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Recap / Stargate SG-1 S4 E5 "Divide and Conquer"

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"Are you sure there wasn't something else you weren't admitting? ...Something neither one of us can admit given our working relationship, our military ranks?"
— Maj. Samantha Carter, to Col. Jack O'Neill.

After an SGC employee attacks the Tok'ra High Councillor, Freya puts forth her suspicions that he may have been a za'tarc; a Manchurian Agent programmed by the Goa'uld to take out a specific target at a given trigger event. With a planned summit between the High Councillor and the President on the horizon, Hammond gives her the go-ahead to test for other za'tarcs within the SGC, causing complications when O'Neill and Carter both test positive.


Third and final installment in the "Anise trilogy", featuring the last appearance of Anise/Freya.

"Divide and Conquer" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Apple of Discord: It's speculated that the za'tarcs are part of a plot by the Goa'uld to sabotage the Earth/Tok'ra alliance.
  • Back for the Dead: Martouf, last seen in season 3's "The Devil You Know" returns only to be killed off at the end of the episode.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The audience is led to believe that O'Neill and Carter are the za'tarcs, but it turns out that the detector malfunctioned due to them inadvertently omitting some details and Martouf is revealed to be the real mole.
  • Big "NO!": Freya does this when Lieutenant Astor kills herself.
  • Cassandra Truth: Freya claims that she has been trying to warn the Tok'ra about the threat posed by za'tarc programming for some time, but her research has not been taken seriously.
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  • Cradling Your Kill: Carter does this with Martouf after she is forced to put him down for good.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    O'Neill: Now you see, this is just the kind of irresponsible, uncooperative bull—
    Freya: I agree, Colonel.
  • Decoy Leader: Hammond reveals that the "President" introduced at the summit was a decoy, explaining that they couldn't risk the real President until they were sure the za'tarc threat had passed.
  • Deprogramming: Freya attempts this on Lieutenant Astor, but it doesn't work as the za'tarc programming contains a failsafe that results in her killing herself anyway. Even if it had worked, Freya admits beforehand that the method is experimental and could cause lasting brain damage.
  • Diving Save: O'Neill does this to pull Anise/Freya out of the line of fire when Major Graham starts shooting up the Tok'ra headquarters during the opening sequence.
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  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Freya propositions O'Neill this way, explaining that she originally comes from a planet where people are much more upfront about such things.
    Freya: I had heard that the humans of Earth had many inhibitions and stigmas surrounding intimacy.
  • Fake Memories: The za'tarc programming is covered with a false memory so that the victim is unaware their mind has been tampered with.
  • Flashback: Several to the events of "Upgrades", as Freya questions the team about their mission to sabotage Apophis's ship during their za'tarc testing. This includes events that were not shown in the episode itself, such as Daniel retrieving the naquadah and, more significantly, O'Neill's very emphatic refusal to leave Carter behind.
  • Friendship Moment: Daniel and O'Neill have a bit of a moment while they still think O'Neill is a za'tarc, albeit in their usual oblique manner of speaking to each other.
    Daniel: [watching O'Neill play with a yo-yo] Yep, I think these are the Jack O'Neill moments I would probably miss the most.
    O'Neill: What?
    Daniel: What?
  • Held Gaze: Between O'Neill and Carter, with the force field between them.
  • Interrogation Montage: When the team is being questioned to determine whether they're za'tarcs.
  • Invisible President: Double-subverted; at first we get the typical back-of-the-head-shot walking down the corridor, but we actually see his face when he's introduced to the Tok'ra delegation... only for it to be revealed that he's actually a decoy and the real President is still waiting on Air Force One.
  • Killed Off for Real: Martouf.
  • Knee-capping: O'Neill shoots Martouf in the kneecap when he's first revealed as the za'tarc, not that it has any effect on him whatsoever.
  • Lie Detector: The za'tarc detector functions like a much more advanced one; Martouf explains that it can read the subconscious as well as the conscious mind, so it can detect a lie even when the subject is not aware that they are lying. This causes problems when O'Neill and Carter leave out details of the mission pertaining to their personal feelings for each other.
  • Love Triangle: A very odd four-person example occurs with Anise/Freya, O'Neill and Daniel. Freya makes a pass at O'Neill, but explains that Anise prefers Daniel; both O'Neill and Daniel exhibited some degree of physical attraction towards Freya (since its her body) on her first appearance, but neither appear to have any serious interest and in fact both of them seem vaguely disturbed by the whole thing.
    • When you add in Carter & O'Neill's feelings to the mix it becomes a veritable Love Dodecahedron.
  • Manchurian Agent: The za'tarcs function this way; they've been brainwashed in such a way that they have no idea their minds have been messed with until a specific trigger event occurs, at which point they're programmed to start shooting until they've succeeded in destroying their targets and then kill themselves.
  • Meaningful Look: Between Carter and O'Neill, as he's escorted to do deprogramming, he looking back at her over his shoulder wordlessly (with Overcrank), accepting the risk on their behalf.
  • Mercy Kill: Carter zats Martouf a second time as his programming causes him to turn his weapon on himself, sparing him a messy, painful death by explosion. On a more practical level, this also means that his brain will be left intact for Freya to perform a proper autopsy and hopefully develop a means of counteracting the za'tarc programming in the future.
  • More Expendable Than You: O'Neill, volunteering to be deprogrammed over Carter, as he insists her brain is more valuable than his.
  • Morton's Fork: When O'Neill and Carter are suspected of being za'tarcs, their options are either to wait it out in isolation, which could result in them killing themselves if their trigger event passes, or to attempt deprogramming — which is likely to fail and once again result in forced suicide, and even if successful could leave them with permanent brain damage.
    Carter: Some choice.
  • Nothing Personal: O'Neill invokes this when Freya thanks him for saving her life.
    O'Neill: No offence, but I would've done it for anybody.
  • Overcrank:
    • Shot of O'Neill looking back at Carter over his shoulder, as he is escorted to deprogramming.
    • O'Neill running down the hallway to rescue Carter, in his recollection of the past episode.
  • Rasputinian Death: Martouf is shot at least a dozen times by the security personnel, zatted by Teal'c, and finally zatted a second time by Carter just as he's about to blow himself up.
  • Sequel Episode: To "Upgrades".
  • Ship Tease: One of the most definitive episodes for the shipping of O'Neill/Carter:
    • O'Neill volunteers to undergo the deprogramming despite knowing that it will likely kill him, since he figures that if Freya can study his brain she might be able to cure Carter and "her brain's worth a lot more than mine." Carter is fairly distraught when she finds out about this and begs Daniel and Fraiser to stop him.
    • This leads Carter to realize that she and O'Neill aren't za'tarcs after all; the detector malfunctioned because they were leaving their personal feelings out of their accounts of the mission. She convinces O'Neill of this and gets Freya to test them again, this time admitting everything, in front of Teal'c, Fraiser and Anise/Freya, leading to the immortal line from O'Neill:
    "I care about her... a lot more than I'm supposed to."
  • Sound-Only Death: Both Major Graham and Lieutenant Astor, when their triggers cause them to kill themselves.
  • Wham Line:
    Carter: What about Martouf?

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