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Context

We learn the ascended won't interfere in the affairs of mortals.

Daniel Jackson ascends with Oma Desala as his guide. Soon afterward, the system lord Anubis appears after what has been a long absence. He somehow self-ascended but the Ancients rejected him. They failed to annul his ascension entirely so he has returned as a half-ascended abomination with more knowledge and power than all of the other system lords combined.

Anubis is about to use this ill-gotten might to exterminate the people of Abydos when Daniel Jackson, in violation of the rules regarding intervention, tries to stop him directly. Oma Desala seizes Daniel mid-strike and carries him away. The Ancients allow Anubis to continue, and later expel Daniel.

Question

The Ancients allow Daniel agency in the mortal realm after they eject him. This agrees with their stated policy because he's now mortal as well.

If Anubis had remained ascended, the Ancients would have tried to prevent him from killing any mortal. If at that time they tried but failed to denude him of power entirely, surely they wouldn't just give up and leave him to continue as he had always intended; the attack would have been the entire reason for his expulsion. But when he attacks the people of Abydos using advanced abilities they had already tried to take from him, they stand aside as if it mattered when he made his plans.

In other words, the Ancients prohibit Anubis' ascension because of his character, but they allow his illegal power to enable the effectuation of his character.

The philosophy here is a bit too deep for me to grasp. Can someone tie it all together -- intent, responsibility, power -- in the context of the Anubis sequence?

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    Their logic is well beyond our feeble unascended minds? – Euro Micelli Oct 10 '17 at 3:10
  • @EuroMicelli - No offense, but that's what I call a "thought terminating cliché". – MackTuesday Oct 10 '17 at 15:13
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    None taken. It was a sarcasm. You asked a good question, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me either, other than as a practical plot point. Incidentally, I'm ok with that; I usually let scriptwriters a lost of space to hand-wave. – Euro Micelli Oct 10 '17 at 15:55
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It was to punish Oma Desala

Firstly, Anubis did not self-ascend. He tricked Oma into helping him.

After being expelled by Ra for actions deemed too extreme, even by Goa'uld standards, and repeated assassination attempts, Anubis found some research concerning ascension and decided to pursue it, faking his own death so the other System Lords wouldn't continually come after him while he did so. He travelled to Kheb and took the tests of Oma Desala. Anubis managed to pass the tests thanks to the research he found and prove himself worthy of ascension. Oma began the process, but realised at the last minute how evil he truly was, being a Goa'uld. She tried to descend him, but the process had already gone too far and his power matched hers, so she couldn't do it on her own. The Others intervened, but to punish Oma for breaking the rule of non-interference yet again and helping a mortal ascend, they only half-descended him, putting him in an existence somewhere between the mortal and ascended planes. This granted him additional knowledge and power that most mortals could not hope to possess.

As an additional punishment to Oma, The Others decided to allow Anubis to use any knowledge he could have gained as an unascended Goa'uld, regardless of how long it would ordinarily have taken him to obtain it. Unfortunately, Anubis is something of a genius and so could have gained a lot of knowledge, even prior to his ascension.

All of this is explained in Oma's conversation with Daniel in the diner.

JACKSON: So it's true.

OMA: He tricked me.

JACKSON: How? You couldn't tell?!

OMA: No. He must have found some old Ancient research on ascension. When he came to Kheb, he knew what he was doing. When I realized the horrible mistake that I had made, I tried to undo it, but I couldn't. That's when the Others stepped in.

JACKSON: I don't understand -- they only sent him halfway back. Why not all the way?

OMA: It's complicated.

JACKSON: Yeah, what isn't around here?

OMA: They warned him -- he wasn't allowed to use any knowledge or power unless he otherwise would have gained it as a Goa'uld.

JACKSON: I don't understand. They let him wreak havoc. They don't care if he destroys all life in the galaxy -- life they themselves created?

OMA: They haven't stopped me from continuing my work. I've tried to make up for it -- help when I can.

JACKSON: It's your punishment. You're forced to watch, powerless to interfere, and let Anubis do whatever he wants just to punish you?

OMA: I told you before -- the galaxy you're from, the plane of existence, is so small and insignificant compared to the rest of the universe.

JACKSON: I don't care. It's wrong.

OMA: That's what you said last time.

Stargate SG-1: Season 8, Episode 18 - Threads

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    In other words, "Wait until you've watched the whole series". =) – MackTuesday Oct 10 '17 at 15:52
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Looking at it now, I don't believe that part of Oma’s punishment that Anubis be allowed to act as he does. It may be part of the ”cosmic rulebook” that Daniel alludes to during the series.

