If you have any comments on this review, please email me at the address at the bottom.
SG-1 follows the gate address for Merlin's anti-Ori weapon to a planet where they find a medieval village named Camelot. The villagers are awaiting the return of Arthur from his quest to find the sangraal, and the village comes complete with its own sword-in-a-stone.
The team quickly discovers that Merlin was here, but he disappeared at about the same time as Arthur's departure. However, his house and library have been sealed up since then. It is protected by a forcefield, but the villagers are more afraid of its curse of the Black Knight.
Daniel manages to convince the town historian to use his key to turn off the forcefield and enter Merlin's library. They find a huge store of Merlin's work in books and scrolls. They also find a secret chamber with an Ancient control mechanism similar to the one that controlled the weapon on Dakara (from last season's "Reckoning, Part 2"). At this point, the historian is afraid to involve himself further, so he returns home, where he is promptly killed by the Black Knight.
This terrorizes the village, and they firmly ask SG-1 to leave. Daniel tries to explain that the Black Knight is just a defense mechanism, not a real curse, and that magic does not exist - at which point they are beamed away by the Odyssey, which has just arrived. Apparently, possessing Asgard beaming technology makes one just as arrogant and presumptuous using it as the Asgard - shouldn't SG-1 have been contacted before being whisked away?
Col. Pearson on the Odyssey tells SG-1 that the Ori's supergate has been found, so all forces have been ordered to it. Daniel and Mitchell decide to stay behind at Camelot for another try at finding Merlin's weapon. They will be picked up in a couple days by the Korolev, the Russian government's new ship (from "Crusade"), which was rushed into service.
Daniel and Mitchell are beamed into Merlin's library (thus avoiding the villagers). Daniel attempts to use the Ancient control device to turn off the Black Knight (which must be a projection similar to the one Mitchell fought it "Avalon, Part 2"). As he is working, the Black Knight appears in the village market, so Mitchell rushes to defend. Alas, both he and his weapons pass right through the Knight and are ineffective - until a village girl pulls the sword from the stone and throws it to Mitchell. After that, he has some defenses, but is quickly being beaten down by the Knight. Daniel finally shoots out the control crystals on the Ancient device, which makes the Black Knight disappear. The villagers are now overjoyed that the curse has been broken, and that the sword has been pulled from the stone - this is a sign that Arthur is returning.
But: they still haven't found the anti-Ori weapon. While playing with the device, Daniel saw a holographic message from Merlin, and uncovered a huge treasure of gold and jewels. He believes that the weapon is in the form of Merlin's pendant; the village leader informs him that this jewel is the sangraal, for which Arthur is searching. Obviously, the weapon is not there. ...and, they are beamed onto the Korolev.
En route to the supergate, Teal'c leaves (in a small Jaffa ship) to look for other allies; we will see that he is going to convince the Lucian Alliance to join them.
The Odyssey arrives at the supergate, where many Jaffa and Tok'ra ships are waiting. One (!) Asgard ship joins them. Carter and the Asgard Kvasir (who first helped the SGC in "Ripple Effect") make plans for how they will dial the supergate in order to send through the weapon. Carter will have to go EVA to access and change the control crystals. They realize that even if the weapon is not found, they should still dial out through the supergate: if they can use the singularity's power to keep it open, it would prevent the Ori ships from entering the Milky Way.
The Korolev arrives at the supergate while Carter is EVA. Before Carter can complete her work, the Ori dial the supergate, and four huge Ori ships come through. They are enormous, and have a really nifty design. All of the Milky Way's forces open fire, but it is quickly obvious that the Ori ships are far superior. This shouldn't have been a surprise - after all, the Ori gave the planet in "Ethon" a do-it-yourself satellite weapon kit that completely kicked the Prometheus's ass.
We see Jaffa and Tok'ra ships destroyed. The Earth ships are damaged heavily, and Mitchell asks to lead the fighters as a last-ditch effort. The Asgard ship seems to survive, but it is one (small!) ship compared to the Ori ships. The Lucian Alliance ships (with Teal'c) arrive with weapons blazing, but they don't seem to make much difference. As Carter watches from the supergate structure, one of the Earth ships is destroyed - we don't know if it is the Odyssey or the Korolev.
