Season 3 Episode 18 – Colonel O’Neill breaks character for some insubordination and discovers a rogue NID team off-world.

The episode opens on Tollana where the Tollans, true to their principles, refuse to share weapons tech with the saviors of their planet. Upon leaving, O’Neill steals a piece of technology. During the mission debriefing, General Hammond discovers that the tech is stolen and not freely given. He and O’Neill argue about the current state of diplomatic ties with the Tollans and O’Neill drops that the Pentagon won’t approve a mysterious back-up plan. O’Neill is asked to retire early or face court martial, so he retires early. While sitting at home, Jackson visits to check on him and asks about the mysterious back-up plan. O’Neill reveals the back-up plan to be an off-world Stargate Command base that he would lead. Jackson leaves with his friendship with O’Neill called into question. O’Neill’s next visitor is Colonel Maybourne from the NID with an offer to lead a stealth team to take technology from other worlds. O’Neill agrees to this offer and gets to the base by requesting off-world retirement from Hammond. Hammond agrees and O’Neill is sent to Edora from the previous episode. He turns right around and uses the stargate to gate to the rogue team’s base. On his first mission as commander, they steal a device that can turn the user invisible. Since it’s small, it can be delivered to the NID through a mole in Stargate Command. O’Neill volunteers for the drop. While on the drop, he discovers that the mole is Colonel Makepeace, the new commander of SG-1. Shortly after O’Neill returns to the rogue team’s planet, an Asgard ship appears over the base. The Asgard start taking all the alien devices at the base. O’Neill opens the gate to escape and keeps it open for everyone wishing to come with him. The entire team does and they find themselves at Stargate Command where they are placed under arrest. O’Neill then arrests Makepeace. He reveals that he had been undercover since Tollana in a coup to discover the rogue team that had been stealing technology from SGC’s off-world allies. Now that the rogue team is caught, diplomatic peace is restored.

One of the coolest shots that’s ever been on the show.

To be quite honest, this episode did not go as expected. When the episode title was revealed at the beginning, I thought there would have been a bigger argument between the “we are literally defenseless” and “diplomacy takes time because time builds trust” camps. About the time Maybourne came on the scene, I figured O’Neill had to be working undercover. I mean, this show has a tried and true formula at this point and each episode has to return everything back to normal by the end.

For an episode about O’Neill’s change in behavior, Teal’c took an unexpected back seat for the whole ordeal. Considering the bromance between Teal’c and O’Neill, it saddens me that none of the writers took the opportunity to delve deeper into that. Let the dudes emote and stuff!

I do appreciate the step forward in the O’Neill/Jackson friendship. We have gotten more of them interacting in the past couple episodes, which I appreciate.

This is the second episode (this season no less!) where a member of SG-1 was replaced, albeit temporarily, by a new team member. This is also the second episode where said new team member was not altogether welcome. Despite having orders to follow, it doesn’t seem like SG-1 is super open to changing teams. This calls back to the “SG-1 vs The World” subtext from the first season which has died down considerably now that Stargate Command is up and running full-time. It also makes SG-1 drawing straws to check on O’Neill slightly out of character for them. Shouldn’t they all have checked on O’Neill after he retired?

Considering that the notion of an off-world Stargate Command base was used to foreshadow an off-world Stargate Command base in this episode, I wonder if we really will get an off-world Stargate Command base. Would be even cooler if the Stargate Command base was a hub for other Earth allies as well such as the Tok’ra and Tollans.

Look at all those guilty faces. Carter is especially shifty-eyed.

This episode’s adorable mascot is Jackson revealing that he drew the short straw to check on O’Neill.