Monday, February 27, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Reunion

Hello! Welcome to a new week of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we are getting into the meat of season four with "Reunion." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before, as always.

Here we go!

What Happened

Teyla and Ronon have ventured offworld and are visiting a village following up on rumors of a trio of warriors who have apparently had great success going up against the wraith. Ronon thinks they might be some more survivors of the wraith destruction of his homeworld, Sateda. They are initially greeted quite enthusiastically by a young man who thinks Teyla is his bride arriving for an arranged marriage. After disabusing him of that notion, he halfheartedly tells them that the people they seek are often in the tavern and have taken up rooms at the inn. Ronon heads to the inn to see if they are there while Teyla makes for the tavern. She asks the barkeeper about the people she seeks and a man next to her starts up a conversation, telling her maybe she should be minding her own business instead of looking for people who are so dangerous. She tells him that maybe he shouldn't be dropping unsolicited advice at people and the two get into a scuffle. Two other patrons of the bar join in, coming to the man's aid. They are able to pin Teyla down and are discussing how best to kill her when Ronon arrives and points his gun at them. Teyla watches in surprise as her three adversaries turn to Ronon and greet him warmly, completely forgetting her existence.

In Atlantis Rodney runs into Radek and tells him that rumor has it the I.O.A. has finally chosen a new leader for the expedition. The rumor says they have decided to choose someone with a science background and who is an expert in replicator technology. Radek is nonplussed to realize that Rodney falls under these qualifications and clearly believes he has been chosen to be in charge. Rodney heads to the control room where he finds John on a video conference with Colonel Carter (gonna start calling her Sam from here on out), updating her about the war between the replicators and the wraith, which seems to be in full swing. John tells Rodney that a new leader has finally been chosen and Rodney has a moment to bask in his assumed glory before Sam and John reveal that Sam has been named the new head of Atlantis.

Things in the tavern have calmed down a bit. Ronon and Teyla share a drink with the three warriors, who are indeed Satedan. Tyre, Rakai, and Ara are also old friends of Ronon's. They served together in the Satedan military. The four catch up as Teyla watches on, and Ronon asks his friends how they managed to survive the wraith attack on Sateda. They explain that their group found a network of caves and tunnels just before the wraith attacked and so they were able to retreat away from the city without the wraith finding out. By the time they were able to return, the city had been destroyed and they realized that Sateda was no more. They have been on the move, fighting back against the wraith, ever since.

On Earth, Sam is packing up her office and preparing to leave for Atlantis. She is clearly torn about embarking on her new assignment. Teal'c comes by to say goodbye and to reassure her that this promotion is well deserved on her part. Seeing her reluctance to leave, he reassures her that her work will still continue, even if she is not in the same place. He also promises that she will be missed by the rest of SG-1 and they will always be there for her should she have need of them. She gates to Atlantis, where much of the staff has gathered to greet her. She gives a brief speech and then John, Rodney, and Radek welcome her to the city and help her get settled in to her new home.

Teyla and Ronon are still hanging out with the other Satedans in the tavern. Ronon is enough in his cups that he has decided to let Rakai give him a tattoo. While this is going on, Teyla asks the others about their exploits since Sateda's fall. They admit that things have been rough--they had two more of Ronon's fellow soldiers with them when they left their homeworld who have since been lost--but they are doing what they can with what they have. Ronon starts to pipe up that his people have resources and manpower, clearly about to suggest that maybe they can offer the Satedans help. He stops short at a look from Teyla, however. They are still keeping the fact that they are from Atlantis quiet, especially in the wake of the city's relocation.

Rodney stops by to visit Sam in her new quarters. He awkwardly makes a point of telling her that he is seeing someone, just so she won't get her hopes up about the two of them. Sam does a very good job of not pointing out that her "thing" with Rodney has always been completely one-sided (on his side) and that he has nothing to worry about. She is saved from continuing the discussion when Ronon suddenly shows up. He tells her he hears that she's in charge now and that means he has to get clearance from her to bring visitors to the city. She regretfully tells him that she can't approve his request. Due to the city's precarious position in galactic affairs and the necessity of keeping their new location secret, the I.O.A. has forbidden any offworld visitors for the time being. Ronon isn't happy about this and thinks it is because Sam is new and that she doesn't trust him. She tries to allay that fear but he storms out. Returning to the village, Ronon tells Tyre he's afraid his people aren't really willing to help the group right now. Tyre doesn't seem too disappointed, in fact, he says he isn't surprised. Not everyone gets an invitation to Atlantis, he knows. He explains that the group had heard enough rumors about the runner who joined up with the inhabitants of Atlantis. Ronon is surprised that Tyre has figured out his secret and apologizes for keeping it quiet. Tyre brushes it off, telling him that he understands. But he does add that now that he and the others have been reunited with Ronon, he thinks that Ronon's place is with them.

