When Vala Mal Doran first encountered the SGC, she was an unscrupulous thief and liar, but her experiences in the two years since that time have molded her into a very different individual who has become a unique asset to the SGC and a valued member of SG-1.
Vala is an off-world human, born on a distant world. Her father, Jacek, is a charming con man who made his way moving from one scheme to the next searching for easy riches. He was absent for the first three years of Vala's life, running scams out of the Nylus sector, and while she was growing up he would be gone for months at a time, only to return to lay low or hide from the people he had swindled. Vala grew deeply resentful toward her father, citing an inexhaustible list of his inadequacies as both a parent and a human being in general. Nevertheless, as a child she had looked forward to his return and the stories he would tell. When she was a little older, she had traveled with her father to several planets including Meronat, a little world with two suns that she remembers fondly, and she kept the presents he brought her from his travels as treasured keepsakes in a box under her bed, a box she refuses to admit she still keeps hidden away.
Vala was raised by her mother, one of several wives Jacek had taken, and she prefers to consider that she inherited her charm, her wit, her good looks, as well as her accent, from her mother, although she inherited more of her father's qualities than she cares to admit. Her propensity for lying has made it difficult to determine which stories from her past may be true. She has said that she didn't attend school as much as she was sold as a domestic servant to a weapons smuggler named Fierenze, and after she had killed him and won her freedom, she considered her education more or less complete. She has mentioned a number of relationships, Veron Karn being one of the first, a young boy she had liked when they were both ten. She has referred to being engaged once, and even taking several husbands, the first of whom was from a band of traveling entertainers, although she admits that it is hard to keep track of even the legal marriages.
When she was a young woman, Vala was taken as a host by the Goa'uld Qetesh, and for many years her symbiote ruled over a number of planets as a god. Qetesh, a ruthless and devious Goa'uld, had been a rival of the Goa'uld Athena, but Athena had recognized her as a very intelligent adversary, and the two decided to partner to find the Clava Thessara Infinitas, an Ancient tablet that held the key to infinite treasure. The artifact was never found, but Qetesh wanted Athena to believe that she had taken possession of it and had kept it for herself, leaving Athena deeply resentful for having trusted her, and once again the two became bitter rivals. Eventually, however, the Tok'ra incited a rebellion on Qetesh's planet, and the people rose up against their god. Unable to distinguish the symbiote from the host, the population captured her alive, tortured her, and she was beaten for days on end by those who believed Qetesh and Vala were one and the same. The Tok'ra felt responsible, however, and at last they rescued her, removed the symbiote, and nursed her back to health.
Alone and desolate, Vala returned to P8X-412, a little mining outpost in Qetesh's domain too isolated to have received the news of Qetesh's demise. The planet acted as a safe haven for her until she got back on her feet, however she returned in the role of Qetesh, and although she treated the people with benevolence and compassion, even establishing a system of justice known as a "mal doran," her primary goal was to guarantee her own financial security, and she insisted that the people continue to work the practically barren naquadah mine for her. Vala had begun to fall back on her father's ways. As she traveled from planet to planet in search of riches, she encountered some of the most unsavory characters of the galaxy, including Tenat, Jup, Odai Ventrell, Arlos, Inago, Caius, and members of the Lucian Alliance. She lived by her wits and her lies, and she developed a reputation as an unscrupulous trader and smuggler.
Vala's first encounter with the SGC came approximately three years after the symbiote of Qetesh had been removed. During the Prometheus expedition to Atlantis under the command of General Hammond, the ship was still well inside the Milky Way galaxy when it picked up an apparent distress signal and responded. However, Vala, wearing the armor of a Kull Warrior, ringed aboard the Prometheus and hijacked it, leaving the entire crew, with the exception of Daniel, behind on her disabled alkesh. To justify her actions, Vala explained to Daniel that she had once been a host to a Goa'uld, and she added that once the Tok'ra had freed her and gone, the planet fell to the forces of Camulus, who ordered that the people be wiped out when they refused to surrender. Although she insisted that she had stolen the Prometheus as the only hope to save the last of her people, who only sought a means to relocate to a safe homeworld, she instead set a course to rendezvous with Tenat of Oran, with whom she had arranged to trade the ship for refined weapons grade naquadah. Daniel regained control of the Prometheus, however, and reunited with his crew. Vala was taken into custody, but she was able to free herself, and once again she made her escape in the alkesh.
