Friday, March 23, 2012

I Am Taking This As A Good Sign

I am going on a trip next week (no posts next week, by the way, if you didn't see any of my earlier mentions of that). I am taking my daughter and flying out to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my super awesome little sister and our mom is coming out as well.

My husband was trying to come with but his work schedule didn't align to let that happen, which means that this, my daughter's second flight ever, will also be my first time flying with her alone. Now, last summer, I took her on a road trip by myself. That went over pretty well for the most part. Theoretically flying should be way easier than a road trip, but I am much more nervous about this trip than I was about the last. This is because flying in general makes me a nervous wreck. Not because I am scared, but because I am kind of a control freak. When you fly somewhere, somebody else is in charge of pretty much every single aspect of your journey once you step foot in that airport. It makes me nuts. I foresee this going one of two ways:

Going this alone with my kiddo is going to be a total disaster because on top of freaking out about nobody bending to my own conception of how the universe should work, I will also be responsible for all of our luggage and my daughter and keeping her entertained and well-behaved for the duration.


I will be distracted enough with keeping up with the kiddo that I will be less susceptible to my normal flying annoyances and will therefore be much calmer on this trip than I would otherwise be.

There's really no way to tell which way things will unfold. I will just have to trust myself to the universe and hope that we get there in one piece, with all of our belongings, with minimal fuss. But either way, there is plenty of prep to be done.

Part of that prep was choosing what yarn project I would take with me for the trip. I don't want to take the blanket I am working on because the further you progress on blankets, the bigger they get and the more space they take up. Also, they require you to bring along a lot more yarn. Fine for a road trip, not so much for a flight with limited space (especially in these wonderful days where you are charged for every ounce you try to bring with you, yeesh).

I figured a pair of socks would be a good small project that I wouldn't finish up too quickly and that wouldn't take up much space in any of its iterations. Having decided that, I just needed to settle on a pattern. I flipped through some of those that I have collected and found one that is a basic stockinette stitch starter pattern. It seemed like a perfect match for my project needs. The only catch was that it required worsted weight yarn rather than sock yarn.

Sock yarn, I have in abundance, but nice sock-worthy worsted weight is another story altogether. I mean, I have a few bits here and there, but I wasn't sure I would have the right amount or colors or what have you in my stash, and I really felt this should be a project that used up stash resources. I had a yarn in mind that I thought might work but it turned out to be the wrong weight (and I really don't feel like messing with substitutions).

I had resolved myself to hunt through my whole stash and pull out anything that might be worthy when I chanced to look at the pattern again, and I noticed something interesting. I had overlooked that the pattern suggested a specific brand of yarn and even gave the number of balls required in that yarn the first time around. But when I did finally notice it, it dawned on me that I actually had some of that yarn in my stash. In the correct amount and color configuration, no less.

It was yarn I had purchased last year on that road trip I took with my daughter, when we had gone to visit my mom in Iowa. Yarn that had been earmarked for no specific purpose, but that had been purchased simply because it called to me. Now, almost a year later, there it was, ready to be put to use in a project that was literally made for that yarn.


So, I am hoping this is perhaps a good omen of awesome things to come. Fingers crossed, at least. Regardless of how my traveling plays out, at the very least, I should end up with a pretty spiffy pair of new socks. That counts as a win in my book.

So have a wonderful weekend and an excellent next week guys! See you back here in April.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Mass Effect 3 Ending [SPOILERS]

Alrighty. I finished up Mass Effect 3 yesterday. I am honestly still not entirely sure how I feel about the "super controversial" ending. I mean, from one standpoint, I understand why a lot of people are so dang pissed about it to the point where they are claiming to feel betrayed based on what the previous games (and the third until the ending) gave them. From another, I see what the good folks over at Bioware were trying to do, story-wise, and I think it was a really cool concept. I am not sure if it played out exactly right, but I do kind of get it. From a third perspective, there was plenty about the ending that annoyed the crap out of me that had more to do with the gameplay itself than with the story. So, yeah.

Super duper ginormous spoilers after the picture. Seriously, do NOT keep reading if you haven't finished the game yet and do not wish to be spoiled. Okay? Okay.

Let's just look at Shepard's pretty spaceship collection for a moment, shall we?


To put things in perspective, here are a few of my game choices leading up to the ending that I feel are relevant:

  • I played all three games through as a straight up Paragon (nice guy). I avoided any and all Renegade choices/actions like the plague. My Shepard was an ethical and empathetic leader.
  • I did indeed cure the genophage and did not submit to the Salarian Dalatress' suggestion of sabotage.
  • I resolved the conflict between the Quarians and Geth and brought them both onto my side. 
  • I allowed Legion to transmit the Reaper upgrades to the other Geth (bro hymn for Legion, yo).
  • I fully supported EDI getting a body and running around with me. She was one of my favorite companions in this game.
  • I fully supported EDI's relationship with Joker (though I did take the conversation options to point out that Shepard wouldn't have been opposed to being with him, alas, his heart belonged to another).
  • At the end of the second game, I did not let the damn Illusive Man have the proto-reaper we found at the Collector base--I bombed that thing to hell. (I was, in fact, pissed when I found out in this game that he managed to recover some of the bits.)

So. I think those are the highlights of how I played the games leading up to the trilogy's conclusion. In my opinion, the actual "ending" began when Shepard and crew made their final mad dash for the beam to get up to the Citadel. I ran like hell for that beam and did my best to dodge the Reaper ray of death, though eventually I got hit. I suspect that this was inevitable, one of those "you can't win" scenarios games try to write in, where they put you in a situation and no matter how well you do, just as you are about to beat it, the story takes over and your character falters. Anyway, got hit by a beam, somehow survived, though my armor was just about burnt to a crisp, much of it missing. But I got up, I found a gun, and I limped my ass to that beam regardless.

And it is right there that, for me, the game went off the rails a little bit. Because when I say I limped, I am not joking. The "run" option was no longer available, and Shepard moved at a dragging pace that was absolutely painful for me the player to experience. Look, I get it. She took a massive hit. She is, by all evidence, running on her very last fumes--suffering from a fatal wound and only moving forward through sheer tenacity and determination to see this thing through. But give me a break, okay. It's a video game, it comes with a little bit of suspension of disbelief. I don't need my Shepard to move as if the air has turned to molasses for the rest of the damn game, especially since all she seems to be doing at this point is walking. Either cut scene her crawling where she needs to get, or slow her down a much smaller fraction of her normal movement than you did. It just...gah. I don't like sitting there staring at the screen feeling like I am not getting anywhere, especially when I know I am so damn close to the end. Come on.

So, yeah. I go through the beam and I make it to the Citadel. The only other person to make it from our task force is Anderson. We get to the controls to open up the arms, but before we can do anything, the Illusive Man is there, and he is clearly indoctrinated, and he tries to put the mojo on us too. We banter back and forth about the ethics of the situation--he doesn't want to destroy the Reapers, he wants to control them. But he can't because they are already controlling him (even though he refuses to admit it). Whee. 

Here's the next thing that really annoys me. To proceed further in the game, you must kill the Illusive Man. For the record, I have no problem with this. I don't understand why Shepard didn't just put a bullet in him the second he appeared behind her. Okay, I mean, I do, he had put the Reaper whammy on her. But still. Killing him is not a problem. You have two opportunities to do this. You can do it when he's about to shoot Anderson, or if you don't stop that, when he's about to shoot you. It's not a fight or anything. It is, in both instances, a Renegade action click. Um, if you've played the game, you'll know what I mean by that. If you haven't, why are you reading this? Back to my point. I actually had to play that whole damn molasses slow dialogue heavy scene through twice because I didn't take either of the options to kill him the first time around. Not because I didn't want to, but because the game was calling it a Renegade option, and my Shepard was a Paragon.

Killing the damn Illusive Man should not have been Renegade points. 

I realize to the vast majority of the players, that bit doesn't really matter at all. But it matters to me. To me the most annoying part of the ending of that game was that in order to actually finish her quest, Shepard had to earn Renegade points to kill the Illusive Man--the known bad guy and all around general scum (and a huge war criminal). At the very least, there should have been a Paragon option to incapacitate rather than kill him, damn it. There have been plenty of Paragon choices that I would think morally questionable without extenuating circumstances, and this would certainly fit that category. Because the message that they are sending by doing it the way they did? Nice guys don't even get to finish the fight. What. The. Fuck. Not cool at all. Not when you've given us three games of letting us choose to be the nice guy.

So after that, things start to wrap up. Shepard gets the Citadel to open up for the Crucible and she gets to meet the Catalyst, who as it turns out is the actual creator of the Reapers. A lot of people were mad or let down by the reveal of the why behind the Reapers but I don't know why. It's basically what Soverign told us back in game one, this time we're just finally meeting the brains behind it all. The Catalyst gives Shepard three choices:

  • Wipe out all synthetic life in the galaxy, destroying the Reapers for good, but also destroying the Geth and (presumably) EDI.
  • Take control of the Reapers and call off their attack, sacrificing Shepard to do so.
  • Join Shepard's essence to the Catalyst's to merge all synthetic and organic life, creating a new era and ensuring peace.

