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Recap / Stargate SG 1 S 8 E 6 Avatar

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Carter: If you're killed in the game, it will reset and you'll automatically start again. The chair will only disconnect and end the game under two conditions: once you complete the scenario, or if you engage the internal failsafe, which of course you're free to do at any time.
Teal'c: That will be unnecessary.

Teal'c agrees to help Dr. Lee test a new virtual reality training simulator that learns from his experiences to create a realistic scenario. Unfortunately, he becomes trapped in the game as it increases in difficulty — and worse still, every time he dies in the game he receives a painful electric shock, the cumulative effect of which could eventually end up killing him in real life if it continues on for long enough.

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"Avatar" provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The training scenario used in the game revolves around the base being compromised.
  • Badass Boast: Deconstructed. Carter advises Teal'c that, should the simulation become too difficult, he can exit the game by using the in-game base elevator. He boasts that it won't be necessary. Cue the game kicking Teal'c's ass to the point of death and him needing to use it...only to find the fail safe doesn't work because of his own Determinator mindset.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After Teal'c runs through the simulation in the beginning, he finishes it in a less than a minute. He and O'Neill want Dr. Lee to make it more difficult to be an accurate representation of Anubis' drones. They inadvertently make it so difficult that it begins to kill Teal'c.
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  • Brutal Honesty:
    Lee: We've been working on this chair for two years to make it a viable virtual reality training tool for SGC personnel.
    Teal'c: You have failed.
    O'Neill: He's nothing if not honest.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Daniel eventually ends up entering the game to help Teal'c win and is given the advantage of two seconds' worth of precognitive ability. It takes him a while to get used to it, but once he does it's just enough to give him an edge over the game.
    • As Teal'c experienced the simulation a number of times, he learned that certain aspects of it were the same, such as the Kull warriors immune to the normal weapon and a third one with a personal cloak.
  • Continuity Nod: The virtual reality chairs are modified versions of the ones that held the team prisoner in "The Gamekeeper".
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Daniel mentions this trope by name in reference to the cumulative effect of the repeated electrical shocks administered by the chair every time Teal'c dies in the game.
  • Determinator: Deconstructed; since the chair is learning from Teal'c it knows he would never give up in a real life-or-death situation and so it won't allow him to quit the game even when he wants to.
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  • Diabolus ex Machina: Every time it seems that Teal'c has completed the game, the chair adds a new twist that comes out of nowhere to kill him again, making it almost impossible for him to win without help.
  • Dramatic Irony: The irony in Teal'c's own ego being the very thing that's keeping him prisoner in the chair is commented on.
  • Eureka Moment: O'Neill makes a sarcastic comment about plugging a joystick in to help Teal'c out, giving the scientists the idea to put another person in the game with precognitive abilities.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Within the game, the Kull Warriors develop a resistance to the only weapon effective against them. Fortunately, the in-game version of Carter developed a "harmonic modulator" to counter this. Visually, it turns the weapon's normally white blast into a multicolored one.
  • Failsafe Failure: The game supposedly has a built-in failsafe that should allow Teal'c to quit simply by taking the base elevator up to the surface; however, when he finally gives up and tries to use it, it just takes him back to the Respawn Point and begins the game again.
  • Going Critical: The final stage of the game involves a naquadah reactor overloading and destroying the base unless it's deactivated in time.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Averted; every time Teal'c dies in the game the chair administers a small electrical shock to make it more "realistic". While each individual shock is harmless on its own, the cumulative effect of repeated shocking could easily be fatal if it happens enough times.
  • Heroic BSoD: Teal'c lapses into this for a while after being killed several times and realizing the game won't let him quit, simply sitting down and refusing to play as he dies over and over again. He eventually snaps out of it when Daniel joins the game.
  • Invisibility Cloak: One of the Kull warriors attacking the base in the simulation uses a cloaking device.
  • Medium Blending: The other characters are able to watch Teal'c progress in the game on a monitor which shows the base rendered in video game CGI.
  • Mexican Standoff: Occurs briefly between Teal'c and Daniel when Daniel first enters the game and is trying to convince Teal'c that he's real, and then again between all four main characters during the final stage of the game, when they're trying to work out which one of them is a Goa'uld as the generator overloads. As it turns out, they're all who they say they are, and Siler is the Goa'uld.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Downplayed. When it's decided that somebody will have to enter the game to help Teal'c win, O'Neill, Carter and Daniel all immediately volunteer. Daniel ultimately enters, as he has the least combat experience and military experience for the game to learn from.
  • Moving the Goalposts: The chair does this repeatedly by adding a different element every time it seems that Teal'c is about to complete the game, making it that much harder for him to win each time. It's eventually revealed that this is because, subconsciously, Teal'c still believes the Goa'uld cannot be defeated, and the chair's intelligent programming uses his beliefs and experiences to create the scenario.
  • The Power of Friendship: Teal'c gets his Heroic Second Wind after Daniel enters the game and gives him a pep talk, and working together they're able to complete the scenario relatively quickly.
  • Redshirt Army: The simulated SGC security teams that try to help Teal'c fend off the base invasion are quickly cut down by the super soldiers. As the simulation increases in difficulty, they go from being able to up put up some token resistance to being killed before they even see the enemy.
  • Sadistic Choice: Discussed when Dr. Carmichael tells the others that if Teal'c doesn't win the game they will eventually have to decide between disconnecting him from the chair while it's still in play — which could kill him — or leaving him in the game, which will definitely kill him if he loses enough times. Thankfully, it doesn't come to that.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: One iteration of the game involves one of the Kull warriors setting the base self-destruct, causing it to go off before Carter can override it.
  • Shot to the Heart: Teal'c goes into cardiac arrest after enough electric shocks, prompting the doctor to deliver a shot of adrenaline straight to his heart. This is somewhat justified, since he initially asks for a crash cart but Carter and Lee warn him against it since they have no idea what effect the defibrillators could have on the chair.
    Dr. Carmichael: That's not gonna work again.
    O'Neill: I don't wanna see that again!
  • Stealth Insult: After Teal'c completes the first version of the game, which he considers much too easy:
    O'Neill: So how was it? Was it fun?
    Teal'c: Indeed. You died well in battle, O'Neill.
    O'Neill: ...Obviously there's something defective with this thing.
  • Trust Password: Daniel is able to convince Teal'c that he's in the game too when he demonstrates an awareness of the game resetting.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The entire premise of the episode.
  • We Do the Impossible: When Teal'c is released by the chair after finally beating the game.
    Teal'c: We have won.
    O'Neill: Well. It's what we do.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Played with in that the simulation itself can't actually kill Teal'c, but the electric shocks administered by the chair whenever he dies can if he receives enough of them.
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