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This season begins with events right after the battle where Anubis was defeated. Although the Earth governments have managed to cover up the battle from the general public, the governments that are part of the treaty governing the use of Antarctica definitely know about the battle and the Ancient outpost, and are now squabbling over its control. Of course, no one knows if the Ancient weapon still has "ammunition", or enough power to be used again, or if anyone can use it except O'Neill. O'Neill is still in stasis at the outpost.
The remainder of SG-1 are understandably anxious to get O'Neill "fixed". However, Thor of the Asgard hasn't been answering his phone. Carter persuades Dr. Weir to allow her and Teal'c to take the Jaffa ship O'Neill modified to the Asgard galaxy to try to track down Thor. Weir insists that Daniel remain behind, because he may be their only hope of translating and understanding all the stuff at the Ancient outpost in Antarctica, including O'Neill's stasis chamber.
But Daniel doesn't miss out on all the excitement. A delegation of three Goa'uld (Camulus, Amaterasu, and Yu) contact the SGC with the desire to make a treaty. With some hesitation (and thorough searches), Dr. Weir allows them to visit. The Goa'uld explain the situation: after Anubis's defeat, the system lords had decided to split equally Anubis's forces and territory. However, before this was accomplished, Baal took over Anubis's forces, including his Kull soldiers, and is now posed to wipe out the other Goa'uld, much as Anubis was. The Goa'uld delegation wants to negotiate for Earth to use their new Ancient weapon to take out Baal.
These negotiations are very interesting. It's somewhat ironic that Earth is now perceived to be in a position of power when they don't even know if they can get the Ancient weapon to work again, and they have lost all their allies. Dr. Weir, advised heavily by Daniel, is operating mostly from a bluffing position. The Goa'uld have done their homework on humans for the negotiations. First, they request Earth defeat Baal in return for a number of Goa'uld ships and technology. Then, they threaten to lure Baal to Earth with false information that the Ancient weapon is not working (one wonders how much the Goa'uld really know). Finally, they mention that even though Earth might be able to protect itself, the other planets that the Asgard protect would be vulnerable to Baal and the Goa'uld, since the Asgard have been absent for some time.
Each of these tactics is individually quite compelling, and are specifically geared at human desires. Weir must refuse each of the offers since Earth doesn't actually have a viable weapon. However, she cannot let Earth appear vulnerable, so she claims to be satisfied that Earth is safe, that the Asgard will protect the other planets, and that Earth doesn't care if Baal wipes out the other Goa'uld. She keeps up this front, until at the end, she changes tactics: she says that Earth will agree and eliminate Baal (the look on Daniel's face when she says this is priceless), but if Earth does so, then it wants control over Baal's territory and forces. Of course, the Goa'uld find this unacceptable.
The talks stall at this point. At the end of the episode, Daniel discovers that the Goa'uld delegation has called for a ship to come attack Earth, testing its defenses.
Meanwhile, Carter and Teal'c travel to the Asgard galaxy. They figure that the Asgard will have to be monitoring the time-trap where the Replicators are held (from season 6's "Unnatural Selection"), so they go there. They arrive to see that the planet's sun has become a black hole.
I have to go into astronomer mode here. The accretion disk around the black hole is very nice, and Carter is absolutely correct that the star didn't have enough mass to become a black hole. However, yet again, black holes are depicted as sucking things in. Yes, the gravitational force from a black hole can be very strong (and the tidal forces are discussed correctly). However, an object can still safely orbit around a black hole, just like around any other object. They work on getting the ship to have a faster velocity away from the black hole. Instead, they should have turned their velocity tangential to the black hole to put themselves into orbit. That's not a permanent solution, because friction with the gas in the accretion disk will eventually cause their orbit to decay, but it would have bought them time. Fortunately, Thor is there and beams them onto his ship.
The Asgard used their technology to increase the gravitational field of the star to make it become a black hole. (As Carter says, "Cool!") Their goal was to destroy the Replicators before they could figure out how to escape the time-trap. However, as Thor monitors the fall of the Replicators into the black hole, he sees that they have reversed course and are in fact escaping from the black hole. As they approach, we see that they have a really nifty-looking ship.
