Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SGA Rewatch: The Brotherhood

Welcome to the Stargate Atlantis rewatch! Today we'll be looking at my favorite episode from season one, "The Brotherhood." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before.

What Happened

There are actually two separate stories in this episode and I think it might be best to not try to weave them in as the episode does but to give you each one in turn. The primary story deals with Sheppard's team tracking down Alt-Elizabeth's list of planets known to have held ZPMs. They find themselves on the planet of Dagan, where a ZPM had been entrusted to a culture known as the Sudarians. The Sudarians worshipped the ZPM, which they called the Potentia, as a holy relic and only brought it out to be put on display for their high holy days, as far as the Daganian researcher Allina has been able to discover. This suggests that they never actually used it, and it is likely to still be fully charged. When not on display it was protected by a group known as the Brotherhood of Fifteen, or the Quindosim. Allina and her team have recently unearthed three stones that she believes are part of nine stones that form a sort of map to the location of the Potentia, lost when the Quindosim were wiped out in a culling centuries before. With the help of the Lanteans, she believes they can find the Potentia.

While Allina and the team begin their search for the rest of the guide stones, we are taken to the Genii homeworld. Oh yes, those pesky Genii are back! It seems they have been keeping track of the Lanteans' exploits in the galaxy since their failed attempt to take the city. A soldier reports to Kolya that the Lanteans seem to be close to finding an artifact of great power on Dagan, and Kolya is determined to prevent them from benefiting from the artifact.

There is an archaeology montage on Dagan, and they manage to find five more of the stones. They take a break that evening and Rodney and Allina discuss a map on the wall of the old Quindosim monastery where the team is staying. It is quite clear that Allina kind of has the hots for Rodney, and equally clear that he is oblivious. While they are talking, Allina, clearly in awe of the Ancients, asks Rodney what it was like to grow up in the city of the Ancestors. He reveals to her that his people are actually brand new to the galaxy and only took up residence in Atlantis a few months ago. He then tells her he should get some sleep and leaves her with a thoughtful expression on her face as he makes his way over to the rest of his team to say goodnight. They tease him about Allina and explain that she has a crush on him. He is surprised and flattered but unsure of what he should do. Sheppard suggests he wait until the next day to pursue that matter, that way he will be rested and more "on his game."

The next day Rodney tries, and fails, to flirt with Allina, and the team has no success finding the ninth stone. What they do find in its stead is an underground chamber, marked with the symbol of the Quindosim and warning away any not of the brotherhood. As they lower themselves into the chamber to check it out, Kolya watches from afar, pleased at the opportunity that has been handed to him. Inside the chamber, they find a pedestal with places for the nine guide stones and realize the stones don't actually make a map to the Potentia as they had believed. While they are trying to figure out this new puzzle, Kolya knocks out Ford, who was left above on guard, and calls down to the team. He tells Sheppard he wants the ZPM basically just to keep it from them. He also reveals that Allina's assistant had been the one to keep the Genii informed of the Lantean's activities and purpose on Dagan. Rodney tells Kolya they have not quite found the ZPM yet but if Kolya lets everyone else go he'll help him retrieve it. Kolya pulls Rodney, Allina, and her assistant out of the hole, along with everyone else's weapons and radios, and they go in search of the ZPM.

After a few false starts, Allina and Rodney manage to locate the ninth stone, it was hidden in the map on the monastery wall. They return to the chamber and realize that the ZPM must be hidden inside of it. They have to arrange the stones in the correct order and place their hands on the pedestal, and the ZPM should appear. They learn, however, when Kolya's assistant rushes ahead to try to retrieve the ZPM, that if someone tries to retrieve the ZPM with the stones in the wrong positions, the pedestal will kill that someone. Kolya tells Rodney he has four tries to get the order correct, starting with Sheppard. The stones bear the ancient symbols for the numbers one through nine, and Sheppard figures out that they can be arranged in a pattern so that they add up to fifteen each way. Rodney is very surprised that Sheppard knew this, to which Sheppard quips he learned it while taking the MENSA test. 

They manage to retrieve the ZPM and then Ford sets off some flash-bangs he had prepared while Rodney and Kolya had been off finding the ninth stone. With Kolya's crew (along with Rodney and Allina) stunned, Teyla, Ford, and Sheppard are able to knock them all out and take the ZPM for themselves. They leave Kolya and his people in the chamber, and Kolya tells Sheppard the smart thing to do would be to just kill him. Sheppard says that maybe that's so, but he's gonna let Kolya live, this time. He wants points for it though, and tells Kolya if he ever does anything like that again, Sheppard will kill him. 

