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27 August 2005 @ 03:09 pm
Stargate SG-1 - The One with Baal  
I feel like I kinda missed the boat on LJ (what with infant distractions and all), but I'm starting up now. And what better time than just after Stargate SG-1 Ex Deus Machina!

Things I loved about this ep:

Baal! Agent Barrett returns (still hot for Sam and still getting slapped down). Angsty Teal'c. Team-iness! Everyone, heroes and villains and in-between (thinking Gerak in this category) not being stupid for a change. Some good out of the box thinking by Mitchell (the last few eps are demonstrating just how far inside the box Daniel is, don't they?). Mention of Cassie. Mention of the Tok'ra. The ending! Actually pretty much the whole thing, but especially the end. Baal mixing drinks! Baal in a mafia suit!

And did I happen to mention Baal? Yes, I can watch Baal smirk and listen to him deliver cold threats all day long. And now there's, what, four more of them? Double your pleasure, double your fun.... Squee!

Okay, fan girl moment's over now. Onto some slightly more thoughtful thoughts about the episode.

First, I am growing a bit more troubled by the writers apparent inability to figure out what to do with Mitchell. I understand that they wanted to distance him from O'Neill at first. Fine. But for an actor with top-billing and who can do so much more, I'm very puzzled by the little Browder gets. Vala is a far better developed character with a great deal more screen time than Mitchell, and she's not even around anymore. In this ep, though, it really struck me, because he was doing things that I didn't think were logical. Like tagging along after Teal'c? where's the sense of that? Daniel is Mr. Negotiator. He's one of two people who brought down Ra kicking off the whole rebellion, and, at a guess, one of the few Tau'ri that the Jaffa as a whole know. They don't know Mitchell, and have no reason to listen to him.

{snort!} Not that Gerak would listen to Daniel either, I'm sure, but it seems really pointless to send Mitchell. Mitchell certainly could have done what Daniel did to catch Baal. It seems more logical to me that a military officer be the one leading the invasion of the compound. Don't get me wrong, I like that he's a newbie to the whole gate thing, so, like Jonas did, he can come up with out-of-the-box solutions, like using the beam to take out the building (good idea, though not so much likely, and we'll see if that tactic ever occurs to anyone ever again). Anyway, we're seven eps in and I don't know anything more about Mitchell than I did from the first ten minutes of the first ep.

Second issue, Baal clones? Fan girl happiness aside, this is very intriguing for what it reveals about the Goa'uld, or at least Baal. He created four (at least) complete clones of himself in the space of less than a year. We're talking not just the Goa'uld (Baal himself), but curiously, also his host. Why does Baal care about his host? I've speculated in the past (and I've seen it in fanfic as well) that one of the things that makes the Goa'uld different from the Tok'ra, is that the Goa'uld are much more entwined with their hosts to the point where a very old Goa'uld might not even survive if removed from his host. The younger Goa'uld (say, Tanith, for example) or the Tok'ra, who don't use the sarcophagus, haven't been blended (ironically, a Tok'ra-ism) nearly as long. The very old system lords, such as Yu and Baal may have had the same host for as much as ten thousand years. While we know that Apophis' host still had some remnant of a personality (Serpent's Song, I think? one of those "serpent" episdoes anyway...) , he was also still at least four thousand years old from what he said. It makes sense that the Goa'uld must get attached, either physically or psychologically, to their host, otherwise they could just change when they find one they like better. But they don't. I can only think of two Goauld who changed hosts: Seth, who had to, since he had no sarcophagus access, and Cordesh, who was either a Tok'ra-gone-bad, a za'tarc, or perhaps a Goa'uld spy who replaced the original Cordesh (my personal theory), but in any case, had not likely had the host for very long.

But I am a bit disturbed that the Trust and/or Baal himself has the capability to clone entire humans (his host), plus a symbiote, in less than a year. I really hope this is a plot device that bears fruit later, because that sort of technology should be used for more mischief than just cloning Baal... Though if you've got to clone somebody, I'm okay with Baal. I've liked him as a villain since he was introduced.

