Welcome back to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we kick off season three with "No Man's Land."
Spoilers abound, folks.
When last we saw our fearless denizens of Atlantis, the Daedalus had been pretty severely damaged in a firefight with two wraith hive ships. Colonel Sheppard is missing presumed dead as a result of that fight. The two hive ships are en route to Earth, having successfully stolen both Earth's location and the specs to upgrade their hyperdrives for intergalactic travel from Atlantis. Rodney and Ronon are captive aboard one of the hives.
"No Man's Land" kicks off by showing us the tail end of the battle between the Daedalus and the hives, this time mostly from Sheppard's perspective. After the hives have jumped away and Caldwell has been informed that Sheppard's F-302 did not return, we find out that this is because Sheppard managed to attach his F-302 to one of the hive ships before it jumped into hyperspace.
Caldwell returns to Atlantis to update Elizabeth on the result of their failed mission, where he learns about the information stolen by the wraith's computer virus. Elizabeth tells Caldwell that due to the hive ships' partly organic design, they will still need to pause during their journey to let the ships recover from the stress of hyperspace travel. Zelenka can calculate where and when and how long their next stop will be. She wants Caldwell and the Daedalus to redeploy immediately so that they can take out the hive ships before they manage to make it to the Milky Way galaxy. Caldwell argues that his ship is in no shape for a fight but she says they will have a few hours to do repairs in orbit and must do the rest on the journey. She will be sending the Orion (in a similar state to the Daedalus, actually) along as well in order to give them their best possible chance. It is the only hope to intercept the ships, because she has learned that Earth currently has no ships capable of protecting the planet.
Sheppard is hanging out in his F-302 trying to decide what to do next. He ponders whether or not he can disengage his fighter's docking clamps while in hyperspace. He flashes back to a conversation between Zelenka and Rodney on that very subject but realizes he never heard the end of it because he got distracted flirting with a hot scientist. He laments that he needs to start paying more attention to the two scientists and decides to sit tight for a while longer.
The International Oversight Advisory (IOA), which has kind of taken over running the Stargate program since the US shared its existence with a few other nations (England, Canada, China, and Russia, I believe), orders Elizabeth to gate back to Earth immediately to brief them on the situation. She balks at the command but ends up complying, leaving Teyla in charge of everything while she is gone.
Michael's feelings are hurt because the queen never let him in on the plan to betray the Lanteans. He starts to realize that the wraith don't trust him very much (because of his transformation) and begins to suspect that he will not be suffered to live much longer now that his usefulness has been more or less mined. This puts him in a bad mood. When Sheppard tries to radio Rodney and Ronon on the long shot that they might be able to answer him, Michael hears the communication and decides to answer. He offers to help Sheppard, who accepts grudgingly. Michael tells Sheppard the most effective target to shoot on the hive ship in order to disable it from the F-302.
The IOA grills Elizabeth about her decisions that led to the current situation, even though they had all signed off on those when they were made. Then they start to question her current plan of attack, second guessing everything she's been doing to try to stop the hives. She realizes that all they really want is a scapegoat to blame when/if the worst happens and the hives make it to Earth. She tells them they are perfectly able to countermand her orders, but they will have to fire her first, because she stands by her plan.
While Rodney has been lamenting his shared fate with Ronon, Ronon has busily been working to free himself from his cocoon. Once he gets out, he breaks out Rodney and then they move so they won't be discovered, trying to decide what their next move should be. Ronon thinks that even if they can't make it off the ship, they should do what they can to stop/destroy/disable it, and he manages to convince Rodney to help him with that.
Unsurprisingly, by the time that Atlantis radios in to tell Elizabeth that the ships are ready to head out to intercept the wraith, the IOA still hasn't come to a decision on whether or not the plan should proceed. Elizabeth says that they are a bunch of worthless bureaucrats who are afraid to actually make a decision and tells Teyla to proceed with the plan. Caldwell and Lorne head out. Neither ship is completely back to fighting shape, but they are both getting there and will hopefully be ready by the time they arrive.
Sheppard fires at the target designated by Michael and the wraith send out their darts to shoot him down. He only manages to get the one shot off, but it does a decent amount of damage. The darts shoot down the F-302 and they send in a transport to pick him up for questioning/snacking purposes.
The IOA is pissed that Elizabeth went ahead and gave the order and Elizabeth tells them to shove it. She refuses to answer any more of their questions. She says if her plan doesn't work then she has bigger things to worry about than their displeasure, and if it does, she damn well expects to keep her job.
Rodney leads Ronon to a control room on the ship where Rodney tries to overload the ship's systems so they can blow it up. Michael intercepts the wraith that captured Sheppard and says the queen ordered him to question the prisoner. Once the other wraith are out of sight, Michael gives Sheppard back his weapon and leads him to where Rodney and Ronon were being stored.
