Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 9: "Stronghold"

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Episode Information

Title: "Stronghold"
Written by: Alan McCullough
Director: Peter DeLuise
Rating (out of 4 stars): **1/2
Reviewed on: September 28, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


The new Jaffa Nation has become a democracy, and another Baal has been killed. This episode weaves together Jaffa politics and a personal tragedy for Mitchell, and I'm not sure I think the combination works.

Teal'c and Bra'tac have put a proposal before the Jaffa High Council to dissolve the council and create a new one whose members have been elected by the Jaffa. They are strongly pushing this proposal as a way to counteract remaining tendencies toward welcoming the Ori. However, their political alliances seem to be weakening as former allies are suddenly changing their minds. Teal'c and Bra'tac suspect that something sinister is afoot, which is confirmed to the viewers when one of the Jaffa zats another; when the other is seen again, is opinions have abruptly changed. Teal'c decides to go to Chulak to confer with some of their political allies there.

Meanwhile, Mitchell has taken some personal time to visit Major Bryce Ferguson, an old friend of his. They apparently came up through the Air Force together and were both dedicated into getting into the space program, no matter what. Ferguson was injured with shrapnel in the brain while rescuing Mitchell (we don't know exactly what precipitated Mitchell's need for rescue); the shrapnel has gradually caused a brain aneurysm, and Ferguson is expected to die from it very soon. Mitchell got Ferguson brought to the military hospital near Colorado Springs so that any alien technology that could possibly help him could be utilized, but the doctors can do nothing.

Mitchell feels guilty not only for having been the object of rescue when Ferguson got his injury, but also for having robbed Ferguson of the opportunity to have been in the Stargate Program. He truly believes that if Ferguson had been well, it would have been he that was chosen for SG-1 and not Mitchell. Consequently, Mitchell is determined to spend time with his friend during his last days. He brings pizza and video games to Ferguson's hospital room.

Ferguson is quick to take some advantage of Mitchell's guilt. He knows that Mitchell is in a top secret program, and he has cleverly pieced together some of the real events behind all the government's cover-up stories. He says right out that he thinks aliens were involved in the fight in which Mitchell got injured over Antarctica (season 7's "Lost City, Part 2"). He tries to get Mitchell to spill the beans, but Mitchell refuses.

Somewhere on Teal'c's trip to Chulak, he goes missing. Bra'tac doesn't know who to trust among the Jaffa, so he enlists the SGC's help. Daniel and Carter travel to Dakara and Chulak with Bra'tac to search for clues. They find evidence that many of the Jaffa High Council members have been brainwashed (like Teal'c was by Apophis in season 5's "Enemies"); presumably this is why so many have been changing their views on the proposal to form a democracy. But who is behind the brainwashing?

We jump to Baal's mothership, where he has a minion torturing Teal'c. Baal has been using a memory device to brainwash High Council members. However, since Teal'c had previously broken through such brainwashing, he appears to be able to resist it now. Baal resorts to other methods: in a curious scene, he tries to play "good cop" to Teal'c and explain his motivations. He claims he doesn't care about the Jaffa's form of government, but he is concerned that the Jaffa Nation is too weak and disorganized to effectively resist the Ori. Baal is hoping to keep the Jaffa organized and united so that he can guide them in the fight against the Ori. How noble of him! Teal'c doesn't buy what Baal's selling. However, he is starting to weaken from lack of tretonin.

Bra'tac, Daniel, and Carter follow the trail of the brainwashing to Ka'lel (the female Jaffa High Council member). She gives them the planet where Baal's mothership has landed - it's not clear whether this information was given voluntarily or not. A rescue operation is organized.

Mitchell is notified of Teal'c's plight, and insists on accompanying the rescue mission. But before he leaves Ferguson, he gets General Landry to loan him the Galaran memory device (from "Collateral Damage"). He had previously downloaded some of his memories into the device, and how he shows Ferguson how to use it, so that he can relive some of Mitchell's experiences. Ferguson is thrilled, to say the least.

Mitchell joins the rescue mission, which appears to still be under Carter's command. They coordinate their assault with a diversion and attack by Bra'tac in an al-kesh, but nevertheless, the firefight is intense. Mitchell recklessly pushes forward by himself, forcing Daniel and Carter to come along to watch his back.

On the mothership, Baal has allowed Teal'c to take some tretonin so the brainwashing can continue. After some time, Teal'c appears to have succumbed. Baal is wary of his cooperation, and brings in a captured Bra'tac for Teal'c to execute. Teal'c is in fact faking submission, and so he manages to put off the kill until Mitchell bursts into the room; the two of them subdue Baal's Jaffa and kill Baal.

After the return to Dakara and Earth for the various people, the Jaffa Nation votes to allow the democracy to be formed. A general election for the council will be held in two months. On Earth, Ferguson has died. A somewhat bittersweet ending to the episode.

The Jaffa Nation has taken a major step forward with their change to a pure democracy. Ka'lel, the female council member, may have been brainwashed, but she did have some good points: Jaffa women have not traditionally been given the same status as men. Are they allowed to vote? The feeling I get is that they will be. I think Ishta might take retribution out of Teal'c's hide personally if they could not.

Was the Baal that was killed the real Baal or a clone? We have no idea. His tactics here with Teal'c were interesting, as he shows again how adaptable he can be. He knows the whole false-god persona does not intimidate Teal'c at all, so he morphed into Teal'c's supposed ally.

The plot with Mitchell should have been more moving to me, but somehow it just didn't all quite feel right. I guess I can understand Mitchell's guilt for causing Ferguson's injury. But I can't understand why Mitchell feels guilty over stealing Ferguson's SGC job. After all, wasn't Mitchell chosen under exceptional circumstances: he was injured severely after being extremely heroic. Maybe Mitchell is focusing on how he got into the F302 program and Ferguson did not.

I'm not sure exactly why I rate this episode so low...something about it just didn't click to me. I think that is evidenced by the fact that I don't have a lot of comments about it...it was just there.

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