Today Meredith’s sister returns and then the team come face to face with themselves.
We begin on the city where the science team is trying to get the Wraith virus to work with little to no progress. Eventually Zelenka gives up and demands that Meredith should phone his sister for help given how she’s much better at this sort of work than he is. On Earth however Jeannie is kidnapped that night by unknown masked men. As soon as they receive word Meredith, Sheppard, and Ronon head back to Earth to assist Barrett, still at the NID, with the investigation.
Heading to the Miller household they find Kaleb struggling to cope with what’s happened to his wife. Meredith informs the others that Jeannie may have been taken due to the program he’d sent to her for help so decides to take a look at her computer to look for clues. Pretty soon he finds a clue and heads to a location with Barrett only for it to turn into an ambush which leads to Meredith being kidnapped as well while Barrett is left slightly beaten and unconscious at the site.
At an unknown location Jeannie is brought into a room where she’s met by an unknown man who cuts her bindings. The man reveals himself as Henry Wallace and that he needs her help with something. Meredith is soon brought to the room as well at which point Henry Wallace returns, who Meredith quickly pins as a major contractor for the Stargate Program, and reveals he needs their help to save his daughter Sharon who has a terminal cancer. Wallace believes that they could use Replicator nanites to save her and knows that the McKay siblings are the best for the job. While Jeannie soon gets to work on the program to try and save the girl Meredith instead tries to use his computer know how to escape, leading to the two of them to begin arguing but Jeannie eventually agrees to his plan. The two easily escape the room but get lost in the facility as Meredith can’t find his way around due to his poor sense of navigation and are soon recaptured. Upon recapture Wallace believes the only way to force Meredith to help is to put his sister’s life at stake by injecting her with the nanites as well.
Back at the SGC Barrett, Ronon, and Sheppard keep pouring through records of companies who are linked to The Trust only for Sheppard to throw out the possibility they may be looking in the wrong direction. Ronon ends up going for lunch only to bump into CMSgt Harriman who talks his ear off about requisition forms and a joke regarding Harriman’s number recall which if had gone on much longer would’ve likely ended with Harriman’s death. Thankfully Sheppard’s earlier quip about looking in the wrong direction comes back in their favour when they find traces back to Wallace’s company.
Getting back to work with the new added emphasis of saving his sister the two siblings quickly come up with a patch and test it out. While waiting for results the two end up chatting, with emphasis on Meredith’s relationship nerves regarding Katie Brown. Eventually however they’re brought to see Wallace’s daughter who appears to have made a full recovery with the cancer fully gone. Now that they’ve solved the problem Wallace intends to set them free as per his word after drinks. The celebration however is cut short when his daughter suddenly collapses and dies when her heart stops, only for it to miraculously start again but leave her in a comalike state. Upon looking into the code the two siblings and Wallace find the flaw in that the nanites simply repair all defects in a person’s body which included Sharon’s unconnected heart murmur but without any care for what that may do to the patient as a whole, with them shutting off her heart which deprived Sharon’s brain of oxygen. Eventually the fixing of problems would lead to the nanites wiping out all traces of the individual person in the process. The two siblings now fear the nanites are on course to do the same to Jeannie, who has epilepsy, but before they can try and start fixing it a bunch of Marines along with Ronon and Sheppard come through the door.
Back at the SGC Meredith puts Jeannie in a coma and breaks her legs to give the nanites something to busy themselves with and lowering the risk to Jeannie if the nanites are shut off earlier and don’t fix the distraction. Meredith finally lets go of his pride and asks the Wraith to help them solve the problem as he knows the nanite code better than anyone. While Meredith tries to think up incentives to get the Wraith to help the Wraith doesn’t seem interested in material things and instead moves onto a speech about how important shutting down the nanites will be in helping their fight against the Replicators. Together the unlikely lab partners make quick progress but soon work stalls as the Wraith starts to suffer the effects of starvation from lack of feeding. Given that he knows the IOA won’t supply a human for feeding Meredith attempts to volunteer himself as the meal but Sheppard refuses.
Sheppard however visits Wallace to rely the news that his daughter has finally died when the nanites stopped working and informs him of what the Wraith needs. Wallace, wanting to make up for what he’s done to Jeannie, listens to Sheppard who informs that while Meredith blames himself and wants to sacrifice himself they both “know better”. That night Meredith attempts to make his way to the Wraith lab only for his stolen ID card to not allow him access which causes the guard to refuse him access. At that moment however the door opens only to reveal Sheppard and guards with the Wraith while two medical staff zip up a bodybag and place it on a gurney with Sheppard stating that the report will say that he was showing Wallace the labs when the Wraith broke free and fed on him, a cover up for Wallace’s obvious volunteering as a sacrifice. Having fed the Wraith is able to quickly finish the solution and saves Jeannie’s life.
