Wednesday, August 17, 2011

SGA Rewatch: Sanctuary

Oh, hey, look, it's another entry in the Stargate Atlantis rewatch, yay! Today I'll tell you all about the season one episode "Sanctuary." Be wary of spoilers for all of season one up to and through this episode. Ready? Cool, here we go!

What Happened

The episode opens with the team in a puddle jumper being chased around a planet by some Wraith ships. They are starting to take on some pretty heavy damage when all of a sudden a massive burst of energy comes from the planet and takes out all of the Wraith ships, leaving the puddle jumper alone completely. Obviously, something capable of doing what that energy burst did warrants investigation, so the team heads on down to the planet.

They see only one inhabited area and set down outside of it. As they approach the settled area, they note that the civilization seems way too primitive to have built such a weapon, or even possibly to have used it if it is leftover Ancient tech. It is kind of a tribal Buddhist vibe that they are giving off. Rodney scans the area for energy readings, hoping to get a direction for the weapon, but his scans come up empty. No energy readings at all.

A man in a red robe approaches the team and greets them. He says he is an abbot of Proculus and they are very welcome. They are the first visitors from other lands he has ever heard of or seen in his lifetime (and he's no spring chicken). They speak with the abbot and learn that the people of Proculus are completely unaware of the stargates and the Wraith. They have lived for thousands of years in undisturbed peace, which he attributes to their deity, Athar. He says he will take them to speak to the high priestess, Chaya, and leaves to make preparations. The team all grasp the possibilities of this place, but none more so than Teyla. They speculate that the defense system must be automated, some remnant the Ancients left behind that has kept this world safe and untouched. If that is the case, this world could very well serve as a sanctuary for those displaced by the Wraith, and a retreat for Atlantis in the event of attack.

They go to meet Chaya (who, as it turns out, is a total babe, which Sheppard definitely does not fail to notice) and speak to her of their situation, assuming that she, at least will know of the weapon. She claims she knows of no such thing and that if they were saved it was Athar who saved them. She is clearly troubled to learn of the Wraith and the plight of the other worlds in the galaxy, but it is equally clear that she is hesitant to open up Proculus to refugees. She tells them she must consult with Athar on the matter and leaves them for a while. When she returns she tells them that she is very sorry but that she cannot help their people. Athar has made it clear she must first think of her own people. Rodney gets pretty belligerent and starts dismissing Chaya's religion, so Sheppard sends him back to the jumper, remaining behind to try once more to convince Chaya. He suggests that maybe she could ask Athar to consider that they, too, are her people. In a last ditch effort, he invites her to come back to Atlantis with them so she can learn more about their people, maybe convince Athar they are worthy of help. Chaya jumps at the offer.

On Atlantis Weir welcomes Chaya and tells her that she will have to undergo a quick medical exam, it is protocol. Chaya accedes to the request and Carson declares her to be in perfect health. She wonders at the machines while he asks her a few questions, and she reveals that everyone on her planet is as healthy as she. They do not suffer from disease or illness, and injuries are rare and heal quickly. Sheppard then takes her on a tour of the city.

Meanwhile, Rodney tries to convince Weir that they are wasting their time with Chaya. Either she knows more than she lets on and is just stringing them along, or she really doesn't know anything and therefore is of no real use to them. He also thinks they shouldn't trust her so readily. He wants to take a jumper back to her planet while she is busy and do some scans from orbit but Weir denies the request, saying she's not done with trying diplomacy just yet. Carson calls Weir and Rodney down to the med lab to discuss Chaya's medical results. He doesn't know what they mean, but her perfect health is just too perfect. It's not natural, he tells them, not for their level of development or for humanity in general.

On the tour, Chaya leans on a piece of Ancient tech that Grodin is fiddling with and it lights up like a Christmas tree. Grodin looks up in surprise and informs them that they had just brought that piece up from another part of the city and it hadn't even been initialized yet. He declares that Chaya must have the ATA gene.

After this, Chaya sits down for a meeting with Weir, Sheppard, Rodney, and Teyla. Weir proposes a "land lease" situation, where they could have access to part of the world to relocate displaced refugees or evacuate the city in the event of a Wraith attack. In return, they would help the people of Proculus with advances in agriculture and industry at a sustainable pace. Chaya declines the offer, stating her people have no need for that. Everything they need or could want is provided by Athar, they are happy the way they are. When pressed, she allows that her people value spiritual knowledge. Weir tells her that there are many religions on Earth, and seeing Chaya's interest in the subject gives her access to material on the subject.

Meanwhile, Grodin has figured out what that tech that Chaya initiated actually does. He tells Rodney it is a biometrics sensor. It was designed to detect and warn against alien lifeforms in the city (to prevent the Wraith from sneaking in, presumably). Rodney starts to freak out a little, realizing that Chaya got a reaction out of it. What if it was already initialized and what she did was actually set it off? He goes to Weir about his suspicions, telling her that Chaya set off the alien alarm. He wants to kick her out of the city immediately but Weir isn't ready to be so hasty. She argues that just because Chaya is different doesn't mean that she's a threat. At the moment, the potential benefits of an alliance are more than worth the risk of having her in the city.

That night Teyla runs into Sheppard in a corridor carrying a picnic basket. He hastily explains that Chaya had asked about the best view in the city, and he was just going to show her his favorite spot. Teyla chides him gently and then eases up. She tells him it is perfectly okay for him to have feelings without having to justify them to anyone else. She smiles sagely and bids him a good evening. At the picnic, Chaya admits that she has been rather lonely on Proculus and she and Sheppard make with the romance. Afterwards, Sheppard runs into Rodney who calls him Captain Kirk and advises that he should be careful, Chaya can't be trusted. Sheppard gets offended and Rodney argues that she isn't what she says he is and it is only a matter of time until he proves it. Of course, right then Chaya walks in on their argument.

