Monday, March 12, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Missing

Welcome to a new week and a new installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Up for discussion today is season four's "Missing." Spoilers for the episode and any that came before. You know the drill.

Here we go!

What Happened

Teyla finds Doctor Keller in the infirmary and we learn that the two women are getting ready to visit the Athosian settlement for the evening. The Athosians are having a traditional feast that Teyla is returning for, and Keller is going for her first medical visit at the settlement. She is more than a little nervous about going offworld, she apparently hasn't been out of Atlantis much, but is also a bit worried that she won't be able to fill Carson's shoes. She knows the Athosians were very fond of him.

As they head out, John is at the gate and tells them to have a good time. He warns Keller to watch out for the local wine, as it's got a kick. He also teases Teyla about being all dolled up, asking her if she has a hot date. She rolls her eyes and ignores the question and they leave. On the planet, Keller tells Teyla she thinks John is right, Teyla does have a date. Teyla just smiles and doesn't say anything, and they walk through the forest to the settlement.

When they arrive, it is to find the settlement deserted. Everything is in disarray, and Teyla says that her people did not leave of their own free will. She fears they were either attacked by someone or else culled by the wraith. They begin searching the settlement for clues as to what happened when Teyla hears something. She grabs Keller and pulls her into hiding. They observe as two men enter the settlement and, seeing some of Keller's bags, start to go through them. Teyla looks frightened and tells Keller that they need to leave. They sneak away from the camp and once they are far enough away not to be heard, Teyla pulls Keller aside so she can take stock of their situation. She begins going through Keller's bag, asking if she brought any weapons. Keller replies that of course she didn't, she only brought medical supplies, and asks if Teyla is armed. Teyla produces a knife but answers that she didn't believe she would need a gun for a simple overnight visit to her own people. She pulls a scalpel out of Keller's kit and hands it to the doctor.

Keller asks who the men were and Teyla answers that they are Bola Kai, a tribe of very fierce and very dangerous warriors. Teyla admits that she has never encountered them before but she has heard enough of them to know that she and Keller need to get away, and quickly. They head back to the gate, taking to the woods instead of the more exposed path, and along the way Keller falls, spraining her ankle. When they get to the gate, they find it guarded by two of the Bola Kai. Teyla seems torn. She tells Keller that her people have a weapons cache of guns that Atlantis had given them. With those they would have no problem defending themselves against the Bola Kai, but it is too far away, especially with Keller's injured ankle.

Teyla seems to come to a decision and tells Keller that they will need to take out the guards and just go through the gate. If they catch them off guard, they should be okay. Keller starts to freak out at the prospect, looking at Teyla's knife and her own seemingly puny scalpel. Their discussion draws the attention of the guards and they quickly hide once more. The guards do not find them, but they are now alerted to their presence. Teyla tells Keller that the guards will tell the others and the Bola Kai will hunt them down. Their only hope is to elude capture for as long as possible. Atlantis will not realize they are missing until they are overdue, which isn't until the next day, but if they can hold out until then, Atlantis should send help. Drums begins to sound through the forest and Teyla tells Keller that the guards have alerted the others to their presence.

They head back to where Keller fell and recover her medical bag that they had left behind. Keller gets her ankle wrapped up and takes some medicine to help dull the pain so that they can move more quickly. While this is going on, Keller laments at their lack of preparedness for the situation. Teyla tells her about the survival training she went through as a child--an Athosian rite of passage--where she and some other children were sent into the woods alone, unarmed, and without supplies and expected to survive for ten days. Keller is appalled, telling Teyla she couldn't even make it through a whole week at summer camp with all of the amenities. They move on and head for the weapons cache but are disappointed to find it has been emptied. Teyla knows the Bola Kai did not find it, else they would be using the weapons. She suspects her people must have needed the weapons to fend off whoever attacked them, and surmises it must not have been the Bola Kai, because so armed they would have easily defended the settlement. That opens up the mystery of what happened to them once more.

Without weapons, Teyla's next move is to take them to a nearby hunting blind. It should afford them shelter and a way to stay hidden until morning. To get there, they need to cross a rope bridge that hangs over a gorge. Keller is less than pleased, telling Teyla she doesn't think she can do it. While she is suggesting alternate possibilities to get across the gorge, Teyla huffs in exasperation and just heads across the bridge. Realizing she has been left behind, Keller sucks it up and follows. She makes it almost all the way across before her hurt ankle gives out and she slips, falling from the bridge to hang over the chasm below. Teyla returns and pulls her back up and gets her the rest of the way across.

