On the seemingly peaceful planet of Simarka, the team encounter a race of Mongol-like Humans whose women have no rights whatsoever. Things turn bad when the team realizes Captain Samantha Carter has been kidnapped and sold to an enemy tribe, led by Turghan and as her teammates search for her, Carter fights to dismantle a series of ground rules on a planet where women are seen as objects instead of human beings.
On a routine trip through the Stargate, SG-1 finds a beautiful planet, named Simarka, with no apparent signs of technology. They suddenly see a young man running from a bunch of rabid dogs, and save his life. He is initially very grateful and introduces himself as Abu of the Shavadai, which Abu translates as "the people of the steppe". Suddenly he realizes that one of them is not a man and points to Captain Samantha Carter, and exclaims, "She is a woman!"
Abu's father, Moughal, and some of his clan show up, and when they see Carter they point arrows at her. In this culture, women are not allowed to show their faces or wear the clothes of a man. Carter is offended and does not react well. Abu tells his father the woman saved his life, and the father declares Carter is thus saved from her fate at the hands of the law, and invites them all back to his village.
Once there Dr. Daniel Jackson discovers the local culture resembles that of Mongolian nomads, probably from the Chagatai, perfectly preserved since likely being transported from Earth by the Goa'uld close to a thousand years before.
Moughal, though a law-abiding man, is very tolerant and open to the concept of change. The laws of the various clans of this culture state that women must be obedient, hide their faces, and remain silent unless spoken to. To prevent Carter from punishment, he places her in the care of the tribe's women to instruct her in these rules and provide her a woman's gown complete with headpiece and veil. The remaining male members of SG-1 poorly contain their avid appreciation for her new attire. She is less than amused.
While Daniel immerses himself in the Anthropology along with Colonel Jack O'Neill and Teal'c, Abu kidnaps Carter and takes her to a neighboring clan led by a fierce warlord, Turghan. Abu tells Carter he intends to trade her for something he wants more than life itself. When Daniel discovers Abu's deed he confronts Moughal, who, having guessed his son's intentions, joins SG-1 to pursue Abu.
Turghan lusts for Carter and debases her, studying her appearance as if she were an animal; her resulting sarcasm and attitude make Turghan extremely violent. Abu wishes to trade her for the hand of Turghan's daughter Nya. Turghan refuses, instead offering Abu 300 weights of gold or death in exchange, Abu takes the gold and reluctantly leaves.
Nya is in love with Abu and becomes distressed as her father - who already has the allegiance of 22 tribe chieftains - tells Nya she will marry the warlord of a 23rd clan by the "next moon". Later, Abu sneaks into Turghan's camp and tells Nya he will wait in the forest for her to escape so that they may elope.
If SG-1 waits until the next day to rescue Carter, Turghan will 'partake' of his newest purchase; knowing this, SG-1 attempts to repurchase her for 500 weights of gold; they tell Turghan that she is their shaman and they must have her back. Turghan refuses all offers until O'Neill offers his M9 pistol side arm, demonstrating its effectiveness by firing it at a gourd pot. The trade is made and all four members of SG-1 quickly leave with Moughal before Turghan can learn that the pistol has a limited amount of ammunition he can't replace.
During this time, Nya attempts to escape but is captured in the process. Turghan intends to stone her to death for her disobedience. Abu begs Carter and the others to use their weapons to save Nya, but Moughal tells them this would bring war to the Shavadai. After considering the problem, Moughal explains that there is a law that allows a clan leader to challenge another to a duel in order to halt a stoning. If Turghan can be defeated in combat, in the setting of this legal challenge, the stoning would be stopped and there would be no war between the groups.
Carter challenges Turghan as the chieftain of her clan. Turghan pulls out a short sword-like dagger while she pulls out her much smaller (by comparison) Ka-bar. She wins the ensuing hand-to-hand combat but refuses to kill Turghan; instead making him swear to release Nya, not make war with the Shavadai, and to yield to her.
In celebration of Carter's bravery, Moughal, as an example to other clans and tribes, abolishes the old laws regarding women allowing them to walk freely about the camp with their faces revealed. SG-1 returns to Earth with a new anesthetic derived from one of the local plants.
Amazon; Anesthetic salve; Anthropology; Arkhan-Tyr; Binoculars; Bow; Butter; Chagatai; Chalcis; Chimakka; China; De Oppresso Liber; Dog; Genghis Khan; Gold; Horse; Linghai; Mongol; Oprah; Raga; Sea of Ogada; Shavadai; Simarka; Special Forces; Sunglasses; Sword
Abu: No! I cannot look at you!
Carter: Ok, now I'm hurt.
Moughal: Is this any way to greet a stranger?
Raga: That one is a woman.
O'Neill: Observant bunch.
Turghan: You cannot go out until you are attired properly.
Carter: Attired properly?
Jackson: Anthropologists do it all the time. They dress and live as the people they're studying.
Carter: I'm not an anthropologist.
O'Neill: (gleefully) You are today.
(At Jackson's suggestion to blend in with the local populace, Carter has allowed herself to be dressed in an elaborate and heavily embroidered silk headdress and gown)
Carter: Daniel, find me an anthropologist that dresses like this and I will eat this headdress.
O'Neill: The hell with culture - a member of my team has been neutralized. That's a hostile act.
Jackson: How is it that you always manage to come up with the worst case scenario?
O'Neill: I practice.
Carter: What a relief, I've never been so happy to see you guys!
O'Neill: Well, sure you have. Remember that time on P3X-595 you drank that stuff that made you take off--
Carter: (interrupting) We won't get into that right now!
O'Neill: So how do the Spirits decide who wins?
Moughal: It is a battle... to the death.
(Turgan unsheathes a long curved knife.)
O'Neill: Hey! No one said anything about...(Multiple knives are pointed at his, Daniel's and Teal'c's throats)... knives!
Carter: Sir do you think this new anesthesia will be a miracle drug on Earth?
Jackson: Well if it is, I bet somebody else will get the credit. We can never say where it came from.
O'Neill: Damn... guess I'm going to have to cancel that Oprah interview.
Teal'c: What is an Oprah?
- The team makes reference to a past exploratory mission on P3X-595 where Carter apparently imbibed a mind-altering substance that greatly reduced her inhibitions. The mission is chronicled in the novel Stargate SG-1: Sacrifice Moon. The reference also reveals that SG-1 has many adventures which are not chronicled in the series.
- This is generally considered by critics as one of the worst episodes of the entire Stargate SG-1 series. The Sci-Fi Channel (and possibly the production team) seems to hold it in similar disdain, because it is rarely if ever re-run in syndication. Almost always, when the series is rerunning from the very beginning it simply skips straight from "The Enemy Within" to "The Broca Divide".
- This is the first of eleven episodes of Stargate SG-1 written by Katharyn Powers. She is also responsible for the very similar (both in story and reception) Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One episode "Code of Honor". Both episode feature a female officer being abducted and later participating in a fight to the death. Given the extremely negative fan and critical reception to that episode, it seems surprising that this one was made. In further coincidence, both episodes are the 4th episode of their show's first season.
- This is the only episode of Stargate SG-1 directed by Jeff Woolnough.
- Don S. Davis (Major General George S. Hammond) does not appear in this episode.
In other languages
- Hungarian: Emancipáció
- Czech: Emancipace
- Italian: Emancipazione
- German: Verraten und verkauft (Betrayed and sold)
- French: Émancipation
- Spanish: Emancipación
- Polish: Emancypacja
- Portuguese: Emancipação
- Russian: Эмансипация (Emanszipacija)
- Finnish: Naisen paikka