Welcome to recap 100. Yes that’s right, you’ve had to suffer through 100 of the stupid things.
Following straight on from the last two episodes Daniel and Vala are taken by the strange man, revealed to be a “Prior”, to the “City of the Gods”, where they are led to a reception room and left to their own devices. In the room all they have to pass the time is a bowl of fruit and a copy of the Book of Origin which Daniel decides to read through, noting similarities to other religions along with the notable difference of fire being good rather than evil like in the Milky Way. Eventually the Prior returns asking them to give up the other “unbelievers” as a test to the Ori. Daniel however is able to use the book of Origin to convince the Prior to take him to his leader, though Vala is left in the room with her bowl of fruit.
In the Milky Way a Prior arrives on a Jaffa planet, clearly to spread the word of Origin to the Milky Way. The SGC however is not aware of this yet, still trying to deal with the situation revolving around Gerak, who is clearly manipulating the new structure of the Free Jaffa Nation to his benefit. Landry has Teal’c leave to invite Gerak to the SGC so that he can get a measure of the Jaffa for himself. The SGC however also finally hears word of the Prior, unaware of his true nature, so Landry decides to have Cameron take a team to the planet and bring him back to the SGC for questioning. Upon Cameron’s arrival to the planet the Prior begins talking again, disturbing the SGC team to a degree due to his unnatural knowledge of both them and Daniel.
In the other galaxy Daniel is brought to the Doci, seemingly the Head Prior, who simply repeats much of the same lines as the previous Prior but also reveals that a Prior has been sent to the Milky Way to spread Origin to them and if needed to do so by force. When Daniel verbal fights back against the ideas of forced indoctrination and enslavement of “unbelievers” the Doci takes him to a wall of fire in the next room which takes control of the Doci, allowing the Ori to speak through him revealing their power and nature to be real as well as their desire to “cleanse” anyone who doesn’t worship them.
Upon Gerak’s arrival to the SGC Landry tries to make smalltalk with the Jaffa warrior regarding great leaders of their own, slightly putback when Gerak speaks nonchalantly of “great Jaffa” as fools given he killed many of them. When they finally sit down to try and discuss diplomatic matters affecting both of them Gerak quickly stops listening, instead turning his attention to the strange man Cameron has brought back through the Stargate and requests to meet him for himself to challenge him regarding his “false gods”.
Soon after his encounter with the Ori Daniel is brought back to the room where Vala was left, revealing what he’s learned regarding the Ori and their plans and that the two of them are responsible for putting the Milky Way at risk of attack. The two are then taken back to the village where they initially woke up, obviously to weed out their co-conspirators and then kill them all. Despite the risk to himself and the others in the resistance Fannis volunteers to help them warn the Milky Way of the Ori, finding and providing another communication terminal. While they are able to momentarily reconnect with their actual bodies they aren’t able to warn their friends of much as the entire meet was a trap from the start, with a Prior killing Fannis and then having Daniel and Vala put back in the burning stone.
Meanwhile back at the SGC the Prior begins to spout his beliefs in the Ori and his purpose in the galaxy to Gerak and Landry upon being brought to them. After Daniel and Vala’s momentary wake up, the SGC takes the Prior’s staff and hold him under arrest. The Prior however is able to will the staff back into his hand and then sets himself alight, seemingly as a show of his faith. Before they can work out what happened however Daniel and Vala begin going into arrest again, due to being burnt at the stake. Given the failure of last time Cameron and Teal’c throw the Ancient communication terminal into the unstable vortex of the Stargate as it’s dialled, breaking the connection just before their colleagues are burnt to death.
Back in the City of the Gods the town cleric is brought to the Doci, whereupon he is transformed into a Prior by the Ori. Following this the Doci announces the creation of Crusader armies to invade and take over the Milky Way.
In the aftermath of recent events the SGC begins preparation for the incoming Ori threat, knowing that they won’t give up and actually have the power of gods, but hope that the Ancients will help them in some way to stop the Ori themselves. In his lab Daniel has the bracelet removed by Vala, true to her word. O’Neill also decides to show up to say hello to his friends and offer an “apology” to Daniel for his missing of Daedalus while also to apologise for tricking Cameron regarding SG-1. Privately while talking to his former team leader Daniel reveals that the Ori threat actually scares him.
So here we have the final part of the opening three parter to season nine, which mainly exists to set up the Ori as a threat to the Milky Way which it does quite well in my opinion.
