sha're is there, alive. Carter explains that when Teal'c shot Sha're, they took her immediately to the Tok'ra, who removed the Goa'uld and put her in a sarcophagus. Obviously, Daniel is overjoyed, but the situation ends oddly, with Sha're seemingly pulled out of reality somehow.
From here events proceed along two tracks: the first a seemingly "normal" track in which Sha're died and Daniel has to come to terms with her death. The second track has Sha're alive and happily living with Daniel in his apartment.
Daniel also seems to perceive that the first track is "real". He decides that since Sha're is dead, he no longer has a reason to be a member of SG-1 and work for the SGC, so he resigns. Of course, SG-1, Hammond, and the others are shocked and try to get him to stay. I particularly appreciated O'Neill's conversation with Daniel in which he tries to describe what Daniel will be missing. Daniel is also still upset with Teal'c for killing Sha're, despite Teal'c's repeated sincere attempts to make amends. O'Neill and Carter help Daniel move all of his stuff to his apartment.
Meanwhile, Sha're keeps visiting Daniel in the second track. Soon, it becomes clear that she's trying to pass him some important information. First, she repeatedly tells Daniel that he must forgive Teal'c for killing her. After she presses the issue and seemingly harbors no ill will toward Teal'c, Daniel grudgingly tells Teal'c in the "real" track that he did the right thing in killing Sha're.
Then Sha're begins working to convince Daniel that he must not leave SG-1, and he must continue to explore new planets. She tells him that he must find "the boy", the child she birthed that was stolen away at the beginning of the episode. It wasn't clear at the beginning of the episode, really, but apparently some Jaffa did manage to get away with the child before the rest were killed. She tells Daniel that the child is a "harcesis" and key to defeating the Goa'uld.
In the "real" track, Daniel confirms the concept of a "harcesis" with Teal'c, who is thrilled (in his understated way) to be of used to Daniel again. A harcesis is the child of two Goa'uld hosts, and such a child will have the genetic memories and knowledge of all Goa'uld; this is different from the child of just one Goa'uld host, which has only the knowledge of that Goa'uld and all its forebears. Goa'uld are so frightened of such a child that they will go to all lengths to kill it. Thus, the child is in grave danger, but also contains so much knowledge of the Goa'uld that it would be extremely useful in fighting against them.
As the episode progresses, the two "tracks" of the story begin to bleed into each other, such as when Daniel goes to Sha're's funeral in the "real" track, and then later Sha're shows up. After that, O'Neill and Kasuf bizarrely visit Daniel's apartment (I did love O'Neill's comment that Daniel's going to need a new lock.); Kasuf says that Daniel should go talk to Sha're, and neither he nor O'Neill thinks that this is strange. From these clues, we the viewers begin to realize that neither track is "real". This is added by repeated flashes to Amonet blasting her hand device on Daniel, with Sha're's voice beseeching him.
Finally, Daniel returns to the SGC and rejoins SG-1. He doesn't yet tell the others about the harcesis, but we know that he has the goal of finding the harcesis child. SG-1 goes through the Stargate to explore a new planet (with purple trees!), and Daniel immediately turns around and goes to the planet where Sha're was killed. As confirmation that nothing is actual reality, Amonet/Sha're is there awaiting him. She begins to kill him with the hand device again.
And then we snap to the legitimate reality. The events of the episode occurred almost entirely in Daniel's mind in just a few seconds, confirmed by the clever device of having watched Daniel's handgun begin to fall at the beginning of the episode, and seeing its fall complete here. Teal'c steps into the tent and shoots Amonet/Sha're. She tumbles to the ground, Daniel alongside her, and has just a moment to confirm her love for Daniel before she dies.
O'Neill and Carter arrive shortly and immediately take in the situation. Daniel has learned his lesson and assures Teal'c that he did the right thing and then continues to gaze at Sha're's face as long as he can.
This outstanding episode brought together the strong points of this series. It included the on-going plot thread of Daniel looking for his wife; it included excellent moments between the characters (even though those moments weren't real - more on that below); it extended the mythology of the series. As a bonus, it also gave a new long-term goal for SG-1 and the SGC, even if they don't realize it yet.
