Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Lifeline

Hello, and welcome to another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today we're picking up right were left off on Monday with the second episode of season four, "Lifeline." There will be spoilers, as always.

What Happened

Rodney and Radek are hard at work getting the hyperdrive-capable jumper ready for a trip to the replicator homeworld of Asuras. John stops by to see how they are doing and to ask the all-important question of what the plan is once the team actually gets to Asuras. Rodney has an idea on that front, but he says they could use some help...from Elizabeth. The team goes to visit her and apprise her of their plan. Rodney explains that once she is close enough to the other replicators, she can use her nanites to access the replicator data network. That will allow the team to find a ZPM and get in and out of the Asuran city quickly and (hopefully) without being detected. The plan is not without its dangers, of course. Even with Rodney monitoring Elizabeth's nanites while she is linked, there is still a chance that the other replicators might notice her presence and attempt (possibly even be able) to take control of Elizabeth. John explains that when Rodney reactivated the nanites he reprogrammed them to include a "kill switch." All he has to do is enter the command and the nanites will be rendered inert. Of course, that will kill Elizabeth. She agrees that the reward is well worth the risk however. She then pulls John aside to tell him that at even the slightest hint of suspicious behavior on her part to not hesitate to give the command to Rodney to hit the kill switch.

As the team is preparing to leave, John pulls Teyla aside and asks her to sit the mission out. She starts to object but he explains that he needs to leave someone behind he can trust to lead the people should the mission fail and he and the others not return. He tells her that Radek has found a habitable planet within the city's limited travel range. Should the team not return within twelve hours, he wants her to give the command to take the city there. It is unlikely that enough power will remain after the jump to maintain a stable orbit, let alone land the city, so that means that Teyla and Radek will need to get everyone in the jumpers and fly down to the planet, abandoning Atlantis. Teyla agrees to the plan, albeit reluctantly. With that settled, John, Rodney, Ronon, and Elizabeth gear up and head out. Rodney manages to open a hyperspace window and the jumper enters it.

Elsewhere in the Pegasus galaxy, a planet-side gate activates and Colonel Carter and Doctor Lee step through. Lee is duly impressed by the planet's lush foliage but Carter is all business. She radios Colonel Ellis on the Apollo and he beams them aboard. He briefly questions them on their plans to rearrange some of the ship's systems in order to augment the long-range scanners to help them look for Atlantis. Satisfied, he agrees to the plan and lets them get to work.

The jumper makes it safely to Asuras, but Rodney is dismayed to learn that the initial trip took up more energy than they had estimated it would. Their power reserve has dropped below what they will need in order to return to the city. He is not completely without hope, however, stating that once they have retrieved a ZPM, he should be able to hook it up to the jumper's systems and give them the extra power they need to get back. John points out that they will need to actually procure a ZPM first. Rodney activates Elizabeth's link to the replicator network and almost immediately she is able to see all of their shared information. She quickly guides the team to the nearest ZPM and they land the cloaked jumper on top of the building. John and Ronon go to get the ZPM while Elizabeth and Rodney stay behind in the jumper, Elizabeth guiding them through the building over their radios.

Getting to the ZPM and removing it unnoticed turns out to be relatively simple with Elizabeth's help. John and Ronon return to the jumper and John tells Rodney to get the ZPM hooked up so they can get back to the city. Rodney isn't ready to go yet, however. While they were gone, he was looking around in the replicator base code and he managed to stumble across the directive ordering the Asurans to attack the wraith. That was their original purpose when the Ancients built them, but at some point the command had been switched to "off." Turning it back on would result in a massive blow against the wraith and Rodney thinks it would be relatively simple to alter Elizabeth's nanites to reflect the reactivated command. The only problem is that they would need to wait until the next replicator group data merge in order to upload it to all of them at once. They have no idea how long it will be until then, and when it does happen, the replicators will realize Elizabeth's presence and immediately attempt to assimilate her.