The Daedalus arrives at the hive ships' location and opens fire immediately upon dropping out of hyperspace, launching every nuke aboard at once. They manage to do pretty severe damage to one of the hives, but the other one is unscathed. The Orion arrives shortly after, but its weapons systems still aren't working properly. Zelenka manages to sacrifice the shields to get off one good shot, and they finish off one of the hive ships, but the other one turns its full attention on Orion. With no shields, the Ancient ship gets shot up pretty quickly and Lorne requests that Caldwell beam the crew out to the Daedalus before the Orion is destroyed completely.
Michael leads Sheppard to where Ronon and Rodney were cocooned only to find out that they managed to escape. Sheppard tells Michael that Ronon would have wanted to do as much damage as possible and Rodney would have known where to go. Michael thinks about it for a moment and then leads him to the nearest control room, where they find Rodney and Ronon trying to do their thing. Ronon is hesitant to trust Michael but Rodney is game at this point and after they fiddle with the system, they grab one of the transport ships and make for the Daedalus. They radio Caldwell to let him know it's them and he beams them out just before the hive shoots the transport down.
Michael disabled the hive ship's jamming codes so that the Daedalus could beam a nuke on board and blow the thing up. Too bad Caldwell blew all of the nukes in one go, huh? Michael tells them where to concentrate their fire in order to at least disable the hive ship and keep it from firing or going anywhere. They manage to disable the hive but their own ship is pretty badly damaged in the process, with life support going away completely. Rodney announces that they have about nine hours to fix it or they will suffocate. He and Zelenka immediately begin damage control.
It starts to seem hopeless until Rodney realizes that the life support on the hive ship is still working perfectly fine. They still have the canister of the retrovirus they were going to test on the wraith, so Caldwell beams it over to the hive ship to take out the remaining wraith. Since it takes ten hours for the virus to run its course, they alternate the crew in the F-302s in order to extend the remaining oxygen on the ship.
As soon as they can, Sheppard and Lorne beam over to the hive ship with a team to see if the virus worked. They find lots of unconscious wraith-turned-humans lying about, and a few that are dead. They hypothesize that the wraith must have started killing each other when the retrovirus kicked in. The few they find awake have no memory, as expected and Sheppard has some of his soldiers start rounding them up and confining them for the time being. They come upon the queen but she is still a wraith. She attacks Lorne but they manage to kill her before she does any damage. The rest of the soldiers report in that they haven't found any more wraith and Sheppard radios Caldwell to start beaming the rest of the crew over.
This is definitely an action-packed season opener. Much like with season two, the first few episodes of this season do more to wrap up the previous season's plot threads than to establish the new season's direction. We do see the establishment of the IOA interfering with the goings on in Atlantis a lot more (or at least trying to), however. I am actually pretty amazed with how reasonable Woolsey comes across in this episode compared to the rest of his IOA companions. I mean, he's still Woolsey, but he is clearly the lesser of the IOA evils.
Oh, I think this might be were we start getting Sheppard's silly operation names as well. I can't remember any from the first two seasons, and I seem to remember there are a few after this.
I love that Teyla is the clear choice for Elizabeth's second-in-command when she is out of the city. No one seems to question that at all, and that makes me happy.
The only other thing I really have to say about this episode is that the chemistry between Ronon and Rodney while they are trapped, and then escaping, and then trying to figure out a way out of their mess (or at least the best way to end their situation) is absolutely delightful. These are two people who, to all outward appearances, would never actually choose to spend time in each other's company. Yet their strengths and weaknesses manage to compliment each other's very nicely and they seem to bring out the best in each other in this kind of situation. It is very well done. If there were any lingering doubts about Ronon being part of Sheppard's team (or Rodney having a position on that team), this little bit of byplay illustrates why there shouldn't be.
One more episode in this three story arc and then we can start moving forward with some pretty exciting new ideas, huzzah!
"They downloaded something along with the hive ship plans. Something like spyware. Something like when I stupidly downloaded porn...music! When I downloaded music!" (Rodney)
"Don't just stand there. Cut me loose!" (Rodney)
"Only if you put an end to this 'We're gonna die, there's no hope' talk." (Ronon)
"Well now there is hope!" (Rodney)
"I'm not even sure that's possible." (Kleinman)
"Make it possible, please." (Caldwell)
"Operation 'This Will Most Likely End Badly' is a go." (Sheppard)
"I suppose I'd rather die as a hero than as a meal." (Rodney)
"Their operating system is a mess. Thank goodness I remembered DOS.... Trust me, that was hilarious." (Rodney)
"Well, it's a noble sentiment, but I would prefer to dedicate my last breath of air to getting more air." (Rodney)
"It didn't work on her!" (Lorne)
"Oh. Beckett wondered if the females would be immune." (Rodney)
"Yeah. Something you might have mentioned before she almost killed me, Rodney." (Lorne)
Well, there you have it. Season three has officially begun! Check back in Wednesday for the next episode, "Misbegotten."