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The Prior, Daniel, and Vala apparently travel to another world where the Ori religion is headquartered. The view of the world when they transport in with rings is quite impressive, as is the city in the distance. They are left to cool their heels in the Ori palace for quite awhile, then Daniel is invited to talk to the Doci, the head Prior.
The Priors have a very odd appearance: their skin and hair are bleached and gray, and their eyes are milky, although they can see. The Doci has a similar appearance, but with a golden cast, mirroring the appearance of the Ori, who appear as flames around the Doci's chamber.
The Doci and the Ori (by temporarily possessing the Doci) convey their message to Daniel. The Ori are in fact ascended beings. They believe that the ascended Ancients (of our own galaxy) are evil, because they do not tell people how to reach enlightenment, in other words, how to ascend. The Ori believe that since they are more powerful beings on a higher level of existence, they deserve to be worshiped as gods, and in return they have developed the religion of Origin, which supposedly will lead their followers to ascension. The ascended Ancients had apparently been hiding the existence of the Milky Way's inhabitants from the Ori; now that the Ori know that they exist, they intend to convert the galaxy and destroy any who will not believe.
Back in the Milky Way, two different situations are developing. General Landry meets with the Jaffa leader Gerak, in the hopes of encouraging relations between Earth and the Jaffa. Also, on some unnamed world, an Ori Prior arrives to begin preaching Origin. Landry sends Mitchell and SG-12 to investigate the Prior (since they don't have any idea what he represents) and his claims of miracles. Mitchell ends up bringing the Prior back to the SGC while Gerak is still there. Gerak asks to meet him.
Daniel and Vala are returned to the medieval village where they first "awakened". They are desperate to somehow return their minds to their bodies in the SGC. Their only hope is to get help with some of the underground citizens who have hoarded old technology they have uncovered, even though they know the Ori will almost certainly then discover these rebels. One of the rebels also has a communication device like the one in the SGC, so Daniel and Vala put in the communication stones; for a moment, they return to their bodies in the SGC, but then a Prior shows up and disrupts the device, keeping their minds in the distant bodies.
The Prior personally oversees the ceremony to burn to death Daniel and Vala. At the same time in the SGC, Landry and Mitchell heed the warning Daniel gave (in the short time he was conscious) that the Prior is an enemy, and they attempt to take him prisoner. The Prior bursts into flames and disappears (a nice parallel with Daniel and Vala about to do the same). Mitchell and Teal'c toss the communication device in the stargate's opening splash, destroying it. This returns Daniel and Vala to their bodies before they are killed.
At the end of the episode, Daniel and Vala relate their story and the impending threat of the Ori. Landry says, "Let them bring it." He's just a bit overconfident, I think. A nice coda to the episode is an appearance by General O'Neill to go on a joyride with Mitchell in an F302.
OK, so this last part of the three-part episode beginning this season has started to crank things up. Daniel's impetuous decision to use the Ancient communication device in the previous episode has galaxy-wide implications. The Ori are planning on gearing up their entire society for a crusade to the Milky Way. How long until they can do more than send ahead some missionary Priors? How will they get to the Milky Way, anyway?
The philosophical differences between the ascended Ancients and the Ori is an interesting one. Apparently the rift is so deep that Daniel didn't even know about the Ori when he was ascended. The ascended Ancients' noninterference directive is apparently not as absolute as they implied, since they decided to shield an entire galaxy from the Ori. But now that some mere mortals have opened Pandora's box, it does not appear that the Ancients will interfere. This would be more understandable and less frustrating if the Ancients had put "Warning: galaxy full of power-hungry ascended beings" on their communication device. Daniel speculates that the Ancients did not interfere because they believe in the free will of humans, but how can humans make informed decisions when the Ori have been hidden from them? Despite this "gotcha", it is a wise decision on the part of the writers to keep the Ancients aloof so that they can't be used to just appear and fix things whenever the plot needs them to.
The meeting between Landry and Gerak was so-so. Gerak came across very oddly. I'm not sure whether he was supposed to be uncomfortable meeting with humans, or uncertain of his position, or what, but I felt like his actions and expressions were a little off. I'm not too sure he's anxious to keep warm relations with Earth, even though the advantages should seem obvious. His interest in the Prior was also odd to me - was he hoping to set up some kind of confrontation with the Prior so he could show off somehow?
The discussion between Landry and Gerak concerning the vulnerability of many societies now that the Goa'uld have been overthrown was a good one. There is a power vacuum in many societies now that their "gods" are gone. There will be many people at all levels of those societies trying to take advantage of the situation for their own personal gain, which will slow the efforts of any sincere organizational efforts. In addition, many societies would feel so lost that they might welcome a strong leader, no matter what his or her beliefs are. The Ori Priors could easily step into leadership roles in many places, so the SGC and the Jaffa will have their work cut out to stop that.
Onto smaller issues. What will happen with Vala now? At the end of the episode, she removed the bracelets that linked Daniel to her. (I was actually expecting that not to work.) Will the SGC just let her go on her way? She has a pretty strong feelings about the Ori, so she may want to fight them in some way; will the SGC take advantage of that?
I was somewhat surprised that no one (especially Daniel) mentioned the fate of the two people that Daniel and Vala had been "possessing": presumably they "awoke" back in their bodies only to be burned to death within moments for actions they did not commit. Granted, they were rebels against the Ori, hiding knowledge about their past, but did they deserve that fate? Daniel and Vala had little choice in the matter, and from what we can tell if Daniel and Vala had remained, their hosts would have died along with them. I just can't believe no one even thought of them.
The appearance of O'Neill at the end of the episode made me realize how much I've missed him being a part of the action. He brings a presence to the room and commands the attention of others in a way that Mitchell can't begin to do yet. Plus, I miss his sarcastic humor. The episodes so far this season have been pretty heavy, with little chance to lighten things up, except for sniping and flirting from Vala. I appreciated Daniel opening up to O'Neill about how seriously he is worried about the Ori threat. And Daniel has a point: the Goa'uld had some great technology, but we always knew that in the end they were flesh and blood and therefore killable. The Ori have changed this. The powers of the Priors aren't necessarily strictly technological, and the Ori themselves may not be able to be killed. Things do not look so good.