Stargate Rewatch

The Stargate Rewatch: The Ark of Truth

Stargate: The Ark of Truth
Written and directed by Robert C. Cooper
Original release date: March 11, 2008

Mission briefing. A prelude shows the Ancients—or, rather, the Alterans—deciding to leave their home galaxy and head to the Milky Way rather than deal directly with the Ori. They consider and reject the notion of using the Ark of Truth to expose the Ori as frauds. The Ark convinces all who are exposed to it of the absolute truth, but the Alterans consider it too extreme. They depart for the Milky Way, leaving the Ark behind and destroying the mountain city it was in.

In the present day, SG-1 is digging through the ruins of Dakara in an attempt to find the Ark. Shortly after Jackson finds what he thinks is it, an Ori ship shows up and the troops—led by Tomin—call for SG-1’s surrender, promising to spare them if they do. The box they found turns out not to be the Ark. The Prior in command of these troops orders SG-1 killed, but Tomin balks, as he promised to spare them. The Prior insists, and SG-1 points out that the Prior is powerless to do it himself. SG-1 manages to kill the Prior, only then revealing to Tomin that they have their Prior disruptor working. Seeing that the Priors are not all-knowing or invulnerable, Tomin dismisses his troops and surrenders himself to SG-1.

Jackson has been seeing visions of the Ark that he believes are remnants of him sharing Merlin’s consciousness. He describes one such vision to Tomin, who recognizes it as the Ortus Mallum from the Book of Origin. The Ark may well be located in the Ori’s home galaxy.

With Woolsey spending more time focusing on the Altantis expedition, the IOA has sent a new liaison: James Marrick, who acts like an SG-1 fangoober, but nobody buys the act. He conducts a rather unnecessarily mean interrogation of Tomin.

The original plan to destroy the supergate is put off so they can take the Odyssey to the Ori galaxy to try to find the Ark. The IOA will only approve the plan if Marrick goes with. And so they pop onto the Odyssey with Mitchell in charge of both ship and mission and head through the supergate. Eventually, they find the location of Ortus Mallum and start searching for the Ark.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

Back on Earth, a Prior contacts SG-3 with the hopes of talking to Landry. He steps through the gate with Reynolds and SG-3 and tries to convince Landry to give in to Origin. Landry tells him to go screw himself.

Marrick activates the Asgard computer core, which the Ori can detect, and uses it to create a replicator. The IOA was never keen on the whole Ark thing, and so ordered Marrick to send a replicator to the first Ori ship that shows up after he turns on the Asgard core and they’ll take care of the Ori once and for all. Marrick neglects to mention that ARGs don’t work on this replicator, and it gets loose on the ship.

On Ortus Mallum, Jackson, Teal’c, Vala, and Tomin finally locate the Ark, but they are unable to return to the Odyssey thanks to their newly acquired replicator problem—not to mention the three Ori ships that the Asgard core attracts. They have to escape to hyperspace—leaving the four on the planet to be attacked by Ori troops. Teal’c is gravely injured, while the other three are taken to Celestis, the city of the Ori.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

The replicator has replicated, and now there’s a queen and tons of little replicators taking over the ship. They also take control of Marrick and use him to beat the crap out of Mitchell, who has planted C-4 to take out the queen. Carter and Marks, meanwhile, are searching for the shutdown code in the Asgard computer. Eventually, Mitchell is able to get through to Marrick long enough for the IOA agent to reveal the location of the shutdown code. Carter is able to activate it, and the replicators all fall apart.

Teal’c awakens and stumbles toward Celestis, eventually collapsing partway there. Meanwhile, Tomin, Vala, and Jackson are tortured by the Doci. Vala is then brought to a room that contains the Ark—and also Adria, who ascended and is now the only Ori left. Turns out the Sangraal did its job and all the Ori are dead. So Adria singlehandedly has the power of all the Ori. She and Vala have a mother-daughter talk that is less productive than Vala would have liked—but Adria just disappears in the middle of it.

Jackson figures out that his visions are not from Merlin—they’re from Morgan Le Fay. In addition to helping Jackson as she has been, she also heals Teal’c, allowing him to reach Celestis and free Jackson and Tomin. She can’t take on Adria directly because she’s too powerful. So Jackson, Vala, Teal’c, and Tomin go to the Ark, get the crap beaten out of them by the Doci and Adria, but then Jackson manages to open the Ark and Teal’c fires on the leg of the table it’s on, which causes it to fall open and reveal the truth to the Doci. Since all the Priors are linked to the Doci via their staffs, the Doci learning the truth about the Ori is instantly transmitted to all Priors in the galaxy. Adria’s power is suddenly reduced considerably, and Morgan is able to take her on directly. The two disappear in a flash of brilliance.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

With the replicators taken care of and the Ori no longer belligerent, the Odyssey is able to pick up the gang and return home. Jackson opens the Ark in front of the Prior who is still a prisoner of the SGC. Through him, the truth is revealed to all Priors in the Milky Way. The Ori threat is now officially over.

Tomin returns to the Ori galaxy to become the new ruler of his people. He still follows Origin, but only the parts about bettering yourself. He asks Vala to return with him, but she thinks her place is with SG-1.

Once Mitchell has recovered, SG-1 suits up for their next mission…

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Before leaving the Ark behind, an Ancient grabs a notebook, which includes his notes on this really cool idea for a system of rings that would open stable wormholes and send people to different planets instantly…

It might work, sir. While Mitchell is recovering in the SGC infirmary, Carter brings him a bag of macaroons, a nice call back to when Mitchell brought her macaroons in “Line in the Sand.”

