Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SGA Rewatch: Sateda

Well, it's that time again. Wednesday means another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Thanks for stopping by! Today we'll be looking at season three's "Sateda." As you can probably guess from the title, today it is all about Ronon. There will, as always, be spoilers. Let's go!

What Happened

The team is scouting out a new planet and Ronon says he has a weird feeling about it. He isn't sure if he's been there before or not though, so they proceed. They find a village and as they enter, the villagers all stare at them suspiciously. Then they see Ronon. They start to run, screaming "wraith bringer" at him and then they start attacking the team. Rodney takes an arrow to the ass. The team runs back to the gate, Sheppard helping Rodney to the DHD. He tells Rodney to dial and go through and then turns to go back for Ronon and Teyla, who had fallen behind while providing cover. Teyla, Ronon, and Sheppard are all hit with tranquilizer darts and fall unconscious. Rodney manages to make it through to Atlantis, but he is the only one from the team to escape the planet.

Sheppard comes to and finds himself in a cage with Teyla and Ronon in the middle of the village. Ronon is moping and Sheppard tries to tell him it's not his fault but Teyla says she already tried that. It didn't work. Ronon tells them that he didn't recognize the place right away because the last time he was there it was night. He has a few flashbacks to the villagers taking him in and caring for him. Unfortunately, this was when he was a runner, so he wasn't there very long before the wraith showed up. They destroyed most of the village looking for him.

The village leader, Keturah, shows up and explains that while the wraith destroyed the village last time Ronon was there, they did not feed on everyone. They spared them and promised that if the villagers contacted them should Ronon ever return, holding Ronon for them, the village would forever be free of future culling. Keturah explains that they have already called the wraith to come get Ronon. Sheppard isn't terribly happy about this, and neither he nor Teyla really believe that the wraith will honor their deal with the village.

Rodney has been taken to the infirmary to have his, ahem, arrow wound treated. He isn't terribly coherent because Carson has doped him up on morphine. This is causing much frustration to a young officer who is trying to get details about the village in order to mount a rescue mission for the rest of the team.

Ronon takes advantage of Keturah's son getting too close to the cage to grab him and pull a knife. Ronon threatens to kill him if Keturah doesn't let Sheppard and Teyla go free. When Keturah doesn't relent, Ronon holds the knife to his own throat instead, pointing out that the wraith will be really pissed if they show up to find him dead. Keturah agrees to release the others but Sheppard and Teyla do not want to leave Ronon. He insists, however, saying it is his fault that the village was attacked and he is willing to pay the price.

Sheppard and Teyla arrive in Atlantis just as the young officer is preparing to leave to attempt his rescue. Sheppard calls for reinforcements explaining that the wraith are on their way to the village and they need to hurry if they are going to rescue Ronon. He has no intention of just leaving the man to be sacrificed. They arrive too late, however. The wraith have already taken Ronon aboard their hive and left. The village was completely destroyed. Teyla and Sheppard find Keturah's body and a few others, but most of the villagers have been culled. The wraith did not honor their deal.

The head honcho wraith watches as his scientists put another tracking device in Ronon. He tells Ronon that he will be taken to his home world, where the head honcho will watch him die. They drop Ronon off in the middle of destroyed Sateda. He makes his way through the city searching for cover and weapons, having flashbacks to the fall of the city. A dart whizzes by, dropping off a hunter wraith who begins to go after Ronon.

Sheppard is convinced that Ronon is still alive. He believes the wraith will want to make him a runner again, since he is the "one that got away." He and Teyla are both certain that the wraith would have implanted another tracking device. He asks Rodney if there is any way to pick up the signal. Carson pipes up that they still have the original tracking device that was removed from Ronon. Rodney thinks he might be able to use it to tune the city's long-range sensors to search for similar signals.

Ronon makes his way to the ruin of what was once his home on Sateda. He cobbles together a knife from the debris, remembering the woman with whom he shared his home. The hunter, honing in on Ronon's tracking device, finds Ronon. They fight and Ronon beats him easily enough. He heads deeper into the city, followed by a wraith probe that is recording his movements for the head honcho to watch from the hive ship.

Rodney has some success with the tracking device. He manages to locate seven different runners in the galaxy. Sheppard is less pleased by this, worried that they will not be able to figure out which one is Ronon in time to save him. Rodney points out that one of the runners is on Ronon's home world of Sateda and they are both certain that this is where Ronon has been taken. They try to dial Sateda but its gate isn't working, probably disabled by the wraith. Sheppard then calls on Caldwell, wanting to take the Daedalus to Sateda and just beam Ronon out. Caldwell balks at the suggestion, however, reminding them that without a working gate, that means the wraith probably have a hive ship in orbit and the Daedalus is in no shape for that kind of fight. Sheppard then tells him if he can just get them close enough, they can take a cloaked jumper the rest of the way and go retrieve Ronon from the planet that way. Carson volunteers to join the mission so that he can remove Ronon's tracking device as soon as they find him and the wraith can't follow them as they escape.

