Spoilers for the episode and any that came before, as ever.
The episodes opens and we find John and Rodney in a medieval-looking castle sharing a toast with two beautiful young women, Flora and Mardola. It seems they have just reconfirmed one of their more fruitful and long-standing trade alliances. The men make mention of leaving but Flora stops them, asking if they might be willing to help their sister with something. They are surprised to learn there is a third sister as they have never met her, but agree to meet her and see if they can help. While they are gone Rodney quickly leans over and calls "dibs" on the third sister, claiming John already has these two wrapped around his little finger. John is a little indignant about that but he quickly gets over it as the women return and introduce their sister Harmony--a thirteen year old girl.
Flora explains that their mother, the queen, passed away recently and Harmony was named her successor to the throne. Before a queen can be officially crowned, however, there is a right of passage she must undergo. She must make a pilgrimage to the ruins of a temple a day's march within the forest. Flora is worried about Harmony undergoing the trek alone because of her young age, but she doesn't want to diminish her sister's capabilities in the eyes of their people. So she asks John and Rodney if they would be willing to escort Harmony to the ruins. John tries to find an excuse to back out but Flora very sweetly hints that refusal would be terrible for keeping their trade alliance going and so he agrees.
As they begin the journey it quickly becomes clear that Harmony is pretty much a spoiled brat and something of a know-it-all. She quickly takes a shine to John though, especially after finding out he is the more senior ranking of the two men. They follow a crumbly old map and it leads them to a ravine. The map shows a rope bridge crossing the ravine, but in reality the bridge has clearly long since disintegrated. John tells Rodney and Harmony to stay put while he goes to find a safe crossing. As soon as he is gone, Harmony goes digging through his bag and pulls out his powerbar (which Rodney had just been begging him for, having already eaten his own), and wolfs it down. Rodney sees her and tries to get her to put it back, pointing out that John won't be very happy with her. She pretty much ignores him but stuffs the wrapper in his hand once she's finished eating it. Just then John returns and Harmony blames Rodney for eating John's powerbar. Rodney, of course, indignantly disputes the accusation but John doesn't really believe him. When Rodney yells at Harmony to tell the truth she brings on the crocodile tears and runs to John for a comforting hug, shooting Rodney a dirty look over John's shoulder.
They hear a strange animal sound from deeper within the woods and John and Rodney instantly go on alert. Harmony seems unconcerned, however, telling them it is probably just the "beast." They look at her in surprise and she explains that the beast is the guardian of the ruins. It will not hurt her, however, because she is the queen and the beast will know that. John and Rodney are clearly dubious about this claim. They continue on and Rodney suggests that they should just turn back to the village. No one will know they never really made it to the ruins. Harmony refuses, however, and while the two argue, John disappears. As they are looking for him they are ambushed by a group of armed Genii. One of them demands that Rodney hand over Harmony. Rodney refuses and tries to reason with the soldier, pointing out that the Genii and Atlantis have an alliance but the man is only interested in taking Harmony.
Gunfire bursts from nearby and all three of the Genii fall over dead. John emerges from the woods and explains that he sensed the ambush and couldn't tell Rodney and Harmony without alerting the Genii that he was on to them. The trio heads for cover and John and Rodney wonder what the Genii are doing on this world. Harmony says she doesn't like the Genii. She admits that they were trading partners with her people once, but that after cheating her mom on several deals, the queen severed ties with them. John thinks maybe someone in court is more willing to play ball with them and trying to get Harmony out of the picture. Harmony is not convinced.
Since they seem safe enough at the moment, John leaves Rodney and Harmony again to go do some reconnaissance. He finds the woods crawling with more heavily armed Genii and returns to his party. He says he thinks they should wait for nightfall and then turn around and head back for the village. Harmony doesn't like this plan at all. She says that she only has until the next day to complete her pilgrimage or she forfeits her crown. John regrets that but he says he is way more interested in keeping her alive at the moment.
In the castle we find Mardola in her quarters and she goes to answer a knock at her door. A man named Toran enters her room and she chastises him that he should not be there. He promises he wasn't seen and it becomes clear he is the leader of the Genii on the world. It seems that Mardola has hired him to take out her sister. She is unhappy when he reveals that the job still hasn't been done, but she hadn't foreseen that Flora would ask John and Rodney to help Harmony. She promises Toran triple the pay if he kills them along with Harmony. After all, she can't have them surviving to tell Flora about the Genii's involvement with Harmony's death.
