Prometheus Unbound

| Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | Transcript | Review

After the Prometheus responds to a distress call from a Goa'uld ship, Daniel Jackson finds himself a captive when Earth's ship is stolen.

RATINGS SCORECARD
OUR RATING -
FAN RATING - 7.86 
NIELSEN - 2.1 
EPISODE #812
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 01.28.05
DVD DISC: Season 8, Disc 3
WRITTEN BY: Damian Kindler
DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita
GUEST STARS:

Claudia Black (Vala), Don S. Davis (General George Hammond), Ellie Harvie (Dr. Lindsey Novak), Gary Jones (Walter Harriman), Eric Breker (Colonel Reynolds), Morris Chapdelaine (Tenat), Christopher Pierce (Bosworth), Geoff Redknap (Alien #2), Dan Payne (Kull Warrior)

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ANALYSIS

  • Prometheus still bears the mark of the original experimental development project on the side of its hull: X-303.
  • Dr. Lindsey Novak was recruited to join the Atlantis expedition to the Pegasus Galaxy, but turned it down because of personal fears.
  • Vala’s behavior upon boarding the Prometheus makes it immediately clear that she is not a Goa’uld super-soldier. She uses a zat gun to disable but not kill the crew, and transports them off the ship unharmed. She does not appear to even be in possession of a Kull warrior’s standard-issue weapon. If she is a thief and an arms dealer, she is something of a morally conscientious one.
  • Colonel Reynolds and SG-3 missed several opportunities to get back onto the Prometheus after Vala disabled the Al’kesh’s transport ring controls: They could have simply stood on the ring platform and exchanged places with the next set of crew to be sent to the Al’kesh — as demonstrated when General Hammond placed the engine crystals on the transport platform of the cargo ship. When Reynolds arrived to rescue him, the crystals were automatically sent to the ship that initiated the transport.
  • Vala possesses a Goa’uld healing device unlike any previously seen: It is worn like a hara’kesh on the wearer’s fingers, and may be intended for field use.
  • Now that Camulus has been handed over to Baal (“Zero Hour”), Baal’s forces are searching every corner of the systems previously controlled by Camulus.

NOTES

  • Prometheus has a designated brig, on Level 5.
  • There is a ring transporter on Level 4 of the Prometheus.
  • In an early draft of the script for “Prometheus Unbound,” Vala told Daniel that after overthrowing the Goa’uld her people successfully stole Goa’uld technology and used it to their advantage, winning many battles before Baal finally brought his power down upon them and crushed the resistance, forcing the survivors to escape to a nearby moon. Vala was also not host to a Goa’uld in the earlier draft.
    The episode was also originally written to include Colonel Lionel Pendergast, captain of the Prometheus (“New Order, Part 2”). Pendergast was replaced by Colonel Reynolds.
  • Vala’s Goa’uld symbiote was named Gyn’ar, according to a draft of the episode’s script. (This would later be changed to Qetesh in on-screen canon.)

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • George HammondGeorge Hammond – General Hammond has been promoted to Lieutenant General (three stars) since being relieved of command at the S.G.C. (“Lost City, Part 1”). The promotion likely accompanied his appointment by President Hayes to head the new Homeworld Security division — which he agreed to take only because his experience commanding the Prometheus against Anubis’s fleet renewed his vigor. His new office is in Washington, D.C. (likely at the Pentagon).

    Hammond has sent many teams on adventures over the years, and has been forced to order many people into dangerous situations. Now as the head of Homeworld Security (including the Prometheus), he wanted to see this mission through himself, and assumed command of the ship.

  • Daniel JacksonDaniel Jackson – Daniel continues to be eager about the Atlantis expedition, and pushed hard for a chance to join the mission to take the Prometheus to the Pegasus Galaxy — even threatening to quit the Stargate program over it. As both an archaeologist and a first-hand expert on the Ancients, the lost city of Atlantis represents one of humankind’s greatest discoveries ever and a personal victory for him.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • How did Vala come to be in possession of a Kull warrior’s armor?
  • Was any of Vala’s story about her past and her people true? Was she once host to a Goa’uld who ruled over them? If not, how did she come to have naquadah in her bloodstream so that she can use Goa’uld technology?
  • Who are the aliens to whom Vala was going to sell the Prometheus? What did they want with it?
  • Which Goa’uld owned the cargo ship and the Al’kesh from which Vala came? The death gliders and other ships that attacked the Prometheus unprovoked?
  • Where will Vala go? Does she even have a home?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “An episode I wasn’t in, ‘Prometheus Unbound,’ is just fantastic. It’s hilarious. It’s one of the more fun — that and ‘Zero Hour’ are probably the two most fun episodes of the year. And Claudia Black is in that one, and her and Shanks just have such a great rapport together. I saw a cut of it, and it came out fantastic, it really did.” (“Teal’c” actor Christopher Judge, in an interview with GateWorld)
  • “Vala was a lot of fun. I did my best to beat the daylights out of Michael Shanks, and he was a very good sport. She’s sassy. She’s intelligent. She’s manipulative. She’s very hard and mercurial. She does what she has to [to] survive, so it’s very hard to tell what the real core of Vala is, and I’m hoping that if they do write her back in again that that will be explored.

    “I’ve not played a character like [Vala] before. That was the appeal of doing it. She’s a real piece of work. It’s quite honestly very hard to tell if she’s an ally or a thorn in their side. For the sake of the drama in this particular episode she seems to be a thorn in their side, but it’s quite ambiguous, and that’s what I loved about it. She’s constantly teetering on that ambiguous edge. It was nice to push that. I asked [director] Andy [Mikita] on the phone when I accepted the role how far I could push that, and he said, ‘Go the full mile.’ So it was, creatively, a very playful environment.” (“Vala” actress Claudia Black, in an interview with Sci Fi Wire)

  • “The Prometheus has been part of the Stargate universe for the past three years. Prior to this, we’d done four stories involving the ship. However, [executive producer] Rob Cooper said, ‘We have the sets, which are spectacular, and loads of VFX shots revolving around the ship. It’d be great to do another Prometheus episode.’ Rob told me the type of episode he was looking for, and I wrote a draft of the script.

    “It was all done very quickly, probably within two weeks. Rob liked the shape the story took and thought the pace was great. At that point, I had to start work on a two-parter [‘Reckoning’]. Because of time considerations, Rob took my script and did a polish on it, which bumped up the comedic elements. He did a wonderful job and we were both very pleased with the way it turned out.” (Writer and supervising producer Damian Kindler, in an interview with TV Zone magazine [Special #61])

  • “We finally got the opportunity to cast Claudia Black, and it was in a role that she seemed born to play. Robert Cooper took Damian’s solid first draft and injected it with a humorous spin that essentially formed the basis of the Vala character we would come to know and love. To be honest, I wasn’t convinced at the script stage as I thought the humor might have been too broad, but all doubt dissolved the moment those dailies started coming in. Wow! As far as eighth season episodes went, this one was probably my favorite for its comic elements and the terrific on-screen chemistry between Claudia and Michael.” (Writer / producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)