Monday, October 31, 2011

SGA Rewatch: The Tower

Happy Halloween folks! Welcome to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Thanks for joining me to close out October with a little bit of adventuring in another galaxy. We're getting close to the end of season two, so today we'll be checking out a fun episode called "The Tower." Spoilers abound, as per usual. Now, I am sure you guys want to get down to the business of tracking down candy, so without further ado, onward!

What Happened

Our favorite team is visiting a new world, trying to make friends with the neighbors. Rodney is highly unimpressed with the village in which they find themselves as it is clearly very low-to-no-tech. Sheppard and Teyla remind him that this doesn't mean it is without value and they are then joined by Eldred, who seems to be the leader of the village. He apologizes for the delay in speaking with them but explains that it is harvest time and they have been busy preparing their tribute for the tower. Sheppard asks what tower that might be and Eldred replies that they must be from very far off indeed. He does not know of anyone who is not protected from the wraith by the tower. Sheppard asks to see this tower and Eldred obliges. The team is very surprised to see, rising out of the middle of a dense forest, a single tower almost overgrown in vegetation but clearly identical to the central spire of Atlantis.

As they return to the village, Eldred explains that the Lord Protector keeps them safe from the wraith by calling forth "thousands of bright lights" from the tower capable of destroying wraith ships. The Lanteans look at each other knowingly, recognizing a description of the Ancient drones. Eldred adds that the wraith have not visited the planet in several generations but he has seen the lights, as the Lord Protector from time to time needs to "demonstrate" his power to the commoners. Sheppard says he would like to meet the Lord Protector and Eldred tells him that might not be possible. Only the royal court is allowed in the tower. Still, he will try. He leaves to speak to someone and Rodney pipes up that if they have drones, that implies that they also have a working ZPM.

Rodney wants to take some readings from closer to the tower to see if he can confirm the presence of such technology. He gets Eldred's son Baldric to guide him through the woods closer to the tower. Meanwhile, Ronon and Teyla return to the village and Sheppard heads back to the jumper to check in with Atlantis. He tells Elizabeth about the tower and she wonders if the Lord Protector and his court might be Ancients. Sheppard doesn't think that is the case, the feudal system doesn't really seem like their MO, still it is worth checking out. Elizabeth agrees.

As Sheppard returns to the village a constable and some guards from the tower turn up and start hassling some of the villagers. Sheppard and Ronon step in to stop them. The constable balks at the interference and the two sides square off for a fight. Before they get started, however, another man steps in and orders the constable to stand down. He introduces himself as Otho, the Lord Protector's chamberlain. He says that Sheppard and his team would never be allowed in the Lord Protector's presence armed as they are, all the while scanning the team with a handheld device as he speaks. He tells the guards to take Sheppard and the team immediately prepares to fight again. Otho sighs that it seems a demonstration is necessary and a drone is fired from the tower into the center of the village. No one is hurt, but Otho warns that if Sheppard does not come with him and Teyla and Ronon surrender their weapons, he cannot promise the next drone will spare everyone. Seeing no other choice, Sheppard acquiesces.

Teyla radios Rodney to inform him of the situation and calls him back to the village. When he arrives Sheppard radios in from the tower and asks Rodney if his scans found anything. Rodney says that there is definitely a ZPM in the area, but it is either only running at minimal power or is running pretty low on juice. He also reports that he noticed the ZPM seemed to be underground and so he did some more scans and says there is a large subterranean structure under the tower and village. He would not be surprised if it was as big as Atlantis itself. Sheppard says neither would he--he is inside the tower and everything looks pretty familiar. We see that he is standing in a chamber identical to Atlantis' control room, but without a gate and with some medieval redecorating.

The Lord Protector arrives and walks up to his throne (which is instantly recognizable to Sheppard as a control chair like the one in Atlantis). Sheppard starts to introduce himself but the Lord Protector already knows, saying he sees all there is to see in his domain. He activates the chair and pulls up a holographic video feed of the village, zooming in on Rodney, Teyla, and Ronon having a discussion in the village square. It is clear that the Lord Protector uses the control chair as a surveillance device to keep an eye on the villagers and his court, as well as to fire the drones. Sheppard asks if he is a prisoner and the Lord Protector says he is a guest, invites him to join him for dinner.

Sheppard is escorted (still under guard) to a chamber to rest until dinner is ready and radios in with his team again. Rodney says he's gone over the scans some more and has found that the structure underground isn't just similar to Atlantis but is completely identical. The tower is all that is left of what was once a cityship just like Atlantis. The lower part of the city has been buried over thousands of years as the forest grew in, likely toppling the city's other towers. Sheppard is convinced that the Lord Protector and his court are not Ancients, but the Lord Protector and his family definitely have the ATA gene. Though from what he's seen in the tower, it seems like they only use it to access a few systems via the control chair. Most of the city's systems are powered down or are running on autopilot.

Rodney, Teyla, and Ronon sit down to a meager meal with Eldred and his family. Through discussion they learn that a full half of every harvest is sent to the tower as tribute. The team shares dark looks at that knowledge and they continue their meal.

In the tower, meanwhile, Sheppard attends a very gluttonous feast in the throne room. The Lord Protector's daughter Mara flirts with Sheppard a little while his son Tavius challenges Sheppard's actions in the village. He doesn't understand why a military man would object to the constable's "discipline." Sheppard says he doesn't really think that whipping is the best motivation. He changes the topic to the "lights" the Lord Protector uses, asking where they come from. Everyone kind of looks at him like he's daft, saying the Lord Protector calls them with his mind. Sheppard presses on though, asking where they are called from. Has anyone gone to look? Mara asks if he means the catacombs and asserts that no one goes down there. They are dark and dirty and unstable. The conversation is derailed when the Lord Protector has a fit of some sort and is ushered back to his rooms. Otho assures Sheppard that he will be just fine, this is a common occurrence.

In the village, Rodney complains quietly about the slim pickings and Teyla admonishes him. She says they should be grateful that those with so little would choose to share with them. She and Ronon then discuss the situation in the village in regards to the oppression from the tower. They both clearly think it is wrong and are also clearly thinking about doing something about it. They have been quite touched by the villagers' plight. Rodney warns them not to be so hasty, pointing out that while the Lord Protector's methods are clearly questionable, they are also clearly effective. They need more time to observe the situation.

As Sheppard is settling in for the night Mara comes to visit him. She asks if he has everything he needs and dissuades him when he thinks he should just leave and come back when the Lord Protector is feeling better. She asks if there is anything she can do to make him more comfortable in his visit and disrobes and starts kissing him. Sheppard is surprised but doesn't really object. Mara asks if he meant what he said at dinner about the way of their rule needing to change. He affirms that he did and she says she knew he would make a good ruler. He is thrown by this, and she says that her father has promised that if they are wed the succession will fall to her. He starts to slow her down to discuss the matter rationally but is then distracted when she jumps him.

The next morning Sheppard goes to visit Otho and tells him about Mara's revelation of the night before. He says that everyone seems to be assuming an awful lot about his intentions in the tower. Otho explains that the bloodline of the royal family is deteriorating, and the bloodline (the ATA gene) is necessary to use the throne chair to defend from the wraith. He believes that Sheppard actually knows all of this due to his complete lack of awe when the Lord Protector demonstrated his power the day before. He also points out that Sheppard is very right about the inequality of their government but that as it stands, with the Lord Protector very ill, Tavius is next in line for the throne and he's perfectly fine with the way things are, he might even be worse, in fact. But if Mara can promise renewal of the bloodline--say by marrying someone like Sheppard with a super strong ATA gene--she will inherit the throne. Then they will have a chance to actually change things. He explains that they are running out of time, as the Lord Protector is very ill. If they wait too long Tavius will have the throne and he will likely kill Mara just for spite. Sheppard offers to help with that, calling in Carson to see if he can do anything for the Lord Protector.

Carson arrives in the village and the rest of the team escorts him to the tower, telling him what they know so far. Rodney says that Baldric knows a way to get into the "catacombs" and he is going to go check it out. If he can find the ZPM he will be able to disconnect it and remove the Lord Protector's method of harming the people of the village.

Tavius stops by and pays a visit to Otho, commenting that he has been very busy scheming with Mara and Sheppard and bringing in a doctor to look at the Lord Protector. He tells Otho to remember their "arrangement" in a very thinly veiled threat and leaves, with Otho looking after him pensively.

Carson completes his initial examination of the Lord Protector and says he is in pretty bad shape. He tells Otho and Sheppard that he needs to run some more tests to see if there is anything he can do for the man. While they wait Otho asks Sheppard to come with him. He takes Sheppard to the tower's jumper bay, showing him an abandoned jumper and lamenting all of the technology that his people don't have access to. He is still trying to convince Sheppard to marry Mara, and quickly, so they can have a chance to reinvigorate the bloodline. Sheppard is clearly very uncomfortable at being ensnared in the royal machinations and he offers up an alternative solution. He tells Otho about the gene therapy and says if they give it to the villagers half of them would be able to use the Ancient tech. Then they wouldn't need to rely on the old way of government and wouldn't lack for candidates to use the throne chair. He offers the therapy in exchange for some of their drones. Otho is interested, but wary.

Rodney and Baldric makes it to the catacombs and Baldric balks at going down inside, saying it is very dangerous. Rodney tells him not to be so superstitious but Baldric explains that the catacombs are actually very prone to earthquakes. Several people have died trying to explore them. Rodney hesitates but then says they don't really have a choice, and down they go. As they get into the underground portions of the city, Sheppard radios Rodney. The connection is breaking up but he manages to ask Rodney to see if he can find the drone storage and find out how many drones are left so they can make their deal with Otho.

