The Ties That Bind

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

Jackson and Mitchell must join Vala on an interplanetary scavenger hunt when they learn that they are still bound together by an alien energy field.

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EPISODE #904
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 08.05.05
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 10.09.06
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 1
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: William Waring
GUEST STARS:

Claudia Black (Vala), Bruce Gray (Senator Fisher), Gary Jones (Sergeant Harriman), Bill Dow (Dr. Lee), Wallace Shawn (Arlos), Lexa Doig (Dr. Lam), Michael P. Northey (Inago), Malcolm Scott (Caius), Morris Chapdelaine (Tenat), Eileen Pedde (Major Gibson), Darren Moore (Vosh), Geoff Redknap (Jup)

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Daniel Jackson ensures that Vala Mal Doran is thoroughly searched before departing Earth, and low and behold, she tries to make off with a priceless artifact — twice. But about an hour after she has left, Daniel collapses again. He regains consciousness only to find she has returned, and that there is a more permanent link than they believed.

Once the kor mak were removed everything should have returned to normal, but Dr. Lam believes that since they used the bracelets in conjunction with an Ancient long-range communications device, they may have warped the after-effects into forming a more permanent bond. As Dr. Lee runs tests Daniel finally gets Vala to admit that she knows someone who might know of a way to sever the connection: the very person she stole the bracelets from.

Mitchell and Daniel meet Arlos, a former lover of Vala from whom she stole the bracelets. They explain the situation to them, and he says he might be able to sever the connection — but only if Vala is brought to him. Fearful that he might be planning to kill her he assures them that this is not the case.

Vala is brought to Arlos where he demands the return of his mother’s necklace (another item she stole), or he will not attempt to sever the connection. SG-1 agrees to track it down. This brings them to another world to meet another of Vala’s associates, a Jaffa named Inago. He insists he will only return the necklace if Vala returns a Tel’tak’s power coil.

This leads them to another planet where the team travels to a shrine where monks still worship the god Grannus. Another of Vala’s associates, Caius, is hiding out as a monk, but he wants to leave. For the power coil, Vala must return his cargo ship — the very one he had — not a replacement. Unfortunately, the ship is now being used by the Lucian Alliance, particularly another of Vala’s former associates, Tenat. Getting away with it scot-free would be impossible.

Three days later General Landry, Vala, Daniel and Teal’c (who has returned from Dakara for testimony) travel to Washington D.C. in the hopes of convincing the chairman of the appropriations committee to not slash the S.G.C.’s budget. He believes in the possibility that Daniel and Vala were under a hallucination when they went to “another galaxy” inside their own minds. After Vala points a finger at the inadequacy of Senator Fisher’s “manhood,” the group returns to Stargate Command and Landry informs Mitchell that he now has no choice: Vala must be gone, so he’ll have to find a way to deal with the alliance. Their warnings have also gone unheeded, and the program’s budget has been cut by 70 percent.

Teal’c joins the unit to a remote planet where they have agreed to meet Tenat. In exchange for Vala and Daniel (who was responsible for a loss of weapons-grade naquadah [“Prometheus Unbound”], bounty hunter “Cam Mitchell” and his Jaffa associate will earn a new case. As Tenat holds Mitchell and Teal’c at gunpoint, Jup takes the handcuffed Vala and Daniel to the cargo ship. As they suspected, there is no box of naquadah in the hold, and Jup locks them in the back. Vala uncuffs them and Daniel begins work on the door.

The cargo ship arrives and hovers over Tenat, Mitchell and Teal’c. The “bounty hunters” lower their zat’ni’katels, realizing they have been double-crossed by the alien. But it is Tenat who has been double-crossed. The transport rings beam Teal’c and Mitchell aboard the cargo ship, ringing down an unconscious Jup simultaneously.

But the Lucian alliance has arrived. Vala activates the modifications to the Tel’tak to generate four uncloaking Al’kesh and a pulse wave, enough to get them into hyperspace and away from the threat.

The cargo ship is returned to Caius, the power coil to Inago, and the necklace to Arlos, who reveals that he has no way to counteract the effects of the bonding. But his guess is that it will eventually wear off itself. General Landry is understandably upset, but at least he has some good news. The current budget will be cut, but they now have the support of the international committee — as long as they will be able to assign a civilian to the S.G.C. to monitor all expenditures and have a say in decisions.

SG-1 gathers in the Gate Room to see Teal’c back to Dakara, but Mitchell is certain that they’ll be seeing him again soon.

