Stargate: SG-1
Volume 45
(Season 9 - Vol 2)

Starring: Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Michael Shanks
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 24 April 2006

On a distant planet a person healed by a Prior falls ill with a mysterious ailment. Vala is able to heal the man, weakening the Prior's influence. The disease suddenly begins to spread. As chaos ensues, Daniel and Vala realise that they have played right into an Ori trap...

The Powers That Be sees Vala pretending to be Qetesh, the sex goddess she masqueraded as before her symbiote was removed. Jackson tells her that she has to come clean and admit to the villagers that she is not really a god if SG-1 are to have any chance of getting them to stand up to the Ori.

This episode shows what a versatile actress Claudia Black is. Her scenes, when she realises the consequences of her selfish actions, are some of the best to ever appear on Stargate. This is one character that the writers, and Black, obviously have a lot of fun with and it's a shame that she is not going to be a regular member of the cast this season. Greg Anderson also makes a return in this episode - his character has now become a Prior for the Ori.

It's also worth mentioning the music for this episode - in fact for all of the episodes this season so far. The music score seems to add so much more to the drama than in previous years.

Landry calls upon Lt. Colonel Carter, who has developed a potent weapon that Landry is convinced can wipe out the Ori's forces. After several attempts at peaceful negotiations prove futile, Carter launches her weapon. Unfortunately, instead of destroying the force field, the detonation only results in enlarging it...

Beachhead sees the return of Amanda Tapping as Sam Carter. It also, sadly, sees the departure of Vala - who will be sorely missed.

This episode also sees Maury Chaykin guest star as the Goa'uld Nerus - who loves nothing better than feasting. Nerus comes through the stargate to warn the SGC that the Ori have started to wipe out the Jaffa on a distant planet. These Jaffa have decided to not follow the path of the Ori. SG-1 jump into action to help the Jaffa, only to discover that they are too late. The best they can hope for is to send a message back to the Ori that they must stop their inhumane ways and leave other planets alone. But the message they send doesn't quite have the desired effect.

This episode has a rather poor audio commentary. It's not that the two people on the track aren't interesting, it's just that for some reason both of them are from the effects department - so the whole commentary revolves around the special effects. This is fine, but when there are no effects on screen they don't really know what to say - which results in a lot of dead air time.

Another entertaining episode, which finally sees the SG-1 team back together.

When the team investigates the death of a Jaffa, they find evidence suggesting that the former Goa'uld system lord Ba'al may have had a hand in the slaying. With his presence on Earth no longer a secret, Ba'al has planted a bomb somewhere in the United States and threatens to detonate it if pursued...

Ex Deus Machina sees the return of lord Ba'al. To be honest, he was never one of my favourite system lords, but the fact that they set him up on earth as a potential Richard Branson character is rather interesting. Garek also makes a return, and it looks as though he is acting in his own interests again in order to get the Jaffa council's support.

While this is an enjoyable episode, the void left behind by Vala is too big to fill and there just seemed to be something missing - the chemistry doesn't seem to be cemented yet between Mitchell and the rest of SG-1. Hopefully this is something that will change as the series progresses.

SG-1 is eager to meet the legendary warriors of Sodan, but the team gets ambushed. In the fire fight, Mitchell is separated from the others. His captors cure his injuries, only to inform him that because he has shed Sodan blood, he must suffer a ritual battle to the death...

Babylon is a little clichéd, but it works really well. If you don't work out who Mitchell is going to have to fight within ten minutes of him being dragged off to the Sodan encampment, then you probably haven't seen enough sci-fi shows. The story pays homage to The Last Samarui, which is rather interesting. There's also a nod to the original Star Trek series.

This episode also sees Tony Todd (who is better known as Candyman and numerous roles in the Star Trek franchise) makes a guest appearance, as does William B Davis (the X-Files smoking man).

The audio commentary for this episode is by Peter DeLuise and Gary Jones. This is by far the most entertaining (not to mention bizarre) commentary on this collection, although they obviously say quite a few things that were wiped from the final cut as there are a few too many pauses - not something you'd expect from a DeLuise/Jones commentary. In fact they start off explaining that this will be the last commentary that they will be doing together. And then, as they are about to explain why, the soundtrack goes suspiciously quiet. It was amusing to listen to their ramblings on what style of sports bra Michael Shanks wears and the numerous (well, three to be exact) names that Gary Jones's character has been given over the years.

Extras include Inside the Stargate Prop Department (a 15.5 minute featurette that lets us go rummaging in the props department's archives); SG-1 Directors Series: The Powers That Be (a 11 minute look behind the episode The Powers That Be with director Will Waring); audio commentaries on all four episodes and a photo gallery.

Another entertaining collection of episodes that illustrate perfectly why SG-1 is not going to retire any time soon.

Darren Rea

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