Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Submersion

Howdy there, folks! Thank you for stopping by the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today we're discussing season three's "Submersion." As always, there will be spoilers for the episode itself and any that came before it.

Onward we go.

What Happened

Team Sheppard, accompanied by Elizabeth, Radek, and a slew of other scientists are all stuffed in a puddle jumper underwater. They all look pretty much bored out of their skulls and we learn that they are searching for a mobile geothermal drilling station that the Ancients had built and installed on the ocean floor. Rodney obtained the station's last known location from the city's database and they are going to check it out, because it has the potential to be a new and unlimited source of energy for Atlantis. Of course, it is mobile and so it takes them a bit of time to actually find it even with a starting point. They make it to the station (eventually) and Rodney is able to remotely power it up so that they can dock with the station.

The screen cuts to an extreme closeup of a sleeping wraith whose eyes suddenly fly open.

Once everybody is on the station they waste no time getting themselves set up on the control room. Rodney starts checking the systems and powering the station up completely. He tells Elizabeth that everything actually seems to be in perfect working order and they could start drilling right away if she wanted to. She is pleased at this news but tells him to hold off. She wants to complete their exploration of the station and its records first. Partly to find out why exactly the Ancients abandoned the project in the first place.

While Rodney and the scientists get to work on going through the station's system logs and other data, John takes Teyla and Ronon to explore the rest of the station and get a feel for the place. Teyla pauses in the hall, overcome by a sudden sensation. She tells them she senses a wraith very near, mostly likely on, the station. John immediately calls everyone back to the control room. Rodney stubbornly refutes Teyla's claim, protesting that there is no possible way that there is a wraith on board the station. He scans it once more and every life sign picked up is accounted for by their crew. Teyla insists that she knows what she is feeling, however. She says the only way to know for sure is to reach out with her mind and try to make contact with the presence she is sensing. John is not so sure about this but Elizabeth agrees that they need to know what they are working with and so they accompany Teyla into a private room so that she might try to make contact. She does her thing and then draws a deep breath, as if surfacing for air. When she opens her eyes she seems momentarily confused but then shakes her head, stating that she was mistaken and there is nothing out there.

The team resumes its explorations and Elizabeth joins them since Rodney is entrenched in the control room commanding his minions the other scientists. They split up into two groups to cover more ground, Elizabeth going with John and Ronon going with Teyla. After a little while Ronon asks Teyla if she is alright, noting that she has been awfully quiet. Teyla replies that she would hate to make Ronon uncomfortable and starts acting very oddly. Then she just attacks Ronon, beating on him and knocking him out. She turns and quickly makes her way to an access room and after pressing a few buttons the power goes dark throughout a big chunk of the station, including the area John and Elizabeth are searching.

John radios Rodney to find out what happened. Rodney tells them this is the first he's heard of the problem but he pulls up the schematic and sees that all power has been cut to about forty percent of the station. He gets to work on figuring out what caused the outage and restoring power. John tries to radio Ronon and Teyla to ascertain their status, but (what with Ronon being unconscious and Teyla having gone rogue all of a sudden) he gets no response. He calls Rodney back to ask him where Teyla and Ronon are in the station. Rodney replies that in addition to the power outages, they have also lost internal sensors. He can tell John, however, where the outages originated. He gives John directions to the access room, saying he will meet them there. Before he goes he sends two of the scientists, Graydon and Dickenson, back to the puddle jumper to see if they can use its sensors to locate Teyla and Ronon.

We get an exterior shot of the station and see the puddle jumper sticking nose first out of a docking sleeve. We also see a figure swimming toward the station.

Teyla, meanwhile, has been busily pushing buttons and causing trouble in the access room. As she finishes up, she pulls open a tray of control crystals and opens fire on them with her sidearm. John, Elizabeth, and Rodney hear the gunfire and head towards it to investigate.

In an empty room, we see an opening into the ocean, some sort of access portal or something. As we look at the pool, a wraith queen emerges from under the water and looks around, hissing in satisfaction.

