The only way to say “Comtraya” is by gleeful exclamation. The. Only. Way.
Spoilers below the cut.
SG-1 arrives on planet P3X-989 and are shortly knocked unconscious from a mysterious beam of light. They wake up without their gear and in different clothes. Shortly after, they meet Harlan, a mysterious little man whose explanations for things don’t easily flow from one idea to the next.
Harlan introduces them to his world which is entirely underground because the surface is irradiated. He explains that he made the SG-1 team “better” but refuses to be more specific than that. O’Neill is able to do some complicated division in his head like a calculator and no one is able to adequate explain how they know the division to be correct. Harlan’s only contribution is simply, “See? Better!”
His peppiness and vagueness grates everyone’s wires so they return to Stargate Command despite Harlan saying they’ll return. During the medical exam, Dr. Frasier fails to find a heartbeat for O’Neill and attempts to extract a blood sample. Except the fluid that comes out is not blood. Teal’c announces that his Goa’uld larvae is gone. O’Neill cuts open his arm with a scalpel to reveal android parts in place of blood and flesh. Dr. Frasier raises the alarm and a team of soldiers escort SG-1 to a holding cell. O’Neill adamantly denies that he is anyone but the real O’Neill and tries to prove it by naming Major General Hammond’s grandchildren. He’s escorted to the holding cell anyway.
In the holding cell, Jackson is fascinated by the fact that they’re all androids despite him feeling completely like himself. O’Neill is pissy because his conception of himself is entirely false which is understandable. Teal’c is oddly quiet and Jackson asks if he’s okay but Teal’c assures them that he is. Yet we the viewers can tell something is wrong and perhaps it’s related to his missing Goa’uld larvae.
Soon they start getting weak, which causes them unbearable pain, so they’re sent back through the stargate. As soon as they arrive, they feel a LOT better and realize their power source is on the planet. Harlan arrives to greet them but the encounter is not a happy one for him. Carter asks to get their consciousness transferred back to their original bodies but Harlan says he’s unable to do that since their original bodies were destroyed. “All part of the process” is his explanation. But they will soon learn that this way is “better.” He also explains that they’re unable to travel off the planet because of their external power source. The news of that is devastating for the team.
Harlan leads them back to their room to recharge but a malfunction in Sector 2 leads him away. O’Neill goes after him and Teal’c soon leaves too. Jackson asks if Teal’c is okay but Teal’c doesn’t answer. Carter and Jackson go to find Teal’c but don’t find him. Teal’c, instead, has a malfunction of his own in the form of a seizure standing up.
O’Neill interrogates Harlan when Jackson and Carter enter the room. Harlan is repairing a pipe with glue as he explains that the biosphere of his planet could no longer sustain human life. So they created this giant underground facility. There were roughly 1000 people at first. Some didn’t survive the transfer process but most did. Eventually, one-by-one, everyone left through the stargate with portable batteries to help them survive. None of them returned. In the end, it was Harlan and a companion named Wallace who gave his life to repairing the underground facility. It was 11,000 years since Wallace died.
A larger malfunction sounds the alarm. Harlan coordinates as the SG-1 team minus Teal’c run off to fix it. Harlan explains that they already know where everything is and how to work it. Jackson and Carter go one way to vent one valve that has been rusted shut. O’Neill takes another way and tests his limits as a robot by dropping about 4 levels and surviving without a sprained ankle. Before he can relieve enough pressure, Teal’c arrives and starts attacking O’Neill. O’Neill tries to snap him out of it but to no avail. O’Neill is thrown against a pipe which breaks and relieves enough pressure to silence the warning alarm. But he’s at a disadvantage against Teal’c who is disintegrated by Harlan before striking the killing blow.
Harlan tries to distract the SG-1 team but they follow him to a rejuvenation chamber where a second Teal’c is being grown. Carter and Jackson question more intently that they couldn’t make a second Teal’c if their original bodies were destroyed. O’Neill arrives with bravado and gets Harlan to open up to them about his plan. Harlan finally leads the team to their original bodies.
The originals were being held prisoner in a room similar to the one they woke up in. Harlan explains that he made copies and kept the originals here with the intention to return them through the stargate without them ever knowing they were copied. After determining that the originals were physically all right, they remove their bonds. Robot!O’Neill leaves the room for some alone time. Meanwhile, the original SG-1 team learns that they were copied.
Original O’Neill follows Robot!O’Neill to the rejuvenation chamber and they have a nice little talk about Stargate Command security. Meaning that Robot!O’Neill promises to bury the gate upon their departure so no one can get through and capture their copies and get into Stargate Command Actual by proxy. They have a sentimental good-bye and you can almost tell Jackson wishes he could keep in contact with his double because he’s had the most positive reaction to being turned into a robot.
This episode seems slightly racist by proxy. Several times throughout Harlan calls out Teal’c for “being different” and, being the only black man in the cast, I automatically thought he was different because he was black. The reason for his malfunction was because of the Goa’uld larvae in his womb. And yet Teal’c is still the only person of color in the regular cast AND he’s the resident alien. That isolation by itself is racist. It would be less so if there was a second person of color in the regular cast.
Secondly, Jackson is the most excited about the idea of living forever despite the deal coming with the clause that he’s not allowed to leave his new planet to, I don’t know, free his captured wife. Shau’re is completely forgotten by Jackson in this episode. Granted, she’s usually forgotten by Jackson in most episodes, but this episode comes with a life-changing event. I don’t think this is just me, but don’t you usually include your life partner in life-changing events? Especially when you’re turned into a robot? Especially when they didn’t address the issue of whether they could have sex as a robot. Wouldn’t that hinder family planning?
I really hope the gate to this planet is not permanently sealed. It would be super useful to have the dopplegangers return for some mischievous fun against the Goa’uld.
This episode’s adorable mascot is Harlan.