Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.
The science fiction television show Stargate SG-1 draws heavily upon the mythology of various cultures across time. The last few seasons of the show follow the rise and fall of an intergalactic religion called Origin, which was created by a race of ascended beings called the Ori in an effort to enslave all non-ascended beings and increase their own power. To bridge the gap between the Ori and humans, the Ori create the Orici, who is a genetically advanced human who has all of the knowledge of the Ori. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the Orici and the heroes of many different myths.
The Birth of a Hero
Like the heroes from myths (Leeming 218), Adria, the Orici, had a miraculous birth. Though her mother, Vala, was not a virgin, the God-like Ori did impregnate her without the physical act of sexual intercourse to create the Orici. After the Orici was born, she grew up within a matter of days to adulthood. She was created for the purpose of carrying out the will of the Ori, who are bent on converting everyone in their conquered galaxies to their religion, Origin, and to fill the role of God. The Ori needed to create a human with all of their knowledge and power to do their bidding in order to circumvent the rules set by the Ancients (another group of Ascended beings) which prohibit Ascended beings from interfering with lower beings. Adria’s purpose is to lead the armies of the Ori to conquer and convert the entire Milky Way Galaxy to the religion of Origin (Stargate SG-1).
Though the Orici was created to conquer the galaxy, she does apparently believe that what she is doing is right and just, that the Ori are gods, and Origin is the ultimate truth. She genuinely seems concerned for her mother, Vala. Just hours after the Adria was born, she healed her mother’s wounds using the powers bestowed upon her by the Ori. She also continues to try to convert her mother to Origin throughout the series, and genuinely seems to want to help her mother reach salvation through Origin. Vala gives the Orici her name, Adria, in an effort to try to humanize her. The Orici accepts the name bestowed upon her, but she is still not deterred from her quest for galactic domination (Stargate SG-1).
The Hero’s Journey, Subverted
Vala struggles with her desire to kill her daughter and save the galaxy from the Ori. Even though she knows that getting rid of the Orici is the only way to save the galaxy, on some level she still doesn’t want to kill Adria, because she is still her daughter. Though Vala, and the other members of SG-1 make numerous attempts to kill the Orici, unlike in most myths, there is no real threat of death. Adria possesses telekinetic abilities and supernatural powers from the Ori, as well as personal shield technology, which protect her from any attacks (Stargate SG-1).
Adria is eventually defeated, however. She was captured by Ba’al, one of the last remaining Goa’uld System Lords in power (the Goa’uld were the first “bad guys” of the Stargate SG-1 series. They are a race of parasites who take human hosts. Like the Ori, they were “false Gods.”). Ba’al implants her with a clone of his symbiote to create an even more powerful version of himself. Because Goa’uld symbiotes possess all the knowledge of the Goa’uld and their host, and because the Orici has all the knowledge of the Ori, The Goa’uld with the Orici as a host would be the most powerful being in the galaxy. Though the Ori and the Goa’uld are both evil, this possession by the Goa’uld could be a metaphor for the quest that the hero of myths must undergo (Leeming 219). The cloned Ba’al symbiote is the Orici’s “inner monster” that must be overcome before she can die and be “reborn” (Stargate SG-1).
The Goa’uld symbiote is eventually removed, but the procedure almost kills the Orici. As she is dying, she ascends to be reborn into the higher plane of existence, much like the phenomenon of apotheosis in myths (Leeming 220). The rest of the Ori had already been destroyed, leaving the Orici the only one remaining. Because she is the only one left, all of the power of the Ori now belongs to her, making her the most powerful being in the universe (Stargate SG-1).
Of course, the threat from the ascended Orici was neutralized. The powers of the Ori are lost after a device called the Ark of Truth is found and utilized. The device was created by the Ancients to cause everyone within range to see the truth. When it is used, all of the followers of the Ori realize that the Ori were not gods, and that Origin was all a lie. Because there are no more believers, the Orici, who now has all of the powers of the Ori, loses her power. Morgan Le Fay, an Ancient, engages the Orici in an everlasting battle to distract her from her goals of total domination. This is the last anyone has seen of the Orici (Stargate SG-1).
Good vs. Evil
Stargate SG-1 does a great job of tying in the most common theme of mythology; the eternal struggle between good and evil. The whole plot surrounding the Ori also shows that the distinction between good and evil is not always clear. The followers of the Ori were extremely pious people who thought that the Ori were the ultimate good, and that the Orici was their hero. In their view, until the Ark of Truth showed them what the Ori really were, their belief system was the only way to lead a righteous life to reach salvation. Even when they were killing entire planets of innocent people, they thought they were doing what was right, in the name of the Ori (Stargate SG-1). This is reminiscent of modern day religions, such as Christianity.
The Power of Myth
The idea that the Ori got their power from the followers of their religion was very interesting. This plot device really shows the power that myth can have over a culture. Any myth or belief system is only as powerful as the people who believe in it. A myth on its own can have no intrinsic power, unless people are willing to live their lives by its rules and die in its name. Without followers, a myth is just a story. For a religion to truly become powerful, it needs followers who truly believe in its mythology.
Villain or Hero?
Though the Adria was, in reality, the embodiment of evil, she was still a representation of the Hero archetype from myth. She had a miraculous birth, went on a quest to fight her “inner monsters,” and eventually experienced apotheosis. Even though the viewer knows that she is evil, her followers see her as the human embodiment of all that is good.
Leeming, David Adams. "Hero Myths." The World of Myth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. 215-221. Print.
Stargate SG-1: Season 10. 2006-2007. Twentieth Century Fox, 2007. DVD.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on June 14, 2018:
This was an interesting article to read. I've never seen this programme.