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Recap / Stargate SG 1 S 7 E 3 Fragile Balance

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"He can't be more than fifteen years old. Are you saying that Colonel O'Neill has somehow regressed more than thirty years overnight?"
— Gen. George Hammond

The team believes that a rogue Asgard may be responsible when O'Neill is seemingly turned into a teenager overnight.


"Fragile Balance" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alien Abduction: Loki's kidnapping of O'Neill plays out like a stereotypical alien abduction, complete with levitation and floating lights. There's a montage of Daniel and Teal'c interviewing other "abductees" whose stories match O'Neill's, and Daniel acknowledges that their claims sound cliché if you've seen enough TV but insists the details are too specific to be ignored.
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  • The Bait: Young!O'Neill acts as this in the plan to capture Loki, allowing himself to be re-abducted so that he can take out Loki with a zat gun and beam the rest of the team up to the ship.
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: This exchange when young!O'Neill runs into one of his old war buddies outside a liquor store and claims he's O'Neill's nephew:
    Beck: So how's old Jack doing, anyway?
    Young!O'Neill: Uh, he's fine. He's not that old, either.
  • Call-Back:
    Young!O'Neill: Hey. I realize that it doesn't actually say "Colonel" anywhere on my uniform. But it should.
  • Capture and Replicate: This turns out to be what has really happened in the episode, where a teenage O'Neill shows up at the base and claims to have been de-aged overnight. The Asgard Loki had captured the real O'Neill to experiment on him and created a clone to replace him, but something went wrong in the process causing the clone to degenerate.
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  • Clone Degeneration: It's revealed that the clone is dying as a result of his genetic structure breaking down, although Thor is able to fix him by the end of the episode.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Expendable Clone: Young!O'Neill calls the rest of the team out on this, accusing them of not caring what happens to him after they find out that he's a clone, so long as they get the original back.
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  • Fountain of Youth: Subverted; the characters initially assume that O'Neill has been de-aged, but it turns out that he's a clone and the original has been abducted by the Asgard.
  • Got Volunteered: When the rest of the team track down young!O'Neill to break the news to him that he's a clone:
    Daniel: There's no easy way to tell you this, so... Sam's just gonna come right out and say it.
    (Carter glares at him)
  • Human Popsicle: Discussed; Jacob offers to put young!O'Neill in stasis in order to buy them more time to come up with a fix for his genetic instability.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Young!O'Neill's first destination after fleeing from the base is a liquor store. Unfortunately he doesn't get very far, given that he's currently residing in the body of a fifteen-year-old.
  • I'm Thinking It Over!: After O'Neill asks Thor to try and save the life of his clone:
    Thor: Are you certain, O'Neill?
    (O'Neill hesitates; young!O'Neill smacks his arm)
    O'Neill: I'm thinking!
  • It Came from the Fridge:
    Teal'c: Are you conducting some kind of scientific experiment, O'Neill?
    Young!O'Neill: Hey, come on! That salsa's still good.
  • Publicly Discussing the Secret: After he does a runner, the rest of the team find young!O'Neill fishing in a nearby stream. When he warns them not to come any closer, they end up yelling to be heard over the rushing water while talking about cloning and alien abductions.
  • The Reveal: O'Neill hasn't been de-aged; he's a clone that had the metaphorical tamper-evident cap pierced, and the original is still missing.
  • Seen It All: Humorously lampshaded by Daniel when the others express some skepticism that the random teenager who wandered onto the base is O'Neill.
    Hammond: Are you saying Colonel O'Neill has somehow regressed more than thirty years overnight?
    Daniel: Stranger things have happened.
    Teal'c: Name but one.
    Daniel: Well, there was the time he got really old, the time he became a caveman, the time we all swapped bodies...
  • Something Only They Would Say:
    • Daniel is persuaded that young!O'Neill really is who he claims to be at the beginning of the episode simply by the exasperated way he yells Daniel's name.
    • During the briefing of the X-302, young O'Neill starts to discuss things. The airmen in the room just think of it as a joke, but when he asserts "Hey. I realize that it doesn't actually say "Colonel" anywhere on my uniform. But it should." everyone suddenly sits up at attention.
  • Speak in Unison: O'Neill and his clone end up doing this when they finally meet, to the annoyance of both of them.
  • Stealth Insult: Teal'c and Carter attempt to persuade O'Neill that he should embrace being young again, leading to this gem from Teal'c:
    Teal'c: Do you not experience increased health and vitality?
    Young!O'Neill: My vitality was just fine, thank you.
  • Teens Are Short: The rest of the cast tower over the fifteen-year-old O'Neill, despite the fact that adult!O'Neill is taller than both Carter and Daniel. Lampshaded when the clone comes face to face with the original and remarks that he's taller than he thinks he is.
  • Tested on Humans: Loki was apparently banned from the Asgard genetics council for conducting "unsanctioned experiments" on humans. O'Neill demands to know if that means there are sanctioned ones.
  • Trust Password: Young!O'Neill uses sensitive information regarding the rest of the team to try and convince them that he is who he says he is at the start of the episode. They're still not totally convinced until they get the results of the DNA test back.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Loki claims that he's trying to solve the Asgard cloning problem to save their race, but he apparently has no problem experimenting on humans in order to do so.
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