Avalon, Part 1

Summary | Analysis | Notes | Characters | Questions | Production | In the Making | Review

An Air Force pilot attempts to reassemble SG-1 after they have gone their separate ways. An old "friend" arrives on Earth asking for Daniel's help in finding an ancient treasure -- and she won't take no for an answer.

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FAN RATING - 7.52 
NIELSEN - 2.1 
EPISODE #901
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 07.15.05
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 09.18.06
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 1
WRITTEN BY: Robert C. Cooper
EXCERPTS WRITTEN BY: Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper
DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita
GUEST STARS:

Claudia Black (Vala), Obi Ndefo (Rak’nor), Gary Jones (Walter Harriman), Bill Dow (Dr. Lee), Matthew Walker (Merlin), Richard Dean Anderson (General Jack O’Neill), Martin Christopher (Lt. Marks), Tyler McClendon (Lt. Banks), Mar Andersons (Air Force Official), Claude Knowlton (Doctor), Wendy Russell (Nurse), Donna White (Crying Mother), Penelope Corrin (Science Candidate #1), Alistair Abell (Science Candidate #2), Robert Clarke (Science Candidate #3), Jason Benson (Military Candidate #1), Sean Arnfinson (Military Candidate #2), Scott Owen (Technician), Michael Jonsson (F-302 Pilot)

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Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell walks up the ramp of the Stargate to get his first look at the legendary device, the memory of his F-302 battalion’s fight defending SG-1 over Antarctica (“Lost City, Part 2”) still fresh in his memory. Now, he is here to join the team. Soon Sergeant Harriman guides him to General Hank Landry’s office, where Mitchell learns that the members of SG-1 have gone their separate ways. He is now the commander of the unit, and Landry — newly appointed to command the S.G.C. since the departure of Jack O’Neill — instructs him to build a whole new team.

Mitchell is stunned and disappointed, and tries to sway Daniel Jackson, Teal’c, and Samantha Carter from their decisions to move on. Daniel is determined to traveling to the legendary city of Atlantis with the Daedalus, while Teal’c is entrenched in the founding stages of the new Jaffa government. What’s worse, Teal’c’s connections with the Tau’ri are not winning him any publicity awards while the Jaffa nation attempts to stand on its own two feet. Carter has been reassigned to Area 51’s research and development labs, and is currently working to get the bugs out of the advanced Asgard hyperdrive installed on the Daedalus.

Colonel Mitchell is unsuccessful on all counts, and begins to look into base personnel to fill his new team. With each passing applicant it becomes clear that he will not be truly happy unless the original team is reassembled.

Vala Mal Doran, a beautiful con artist who once stole the Earth ship Prometheus (“Prometheus Unbound”), pays a visit to Stargate Command, bringing an encrypted Ancient tablet in tow with the promise that it leads to buried treasure hidden somewhere on Earth. She also breaks the news that she’s pregnant, and there is a one in 10 chance that Daniel is the father — though both of these could be an outright lie.

While Daniel reluctantly works on deciphering and translating the tablet, Vala reveals two identical items she had concealed from the guards that returned to Earth with her: a pair of bracelets. She slaps one on the unsuspecting Daniel’s wrist and, as he calls security, applies the other to herself to ensure that she gets a fair share of the profits from where the tablet leads. Dr. Lee is unable to remove the bracelet, or to even figure out how it works. Before long, both Daniel and Vala fall unconscious.

Teal’c returns to Earth and to Daniel’s side, where Mitchell reveals the bracelet has debilitating effects when the pair are separated for more than a half hour. Teal’c has only heard of the technology (once used by the Goa’uld Cronus for the transport of prisoners) in passing and does not know how to remove it. Vala herself is counting on the solution from the individual from whom she stole them, and she will not release them until the treasure is found.

