Today the team get involved in a global offensive and Vala loses her mind.
The team have infiltrated a world recently converted to worship of the Ori as word has reached them that Adria, the Orici and Vala’s daughter, will be appearing. Adria is revealed to have become a young woman still utterly devoted to the cause. Above the planet the Odyssey beams out the team after Adria cuts her speech short when a wave of some kind hits the planet. Upon reading the aftermath they realise that the Jaffa have begun to use the Dakara Superweapon to attack Ori-converted worlds. Bra’tac brings word to the SGC confirming that the Jaffa High Council has begun to use the weapon as an act of desperation.
While the circumstances of it are horrific the team decide to use the attack as a chance to explore the now abandoned Ori warship that landed on the planet, hoping to gain valuable intel to deal with the rest of the invasion. While exploring the ship Daniel tries to help Vala with her conflicted feelings regarding Adria by revealing what had happened to Sha’re years before while Teal’c and Mitchell begin laying explosives to destroy or disable the craft if needed and Carter is nabbing what data she can from the mainframe. Unfortunately the team find they’re not the only scavengers onboard, with a Jaffa force also present and wanting to seize the vessel for themselves. A firefight ensues and Jaffa craft arrive in the system, forcing the Odyssey to retreat.
Elsewhere Landry and Bra’tac have returned to Dakara to talk with the High Council, where Se’tak is in charge of the use of the Superweapon. Despite their attempts to convince them not to use the weapon Se’tak merely casts the Tau’ri concerns aside, seeing them as little better than the Goa’uld in controlling the future of the Jaffa.
Back on the Ori ship, with Mitchell and Teal’c captured, negotiations go poorly as Daniel and Vala accidently give away their location while talking with the Jaffa. As they’re led to the holding cell for the others Adria suddenly appears and forcechokes the Jaffa escorting Daniel and Vala. Adria then interrogates first Daniel to no success and then a Jaffa successfully as to the source of the energy wave. Carter is able to break Teal’c and Mitchell out of custody only to find the ship powering up and taking off, quickly making orbit and destroying the Ha’tak’s and jumping to hyperspace.
Meanwhile on Dakara Landry and Bra’tac attempt to gather support amongst the rest of the Jaffa only for Se’tak to take them prisoner when they receive word of the Ori ship’s escape, believing the SGC to be responsible. Se’tak threatens war between the two allies if they don’t surrender the vessel to them.
In hyperspace Adria tries to convert Daniel and Vala once more with no success, with both of them refusing to submit to the Ori. In the corridors Teal’c is able to get the other Jaffa to join them in finding out who has control of the ship, still unaware of Adria’s presence. When the ship exits hyperspace above Dakara the team attempt to detonate the C4 placed in critical areas of the ship only for Adria to have blocked the signal from the detonator. The Odyssey appears just in time for Carter to sabotage the shields and beam out the team as the Jaffa use the weapon once more. Given Adria’s control of the ship it begins firing on Dakara itself, with Bra’tac and Landry barely escaping back to the SGC as Dakara and the weapon along with it are destroyed.
So after a handful of episodes that forgot the Ori existed we’re back to the religious nutters with the return of Adria this time in the form Vala feared most, a very attractive young woman.
Counterstrike feels a bit of a rushed episode in some regards when it tries to tell the story as the show finds itself not only having to reintroduce Adria and display her new powers but also decides to bring back the Jaffa storyline as well. The clash between the two is pulled off well however, with all three sides finding themselves trapped onboard an Ori vessel on the way to convert the unbelievers. Sadly though this clash only makes up a very small proportion of the episode with the rest having to deal with Vala and Adria’s relationship while also having a very undercooked sideplot featuring yet another Jaffa leader.
This undercooked sideplot featuring the Jaffa leadership is a shame as throughout season 9 one of the best parts of the show was the tenuous relationship between the two allies, as the SGC tried to push them towards US-style democracy while the Jaffa wanted their own ways. This has now involved into a military breakdown as well with the Jaffa feeling contained and deliberately misled by the SGC who now fear a powerful and independent Jaffa nation. This all once again comes across in the episode but the lack of characters we’re familiar with stops it short of being great, as we’re just given “some guy” representing the militaristic parts of the Jaffa who never appears again given the ending. It’s hard to keep the narrative consistent when they keep changing the faces, a problem the Tok’ra storylines had in the older seasons.
One of the stronger elements of the episode and indeed the season is the growing relationship between Daniel and Vala. Both have suffered at the hands of the big bad and Vala finds herself heavily conflicted about what to do regarding Adria given how it’s her daughter they’re facing but is also a religious zealot regarding the crusade. Daniel however has the ability to provide more support in this regard given the issues he’d faced with Sha’re back in season 3 when he had to come to terms with the fact she was killed at the hands of Teal’c, with Vala having to face a similar choice of intervening in this episode when Adria decides to use Daniel as leverage against her. It’s these sorts of character moments that have always been some of the best in the show and while Teal’c and Carter’s personal journeys have sort of reached their end a couple of seasons ago these two are still growing strong, Daniel in particular after having nothing to do after Sha’re’s death.
Counterstrike, an episode that tries to push forward several arcs with middling success but with good moments of character development.
· Dr Phil is now providing SGC strategy? I guess you can Cash me Ousside or whatever that crappy thing is.
