"I owe you one," Daniel says.
Jonas, gasping from the pain, answers, "We'll call it even."
So, what exactly is Jonas calling even here? Is he referring to Daniel's earlier semi-rescue when Jonas was trapped behind a force field, or is he talking about Daniel's sacrifice for Kelowna, over a year before? Most of us, I think, assume it's the latter. But if that's the case, how can Jonas possibly think that a relatively minor, if obviously painful, flesh wound can make him "even" with Daniel's agonizing death by radiation?
I see it like this: Jonas isn't talking about dying or getting shot. He's talking about what he's learned both from Daniel and his year on SG-1 about decisive action at the moment of crisis.
SG-1 has a history for getting into trouble off-world and requiring help from a native who is too frightened or unnerved to act at the crucial moment. This doesn't mean that these people are cowardly or wicked; it means they're civilians, unused to the urgency of dangerous situations. It's normal for people to freeze when they find themselves suddenly confronted with deadly danger. In fact, the only civilian who impulsively risked his life for a relative stranger on SG-1 was... Daniel Jackson, who leaped in front of a staff weapon to save a Jack O'Neill he barely knew.
But the team dealt with Simon in Demons, who was too intimidated by the Canon to help them; with Nyan in New Ground, who fled into the woods when Rygar and his men first appeared and captured the team; with Brenna in Beneath the Surface, who was so cowed by Calder that she went along with the team's mind stamps; with Loren in The Light, who was too traumatized by his parents' death to warn the team about their danger... and with Jonas in Meridian, when he was first too frightened by disaster to move when the naquadria core went into meltdown, and then when he was bullied by his superiors into keeping quiet while they made Daniel their scapegoat.
None of the characters I've cited here are evil. They are all civilians, people who had never before been exposed to fight-or-flight situations, who froze at the moment of crisis. Each one of these people did come through in the end for SG-1: Simon helped them kill the Unas; Nyan cured Teal'c's blindness and helped him rescue the rest of the team; Brenna tried to get SG-1 back to the surface; Loren opened the panel of the Light so they could lower the intensity and admitted the truth; and Jonas cleared Daniel's name, stole the naquadria in an effort to stop the project, and fled to Earth, where he eventually joined the team.
The big difference between Jonas and the others, however, is that the consequences turned fatal: Daniel actually died.
That isn't Jonas' fault. He didn't ask Daniel to shoot out the window and remove the deadly core. His only crimes were freezing at that crucial moment and then parroting the official line when ordered to do so. But as we see in Descent, when Teal'c had to literally yank Jonas out of the line of a staff weapon, immediate action under fire isn't something that comes naturally to him. Again, this doesn't make him a bad person; it only makes him a human being (however much Nirrti admires his DNA) who has weaknesses and makes mistakes. But I think that for Jonas, that moment of frozen immobility has also been something that he deeply regretted.
And that's why, to me, Jonas tells Daniel that they're finally "even" here in Homecoming -- because he's learned how to act decisively in a moment of crisis, how to risk himself in order to help others. That's something he was taught first by Daniel and then by the rest of SG-1. So when Daniel says that he owes Jonas, Jonas' answer is that Daniel doesn't owe him anything, because it was Daniel himself who showed him how to act in the face of deadly danger when another person's life is on the line.
This is obviously a personal interpretation, and I'd welcome discussion on this. :)
So now we say good-bye to Jonas and his days as a member of SG-1, and I'm going to digress into a little personal history regarding my introduction to the fandom.
I didn't discover SG-1 until the end of S8, when Reckoning and Threads were discussed in the Off Topic section of the message boards of my fandom at the time. I was intrigued by the comments on Daniel and tried to find information about the show. I discovered a site that had the transcripts (sorry, Aurora, not Solutions!) and mainlined eight seasons in less than a week. I fell in love first with Daniel, then with Jack and Daniel's friendship, and finally with the team. I had no access to the episodes, so I started reading fanfic (yes, I've done this kind of thing before). Unfortunately, the particular authors and websites I first read had their own priorities and preferences, as everyone does. And that meant that by the time I did start watching the episodes -- and I chose those first eps according to the transcripts I'd most enjoyed, although I later learned that transcripts often don't do the best episodes justice -- I was watching with the biased eye of someone who had absorbed the attitude of fic writers before seeing the canon material.
This meant that I thought Mackenzie was an unprincipled hack who had a personal vendetta against Daniel and was held in contempt by just about everyone at the SGC. It meant that I half-believed in the myth of Saint Daniel and thought that Jack called him "Danny" on a regular basis. And since S6, with its absence of Daniel, never caught my interest enough to
...Yes. I'm afraid there really is a lot of fanfic like that out there.
Thanks to Redial, I had the pleasure of watching S6 for the first time in its entirety when the comm dialed the season. One of the things I discovered was that Jonas had a genuine character arc that developed slowly over the course of the year. Far from being welcomed with open arms, Jonas spent three months underground at the SGC before he was allowed off-base for the first time. He was hesitant, deferential, and anxious to do two things: to help his people by seeing some good come out of the naquadria, and help the SGC as a sort of penance for Daniel's loss. Jonas told Sam at the beginning of Redemption that he liked The Weather Channel because it was "almost like prophecy"; the penultimate episode of the season brought that concept full circle, as Jonas himself developed precognition and stubbornly used it to help his team even when his own life was at stake. Slowly, over time, he developed friendships with Sam and Teal'c. Jack began to grudgingly respect him, even if he didn't show it. Unlike just about every other character (with the possible exception of Vala in S9-10), Jonas' story has to be watched in order to understand and appreciate his character arc. And I'm afraid that most Jonas-haters aren't interested in investing enough time and energy to discover that Jonas is a likable person who did his very best during his time at the SGC.
In some odd way, I started liking Jonas when Counterstrike aired in S10 and Langara was casually dismissed in a single, throwaway sentence as being lost to the Ori. Even if I didn't care for Jonas much, and certainly disliked the Kelownans, he didn't deserve that! So I started specifically looking for fics that dealt with Jonas and/or his planet getting rescued by the team or the SGC, and as I read those stories, I began to like the guy. And, well, here we are. :)
I'm not saying I loved every episode of S6, or that Jonas has replaced Daniel as my favorite. (STOP LAUGHING, people!) In fact, I liked Jonas most when he was not being not!Daniel. But Jonas Quinn was a good man and a wonderful addition to SG-1 during S6, and I'm only sorry that we didn't get to see him more, and that he was robbed of any kind of happy ending.
Thanks for the ride, Jonas. I'm glad you joined us. And there will always be pie when you come to visit!