Daniel is infuriated by Vala. But since the Daedalus departed for Atlantis while he was unconscious, he consents to an investigation into the origins of the tablet. He discovers that Myrddin, the Ancient who signed the tablet, was also on the list of those Ancients who returned to Earth from Atlantis 10,000 years ago following the first Wraith siege of Atlantis (Atlantis “Before I Sleep”). Myrddin’s English name is “Merlin,” connecting the Ancient with the King Arthur legend. Daniel believes that Merlin carved the tablet and encoded it to lead the reader to buried treasures within the magical stronghold of Avalon, a series of Ancient-shielded catacombs beneath Glastonbury Tor, England.

Prometheus‘s Asgard sensors detect the catacombs and the team, including Vala, transport through the barrier to investigate. Almost immediately they are confronted with a sword in a stone, and a message from a holographic Merlin. But Mitchell is unable to remove the weapon from the rock.

The team splits up into two groups to explore the caverns. Mitchell and Teal’c find a chamber with a pedestal of symbols on removable stones. Daniel and Vala find an identical room with a pedestal with two covered pots, labelled “The universe is infinite” and “The treasure is in this pot.” Both groups are soon trapped inside by heavy doors at the entrance of the chambers.

Mitchell deduces he has to arrange the stones in a specific order to solve a puzzle. Vala takes matters into her own hands and uncovers the lid to the first pot. The ceilings of both chambers begin to slowly move downward, with the teams trapped inside.

– D. Read

ANALYSIS

  • SG-1 has disbanded, apparently voluntarily, following the defeat of the Goa’uld and the Replicators (“Reckoning, Part 2,” “Threads”). Samantha Carter has accepted a position as head of Stargate Research and Development at Area 51; Teal’c has returned to Dakara to participate in the founding of the Free Jaffa Nation’s government; and Daniel Jackson is preparing to go to Atlantis.
  • Stargate Command has a new commanding officer: Major General Hank Landry. Landry appears to be a personal friend of Jack O’Neill, who has left the base (and Colorado Springs) for unknown reasons.
  • The Free Jaffa Nation is struggling with gaining support from the many Jaffa spread throughout different worlds. Some continue to cling to the old ways, and will not easily let go of the rituals and beliefs they have maintained for thousands of years. Despite the fact that the Goa’uld empire has been crushed and the few remaining System Lords are on the run, no doubt many of their Jaffa servants continue to view them as gods.
  • The lack of Goa’uld symbiotes will no doubt continue to be a problem for the Free Jaffa Nation as they continue to bring more Jaffa over to their side. The drug tretonin will help many live without the life-sustaining larval Goa’uld, but it does not have a 100 percent success rate (“Birthright”). And if the Jaffa cannot sustain their own tretonin production (it has heretofor been provided by Earth and the Tok’ra), it could spell disaster for the newly-freed race.
  • Carter is testing hyperdrive engines on a ship — probably the Daedalus, but possibly Prometheus or possibly a new, third ship. Mitchell tells Daniel soon after Carter’s engine tests that the Daedalus has left for Atlantis.
  • Stargate Command has at some point recovered an android body from PX3-989 — Altair, home of Harlan (“Comtraya!”) (“Tin Man”). S.G.C. scientists have modified the android, and hope to one day program it with the knowledge and memories of all S.G.C. personnel. They are currently in need of funding for the ambitious project. It is not known whether the android body is one of the SG-1 duplicates who were killed saving the planet Juna from Cronus (“Double Jeopardy”), or if Harlan has otherwise provided them with access to Altairan android technology.
  • Most of the Goa’uld have lost their dynasties since the war with the Replicators (“Reckoning”), and are trying to rebuild their forces or are in hiding. Without the service of the Jaffa they are having trouble maintaining the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed over the last 5,000 years or so, according to Vala. (Vala is probably underestimating, since Ra discovered Earth 10,000 years ago and ruled there until 7,000 years ago.)
  • The Goa’uld bracelet technology is believed to have been used by such System Lords as Cronus for the transportation of prisoners. One would be attached to the prisoner, the other to his or her Jaffa escort. If they are separated for too long both wearers fall unconscious, and if not reunited will die. (The Jaffa was subject to such a fate as his due punishment for his incompetence in failing his god.)
  • The Atlantis expedition brought to Earth some of the Ancient database a few weeks previous — presumably when they reconnect with Earth in the Stargate Atlantis episode “The Intruder.” Daniel doesn’t refer to the transmission sent in Atlantis‘s “Letters From Pegasus,” because he says that the expedition brought the data back with them.
  • This episode therefore takes place several weeks after the Atlantis season premiere “The Siege, Part 3,” despite the fact that they originally aired back-to-back. “Avalon” is set at least one month after the previous year’s season finale (Teal’c is said to have left the program over a month ago), while “The Siege, Part 3” picks up from the Atlantis Season One finale on the same day. A brief timeline may illustrate:
    • The Z.P.M. is discovered in Egypt (“Moebius, Part 2”).
    • Using the Z.P.M., Colonel Everett’s team gates to Atlantis (Atlantis: “The Siege, Part 2”).
    • The Daedalus is immediately dispatched, and with the Z.P.M. will arrive in four days.
    • Sometime after the Z.P.M.’s discovery, Teal’c leaves Earth.
    • The Daedalus arrives at Atlantis (Atlantis: “The Siege, Part 3”).
    • Sometime soon after the defeat of the Wraith, Atlantis’s senior command staff gate home to Earth (“The Intruder”), bringing some of the Ancient database.
    • The Daedalus arrives at Earth and, after maintenance, prepares to ferry the team back to Atlantis.
    • More than one month after Teal’c’s departure, Cameron Mitchell arrives at Stargate Command.
    • The Daedalus departs for Atlantis (its second trip), and Daniel misses the boat.

