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Recap / Stargate SG 1 S 5 E 2 Threshold

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"Men such as you and I have only the comfort of those times we make a difference."
— Bra'tac, to Teal'c

With Teal'c still under the influence of Apophis's brainwashing, Bra'tac proposes a risky strategy to return him to his senses — the rite of M'al Sharran, which involves removing a Jaffa's symbiote and bringing them to the brink of death.

"Threshold" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguously Christian: Carter, in this exchange:
    Teal'c: Do you believe in a god, Major Carter?
    Carter: This isn't about me.
    Teal'c: How would it be if you were punished for loving your god as I love mine?
    Carter: It's not the same.
    Teal'c: I cannot help what I believe.
    Carter: You believe in freedom, Teal'c. You believe in justice, in protecting people from false gods. You despise everything Apophis was.
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  • The Apprentice: Teal'c's tutelage under Bra'tac is shown through flashbacks.
  • Clip Show: The episode seems like it would be one, but it's averted: all of the flashbacks aren't of previous episodes but of Teal'c's life before he met the people of Earth. The only clip playback is at the end when he made his Heel–Face Turn in the pilot.
  • Conflicting Loyalties: Drey'auc accuses Teal'c of serving two masters when the lessons he is taught by Bra'tac begin to come into conflict with his duty to Apophis.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Daniel pronounces Apophis a "dead, false god", reminding Teal'c that they were originally his words.
    • Teal'c turning against Apophis and allying himself with the heroes from the pilot episode is shown again via flashback, this time from Teal'c's perspective.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Teal'c's is explored.
  • Death Is Cheap: O'Neill lampshades Apophis's unfortunate tendency to come back from the dead:
    O'Neill: I am one hundred percent sure... ninety-nine percent sure that Apophis is dead.
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  • Deprogramming: Bra'tac insists that the only way to counteract Teal'c's brainwashing is through the rite of M'al Sharran, which involved removing the symbiote and bringing him to the brink of death so that he can realize the truth of his beliefs.
  • Flashback: Teal'c has several flashbacks to his time in the service of Apophis as his near-death state causes him to relive the events of his life.
  • Foreshadowing: Bra'tac tells Carter that in less than two years his own symbiote will mature, and his body would reject a new symbiote. The latter point becomes important in "The Changeling."
  • God Test: Teal'c subjects Apophis to one by allowing Valar to live and lying to Apophis about it.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Invoked in-universe. Teal'c was brainwashed by Apophis to believe he never left his service. Although he can remember everything he did when part of SG-1, the brainwashing makes him believe he was still serving Apophis no matter what he was doing, even if it doesn't make sense. When asked why he helped Earth fight the Goa'uld (and even defeat Apophis himself twice), he replies "subterfuge". O'Neill, Daniel, and Bra'tac point out that this makes NO sense, and would make him the most ineffective double agent ever.
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  • Internal Reformist: Bra'tac encourages Teal'c to become this when he is first appointed Apophis's First Prime, advising him that while he will not always be able to make a difference, there will be times where he can bend Apophis's will to subvert some of his cruelty.
  • Kick the Dog: In a flashback, Apophis uses the hand device on Teal'c for defending his father's decision to abandon the battle for which Cronus would kill him.
  • Living Lie Detector: At the beginning of the episode, Bra'tac is able to tell just by looking into Teal'c's eyes for a few seconds that he is lying about having overcome the brainwashing.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Teal'c's reaction after he is forced to wipe out an entire village, including women, children and the Jaffa whom he had previously spared.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: The whole point of the rite of M'al Sharran is to invoke this.
  • Non Sequitur: Teal'c is prone to these as he slips in and out of flashbacks, leading to no small amount of confusion for the other characters.
    Carter: Has he said anything?
    O'Neill: He talked about fabric briefly.
    Daniel: He just called me a woman.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Teal'c's growing suspicions that Apophis is not a god are confirmed when he lies about having killed Valar and Apophis believes him.
  • Old Master: Bra'tac displays this trope in full in the flashbacks, mentoring Teal'c both in the ways of battle and in how to deal with Apophis. At one point he knocks Teal'c out in about five seconds flat after Teal'c challenges him.
  • Retcon: The scene from the pilot where O'Neill, Carter and Daniel were taken prisoner by Apophis is shown again, this time with Teal'c and Bra'tac watching them from outside the cell and Teal'c voicing his hopes that they might be able to challenge the Goa'uld.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Apophis orders Teal'c to kill Valar, a fellow Jaffa in Apophis's service, after Valar retreats from an unwinnable battle. Teal'c spares Valar and lies to Apophis about it, only to eventually wind up killing him anyway out of fear Apophis would discover the deception when he encounters Valar hiding in a village some time later.
  • True Companions: The fact that the other characters consider Teal'c family is highlighted throughout the episode, with everyone from the rest of the team to Bra'tac to Hammond to Fraiser trying to do what's best for Teal'c in their own way.
  • Your Eyes Can Deceive You: In one of the flashbacks Bra'tac is shown teaching Teal'c to fight whilst wearing a blindfold so that he can utilize his other senses.

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