Overall Rating: Excellent
The Asgard, Thor (“Thor’s Chariot”), beams O’Neill to his ship, which is currently orbiting Earth. Thor has a message: the Goa’uld System Lords intend to throw a mega-beat down on Earth because of Hathor’s death (“Into the Fire”). An attack “100 times” worse than Apophis’ (“Within the Serpent’s Grasp"). While Stargate Command, and the SG teams, are a nuisance to the Goa’uld, this is the first time they killed a Goa’uld System Lord. If word gets out through the galaxy that humans successfully defeated a System Lord, subjugated humans might get funny ideas, like insurrection and freedom.
The attack can be stopped by Earth becoming part of the Asgard / Goa’uld protected planets treaty. In order to avoid all out war with each other, the two alien races divvy up less technologically advanced planets between themselves. As many indigenous people know, it sucks to not be the one with the most powerful weapons. The Asgard are stepping up to the plate to protect Earth, sort of. The treaty works because, a) the Goa’uld System Lords are constantly fighting within their ranks, thus keeping their power base in flux, and b) the Asgard are too busy dealing with a threat in their own galaxy to wipe out the Goa’uld, that is, they bluff the Goa’uld into behaving. The U. S. government agrees to treaty negotiations. For the entire planet. Without most of the Earth’s population having any idea about the situation.
The negotiation happens on Earth. The Asgard choose O’Neill as Earth’s representative. Three System Lords -- Cronus, Nirrti, and Yu -- gate to Earth for the summit. Forced into the position of supplicant, SGC staff strive for a successful meeting with the difficult Goa’uld. The negotiations are bumpy, but advancing towards finalization. The Goa’uld demand an exceptional caveat, or they will withdraw from the talks and attack Earth. With it, Earth can avoid immediate destruction, but only at a great cost. All parties agree to the terms. Before the treaty is finalized, one of the Goa’uld suffers a brutal attack by an unknown assailant. The summit is derailed. Since the treaty is not ratified, the Asgard will not even pretend to defend Earth. SG-1 must solve the mystery, or Earth is doomed.
This is an intense, well-written story. Richard Dean Anderson is stellar as O’Neill. The entire cast performs very well. The alien characters are very interesting, and menacing. Ron Halder’s portrayal of Cronus is a little over-the-top with the villainy, but he does it so well, I can believe Cronus invented the technique and all others copy him. Usually, I never buy “the Earth will be destroyed” storylines, well, because that would be the end of the series. This episode makes such good use of the premise, that for a brief time Earth’s peril is believable.