    Daniel was not getting ready to go with the ship on its first trip, as it would have been over a month from the discovery of the Z.P.M. until Stargate Command got around to sending help to Atlantis. (Also, Daniel tells Mitchell that the Atlantis expedition brought back some of the Ancient database with them.)

  • Among the data brought back to Earth by the Atlantis expedition was a list of names of those Ancients who fled Atlantis when it was under seige and returned to Earth through the Stargate (Atlantis: “Before I Sleep”). One of them was Merlin (Myrddin).
  • Merlin and the rest of the Ancients arrived on Earth circa 8,000 B.C. after fleeing the Wraith in the Pegasus Galaxy — but the Arthurian legend of Merlin and Avalon date from the early Middle Ages. Either the Ancients are incredibly long-lived, or Merlin travelled forward in time to the British Isles in the Middle Ages.

    We do know that the Ancient scientist Janus developed time-travel technology, and that he constructed a second time travel device (within a Puddle Jumper ship) sometime after his arrival on Earth with Merlin — despite the Ancient council’s condemnation of his work.

    An alternate explanation is that Merlin was not alive during the Middle Ages, but became a part of Arthurian legend only through the use of Ancient holograms, as he appears to the team now.

  • Daniel theorizes that Merlin, an unascended Ancient, may have helped King Arthur ascend at Avalon. If true, this is the first evidence of a mortal being having access to the knowledge of ascension without ascending himself. It is possible that Merlin was among those Ancients who was studying ascension using a captured non-corporeal creature in Atlantis (Atlantis: “Hide and Seek”). Where this would fall in the history of ascension (especially considering that modern ascended Ancients forbid their kind from helping mortals to ascend) remains a mystery.
  • The Ancients hid a cavern beneath Glastonbury Tor, a hill in England, apparently accessible only by the ring transporter. This is further evidence that the Ancients created the transport rings in addition to the Stargate network, despite the fact that the Goa’uld may have found the means to produce and install them (see “The Other Guys”).
  • In the Ancient cavern Daniel quotes his favorite ascended being, Oma Desala: “If you immediately know the candlelight is fire …” (“Maternal Instinct”). The rest of the quote is, “the meal was cooked a long time ago,” and refers to things not being what they initially appear to be.
  • Actor Matthew Walker, who plays Merlin (via hologram), also played one of the Ancients who returned to Earth from Atlantis in the Stargate Atlantis episode “Before I Sleep” — quite possibly the same character. (He also originally played the Medronan leader Roham in “Touchstone.”)