I believe (but am not one hundred percent sure) that in each of these choices all of the mass relays in the galaxy are destroyed, and that Shepard dies no matter which choice you make (as I said, fatally wounded). The Catalyst gives you your choice and then three paths open up in front of Shepard and you get to molasses-walk to your choice. I will point out another fault in the gameplay here because there is no map or indicator as to which path is which choice. When the Catalyst is giving you the options, you get a brief visual, and the location for each choice is shown, but I didn't realize that when he was explaining it. If, say, you've got an impatient two-year old trying to get your attention when all of this is going on (not that I am speaking from personal experience or anything *cough*), that is a real "blink and you'll miss it" moment. I mean, you could molasses-walk to each station and probably figure it out from the label once you get close enough, but, dude, molasses-walk. Just, no. I was kind of just crossing my fingers that the one I got to was the one I wanted to choose. Thankfully it was.

Also annoying to me: I chose to take control of the Reapers, which is what the damned Illusive Man wanted to do all along. I am not saying he was right, because his motives were sure as hell not mine. But to me it seemed like the only option. After everything I did to get the Geth and Quarians working together again (not to mention how much the Quarians were relying on the Geth to help them rebuild on their homeworld), not to mention how much I love EDI, I could not bring myself to destroy all synthetic life just because some ancient life form believes that synthetic life will destroy organic if given the chance.

Nor could I bring myself to merge the two types of beings. If I was understanding that correctly, and it's entirely possible I might not have been, then that would wipe out the existing identity of everyone in the freaking galaxy which is what I just spent the last three games trying to prevent from happening. Sure, new life, new stage, new evolution, fine, whatever. But not without consent, not after everything everyone had sacrificed, not when what we were fighting for was to save the races in existence in the (game's) here and now. No. Just. No.

So, yeah, I see why people are pissed off about those three choices. Because either way you go, you have to compromise at least part of what your Shepard has been standing for during the course of the entire story. But a choice must be made, and make one I did. Shepard steps up to the machine, takes the controls, and burns to a crisp as her essence or whatever goes into the Reapers. They leave Earth and the ground troops begin to celebrate. A burst of energy flows through the galaxy from relay to relay as they (presumably) all blow up. Joker flies the crap out of the Normandy trying to avoid the energy blast. He manages to crash land and then he, Kaidan, and Garrus step out  to look at their surroundings: a lush planet full of life, and I suppose, hope. Credits roll and at the end is an old man telling a child the story of the legend of "the Shepard" several generations later.

That's it. No epilogue to tell us what happened to everyone else after the Reapers pulled back and all of the mass relays were destroyed. I mean, did anyone else on the Normandy even survive the crash? I have no idea, and that bugs me. How did civilization proceed with everyone pretty much stranded wherever they were in the galaxy when the relays were destroyed? Did they get to work on upgrading their ships to fly faster so they could get home to their loved ones? Did they all start new multi-species societies? There's not a lot of closure here, and that's the other thing that has really pissed people off, and it's something I agree with. 

I never expected Shepard to live through the last game, even before I started catching wind of the griping about the ending. I mean, there is a lot at stake here, an entire galactic civilization, an entire cycle of evolution. There were always going to be casualties along the way, and even more at the end. Hell, if Shepard is the only member of my crew who did die, I would be ecstatic to know that, though I wouldn't have been unhappy had she managed to live, mind you. But she and her crew and everyone else sacrificed so much and I as a player put so much work into seeing this thing through. It would be nice to see what came of it other than "the main character made a hard choice and died and a few of these people at least lived through that, but we're not telling you what happened the next day or anything." 

Overall, story-wise, I am not outraged by how this ended. I do wish there had been a fourth choice for Shepard--the chance to talk the Catalyst into stopping the "cycle" and calling off the Reapers and just letting the galaxy play out as it will. I would have liked that option, yes. But I do get what the writers were trying to do, I think. It would have been a great twist for a book or a movie, certainly. I'm not so sure it fits for the final game in a video game trilogy, though. I could accept the given endings with more of an epilogue, I think. That would go a long way towards making me feel better about it. I'm not chomping at the bit feeling betrayed. Overall, it's just a general sense of annoyance because I feel like they aimed at a few things and just kind of missed.The gameplay mechanic at the end just totally took me out of the whole thing, so the cinematic feel of the experience was lost on me and it just felt a bit unfinished. 

I will wait a while, to be sure, but I will probably play the game again. I do have a different Shepard to put through the gauntlet, after all. And I really want to see how the Garrus romance plays out in game three. I suspect that it is spectacular. The game itself, overall, was pretty spectacular. It's just that last bit...

I suspect that is the part that is annoying people the most.

I have to say, I will be very curious to see what kind of DLC we get for this. Very curious indeed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SGA Rewatch: This Mortal Coil

Hello. Well, it's another Wednesday folks, which means another installment of the Stargate Atlantis rewatch. Today's episode is season four's "This Mortal Coil." Spoilers for the episode and any that came before, as always.

What Happened

Rodney and Radek are running a diagnostic on the gate, which hasn't been working for about a week. John comes by to check on their progress but there really isn't much to report at the moment. Just then, an unidentified object crashes into the city. It was moving too fast to be picked up by the city's sensors, apparently. John and the scientists go check it out and find a probe or drone of some sort. It doesn't appear to be of wraith origin, and Rodney and Radek take it to Rodney's lab to figure out what it is and where it came from. As John leaves the crash site, Major Lorne catches up with him and asks who is going to finish the gate diagnostic if both scientists are working on the probe. John says the gate can wait and Lorne uncharacteristically questions the decision but backs off when John tells him to.

In the lab Rodney and Radek have found the device's data core. It is damaged, and encrypted, but Rodney starts a program to retrieve and decrypt it. Radek tells him he should go back to working on the gate while the program runs but Rodney is intrigued by the mystery of the device and wants to keep working on it. Just as the decryption seems to be working, the program crashes and all of the data on the core and on their computers is lost. Before it crashed, however, Rodney tells Radek he saw enough to realize that it is nanite code. The probe was from the replicators. Rodney goes to find John, with Radek following behind, to warn him that the replicators have found them. Radek isn't so sure, saying that he didn't see anything that looked like nanite code. While they are arguing about it there is the sound of an explosion and Lorne radios John to tell him that he is needed in Rodney's lab. They run down to check it out and find that the probe has exploded, apparently from a self-destruct mechanism.

Rodney catches up to John alone after this and tells him that something doesn't feel right to him. He feels like something was actively working to keep him from learning more about the probe. John thinks he's just being paranoid but at Rodney's request promises to keep an eye open for anything strange. Later, while sparring with Ronon, John shares Rodney's theory. Ronon doesn't share John's skepticism. In fact, he tells John that he has felt that everyone in the city has been acting strangely for a little while now, and that Teyla has noticed it as well. John is still not convinced but Ronon persists. As they spar, Ronon manages to get a hit in to John's forehead, giving him a nasty cut that he thinks will need stitches.

John heads down to the infirmary to have Keller patch him up. When she goes to look at the cut she tells him it's nothing. He doesn't need stitches, or even a band-aid, there's nothing there. She hands John a mirror and he wipes away the blood, seeing that there is no cut underneath. He is extremely disturbed by this but Keller suggests that maybe it was Ronon's blood. John isn't so sure. He asks Keller to do a body scan on him, worried that he might have been infected with nanites when he came into contact with the probe. Keller obviously thinks that it is a waste of time but she complies and then tells him the scan is clean, though she doesn't show him the screen. John's mind next wanders to the last time he had unusual healing powers--when he was infected with the wraith retrovirus--and he asks Keller to run a blood test just in case he has been exposed again. She is clearly dubious about such a scenario but complies to his request and draws some blood before he leaves.

Later that night we see Lorne and Keller meeting up in a secluded corner. Lorne tells her he thought the problem had been dealt with, especially after he destroyed the probe. Keller tells Lorne that "they" are getting suspicious, but they aren't yet close to discovering the truth. They do bear watching, though.

The next day Keller finds John and shows him the results of his blood test: all clean. She is puzzled when John is less than pleased by this news. He tells her this leaves them without an explanation for his "magical head wound." Keller insists that he is ignoring the obvious explanation: John was never actually cut. John doesn't buy it though. He asked Ronon and the other man was never bleeding. Ronon also saw John's wound and thought it needed stitches. Keller plasters a strained grin on her face and tells John that she will run a new blood test if he'd like.

That evening Rodney enters a lab and finds the rest of his team waiting for him, their faces grim. He asks what's going on and John grabs his hand, pulls out a knife, and slices it open. Rodney starts to freak out but then John hands him a towel and when he wipes the blood from his hand, there is no cut. Teyla assures Rodney that all three of them performed the same test on themselves. Something is definitely hinky. John explains about his cut from the night before and Rodney realizes he thinks that Keller lied to him. Rodney accesses the infirmary's database from the lab and they are surprised to find no record of either John's blood test or body scan. Teyla remarks that they need to go conduct their own tests to find out what is really going on.