Carson finds Sheppard and informs him that he has completed the tests. The Lord Protector is definitely dying. Carson has also learned the cause--someone has been slowly poisoning the man over a long period of time. Sheppard glances across the room at Tavius and says he has a good idea of who is probably responsible for that.

Rodney and Baldric make it to the drone storage area. Rodney taps into the city's systems to turn on the power so he can do inventory. There are oodles of drones left, which means plenty for everyone. Rodney's next plan is to make his way to the ZPM and remove it, but earthquake shakes the catacombs, just then, likely brought on by turning on the power in that area. It cuts off their way out of the catacombs, as well as their access to where the ZPM is housed. He tries to radio Sheppard and Teyla to let them know he is stuck but cannot make a connection. The signal isn't getting through.

In the village the constable and his guards have returned to collect the tribute. The constable says it is not enough and demands more. Eldred's wife protests that they have given everything that they can and he says that maybe he will take out the rest of the payment in other ways. He begins to drag her off and Ronon and Teyla step in to stop him. Ronon kills the constable and his guards and they look around in dismay, knowing that the Lord Protector will likely not let the altercation go unpunished. Teyla radios Sheppard to warn him of the situation and explain what happened.

Sheppard and Carson go to Otho to tell him about the incident and that the Lord Protector has been poisoned. Sheppard says that if they talk to the Lord Protector, maybe they can convince him to hold off on retaliation until the whole "poisoning" thing has been dealt with (putting Mara in charge instead of Tavius). Otho tells them that is impossible, however, as the Lord Protector has just died. Tavius will inherit the throne and likely his first act will be to destroy the whole village for their transgressions. He will also likely see the offer of the gene therapy as treason. He tells Sheppard and Carson to go, and to gather their team and get out of there while they can. Sheppard leaves him a vial of the gene therapy, just in case, and tells him it is not too late to use it and overthrow Tavius.

As they leave, Sheppard tells Carson to go on to the village and he will be right behind but has to take care of something first. He goes in search of Mara, worried for her safety now that Tavius is in charge. He finds her and asks her to come along, saying he can find somewhere safe for her. She seems surprised to realize he really means it and a look of regret crosses her face. Just then Otho shows up behind Sheppard and says that he really should have left while he had the chance. Guards show up hauling Carson along and Otho says that as the new Lord Protector, he is placing the two of them under arrest.

Sheppard and Carson are thrown in a cell with Tavius, who was arrested for poisoning his father. Otho comes by to gloat and reveals that he was actually the one who poisoned the Lord Protector. He had made a deal with Tavius to do so in exchange for Mara's life and her hand in marriage once Tavius had the throne. But when Sheppard arrived, Otho saw an opportunity and played Sheppard (about the whole wanting change thing). Once he had the gene therapy he realized he didn't need Tavius any more. He can marry Mara and be Lord Protector.

With his avenue of escape shut off, Rodney manages to make his way to the city's auxiliary control room. His first thought is to turn on the city's internal communications so he can get a message to Sheppard about being trapped in the catacombs. Unfortunately the ZPM is almost completely depleted and there will be no way to get them online. With Baldric's help he hacks a drone and fires it in order to punch a hole through to the surface, opening up radio communications once more. He manages to get hold of Teyla and she updates him on everything that has happened since he has been out of contact. She has lost contact with Sheppard and Carson and fears an attack on the village is imminent. She asks if he can unhook the ZPM but he cannot get to it.

Mara visits Sheppard to apologize for playing him. She wants to help him and Carson try to escape before Otho can execute them. She has also brought his radio so he can warn his people in the village to leave immediately. Ohtho's first act as new ruler will be to destroy the village, just so none of the other villages under his protection get the idea to resist. Sheppard radios Rodney instead, asking if he has found the ZPM yet. Rodney once more explains he is cut off from it, but he thinks from the control room he can fire up enough of the city's systems to drain the ZPM completely, preventing Otho from attacking. The only problem is finding the right combination in time. Sheppard suggests the city's star drive. Such a massive system would drain the ZPM almost instantly.

Rodney fires up the star drive just as Otho launches an attack on the village. Stuck underground, the city can't actually fly anywhere, but it begins to shake violently. Sheppard and Carson take advantage of the distraction this causes to escape from their cell and run to the throne room to confront Otho. As the ZPM is drained, the throne chair shuts down and the villagers watch as the incoming drones fall inert from the sky.

Otho is enraged and Sheppard tells the rest of the court that they don't need to bow down to Otho or the "royals" anymore. Otho attacks Sheppard with a knife but he manages to evade the blade, getting it from Otho's possession. Otho is cut on the arm and Sheppard stands ready to continue fighting. Grabbing his arm, Otho looks at Sheppard and remarks that he does know his poisons very well, then drops dead. Apparently he had coated the blade with a fast-acting poison.

On Atlantis Sheppard finds Elizabeth on a balcony and reports to her that he managed to get new drones and even a few jumpers. She asks what he offered in exchange and he said they offered supplies and medicine, as well as help with them restructuring their government if they want it. She tells him she's surprised they didn't offer to make him king and he sheepishly remarks that they did, but he turned it down.


I like that when the episode starts out the team is clearly looking to just make friends, even if the villagers obviously don't have anything in the way of technology to offer them. That's nice to see. It does, however, really irk me that the Lanteans (and gate teams in the franchise in general) keep going around interfering with every government structure that doesn't resemble our own. Okay, yes, clearly in many cases the way things work on these other planets is bad or oppressive or wrong. I get that. But that doesn't automatically make our way of doing things any better. It's not like our system isn't without its own flaws, is it? I mean. Just saying. Sigh. It's one of those things that seems all noble and just on the surface, but as soon as I start to think about it too much it just really irritates me. Especially when the Lanteans very rarely catch any sort of backlash for their interference. But moving on, aside from that minor quibble, this is a really fun episode. It's silly and fast paced and our heroes get to be truly "heroic." Everyone gets their moment to shine.

At this point I think we do need to acknowledge that Sheppard has firmly established himself as the Kirk of the Pegasus galaxy. I just hope that STD screenings are standard for every post-mission exam, is all I'm saying there. For the most part it makes for good entertainment, though, and it gives Rodney something to give him crap about for the rest of the series.

Finally, lest you might be worried (as I was at first) that by draining the ZPM the Lanteans have left this planet defenseless from the wraith--they do have the new Mark II naquadah generators that are capable of powering a control chair. For the needs of the people on that planet, that is probably sufficient to keep them going (maybe even with more functionality in the tower than they had before, even).

Yay for replenished drones and new jumpers, too. Huzzah! They're, um, probably gonna need them.

Favorite Quotes

"They can't all be planets with cool technology and open-minded women." (Sheppard)
"I don't see why not!" (Rodney)

"Oh wow! I...I never see this coming." (Sheppard)

"Without the drone chair they're just a bunch of primitive thugs with axes and knives." (Rodney)
"Axes and knives can cause damage, Rodney!" (Carson)

"We may need to panic a little." (Rodney)

"Remember what happened the last time you started turning things on?" (Baldric)

"I really need to stop making house calls." (Carson)

"Well this is better. I guess." (Rodney)

"We got the drones, we got a few jumpers. I even got the girl!" (Sheppard)
"You got the girl?" (Elizabeth)
"Well, I mean, I could have got the girl. I turned her down." (Sheppard)

That's it for today folks. See you back here on Wednesday with the next episode, "The Long Goodbye."

Friday, October 28, 2011

That Wonderful Brew

My mom is a big coffee drinker, but looking back at those years I was growing up, I can't remember a time when we didn't always have tea in the house as well. Usually it was the Celestial Seasonings herbal teas, all decaffeinated and good to drink in the evenings or when one is sick. Despite early access granted by grandparents (or maybe because of it), I have never really picked up a liking for coffee. I did, however, develop a love of tea that is still with me to this day.

In fact, I think it would be more than fair to say that my love of tea has only continued to grow along with me. A few years ago I was presented with some health issues that, while I won't go into them, did lead to me cutting out carbonated beverages from diet completely (along with alcohol, sadly--I still miss margaritas sometimes). I used to drink a lot of soda, usually at least two cans a day. I mean, I wouldn't have a morning cup of coffee, I would have a morning can (or bottle) of Coke. That was just how I rolled. After I had to give up soda, I was pretty much down to just water and tea. Iced tea had long been my go-to drink in restaurants (I had too often ended up with a flat or watered down soda), but my consumption of it increased exponentially in the wake of giving up soda. Thankfully, living in Texas, sweet tea is not hard to come by here.

I also started replacing that morning soda with a morning cup of hot tea instead. Now it is unusual if a day goes by for me that doesn't start and close with a hot cup of tea, usually with a sweet iced tea (or more) somewhere in the middle. Don't worry, lots of water in there too. I am never far from a bottle of water. Gotta stay hydrated, yo.

Because my consumption of tea has increased so much as I have grown up, my tastes have evolved as well. For one thing, I have realized that I don't actually like most herbal teas.* Generally I prefer black tea, though there are some greens and whites I really enjoy as well. My longtime favorite tea has been Twinnings' Lady Grey, a lighter take on the traditional Earl Grey. It's a very citrusy blend and a little bit harder to find in American stores (though it is readily available online). It also makes a very wonderful iced tea. My summer pregnancy got much less miserable when I remembered I had a large stock of decaf Lady Grey and an iced tea maker in my cabinet, let me tell you.

I tend to buy Lady Grey in bulk, however, since it is so difficult to find in stores. I have learned I have to be careful not to wear myself out on it, so I have been seeking out other teas to try. This has led to my discovery of "gourmet" teas. I fear I have been spoiled for life. Two stores in particular have caught my interest and I thought I would share them with you, in case anyone else out there is looking for the perfect cup of tea to warm themselves now that the weather is turning cooler.

