Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 6: "The Changeling"

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Episode Information

Title: "The Changeling"
Written by: Christopher Judge, Brad Wright
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: April 27, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


This episode is a very interesting exploration of Teal'c and his relationship to the other characters. We start out the episodes with scenes of Teal'c in an alternate reality as a firefighter and then Teal'c apparently in "real life" at the SGC. Initially, it would appear that Teal'c's SGC scenes are real and the firefighter life is a dream. In the end, we find out that neither "life" is real and that Teal'c is seriously injured after an ambush and is struggling to keep himself and Bra'tac alive until they are rescued.

The firefighter life that Teal'c dreams has obvious parallels to his real life: O'Neill is his commander, Carter and Jonas are teammates (with Jonas as the new guy), Shau'nac is his wife, and Bra'tac is his father figure. It is interesting that Teal'c envisions Shau'nac as his wife instead of Drey'auc, who actually was his life; apparently Teal'c's true love is Shau'nac. Teal'c's donation of a kidney to Bra'tac is eventually shown to parallel real life as well, since Teal'c is repeatedly donating his symbiote to Bra'tac to keep him alive.

Teal'c's repeated visions of Apophis seem odd to me: Apophis has been dead for quite some time, and long before that, Teal'c knew that he was not a god. Is there a suspicion in the back of his mind that he could be wrong about it? I suppose this could be thought of as a death-bed conversion almost, just in case Apophis really was a god.

In the SGC scenes, we gradually get more and more clues that Teal'c's life as shown in the SGC is also a dream. First Teal'c cannot perform his meditation and he faints. Later on, we see him without his forehead tattoo. Finally, his symbiote apparently disappears and he has a breakdown. Surely this can't be the real Teal'c!

Daniel Jackson helps us tie both of Teal'c's dream lives together and show us that neither of them is real. Just like in "Abyss" earlier this season with O'Neill, Daniel shows up when Teal'c is in mortal danger, and when he is unlikely to remember Daniel's appearance very clearly. I'm not sure what Daniel is hoping to accomplish by talking to Teal'c. Their first conversation proceeds as if Teal'c's firefighter life is real. Later on when they talk, Daniel nearly flat out tells Teal'c that neither of the lives he's dreaming is real. Apparently he feels that Teal'c might be on the verge of giving up on one of the lives, which could potentially be fatal somehow in real life.

In the end, when we learn that Teal'c has been injured and been going for prolonged periods without a symbiote, his dreams lives make more sense. We already know that when a Jaffa goes without his symbiote for a long time that he begins to die and will see visions; Teal'c endured this in the Rite of Malshuraan in Season 5's "Threshold". However, this time Teal'c doesn't see scenes from his past, but envisions an imaginary life. Is this because he does have his symbiote for short periods of time? One also wonders if Bra'tac is having similar visions.

Teal'c and Bra'tac are finally rescued from the site of the ambush by the rest of SG-1. Because the symbiote has been injured beyond repair by keeping both of them alive, Hammond has no choice except to order that they both be put on the tretonin drug that Jacob Carter has brought from the Tok'ra.

This drug opens a whole can of worms, of course. First, it is interesting that Jacob says the Tok'ra have always wanted to remove the Jaffa's dependency on symbiotes. It's unlikely that this is because they think the Jaffa should be free, but because if the Jaffa were free, then they probably would no longer provide huge numbers of troops for the Goa'uld. Regardless, Jacob claims that the tretonin should work as well as a symbiote at keeping Teal'c and Bra'tac healthy. This, of course, remains to be seen. If it does work, then Jaffa freedom may be imminent, as long as a supply of the drug can be maintained.

In the end, only a small amount of the episode happened in "real life", but they were crucial parts, since the tretonin could be a key to a major plot line in the series. This should be especially interesting because it's unlikely that the Jaffa would want to be indebted in any way to the Tok'ra (especially since the events in "Allegiance" earlier this season). Through Teal'c's dream lives, we confirm his feeling of debt and honor toward Bra'tac, in that he would choose to die himself so that Bra'tac could live.

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