This is the episode a lot of people were waiting for. Oddly, I think that it was good for reasons other than the return of Carter. This episode continues to demonstrate the immense power of the Ori in several different ways, and in the process, some other percolating plot threads get some air time. Surprisingly, the end of the Daniel/Vala mini-arc is completely unsatisfying, since the writers had to find a way to give Vala a proper send-off without killing her off for good.
First things first…I love the plan of the Ori in this episode. It’s rather well conceived, and it demonstrates just how often they’ve pulled off massive invasions in the past. They know exactly what the unconverted will do, and they plan accordingly. They also work on a scale well beyond anything that has been seen on the series in the past. This episode does a lot to cement the thought that the Ori could wipe the floor with Anubis.
This is also the function that Nerus fulfills in the story. Nerus may not have been the most powerful of Goa’uld, but like many of the less powerful false gods, he would attach himself to the winning side whenever possible. The fact that he rolls over for the Ori says it all: they are the new bullies on the block, and it serves Nerus’ best interests at the moment to back the winning side. In other words, the remaining Goa’uld weren’t powerful enough, in Nerus’ eyes.
More and more, it looks like the key to defeating the Ori will be largely “low tech”. They can’t beat the Ori with big guns and some conveniently located Ancient technology (or so I hope). In the best traditions of “Babylon 5”, they have to “understand” their way out of the problem. That’s going to be quite a tall order at this point, since they don’t seem to recognize how well the Priors have been empowered to complete the task of invading. Daniel, I suspect, will uncover some new piece of information about the relationship between the Ancients and the Ori that will become important to the eventual solution.
Garek and the Free Jaffa Nation are going to be serious trouble. Garek thinks like a “strength equals victory” kind of factionist leader, and that’s the kind of thinking that will get the Jaffa under the thumb of false gods that won’t be so easily beaten as the Goa’uld were. Much like the force field in this episode, I think of the Ori as using those resisting their presence as a convenient tool. Not only does resistance help show others the power of the Ori, but it also gives the Priors a chance to wipe out adversaries before the real invasion can begin. The Ori really seem to enjoy the idea of letting the enemy beat themselves.
But more to the point…if the solution requires “understanding” their way out of the Ori invasion, through the careful application of force in very specific situations, then Garek is unlikely to be the best go-to ally. If anything, he will interpret anything less than a full-scale counter-attack as cowardice and (seeing him in this episode) a declaring of war against the Jaffa. The last thing anyone needs is a further dissolution of alliances.
I mentioned that I was waiting for the new team to gel a bit more, and this episode took that one step further. Now that Carter’s back, there’s still going to be an adjustment period, but it’s coming together beautifully. Setting up a clear and present danger serves the purpose of giving a reason for the team to exist, and there’s enough happening between the Ori, Garek, and the situation at home to keep all the characters busy. Obviously, the Ori won’t stop with one attempt, and so I expect the Supergate to make another appearance.
My prediction? Either the “summer season finale” or the actual season finale will end with the Ori successfully establishing a beachhead, thus escalating the conflict and bringing to a close this introductory phase. By the end of the next episode, though, the season will be a third of the way done, and that usually marks the point where the characters get to settle in and the season arcs begin to complicate. I’m looking forward to that, because this is turning out to be the best season in quite some time.