As always, spoilers for the episode and any that came before, with mild references (but theoretically no spoilers) to Stargate SG-1 from time to time. Now, on to the episode!
Sheppard is flying Teyla back from a visit to her people on the mainland and they notice a really huge storm on the horizon. They fly higher to get a better look at it and realize that the storm is indeed massive--covering twenty percent of the planet's surface. It is tracking straight towards the Athosian settlement on the mainland and from its path, and will continue straight to Atlantis from there.
A study of the Ancient database reveals that this happens every twenty years or so on the planet. Atlantis has been protected in the past by the city's shield (or because it was under water). Without the shield though, the city is actually pretty fragile and stands to be destroyed or at least majorly damaged. They have just under twelve hours until the storm reaches the mainland. Rodney and Zelenka get to work trying to figure out a way to protect the city while Weir tells Sheppard to take Ford and see if he can find a friendly planet to evacuate to for the duration.
Sheppard and Ford go to their new trading partners the Menarians and kind of strong-arms them to let Atlantis crash for the night. After he leaves we see their leader activate a radio of some kind. He contacts a relay mission and states that he has a message for Cowen of the Genii. Ruh-roh.
While brainstorming with Zelenka Rodney mentions that he was once struck by lightning and they both have the same idea at the same time. They run to Weir and, talking over each other, explain that they can use the lightning from the storm to power the shield. The city would survive. They still recommend evacuating everyone because what they plan will turn the whole city basically into a superconductor. The only safe place to be will be the control room, which is super shielded because of the gate. So they will gate everyone off world and carry out the plan with the smallest crew possible.
Meanwhile, on the Genii homeworld, we once more meet up with Sora. She is undergoing some super soldier training. She is the last one standing against the teacher and just after he takes her down Finn from Glee comes in and tells the teacher, Commander Kolya, that Cowen wants to see him immediately. Cowen informs Kolya that he has learned Atlantis is about to be evacuated due to the storm, with less than ten people left behind. He wants Kolya to take his strike team and infiltrate the city. Kolya says his team isn't ready yet, but Cowen insists.
On the mainland the Athosians have almost been completely evacuated but Carson, Teyla, and Ford have remained behind to wait for a group of hunters who still haven't returned. On Atlantis, everyone but Sheppard, Weir, Rodney, and two soldiers have gated off world. Rodney takes Weir and Sheppard to the lab to explain to them what needs to be done to harness the storm's lightning to power the shield.
On Menara the leader is talking to one of the Athosians and getting him drunk. Sora sneaks up behind and snatches his GDO. Kolya appears and demands the code to use to get Atlantis to lower the gate's shield. The Genii strikeforce now have a way into the city. Again I say, ruh-roh.
Back on Atlantis Rodney tells Sheppard and Weir what they need to do and they split up the four grounding stations that need to be deactivated. Rodney and Weir each get one and Sheppard gets two--the two farthest from the control room and the transporters. He arrives at his first grounding station and radios Rodney for instructions to learn that Rodney and Weir are both done with theirs already. He is walked through the process and then heads to the next station while Weir and Rodney head back to the control room.
In the control room the two soldiers are chatting when the gate is activated, they recieve a radio transmission claiming that there has been an attack on Menara and they have wounded. Seeing an Athosian identification code the guards lower the shield. The Genii strike team come through and Kolya kills the two guards. Sora is surprised by this and tells him they could have overpowered those men, especially since they need the Lanteans to be cooperative.
Weir and Rodney are on the radio with Sheppard when they reach the gateroom and are seized by Kolya and his team. Sora identifies Rodney to Kolya and he deduces that Weir is Weir. He wants to know where Major Sheppard is. Weir wants to know who he is and Rodney tells her they are Genii. Sheppard overhears the whole conversation and stops to listen and try to figure out his next move.
He heads to the jumper bay to try to make contact with Jumper 2 (Ford and crew) and learns that they are still on the mainland. The hunting group showed up, but too late to take off so they are waiting out the storm in the jumper. Sheppard tells them the situation. Ford wants to take off immediately to go help, but Carson and Teyla argue that they would not survive flying through the hurricane. Sheppard agrees and tells them to sit tight until the storm blows over and then hurry back to the city. He stocks up on gear and leaves the jumper bay.
In the control room Weir starts asking Kolya questions. He is willing enough to answer--tells them that her people are safe enough. He says they want supplies the Lanteans have and if they are handed over without argument then he will take his team and leave in peace. The Genii want all of the Lantean's C4 and medical supplies, the Wraith data device and one of the jumpers. Kolya also wants Sheppard, Weir tells him that the Major is on the mainland. McKay leans on the intercom and tells Weir to just give Kolya what he wants and lists the items so Sheppard knows what supplies they are there for. Kolya sends some of his team off with Weir to collect the supplies. Kolya asks Rodney why he, personally is still in the city. Rodney tries to prevaricate but Kolya has one of his men pull out a big wicked looking knife.
When the soldiers go to the armory for the C4 they find that it is all gone and in its place is a radio with the word "talk" and an arrow pointing to the talk button written on it. They take the radio back to Kolya, while Weir is noticing the cut on Rodney's arm. Rodney tells her he tried to keep his mouth shut but he couldn't, and they are interrupted by Kolya who wants to know what the meaning of the radio is. Weir tells him she honestly doesn't know and Rodney, not really feeling very cooperative at the moment, gives him a snarky reply.