The Replicators shoot a bunch of replicator blocks at Thor's ship. They enter the ship and begin wreaking havoc. Carter and Teal'c go to shoot them up, and Carter is promptly beamed onto the Replicator's ship. Thor's ship pursues the Replicator ship in hyperspace with the intention of getting close enough to use the self-destruct to destroy both ships. However, replicator sabotage stops this plan.
On the Replicator ship, Fifth shows up to visit Carter, whom he has imprisoned. He very vividly remembers that Carter left him behind after promising to take him along (just prior to the time-trap being enabled), and he is pissed. We do not see any of the other human-form Replicators, and Fifth implies that he has embraced his human qualities and used them to his advantage to take over the Replicators. Fifth then proceeds to torture Carter using the Replicator mind probing technique. We don't get a glimpse of what Carter is experiencing, but since it leaves her in such an awful state, I'm just as glad.
Thor assumes that the Replicator ship is heading for the new Asgard homeworld and signals for other Asgard ships to set up an ambush. When the Replicator ship leaves hyperspace at the new homeworld, the Asgard destroy it (and presumably Carter as well). Then the episode is over (we actually end with the announcement that the Goa'uld are going to attack Earth, from the other plot ).
There is a lot going on in this episode. First, SG-1 is pretty obsessive about getting O'Neill healed - understandably so. It appears that the international negotiations are going to drag on for weeks or months while O'Neill gets forgotten. However, he is in stasis, so that shouldn't hurt him.
As for the Baal plot, it's interesting to see that Earth has again single-handedly completely shifted the balance of power in the galaxy. It's very typical for one Goa'uld to try to step into Anubis's place, and I'm surprised the others didn't manage to head off Baal. However, it's a complete turn-around for the Goa'uld to treat Earth as near-equals. They obviously want Earth to do the dirty work in eliminating Baal, but I wonder what ulterior motives they could have. Even if Earth did kill off Baal and not take Baal's forces and territory, it would still be confirmation of Earth's power.
Dr. Weir shows a lot of wisdom in letting Daniel give her so much advice. I was struck by how much Daniel has changed over the series. He's always been willing to stand up for his principles, but he used to be so naive and didn't know how to work with his military surroundings. Now, he doesn't pull any punches in describing the Goa'uld as "pure evil" to Weir and how they cannot be trusted in even the smallest things. He also doesn't hesitate to give her advice, and I get the sense that he would be more comfortable leading the negotiations himself.
Yu is apparently still a powerful system lord, although his mental faculties are still in decline. At one point, he mentions Anubis when he presumably meant Baal. Or is this a hint that Anubis isn't really dead, and Yu knows something? At any rate, it's surprising that the other Goa'ul haven't eliminated Yu for their own advantage.
I'm not sure what's going to happen with this Goa'uld situation, but it certainly takes Earth to a new level in galactic politics. The resolution of the situation should have lasting repercussions.
The Asgard/Replicator plot is just as important. During the trip to the Asgard galaxy, there is a good scene between Carter and Teal'c, which is something we don't see much. Carter tries to get Teal'c involved in a conversation, which we know is not something Teal'c does much, so Teal'c turns it around by asking uncomfortable questions of Carter. We do at least find out that Carter's beau Pete Shanahan is still around, but we don't really know the status of their relationship. Carter says that it's always hard to say goodbye to someone when you don't know for sure you'll see them again: was she really referring to leaving Pete on this mission, or putting O'Neill in stasis?
Onto the Asgard. It makes a lot of sense that the Asgard have been devising a means to annihilate the trapped Replicators. I will say that they don't kid around: creating a black hole can't be a trivial thing even for them. However, even this extreme course of action proves futile.
The apparent ascendance of Fifth to power among the Replicators is surprising; presumably his anger at Carter helped motivate him. He has truly learned the human trait of sadism, as he tortures Carter. I'm not sure we've ever seen her in such a state of despair. Despite the pain it has brought her, I am very glad to see the actions in "Unnatural Selection" followed through. At the end of that episode, Carter and Jonas were very upset at O'Neill's decision to betray Fifth, and now that betrayal has come back to bite them. At least Carter honestly didn't want to betray Fifth then, and hopefully that will work to her advantage now.
Although the Replicator ship appears to be destroyed at the end of the episode, I cannot think that they would be eliminated that easily. It seems like it must be some type of ruse on the part of the Replicators.
The two plots of this episode have set up situations that should prove exciting in the second part of the episode, as well as have implications for the rest of the season.