Sam is on a balcony looking out at the city and John comes up to see how she is settling in. They discuss that his name was on the short list of people to take over Elizabeth's position. Sam is clearly a little worried that John might have some resentment that she got it instead of him. He reassures her that he really didn't want the job and he is very happy with how things turned out, all things considered. He then tells her that for much of the city, the business with Elizabeth is not over. They still think she might be alive and a rescue is not out of the picture. In fact, he thinks that they need to go back to Asuras, sooner rather than later, to try doing just that. Sam reluctantly tells him she can't approve such a mission. She quickly adds that she understands where he is coming from, but it is too risky. If he comes to her with a plan that has any chance of succeeding, she'll give him a green light, but until then, it's a no go. John is clearly frustrated by her answer but he understands.

Back in the city after their trip, Ronon and Teyla are sparring and Teyla notices that Ronon is clearly off his game. She asks what is wrong but he insists he is fine. So she beats on him until he finally calls her off and tells her what's going on. He says he is thinking about leaving Atlantis. Teyla is dismayed by the news but not really surprised. She hates that he feels like it must come down to a decision of either or for him. She tries to convince him to stay, telling him about the difficulty she had leaving her own people. She still regrets it, she admits, but she knows that here in Atlantis is where she can do the most good for her people and for the galaxy. She asks him to bear that in mind when making his decision. Later on John finds Ronon in the mess and he realizes that Teyla told John. John clearly doesn't think Ronon should leave but is willing to hear the other man out. Ronon explains that he had always been the one to look out for Tyre, Rakai, and Ara, to take care of them. He believes that they still need him. John says that's all well and good but Ronon won't be able to protect them forever. Ronon agrees, telling John that is where Atlantis comes in.

He convinces John and the rest of the team to meet with the Satedans, promising that they have valuable intel about a wraith target. Ara explains that they have located a wraith weapons research lab that they want to hit. Due to the war with the replicators, it is undermanned, like many other wraith facilities. Tyre believes his team can get in and get what they want on their own, but leaving will be tricky. With the Lanteans backing them up in a puddle jumper, the odds of success go way way up. John isn't fully convinced. He thinks that hitting the wraith right now is foolish and that they should give the replicators time to wear them down some more. He doesn't think the tech they could retrieve from the op would be worth the risk. Until Ronon pipes up that the wraith at that lab are working on turning off the replicators' directive to attack the wraith, that is. That information gets the Lanteans' attention.

The tension between the two groups is clear, but everyone is in agreement that allowing the wraith to deactivate that directive would be bad for the entire galaxy. John and the others agree to join the mission. As they return to Atlantis to ready themselves, Ronon tells John he's made his decision. Once the op is over, he is leaving the city. Sam stops by Ronon's quarters while he is packing up and asks him to reconsider his decision. He realizes that she is implying he is something of a security risk if he leaves, what with all of his knowledge of Atlantis. He asks if she is going to try to stop him when he goes and she tells him quite sincerely that she hopes it doesn't come to that.

The team picks up the Satedans in the jumper and they head for the wraith planet. Rodney is disgruntled to learn that Tyre's group hasn't managed to zero in on the exact location of the replicator study lab. Rakai thinks they shouldn't be bothering with working with the Lanteans--Rodney especially--and the two teams are clearly not getting along well at all. Since they have an entire section to search in the facility, John suggests that once they get to that level, they should split up. That way they can cover more ground and avoid more disagreements. They get into the facility easily enough and make it to the targeted section. When the time comes to split up, Ronon goes with the Satedans, though from the look on his face he is torn about not going with John and the rest of the team.

