Monday, November 14, 2011

SGA Rewatch: Inferno

Well, another Monday managed to sneak up on us, darn. Good thing I had this nifty installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch handy to smack it down in case it gets unruly, eh? Today we'll be looking at the second season's "Inferno." It is safe to assume there will be spoilers for the episode and any that came before. I mean, that's always a safe assumption around these here parts, ya know?

Where was I going with that? Oh, yes, episode!

What Happened

Atlantis receives a call for help from a planet called Taranis and decides to investigate. It turns out the Taranins have discovered an Ancient facility on their planet, one that taps into geothermal energy and is capable of generating a protective shield over their population. They have made the facility the heart of their settlement and have recently started experiencing problems with their shield generator, hence the call for help.

The Taranin head scientist Norina, who is a total babe, shows the team around and introduces them to her people's leader, Chancellor Lycus. Norina shows Rodney the systems in the facility's control room so he can run some diagnostics and see if he can fix the shield. Chancellor Lycus offers to show the rest of the team around the facility in the meanwhile. As Norina and Rodney go through the systems the facility is shaken by a small earthquake. Norina informs Rodney that such tremors have been a frequent occurrence over the last few days, coinciding with when the shield started acting up. Lycus leads Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla to a large room and explains that it is the main hangar. This piques Sheppard's interest and he asks what Lycus means by "hangar." Lycus opens up the doors to reveal an Ancient warship within.

Sheppard heads back to Atlantis to report about the Taranins to Elizabeth and to let her know about the warship. It is an Aurora class ship but is damaged. The Taranins do not know how extensive the damage is, however, as their knowledge of Ancient technology is very sparse. Elizabeth decides to accompany Sheppard back to Taranis to meet with Lycus and open up negotiations between Taranis and Atlantis.

Leaving Elizabeth and Lycus to do their thing, Sheppard heads back to the control room to check on Rodney. He is clearly attracted to Norina and is acting more obnoxious toward Rodney than usual. Norina for the most part seems to be interested in both men rather equally. Rodney's diagnostics reveal that the Taranins have been running the shield nonstop at full power for over a year. Norina confirms this, explaining that when their long range sensors detected increased wraith activity the chancellor ordered them to beef up the shield. Apparently this is a big no-no, however. The shield is designed to be an emergency-only type of system, and is not intended to be constantly in use over long periods of time. Shields, as we've learned throughout this season, are immense power hogs. The Ancients chose to build the facility where they did because it is in the caldera of a dormant super volcano. This allowed them to tap into the planet's high levels of geothermal activity to power the facility. Unfortunately the immense levels of power being drawn from keeping the shield running 24/7 have stirred up things under the surface. The pressure on the magma chambers has increased drastically and the volcano is no longer dormant.

Sheppard calls Elizabeth and Lycus back to the control room to brief them on the situation. Rodney explains that an eruption is imminent and they are going to need to evacuate immediately. Elizabeth asks Lycus if there is a settlement further out or another continent the Lanteans can help move their people to but Rodney breaks in. He explains that the eruption will not just destroy the facility. Because of the size of the volcano and the increased pressure on the magma chamber, the eruption is going to be an extinction level event--it will destroy half of the continent and the debris and sediment thrown in the air will render the planet uninhabitable for several years at the very least. They need to get off the planet. Soon.

Lycus isn't buying it. He thinks that the claims of impending disaster are just a ploy by the Lanteans to get the Ancient ship. Elizabeth tries to convince him of their sincerity and just then another earthquake hits, worse than any that have come before it. There are several injuries in the facility and word comes in of injuries from the villages as well. Norina implores Lycus to take the Lanteans up on their offer. Elizabeth says they are welcome to evacuate to Atlantis itself. Lycus agrees finally and Elizabeth also calls for Carson to come see to the wounded while they get the evacuation underway.

Elizabeth and Lycus lead the first wave of Taranins through the stargate, leaving Sheppard behind to coordinate the evacuation, helped by Ronon and Teyla. Rodney and Norina remain in the control room, trying to salvage as much information as possible before they must leave. Another earthquake hits as the tail end of the first wave is walking toward the gate. Sheppard gets them back inside the facility and Rodney radios for Atlantis to raise the shield on their gate, just as a gaping hole opens up underneath the Taranis gate and it is swallowed by magma.