Before they reach the blind, three Bola Kai come upon them. Teyla manages to knock out two of the men but the third runs away. Seeing that Keller is alright, Teyla tells her to stay put and gives chase. She runs down the third Bola Kai and kills him before he can bring reinforcements. She heads back to Keller, who has moved to check on the other two Bola Kai. One is dead, but the other is starting to come to. Teyla strides up to him and slits his throat. Keller is appalled, saying they could have tied him up and left him there, but Teyla says the others would have only found him and released him to continue hunting them. She tells Keller that as unpleasant as it may be, the more of the Bola Kai they kill, the better their chances of survival.

They hear someone moaning and moving nearby and go to investigate. They find an injured man, dressed as an Athosian and bound, though Teyla says he is not one of her people. Keller wants to treat his wounds but Teyla thinks they cannot afford the time that he will cost them and should leave him behind. Keller puts her foot down and while she treats him, Teyla makes her way to the blind to ensure it is still intact. Thankfully, it is. She also finds several hunting traps at the blind. She returns and they move the injured man to the blind. Teyla uses the traps to set up a perimeter warning system. As night falls, they hear a slithering outside the blind and Teyla checks it out. It seems to be an animal of some kind, burrowing straight toward them. Teyla spears it with a sharpened stick and pulls up a creepy crawly land-squid looking thing. When Keller asks what it is Teyla replies, "dinner." Keller declines to eat any of it.

The man wakes up and they begin to question him. He says he is Nabel of the Genii and admits that he was sent to the Athosian settlement to infiltrate it and gather intel. He had only been there for a few days when the settlement was attacked. He says that the wraith culled the Athosians, but they were led there by the Bola Kai. Teyla picks up his insinuation that the Bola Kai are wraith worshipers. It is clear that she does not trust the man but she accepts his story.

They weather the night well enough. By morning, Keller is hungry enough to finally give in and eat some of the creepy crawly. Teyla remarks that Keller reminds her of a friend, one who does not believe he possesses nearly as much strength as he does. Keller asks if Teyla is talking about Rodney and she smiles and says no, she means an Athosian, a man named Kanaan. Keller realizes that Kanaan is more than a friend to Teyla, the date that she was going to see in the settlement. Teyla admits that yes, there is more than friendship to her relationship with Kanaan, though that aspect of it is only a very recent development. Keller understands that Teyla is not only facing the loss of all of her people, but of that newly kindled relationship as well. Uncomfortable with the topic of conversation, Teyla excuses herself to fetch more water. Nearby, a Bola Kai wandering through the woods stumbles across one of the traps she had set the night before. Hearing his scream, Teyla returns to the blind to mobilize the others and they get the heck out of dodge.

In Atlantis, Ronon finds Rodney and John and asks if either of them have heard from Teyla or Keller yet. John says no and they realize that the two are late in returning, which is very unlike Teyla. John decides that they should dial up New Athos and find out what's up.

As they move through the woods, now merely trying to evade the Bola Kai until Atlantis realizes they are missing, Teyla pulls Keller aside and warns her that Nabel is slowing them down. She wants to leave him behind. Keller sticks to her guns about helping him. She tells Teyla she knows that Teyla would never sacrifice an innocent person to save her own skin and that means she is trying to keep Keller safe. Keller reminds Teyla that  she did volunteer for the Atlantis mission--and all of the good and bad that came along with it. She knew the risks. Teyla relents but before they can move on, the Bola Kai are upon them. They are surrounded and though Teyla puts up a valiant fight, it is not long before they are overwhelmed and taken captive.

Back in the settlement, where the Bola Kai have set up camp, Teyla and Keller are put in a wooden cage. There is no sign of Nabel. Teyla tells Keller that the Boka Kai will attempt to "extract" information from them and that they must not tell them anything. The lives of everyone in Atlantis are on the line. Keller nods in agreement but is clearly terrified. They are taken to the tribe's leader and he does not believe Teyla's claim that they are Athosian. Teyla tells him he will pay for the destruction of her people and accuses them of serving the wraith and leading them to the settlement. The leader is outraged and slaps Teyla, ordering her taken away. He leers menacingly at Keller and tells her that if she talks, he will spare Teyla's life.

