The 3 R’s of Stargate SG-1 – Retribution, Repentance & Reconciliation

For those who thought I was referring to the other 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) I apologize in advance. But seriously at first I was only going to talk about repentance, but then I thought about adding retribution and reconciliation as I went through the researching process. I also was planning to discuss multiple media examples but I found one that was able to exemplify all of the 3 R’s: the show Stargate SG-1 and the episode “Cor-ai.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Stargate SG-1 is a TV series, which was a continuation of the original Stargate movie that aired from 1997 to 2007. It follows the story of SG-1, a team consisting Colonel Jack O’Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Captain Samantha (aka Sam) Carter and Teal’c of Chulak. They serve General George Hammond of Stargate Command and are tasked to defend the earth from a parasitic species known as the Goa’uld by exploring new worlds via the Stargate which creates a wormhole between two points in space. Now with that brief synopsis of the series out of the way, on to the episode discussion and just a warning there will be spoilers ahead.

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Teal’c surrounded by the Byrsa.

“Cor-ai” takes place at the end of the first season, and starts off with SG-1 transporting to a new world. Teal’c recognizes the location from the many visits he made when he was the First Prime of the Goa’uld System Lord Apophis. During the team’s investigation they come across the planet’s inhabitants, the Byrsa, who not so welcoming given their frequent contact with the Goa’uld. O’Neill convinces them they are not their enemies and they mean them no harm. Tensions ease for a bit but not before a young man by the name of Hanno sees Teal’c.

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Hanno in the Past.
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Teal’c in the Past.

 

 

 

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Hanno in the Present.
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Teal’c in the Present
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Let the Cor-ai commence.

It is revealed that Teal’c, during his service to Apophis, had killed Hanno’s crippled father. The young man seeks retribution on Teal’c for killing his father through Cor-ai which is the Byrsa culture’s version of a court trial. However Cor-ai is very different from U.S. court trials we may see both in its fictional and non-fictional forms. First off the notion of innocent until proven guilty does not exist in Byrsa culture and it was explained to SG-1 in the episode, “If there were no guilt there would not be Cor-ai.” Second the victim of an offense has the three roles of judge, jury and executioner, and needless to say this concept doesn’t sit well with O’Neill:

Jack O’Neill: “You can’t be the judge, that’s not fair.”

 

Hanno: “Judge?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yeah, the guy who controls the proceedings, decides what happens here.”

 

Hanno: “Why is it not fair?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Because your are the son of the victim.”

 

Hanno: “Yes.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “The judge has to be impartial.”

 

Hanno: “What does that mean?”

 

Daniel Jackson: “Uh, impartiality would require someone who hasn’t already formed an opinion about Teal’c’s guilt or innocence.”

 

Hanno: “How can there be such a person? Everyone who has a mind has an opinion.”

In a desperate attempt O’Neill tries to appeal the Byrsa elder to have someone else judge the Cor-ai. She responds saying, “Only the person who has suffered understands the pain that been inflicted. Who else can fairly say what the punishment must be?” While Cor-ai seems unfair in light of the American justice system, Hanno is well within his rights to seek retribution in this way (within his culture at least). It’s better than just killing Teal’c right then and there and Hanno even acknowledges at the start of the Cor-ai that he was wrong to let his anger control him in that instance. So despite differences in perspective, Cor-ai serves the same purpose as court trials, to carry out justice and prevent revenge killings.

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Hanno questions Teal’c.
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Jack O’Neill’s conversation with Teal’c.

As the Cor-ai commences and Hanno asks Teal’c if he killed his father he replies, “Yes. I am the one who killed your father.” Admittedly he didn’t want to kill Hanno’s father, in fact it is revealed that he shot him not just to appease Apophis but so that the Byrsa would not be slowed down when they had escape into their hidden caves if the Goa’uld were to return to the planet again. While he had the right to blame it on Apophis, Teal’c acknowledges and accepts responsibility for his actions. This is best exemplified through his conversation with O’Neill (apologies for the length but I thought it would be best to show the entire conversation):

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c are you trying to commit suicide?”

 

Teal’c: “I do not understand.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Why didn’t you tell me you were guilty? At least before you told a room full of people that wanna see you dead.”

 

Teal’c: “You already knew, only you did not want to hear it. That is why you asked me not to speak.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “What happened?”