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth Teal'c

Indeed. Teal’c’s speech to Tomin about how he will never forget the innocents he killed and how he will never ever forgive himself, and that the only thing he can do is try to save as many lives as he can going forward, is quite possibly the character’s finest moment—a magnificent summary of Teal’c’s own life and brutally necessary advice to a repentant Tomin. I’ve said that Teal’c was utterly useless in the ninth and tenth seasons, and I stand by that, but honestly? That speech completely makes up for his fifth-wheel status on the last two seasons of the show. Just brilliant.

I speak 23 different languages—pick one. Jackson is not happy about the Ark being locked away at Area 51, as it’s incredibly dangerous. Landry says there’s nothing he can do.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

The man doesn’t even have a decent pie crust. Mitchell gets seriously walloped by the Marrick replicator. He also really hates being in charge of the Odyssey, and tries to fob it off on Carter at one point.

You can go ahead and burst into flames now. Landry and the Prior have a great conversation, in which the general makes it clear that humanity is not going to just give in, and the Ori are in for a fight. He does so while wearing his leather jacket of badassness, too.

Let’s make babies! Vala’s latest attempt to convince her daughter not to be an evil goddess falls on deaf ears, but this particular conversation has the biggest regret and tragedy about it.

Trivial matters. When the Odyssey goes through the supergate, the effect is done in the same style as the first time Jackson stepped through the gate in Stargate, going so far as to put Jackson in the foreground so the shot is as similar as possible.

The Prior disruptor was introduced in “The Fourth Horseman.” That the Ori can detect Earth ships using their Asgard cores was established in “Unending.” This film reveals that the Sangraal did what it was supposed to do when our heroes sent it through the supergate in “The Shroud.” Morgan previously aided Jackson in “The Pegasus Project.”

This movie has the first use of profanity in the Stargate franchise since O’Neill cried, “Bullshit!” in “Within the Serpent’s Grasp.” Stargate could have used all the profanity and nudity they wanted for its first five seasons, given that they were on Showtime, but aside from Vaitare Bandera’s nude scene in “Children of the Gods” and that use of “Bullshit!”, they kept the show safe for commercial television (which made the transition to the Sci-Fi Channel pretty seamless).

Woolsey was seen to be spending more time dealing with Atlantis in that show’s third season, so having a new IOA representative deal with the SGC makes sense. Too bad he’s a dick. That will continue in the fourth season, with Woolsey taking over command of the expedition in the fifth season.

Though this film was released after Michael Beach’s first appearance as Ellis in “First Strike,” it is Ellis’s first appearance chronologically, since “First Strike,” “Adrift,” and “Lifeline” all take place after this film.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

Carter’s hair has grown, and she ties it back in a ponytail or braid. She will maintain this look henceforth, in Atlantis seasons 4 and 5, in Continuum, and in her appearances on Universe.

In addition to all the main cast of season 10 returning for the film, The Ark of Truth features the return of Doug Abraham and Greg Anderson (Priors), Morena Baccarin (Adria), Eric Breker (Reynolds), Martin Christopher (Marks), Tim Guinee (Tomin), Gary Jones (Harriman), Julian Sands (Doci), Sarah Strange (Morgan), and Matthew Walker (the image of Merlin). Christopher and Jones will each appear again on both Atlantis and Universe.

The DVD contains an optional prelude called “The Road Taken,” which sums up the events of seasons 9 and 10.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

Chevron seven locked. On the one hand, this is a rollicking fun adventure, a big ending to the Ori storyline that is much more impressive looking on the seven-million-dollar budget the DVD had than the two-million-dollar budget an episode of the series would have had. And it’s very enjoyable as you watch.

But once you think about it, there are some serious problems. Some are obvious, and at the very least the storyline cops to it from the very first second. Yes, the Ark of Truth is quite the deus ex machina, but it’s right there in the title, for crying out loud. It’s not like they pulled it out of their asses, they said from jump it was the only chance.

At least the only sane one. The notion of reviving the replicators is actually one that works on several levels, but fails on others. In terms of something the IOA thinks is a better idea than relying on a magic box that will make everybody see the truth—well, yeah, I can see the logic. But the replicators are so incredibly dangerous that it’s spectacularly irresponsible even for the IOA with their bureaucratic hideboundedness to actually agree to it. Plus, Marrick is such a straw-bad-guy. Most of the IOA officers we’ve met have been permitted at least some nuance, from Woolsey to Shen to Universe‘s Strom, but Marrick is just a clichéd sleazy bad guy. Snore. Plus, the actual battle against the replicators on the Odyssey just feels like a repeat of every other shoot-the-replicators-constantly sequence we got, from “Nemesis” to “Reckoning.” And while nobody gets beat up more entertainingly than Ben Browder, his fight with Marrick really feels like the worst kind of padding.

Stargate Rewatch Ark of Truth

Speaking of padding, we have Teal’c’s manly, manly wounded walk across Ortus Mallum to Celestis, which just goes on and on. I mean, it looks pretty, watching him walk over mountains and through deserts and such, but it doesn’t really serve any plot purpose. Morgan could have cured him sooner, for one thing…

Having said that, Teal’c also has the crowning moment of awesome when he lectures Tomin on the agonies of realizing you’ve done great evil and must repent. Honestly, even if Robert C. Cooper had never written anything else decent in his life he could take heart in the fact that he wrote that scene. The whole DVD is worth it for that scene, just a brilliant, brutally honest explanation of the horror of realizing you’ve served a bad cause.

Screencaps from GateWorld and LiveJournal/Roeskva

Keith R.A. DeCandido is involved with two nifty Kickstarters, one for a superhero anthology called The Side of Good/The Side of Evil (in which Keith will have a story), the other for a web series that combines ’50s and ’60s pulp sci-fi with a modern sensibility (think Buckeroo Banzai meets Emma Peel) starring Singularity & Co.’s Cici James called Atomic Annie (for which Keith will be putting together a short-story anthology).

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