This episode really ends an era in Stargate SG-1, as Daniel's primary goal for the series is placed permanently out of reach. As Daniel said so eloquently in the episode, every time he went through the Stargate, he had some hope of finding Sha're or at least finding information that would lead to her. Now that she is dead, that dream is also dead forever.
Fortunately, Daniel is given a replacement goal by his beloved: to find the harcesis. Certainly Daniel is going to feel no less hatred toward the Goa'uld just because Sha're is dead, so prompting him to find a being who could hold information key to defeating the Goa'uld is not going to be too hard to do. I found it interesting that Sha're exclusively referred to the child as "the boy" and not "my son" (that I recall). Does she really not consider the child to be hers? Or does she feel like naming him her son would remind Daniel that Apophis's host had sex with her and fathered her child?
The idea of a harcesis is very interesting. I'm not sure really why a child of two Goa'uld hosts should have all Goa'uld knowledge, but I can accept that that's just the way that it works. What would such a child be like? I've speculated in the past that the genetic memory of the Goa'uld is something that could contribute significantly to why Goa'uld are evil; what would such a huge amount of knowledge do to a child? It doesn't seem like there's any way the child could be other than intrinsically evil. How will Daniel deal with that when he finds the boy?
First Daniel has to find Kheb, which is where Sha're said the boy was taken. Actually, before that, Daniel will have to tell SG-1 about the harcesis. When will he decide to do that and why? At the moment, it seems like he's probably going to lay low about it for awhile and try to gather information.
I have to wonder why Apophis and Amonet wanted to create a harcesis child. Were they planning to harness its knowledge somehow? Since Goa'uld rarely are able to cooperate for long periods of time, were they really planning on using it together? Was each of them scheming to take the child eventually? Was the plan for one of them to use the harcesis as their own host? If so, which one? It seems like that Goa'uld would have a huge advantage over the other, so I can't imagine either of them agreeing to that. Were the planning to create a Goa'uld child also that would then possess the harcesis? It's a bit of a mystery, especially since they must have known the other Goa'uld would hunt for the child mercilessly.
Pretty much all the events of this episode did not "really" happen - they were in Daniel's mind. Normally I don't usually like "it was just a dream" episodes. However, I feel like this was the exception that proves the rule. First, the imaginary events had a purpose - putting the Daniel on track to find the harcesis.
Second, the imaginary events must have been conjured up by Daniel's mind at Sha're's prompting. There's no way that Sha're knew enough about SG-1, the SGC, and the other characters in order to be able to envision the events that we saw in such detail. That means that even though the events and characters' reactions did not really happen, they happened as Daniel imagined that they might. Thus, O'Neill's conversation to convince Daniel not to leave the SGC becomes what Daniel thinks O'Neill would say in such a situation. He imagines that Carter knows about his favorite cookies. It's interesting to think that Daniel knows the other characters so well as to be able to imagine them so vividly.
That brings me to Daniel's supposed replacement on SG-1, Robert Rothman. He obviously was intended to bring a bit of comic relief to this otherwise intense episode. It was, in fact, amusing to see how O'Neill could find nothing good in Rothman and wanted to boot him immediately. I have to admit that the image of Rothman as a decathlete was definitely tarnished by then seeing him have to use eyedrops. He's obtuseness to O'Neill's comments was also good for a chuckle. Of course, keeping in mind that Daniel imagined all of this, I guess it means that Daniel imagines that O'Neill has gotten so used to him that he wouldn't tolerate anyone else. Given O'Neill's characteristic loyalty to his (accepted) team members, I think he's probably right.
The third reason I can accept the "this was all a dream" premise is because it allows Daniel and the viewers a fitting goodbye to Sha're, who was always a compelling character, even though she wasn't on-screen that much. When she is on the screen, it's hard to take your eyes off her - clearly Daniel feels the same (ha). Through the imagined scenes, Daniel got to share a few last moments with the "real" Sha're, free of the Goa'uld. In a way, it also let him get through part of his mourning for her, and let him forgive Teal'c, before she even really died.
This episode was classic, excellent Stargate SG-1.