· I swear both the SGC and Atlantis teams spend more time shooting at the floor and walls these days.
· I don’t know why but I wouldn’t trust that Jaffa with advanced computers for some reason.
Quote of the episode: “It’s not your army.”
“Of course it is.”
“Well as your mother I’m putting my foot down, you’re too young to have your own army.” – Vala and Adria
We start with Vala for some reason working as a waitress at a small diner which two men attempt to rob, who Vala easily overpowers. When the owner comes to check on her she’s shocked to find how easily she beat up the two robbers.
We cut back to three weeks earlier where Daniel is treating Vala to a nice meal at a local restaurant though there’s immediately awkwardness when Vala misinterprets the meal as a date while Daniel sees it as more a reward for a friend after having done so well to integrate into life on Earth. When Vala goes to the restroom she’s drugged and abducted by an unknown group of men. Upion waking she finds herself in the custody of the Goa’uld controlled Trust, in particular the Goa’uld Athena, who want to extract information from her regarding an Ancient stockpile that Qetesh may have had knowledge about.
The SGC move into action, sending a number of SG teams out to the locations of various Trust safehouses provided by Barrett and assault them. While most turn up empty and abandoned one team finds the right target, leading to a firefight between the two groups. During the fight a stray Zat blast hits the interrogation equipment though an SG member is able to undo her restraints before being killed by a Trust operative. Vala, now unsure of who and where she is, barely escapes while both the SG and Trust teams are killed when the warehouse goes up in a fireball. Lost and confused somewhere in the US Vala finds her way to Sal’s Diner, who gives her a job when she’s unable to pay for her meal.
Cutting back to the events at the start of the episode Vala finds herself brought downtown by the local detective who is a regular at the diner. Confused by the lack of details she’s able to provide about herself and catching her trying to escape Detective Ryan decides to run her through the database which flags her up for both the SGC and Trust. Three Air Force Officers show up to take Vala into custody soon after only for it to be revealed these were agents sent by the Trust when SG-1 appears soon after. With their van boxed in by terrible parking choices Mitchell gives chase on a bike. Mitchell proceeds to pedal very fast and catches up to the wrecked car after Vala attacked her captors, only to be taken hostage himself by his former squadmate when he’s shot by one of the operatives. Commandeering a vehicle herself, she takes Mitchell to a nearby motel.
The rest of the team eventually catch up to Mitchell, finding him handcuffed to a bed in nothing but his underwear stuffing his face with sweets, having been left there by Vala after getting all the information she wanted. The team track her to a local warehouse only to end up in a firefight with the Trust who are also after her. Vala herself attempts to escape again, only to run into Daniel. Vala is unsure of who he is until remembering aspects of her life on the base, allowing the team to take her in.
Back at the SGC Vala makes a full recovery and is finally made a full member of SG-1, with Vala saying that Daniel still owes her a date.
This is another of the rare Vala-centric episodes of the last two seasons and this one focuses on her efforts to became a member of the SGC and what that means to her. Though rather than showing their importance on the team like episodes for other characters have done in the past here they instead use her loss of that family through a memory wipe and the attempts of the team to rescue her to portray just how important they are to each other. In regards to this one of the most important sequences is her stay at Sal’s Diner where she moonlights as a waitress and more or less a loner, which she had been for a longtime before appearing on the show. Here she mentions how that lifestyle feels odd to her, showing how much she’s changed over the last two seasons where initially she couldn’t wait to get the goods and leave while now she always subconsciously wants to get back to being with the others on the team.
The show also continues the expanding Daniel-Vala relationship, probably the first that’s become so obviously centred on the show after previous avoidance of placing romantic entanglements at the core of the show, with the “date” at the start of the episode and ending with the fact everyone on the base basically seems to see that the two are a couple of some sort with Daniel strenuously trying to deny such insinuations. Throughout the episode Daniel is clearly the one most worried about her situation and her trigger towards the end for remembering her former life is Daniel appearing before her. Their thing up to now has usually been that sort of “old married couple” routine so it’s nice to see a more caring aspect to it.
That relationship plays into the main tone of the episode which is surprisingly comical for such a topic. Despite the fact the episode features the deaths of an entire SG team about 10 minutes in the episode is fairly whimsical, largely reliant on Vala’s personality and Claudia’s portrayal, with episodes such as Mitchell being tied to a bed nearly naked and a rather botched attempt to use “to dad” as her last name while at the police station. I actually think the tone works better than if it’d been a more serious affair of simply trying to trace down a kidnapping as it adds a brevity that stops it becoming bogged down in everything being bad for yet another episode when the show has become incredibly campy as of late.
Overall the episode is a more fun take on the thriller style episodes the show has used for their more Earthly based missions so far, ditching the large scale threats to instead delve deeper into what makes Vala tick while not ditching her trademark humour.
· The Goa’uld are really good at running multinational corporations it seems.
· That waiter is an idiot. Random guy suddenly dragging an out of it looking woman outside when you’ve just seen her clear-headed and with someone else at the table?
· Mitchell really didn’t seem that panicked about being left chained up in a motel.
Quote of the episode: “So how was lunch?”
“Delicious enough to pay for it?”
“Yes, if I had the money I would certainly have paid for the meal, and given the lovely waitress a sizeable gratuity.” – Sal and Vala