Monday, April 2, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Be All My Sins Remember'd

Hello there! Welcome back to the Stargate Atlantis rewatch. Today we are starting up the back half of season four with the episode "Be All My Sins Remember'd."

Spoilers for the episode and any that came before, as always.


What Happened

The episode opens up on John and Ronon getting ready to go off-world. We quickly learn that Atlantis has been using its new-found ability to track replicator ships to evacuate all of the human worlds in the path of those ships, preventing as many lives from being lost as possible. They are just waiting for Teyla before they leave. Ronon mentions that she has seemed to be feeling a little unwell of late, and as John is agreeing with him, she enters the room. They head for the gate room but before they get far, the gate is activated by an incoming wormhole.

Another evacuation team is returning, but the lieutenant in charge has stayed behind to try to convince the remaining stragglers to leave their planet. He tells John that he is afraid the people don't believe him about the replicators and asks if maybe Teyla could come through to try to talk them into listening, since she is the one with all of the contacts in the galaxy. John is in the middle of denying the request--the replicators are due within half an hour--when the replicators arrive on the planet and begin attacking. They lose the transmission and then the gate connection. When they try to dial back, the chevrons are unable to lock, indicating that the replicators have destroyed the stargate on that planet. Ronon asks how many people were left in that settlement and Teyla sadly answers almost two thousand.

For the first time in Atlantis' history, both the Daedalus and the Apollo arrive at the city at the same time. Colonels Caldwell and Ellis beam down to the city and Sam, John, and Rodney give them a briefing on the state of the galaxy. Rodney has been working on a code to not only shut down the replicators' directive to attack the wraith, but to shut down the replicators for good, basically killing them. Unfortunately, and much to Ellis' disgust, Rodney hasn't made much progress in the project. Sam and the other military folks comment that it is time to move to Plan B, which involves using their tracking ability to ambush the replicator ships and take them out one at a time. Both ships from Earth have been recently equipped with Asgard energy beam weapons that should make short work of even the replicator ships.

Rodney objects to this plan. He points out that while their new weapons would destroy the ships, they wouldn't destroy the replicating nanites. The nanites would only be rendered inert by exposure to the vacuum of space. All it would take would be for someone to unwittingly find them and "warm them up" for them to be able to reactivate. Still, Sam is leaning toward that plan because, as Ellis points out, it would at least be an immediate (if temporary) solution to their problem. Rodney says he is very close to finishing the coding for his own weapon. He tells them that according to their data, it will be at least twelve hours before the replicators are anywhere near an inhabited planet again. He asks them to give him ten hours so that he and the wraith in their custody (who shall henceforth be known as Todd, because that is his name, even if the show hasn't given it to him yet, but I am tired of typing out "the wraith" when I talk about him) can try to finish up the project. Sam agrees but ten hours come and go and they still aren't able to finish the coding.

John heads out with Caldwell and Ellis and the two ships head for the next planet in the path of the replicators. They arrive before the replicators and when the enemy ship drops out of hyperspace, they open up fire with their new energy beams, destroying the ship pretty easily. Heartened by this victory, they keep up with the tactic, splitting up in order to be able to make more attacks. After a week they have managed to take out seven ships, but unfortunately they still have another thirty to go. Their intel also shows them that the replicators, unable to figure out how to stop Atlantis from tracking their ships, have fallen back to their homeworld. There they are regrouping and setting to work on building more ships. Ellis is excited about this, claiming it is the perfect opportunity to take them all out at once, and Sam agrees, pointing out that they will need to act quickly. Everyone looks to Rodney. This is the perfect scenario for his shutdown code. Unfortunately he still hasn't finished it. It is proving much more difficult than he had imagined.

Rodney and Todd buckle down to work but they continue to have no luck. The code itself seems to be properly written but for some reason the nanites aren't accepting the shutdown command. As they are discussing the problems they have come up against, Rodney is struck by inspiration at the mention of the anti-replicator guns they had previously used. Todd points out that the replicators are likely to be immune to those by now and Rodney agrees, but explains that it has given him an idea. The ARGs worked on the principle of disrupting the subspace signal that holds all of the nanites together and allows them to create a cohesive whole (be that a human-form replicator, a ship, or what have you). But what if they tried to do the opposite? Instead of disrupting the signal, Rodney posits, they could strengthen it, to the degree where any replicator nanite within range would be drawn to the source. It would create a large dense blob of nanite cells, packed in together so tight as to be rendered completely ineffective, at least for long enough for the cells to be destroyed.

