Here we are again, this time with the both the Goa’uld and Carter ending up on the wrong show.

Critical Mass

Synopsis

On Atlantis things are going as normal, with plans underway to help out their allies while keeping an eye on Wraith Activity nearby. Unknown to them however the SGC and NID have found out that The Trust, a now Goa’uld controlled shadow group, have infiltrated the city and placed a bomb there and is set to be detonated when the city next dials the SGC for a status update. Using a planet as a relay the SGC broadcast a message to the Daedalus, currently on route back to Earth, who can then alert the city before they accidently detonate the bomb. Overclocking their hyperdrive they manage to make it just as the team prepare to dial, stopping them just in time.

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Out of contact with the city, Teyla and Beckett are on the Lantean Mainland to provide end of life care for one of the Athosian elders, Charin. The elder wants Teyla to perform the ceremony to celebrate the death of someone from old-age (a rarity due to the Wraith) but Teyla wants to hold out for a while longer. After returning to the city, finding out about the situation with the bomb, they prepare to head back out to bring the Athosians to the city for protection. While preparing Beckett reveals to Teyla that there are treatments that could extend Charin’s life. Despite the offer Charin refuses, seeing it as her time to go.

With the Daedalus now firmly back in the Pegasus providing a relay service the SGC is able to inform the city that the detonator for the bomb is in fact on Atlantis itself. Not soon after the city Gate begins to try and dial Earth itself as a failsafe to ensure the bomb goes off, though this fails as Rodney had removed the ZPM. While they celebrate it they fail to notice until it’s too late that the city’s distress beacon has begun to go off and has alerted the two Wraith cruisers flying nearby. Given the worsening situation Weir has the Daedalus head for the city to help with the search and defence if needed, cutting off comms with the SGC in the process.

The city begins questioning of suspects, with Dr Kavanagh (who was on the Daedalus) a prime suspect simply because he’s a massive twat to everyone yet again and the notably odd crewman Novak who still has the hiccups from Prometheus Unbound. While this are ongoing Rodney reveals that there’s no bomb at all, but in reality the safety mechanisms to stop an overload of the ZPM have been overwritten and that alerting the Wraith was an attempt to force them to use the ZPM. Needing a code to access the safety features and with Kavanagh still refusing to budge the team decide to torture the little shit, though he promptly faints before any torture can really start.

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As the Wraith get closer they decide to risk using the ZPM, turning off other features of the city to try and keep power draw as low as possible. The Trust operative also accounted for this however, activating the inertial dampeners which will cause a fatal overload in 30 minutes. With only a few minutes to spare it’s revealed that the Trust operative is none other than Caldwell, who’s been infested with a Goa’uld at an unknown time in the past. Thankfully the team are able to break the symbiotes hold with the use of a Taser.

In the end they’re able to restart the safety features and save the city, allowing Zelenka to arrive back to the city after a makeover by the kids.

Analysis

And after one and a half seasons we finally have our first proper crossover of events between the two shows. The Trust, a minor pain in the arse for SG-1, finally manage to be a credible threat for once, with them having successfully infiltrated all the way to Atlantis itself.

The episode’s plot is actually quite brilliantly set out when it comes to the use of a red herring in the form of Kavanagh, who is well known to have nothing but disdain for the Expedition and believes that holding Atlantis is too risky, as the prime suspect of the bomber. This was the best choice in my opinion out of the likely suspects as while he didn’t appear that often the form of Kavanagh is burnt into the minds of viewers, if for nothing more than his bloody ponytail. Given this we easily overlook the fact that only a few episodes ago that Caldwell was given full clearance to all the safety protocols and even admitted he’d changed some of them, having used the Sheppard Wraithification situation to his advantage.

It says a lot about the show in that it managed to build up Caldwell as a believable villain yet never make his issues so obvious that you’d think he hated the team. They also never reveal just when he was actually implanted with a symbiote which means on rewatching you never really know whether he’s expressing his actual feelings or if it was simply due to the Goa’uld in his head wanting more power on the base.

The Athosian sideplot, while small, is also quite interesting. While they’ve appeared every now and then before now we’ve never seen the longterm effects of Wraith cullings on the survivors of a society. The idea that a natural death due to old age is something to be celebrated is an interesting one, especially when played against the nature of Beckett, who wants to save as many as possible due to his medical background, as it becomes less an issue of death and more a look at whether there comes a point where keeping people alive simply for the sake of it is a good idea or not. It’s a shame though that this subplot ends with a longwinded song about something or other that no one asked for nor, let’s be honest, wanted as it makes a show that’s never gone to such a forced sappy moment before really sink.

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Overall the episode sees the reintroduction of the more intrigue filled episodes that have been missing for a while now but shows that nothing’s been lost despite the absence, still providing a thrilling ride as the team once again races against the clock to save the day.