Ronon continues to make his way through the city, remembering the attack on Sateda by the wraith. He finds an armory and manages to arm himself. He encounters another hunter and after killing it, he finds the probe and tells the watching head honcho he is going to have to do better than that. He moves to a warehouse and sets up his weapons so that he can make a stand against the next round of wraith. As he waits, he remembers the woman again, Melena. He had traded everything they had so that he could get her to gate offworld before the attack began in earnest but she refused to go. She was a doctor and didn't want to leave when she knew the hospital would need her. They argued because neither would just run away even though they knew that Sateda would likely fall to the wraith and their chances of survival were pretty much nonexistent. A whole wave of wraith show up at the warehouse and Ronon manages to take them all out. One of them was armed with a self-destruct, however, and Ronon only narrowly manages to avoid getting himself blown up with the warehouse when it goes off.

On the Daedalus Teyla finds Sheppard and thanks him for going after Ronon. Sheppard seems surprised at her surprise. She explains that Ronon is an outsider, much like herself. While Sheppard and Elizabeth have always treated her as one of their own, she has still always felt a bit separated. Seeing that Sheppard would go to such lengths to get Ronon back reassures her that he will always strive to keep his people safe, even those not of his own world. He very awkwardly tells her that she, along with Elizabeth, Ronon, Carson, and Rodney are the closest thing he has to a family. There is nothing he wouldn't do to keep them safe.

Carson, checking up on Rodney's wound, asks him why he even bothered to come along on this mission. Along with his injury, he doesn't really seem to be all that fond of Ronon. Rodney is insulted, claiming he and Ronon are quite close, actually. Carson doubts this, but nonetheless it is clear from Rodney's blustering that he does actually care about Ronon quite a lot, despite their slightly antagonistic relationship toward each other. Carson clearly also cares for Ronon as well.

Ronon makes his way to the ruins of a hospital to patch up his wounds after the warehouse explosion. It is the same hospital at which Melena worked, and he remembers their last conversation. After his entire squad was killed in the wraith attack, betrayed by Kell, he went to the hospital to try to convince her to run with him. She still refused to leave, not wanting to leave all of her patients. As he tried to change her mind, the wraith attacked the hospital and Melena was killed in an explosion right in front of Ronon.

He is snapped back to the present by the sound of a dart outside the window. He looks outside and sees a swarm of wraith heading for the building. He hears a sound in the hallway outside of the room he is in and brings up a gun just in time to see Sheppard and Teyla enter. Ronon doesn't want to leave, however. He tells Sheppard that he can't risk the wraith going back on their promise to Keturah's village if he gets away again. Sheppard is surprised that Ronon is so willing to sacrifice himself for these people, and explains that it is all moot. The wraith did not honor their deal, the whole village was wiped out. Ronon starts to get angry at this and he tells Sheppard that he will leave--but not until the head honcho wraith has been killed.

Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla fight their way through the swarm of wraith in the hospital. Ronon believes that if they kill all of them, the head honcho will finally come down and face him in person. Carson and Rodney, watching from the jumper, decide they need to go help take out the wraith. They get into an argument as to which of them should go, both wanting to go to Ronon's aid, despite the fact that neither is really qualified for the fight. Someone needs to stay with the jumper though. Before they can decide who will go, it is over, and Ronon and the others have killed all of the wraith. Ronon issues a challenge through the probe to the head honcho to come down and face Ronon himself.

The head honcho beams down, armed to the teeth. Ronon tells Sheppard to stay out of his way, he wants to kill this wraith himself. The two of them fight one on one as Teyla and Sheppard watch from a rooftop. Sheppard has a hard time not just ending it by taking the head honcho out with a well-placed shot. Teyla convinces him to wait though. She does not believe Ronon would ever forgive him if he did it. She also admonishes that the hive ship is probably watching and will start blasting the city from orbit the moment the head honcho is killed. Ronon is getting his ass pretty much handed to him. The head honcho pins him and is about to feed when all of a sudden the jumper appears right in front of them. Carson fires a drone pretty much point blank at the head honcho, killing him. Sheppard and Teyla waste no time getting Ronon into the jumper and they take off as the hive ship starts firing.