Rodney has the tech that the Ancients originally used to create the replicators brought out of storage. His plan is to make a small cube of nanites with the proper coding and then beam it down to the replicator homeworld. Once activated, it will begin to attract all of the replicator nanites on the planet. The only drawback is that it will take some time for the attraction to become strong enough to pull in nanites from orbit around the planet. That means they will need to either destroy or delay the replicator ships long enough for the blob to pull them in. If even one ship manages to get away, the whole thing is a wash. Sam points out that the odds are not in their favor on this. They have two ships versus the replicators' thirty. She doesn't see any way that they will be able to keep those thirty ships in place. John steps up and says he has an idea about where they can get more ships.

He goes down to Todd's cell and asks the wraith if he can get any ships for the plan. Todd says that depending on what has happened among his people while he has been in captivity, he might be able to get as many as twelve hive ships to join them. He believes that for a true chance of wiping out the replicators once and for all, the wraith would be willing to work with the humans. Of course, such an alliance would need to be negotiated in person by him. John grudgingly agrees with this and he, Ronon, and Teyla escort Todd in a puddle jumper to an armada of hive ships. When they get there, they dock with one of the hive ships and Todd asks John to remove his restraints, pointing out that it will help the negotiations go more smoothly. John obliges him and there is a knock on the hatch. They open it to find several wraith drones outside, and the wraith immediately stun the team.

Rodney and Radek have gotten to work on trying to create a block of nanites to carry out the plan. They manage to get the necessary coding done and create the nanites, then have them form a cube. But their readings show that the cells aren't communicating properly, and as the two scientists watch, the cube melts back down into a puddle of grey goo.

In the jumper, John regains consciousness and looks up to find Todd standing over him. Todd tells John to be calm and hands him back his gun, which had been taken from him. He tells John that the other wraith apparently wanted to speak with  him alone to make sure everything was on the level. He then goes on to say that they have a deal, although only seven hive ships were willing to work with them. John looks out the jumper's windshield and sees that it is floating alone in space. Todd tells him that the other wraith left, jettisoning the jumper before jumping to hyperspace. John grumbles a bit about the way things went down but is willing to accept what he can get. He and Todd wake up the others and they prepare to head back to Atlantis.

Rodney and Radek have continued working on the nanite cube but still haven't had much luck. Radek comments that they shouldn't be surprised. The tech wasn't designed to be used as they are using it. Just then Radek is called to the infirmary to help with a power problem, and he leaves Rodney to work on the problem by himself.

In the jumper, the team is approaching the gate when they detect a hyperspace window opening above them. An Ancient warship arrives on the scene and they immediately fear that it is a replicator ship and wonder how the replicators found them. Before they can freak out too much, however, they receive a message and learn that it is not the replicators who have arrived but the travelers. Larrin is just as surprised to find John as he is to see her, especially so since she and her people had picked up seven hive ships in the area recently and were coming to investigate. She wants to know what the heck is going on and has them dock the jumper with her ship. When she and some of her men arrive to meet the team, she is very unhappy to see Todd. John tries to explain but she orders them taken captive. She has John tied up and questions him. He explains about their plan and why they are working with the wraith and points out that they sure could use the help of a people who have nothing but spaceships as resources. Larrin takes the hint but isn't so quick to agree. John offers to have some of Atlantis' scientists with the ATA gene help her and her people get their Ancient ship in tip-top running shape and she says she'll talk to her people.

Radek gets back to the lab to find that Rodney has made some progress in his absence. Rodney points out that the tech was designed to create human-form replicators. He thought it would be relatively easy to use it to create something much simpler, but as it turns out, it is actually much harder. Therefore, he tweaked their parameters a bit and made a human-form replicator to do the job. He opens the doors to the lab and gestures to a wide-eyed young woman sitting on the table (with a marine standing guard nearby). Radek looks between Rodney and the woman in shock.

