Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SGA Rewatch: The Kindred Part I

Well, here we are, about to head into the end of another season on the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today we start wrapping up season four with "The Kindred Part I." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before.

What Happened

Things kick off with Teyla and her team, along with Sam and a few Athosians standing in front of a funeral pyre. Sam comforts Teyla and we realize that the man on the pyre is Kanaan, the father of her child. She laments that she could not save him and moves to light the pyre. As she steps up and the flames engulf the structure, Kanaan wakes up and starts calling to Teyla for help. She tries to get to him but Sam and the others hold her back, telling her it is too late. She wakes with a start in her quarters in Atlantis, clearly distraught by the dream.

In the infirmary, Sam and Jennifer are discussing a new sickness that has been sweeping through the galaxy. Atlantis has been trying to aid those afflicted and Jennifer has been trying to figure out what the sickness is, how it is spread, and how to stop it. As they are talking John returns from a mission and tells them that an eighth planet has just fallen victim to the plague. They still can't figure out how it is spreading, because the eight planets have no connection with each other. Jennifer points out that they do all trade with a few similar worlds, but none of those worlds have been afflicted. It is all very frustrating. Looking at the data of the planets where the plague has run its course, Jennifer has determined that it has a thirty percent fatality rate, which means if it spreads to the whole galaxy they are looking at a loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

Rodney finds Teyla in the mess and gives her a present for the baby. Or, as he calls it, a pre-baby present. It is a set of recordings of his thoughts on science and his own works for her to play for the baby while it is still in utero, to give it a greater chance of becoming a great mind (like Rodney). Teyla thanks him but he can see that she is distracted and he asks her what is wrong. She tells him about her dream but says that she thinks it wasn't a dream at all but a vision. She believes it was a message from Kanaan that he and her people are still alive. She perceives that Rodney doesn't believe that it was more than a dream but he says that he's seen enough in his lifetime to not make judgments like that. Of course, later, when he tells John about the incident, it is clear that he really doesn't believe it was a vision at all. But it was nice that he was a bit more tactful when speaking with Teyla on the matter.

The next evening Teyla has another dream/vision. This time, she is sleeping in the woods and Kanaan appears before her. He tells her to find him and the other Athosians. When she asks how he holds up a pendant that Teyla had given him before his disappearance and asks if she remembers where she bought it. She says of course and the dream ends. Teyla tells her team and Sam about her second vision and says she would like to go back to the village where she bought the pendant and see if she can find any information about her people. Sam is reluctant to authorize the mission because it seems unlikely anyone in that particular village had anything to do with the disappearance of the Athosians and because they are spread pretty thin dealing with the plague. Still, John convinces her to authorize the mission, pointing out that this is for Teyla more than anything else, and he promises to make it quick. When they arrive at the village Teyla finds that the artisan who made the pendant has died--he was a victim of the plague which hit the village several weeks ago. She remains on the planet for a while longer but after they don't turn up anything else, John calls it and they return to Atlantis.

Jennifer informs Sam that she has finally identified the cause of the plague and unfortunately it is something they have encountered before. They call in the senior staff for a briefing and she explains that it is being caused by a protein, one almost identical to the one from Hoff, which was developed to make humans poisonous to wraith. Of course, it had the unintended side-effect of killing half of the people who were inoculated with it, so, development of that drug wasn't one that was ever pursued after the expedition cut contact with Hoff. Jennifer explains that the protein has been modified a bit from its original form, which is why it is now only fatal to a third of the people who are exposed instead of half. Still, that's way too many. The protein didn't get out into the galaxy by accident--Jennifer suggests it was probably introduced to the afflicted planets through their food or water. Sam also notes that the randomness of the planets afflicted seems calculated, meant to keep the wraith from being able to know which of their food sources have been contaminated. John says it couldn't be the Hoffans because the wraith wiped out that whole planet when they found out about the protein years ago. Still, they speculate some people might have survived and are now trying to get payback. Sam sends them to Hoff to see if they can find anything to help them out.

While the rest of the team goes to Hoff, Teyla remains behind in Atlantis. She decides to meditate and when she does she has yet another vision. Kanaan tells her she was very close to finding the answers she needed and she needs to go back to the village and keep looking. He also tells her that time is running out if she wants to save her people. She immediately goes to Sam and says she wants to go back to the village once more. Having the vision while she was awake this time has completely convinced her that Kanaan is trying to communicate with her. Sam is skeptical still but Teyla points out that Kanaan also possesses wraith DNA like Teyla. She can use her gifts for telepathic communication with the wraith and thinks it is not outside the realm of possibility that Kanaan has figured out how to use the gift to communicate with her. Sam still hesitates but Teyla says that unless Sam plans to physically restrain her, she is going. She also cannot wait for John and the rest of the team to return from Hoff. She is convinced that time is short. Sam finally agrees and sends Lorne and his team to escort her, unwilling to let her go alone.

On Hoff the team finds very little but a destroyed world. They search the vaults where all of the records and histories and research were kept, as well as the labs but find no trace at all of the information about the protein, which suggests that it might have been taken. Rodney runs into a pack of kids who are scavenging the remains for valuables, but they swear they haven't taken or seen the items he asks about. Whoever took the information on protein appears to have known exactly what to look for.

Lorne and his men accompany Teyla through the village market once more and she sees a vendor selling Kanaan's pendant, the one he showed her in her vision. She takes out a knife and shoos off the vendor's customer, asking him where he got the pendant in a very threatening manner. He says he got it from a trader. Teyla asks what else he got from this trader and the vendor brings out a wooden box and hands it to Teyla. She goes through it and finds belongings of several Athosians. Lorne asks the vendor when he last saw the trader and the vendor responds that it has been several days. He then says that the trader comes through the village often, will probably even stop by today, and he would be more than willing to make introductions. It is clear he would rather pass on Teyla and Lorne to the trader and let them become someone else's problem.

