Today Carter and Ronon have issues and then everyone has terrible dreams about Sheppard.
We start off-world with Teyla and Ronon exploring a village for a rumoured group of Satedans who have been annoying the residents with their behaviour. Splitting up Teyla heads for the local pub and finds the group in question, getting into a fight with them only to be stopped when it turns out they’re Ronon’s former squaddies Rakai, Ara, and Tyre. Ronon’s friends had managed to survive when an op gone wrong saw them survive off-world while Sateda itself was attacked by the Wraith. Since the fall of Sateda they’ve been launching their own raids against the Wraith on their own orders and ask for Ronon’s help.
Back on Atlantis Meredith is smugly telling people that he’s been chosen as the new leader of the Expedition as he’s heard they’ve chosen their foremost Ancient and Replicator expert as the new leader. Unfortunately for him however he quickly finds out that Carter is the new leader of the base, not himself as he expected, and is lost for words. Before Carter leaves for the city Teal’c offers her a fond farewell and soon the scientist finds herself in her new station as leader of Atlantis, where the various department heads try to earn her favour. Meredith in particular randomly feels the need to bring up his creepy desires for her. Ronon arrives soon after from his journey and seeks permission to bring his former teammates through the Gate only for Carter to block him due to IOA regulations.
Ronon heads back to the village where his friends are to deliver the bad news where Tyre is surprisingly understanding of Ronon keeping Atlantis a secret but then heavily leans on him to join the group and leave FART behind. The conflicted Ronon soon returns to the city and tries to decide what to do with Teyla and Sheppard’s help. Sheppard agrees to meet with the other Satedans regarding a plan to attack a Wraith weapon’s facility which is trying to shut off the Replicators, after which Ronon reveals that he’ll be leaving the base following the mission.
On the mission the combined group soon find themselves fighting their way through the Wraith facility before splitting off into FART and Satedan teams to accomplish their objectives. On the FART end the group of three soon find themselves almost entirely captured when heavily outnumbered while the Satedans find no one, leading Ronon to run off to help his Tau’ri friends. Meredith avoids capture and makes his way to the Satedans only to find that Ronon’s old mates have switched sides. Upon waking up the Wraith come to take Meredith to help undo his changes to the Replicators so that the Wraith aren’t wiped out in the ongoing Wraith-Asuran war, using a captured Replicator as a test subject.
Outside the facility Ronon manages to make his way back to the Gate and talk to Carter, requesting aid in helping the team and his friends who he’s still unaware are traitors. Despite their differences Carter orders a full rescue team armed and ready to help them. Joining the rescue op Carter and Ronon lead a team of Marines in fighting their way to the others in the base only to accidentally release the Replicator kept in stasis at the same time. Ronon goes after his team only to find them in cahoots with the Wraith, who reveal that the Wraith used Wraith cocaine and aging/de-aging to turn them to the Wraith cause. This leads to fisticuffs between the group that leaves Ronon and Tyre the only survivors, with Ronon killing Rakai when the latter accidentally kills Ara, but Tyre runs off to places unknown. In the aftermath of the raid Ronon realises his place will always be with the Expedition.
And here we are with the show introducing the new commander in a way that feels like a callback to the very first episode in some regards. In it we see the team accidentally get captured and a rescue team sent out while the new head of the Expedition causes ripples in the team due to their differing styles. The biggest change of course is who that new leader is.
Now don’t get me wrong I love Carter, she is one of the best characters the franchise has and her move to leader of the Expedition feels like one hard earnt after years moving up the chain o’ command at the SGC. Very quickly she sets herself up in her new job and is already leading directly from the frontlines in a change from the previous command of Weir, who was more happy to delegate roles and trust those who carry them out. Unfortunately however this also sees the replacing of the key difference that separated Atlantis from SG-1 which is that the leadership was a civilian. While the show never fully exploited this story point it still got brought into situations every now and then, with Weir coming into conflict with others other whether to take the more diplomatic or military option. It’s a sad loss to the show that removes some of the more unique identity it had and makes it more like the initial brief of SG-1 HD it was meant to be back in ’03-’04.