As they are leaving and Rodney is geeking out over his shiny new ZPM, Allina stops the team and they are surrounded by a group of armed Daganians. She thanks them for their help finding the Potentia but says that since they are not actually the Ancestors, she cannot let them keep it. It seems she is the leader of a new Brotherhood, one that sprung up from stumbling across the records and writing of the original order. Now that they have found the Potentia, they can hide it again (where only they can find it) and continue to keep it safe until the Ancestors actually do return for it. Rodney and Sheppard try to talk her out of this decision, explaining that Atlantis will fall without the ZPM and the Ancestors wouldn't have wanted that. Allina will not be dissuaded, however, and tells them she has no way of knowing what the Ancestors would have wanted. She can only carry out the last orders they left with the original Brotherhood. Sigh.

Meanwhile, back on Atlantis, while all of that was going on, Zelenka and Chuck the gate technician managed to accidentally activate the city's long range, deep space sensors. Surprised and delighted to discover the city has such a thing, Zelenka then must wonder why all of a sudden the system, which as apparently been running quietly in the background since their arrival, is jumping to the forefront of the other systems. Turns out there is a Wraith dart headed at full speed for the city. They only just manage to get three jumpers up in the air in time to intercept the thing. The dart takes out one of the jumpers (and Markham and Smith, inside of it), then proceeds to take off and scan the city while the other two jumpers pursue, trying to get a clean shot to take it down. Just as they finally get a clean shot, it self-destructs before either jumper can fire, however. They speculate that the dart must have been a scout of some sort but wonder why it self-destructed before it could return with whatever information it had gathered. Zelenka reveals that the dart had managed to send out a signal before blowing up. Weir asks him if he can try to trace the signal, and he gets to work.

When Sheppard and team return to Atlantis to report on their near miss with the ZPM, Weir in turn tells him of what happened while they were away. She says they really could have used that ZPM because Zelenka's trace of the dart's signal revealed three Wraith hive ships, en route for the city, due to arrive in two weeks. 


This is, for the most part, a pretty fun treasure hunt episode. Were it not fore the B story, it would be a completely stand-alone episode. It does manage to deepen the mythology of the Genii, and firmly set up Kolya as Sheppard's personal nemesis in the Pegasus Galaxy. This is also the point where the season pretty much gears up for it's last dash to home plate. From here on out it is trying to figure out how to deal with the threat of the inbound Wraith hive ships. 

We got a few lovely character pieces of Rodney put into place here. For example, he is oh so very bad at hitting on women. We already kind of knew this from his failed attempts to hit on Carter in his original appearances on SG-1, but is is firmly established in "The Brotherhood." While he was unaware of her attraction to him, he had no problems interacting with her, but afterward...well...yeah. It was just funny, if also painful, to watch. Although, once he and Allina were again thrust deep into the puzzle-solving aspect of finding the ZPM, he was able to once more act himself around her. Indeed, he was so engrossed in the act of figuring out the mystery that he even managed to totally forget the threat of the Genii pointing guns at him. Good stuff.

Allina, man. I just...she was so awesome....right up until the point that she turned into a religious zealot. I wonder, if the Lanteans had been up front about just living in Atlantis but not being Ancestors, rather than Rodney just letting it slip, if she might have been more reasonable about letting them have the ZPM. But I rather think not, sadly. I am just flat out amazed that anyone in that galaxy actually still believes that the Ancestors will return, let alone still worships them, after they abandoned all of the humans in the galaxy to deal with the Wraith, monsters that they had created. Sigh. Seriously, the fact that the Lanteans were able to find Atlantis, and live in it with its Ancient gene requirement really should have been argument enough for the Brotherhood that they were worthy of the Potentia, especially since they planned to use it to help the residents of the galaxy stand up against the Wraith. Grr. Argh.

I did find it really amusing that when Sheppard, Teyla, and Ford were stuck down in the chamber waiting for Rodney and the Genii to play treasure hunters, Sheppard was the only one without anything useful to contribute to the trap they set up. Teyla had managed to keep a knife hidden, and Ford had those flash bangs (which he described in such loving detail). This seriously seems to be a pattern with Sheppard. He must not have ever have been a Boy Scout, because being prepared for the unexpected is not really something he seems to be good at. I guess it is a good thing he manages to surround himself with the kind of people who excel at that then, huh?

Favorite Quotes

"Yes, well. Maybe if people stop insisting on having food and liquid in such close proximity to the ten thousand year old equipment..." (Zelenka)

"My kind of science is the good kind of science. The kind you can do sitting in a chair, or even lying on a couch!" (Rodney)

"I'm a doctor not a bloody fighter pilot!" (Carson)

"How'd you know that?" (Rodney)
"It was on the MENSA test." (Sheppard)
"You're a member of MENSA?" (Rodney)
"No, but I took the test." (Sheppard)

That's wraps up this week's Stargate. Only four more episodes to go this season. See you back here Monday for "Letters From Pegasus."

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