Today the Ori use their viral powers to attack Earth itself.

Synopsis

At the SGC the war against the Ori continues, with SG-6 returning from an undercover mission on a world that has converted to the Ori, unaware that the Gerak is leading the Free Jaffa down the path of the Ori after having been converted to the ways of Ori by a Prior. The SGC are currently working on a way to deal with a Prior themselves (using research from an episode that we haven’t seen yet due to viewing order) by nullifying their powers. The SGC starts facing more growing issues however when it turns out SG-6 were exposed to the Prior Plague and are displaying symptoms, causing an immediate quarantine of the team and those who’ve come in contact with them but it’s already too late with the virus beginning to spread after a member of SG-6 goes to a speech by Hammond.

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Teal’c and Bra’tac prepare to go back to Earth, having gone to Dakara to find that Gerak is now openly preaching that the Jaffa High Council formerly adopt Ori as the Free Jaffa’s official religion, but are stranded off-world due to the SGC quarantine. Instead Teal’c and Bra’tac go for the proverbial nuclear option and go to Chulak, to secure support for a coup if it comes to that.

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Outside the base Mitchell leads efforts off-base to stop the spread of the plague the illness begins spreading far faster than they can chase those exposed down, with the plague having already crossed State lines despite a lockdown of travel.

Meanwhile in the SGC labs Bill Lee and Carter continue working on the anti-Prior device, with it a seemingly impossible task, while being observed by an unknown presence. When Bill leaves the room momentarily the presence materialises as Orlin, the Ancient Sam “befriended” several years prior, but in the form of a young child. Orlin reveals that not only is the book of Origin a lie to gain power through worship of others but also that the Ancients deliberately refused to intervene in the lower planes because of it. Orlin decides to help the base try and develop a cure to the plague but faces growing difficulty when his mind begins to deteriorate due to the strain of containing all his Ancient knowledge.

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While Teal’c and Bra’tac attempt to gather support Gerak arrives with a Ha’tak, intent on killing all who conspire against them, but hesitates on killing his former allies. Returning to Dakara the Prior is angered by his lack of faith and instead has Gerak converted to a Prior, whereupon he is sent to the High Council to get their final approval.

By now on Earth the continental United States has seen itself become overcome by the spread of the plague and enacts a quarantine of the entire country. This however is already too late after both Paris and London report outbreaks of the virus as well as the US’s neighbours to the North and South along with rumours of Africa having been hit. Work on a cure has stalled however due to the need for a blood sample from the original Prior who created the plague. For the capture mission Mitchell decides to enlist the Sodan for support, who have decided to turn on the Ori after the Sodan were ordered to wipe out simply farmers, and with their help manage to lure a Prior to their location where the test the anti-Prior device. After several false starts they’re able to get it working, allowing them to capture the Prior and obtain the needed sample. They decide instead however to then try and convert the Prior to their side, using Orlin as a mediator. This goes spectacularly wrong however when the Prior overcomes the anti-Prior weapon and uses the opportunity to infect Landry with the plague because someone let him off-base.

In the Jaffa territories Teal’c and Bra’tac finally put together their forces and prepare for a showdown with Gerak. Instead however it’s a final ruse by Teal’c to get Gerak to meet him on the surface, where he takes Gerak to the grave of his father to remind Gerak just how much his father had given for the cause of freedom. This successfully convinces Gerak that he’s fallen once more for a false god and he instead agrees to go with Teal’c to Earth, where he heals all those who are infected in the SGC infirmary before the Ori kill him for betraying them.

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In the aftermath of the events the SGC is able to put together a vaccine for the virus and prevent further infection though at the cost of 3000 people. The episode ends with Sam visiting Orlin, whose mind has completely deteriorated, who now lives in a care home for the elderly.

Analysis

And now we reach the mid point of season nine, a season so far that has seen the Ori attempting to establish themselves in the Milky Way, the Goa’uld Baal try to start a business on Earth while cloning himself for unknown purposes, and the Free Jaffa struggle to unite under a common cause. Here however all of that finally comes into play as the Ori finally hit their biggest target of Earth.

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It’s a surprise it took so long for them to breach Earth’s defences as it’s no secret the SGC have gotten rather slapdash when it comes to how they protect the base over the last couple of seasons as funding has been cut and new commanders have been rotated in. Now that threat hits them in spades, with the Ori Plague spreading unbelievably fast. Honestly it’s quite nice to see this show have a believable spread of the plague across the world as it shows just how big a disease vector our modern means of travel actually are, with aircraft in particular making it easy for deadly diseases to spread across the planet in mere hours. It also shows just how slow a response would be to such a threat, with political dealings and multiple agency jurisdictions getting in the way of events as the virus jumps both land and sea borders as each State can only be closed only so fast and a Federal quarantine seen as unthinkable.

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These issues are also used to lay the groundwork of a growing issue for both shows, the IOA, whose civilian nature routinely means that political manoeuvring and wanting to pass the buck takes precedence over actually resolving matters as seen when their representatives spend the meeting lambasting Landry for not stopping something they agreed to while the only person in the room who tries to help out Landry ends up being a Russian Air Force officer. It really shows the double-edged nature of having to deal with civilian government as while it does add legitimacy it does also add the problems of now answering to an electorate as opposed to a (theoretically) meritocracy-based Armed Forces structure.

The episode also caps off the Gerak and Free Jaffa arc that has made up a sizable bulk of this first half of the season. Up until now Gerak has been shown to be largely a militarist and isolationist individual who does occasionally see eye to eye with the SGC. This episode however finally elaborates on why that is and rather than the previously presumed arrogance it instead comes more from a long cynicism of outside forces interfering with the Jaffa but also his own wanderings for theological purpose, coming to hit him in the arse when he aligns himself with the Ori. His problems with his belief eventually come to first overcome him but then allow him to see the truth in that there’s no future other than that which the Jaffa build for themselves, seeing him turn against his new masters and sacrifice his life to allow the Free Jaffa and Tau’ri a chance in defeating the Ori. It’s a rather complete character arc for a show that, let’s be honest, hasn’t always had the most complex supporting cast and makes him a much more sympathetic and heroic character than previously seen as.

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If there’s something in the episode I didn’t really like it was probably that relating to the Generals Landry and Hammond. In the case of the former the whole “he’s become infected” did feel tacked on and rather pointless. How he was ever let off-base I do not know but it just flies in the face of all logic given how many precaution they took with Teal’c and others previously. For the latter it was the simple fact he turns up for like one scene at the SGC and that’s it. Given it was his first real scene all season something more substantial would’ve been nice.

In the end however the episode provides a satisfying conclusion to the first part of the season, providing the SGC with a way to not only begin to fight back against the Ori but also much needed new allies off-world.

Assorted Musings

· I do love the fact Bill Lee just starts shouting at nothing.

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· If I recall correctly this is the last time we ever see the real Hammond.

· I like how the show realistically makes the French completely unlikable.

 

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Quote of the episode: “”It’s always darkest before the dawn”, my uncle used to say that all the time. he was a wedding planner.” – Hammond