Elsewhere the main focus of the episode is clearly on Ronon with it bringing back the Satedan arc to the front of the show for an episode. Until now we’ve seen the Satedan people to be nearly all honourable and courageous. Now however that is twisted on its head as we see people Ronon knew and trusted as family turn on him because of the Wraith. While it’s not the first time we’ve seen a traitorous Satedan it’s the first time we’ve seen them work for the Wraith, justifying that it was better than death. It’s an interesting reversal that almost breaks Ronon mentally as he sees how far the people he’s routinely admired revealed to be simply his biased recollection of what a now dead people used to be and that those few who survived no longer follow those traditions he holds dear. This is one of the final acts that look to remove the lingering doubts that Ronon had about where he belonged and commit himself wholeheartedly to his new family on Atlantis.
Overall it’s a good introductory episode for Carter to take command of the base and takes Ronon to another dark place on his removing of his Satedan identity and more into a member of the Expedition. It’s just a slight shame it removes some of the unique premise regarding the show in the process.
· I think we’re all Zelenka when Meredith tells him the “news”.
· I’m guessing they didn’t need to fake the emotion for Carter’s farewell.
· Carter with photos of O’Neill? Bloody teases.
· Fight to the death for Satedans? NO! Who’d have guessed!
Quote of the episode: “Wow! Is he always like that?”
“No. No. No, actually you caught him on a good day.” – Carter and Meredith
The team are out for a walk in the forest on yet another badly named planet trying to find the source of a strange energy reading that Meredith has picked up. When the others are ready to call it a day they find a crystal on a tree that zaps Sheppard when he touches it, being drawn in by it somehow. Having finally having enough the team head back for the city where Sheppard is given a clean bill of health and everything seems fine. That night however Teyla has a strange dream where she and Sheppard are together romantically in an Athosian tent only for Sheppard to begin criticising her. Teyla then hears the Wraith approach only to be encountered by Wraith-Shep who feeds on her.
The next morning the team meet for breakfast only for Teyla to be very uncomfortable around Sheppard, getting worse when the others begin to rib her for her nightmare. Teyla ends up going to Dr Heightmeyer for advice and Keller for sleeping pills. That night Keller wakes up to respond to a medical emergency involving Teyla and a reaction to the medication she was given. Heading to the Infirmary she finds Teyla and Sheppard there and upon examination Teyla’s chest bursts open similar to Alien, with Sheppard just exclaiming how cool it was upon which Keller suddenly wakes up from her nightmare. This time she heads to the Infirmary for real to get sleeping pills only for Sheppard and Ronon to come in, with Ronon sporting a minor cut to the head.
After exiting the Infirmary Ronon finds himself alone on the base, unable to find anyone no matter where he looks. Scared he runs through the base eventually going through a door into a forest where he immediately comes under fire from Wraith stun blasts. Soon he runs into a branch and falls over only for Sheppard to appear and knock him out. Upon regaining awareness he finds himself being buried alive by a grinning Sheppard. Ronon violently wakes up in the Infirmary where it turns out he’d accidentally fallen asleep while getting treatment for his cut.
The next day the team discuss the scary dreams they’re having, with focus on Keller’s Alien dream and their memories of the film which involves Meredith having thrown up on his date only making Ronon want to see the film more. Eventually they notice that a creepy version of Sheppard is appearing in all of their dreams (minus Meredith). After lunch breaks up the base is alerted to a situation involving Lorne holding Sheppard at gunpoint believing his boss to be a Replicator. While the others attempt to calm the Major Ronon eventually appears and manages to stun him. Upon waking Lorne is nothing but apologetic, it turning out he had a history of sleepwalking, but has no idea why he did what he did. Given the turn of events the team decide to try and get a sample from the forest again.
