The team encounters a village under the influence of an extremist canon and a Unas.
Last time on Stargate SG-1: The team dealt with a bounty hunter for the system lords.
For the First Time in Forever
Jack is annoyed by being in yet another pine forest. Traveling down a well-used path to the nearby village, they spot the cross being prominent as well as what looks like a large church. Sam points out this is the first time in hundreds of missions that there’s been any sign of Christianity as the Goa’uld used ancient cultures predating it to ‘seed’ planets with humans. It’s a possibility that they were brought to this planet via the Antarctic Stargate.
The idea of a Goa’uld playing the actual God bemuses Jack. Teal’c agrees that the Goa’uld mind-set doesn’t match up with the depiction of God as defined in the Bible. Apparently he’s been reading it to better understand such a key part of Western culture. I appreciate how Teal’c is aware that the Bible is critical only to a portion of Earth’s civilizations. Jack claims to be listening to it on tape, but he could be fibbing so that the alien doesn’t come across as more knowledgeable about his religion.
Simon and Mary
Going into the village, all the natives flee from the quartet. Jack has Daniel translate a sign that is in Middle English; it’s apparently close to a Catholic prayer for suffering souls. I don’t know if Daniel researched Catholicism as part of his studies or if he was raised Catholic. Considering how he’s seemingly an only child, it’s probably the former.
Spotting a tied-up woman, SG-1 goes over to free her. Despite thinking they’re demons, the priest Simon comes over with a cross held out in an effort to plead for her life. It turns out Mary is only suffering from chicken pox, a disease so common and mild here on Earth that everybody usually has had it by the time they leave elementary school.
The bonding is interrupted by a Unas showing up, demanding five sacrifices picked by next sunrise or even more will be forcibly taken. Jack is upset since he figured “Unas” was linked to “uno”. But it was apparently a false cognate, since Sokar is still using them as hosts.
Simon thinks he has to do the trepanning ritual on Mary, which will kill her, to prevent her from being chosen by the canon as one of the sacrifices. I have to acknowledge the priest has a point in thinking death is better than being taken by the demon.
But before they can completely convince Simon that they can free the village from the Unas, the power-hungry canon returns. I suspect he’s fine with the status quo since it gives him nearly absolute power over the village as their religious leader. Insisting that SG-1 is unclean, the canon uses a ring to call up a thunderstorm and a bright blue shockwave that knocks them all out. It’s probable that the ring is a piece of Goa’uld technology.
The three humans wake up in a cell, sans weapons. Jack is chewing on a straw in mimicry of a country hick. Simon approaches to warn them that their friend must undergo the tests and that the canon has the village convinced that burning them at the stake is in the village’s best interest. Since it’s a tattoo, an already battered Teal’c doesn’t react to a hot poker being pressed to the emblem on his forehead.
The next test is the classic lose-lose test: float if you’re guilty, sink if you’re innocent. His chains linked to stones, Teal’c is thrown into the lake and seemingly drowns. Daniel, Jack, Sam, and Simon are the only ones upset by his death. Under a full moon, a trio of nuns is praying for the soul of Teal’c while the humans are back in their cell. The canon approaches to ‘justify’ his actions and acknowledge his ring is a heirloom passed down through generations of canons.
Simon approaches the cell to apologize and to reveal he got the canon to agree to let them go. Evidently the path is only used by the visiting Unas, as the villagers aren’t allowed near the Stargate. Since her parents were ‘chosen’ a year ago, Simon has been Mary’s guardian. He doesn’t think he has any other choice but to do the trepanning ritual (a drill to the forehead to let out ‘evil spirits’) before the canon chooses the sacrifices.
The three humans interrupt before it begins, offering to take the pair with them back to Earth. But then Teal’c wakes up, evidently having gone into the meditative state to ensure his survival. Sam points out that being submerged in water is the natural habitat for larva Goa’uld anyway. But of course this only further convinces the canon that the quartet are demons; they and Mary are tied to the center of the village to be picked up by the Unas.
SG-1 versus the Unas
When the monster shows up, Jack is defiant towards the Unas only to get picked up by the throat for his trouble. The old man next to Simon points out to the younger man that Jack’s actions aren’t in line with that of an evil being. While the Unas is leading the chained group alongside the top of a hill, Jack comes up with a plan which Daniel alerts Mary to. The five roll down the hill and into the woods.
Back in the village, the canon strongly implies to Simon that if he continues to be so… inquisitive then he’ll be one of the next sacrifices. The Unas finds the still chained-together quintet but then Simon shows up with the staff weapon. Sticking the pointy end of the chain into a tree, the Unas switches his attention to the brave priest.
Simon gets in a few blasts before the Unas bats aside the staff weapon and then the priest. While Simon is fleeing from the creature, Mary manages to grab the staff weapon so they can pass it along to Teal’c, who blasts the chain binding them to the tree. They then use it to separate themselves from their chains. Daniel, Sam, and Mary head towards the Gate while Jack and Teal’c go after the Unas.
The canon has also gone into the woods and finds Simon- but then the Unas finds them. Simon’s first instinct is to protect the older man. The Unas is scornful towards the priest and claims his god has abandoned him.
“My god is with me always,” refutes Simon before he’s slapped aside so the Unas can approach the canon. By the time Jack and Teal’c arrive, the Unas has apparently died of his injuries. The canon hands over his ring to Jack, claiming it’s a miracle.
Everybody regroups at the Stargate, aka ‘the circle of darkness’, where Jack reminds the trio about burying it once SG-1 leaves. Sam realizes the symbiote went into the canon, whose eyes start to glow as he prepares to attack but Jack shoots him repeatedly.
Asking for forgiveness, the canon then dies. Simon recites the prayer for suffering souls and is relieved the demon is truly gone. Mary and Simon reiterate the plan to Jack, showing they know what to do so he goes, “Thank God”. The wormhole opens up and Sam puts in the signal so the iris will open before the quartet leaves.
Simon is a great character- at times he’s too scared to act but other times he’s able to work through his fear so he can take action to help/protect others. I suspect he and Mary might end up married, given their close bond. Or at the very least they’ll work together usher in a better way of living for their people. I’m mostly okay with Mary not being heavily involved with the plot between her youth and the fact she’s sick. It’s an admittedly rather minor sickness, but a sickness nonetheless.
Anyway, Simon is an example of the best of Christianity- a desire to help others, an unshakeable faith in a benevolent God, and a thirst to learn more about the world around him. While I can totally understand why it’s in their best interest to bury their Stargate, I’m a bit disappointed that means we won’t get to see him and Mary again.
The canon is more in line with the type of religion the Goa’uld practice: one centering around fear, obedience, and power. It’s not terribly sad when the Unas kills him. Apparently Sokar is still using a mix of Unas and humans for hosts as well as being willing to be seen as the Devil to humans. This is the second time the former species has been seen and apparently Jack wrongfully hoped there weren’t any others besides the one in the labyrinth.
“Demons” shows the results of witch-hunting, where those are different are isolated and mistreated. And there’s an emphasis on what rudimentary medicine led to in medieval villages. While obviously a more kind take on the religion opposed to that of the ancient polytheistic ones, the episode focused on what Christianity can turn into if an unscrupulous leader comes into power. And in a call-back to “A Matter of Time”, Jack gets frustrated and bitter when people treat him differently (i.e. worse) than he would in their shoes.
Next time on Stargate SG-1: The team discovers a group loyal to Apophis using war games to train.