When Keller is thrown back in the cage, Teyla asks if she said anything. Keller replies that they said they were going to kill Teyla. Teyla is shocked that Keller would reveal their connection with Atlantis but she quickly reassures Teyla that she only gave them a false lead--the address to an uninhabited planet--in the hopes that it would buy them more time. Teyla nods in approval, clearly impressed with Keller's quick thinking. Keller then says that she doesn't think that the Bola Kai are wraith worshipers, the leader was too surprised when Teyla brought it up. Teyla isn't sure, thinking it is too big of a coincidence that they arrived on the planet after the settlement was destroyed if they aren't working with the wraith. A member of the tribe runs up to the leader and they hear him say that a ship has just come through the gate. The leader assigns two men to keep an eye on the captives and the rest head to the gate to investigate the new arrivals. Teyla lets out a breath and tells Keller it won't be long now.

In the jumper, John remarks that the men they saw guarding the gate sure didn't look Athosian to him. Ronon tells John and Rodney that the men were Bola Kai, but reassures them that they shouldn't have any problem taking them out. They begin searching for life signs but have a hard time with all of the trees. They realize they need to land the jumper and go on foot to search for Teyla and Keller.

In the camp, the guards are suddenly shot. Teyla calls out for John, assuming the team has arrived, but it is Nabel who answers. Teyla is immediately suspicious, asking where he got his gun and he tells her he had his own cache. He couldn't get to it before he was captured by the Bola Kai, but went back for it after the women were taken. He gets them out of the cage and they leave the settlement. Once they get to a safe distance they stop to rest. Teyla, hands still tied from captivity, turns and thanks Nabel for saving them. He said he wanted to repay the favor of them saving him earlier. Then he says he also still had some questions left to be answered. He cold-cocks Teyla with the butt of his gun, knocking her out, and turns it on Keller, demanding the gate address for Atlantis.

Keller realizes that Nabel isn't Genii at all. Atlantis has an arrangement with the Genii, they wouldn't need to go to such lengths to contact them. She thinks out loud that he's the wraith worshiper, not the Bola Kai. Nabel laughs and suggests that he lied about what happened to the Athosians as well as who he was. He tells her if she gives him the gate address, he'll tell her what really happened to them. Teyla comes to and tackles him. They struggle and Keller manages to get his gun. Teyla asks Keller to untie her but Nabel moves between them. She tells him to move or she'll shoot him but he says she'll never do it, she's a healer, she doesn't have it in her. Keller says yes, she's a healer, but she needs something to heal, and she shoots him in the leg. While he is distracted, she unties Teyla and hands over the gun. Teyla points it at Nabel and begins to question him but just then the Bola Kai find them. Thankfully the rest of the team arrives at the same time as well and manages to hold them off. Teyla has time to tell John that her people are missing but not much else. They manage to fight off the first wave of Bola Kai but more are coming. Teyla turns to grab Nabel but he has disappeared and they have to beat a retreat to the jumper without him.

John goes to visit Teyla in the infirmary. She says she feels fine but she is obviously very upset that her people are missing. John gives her the update, stating that they sent a team back to the planet and the Bola Kai have cleared out. There was no sign of Nabel, no life signs on the planet at all. They have people searching the settlement for clues about what really happened. Teyla swears she will find them and John says he knows she will. Keller stops by, her foot in a boot, but otherwise none the worse for the wear. John leaves and she thanks Teyla for keeping her alive, and for reminding her of her family. She tells Teyla she has put in for leave and is going back to Earth to visit her father soon. Teyla asks when she will be allowed to leave the infirmary and Keller says in a day or so. Teyla is not happy about this, stating that she feels fine and she knows she doesn't have a concussion. Keller agrees that she doesn't but says she has gone over Teyla's test results and there is something they need to talk about.


Ooh, end the episode with a mystery, eh? Don't worry, I am pretty sure we find out right away next week what Teyla's mysterious ailment is. I am sure if you think really hard on the episode (and some of the buildup from previous episodes) you can probably even guess it without too much difficulty.

(Insert evil grin here.)