First, there's Teavana. My mother sent me a blended tea from them last Christmas and took me to their brick and mortar store when I visited her in June. At the store I bought some cookies that turned out to be completely fabulous. When I got back home to Texas I checked to see if they had a location near me. Sadly, they don't. But they do have a very good online store. I wanted to buy more of the cookies, which they were out of, but ended up buying about fifty dollars worth of tea. I have placed two more tea orders since then (not to mention stocking up on those cookies). I am hooked y'all.** Their Earl Grey Creme has actually supplanted Lady Grey as my all time favorite tea. It is absolutely delicious. Just taking a whiff from the canister is enough to perk me up. Teavana also sells lots of different tea makers and tea cups and some gorgeous tea pots. Believe it or not, I actually am practicing quite a bit of restraint when I shop at their site, there is just so much from them I would love to buy.

The other place I have discovered is the Spice and Tea Exchange. They have several locations as well, and I found them through their store in the stockyards after my mother-in-law brought me an article about them. My husband actually works right across the street from the Stockyards Station, so this is a rather convenient stop for me when Baby Girl and I are visiting him for lunch. We took a friend who is just discovering tea there this past weekend and she came away quite happy. As their name suggests, they carry spices as well as tea. Walking into that store is an aromatic delight, let me tell you. It's a great stop if you like to experiment in the kitchen as well as if you're a tea drinker. The first tea I bought from them was their Almond Cookie tea, which was wonderful. Sadly, it has been discontinued, however, but I hear good things about their Chocolate tea...

So if you're in the market for a warm drink as autumn rolls around us, but you don't feel like coffee, might I humbly suggest some tea? Hell, if you're in the neighborhood, stop by. We can have a tea party. I'm already brainwashing indoctrinating introducing Baby Girl to the wonder that is sweet iced tea, so hopefully soon she'll be big enough to try hot tea too. Then it's only a matter of time before those after-school mother-daughter afternoon teas become a reality...

*Bigelow's Mint Medley is still my go-to tea when I am not feeling well though. I don't know of anything that settles a queasy  tummy better. 
**It is wort noting that I probably wouldn't enjoy all of these loose leaf teas nearly as much without my IngenuiTea from Adagio Teas. I don't care for Adagio's tea as much as Teavana's, but this brewer makes preparing loose leaf tea a breeze, it truly does. If you are looking for a good gift for someone you know who enjoys tea, this would be a great one to consider.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Favorite Scares

Well, Halloween is right around the corner, and everyone is going on and on (and on) about all of the best scary stuff out there. I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon. I know I recently decried the genre of horror in the wake of how annoyed I am by all of the absolute crap that gets pushed in my face this time of year,  every year. But that was, I think, unfair to horror. It's not that I don't like horror, it's that an insanely significant percentage of what passes for horror is honestly crap. It's not good. It just isn't. Yes, there's this nebulous field in the middle comprised of stuff that is so bad it ends up being good (or at least enjoyable), but that classification is much rarer than most people think. Especially these days when people make (or pretend after the fact that they were trying to make) "so bad it's good" on purpose. I am pretty sure that can only actually happen by accident.

But I digress.

I have also mentioned before that my favorite author is Stephen King. I am sad to say that a lot of people out there who are only familiar with his filmed work might be under the impression that he often falls under the "crap" category himself. These people are dead wrong. Unfortunately, there have been many disastrous attempts to adapt King's work to film and television over the last few decades. The reason these attempts so often result in, well, horror (though not the intended kind) is that King's work very largely is about ideas and a lot of his best scenes exist in the character's minds, or in internal dialog. That kind of stuff is just really difficult to translate to a visual medium. But the fact that people keep trying to do so (and every once in a while succeed) should tell you something. If you've never read any of King's work but have watched something based on one of his books hoping for a good scare and come away disappointed you need to do yourself a favor and go read the source material. Then you'll get it.

I am actually lucky enough to be getting to go see King in person next month when he comes through Dallas on his current book tour. My husband is a wonderful person and decided this was an opportunity we just could not pass up. I am very very excited. Between that and all of the horrible not-horror being shoved in my face at present, I have been thinking a lot about King, and about those really enjoyable scares I have found along the way.

Which is all a rather long-winded way of saying that today I thought I'd give you my top three favorite scary books. I could make a whole top ten (at least) just out of King's work, more than likely, but he only wrote two of the top three that came to mind when I started thinking on the topic, so I thought I would just stick with that.

3. It by Stephen King

Oh man, this book. I first read it all of the way through when I was in high school, I think, although it might have been junior high. I had long been aware of King though, my mom being a big fan of his as well (where do you think I got it from, eh?). Like most people my age with a well-developed fear of clowns, I can lay the blame for that solely upon this book. When I was in fifth grade there was a television miniseries based on it, that of course my mom watched, and with one television in the house, so did I (and so did a lot of those kids who ended up scared of clowns). While this miniseries fell somewhere in the middle quality of adaptations of King's work, Tim Curry's turn as Pennywise the clown, amazing and frightening as it was, had nothing on the written version. I get shivers just thinking of it, and to this day I still can't hear "Für Elise" without getting the creeps. It was my gateway King, and during college I read it again every summer, staying up crazy late reading and terrified to turn the lights out once I had finished for the night. Worth every minute. 

2. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

I honestly don't know how to describe this book. It is simultaneously the most freaky and fucked up book I have ever read. (Sorry for the profanity but that is the most accurate word.) It's more or less about this guy's quest to find out about an ostensibly haunted house. But it is so much more. Somewhere along the way it takes about four left turns at once and you are left struggling to keep going. It is a complete mind-trip and even the way the book itself is designed and printed adds to the experience. I barely made it through one reading of this book, but once was enough. This is a book that will never leave me. It is real work to read, but I am glad that I did read it, to be certain, and anyone who likes horror and haunting stories should definitely check it out. But do it in a well-lit room, with plenty of people around. On a random but kind of cool note, Danielewski is the brother of musician Poe, and her album Haunted actually ties in quite a lot with the book, the version of "Hey Pretty" with the spoken dialog takes that dialog directly from House of Leaves.  In the book there are lyrics quoted from the album. There was definitely a bit of collaboration between the two when the book and album were being created. So if you're a fan of Poe and horror but haven't read this book I would definitely recommend you check it out.

1. Bag of Bones by Stephen King

The story of an author who retreats to a cabin in the forests of rural Maine and then becomes ensnared in a supernatural plot, Bag of Bones is trademark King at its best. This is an amazingly powerful story and being written later in his career truly reflects how much his writing skills continued to grow and improve the more he wrote. The imagery in this book is vivid and startling. My scare-factor from this book was heightened by my first reading experience of it, to be sure. During spring break my freshman year of college some friends and I went to spend a long weekend at the unfinished cabin one of my friends' uncle was building in the middle of nowhere, Texas. We were pretty much camping out, and I had more than one good scare staying up late into the night reading this book in that cabin. Reading this book I have been the honest to goodness most scared by a book I have ever been in my life. Needless to say, I was pretty delighted to find out that A & E has made a miniseries adaptation of this book (the miniseries always seem to do King's work better justice than outright movies) that is due to air in December. I am really looking forward to that!

So there you have it, my top three favorite scary books. If you were looking for something good to dig into before Halloween, well, now you've got an excellent list of suggestions, don't you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SGA Rewatch: Grace Under Pressure

Welcome back to the Stargate Atlantis rewatch. Thank you for stopping by. Today we have another shiny episode for you, this time season two's "Grace Under Pressure." As per usual, there will be spoilers for the episode and any that came before it. Some mild mention of Stargate SG-1 in there too, but no real spoilers for that.

With all that in mind, let's dive in, shall we? (Pun so intended.)

What Happened

Rodney and a soldier named Griffin are taking Jumper 6 on a test flight to the mainland and back after Zelenka and his team completed repairs to it. This is the jumper that was shot down by prisoners back at the start of the season in "Condemned." They have made it to the mainland and are headed back to Atlantis, Griffin giving Rodney crap about the fact that almost all scientific discoveries are eventually disproved. As they engage in the (more or less) goodhearted bickering, something suddenly goes wrong with the jumper and the ship crashes into the ocean.

Rodney is awoken by Zelenka calling to him over the radio. Zelenka informs him that Atlantis has been trying to reach the jumper for over an hour now and asks their status. Rodney wakes up Griffin and tells Zelenka they could both use some time in the infirmary but are otherwise fine. The jumper is sinking, however. It is already twelve hundred feet down and dropping a further twenty feet per minute. As they discuss rescue options (Zelenka says they are able to trace the direction of the jumper's radio signal but haven't been able to get a bead on the actual location), the front windshield starts to crack due to the water pressure. Rodney and Griffin scramble into the rear compartment and try to seal it off but the rear door controls aren't working. Griffin says he has an idea and runs back into the front, closing the doors and sealing himself in the cockpit just as the windshield gives way and the front of the jumper floods.

Rodney is appalled that Griffin did that for him. He tries to resume contact with Zelenka, but the flooding of the cockpit knocked out the jumper's transmitter and he cannot reach Atlantis. Realizing he is alone in a sinking jumper and cut off from his only known avenue of escape, Rodney starts talking to himself, trying to talk his way through the situation.

On Atlantis, Zelenka, Elizabeth, and Sheppard go over the situation. Sheppard is working on the assumption that the only reason they lost contact was the flooding of the cockpit and that Rodney and Griffin did make it into the rear compartment in time. Zelenka says that while they had theorized that the jumpers could be used as submersibles, the incident with the windshield indicates that they have a specific depth limit before the sinking jumper is out of their reach for good. With the jumper's transmitter out, they need to find a new way to track it, and they need to do it soon.