John says it is too big a risk, but Rodney says there might be another way. If they can upload the altered code directly into the replicators' mainframe core, it will automatically activate the command during the next merge, even once the team is long gone. Of course, the core is right in the heart of the city and will be impossible to get to without being noticed. Again, John doesn't think it is worth the risk. He decides they will return to Atlantis and get the city to its new home. Then they can come back and try the crazy plan. Elizabeth and Rodney share a look and explain that this is probably their only chance--once the replicators realize a ZPM has been stolen, they will take steps to locate the breach and Elizabeth will never again have this kind of access to the network. Rodney thinks he can convert the jumper's cloak into an Anti-Replicator Field and extend it down to the core once they have landed on top of the right building. It should buy them time to get the new code uploaded to the core. John grudgingly agrees, knowing there is no way they can pass up a chance to strike such a huge blow at the wraith.

Aboard the Apollo, the ship has made eleven jumps so far without finding any trace of Atlantis. Ellis is unenthusiastic about their lack of success, but Carter says they just need to be patient and keep trying. They knew they would have a lot of ground to cover. Ellis orders jump number twelve.

John pilots the jumper to the building containing the core and Rodney gets the AR field up and extended downward. John and Ronon will go to upload the data, leaving Elizabeth and Rodney in the jumper like before. Rodney is not happy about that but Elizabeth reminds him that someone needs to keep an eye on her, and he's the best candidate. He loads the program onto a tablet and gives it to John, telling him how to hook it up to the core once they get there. In the control room, the replicators detect an anomalous reading (the AR field) and a technician informs Oberoth about it. Realizing that the anomaly is at the core, Oberoth immediately mobilizes men to go check it out. Safe inside the field, John and Ronon make their way to the core. They see a few replicators as they go, but all are disintegrated as they cross the field. John plugs in the tablet and he and Rodney are very vexed when nothing happens. Rodney tries to figure out the problem over the radio and Elizabeth tells him they need to hurry. Hundreds of replicators have been sent to the core. They are throwing themselves at the field, repeatedly attacking it and sacrificing themselves in order to figure out a way around it.

Rodney figures out what is preventing the error and starts to walk John through making the tech compatible. Elizabeth notifies them that the replicators have managed to breach the field at last. She adds that Oberoth is now headed to the core and that John and Ronon are surrounded by approaching replicators. John decides that he might as well carry out the mission if they have no way out and he plows ahead with getting the data uploaded. Elizabeth suddenly runs out of the jumper, telling Rodney to stay where he is. Rodney freaks out and radios John. Ronon reminds John of Elizabeth's order and John reluctantly gives Rodney the order to hit the kill switch. Rodney enters the command, but nothing happens.

Oberoth strides through the corridor when suddenly Elizabeth is before him. She jams her hand into his head replicator style, pulling him into the mental interrogation the replicators favor. He is surprised to see her but she tells him that the nanites within her have been reprogrammed and now that she's face to face with him, she has direct access to the replicator directive. She is in control now.

John finalizes the tweaks to the tech and the command finally begins uploading just as a swarm of replicators spill into the room aiming their weapons at John and Ronon. Before they can fire, however, the replicators all freeze. The team realizes that it must be Elizabeth somehow. Rodney tells them it is unlikely to last very long, they need to get out of there while they can. The file completes its upload and John grabs the tablet, he and Ronon running for the jumper. As they head back, the replicators begin to unfreeze. In the mind meld, Oberoth has asserted control over Elizabeth. The team is captured and thrown in a cell, all but Elizabeth. Oberoth tells John that she was overwhelmed by their confrontation and has been taken away to be "repaired," meaning she will soon be completely under replicator control. Unfortunately, he adds, she was still strong enough to deny him all of the information he sought. He was unable to obtain the new location of Atlantis from her, so he will have to get it from John. He sticks his hand into John's forehead and looks pained as nothing happens. John begins to smirk and then morphs into Elizabeth. Suddenly they are back in the mind meld. She tells him that he never regained control, her people were never captured. It was all a scenario she played out to keep him distracted long enough for the team to get away.

