So today we have two episodes that happen at the same time. The former sees the removal of a failed villain and the latter sees the introduction of one of the show’s best characters.
At the SGC the base is going about their day until an unexpected dial in, with the team receiving Carter’s old GDO code and a message asking for a MALP to be sent which reveals that their mysterious contact came from Replicator Carter. It turns out that the Replicator version wants to be destroyed, seeing herself as an abomination, and wants to destroy the Replicators as a whole knowing the risk they present. While they can’t risk her coming to the SGC they decide to hear her out in person at the Alpha Site.
At the Alpha Site the Replicator version of Carter tells her organic counterpart her story, with Fifth having first created her before then selectively altering her memories and creating scenarios to break her view of humanity which included one where she singlehandedly wipes out the SGC and other members of SG-1. Eventually however she claims to have escaped from Fifth after seeing him for what he was but not before learning that their anti-Replicator weapon no longer works as Fifth has developed a counter-measure. Despite Carter wanting to believe her Replicator counterpart Teal’c begins to believe that the Replicator is using its knowledge of her to manipulate them. While the two members of SG-1 talk Replicator Carter talks to Fifth via a comms link, revealing that she’s still working with the other Replicators.
Fearing that Fifth will head their way once the work is underway (still unaware that Replicator Carter is working against them) the team contact the Asgard to borrow one of their Anti-Replicator Satellites to use to defend the base once they figure out the new frequency needed to destroy the Replicators. Not long after deploying the satellite Fifth’s Replicator ship arrives in the system, leading to Carter to give the evacuation order. While Teal’c wants to follow orders and destroy the Replicator, Carter is instead blinded by her feelings for her artificial opposite and wants to instead bring her back to Earth. Both however are instead blindsided when the Replicator destroys Fifth and his ship with the supposedly useless satellite, revealing that she was playing both sides to seize power for herself while stopping the one weapon that can defeat her. Despite attempts to prevent her escape the Replicator is eventually able to make it through the Gate, sacrificing an arm in the process.
In the aftermath Carter and Teal’c return to the SGC, whereupon both Teal’c and O’Neill try to convince her that it wasn’t her fault with how things turned out. Carter however does see herself as responsible as her Replicator copy learnt how to betray from Fifth who originally learnt it from her.
So here we have the setup of the final act of the season and originally what was meant to be the final act of the show as a whole.
The episode sees the return of the Replicators, largely absent since the start of the season which saw Fifth’s ascendency to the top of the Replicator food chain and his incredibly creepy obsession with Carter. Thankfully here the show makes the very wise decision to not only kill the creep off but also have it be a Carter who does it, in this case the Replicator version he created then tortured repeatedly.
Much like in the opening while Fifth had the potential to be an interesting Replicator character who wasn’t a cliché it never got beyond that, instead focusing too much on his bizarre obsession with the female scientist. As a result he was little more than a joke to fans and one that is not likely to be missed by the fans.
On the other hand Replicator Carter is a much more interesting character already, where we see all of her skills and smarts turned from the general body of the Air Force into pure unadulterated selfishness. As a result of a much tougher situation we can see just how Carter could’ve ended up, instead happily betraying those around her and seeing emotion as weakness. That combined with her intimate knowledge of the SGC and key Tau’ri developments it only makes her one of the team’s top threats and the Replicators more powerful than ever before.
Overall the episode is a fairly small one, largely set in the lab, where the show kills off one unremarkable villain and in its place puts a far more menacing threat.
· God remember when 3 Terabytes was a large amount of data.
Quote of the episode: “My name is Samantha Carter.”
“Alright, we’ve got a little conflict with that statement. We’ve already got one here.”
“There are two of us.”
“If only.” – Replicator Carter and O’Neill
We begin at the SGC where O’Neill and Daniel are arguing about the upcoming Prometheus mission to Atlantis to relieve the Expedition, with Daniel wanting to go while O’Neill refuses. Both are surprised by Hammond in O’Neill’s office, with their former commander wanting Daniel to come with him on the journey. Hammond also decides to take Harriman along with him and his very comfy leather chair.
On board the Prometheus Hammond reveals that he selfishly put himself in charge, wanting one more adventure for the books and to also for once take the same risk as those he’s ordering. While the mission begins well, even with the interruption by eccentric scientist Novak who is beset by the hiccups, the team are alerted to the presence of a distress call along their intended route. The Prometheus heads over to check it out, finding a damaged Al’kesh and Tel’tak. Despite some fears about who could be onboard the team make their presence known only to be boarded in turn by a Kull Warrior. Unlike other Warriors they’ve seen however this one only zats the crew before ringing them to the Al’kesh. Daniel however avoids this fate, leaving him alone on the Prometheus with the Warrior as it jumps to hyperspace.
