Today we see one of the best episodes of Atlantis. Shame it follows the worst episode out of both SG-1 and Atlantis.
The team are flying the Jumper on another world, exploring for life signs detected on the surface. It turns out Atlantis’ new big project is the nabbing of excess Spacegates for a “Space Bridge” project that’ll allow quick travel between Atlantis and the SGC without the need for a ZPM. Arriving at the lifesigns they find a small village full of bizarrely happy people led by a man named Lucius who has many beautiful wives and immediately takes a liking to Teyla. Lucius immediately has the team taken in for lunch, drinking some kind of potion when they aren’t looking. Over the course of the luncheon Lucius shows himself to be even more obnoxious than Rodney and repeatedly tries to hit on Teyla while demanding a Jumper simply because he wants one, causing the team to depart.
On Atlantis the team report to Weir, with Sheppard expressing his view that Lucius is a snakeoil salesman, but they decide to send Beckett anyway to check out his “medicines and ointments” just in case. Beckett however later returns with Lucius in tow, with the Scot enamoured with the man. While the rest of the base is at first sceptical soon all but Sheppard (who currently has a severe cold) fall under his spell as well, with Rodney finding that it’s whatever potion he’s been using causing people to fall under his spell shortly before he himself falls under its influence. Sheppard returns to Lucius’ planet to find that the people there have fallen sick in Lucius’ absence and is able to retrieve sample of whatever it is that the guy drinks.
Returning to the city Sheppard and finding that Rodney has become just as bad as the others Sheppard decides to kidnap Beckett and take him to the mainland. After waiting several hours for Beckett to stop sounding like a fucking child the doctor begins to work on an antidote to the drug, only for them both to be found and taken back to the city by the rest of FART when Lucius has them sent after Sheppard. While Lucius has Sheppard locked in the Brig before he finally gets to fly the Jumper like he always wanted it turns out Beckett had fully recovered from the drug and had developed a countermeasure to it. Beckett then freed Sheppard and helps his CO capture Lucius in the Jumper, allowing Sheppard to keep Lucius away while Beckett administers the countermeasure to the Expedition and those under Lucius’ influence on his planet.
In the aftermath Sheppard laughs at how the others acted, only for it to be revealed Rodney decided to use a small amount to get Sheppard to treat him nicely for a while, only for the others to demand he destroy any samples he has.
There are a number of episodes in the SG-1/Atlantis run that I don’t particularly care for. Episodes like Emancipation and Babylon are boring and painful to watch but are overall fairly harmless. This however is the only episode of the entire run I actively truly despise. This is an episode that during the runthrough I found myself turning off and at a couple of points considered not covering but here we are.
Let’s just first talk about Lucius as a character and how he’s the worst thing the show has probably ever included just as a character, regardless of his actions. This is a man who is so obnoxious and never endingly so that he has zero redeeming qualities. On some level I feel sorry and understanding of the Goa’uld because taking hosts isn’t a choice but is required of them to survive and in terms of human characters we only have to look at SG-1’s Harlan or Urgo to see annoying characters who are sympathetic due to their circumstances. Here however Lucius is just a complete cunt in no uncertain terms who just believes everyone should give him what he wants because he wants it and that’s it. There’s no depth outside of this aspect and he never really gets his just desserts either. In the end he’s just a hateable character that doesn’t even give you the satisfaction of a comeuppance.
Now let’s talk about the real disgusting aspect of the episode, the effective playing of rape and forced marriage of women as a gag. The episode actively plays this up time and time again with corny sitcom music in the background, with Lucius constantly talking about getting more wives and one of his wives expressing shame at only sleeping with him once before he drugged her. Oh and just to throw it in there’s also some minor mocking of the mentally disabled because why not just add to this complete clusterfuck of an episode. How anyone thought this was a great idea for an episode I really don’t understand. All of these things are played for laughs in the episode as though it was Rene’s inexplicable Casanova ways in the sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo but in that the woman are able to make that choice of their own free will which is why it’s fun but here they have no ability to express free will because they’ve been drugged.
Literally the only scene in this episode that wasn’t a mess was when Beckett is kidnapped by Sheppard and he immediately begins crying about not being near Lucius. This scene is actually funny and sitcom-esque but I can’t help but think some of the “brilliance” of that scene is simply due to the fact it’s the only one not hinting at the offensive aspects elsewhere.
This is the worst episode of the entire show’s history, a non-stop ride of watching a tone deaf episode try to make light out of non-joking matters and completely missing the mark, whether intentionally or not.
· Just No
· Seriously this is probably the worst episode of both SG-1 and Atlantis put together.