John and Teyla head to the infirmary, intending to sneak in and use the body scanner. Rodney and Ronon remain in the lab so that Rodney can use the city's life signs sensors to help them avoid running into anyone. Rodney is having trouble with the scanner though--it doesn't seem to be on a live feed, but rather on a loop. He fiddles a little and finally gets it fixed, but that only increases his confusion. The live feed is showing only four life signs in the entire city: those of the team. John is clearly unsettled by this but it also makes him even more determined to press on. He and Teyla continue to the infirmary.

Lorne and Radek find Keller standing on a balcony looking out at the ocean. Lorne tells Keller that they have a problem.

Rodney keeps checking the city's sensors and does find a fifth life sign. Ronon decides they should go check it out.

In the infirmary, Teyla scans John and the screen shows that he is crawling with nanites.

Rodney and Ronon use a life signs detector to track the fifth signal and it leads them to a hidden room. They get the door open and find that its occupant is Elizabeth, asleep on a table of some kind. They run to her side and get her woken up. Rodney asks how she got there and she answers that she has no idea. From behind them Keller pops up that she can tell them the answer to that question. Elizabeth is in that room because she was created there...they all were.

As John and Teyla stare at his scan, trying to come up with explanations, Lorne arrives in the infirmary, accompanied by several soldiers. He tells John and Teyla they need to come with him, but John refuses to comply, aiming his gun at Lorne and telling him to stand down. Lorne calmly replies that the gun won't hurt him and tells John to go ahead and shoot. John does, aiming for Lorne's leg, and is quite surprised when it morphs and then heals, Terminator 2 style.

In the hidden room, Keller explains to Rodney, Ronon, and Elizabeth that she and Lorne and the others in the city are all replicators. Rodney says it is not possible that the replicators could have replaced everyone in the city without them noticing and Keller says that they are not on the real Atlantis. This city is only a copy, made for their experiment.

In the infirmary, Lorne is also explaining the situation to John and Teyla. He tells them that the team (and Elizabeth) are not replicators. They are completely organic beings, manufactured from the inside out by nanites. Some nanites remain in each of them to effect repairs as necessary (hence the magical healing abilities). John still isn't buying it, but Lorne explains that the team's memories all came from when they were mind-probed while in replicator captivity a year ago.

Rodney calls Keller on this fact, pointing out that a year ago Carson was their head of medicine and Keller hadn't even arrived in the city. Replicator Keller (R!Keller) agrees, but adds that the team's memories were updated after the most recent capture of one of their expedition: Elizabeth Weir. So everything they know is everything that happened until Elizabeth was left behind on Asuras.

The team and Elizabeth are put into the city's brig. Elizabeth still isn't quite sure she believes the replicators' story. She asks John for his knife and performs the test on herself, cutting her palm open and watching as it heals shut instantly. Everyone is still a little unsure of whether or not to completely believe R!Keller's story, but Rodney says it actually makes a lot of sense. It explains a lot of the weirdness they have been noticing over the past week.

Elizabeth asks to speak with R!Keller. She learns that the real Elizabeth is dead, was killed shortly after her capture on Asuras, by Oberoth's orders. R!Keller's group are rebels among the replicators, not following Oberoth's drive for revenge. They want to study the humanity of their organic creations, hoping it will be the key to learning how to ascend. Elizabeth realizes that they are part of Niam's group and R!Keller confirms this. She explains that while most of her like-minded fellows were reprogrammed after Niam's escape, she and some others managed to stay hidden within the collective. Elizabeth wonders aloud why R!Keller would bother to share all of this information with her and R!Keller says it is because she has an open mind. She adds that they also need to gauge the reactions of the team so that they will no how to do it better next time.

Elizabeth returns to the team and informs them that R!Keller and the others plan to wipe their memories and start over on a new planet. That probe really was from the replicators, from Oberoth's group. They had been looking for the defectors and finally found them. The rebels plan to move the city and then give their experiment another try.

R!Keller comes to visit them and Elizabeth tries to convince her to let them go. R!Keller says it is too late for that, the other replicators have arrived. From above they can hear the sounds of the city being bombarded and we see a replicator ship moving in to attack. Rodney tells her to raise the shield but she explains that is just not possible. They couldn't take too many ZPMs from Asuras without attracting attention and creating the team and Elizabeth used up most of their power. Elizabeth redoubles her argument to be set free, pointing out that if they all die during the attack the experiment was a complete failure. R!Keller is clearly torn and Elizabeth presses the advantage, telling her that if they are let free, they will be able to fight back against Oberoth and his injustices. R!Keller relents and leads them to the jumper bay. In the control room she stops to give them the core drive of a replicator ship. She explains that they can use it to track all of the replicator warships in the galaxy in real time. Elizabeth asks her to come with them but she declines, saying she would only be a liability and that Oberoth would find them by tracking her. They say goodbye and take a jumper, escaping the city. From the cloaked jumper they watch as the city is destroyed by the replicator warship (fulfilling Davos' vision from a few episodes ago).

Without a working stargate on the planet, John decides that their best course of action is to stay cloaked and hitch a ride into hyperspace with the replicator ship when it leaves. While they wait out the hyperspace journey, John and Elizabeth discuss their next course of action. John thinks they need to get back to Atlantis, they definitely need to pass on the the core drive to their counterparts. Elizabeth isn't so sure they will be a welcome sight, however. Still, they are not sure what else they should do. Their resolve to make contact with Atlantis is strengthened when they arrive at the replicator homeworld and find that the replicators have been quite busy replacing their destroyed shipyard--and then some. They sneak down in the jumper and steal a ship with hyperdrive and then head for a friendly planet with a gate.

In real Atlantis, Rodney is telling John about the gate diagnostic he is about to run when the gate activates. One of their offworld teams is checking in and reports to John that there is someone who wants to speak to him. John looks at the screen in amazement as duplicate Elizabeth (D!Elizabeth) steps into view. He and Rodney are overjoyed at first, greeting her warmly and asking how she escaped from the replicators and how she has been. D!Elizabeth shakes her head and explains that she is not the real Elizabeth and gives them a brief explanation of who she actually is. She hints at the others as well and then tells John that they do need to meet. She has important information for him.

The team gates to the planet and meets up with their duplicates. Awkward is an understatement (the two Ronons quite clearly do not like each other at all). D!Rodney hands over the core drive and they explain what it is. The two Rodneys start geeking out about it and about getting to work together. D!John says they'll probably need to do it on the planet since he and the others are a security risk for Atlantis and John agrees, surprised at the candor. Rodney runs back to Atlantis to get the equipment they will need to get the drive working. While he does that John looks at his duplicate and tells him that they had another reason for agreeing to come. He asks if they have any news of where the real Elizabeth might be, and if they are willing to help them rescue her. D!John and D!Elizabeth exchange a sad look and tell John that Elizabeth is dead.

The Rodneys get to work on the drive and the groups split up. John takes a walk with D!Elizabeth while Ronon and Teyla and D!Ronon and D!Teyla break off to patrol the area, each Ronon lamenting the situation with his respective Teyla trying to calm him down and (in D!Ronon's case) get him to accept his new situation. Everyone is very clearly unsettled by the whole thing. Even though the duplicates clearly don't like the idea that they are copies and that they can't just go on resuming the lives that their memories tell them are theirs they all seem to accept the fact that they can't go to Atlantis. Given their replicator origins, they are a threat, willingly or no, organic or no.

Their ruminations are interrupted by a distant rumbling sound and they look up to find that a replicator ship has arrived at the planet. D!Elizabeth realizes it must have found them by tracking the ship they stole. Everyone regroups at the tent. John orders they fall back to the gate but his men there radio that it is a no go, the replicators have a ship positioned to take out anyone who goes through. The next plan is to fall back to the jumper. D!Elizabeth tells John that if any of them are going to survive this, they will need a diversion.

At the gate, the jumper flies by and uncloaks. The replicator gives chase and as soon as it is gone, the gate activates (presumably dialed by the jumper). The replicators manage to shoot down the jumper and go in on foot to check it out. They see the bodies of the team sprawled in the wreckage, but as they get closer, D!John sits up and his wounds heal. He smirks at the replicator that he fooled them. The replicator brings up his gun and fires. In Atlantis, John leads his team and the other offworld team through the gate and then orders control to shut it down, saying that no one else is coming. The duplicates sacrificed themselves so that everyone else could get away.

Later, Rodney throws himself into working on the core drive. Radek tries to get him to take a break but Rodney says he'd rather keep busy. He is trying not to think about the fact that they now know for a certainty that Elizabeth is dead. It is Carson all over again, he tells Radek, and he's just not ready to deal with it yet. A little while later John comes by and tries to get Rodney to call it a night but he still won't be dissuaded. John seems to understand though. He tells Rodney that he has been packing up Elizabeth's personal belongings and just shipped them back to Earth. He knows he should have done it months ago, but he kept hoping they would get her back. Now, he knows they won't. They commiserate for a moment and then John turns to leave, telling Rodney to let him know when the tracking device is up and running. Before he gets out of the room, Rodney calls him back. The device is online. They fire it up and slowly and the computer beeps as dots start lighting up on the screen, showing them the location of the replicator ships. They watch in dismay as the dots keep appearing. The screen fades to black, and the episode closes with the sound of several more beeps in rapid succession, followed by a very unhappy "Oh crap" from Rodney.


