So today we see the team have a time-travel experience and meet some religious fanatics.
Before I Sleep
We start on Atlantis where Sheppard is presenting Weir with a gift from the Athosians for her birthday, an old pot. The main part of the day however is the continued exploration of the city for any other threats or surprises, with FART finding an Ancient lab that contains an old woman in stasis. Rodney, on further examination along with Beckett, finds that the woman is around 10,000 years old and that the stasis has kept her alive if also slowly aged her. Despite some fears about contamination Weir decides it’s worth the risk and has her defrosted. Upon waking all the woman says is that “it worked” before falling unconscious.
After being moved to the infirmary the woman eventually wakes up, shocking the others with her intimate knowledge of the Expedition members before claiming that she’s Elizabeth Weir and that she travelled back in time to the Ancient period before falling unconscious once more. Despite some initial disbelief Beckett runs lab tests which confirm her DNA is a match for the young Weir.
Weir goes to meet her older self with Rodney once more. Upon waking she begins to tell her story of how she ended up back in time. It turns out in her timeline the Expedition arrived on the city much like theirs did but unlike in our timeline many of the key systems weren’t functional. Eventually the other reality got the systems operational and realise that the power is near empty but not soon enough to slow its effects, leading to many of the advance parties exploring the city including Colonel Sumner drowning as the shield fails. As the previous Expedition desperately tries to escape via Puddle Jumper the city begins last-minute attempts to save itself. Unlike our reality where this comprised of rising to the surface theirs instead only locks down the bulkhead doors around the city, trapping Rodney and most of the Expedition to drown in the control room. Eventually the only survivors are Weir, Sheppard, and Zelenka who find themselves inside a time-travel Puddle Jumper that upon activation jumps them to a time when Atlantis was under Wraith attack. This last part of the story causes the older Weir to suffer an attack of some kind and she’s taken back to the infirmary.
While waiting for the older Weir to recover the team discuss the possibility of having a time machine of their own. Unfortunately when she wakes once more the elderly Weir informs them that it no longer exists, with the Jumper having been shot down over the planet and that only Weir survived. The elderly Weir was saved and brought to Atlantis where she became friends with the Ancient Janus, a scientist who finds himself at odds with the more conservative members of what remains of the Ancient Council. It turns out that the time Weir found herself in was the final days of the Ancient-Wraith War where Atlantis was less of the grand city thought of by the Expedition and more the last chopper out of Saigon. Despite wanting to return to her time the Council decides to destroy the time machine, trapping her in their time. Despite the wishes of the Council Janus goes against their wishes, helping Weir to save her Expedition in the future by adapting the power systems to last longer and implementing the surface release mechanism before giving Weir the opportunity to maybe return to her time via the stasis pods. Eventually the Ancients leave for good, placing Weir alone in the city for 10,000 years. After finishing her story the elderly Weir provides the team with a list of planets that had ZPMs on, causing the others to celebrate who only stop when they hear the flatlining from the monitor.
The episode ends with Weir scattering her older counterparts ashes over the control tower balcony, to commemorate the dream she achieved.
So here we have Atlantis’ first time travel storyline and to be honest it’s quite an intimate affair. While those on SG-1 has focused more on the outside task in episodes like 1969 and Window of Opportunity here the show looks deeper at the characters and just how lucky the Expedition was to find a city not in flames when they arrived.
So the story goes that our timeline is in fact the good set of initial circumstances, with it turning out that in a previous loop the entire Expedition was lost within 30 minutes of arrival. Within the loop however Weir is sent back in time to when Ancients were hanging on by their fingertips to the city and were almost ready to leave for good. While up to now we’ve been told a few times that the Ancients lost the war to the Wraith it’s another thing to see it actually happen on screen, with them clearly a shadow of their former glory. This comes to a head when one of the last refugee ships heading for Atlantis is shotdown by Wraith with those on the city unable to send any kind of help to them despite having built such wonders as the Gate Network and the flying city-ship of Atlantis itself.
From this we also see the conflict within Ancient society, with dreamers like Janus being overruled and held back by the conservatives much like in all societies. Despite this however we see that many of these minds can’t be contained, with Janus secretly helping Weir to find a way back to her people and to save them. In this way he reminds me of Oma from SG-1 who was also an outcast from the mainstream thinking, however in this case it’s more to do with the science itself while SG-1 was more the spiritual aspect shown through Ascension.
Outside of this look at the Ancients and another version of events the episode is largely used to set up the next arc of the show. The first arc, of the team settling in and their first steps in a new galaxy and new enemy, comes to a close and now the race is on to find ZPMs to help in the fight against the Wraith and allow the team to contact Earth, with the Expedition now in possession of multiple locations to scout out.
