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This episode takes up right where "Jolinar's Memories" leaves off. Apophis has killed Bynarr and speaks to the residents of Ne'tu, trying to convince them to support him as he rebels against Sokar. Three hundred out of an unknown number of people agree to fight for Apophis; he has the others ejected to the surface, where they will die. Apophis has a day before Bynarr's report to Sokar is due; he gloats that within that day, he will have taken information from SG-1 and Martouf that will help him overthrow Sokar.
Apophis interrogates SG-1 individually, using the memory-enhancing device on each of them, as well as some kind of drug called "the blood of Sokar". First, he interrogates Sam Carter. Somehow he uses the memory device to pull up memories from her past and alter them so that family members in her memories are asking about intelligence regarding the Tok'ra and Earth. Fortunately Sam realizes that things in her memories aren't quite right, and she manages to resist giving anything away.
Next, Apophis works on O'Neill. He conjures up O'Neill's memory of his son, Charlie, from just before his accidental death. Apophis makes Charlie ask O'Neill about how to contact the Asgard; again, O'Neill knows something is wrong and resists.
When Apophis interrogates Martouf, he brings Sam along as extra incentive. In his drugged-up, memory-enhanced state, Martouf sees Sam as Jolinar. When Apophis threatens to kill Jolinar, Martouf breaks down and reveals the location of the Tok'ra's current planet; Apophis is delighted. I loved it later when Carter realizes that Martouf lied - there more backbone to Martouf's skinny-ass self than it might seem!
Finally, Apophis interrogates Daniel in order to find out the location of his son, the harcesis; the nature of a harcesis was explained to Daniel (and us) by Sha're in "Forever in a Day". Daniel had nastily pointed out to Apophis that Amonet was dead, so Apophis knows Daniel is aware of at least some of the circumstances. Again, Daniel is able to resist.
In the mean time, Teal'c has returned to confer with the Tok'ra. They decide to send Aldwin back to Ne'tu with Teal'c, along with a potent weapon. The Tok'ra plan is to shoot the weapon into the core of Ne'tu; the bomb will cause the planet's core to destabilize and destroy the planet within 13 minutes. Aldwin will send the weapon when Sokar's ship is in orbit around Ne'tu so that Sokar will also be destroyed. Teal'c wants to try to rescue his friends as well, but it's not clear if Aldwin will allow it.
On Ne'tu, Apophis has to do some quick talking on the communicator to Sokar to convince Sokar to see him. He of course promises that he has gleaned lots of information from the prisoners. When Apophis's First Prime questions how he will attack Sokar, he reveals the long, retractable sword that he has hidden into his body armor.
Sokar brings his ship into orbit around Ne'tu, and Apophis rings aboard. During Daniel's interrogation, he had managed to retrieve their communication device, so Sam Carter calls Teal'c just as Aldwin is about to launch the planet-busting weapon. Aldwin draws a zat on Teal'c and does not allow Teal'c to stop the weapon from being launched. Teal'c then informs Carter that they have thirteen minutes to escape. The penetration of the weapon into the planet's core causes a lot of seismic instability on the surface, allowing the prisoners to escape from the pit and head to the room with the rings.
At this point, all of the good guys are in need of Sokar to be distracted. For one thing, if he notices the disruptions on the planet too soon, he might leave before the planet blows up. In order for Teal'c's ship to intercept the ring transportation of SG-1, he must fly the ship directly under Sokar's - obviously risking an attack.
Fortunately, Apophis distracts Sokar quite well during their meeting. I enjoyed how Apophis unwittingly helped his enemies escape by doing this. Apophis tries to suck up to Sokar and asks to serve Sokar by being officially named the ruler of Ne'tu. Sokar is having none of it and demands to know what Apophis has learned. Reluctantly, Apophis reveals his biggest piece of information: the location of the Tok'ra planet. However, Apophis has been out of galactic circulation for long enough that he doesn't know that Sokar's forces recently conquered that planet and definitely did not find any Tok'ra. Apophis and Sokar both realize that Apophis was tricked by the prisoners, but only Sokar is in a position to act on that - he orders Apophis to be tortured to death.
Meanwhile, SG-1 and Martouf and Jacob Carter have managed to get to the room with the ring transporter and signal Teal'c. Teal'c's ship flies into place at just the right time to pick them up. They zoom away with just a few shots fired at them from Sokar's ship. At the end of the episode, they are still heading back to Earth on the ship, but apparently they are all safe.
Sokar is informed about the instability on the planet, which distracts him briefly. Despite suffering some serious torture, Apophis uses his hidden sword to kill his guards and escape. Sokar is furious. Just prior to Ne'tu exploding and destroying Sokar's ship, a transport beam is seen going from the ship to Sokar's planet. We get a quick scene of Apophis arriving there, triumphant.
This was an important episode for the galactic politics involved in the show. Apparently Sokar is dead (I'd like that confirmed!), and Apophis is in control of his huge military forces. Will Apophis also adopt Sokar's plan to attack the system lords? He also has a lot more knowledge of Earth, the SGC, and SG-1 than Sokar did, so he could be a more immediate threat in that way, as well.
Apophis has certainly had some huge changes in fortune. I have to wonder what it is - sheer arrogance, maybe - that makes him keep going. He had died, been revived, and then repeatedly tortured and mutilated by Sokar, and yet he was certain he could again rise to power. As it turns out, he was right, but it was certainly not entirely by his design.
As I mentioned above, Apophis could be a more serious threat to SG-1, since he has interacted with them so much and knows so much about them. Unlike many Goa'uld, he is starting to know and react to them as individuals, rather than as primitives. He seemed to have some idea of how they would behave and distinctly mentioned missing Teal'c from their group.
However, I thought he did a lousy job of interrogating/torturing SG-1 with the memory-enhancing device. From our view of the memories, he made the other people in the memories act so out of character that it was impossible to miss the fact that he was manipulating things. I suppose the "blood of Sokar" drug was administered to mitigate this, but it didn't work very well. It also seemed like he could've chosen more appropriate and/or painful memories in order to make the rememberer even more vulnerable. For example, in Daniel's memories, why take on the appearance of O'Neill, when Sha're would've been much more effective? Or even Sha're's father?
This criticism dovetails with my repeated complaint that the prisoners were treated far too well. The interrogation with the memory device and drug would've been much more effective had SG-1 been beaten up, or starved, or otherwise physically worn down before hand. Apophis did have a day to work them over, and surely he's experienced in torture.
My only other real criticism of the episode has to do with SG-1's escape. The idea of packing rocks in the volcanic vent to cause an explosion was pretty unlikely, and the special effects were awful. Also, they had to effect their whole escape in thirteen minutes. Honestly, I'm not sure they could have carried an injured Jacob Carter through hostile prisoners up to the ring transporter in that short amount of time, let alone do everything else.
How will this episode affect SG-1 and the others involved? Certainly being tortured in any way will change you. Will those who were prisoners on the planet bond even more? Certainly it seems that Martouf and Sam Carter will become closer, and hopefully this will reinforce the renewed relationship between Sam and her father as well. Having survived this experience should make them more confident of their abilities, but also more aware of the dangers that really are out there in the universe. Their escape from Ne'tu, even with the Tok'ra's help, should raise the Tok'ra's opinion of them, especially since they did not reveal any information and they rescued Jacob/Selmak.