So today we have the return of Ba’al and probably the worst episode since Emancipation.
Ex Deus Machina
In a forest a lone Jaffa is running away from an unknown enemy only to emerge onto a road and get hit by a car to reveal that Jaffa are operating on Earth without the SGC’s knowledge. The Jaffa is believed to be one loyal to Gerak and that his presence may be related to a Defence firm in the US, Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics. Teal’c and Mitchell attempt to get information from Gerak but find the Jaffa leader more interested in isolationism, refusing to deal with both the Tau’ri and Tok’ra. Unbeknownst to all sides Gerak currently has a board member of Farrow-Marshall, revealed to be a Goa’uld host, as his prisoner.
On Earth Daniel follows leads relating to the disappearance of the board member of Farrow-Marshall, finding that a PI that the board member’s wife hired suddenly pulled out of the case for unknown reasons. Carter goes to talk to the company itself but is immediately stonewalled by their representative and is soon “encouraged to leave”. After leaving the meeting the representative goes to talk to her boss, revealed to be Ba’al, who is on Earth. After returning to the SGC the information Daniel acquired reveals that other Defence firms have also gone missing and that the link may be the now Goa’uld controlled Trust.
On Dakara Teal’c and Mitchell prepare to leave for Earth, with Gerak giving them no information, only to be covertly contacted by another member of the High Council who reveals that Gerak had sent the Jaffa to Earth to hunt for Ba’al. Returning to the SGC themselves they alert Landry to the situation and begin their own hunt for Ba’al, only to be caught off-guard when Gerak has a Jaffa force attack Farrow-Marshall’s HQ that night which results in a firefight between the Jaffa and the building’s security firm. Ba’al decides to make contact with the SGC, revealing himself as a businessman, and offers a deal, his continued freedom in exchange for not killing anyone and threatens to detonate a Naquadah bomb if anyone comes after him.
Working with the Prometheus and NID the team begin to hunt for both the Jaffa ship and Ba’al’s bomb. After searching Prometheus finds a Jaffa Ha’tak hidden on the far-side of the moon and enters a prolonged standoff as both sides refuse to back down. Given the stalemate Teal’c and Mitchell go to Dakara once more and get Gerak to back down for the time being while the SGC deal with Ba’al themselves.
Down below the NID search becomes complicated when Ba’al starts seemingly appearing in two places at once, with Ba’al giving a live press conference despite being witnessed getting into a limo at a nearby hotel. Given that Ba’al went public the team decide to use symbiote poison in an attempt to deal with Ba’al directly but the Goa’uld receives word and prepares to detonate the bomb. Upon arrival at the bomb’s location Carter finds that the entire building is laced with Naquadah and ready to blow. The SGC has Prometheus beam the entire building into deep space, where it detonates with no effect to Earth, but due to the distraction Ba’al was able to escape.
On Dakara Teal’c attempts to sway the High Council away from Gerak but the old Jaffa reveals his own surprise, Ba’al, who he then has executed, solidifying his control over the Jaffa. On Earth the SGC realises that Ba’al has managed to clone himself many times.
At their remote bachelor pad the Ba’al’s prepare their next move.
And now we return to the Vala-less world of SG-1 and already the contrast between the two forms are obvious. After a run of fairly fun episodes we’re back in the very serious episodes of the show. This time however we finally see Ba’al return after a prolonged absence since late season 8.
It turns out things have been going quite well for the fallen Goa’uld as while he may have lost his vast fleets and empire off-world his new sanctuary on Earth is quite suited to his personality, with his control of The Trust having allowed him to set up quite a nice life for himself as yet another businessman in the Defence industry which is going well. This is the start of a shift away from Ba’al the Goa’uld conqueror to Ba’al the pain in the arse businessman and it’s a transition that definitely adds some life to the show as their last remaining Goa’uld begins to take on many of the traits that were spread around many of the snakes previously, such as Yu’s pragmatism and Apophis’ showmanship.
