The Ninth season of Stargate SG1 has some major casting changes and the show handles it about as well as it can be done considering all that has come to pass.
Last season ended some major plot lines and new ones are needed. The principle new adversaries are the Orai, an offshoot of the Ancients who seek to force their worship upon everyone. This does not mean that the Goa'uld are completely beaten. They too have some surprises in store for the SG1 team.
The team has a new commander and he gets off to a rocky start, both within the show and in his part but he soon seems to fit in. He is not as humerous as O'Neill but he is a worthy leader.
The newly freed Jaffa are in tumult over their own leadership. Louis Gossett Jr. does a good job of playing a leader in opposition to Teal'c.
It's a new world but it still has more than its share of problems.
Episode Synopses follow:
Avalon parts 1 and 2: SG1 has a new commander, LTC Cameron Mitchell, but he has a problem. All of the old SG1 team has transferred elsewhere and he has to put a new team together from scratch. He is not having much luck. Help comes from an unexpected source. A former Goa'uld host turned con artist shows up. In her scheming, Vala gets Daniel Jackson to try on a bracelet. He does and finds himself locked to her. They cannot be separated for more than a short while without them both falling ill. She did not expect this. She was conned by the person she stole the bracelets from. This gives the new colonel an excuse to get the old gang together to try and fix the problem. In an attempt to shed light on the mystery, they begin to work on Arthurian mythology and find an outpost of the Ancients in England. It was the Avalon of King Arthur. They find the place but it is protected by a series of riddles. Solving the riddles reveals that this outpost was built by a group of the Ancients who did not ascend. Jackson and the con artist are still bound by the bracelets but they have a clue that might help them get free of them. To do so they will have to use an alien communications device and try to contact the Ancients.
Origin: Jackson and Vala make it to another galaxy using the communication device but they find that only their minds have been transferred. Their bodies are still back on Earth while their minds are borrowing the bodies of a couple of locals. They find a medieval culture subject to a religious tyranny run by men called "priors". The priors, in turn serve the Orai. The Orai want worship and they are pleased to learn of a new galaxy in which they can send their priors. They also want to suppress any knowledge which will conflict with that aim. It seems that the Orai are an offshoot of the Ancients who took a very different path than non-involvement.
The Tie that Binds: Jackson and Vala are still tied together by the bracelets and are getting desperate for a way to get them off. She finally agrees to seek guidance from the guy she stole the bracelets from. He agrees to help but only if she returns a piece of jewelry she stole from him. She has already unloaded it but agrees to try. This is difficult because the person she sold it to refuses to return it unless she first returns a power coil she traded it for. When the owner of the coil is tracked down, he refuses to return it until she gets back the trading ship she took from him. This involves stealing it back from the thieves she left it with, lots of danger and a few buffoons. Eventually, the tangled web is untangled. This is not one of the better episodes.
The Powers that Be: The Orai are sending out priors to proselytize out galaxy. When the SG1 team learns of one attempt, they head off to try and prevent it. They expect to be aided by Vala who has a history with that particular planet. What she fails to tell them is that her connection is that she was the host for the Goa'uld who was there god. She played this up after the death of the parasite so that she could continue as a god. When she returns, she chides the locals for turning their backs on her. Things go poorly, though when they overhear her talking about being a false god. That puts the locals squarely in the camp of the Orai's priors as a battle for hearts and minds ensues.
Beachhead: A prior establishes a beachhead on a Jaffa planet and the locals want nothing to do with more false gods. This hacks the prior off and he establishes a force field around the entire planet fending off all the Jaffa who attack him. Meanwhile, Stargate Command gets a message from a renegade Goa'uld who offers to help in the fight of the Orai. Samantha Carter shows up to help out in the fight. They take the Prometheus and a Naquadria enhanced nuke to blow up the gate. Things get more complicated when a free Jaffa fleet shows up to try and destroy the gate. When the superbomb goes off, it makes the expansion of the beachhead even faster. This does not make anyone happy except the renegade who turns out to have hidden motives. Help in staving off the big invasion comes from an unexpected source.
Ex Deus Machina: When a Jaffa is found dead on Earth, it raises some questions as to why he is there. His death correlates with the disappearance of several industrialists. Gerak, the leader of the free Jaffa, claims to know nothing about it. The emphasis is on "claims". Gerak is trying to stir the Jaffa council into working against the Tok'ra. He is also trying to sow mistrust for Te'alc who he sees as competition. The plot thickens when it becomes apparent that Ba'al is alive and on Earth. He wants to go into "retirement" and be left alone to pursue his own aims. He claims to have a naquada bomb in the US he will set off if he is bothered. Everyone wants to capture Ba'al for political reasons. Ba'al is captured and executed but that doesn't help since there seems to be more of him around.
