Today we sadly have two of the worst episodes from Atlantis’ first outing.
On Atlantis a science team escorted by Ford and a security team are checking for structural weaknesses and exploring labs they haven’t seen before, while also mocking Ford’s lack of scientific and mathematical ability through games. After the exploration seems to go to plan two of the scientists go missing in one of the labs, screaming that things are coming out of the walls. By the time the others arrive the two initial lost scientists seem to have visions of creatures and then die from internal haemorrhaging. Weir, under Beckett’s guidance, decides to put the city under quarantine until they find out what killed the two others as they aren’t sure whether the cause is airbourne or not.
Despite the hope that a military and science expedition would be the sort of people to understand why you need a quarantine to protect the good of all, fractures begin to emerge in both. With the former Sheppard attempts to breach his quarantine, having been caught in the training room during the initial lockdown, while in the latter the scientist Peterson uses his knowledge to start breaching doors after he becomes infected. Overhearing of Peterson’s escape, Sheppard disobeys Weir’s orders entirely and attempts to confront him, accidently causing the reactivation of the city’s teleports allowing Peterson to make it to the cafeteria before collapsing thereby spreading the infection even further and causing the city to go into its own quarantine lockdown which locks out the entire staff.
In the infirmary the medical teams begin autopsies on the corpses, finding that all three victims so far collected all died from the exact same cause in the exact same location. Unfortunately the news is left marred when Rodney begins to exhibit signs of being infected along with many others of the initial science team. With Rodney believing he’s coming to the end of his life he begins pushing himself even harder, finding that the virus is in fact artificial nanites which explains why everyone died on exactly the same timeframe and displayed the same symptoms. While explaining this discovery Rodney realises that he hasn’t died yet, seemingly convinced that those with the ATA gene (Ancient gene) are essentially passed over. Ford then acts like a five year old demanding to be injected with it.
Given that the virus is artificial the team decide to try an EMP to kill the nanites and ask Sheppard (whose HAZMAT suit allows him to walk around the city unhindered still) to fire it. While it appears to fire the pulse has no effect on the lockdown, suggesting that the virus wasn’t deactivated. This is confirmed when the entire infirmary has a mass freakout, which sees Teyla’s suit ruptured by one of the scientists. Given the seriousness of the situation Sheppard instead decides the could try detonating a Naquadah generator above the city, causing a much stronger EMP blast. The plan, supported by Rodney, ends up working and allows the city to return to normal. In the aftermath both Weir and Sheppard agree not to overrule each other’s respective remits again, and the identity of whomever created the nanites remains a mystery.
God what a mess of an episode this one is. This is going to be a short look at the episode because honestly, there’s not much to like about this episode.
On the plus side we see the show deal with yet another topic its sister did a while back, the medical quarantine. While this initially gives the episode some tension as the team find what appears to be some long lost virus it quickly goes downhill from here. This episode decides to fall into one of those traps everyone hates, everything is reliant on the characters being idiots.
It’s such a shame to see the show fall down the trap its avoided for almost a decade by this point but here we are and almost immediately you’re tearing your hair out. This whole Expedition, time and time again, likes to go “these are the best scientists and military personnel the US and the world has to offer”. Really mate, because if these are the best then god help us as almost immediately two groups of people, who you’d think were brilliant in a crisis and understood the need of individual sacrifice, all become whining self-obsessed idiots. Not only do they all try to break quarantine pointlessly, causing the near deaths of the entire city, but they then start attacking the very medical team trying to save them.
Once again Ford is written poorly in particular, having a go at the scientists multiple times despite the fact they’re the very people he needs to save him. Sheppard also comes across quite badly, suddenly overruling Weir and then being very blaise about it despite earlier episodes concluding this issue.
In the end the episode is sadly lacking and utterly destroyed by what is quite poor writing and characterisation. One of the truly worst parts of Atlantis season 1.
· Christ the Ancients really did just leave shit lying around unchecked.
· Those extras really can’t act panicked well.
Quote of the episode: “Lt. Ford, would you mind being the subject of research papers on statistical improbabilities?”