NOTES

  • Major Davis and SG-7 are trying to help the new Jaffa government get up and running.
  • Mitchell’s F-302 co-pilot in the fight over Antarctica was named Banks. He died during the battle.
  • In addition to Asgard shields and transporters, Prometheus has also been equipped with powerful Asgard sensors. (This technology was installed by the Asgard in Season Six’s “Disclosure”).

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Cameron MitchellCameron Mitchell – The new commander of SG-1 — which currently has no other members — is Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell is a true hero, and led an F-302 squadron in engaging Anubis’s forces and protecting SG-1 in the battle over Antarctica a little over a year ago. He lost his co-pilot in the battle and was shot down, but successfully destroyed an Al’kesh and helped SG-1 succeed with their mission at the Atlantus outpost under the ice.

    Mitchell was injured when his fighter crashed, and began a slow recovery. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, was visited by his mother, by Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter (who presented the medal), and Jack O’Neill. General O’Neill promised him that he could do anything he wanted if he recovered.

    Mitchell wanted to be on the frontlines at Stargate Command and to serve with the best — so he chose SG-1. When he arrived to join the team under orders from O’Neill, he learned from the base’s new commander, General Hank Landry, that SG-1 had disbanded. Mitchell was put in command of the unit and ordered to choose his new team members. He has yet to find any suitable replacements, and instead has petitioned Jackson, Carter, and Teal’c (unsuccessfully) to return to the team.

    Cameron is enthusiastic in his new assignment, and obviously thrilled to be working with Daniel and Teal’c. The team members already know him personally and appear to like him — he is already friends with Colonel Carter — though Teal’c appears uncertain about the unproven new leader.

  • Hank LandryHank Landry – The new commander of the S.G.C. is Major General Hank Landry, a straight-talking and get-to-the-point military leader. Landry is impressed with how efficient the S.G.C. is and how good everyone is at the their jobs — something he almost regrets because he likes yelling at the officers who report to him.

    Hank Landry appears to be a personal friend of General Jack O’Neill, as the two got together for a beer and a game of chess when Jack returned to Colorado Springs.

    Landry has at least one daughter, who is probably in her 30s (he tells Vala that his daughter is about her age). He says that she hasn’t listened to him since she was 12.

  • Daniel JacksonDaniel Jackson – With SG-1 recently disbanded and the new Earth battlecruiser Daedalus having established regular contact with the Atlantis base in the distant Pegasus Galaxy, Daniel is planning to leave the S.G.C. and go to the lost city of the Ancients for which he has searched for so long. Daniel has wanted to go to Atlantis since he first uncovered the Stargate address a year ago.

    But with the arrival of Vala, who has trapped Dr. Jackson with bracelets that link them together, he has missed the Daedalus’s most recent trip to Atlantis and is stuck with Vala — for the time being.

    Daniel was invited by Colonel Mitchell to rejoin SG-1, but refused.

  • Teal'cTeal’c – SG-1 has disbanded, and it has been over a month since Teal’c left Earth. He returned to Dakara, the new homeworld for the Free Jaffa Nation, where he is entrenched in the political machinations of the young government. Teal’c has apparently accepted the invitation to sit on the Jaffa High Council.

    Teal’c appeared to have little patience for Colonel Mitchell at first, but after reluctantly going along on a mission with Mitchell, Jackson, and the alien thief Vala Mal Doran, he seems to be warming up to the young new commander of SG-1.

  • Samantha CarterSamantha Carter – With SG-1 disbanded and going their separate ways, Colonel Carter has taken reassignment as the new head of Stargate Research and Development at Area 51 in New Mexico. She refused Colonel Cameron Mitchell’s invitation to come back and rejoin SG-1, telling him somewhat cryptically that she has her reasons for taking this assignment.