The next morning a disheveled Rodney shows Weir the biometric data he had spent the entire night going over. Chaya's readings are radically different from those of everyone else in the city. They can't be excused just by her being from another planet either, because Teyla's don't differ anywhere near as much from their own as Chaya's.He convinces Weir to let him secretly take scans of Chaya under the table during their next meeting with her to see if he can figure out what she is hiding.

At the meeting Chaya says that she is very disturbed by what she has learned of the people on Earth, particularly all of their wars and the hatred they seem to feel for each other. Teyla suggests that this can be said of humans everywhere, sadly, but Chaya disagrees, claiming her people have no such problems. She states that while there are some people on Atlantis (looks at Sheppard) she knows Athar would gladly welcome to Proculus, there are others (looks at Rodney), not so much. She then asks Rodney if his scans have found anything. Weir and Rodney get their "busted" faces on and Sheppard reacts with shocked indignation  Weir starts to apologize but Rodney cuts her off, telling her not to bother. Chaya is an Ancient.

Everyone is very surprised by this declaration but Chaya does not deny it, only glares at Rodney stonily. He asks her what is up with the act. Why lie, when she must realize how much it would mean to them to meet one of her kind and actually be able to sit down and talk to her? She replies that she is indeed what they call an Ancient and perhaps she shouldn't have come. She has always known she could not offer them the help they asked for. She only came because of Sheppard. Meeting him on Proculus made her realize just how lonely she had become. She leaves the room. Sheppard goes after her and finds her staggering outside the conference room, then she almost faints. He asks her what is going on and she says she should never have left Proculus. The Wraith are there. She apologizes to Sheppard and turns all glowy, then takes off through the gate.

Everyone else comes out of the conference room and Weir wants to know what the hell is going on. Sheppard tells her he is taking a jumper to Proculus and he goes after Chaya. He goes through the gate to find the planet under attack and starts firing. Chaya appears in the jumper and asks what he is doing there. He tells her that he came to help. She says she will take care of the Wraith and disappears in a big glowy ball again. The energy burst reappears and takes out all of the wraith. Sheppard turns the jumper for the planet and touches down at Chaya's place.

She appears in human form again and tells him that when she was mortal she lived on Proculus. When her people ascended they took on the law not to interfere with the affairs of mortals, but she could not stand by while the Wraith destroyed her home planet. She took out a group of them and the Others exiled her as punishment. She is now stuck serving as Proculus' protector--but the catch is she can only protect Proculus and its people. She could never have helped Atlantis. If new people came to the planet, the Others would stop her from defending them.

Sheppard says that doesn't mean they still can't learn from each other, but Chaya tells him they are too different. As a parting, she offers to do an ascended sharing ritual with him, and they are both enveloped in a glowy ball, with Sheppard remarking how cool it is as the screen fades to black.


This episode marks the start of a pattern for Sheppard. Ancient/ascended women seem to be drawn to him for some reason. It is kind of his thing, I guess? Also, from this point on, Sheppard is firmly Captain Kirk in Rodney's eyes. He gives Sheppard crap about this for the rest of the series--and honestly, it's not all undeserved.

I am not sure what the actual purpose of this episode is, other than to lay down why the ascended Ancients aren't willing to help the galaxy out of the mess that they left it in. Mostly what it does is to reinforce that the policies of the ascended beings are pretty crappy in general, as well as that the expedition is unlikely to find help from the Ancients at all.

It also serves to spawn an insane amount of fan fiction--largely about Rodney and Sheppard and how jealous Rodney was acting of Chaya. I'm not really gonna say anything more on that topic, though. If you're truly curious, go over to Wraithbait. You can do a search for the episode title or probably Chaya as a character and should get plenty of results.

I have to say, watching it again, I was completely floored with how easy everyone (except Rodney, good on him) was about letting Chaya just waltz into the city and look at everything. They also were insanely free with the information they shared with her throughout. I don't think they have or will ever meet anyone else that they are so trusting of without some sort of outside influence acting on them. It's crazy! I know they want a safe haven, but man, play it a little close to the vest, guys. And Sheppard. Dude. You can't be that hard up. Where was Bates in this episode? He must have been off-world. Or in a coma. Those are the only possible explanations for him failing to jump all over the situation.

I do really like the little moment with Sheppard and Teyla. I like that she already sees about Sheppard how hard it is for him to admit his feelings for people, and she was willing to be supportive of him and his happiness. That was sweet.

Favorite Quotes

"Let's just try to stay on our best behavior." (Sheppard)
"I'm always on my best behavior!" (Rodney)

"Rodney, best behavior!" (Sheppard)
"This is as good as it gets, Major!" (Rodney)

"Chaya's people won't have a clue what we're doing from orbit unless they're a technically advanced race that are pretending not to be, which...has happened before..." (Rodney)

"The Lanteans were good at lots of things, but writing instruction manuals wasn't one of them." (Sheppard)

"I am an ambassador and she is a diplomat." (Sheppard)
"On a late night...picnic?" (Teyla)

"Romancing the alien priestess? That's very 1967 of you!" (Rodney)

"Oh my god. He is Kirk!" (Rodney)

That's it for the rewatch this week, cats and kittens. See you back here next week for two of my favorite episodes of the entire season, starting on Monday with "Before I Sleep."

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