So. Wow. This is a really interesting episode. I actually really like how they did the mystery bit at the start, and having the team figure out something was up and going ahead and doing something about it. I also think that Jewel Staite and Kavan Smith did a really good job as portraying Keller and Lorne just a little bit off from their normal characters. It was noticeable, but not distracting. I definitely did not figure out what was going on before the reveal the first time I saw this, though, like Rodney, I knew that something was up.

Also, how bizarro is it that Lorne's worst nightmare was that John is a replicator, and then the replicators running the experiment decided to use Lorne as one of their avatars? That...amused me.

But the three big pieces of news we get in this episode:

  1. Elizabeth is actually really dead. Bummer. Still, it is good for John to learn this so he can move on (and everyone else in the city, I suppose).
  2. There is dissension in the ranks among the replicators. The faction that doesn't want revenge on the humans (or to kill the wraith), but instead wants to follow in their creators' footsteps and ascend is still alive and kicking. They are also more willing to work with humans (even though they are not the most ethical of people, they are still better than Oberoth's crew).
  3. The replicators have a ton of warships. Way more than we had anticipated. This is very important if our heroes want to shut off their wraith attack code, since it presumably means they will return to trying to destroy Atlantis. At least they know what they are up against now, and have a way to track the ships. It's a start.
I am not so sure how I feel about the duplicates so willingly sacrificing themselves for the originals, but in a way I understand. This isn't the first series (or even the first Stargate series) to tackle the topic of self when it comes to clones/duplicates, but I do like the down to earth way that everyone handled the matter in this episode. Yes, it was creepy as hell--for all parties involved--but everyone was respectful of everyone else's rights. That the duplicates were so willing to accept that the fact that they were not in actuality human and work within the limitations they had says a lot about the character of all individuals concerned, I think. No one fought about it, it wasn't all dragged out and preachy. It was simply another weird situation and everyone did their best to deal with the mess once they found themselves thrown into the middle of it.

I do have to say, there is a small part of me that is still vaguely annoyed that the replicators are such a huge part of the show this season. SG-1 featured replicators more than enough, in my opinion, and I would have much preferred to see the show writers visit a new type of foe than to rehash an old storyline. Still, as always, they managed to keep it separate from what came before and to give it a very Pegasus-spin. It isn't exactly the same old replicator story. I guess what I am saying is that if we are going to be saddled with the replicators as an official big bad of yet another series, at least they did a good job of making it unique to Atlantis

Favorite Quotes

"What the...? What happened?!" (Rodney)
"Well, either your sandwich exploded or that mystery drone had a built-in self-destruct protocol." (John)

"We're genetically predisposed to being...stubborn. Really pesky." (John)

"Outputted? Is that even a word?" (John)
"Of course it is!" (Rodney)
"We can't both be wrong." (D!Rodney)


Et viola! Just like that, we are halfway through the season. For once, the writers saw fit not to end the tenth episode with a crazy cliffhanger. Although I suppose the sudden influx of replicator ships was meant to be one of a sort. Oh well. As it happens, we will be taking a break next week anyway, since I will be out of town. We'll resume on Monday April 2 with the next episode, "Be All My Sins Remembered." See you then!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

At Last!!

Would you like to see that scarf I have been yammering on about since last September?

Here you go:

Wit Beyond Measure by Cori 2012.

Pattern: Year 3-4 Scarf (Ravenclaw) by Lauren Kent [from Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter by Alison Hansel]
Yarn: Berroco Vintage colorway 5188 (five balls) and Berroco Comfort colorway 9729 (one ball)
Needles: US 6

Isn't it beautiful?? I love this scarf! Almost as much as I love its new owner. I had lunch with my friend Miss T last weekend and was able to hand over her (early) birthday present then. She seemed pretty happy with it as well.

You guys, this thing is massive:

Folded in half it is almost as tall as I am...

Miss T was gracious enough to model it for you guys too, yay!

Why is it that the replica scarves I want to make are always like twenty feet long? And have fringe? Sigh. Still, the end result is totally worth it. There are two scarf patterns in Charmed Knits, and this is the one Miss T's husband thought she would prefer (which she agreed with when I gave it to her). This one is a 1x1 rib and has a nice springy texture. The other one features the big thick stripes and is completely knit in the round (it's a tube and is folded flat when done). I would still like to make myself one of those in Gryffindor colors, but I think it will be a while before I knit another scarf.

There are lots of other (smaller) patterns in that book I want to give a shot anyway. Like maybe a vest, or socks...also, there is a pattern inspired by Molly Weasley's insanely awesome sweater with those crazy floppy crocheted sleeves. Though if I make that there will be some serious modification to at least the colors of the pattern.

I had a devil of a time finding the right yarn for this project, I have to admit. But the owner of my local yarn store came through and we finally settled on the Vintage for the blue and the Comfort for the grey. They have two slightly different textures, and the grey is a little smoother and shinier than the blue, but I like how the contrast came out. It gives the scarf a nice extra little bit of detail. Also, I am completely in love with that Vintage. I want to make myself something in it too...if I can find it in a nice grey it could be good for a vest, methinks.

So that's one long-standing unfinished project checked off the list. Only one more to go. Now I have to come to a decision. I haven't touched that sweater in months. I have no idea where I am in the pattern, and there is no guarantee my gauge will be the same when I get back to it. So...I am thinking about frogging it and just setting it aside to start over again when I actually have the time to sit down and work on it later this year. I hate to do that, but I am starting to think it is the best course to take. I feel really bad for it, but at this point, I kind of don't even want to touch it. Undoing it all and then starting over when I am in a better frame of mind about it seems more fair to the sweater than being annoyed at it for getting started when I really shouldn't have been embarking on such an ambitious side project.

Hmm. It will bear some deep thought. We shall see. I will let you know what I decide, in either case. Started a new blanket this weekend and am pretty happy with how that is going along, so yay for that! I am also looking at a few small projects and trying to decide which one to take with me on my trip next week, since blankets don't really travel well (at least not by plane).

Speaking of my trip, no post next week, since I will be in California visiting my sister and mom. I should have lots to show you after I get back, however, since I've already lost count of how many yarn stores my mom is planning for us to visit. Also, my sister wants to try to get a yarn-bombing project put together if we can find the time. That could be interesting.

Until then, folks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Miller's Crossing

Howdy folks! Welcome to another installment of the Stargate Atlantis rewatch. Today we are looking at season four's episode "Miller's Crossing."

Here there be spoilers.

What Happened

Rodney and a gaggle of scientists are cloistered in a lab and clearly stuck on whatever problem they have been attempting to tackle. After a few moments, Radek pipes up that Rodney should just ask "her" for help. Rodney starts to protest but Radek persists and Rodney gives in an agrees. The other scientists take the opportunity to skedaddle. Cut to Earth, and we find ourselves in the Miller household, where Rodney's sister Jeannie is making cookies with her husband Kaleb and daughter Madison. Her laptop beeps and she checks it to find she has an email from Rodney, asking for help. Later that evening, Jeannie and Kaleb are talking in bed when a group of heavily armed men bust into the room. They tell Jeannie to come with them.

Rodney, John, and Ronon step through the stargate into the SGC and are greeted by Agent Barrett of the NID (a branch of the FBI that specializes in stargate-program related problems on Earth). He tells them that they have yet to receive a ransom call from the kidnappers and that the Daedalus is standing by in orbit to beam them to Jeannie's house in Canada. After they change clothes, of course (everyone shoots Ronon a pointed look). They arrive at the Miller household, Ronon grumbling about his new garb, and Rodney is less than warmly greeted by his family. Kaleb is blaming Rodney for Jeannie's kidnapping and Rodney doesn't even try to make excuses. He just promises Kaleb that he will get her back.

Rodney doesn't think that the timing of Jeannie's kidnapping so soon after his email to her is a coincidence, so he starts by looking at her computer. He explains to Barrett, John, and Ronon that while his last email had been related to stopping the replicators, what Jeannie had been helping him with up until then was coding for a nanite-based medical program (similar to what he used to heal Elizabeth, but more refined). Sitting down at the computer, he tells John and Ronon it will probably take him several hours and they should head to the hotel. He will call them when he finds something.

Jeannie is led into a lab of some sort with a bag over her head. One of her guards pulls it off and she looks around, clearly terrified. A well-dressed, businessy looking gentleman walks in and introduces himself as Henry Wallace. He tells Jeannie he needs her help.

Rodney calls Ronon to let him know that he managed to discover the signal used to monitor Jeannie's computer. He was able to track down an address and is headed there with Agent Barrett. He gives the address to Ronon so that Ronon and John can meet them there. Rodney and Barrett arrive at a warehouse of some sort and debate waiting for John and Ronon but Rodney doesn't want to waste any time. As they go in, they are ambushed and Barrett is knocked out. He comes to when John and Ronon arrive and they realize that Rodney has been taken as well.