John and group find Ronon on their way to the access room. He is just starting to come around. They ask who attacked him and he tells them that it was Teyla. Elizabeth says that until they know what's going on, she wants everyone gathered in one place. Before she can make the call, however, Teyla presses a few more buttons in the access room and force field bulkheads begin popping up all over the station, cutting the crew off from the puddle jumper (and trapping Graydon and Dickenson in a hallway in the process).

John sends Elizabeth and Rodney back to the control room, ordering the rest of the scientists to head that way as well. He and Ronon then head to see if they can find Teyla. In the control room, Teyla takes another very deep breath and seems to be emerging as if from a state of sleepwalking. She looks around, clearly extremely confused. She sees the damage to the console in front of her and then her own sidearm. She picks up the gun and realizes it has been fired, probably at the console. She hears something behind her and spins to find John and Ronon aiming their weapons at her. John asks her what is going on and she plaintively replies that she doesn't know.

In the control room, Rodney and Radek assess the damage that Teyla did to the station. Not only are they cut off from the jumper, but the internal sensors are down throughout the station and their power is limited to only a few areas. Their communications are also down, meaning they have no way to contact Atlantis and call for help. She also scrambled all of the operations codes for the station, which means they will need to figure them all out again before they can begin to fix the damage and power the systems back up.

John radios in that they found Teyla and Elizabeth goes to meet them and find out what's going on. Teyla doesn't remember anything after trying to make contact with the wraith. She tells them that it is a queen, a very powerful one, and that she is very definitely aboard the station now. John and Ronon leave to look for the queen and deal with her. Teyla wants to help search but Elizabeth insists she remain behind, it is not safe to let Teyla run around the station until the wraith is dealt with. Teyla is clearly chagrined by this but obeys.

Graydon and Dickenson have managed to access a control panel in their corridor and are trying to see if they can shut down the barriers on either side of them. They hear a noise and realize that the force field between them and the jumper has gone down. Graydon heads to the jumper while Dickenson remains behind to try to get the other fields dropped. Unfortunately for Graydon, when he gets to the jumper, he finds the wraith queen and she attacks him.

Radek wonders aloud how a wraith even got to the drilling station without them knowing about it. Perhaps she has a ship nearby? She would have had to have been there since before the expedition came to Atlantis. Rodney tasks Coleman with using the station's external sensors to see if she can find any anomalous readings that might give them some clue.

Teyla feels very ashamed that she was able to be taken over by the queen and used to cause harm to her teammates. Elizabeth tries to reassure her that it is not her fault, but Teyla is not convinced. She wants to help with the search for the wraith, to feel like she is helping to fix the mess she helped create. Elizabeth insists that it still isn't safe. She fears that Teyla might be vulnerable to being taken over by the queen again. Teyla is convinced that it only happened because she opened up her mind to the queen and that she can prevent it from occurring a second time. Elizabeth sticks to her point, however, and tells Teyla that she can best help by allowing John and Ronon to handle the search.

The queen leaves the puddle jumper and finds Dickenson in the hallway. As she moves forward to feed on him, he reaches for his radio to try to call John for help. He barely manages to get more than a cry for help out before the queen is upon him. John calls Rodney to ask if any of his people are unaccounted for and Rodney says just the two guys he sent to the jumper. John asks if he has the force fields down yet and Rodney says he is working on it. He makes his way to the jumper and radios for Ronon to meet him there. Rodney manages to get the force fields between John and the jumper down, but Ronon is stuck for a few moments behind one before it goes down as well. John makes it to the jumper and finds Graydon's body. Then the queen finds him. She comments that he is the one who can fly this ship (the jumper) and pulls some wacky queen mind-control voodoo on him, saying he will fly her off the planet. Ronon arrives and takes aim at the queen with his gun but his shot hits the window of the jumper instead. A rush of water washes over John, the queen, and Ronon.

