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!

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