 

Teal’c: “Apophis ordered me to kill Hanno’s father.”

Jack O’Neill: “So, you were following orders.

 

Teal’c: “Hanno’s father died by my hand. No one else’s. I am responsible. What I did while serving Apophis, I will not hide from.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Even if the punishment is death?”

 

Teal’c: “Then that is what I deserve.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c, you sound like you wanna die.”

 

Teal’c: “Colonel O’Neill, have you ever faced the crying eyes of a child whose father you have just murdered?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Not exactly. Teal’c, there are a lot things we do that we wish we could change and we sure as hell can’t forget, but the whole concept of chain of command undermines the idea of free will. So as soldiers, we have to do some pretty awful stuff. But we’re following orders like we were trained to. It doesn’t make it easier; it certainly doesn’t make it right, but it does put some of the responsibility on the guy giving those orders.”

 

Teal’c: “Then you are saying Apophis is responsible for Hanno’s father’s death.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yes.”

 

Teal’c: “You are wrong, O’Neill. While in the service of Apophis I did many things. For these deeds, my victims deserve retribution.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Can we focus on this one case only for now please?”

 

Teal’c: “This case represents the many.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Well it shouldn’t! Why? Why are you doin’ this?”

 

Teal’c: “When I look into Hanno’s eyes, I see the horror on the faces of many others, as their loved ones prepare for Goa’uld absorption. Worse yet is the face of the victims whom I selected as they realize they are about to take their final human breath. Hanno’s father is not the first nor the last of those whose lives I’ve taken. And I have done far worse, O’Neill. I cannot give all of their loved ones retribution, but I can at least give it to this one. I am sorry, O’Neill. I will not run.”

I wouldn’t say that Teal’c is giving up but rather he is letting this Cor-ai give him the chance to repent from all the acts he committed as First Prime of Apophis. Teal’c didn’t deny the crime he committed and I guess that is what stood out to me the most when watching this episode. It is rare especially in our society to see someone who is so repentant that they willing to accept retribution from those they have wronged. Despite SG-1’s best efforts to defend Teal’c, Hanno sentences him to be killed by his own staff weapon.

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Teal’c risks his life to save the Byrsa villagers.

Thankfully the story does not end with Teal’c’s death for Goa’uld decided to show up in the Byrsa village just before Teal’c’s execution. Hanno leaves with the other men to fight them off but instructs a boy to inform those in authority to go through with the execution that if he is killed in battle. Unfortunately despite effort of the Brysa men as well as O’Neill and Carter, the Goa’uld discover the location of the women and children along with Jackson and Teal’c. Thankfully Teal’c is able to cut his bonds thanks to the boy who gave him a knife and put his life on the line to save the women and children from the onslaught of Apophis’ Serpent Guards. After risking his life to save the Byrsa villagers, Teal’c still hands over his staff weapon prepare for his execution by Hanno’s hands. This is the conversation that followed:

Hanno: “You would save those who wish to kill you?”

 

Teal’c: “I would save those who deserve to live.”

 

Hanno: “I have made a mistake. My memory is faulty. You are not the same man as he who murdered my father.”

 

Teal’c: “I am the one.”

 

Hanno: “No that Jaffa is dead…”

In that moment there was reconciliation as Hanno gives Teal’c his staff weapon back and allows him to go back to Earth with SG-1.

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Hanno returns Teal’c’s staff weapon.

In some ways the justice system we see in “Cor-ai” is similar to how God operates. Like Teal’c, we all deserve retribution at the hands of God for all the sins we have committed against Him. We also have the same choice as Teal’c to repent and confess our wrongdoings to God. Finally we all have the ability receive reconciliation from God but unlike Teal’c we don’t need to prove ourselves worthy. Romans 5:6-8 explains:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God has already forgiven us and paid the price for our sin through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All we need to do is to repent and accept that forgiveness for the wrong we have done and will do. It is only when we do this that true reconciliation is accomplished and the promise from Jeremiah 31:34 is fulfilled:

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

In this way we begin life anew and just like Hanno’s words to Teal’c the old self we leave behind is dead. That still doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t over but we live in the knowledge that we are free from the retribution of sin through our act of repentance and our acceptance of God’s reconciliation through His death and resurrection. That leaves only one question: Are you ready to lose your life in order to save it?

