Episode Review of Stargate SG-1 Season 9: "The Ties That Bind"

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Episode Information

Title: "The Ties That bind"
Written by: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie
Director: William Waring
Rating (out of 4 stars): **
Reviewed on: September 5, 2007

Synopsis from GateWorld


This episode is a sometimes-humorous look at "the ties that bind" Vala, but is ultimately a little too much fluff.

Vala leaves the SGC, but she and Daniel quickly discover the physical link between them was not broken when Vala removed their bracelets in the previous episode ("Origin"). Vala claims that the man she stole the bracelets from had been doing research on them and might know of someway to break the link.

Mitchell and Teal'c accompany Vala and Daniel to visit this man, Arlos, who is played by Wallace Shawn (Vizzini in The Princess Bride) in another humorous role. Apparently Vala had an affair with him while in the process of conning him, but he doesn't hold any hard feelings: except that Vala stole his mother's necklace, which he wants back. Once it is returned, he'll help them.

Of course, Vala no longer has the necklace. She traded it to a Jaffa. The Jaffa won't return the necklace until Vala returns what she traded him. And so we backtrack Vala's deals through several shady businessmen, until we get back to a cargo ship. This is the cargo ship the two naquaadah traders in last season's "Prometheus Unbound" had; they are now part of the Lucian Alliance, a new coalition of thieves and smugglers, and are therefore hard to get to. Having hit a dead end, they return to Earth.

Just in time for politics! General Landry is trying to keep the Appropriations Committee from drastically lowering the SGC's budget in favor of funding Atlantis operations. He, Teal'c, and Daniel (and Vala, since they are linked) testify before the committee. The committee feels that since the SGC has fulfilled its mandate (finding technology to defend Earth), their explorations should be cut back and Earth should instead concentrate on building things with that technology, such as more spaceships. With echoes from Senator Kinsey in season 7's "Lost City, Part 1", the chairman of the committee accuses Daniel of manufacturing the Ori threat just to keep funding for the SGC. Vala jumps in with some innuendo about the chairman, which doesn't help matters. In the end, the SGC's budget is cut to 30% of its usual amount.

Because of Vala's performance at the committee, Landry is determined to get her unlinked from Daniel and out of the SGC. He approves a mission to get the desired cargo ship from the Lucian Alliance. Mitchell, Teal'c, Daniel, and Vala work out a nice double-cross plan, and easily steal the ship and ditch the traders. Then they go back up the chain of Vala's dealings, reversing all the trades until they get Arlos's mother's necklace. When they return it to him, he admits he has no idea why the link has persisted between Daniel and Vala and he doesn't know how to remove it, but he suspects it will fade over time. Arlos is clearly the king of the con artists in this episode!

This episode did have some funny moments, mostly centered on Vala's past dealings. The smuggler-turned-monk who was ready to scream from all the goodness at his sanctuary was a hoot. But other things, like Vala pickpocketing Daniel, are getting old. I think humor centering on Vala's bad habits is more funny when it is incidental and casual; it becomes annoying when there's too much of it at once.

The character of Arlos was the best, and surprisingly understated. His descriptions of he and Vala frolicking was delightfully icky, along with Daniel and Mitchell's reactions. Vala reuniting with him and taking up the role of the distraught lover was fun, since we could see just how both of them were obviously playing parts and trying to use each other to the best advantage.

The plot involving Vala had little effect on the course of the series, assuming that the link between she and Daniel does wear off. However, the subplot with the SGC's budget could be crucial. Landry is going to try to get additional funding for the SGC from the international committee governing Atlantis, in exchange for a watchdog from the committee. How will operations at the SGC change? I also wonder if the SGC's status versus Atlantis here parallels Stargate SG-1's status versus Stargate Atlantis on the SciFi Channel.

This episode also seemed extra fluffy considering the huge threat the galaxy faces from the Ori; indeed it was mentioned that more Priors have been arriving in our galaxy. What other moves are the Ori making while the SGC is wasting time?

Will there ever be a stable SG-1 team again? Teal'c returns to Dakara, but Mitchell says he'll be back. Daniel has not committed to the team. How long will Landry let SG-1 be in limbo?

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