Third -- none of the Jaffa Council seem very bothered that Gerak sends a huge warship to Earth (their supposed ally) and puts troops on the ground, without permission in secret. And this warship then threatens the "Prometheus" who is, in fact, guarding its homeworld. Gerak also threatened the "Prometheus" last week, but at least that was a Jaffa planet under attack. This time, Gerak's offending his allies for no better reason, really, than his own self-aggrandizement. Jeez, if this is what Earth's allies do, who needs enemies? I'd like to see a message from Earth that such behavior is not at all friendly nor acceptable. I have a hard time believing that Jack and/or the Hayes administration as we've seen in canon is okay with Gerak's actions.

I'll hope/presume Rak'nor was either also excluded or outvoted. But that reminds me -- where's Bra'tac? Did he die in Threads too and I missed it or something? 'Cuz somebody needs to give Gerak some pointers on how not to piss off all your friends. At least whats-her-name told him that the Tok'ra did their share of fighting the Goa'uld -- that was nice to hear a Jaffa say something actually complementary about the Tok'ra.

Fourth -- hm, Sam. Thank you for finally revealing at least one of the reasons for the changes between S. 8 and S. 9. Taking care of Cassie, very sweet. Although I'd like to hear more about Cassie's problem -- it was a year after Janet's death, more or less, so it's probably not related, except tangentially. What happened? Did she go off to college and get into some kind of trouble? But it was good to know she's still out there and that Sam was willing to move for her, to watch over her.

Lastly, the two burning questions of the episode:

What exactly does "not exactly" mean?

Since there are so many Baals now available, can I have one?

Tomorrow: my thoughts on Stargate: Atlantis: The One with Kaylee the Wraith!

If you come to the page, feel free to comment! I need to build my network! :)
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Rosie: samcarterrosiethehobbit on August 28th, 2005 05:47 am (UTC)
Exactly the comment I made at the end of watching that episode. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Gerak sending Jaffa troops to earth, attacking a building with civilians, risking exposing the stargate, threatening to attack the Prometheus. Geez. And for a race that likes to accuse the Tok'ra of being like the Goa'uld, who's the one using the torture stick on their prisoners? Fortunately, they aren't all like that, and I really liked hearing what that one Jaffa woman had to say about the Tok'ra. We've gotten several mentions, I wonder if we will actually see the Tok'ra this season.

I had wondered why Baal bothered to clone the host as well as the symbiote. Even for a technologically advanced race like the Goa'uld, cloning a host is a heck of a lot more complicated than taking over whatever human is handy. Baal is a Goa'uld. It's not like he would have any qualms about taking whoever he wanted. I actually think it's just a screenwriter's trick to make things easier to follow visually. It would get confusing if you had four Baal's in four different bodies.

I don't know that the Goa'uld are more tightly joined with their hosts. If anything I tend to think that the Tok'ra are more closely joined than the Goa'uld, because they choose to live symbiotically. I think the Goa'uld for the most part just suppress their hosts. The only reason the Goa'uld would bother paying much attention to the host's mind is if the host had some form of valuable information, as Hathor's Goa'uld no doubt intended to do to O'Neill. Thank goodness for the Tok'ra in that episode. :)

In Summit Jacob mentions that one of the reasons Goa'uld have human slaves is if the host is injured beyond the symbiote's ability to heal, it can be useful to have a human handy. (Daniel just loves receiving that bit of information) Apophis asked the Tau'ri for a new host once, and even created a child to be his next host. The Goa'uld certainly don't have to change hosts often, because they use the sarcophagus, but they seem able to. It probably also helps keep subjects loyal to have a consistent face. If you couldn't save your own host, you wouldn't appear very god-like would you?

We know changing hosts is a risky business. My theory on it is that the separation is risky to one of the two parties involved. Jolinar said that she might die if she left Sam, yet the Tok'ra change hosts every hundred years or so without much of a problem. Normally when the Tok'ra change hosts, the previous host is near death, so there is no point in trying to protect the host. The symbiote is free to protect itself when leaving. However, with Jolinar and Sam, Jolinar would have tried to protect Sam as she left. So Jolinar would be taking the risky part on herself. If a Goa'uld transferred hosts, the symbiote would always try to protect itself regardless of the health of the host.

And another note on blending. You mention the irony of using a Tok'ra term for it when referring to the Goa'uld. In Into the Fire, Dr. Raully tells O'Neill "They cryo process will prevent the melding and the Goa'uld will die. But until then you must fight it." I like the distinction she makes. Although the terminology isn't used consistently throughout the series, and the word blending is often used for both, I tend to think that only the Tok'ra blend. Goa'uld meld. The process is different. I just wish the show had used the differing terminology consistently.