    Sam and Mitchell are personal friends, perhaps stemming from his help in the battle over Antarctica. It was Sam who presented Mitchell — hospitalized and going in and out of consciousness — with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

  • Jack O'NeillJack O’Neill – Jack has left Stargate Command, sold his house and his car (and his motorcycle), and moved away from Colorado Springs. It is possible that he has retired, but unlikely due to the fact that it was Jack who recently assigned Cameron Mitchell to SG-1.

    Jack appears to be personal friends with his replacement at Stargate Command, Major General Hank Landry. The two got together for a beer and a game of chess when Jack was back in town.

  • Vala Mal DoranVala Mal Doran – Vala’s last name is Mal Doran. Still up to her old tricks, she is using stolen technology to manipulate Daniel into helping her find a legendary Ancient treasure — putting Daniel, Teal’c, and Mitchell in mortal danger. Vala is not only deceitful and manipulative, but impatient — sometimes to the point of foolishness. She is also claustrophobic.
  • Walter HarrimanWalter Harriman – Walter Harriman has been promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. He now has to break in yet another General in command of the S.G.C., Hank Landry — but Walter has quickly demonstrated to his new C.O. that he is extremely good at his job.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Did it take Mitchell a full year to recover from his injuries? Is SG-1 his first assignment since returning to active duty?
  • What Altairan android body does the S.G.C. possess? If it is not one of the SG-1 duplicates, how did they come upon it?
  • What other data has the S.G.C. received from the Ancients’ Atlantis database?
  • Why did Jack leave the S.G.C.? Has he retired, or taken reassignment?
  • Carter “has her reasons” for wanting the job at Area 51. What are they?
  • What ship was Carter working on when she spoke with Mitchell? The Daedalus?
  • Why didn’t General O’Neill tell Mitchell that the members of SG-1 had been reassigned?
  • Will Daniel, Teal’c, or Sam consent to rejoin SG-1? Or will Mitchell be forced to choose new team members?
  • Will Daniel make it to Atlantis on the Daedalus’s next trip?
  • How did Merlin get from 8,000 B.C. to the Middle Ages? Did he travel through time, or are the Ancients extremely long-lived?
  • Is there really a treasure hidden under Glastonbury Tor? Is it simply precious metals, or perhaps Ancient technology?
  • How will the team escape from the Ancient booby traps?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “Ben is playing a military guy, a Lieutenant Colonel. And I can’t tell you his name yet. It hasn’t been legally cleared yet, so it could still change. He’s actually played a key role in some major events that went on … in the Stargate universe and was in fact very instrumental in helping SG-1 succeed in one of their more important missions. And as a result of that, he was given … his choice posting. And he ultimately chooses to join SG-1. So when he first appears on the show, SG-1 will already know who he is. And we’ll see some of those scenes and how he was basically woven into the tapestry of the show through flashbacks.” (Executive producer Robert C. Cooper, in an interview with Sci Fi Wire)
  • On Ben Browder’s new character: “He’s the F-302 pilot (our Earth-designed space fighter) that led the squadron that fought Anubis in Antarctica. He was badly injured when his fighter crashed, nearly killed — but was promised a place on SG-1 if he made it back to fighting form.” (Executive producer Brad Wright, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune)
  • This 3-part episode will bring “a challenge for Daniel on two fronts, a dilemma for Teal’c, the return of an old friend, a couple of major revelations regarding the Ancients, a fearsome new villain … to name just a few things.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “[Vala is a] human from another planet, and she’s a bit of an enigma. You’re not quite sure what her true story is in the episode ‘Prometheus Unbound.’ She’s a bit of a rogue who tells a long story about her planet and her people and her past, and then in the end you’re not really quite sure whether it’s true or not.”