“Is this some sort of payback for guys like me beating up guys like you in high school?” - Zelenka and Ford
Somewhere in space the team find themselves chased by two Darts. Having lost the ability to use their Ancient drones the team make a run for a nearby planet. As they approach it however a sudden energy burst reaches out into space and destroys the Darts while leaving the Jumper intact. The team head down to the planet to find the source of the blast, hoping to find a ZPM powering it they can try and nick, but only find a primitive village who have no understanding of the device and instead believe it to be the work of their god Athar whose high priestess they take the team to meet with. While the male members of the team initially roll their eyes at the idea of a high priestess upon finding that she’s an attractive young woman they change their tune, Sheppard in particular. Negotiating with the woman, Chaya, the team try to arrange to move other humans made refugees by the Wraith to the world as it’s seemingly protected. When asked about the weapon however Chaya also proclaims ignorance, though the team express doubt at this. After going to talk with Athar, Chaya states that they cannot offer sanctuary to others off-world but does agree to come to Atlantis to view it.
After an initial medical observation, where Beckett takes a shine to her personality and her surprisingly good medical test, she begins to explore the city with Sheppard, learning more about the Expeditions origins and mission. During his tour of the control room Chaya leans on one of the new control panels, activating it which shows that she has the ATA gene. Elsewhere however Beckett reports Chaya’s unusual results to Weir and Rodney, unable to understand how such a primitive people have no health defects of any kind which Beckett sees as impossible.
During discussions in the meeting room the team try to convince Chaya once more to accept refugees in exchange for technology which Chaya rejects, instead more interested in cultural items from Earth instead such as religious and spiritual texts. Rodney, growing bored, decides to find out what the new machine was which is in fact a biosigns detector which makes Rodney more suspicious of their new resident. Weir however is dismissive of his concerns, seeing them as unwarranted and more jealous in nature. On one of the city balcony Sheppard gets much closer to Chaya.
The next day during further negotiations Weir allows Rodney to carry out scans of Chaya without her knowledge, showing evidence that her bio-signature is significantly different from everyone else’s. During the meeting he finds definite proof that Chaya is in fact an Ancient who, after ascending, continues to stand watch over her planet. She also reveals that the negotiations were a sham and that she really wanted to spend time with a certain good-looking Major. As Chaya attempts to leave however she almost collapses as she detects the Wraith are coming for her planet, at which point she goes to her Ascended form and goes through the Gate. In response Sheppard takes a lone Jumper out to join the fight despite it being obvious suicide. After taking out a couple of Darts Chaya appears before once again using her powers to destroy the entire Wraith armada. Down on the surface Sheppard meets with her, where she explains she can only protect the planet or else the rest of her kind will stop her. Instead she only agrees to still be with Sheppard.
And here we finally see the reveal of the Ancients themselves on the show and sadly the introduction of the main element that makes me not enjoy this show as much as SG-1.
The plot sees the team make contact with the seemingly basic people of yet another planet, only for Sheppard to be intrigued by a mysterious and beautiful native woman who essentially serves as their theological leader. While at first this could go in any direction it quickly falls into that most annoying of tropes, single-episode love interest. Again much like with the avoidance of “dumb character, dumb decision” moments in the previous years of the franchise, this is probably the first time the show so blatantly goes for lead love interest. While the show has had attractive titillating woman for nothing but the viewer before (damn you Anise) this is the first time it’s so obviously fallen into the trope. It’s boring and unelegant, with there being no real reason for it to happen and sadly this is going to happen time and time again in the future.
While Beckett went through a similar process in his episode Poisoning the Well, the key difference is that then his LI, Perna, was still very much focused on her role rather than her looks. Here however the entire thing seems to be the “exotic beautiful alien” archetype you can find on any straight-faced cheesy sci-fi which is a shame for a show that until now has deliberately avoided being that sort of show.
In relation to this we also see Rodney clearly very jealous and a jealous Rodney is not a fun Rodney to watch. Even though he ends up being right in the end you can’t help but still want to disagree with him simply because of what an absolute cock he’s being in the process. Rodney has always been at his best when he’s a lovable, if slightly self-involved, hero and not a man who seems to have problems with women due to their gender.
Overall sadly another miss by the Atlantis team, with many of season 1 being misses it seems.
· I wonder if the god can be seen from “Athar”, AHAHAHA.
· Joseph Mallozzi says this is his least favourite episode of the entire franchise.
Quote of the episode: “I have lived in solitude for so long that when you asked me to come to Atlantis”
“Oh my god, he is Kirk.” – Chaya and Rodney