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.
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.
"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)
"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!