Anyhoo, first things first. Danny Trejo!!! I had completely forgotten he put in a guest appearance in this series, and so when he popped up as the leader of the Bola Kai, I was just tickled pink. He is just awesome, yo.

Okay, now that that's out of the way.

Some serious props need to go to Rachel Luttrell and Jewel Staite for this episode, you guys. They were given a lot of heavy lifting to do in this one and they did so marvelously. While ostensibly, this episode is about letting us get to know Keller a bit better, and to see her hardening and learning how to deal with all of the crap the Pegasus galaxy is wont to throw at people (which she is going to be seeing a lot more of as the new head of medicine), it also gives us a lot of insight into Teyla. We get to see her strength, and where it comes from, as well as her compassion and her ability to overrule the latter when it is necessary to survive. We also get to see a bit of her softer side as she discusses her new relationship with Kanaan and her admiration for him even if he doesn't display the more conventional kinds of strength.

It was also interesting to me to see Teyla's level of patience and encouragement to Keller. Even the one moment where it seemed like she had given up, I think she really was just doing what she knew would spur Keller to get over herself and keep going. It is not at all surprising to me that Teyla was the leader of her people.

The disappearance of the Athosians also sets up one of the big overarching story arcs for the season. This is a good thing, because while the war between the wraith and the replicators is intriguing, it is something our people are (rightly) staying on the sidelines watching, rather than actually engaging in, you know? Now they've got something to do, and an excuse to get out there and get into more, possibly unrelated, trouble. Whoo!

It should be noted that this episode also marks the beginning of the writers' pleasure in frelling with Keller. Seriously, they love to throw her in the deep end. It is kind of a delightful running gag.

Lastly, lollipops! Keller packed a big ol' jar of lollipops to take to the Athosians to help the kiddos' exams go over better. Partly, I think this is just her doctor sense, and partly an attempt to make the Athosians like her more (worried about living up to Carson, remember). The lollipops are in one of the bags that the Bola Kai go through when Teyla and Keller leave to try to escape. Throughout the rest of the episode, most of the Bola Kai, these big, tough, terrifying warriors, are wandering around with lollipops in their mouths. This makes me giggle every time. Whoever thought that up deserves mad props. It is a simple, silly little visual detail, but it is one that works well. Very amusing if you are paying attention, and also a nice little bit of dissonance. Kudos.

Favorite Quotes

"There comes a point in adversity when fear disappears, leaving only the will to survive." (Teyla)
"I know. It's just, I don't think I'm even remotely close to that point." (Keller)

"You have not slept all night." (Teyla)
"With people trying to kill us, and creatures crawling around under the ground? Not to mention I'm starving." (Keller)
(Teyla offers her some of the creepy crawly.)
"Not that starving." (Keller)
"It will give you strength." (Teyla)
"It will make me puke." (Keller)
"You do not believe you are capable of eating it, and so you do not." (Teyla)
"No. I think it's disgusting and so I do not." (Keller)
"I have a friend like you, afraid to challenge himself." (Teyla)
"I'm not afraid of challenges. I signed up to be Chief of Medicine on an expedition in a whole other galaxy. That's about as challenging as it gets. But eating gross food? Sorry, but that's where I draw the line." (Keller)
"Fair enough." (Teyla)

"Look, I'm the first to admit I'm not very good at certain things. I'm not athletic, can't cook, and you don't even wanna hear me try to play the piano. But I do think I'm a pretty good judge of character and I know that you would never sacrifice an innocent man--not even if he was a complete stranger--to save yourself. Which means the only reason you would even suggest it would be because of me." (Keller)
"I brought you here. This is my responsibility. If anything should happen to you..." (Teyla)
"I signed up for this, alright? All of it. I may not have had any idea what I was getting into, but that makes me no different from anybody else on Atlantis." (Keller)

"Just what we need, another bad guy." (Rodney)
"Don't worry, they're primitive. We can handle them." (Ronon)
"Define 'primitive.'" (Rodney)
"Clubs and arrows." (Ronon)
"Hey, arrows can hurt!" (Rodney)
"Only if you're stupid enough to get hit in the ass with one." (Ronon)


There you have, it folks. That's it for today. See you back here on Wednesday, when we'll find out what's going on with Teyla in "The Seer."

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