SG-1 has been disbanded and it's down to Lt Col. Cameron Mitchell
to choose a new team. Jack O'Neill, Teal'c, Samantha Carter
and Daniel Jackson have all been reassigned to new commands.
However, as Jackson is about to leave the SGC an old acquaintance
steps through the Stargate. Vala is back, but this time she
brings with her a map to ancient riches. Jackson knows that
Vala's presence will mean trouble and whilst together Vala
clamps a Jaffa bracelet to his wrist and her wrist so binding
- Part One is the first in a three part story arc that
introduces us to the fresh characters and new villains of
SG-1's ninth season. For those not aware of the changes
that take place in this season you're going to be in for a
bit of a shock. Gone is Richard Dean Anderson's Jack O'Neill
(no real surprise there) to be replaced by the new head of
the SGC General Landry, played by Beau Bridges. The old familiar
SG-1 crew has parted (O'Neill has left the SGC; Carter is
now head of R&D at Area 51; Teal'c is attempting to build
a new system of government that will span Jaffa worlds throughout
the galaxies; and Jackson is all set to go to Atlantis.)
Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder, who sci-fi fans will know from
Farscape) has been given the job of forging a new SG-1
team. It looks like Mitchell has his work cut out for him
as each interviewee just doesn't look like they will fit into
his team. Actually, there is a great comedic scene with Mitchell
interviewing several possibilities on the short list - it
would appear that you need some sort of personality flaw to
enter into the Stargate project.
before we've even got time to get used to all the changes
Vala steps through the Stargate. Yes Claudia Black (another
casualty of the cancelled Farscape) is back as Vala
larger than life and looking for treasure. Her first lines
to her old Farscape colleague, Browder, will make sci-fi
fans smile. "I know we haven't met. That I'm sure I would
adds something to this episode that has been missing for the
last eight years - some much needed sexiness. It's never overdone,
this is a family show after all, but all of a sudden Stargate
seems to have grown up. And it's not just this element that
helps to give us a more mature show. As this season progresses
there is more jeopardy and more intelligent storylines. The
producers intention to revitalise Stargate could have
easily backfired. Thankfully it doesn't and what we get is
something so familiar, but at the same time so fresh, that
old and new fans should go along for the ride with few complaints.
Dr. Daniel Jackson and Vala
find themselves transported to a distant galaxy populated
by worshipers of a potentially threatening authority. When
Vala don't fit in with the rest of the worshippers
Vala is seized and offered up to the local gods in a sacrificial
- Part Two opens with the conclusion to the clichéd
cliff-hanger from the last episode. Jackson and Vala are trapped
in a room with a ceiling that is being slowly lowered on them.
Although, why they are panicking is anyone's guess. In the
middle of the room is a huge stone table that should easily
support the weight of the ceiling. The chances of them being
crushed is incredibly slight. If the table will give under
the weight of the ceiling then this is a trap that can only
be used once and is therefore pointless.
while I'm nit-picking, why is it that two tests need to be
completed? For this episode it's simply because the group
split in two, but later in this episode Mitchell has to be
alone in the caves before his reward appears. So surely the
Ancients were expecting only one person to attempt to complete
the puzzle where they are trapped in a room... so why are
episode also has a scene that has been done to death (no pun
intended) - the burning of a nonbeliever, or witch. However,
somehow the writers and director manage to turn a clichéd
idea on its head and offer something totally fresh.
ending to this episode also leaves you wanting more, which
when you consider you've just watched what could should have
been a dull run-of-the-mill body swapping, backwards society,
witch burning series of events, is quite an impressive achievement.
Dr. Jackson and Vala have been saved from the fanatical
Ori followers but learn that their reactivation of an Ancient
communications device has accidentally alerted the Ori to
the vast number of unbelievers on Earth. The Ori Immediately
send out missionaries to Earth and other planets, where the
humans are, to convert the people by any means necessary...
sets up the
new alien threat. However, could the Ori really have been
unaware of Earth and all the other countless planets that
SG-1 had encountered? While we keep being told that the universe
is endless, all it took was for Jackson to activate a teleportation
device for the Ori to work out where Earth was - not very
thoughtful of the Ancients to spend all that time hiding the
human race from the Ori, only to hand over the teleportation
device to the first person who could complete a simple trial
and then defeat a sword wielding knight. Okay, that's slightly
simplistic I suppose, but if the Ancients had really wanted
to keep the Earth secret from the Ori, they shouldn't have
left a device around that would set off a huge alarm.
I know that this was a convenient way to bring in the new
baddies and that I'm just being anal again. To be honest the
introduction of the Ori is incredibly well done. We are not
sure, at first, whether the Ori are good or evil. And I was
impressed at how quickly the new threat was established. The
Ori are not going to be as simple to overcome as previous
threats to Earth. I'm really looking forward to seeing how
the Ori weave themselves into the ongoing narrative.
Dr. Jackson and Vala are safely back at the SGC. The bracelets
that has bound them together has finally been removed but
its effects remain, causing great concern for the team. General
Landry orders the two to seek out the individual who Vala
stole the bracelets from in the hope that the bound can be
undone. However, the two don't know it yet, but they are about
to embark on a wild goose chase to track down another item
to trade for the information they need. That quest in turn
leads to yet another quest, and that to another...
reading now and skip to the next paragraph if you don't want
to learn any major plot developments of this episode. This
episode is notable as its totally pointless. I loved it! A
total waste of time on the parts of everyone involved - but
that makes it all the more realistic.
Hands That Bind stars Wallace Shawn (who Star Trek:
Deep Space Nine fans will know as Grand Nagus Zek) as
the solution to Jackson and Vala's problems - it was from
him that Vala stole the bracelets that bound the two. Of course
he won't give this information for free, he wants the necklace
that Vala stole from him returned. Once they track down the
trader that Vala swapped the necklace with, he will only agree
to giving it her back if she gives him back the item that
they traded for originally... and so on...
is some great humour in this episode, including a monk who
is not all he seems, Wallace Shawn's retelling of his and
Vala's love affair, and just about every scene with Claudia
Black in it.
Extras include audio commentaries for each episode; It
Takes a Crew to Raise a Village (14 min featurette that
looks at the new standing village set that was built for this
season); SG-1 Director's Series: Avalon (11 minute
behind the scenes look at filming the opening two-part episode);
and a photo gallery.
good to see that after the lack of audio commentaries on last
seasons single disc releases they are back for Season Nine.
These, as always, are really interesting. But there's one
thing that I've always wondered about, and this collection
clears all of that up. In previous commentaries I've noticed
that the sound occasionally seems to go back to the episode
commentary and I suspected that the audio commentary was being
censored. Well, I suggest that you listen to the audio commentary
on The Hands That Bind and switch the subtitles on.
Whoever cut the dialogue we weren't supposed to hear forgot
to also cut the subtitles. This happens on at least four occasions,
and it's great to hear the crew moaning about the Sci-Fi Channel.
be honest I was starting to get a little tired of Stargate.
As good as last season's episodes were, it was getting a little
too predictable. The first four episodes of Season Nine
show that there's still life in the old dog yet. Stargate
fans are in for an exciting ride.