In Atlantis Elizabeth asks Zelenka why the shield was raised and he tells her that Rodney gave the order just before they lost contact. She orders Chuck to dial Taranis back but they are unable to make a connection. Lycus immediately starts accusing Elizabeth of having orchestrated the whole thing as a way to take him hostage and negotiate for the ship. She calms him down and reminds him that her people are on Taranis too and right now they don't know what happened. She orders Daedalus, due in Atlantis at any time, to divert its course and head to Taranis to find out what is going on.

Realizing they are cut off from any means of escape with the gate gone, Sheppard suggests they go look at the Ancient ship. Maybe Rodney can fix it and they can transport themselves and the rest of the Taranins off the planet before the volcano blows. The Daedalus arrives and Sheppard briefs Caldwell on the situation. He asks if Caldwell can shuttle everyone off the planet and back to Atlantis. Caldwell responds that with the number of people to be moved, it will take four trips. Round trip to Atlantis and back again will take twelve hours, and they might not have that kind of time. Sheppard says they'll keep working on the Ancient ship, which is big enough for everybody, as plan B. Sheppard has Teyla and Ronon begin to divide up the remaining Taranins into groups to be shuttled and Caldwell beams up the first group, which includes all of the wounded that Carson had been treating.

In Atlantis, Zelenka pulls Elizabeth aside to inform her that the city's long rage trackers have picked up a hive ship headed toward Atlantis. He estimates that it is about three weeks away.

On the Ancient ship, which Sheppard has christened Orion, Rodney is hard at work trying to get it up and running, though things look grim. Norina is awed by his skills and says she would like to study under him, flirting a bit. Sheppard watches as Rodney totally flubs up his responses to Norina, distracted by her, erm, charms, but determined to solve their current situation.

In the village Teyla and Ronon have managed to round up almost everybody and have organized them into three groups to be ready for transport once the Daedalus returns. One man starts to make trouble, saying he doesn't believe the claims that the planet will be rendered uninhabitable. He thinks that with enough of a head start, he can outrun the destruction and inclement weather. Other villagers seem to agree with him. Teyla and Ronon manage to get him to subside, but not for very long. Things start to get pretty bad on the surface and the tremors continue to occur. Rodney makes the call that they cannot afford to wait until the Daedalus gets back for a second trip, so Sheppard orders Ronon, Teyla, and Carson to bring all of the villagers to the ship through the tunnels that lead to the facility. Hearing this news, the dissenters in the crowd refuse, claiming that they are just wasting time waiting for rescue. A group of villagers sets off into the chaos, basically sealing their own death warrants.

In Atlantis there is a quiet moment where Lycus finds Elizabeth and apologizes for all of the suspicion he had directed her way. He sees all of the effort she and her people are going to in order to save his people and he is humbled by their help, realizing they really are not motivated by only selfish reasons. He admits he was wrong about running the shield at full tilt, but explains that he really had placed that much faith in the Ancients' technology that he thought it would save his people.

The villagers had been all spread out, organized at different points around the area to be easily beamed up and so Teyla and Ronon are still out trying to get them all into the tunnels when the volcano starts spewing toxic gas into the atmosphere, rendering the air on the surface of Taranis all but deadly. They get the last group in the tunnels but Ronon learns of one last family on the edge of the village and goes to bring them in. Teyla waits for him and by the time he gets back, the tremors have caused the entrance to the tunnels to cave in, they are stuck on the surface. All of the electric activity in the atmosphere is also interfering with radio transmissions so they no longer have any way of communicating with Rodney and Sheppard.

Fissures also open up during the quakes and magma breaches the facility. The level above the hangar doors is flooded, trapping the Orion in the facility. Sheppard suggests blasting their way out and Rodney gets a brainstorm, starts working on an escape plan.

Sheppard meets Carson as he leads a group of villagers to the Orion, asking after Ronon and Teyla. Carson tells him that they had been rounding up the final stragglers and Sheppard goes back to look for them. He runs into the very last group that made it through and learns that the tunnels are blocked. With no way back to the surface, he leads the villagers back to the ship instead, treading carefully because magma has started to flood various parts of the facility. He returns just as Rodney is telling Carson and Norina they are about ready to try their plan.

On the surface Teyla and Ronon, along with the last group of villagers they saved, are just succumbing to the toxic atmosphere when they are beamed out. The Daedalus has returned. Caldwell is more than a little irate to learn that Sheppard herded everyone into the facility, which is shielded, blocking him from beaming anyone out. He radios Elizabeth and she asks him to remain in orbit as long as he can, in case Sheppard and the rest are still alive and find a way to make contact.