Rodney is brought to the same facility where Jeannie is being held and thrown into the lab with her. Wallace greets him and Rodney starts to threaten him with a multitude of heavily armed marines, but Wallace just gloats that he doubts it, since he had Rodney's subcutaneous transmitter disabled. That knocks the wind out of Rodney's sails a little bit and he asks Wallace who the heck he is. Wallace gives his name and Rodney recognizes it, telling Jeannie he is president of Devlin Medical Technologies--a company that the SGC funnels its technological advances reverse-engineered from alien tech through. Wallace isn't supposed to know about that part of it though, and he admits that after years of such astounding breakthroughs from the military, he got curious. He did some digging and was able to learn the truth about the SGC and Rodney's role in it.

He takes them to a sickroom and shows them a young girl hooked up to all kinds of monitors. His daughter Sharon has leukemia, he tells them, and has proven extremely resistant to all known types of treatment. But his company has been working on manufacturing the nanites for Rodney's medical program and Wallace thought that might be the answer to curing Sharon's illness. His programmers thought they had the code sorted out--which Rodney scoffs at--and so he went ahead and injected his daughter with the nanites. Unfortunately, they are not working properly (since they were just a prototype and nowhere near ready for actual use). Not only are they not curing the cancer, but they are also causing more problems, making Sharon's condition even worse. Wallace looks at Rodney and Jeannie and tells them to fix the nanites. Save his daughter, and he'll let them go.

They are taken back to the lab and Jeannie gets to work looking at the nanites that were injected into Sharon. She realizes that they are not communicating with each other and so cannot work together to cure the young girl's illness. She tries to explain this to Rodney but he is clearly not paying attention. After a moment he looks up and explains that because Wallace gave them access to the network to keep an eye on Sharon, he has been able to hack the mainframe and unlock the door to their room. He also memorized the layout of the building so that they can escape. Jeannie isn't very happy about this though--she is appalled that Rodney would just leave Sharon in such a condition when there is something they can do about it. Wallace did promise to let them go. Rodney doesn't trust Wallace, however. He points out that if Wallace does let them go, then he will be sent to prison, and has a hard time believing the man would go willingly. He also points out that fixing the nanites is a long shot anyway, and there's definitely no way Wallace will let them go if they fail to cure Sharon. Convinced, but unhappy, Jeannie agrees to make a run for it. They get out of their room without incident but quickly get lost in the building and are recaptured by Wallace's guards pretty quickly.

Wallace, as you can imagine, is pretty pissed about the escape attempt. He feels betrayed that they would just abandon his daughter like that, though Rodney points out that Wallace hasn't given them much incentive to trust him, what with the kidnapping and all. Wallace nods and picks up a syringe. He tells Rodney he will give him all of the incentive he needs and then doses Jeannie with the same nanites that are in Sharon. Now they have to fix them, or the nanites will start to wreak havoc in Jeannie as well. With renewed motivation, the pair gets back to work. The big problem is that most of the coding is still based on the replicator coding, even though these particular nanites are incapable of replicating themselves. But restraints had been embedded in the coding to prevent the nanites from doing any harm to their host. Unfortunately, the nanites have been rendered ineffective by the restraints. The only way to get them to communicate and work together to repair Sharon's body is to unleash them. They get to work on updating the code.

Back at the SGC John, Ronon, and Barrett have been going through the files trying to find out anything they can about the ambush site and the signal that led them there. They brainstorm about potential people who might want to kidnap Jeannie and Rodney and aren't having much luck coming up with anything. The fact that Rodney's transmitter was disabled means that whoever took the pair has intimate knowledge of the SGC and its protocol. John wonders aloud if Rodney was working with anyone on Earth besides Jeannie in his nanite project and Barrett says no, but there was a company that was manufacturing nanites for them independently. He begins looking for the information. Ronon excuses himself to go get some food, clearly frustrated at their lack of progress. He tells John that he doesn't feel like he'll be of much use until they find someone for him to point a gun at.

Jeannie and Rodney managed to get the updated code finished and uploaded to the nanites. Now they have been left to wait in their lab to find out if it worked or not.  With a little time on their hands, they catch up a bit, with Jeannie pestering Rodney about his personal life. A guard comes in after a while and tells them to come with him. He leads them to Sharon's room where they find her sitting up in bed, healthy and alert and, according to Wallace, completely cured. He introduces Rodney and Jeannie to her and she thanks them for saving her life.

Ronon has been cornered in the mess hall by Walter, who is regaling him with a series of very inane stories. Ronon is clearly contemplating violence towards the technician when John finds him and says he thinks they've found the connection they've been looking for. Ronon leaves without a word to Walter, relieved that there is finally something for him to help with.

Wallace takes Rodney and Jeannie to his office and wants to toast with champagne to their success. Rodney is much more interested in whether or not Wallace will be letting them go now. Wallace says yes, he will. He tells them he's known he was going to prison ever since he decided on the course of action to kidnap Jeannie and (hopefully) lure Rodney to him as well. He doesn't care about prison, all he wanted was to save his daughter. They raise their glasses but are interrupted by someone at the door. They are called to Sharon's room and arrive to find her crashing, with doctors trying to revive her. Unfortunately, they are unable to do anything and Sharon is declared dead. Wallace races to her side, crying over her and Rodney begins to quietly freak out, realizing that the nanites still aren't fixed--and are still in Jeannie. Jeannie moves forward to console Wallace at his loss and to plead with him to keep his promise to let him go, reminding him that she is still infected and needs to get to a better lab or else she will likely die too. He starts to shake his head but suddenly Sharon takes a deep breath, waking up. Everyone looks at her with confused concern.

Sharon lapses into a coma and Rodney and Jeannie head back to the lab and realize that the nanites are still very much active. They shouldn't be, as they were programmed to shut themselves off after curing the cancer. But Jeannie realizes that when they unleashed the restraints on the nanites, they also broadened the scope of their protocol. They weren't programmed to specifically cure cancer. Sharon's "death" was caused by her heart suddenly shutting down. They ask Wallace if Sharon had any heart conditions unrelated to the cancer and he replies in the affirmative. They realize that the nanites remained active because there were still elements of the body to repair--in order to fix the heart the nanites simply shut it down while they worked on it. But shutting down the heart like that deprived Sharon's brain of oxygen for several minutes, long enough to cause some pretty severe brain damage. Rodney points out that the nanites would be able to repair that damage but Jeannie says they wouldn't be able to repair the lost memories or knowledge or sense of self that occurred. Rodney agrees but says the nanites don't care about that. They are just programmed to fix any perceived damage. Wallace is confused, asking if Sharon will stay in her coma. They explain that technically, her brain is perfectly healthy, but everything that made her Sharon is gone, she has been reset. Jeannie starts to freak out, realizing that the nanites will be looking for things in her to repair. She doesn't have cancer, but she does have epilepsy. She and Rodney both realize that once the nanites find that, they will just shut down her brain to "fix" it--basically killing her.

As Rodney frantically tries to think of a way to resolve the situation before Jeannie is "shut down for repairs" the rescue team arrives. Rodney rushes to John and doesn't even bother thanking him, just asks if the Daedalus is in orbit and tells him they need to get Jeannie to the SGC pronto. John has them beamed out.  Rodney puts Jeannie in a medically induced coma to buy some time. He also breaks both of her legs to distract the nanites from going after her brain. He tells the others that gives them about ten hours to get the nanites shut down. Barrett asks if they can just use an EMP, but Rodney says no. These nanites were specifically designed to be resistant to that kind of tech. He admits that he needs help to get this done and so they contact Atlantis and have their wraith prisoner brought to Earth to help since the wraith understands the replicator code the nanites are using better than anyone. The wraith is indifferent to Rodney's plight, but he manages to talk the wraith into helping by pointing out that success in this will be a big step towards figuring out how to defeat the replicators themselves (and it also won't hurt his chances of being released one day to prove to the Lanteans and SGC that he is trustworthy).

Science montage!

They are starting to run out of time, but also close to solving the problem, when the wraith collapses at his station. He hasn't fed since before being taken captive and is starving to death. He is unable to continue the work without feeding. Rodney tells John that he volunteers to feed the wraith and John is dead set against it, pointing out that Rodney is unlikely to survive such an encounter. Rodney tells him it doesn't matter. He's just learned that Sharon died. The nanites were continuing to try to fix her various internal injuries when they gave out due to a manufacturing defect. She bled out internally before anyone could do anything to even try to save her. He tells John there is no way he can let Jeannie die too. John is still adamant and refuses to let Rodney volunteer, telling him he is too damn valuable to sacrifice. When Rodney objects, John pulls rank, pointing out that Rodney doesn't get a say in the matter.