As they make their way deeper into the facility, John's group runs into heavy resistance from the wraith. Teyla is stunned and while John is laying down cover fire Rodney tries to open a set of doors blocking their path. He manages to get them opened but John is stunned as well before he can drag Teyla to the door. Rodney manages to hide before the wraith get to him, but they drag Teyla and John off. Ronon, having heard the gunfire, leaves his friends to go help his team. He is unable to break through all of the wraith however, and unable to raise anyone on the radio, he makes for the gate instead. Once the path is clear Rodney begins to sneak through the facility, also thinking to make for the gate. He runs into Ronon's friends and is momentarily relieved--until they stun him. A wraith steps out from behind Tyre and orders the others to bring Rodney along. Ronon makes it to the gate and dials Atlantis. He reports the situation to Sam and Zelenka and Sam orders a jumper prepped for a rescue mission while Ronon is patched up.

John, Teyla, and Rodney wake up in a wraith holding cell. John comments that it is a good sign that Ronon and his buddies haven't been captured yet, but Rodney says not really. He tells them that Ronon's friends are working with the wraith and they realize that this whole mission was a setup. Before they can really digest this new information, wraith appear and drag Rodney out of the cell. A wraith scientist explains that they require Rodney's help. Back during the war between the wraith and the Ancients, the wraith managed to turn off the replicators' directive to attack them. They have been trying to do so once more, but Rodney's alterations to the base code have rendered their virus ineffective. The wraith demands that Rodney undo what he has done so that they can once more turn off the directive. Rodney blusters about the difficulty of this but the wraith brings him to a lab where they are holding a replicator hostage.

The rescue mission gets underway, with Ronon leading Sam, Radek, and a handful of marines. As they prepare to leave Sam tells Ronon that she's considered his situation and will respect whatever decision he makes regarding his position in Atlantis. Rodney meanwhile has been trying to delay working on the replicator but the wraith scientist is on to him. He tells Rodney that he is sure the man is trying to buy time for a rescue and informs him that he has just received word that a ship has come through the gate. It will Rodney no good, however, the wraith assures him, because they are more than ready for the rescue attempt. In the jumper, Sam watches as several wraith darts leave the facility and receives a report from one of her soldiers. Knowing that a rescue attempt would be expected, they brought two jumpers. While the wraith darts are busy chasing the decoy, Sam and crew slip in undetected in their cloaked jumper and storm the facility. Not knowing where their people might be, the group splits up. Sam and Radek find John and Teyla and release them. Ronon is relieved when he runs into his friends but quickly realizes that they have actually been working with the wraith the whole time.

Sam and company manage to find Rodney and knock out his guards but all of the gunfire in the facility has done severe damage to the power systems. As they are leaving the lab the containment field holding the replicator goes down and it is freed. Everyone raises their guns to open fire on it but it just walks right through the hail of bullets, ignoring all of the humans and instead going after the wraith. The group quickly shakes their surprise at this and heads out to find Ronon.

Ronon accuses Tyre, Rakai, and Ara of being wraith worshipers and they do not deny it. They tell him that they were given a choice to let go of their past and embrace a new truth--and the gift of eternal life offered by the wraith--or die with the rest of Sateda. They admit that they fought it at first but the wraith were stubborn and eventually they "saw the truth" (or as Ronon puts it, were broken). They want Ronon to join them in the service of the wraith but he is appalled at the notion. He learns that the two friends lost to the group died because they refused to convert. Ronon clearly thinks the others should have made the same choice. Realizing Ronon will not submit, they decide to settle things like true Satedans, though Ronon angrily declares that the three are Satedan no longer. The four engage in hand to hand combat. Ronon quickly knocks out Ara and Rakai and he and Tyre struggle for control of the situation. Rakai comes to and pulls out a knife, intending to attack Ronon. Ara stirs and tries to stop him, and he kills her by accident then goes after Ronon, who kills him. Tyre is knocked aside in the struggle and as Ronon surveys his dead friends he lets Tyre leave, not wanting to kill another. He heads out and runs into John and Sam and the rest. They ask him where the others are but he shrugs it off and tells them he wants to go home.

Back in Atlantis, Ronon gets settled back into his quarters. Teyla stops by to return a painting Rodney had claimed and tells Ronon she is glad to have him back. He replies that it is good to be back, although he is still clearly unhappy with how events turned out.


