Today two of the show’s favourite side characters are introduced for the first time.
The team are retreating after being engaged by an unknown enemy. As the team make a run for the Stargate Sheppard is hit by ropes and pulled away, to be captured by Kolya and his men. Sheppard finds himself in a jail cell with his only companion an unknown person in the next cell across, only to be “summoned” at gunpoint to Kolya himself.
Back at home base Atlantis quickly summons new Genii leader Radim to explain what’s going on only for Radim to claim that he has involvement in Sheppard’s capture nor any idea as to who is responsible. While discussing the leaking of a GDO code to a third party Kolya dials the base and makes his capture of Sheppard known. It turns out that the former Commander feels that he should be in charge of the Genii and demands that the Expedition hand over Radim in exchange for Sheppard. If they don’t within three hours Kolya will have a captured Wraith feed on Sheppard until he dies, demonstrating this with a short feed. While the team are angry with Radim given his previous encounters with the team Radim still agrees to help the team as much as possible, offering sensitive intel on Genii locations to help find Kolya only for them to turn up empty.
In Kolya’s base Sheppard finds himself once again discussing the situation with the person in the other cell. When they begin discussing the problem of the Wraith Sheppard realises that the other prisoner is the Wraith that fed on him. Pretty soon however the three hour window is up and the idle chit chat is interrupted by another feeding session which leaves Sheppard looking like the soldier well past their prime. When taken back to the cells Sheppard and the Wraith decide to break out though they aren’t able to act before the next feeding session which leaves Sheppard practically dead.
On Atlantis Weir decides to let Radim go after the Genii leader claims the only way he can get the info they need is by letting him work his contacts and look for traitors firsthand. Eventually Radim comes through, offering them the location of Kolya’s base and gives them a headstart on attacking it before Radim’s forces move in for the traitors.
When the time for the final feeding session comes the unlikely pair break out from their cells and overpower their captives, with the Wraith feeding on one of the guards for strength. The pair arm themselves and make a break for it, managing to get outside and into the woods but know that Kolya will have the Gate heavily guarded making escape off-world impossible. Eventually the pair of pseudo-OAPs decide to simply lay down and watch the stars for a while, hoping that Sheppard’s team eventually find them.
Come morning the Expedition still hasn’t arrived and Kolya’s forces are near. The Wraith feeds on Sheppard to the point of practically killing him before wiping out and feeding on the patrol. He then regenerates Sheppard back to his pre-feeding state just as the Expedition team arrive and almost kill the Wraith, giving Kolya time to run away. Sheppard decides to honour the bargain he struct with the Wraith and stuns him before shipping him to another world and alerting the Wraith to their presence. Sheppard and the Wraith share one last farewell before saying that next time they meet “all bets are off”, though with both hoping that doesn’t happen.
It’s clear to see that the theme of this episode is unlikely partnerships between enemies with both stories focusing on people having to work together despite their differences. The main one of these two of course is the strange partnership between the Wraith (who’d later be known as Todd) and Sheppard. While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Wraith and humans working together it is the first time we’ve seen it as a partnership of equals as opposed to a more feudal affair with Wraith worshippers and without the intention of betraying each other as seen with Michael’s Hive. While it’s a partnership of convenience to start with it’s interesting to watch as both of them keep to their word, with Todd choosing to give back the years he took from Sheppard as a sign of respect for his partner even though he could’ve easily left him to die while escaping by himself.
The episode adds a substantial amount of to the Wraith culture in the episode, until now largely seen as little more than a barely sentient horde, with the adding of various cultural elements and practices that makes them more like civilised warriors and sometimes people of learning as well. We see martial customs of sacrificing life for others of their kin and an appreciation for the beauty of the world, with Todd simply being content with the fact that he can watch the sky again for the first time in years. Todd also brings up the Wraith viewpoint of their lives, pointing out the fact that their feeding isn’t done out of hatred or spite but sheer necessity of living. It’s not their fault they evolved that way but yet are seen as monsters for being so.
On the human side of things the episode plays off the Genii as both the best and worst in the episode. Despite the hostility of the Expedition and their continued distrust of him Radim goes out of his way repeatedly to help them, true to his word of wanting to repay the debt of them saving his sister and his desire to maintain the alliance. He didn’t have to given them all the information he had, instead simply recovering Sheppard for them in the first place, but instead let’s them have the opportunity to rescue their man even if it means Kolya might be lost to him. It’s very rare you see the team as the villains of a conversation but here they were though the show never really explores this.
By contrast obviously we have Kolya who continues to be a pain in the neck for the Expedition. Ever since the failure of the Atlantis Raid his become increasingly unhinged, still seeing himself as honourable and doing what’s just when really he’s become nothing more than a torturer and jealous disgraced Commander who is willing to feed people to the Wraith as bribery. It’s quite a fall for the would be leader of the Genii when his former subordinate has shown himself to be the far better man, even offering clemency to his old leader.
Common Ground lives up to its names, featuring multiple characters forced into situations where they have little option but to trust each other, in the process revealing more about each other and their people. A great episode that just so happens to introduce the show’s most interesting recurring character.
· Good thing those darts didn’t just rip through Sheppard’s torso.
· So many industrial world on Pegasus we never see.
Quote of the episode: “Alright people, let’s do this one by the numbers. We get in, we get our man, we get out. Stay sharp and stay alive.”
“What are you on about?”