– D. Read

ANALYSIS

  • Persistence of the effects of the kor mak bracelets may be due to the Ancient long-range communication device. Typically, the connection between the two wearers would be immediately terminated after the bracelets are removed. Dr. Lam speculates that Vala and Daniel’s use of the communications device while joined by the bracelets may have made the effects of the technology persistent after their removal.

    There is no known way to counter the effect, but it will probably fade in time.

  • The international community (made up of non-U.S. governments that have been informed of the existence of the Stargate Program, the Atlantis expedition, and other secrets) is throwing their full financial backing behind the Atlantis mission instead of the S.G.C. This is due in large part to the prevalence of invaluable Ancient technology in the Pegasus Galaxy — but also because the international leaders have no say in how the S.G.C. (a U.S. military instillation) is run.
  • Now that the Senate Appropriations Committee has slashed the program’s budget by 70 percent, General Landry has two choices: eliminate the S.G.C.’s exploration mandate and maintain a minimal state of operations, or seek aid from the international committee. In order to secure funding from the international community to compensate for the budget cut, he would have to agree to a new civilian position on the base, appointed by the international committee, with full access to the base and a say in all major decisions — an international watchdog.
  • The Lucian Alliance are a group of smugglers and mercenaries who have banded together to fill the power vacuum left when the Goa’uld were defeated, at least some of whom are human. But they have been around since before the fall of the Goa’uld. They control a substantial amount of Goa’uld technology, including a fleet of powerful Al’kesh bombers. They are a particular threat to the newly-formed Jaffa government. Vala is familiar with them — they were the ones to whom she intended to sell the Earth ship Prometheus when she stole it last year (“Prometheus Unbound”).
  • The few remaining Goa’uld still have human slaves to do their bidding. Though it is far from an effective army, some of the more powerful Goa’uld may have enough servants to continue to have influence in their own territory — especially because many remote worlds may know nothing of the Goa’uld’s widespread defeat.
  • The Ori crusade has begun: There are reports of other Priors now showing up on a number of other planets.
  • Senator Fisher wants to spend money building more Daedalus-class ships. His reasons for withdrawing funding from Stargate Command are actually quite complementary to the program, which for years struggled to fulfill its mandate to acquire advanced technology to defend Earth (“The Nox,” “The Other Side”). Now the program has fulfilled this mandate, with such acquisitions as warships with Asgard shields, transporters, and weapons, naquadah, hyperspace generator technology, and more.

    Fisher wishes to now deemphasize new exploration, focusing money instead on exploiting this technology to defend Earth. This is a dramatic contrast to the last time SG-1 went up against the head of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Seven years ago Senator Robert Kinsey doubted the word and advice of S.G.C. personnel and closed them down (“Politics”).

  • Senator Fisher’s condemning statement to Daniel — “This program doesn’t exist to satisfy your curiosity, Doctor” — is piercing. From the program’s very inception Daniel has argued (successfully) that they ought to be making contact with and exploring other cultures — many of which were transplanted from Earth thousands of years ago. This even became part of the program’s fundamental mandate. Now, it has been withdrawn by those who pay the bills.
  • Though the Senate foots the bill for the Stargate program, ultimately it is the President who decides on the program’s mandate (“The Broca Divide,” “Inauguration”). The President’s orders have not changed, so presumably General Landry is free to continue the S.G.C.’s exploratory missions should he secure funding to make up the shortfall.

NOTES

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Vala Mal DoranVala Mal Doran – Vala was engaged before she was taken as a Goa’uld host, she claims. It’s quite possibly just part of her story, though. She tells Daniel that after becoming a Goa’uld host she was shunned by her own village. She has many friends (and enemies) across the galaxy from her years as a thief, and spent some time conning a man named Arlos by striking up a romantic relationship with him.
  • Cameron MitchellCameron Mitchell – Mitchell is still trying to convince Daniel (and Teal’c) to rejoin SG-1. They are both hesitant; Teal’c has specifically implied that he has no intention of doing so.

    Mitchell is a football fan.

  • Teal'cTeal’c – Teal’c still has no plans to rejoin SG-1. But his relationship with the new guy, Colonel Mitchell, does seem to be progressing positively. He is sometimes reminded of O’Neill when he is with Colonel Mitchell.

    With Daniel’s problem solved, Teal’c has returned to the Jaffa Nation on Dakara. (Mitchell believes he’ll be back.)