Never one to sit still, Rodney starts poking around in the back of the jumper trying to see if there is anything he can do to get himself out of a bad situation. He manages to activate the jumper's emergency signal, but it is not as strong as he would like. He decides that he needs to boost the signal so that it can penetrate all of the ocean above him and reach Atlantis. He runs a diagnostic to see how much power the jumper has so he can begin working on boosting the signal and is dismayed to learn he only has three hours worth of power (which is necessary for life support). He sees that the jumper's inertial dampeners are still active and, saying out loud that those are hardly necessary underwater, tries to shut them off. The jumper doesn't cooperate, however, telling him that action is not available at that time. He also realizes he is very cold and worries that his head injury might be worse than he had thought, but then realizes that it is likely due to the jumper being submerged in the ocean. He dials the heat up a bit to stave off hypothermia, but it costs him forty minutes of his power. He vents his disappointment about this in a tirade at the jumper.

While Zelenka leads a team in trying to narrow down a more accurate search area for the jumper, Sheppard starts assembling scientists to adapt a jumper for the rescue mission. He has them attaching a high strength wench with a thousand foot long cable so that when they find Jumper 6 they can pull it up to a depth where he can have a team of divers go out and cut their way into the jumper to pull out their people.

A sea creature, emitting a series of sounds akin to whale song, is attracted to the jumper's emergency signal and starts swimming around it, singing. Rodney starts talking to it for a bit but gets sidetracked when he is struck by an idea. If, as he has supposed, the jumpers were meant to be submersible, then the propulsion system should work underwater too. He realizes that with some tinkering, he can probably "drive" the ship from the rear compartment, since so many of the ship's controls are housed there. He talks himself through the plan, saying that even if he can't make it all the way to the surface he can hopefully at least get close enough that the signal can break through. As he sets to work on his plan, he laments that another pair of eyes to check his work would be helpful and a voice speaks up behind him offering to help. He turns to find Samantha Carter standing behind him. He quickly realizes that he is hallucinating her, but she sticks around and he seems glad enough for the company, imaginary or not.

Radek and his team manage to narrow down the search area significantly. The only real problem is that the area where the jumper fell goes down to six thousand feet deep. Even if the rear compartment of the sinking jumper can hold up to that kind of pressure, the rescue jumper won't be able to reach it if it gets that far down. Sheppard asks Zelenka if there is any way to reverse the process they used to turn the city's shield into a cloak and instead convert the jumper's cloak to turn it into a shield to help stave off the pressure. Zelenka says it is possible but would take too much time to get ready. Sheppard tells him to throw his gear together and work on it in the jumper while they are searching. Zelenka seems surprised at this, he had clearly not intended to go on the rescue mission, he is scared of the water and cannot even swim. Sheppard talks him into it, however, and he agrees, going to gather the necessary gear.

Rodney starts bouncing his plan off of Hallucination!Sam but when he tells her that it will consume most (if not all) of his remaining power she says it is a bad idea. She tells him he is better off doing nothing, concentrating on life support and staying alive as long as possible in order to give his team enough time to rescue him. If he does try his plan and it doesn't work, he is screwed. Better to just sit tight and wait. He says he can't do that, and it is clear that Rodney doesn't really believe (at least on the conscious level) that they are coming after him. He tells her they are already busy planning his memorial ceremony.

The jumper lurches suddenly and Hallucination!Sam points out that they've stopped sinking. The jumper has caught up on a ledge, right at the very edge of a steep drop off. Rodney is overjoyed that the ship has stopped, saying that implosion is no longer a concern, but Hallucination!Sam cuts his celebration short, pointing out the water leaking in from the door. The impact with the ocean floor damaged the jumper's hull and it is taking on water. Rodney manages to slow the leaking by amping up the pressure in the compartment, but it only buys him a little bit of time. Looking at the power supply, he realizes he only has about ten minutes left to implement his plan before it is no longer a possibility. He has a brief rant about how the whole thing is Zelenka's fault--Zelenka was in charge of repairing the jumper. He was the one who declared it ready for flight and he should have been the one on the test flight, but he was scared of flying at all, let alone on a test flight and asked Rodney to take his place.

In the rescue jumper, meanwhile, Zelenka, while terrified, is stepping up and has managed to get the converted shield up and running. Unfortunately it is drawing power at an enormous rate. He tells Sheppard that once they get into the deeper water, they are only going to have about thirty minutes before the shield gives out.

Rodney is getting very close to trying his plan when Hallucination!Sam starts putting the moves on him. He is momentarily distracted but then realizes that she is just trying to prevent him from going through with his attempt to drive the jumper. She tries to convince him one final time that his friends are coming and he just needs to wait, and to conserve power so he can stay alive as long as possible, but he ignores her. He fires up the drive pods and, of course, it doesn't work. Nothing happens except Rodney managing to burn all but twenty minutes of his remaining power.

Zelenka picks up the sea monster on the rescue jumper's sensors and suggests they stay away from it, as it is many times larger than their ship. Sheppard, however, sees that it is circling around one area as if it has found something interesting. He decides to go check it out, in case that interesting something is the crashed jumper. Zelenka picks up the jumper on their sensors but is alarmed to see that not only does it have no power, but it has also taken on a great deal of water. Their wench will not be able to lift it even a little of the way to the surface. Seeing that it is on flat ground, however, he tells Sheppard to land next to it and extends the shield to cover both jumpers. That way, they can get out and just walk over to the other jumper, hopefully finding their people still alive inside.

Rodney, without power, is starting to succumb to hypothermia. He is getting a bit introspective when he hears the sound of the shield engaging outside of the jumper and then Sheppard's voice over the radio. Sheppard tells him he just needs to open the back hatch and walk to the rescue jumper. Rodney makes his way to the door release and hesitates, worried that he might be hallucinating Sheppard, too. Hallucination!Sam reasons with him and convinces him to open the door, however, and he does. Sheppard and Zelenka run in and grab him, asking after Griffin and learning his fate. They carry Rodney to the other jumper and the sea monster swims overhead as they do. Rodney taunts it, telling it that it won't get to eat him today. Sheppard quips that it's the reason they found him. As the back hatch of the rescue jumper closes, Rodney takes one last look at the downed jumper and sees Hallucination!Sam standing in the doorway. He waves goodbye to her.


This is just one of a series of standalone episodes this season but it is an amazingly powerful one. I suppose, given that it is a largely McKay-centric episode, it is no surprise that I really like this one, but I defy anyone to not be impressed with David Hewlett's acting in this one. Amanda Tapping also puts in a nice turn as Sam, doing a very good job of portraying Sam as Rodney would imagine her but still being clearly Sam. While character-wise it makes total sense that Sam would be the person Rodney imagines in this scenario to keep him company, it is also a nice tribute to the SG-1 episode "Grace," in which Sam was stranded alone on a derelict spaceship and trying not to succumb to hallucinations.

I really, really like that when Sheppard was putting together the rescue jumper, there was an explanation for why each piece of combined equipment was in Atlantis. It was nice to get a little bit of a window into the types of research that go on in the Pegasus galaxy. With Sheppard and his team being our guides through the world, it is easy to forget that they are, in fact, on a scientific expedition. This was nice little reaffirmation of that fact though.

One thing for the overall series is that this episode establishes the jumpers as underwater vehicles as well as space vehicles, so there's that.

I do think as far as the rest of the season goes and where this episode fits into it that "Grace Under Pressure" is the final stage in Rodney's redemption for the Arcturus debacle. As much as he consciously doesn't believe that his friends are out there looking for him, he subconsciously hopes that they are, and wants to be able to believe. The fact that not only are they really out there, but are also going to such lengths to get him back, shows that he is valued not only as a scientist but as a friend. Sheppard especially was extremely determined to get Rodney back no matter what, and that was very heartening to see. Sheppard and Rodney are my favorite bromance, and this shows that they are right back firmly in "best friends forever" territory despite all of the crap they have been through lately.

I was also quite proud of Zelenka for overcoming his fears and doing everything in his power and then some to help with the search and rescue. He may be second to Rodney on the science staff, but he is clearly equally as crucial to the expedition. I mean, someone has to be able to save Rodney when he's the one in trouble, right?

I think my absolute favorite thing about this episode is that Rodney absolutely positively could not stop talking. Even when he was by himself, even when the end was clearly upon him, he just kept up a constant stream of chatter. I am not even sure he realized he was doing it half of the time. I particularly enjoyed when he was formulating his plan and explaining it out loud as if he was telling his peons what was going on. I mean, I know from an outside perspective, he needed to keep talking so the viewer wasn't just watching forty minutes of him sitting there messing with his data-pad, but I also feel like it was entirely within character for him to react that way. It completely worked.