A few months later, Vala arrived at the SGC with a tablet purported to lead to an incredible Ancient buried treasure on Earth. However, she also arrived with a pair of Kor Mak bracelets which she attached to herself and to Daniel, creating an instant physiological bond between them that she insisted she wouldn't remove until the treasure had been found and she had acquired her share of the loot. She accompanied the team to Glastonbury, and there the Ancient treasure was discovered, as well as several artifacts, including an Ancient communication terminal. Still linked together, Daniel and Vala activated the terminal, and Vala's consciousness was transported into the body of Sallis Cicera in the distant galaxy of the Ori. There, accused of heresy as an unbeliever, she was burned to death at the Ara, and her own body at the SGC also died until her life was restored by a Prior. However, as she was sentenced to burn a second time, the communication link was severed, and Vala was returned to her body at the SGC.
The communication terminal may have affected the technology of the Kor Mak bracelets, however, because even after their removal, Daniel and Vala remained linked, and so Vala accompanied the team on their next few missions, including attempts on several worlds to disengage the Kor Mak technology, and the missions to P8X-412 and Kallana. At Kallana, the team witnessed the Ori attempt to establish a beachhead by collapsing the planet into a micro-singularity and forming a supergate. As the components of the supergate fell into position, however, Vala commandeered a cargo ship and maneuvered it into the place of the last component, disrupting the energy field of the final link in the chain. The shock wave of the forming singularity destroyed the supergate, but Vala was drawn into a matter stream through the singularity and into the Ori galaxy.
Vala awakened in Ver Isca in the Ori galaxy, where she was taken in by Tomin, a gentle soul who found her and nursed her back to health. Shortly afterward, she discovered that she was carrying a child, despite not having had the necessary physical relations, but as she and Tomin became close, they were married, and she hoped to convince him that the child was his. It was only later that she learned that her child was the Orici, the will of the Ori. Fearful for her own safety as well as that of her child, Vala sought the members of the anti-Ori underground, hoping to find a way to communicate with Earth. Seevis and Denya, of the underground movement, tested her resolve by chaining her to the Ara without food or water for three days until they were certain she could be trusted. Their attempt to sabotage the Ori warships failed, but using a communication terminal, Vala's consciousness entered Daniel's body, and she was able to warn Earth of the coming Ori invasion.
Aboard an Ori warship as it entered our galaxy, Vala gave birth to a daughter, the child of the Ori. The infant aged at a rapid rate, and it was Vala who convinced the young child to take the name Adria. She explained that it had been her mother's name, one she had always wanted to share with a daughter, but in reality it had been the name of her step-mother, a witch of a woman. The young Orici accepted the name Adria, but she could not convince her mother to accept Origin, and Vala was able to escape from the Ori ship when she and SG-1 were beamed aboard the Odyssey.
Vala returned to the SGC where she was given quarters on the base and the opportunity to remain, provided she passed a psychiatric evaluation. Determined to make a good impression, Vala attempted to study for the psych exam, bewildering Dr. Hutchison with a prepared litany of psychobabble. Nevertheless, she passed the test and became a probationary member of Stargate Command. Her actions remained under close scrutiny as Vala accompanied the team on her first few missions. Initially armed only with a zat gun, she eventually began carrying a P-90. Although overly enthusiastic and often overlooking the need for following a chain of command, Vala began to earn the trust of SG-1 and frequently proved her value to the team with her self-proclaimed "vast experience" with rare deadly creatures or rare ancient treasures and as one of the best thieves in two galaxies. As the mother of the Orici, she also shared a unique relationship with Adria, a bond that Daniel had come to understand, having lost his own wife to the Goa'uld.
