So today we resolve Atlantis’s greatest threat and see a mysterious entity take control of their newest spaceship.
The Siege Part 3
Back on Atlantis Ford’s ambush takes a turn for the worse as the two groups take each other out, with a marine randomly deciding to pull a grenade and kill himself and everyone else who was stunned which sends Ford and a Wraith who was feeding on him into the icy waters below. Colonel Overdub is also fed on by the Wraith only to be saved by persons unknown before the Wraith can finish the job.
In orbit however Sheppard receives radio contact from an unknown source just as he’s about to ram one of the two Hive ships, revealed to be the Daedalus Battlecruiser which managed to beam Sheppard out just before the nuke on the Jumper detonated. The cruiser immediately beams down the ZPM to the city before moving to assist with taking out the Wraith ships still above the city. While the ship’s close in armament is working well the use of standard missiles for offensive attacks means their weaponry is unable to hit the ships without being easily intercepted. Instead the ship decides to juryrig the Asgard beaming technology to be used to deliver nuclear warheads directly onto the last Hive. The successful strike sees the remaining cruisers break off and retreat to hyperspace while the remaining fighters group for a kamikaze strike on the city.
Within the city Rodney is being escorted to the power room to use the ZPM to power the city’s weapons and/or shield, with the scientist worried that his two man escort will be hard-pressed given the city is crawling with Wraith. His fears are proven right when a Wraith patrol manage to take out his escort and Rodney accidently disarms himself. Thankfully the intrepid hero is saved at the last minute by Teyla who has been slowly trying to make her way back to the control room after the rest of her squad was hit. With Teyla escorting him Rodney is able to make it to the power room and activate the ZPM, allowing the shield to protect the city from the kamikaze attack.
Upon his return to the city Sheppard is ushered to the infirmary where Overdub wants to talk to him, with Overdub having aged rapidly and lost his overdub. Overdub forgives Sheppard for having killed his friend, realising that Sumner would’ve wanted to be shot given what happened. Daedalus is also able to beam Ford out of the water, with everyone surprised he’s somehow still alive. They find that Ford is full of a Wraith enzyme used to stop feeding victims from dying immediately upon feasting and that he’ll have a massive comedown after it leaves the system. More immediate concern however are the 12 Hive ships bearing down on the city to reinforce the first wave.
The Expedition decide to go on the offensive for a change, with the Daedalus heading to where the Hives will stop temporarily due to their less advanced hyperdrives. The Daedalus successfully ambushes the fleet of Hive ships, taking out two of them before the Hives successfully manage to jam the transporters. The sudden shift of balance forces the ship to immediately retreat to Atlantis, with Daedalus suffering damage in the process and putting them out of action as it’s forced to land on the water (um okay?) just outside the city.
On Atlantis Ford decides to release himself from the infirmary, still high as a kite on Wraith Cocaine. When Beckett comes to drag him back to bed Ford goes psycho, revealing his true evil self (explaining why he was so crap last season), choking Beckett before going back into his good guy act. After being taken back to infirmary Ford makes his move, overpowering a guard and stealing the rest of the Wraith Cocaine. Ford then steals a Jumper as well and leaves for parts unknown so he can start his evil drug cartel.
Eventually the larger Wraith fleet arrives and begins bombarding the shield, which will drain the ZPM within a matter of days after a very pretty lightshow. The team decide to instead try and trick the Wraith into thinking the Expedition destroyed the city by detonating a nuke above the city shield and then during the confusion switching the shield for a cloak instead, with Teyla sending false signals to the Wraith about their intent, while Daedalus will stay on standby as a lifeboat to take as many as possible back to Earth in case the plan fails. Thankfully the ruse works, with the Wraith departing the system thinking that the threat of Atlantis is gone.
So here we are with the start of season 2 and the immediate resolving of the situation regarding the imminent destruction Atlantis, with the cavalry arriving to save the cavalry who arrived earlier to save the city from the Wraith.
