SG1 – Learning Curve

In the season 3 episode “Learning Curve”, the members of SG1 have made contact with a planet named Orban and the humans who live on this planet are technologically more advanced & knowledgeable than earth. However they know nothing about the Goa’uld or their threat and very little about the Stargate. After first contact an exchange of information is decided upon; while Daniel Jackson and T’ealc remain on Orban and help the Orbanians learn more about the Stargate and pass on information about the Goa’uld, while Major Samantha Carter and Colonel Jack O’Neill return to Earth and await the arrival of Kalan, the Orbanian liaison, and an Urrone (apprentice) girl, Merrin, who presents Sam with a Naquadah generator, and Merrin remains behind to explain the generator technology to Sam.

The SG team learns that Merrin and other Urrone children like her have been implanted with numerous nanites in their blood steam as well as their brains. The nanites superseding her normal brain synapses Merrin explains that the nanites were designed on Orban, that all Orbanians carry them as a means to gather information, and that each Urrone is given millions of nanites to assist them in learning large amounts of information very quickly, accounting for the high intelligence of the Urrone children that had been observed. Merrin also tells the group that each Urrone must undergo the Averium and that at each Averium all of the Orbanians are given one nanite, but does not explain any further. Later Kalan explains that an Averium is a ceremony where an Urrone’s nanites are removed and dispersed among the population to increase the Orbanians’ knowledge. Kalan replies that all the children who have undergone Avarium will remain with the others past Urrone in an institution as they cannot be taught because his brain will reject nanites. Dr. Fraiser hypothesizes that as nanites replace natural synapses in a the brain, the Averium reverts an Urrone’s mind back to an infant state. Daniel asks if it has been attempted to teach Urrone children without nanites, but Kalan appears confused.

This does not sit well with the SGC personnel, especially Jack who believes that children should be allowed to be children. He wants Merrin to seek asylum on earth but she does not agree with him saying that being chosen for Avarium is a great honour. Daniel, who remained on Orban, prevents Kalan from attempting to travel to Earth without first sending an IDC, but Kalan insists he must retrieve Merrin, as without her the Orbanian scientists waiting for her nanites will be forced to wait another twelve years as another Urrone is chosen to specialize in Naquadah generators. Daniel realizes the effect that withholding Merrin is having, and takes Kalan to the SGC with him. General Hammond agrees to allow Merrin to return to Orban and undergo the Averium, but Jack intervenes and takes Merrin from the base, without permission. He takes her to an elementary school where he know the teacher and has Merrin interact with the kids in playing games on the playground (she, like other Orbanian kids have no concept of “fun” or playing games) and takes part in painting class.

Eventually, Merrin comprehends the task and enjoys painting, thanking Jack for giving her the opportunity. Jack offers her amnesty again, but Merrin insists she must return to Orban and undergo the Averium to help her people. Jack takes Merrin back to the SGC and gives her a box of crayons before she returns to Orban. General Hammond threatens to Court-martial Jack, but he merely replies that he was giving Merrin a chance to be a normal child and will accept any punishment General Hammond decides to give him, which sways him into giving Jack no punishment. Several days later Kalan asks SG-1 to return to Orban, and SG-1 is taken to the institution for past Urrone. The institution is now filled with children playing, rather than sitting around in an infant state, and SG-1 is informed that all past Urrone children will now learn, without nanites, after their Averium, as a result of changes caused by Merrin.

The plot of this episode shows earth humans, in this case specifically Jack O’Neill having trouble with the fact that the Orbanian kids not being raised the way earth kids are raised i.e, having fun & playtime while they also learn. Since their way is not our way he has a problem with it and tries to change it. He is ready to face tough consequences to ensure that the child gets a taste of what being a child is like on his world before she has her life altered. I find this to be a very though provoking topic.

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