Still, John doesn't want to see Jeannie die. So he goes to talk to Wallace, in custody and grieving over the final loss of his daughter. John presents him with the situation, tells him about the wraith, and shows him pictures of Jeannie's family, specifically of Madison. He basically guilts Wallace into volunteering to feed the wraith in order to make up for all that he has caused. Freshly fed, the wraith completes the program and they are able to get the nanites shut down (apparently after they finished repairing Jeannie's broken legs). Jeannie is brought out of the coma and is all fine and well. Rodney takes her home and spends a few days with her family (and she guilts him into buying them a new car).

Back in Atlantis  Rodney goes to talk to John, to thank him for talking Wallace into sacrificing himself. John doesn't really want to talk about it. He is clearly not comfortable with how things went down, but he also knows he did what he had to do. Rodney is grateful nonetheless and they kind of exchange an unspoken promise never to speak of it again.


This is an...interesting episode, plot-wise. It definitely went dark toward the end, and it gave us more of an idea of what lengths John is willing to go to in order to protect those he cares about. As far as how this episode ties in to the rest of the season, well, we learn that the wraith is still in captivity in Atlantis, and they are still working with him to try to figure out how to shut down the replicator attack code. We also have to assume that figuring out this part of the puzzle is a big leap forward in understanding the overall replicator code as well, and in finding a way to defeat them.

But that aside, there are lots of things to love about this episode. First, there's Ronon. His appearance here only strengthens my theory about his brotherly bond with Rodney. Because, as he pointed out, there's not a lot for him to actually do in this episode. Even the pointing a gun at someone could have been done by one of the SGC's many, many soldiers. The only reason for Ronon to be here at all is as support for Rodney. I love that. Also, the whole bit about making him wear clothes to help him "blend in" was pretty fabulous. I don't imagine Earth is that much more advanced than Sateda was before it was destroyed, maybe fifty or sixty years at the most. So Ronon's discomfort at being on Earth is, I think, more indicative at how much Earth maybe reminds him of what he's lost than of being overwhelmed by its technology and whatnot. Yet another reason to suspect he wouldn't have gone to help Rodney if he didn't specifically want to help Rodney.

I like that they delved a little bit into the fact that the SGC is funneling its alien tech through legitimate corporations. It's not as heavily emphasized in Atlantis as it was in SG-1, but one of the justifications for keeping the program up and running is to find technology that can provide scientific advances to Earth. Atlantis itself is (or was meant to be) a primarily scientific expedition. So of course the things that they find and the advancements they make are going to be put to use on Earth, and there has to be some sort of legitimate explanation for how that technology came to be. It's an interesting piece of back story to me, that makes the overall universe in which this show is set just that much more fully realized.

Then, of course, there's the sibling banter. Put Jeannie and Rodney in a scene together and it is going to be excellent, no matter what else is happening in the episode. I would have loved to have seen her made a more permanent member of the cast, because she just brought so much to the show. Rodney always feels so much more real when he's around her. It's a beautiful thing. Also, I love the fact that Rodney is trying so dang hard to be a good brother to Jeannie. It is a real bit of character growth that continues to warm my heart every time it comes up in the series.

Favorite Quotes

"I cannot sit here waiting for you to have an epiphany! I'm losing the will to live!" (Radek)

"I look dumb." (Ronon)
"Helps you blend in a little." (John)
"I'm gonna stand out no matter what you dress me in." (Ronon)
"That's a good point." (John)

"Look, I'm really sorry about all of this." (Rodney)
"I really don't wanna talk about this right now, okay? We need to rewrite this program and upload it to my nanites. I will yell at you later, okay?" (Jeannie)
"Okay." (Rodney)

"So, are you going to marry that Katie girl?" (Jeannie)
"What?!" (Rodney)
"You heard me." (Jeannie)
"Where did that come from?" (Rodney)
"I'm trying to take my mind off the fact that I have tiny robots running through my veins because you needed help with your homework. Would you rather talk about that?" (Jeannie)
"Not really." (Rodney)
"So are you gonna marry her?" (Jeannie)
"I don't know." (Rodney)
"You've been dating for over a year now." (Jeannie)
"I'm aware of that, thank you!" (Rodney)
"You think you're gonna find someone better?" (Jeannie)
"No, it's not that." (Rodney)
"Cause you're not!" (Jeannie)
"Hang on..." (Rodney)
"The fact that you've find a nice girl who's willing to put up with all your many little flaws is a miracle." (Jeannie)
"Look..." (Rodney)
"Plus, physically, you're...well, how do I put this? You're no John Sheppard." (Jeannie)

"I'm really sorry about all this." (Rodney)
"Oh, I am gonna hold this over your head for...forever." (Jeannie)
"Oh, that's totally fair." (Rodney)
"Like, you're gonna eat a lot of vegetarian food. And not complain about it." (Jeannie)
"Sure, sure." (Rodney)
"And you're gonna read Madison three stories instead of her usual two." (Jeannie)
"Right." (Rodney)
"You're gonna buy me a car." (Jeannie)
"Let's not get out of control here." (Rodney)
"You almost got me killed. That's at least a car--a nice one. A hybrid." (Jeannie)
"Yeah, well, we'll talk about it on the way home." (Rodney)

"Say, you and I are about even when it comes to looks, right?" (Rodney)
"Who's been lying to you?" (John)
"No, I'm serious." (Rodney)
"I am too. Who's been lying to you?" (John)


That wraps up today. See you back here on Wednesday as we hit the midpoint of the season with "This Mortal Coil."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Here, Have A Cat On a T-Rex

Yeah, he's judging you. Try not to take it too personally, he does that to everyone.

Because it's Friday, and because my brain checked out for the weekend yesterday. Maybe it's a lame excuse, but it really seems like Daylight Savings Time hit our house pretty hard this year--it has certainly wreaked all sorts of havoc on Baby Girl's sleeping schedule.

Also, my mind has kind of been crazy consumed with Mass Effect 3 of late (and trying to avoid spoilers for the apparent emotional roller coaster that is the ending). Hell, even Baby Girl is into it, because instead of sleeping, she wants to sit in my lap at night and watch me play. Whenever she hears me fire it up she cries "Mommy's game!" and comes running to be hoisted up to sit with me. I didn't even think that my character looked that much like me but whenever Baby Girl sees her on the screen she points and exclaims "Mommy!" with delight.

I think we have successfully managed to raise a nerd.

Anyhoo, so, have a fantastic weekend folks. I am going to have lunch with a friend this afternoon and then see if maybe I can't make the time to check out a few episodes of Game of Thrones this weekend (yeah, I totally caved and picked up the set when it came out last week). Also, I think I'll start up the next blanket that needs to be made.

Whoo! What a wild and crazy life I do lead.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are You Looking For Something To Do This Weekend?

If I might make a suggestion, I think you should go see John Carter.

Why, yes, that does mean that I liked it. Quite a bit, actually.

In fact, I thought it was a pretty darn fun movie. That seems to be a trend from the reviews and comments I've been seeing online as well. I suppose it could be selective reading. I mean, Flick Filosopher could not stand it, but while I can see where she is coming from and respect her point of view (unlike some of the insert-many-very-not-nice-words-here who decided to start a troll-fest in the comments section of her review), I do not agree with her overall takeaway. My experience with the film was quite positive, and it seems to me like the majority of the people who saw it enjoyed themselves.

Here are a few of the positive reviews I've come across:

io9: John Carter Will Dazzle You With the Best (and Worst) of Retro Futurism

Pink Raygun: John Carter Didn't Suck

Tor: Cynicism Aside, John Carter is a Charmer

Don't get me wrong, as a fan of the books, I had a few misgivings with some of the liberties they took, mostly because I thought they were either unnecessary or just weird choices. But if I'm being honest, I completely understand why either Disney or Andrew Stanton felt those changes needed to be made. In either case, the end result was, as I said, a very fun movie.

It's an adventure. It's a man who thinks he's lost everything struggling to accept an unexpected offer of new purpose. It's got aliens of many different shapes and sizes, ships that fly on light, some preposterous (yet fun) assumptions about how gravity affects a person from one planet to the next, and a woman who can hold her own with a sword and still do science better than the dudes. It's a real, honest-to-goodness, popcorn munching, laugh-out-loud, enjoy yourself movie. Completely worth the price of admission (though if you can find a 2D showing, I'd go for that unless you just really dig the whole experience of 3D).

Unless the negative hype you are hearing comes specifically from a person you know and who knows what you do or do not enjoy in a film, I advise you to make up your own mind. I think all of the negative press and poor marketing (and make no mistake, this film was marketed poorly when I look at the trailers and compare them to the actual movie) has set people up to expect it to fail miserably and therefore leads people to assume it is bad.

It's not. It turns out it is really kind of wonderful instead.

So, that's my two cents. If you're looking for a fun activity this weekend, good for pretty much everyone in the family, I vote John Carter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SGA Rewatch: The Seer

Welcome to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Are you ready to go on another adventure with our favorite intergalactic explorers? Are you ready to find out what's up with Teyla? If yes, please read on as we discuss season four's "The Seer."

Spoilers for the episode and all that came before, yada, yada, yada...

