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R.A. Goodyear is an author, screenwriter, ghostwriter, editor and book/film reviewer with over twelve years' experience, including positions in two independent publishing houses. Rebekah has published ...

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Rita Lewis Avalon, Parts 1 and 2: Season 9, Episodes 1 and 2
02 August 2017
: what a fantastic job reviewing these controversial episodes and explain to this Scaper why Ben pla...

Reviews and Journaling By R.A. Goodyear

Origin, Season 9, Episode 3


Origin is a direct continuation from the two-part season opener, Avalon, wherein we were first introduced to Ben Browder as SG-1's new leader, Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell. Originally intended to be a stand-alone episode, executive producer Robert C. Cooper says in the Season 9 companion book that it just wasn't possible to conclude the opening story at the end of Avalon:

"When we boarded the story, we only focused on the story beats. But, as I got into the script, I realized there were so many character beats that needed to be explored. I made it a three-parter after writing the first hour, because I felt the first episode needed to be about the characters and less about the plot." (Stargate SG-1: The Illustrated Companion, (p. 32, Copyright 2006, Titan Books)

A Time To Weep And A Time To Laugh, A Time To Mourn And A Time To Dance

I enjoyed watching Ben in this episode as he projects Cameron's frustration and the feeling of helplessness he experiences in neither knowing what is happening to Daniel and Vala nor being able to help them. Cameron is by their side at the observation lab nearly every moment, until General Landry (Beau Bridges) comes to tell him about P3X-421, a planet, and civilization dealing with the loss of their former false god which has been visited suddenly by a mysterious "missionary" expounding upon a whole new religion. There is some great interaction between Ben and Beau in this scene.

"This missionary is apparently trying to prove the validity of his claims by performing miracles," Landry says. "Miracles..." Cameron replies, unimpressed. General Landry orders Cameron to take SG-12 to investigate. Ben's reaction as Cameron was perfect: a silent, initial hesitation as he looks down at Daniel and Vala, then back at the General before complying. 

"And A Man Has No Greater Thing Under the Sun..."

In the scene where Cameron goes off-world and introduces himself to the missionary, we find him quoting Ecclesiastes and learn he spent many Sundays in childhood at church listening to his Bible-thumping grandmother's expositions.

Stargate SG-1 never really veered into "Western" religion, with the exception of an episode in the third season. While today religious extremism and fanaticism are common sights in film, this was relatively unusual territory for science fiction television and caused a certain amount of controversy among fans, especially with Cameron Mitchell making open comparisons to Christianity in this episode. 

Cooper addressed the controversy surrounding the Ori story arc:

"The Ori are really sinister. Stargate SG-1 has always been controversial, and I'm surprised that people are suddenly starting to notice. I guess we've gotten really close to modern day hot topics. We've been accused in the past, too, with [season three episode] 'Demons.' 'Demons" was a thinly veiled allusion to Catholicism. But the Ori are not a criticism or indictment of any one religion. People have chosen to interpret it that way. Others have defended it as, correctly, a comment on the evils of all religions. Where does religion go wrong? Why is extremism a problem? That's obviously something that everybody can relate to. We've always felt that our show, [being] science fiction, has been an opportunity to explore these ideas in a slightly more fantastic form." (ibid.)

Terrifying Phenomena, Last-Minute Heroics, and Faith

The story continues with a series of fast-paced and frightening events. Having brought the Ori Prior back to the SGC, the team soon discovers via Daniel and Vala (who manage to regain consciousness briefly) that this supposedly benign "missionary" is not what he seems. When Cameron tries to detain him, the Prior lights himself on fire and vanishes. There is no time to react, however, as Daniel and Vala go into distress. Suddenly, Ben's portrayal of Cameron changes: he isn't deferring to the advice of the "experts" any longer and he is very much in command as he and Teal'c race against the clock to toss the Ancient device into the matter stream of the Stargate in a last-ditch attempt to save their friends. It works, and there is a subtle but powerful moment between Ben and Chris Judge as they clasp arms in camaraderie, signaling the true start of Cameron and Teal'c's friendship.

Although it is occasionally noted that Ben's character Cameron Mitchell is "rash and impulsive," this is one of many times where his lack of hesitation, intelligence, and fresh ideas make all the difference in saving the lives of his people. It is one of the things I love most about Ben's portrayal of Cameron: a brief blink, the way you can see his mind spinning out an impromptu plan at high speed, and the split-second rise to action. When the chips are down and there's no time for discussion, he doesn't stand around debating the consequences, he just goes for it.

Later, after Daniel and Vala have recovered and the Jaffa has returned home, there is an interesting scene in the briefing room between Cameron, General Landry, Teal'c, Daniel, and Vala. While everyone discusses the potential for danger with their new foes the Ori and the hope that maybe the Ancients will help them, a philosophical and theosophical discussion led by Cameron, the General and Daniel ensues. Daniel is very worried because although he is well aware the Ori are false gods like the Goa'uld, they are perhaps the most dangerous enemy SG-1 has ever faced since they - like their cousins, the Ancients - are ascended beings.

But the scene soon turns into a discourse on faith and a higher power, and Ben and Beau really drive it home with their interaction. This marks the start of what will become a trademark of Ben's performance as Cameron Mitchell: the way he infused the character with an element of faith and strength on a level contrasted from the other characters in the series. His countenance, the look in his eyes and his tone of voice all offer something not seen before in Stargate SG-1: a conviction in more than just science, and a lack of jadedness towards faith and spirituality/religion. 

Passing the Torch

The final scene has Cameron flying an F-302 Interceptor for the first time since his crash in the battle with Anubis' fleet over Antarctica two years previous. General Jack O'Neill decided to surprise Cameron with the impromptu flight, and Ben positively beams as Cameron in the cockpit. There is some great interaction between Ben and Richard Dean Anderson -- who have very different acting styles -- in their first appearance together as Jack essentially gives his blessing to Cameron on being the new leader of SG-1, and the two discuss the privileges of rank in a comedic exchange.

Jack: "Now see that's one of the great things about being a General: You pretty much get to do whatever you want."
Cameron: "Well I suppose after you save the world seven or eight times..."
Jack: "Who's counting huh?"
Cameron: "Teal'c... actually. He mentions it quite often."

Robert C. Cooper said of the scene:

"I struggled a bit over what the last scene between Mitchell and O'Neill should be. It seems so clear now, in hindsight, that helping Mitchell get on the horse and fly an F-302 again is the perfect gesture for O'Neill to make." (ibid.)

In Conclusion

Origin concludes the opening set-up for the new direction Stargate SG-1 took in season 9 with Richard Dean Anderson's departure. Ben skillfully handles multiple layers and subtly demonstrates that Cameron Mitchell is able to handle all the strangeness and dangers thrown at him and lead his people into unknown territory. It is a powerful introduction to a season which will be marked with twists and turns at every corner.

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External Publication

  • Stargate screencaps courtesy of several Stargate websites.
  •   Tuesday, 08 August 2017
Avalon, Parts 1 and 2: Season 9, Episodes 1 and 2

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