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First Thoughts – Star Wars: Rebels Season 3 Trailer

Needless to say I was very excited to see the trailer for the new season of Star Wars Rebels. It was nice to finally have more substance to speculate about since the cliffhanger ending of the season 2 finale. I am sure Dave Filoni and the team will knock this out of the park just like they did in the previous two seasons and that there’ll be even more engaging stories to tell.

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Don’t you dare, Ezra Bridger!

I am anxious to see how things have changed since the events of “Twilight of the Apprentice” and how they have impacted Ezra and Kanan in particular. We do see is that Ezra taking the stance that he will do anything to destroy the Sith especially after what happened to Kanan as well as Ahsoka. It is not his motive of protecting his rebel crew family but how he is going about it that concerns me, and I only hope he can avoid going further down the wrong path before it is too late. Oh and another big change was that he also cut his hair. It was weird at first but I think I am used to it and he does not look like Aladdin anymore which is a plus.

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Focus…get the Meiloorun fruit.
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Time to scrap some tinnies.

Kanan seems hold his own despite having lost his sight so I think he has honed his ability in the force allowing him function and fight even though he is not able to see with his own eyes. This is evident when we see him, Ezra and Rex on a mission together which involves Separatist droids from the Clone Wars. However it seems like Kanan is going to come in contact with some green ethereal being and from the looks of it he is going to be possessed by it. Let’s just say I have a bad feeling about this.

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Where’s Ghostbusters when you need them?
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You take the guys on the ground. The one in the air is mine.

Sabine appears to have a major part to play in this season as well and with her involvement we also involve Mandalorians, those who fight with the Rebels and those side with the Empire. From the looks of it there is going to be an episode that involves Ezra. I can see the shipping memes and fan videos even now. Also Sabine has gotten her hands on a darksaber. Is it same one that Pre Vizsla had in the Clone Wars? A question that will be answered I am sure.

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Just try and face me. I dare you.
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Here’s the Chiss himself…Thrawn or Mitth’raw’nuruodo if you will.

The introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn has gotten many in the EU Star Wars fandom excited. I have heard nothing but good things about him and it is going to be so much fun for me to get learn more about this character as I watch this season. In one clip it seems Cham Syndulla and his people have crossed paths with Thrawn before and Cham states that they were not prepared to face him demonstrating he is a force to be reckoned with. It also appears that Hera herself will come face to face with Thrawn according to another clip that is close to end of the trailer. We’ll just have to wait and see what that is all about.

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Well this is problematic.
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I seek your counsel wise Tom Baker…I mean Bendu.

We also have Tom Baker voicing a character named Bendu which is a nod to the name George Lucas considered using instead of Jedi. I am glad they can pay homage to history of Star Wars and to Doctor Who having the iconic 4th Doctor voicing the character. This will make 2 Doctors that Filoni was able to snag to voice characters for Star Wars, previous one being David Tennant for the Clone Wars Series.

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Let the humor commence 🙂

Along with newer characters we also have some old ones from last season, Hondo. Honestly Filoni and crew really like this character, and I do as well but I hoped to see some other outlaws say one certain smuggler…cough…Han Solo….cough. But who knows maybe they will surprise us and throw Lando in for good measure, since we haven’t seen him since the beginning of season 2.

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Here’s Maulie!

Also Maul rears his ugly head and he is up to his old tricks again and it appears to involve the blending of the Jedi and Sith holocorns which may have devastating consequences. I am not a huge fan of Maul, but I will be interested to see what the future has in store for this fan favorite dark side user.

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NOOOO!! IT’S A TRAP!!!!
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Let’s do this!

A great trailer that makes me eager about what is to come. I am debating doing reviews when the new episodes come out, since I enjoy this series so much and I like to share my thoughts. But for now I’m signing off.

Keeping it Fresh? Reflection on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As I was debating what should write about for my first blog post, my mind went Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens which I went to see the movie in theaters with my brother and another friend in early January. I was not as hyped to see it (I was keeping my expectations low) but I still was curious whether or not J..J. Abrams could move the Star Wars Saga forward. Now I have to admit when I was watching the movie I was elated and upon leaving the theater I was excited about what I saw. But as time past and my rush was gone and I began to think about what I watched, my perception of Episode 7 changed.

