Monday, September 12, 2011

SGA Rewatch: The Siege Part 3

Hello cats and kittens, and welcome to the kickoff of season two here at the Stargate Atlantis rewatch! I mean, really, who needs football, right?

We'll start at the beginning, of course, with "The Siege Part 3." Spoilers lurk throughout, so be wary. Not recommended if you haven't seen the episode and don't want to find out what happens before you do.

What Happened

We start off with the first of our heroes in peril, Lieutenant Ford. He and his group of men were making their way through the city when they were surrounded by a pack of Wraith. As the episode opens, Ford and crew put up a pretty good showing against the Wraith, taking many of them down. Unfortunately, Ford is still cornered on the railing of a balcony by a Wraith drone, who begins to feed on him. Just as the Wraith starts, however, one of the injured marines pulls out a grenade and sets it off, the blast knocking both Ford and the Wraith into the water below.

Above the city, Sheppard is guiding his armed and cloaked puddle jumper into a hive ship when he receives a radio order to drop his cloak immediately. He is given an authentication code by the mysterious voice, and as the jumper flies into the hive ship we see it become visible.

Meanwhile Elizabeth, Carson, and Rodney are in the control room watching on the sensors as Sheppard's jumper approaches the hive ship. They see the detonation on screen, both relieved and horrified that the hive ship is destroyed by the nuke. They all kind of look at each other with "now what?" expressions, and then they hear Sheppard's voice over the comms. Their horror quickly turns to elation as a new voice--the voice that ordered Sheppard to drop his cloak--comes on the radio. He identifies himself as Colonel Caldwell, commander of the Daedalus. He tells them he had been following their radio chatter since he dropped out of hyperspace and got there as soon as he could, allowing him to use the ship's Asgard beaming technology to get Sheppard out of the jumper just before the nuke detonated. Caldwell beams down the ZPM and then he turns the Daedalus back into the fray, intent on taking out the remaining hive ship.

We check in on Colonel Everett to find him face to face with yet another Wraith. He is unable to take down the Wraith before it begins feeding on him, but reinforcements arrive in time to kill the Wraith before he completely drains the Colonel.

With Wraith loose in the city, Rodney is given an armed escort to help make sure he makes it to the power room quickly and safely. He heads out with his guards to get the ZPM installed and raise the city's shields. Along the way, they are, of course, attacked by Wraith. Both of his guards are quickly incapacitated, and Rodney bravely tries to defend himself, but as he takes aim with his gun, the ammo clip falls out. He starts to panic and tries radioing for help, but before the Wraith can advance on him, they are fired upon from behind. It's Teyla to the rescue! Rodney is relieved to see her and tells her they feared she had been lost. She explains that she was separated from her group in an ambush and her radio was broken, she has been trying to make her way back to the main part of the city. Rodney shows her the ZPM and she escorts him the rest of the way to his destination.

Aboard the Daedalus, Caldwell is having little luck with the third hive ship. He has managed to hit it with several nukes, but the Wraith's shielding is too good and the damage has been minimal at best. Sheppard asks if they can't just beam a nuke onto the ship, like they beamed him off the puddle jumper. Caldwell explains that the Asgard were very firm about not giving humans weapons technology, and there are protocols in place to prevent the beam from being used as a weapon. There is an Asgard on board the ship, however, and Sheppard asks if they can't convince him to overwrite the protocols, since his butt is on the line too. Caldwell calls down to Novak, the engineer working with the Asgard (Hermiod!), and tells her what needs to be done. She is alarmed at the command and says that Hermiod will not like that, but Caldwell tells her to just get it done.

Novak manages to convince Hermiod to adjust the beaming technology (with much Asgard cursing), and a warhead is beamed onto the last hive ship, destroying it. Caldwell then prepares to turn his attention to the cruisers but they all quickly exit into hyperspace, fleeing the battle. There is only a moment to enjoy the victory, however, as the remaining Wraith darts regroup and turn towards the city, setting a ballistic course. There is no way the Daedalus can get there in time. Their only hope now is the shield. Thankfully, Rodney manages to get the ZPM installed and the shield up and running just in time. The darts are destroyed by the collision and Elizabeth radios Rodney to tell him he can take the rest of the day off.

