This episode starts off in a rather exciting manner, with Sheppard's team returning from an off-world mission gone awry, coming back through the gate under fire from the Wraith. Just as they make it into Atlantis, Rodney turns around to look back and takes a blast from a Wraith stunner. Full in the face. Ouch. Don't worry, he's fine. A bit paralyzed temporarily, and apparently with a lasting "tingly feet" after-effect, but otherwise fine.
We learn that Sheppard's team has encountered the Wraith on the last five out of nine missions they have been on. Weir tells him she thinks it is pretty clear that there is a spy on Atlantis. She calls a meeting with Sheppard's team (sans Teyla) and Bates, the head of security. It quickly becomes evident that Weir and Bates are convinced an Athosian has been leaking mission information to the Wraith. At Bates' suggestion, and despite Sheppard's protests, Weir implements a lock-down of certain areas of the city, making them "no-go zones" for unauthorized personnel (the gate room, control room, labs, jumper bay, armory, and infirmary, to name a few). The Athosians are also confined to their living quarters for the time being while Weir sets up "interviews" with each of them to "get to know them better." (If you cannot sense it from the gratuitous use of quotations marks, I am rolling my eyes severely at this. Weir deserves another smack in this episode, seriously.)
It probably goes without saying, but I will say it anyway. The Athosians are incredibly insulted by all of this. Not just by the lack of trust they are being shown by the Atlantis expedition, but also the fact that the Earthlings believe any of them willing to collude with Wraith. Halling says it best, I think, in this line:
"You'd be hard-pressed to find an Athosian who has not experienced loss at the hands of the Wraith. These are the people you accuse."
Weir is, of course, quick to explain she is not accusing anyone of anything, but Halling disagrees. He goes back to his people and starts to rabble-rouse. I am not sure what he is hoping to accomplish in this situation, but it is rather moot, as Teyla walks into the middle of the gathering, surprised that she was not informed about it. Halling is mad that she isn't standing up more for their people, and she tells him that he knows as well as she does that none of the Athosians are responsible for the Wraith attacks. Therefore, they have nothing to fear from the Earthlings. She says time can only exonerate them and she has faith that Weir and the expedition are good people and will see the error of their ways. Halling thinks that her faith is misplaced, but Teyla goes on that this expedition coming to Atlantis is the galaxy's best hope of actually defeating the Wraith, and that Atlantis is now a symbol of hope to all who will stand against them.
Meanwhile, Rodney and Zelenka have discovered that the roof of the jumper bay retracts. Sheppard and Ford eagerly take a jumper out to fly around the planet and they find a ginormous (fifteen million square miles, give or take) land mass. It's about twenty-five minutes away from Atlantis by jumper. Bates immediately suggests sending teams to take soil and water samples. McKay says this is a good idea, because the land could solve many of their supply problems (they could start growing their own food), but Bates says actually he was thinking it would be good to move the Athosians there. Sheppard and McKay are both appalled by this suggestion, that Bates would just dump them on the world before they had a chance to make sure it was survivable or safe. Even more so that Weir is considering it as an option.
Again, the point becomes moot, because once the Athosians hear about the landmass, they go to Weir and volunteer to explore it. Halling explains that they would rather make themselves useful on the landmass exploring the land and growing crops than being stuck in Atlantis unable to use the gate. As he says, they cannot leave, they cannot stay. The landmass presents a third option. Teyla decides to stay on Atlantis however (with Halling stepping up as the leader of the rest of the Athosians). She believes that she can help the expedition and that they are the best chance of defeating the Wraith. She also believes that she can best serve her people's interests with the Earthlings by remaining in Atlantis to work with them and build up trust, and to act as a liaison between them and the group of Athosians on the mainland.
Life returns more or less to normal on Atlantis and Sheppard's team goes on a mission, escorting a group of archaeologists to explore some ruins. Wanting to hurry things up, Sheppard thinks it would be good to talk to the natives, who can hopefully translate the writing on the ruins. He asks Teyla to talk them out of hiding, but she explains that they are very shy and unlikely to reveal themselves to strangers. She suggests that if she goes off alone they might come out to talk to her. Sheppard tells Ford to go with her. No surprise, they still won't come out to play, so Ford reluctantly agrees to hang back and let her forge ahead on her own for a bit.
Back at the ruins, surprise, surprise, a group of Wraith shows up and all hell breaks loose. The team has to fall back through the gate without Ford and Teyla. Back on Atlantis, McKay and Sheppard are trying to get Weir to let them go back for the rest of their team and arguing with Bates, who thinks it highly suspicious that the Wraith showed up after Teyla separated from the group. Just then the gate dials in and Teyla calls over the radio that she and Ford are pinned down and Ford is injured. She asks them to lower the gate's shield so they can come back to Atlantis, but Bates argues that this is most likely a trap. He thinks as soon as they lower the shield, Wraith will come pouring into the city. Sheppard overrides him, however, and Weir gives the order to lower the shield. Teyla comes back with an unconscious Ford in tow and is immediately surrounded by soldiers and taken into custody.