In the final scene of the episode, we get a view of the battle from within one of the Ori ships, where Vala is looking on. This is an eerie scene, since of course the battle is completely silent in space. From where Vala is, the Ori ship doesn't even seem to be taking damage. The Ori ships finish blasting their way through the armada and head into the Milky Way galaxy.
The first part of the episode was a little slow, with all of the scenes in Camelot. It was frustrating to watch the villagers stymieing SG-1's efforts. SG-1 really is looking for something that can save the galaxy; maybe they should be just a teensy bit more forceful in getting their way with the villagers. It was also frustrating when the weapon did not turn out to be there. Presumably this is something that will be followed up on next season, since the village leader told Daniel where Arthur went to look for the sangraal.
It seems like a huge loss that Daniel was forced to destroy the Ancient control device. What else did it control? What other information could it reveal? It seemed like a huge device to just be there for turning the Black Knight on and off and showing Merlin's hologram.
I'm still not sure I really care for the Arthur myth as it's being incorporated into Stargate SG-1. Previously, Egyption and Norse mythology (just to name two) have been included in the background of the stories and characters. However, the myths have mostly been used to fill in what the personality and motivations of a character might be. There haven't been many specific myths that have been interpreted to be meant as step-by-step retellings of past events or what one should do in the future. The Arthur myth has been an exception to this. Merlin has a treasure on Earth, and sure enough, the stories tell us where it is, in Glastonbury ("Avalon, Part 1"). The treasure even consists mostly of conventional valuables, such as gold and jewels, instead of even a "treasure of knowledge" or other metaphorical treasure. Merlin has a Black Knight cure, and yes, there's a literal Black Knight. The village leader said that Arthur was looking for the sangraal in three locations, so no doubt, we will be visiting those. I do not like the myth becoming an instruction book for SG-1.
Things really started cranking when the armada formed at the supergate. It was nice to get Kvasir's explanation of how Merlin's weapon probably works: it creates destructive interference with the Ori's energy in the "ascended plane" the Ori inhabit. This actually makes at least a bit of sense. The Ori are stated to be pure energy, which is light. All light is made up of electromagnetic waves, and one of the most basic property of any wave is that it can have both constructive and destructive interferences with other waves. However, the Ori are presumably made of energy that has many different wavelengths and that changes over time, thus making the job of destructively interfering with them very difficult. But, in principle, I approve.
The battle itself was incredibly one-sided, which should have been expected, as I mentioned above. I do wonder why we haven't heard of any research being done to try to counter the effectiveness of the Ori weapons and shields. The problem, of course, is that the SGC didn't have much in the way of sample Ori weapons and shields to work with. However, at the end of "Ethon", it's pretty clear that the population of the planet has wiped themselves out. Why not go and see if their Ori satellite is still there? Even if they couldn't bring it home (because it was still attacking them), they could've sent targets and then studied how it attacked them. The Asgard did similar work with the anti-Replicator weapon, so this does not seem an impossible task. This is a real plot hole to me.
The fleets of the Jaffa, Tok'ra, and Earth have been decimated. How will they continue to resist the Ori invasion? Of course, even if they had many more ships, it seems to be futile to just throw them against the Ori ships. Clearly a new strategy or new technology is needed. Was the Odyssey or Korolev destroyed? Given that Mitchell and Daniel were on the Korolev, I'm guessing it was the Odyssey, which would leave Earth with only the Daedalus, which is usually tied up traveling to Atlantis.
What will the Ori ships do first? Will they try to take out one of the galaxy's major powers, or will they just start sweeping through the galaxy and wiping out everything as they go? Given that the Ori's goal is to gain more followers, it seems like they would want to eliminate the major powers first. Once they are gone, the remaining minor worlds are more likely to capitulate and follow Origin.
Overall, this was a very exciting episode which has shaken up the state of affairs in the galaxy. The small deduction in my rating was for the somewhat tedious scenes in Camelot, as well as the literalness with which the Arthur legend has been interpreted.