    “So she’s a bit of a wild card. She’s a very sexy character, who isn’t afraid to take whatever she wants in any given situation. … We’re going to try very hard to maintain the integrity of that character and still have her sort of join up with the team, but still sort of keep the essence of that wonderful friction that went on between her and Daniel. And I’m sure it’ll continue to sort of play out with the rest of the characters as well.” (Executive producer Robert C. Cooper, in an interview with Sci Fi Wire)

  • “We’ll be finding out about Landry’s professional and private backstory over the course of the upcoming season. As for hints? Let’s see … Did you know he has a daughter?” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “[Cameron Mitchell] will be showing off his piloting skills in various instances over the course of this ninth season.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “[Anderson’s] character is going to remain very much alive in the Stargate universe. He … is going to be integral in commanding what goes on at the S.G.C. As to the appearance of Richard Dean Anderson in the series, that’s really still undetermined. We are very hopeful that Rick is going to agree to participate in a number of episodes, but I have no idea as to how many or when that will be resolved.” (Executive producer Robert C. Cooper, in an interview with Sci Fi Wire)
  • Mid-way through the season’s production, executive producer Joseph Mallozzi told fans that “Avalon, Part 1” was his favorite episode for Cameron Mitchell so far. “I remember watching the dailies and all of us being blown away by Ben’s all-out commitment — everything from the swordplay to his offhand, very funny delivery. He made Mitchell a very likable character right from the get-go.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “Mitchell is a military guy’s military guy, whereas Jack was a loose cannon of sorts. O’Neill was sarcastic and animated — Cameron more low-key and offhand in his humor. Whereas O’Neill was occasionally abrasive and in-your-face, Mitchell prefers to let his Southern charm work its magic. Unlike O’Neill, who was often guarded, Mitchell has no compunctions about opening up. Jack was always a tough person to read, a tough nut to crack. And whereas O’Neill was sometimes, well, shall we say ‘out of the loop’ at times when it came to the more technical side of things, often happily so, Mitchell does his damnedest to inform himself and stay informed.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “Hopefully the elements we’re introducing in this ninth season will arc over several more seasons.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “I’m not sure why fans would have a negative opinion of Season Nine — without even having watched an episode. True, there will be changes, but they will be more additions to the show they know and love. The Goa’uld will still be there as will the many other story elements we’ve explored over the past eight years (the Jaffa, the Tok’ra, etc.), and Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c will return. The only difference next year is that O’Neill won’t be around — but, in all fairness, he hasn’t been around all that much in the past couple of seasons.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in an interview with Stargate – The Ultimate Fan Guide)
  • “We’ve all been amazed by Ben’s commitment to the show and the Cameron Mitchell character. Here’s a guy who, rather than retire to his trailer or go home early, will stick around the set to help the other actors or come up to the production offices and discuss scripts. He’s very insightful, very smart, and always looking to improve what’s there. He tries to be as involved as he possibly can in all facets of the production.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “One of the things that stood out for me about Ben Browder’s first episode was Ben behind the scenes. While he was great onscreen, he was equally great off-screen as well — passing on R&R in his trailer in favor of staying on set to deliver his off-camera lines. He was happy to be on the show and eager to help out in any way he could. The guy was committed. How committed? Well, for starters, by the time he’d hit Vancouver, he’d already watched every episode of SG-1 (eight seasons worth!) in preparation.

    “My only regret with regard to the Cameron Mitchell character was the way he was introduced — specifically, the fact that he was brought in to lead SG-1. Only problem was SG-1 already had a leader in Samantha Carter. Well, theoretically she was except that, by the time Season Nine got underway, SG-1 was no more. With the defeat of the Goa’uld, the team members had gone their separate ways. And so, it fell on Mitchell to get the band back together. My writing partner Paul flagged the potential problem in the writers’ room, arguing that giving someone else command of the team (or merely suggesting as much) was disrespectful to the character Carter. A heated debate ensued and, in the end, a compromise was reached. Carter and Mitchell would share command team. Which, in retrospect, did little to quell some of the angry fan response.” (Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)