The main thrust of the story revolves around the aftermath of Daniel’s revealing of his and Vala’s true nature in the previous episodes Avalon, with both of them brought to meet with the representatives of the Ori, the supposed gods who force the people to worship them. Very quickly it becomes apparent that they’re only there to be used for information regarding the Milky Way, which it turns out was deliberately “hidden” by the Ancients to avoid the Ori from becoming a threat there. This change already greatly separates the Ori from the Goa’uld or even the Replicators as a foe for the team as while the latter two took first blood as it were, stumbling upon Earth during seasons 1 and 3 respectively, the Ori are a threat that was deliberately kept separated and the SGC brought upon themselves by being reckless. This makes them responsible for the coming events of the season and the deaths will be on their hands due to their stupidity.
The other main change of course is the fanatical zeal that the followers of Origin have compared to older foes. Even with the Goa’uld many top Jaffa still rebelled and resisted over the years, with that little hint of doubt regarding their nature as gods always being present in the back of their mind. Here however not only is the power of the Ori shown to be true multiple times but the main followers, such as the Priors, rigidly believe in the book of Origin and that their sole purpose is to kill anyone who refuses to submit to the religion and to do so is a kindness, with words such as “cleansing” and “evil” used to justify said acts. This fervid belief in the gods goes to such a degree that a Prior willingly sets himself on fire to prove his belief, believing that the Ori will ascend him for doing so. This makes the process of fighting the Ori much more difficult for the team as while they were able to previously take advantage of not only Jaffa doubts but also inter-fighting within the Goa’uld, here they have no choice but to fight every single warrior they’ll come across as the followers are all united under one supreme leadership.
Another great change is that the episode finally, after eight seasons, provides an explanation as to why the Ancients were such a bunch of dicks previously on the show. While Anubis was a warning there was never any explanation as to why, even before Anubis being ascended, they refused to intervene or stop evil from spreading through the galaxy despite having created the life that was being conquered both in the Milky Way and Pegasus. Now, finally we have the answer in the form of the Ori who show that non-intervention was the only way to avoid the lure of becoming gods to be worshipped, with the Ori clearly getting something out of it, which may have seen some Ancients becoming even more dangerous than the Goa’uld if they kept trying to intervene to attract more followers. It completely changes the perception of the Ancients from one of uncaring arseholes to one of taking the path of least destruction, even if it means having to watch helplessly from the sidelines except for very careful small-scale changes every once in a while.
Overall the episode manages to make the Ori a threat successfully while also adding to the reasoning of the Ancients who, even now, were a bit thin on the ground.
· How someone as wide-eyed as Fannis ever led a secret movement is beyond me.
· This Prior at the SGC reminds me of those annoying preachers you see in town centers.
Quote of the episode: “Sorry you missed Daedalus.”
“No you’re not.”
“You’re right. I’m not.” – O’Neill and Daniel
The Ties That Bind
The SGC is saying farewell to Vala who is finally leaving, with Daniel making sure she doesn’t get to steal anything on the way out. While Daniel is originally glad to be rid of her he soon collapses, before waking up in the infirmary to be greeted by his wife to be. Unfortunately for Daniel the new medical chief believes that the bond between them may be more permanent than first thought. Vala however lets slip that the scientist she stole them from may have the answer to their problems, signifying the start to their new mission. The scientist however refuses to help them unless they bring him Vala as she has also “stolen his heart”. When brought to him the scientist reveals that Vala had actually stolen something else, his mother’s necklace, which he wants returned in exchange for help.
While trying to support SG-1 on its new mission Landry is faced by the issue of government bureaucracy with the Senate Appropriations Committee wanting to cut the SGC’s funding by 70%, instead wanting to fund Earth-defence instead and the International Oversight Advisory, who fund Atlantis, refusing to help fund the SGC due to its military nature.
Back with SG-1 the team have travelled to yet another world, finding a down on his luck Jaffa merchant who Vala sold the scientist’s necklace to. While the merchant admits to having the necklace he refuses to return it without getting back an item Vala took from him, an outdated Power Coil, with the two eventually agreeing to a straight swap which the team have to get from a monastery, to whom Vala had sold it as a sacred artefact. Vala’s contact at the monastery however refuses to return the Power Coil without getting something for himself in return as well, a free ride out of the monastery which he detests. It turns out that the “priest” is a smuggler in hiding and wants his old cargo ship to make an escape and go back to his old ways with. Unknown to the team however Vala is being hunted by the Lucian Alliance, a group of smugglers and mercs who’ve banded together to fill the power vacuum left by the Goa’uld, for the events of Prometheus Unbound.