One of the best decisions the episode makes is that right from the get go the story cuts down on many of the pointless characters it tried to focus on in the first two parts of the episode. The annoying Colonel overdubbed terribly gets one new scene and that lasts barely 30 seconds while Ford gets around 5 minutes screentime for what is meant to be a “major” subplot this season. Instead great time is given to two major areas only, the power room on Atlantis and the bridge of the new Daedalus Battlecruiser commanded by new character Colonel Steven Caldwell, a more no-nonsense character but who sounds and acts like a person rather than a boring caricature like Overdub was.
On the weaker side however we have Ford, who even trying to be a bad guy is nothing short of dull and unlikable. The show tries to have us believe that in the course of only around an hour the former “whippy sidekick” bore is now “evil drug-addict” bore, now high on Wraith Cocaine. Not only does it feel forced but it just looks bad too, with Ford switching between the two personas on a moment’s notice and thereby still making him an insufferable prat rather than a victim he’s meant to be. As previously mentioned this is thankfully kept incredibly short so Ford fucks off rather quickly.
This stronger focus on only two plotlines sees the show really succeed when it comes to the visual effects, with some truly stunning work on the space battles involving the Daedalus fighting the many Hive ships that come to destroy the city, concluding with an amazing shot of a nuclear explosion above the city that lasts for some time, with the mushroom cloud slowly dissipating below it. The visual effects of the show only get better from here on in, with the stronger space focus allowing more intricate shots as opposed to trying to match CGI shot extensions to the same forest in Vancouver week after week.
So in the end the episode largely fills the end of the season 1 arc well, with the Wraith attack stopped with the apparent destruction of the city. This sets up the arc for the next season and a half which features the city’s survival being kept a secret due to the Wraith threat while a shorter term (and thankfully just short) arc featuring Ford leading a group of drug addicts off-world.
· The Asgard keeping tabs on the Air Force now? That’s a sudden change.
· Good thing all those standard laptops are ruggedized to keep out EMP.
· Seriously, not one Wraith went “maybe we should shoot the city just to make sure”.
Quote of the episode: “So.. this is how it’s gonna be huh, Just me? Okay, that’s fine! You want some of this, huh, huh!”
*Immediately clicks the magazine release on his gun* - Rodney
The team are on the Daedalus, returning to the Pegasus galaxy on a two week after a rotation back to the Milky Way to report to the SGC regarding their situation and future. Sheppard’s showing off of his promotion to Lt. Colonel after the events of the Expedition’s first year along with the annoyance of instantaneous Gate travel one way and a slow trip by ship the other is beginning to get on everyone’s nerves. A fatal accident involving one of the ship’s complement however thankfully breaks up the monotony. The cause of death appears to be some kind of accidental power surge that electrocuted him and knocked out the cameras. This leads to a small power struggle between Caldwell and Weir regarding the repairs, with the origin based during the SGC debrief where the two butted heads over the future direction of the Expedition or rather its military section which the SGC wanted Caldwell to lead but Weir forced the Pentagon into supporting Sheppard as leader of the military presence (and his subsequent promotion).
In the present Rodney returns to Caldwell with suspicions that the death of the crewmember may not have been an accident at all and that someone may have tampered with key systems. The ship exits hyperspace to conduct the checks, with a Dr. Lindstrom finding something during his checks. Just after he announces this a coolant leak forces him to take shelter in a nearby airlock while Rodney communicates with him through the nearby monitor. Suddenly communications are cut and the airlock opens, ripping Lindstrom out into space. This convenient death confirms that another presence is killing people who discover its presence. Caldwell decides to have all new civilians confined to quarters as he doesn’t know any of them and therefore doesn’t trust them. It’s also revealed in another flashback that one of the potential candidates who turned down the opportunity to work on the Expedition was Weir’s partner, who it turns out has met someone else during her year away.
