"The Powers That Be" is the fifth episode of the ninth season of Stargate SG-1.


P8X-412, a planet formerly belonging to Qetesh (the Goa'uld who once possessed Vala Mal Doran) has been visited by a Prior. SG-1 visits this planet to convince the simple folk not to worship the Ori.


Because nothing but time will dissolve the link between them, Dr. Daniel Jackson and Vala Mal Doran are forced to remain together at Stargate Command, much to both, but especially Daniel's, irritation. So they continue at each other's throats, as usual. But when Vala learns that P8X-412 is one of 43 planets already visited by a Prior of the Ori, she persuades Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell to help the villagers of that primitive world resist this new danger.

Mitchell, Daniel and Teal'c accompany Vala to the planet, where they discover the real reason for Vala's special interest - the villagers there worship her as a god, the Goa'uld Qetesh. Vala was once host to the real Qetesh, and after she was freed of the symbiote, she discovered that the people of this isolated planet hadn't heard that their god was dead. She continued posing as Qetesh, and the villagers showered her with the few riches they had, plus continued mining the Naquadah for her. Now she's back to collect all the loot she had, well, looted there. She also thinks she can simply order the villagers to reject the Prior.

Daniel and the rest of the team doubt her assumption. The Prior's powers are very real: on his previous visit, he apparently healed a villager, Vachna, of a terrible illness. This has caused a rift between the villagers, with Vachna praising the Ori and the village leader, Azdak, remaining faithful to "Qetesh." Vala won't be able to compete with the Prior in a god-versus-god showdown; the villagers will inevitably lose faith in her and submit to the Ori. Daniel finally persuades Vala that their only hope is to tell the truth. If her people come to see Vala as a false god, maybe they'll be suspicious of the Ori, too.

Unfortunately, the revelation of Vala's true identity doesn't go over so well. The outraged villagers, led by Azdak, toss her in prison and put her on trial for her life (Vala actually implemented the trial system herself, when she previously ruled on the planet, and she called it a 'Mal Doran', her own surname). As Daniel argues against Azdak that Vala deserves mercy for at least bringing the truth to them, the Prior of the Ori returns. He debates with Daniel, and it's obvious that some of the villagers are buying his claims and are all to ready to worship as he demands, whilst few others believe Daniel's explanation that the 'power' of the Ori arises from understanding and technology, not magic or 'godhood'.

They finally deliberate on Vala's fate, they tell her that they have decided they will not sentence her to death, BUT will be imprisoned for life. As she and Daniel attempt to change Azdak's mind on the whole 'life imprisonment' thing, they are informed that Vachna has fallen ill again. So Daniel has an idea and gets Vala to heal him using a Goa'uld healing device. This demonstration forces many villagers, including Vachna, to question the validity of the Prior's claims... until more people collapse with the same illness. A plague ensues, and Daniel postulates that it could have been the Ori that dealt the plague to the Ancients that led to their extinction. This leaves Vala with little hope of being able to cure it with just one hand-device, and indeed, the disease spreads too fast for her to keep up. A medical team is sent from the SGC, led by Dr. Carolyn Lam, but their efforts ultimately also fail. Worse, those Vala had healed fall sick again afterwards. Soon, even Mitchell succumbs.

The Ori, it seems, want to teach a mortal lesson to SG-1 and the people of P8X-412. Mitchell falls ill beyond anyone's aid, and Azdak dies. Vala sheds a secret tear for him.

Ultimately, when the Prior returns, the townsfolk pledge their allegiance to the Ori and beg to be saved in return for their worship. When he at first refuses, Vala now totally fed up, points a weapon at him and insists that he heal everyone. When he refuses, spouting some more religious Origin stuff, she guns him down in a shower of bullets. However, much to everyones horror, the bullets all freeze in mid air inches from his body to then just drop to the ground, needless to say the Prior remains totally unscathed. Much to the villagers surprise who become all the more convinced of his power. And when the whole village fall prostrated at his feet, bowing to his will, the Prior activates his staff and cures the whole village of the plague. Even Mitchell is saved, but when even Azdak comes back to life, Dr. Lam is utterly confounded, as she had been utterly stumped for a cure. The Prior then leaves, only telling SG-1 to tell others what they had seen that day.

It then cuts to Vala, Daniel and Teal'c who silently watch as the Prior leaves with the villagers bowing to the Prior as he passes.


Appearances for The Powers That Be




Sentient Species



Notable quotes[]

Vala: What makes you think they're going to tell you the truth? You're supposed to be my faithful servant.
Jackson: Then I'll also explain that we're not as faithful as you would like to believe and if necessary I'll also tell them we're plotting to kill you.
Vala: I have heard better plans!
Mitchell: I kind of like it.

Mitchell: You stealing this planet's most valued treasure is the least of our concerns right now.
Vala: I like your attitude. I was thinking of cutting you boys in at ten percent and now I'm thinking twenty.

Mitchell: We do not want to get into a God-off. Especially since we know you're not even close.
Vala: Forget what I said about the twenty percent.

Vala: So what's the plan? You gonna blow up this door, lay down suppression fire, so we can rush out through the hidden escape passage. (to Daniel) It's in the room I told you had no other exit.

Vala: Thank you! I apologize for ever doubting your masterful skills at negotiation.
Jackson: He's doing the best he can.
Vala: That's what terrifies me.

Lam: How are you feeling?
Mitchell: Tingl... How 'bout we pretend I didn't say that.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • This is the second episode in which someone dies in Lam's care and returns to life again.
  • Lam refers to the events of "Frozen".
  • The opening scene, where Vala and Mitchell are in the cafeteria, was originally suppose to involve Jackson and Vala in Daniel Jackson's Lab, with the same information revealed in both versions of the opening scene. However, the day the scene was supposed to be shot, Michael Shanks shaved his beard, without letting anyone know, so the opening scene was changed. The opening scene was shot during production of "Beachhead" using the 2nd unit crew.
  • The exterior scenes on P8X-412 were filmed at the Richmond Sand Dunes.
  • Writer Martin Gero wrote this episode before Executive Producer Robert C. Cooper began writing "Origin." So after Cooper finished writing "Origin," he rewrote part of the script because no one on the writing staff (including Robert Cooper, himself) had a clear idea what Origin and the Ori doctrine would be. So Gero wrote the script very vague, and the court sequence and how it would take off after was part of a major rewrite (by Cooper, after Gero moved on to write for Stargate: Atlantis full-time).


  • At the end of the previous episode, Teal'c leaves Stargate Command for Dakara. However, he appears in this episode without any explanation for his return.

Other languages[]

  • French: Prosélytisme (Proselytizing)
  • Italian: La Minaccia degli Ori (The Ori Threat)
  • Spanish: Los Que Detentan El Poder (The Ones Who Have the Power)
  • Czech: Sláva bohům Na výsostech (Glory to Gods in the highest)
  • German (DVD/TV): Höhere Mächte (Higher Powers) / Machtspiele (Power Games)
  • Hungarian: Nagyhatalmak (Great Powers)

Links and navigation[]

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at The Powers That Be (Stargate SG-1). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with SGCommand, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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