SG-1 is training a group of recruits to test their limits when joining an SG team. After a training exercise, it becomes apparent that the SGC has been overrun. It's up to Colonel Jack O'Neill and the four young recruits to find a way to stop the incursion before it's too late.
This is the recruits's training program and also a means of preparing them for the rigors of off-world missions by having them participate in various mission-like scenarios.
As Jack and Teal'c head to an abandoned warehouse, Jack tells the four recruits that two of his team members: Major Samantha Carter and Dr. Daniel Jackson are missing, having been kidnapped by a Goa'uld.
Jack and Teal'c head into the warehouse and the young soldiers—commanded by Lieutenant Elliot—rush in a few moments later when they hear gunfire despite Elliot hesitating over the situation.
The recruits storm into the warehouse where they find O'Neill and Teal'c unconscious on the floor, and Sam and Daniel pointing weapons at each other with Sam stating that she's a Tok'ra and Daniel is a Goa'uld.
Daniel claims that Sam is a Goa'uld, advising Elliot to listen to Sam's voice.
Grogan eventually subdues Carter which in turn draws Elliott's anger and the group of recruits begin bickering among themselves about Grogan shooting her with Grogan insisting that he did the right thing and that two shots from a zat will kill someone.
The argument comes to a halt when Daniel tells the recruits that may be true but they're wrong about one thing before stating in a Goa'uld voice that Sam was actually telling the truth all along: that she was a Tok'ra and that Daniel himself is a Goa'uld.
Without waiting for a response and as the four recruits stand there, shocked, Daniel uses his gun to stun all four of them.
Seconds later, the training exercise ends, and as everyone recovers, Colonel O'Neill chastises Elliot and his team for failing.
Later in the SGC mess hall, Carter talks to O'Neill about Lieutenant Elliot. Jack recognizes that Lieutenant Hailey ("Prodigy") is brilliant, but thinks that the rest of the team doesn't hold great promise for the future of the SGC. Elliot is a fine Air Force Academy graduate, but being in the SGC takes an extra something. Jack believes that Elliot thinks too much, and that makes him indecisive.
The next day, back at the training facility, Colonel O'Neill leads the recruits in another simulation. They are to infiltrate a building believed to house a valuable piece of Goa'uld technology. They find the device, but it is booby-trapped.
After a moment of indecision, Elliot orders his team out, and the device explodes. But one of his men, Grogan, doesn't make it out.
Jack condemns Elliot for leaving a man behind, stating that leaving someone behind is something Jack himself will not tolerate under any circumstances and declares the exercise to be another failure and as a result, the leader already considers himself a "wash-out" for leaving one of his team (Grogan) behind during a simulated explosion.
Colonel Jack O'Neill receives a phone call from Major Samantha Carter, warning him about a situation at "Sierra Golf Charlie"; he consequently attacks the personnel that met him near the training area; one of the opponents manage to shoot him back.
The trainees offer their help, stating that they're all that's available.
Infiltrating Stargate Command, they use the armory to stock up on stun weapons and back-up "live ammunition" handguns. Reaching Carter's lab, they find out that the entire SGC, including the rest of the SG-1, appears to be under a sort of Goa'uld mind control last seen on the planet Argos (identified as P3X-8596) and it appears that the leader is none other than Daniel Jackson.
The plan is to have the cadets shut off the gate, and then destroy the device. Jack wants to go along with them but is badly injured with Elliot urging Jack to stay behind while telling Jack that he's no good to them if he's dead with Jack telling Elliot that these are their people.
With that, the recruits depart with Elliot and Hailey taking the upper level and Grogan and Satterfield head to Daniel's lab.
However, when Elliot and Hailey are outside the Embarkation room, O'Neill recalls them, ordering them to fall back to the lab where he is.
In the lab, the recruits regroup and discover a blood sample with nanobots while Jack is less than impressed with the memory of being on Argos, stating that when he was a hundred years old and that the memory's the first to go.
After forming a plan, the recruits depart once again.
Once they've left, Jack tells someone that they're on their way.
In the hall, the recruits approach and find Carter around a corner. They search her and deem that she's fine although when they head into the lab, they find Jack ready to interrogate the guard.
The guard is immediately knocked unconscious and Carter draws Sattersfield's gun, revealing that she believes that Jack has been compromised.
Elliot sedates Jack and tells Carter that thanks to the blood sample, they figure out that Carter is immune to any kind of Goa'uld nano technology.
The recruits then head back into the hall and split up once again.
In the lab, Jack who has recovered is pissed at the fact that Carter told the recruits that he'd been compromised. Carter assures him otherwise and informs him that the Pentagon staff are monitoring the situation.
The recruits then launch their attack on Daniel and Teal'c and rig the supposedly mind-controlling device with C-4. When it doesn't explode (it was clay, not C-4), SG-1 reveals that the whole thing was a very elaborate ploy set up by SG-1, Hammond, and the SGC personnel; the "real" bullets were in fact blank ones. They congratulate the lieutenants.
Hailey, however, is still in the Embarkation Room, trying to finish her part of the mission. Suddenly, the Stargate engages and opens a wormhole that turns out to be releasing deadly radiation. Hailey tries to manually override the Iris, but is electrocuted in the process and passes out. Elliot, ignores Hammond's orders to evacuate and runs into the room anyway to attempt to rescue his fallen teammate.