Caldwell beams Sheppard and some more soldiers down to Atlantis to help clear out the remaining Wraith in the city, then he sets his ship in geosynchronous orbit with Atlantis. Elizabeth gives Sheppard a huge hug when she sees him, glad that he survived his suicide run. She then tells him that before he starts hunting Wraith, Colonel Everett has asked to see him. In the infirmary we see that Everett is in pretty bad shape after being fed upon. He tells Sheppard he wants to finish their earlier conversation about Sumner's death. He says he understands now why Sheppard did what he did and that he would have made the same call. He apologizes and then tells Sheppard he wishes that Sheppard had been there to do the same for him. Shaken and dismissed, Sheppard returns to the hunt for the remaining Wraith.

An update with Zelenka and Elizabeth informs us that the last Wraith holdout has been taken down and that most of the Atlantis and Earth personnel have been accounted for. Ford is still MIA though. Zelenka suggests what they are all afraid to think, that he might have been swept up by the darts, but Sheppard tells him not to make that assumption yet. He tells Zelenka to expand the sensors, and they find Ford's signal in the water outside of the city's shield. Elizabeth immediately asks Caldwell to beam Ford up from out of the water and then down into the infirmary. When he arrives, he is unconscious and still attached to the Wraith that had been feeding on him.

Conferring with Elizabeth and Sheppard, Carson tells them that Ford really shouldn't still be alive. He had been floating face down in cold ocean water for over an hour. What saved him was the Wraith. When Wraith feed on humans, they inject them with an enzyme to strengthen them and keep their hearts beating while they are fed upon so that they don't die before the Wraith is done eating. When Ford and the Wraith were knocked into the water, Ford apparently received a super huge dose of the enzyme. It kept him alive, but it flooded his system and now that it is breaking down Carson is afraid there will be some really bad withdrawal symptoms. He advises harvesting the enzyme from the corpses of the other Wraith and weaning Ford off of the enzyme slowly.

Rodney calls Elizabeth and Sheppard up to the control room. The city's deep space sensors have come back online, and they show twelve more hive ships heading toward the city, due to arrive in thirty-six hours.  Caldwell joins the senior staff for a powwow to determine what they can do--their one ZPM will not hold out very long. They are now faced with much the same decision that the Ancients faced when originally under siege before they fled the galaxy. Sheppard gets mad, stating that he is tired of waiting around and wants to take the fight to the Wraith. With the Daedalus he believes they have a real chance to send a message to the Wraith. According to Rodney's calculations, the Wraith will stop one more time for feeding before reaching Atlantis. They plan to take the Daedalus to that stop and be waiting when the Wraith come out of hyperspace. Then they will beam nukes aboard the ships and take them all out. The plan works at first. They manage to take out two of the hive ships, but then the Wraith figure out how to block the Asgard beam and they can't get any more nukes on the Wraith ships. The Daedalus begins taking very heavy fire and damage and Caldwell orders the retreat to Atlantis.

Ford shows up in Elizabeth's office, one eye gone completely black, and surprises her by asking to be returned to active duty. She is dubious that he is ready to return, and her suspicions are confirmed when Carson turns up berating Ford for leaving the infirmary, stating that he needs to remain under medical observation until they are really sure he is better. Ford gets uncharacteristically angry and grabs Carson by the throat, picking him up and pinning him against the wall, in a show of frighteningly enhanced strength. Teyla manages to talk him down and Ford seems to revert to his normal self, totally freaked out about what just happened. He agrees to return to the infirmary with Carson.

It turns out that the enzyme is messing with Ford's brain chemistry. Carson realizes that as painful as it will be, the only safe way to wean Ford from the enzyme will be to make him go cold turkey. Ford, supposedly sedated, overhears this and looks less than happy about it. He pretends to be asleep and then makes his move, taking out one of the infirmary's guards and getting a gun, which he then uses to get Carson to hand over the rest of the enzyme he has on hand. He then takes off into the city.