Rodney tells everyone that the eruption is likely to happen at any moment and Sheppard, Carson, and Norina demand to know what his plan is, exactly. He explains that he will be able to divert enough power to the shields to withstand the force of the eruption for a few seconds, long enough to ride it out of the facility and open a hyperspace window into the planet's orbit to get them to safety.

Aboard the Daedalus Hermiod says he has estimated the time of the eruption and starts counting down. Teyla, Ronon, Caldwell and the crew watch helplessly from orbit as the volcano blows. Then everyone breathes a big sigh of relief when the Orion pops out of hyperdrive in front of them seconds later. Caldwell makes contact with the Ancient ship and learns that everyone survived. They all head back to Atlantis.

The team gathers for a mission report with Elizabeth. Surveys confirm that Taranis will be inhabitable for several years at least but they were able to find a suitable planet for the Taranins to move to and Lycus has already started relocating his people. He has also agreed to let Atlantis borrow the Orion in return for their help, assuming they can get it in full working order again. Rodney will assemble a team and get to work on that ASAP, as they will need all of the firepower they've got to deal with the hive ship on the way. They know they are lucky there is only one, but wonder why that is. The hope is voiced that perhaps the wraith are just coming to check to see if Atlantis really is gone. Everyone agrees they are pretty screwed if the wraith decide to send anything more than that one ship.


So, purpose of this episode--there are two. One, we learn of the incoming hive ship, which sets up the big confrontation for the season finale. Two, we get a new Ancient warship, huzzah!

There is also the weird love triangle thing with Sheppard, Rodney, and Norina. I...I am not really sure what to make of it at this point. It was funny the first few times I saw this episode, and while still a little amusing, now it is just more obnoxious than anything else. Sheppard clearly has no problem going after the scientist babe who is clearly interested in Rodney. What's that all about? Also, Sheppard was as a whole just really obnoxious to Rodney during this whole episode. It's weird because it feels out of place. Earlier in the season, after the Arcturus debacle, but before Rodney's jumper sank, it would have made sense. Here, at the end of the season, when it has already felt like they'd resolved their differences, it just seems petty. *shrug* I dunno what to tell you. Make of it what you will, I suppose.

If this episode has a moral it seems to be "don't turn on the Ancient devices until you have read all of the instructions." I mean, seriously, what was Lycus thinking? Let's run the high-power shield all the time and ignore all of the little blinky lights and freaking earthquakes that occur as a result! Clearly nothing can go wrong with this plan. Anyhoo. Yay for the Taranins though! Their level of technology actually seems to be close to on par with Earth's, maybe lagging a little behind. They should be good allies to have, yes?

Favorite Quotes

"I'm gonna get back there now, um, make sure he's not distracted." (Sheppard)
"Distracted?" (Elizabeth)
"Ah, well, the lead scientist, she's very, um..." (Sheppard)
"" (Elizabeth)
"I was gonna say attractive. But McKay is acting very, um..." (Sheppard)
"Smitten?" (Elizabeth)
"I was gonna say pathetic." (Sheppard)
"Wait. I should head back with you and begin negotiations with the Taranin leader. What's he like?" (Elizabeth)
"Oh, you know, he's a guy. Didn't pay much attention." (Sheppard)

"Every problem has a military solution in your world, doesn't it?" (Rodney)

"Will you just take it easy?" (Sheppard)
"We're inside a soon to be erupting volcano!" (Rodney)

"Maybe McKay can fix it!" (Sheppard)
"Oh, maybe I can fix it! Place the pressure squarely on my shoulders for a change!" (Rodney)
"Well I've discovered that you're pretty good under the threat of impending death." (Sheppard)
"I am, actually." (Rodney)

"I have, um, discovered the ship's name. It's the, um, Hippafaralkus." (Rodney)
"The what?!" (Sheppard)
"Yeah, well, it appears to have been named after an Ancient general...Hippafaralkus." (Rodney)

"I truly believed the Ancestors' shield would protect my people. I could not have been more wrong." (Lycus)
"We'll save as many as we can." (Elizabeth)
"I believe you will." (Lycus)

"Talk amongst yourselves." (Rodney)
"What are you doing" (Sheppard)
"I have an idea." (Rodney)
"What kind of idea?" (Sheppard)
"Can't talk. Busy." (Rodney)

"And then what?" (Sheppard)
"Well, then Norina and I were planning a small dinner for us all, nothing fancy--" (Rodney)
"Rodney." (Norina)
"Well what does he mean 'then what?' Then we won't die horribly!" (Rodney)

Okay cats and kittens, that wraps up today. See you back here Wednesday for the second season finale, "Allies."

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