She turns out to be not only fine, but also a part of this last training exercise.
SG-1 congratulates the cadets again, and all four members are told that they have a bright future in the SGC with Hammond revealing that Elliot will be assigned to SG-17 under the command of Major Mansfield.
|Appearances for Proving Ground|
O'Neill: What's your excuse?
Satterfield: I didn't believe Dr. Jackson was a Goa'uld.
Carter: Why not?
Satterfield: I don't know, Ma'am. That was just my instinct.
Hailey: She thinks he's cute.
O'Neill: Okay, so one of your team members distracted you into getting shot by the enemy and you want to poke holes in the training scenario.
Elliot: It wasn't a fair test.
O'Neill: There's such a thing as over thinking a situation, Lieutenant. When you're dealing with what we deal with, you've got to think on your feet and think fast. These and other clichés will be available to you all for one more day of training with me. After that, you'll either be assigned to an SG team. Or not. Dismissed.
Carter: (About Elliot) You have to admit he's got leadership potential.
O'Neill: Do I?
Carter: Grogan. He'll make a fine addition to an SG team one day.
O'Neill: He'll make a fine target. He's good at getting shot.
Carter: Okay, Satterfield's bright.
O'Neill: I give her high marks for her... high marks. But I'd never go into combat with her.
Carter: And there's Hailey.
O'Neill: Oh yeah. Four foot nine fighting machine.
Carter: Try to remember when you were in their shoes.
O'Neill: I wore boots.
Elliot: You're injured. You're going to need help.
O'Neill: This is not an exercise.
Elliot: No sir, it's a foothold situation. And from what we just saw it looks like it's already reached outside the SGC. You need our help.
O'Neill: Forgive my bluntness, Lieutenant, but I was just about to fail you. I'm not sure I want your help!
Elliot: Can't speak to that, sir. But at the moment we're all you've got.
Elliot: (after seeing Dr. Jackson in the Generals office on the monitor) Looks like their leader is Dr. Jackson.
O'Neill: I always knew he wanted that office.
Elliot: (after seeing Dr. Jackson on the monitor accessing some glowing object) What is that?
O'Neill: That's not our normal centerpiece.
Daniel: (sitting in Hammond's chair) Oh I have to tell you, I like this scenario way better than the last one! (taps the chair; to Teal'c) Have you tried this chair? This is like... really comfortable.
Teal'c: Indeed I have not.
(the red phone rings and Daniel answers)
O'Neill (ominously) Have fun Daniel.
Daniel: Yeah, you did tell them to take me prisoner and not shoot me, right? Right? Hello?
(a smug O'Neill hangs up without answering)
- The set for the training ground warehouse was previously used in the Stargate SG-1 episodes "Tin Man", "Watergate" and "Beneath the Surface".
- The plot is similar to that of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks".
- This is Michael Shanks's 100th episode.
- This episode was originally short so the scene in which Colonel Jack O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter are eating in the Mess hall discussing the recruits was written and added.
- Lt. Kevin Elliot is assigned to SG-17. This is the first mention of the newly created team.
- The recruits use the Intar stun weapons from the episode "Rules of Engagement".
- This is the second appearance of Brigadier General Michael Kerrigan. The first being in Stargate SG-1 episode "Prodigy". In that episode he says that he did not have any knowledge of Stargate Command.
- Elisabeth Rosen appears as Lt. Jennifer Hailey, who originally appeared in the episode "Prodigy".
- Courtenay J. Stevens appears as Lt. Kevin Elliot, a role which he would reprise in the episodes "Summit" and "Last Stand".
- David Kopp appears as Lt. Carl Grogan, who would return in the Season Five episode, "The Sentinel".
- Satterfield is the only one in the group to appear in one episode.
- Grace Park (Lt. Satterfield) is better known as Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, Sharon "Athena" Agathon and other Number Eights on Battlestar Galactica. Unlike the other three, this is the only episode in which she appears. Park currently appears as Officer Kono Kalakaua in the 2010 TV series, "Hawaii Five-0" which is a modern remake version of the original Hawaii Five-O which first aired in the 1960s.
- The bowl Linnea used on the prison planet is seen on Dr. Daniel Jackson's desk.
- O'Neill states that Grogan is good at getting shot and will make a good target. Ironically he's the only member of his team to survive a Goa'uld attack in "The Sentinel."
- It's revealed that the term, "Sierra Golf Charlie" is military speak for "Stargate Command".
- "Sierra Golf Charlie" is simply "S.G.C." in phonetic alphabet.
- When Hailey shoots the SF she shoots him in the right shoulder (the bullet impact is visible) yet up close it looks like she hit him in the heart.
- Nominated Leo for "Dramatic Series: Best Director" (Andy Mikita)
In other languages
- French: L'Épreuve du Feu (Ordeal by Fire)
- Hungarian: A tettek mezeje (Field of Acts)
- Italian: Terreno di Prova (Proving Ground)
- Spanish: Terreno de Pruebas (Proving Ground)
- Czech: Zkouška ohněm (Trial by Fire)
- German: Bewährungsprobe (Trial)