“Oh, just things that Sheppard would say so I thought I would.” – Rodney and Beckett
McKay and Mrs. Miller
We start off in a suburban home where Jeannie Miller is playing with her young daughter Madison only to be distracted by an idea. When her husband Kaleb returns home she finds his daughter staring as Jeannie has filled the room with mathematical theory. While at first Jeannie decides to just to leave it Kaleb encourages her to send it off to her old university and before long none other than Carter turns up on her doorstep. On Atlantis Sheppard tells Rodney that Carter needs help dealing with Jeannie, who it turns out is Rodney’s sister. It turns out that Jeannie is another genius of the family but chose to pursue a family life after becoming pregnant with Madison and the two siblings have longstanding issues between them.
Reluctantly Rodney is persuaded to go and try and persuade his sister into joining the mission to implement her theory though her sister still remains adverse to it due to the military involvement and the fact she hasn’t seen her brother in four years. After failing to convince her to join him he instead has her beamed aboard the Daedalus in orbit as an encouragement to go on this mission to Atlantis. While Jeannie agrees to the mission after finally realising the stakes involved unfortunately for Rodney she also reveals his first name isn’t Rodney at all but Meredith. The project Jeannie is meant to work on should allow the team to use Project Arcturus while dumping the exotic particles created in a parallel universe to avoid the issues of blowing up solar systems.
By the time the ship arrives back to the city the test chamber has been built by Zelenka’s team and is almost ready for the McKay’s to test it out. Despite the test going as planned Meredith decides to immediately assert dominance over the project which causes his sister to leave in frustration. Meredith likewise soon finds himself angered by his sister when he finds out she’d shared embarrassing stories of his childhood with the others on the team. Later that night however the test is shut off by the skeleton team watching it when a cool version of Rodney appears in the chamber who calls himself Rod. When brought to see Rod the two McKay’s find that their little project is dumping exotic particles inside his universe and killing it slowly.
After turning off the project Rod is now stuck on their end of the bridge and begins to try and fit in, finding himself surpassing Meredith’s ability to be social with not only his sister but everyone else on base as well which causes his opposite to become increasingly jealous. Unfortunately for everyone they’ve found that simply turning off the project hasn’t closed the bridge between universes which means that the destruction of Rod’s universe is still ongoing and so far there’s no solution that wouldn’t wipe out the Expedition on both sides of the bridge. Eventually the McKay collective come up with a plan that would close the bridge by flooding it with energy but would almost drain the entire ZPM in the process.
On the day of the plan’s execution it’s revealed that Rod could go home in the process but it’s risky. Before he leaves he assuages Meredith’s ill-will towards him by revealing that he also prefers some of Meredith’s traits and that while he likes this reality’s FART his team on the other side, while slightly different with Sheppard being an annoying genius and Teyla a social recluse, it’s still his team. As the plan is set in motion Rod is beamed away so that he can journey home and the ZPM begins to drain. Even after the bridge is successfully closed Meredith keeps it going until the readings indicate Rod made it back which just so happens to drain the entire ZPM in the process, leaving the city effectively defenceless.
After the closing down of their project Jeannie prepares to go home to her family but before she can leave Sheppard shows her the message Meredith had intended to send her before the Wraith siege. The two siblings share an emotional farewell before Jeannie leaves after which Meredith decides to join his team for a social in the mess, with the others lying about not liking Rod to make him feel better.
It’s been a while since a Meredith centric episode but then one of the best of the whole show comes along to really steal the show all born from a single line change from a clipshow episode in season 1 where it was changed from Meredith having a brother to him having a sister.
This insert of the brother-sister dynamic between Meredith and Jeannie is really what makes the episode so much fun to watch given that the actors themselves are brother and sister. Immediately their issues of non-communication and rather pathetic arguments make perfect sense for them, with both brilliant scientists in their own right but with competing views on the world with Meredith all about the competition between scientists and making money or fame from it while Jeannie was in it for the discovery but has since decided to focus on her family. It was this in the longterm minor issue that ended up snowballing into four years of resentment and non-appearances much like in regular families with issues so it’s instantly relatable despite the out of this world setting. The resolution to these problems are also very human in how they’re put together, with both realising that both their issues are stupid in the light of what they’ve just been through and realised what they missed by not talking as a family more often.
The addition of Rod is largely a counter-weight to Meredith to show that while the latter may be hard to deal with in his own regards the opposite character qualities can also be just as annoying to put up with. While Meredith is a pain to deal with and more than somewhat egotistical and cowardly he’s also a person who’s there when it counts most for the team and never lets them down despite his issues. By contrast Rod’s friendliness almost comes across as creepy in some regards by the end as nobody is ever always that nice at all times. Rod however does serve as the catalyst for Meredith’s transition from simply that guy who comes through at the end to someone who is increasingly a mix of the two versions, taking more time to hang out with his friends and have an interest in their lives outside of being just being on the team.
If there’s anything with the episode I don’t find that well done t’s probably just the retconning of previous rules of multiple versions of a character. It’s a small niggle I know but it’s a shame when fundamental rules seem to get thrown out of the window just to allow a story. Overall however this is a fun episode that serves to reform the character of Meredith once again and succeeds to do so with a fairly insular story that is packed with laughs and heart.
· Wonder how much of Daedalus’ cargo trip is golf balls.
· Shouldn’t Rod’s face be going all alternate Carter-ry?
Quote of the episode: “There was one time the school bullies made me eat lunch with my underwear on my head.”
“Oh wait, that was you.”– Ronon and Meredith.