Monday, August 8, 2011

SGA Rewatch: The Eye

Welcome back to another installment of the Stargate Atlantis rewatch, folks! Today's episode under discussion is season one's "The Eye." Spoilers for the episode and any that came before it ahead.

What Happened

When last we left our intrepid heroes, Commander Kolya of the Genii strike force had seized control of Atlantis and taken Doctors Weir and McKay hostage. After sabotage attempts from Major Sheppard put him in a cranky mood, he decided to kill Weir and informed Sheppard of this via radio, leaving Sheppard trying to bargain for her life.

"The Eye" starts up with Kolya pointing his gun at Weir, and Rodney jumps in front of her and tells Kolya that he cannot kill her (or Rodney, for that matter) if he hopes to save the city from the oncoming storm. They are both needed in order to activate the shields once the grounding stations have all been disabled. Kolya relents and lets Weir live, but he tells Sheppard over the radio that he has killed her. I am really not sure what purpose this is supposed to serve. Presumably he just likes messing with Sheppard.

Kolya and a few of his men take Weir and Rodney to grounding station three to see if the control console can be repaired and the station disabled. He leaves Sora and Ladon Radim in the control room. Ladon  manages to get the city's sensors up and running and finds he is able to track Sheppard with them. He sends three of the Genii soldiers to get Sheppard, guiding them over the radio. With the help of his trusty Lifesigns Detector, however, Sheppard sees the soldiers coming. He leads them to a place where he can set up an ambush and takes them all out, appropriating one of their radios in the process so he can hear the Genii communications with each other.

At the grounding station, Rodney is trying to repair the control console and he and Weir overhear Sora reporting to Kolya that Sheppard has taken out some more of their men. Weir tells Rodney to find a way to stall, in order to give Sheppard time to deal with the Genii. Kolya is not willing to play by Sheppard's rules, however, and calls in reinforcements--a team of sixty to help them secure the city. Ladon mentions to Sora that it was crazy to expect them to take the city with such a small force. Sora agrees, but reminds him that they were only supposed to be conducting a raid for supplies in the first place. Then the power goes dark in the gate and control rooms--Sheppard deactivated the generator powering that area. This means that, among other things, the Genii can no longer track him.

Kolya tells Rodney that stalling will not help them as reinforcements are on the way and Sheppard will be dealt with. Just then the power goes out at the grounding station. Sheppard has struck again. Sora and Ladon get on the radio with Kolya to tell him what Sheppard is up to. They send out guards to the other generators to prevent Sheppard from deactivating any more of them. Kolya asks Rodney if he can fix the grounding station without power, to which Rodney responds in the negative. Rodney also explains that unless all three grounding stations are disabled, there will not be anywhere near enough power generated by the city's lightning rods to power the shield.

Meanwhile, Sheppard, who has been listening to the Genii radio chatter, heads to the gate room just as the reinforcements from the Genii homeworld start coming through. He knocks out Ladon and raises the shield on the gate, then locks out the gate so that the Genii can't just dial back in again. Sora sees him and orders her men to take him, but he manages to get away. She tries to tell the people on the other end of the gate to stop sending people through, but it is too late. Out of the sixty men Kolya requested, five made it through, the rest died in transit. Sora reports this to Kolya and he is less than happy at the news. Sora manages to revive Ladon and he believes he can get the gate working again, but it will be at least an hour before they can expect more reinforcements. McKay says they have maybe half that time until the brunt of the storm hits the city.

Kolya calls Sheppard on the Atlantis radio (not realizing Sheppard has one of the Genii radios). He tells him that having made it impossible for Rodney to disable the grounding station, and therefore to save the city, he has made both Rodney and Weir expendable. Sheppard is surprised to learn that Weir is still alive and demands to talk to her. Kolya then gives Sheppard an ultimatum: Restore the generator powering the grounding station within ten minutes or Weir dies for real. Another ten minutes and Rodney dies too, then the Genii leave the city to be destroyed.

Ford, Teyla, and Carson, who managed to take advantage of the eye of the storm hitting the mainland and get the ship back to the city by flying over the worst part of the storm, arrive in time to hear this conversation over their radios. They realize that Kolya will probably have an ambush set up for Sheppard at the generator and decide to head there to back him up.

Sheppard arrives at the generator and is just about to turn it back on when two Genii soldiers tell him to freeze. They aren't inclined to let him restore the generator even though he is running out of time on Kolya's clock. They radio Sora to tell her they have Sheppard and she heads down to meet them. The guards tell Sheppard to stand up and turn around, and as he does he sees Ford and company sneaking up behind the Genii. With them taken care of he manages to get the generator back on in the nick of time. Sora gets to the generator room and hears Sheppard talking to the others. She stays out of sight, and upon seeing that Teyla is with the group, decides to follow them as they move out.

Rodney gets the grounding station disabled and tells Kolya that they need to go back to the gate room for him and Weir to get the shields activated. He also informs Kolya that he needs to call all of his men back to the gate room also, as with all of the grounding stations deactivated (finally) any lightning that hits the city will be channeled through its corridors, leaving the gate room the only safe location. Kolya gives the order, but when he tells Sora to fall back, she refuses, stating that she has Teyla in her sights and is going to avenge her father. Koyla tries to talk her down but she turns her radio off and keeps following the party.