Favorite Quotes

"Well, we always theorized that jumpers could be used as submersibles." (Zelenka)
"Yes yes yes yes, I theorized it!" (Rodney)

"You do not need inertial dampeners while you sink!" (Rodney)

"Do you even have an opinion anyways, you, Why? Because you are an inanimate object, huh? Does that stop me from talking to you? Oh no no no no no, my inanimate friend, because I have been struck upon the head, you see!" (Rodney)

"You and Rodney have been bugging me for a chance to try a jumper as a submersible, but you sure went a hell of a long way to make me say yes!" (Elizabeth)

"Look, I need to be the one on the surface saving the poor bastard stuck down here, not actually be the poor bastard stuck down here!" (Rodney)

"You are very clever. I will even give you brilliant. But there is brilliant, and then there's me." (Rodney)

"You are essentially arguing with yourself. You realize that, right? Your mind is creating me." (Hallucination!Sam)

"I can't even hallucinate right today!" (Rodney)

"Don't play mind games with me!" (Rodney)
"I am a mind game." (Hallucination!Sam)

"I wonder why we never hooked up?" (Rodney)
"What, aside from the fact that you're petty, arrogant, and treat people badly?" (Hallucination!Sam)
"...Yes." (Rodney)
"Nope, that's pretty much it. Petty, arrogant, bad with people." (Hallucination!Sam)

"Oh wow, I'm arguing with myself about who had an idea first--me or me. I really am petty, aren't I?" (Rodney)
"And arrogant and bad with people, yes." (Hallucination!Sam)

"You're a figment of my imagination! The least you could do is take your top off!" (Rodney)
"Your subconscious mind knows that I would never be into that." (Hallucination!Sam)
"You are the worst hallucination ever!" (Rodney)

"[String of cursing in Czech.]" (Radek)
"I think my Czech's getting better, because I know what you mean." (Sheppard)

Phew! That's a lot of favorite quotes. Which is what you get, I guess, when you have no one around to make Rodney stop talking. That's it for today. Come back Monday when Sheppard gets sucked into royal intrigues in "The Tower."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Well, I don't really feel like I got a whole lot done this past week on the yarn front. The blanket is moving along, and I did get a small project made, but I didn't get very far at all on my sweater. That last one has more to do with the fact that my daughter's molars are coming in than anything else. She has been having trouble sleeping, and Friday night was particularly bad. The lack of sleep made me just worthless on Saturday and I totally gave into lazy-mode. Which of course meant I had twice as much to do on Sunday and therefore got less done yarn-wise.

I don't know why I ever think it is a good idea to have multiple big projects in the works at once. I mean, yes, it is nice to be able to take a break from something to pick up something else, but when you get to a certain point, each one just starts distracting you from the others. Sigh.

At this point, I have three things I am working on. Only one needs to be done by a specific date, but I would like to get the other two done by the end of November. I think this is possible, but I could be totally kidding myself. Once those are finished I only have two must-do projects on my official list and one want-to-do. One of the must-do items can totally wait until the start of the year, so there's that.

Here is my priority list as it stands for what is in the works now:

  1. Blanket (I am 1/3 of the way done with this and might just buckle down and plow through and then pick up the other two projects once I am done.)
  2. KAL Sweater (Still slogging along on the back on this one.)
  3. Secret Project (This is actually ridiculously easy, which, unfortunately, means it is not very engaging. I just need to find some good television or movies to burn through while I work on it and it should go pretty quickly.)
Once December rolls around I will pick up Must-Do project number one (because it is a Christmas present) and put whatever else I am still working on from the above list on hold if necessary. It is a crochet project so I think it will go much more quickly for me, thankfully. Depending on how much of my sweater and other project I have left, once I finish the Christmas present, I might or might not attempt to make my daughter a pair of socks for her Christmas stocking. Her feet are small, so those should go by relatively quickly even with the learning curve involved. That's the plan, at least. 

If, by some miracle, I managed to finish ALL of those projects before December is out? I would like to make myself a vest. Then when January rolls around, I will start off the year with my last must-do item, a blanket for one of my cousins, and then I shall dive into SOCKS. 

Yup, got it all planned out. This means that you, dear readers, are now free to sit back and enjoy watching my plan fall completely to pieces. Feel free to laugh as things go all pear-shaped. It's okay, I won't mind. I was totally asking for it anyhow.

To end things on a good note, here's that small project that I did manage to finish off this week. I made another Ninja Turtle hat for my friend's daughter. 

Red is for Raphael.

Pattern: Meh, totally winged it.
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage (1 skein) and Red Heart Classic in Cherry Red (1 skein)
Needles: Size 8

My friend thought red would be the best color for her daughter, so red is what we went with. I was a little put off by the contrast between the yarns at first (I used what was in my stash), but I actually ended up really liking it. The mask is not part of the turtle's head, after all. It makes sense that it would look and feel different.

I also am much happier with how the eye holes on the mask came out, as well as how the attaching of the mask to the "head" ended up looking than with my first turtle hat. For the eyes, I ended up just binding off at the holes and joining a new strand of yarn for each separate section until it was time to resume knitting across. This did mean that I had three strands of yarn attached this work at one point, but only for like three rows, so no real biggie. It was a good practice lesson for the neck shaping on my sweater, actually. When I attached it, I actually overlapped the last row of the head and first row of the mask, with the mask on top, and just back-stitched it on. I think it makes it look more like an actual mask, so I was very pleased with that.

I got my daughter to sort of model it for you, too, so I'll leave you with that. Have a great week! Hopefully I'll have more progress to report next Tuesday.

Mom, I really don't know what you are doing but you're
interrupting Planet Sheen.

Fine, if you're going to make Daddy hold me still insist,
I will pose for a picture. Sheesh.

Monday, October 24, 2011

SGA Rewatch: Critical Mass

Hello there! Welcome to another installment of the Stargate Atlantis rewatch. Today we will be tackling the second season's episode "Critical Mass." There will be spoilers for the episode and all of those before it, of course, and a little bit for Stargate SG-1's ninth season as well.

This is a pretty busy episode, so let us proceed, shall we?

We shall.

What Happened

The episodes opens up with Zelenka grumpily packing up gear and preparing to head offworld. We quickly learn he is headed to Kid Planet to effect some repairs on their EM field. He is grumpy because he does not care for children and he's pretty sure that is exactly why Rodney picked him for the mission. Sheppard bids him good luck and then heads on up to the control room for a briefing with Rodney and Elizabeth. Rodney informs them that the city's sensors have picked up two wraith cruisers in the vicinity of their planet. The ships do not appear to actually be headed toward Atlantis, but Elizabeth wants him to continue to monitor their progress, just in case. Rodney also notes that he has picked up intense bursts of radiation between the two ships. It appears as if they are fighting one another. Everyone gloats and hopes the wraith all just end up killing themselves and saving the rest of the galaxy the trouble.

We then jump to the Cheyenne Mountain facility on Earth, where Agent Barrett of the NID (an offshoot of the FBI that deals with super secret departments like the SGC) has arrived to inform General Landry of a problem. A rogue branch of the NID, the Trust (which aims to gain access to alien technology without following protocol or diplomatic niceties) has apparently infiltrated the government even further than we thought. Barrett has learned that not only have the Trust infiltrated the SGC, they've managed to get an operative to Atlantis. It gets worse, Barrett goes on to tell Landry that their intel has revealed that the Trust has planted a bomb somewhere on Atlantis and it is set to detonate the next time Atlantis dials in to Earth for their weekly progress report. The next dial in is scheduled for today. Landry brings in Dr. Bill Lee to get to work immediately on a way to get word to Atlantis not to dial in to Earth. They can't use the gate because Earth doesn't have a ZPM and so no capability to dial an extra-galactic address, and it is possible that dialing in from Earth is equally likely to detonate the bomb.

On Atlantis Rodney is both surprised and creeped out to learn that Cadman is still in the city. She had apparently arrived on the Daedalus with its last visit and was supposed to leave with it as well. She tells Rodney that something came up so she asked Sheppard if she could stay a while longer and Sheppard agrees. Rodney is less than pleased and Sheppard ribs him a bit about being so uncomfortable around Cadman still. 

Teyla, meanwhile, has learned that one of her people is very ill. Charin is like a grandmother to Teyla and Teyla asks Carson if he would be willing to visit the mainland to take a look at Charin to see if there is anything he can do for her. He agrees and they head out.

On Earth Dr. Lee has come up with a way to get in contact with Atlantis. The Daedalus, on its way back from the Pegasus galaxy, is currently too far away for the SGC to contact by normal means, but Dr. Lee says that if they gate a science team to a planet on the very edge of the Milky Way, the team should be able to reach the Daedalus with their most advanced long-range communications device. The Daedalus should still be in close enough range to contact Atlantis with her own long-range communications system and can then pass the message along. Dr. Lee likens it to the Twilight Bark from One Hundred and One Dalmatians and when he is met with nothing but blank stares at this switches his analogy to the signal towers from The Lord of the Rings movies, which everyone immediately gets.

They do manage to get their message to Colonel Caldwell, and he asks Novak if they are still close enough to relay the message to Atlantis. Novak replies that they are out of range, unfortunately, and Caldwell is in the process of telling her to alter the ship's course when Kavanagh chimes in that there is no way they will be able to get back in range in time to stop the dial in, which is scheduled for two hours from now. Hermiod then pipes up that he actually should be able to make some modifications to the hyperdrive that will allow them to travel fast enough to get in range in time. The process will not be without its risks, there is a chance they could burn out the ship's engines if they travel at that speed for too long, leaving them stranded between galaxies. Kavanagh is all gloom and doom about the plan but Hermiod is confident in his calculations and believes they will move into range of Atlantis before the ship is damaged. Caldwell tells him to do it.

On Atlantis everyone is preparing to dial in to Earth and they receive a transmission from the Daedalus at the last second, aborting the gate's dialing sequence in time. Rodney immediately disconnects the ZPM from the gate to prevent any accidental (or otherwise) dialing of Earth before they find and disable the bomb. Elizabeth decides to suspend gate travel until the situation is resolved (leaving Zelenka stuck on Kid Planet for the time being). Elizabeth tells them that it is entirely likely that it is the goa'uld (Stargate SG-1's big bad) behind the Trust's attack, since they have recently infiltrated that organization. They immediately set to work trying to find and disable the bomb, as well as trying to determine who in the city might be the Trust operative.