Babylon: While visiting a new planet, the team comes under fire from some hostile Jaffa and LTC Mitchell is captured by them. The rest of the team manages to capture one of the Jaffa. This group has, according to legend, not been subject to the Goa'uld for thousands of years. Jackson finds signs of Ancient technology but no sign of the Jaffa or the missing colonel. The Jaffa holding the colonel have some technology from the Ancients but are disdainful of everyone, particularly the Jaffa who did not follow them into exile. When a prior of the Orai shows up, the colonel learns that he has made some inroads. He realizes that this group of Jaffa allied with the Orai will be a major threat.
Prototype: As last season concluded it seemed as if all of the threats from the Goa'uld had pretty much been taken care of. Then, earlier this season, we learned that Ba'al is still around and actually on Earth, biding his time in "retirement". This episode, we learn that Anubis still poses a problem as well. As the team is investigating a problem with a Stargate, they find a person in suspended animation. He is brought back to SGC and he claims to have been enslaved. Everyone believes him until Jackson finds some notes in the lab where the stasis field was found. They have found Anubis' private lab and the person they revived is a clone, complete with Goa'uld DNA. He is just a few steps short of being able to ascend himself. SGC sees the threat as too dangerous and they want to solve the problem right then and there. A politician, however, has other ideas. He sees it as a great opportunity to recoup some of the enormous investment put into the program and is sure they can control him. They are WRONG. Anubis is just playing along letting SGC do the work and preparing to strike. When he does, nobody can stop him. He does not, however, count on a dirty trick by LTC Carter.
The Fourth Horseman: The Orai are still sending out priors and they are setting their sights high. A prior is sent to Gerak, the powerful leader of the Jaffa sect in power. Strangely enough, Gerak seems to fall for it. At first, the acceptance is subtle but the priors demand more and more until it is revealed that they demand the absolute obedience of all Jaffa. By this time, Gerak is in too deep to see the danger. Earth has its problems as well. People start dropping from the same plague induced by the priors a few episodes back. The plague spreads quickly. The one ray of sunshine is the return of the ascended Ancient, Orlan, who fell in love with Sam a few seasons back. He has returned to help but has had to take human form. He took the form of a child because that would allow him to retain more of his knowledge although that does put a crimp in his romantic aspirations. He is helpful but then he too falls sick. Before he does so, he reveals some critical information about the Orai and their priors. As everyone suspected, they are lying and there is a reason the worship of mortals is sought. Sickest of all, though is Gerak. He is ordered to destroy Chulak, the home world of Te'alc in order to set an example for all Jaffa. Even he balks at this...until the Orai make an offer that he can't refuse.
The Fourth Horseman Part 2: Gerak is now a prior with all of the power that entails. He is determined to force the force the conversion of all Jaffa. Earth is still in the midst of the prior's plague. It has become international and the world is going to soon die. There is a hope. The lab has come up with an experimental gizmo that is supposed to nullify the priors' powers. They intend to use it to return to Soudan, the planet of the Babylon episode to tray and capture the prior working there. They want some of his DNA to try and fight the plague. The people of Soudan are not fond of the SG1 team but, when they arrive, it seems that the Jaffa there are becoming disillusioned and are ready to fight. They just don't know how. SG1 is there to help. SG1 plans even more. They want to try and turn the prior against the Orai. They manage to capture the prior but the cure doesn't work. Neither does their plan to turn him. They do get help from a surprising source, however. The source manages to effect a cure for almost everyone but there is still the specter of how to deal with the Orai themselves. There is also the problem of Orlan. He gave his all and now he is helpless.
Collateral Damage: SGC makes contact with a civilization which has made a major breakthrough in working with Goa'uld technology. They have perfected a device to let people share memories. That will mean that a pilot or engineer could transfer his experience in hours instead of years. These people want to trade and SGC is eager. Unfortunately, there are plots inside of plots. The scientist who developed the process objects to having it militarized. That means she is a liability to the local power structure and she is killed. LTC Mitchell is framed for the murder. The hope is that he will claim diplomatic immunity and whole thing can be swept under the rug but Mitchell is not about to take the easy way out. He has actual memories of killing the woman and demands an investigation. In doing so, he faces a possible death sentence.
Ripple Effect: Things are a bit peculiar when the SG1 team returns to SGC a bit early. The general is puzzled when they reference people who are dead or events that transpired differently from the way he remembers. A little bit into the debriefing, words comes that the gate has been activated and it occurs right on schedule for when SG1 should have returned. The returning party turns out to be...SG1. Things get a bit more confusing when other SG1 teams begin to arrive. Some of them contain dead members or people who have dropped out of the series. They figure out that a wormhole problem has caused alternate realities to funnel their returning teams to OUR Earth. Each of the alternate worlds is a bit different and each faces dire threats. Some of these threats have been faced on our world before and others are fresh. In an effort to avoid becoming the Grand Central Station of the Multiverse, the general orders a halt to further traffic. Now they have to figure out how to fix the problem. A possible solution is found but that solution has the downside that it strands all of those who were misdirected here to our world permanently. Even so, SGC proceeds with the plan and the alternates mutiny. They have a plan of their own and this gives the "Real" Sam an idea to restore things to the way they are supposed to be.