Upon return to base the team are held back from trying to free Vala and Daniel from the bond until after the Senate meeting, as Landry needs the two to testify about the Ori threat that’s facing them. In the three days before the meeting however Daniel is slowly driven up the wall by an increasingly bored Vala, with her pestering him to take her off the base and also making fun of the bond situation by trying to use his honest nature against him. By the time the meeting comes around both Daniel and Vala aren’t in a great mood, only to be faced by a hostile Senator who sees the Ori as a fakery to justify increased spending on the SGC instead and instead wants to spend on both Atlantis and F-304s instead. The meeting takes a turn from disaster into full-blown nightmare however when Vala makes expense of the Senator’s manhood and his intelligence. Following the meeting Landry turns all resources to the acquiring of a certain cargo ship.
The team put together a deception to draw out the Lucian Alliance, who possess the cargo ship which is controlled by the same two unknown aliens who were fooled by Vala and Daniel before. Cameron and Teal’c pose as bounty hunters who’ve captured the two and draw the two aliens in. Once one of the alien’s take the two prisoners to the cargo ship, preparing to perform their own double-cross, Daniel and Vala break out of confinement to wrest control of the ship, successfully dumping their captors while rescuing the others but are then confronted by a fleet of Al’kesh bombers. It turns out however that the cargo ship’s “modifications” include the ability to create holograms and launch an EMP burst that disables their attackers.
In the aftermath the team conduct their series of swaps, with Vala disappointed that she failed to find the hidden compartments on the cargo ship, all the way back to the scientist. The scientist however reveals he tricked them as the bond will wear off over time by itself, meaning to Daniel’s annoyance the two are stuck together for a time being. For the SGC however the new is slightly better as they’ve been able to get the International Oversight Advisory to agree to fill the funding gap in exchange for the placement of a civilian watchdog on the base.
The Ties That Bind is the first filler episode of the new season and I have to admit it’s probably one of my favourite episodes of the entire show and there’s one reason for that. Vala Mal Doran.
The story is very well setup to be focussed on our errant unapologetic thief, with the team forced to right a bunch of her trades to recover information vital to Daniel’s continued sanity by ending the link between the two. This ends up with us getting a non-stop cheese-fest as Vala’s life is misdeeds is shown up time and time again along with the various crooks of the galaxy. It’s fun to watch as seemingly honest person after person is revealed to be nothing more than a two-bit thief with their own things to hide from the other. The fact that the rest of the team are not surprised at all by every turn of events just heightens the juxtaposition of the two sections, with the team more annoyed by how long it takes them to get from deal to deal rather than the “shock” of who each person turns out to be.
This endless spiral of deals is joined by several scenes between the two bonded individuals that are also played well for laughs, working perfectly due to the brilliant chemistry between Shanks and Black. Vala’s fidgety personality and need to constantly be doing things being expressed through her deliberate attempts to annoy Daniel feels so realistic in its depiction, with the accompanying one of Daniel clearly out of his depth and slowly being driven over the edge also coming across well.
While the focus is clearly on those two characters the episode still makes time for the introduction and refinement of the SGC’s storyline purpose going forward, with the United States Senate becoming their enemy once more. The SGC is finally faced with the aftermath of their victory over the Goa’uld and Replicators in the form of budget cutbacks and reorientation of their main mission. It’s sad to watch them become the victim of their own success but it’s also a very believable fate for the organisation as they were to be fair started for a specific purpose and their original remit had grown so vast they became only a subsection of that remit under Homeworld Command.
In terms of the larger world the episode also finally fills in some of the other gaps left by the ending of the Goa’uld as a threat. With a new group of thugs filling in the power vacuum in the form of the Lucian Alliance. Again this is a development that makes sense as it would be those who previously had large ships and resources who’d be able to take advantage of the case following the collapse of the previous government and that is nearly always the black market. This also means on a larger scale that the two major powers in the Milky Way are both human controlled for now.
Overall the episode is a fun little character piece focused largely on Vala Mal Doran that further explores her core nature while also finding the time to expand the SGC and larger Milky Way scene.
· I wonder if the outdated cargo ship is the one Osiris used?
· Daniel’s “no” to the story of the crystal theft is one of his greatest lines on the entire show.
Quote of the episode: “I noticed you’ve assigned a woman, are you afraid that I might corrupt one of your impressionable young men?”
“No, I just thought I’d save someone the trouble of having to rebuff your advances.”
“How do you know you succeeded.” – Vala and Daniel