Sheppard decides to split the group up, he and Ford will head to the gate room and get into position while Teyla and Beckett will go back to the jumper bay. Once Sheppard and Ford are in place, Teyla and Beckett will lower the jumper into the gate room and open up the weapons pods, causing a distraction that will allow the soldiers to get Rodney and Weir out of harm's way. Sheppard and Ford get into place and try to radio Teyla but she isn't responding. Sora took advantage of the party splitting up to make her move. She knocked Carson out and she and Teyla are engaged in a serious knife fight.

McKay tries to engage the shield (after stalling as much as possible) but it doesn't work. Kolya is furious but Weir tells him that it was always a long shot. Their backup plan was always to gate out if they couldn't get the shield up in time. She tells Kolya that if he wants to survive he needs to take his people and leave. He makes the call to evacuate but decides to take Weir and Rodney with him, to serve the Genii for "what they have done." This forces Sheppard and Ford's hands. Ford manages to get Rodney but when Sheppard goes after Weir, Kolya uses her as a shield, backing toward the gate. Sheppard takes a shot and hits Kolya in the shoulder, the force of the shot causing him to let go of Weir and fall back through the gate.

With the Genii gone and the gate shut down, Rodney rushes back to the control room to raise the shields--he had been bluffing that they wouldn't work to get Kolya to leave. Teyla and Beckett are still off-radio though, and Sheppard tells McKay to give them a few more minutes to get to safety. They get to the gate room at the very last second, with Sora in tow, and McKay gets the shields up just as a massive tidal wave hits the city.

The city manages to survive the storm. Some areas were damaged before the shields were raised and there is some flooding, but on the whole the damage is pretty minimal. As the episode draws to a close, Weir and Sheppard discuss what to do with Sora and everyone who was evacuated gates back in to the city.


Yeesh. This is a pretty intense episode, even after multiple viewings. I think it is right here where Atlantis finds its feet and takes off running. With the exception of Carson still being a major complainy fraidy-cat, the characters have all started to settle in to their roles--with each other and with the situations they will face in the Pegasus galaxy.

Speaking of Carson, seriously, what is the deal with him being so afraid and grumbly all of the time? I don't know that I ever realized his character took so long to come into his own. That will definitely be something to watch out for as this project continues. I know that it has to happen by pretty early in season two. Granted, in the first season, he was still viewed by the writers as just a minor recurring character. He didn't get upgraded to a full-time cast member until season two, or maybe three, my brain is a bit fuzzy on that at the moment. I do know he was brought in more and more as the series progressed in part because the fans loved him so much. I guess this early on the writers just really didn't know what to do with him.

This episode is also quite key, I think, in Weir's evolution as a character. She came in to the Stargate Program because of her background as a hardcore negotiator, able to talk down the most stubborn of parties. That plus her skill with linguistics made her a desirable candidate to lead an international expedition likely to find itself in all kinds of first-contact situations. Certainly her negotiator side never completely goes away, but in the Pegasus galaxy she, for the first time in her career, finds herself butting heads with people (the Genii) and races (the Wraith) who really aren't interested in making deals with anybody. I think watching the way she adapts over the course of the series is actually pretty fascinating, and it all starts right here, with this experience with Kolya.

It is also very fascinating, though on the disturbing end of things, to see Sheppard get his black ops on. His default mode is to buck the military's command structure as much as he can, so it is actually pretty reasonable to assume that his best work in that vein is the kind that is done alone. Here on Atlantis, with a civilian in charge and a very non-traditional composition to his team (from his experience), he is slowly starting to get into the habit of working with other people. But it is clear that put him in the right (or wrong) situation, and he will revert back to that cold-blooded soldier easily enough.

There is a curious bit here with Kolya that always struck me as kind of odd. After Sheppard raises the shield on the incoming Genii reinforcements, Kolya asks Sora if a specific soldier, Idos, the son of someone named Athor, made it through the gate. He didn't. Kolya is clearly personally affected by this loss, but we don't get any further explanation about it. Ever. It seems to me that unless there was a further end-game with that situation, including that bit of dialogue is rather pointless. I would be quite interested to know what the back story on that was, whether there was more that was cut for time or if the writers had initially intended for there to be more to that story that just never got carried out for some reason.

Speaking of end-games, I absolutely love the fact that when McKay makes a chess reference to Kolya all he gets in return is a blank look. It is such a common trope to use chess (or a chess-like game) as a metaphor for strategy and warfare in science fiction and fantasy. I enjoyed that the writers chose not to do that here. Sure, we see people playing the game from time to time as the series wears on, but it is never related to anything other than two characters hanging out, playing chess. It's a nice break from the norm.

Favorite Quotes

"You can't be too careful." (Carson)
"Yes you can! You can be way too careful!" (Ford)

"Where did he go?" (Genii soldier)
"Shh! He can probably hear your stupid questions." (Ladon)

"Oh that is just...that is just never going to be useful again!" (Rodney)

"Okay, what would McKay do?" (Sheppard)

"How do we know which one's the major?" (Carson)
"He'll be the dot getting rid of the other dots." (Ford)

"There are two flaws in your plan." (Kolya)
"Always open to constructive criticism." (Sheppard)

"What if he sees us first?" (Carson)
"He'll probably hear you first." (Ford)
"Are you telling me to shut up again?" (Carson)
"Again." (Ford)

"These things happen every twenty years, right?" (Sheppard)
"That's what they tell us." (Weir)
"How far in advance can we book days off?" (Sheppard)

And that's it for today folks. See you back here Wednesday for "The Defiant One."

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