John wakes up to Rodney radioing him, saying they had to raise the force fields in that section once more because it was flooding. Ronon comes to as well and laments that he missed his shot. Rodney informs them that they are now completely cut off from the jumper, and John realizes that means they are stuck on the station until Atlantis sends backup. He notices the unconscious queen in the corridor as well. Ronon wants to just kill her and get it over with but John has another idea, noting that she had gotten to the station somehow. Maybe they can use her to get off of it, or at least communicate with the city. They strap the queen down to a gurney and pump her full of sedatives, but leave her conscious enough to interrogate. She refuses to tell them anything, however, instead simply replying that they are all about to die.

Rodney is feeling guilty for not listening to Teyla when she first claimed to feel the wraith, and Radek tries to reassure him. He points out that they scanned the station and it didn't show any wraith aboard. Coleman comes in and says she doesn't think the queen was on the station at that point. She shows them what the exterior scans found: a wraith cruiser not far off and almost completely buried in silt, indicating it had been down there on the bottom of the ocean for quite some time. John tries to point out there's no way the wraith could have swum over at that depth without being crushed by the pressure, but Rodney points out that the pressure is deadly to humans, and the queen isn't human. Somehow, she was able to survive it and swim to the station.

Teyla convinces them to let her connect to the queen once more, assuring them that with all of the sedatives there is no way she will be taken over again. She is able to learn that the queen led the first wave of wraith ships to attack the city in the war with the Ancients thousands of years ago. Her ship was damaged and crashed into the ocean. The ship was too deep for her to survive a swim to the surface, so there she stayed. She managed to survive by hibernating (and probably feeding on her crew), waking only every few centuries. When the crew arrived at the station she sensed Teyla and swam over, hoping to find a way back to the surface. She was elated to find the puddle jumper only to be vexed when she realized she couldn't fly it and would need one with the right gene to fly it for her. Teyla probes a little deeper into the queen's memories and also sees that before leaving her cruiser, she set its self-destruct. They have only two hours until it goes off.

Learning of this, Rodney and Radek point out that the station is currently located over a very thin part of the planet's crust, the better to access the geothermal energy. The problem with this, of course, is that if the queen's ship blows up, the explosion is going to be severely magnified. The result will be catastrophic, easily destroying the station with all of them on it and Atlantis. Without communications, they have no way to warn the city of the impending danger. They have to find a way to abort the self-destruct. Rodney thinks they might have a chance. He found some underwater pressure suits on the station that were originally used to allow the crew to make any necessary external repairs. He and John each don a suit and take a stroll over to the cruiser. When they arrive Rodney is surprised to realize that the damage to the ship is actually pretty minimal. He thinks that it could probably be fixed pretty easily. He goes to try to disarm the self-destruct but is dismayed to realize that a command code is required to do so. He doubts he will be able to figure out the code on his own, especially  not in the time they have left.

Teyla tries connecting to the queen to find out the command code but she has no luck, and the queen almost manages to kill her in the process, strapped down on a table or no. She wants to keep trying but Elizabeth tells her no, Rodney has an idea. Teyla doubts that Rodney's idea will work but Elizabeth says they are not going to risk Teyla connecting to the queen again and getting hurt. Considering the matter closed, she leaves for the control room. Teyla returns to where Ronon is standing guard over the wraith and tells him that Elizabeth needs him in the control room. She takes up his position as guard. As soon as he leaves, she once more prepares to connect with the queen, even as the queen mocks her for being so weak. The queen gloats as she quickly gains control over Teyla and has Teyla undo her bonds. She is about to feed when she stops herself and says that Teyla is trying to hide something from her. She probes Teyla's memories and learns that Rodney's idea is to get the cruiser repaired and have John fly it up out of the ocean and onto the mainland before it explodes, minimizing its damage. Realizing this means her ship can get her off the planet, the wraith lets Teyla crumple to the ground without feeding and leaves, swimming back to her ship.