In the infirmary the two siblings make up, with Jeannie admitting she’s going to use this to get things from him such as a “nice car”. Sometime later the team return to the city whereupon Sheppard and Meredith talk about the murkiness of Wallace’s death, with Sheppard trying to convince himself it was all Wallace’s decision but knowing that at some level he did help push Wallace towards that decision.
Miller’s Crossing is a rare episode of the show, one of the few where there’s no real villain in the piece. Instead what we see are people trying to cope in terrible circumstances and making questionable but understandable decisions as a result.
The mainstay of the episode of course involves the story of Henry Wallace and the sad tale of him attempting to use his vast resources to save the life of his daughter to no avail. This is probably the first time we’ve seen such a human businessman on the show, with even SG-1s Alec Colson more egotistical than human, as Wallace is nothing but sympathetic once you find out about his true intentions. In a world of despicable businessmen this man simply trying to save his sick daughter and willing to keep his word to those he’s admittedly kidnapped prevents you from seeing him as morally dubious and rather just as much a victim as both his daughter and Jeannie. In the end he’s also the one who makes the ultimate sacrifice in an ending that is truly one of the greyest the show ever had as Sheppard pushes a broken man to virtual suicide simply to prevent a more useful friend from doing it himself. It’s heart-breaking to watch as this honourable man who just wanted to save what was left of his family but is now facing life in jail broken entirely and then manipulated to his own death as though it was his own choice to “make up” for sins that were the most understandable.
The episode also sees the return of Jeannie Miller and her interactions with Meredith, the whole sibling rivalry really, provides much of the heart of the episode. Once again the two compete with each other when it comes to what to do regarding Wallace’s daughter Sharon, with Meredith thinking more about themselves while Jeannie as a parent herself wants to do what she can to help her and comfort Wallace as well. While Meredith finds it hard to understand this it’s later in the episode he comes to realise just what Jeannie was feeling when it’s her life in danger, going so far as to attempt to sacrifice himself to save his sister’s life. Again this is both comedic as the two bicker but also touching as we see Meredith continue to grow as a character as he shows just how far he’s willing to go for those he cares about, this time without so much as a complaint.
We also get more time with the Wraith who still hasn’t been designated Todd. While he doesn’t appear for that long we do get a few looks once more into the nature of the Wraith, largely revealed through Meredith’s attempt to convince him to help save his sister. While at first it doesn’t appear that the appeal to family works I can’t help but read it as less of uncaring but more the fact that what “family” he had was killed as a result of the Expedition so why would he save theirs. This then leads instead to expansion of the Wraith hierarchy where now we see that he’s happy enough just with getting payback on the Replicators, a rather “human” motivation compared to what we’ve seen from the Wraith previously. In the end however that’s what the episode is mainly about, what makes someone human, and is a masterclass in displaying complex motivations in a story that makes you question who you really side with. A real masterclass of an episode.
· Ronon in sort of smart dress is weird.
· Harriman should stick to his day job.
· Ronon is so out of place this episode.
Quote of the episode: “I am gonna hold this over your head for, forever.”
“That’s totally fair.”
“Like, you’re gonna eat a lot of vegetarian food and not complain about it.”
“And you’re going to read Madison three stories instead of her usual two.”
“You’re going to buy me a car.”
“Let’s not get out of control here.”
“You almost got me killed, that’s at least a car. A nice one. A hybrid.” – Jeannie and Meredith
This Mortal Coil
On Atlantis Meredith and Zelenka are looking at why the Stargate isn’t working anymore ever since Meredith altered it slightly. The priorities shift however when an unknown object lands inside the city which ends up taking the science team’s interest. In the lab they begin to try and examine just what it is with Meredith finding Replicator code in it just before his laptop gives up the ghost. Meredith and Zelenka go to Sheppard to inform him of what Meredith claims to have seen only for the strange drone to self-destruct in the lab when they leave. Meredith however soon begins to fear sabotage. While training later with Ronon the Satedan also informs Sheppard of his and Teyla’s concerns something’s up with people on the base. During the sparring Sheppard is wounded slightly and decides to head to the infirmary.