John and Rodney discuss their situation while they wait for nightfall and Harmony sleeps. Rodney suggests just stunning Harmony and carrying her back to prevent resistance but John is against the idea. He deems it is time to move out and they turn to get Harmony only to find her gone. They realize she must have decided to continue her pilgrimage without them. They go after her and spend an uncomfortable hour tracking through the woods trying to avoid the Genii. Eventually, they smell a fire and then roasting meat and they track that to a cave where they find Harmony has set up camp, made a fire, caught and cleaned a bird, and is cooking it. Rodney is impressed by her woodsman skills but John is more on the really really irked side.
John wants to head back to the village immediately but they all know it is too dangerous out there. Especially when they hear the call of the beast. Rodney worries that they might be in the beast's lair but Harmony says the beast doesn't live in caves. They decide to hunker down for a while until the coast is clear. John takes up watch at the mouth of the cave. After a little while Harmony joins him and offers him the heart of the bird, saying that it is believed to bring good luck to those who eat it. He declines and she shrugs and pops it in her own mouth. She stays with him for a while and it is obvious she is smitten with him. He tries to distract her by asking if she's nervous about being queen and gives her some advice about being the leader and remembering that she rules by the will of her people. She is impressed with his knowledge about leadership and thinks that the two of them would work well together. She will need a king one day, after all.
John wasn't expecting a marriage proposal from a thirteen year old and before he can think of a good way to turn her down they are distracted by the sound of the beast in the woods. The noises suggest that it has encountered some of the Genii. John goes to check it out, leaving Rodney to keep an eye on Harmony. She tells him that she thinks she is in love with John. Rodney is hardly surprised but tells her not to get her hopes up. At her request, however, he promises not to try to influence John in the matter.
John finds the bodies of two of the Genii and both are riddled with puncture wounds. The wounds don't look like anything he's ever seen before, let alone claw- or teeth-marks. He hears more Genii coming and hides before they get there. Toran arrives and finds his men. John overhears him tell the others that their new orders are to kill John and Rodney as well as Harmony. John heads back to the cave and as soon as the coast is clear they head out. John starts to lead them back to the village but Harmony pleads him to go the other way. They are very close to the ruins, she says. From the direction of the village they hear the sound of the beast and when Harmony promises that it will avoid the ruins he concedes to her request.
They arrive at the ruins after daybreak and find two Genii have been posted there. Harmony is indignant about this, stating that the men are trespassing on sacred ground. John and Rodney stun the Genii and the three of them head down to the ruins, which turn out to be Ancient technology of some sort. Rodney thinks they look vaguely familiar. Harmony walks up to a pedestal and pulls out a pendant that was hiding under her shirt. She places her hand on the pedestal and holds out the pendant, but nothing happens. She is very distraught by this, explaining that the important part of the pilgrimage is the pendant. The prospective queen must bring it to the ruins and if she is the true queen worthy of the crown, it will glow and "imbue her with great power." Rodney gets a closer look at the pendant and realizes that it too is Ancient tech.
Looking around the ruins once more he suddenly realizes why they seem so familiar to him. He declares that they have found the testing grounds. At John's confusion Rodney explains that this must be the planet where the Ancients developed their drone weapons. On that planet were testing grounds used in the weapons' development. The beast, he explains must be the mini drones that the Ancients used for testing, controlled by the ruins. He says the scientists in Atlantis have been looking for this place for some time. Harmony's pendant must be a pass-key of some sort, meant to protect the control of the ruins from falling into the wrong hands. He says it also explains why they didn't have any run-ins with the beast all night while the Genii did. They have been left in auto-patrol mode, programmed to leave anyone with the ATA gene (which includes Harmony) alone while attacking anyone without it, who clearly should not be there.
Harmony doesn't care about any of this, however. She is only concerned that the pendant failed to activate. Rodney explained that one of the Genii had messed with the power crystals for the machine and must have broken it. She doesn't believe this is the explanation, however, fearing instead that the gods have deemed her unworthy to be queen. Rodney knows he can fix the machine, but not quickly. He wants to come back later with a jumper and a science team, but when they suggest returning Harmony pleads with them not to. She says that this isn't the kind of thing you get a second chance at. If she returns with the pendant still dim, she will never be queen.