Stronghold: The Jaffa council is considering a proposal to dissolve itself and hold widespread elections. Teal'c and his faction support it and they expect the only female member of the council to support it as well. When she gets up to speak, however, she speaks against it. When a member is asked to speak with her, she "zaps" him with something and he changes his mind. When Teal'c sets off to investigate, he gets captured by Ba'al who seems to be having a rather active "retirement". It seems that Ba'al is worried about the Orai and is trying to press the Jaffa into his service. The Jaffa are worried about the Orai as well but some things are just beyond the pale.
Ethon; A few seasons back, the SG1 team encountered a world in a terrible state of cold war. The presence of the team sent the locals over the brink and the war heated up with devastating consequences. Now, the Orai have taken an interest offering a superweapon to one side in exchange for worship. SGC finds itself in the position of having to interfere again but not before Daniel is taken hostage by the party with the superweapon. The weapon, by the way, is very capable of defending itself with catastrophic results. Now the survivors of the attack are now faced with the problem of taking out the superweapon with the technology available to the war torn world. The solution further tears apart the world.
Off the Grid: SGC gets reports of food riots and learns that the riots are not over hunger but over shortages of the addictive corn. Fearing some sort of Orai plot, SG1 is sent to investigate. Things go badly and as the team is trying to make its getaway, the Stargate disappears. The local drug lords think that SG1 is responsible and that means trouble for the team. The bigger trouble is that Ba'al is the one getting frisky. Nerus and his appetites give SGC some information that is, of course, bogus but by their manipulation he leads them to Ba'al. What neither Ba'al nor SGC seems to understand is the wrath of thwarted drug lords.
Scourge: The SG1 team is given the awful duty of babysitting some international politicians and bureaucrats on their first trip off world. They go to the Gamma site where research is conducted on things too strange or dangerous to bring back to earth. One of the scientists is studying a bug that has shown up only on planets where the priors have shown up. The bug is a voracious crop destroyer but there is no proof that they are connected to the priors. All this change when some hungry bugs in the lab get a taste of meatloaf. Then they undergo a metamorphosis and become voracious carnivores and overrun the place. The bugs don't seem to be too choosy. They will eat bureaucrats as well as Stargate team members and scientists. SG1 evacuates the lab with the simpletons (I mean politicos) in tow. They have to hold on until a ship can come to pick them up. The one defense the team has is that the bugs are very sensitive to sound. That means that the guns keep them away...until they run out of ammo.
Arthur's Mantle: Sam is in the lab playing with a piece of offworld tech that has been puzzling her for a while. She finally gets a response from it and it zaps her and LTC Mitchell with some sort of ray. They seem none the worse for wear until they notice that nobody else can see or hear them. They also cannot grip or handle anything. They are "out of phase" and stuck in an alternate dimension. While they are trying to figure out how to communicate with someone, a garbled messages comes through the Stargate from the world of the Soudan Jaffar. They are under attack. SG1, minus Mitchell and Carter, head out to investigate and find that almost all of them have been killed. They were attacked by the Jaffa captured by SG1 (The Fourth Horseman Episode). He has been infected by a prior and can absorb a lot of damage. Meanwhile, Jackson figures out that the device Carter was working on was the legendary "Mantle of Arthur". It was used by Merlin to hide some of his experiments. He was working on a weapon to use against the Orai. LTC Mitchell heads out to Soudan to try and help Teal'c. He is still hidden but is convinced that he will be able to do something. When Teal'c tries the cloaking device of the Ancients, he is able to see and hear Mitchell though physical touch is not possible. That makes Mitchell able to really help, although SGC finds a solution to his problem at a most inopportune time.
Crusade: A few episodes back, Vala was lost as she helped to destroy a gigantic Stargate intended by the Orai to be a beachhead into our galaxy. Now she is back...sort of. Her minds has taken over Daniel Jackson's body using the same crystals that she and Jackson used to visit the Orai galaxy near the beginning of the season. She has some startling news. The Orai's vast Armada is almost ready for them to begin their crusade. Also, she has become pregnant and does not know how it happened. She has not had an opportunity to engage in the activities that usually result in that condition. During the course of her adventures, she makes contact with the local underground elements and helps in a plot to destroy the invasion fleet. To do this, she is going to have to betray the one person she has ever really loved. That the plot fails just makes things worse.
Camelot: The SG1 team is still looking for Merlin's weapon designed for use against ascended beings. The clues lead them to Camelot; a medieval planet with a medieval culture. They still wait for Arthur's return and they fear the workshop of Merlin. That workshop is guarded by all the usual stuff like black knights, swords in stones and such. The search for the weapon turns out to be the search for the Holy Grail, although they have little time to thinks about such trivia. The Orai have managed to construct a huge Stargate in our galaxy and the combined ships of Earth, the Jaffa and even the Drug cartels are on station to try and stop the emerging fleet as they pour through the breach. The battle is going poorly as this end of season cliff hanger comes to a close.