  • Hank LandryHank Landry – Landry has been at Stargate Command for only two months. Now, with a powerful new threat baring down on our galaxy, his budget has been slashed and he has been told to give up new exploration. General Landry must now decide whether or not to seek help and funding from the international committee — which will include allowing a watchdog on the base who watches his every move and who has a say in all decisions.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • Was Vala’s relationship with Arlos at all genuine? If not, why was she using him? For how long were they involved? How long has it been since she left?
  • Why is the power coil valuable to Inago?
  • Will Tenat and Jup make it off the planet? Are they a part of the Lucian Alliance, or just working with them?
  • Now that Caius has his ship back, will he return to smuggling?
  • How did Vala get into Daniel’s room?
  • Will the effect of the bracelets wear off on its own?
  • Will General Landry accept an international civilian position, or the budget cut?
  • Even with a civilian on the base, would the S.G.C. be able to continue to explore new worlds rather than following the Appropriations Committee’s new mandate?

PRODUCTION NOTES

  • “As in years past, the openers plant the seeds for the rest of the season. So … the events of ‘The Ties That Bind’ spin off from what happens in the three-parter — but (in true SG-1 fashion) the episode can be considered a stand-alone.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “Honestly — my favorite episode to write was the last one I scripted, ‘The Ties That Bind.’ I like to write scripts with at least some possibility for humor. As for characters I like to write for — Mitchell and Daniel were a blast to write for in the aforementioned episode.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “[‘Avalon’ and ‘Origin’] are serious episodes that, like most of the stories we do, have a few light-hearted, comedic moments. Episode 4, ‘The Ties That Bind,’ is more of a comedic episode.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “I wrote a scene in a toilet scene in ‘Ties That Bind’ that answered the age-old question ‘Where is the toilet on a cargo ship?’ Jup is up at the controls and gets a reading and he calls back to Tenat who is ‘indisposed.’ The door separating the front of the ship from the cargo hold slides open and Tenat hurries in, buckling his pants as he goes. Suddenly remembering, he reaches back and hits the controls, initiating the rings that ‘clear out’ the back. Sadly, they made me cut the scene.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at GateWorld Forum)
  • “This episode, originally titled ‘Treasure! Treasure! Treasure!’, ran long and, as a result, I had to cut one of my favorite exchanges, part of the scene where an undercover Mitchell encounters alien mercenaries Tenat and Jup:

    Tenat eyes Mitchell.

    TENAT: Your name?

    MITCHELL: Cam Mitchell, bounty hunter.

    TENAT: Never heard of you.

    MITCHELL: I try to keep a low profile, let my work speak for itself. Don’t like to brag, but I’ve captured some of the most dangerous criminals around.

    TENAT: Such as?

    MITCHELL: Well … Grabthar the Hammer.

    TENAT: Never heard of him.

    MITCHELL: The Olsen Twins of Omega 3? Moesha the Vile?

    TENAT: No.

    MITCHELL: Trebek the Destroyer?

    Jup pipes up —

    JUP: Him I’ve heard of.

    This was one of my favorite scripts of my 11+ year Stargate run. I loved the opportunity to write an all-out comic episode — and greatly appreciated the fact that I was supported by actors who could deliver the funny. From our series regulars to this episode’s guest stars, all did a terrific job on ‘The Ties That Bind.’

    “Another scene that I had to cut at the script stage sought to answer the question many curious fans had been asking for years: ‘What happens if you need to go to the bathroom on a cargo ship?’ In the scene, Jup is at the ship’s controls when the door behind him slides open and Tenat enters, pulling up his pants. Tenat ‘flushes’ by initiating the rings that transport away whatever he just left behind in the back. Question answered. And then my fellow producers made me cut it.

    “One of the many amusing memories of this episode concerns guest star Wallace Shawn (Vizzini in The Princess Bride. Inconceivable!). Prior to his arrival, I was told he was very excited to be working on the show because he was, in fact, a huge fan of SG-1. So, on the day of his costume fitting, I went downstairs to say hello and welcome him to Stargate. ‘So, you’re familiar with the show,’ I said. ‘Oh, no, I’ve never seen it,’ he informed me. ‘I don’t even own a TV.'” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)

  • “One of the main reasons I so enjoyed working on those last two seasons of SG-1 was the cast, and a character by the name of Vala Mal Doran. This episode was an opportunity to examine a little of her (un)professional backstory with a tour de force of the unsavory sorts she did business with over the course of her checkered mercenary past.

    “Claudia had a knack for always delivering a line exactly the way you’d imagined it. Throws in impeccable comic timing, a great onscreen presence and – voila! What more could you ask for? She was surrounded by some equally great talent and, in this episode, a wonderful guest cast as well. Vala, Daniel, and Mitchell set out on a scavenger hunt unlike any other …” (Writer / producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)