John goes to wake up the stunned Genii to see if they can tell them what they did to the machine so Rodney can fix it more quickly. While they are questioning the soldiers their radio chirps with Toran calling to check in. John tries to buy some time by pretending to be one of the soldiers and answering but it doesn't work. They are out of time, the rest of the Genii know where they are now. John gets into cover and takes Harmony with him while Rodney gets to work trying to fix the machine, knowing they can use it to defend themselves. Rodney exclaims that he's gotten it fixed and Harmony runs out of cover to try to activate her pendant again just as the Genii arrive and begin firing. Rodney pulls her down, shielding her with his body, and then gets her back into cover with John.
Toran arrives and offers to let John and Rodney go if they just hand over Harmony. She calls out that once her sisters learn what he's done the Genii will be destroyed. Toran scoffs and asks her how she thinks he knew where to find her, the implication that one or both of her sisters is behind the attack is clear. Harmony is staggered by the suggestion but tries not to think about it too hard for the time being. She tells John he needs to provide her with cover so she can get to the machine and call the drones to drive away the Genii. John refuses to let her leave cover, however. He asks Rodney if anyone with the gene can use the machine and Rodney says yes, as long as they have the pendant. The two men are on the same page and start a countdown, Harmony is elated, thinking they mean to let her go down to the machine. But on three John grabs her pendant and makes a run for it, activating the machine and siccing the drones on the Genii. Toran is killed and the rest flee.
Harmony and Rodney join John at the pedestal. Harmony is very upset with John, snatching the pendant back and calling John a "usurper." She then turns to Rodney and praises him for saving her life as well as for restoring the machine. She activates the pendant and tells them now they can leave.
When they arrive back at the castle, Harmony has her sisters' rooms searched and finds a Genii radio in Mardola's room, proving her guilt. Flora is ashamed at Mardola's behavior and Harmony sentences her to life in prison. She then holds a ceremony to thank John and Rodney for saving her life. She unveils a painting she had commissioned to commemorate the occasion. When the curtain is pulled off the picture, it reveals Harmony standing triumphant in the middle of the drones while Rodney bravely stands in front of her protecting her and John cowers behind her. Everyone applauds while Rodney smirks and John glowers.
This episode is a fun and amusing diversion from the rest of the season. I like that though, because it gives the impression that life is settling back to normal in the Pegasus galaxy after the destruction of the replicators. This episode is pretty much completely a stand-alone. Although it does hint that things are a little rocky with the Genii (or not as straightforward as they seem to be at any rate) and that things are pretty much over between Rodney and Katie.
Other than that, though, well, it's always fun to watch Rodney get to interact with children. Especially one who is, temperamentally, so much like him. Poor John, being turned into the villain for trying to just keep the stubborn kid alive. Still, it's probably a little nice for Rodney to have the tables turned for a change in that particular arena. It's not very often he gets to be the lauded hero (mostly because he has a hard time being gracious, but still). Like I said, an amusing episode, but there's not really a whole lot else to say about it.
"You allow him to question you so incessantly?" (Harmony)
"I guess I'm just used to it by now." (John)
"Would it not be easier to beat him?" (Harmony)
"Once you hand her over you're free to go." (Genii)
"You wouldn't! You swore a sacred oath to protect me!" (Harmony)
"Nah. I don't remember doing that..." (Rodney)
"Tell me something, Doctor. The place where you sleep at night. Is it guarded?" (Harmony)
"I know what you're trying to do and it's not gonna work, okay? I'm not scared of you. You're just a kid, a bratty little kid. I don't care that you're gonna be queen. In fact, nothing could impress me less, so why don't you just cool it with the bad seed act and just go back to ignoring me?" (Rodney)
"Surely they can't guard you all the time?" (Harmony)
"I wish Ronon was here." (John)
"You know you said that out loud, right? I mean, I'm right here." (Rodney)
"You're mad at me." (Harmony)
"Our first fight." (Harmony)
"I knew it would happen eventually. We'll laugh about this one day." (Harmony)
"You don't like me very much, do you?" (Harmony)
"No, that's not true. I...I don't not like you." (Rodney)
"What does that mean?" (Harmony)
"It means you have a very annoying attitude but I'm willing to cut you some slack because you're still just a child." (Rodney)
"Whereas if I were grown up, my 'annoying attitude' would be less excusable?" (Harmony)
"That's right. An adult would, uh...hey, I don't have an attitude problem!" (Rodney)
"And I don't not like you." (Harmony)
"Oh. Well, that's sweet of you to say." (Rodney)
"Provide me with cover. I'll make it to the pedestal, summon the beast, and smite them." (Harmony)
"There will be no smiting today little lady!" (John)
Well, that wraps up another week of the rewatch. See you back here on Monday for a more somber episode, "Outcast."