On the Al’kesh Hammond gets everyone organised to get the Al’kesh airworthy or to get resources from the nearby Tel’tak to make it so. When they find that they do indeed need control crystals from the Tel’tak Hammond once again steps into the breach to get them, even with the knowledge that the cargo ship’s life support is barely functional. While he’s successful in retrieving the crystals he falls unconscious on the way back, leading Reynolds to head across and rescue him. While at first Reynolds is shocked by the apparent need to give mouth-to-mouth Hammond makes a miraculous recovery just in time to save Reynold’s dignity.
Still on the Prometheus after it makes the jump Daniel attempts to hit the Warrior with an anti-Kull weapon, only for it not to work and see himself zatted for his trouble. When he wakes up he finds himself ziptied to one of the flight deck chairs and that his capture, rather than a gelatine Goa’uld is in fact an attractive human woman. The woman, who identifies herself as Vala Mal Doran and as a former Goa’uld host, attempts to extract information about the ship from him using a combination of seduction and brute force. Eventually Daniel breaks free and holds her hostage with her own Zat but ends up in a fistfight with her which he eventually wins with a cheap shot with the Zat.
Vala eventually wakes up to find herself in the brig, with Daniel having stripped and dressed her in a spare jumpsuit just in case. Daniel attempts to interrogate her remotely for the new codes, as she changed the old ones to prevent Daniel from stopping her actions. During “dinner” she tells him her story, that she was once host to a Goa’uld who was removed by the Tok’ra when they took pity on her when the former subjects beat her during their revolution and that now she needs the ship to rescue her people from the Goa’uld. After the story however Daniel locks her back in the brig. On approach to their destination the vessel is contacted by Vala’s partner who Daniels successfully convinces is his partner too. Upon meeting these two new people, under the guise of Hans Olo, it turns out that Vala is not saving her people but selling the Prometheus to the two of them for weapons-grade Naquadah. The deal goes badly however when Goa’uld ships begin attacking the Prometheus, giving Daniel the opportunity to escape from the two crooks.
Back on board Daniel frees Vala, needing her help to save the ship and the stranded crew, and the two of them desperately try to get the ship working between them. Things begin to go badly against the numerically superior and much nimbler Goa’uld ships but they’re saved by an Al’kesh, revealed to be Hammond and the rest of the crew who managed to fully repair their makeshift prison. With the crew back on board and Vala back in the brig the team prepare to head back to Earth for repairs yet again, only for Vala to escape and steal the repaired Al’kesh before departing to parts unknown.
And here we are with the introduction of Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran, singlehandedly the reason why I find season 9 and 10 so damn enjoyable and what a way to introduce her to the show.
The plot starts off very seriously, with the Prometheus once again under attack from what seems to be the Goa’uld. Quickly however it descends into sheer hilarity between the two main characters of the episode, Daniel and Vala. While Vala is my second favourite character on the show (O’Neill will always be No. 1) the relationship and chemistry between Michael Shanks and Claudia make the Daniel/Vala dynamic my favourite of the show. The two beautifully play off of each other as characters and actors, with the normally sombre and serious Daniel slowly driven insane by the seductress and adventurer that is Vala. More than once you can see the insanity drawing closer with his eye roles and out of sight actions, with the almost laughable personality shifts working well. The two also share attributes and history, with both personally suffering at the hands of the Goa’uld multiple times.
On her own Vala is yet another example of the show’s great history when it comes to creating female characters who aren’t simply something for the male fans to leer at. Without any backstory we already see she’s not only outsmarted a Jaffa ship but also then outwits the Tau’ri into giving up their prize spaceship (which so far has spent more time in drydock than active service). If that wasn’t enough to show her smarts the show then backs it up by having her beat the living crap out of Daniel after trying to seduce him, with the show managing to do so in a way that thankfully paints her as the one in control rather than simply for fanservice which is a balance many fail to achieve. Add to all this you also have that sarcy personality that as a Brit I can’t help but fall in love with.
Outside of our femme fatale heroine we also see the triumphant return to SG-1 by Don S Davis, once again back as Hammond of Texas. Unlike his mainstay appearances, where he like Daniel plays the more sombre leader, here we see him get in the nitty gritty detail of the ground campaign. It’s a true to character move to see the old leader want to take the opportunity to take the same risks as those under his command while also using the opportunity to take control of the nice assignments at the same time. This sees him not only excited at travelling to Atlantis but then also risking his life on board a decaying ship to gather vital components, the latter of the two seeing him on the receiving end of one of the best single line quotes the show ever had IMO.
In the end the episode is a true highlight of the season and a return to the more comedic aspects of the show after a serious of more serious endeavours by the team, introducing an initially guest character that will go on to become one of the best the show ever saw.
· That little cough when the Kull says Daniel is attractive.
· Clearly the set designers hail from the Doctor Who studios in Cardiff. They both have set wobble.
Quote of the episode: “Oh excellent, excellent waking up sir!” – Reynolds