Once they get to a safe distance, Carson and Rodney go back to the rear of the jumper to check on everyone. Ronon demands to know who killed the wraith and Carson claims it was him, with Rodney saying it was his own idea. Ronon looms menacingly for a moment and Carson starts to get nervous. Sheppard pipes up that he could have killed the wraith at any time but Ronon had threatened to kill him if he did so. Also, Teyla wouldn't let him. After a moment, Ronon just pulls Carson into a huge hug, thanking him. Then he looks around at the rest of the team and thanks them as well. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief and Carson moves to take the new tracking device out of Ronon before the hive ship can find them. He is about to administer anesthetic when Ronon passes out from exhaustion. He gets the device out and they head back home to Atlantis.


I always forget about Rodney getting shot with that arrow until I watch this episode and it happens. That whole bit was freaking hilarious, and David Hewlett really hammed it up wonderfully. It added a nice bit of relief to the tension of this very action-packed episode as well.

Likewise, Sheppard's random little competitiveness with Teyla about how many wraith he had killed was also fairly amusing. It had the potential to be obnoxious, but it is kind of a running joke throughout the series that as badass as Sheppard is, Ronon and Teyla are even more so. If you'll notice, whenever the three of them get knocked out, he is almost always the last one to come to again. It is a really nice touch to his character. His discussion with Teyla on the Daedalus was also a much-needed moment of character development for him. That whole scene felt very true in a way that a lot of Sheppard's personal moments don't. It was kind of amazing.

Carrying over from last season and the start of this one, this also shows that Rodney and Ronon are quite protective of each other. They might give each other crap like it is nobody's business, but I think that Rodney wasn't too far off the mark when he claimed that Ronon was like a brother to him.

This episode also gives Jason Momoa a chance to showcase his acting chops and gives us a huge look into Ronon's character overall. The flashbacks were done really well and integrated quite believably into the episode. None of them felt irrelevant or out of place, they had a very natural flow. We can see that he wasn't always so wild as he is now. But we also learn just how deeply affected he was by the destruction of his people at the hands of the wraith--and how personal it was. Ronon's sense of honor and duty are also firmly established here--both in why he stayed on Sateda when the wraith came, and in why he was willing to let the villagers sacrifice him to the wraith in the here and now.

Then there are Ronon's battle skills. From the flashbacks we can see that he was always a diligent soldier. But showing those right next to his present fight with the wraith hunters illustrates how his time as runner elevated him from a soldier to an actual warrior. Even Elizabeth commented on how dangerous Ronon can be. His time alone degraded some of the discipline he had picked up when serving in the Satedan military, and we can see that while his time with Sheppard is starting to slowly build that back up, he still tends to do the most damage when he acts on pure instinct.

Overall, aside from more fully developing Ronon's character, "Sateda" serves to firmly establish his place in Atlantis. He closes the door on his past here and fully embraces Atlantis as his home, and Sheppard and the others as his family. All in all, it really is an amazing episode. This season is full of a lot of gems, and this is the first one to really shine through. It definitely can be held up as one of the series' best entries, I think.

Favorite Quotes

"I have a bad feeling." (Ronon)
"Yeah, I always feel like that. Like something horrible's about to happen." (Rodney)

"That did not just happen!" (Rodney)

"No. Not once we've sacrificed the wraith bringer to his masters." (Keturah)
"He prefers Ronon. Probably also prefers not to be sacrificed to the wraith." (Sheppard)

"Have you seen a guy around? He looks like you, but he's got messy hair. I think I lost him somewhere. And...and a...and a pretty girl and a caveman." (Rodney)

"Excuse me. Why am I lying here?" (Rodney)
"You have an arrow, Rodney. In your gluteus maximus." (Carson)
"Oh, well, that sounds painful...gluteus maxiumus...glootus...maxim.... Oh my god! That's my ass, isn't it?" (Rodney)

"I won't bail you out if you get in trouble." (Caldwell)
"You say that as if we're always getting in trouble!" (Sheppard)

"What the hell is going on down there?" (Rodney)
"Ronon thinks he can get the head wraith responsible for all of this to come down and fight him if we kill all these wraith first." (Sheppard)
"That is the stupidest plan I have ever heard!" (Rodney)
"I don't know. Killing a bunch of wraith always sounds like a good idea to me." (Sheppard)
"They outnumber you twenty-five to three!" (Rodney)
"It's actually twenty-two to three...twenty-one..." (Carson)
"And Ronon appears to be quite angry." (Teyla)

"You kill him before I do, I kill you." (Ronon)
"What if he kills you first?" (Sheppard)
"Then you kill him." (Ronon)


That does it for this week, folks. See you back here Monday. We'll get the ball rolling on the season's big story arc with "Progeny."

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