In the end the episode is a small affair, revolving around a single character and how their life could’ve ended up if things had gone differently while also giving viewers a tease as to where the show will go next.
· It’s nice how they use the time-travel Jumper to further weave the two shows together.
· I’m surprised elderly Weir managed to keep going in and out of the stasis pod given how weak she was.
Quote of the episode: “The Puddle Jumper they escaped in must have been some sort of a time machine. It had to have an additional component built into it.”
“...Yeah.” – Rodney and Sheppard
A monastery on an unknown planet is under attack by the Wraith, with two of the monks attempting to hide something of great importance. While they succeed in doing so both are beamed up by the Wraith to be feasted on. Many centuries later the team are there looking for the ZPM alongside a native contingent of explorers. Unknown to them however the Genii are also aware of their activities and are monitoring them from afar and that Kolya is leading them.
Meanwhile on Atlantis Zelenka and one of the control room staff Chuck are trying to find out why the computers are acting up. Eventually they realise that the unknown problem were long-range sensors that had been trying to alert them of an incoming craft, a lone Wraith Dart. To defend the city the Expedition send out three jumpers to take it out. Upon contact the Dart easily takes out one of the Jumpers and rushes to the city before seemingly scanning and then sending out a signal before destroying itself.
Back on the planet the team are at work trying to find the location of the ZPM from clues left behind by the former monks known as “The Brotherhood” who protected the ZPM long ago. The team begin by hunting down the remaining six of nine stones that when put together are meant to unlock the location of the ZPM which also leads them to chamber where the pieces need to be assembled. As part of the team explore this new chamber while Ford keeps guard up top, Ford is caught by surprised and captured by Kolya. In exchange for their eventual freedom Rodney agrees to help Kolya find the ZPM, eventually finding the final stone needed.
Returning to the ZPM chamber the group are confronted with a final puzzle to solve involving the placement of the nine stone, with fatal consequences as one Genii scientist finds out. With Sheppard’s life on the line the team attempt to solve the puzzle themselves, working out that the solution is a common mathematical puzzle involving making each direction of a 3x3 grid equal each other, releasing the ZPM. As Kolya attempts to make off with his prize the team use a flashbang to distract and overpower his men, trapping them in the chamber.
As the team celebrate their victory and prize on the way back to the Gate they’re ambushed by the locals, who reveal themselves to be The New Brotherhood, who want to continue protecting the ZPM from everyone until the Ancients return. The team return to find that the loss of the ZPM has come at the worst possible moment, with the city’s long-range sensors reading that three Hive ships are on their way to the city and are only two weeks away.
So right of we have the team on their next mission to find a ZPM, this time looking in an old monastery for the fabled power source. However the episode takes a turn for the worse for the team when a man from three episodes ago turns up again already.
The episode sees the team looking in the old religious ruins and trying to solve a surprisingly intricate puzzle given the technological level of the natives. The amount of time that has passed between the Ancients leaving the ZPM and the current time is one of the more interesting parts of the episode. The tale of the ZPM’s purpose has been increasingly mythologised over the years, with all people having left are a few papers left behind by the original keepers. This has seen the idea of keeping it hidden from the Wraith eventually reach the idea that the Ancients will one day return for the device and that the people’s role is to protect it to that day, with the new incarnation of the protectors unable to realise that the Ancients are all gone now and will never return.
Beyond this the episode sees the reappearance of Kolya almost immediately after his previous foray against the team and to be honest it seems a bit early for me. This is a character the show clearly wants to have as a main antagonist but his constant reappearance is starting to remind me of season 1 Apophis on SG-1 where he’d randomly appear off-world for no reason. The Genii can be an interesting foe but not if they appear every five seconds, which was why the main show introduced multiple Goa’uld to bring some variety.
This bringing back of Kolya also coincides with Ford being at his worst once more. At one point he had the perfect opportunity to show himself as a capable fighter, catching an opponent unaware only to then get hit in the head by a cheap and obvious shot. It’s like the show really does want you to hate the guy by now.
The final aspect of the episode is the setup for the finale of the season, with the city finally under attack from the Wraith. It’s a bit of a surprise this took so long given how the team have suddenly appeared and started killing the Wraith for a while now so the decision to check if Atlantis has reappeared is an overdue if welcome one. The only annoying aspect of this really was Beckett once again being a right fucking pain. We get it mate, you don’t like flying, but when there’re lives at stake maybe stop being so selfish?
Overall the episode is honestly a bit forgettable outside of some nice Chinese Whispers ideas and the setup for a Wraith attack on Atlantis.
· That initial greenscreen when Rodney appears isn’t great.
· So Teyla kills two of the Genii but they leave Kolya and one
other alive? Talk about mixed signals.
Quote of the episode: “Jesus, I can’t work with these actors” - Zelenka