As John and Ronon make their way back to the jumper, John asks Rodney where Elizabeth is but she can't be located on their sensors. John doesn't want to leave without her, but he knows their time is limited. He and Ronon turn a corner and find Elizabeth and Oberoth just as Oberoth manages to break free of Elizabeth's control, though the two seem to still be at a stalemate. Elizabeth orders them to get back to the jumper and to leave her there. They have little choice but to comply, and as they run for it, she is overwhelmed by more replicators attempting to free Oberoth.

They get to the jumper and take off before Rodney has a chance to convert the ship's AR field back to the cloak. In order to jump out of there, he needs time to get the ZPM hooked up to the ship, but time is something they seem to have run out of. They come under fire and the jumper's weapons are disabled. John veers away from the city only to be stopped short as a replicator warship appears right in front of them, weapons armed and ready to fire. Before it does, however, the warship comes under fire from another direction and the team is relieved and surprised to hear Colonel Ellis over the radio. The Apollo has arrived, having finally found Atlantis and learning where the team had gone. Ellis opens the F-302 bay doors and tells John to get the jumper inside quickly while he holds off the replicators. John tells them they lost Elizabeth on the planet and asks if they can lock onto her locator beacon and beam her out. Carter tries but is unable to locate any signal. The jumper gets inside the bigger ship and they jump away to safety.

Back on Atlantis, the new ZPM has been installed and the city is fully powered up and flying once more. With Elizabeth's capture, however, they have to locate a new destination planet first, one she was never aware of and so can't give away to the replicators. They finally find a suitable location and head to their new home. John heads down to the control chair to land and though getting down to the ocean is a little rough, they manage to touch down in once piece, and without completely draining the ZPM.

Teyla sadly packs up Elizabeth's office and Ronon comes to comfort her while the city tries to get back to normal operations. Rodney and Carter get the gate calibrated to the planet and hooked back up to the bridge network so that they can dial Earth and check in. Radek gets the long-range sensors back up and reports that he has picked up a large number of ships leaving the replicator planet...heading for a wraith world. It appears that they successfully managed to reactivate the replicator directive to attack the wraith. John and Carter have a brief conversation outside and John says he still hasn't given up hope on Elizabeth. If she is alive, he tells Carter, he will find her.


Whew. Another fast-paced action-filled episode right on the heels of the last one. Again, this one was a lot of fun and very well executed. As seems to be the pattern with this series, it is the second episode in the season that finally wraps up the previous season's story and sets the stage for the season to come.

Make no mistake, either, the stage has been set for this season by "Lifeline." We have just witnessed a huge shift in the balance of power throughout the Pegasus galaxy and within Atlantis itself. While the shift in Atlantis--the loss of Elizabeth--is the much more obvious one, activating that command in the replicators' base code is going to have a tremendous impact in events to come. The wraith's biggest advantage over the Lanteans during the original war was always one of numbers. They could easily overwhelm the Ancients despite their superior technology and equipment. Now that the replicators have entered the fray, the wraith have to face an enemy that is just as advanced (if not more) than the Lanteans ever were, and that have no shortage of numbers. They are also a ruthless, relentless people. On the surface, this looks like it is a great windfall for the citizens of Atlantis and the Pegasus galaxy in general. But then again, this isn't the first time something seemed like a great idea at the time but then came back to bite us in the behind, is it? One does have to recall that the Ancients did turn off the command to attack the wraith, after all, and wonder why that was. Just some food for thought.

Favorite Quotes

"Oh, plug and play, huh? What, you think it's that simple?" (Rodney)
"Well it will be because you're going to make it that simple." (John)

"Space is quite vast..." (Lee)
"You don't say!" (Ellis)

"Well, if we're screwed, we may as well complete the mission." (John)

"I figured you'd messed with our minds, so I'd mess with yours." (Elizabeth)

"You were wrong, Oberoth. I have never underestimated you. But you have clearly underestimated me." (Elizabeth)


That's really all I've got to say about this one. See you back here on Monday when we get more into the meat and bones of the season with "Reunion."

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