Vala's past caught up with her when Athena arrived on Earth and arranged her kidnapping in order to probe Vala's subconscious mind for memories of Qetesh that might lead her at last to the Clava Thessara Infinitas. Vala endured the excruciating pain of the memory recall device, but an electrical surge erased her memory, and Vala escaped from her tormenters with no memory of her identity. She was taken in by Sal, of Sol's Diner, where she worked as a waitress for two weeks while both SG-1 and the agents of Athena searched for her. When at last her memory returned and she was reunited with the team, Vala was offered the SGC uniform patches, and she became an official member of SG-1.
The team has come to appreciate the remarkable change in Vala's character since her first encounter with the SGC. Once a brash, selfish, untrustworthy thief whose relentless sexual innuendos and pathological lies had only been a deterrent to the team, Vala had begun to put the needs of others before her own, to allow herself to trust, and to feel compassion that had once been deeply buried. Her considerable skills in many areas have become a genuine asset to the team. Like Daniel, she is skilled in deciphering languages and artifacts. Like Carter, she has an extensive knowledge of alien technology with which she has helped to repair ships such as the Prometheus and the Odyssey, to bypass security systems, to manually dial the stargate, and even to complete Merlin's weapon. She is an accomplished pilot and has flown the Prometheus, an alkesh, and a cargo ship with equal ease. Because she was once a Goa'uld host, she carries naquadah in her blood and has retained the ability to use Goa'uld technology such as the healing device. She is good with weapons and skilled in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts. Because of her colorful past, she is independent and resourceful, she has numerous contacts and the ability to negotiate with even the most untrustworthy, she knows how to hold her liquor, she is accomplished at picking locks, and she is skilled at games of chance, even if she occasionally cheats.
Vala has also worked hard to adapt to Earth culture, mostly by using television as her guide. Her deep reserves of nervous energy and enthusiasm coupled with her tendency to become easily bored have driven her to explore new experiences and all aspects of Earth society from birthday parties with piñatas to high school reunions. She has made it a personal goal to grasp the playful twists on words in "Earth" language as she struggles with clichés and idioms. She has developed a talent for basketball, roller skating, and poker, and she has discovered "One Life to Live," reruns of "The X-Files," and the wonders of eBay. Vala and Carter have bonded over pedicures, mochaccinos, and Victoria's Secret, and she has developed a taste for martinis, pancakes, and double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. She has also developed a curiosity for dating rituals, and her initially antagonistic relationship with Daniel has blossomed into a friendship of trust and support that Vala has on occasion interpreted as something more. When the team was stranded aboard the Odyssey for 50 years, however, the attraction between Daniel and Vala did lead to a romantic relationship, a relationship that neither remembered once the time dilation field was reversed and history was undone.
When Vala was reunited with her father, Jacek, the old feelings of bitterness and resentment resurfaced. Her life had been a constant struggle against the personal issues that he had seeded, and she resented him more than ever for reentering her life now that she had found trust in the SGC. She was no longer the unscrupulous thief and liar that he had known. She had become a very different person from the one she had been only two years before, because this time she had genuinely wanted to change. She had become a true member of SG-1.
Portrayed by: Claudia Black
Cross Reference: Adria, Ancient Communication Stone, Ancient Communication Terminal, Anti-Ori Underground, Athena, Samantha Carter, Sallis Cicera, Dr. Hutchison, Jacek, Daniel Jackson, Jup, Kor Mak, Hank Landry, Mal Doran, Memory Implant Device, Merlin's Tablet, Cameron Mitchell, Orici, P8X-412, Prometheus, Qetesh, SG Teams, Supergate, Teal'c, Tenat, Time Dilation Bubble, Tomin, Val, Ver Isca
Episode Reference: Prometheus Unbound, Avalon, Origin, The Ties That Bind, The Powers That Be, Beachhead, Crusade, Camelot
Additional Significant Episode Reference: Flesh and Blood, Morpheus, Memento Mori, Family Ties, Unending