Quote of the episode: “The lame can walk again. Well some still crawl, but they crawl a lot faster than they used to.” – Lucius in a display of tone-deafness of the episode
The team are in the woods exploring to come across a fairly standard Pictish/Nordic settlement, only for the inhabitants to claim Ronon is a “Wraith-Bringer”, forcing them to retreat after Rodney receives an arrow to the arse. While Rodney makes it through the Stargate back to Atlantis the others end up getting hit with darts that cause them to fall unconscious. The others on the team are placed inside pens in the village where it’s revealed that Ronon had been there as a Runner a longtime ago and had stayed the night while injured, leading the Wraith to finding and culling the village. The village has already alerted the Wraith to the fact they have Ronon prisoner and intend to hand him over in return for the Wraith never coming back.
Meanwhile on the city the head of security is trying to get answers from a heavily sedated Rodney with few results. Thankfully soon after the rest of the team minus Ronon arrive back on the base as the Satedan had threatened suicide if the others weren’t released. By the time they return from the city with reinforcements however the whole village has been massacred.
By now Ronon has been recaptured by the Wraith and deposited on the ruins of Sateda as his captor intends to hunt him for sport on his former homeworld. The return trip causes Ronon to revisit old memories of the final days of the Satedan people, such as the death of his partner, while hunting down the various Wraith now tracking him. The Satedan easily cuts down many of the Wraith sent after him but is injured in the process, leading him to seek refuge in the hospital where his partner died in from of him where he’s surrounded.
The Expedition manage to locate Ronon’s location of Sateda and attempt to Gate to it, only to find the Wraith have sabotaged the Satedan one which leaves their only option as the Daedalus. While Caldwell refuses to place the ship in a combat situation given its current status he does help deploy the team and Beckett in a cloaked Jumper. The team barely arrive in time to help Ronon deal with the Wraith in the hospital, causing the Wraith leader to appear on the surface himself.
Ronon goes outside to face the leader alone, threatening to kill Teyla and Sheppard if they attempt to interfere. The two are forced to watch from the sidelines as Ronon is slowly beaten by the Wraith while Beckett and Rodney argue about intervening in the nearby cloaked Jumper. Eventually they decide to intervene, with Beckett firing a drone at the Wraith and killing him, with the group barely escaping in the Jumper as the Wraith Hive in orbit opens fire. While Teyla, Rodney, and Sheppard fear Ronon’s reaction at Beckett’s admission he killed the Wraith Ronon instead bearhugs the doctor, causing Rodney and Sheppard to try and claim credit too, while Ronon thanks them for deciding to help.
Sateda is a surprisingly strong single character piece on the show, focused around Ronon who until now has largely been simply the brawn of the operation but instead takes the opportunity to greatly expand his backstory as an individual. Over the course of the episode we get to see a lot about what actually makes the guy tick and just why he ended up the way he did, such as the loss of his partner likely being the cause of his unwillingness to form many deep relationships and why he trusted Teyla first when he met the team, and why he still hasn’t come to terms with those tragedies. These events show that Ronon wasn’t always the very stiff and “here and now” person we’ve seen so far but used to be a fairly ordinary man with a home and future planned out ahead of him and just how far he fell over the course of being a Runner, only gaining it back now he’s finally found a place to belong and a new family of his own.
This exploration of family is extended to the Expedition as well with characters like Sheppard and Caldwell, traditionally rather reserved emotionally, risking both assets and lives to go and help Ronon on Sateda. Even Caldwell’s initial concern is over the concern for his own “family” of the Daedalus crew, not wanting to risk their lives on a potentially fool’s errand. It’s nice to see this trait having moved over strongly from its older sister show even more so this season in particular. To top this off Beckett, the man who feels bound to “do no harm” breaks his oath to save his friend by firing a drone right at a Wraith because he’s family.
Sateda as a whole finally gets the exploration it previously lacked too, with some of its traditions coming to light in the glimpses into the past. While the previous look had a very generic drinking and fighting aspect, along with a great emphasis on honour, we now see it was a remarkably sophisticated culture that grew out of a more warrior tribal like one. Phrases like Chieftain were still used as signifiers of rank but otherwise it was a typical mid-20th society. Their technology shows this too, with the shotgun focus displaying their more honourable fighting culture in modern form with the shotgun’s retention of close-quarters fighting rather than more distant forms it took on Earth. It’s a shame this is the last real look we get at it too as the Satedans were one of the more interesting groups shown in Pegasus.
In the end the episode is a really strong one, exploring more of the family aspect of the show as well as who Ronon really is, and is a great way to kick off the core of the season that explores a number of unconventional partnerships.
· Satedans really do like their shotguns.
· These Wraith hunters really do drop fast.
Quote of the episode: “Well I got six, Teyla got?”
“I got nine, Teyla got eight, Ronon got the rest.” – Sheppard and Teyla