What Happened

Teyla has gathered the team in Sam's office to recommend a mission for them. She tells her friends of a people called the Vedeenans and admits that while she has never met them personally, she is aware of many people who trade with them. Most interestingly, their leader, Davos, is well known to be something of a seer or prophet. While Rodney loudly expresses his skepticism at such a thing, Sam quickly realizes that Teyla wants to ask Davos about the Athosians. Teyla admits that she knows it sounds like a desperate move, but at this point it has been several weeks since they disappeared. Though Atlantis has searched thoroughly, they have turned up neither hide nor hair of their missing allies. Rodney and John both admit that the most recent reports have all returned more of the same: nothing.

They gear up and get ready to head to Vedeena. John tells the others that by all accounts they are a very skittish people and so the group (he looks specifically at Ronon and Rodney) need to be on their best behavior and try not to scare the Vedeenans off. When the team steps through the gate, however, they find a group of Vedeenans waiting for them. A woman in the front greets them and introduces herself as Linara. She knows they are from Atlantis and tells them that they have been expecting the team for some time.

Back on Atlantis, Woolsey steps through the gate, greeted by Sam. They make small talk, discussing the midway station and that anyone using it to travel has to stay for a twenty-four hour quarantine period before moving from one galaxy to the next. We then learn the purpose for Woolsey's visit. He is there to perform Sam's three month evaluation. He promises he is there to observe only and not to butt in. While they are talking, the stargate activates and Sam goes to the control room. She tells Woolsey it is one of their offworld teams that has been sent to deliver medical supplies to a planet that was recently culled. The soldier on the other end reports that there has been a "development." He says that the people on the planet told him that after the culling another hive arrived. It didn't attack, though. A wraith came down and told the people to deliver a message to the Lanteans when they arrived. The message is that the wraith wants to have a meeting with John.

On Vedeena, Linara leads the team to Davos, explaining that he had a vision of their arrival and that is how they knew the team was coming. She also explains that Davos is very ill. If they truly do come from the city of the Ancestors...John picks up her meaning and promises that if they can help him, they will. Linara is grateful and reveals that in addition to his importance to the village, he is also very important to her, as he is her father. They arrive at the village and are taken to meet Davos. He immediately picks up on Rodney's doubt of his gift and extends his hand. When Rodney looks at him in confusion he explains that one of his abilities is to be able to share his visions with others. After a moment, Rodney takes his hand and he sees the team on a forested planet, walking through some ruins, suddenly ambushed by a group of armed wraith.

After sharing his vision with Rodney, Davos falls ill, so the team returns to Atlantis to report what they have learned. Sam is intrigued. She explains about the wraith message that they received and tells the team that she sent a recon team to scope out the meeting coordinates provided by the message. It bears a striking resemblance to Rodney's vision. From the villagers' descriptions, the wraith wanting to meet John also sounds like the wraith who helped John escape from Kolya a while back. They are curious about the message, and despite some skepticism about Davos' vision, decide to take extra precautions when they head to meet the wraith. They are ambushed exactly as Rodney saw, but they also brought along two cloaked jumpers as well, and quickly gain the upper hand with the wraith.

Keller, meanwhile, has been sent to Vedeena to check out Davos' failing health. She reports back to Sam that he appears to have cancer and there isn't a lot she can do for him offworld. Woolsey, convinced of Davos' abilities by the team's encounter with the wraith, asks if there are any physical abnormalities that might explain the man's gift. Sam tells Keller to bring Davos back to Atlantis so she can see if there is anything to be done for him, and Woolsey agrees, thinking that it will be a good opportunity to study the man. Keller is not too happy about that aspect of it, though Sam seems a little more on the fence.

The wraith has been brought back to Atlantis and put in the brig. John goes to see him and he expresses his annoyance, pointing out that he was trying to have their discussion on neutral ground. John says that the ambush didn't seem very neutral to him, but the wraith assures him that there was never any intent to do him harm. He explains that he needs Atlantis' help. He and his people are working on trying to turn off the replicators' directive to attack the wraith again. They know that Rodney turned the code back on and want his help adapting the virus they originally used to turn it off thousands of years ago.

John scoffs at him and points out that he is perfectly fine with the fact that the wraith are getting their butts kicked by the replicators. The wraith responds that is only because John does not yet know of the replicators' newest tactic. He goes on to explain that the replicators have decided to exploit the wraith's primary weakness: their food source. They have begun attacking human worlds. He knows that the Lanteans will be loathe to believe him and so provides a gate address to one such world. Sam orders a MALP sent to that planet. From the camera they can see that the world is in ruins. Scans turn up no life signs and a radiation signature that matches the replicators' weapons. The wraith was telling the truth.

Keller gets to work on scanning Davos so she can see just how far his cancer has progressed. Linara has accompanied him and peppers Keller with questions about the technology and if Keller can save her father. Keller doesn't answer one way or the other and Davos quiets his daughter, explaining he's kind of spoiled her on being uncertain about anything--she doesn't really know how to deal with it. Unfortunately, he says, despite his gifts, his own future remains clouded to him. Keller says she will do all that she can and he accepts that calmly enough.

Rodney and John are discussing the new turn of events in the wraith/replicator war. Rodney feels guilty about the destruction of the human world. He feels responsible since he was the one who activated the directive again. John tries to reassure him that there was no way they could have known the replicators would do anything like that, but Rodney isn't so sure. He mentions the virus they found in their first year in Atlantis that was likely designed by the replicators specifically to kill humans. Sam joins them and points out that worrying about what's already done isn't really going to help them at the moment. She asks what they do next. Rodney thinks turning off the directive is probably their best bet. He says it's conceivable that working with the wraith they will be able to do it. Woolsey is dead set against that idea though, pointing out how badly things went the last time they worked with the wraith. They say it's not his call though and he storms off to contact the I.O.A. about the new development and get their advice. John gets confirmation that two more human worlds have been destroyed by the replicators. Sam asks him, given his experience with the wraith in general and this one particular, does he think they can afford to agree to the plan? To disagree?

Keller calls Sam to update her on Davos' condition. Unfortunately his cancer has spread too far for her to be able to do anything to save him. All she can do at this point is make him comfortable. She also shows Sam the brain scans she took. Davos has extremely high synaptic activity, similar to Rodney's when he encountered that ascension device, only in Davos' case it is stable, not continuing to grow. She says likely Davos has been like that his whole life. His gift is basically a genetic accident. Keller also comments that Woolsey has already requested copies of the scans to take back to Earth. Sam sighs and tells her that as much as they might not like it, it is important information to have and worth studying. At the very least it is a possible glimpse into humanity's evolutionary future.

Sam goes to speak to Davos and he already seems to know that there is no healing him. He also seems at peace with that knowledge. He tells Sam there is something she must see and he takes her hand. The vision he shares with her is of Atlantis under attack by a replicator warship. As Sam watches, the central tower explodes and the city is destroyed. When she reports the vision to the senior staff and Woolsey, Woolsey freaks out. He says that is a very clear sign they should not go ahead in working with the wraith. Carter isn't so sure. She says that what she saw is only one probable future and without any context--and they weren't given any--they have no way to know what course of events will bring it on.

Chuck pops his head into the room and tells Sam that the city's long-range sensors have picked up something. A hive ship is headed towards Atlantis. John storms down to the wraith's cell and he is not surprised to hear of the approaching ship. He explains that he had a subspace tracking device implanted and waited to activate it until after he was brought to Atlantis to avoid it being detected. John tells him that they will just blow the ship out of the sky but the wraith cautions against it. He tells them that hive is loyal to him and will not divulge Atlantis' location. Unless it is attacked, that is. Then it will broadcast the city's new location to every hive in the galaxy. The hive contains all of the data they will need to work together to reactivate the code. The implied threat is clear: work together, or else. John and Sam go to see Rodney and ask if there is any way he can reactivate the replicator code without the wraith's help and he tells them unfortunately, no. Put together the knowledge of both sides, however, and they just might be able to pull it off.

Teyla goes to see Davos while he is admiring the view from one of the city's balconies. He tells her he is glad he came to Atlantis, that he can serve some purpose before his time comes to an end. She is surprised he is so resigned to his fate and thinks it is so near. He knows she wants to ask him about her people. He says he can tell her that they are still alive, but beyond that, their fate is shrouded. He doesn't know who took them or where they are. But he also knows that she will continue the search, although he thinks that the burden might be too much for one in her condition to shoulder. At her puzzled response he asks if she isn't pregnant and she confirms that she is. He realizes she is keeping that fact concealed from the rest of the city though and she tells him the situation is complicated. After a few moments, Davos asks her if she will take him to speak with Sam and she agrees. When they go back inside, however, he collapses in the corridor. She bends down over him and calls for a medical team, then he reaches up and takes her hand. She is shown a vision of John in the control chair and a hive ship in orbit above the city blowing up.