Okay, there are a few things going on in this episode. First, we've got the change of command in Atlantis. I think Sam is definitely a good candidate to fill Elizabeth's shoes. She's got the experience, she also is a member of the military who is also quite clearly a scientist, so that gives her a sense of understanding for both factions in the city. Of course, in an ideal world, Daniel Jackson would have been the member of SG-1 who took over Atlantis, or at least came to join the expedition once the team began to move on, but clearly actor availability didn't lend to that. So we get Sam, an that's okay too. This has the added benefit of bringing back Rodney's weird crush/obsession/respect for her, which can only lend us moments of amusement (as when Rodney went to tell her about his girlfriend). Also, he's less likely to argue to her appointment because he knows and trusts her, even if he won't admit that to anyone else.

We've also got Ronon feeling adrift at the loss of Elizabeth, a leader he had grown to respect and trust. Couple that with the discovery not just of some random Satedans, but of people he's considered family since before his planet was destroyed, and you've got some interesting drama. He knew Elizabeth would trust him and go out on a limb for him. He doesn't know that about Sam, and now he's been presented with people who used to depend on him saying they still need him. It leads to some interesting moments of Ronon pushing his boundaries with the new commander and feeling his loyalties torn. Granted he didn't earn that trust with Elizabeth overnight, but I think at this point he is tired of starting over again, so in the face of the unknown, he reaches for the familiar. Only to have it come back to slap him in the face when things turn out to be other than what he thought. I am sure much of his disquiet at the end of the episode comes from feeling as if he let Tyre, Ara, and Rakai down, both by not finding them before they were converted by the wraith, and in not being able to save them once he did find them again.

I do like that although John voiced his opinion that Ronon should stay on Atlantis, stay with the team, throughout he was perfectly willing to support Ronon's decision no matter which way he decided. It says a lot about his own respect for the younger man I think.

The other big issue we've got here is the replicators and the wraith. They are at war with each other, which is good for most of the galaxy. Story-wise that means we can hope to see some other elements come into play as adversaries for Atlantis, which is always a good thing. We learn once and for all that it was the wraith who turned off the replicator directive, which means that they are not entirely defenseless in this fight. The fact that the wraith know exactly who is responsible for setting the replicators on them is also an interesting one. (One that makes it very understandable as to why Atlantis needs to keep its new location a secret as well.) But of course, it would be silly to expect those two groups to just take care of each other and no longer be a problem for our heroes, so finding out how this comes back to bite them in the butts should be interesting, to say the least.

I do have to say, RE: Ronon's tattoo, wow, he was really not illustrating proper tattoo maintenance there. Yet somehow it looked all shiny and new and not at all infected only a day after getting it... Okay, okay. I know it's just television. Also, I suspect that entire bit of byplay was added to explain a new tattoo that the actor himself got, because if I am remembering correctly, that is real. But still. Come on people. I know Ronon is a badass and all, but even he is susceptible to the many possible ill side-effects of improperly cared for tattoos. Especially when he's getting them from drunks in a random tavern. Just, you know, something to bear in mind.

Also, randomly, poor Teyla keeps getting propositioned offworld by men looking for wives. Given how fiercely independent she is, I am amazed she has yet to clock anyone over this.

Favorite Quotes

"Praise the gods you've finally arrived! And you are far more beautiful than I ever could have imagined." (Villager)
"...." (Teyla)
"Excuse me?" (Ronon)
"You have not come for the arranged marriage?" (Villager)
"No." (Teyla)
"Would you perhaps be seeking a husband?" (Villager)
"No." (Teyla)

"I just came by to welcome you to Atlantis, see how you're settling in and, you know, if you needed anything, and, uh, did I mention I was seeing someone?" (Rodney)
"I'm sorry, what?" (Sam)
"I'm seeing someone, yes. I only bring it up now because you're here now and we'll be working together a lot more and, you know, I just thought with our past..." (Rodney)
"Our past?" (Sam)
"Well, you know, the unrequited lust that's been hanging over our heads for what seems like forever." (Rodney)
"Rodney..." (Sam)
"I just don't want things to be awkward between the two of us, you know, uh...kind of like they are now." (Rodney)
"Rodney, I'm sure we'll be fine." (Sam)

"This thing's been way too quiet and way too easy." (John)
"I kind of like quiet and easy. Makes for a nice change." (Rodney)

"This could be the one and only op we go on together." (Ronon)
"Then we'd better make the most of it." (Sam)

"Well it's about time! Any longer and we would have had to save ourselves." (John)

"Hasn't there been enough killing?" (Ronon)


That's all for today folks. See you back here Wednesday for our next jaunt, the episode "Doppleganger."

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