REVIEW: Stargate SG-1 Season Nine, Episode Two

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Picking up the pace, SG-1 looks like its getting back on track.

Avalon Part Two picks up right at the end of Part One, and very quickly resolves the cliffhanger set by its predecessor. Not that that’s a bad thing, as its resolved quite nicely. Daniel’s knowledge saves the day initially, and then Mitchell’s skill at sword fighting keeps them all alive. It’s a nice little sequence with the Knight, but why was it even there? It served very little purpose other for a nifty action sequence and a somewhat cheesy flashback to Mitchell failing in his life. Meh, I suppose I can live with it. So the team get the treasure, and more importantly an Ancient book that tells Daniel a lot of previously unknown things about the gatebuilders.

Suddenly we’re innundated with a barrage of stuff about Ancients and where they’re from – and its actually quite interesting.

Back to Stargate Command then, and General Landry seems to be making a good character. His “Yes I did” exchange with Mitchell sets him up to be a sharp, intelligent General who perhaps doesn’t act it. Daniel theorises they can use the device from the cave in England to communicate with people in another galaxy. He and Vala test it, but are trapped in the bodies of others in a far away galaxy.

The episode then proceeds to really drag. I found Vala’s “humour” to be lacking and out of place. It’s only at the Ceremony that things really get going. We hear the name of aliens called the Orii whom are worshipped as Gods. Sound familiar? Yes, but there’s still something quite intriguing about all this.

Daniel then tells one of the locals about who they are – and its refreshing to not see a character that is so clichéd that they scream and run off. He accepts the facts and listens, adding a rather interesting and fresh dynamic to what’s going on on the planet.

Back on Earth, the bodies of Daniel and Vala are being cared for in the Infirmary by our new doctor, played by Andromeda’s Lexa Doig. Immediately, they set her up as having a past with General Landry. The writers, I feel, are treading on thin ice there, as such plots are often cheap and useless. I only hope they handle it well as more is revealed.

Back on the planet, Vala must go off to an appointment her host arranged, but she can’t act convincingly enough, and is caught. The priest ties her to an altar in the centre of the square, and pours molten flame down into grooves beneath it. The fire slowly gets closer to Vala as Daniel watches. It’s a nice sequence, mainly because of the interesting patter of the grooves. Again, slightly different from what we’ve seen before, and Daniel pleading with the Priest of the Orii (while putting his own life on the line) is quite powerful. It’s very good drama. Vala is then burnt to a crisp, which I must say startled me. I was expecting someone to save the day, but she is burned, and dies at Stargate Command too. This is much better Stargate.

Suddenly, the flames die down, and a hooded man with discoloured eyes appears at the edge of the town square. He moves towards the altar, and Daniel runs to Vala, holding her burnt body. The robed man points his staff at Vala, and the tip illuminates – Vala is healed, and her heartbeat returns at the SGC as well. Daniel looks to the man saying “Thank You”. He says, “Thank the Orii. Come with me.” Some very, very nice Gothic music plays in the background as they walk out of the square. Its very good stuff, and the cherry on top is added when the man says, “Hallowed are the Children of the Orii” and the villagers reply, “Hallowed are the Orii.” There’s something different here that sets these Orii apart from the Goa’uld. They’re treatment of their “slaves” has a completely different dynamic, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

Much better stuff this week. The music, the pacing (for the most part), the acting and the writing. Apart from the dodgy sword fight sequence, the lagging middle, and the fact that Teal’c really doesn’t seem to be playing a meaningful part at present, this is a good, solid episode that has raised my hopes from last week’s hit and miss opener.

That Gothic chanting was fantastic, and it is a direction I would love to see SG-1 move towards. I hope this theme continues as Orii develop. If so, I’ll be a very happy fan.

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