Bates has McKay go through Teyla's stuff to see if there is anything that might indicate she is the spy. To McKay's surprise he does find something. It turns out her necklace is actually a transmitter. It gives off a very low but continuous signal that, when in proximity with relay stations on planets around the galaxy, would alert the Wraith of their presence. Sheppard recognizes the necklace as the one that he found on Teyla's planet when she showed him the caves depicting generations of cullings. McKay realizes that it was designed to track the presence of Ancients, the Wraith's only true enemy. Sheppard's touch when he found it activated the device, and Teyla had no idea that the bauble she had lost as a child was really once a Wraith tracking device.
With Teyla and all of the Athosians exonerated, Sheppard decides to use the transmitter as a trap to try capturing a Wraith. They set up an ambush and all goes more or less according to plan, with Teyla instrumental in the capture of one of the scientist class Wraith. We also learn that every Wraith comes equipped with a self-destruct device. Seriously, what the hell is that?!?
Things wrap up with Weir and Teyla having a brief heart-to-heart. Teyla tells Weir she understands the demands upon a leader and she believes she would have done the same in Weir's position. She hopes that with time their peoples will be able to put the past week behind them and learn to truly trust each other.
This episode more or less brings to an end the culture clash between the Athosians and Earthlings (gah, I wish there was a better term for them. They eventually start referring to themselves as Lanteans, so maybe we'll just start going with that, now that the Athosians are elsewhere). I feel like that was a overarching theme that fizzled out way too soon, to be honest, but I think the writers were starting to find themselves at a loss for where to really go from there. I guess I would rather they write the conflict out than give us several uninteresting stories set around it. Still, if done right, it could have been an underlying tension throughout the series that added a lot of depth to the story. Oh well. If wishes were ponies, right?
With Bates we get another example of a character that was introduced so strongly with just one note that it was hard to get past that in subsequent episodes. For Bates, that note was "paranoid ass." Unlike Kavanagh, however, Bates does get slightly closer to redemption. The writers were able to round him out a bit better as the series progressed, but his attitude regarding Teyla, sadly, never improves.
Speaking of Bates' attitude toward Teyla, it brings out an insanely protective streak in Sheppard. Sheppard might be willing to consider that one of the Athosians could be a spy, but I don't think he ever really believed it for a second. From the start he placed a great deal of trust in Teyla--which as the series progresses you come to realize is actually a huge deal for him. Once he made her part of her team, he made her family, end of story. Sheppard doesn't trust easily, but when he does give his full trust, he does so fiercely. In this episode we start to see just how quick he is to circle the wagons when a member of his team is threatened, even if it's by one of the "good guys."
Let me take a moment here to rant about that retractable roof in the jumper bay. It is not right at the very top of the tower. That means that when it is closed, there is basically a big well-like section at the top of the tower. A well-like section that, when the city shield started to fail and the city rose to the surface, all logic decrees must have become full of water. I watched closely on "Rising" and it clearly shows no shield on that part of the city before the tower breaks the ocean's surface. So. Really should be full of water. Yet when Rodney and Zelenka opened up the roof, there was no deluge of water pouring into the jumper bay. There's no way that much water would have evaporated in such a short time. So, and I ask this in all seriousness, because it has bugged me for years, where the heck did all of the water go????? Grr. Someone, somewhere, dropped the ball on this. Either VFX didn't think to make there be water, or the writers didn't think to have someone mentioned what happened to it. I realize this probably just didn't occur to any of the production team, but dude, that is so annoying. Sigh. </rant>
Overall, this mostly is a filler episode, and I have to admit I was kind of dreading it when it came up in the rewatch. But I was pleasantly surprised after I actually watched it to find that it holds up well as establishing a lot of the characters' staples and the internal conflicts within the expedition.
"You enjoy military rations?" (Zelenka)
"I know, it's weird. Hospital food too. The only reason I don't like airplane food is you can't get seconds." (Rodney)
"Well, it's a command subroutine I've never seen before." (Rodney)
"What is its function?" (Zelenka)
"I don't know because I've never seen it before." (Rodney)
"The Wraith have awakened! No world is safe!" (Teyla)
"Anyone else call shotgun?" (Ford)
"Just gonna drive around the planet, check it out." (Sheppard)
"Oh. You're just checking out the planet? Ah, never mind then, that's cool. I've got better things to do than cruise around the planet in a spaceship." (Ford)
"You're like a kid, you know that?" (Sheppard)
"Yes, sir. I brought along something to eat on the ride." (Ford)
"What's that?" (Sheppard)
"How bout a nice turkey sandwich?" (Ford)
"Let's go." (Sheppard)
"I can't imagine it could be any worse than their original homeworld." (Bates)
"That could just be failure of imagination on your part." (Rodney)
"What am I, Answer Man?" (Rodney)
That's it for this installment! Join me on Wednesday for our next episode, "Childhood's End."