After learning of this new vision Woolsey again demands that they refuse to work with the wraith. They discuss their options but there aren't really any good ones. They could agree to work with the wraith, get his info, and then kill him and blow up the ship. But there's no guarantee that he'd be up front with them, or that they could take out the ship before it got a message out. They do all seem to be in agreement that the replicator code needs to be turned off. Sam decides she wants to meet this wraith for herself. She heads down there and tells Woolsey to come along too. She meets the wraith and agrees to work with him provided that he meets a list of conditions she sets out. He does agree, saying he wants this as much as they do. She asks what happens after they succeed and he says he goes back to the wraith--hopefully using his accomplishment to rise in the ranks, having lost all prominence during his captivity with the Genii. Sam says it is likely they will find themselves facing each other as enemies one day and he agrees, but stresses that today is not that day.

The hive arrives and the data is sent to Rodney's lab (and kept on a completely non-networked computer). The wraith is escorted to the lab under heavy guard and he and Rodney get to work trying to make the virus work again. After a while, Rodney begins to suspect that the wraith is holding something back, not a lot, just enough to keep it from working completely. He goes to tell Sam and Woolsey about his suspicions and they say they know. They have just learned that a second hive ship is headed for Atlantis. The team confronts the wraith (and Ronon is all for just killing him there) but he swears he doesn't know anything about the second hive. He points out that the wraith are highly divided these days. He does admit to holding back some of the data on the virus, however, which he said was a bit of a precaution to make sure they didn't just kill him as soon as they had what they wanted. Rodney realizes that the wraith is probably being honest with them. One lone hive ship hanging out for so long over an uninhabited planet probably caught someone's attention, and they are coming to see what the hive is up to. The wraith suggests that they should cloak the city to avoid detection and let his hive deal with the new arrival. They raise their eyebrows at that--to put up the cloak they would have to sacrifice their shields, making them vulnerable to attack if the other hive ship already knows they are there.

Cater goes to see Davros and ask him about his visions. He admits he has never been wrong, everything he has ever seen has come to pass. He does point out, however, that what he has seen hasn't always been what he thought it was. It is easy to misinterpret the visions. Rodney did with this vision. It happened exactly like what he saw, but he thought they were being captured when really they were springing a trap on purpose. Sam worries that it is is pretty hard to misinterpret what he showed her, however. As they await the arrival of the second hive ship, she is unsure of how to proceed.

John finds her and tells her he thinks their problem is too much information. She scoffs at this but he thinks the visions are just making things worse. Knowing that something bad happens, but not how or why, is only making things worse for them. He says they both know that they would have gone into the meeting with the wraith expecting a trap, vision or no vision. In the end, it's the safety of the base that comes first, which means there is really only one decision to make. Sam just doesn't like that she needs to make the decision for everyone on the base, but John reminds her that they all volunteered to be there, and that they signed up because they believed the same things she did. She nods and makes the call, ordering him to the control chair to be ready and then orders Rodney to raise the city's cloak. Woolsey is still worried but when Sam offers to let him go back to Midway before the hive arrives he declines, saying he wants to see this through.

In the infirmary, Davos quietly passes away. Linara cries by his side.

The second hive arrives and the first sends it a message. Everyone in the city waits tensely to see if the second ship will buy whatever explanation the other is providing. Both ships power up their weapons and Woolsey panics. He wants John to open fire on the ships, but Sam says to wait. Nothing happens and things grow even more tense. Woolsey tries again to order John to fire and when Sam says no he says he is relieving her of command, orders John to fire again but John waits. Suddenly, the wraith ships open up fire on each other and both are completely destroyed. Sam asks if either was able to get off a message before being destroyed and Rodney confirms that they didn't. Everyone breathes a huge sigh of relief, realizing they are safe again.

Davos' daughter takes her father's body home for burial and Teyla stops by to console her on her loss. She is scared of how her people will do without his guidance, but Teyla reassures her. After Linara leaves, Teyla and Keller speak of Davos a little. Teyla tells Keller that he knew she was pregnant. Keller says that Teyla won't be able to hide it for much longer and Teyla acknowledges that she is right.

Rodney and the wraith resume their work on trying to deactivate the replicator command code.

Woolsey makes his goodbyes and apologizes to Sam for trying to take over. John arrives just after Woolsey leaves and he and Sam walk off. She is still shaken by all that has happened and John realizes she is still worried by the vision Davos shared with her. He tells her not to let it get to her. It could happen ten thousand years from now or tomorrow, and they have as much control over it in either situation. No point in worrying about it. There's too much else to do.


Ah, and there's the salt in the rub. Yes, it's awesome that the replicators want to wipe out the wraith. But. They don't really care what happens to anybody else in the process. They already hate humans, thinking that the Ancients favored them over the Asurans. Wiping out whole human worlds to deny the wraith sustenance is a perfectly reasonable plan to them. So, now that we've gotten to the too good to be true aspect of the situation, it is time to put right what was done wrong. Of course, that means working with the wraith again. We know how well that tends to go. Ah, what a delightful web we weave. Should make for an interesting story arc, eh?

The Davos aspect of the story line was certainly interesting. While I feel like it was really more of a way to redirect attention and confuse our protagonists than anything else, I do like the way it was handled. The fact that healthy skepticism was expressed from the start was good. When Rodney and Woolsey, the loudest skeptics, were convinced, I also thought it was good that they sought scientific and medical reasons for Davos' gift, and that Keller actually found one. It's not like we haven't seen stranger stuff throughout the course of the franchise, to be sure. Also, now we know that Teyla's people are still alive, and she has some hope of finding them, even though clearly it won't be as easy as she had hoped.

Speaking of Teyla, oh, hey, look, she's pregnant! Guess things were going pretty well with Kanaan, eh? This also means she has added motivation to find her people, to be sure. The pregnancy storyline was actually written into the show when the actress herself became pregnant, but I like that the writers managed to make it fit very well into the rest of the series, and stayed true to Teyla's character with it. Her romance with Kanaan has been hinted at since the last season, and she has always been a very private person about her personal life, so this never felt too out of left field to me. But there will be more to be said on this topic down the road, so I'll leave it at that for now. As Keller said, other people are going to start finding out soon. Should be interesting, no?

This episode features a lot of talk about whether the future is predetermined or if we make our own destiny, or some combination of both. In a series/franchise that has its own fair share of wibbly wobbly timey wimey, that is a valid topic of discussion. Of course, nothing is ever really resolved on the matter. But it is interesting food for thought, and discussion of ideas like that are the bread and butter of science fiction. For the record, I kind of feel like John was the person with the most solid handle on the situation throughout this episode. Do what you can with the information you have, make your choice, and live with it. I'm not sure there's much else to be done, really.

Also interesting to me was when John pointed out to Sam that everyone on the base volunteered for their jobs. It rang very close to what Keller said to Teyla in the previous episode about having signed on for her job. Going all the way back to the original members of the expedition, there has always been a certain amount of perceived risk in going to live and work in Atlantis. That these people continue to do so--even fight to stay where they are--despite all of the danger and insanity and the fight that really is only theirs because they decided it was--I think it says a lot about the character of the inhabitants of the city. I am not sure why it is all of a sudden coming up so much in this season, but maybe the writers just want to remind us that it would be quite easy for everyone to just pack up and go back to Earth and let the Pegasus galaxy sort out its own problems. But they don't, because they know they can do something to help, and so they stay and they do what they can.

I think that might be one reason I loved this show so much, truth be told.

Favorite Quotes

"You're talking about deliberately walking into a trap." (Woolsey)
"Exactly." (John)

"Believe me, catching glimpses of the future is not always as helpful as you might think." (Davos)

"It's hard for me to accept that. You're telling me the future is predetermined but I have always believed that the future is what you make it." (Sam)
"Perhaps both are true. Perhaps the future is predetermined by the character of those who shape it. One thing has been clear to me from the moment I set foot in this city: the galaxy is at a crossroads. Never before have I sensed that the future of so many worlds can turn on the actions of so few." (Davos)

"Just because something is unknown does not necessarily mean it needs to be feared. Trust yourself, and the rest will unfold as it is meant to." (Teyla)


Thus ends another week of the rewatch. See you back here on Monday for "Miller's Crossing" and the return of my favorite Atlantis guest star!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time For A Happy Dance

I finished the scarf!!!!! It is magnificent too.

But I can't show it to you.

Not yet at least.

I know, I know, that sucks. You've been diligently listening to me gripe about it since September but now that it's done you can't see it? Balderdash! Well, I am with you there. I was knitting along last week, doing the math in my head and realizing that I could definitely get it done by the weekend's end. I was so thrilled and imagined the writeup I would give it here for you...and then it dawned on me that this is a birthday present, and that it is not outside of the realm of possibility that the intended recipient might see this blog. So...once it's been gifted (which will be soon enough, I promise), I will post all of the glorious details.

Until then, however, I've got plenty of projects to keep me busy. I have two small projects I want to get done in the next week or so, and two blankets ready and waiting to be begun.

I also got this last week:

Cascade Pastaza in colorway 1151

The picture doesn't even begin to do it justice. I think it wants to be a hat, or maybe a pair of gloves. Or both. I tried to get enough to make both...

I hope you are enjoying a week as full of possibilities--yarny or not--as mine! Until the next time, craft on my friends, craft on.