The jumper returns to Atlantis and John says he is going to head to the lab to check on Rodney's progress. Teyla says she is going to head to the infirmary to have Keller check her out. John asks why and she replies because she was stunned. John is confused by the answer, pointing out that she gets stunned all the time and usually just shakes it off. She tells him this time it is different and when he asks why she finally tells him (and Ronon) that she is pregnant. John doesn't take it very well. When she says she is three months along and has known for just under two, he gets very upset that she didn't tell him. Not only that, she has been going on missions the whole time. She tries to defend her decision, explaining that she is more than capable of taking care of herself and Athosian women remain active in their community well throughout their pregnancies. John says that their situation is different and she knows it, they are in constant danger as the front line team and he is mad she would risk herself like that. He tells her that effective immediately he is taking her off the of team and storms off. Ronon handles the news much better, congratulating her and asking if Kanaan is the father. She is surprised that he knows this but he says he could tell that they were together by the way Teyla talked about him. He walks her to the infirmary and along the way mentions casually that "Ronon" is a good name for a boy or a girl.

John finds Sam and updates her on their mission. With the wraith and traveler ships they are up to fourteen, maybe a few more if Larrin ca pull some strings. He also tells her that he's taken Teyla off active duty because she's pregnant. Sam is surprised but doesn't dwell on it, moving on to the next bit of news. She tells John about Rodney's deviation from the script and takes John to see the replicator. John is, of course, pissed at Rodney for creating such a huge security risk. Rodney is quick to assure him that he has taken every precaution to ensure their replicator is safe. She cannot replicate, she cannot change form, and she has only the barest functionality necessary to complete her assigned purpose. Sam asks if the replicator is self-aware and when Rodney replies yes, she says that she is not very comfortable just sending the replicator to her death. Rodney reiterates that the replicator is a weapon.

Once all of the plans are in place, everyone assembles in the war room for the briefing. Rodney will be beamed down to the replicator core room, along with Ronon and a team of marines for protection, and will rig the city's ZPMs to overload. This will speed up the compression of the nanites, essentially turning them into a fusion bomb, which should destroy the entire planet. The assembled ships of Earth, the travelers, and the wraith will engage the replicator ships in orbit and keep any from escaping before they can be pulled back down to the planet. While Rodney is working in the core room the friendly replicator (dubbed F.R.A.N.) will be beamed into the heart of the city and will activate herself.

The fleet assembles at a rendezvous point and they all head for the replicator homeworld. On the journey Rodney starts to get a twinge of guilt about sending F.R.A.N. to her "death" (because she is ridiculously likable) and is a little weirded out that she is so fine with the whole thing. She reminds him that this was the reason she was created and she imagines anyone would be happy to be able to fulfill their sole purpose for being. They arrive at Asuras and Rodney and Ronon are beamed down to the core room while F.R.A.N. is beamed down into a populated area of the city. Rodney gets the ZPMs set to blow and F.R.A.N. seeks out a group of replicators. She greets them and then activates. All of the replicator nanites begin to stream into her and the repli-blob begins to grow.

The fleet manages to hold out until the nanites in orbit begin to be drawn down to the planet. Unfortunately, Rodney underestimated the mass of the blob. It is so heavy that it begins to sink down into the surface of the planet, and being centered in the city, it smashes right down through the power-grid, causing a blackout and taking the "overload the ZPMs" plan off the table. Thinking quickly, Sam sees on her scans of the planet that the area around the city is rich with a very dense element (the same element that the replicator nanites are constructed from). Rodney realizes if he dials up the attraction level of the blob, it will pull that element out of the planet and sink all the way down to the core, causing the planet to implode. So, they go with that.

Rodney and Ronon and crew get beamed up and they order all of the ships to the rendezvous point. Everyone gets the heck out of dodge. Later, back on Atlantis, they've confirmed that the replicator planet was completely destroyed and everyone breathes a big sigh of relief that one enemy has been taken care of for good. John tells Rodney that the hive ships never showed up at the rendezvous spot after the plan was carried off. He doubts that they were destroyed too, though, and figures they just didn't think there was anything else to talk to the humans about. Looks like the wraith are back to being the enemies. Rodney deletes Asuras from Atlantis' database and he and John head off together, glad that a sort of status quo has returned to the galaxy.

