Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 10: "Memento Mori"

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Episode Information

Title: "Memento Mori"
Written by: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie
Director: Peter DeLuise
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: December 19, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


This is a decent episode focusing on Vala, but I'm not sure what the point was.

As the episode opens, Daniel is taking Vala out to dinner to celebrate her worthiness as an SG-1 member. When Vala excuses herself to use the restroom, she is abducted by the Trust. Daniel is too late to rescue her.

Vala's captor is a Goa'uld who used to be a rival of Qetesh (the Goa'uld that formerly inhabited Vala). This Goa'uld is convinced that Vala still has some memories of key information Qetesh uncovered, and the Goa'uld is determined to use a memory device (similar to those employed by the Tok'ra and most recently by Osiris in season 7's "Chimera"). Vala is suppressing the memories, so the device is very painful to her.

Meanwhile, General Landry uses his connections with Agent Barrett at the NID to learn of possible locations where Vala might be held by the Trust. SG teams storm several of the locations; the location where Vala is being held is not the one attacked by SG-1. (Why didn't SG-1 split up so one of them was on each team?) A serious firefight develops between the Trust operatives and the SGC soldiers. During the fight, the memory device is shot by a zat, which also zaps Vala. She manages to escape and make her way out through the fighting. The Trust's failsafe bomb explodes, killing the remaining fighters on both sides.

Vala wanders off and enters a diner. She eats a meal, but tries to leave without paying. This is when we learn that she has no memory since the device shocked her. The diner's owner, Sal, takes pity on her and hires her as a waitress. She works there for some two weeks. In the meantime, the SGC is trying to ascertain whether she is still alive or not, and the Trust is doing the same. (The Goa'uld with the grudge against Vala was not killed.)

Vala's presence becomes known to both sides when she foils a robbery attempt at the diner using some instinctive hand-to-hand combat training. While she did not do anything illegal, the local cop decides to question her, believing that she must be on the run if she has such abilities. When the cop runs her image through official channels to see if anyone can identify her, both the Trust and the SGC take note. Unfortunately, Trust operatives arrive first and pose as "Colonel Carter"; they take Vala away. Vala, of course, cannot remember anyone from SG-1 in order to tell that they aren't the right people.

The real SG-1 arrive moments later and head off in pursuit of the Trust vehicle. Mitchell commandeers a motorcycle and catches up with the Trust car on a back road just as Vala has taken the initiative of strangling the driver with her handcuffs. The car wrecks. Mitchell and the surviving Trust member trade shots, killing the Trust operative and wounding Mitchell. Vala takes advantage of the confusion to acquire her own gun and proceeds to take Mitchell hostage.

Vala takes Mitchell to a local motel and handcuffs him to the bed. Mitchell desperately tries to explain to her about the stargate and SG-1, but she's not buying any of it. Eventually she leaves him there and wanders off again. The rest of SG-1 locates Mitchell by his transmitter and frees him, not without a few comments about his state of undress. Carter's enjoyment of his embarrassment is particularly fun. (Mitchell kept saying this was only the second time he'd lost his pants. I believe the first time was in last season's "Ripple Effect" when the alternate Mitchell steals his clothes.)

A policeman on patrol spots Vala going into a nearby warehouse and alerts SG-1. Unfortunately, the Trust also has tracked her down. As SG-1 and the Trust shoot it out, Vala tries to slip away again. But Daniel knows how she thinks, and he stops her. Eventually he manages to get through to her old memories and she surrenders to him. Back at the SGC, the doctor manages to restore her memories, and Landry makes her a full SG-1 member.

This episode was an enjoyable look at Vala without quite so many smart-ass remarks and sniping. The strangeness of Vala interacting with SG-1 when she doesn't remember them was also a bit of an unusual treat.

However, I'm not sure what the point of this episode was. The episode tried to make a deeper comment on Vala's personality by commenting both at the beginning (at the dinner) and at the end (Daniel's entreaty to Vala) about how Vala was used to running away, and now she doesn't have to. Running away? Even before Vala was helping the SGC, I never really got the impression she was running away. She was presented more as the con artist who always had another slick story to replace the one that you just found out was a lie. But she seemed to be doing this for personal gain and maybe fun, not as a way of running away. So to me, this part of the episode fell flat.

Even so, I think it could have been a way to find out more about Vala's past, especially when she was the host of Qetesh, because she did have some flashbacks. But those flashbacks were mere images; we didn't learn anything significant. Certainly Goa'uld are capable of such horrors that Vala would want to suppress those memories, but maybe we could've seen an example? Or possibly a flashback to some information that might turn out to be useful today? But no, Daniel headed off that possibility when he said that the information Qetesh's rival wanted turned out to be useless anyway. So instead, we find out that Vala's a pretty OK person and could work as a waitress in a pinch.

I think the most significant part of the episode was that as soon as Vala disappeared, SG-1 mobilized immediately to find her. This was a far cry from the "that's too bad" response when Vala disappeared into the Ori's supergate black hole at the end of last season's "Beachhead". In that sense, Vala really has become a member of SG-1.

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