Bringing back a sample from the forest they take it to the lab to try and work out just how it works, with the lab copy attempting to draw in Keller when she looks at it. While the science teams try to work out what the thing is Teyla finds Heightmeyer dead in her room, the psychologist having died in a nightmare where she fell from the control tower. Inside the control room they realise that the entity transfers from person to person through touch and that Meredith is now infected, leaving him locked in a rubber-walled cell by the others. With Meredith now locked away the other attempt to come up with a way for them to get the entity to leave with Carter suggesting the use of the VR chairs found a decade ago by SG-1 to allow Sheppard to enter Meredith’s dream and get the entity to leave.
Entering Meredith’s mind the two of them find themselves rowing a boat in a storm to escape a whale, harkening to Meredith’s fear of Moby Dick, and a clown showing up as well while the entity berates Meredith as Sheppard. Eventually the entity has the whale eat the ship, causing Meredith to suffer a fatal heart attack. Leaving the room however Sheppard finds himself confronted by his doppelganger, revealing that he’s the one now being attacked by the entity while Meredith has actually been saved. Inside a darkened version of the control area the two Sheppard fight until the real Sheppard is exhausted. Eventually however Meredith shows up, having had himself connected to the machine, revealing that the entity’s weakness is electricity and that Keller is using a defibrillator on Sheppard to weaken the entity. This allows the real Sheppard to force the creature through the Gate to save himself and force the entity out.
Having pushed the original entity back into its crystal the team take both of the ones on the base back to the forest, only to find that its filled with the things. Back on Atlantis the team all find themselves unable to sleep and end up sitting together on the pier side dining area.
It’s obvious where the episode gets its concept from, the SG-1 episode Cold Lazarus that saw O’Neill encounter a crystal lifeform that impersonated him for a few hours. The episode however radically changes this premise from one of catharsis for its main character and a way to deal with long buried issues and instead is a malevolent force that only seeks to take advantage of what’s happening and have fun at their expense. The choosing of Sheppard seems to be a core aspect of this as he represents the team leader who’s had a vital role in recent events only to suddenly betray them seemingly for no reason but for his gratification which likely makes it worse for the victims.
A great narrative item in the episode is the slow progression of each nightmare ominously becoming more and more damaging, as though the entity needs a bigger “high” from each dream as it feeds again and again. A fairly generic bad dream with Teyla at the start soon evolves into other people’s deaths being observed before going to the actual dreamer being killed in the dream and eventually real death for the entity to find satisfaction. It reinforces the idea that the entity is only in it for their own benefit without any care for what damage it does, slowly revealing that it’s enjoying the consequences of its actions simply because of how fun it finds it.
Even with the dark events over the course of the episode it still manages to enthuse a little fun and humour into them, with frequent references to both Moby Dick and Alien regarding what the dreams are showing. Meredith’s ordeal in particular almost feels hilarious until the whale gobbles them whole, with a clown appearing out of nowhere just to give Sheppard a little fright of his own. Still however the comedy never turns the tragedy into farce and is very well placed in the episode, largely during the day recovery parts before the start of the nightmares once again.
The only wrong step in the episode was the killing off of Dr Heightmeyer by the entity. This feels like a bit of a narrative cop out by killing off a minor recurring character to just add tension regarding the fate of the main characters when really we all knew there was no danger whatsoever. In the end however even with this slight error it’s still a fantastic and memorable episode.
· I see the Expedition put ocean-view dining high on the priority list of repairs.
· Ronon really isn’t a matchmaker.
Quote of the episode: M - “So, very tense, working like a charm. Jocelyn’s all freaked out beside me. I’m packing away the goobers and popcorn and then the alien bursts out of John Hurt.”
T - “You didn’t.”
M - “Puked all over her.”
R - “I’ve got to see this movie.” – Meredith, Teyla, and Ronon