Assorted Musings

· Zelenka hatred of children makes so much sense.

· Christ there really is an IQ shortage at the SGC these days.

· Oh look, it’s the musical episode.

 

Quote of the episode: “Dr. Kavanagh?”

“Yes?”

“Stop talking please.” – Hermiod and Kavanagh

Grace Under Pressure

Synopsis

Rodney is riding across the Lantean ocean in a recently repaired Puddle Jumper with his talkative pilot Griffin. As they begin to argue the Jumper begins to malfunction before crashing into the ocean. As the craft slowly sinks into the ocean they begin to lose contact with the city. While the rear compartment is able to survive the crushing depths the glass front begins to fail. With the compartment controls no longer working Griffin sacrifices himself by activating them from the drive compartment, sealing off the hold moments before he’s killed as the water breaks through the glass.

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The city, having heard their initial distress call, begins to search for a way to save the stricken vessel. Zelenka’s science team begin studying the ocean currents to try and locate where the Jumper may have gone while Sheppard and a bunch of engineers begin modifying another Jumper to allow them to rescue it once found. Sheppard also convinces Zelenka to come along on the Jumper so that he can turn the cloak into a shield (the reverse of what he did with the city) and increase the dive-depth ability of the modified Jumper.

Rodney, with his head injured in the crash, begins to slowly lose it as he tries to keep power working for as long as possible (currently at only 3 hours left) but slowly starts to lose his sanity in the process, arguing with the Jumper itself and also a whale. Eventually however he begins to hallucinate his SGC crush, Samantha Carter herself, though slightly more showy in her style of dress as an attempt to work out the solution, but this quickly turns into another shouting match as the hallucination starts to become self-aware and realise it’s only there to stop Rodney from working on a solution and to instead let the others have as much time as possible to save him. As the Jumper finally hits the ocean floor a crack is formed in the hull, slowly flooding the ship. Given the growing problems Rodney continues to try and save himself while the hallucination grows more and more seductive to try and distract him.

In the rescue Jumper Sheppard and Zelenka struggle to find Rodney’s location due to interference from both the depth and the new shield. What they do notice however is a whale-like creature circling a location for an extended period. Deciding to check it out they finally locate the crashed Jumper, which the Whale had been staying by. Zelenka, fearing that the cable won’t take the other Jumper due to it being flooded instead increases the shield around both Jumpers, allowing them to rescue Rodney.

Analysis

GUP is a clearly Rodney-centric episode on a show that has already had a small number of these. What is different however is the fact that while focusing on our scientific savant rather than focusing on his ability it’s used instead as a way to explore his inter-personal issues and instead actually gives more room for Zelenka, until now largely the side-character in the Rodney “look at me, look at me” show.

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The story makes the ever so wise decision of locking Rodney in a small metal box and an impossible problem for him to think he can solve, This allows the other characters the chance to show themselves in a crisis that isn’t immediately solved and gloated over by him. Through these events we find Zelenka is far more courageous than first thought, actually going on the frontlines to help his friends. The Czech scientist has previously been seen to abhor being outside the city itself, due to the dangers and other people he sometimes has to deal with, but now he’s quickly talked into going to solve technical challenges usually left to his senior colleague and proves himself more than capable in the field, even if he still isn’t the biggest fan of doing so.

On the flipside Rodney’s inability to solve a problem reflects on his weakness and flaws when it comes to his inability to control a situation, where he desperation will grow to the point where he’ll ignore his most valuable asset, his mind, because of his ego in that he believes he has to save the day. This sees him first begin to get angry with inanimate objects for not doing as he says and then eventually hallucinating his very one-sided flame Samantha Carter. Even when the hallucination, effectively his conscious mind, tells him to stop what he’s doing by giving him the experiences he wants he still breaks away from it because of his inability to admit he needs help from others.

While this plot is fun to watch it makes, in my mind, a fatal error in its decision to include Carter in the mix. It’s no secret that Rodney has a thing for the famous scientist but my god did they poorly implement the character into the show. I could understand the initial under-dressing, with Carter displaying far more cleavage than ever seen before, but as it gets closer to the end she sheds more and more clothes to the point she’s simply lingerie clad. It’s really poor service in my opinion to a character whose entire characterisation had been about ignoring generic female stereotypes for sci-fi characters by making their first major appearance on the show so vapid and pointless, where she provides nothing but titillation.

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In the end the episode is one that has a good idea in the form of a focus on Rodney not being able to solve something but is also heavily flawed in how it treats other characters. It feels long and ends slight anticlimactic. A classic case of trying to fit too much in too little time.

Assorted Musings

· And so ends the glorious saga of Tomatoman Griffin.

 

Quote of the episode: “The least you can do is take your top off.”

“Your subconscious mind knows that I would never be into that.”

“You are the worst hallucination ever.” – Rodney and Carter