Back in the ship’s engine room Rodney continues looking through the ship’s computer database and finds what has been causing the malfunctions, a Wraith computer virus. The virus also seems to be intelligent to a certain degree, adapting to its environment by broadcasting a distress beacon for the Wraith to locate. Given how they can’t shut off the array Sheppard decides to take out a F-302 and use its weapons to destroy the transmitter directly. Despite taking out the array, ending the immediate threat, Sheppard’s F-302 is taken over by the virus and he can’t be beamed back as the transmitter was the one used by the Asgard sensors. Thankfully Rodney is able to jury-rig a system that uses his radio as a target source, successfully beaming him back onto the ship.
As a last resort Rodney shuts down the ship’s entire network and reboots it from backups in an attempt to purge the virus from the ship. While this successfully purges the virus from the ship itself it turns out that the virus survived by storing itself on the F-302s in the hanger bay, and plans to fly close to the nearby star to kill everyone on the ship. Rodney and Sheppard are beamed to the hanger deck after the virus blocks the bulkheads and begin removing the computers from the F-302s. To attempt to kill them once more the virus opens the hanger bay, meaning all that is stopping the atmosphere from exiting are the shields around the hanger which will eventually collapse if the virus regains control. Just as the virus gains control of the shield the two of them are able to seek sanctuary inside one of the fighters after pulling all the computers. The ship reboots yet again and once again it fails, with it being revealed that the virus this time survived on the F-302 still outside the ship.
Sheppard, with Rodney as his unwilling co-pilot, takes their F-302 out to fight the other F-302 and manage to successfully destroy it despite lacking many systems, allowing the reboot to finally work and the crew to regain control of the ship. A few days later the ship makes it back to Atlantis and life for the team returns to normal.
The Intruder is a strange mix of an episode, where it tries to combine some character and situational development regarding how the show works alongside the main story of the week angle.
The backstory and flashbacks are really well used in the episode where they actively support what’s happening rather than exist solely for filling space. In this scenario they’re used to flesh out the ongoing issues between Caldwell and Weir, with the two not getting on due to Weir effectively stopping his promotion to the head of Atlantis security ahead of her preferred choice of Sheppard. It’s fun how they twist this so that they didn’t actively go against each other but through their respective channels caused the issues, with Weir’s civilian support effectively overruling the military chain to Caldwell’s chagrin. In the present this is also done very well with both actively clashing but not putting the ship at risk in the process, with Caldwell locking away the non-essential new civilians to prove a point while still allowing people like Rodney free access on the ship to solve the problems.
The story of the week largely follows a computer virus that slowly takes over the ship, initially killing those who discover its presence. This sees quite a fun little action piece featuring mainly Sheppard and Rodney running around dismantling computers like a pair of 21st Century luddites in an attempt to kill the virus, culminating in a dogfight between the two and the virus itself with F-302s. The action is thankfully broken up here and there with some lighter elements, such as Rodney’s bizarre little pose in an attempt to reduce his chance of being beamed through a floor or wall while Sheppard feels the need to keep bringing up his promotion, that make it more like SG-1 than the very glum and grim season one of the show.
If the show did miss a trick though it’d be how it rushed through the murder mystery element. That’s a genre the show hasn’t really had a go at yet and a much larger search of the ship trying to work out who/what killed the others and why could’ve been a fun one to watch. The bits of it we get are good but I can’t help but want more of it.
Overall the episode is a return to the more traditional Stargate creature of the week format, with more comedic moments than last season’s annoyingly serious format that thankfully gets dumped more from here on in.
· This episode reminds me of Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica which also had a similar situation involving a computer virus and also aired the same year as this episode.
· The show really should stop saying when it’s copying SG-1.
Quote of the episode: “This is what I do when I’m having problems with my laptop. I turn it off then I turn it on again.”
“I think it’s a little more complicated than that.”
“I’m just saying, if we’re taking a page from the “John Sheppard Book of Computer Repair” we’re really desperate.” – Sheppard and Weir