There are instances in which Ascended beings are allowed to act in ways that would be in accordance with their natural forms. For example, Anubis is allowed to do anything he could have done as a Gu’a’uld. Meaning, he could enslave the galaxy and such. However, he could not use the knowledge of the Ancients to efficiently do so. Presumably, the weapon at Dakara would not have been allowed to be used considering that was knowledge he gained through Ascension. Anubis, presumably, would not have lived long enough to effect the universe on a ”cosmic scale.”

Daniel goes through these things as well. He couldn't kill Anubis but he was allowed to guide Jack to the Eye of Ra because he believed it to be on Abydos. Daniel put two and two together once he was made aware, by Skarr’a, that Anubis was looking for it. Merlin and Morgan both do the same with knowledge they held as Alterans to allow Daniel to build the Sangraal. Their ascension, in this particular case was immaterial because Merlin was mortal when he built it. Morgan descended to make sure he couldn't finish. There is nothing stopping Morgan from acting in the lower planes to safeguard Ascended beings because Merlin, according to the rules, cheated. They can act in proportional response. But, not to effectively shift the balance in the lower planes.

That's why you see Anubis act in the lower planes more versus the higher planes. Oma cannot act against him because he isn't acting against her or The Others.

So, think of it like this: You get the answers for a quiz from the teacher’s guide. That's cheating. However, if you get the same information from a quiz you have already taken, that is acceptable because it was found from a source that you already had access to regardless. It is OKAY for Anubis to verify information. It is CHEATING for him to act on information he directly gained from Ascension.

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What exactly is the Ancients' policy regarding intervention?

I'll tackle this part first: It's complicated but more than anything it's "don't get caught by the mortals."

Keep in mind that every single ascended being we see (outside the diner) in the Stargate universe is either an Ori or someone who claims they had or were actively breaking the rules in some way.

Except for Morgan Le Fay.

When she went to Atlantis to covertly dangle specific information regarding Merlin's weapon for Daniel Jackson she was acting under orders to do so. She was only pulled away when she attempted to say something that exceeded her orders. Think about that. This means that the Others had a long term plan and that plan was deeply compartmentalized even among ascended Ancients executing it.

Kind of sounds like a spy story.

We only have her word but she also told us that she was "sent to keep an eye on Merlin" when he descended in a form similar to Adria. Again, some form of ruling body or power structure picked her and gave her instructions. We are even told that she pushed the envelope on her discretion by preserving Merlin and after having second thoughts actually gave "Arthur's knights" enough clues that they could've actually found and released Merlin to complete his weapon long ago. It's possible the Others impeded their effort but it would've been simpler to stop Le Fey which they certainly didn't do.

Even if we look at the other Ascended who broke the rules there's a much more nuanced picture than just "don't interfere."

When Orlin gave Ancient weapons tech to the Velonans to use in defense from the Goa'uld the Others could've easily stopped him but they didn't. The Others could've easily stopped the Velonans but didn't. In fact it was only after the Velonans got a taste for power and started to conquer their peaceful neighbors that the Others did what the Goa'uld would've and wiped them out. That seems harsh given that they could've removed every memory of the Ancient weapons tech from them Except the we learn from The Ark of Truth that this would violate a basic precept of their beliefs that predates Ascension.

But they still didn't lift a finger to stop Orlin or the Velonans until things went bad. Presumably Orlin must've led the Velonans to discover the tech without revealing himself (Apparently the biggest rule) and the Velonans must've learned how to build mobile weapons to conquer their neighbors from this knowledge.

It makes sense for them to discourage interference generally while only forbidding Open Involvement since their highest law seems to be "don't become worshipped like the Ori".

It's even likely that the near ancestor worship common among the humans of the Pegasus Galaxy actually prevented the Others from doing anything to help them. Ironically not venerating them gave them more leeway in the Milky Way and the strict noninterference we see in Pegasus is a direct result of them trying to "shake the mortals faith" enough to act covertly without still strengthening the worship of them by the Pegasus humans.

TL;DR: Basically the Ancients are about as averse to interference as the CIA, they are just a lot more serious about not getting caught.

As for how they handled Anubis in particular

It's a grey area but their response is totally consistent with the other examples. The Others didn't half-descend Anubis to punish Ulma but to give her the opportunity to interfere in a self sacrificing way to stop him. This was exactly the sort of thing that ultimately got Orlin forgiven by the rest so it's even possible that the Others didn't make Ulma spend all eternity fighting Anubis as long as she made the choice to do so.

(Still, ascending Anubis was a much bigger FUBAR so maybe they didn't.)

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