In the infirmary Sheppard tries to get his wound stitched only for Keller to inform him there’s no wound to stitch, causing the commander to fear he’s been infected by nanites. When the scan comes up clean Sheppard instead demands a blood test, fearing a Wraith reversion issue. Later that night Keller and Lorne meet in secret to discuss the situation and that they need to be careful for now.
The next day Sheppard is informed that his blood is clean and there’s nothing wrong with him which Sheppard refuses to believe. That evening Sheppard has FART meet and shares his concerns, cutting open Meredith’s hand to show him the truth that something’s up when the deep wound immediately heals. All having concerns about their colleagues they decide to try and find out what’s happening, heading to the infirmary to run the medical scans on themselves. While Teyla and Sheppard head for it Meredith tries to use the sensors to check if it’s clear only to find that when he turns it on they’re the only four life signs that appear apart from a fifth all the way on the edge of the city. In the infirmary Sheppard’s scan finds that he’s completely infested with nanites. Meanwhile Meredith and Ronon find the fifth life sign, Weir, only to be confronted by Keller while the others are confronted by Lorne at which point both work out the rest of the base are all Replicators. The Replicators reveal that none of the team are the real team but are in fact flesh and blood copies of the actual FART.
The team are locked inside the brig only for Weir to be brought to Keller to talk. It turns out that the Replicators on this model of the base are outcasts who wish to learn of Ascension and believe they need help from humans but want to wipe the memory of the copies so they can start again. The rest of the team however wish to escape and get back to the Expedition, hoping to try and fit in with them. All this is rendered moot however when it’s revealed the rest of the Replicators have found their location and are already beginning to destroy them. As the copy of the city comes crashing down the Replicator Keller helps the team escape via Jumper, providing them with a way of keeping track of all of Oberoth’s forces in the galaxy. Leaving the city the team hitchhike on the Replicator battleship as a way to get to Hyperspace and nick a ship from the Replicator homeworld.
On the real Atlantis the team receive word from an off-world team which reveals Weir who reveals who this alternate team are and that they want to come back into the fold with the rest of the Expedition. Upon journeying to the planet and meeting in person the two teams easily fit in together except for the two Ronon who clash. The meeting is cut short however when a Replicator ship shows up and covers the Gate so they can’t escape. The copy team takes their Jumper and distracts the Replicators long enough for the originals to escape back to Atlantis, though the copies are quickly shot down and killed.
Back on the city the Expedition finally has the rest of Weir’s personal items removed, with their former leader now confirmed dead. Meredith meanwhile attempts to get the new Replicator tracker working when Sheppard shows up later, finally cracking it only to find to their horror that the Replicators have been very busy building ships.
This Mortal Coil is a bit of a mess of an episode in that it’s the start of a three part arc that has to resolve the entire plotline that really needs around 5 to solve and as a result out of the three this is the one that feels the most rush.
The episode is clearly two different plotlines squished into one episode, both of which have the air of Tin Man and Double Jeopardy from SG-1 which also involved a replica team being created without knowing that fact. The first of the two plotlines, involving a Replicator Civil War over whether to seek Ascension or not is probably the most unique of the two plotlines that we see and is also the most fleshed out as well. We saw hints of the plotline back when we first met the Replicators last season with Niam and his small group of followers. Now obviously that group has increased in size, able to build their own city-ship on an unknown planet but the goal and sympathies remain the same and once again come back to haunt them as Oberoth comes to wipe them out again. Once again it’s an interesting addition to the Replicator mythology but it still didn’t get screentime needed to explore it in any real detail, with the city destroyed as soon as the copies find out the truth.
We then get onto the second plotline of the episode and this very much is Double Jeopardy done at Benny Hill speed. Within the space of about 10 minutes the two versions of the team meet up, have awkward conversation about the true nature of being human, and then the copies die in battle. Unlike the first part which had some small character growth and interesting mythos this part has practically none given its sort running time and direct copies of previous episodes. The only thing of note it accomplishes is the handing off of the new Replicator tracking tech.
In the end the episode is fatally flawed from having any real difference or note by its status as an arc setup episode, seeing it stuck with having to meet specific requirements for others, and the fact that the arc time it’s given is far too small as well and thereby rushing over vital elements.
· Maybe don’t plot sinisterly in the middle of hallways guys?
· Oh look new Replicator ship types. I’m sure they’ll have many appearances.
Quote of the episode: “Great, the last time I came face to face with myself I ended up kicking my own ass.” – Sheppard