On the mainland, it is clear that Charin is very ill. She doesn't seem upset, however, when she tells Teyla that she is dying. She seems very at peace with her fate, and she asks Teyla to prepare a Ring Ceremony. Carson asks what this is and Teyla explains that because of the wraith it is extremely rare among her people for someone to die of natural causes/old age, and when they do, such a thing is to be celebrated. The Ring Ceremony does just that, honoring the life the person has lived. While describing it to Carson, Teyla starts to break down a bit, telling Charin she is not yet ready to let her go.

Back on Earth Barrett updates Landry. He has learned that the detonator for the bomb is not on Earth (to be activated once the gate connection between the two planets has been established) as they thought. The detonator is actually somewhere on Atlantis. Landry has the information relayed to the Daedalus. Caldwell passes the information on to Elizabeth. They haven't had much luck finding the bomb yet, but are glad of any new information. Elizabeth tells Rodney to start going over the city's systems to see if he can find anything, and Sheppard recommends that he have Cadman help him, since she is an explosives expert. Elizabeth also sends a message to Caldwell asking the Daedalus to return to the city to help with the investigation (and because she believes it is possible the Trust operative might have decided to flee the city when the ship left). 

The gate begins to dial by itself, trying to make a connection to Earth. With the ZPM disconnected, it is unable to actually complete the sequence. Everyone takes (brief) breath of relief and Rodney is explaining that the Trust operative must have hacked the city's systems to make the gate dial automatically in case the regular dial in didn't happen as scheduled. Elizabeth is congratulating him on thinking to disconnect the ZPM when Cadman calls out that the city has started transmitting a distress beacon. They manage to shut it down, but the damage has been done. The nearby wraith cruisers detected the beacon and have changed course. They are now heading straight for Atlantis. The Lanteans head to the mainland to evacuate the Athosians to the city so that they will be hidden from the wraith under the city's cloak when the cruisers arrive. While Teyla is getting ready to go, Carson pulls her aside and says that after reviewing his checkup of Charin, he has found a few things he can do for her to prolong her life and make her feel better. Teyla thanks Carson and says she will let Charin know.

Caldwell has the Daedalus return to Atlantis so that they can help with the investigation into the Trust operative. There is a brief scene on Earth where Walter reports this information to Landry, who is less than happy, and says that there is nothing more they can do to help Atlantis in this situation. They are on their own. Elizabeth, meanwhile, has been going over passenger manifests from the Daedalus and has unfortunately found a few potential candidates to be the operative. She hates suspecting one of her own people, but she begins the process of interviewing likely suspects. Rodney pipes up that they should put Cadman on that list but both Sheppard and Elizabeth scoff at the idea, dismissing Rodney's suspicions to his dislike of the officer.  Elizabeth's list is actually topped by Kavanagh and as she questions him, he bristles and responds with his usual foul temper.

On the mainland, most of the Athosians have been evacuated and Teyla is staying with Charin until a medical team can move her. She tells Charin of Carson's offer of help, that he can prolong her life, but Charin shakes her head and declines. She tells Teyla she has lived a full life and it is her time, she will not fight this and asks that Teyla not either. Teyla then breaks down completely, telling Charin that she is the only family Teyla has left and that if she dies, Teyla will then be truly alone. Charin tells Teyla that her people are her family and they will be looking to her for strength in the coming days. She will not be alone but she must be strong for her people.

In addition to questioning people she suspects of being the operative, Elizabeth also questions more trusted members of the Daedalus crew to see if any of them noticed anything suspicious or at least unusual. Novak tells Elizabeth that that "pony-tailed guy" (Kavanagh) seemed to always be up in everybody's business and has been kind of creepy, seemingly confirming Elizabeth's suspicions.

Rodney briefs the senior staff on their progress with the bomb. It turns out there actually isn't one. That is to say, there is no actual explosive device planted in the city. The operative was smart and rewrote Atlantis' operating system to disable the failsafes in place to prevent the ZPM from overloading. This would make something like dialing Earth cause the ZPM to go into catastrophic overload, causing an explosion that would result in the city (and likely planet) being completely destroyed. Unfortunately, that isn't the only routine that could cause the ZPM to overload, only the quickest. When the dial in to Earth failed to set off the ZPM, the operative's program used the automatic dialing attempt to distract everyone long enough to send the distress beacon, attracting the wraith. The ZPM has to be hooked back up in order to power the cloak hiding the city's existence from the wraith, which means that the operative's program will have new chances to overload the system causing the city to go boom.

All of this means they must find the Trust operative immediately. The wraith are on the way and the city has to be cloaked, there is no way around that. The failsafes can be reenabled, but it will require an access code from the operative to do so. Rodney says they don't have the kind of time needed to figure out the code on their own. Convinced that Kavanagh is the traitor, Elizabeth begins questioning him anew, but he maintains his innocence and that he has no code to give her. Ronon says they are wasting time and that he could get the code from Kavanagh in less than ten minutes, implying he would torture it out of him. Elizabeth and Rodney both balk at the idea of escalating to torture but both Sheppard (grudgingly) and Caldwell agree that it might be necessary. 

Rodney waits until the wraith are as close as possible before reinstalling the ZPM and turning on the city's cloak. He and Cadman are standing by to monitor the city's systems for any sign of impending overload. It doesn't take long. The city's star drive (remember it is actually just a giant space ship) starts to gear up, and one ZPM is nowhere near enough to handle that kind of process. Without the failsafes, Rodney says they have thirty minutes until the city goes boom. Elizabeth and Caldwell start loading people into the Daedalus and puddle jumpers to evacuate the city and she also authorizes Ronon to do what he needs to in order to get the code from Kavanagh.

Charin, meanwhile, has passed on. Deciding to honor her wishes, Teyla and some of the other Athosians set up her Ring Ceremony in the infirmary. Carson is freaking out and trying to tell her she needs to get out. She explains very calmly that she and her group will leave on the final puddle jumper and then begins the ceremony. She sings a ritual song as we go into a montage of preparations to evacuate and attempts to stop the overload. Cadman finds Rodney and tells him she has found something while doing an analysis of the city's systems. Sheppard runs into the room where Ronon has Kavanagh yelling for him to stop. He finds Ronon standing over Kavanagh's prone body and is horrified until Ronon states that he hadn't done anything. Kavanagh fainted before Ronon could even touch him. 

Caldwell is in his control chair aboard the Daedalus and radios to Elizabeth that he is ready to leave. When he doesn't receive a response he tries contacting her again and is beamed off the ship into the conference room on Atlantis to find Elizabeth, Ronon, and Sheppard. They tell him they found the evidence of his meddling in the systems and know that he is the Trust's operative. They demand the code from him and he refuses, his eyes glowing gold as he reveals that he isn't just a Trust operative, he is actually a goa'uld. Ronon knocks him down and Sheppard hits him with a taser, managing to subdue the goa'uld long enough for Caldwell's consciousness to surface and give them the code. They manage to get it to Rodney just in time and the city's failsafes are restored before the ZPM can overload.

As things wrap up, we learn that Hermiod is going to use the Asgard beaming technology to extract the goa'uld from Caldwell. Elizabeth asks Beckett to check out everyone else on the base and Daedalus crew just to be on the safe side. She is clearly very shaken by the whole situation. She is also beating herself up for allowing things to escalate with Kavanagh. Sheppard tries to reassure her that at least he wasn't hurt, but she is not comforted. She remarks on how they have been gloating over the infighting among the wraith and asks Sheppard how they are really any different.


Wow, so this is a pretty tight go-go-go episode. A lot going on. Yet they still managed to squeeze in a few nice character moments. We get Zelenka's dislike of children (likely exacerbated by this trip, since he gets stuck on that planet longer than intended and comes back having gotten a lovely new Kid Planet makeover). There's Cadman and Rodney's relationship in the wake of the events of Duet, as well as a budding romance between Cadman and Carson (which is the likely "something that came up" to keep her in Atlantis longer). Sadly, this is the last time we ever see Cadman on the series (I think this has more to do with Jamie Ray Newman getting busy appearing on like every show ever around this time than anything else), though the character does appear in a few of Fandemonium's licensed tie-in novels at least. We also get Kavanagh pretty much still being an ass-hat even though it gets him suspected of trying to blow up the city and refusing to cooperate with anyone he thinks is beneath him, which is everyone. This pretty much seals his fate about not being allowed back (and probably about not wanting to go back) to Atlantis. 

There was also a lot of Teyla development going on. She is losing the last person among her people that she truly considers family. Charin is convinced that Teyla is meant to lead her people, even while she stays with the Lanteans, and urges her to not lose sight of that. This is a pretty good way of showing the audience how difficult it must have been for Teyla to throw in her lot with Atlantis and separate herself from her own people, as well as why it might have seemed like no big thing on the outside. She is very much accustomed (and expected) to projecting strength for her people's sake. Also, wow, yeah, that is totally Rachel Luttrell actually singing there. That woman is talented. I kind of wish they had done a soundtrack beyond just the first season so I could get her song, but alas, didn't happen. 

The goa'uld back story to this episode was a bit confusing for me the first time I watched it, because that is all totally tied up to Stargate SG-1 and what was going on in seasons eight and nine of that series. "Critical Mass" actually aired on the night that I first watched SG-1 ("Ripple Effect") as well, and I will always remember how I was a bit lost while watching it. Still, even though viewers of Atlantis only might be a bit confused with some of the characters and information just dropped in from SG-1, watching it now, I think they did a pretty good job of only giving us what we needed to know to follow the rest of the episode. The goa'uld threat in Atlantis pretty much begins and ends with the possession of Caldwell and they are really only ever mentioned again in direct reference to this event or in passing in regards to events of the other series that have an effect on the people in Atlantis. 

