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Recap / Stargate SG-1 S1 E3 "Emancipation"

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Series: Stargate SG-1
Episode: Season 1, Episode 3
Title: "Emancipation"
Previous: "The Enemy Within"
Next: "The Broca Divide"
Recapper: Shadow Penguin
"Daniel, find me an anthropologist that dresses like this and I will eat this headdress."
Sam commenting on the native clothes she gets roped into wearing

SG-1 arrives on a forested world and come across a teenager being chased by dogs. They scare off the dogs and save him. Men on horseback appear, and seem offended by Carter, and prepare to kill her. The boy stops them, and his father comes riding up. Carter asks what she did and he is about to attack her for speaking without being spoken to. The boy stops him again, and they decide she lives since she helped save the boy.

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Turns out the tribe is a Mongol type tribe with very strict rules on women. Covering their faces, acting submissive, speaking only when spoken to, and generally being the property of the men. Carter is upset, but gets talked into following the customs while they are there. She gets kidnapped in the middle of the night by the teenager, who decides she's the perfect woman to trade to a rival tribe in order to get what he wants, the hand of his love, the daughter of the chieftain. The chieftain rejects his offer and gives him gold for Carter instead.

SG-1 goes to free Carter and find that the boy's father is considering changing the customs since he loves his wife. They find Carter and to avoid war, they make a trade to get her back. Jack trades the chieftain a gun and they run off before he finds out it is useless once the bullets run out. However, the chieftain later finds that his daughter has escaped to meet with the boy, and she is recaptured and sentenced to be stoned to death. This, of course, SG-1 and their new friends cannot let happen. They decide a duel will settle the dispute and avoid war, so Carter challenges the chieftain. She kicks his butt, no war occurs, the women are freed, and everything is changed.

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The writer of this episode was Katharyn Powers, who previously co-wrote the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Code of Honor", which essentially had exactly the same plot. Just replace Mongols with Africans and Sam Carter with the also blonde, short-haired Tasha Yar. Both were even the third episode of their respective shows' first season. However, the Stargate version manages to be even preachier (but also, it must be said, less racist).


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"Emancipation" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Sam gets her first real opportunity to show it off when she uses her "level three, advanced" training in hand-to-hand combat to take down Turghan.
  • Badass in Distress: Carter manages to hold her own inside Turghan's camp until the others come to her rescue, and even comes close to escaping at one point.
  • Bound and Gagged: Carter when she is kidnapped.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally. Jack fires his Beretta M9 into the air to startle Moughal's tribesmen. He later fires it again to impress Turghan, then trades it to him to get Sam back.
  • Culture Justifies Anything: Subverted. The argument that the Shavadai's sexism should be tolerated because it's part of their culture is brought up several times, but is ultimately rejected by the end of the episode.
  • Duel to the Death: The fight between Carter and Turghan is intended to be this, though she allows him to live once he admits defeat.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: This culture for the Mongols.
  • Female Misogynist: Nya says her father is a good man who protects and provides for his women and children.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: "I'm a lousy cook, and I couldn't spin, weave, or dye if my life depended on it. You made yourself a bad deal."
  • Forceful Kiss: Turghan forces one on Carter as punishment for her disobedience.
  • Internal Reformist: Moughal tries to be as non-sexist as he can within the bounds of his culture
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Turghan intends to beat one of the other women as punishment for Carter's escape attempt; Carter intervenes, but it isn't made clear whether she actually succeeds in stopping him.
  • Karma Houdini: The teenager kidnapping Carter to give her to Turghan for the hand of his daughter is forgiven by Carter because he was acting on true love and tradition.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: Carter and O'Neill clearly expect the fight with Turghan to be purely hand-to-hand, and react appropriately when he unsheathes a lethal-looking scythe. Carter takes out her own (comparatively tiny) field knife in response.
  • Noodle Incident: According to Jack, on a previous off-world mission Sam drank something that made her take off her ... and then Sam nervously cuts him off before he can embarrass her in front of Moughal.
  • Pet the Dog: Before ordering her stoned, Turghan whispers to Nya that he personally forgives her.
  • Planet of Hats: The Shavadai's entire culture seems to be built around treating women like crap. In a slight subversion of this trope, however, it's suggested that other cultures on the planet might be different.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Teal'c, providing The Stinger. At this point he hasn't been on Earth very long.
    Carter: Sir do you think this new anesthesia will be a miracle drug on Earth?
    Jackson: Well if it is, I bet somebody else will get the credit. We can never say where it came from.
    O'Neill: Damn... guess I'm going to have to cancel that Oprah interview.
    Teal'c: What is an Oprah?
  • Reverse Grip: Carter wields her knife this way during the duel.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The episode is sometimes understood as a commentary on the Taliban, who had just recently come to power in Afghanistan at the time the episode was produced. However, this may be a coincidence, considering the same writer wrote a similar episode for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Much to her chagrin, O'Neill and Daniel are momentarily lost for words on first sight of Carter in the traditional Mongol dress.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Abu and Nya.
  • This Is My Boomstick: Jack twice uses his pistol to impress the locals.
  • True Blue Femininity: The traditional Mongol dress which Carter is forced to wear.
  • We Need a Distraction: Carter sets fire to one of the tents in Turghan's camp in order to create a distraction for Nya to escape.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: The Shavadai 'do' know what love is. However, the idea that a man can have feelings for a woman beyond being property is treated as though they were mad. Moughal is believed to have this affliction because he is in love with his wife.
  • Where Da White Women At?: It's mentioned that "foreign women" are especially prized and Turghan comments approvingly on Carter's fair skin.
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