Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 9: "Avalon, Part 1"

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Episode Information

Title: "Avalon, Part 1"
Written by: Robert C. Cooper
Director: Andy Mikita
Rating (out of 4 stars): **
Reviewed on: August 31, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


In the first part of a three-part episode, we meet the new leader of SG-1 and start on a new quest.

This part of the episode focuses a lot on Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell, the new leader of SG-1. Mitchell led the F302 fighters against Anubis's fleet at the end of season 7 in "Lost City, Part 2". We see in flashbacks that not only did he fight well, but his fighter was shot down and he was seriously injured. During his extended recovery, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and General O'Neill promised him his choice of postings.

Mitchell chose to join SG-1 because he wanted to be a part of the SGC's premier team. But he is sorely disappointed when he arrives at the SGC and finds out that the other members of SG-1 have left for other assignments. Carter is now leading the research at Area 51. Teal'c is working full-time on the Jaffa high council and is trying to keep the various Jaffa factions together. Daniel is heading to Atlantis soon on the Daedalus. General Hank Landry is now in charge at the SGC - we don't know where O'Neill has been posted, but we do know that he chose Landry for the job. Landry tells Mitchell to choose new personnel to make up his team.

While everyone can understand Mitchell's disappointment at not being able to work with the original SG-1 members, he comes across as a bit of a pouting child that wants to get his way. He tries unsuccessfully to convince Carter, Teal'c, and Daniel to come back.

But, he's about to get a lucky break: Vala Mal Doran (from season 8's "Prometheus Unbound") shows up with some interesting artifacts. She has a tablet that she believes describes the location of a fabulous treasure on Earth (or so said the person she stole it from). Daniel is convinced to work on translating the tablet until he has to leave for Atlantis.

Vala also brought another set of artifacts: matching bracelets. She puts one on Daniel (without his permission) and one on herself. She believes that the bracelet will prevent Daniel from getting too far away from her, thereby ensuring that she gets her share of the treasure. However, it turns out that the bracelets make both of them ill (and eventually would kill them) when they get too far apart. The discovery of this effect results in Daniel being unconscious in the infirmary when the Daedalus departs, so he misses going to Atlantis - a fact which does not improve his mood nor his opinion of Vala. Vala claims to know how to remove the bracelets, but will not do so until she gets her share. Other attempts to remove them are futile.

Daniel's illness drew Teal'c to Earth (the high council is also in recess). Mitchell sees his glass now as half full and encourages them to just try to find the treasure. Daniel eventually determines that the tablet was written by Merlin, who apparently was an Ancient, and he may have hidden some kind of "treasure" from Avalon somewhere in England. Specifically, under Glastonbury Tor.

Mitchell, Daniel, Vala, and Teal'c board the Prometheus to use its sensors. They find that there are caverns under the Tor, but it's protected by some type of energy barrier. They are able to use the transport rings to enter the cavers, but they are cut off from communication with the Prometheus.

They discover a sword in a stone, which they are unable to remove, and see a hologram message from Merlin. They pair up to explore the surrounding caverns. Daniel and Vala become trapped in a room with two pots labeled with cryptic messages; when they are unable to solve the puzzle, the room's stone ceiling begins to descend. Mitchell and Teal'c are trapped in another room with a puzzle involving stone tiles - their ceiling also starts to drop. To be continued...

This episode is definitely a mixed bag. It is somewhat satisfying to see that the characters from SG-1 last season have moved on to other things after the seminal achievements of destroying the Replicators, overthrowing the Goa'uld, destroying Anubis, and gaining freedom for the Jaffa. It was certainly the end of an era. But we can miss them and hope that they will return! Each of Carter, Daniel, and Teal'c's new "assignments" is very logical for their personalities and abilities.

I'm still not sure what I think of Mitchell. He seems a bit immature, and he is acknowledged to be quite young. Even though Landry says his record his excellent, it's hard to believe he would have a chance at being named the leader of SG-1 if it wasn't for O'Neill's promise. He bounces from pouting about the old SG-1 having broken up to being extremely enthusiastic when they have a "mission" to uncover Merlin's treasure. When Teal'c and Mitchell are together, I get the feeling that Teal'c just wants to shake his head at Mitchell's eagerness. It's interesting to see how reserved Teal'c is with Mitchell, despite having acknowledged Mitchell's past achievements.

Vala's reappearance is a mixed blessing. She works well as a plot catalyst, since it's very plausible she would come up with some interesting artifacts by shady means. But her personality is by turns grating and amusing. She certainly doesn't let anyone ignore her or take her for granted. I do appreciate that she knows her attire is eye-catching: too often female characters seem to have no idea that they are half-dressed. She and Daniel quickly slip into their odd relationship they developed by the end of "Prometheus Unbound" - it's definitely a change to see Daniel have such a low tolerance for the behavior of another person. I did get tired of his quick-tempered sniping at Vala. I guess she just brings out the worst in him. Her interactions with the other men are amusing, because she has no problem hanging on them and flirting with them, which is certainly a change from the typical SGC women.

What kind of treasure did Merlin hide? Earth really has everything it needs at the moment, since it doesn't even have major enemies left, so it would have to be something really amazing. What will be the resolutions to the puzzles in the traps? Mitchell and Teal'c's puzzle seems to be just a rearrangement of the tiles, but what can you do with two empty pots, in the case of Daniel and Vala?

I don't know yet what I think of General Landry. His ongoing character analysis of Mitchell was somewhat annoying. The chess scene with O'Neill was nice - did we know that O'Neill could play chess well? Landry definitely has a different style from Hammond or O'Neill, which was noticeable during Daniel's briefing. Landry had no patience for Daniel's long introduction to the problem, where Hammond would have taken in all the information with no protest and O'Neill would have zoned out until it was done. Since we know Daniel better, Landry's impatience struck me as rude.

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