The new Wraith armada arrives and begins attacking the city from orbit. The shield holds up but Rodney says that at the current consumption rate they will only last for a few days before the ZPM is depleted and the shield gives way. Zelenka muses that as long as the Wraith know Atlantis is there, they are just going to keep coming. This gives Sheppard an idea. They just need to make the Wraith think they aren't there any more. Rodney and Zelenka immediately chime in that they could easily remove the cloaking device from a jumper and interface it with the city, effectively hiding Atlantis from all of the Wraith sensors. Of course, the downside is that the cloak would replace the shield, so they would have to make their disappearance really convincing, because if the Wraith decide to keep attacking, they will be screwed. Sheppard says they can fake a self-destruct by having Caldwell beam a nuke just above the city's shield and detonating it. That would scramble the Wraith sensors long enough for them to switch from shield to cloak, making it look like the city had been destroyed. Teyla offers to strengthen the deception by tapping into the Wraith telepathically and convincing them that the Lanteans mean to destroy the city rather than let them have it. As a backup plan, they fit everyone they can on the Daedalus to escape back to Earth if the Wraith aren't fooled.

As they begin implementing this plan, Sheppard learns that Ford has escaped and goes after him.

After Teyla sends her "message" about the Lanteans preparing to destroy the city, the Wraith back off their attack, not wanting to help the humans destroy the city they mean to take for themselves. Everything more or less goes according to plan, and the Wraith leave after scanning the "debris" of the city.

Sheppard catches up to Ford and tries to convince him to come back and let them help him. But Ford doesn't want to go back to how he was. He enjoys his new strength that the enzyme has given him, thinks it makes him a better warrior. Sheppard tries stunning him but it just bounces right off Ford and Ford manages to get away, going to the jumper bay and stealing a puddle jumper, escaping through the gate.

Sheppard tells Elizabeth that Ford is too good, they have little chance of finding him now that he's escaped the city. She gently reminds him that at least they are still around to try.


For the most part, this episode just wraps up the loose ends from season one, though it does manage to introduce a few new elements that will drive the story of the second season: Atlantis' illusion of destruction, rogue Ford, Caldwell and the Daedalus. As far as getting the pieces in place to set up the new status quo, it works pretty nicely.

It also does a good job to establish that just because they now have a ZPM, and contact with Earth, things will not magically be better. The arrival of the Daedalus was a big help, certainly, but it didn't solve all of their problems and it was made clear right up front that it had its own vulnerabilities. I like that very much.

I also really admire that despite all of the setbacks and problems she has encountered with her ability, Teyla is still so willing to use it and learn how to use it to their best advantage. Things like that are what set her, in my mind at least, as one of the strongest female television characters ever written. Not just in physical strength, but in character and resolve as well. Man, I have really forgotten how much I love Teyla until this rewatch, but things like this are why.

Also, Hermiod, yay! The Asgard are my very favorite race of the Stargate franchise, largely because they aren't total dicks despite their advanced technology (and rather prickly natures). It doesn't hurt, either, that I think they are frankly adorable. I want to hug them. Each and every prickly one.

For those who like to keep track of this sort of thing, the Lanteans have now destroyed five of sixty-something hive ships. Not a huge dent, but definitely a start.

Favorite Quotes

"Okay, you need to know that if we come under fire you're gonna have to put your lives on the line to protect me." (Rodney)
"Rodney!" (Elizabeth)
"Okay, I mean the Zed PM. You need to protect the Zed PM at all costs...and me. Am I wrong?" (Rodney)

"Oh, I am gonna curl up in bed with the largest sandwich I can find." (Rodney)
"Shall I just explain to the rest of the Wraith left on the base that you are unavailable to fight?" (Teyla)

"It's a city, not a yo-yo." (Rodney)

"I could have shot you a couple of times by now." (Ford)
"Well, I'm glad you didn't." (Sheppard)

That's it for today guys. See you back here on Wednesday as our journey through season two continues with "The Intruder."

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