Caldwell being possessed by a goa'uld actually goes a long way to explain why he has been such a jerk since he got to Atlantis, as well as why he was always so determined to step in and try to take over whenever possible. I have a theory (completely unfounded and unsupported) that the writers either didn't intend to make him so unlikable or didn't realize how often he would be recurring on the show. Once it became apparent, however, they needed to be able to give him at least a little bit of a reset button so that the audience might have a chance not to loathe him for trying to mess with the status quo on Atlantis.

Novak's nervous hiccups are also a carryover from SG-1, I believe from a season eight episode. They are amusing even if you don't know that (well, to me anyway), but as a running joke it just makes me giggle even more. Though I love Novak oodles as it is. I would have heartily enjoyed a spin-off series about her and Hermiod, truth be told. 

Lastly, I always get a kick out of Dr. Lee's appearance in this episode. Enough that when I go back and watch his first couple of appearances on SG-1 I cringe a little, because he didn't come off so well at first. Still, I love his little drawings depicting the message relay process, as well as the fact that he likened it to the Twilight Bark. I am not sure I buy that no one in the conference room would have gotten that reference, though. One Hundred and One Dalmatians was an old movie when I was a kid, so most of those people would have, presumably, been exposed to it at some point in their youths. Still, I always giggle when they do all immediately grasp The Lord of the Rings reference instead. So there you go.

Favorite Quotes

"You'll find another way to get the message to them." (Landry)
"I will?" (Lee)
"Course you will. It's what I pay you for." (Landry)

"I would think after all this time you'd stop being creeped out by her." (Sheppard)
"She just has a way of getting under my skin. Literally." (Rodney)

"Dr. Kavanagh." (Hermiod)
"Yes?" (Kavanagh)
"Stop talking, please." (Hermiod)

"Explosives expert, huh?" (Rodney)
"High temperature and energetic materials technology. And I can tap dance too." (Cadman)

We'll wrap up here, kiddos. See you back here on Wednesday for a slightly quieter episode, "Grace Under Pressure."

Friday, October 21, 2011


I suspect that I will be spending much of this weekend playing Dragon Age. I only have what, nine days left in the month? In order to focus on my writing during November for National Novel Writing Month I make myself abstain from video games. Sadly, this is much harder than it sounds. I am right now about half way through Orzammar, which is my last treaty quest to do, but then I still have to find the Sacred Urn and save the arl and get to the Landsmeet...sigh. I would love to say I will get this game wrapped up before November, but I really don't think it's going to happen. Of course, that could be a good thing, since as soon as I finish I would want to start a playthrough of the DLC, and probably Dragon Age II after that...yeesh. Seriously, I am addicted to this game, and DAII even more so than Origins.

You would think that I would have gotten my fix this past week when I played the new DAII DLC, "Mark of the Assassin." But no. It only made me hungry for more. Sigh. Also, Felicia Day, who voices the character of Tallis that joins your party for the new quest, is awesome and I would like for her to please be in every video game I ever play ever again, okay? Can we make that happen? 

At least I will get a little bit of a fix each Tuesday throughout most of November. Felicia Day's webseries, Dragon Age Redemption (starring none other than Felicia Day as, hey look at that, Tallis) has arrived and I am enjoying it immensely thus far. We only get six episodes though, but hey, I will take what I can get, really. 

Here are episodes one and two if you've got twenty minutes to kill and a swords & magic itch to scratch:


The live action Templar is pretty nice to look at, and he seems to not be as much as a zealot as most of the Templars that DAII throws at you. This is a lovely bonus. I am very curious about the mythology about the Qunari they are building up between the DLC and the webseries too. I know everything was completely approved by Bioware, so I am hoping that we get some more back story on that as the show progresses.

So, anyway, that's my plan for the weekend (well, for my "me" time anyway, I actually do have some quite fun stuff going on that involves other people as well). I hope you all each have an equally fun weekend ahead of you!

Just don't forget to watch out for darkspawn, yo.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

November is almost upon us, and that means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just around the corner. If you are a writer and you haven't heard of NaNoWriMo, I strongly urge you to swing by their website, newly relaunched for the 2011 event, and give it a looksee. It is definitely worth checking out.

The basic idea is that sometimes you just need a little extra push to get that novel written. So each November, anyone who wants to participate in NaNoWriMo sets this goal for themselves: During the month of November, I will write a complete 50,000 word novel. 50,000 words is about the minimum requirement for most novels in the publishing world, so that's the goal set to "win" NaNoWriMo, though of course you are free to go over that. It breaks down to about 1700 words a day, which really is actually manageable, provided you don't get a massive monster block or anything. The site serves as a networking tool to help you contact other writers in your local area in online forums or for get-togethers to write or hash out stories or commiserate and whatnot. You also get "pep talk" emails from writers throughout the month. Basically it's a huge support net to help get you motivated and keep you going to hit that goal of a finished novel.

Now, let's face it, the time crunch means you have to pretty much skip the editing part of writing. That's kind of the point. I know that I, for one, get hypercritical about reading and rereading what I have already written, sometimes to the point of stalling out on forward progress. Starting stories has very rarely been a problem for me. Finishing them has. I've only finished two complete non-school assignment stories ever--one of them was last year's NaNoWriMo effort. That 1700 words a day goal means that I don't have time to obsess over all of the small details and ensures I just keep on moving forward towards that final page.

Granted, no one who bangs out a 50,000 (or more) word manuscript in a month is going to automatically have something worth publishing come December. What they will have, however, is a first draft. They will have the confidence that comes with having actually written down their whole story. That first draft will then be ready to undergo some heavy editing, possibly expansion, and just might eventually become something you want to shop around. It could also easily become something you stuff in a drawer (or on a spare flash drive, which is then stuffed in a drawer) and never think about again. But the experience will only make your future writing efforts that much stronger.

I have been going around in circles trying to figure out what my story would be this year, and I finally think I have figured it out. I have an outline, I drew a map (then played nation tetris and now need to redraw said map). I've been naming characters (and finding pictures of people to hold in my mind for those characters as I write them to aid in my descriptions). I can't start writing the actual story until November 1, mind you, thems the rules, but I can (and will) lay as much of the groundwork behind the story as possible before then.

I have realized that even though my story this year is set very much in a fantasy setting, it is actually kind of going to be a romance novel, of all things. At least, the central story seems to be more about how these two people find each other, lose each other, find each other again and then what happens to them from there than about the actual events during which this romance takes place. I'm...well, I'm not too sure how I feel about that, but that's the story that wants to be told, so what can I do, huh?

Again, I will hope to post the story here, chapter by chapter, after November if I succeed in finishing the story. I meant to do it last year but wanted to get the editing done first and I really haven't been able to bring myself to dive into the job that editing that particular story will be. If I decide to post here for the 2011 story, it will be an "as is" effort with only minor editing.

As a heads up to y'all, I will be a bit scarce around here throughout November. Currently I am planning to only post Monday through Wednesday, which would be my Stargate Atlantis Rewatch and yarn craft posts, with Thursday and Friday dead days on the site. It is possible that the rest of the week might have to be put on hold as well, but I am hoping that won't be the case. I go to do some more plotting. Wish me luck, friends! And for my fellow writers out there, please join me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SGA Rewatch: Epiphany

Hello, and welcome to another Wednesday and another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today's episode is season two's "Epiphany." Spoilers all the way down.

What Happened

The team is investigating an uninhabited planet in search of the source of an energy spike they picked up when flying over by jumper. It seems to be located in the outer wall face of a huge crater. The source of the energy spike is some sort of doorway covered by an energy barrier. Next to the portal is some Ancient writing. Teyla, who is in the process of learning the language, is able to make out a few words, "welcome" and "ascension." Seeing as it seems to be the only way through the crater wall by foot, Sheppard is gung-ho to go ahead through, but Rodney stops him. He attaches his video camera to a tree limb and sticks it through the barrier just to make sure there aren't any nasty surprises waiting for them on the other side.

Everything seems to be on the up and up. The camera reveals an empty cave. Sheppard decides to go through. As he starts to step through, however, the barrier seems to grab him and start actually sucking him in. He tries to back out, even having Ronon and Teyla try to pull him out, but it is no use. He is pulled through the portal and vanishes. He arrives in the cave in great pain, the trip through the portal is not at all pleasant. After a little while to recover, he tries to radio the rest of his team, reporting to them of his status. He gets no answer from the radio but continues talking to it just in case they can hear him. He does a quick recon of the area outside of the cave, finding nothing of interest, and returns to the cave to wait for the rest of his team. He is unable to get back through the portal from his side of things.

Outside, meanwhile, everyone is freaking the heck out. Ronon is mad at Rodney for letting Sheppard get sucked into the portal and Rodney is trying to figure out just what happened. Teyla tries to contact Sheppard on the radio but cannot get through. Rodney goes back over the footage from his "MALP On A Stick" to see if he missed anything. To his dismay, he realizes that even though he only stuck the camera through the portal for half a minute, it recorded several hours worth of footage. Time is passing faster on the other side.

This realization mobilizes Rodney, and he starts barking out instructions to Ronon and Teyla, explaining as much as he can as quickly as possible. He starts to hike back to the jumper, planning to return to Atlantis for supplies to see if he can figure out a way to get Sheppard out, asking Teyla to accompany him so he can give her more instructions along the way. He stops before leaving, however, and gathers up all of the food and water the three have on them to throw through the portal for Sheppard, realizing that no matter how much he hurries, Sheppard is going to be there for days at least and will need supplies. At the jumper, he loads Teyla up with more food and water, as well as extra batteries for the camera. He wants her to try to contact Sheppard but warns her that Sheppard might not still be in the cave by the time she gets back to the portal. Time is passing fast enough that he will probably use up his supplies well before then and go in search of some on his own.