You're probably sorry you asked for comments after all this.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on August 28th, 2005 07:51 pm (UTC)
Hooray, a comment! Nope, never sorry to get comments!

Yes, I'm sure the choice of four Baals was really to avoid confusion in the audience (and that final scene wouldn't be nearly so hysterical). But, in canon, there has to be a reason as well (at least for people like me who try to deal in reality as little as possible!).

Good point about consistency of face among the subjects. I like that, and I'm sure you're right that it plays into it. But OTOH while we know that the Goa'uld can change hosts, my point is that, barring absolute necessity, they don't. Considering Apophis... yes, he asked for a new one when his host was dying and he was, theoretically, going to take his harsesis host -- BUT after the host was injured by Sokar -- badly enough it apparently took *months* to heal -- or Bynarr as another example, neither took a prettier, better, healthier new host. Even more to the point, tactically-speaking Baal would have been *MUCH* better off hiding and building a power base on Earth if he transferred to a different, unrecognizable host, but he didn't. No, on the other hand, he makes *more* of himself, so that the Tau'ri will have even more copies of himself to recognize if they go out in public. (And yeah, there's a lot of ego going on there, I realize).

The risk aspect just doesn't seem sufficient explanation to me. Like you said, the Tok'ra change hosts regularly, so new ones can't be that hard to do. And they don't care if the host dies, so if they have to choose, obviously they're going to choose themselves. So my theory is that there's something that makes it more difficult for a very old Goa'uld-host pairing to separate, some sort of physical merging that grows over time, making it more difficult for a Goa'uld to leave, without leaving behind parts of itself it might want to keep. "Melding" as you say. ;)

It may even be a side-effect of keeping constant control over the host body. A Tok'ra can leave a lot of the physical functions to the host's brain to manage, but a Goa'uld has to control a lot more and all the time, to make sure the host can't get free.

The use of 'blending' for Tok'ra is interesting, because in a way, it's really not blending at all. The Tok'ra host and symbiote remain separate entities, sharing one body. But I don't necesarily think that's true of the Goa'uld. Yes, the Goa'uld suppress their hosts, but I do wonder whether over time and sarcophagus use they aren't closer to one (nasty) entity. We know what the sarc did to Daniel, and that was without a gleeful Goa'uld in his brain, urging him on to acts of violence and oppression. I imagine there are more than a few Goa'uld hosts who, after a few trips to the sarc, are probably happy to help out. In other words, I don't think all hosts resist the process, and I'm sure some are seduced by the Dark Side so they become willing participants rather than prisoners in their own head. Well, if the Goa'uld lets them, of course.

Thanks for commenting, Rosie!
Rosierosiethehobbit on August 29th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
Ok, you have a point about the sarcophagus. It did affect Daniel significantly. And the Goa’uld use the sarcophagus far more than just when their host is badly injured. I don’t know if the sarcophagus actually helps meld the two minds, (though I suppose it is possible) but we do know it can ‘drain the good from their hearts’ as Martouf said.

Your theory that the Goa’uld forms some kind of deeper physical bond with the host in order to more fully control the host is probably correct. Otherwise, why can’t a host take control temporarily while the goa’uld is asleep? All creatures need to sleep sometime, and the symbiote would be no exception. Does that make it more difficult to change hosts? Maybe.

Still, I tend to think that the main reason they stay in the same hosts whenever possible is to continue the illusion of being a god. You may have an exception with Bynar. Though he was Sokar’s servant, and his disfigurement was a punishment from Sokar for letting Jolinar escape. How would Sokar have reacted if he had punished Bynar and then the next day Bynar shows up in a new, perfectly healthy host? The result would probably be worse than living with only one eye.

Do Tok’ra truly blend? As Jacob said, “It’s complicated, symbiote and host.” He also says that a true blending never occurred with Jack and Kanan. Kanan just took over, and that’s not blending.

Some neurological blending at the very least would have to take place to give the Tok’ra symbiote the ability to control the body. They do remain two separate entities, with different personalities. Yet they ‘love as one and mourn as one’. I’m not sure the answer to that one, other than it is…complicated. It’s a fun one to explore though.