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When I realized that a lot of the characters, locations and plots from the Original Trilogy were used beat for beat in The Force Awakens with very little difference, any respect I had for the movie vanished. People bash the prequels for being among the worst Star Wars movies, but I would argue that they at least incorporated new characters, locations and plots. Sure a few of these elements…a lot of these elements that were not executed well but at least they tried.

The Force Awakens unfortunately decided to play it safe doing the same story of A New Hope with an underdog ragtag group of main characters going up against an evil and mean galaxy conquering war-machine with tweaks here and there so that the similarities would not be so easy to notice upon the first viewing. Star Wars Episode 7 is a reboot passing off a sequel and considering J..J. Abrams the director of the successful rebooted Star Trek series was involved just makes it all the more disappointing.

Now I know many people, young and older, like this new Star Wars movie but I respectfully have to disagree. Best way I can describe my view is that I feel cheated out of what could have been an amazing new story. This became more apparent when I heard about some the ideas that were dropped from The Force Awakens. While it is entitled “10 Crazy Ideas Dropped From THE FORCE AWAKENS” some of them were not that crazy; some were actually really cool. It would have been amazing if these ideas had been incorporated into the movie and it would have made the story more unique.

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Click image to watch the video.

I really wanted to like this movie, unfortunately I feel the originality that characterized with the earlier movies in Star Wars franchise took a backseat in order to cater to people’s nostalgia of them so that more money could be made for those who produced it. And Star Wars is not only franchise that film companies are capitalizing on. Of the top 10 grossing movies of 2015 only 2 were original stories. The remaining 80% consisted of sequels, reboots or spinoffs of previously existing franchises with The Force Awakens at the top of the list. From sequels like Avengers: Age of Ultron to reboots like Cinderella to spinoffs like Minions and everything in between nostalgia seems to dominating the box office and looking at the line up of movies for this year that is not about to change anytime soon. And to be honest despite my enjoyment of Star Wars and some other franchises like it, I desire to see filmmaker come along with movie based on an original idea.

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Original movies like Inside Out and The Martian did not even make it into the top 3 of the Box Office in 2015.

So the question becomes why are people afraid of trying something new? In a paper entitled “The Art of Originality,” it’s author Timothy Ryan attempts to answer this question using art of Vincent van Gogh as an example:

“It is also van Gogh’s originality that prevented him from being successful among the masses initially…It would appear that this often goes hand in hand with originality. The lack of acceptance, severe criticism, and the failure of the masses to understand original works because they do break with established and accepted traditional forms….So when something original comes along or something that departs from tradition is presented, it doesn’t always get the appreciation initially that it may garner later once people have had time to adjust and absorb what is really being placed before them.”

Producers at the time of its release viewed A New Hope much the same way. It was so different from the norm and many believed it wouldn’t do well. Now 40 years later, it is the one of the most well-known sic-fi franchises right alongside Star Trek. But it’s success has also come with a price, because with a large fan base there are both hardcore and causal fans who would be willing pay money to see a sequel series and this demand is catered by film companies because they know now that Star Wars sells. This also explains the prevalence of movies based off of nostalgic films, tv shows and comics because those who grew up with them would be interested in seeing them on the big screen. While this makes it easier for film companies to find something the masses will approve of, it prevents new stories from being created. Samuel James mentioned the same concern in his blog post:

“Nostalgia, if unchecked, runs opposed to creativity, freshness and imagination…making it less likely every year that new storytellers with visions of new worlds, new characters and new adventures will get the financing they need to materialize their talents.”

This cycle must be broken and aspiring filmmakers should be at forefront, especially those who profess to be Christians. God is the original storyteller and the story that He started back at the beginning of time is still continues to this day. He never lacks for creativity and that is a trait He instilled us as humans. Throughout the Bible the phrase “sing a new song to the Lord” is mentioned 9 times, 6 from the book of Psalms alone. Unfortunately with kind of movies Christians are producing they are not reaching out beyond its Christian audience, in fact they are mocked in mainstream media. Eric Metaxas from Breakpoint argues,

“We should be, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, the best storytellers in the world. But lately we’ve earned a reputation for producing corny, preachy, and low-quality art. It’s time to turn that around.”

Maybe filmmakers both Christian and Non-Christian should take the advice from author Herman Mellville: “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”

Sources:

“The Art of Orginality” by Timothy Ryan

“‘The Force Awakens’ and Getting Trapped By Nostalgia” by Samuel D. James