We get glimpses of Sheppard in the cavern, trying to make contact with the team on his radio and getting increasingly frustrated as time passes without word from them. Eventually he uses up his supplies, he has already experienced several days, and leaves the cave to go look for more. He does leave a signal in the form of an arrow made of rocks on the cave floor, indicating the direction in which he left.

In Atlantis Rodney gathers up Elizabeth and Carson, as well as supplies, trying to explain as much as he can without wasting time. Elizabeth tells him to take a few minutes to stop and be sure he has everything he needs, since they probably won't get a chance to make another jumper trip and rushing is what got them into this situation in the first place. Rodney says he knows that but at this point he is just hoping he can get the problem solved within Sheppard's lifetime. Sobered by this news, Carson and Elizabeth follow Rodney to the jumper and they return to the planet.

As Rodney guessed, Sheppard had already left in search of supplies by the time Teyla returned to the portal. She takes hope from the signal he left behind, however, knowing that means that at least he was still alive when he left the cave.

After leaving the cave, Sheppard is walking through a field of tall grass on the edge of a wood when he hears a beast of some sort calling out. He begins to move cautiously, thinking maybe it is something he can hunt and eat. A man comes running through the woods, clearly fleeing the beast and Sheppard moves to protect him. The man proclaims that he will not be able to fight the beast but Sheppard says he can hopefully at least scare it off. The beast appears, sort of. It is a kind of invisible creature. It moves to attack and Sheppard goes after it. He does manage to scare it off, but he is injured and knocked out in the process.

When Rodney returns to the planet in the jumper, he has the pilot fly over the crater, realizing that it in itself must have been caused by the time dilation field. He isn't picking up any readings from inside the field. He was prepared for that, however, and brought along a probe that was meant to be split into two bits attached by a tether. The lower bit would go into the dilation field and take readings, transmitting them to the upper bit, which would then be relayed to Rodney. His hope is to see how bad the tidal forces between the field and the rest of the world are, and to learn if they can just fly down in the jumper through the field and pick up Sheppard then fly out.

Sheppard wakes up after his fight with the beast to find himself in a bed in a cabin. A young girl is tending to his wounds and calls out to someone that he is awake. A (very attractive) woman comes in and introduces herself as Teer and the girl as her sister Hedda. She says they have been taking care of him since he saved their brother Avrid from the beast. After he is up and about again, Avrid shows him around their home, the cloister, and welcomes Sheppard to it. He thanks Avrid but says that while he's happy to visit, he would love to be shown the way out. Avrid explains to Sheppard that the only way out is to ascend. The portal led to a sanctuary created by the Ancients as a place for people to go in order to ascend. Later, when talking with Teer, she explains to Sheppard that she and her family were born inside the sanctuary. Generations ago her people, who revered the Ancients, sought out the sanctuary and made a pilgrimage there, intending to follow in the footsteps of "those who came before." The people living in the cloister are the last of that line, they are all just waiting to ascend.

Sheppard, who still doesn't realize that the sanctuary is actually a time dilation field, is starting to feel like he's been abandoned by his people. He tries to settle in to live in the cloister but he doesn't quite fit in, feels like they aren't really living their life to the fullest.

Rodney's probe is torn apart almost immediately after it is dropped from the jumper. It still managed to get quite a bit of information before it was destroyed, however. Rodney sifts through the "gibberish" as quickly as he can. While they clearly will not be able to fly the jumper into the dilation field without being torn to shreds, the probe did manage to relay the location of the generator that powers the time dilation field. That means that Rodney can go in to the field by foot through the portal and beeline for the generator and turn the dang thing off, allowing them to return the area to the normal rate of time and retrieve Sheppard.

While Sheppard is speaking with Teer, the beast comes into the cloister and starts to attack. It has never come into the cloister proper before, and everyone is terrified. Sheppard moves to defend against it and is disappointed when everyone else skedaddles into hiding. Teer does come back to stand by him, but she is of little use. He fights the beast again, and again manages to defeat it somehow, though he can't remember how exactly (just like the first time). He wakes up once more in the cabin with Hedda tending to her wounds, it seems she has the ability to heal (a side effect of walking the path to ascension). Sheppard is very upset that no one else would fight the beast. Avrid explains that violence is not the path to ascension. Sheppard tells him there is a big difference between random violence and self defense, but Avrid disagrees. He says that they are all very close to ascending and cannot jeopardize their futures by fighting the beast.

Now that the beast is actually venturing into the cloister Sheppard wants to be able to defend himself (and the others). He goes looking for his weapons--apparently Teer and her people didn't bother to bring them along when they brought him to the cloister. He also swings by the cave and is excited to find new supplies waiting for him. His hope that his people are trying to get to him renewed, he returns to the cabin to find Teer waiting up for him, sad that he is still so determined to leave them. Like Hedda, she has developed special abilities due to trying to ascend. She has some precognitive capability and can also sense/watch others even when she is not present. She tells John she has always known that he would come to the sanctuary, has seen his face since she was a little girl. She says that he is the one who will lead them all to ascension, and that when the time comes, he will go with them. He says he was hoping she was going in a different direction with the "you are the one" stuff and she smiles and says she has seen that too. They make with the romance.

At the portal, Elizabeth manages to fully translate the writing on the wall. She tells the others that the time dilation field was created by the Ancients to allow them to work on ascension without having to worry about being attacked by the wraith. They also left it in place for any others who wanted to try to ascend as well. She confirms what Avrid told Sheppard about there being a warning in the writing that the trip through the portal was one way. Rodney replies that it is only one way for people who don't know how to turn off the dilation field, anyway. He, Elizabeth, Carson, Ronon, and Teyla gear up and head through the portal to get Sheppard back.

In the cloister, everyone is having a meal together and Sheppard is telling them about thunderstorms, which they have never experienced (the sanctuary has its own regulated environment and day/night cycles, but nothing like storms or anything). Teer says they will be able to experience such things once they have ascended and he tells her that's not the point. He tells him their lives aren't nearly as full as they seem to think they are and that by just living to ascend they are missing out on a lot.

He also says he thinks they are just hiding, rather than living, talking about the beast. Avrid reiterates that they can't risk fighting back and Sheppard says he doesn't know how they expect him to feel like he belongs if every time the beast attacks he is left standing alone to fight against it. Teer replies that he is not alone and says that his friends have come for him, they are in the sanctuary. Sheppard's excitement is quickly dimmed when she adds that the beast is moving too and is almost upon them. Sheppard immediately takes off to help them.

The beast gets to the others before Sheppard and they try to fight it but mostly just get their butts kicked. This particularly annoys Ronon. Sheppard shows up and attacks it, and once more it disappears. He immediately starts berating his friends for taking so long to come for him. Elizabeth tries to explain it has only been a few hours and he says it's been six months. Rodney starts to explain about the time dilation field but Teyla says that the beast is still nearby, she can sense it. They prepare to fight it again but just then Teer and the rest of the cloister appear out of the woods.

She tells him they have come to stand with him, and to finally fight against the beast. They have realized it is their final roadblock to ascension. It is a manifestation of their own fears, and they must face it before they can move on to the next plane of existence. They close on it and it simply vanishes, ceasing to be. The people of the cloister begin to ascend and Teer turns to Sheppard, asking if he will come with them. He says he's not ready for that, isn't sure if he ever will be, and though she is clearly disappointed, she understands. Before she ascends as well, she tells Rodney that he had better not turn off the dilation field. They will keep the portal open for the Lanteans to leave. Rodney tries to argue that once they've all ascended there will be no one needing the protection of the field (he is hoping to get a ZPM out of the ordeal), but Teer insists that the sanctuary will remain in place for anyone else who wants to follow in their footsteps. Rodney grudgingly agrees and she ascends as well.

Left alone, the group teases Sheppard about his beard a little and says it is good to have him back. Then they all head home.


Yeah, this episode doesn't really add much to the series. It is okay, but it is definitely completely stand-alone. It's a cool concept episode, and it is nice to see the team's concern over the possible loss of Sheppard. But really, that's about it. I really don't have much to say about this one, honestly. It does give an interesting perspective on people who are so busy thinking about the afterlife that they don't really take time to appreciate their life, but it doesn't really add anything substantial to that particular conversation.

I suppose it is worth mentioning that this is the first instance of Rodney referring to Ronon and Teyla as Conan and Xena. The titles are only barely applicable, and really mildly insulting as Rodney uses them. Not that he intends them to be that way, I believe. I think it is just the illustration of how he thinks his mind works compared to everyone else's, as well as how he felt in this particular instance. He clearly realized what was going on and was getting very irritated at the need to stop and try to explain so much to them (and everyone else really) when time was so crucial to their endeavor. It is a little funny though that he kept referring to Ronon as Conan since Jason Momoa, who plays Ronon, went on to star in Conan the Barbarian which came out this past summer. Go figure.

Favorite Quotes

"Looks like a door." (Ronon)
"Yes it is remarkably door-like." (Rodney)

"Well you're either gonna eat me or I'm gonna eat you." (Sheppard)

"Very clever Rodney!" (Carson)
"Uh, yes. It is.... It was actually Zelenka's idea." (Rodney)

"Okay people, I'm starting to develop some serious abandonment issues, here!" (Sheppard)

"You've fought this thing before?" (Ronon)
"Twice." (Sheppard)
"How'd you beat it?" (Ronon)
"Still haven't figured that out." (Sheppard)
"Now'd be a good time." (Ronon)

"What is it with you and ascended women?" (Rodney)

That's all I've got for you today folks. Come back next Monday for the next installment. We'll be looking at "Critical Mass," which features, among other things, the return of Cadman, yay!