Kolya pushes the talk button and introduces himself. On the other end, Sheppard tells him that he has hidden the C4 where they will never find it. Once Rodney and Weir have been gated off of Atlantis he will help them get it, however. Kolya tells Sheppard that is a very generous offer, but he has a counteroffer. His "questioning" of Rodney revealed the plan in place to save the city. He tells Sheppard that once has deactivated the last grounding station and gotten the shield back up, Kolya will let all of the Lanteans leave. But he has decided that the Genii are keeping the city.
Weir tries to negotiate with Kolya to let the Lanteans keep the city. She explains about the gene and says the galaxy's best chance against the Wraith is for them to stay there and unlock the city's secrets. Kolya tells her that her arrogance is astounding and that his people will be keeping the city and will use it to defeat the Wraith.
Shepard gets to the grounding station and we learn that Kolya had his men set up a trap for the Major. They are not to approach him until he has deactivated the station though. Sheppard, wily survivor that he is, brought along a life signs detector. He sees that he is not alone and goes to check the situation out. The Genii panic and attack Sheppard. He takes them out but the grounding station's control panel is damaged in the firefight.
Sheppard gets on the radio to tell Kolya that his plan has backfired and that he has lost two of his men. Kolya gets super pissed and pulls out his gun, telling Sheppard to say goodbye to Dr. Weir. Sheppard starts trying to threaten and then deal with Kolya to get him to stop but Kolya just puts away his radio and aims his gun and...
TO BE CONTINUED.
It is hard to say too much about this episode yet, given that it is the first part of a two-parter that I have seen many times. But still, wow. This concludes the first half of the season and this episode led into the mid-season hiatus (oh how I loathe that invention, not cool Syfy, not cool). So we had to wait for about a month or so to find out how things wrapped up. Thankfully, you don't have to wait that long! I'll be rewatching the next episode, "The Eye" and talking about it for you next Monday, yay!
What we do learn in this episode:
-The Genii are still really pissed at the Lanteans and they really, really want that C4.
-Sora has bought Cowen's story that Teyla is completely responsible for her father's death and is determined to "avenge" him.
-Sheppard is a pretty resourceful guy and will go to great lengths to make sure the people in his care are kept safe.
-Kolya is also a pretty determined dude and much, much scarier than Cowen.
I think the fact that Bates was able to secure a trade agreement with the Menarians right around the same time Sheppard's team went on that mission with Cowen is no coincidence. Seems to me that the Genii thought it would be a good idea to have an ally that was in contact with Atlantis regardless of how their mission to the hive ship went down. All considered, that was pretty good tactical thinking, and an excellent illustration of how paranoid the Genii society truly is.
We get our first glimpse of Rodney and Zelenka working together in this episode, and it is absolutely wonderful. I am so glad they ended up bringing Zelenka back as a regularly recurring character. His byplay with Rodney is fantastic. The way they bounce ideas off of each other when brainstorming and the excitement they manage to convey while explaining their idea to Weir are just a joy to watch, and in my opinion, very believable. As is Weir's kind of bemusement at their antics.
I also love the banter with Weir and Rodney and Sheppard as they are wrapping up their tasks while he is just getting to his first grounding station. It's kind of a "civilians gang up on the soldier" type of scene, but it is pulled off in a very playful manner. It gives the impression that these three are really starting to settle in to working with each other and even starting to enjoy their interactions. I thought that was pretty spiffy.
Kolya's discussion with Weir about their connections to the Ancients was a very interesting one. From Kolya's point of view, I totally see where he's coming from. The people of the Pegasus galaxy view the Ancients as the Ancestors, but they aren't, strictly speaking, genetic ancestors. They established human life in the Pegasus galaxy, certainly, but they did so through science, not through procreation, if that makes sense. Weir has the benefit of knowing that the Ancients chose to leave the Pegasus galaxy behind and return to Earth, where they lived out the rest of their days. Sure, most of them ascended, but not all of them. Many of them lived among the evolving humans on our planet and taught them and worked with them. With that knowledge it actually makes a lot of sense that there would be more carriers of the ATA gene among the humans from Earth than the humans from the Pegasus galaxy (though I don't believe for one second that none of the Ancients stayed behind and maybe started mixing it up with the humans). The decline of their race on Earth was more natural, tapered out, as opposed to in Pegasus, where they all just up and left. It's not something that gets touched on a whole lot in the series, and I kind of wish it did, because I can think of several stories that could be sparked off of that conflict (or at least potential for conflict).
Mostly though, I think the writers just threw that bit in to show us the irony of the Genii thinking the Lanteans arrogant when they are the most egocentric group of humans we encounter in the Pegasus galaxy.
“You’re right, if only we had a magical tool that could slow down time! I foolishly left mine on Earth, did you bring yours?” (Rodney)
“Like dinosaurs turned into birds theoretically or Theory of Relativity theoretically?” (Sheppard)
“What? Um, somewhere between.” (Rodney)
See you back here on Monday for the thrilling conclusion to this two parter, "The Eye."