The camera cuts to the debris field where Asuras used to be and then to the interior of an Ancient ship in the field. A technician on the bridge says that scans confirm no replicator cells survived. The camera pans up to the captain's chair and reveals Elizabeth. She seems satisfied and says now they can finally work without looking over their shoulders. She looks around at the crew and declares that it is time to begin.


Wow, there is so freaking much going on in this episode. So, yay! The replicators are gone! Or, are they? What's up with the whole Elizabeth thing? Huh? Huh? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. At any rate, it seems that the replicator threat against the wraith and the humans of the galaxy has been wiped out, so that's pretty good. Also, Atlantis has sort of solidified an alliance with the travelers, which I think is a useful thing. John's crush on Larrin is also so solidified here. I think he likes that she keeps getting the upper hand with him.

Speaking of John, his reaction to Teyla's pregnancy was a bit...I don't even know. The first time I saw it, I kind of wanted to hit him. But after a few more viewings, and having been paying a bit more analytical attention to the relationship between the two, I kind of get it. I think it is kind of funny that he just flipped out about her putting herself (and her baby) at risk and didn't even think about asking who the father might be, while Ronon knew immediately that it was Kanaan. That is telling about how each of them interacts with Teyla on a daily basis. It also makes me think that maybe for a while now John has been actively trying not to think of Teyla as a woman with feelings and things, because that's honestly the only way I can imagine him totally missing her whole romance.

I have to say, this watch-through has given me a much greater respect for the character of Ronon. I guess I was always so distracted by the John and Rodney banter and bromance that I never noticed how much character development Ronon actually did show. He really quite clearly cares about his team. That's obvious not just in how he knew about Teyla and Kanaan, but also in how he is always the one to escort Rodney in dangerous situations when John can't be there. Also, the whole bit about the wraith having to stun him several times just amused me.

I guess there are all sorts of ethical implications I could be discussing in regards to F.R.A.N., but honestly, I am not even sure it is worth it. I mean, she could walk and talk and think, yes, but her whole purpose was to wipe out pretty much an entire (synthetic) race of people. If she was fine with that, I am not sure it is such a surprise that she was fine with giving up herself to do it. She was there, and she was really cute and I wanted to hug her, and then she was gone. It was certainly an interesting concept, but as far as serious commentary on moral issues, there was just too much else going on in this episode for that to have any real weight. Hmm. I hope that makes sense. I am having a hard time articulating this.

Anyhoo. So. With the replicators dealt with, that means we have nine more episodes to go and no obvious big bad. Hmm. Should be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, shouldn't it? (insert evil grin here)

Favorite Quotes

"They are a very complex and ingenious design." (Todd)
"Yes, well, I thought I was ingeniouser.... Yes, I know it's not a word Mr. Helpful." (Rodney)

"A 'super-dense blob'--that's your great idea?" (John)
"It is yes, actually." (Rodney)
"What do we do with the blob then? Aren't we in danger of creating some Godzilla-sized super-replicator?" (John)
"No. At least, not at first. Look, this is not their normal form of bonding. I mean, it'll take them some time to adapt, to figure out how to function within the new parameters." (Rodney)
"How much time?" (Sam)
"Well, I mean, I hate to speculate." (Rodney)
"Oh? Since when?" (John)

"How'd I wake up before Ronon?" (John)
"We had to stun him several times. I thought it would be best that you were awake before he was." (Todd)
"Probably a good idea." (John)

"All right. Still, it's weird." (Sam)
"Yeah, well, at the end of the day it doesn't matter anyway because we don't have any other choice." (Rodney)
"Well, we are teaming up with the wraith. I guess it's that kind of a mission." (John)

"Wait a minute, F.R.A.N.?" (Ellis)
"It's, uh, Friendly Replicator ANdroid." (Rodney)
"I didn't realize we were naming things." (John)
"It noticed that Zelenka and I both had names and, um, and she asked for one. So..." (Rodney)


That wraps up today, folks. See you back here on Wednesday for "Spoils of War."

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