So back when we first started watching Stargate, I said that the world of this series is “really chaste and sexless.” That’s why the introduction of Vala Mal Doran is like a long, long overdue atom bomb. The show had brought in several actors who were familiar to SF fans over the years, usually from the Star Trek franchise, but Stargate typically reserves its lighter touch for smaller stories without guest stars. Since the show is otherwise really serious and often quite heavy, that means that none of these familiar faces really got to let their hair down and have lots of fun. Claudia Black got to have fun. Vala is my favorite character in the whole franchise.
While Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge were off filming the previous story, Michael Shanks got to team up with former cast member Don S. Davis for this one. General Hammond decides to command the Atlantis rescue or recovery mission himself, brings Daniel along, and the flying battleship gets hijacked by a space pirate. It begins with one of my favorite scenes from the whole series, where Daniel protests that he should go on the Atlantis for reasons x, y, and z, O’Neill says that he can’t, and Hammond, apparently oblivious to their argument, beautifully undermines O’Neill because he needs Daniel… for reasons x, y, and z.
But then Vala shows up and steals the ship out from under everybody. The beauty of this is that it feels like SG-1 just goes crashing into another series entirely. Before this, SG-1 only rarely hinted at a universe outside of worlds of Goa’uld control and human slaves. But Vala – while herself possibly a former host for a Goa’uld and old rival of a recent enemy, Camulus – is from a universe of pirates and illegal weapons trading and dodgy deals with weird aliens. Daniel takes the alias “Hans Olo” at one point just to drive it home.
And this universe is fun and it’s sexy. Vala initiates things talking dirty to throw him off his game, and their fighting/flirting is hilarious and hot. After he zats her, she wakes up in the battleship’s brig in crew coveralls, her stolen armor confiscated, complaining that she’s hungry. “You’ve seen me naked already, the least you can do is cook me dinner,” she protests. The best thing is that the show’s producers knew they were onto a winner with the character and brought her back. Late October? I suppose I can wait that long.