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Recap / Stargate SG 1 S 4 E 17 Absolute Power

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"Dreams sometimes teach."
— Shifu

On Abydos, the team encounter a child called Shifu who claims to be the Harcesis. They take him back to Earth, where he gives Daniel a vision of what would happen if he were to gain the ancestral knowledge of the Goa'uld.


"Absolute Power" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Just a Dream: The last act of the episode reveals that everything that happens following Shifu touching Daniel's forehead is part of a dream, and in reality Daniel is in a coma-like state in the infirmary.
  • Continuity Nod:
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    • It's mentioned several times that the Goa'uld have previously used children to smuggle weapons through to Earth.
    • Fraiser notes that Shifu has the same kind of nanites in his system that were used to artificially age O'Neill in "Brief Candle".
    • The za'tarc detector is used on Shifu to determine whether he really is the Harcesis as he claims to be.
  • Cool Chair: The chair in Daniel's Supervillain Lair certainly counts, equipped as it is with an armrest control panel and a Goa'uld Deflector Shield.
  • Emperor Scientist: Daniel promotes himself to this within the space of a year after gaining the knowledge of the Goa'uld.
  • Energy Being: Shifu turns into one at the end of the episode, when it's revealed that he's actually an ascended being.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Daniel acts very friendly towards O'Neill right up until O'Neill tries to shoot him in a desperate attempt to stop him from bombing Moscow, at which point he drops the act entirely.
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  • Foreshadowing: Towards the beginning of the episode, Daniel and Shifu discuss the events of "Forever in a Day" with Daniel claiming that it felt as though he lived an eternity in the dream Sha're sent him through the hand device, hinting that something similar would happen in this episode.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: O'Neill attempts to explain one of Shifu's koans to Hammond:
    O'Neill: Basically, what it means is that it's always better to have a... big... long... wick. Right?
  • Hallucinations: Within the dream, Daniel begins having increasingly violent visions of torturing his friends using Goa'uld technology.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Shifu uses the dream to warn Daniel that if he takes his desire to destroy the Goa'uld too far, he could well end up becoming no better than the Goa'uld himself.
  • Kick the Dog: Daniel has Carter thrown in jail for questioning his motives, is heavily implied to have had Teal'c killed offscreen, and tells O'Neill that he "never was very bright."
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  • Kill Sat: Daniel uses his new knowledge of Goa'uld technology to build a network of kill sats and launch them into space, ostensibly to defend Earth from attack by the Goa'uld. And then he uses them to destroy Moscow in a display of power.
  • Koan: Much like the monk on Kheb, Shifu speaks almost entirely in these.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Daniel has these in his secret bunker, using them to oversee the satellite launch and talk with General Vidrine.
  • Rapid Aging: Shifu seems to have aged at least ten years since we last saw him, something that's explained by the nanites in his blood.
  • A Rare Sentence: O'Neill advises Hammond that he should probably warn the base personnel not to intercept Shifu as he leaves through the stargate, giving us this:
    Hammond: What am I supposed to say?! [Over speakers] All personnel, this is General Hammond. A... glowing energy being is headed towards Level 28.
  • Super Villain Lair: Daniel has the Elaborate Underground Base variant installed beneath his mansion, accessible by Goa'uld transport rings.
  • Take Over the World: Daniel's long game in the dream, something that the Washington higher-ups don't catch onto until it's far too late and they've practically given him everything he needs to implement his plan. Also discussed:
    O'Neill: I don't wanna miss watching you save the world.
    Daniel: Yeah... Actually, Sam thinks I'm trying to take it over.
    O'Neill: Oh, how arch.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Daniel takes several as a result of obtaining the Goa'uld knowledge, going from his normal self to ordering everybody around like his personal slaves to having his friends imprisoned and killed to bombing major cities just to prove a point.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Goa'uld genetic memory is explicitly this.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The dream takes place over the course of about a year, while only a matter of hours seem to pass in the "real world".
  • You Are Not Ready: The whole point of the dream is to show Daniel that no matter how good he might think his intentions are, he wouldn't be able to handle the ancestral knowledge of the Goa'uld and would quickly become Drunk with Power if he was given it for real.
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