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Recap / Stargate SG 1 S 5 E 13 Proving Ground

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"These and other clichés will be available to you all for one more day of training with me."
— Col. Jack O'Neill

O'Neill and the rest of the team are tasked with training four potential new recruits, including Lt. Hailey. Things go wrong when the SGC comes under threat from a real alien incursion, leaving it up to the newbies to save the day... except not, because it turns out this is still a part of the training exercise after all, and their every move is being monitored by O'Neill and Hammond.

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"Proving Ground" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alien Invasion: The training scenario revolves around a foothold situation within the SGC.
  • All Up to You: The recruits are led to believe that everyone else has been compromised and they're the only ones who can save the day, though in reality it's all part of the training exercise.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The episode ends with O'Neill asking Lt. Elliot if he really thinks the test is over now, just as the klaxons start to go off again.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Lt. Satterfield is noted by Carter as being "Bright" and she has a shy crush on Daniel.
    O'Neill: I gave her high marks... for her high marks, I'd never go into combat with her.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The use of the Cheyenne Mountain complex serves to enhance the training scenario, but it requires messing with the base staff's work schedule every few months as entire levels become unusable. General Hammond decides to request money to build a dedicated off-world training facility.
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  • Berserk Button: O'Neill thoroughly chews out the recruits for leaving one of their own behind in the first exercise, stating that that is the one thing he will not tolerate.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lt. Grogan is repeatedly getting shot, and at one point he "dies in an explosion".
    Carter: He'll make a fine addition to an SG team one day.
    O'Neill: He'll make a fine target. He's good at getting shot.
  • Chick Magnet: Lt. Satterfield has quite the crush on Daniel, much to the amusement of her fellow recruits.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The recruits use intars in place of actual weapons.
    • Lt. Hailey is apparently fond of telling the other recruits about that time she saw O'Neill in action.
    • The "alien device" that the recruits are supposed to destroy is apparently covered in writing of the same obscure Goa'uld dialect encountered by the team on Argos.
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  • Cool Chair: Daniel gets to sit in Hammond's chair while he's posing as leader of the alien incursion and seems quite taken with it.
    Daniel: Have you tried this chair? This is like (pounds the arm) really comfortable.
  • Cynical Mentor: O'Neill acts as one towards the recruits.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Grogan.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Played with; Carter and Daniel both use voice modulators during the first training exercise to pitch their voices deeper than usual, but Carter is posing as a Tok'ra while Daniel is supposed to be a Goa'uld.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The episode begins with Hailey, Elliot, Grogan and Satterfield pursuing a Goa'uld who escaped from the SGC. They find Daniel and Carter pointing weapons at each other in a warehouse. Carter claims to be a Tok'ra agent and that Daniel has been taken as a host by a Goa'uld. Grogan shoots Carter to prevent her from killing Daniel, who then reveals that he is in fact a Goa'uld and shoots the four team members. It turns out to be nothing but a training scenario.
  • A Father to His Men: Lampshaded when Hailey comments that O'Neill would "do anything for his team".
  • Lower-Deck Episode: Although the main characters do appear, the "protagonists" of the episode are the new recruits, three of whom have never been seen before.
  • The Mole: It's revealed at the end of the episode that Hailey has already graduated and has been in on the training exercise the entire time.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: O'Neill is not happy when the recruits inadvertently leave Grogan behind in the first exercise. They apparently take this to heart, as later on Satterfield goes back to "save" Daniel from an explosion, and Elliot exposes himself to "radiation" to get to Hailey, before he finds out that it's still a part of the exercise.
  • Not So Above It All: There are a few occasions where the team seem to get a little too caught up in the game.
    Jack: (on the phone to Daniel) Have fun, Daniel.
    Daniel: You did tell them to take me prisoner this time, not shoot me, right?
    Jack: (hangs up)
  • Paintball Episode: Using stun guns rather than actual paintball guns, but the premise is the same.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Lt. Hailey, as noted by O'Neill:
    Carter: Then there's Hailey.
    O'Neill: Oh yeah. Four-foot-nine fightin' machine.
  • Pull the Thread: It's implied that Elliot figures out pretty quickly that the "foothold situation" is still a part of the training exercise, though he doesn't let on.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: Parodied; Daniel does this with his intar at the end of the first training exercise after he takes out all four of the recruits one after another.
  • Take a Third Option: Discussed after the first exercise, when the recruits were unable to decide which between Carter and Daniel was the Tok'ra, and which was the Goa'uld. O'Neill states that instead of shooting one of them, the correct thing to do would be to zat them both and sort it out at the SGC.
  • Training "Accident": The basic premise of the episode, although it gets a fresh twist when a second training accident starts immediately after The Reveal of the first one, and then again when it turns out that Hailey was in on the whole thing.
  • Wire Dilemma: Averted; during the first exercise the recruits accidentally trigger a Booby Trap which immediately starts counting down to explosion, but Elliot declares that they don't have time to try disarming the bomb and orders them all out instead.
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