She arrives to find John standing at the control console and starts to question him about the ship. He backs up out of her reach, acknowledging that it has been repaired, and she disarms the self-destruct, saying he will be rewarded with a quick death. Before she can feed, Rodney pops up from behind and opens up fire on her with a P-90, John joining in with his own weapon as soon as she is distracted. They manage to kill her, John giving Rodney grief for taking his time to open fire. Rodney reminds him that he had to wait for the queen to disarm the self-destruct before trying to kill her. The whole thing with Teyla going against orders and letting the queen free was just a ruse to get her to disarm the self-destruct herself, since they knew they would never figure out her code.

They return to the station and Rodney's people finally manage to restore communications to Atlantis. They learn that a puddle jumper had been sent to check on them and should arrive in a few hours. John is excited to get to leave but Rodney reminds him that they still have to finish checking out the station. They still have a few days underwater left to look forward to. John groans and he and the rest of the team (except Rodney) all settle in to rest while they wait.


Man, they are really burning through puddle jumpers in the back end of this season, aren't they?

I like that this episode serves perfectly well as a one-off and would be a great jumping in point for someone not too familiar with the series (as long as they watch the "previously on" segment to pick up Teyla's ability to connect with the wraith, that is). Yet it actually draws on the events of a few different past episodes, as well as laying the groundwork for the end of this season. In the interest of avoiding spoilers for what's to come, I won't say anything more on that topic, though.

I love the whole bit with Rodney and Graydon. First, I love that he wanted to hire a scientist named "Grayson" because it reminded him of Dick Grayson, Batman's ward. Rodney's ongoing love of Batman is an amusing little character trait that I enjoy seeing played up now and then. I also love that while Rodney clearly still isn't the best at noticing others and remembering names, he is making an obvious effort to try and bet better about that and be more welcoming to his scientists. See? He's growing. I mean, it took him the whole first season to get Radek's name right.

We also get some excellent acting by Rachel Luttrell in this episode. I found everything that Teyla said and did to be one hundred percent in line with her character and I like that as freaked out as she is by her connection to the wraith, she is also willing to explore it further and use it to benefit the team and her people. Her body language in indicating when she was in the queen's thrall was very well done. It was quite subtle, but also there to see for anyone looking hard enough.

All in all, this is another one of those episodes that has pleasantly surprised me this time around. I wasn't that impressed with it initially (except for the whole Graydon/Grayson thing), but with each repeat viewing I come to appreciate it a little bit more. It is interesting to me to see which episodes age well and which don't. "Submersion" definitely belongs in the former category.

Favorite Quotes

"Hey! I don't hear Grayson complaining!" (Rodney)
"Uh, it's Graydon. With a 'd.'" (Graydon)
"What? Are you sure?" (Rodney)
"It's my name." (Graydon)
"No no no, 'cause I could have sworn that the guy I wanted from your department was called Grayson. 'Cause I remember thinking Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne's ward." (Rodney)
"Well, it's Graydon." (Graydon)
"Oh. Perhaps that means I hired the wrong guy." (Rodney)

"Oh yes. Let's race toward the gunfire!" (Rodney)

"One of these days I'm just going to call him Doctor McCoy." (Graydon)
"I'd love to be there for that!" (Dickenson)
"Well, the next time he calls me Grayson..." (Graydon)
"Actually, I know a Grayson." (Dickenson)
"There really is a Grayson?" (Graydon)
"Yeah. He's a damned good scientist, too. I'm surprised McKay didn't hire him." (Dickenson)

"I missed." (Ronon)
"I noticed that too!" (John)

"Which means it's been here a very, very, very long time." (Radek)
"Yes, give or take a very." (Rodney)

"She's not dying according to plan here!" (Rodney)


That's all we've got for today's installment. Wow, only two more episodes left in season three! See you back here on Monday for "Vengeance." It's about rainbows and puppy dogs, in case you couldn't tell from the title.

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