The sudden ability for the Goa’uld to clone themselves is a bit out of left field but is well used to add a nice little B plot to the last two seasons of the show, similar to the use of the Replicators in seasons 4-8 as a way to reduce the constant presence of the Goa’uld in every episode. Also much like with the two main foes it allows for two different styles of episode, with the Ba’al content being similar to many of the older NID-Trust storylines of intrigue and conspiracy while the Ori are used for the big bombastic galactic foe stuff.
Elsewhere in the episode the Jaffa under Gerak decide to start unilaterally going after foes of their own, much to the annoyance of both the Tok’ra and the Tau’ri. This however is a nice mirror to hold up against the SGC as for the last 8 years they’ve been doing the exact same thing, interfering with other planets to their heart’s content and be damned with the consequences, leading to tension between themselves and the Tok’ra over the years. Here however it’s nice to see the shoe on the other foot as the SGC see just what their actions feel like when the Jaffa begin operating on Earth without asking for their permission. Despite their attempts to stop them Gerak successfully gets his way, eventually capturing Ba’al and securing his position amongst the Jaffa.
The main weakness of the episode however is just how fast it moves around, with what is essentially three different plots fighting for space in a 42 minute episode. While much of it is good it doesn’t half become a pain to track the movements, such as Teal’c and Mitchell going from the Prometheus straight to Dakara near the end of Act 3. Overall however the episode successfully reintroduces Ba’al and makes him a threat in a new and interesting way after 8 years of Goa’uld evilness.
· And again, O’Neill/Carter confirmed.
· Ba’al really does make a good businessman.
Quote of the episode: “Some guy who was working overtime. He spent most of the firefight under his desk, but was able to provide a description of three individuals. Big, tattooed, chainmail pants.”
“So it’s either our Jaffa or KISS is back on tour.” – Daniel and Mitchell
The team are off-world searching for an elusive faction of Jaffa warriors called the Sodan. While searching the woods the team come under heavy fire from the woods and begin to fall back, only for Mitchell to be injured and captured by the Sodan. When heavy SGC reinforcements attempt to find Mitchell the Sodan disappear, leaving behind an injured man of their own.
After a long recovery Mitchell wakes up on the set of The Last Samurai, saddened that Tom Cruise is no longer there. In fact most of the Japanese males have disappeared, instead replaced by black actors, while the rest of the Japanese villagers look on in amusement. While Mitchell attempts to get the actors to join the rest of their outfit he’s instead sentenced to a bizarre sentence where he’ll be trained to peak physical fitness and taught in the way of their fighting and then forced to fight to the death. Worse for Mitchell however it turns out the actors worship the Ori, with the actors refusing all warning from Mitchell.
Eventually Mitchell finishes his training and it turns out, gasp, the man who healed him was the injured guy’s brother and that he now has to fight him. Mitchell is easily beaten by the man but it turns out to be a ruse, with his death being faked so that Mitchell could be traded for the prisoner the SGC have (and who has been nothing but a bellend).
Babylon is, to be frank, a mess of an episode. Despite having a running time of 42 minutes absolutely nothing of worth actually happens during the course of the episode, instead what we get is a bizarre Last of the Samurai episode which is so tonedeaf I don’t get how it was made.
With its Japanese setting and look it’s not good to begin with that it falls into bad stereotypes of “cultured Westerner finding natives to be better than he thought” and the generic tones of becoming one of “them”. It gets worst however when the main cast contain no Japanese individuals and are relegated to background extras. Whether this was intentional to lower the appearance of bad stereotypes or just bad casting in either case it just makes the look even worse. In the end you can’t help but cringe with scene after scene being such a mess that you can’t help but wonder how the screen even got greenlit.
The episode also makes no progress with any of the show’s major plot points despite showing a Prior in the village, who appears for basically no reason. Again it just feels like padding as an attempt to make the episode feel less pointless but it doesn’t help when the episode ends with none of this having altered the plot in any way or form.
At the end of the day the episode is just bad, almost to the point of season one’s Emancipation, and isn’t one to sell the Ori storyline on.
· Those cuts to the kids smiling during the training is probably the most cringeworthy aspect of the episode.
Quote of the episode: “You shot me!”
“You shot me first!”
“But I will have vengeance!” – Volnek and Mitchell