“This is not how trials are done in America and that means they’re WRONG.” –basically Colonel O’Neill this episode.
Spoilers below the cut.
The team travel to a medieval village where everyone is mysteriously disappeared. So the team look around and come across a place of trial (guess what’s coming) where they meet the locals. Teal’c reveals that this planet was a popular spot to harvest humans for Goa’uld, and as such, one of the men in the village (Hanno) recognizes Teal’c as the man who killed his father. And so Teal’c is put to trial (or cor-ai to the locals) for his past deeds.
O’Neill is against this on principle. For starters, remember when Teal’c was a good guy this entire season? Secondly, he’s not about to let his BFF come to trial (which is usually exacerbated to death for dramatic effect). He just won’t have it!
O’Neill is alone in this argument. Jackson and Carter support O’Neill for sure, but they lack his passion. So when a woman comes and says she will be the voice of Teal’c in the cor-ai, O’Neill says “No you won’t. I will!” Before you know it, the entire SG-1 team are co-counsels defending Teal’c and none of them have lawyer experience. Unless lawyering is part of basic training.
At the cor-ai, Teal’c admits that he was the one that killed Hanno’s father even though O’Neill orders him not to say anything. A recess is called and the SG-1 team decide to attempt to convince the people at court that Teal’c is a changed man. They are successful with lots of examples but words are not enough for this group. Though the SG-1 team pleads with the elder overseeing the cor-ai, the actual judge and jury of the trail is Hanno. The philosophy is that Hanno is the only one who can understand the pain the perpetrator must suffer in order for there to be justice. The only person who sees fault in this is O’Neill.
O’Neill disagrees with this because It’s Not the American Way. But you know what? Screw him. The American Way does not always mean The Right Way. I may be speaking this from a point in history where my views and the views of most of my friends do not line up with the American government and as such I see the American government as a faulty piece of corruption. In any case, I really think O’Neill is in the wrong. Not because I believe Teal’c deserves to die, but because, like Teal’c, I acknowledge that he has done some really nasty things and has suffered no consequences because of it. Besides, Teal’c has Plot Armor. He’s not gonna die. He’s gonna prove through some self-sacrificial act that he is truly A Changed Man and everything’s going to be fine. Just watch.
Teal’c agrees with the people of this planet. He repeatedly tells O’Neill that he will not run from this trial. Before this episode, we’ve never really seen Teal’c act guilty for his actions as a Jaffa. Now that (some of) the people whom he victimized have an opportunity to seek retribution, Teal’c will not stop them, even if it means his death.
O’Neill and Carter return to Earth to get help in the form of “we’re going to get big guns and essentially shoot them in the air to scare them into giving us Teal’c.” Back home, Major General Hammond discards my Major General Daddy title I have affectionately given him and says they’re not to interfere into the government workings of others. O’Neill calls this isolationist behavior bullshit (I do too. Since when did America NOT stick their noses into anything post-WWII?) and tries to argue but Hammond has had it. The president said so. Major General Daddy has put. His. Foot. Down.
O’Neill’s main argument is that Teal’c was just following orders. I want to bring up that the main defense for Nazi soldiers during the events of World War II was that they were “just following orders.” And they were still committed for crimes against humanity because, even though they were “just following orders” they were still crimes against humanity that they did with their own two hands. Teal’c still did bad things. He may be a changed man, but that does not mean he is absolved of everything he’s ever done in the past.
Accompanying O’Neill’s “following orders” argument is the back up “I’ve done some messed up stuff in my service to this country so why aren’t I on trial for that?” The answer, O’Neill, is that your country won. In a similar vein, Jackson and O’Neill paint O’Neill like some sort of bad guy. And yet he gave a little girl a dog because she’ll probably need an animal companion during her integration into Earth life. He forgave an alien that stole his identity because the alien wanted to heal him. He’s constantly standing on Teal’c’s side in every single conflict involving Somebody against Teal’c. I do not see a bad guy. These claims that O’Neill is an antagonist have poor evidence to support them.
For now. This is still season 1 of a 10 season television show. We could be getting more Evil O’Neill later on in the series. I can’t be the only one that would love to see the Colonel Sassmaster himself take a turn to the dark side.
Anyway, that’s my ramble about this episode. You wanna know how it ends? O’Neill and Carter return to the planet to find it’s been attacked by Goa’uld. They help the people of the planet fight the Goa’uld. Teal’c rescues the lives of some of the people that wanted to kill him in a self-sacrificial manner, of course, and Hanno changes his mind because of that act. And so, Teal’c’s plot armor is revealed to be fully intact. And they all go on their merry philosophical differences.
This episode’s adorable mascot is topless painted Teal’c.