John and the others return from Hoff empty-handed. They head up to the control room where Sam shows them that while they were gone, Todd's subspace tracking beacon started broadcasting again. The only reason for it to do that is because he wants to talk with them. Sam apologizes and has them turn right back around to check out this new development.

Lorne and his men have backed off of the vendor's stall and Lorne sets up a watch. A man approaches and the vendor indicates to the watching soldier that this is the man he is looking for. Lorne approaches the man and asks him where he got the stuff he is selling. The trader looks between Lorne and the vendor and then turns tail and runs--right into Teyla who knocks him out with a log. They take him somewhere private to question him about the Athosians' belongings. He isn't very cooperative. He tells them he recognizes their uniforms and everyone knows that the people of Atlantis are the "do-gooders" of the galaxy. They won't hurt him. Teyla steps out of the shadows and says calmly that she wears no uniform. He scoffs that a pregnant woman doesn't scare him either. Teyla knocks him over and tells him that she will inform the villagers that he is a wraith worshiper and let them take out their own form of justice on him. He changes his mind and decides to talk. He tells them that he gets his goods from a "dumping ground," a world where people discard bodies and things they don't want anymore. When asked if he removed the Athosian items from bodies he says no, those he found buried as if someone wanted to get rid of them. Teyla tells him he will take them to this world and show them and he quickly agrees.

John, Rodney, and Ronon head to a wraith facility that Todd's signal was traced to. There they find several dead wraith, though the bodies bear no marks to indicate cause of death. Todd steps out of the shadows as they remark about this and says that is because his fellows were poisoned. He suspects that the team knows exactly how the wraith were poisoned, too.

As Teyla and Lorne's team head to the gate with the trader Lorne tries to convince Teyla to let his team go to the planet to check it out. He is clearly worried about her safety. When she insists she must see for herself he asks her to at least let them go first and scout it out for her. Before she can reply they hear the sound of a wraith dart. They scatter to avoid being culled but the trader runs up to Teyla and grabs her, dragging her into the beam. The dart then leaves.

Todd and John hold each other at gunpoint, each accusing the other of having something to do with the plague. Todd says that because of the random dispersal of the plague all of the wraith factions have been adversely affected, either by ingesting poison or losing available food sources. He is not behind it, but maybe Atlantis considers the loss of human life acceptable in exchange for striking such a blow against the wraith. John denies that is the case. Hearing this, Todd says he wants their help. He wants all of the information they have on the Hoffan protein so that he can work on creating an immunity to it (or a cure) for the use of his hive only. They are still annoyed about the attempted invasion at Earth via the gate bridge, however, and John doesn't really feel like playing ball. Todd insists that he had nothing to do with that attack and that the information was stolen from him by an enemy. He offers them a proposal: if they will give him the research he requests, he will give them the identity of the person responsible for the plague. When John points out that Todd just accused Atlantis of being responsible Todd answers that there were only two parties in the galaxy capable of causing it. If Atlantis is not responsible then that leaves only one option.

Teyla finds herself captive on a wraith ship. As she sits in her cell someone walks up to her and her captor is revealed to be Michael.

John and the team take Todd's information back to Sam and Jennifer. They don't really need his information, however. From what he told them, they were able to guess that Michael is the one behind the plague. However, there is the chance that Todd might know how to find Michael, and if that is the case, it is worth handing over the information. Jennifer isn't so happy about that, pointing out that with that research Todd could brew up his own version of the protein, but Rodney is convinced that Todd wouldn't do that. In fact, if anything, he would be likely to come up with a cure, even just a temporary one, for the human population, which benefits them all in the long run. While they are discussing the next move, the gate activates and Lorne's team returns--without Teyla.

On the wraith ship Teyla asks Michael what he wants from her. He tsks at the unfriendly greeting and says he went to so much trouble to arrange a family reunion for her. She quickly realizes that he is the one behind the disappearance of her people. He assures her that the Athosians are alive and well and says that they are actually working with him towards the common goal of eradicating the wraith. Teyla is disbelieving but Michael goes on to explain that he has continued his experiments in breeding his own army of super soldiers. He has moved on past the monsters that destroyed the Taranans and has instead been focusing on a human-wraith hybrid. Basically more like the wraith except they don't need to feed on humans anymore. He says that weakness will be the downfall of the wraith and shows Teyla his hand, which no longer has the feeding slit. Teyla realizes that he is also behind the plague and asks him how he found out about it and was able to get his hands on it. He simply tells her that he had help and walks off.

The team, meanwhile, meets back up with Todd and tell him they already have a pretty good idea of who is behind the plague. They tell him about Michael and he admits that is who he thinks is behind it as well. They then tell Todd about Teyla being taken and hand him the research he has asked for. In exchange, they want him to tell them where to find Michael so that they can stop him and, more importantly, get Teyla back. Todd agrees to their terms and they tell him how to contact them when he's found something.

Michael pays Teyla another visit and tries to get her to eat (she has been refusing her food). She asks him why he even cares and he assures her he does. They might not be friends, but she is the only person who has ever had any true idea of what he's been through. He sees them as being very alike, both hybrids. She disdains him and he asks her to not try to spite him at the expense of her child. She then narrows her eyes and tells him her child is no concern of his but he disagrees, telling her (with a very disturbing smile) that he has great plans for the boy. Later, he sends Kanaan to Teyla's cell and she begs Kanaan to help her escape for the sake of their child. Kanaan, however, has been altered. He tells Teyla that the child will serve the cause and she realizes with horror that he has been brainwashed by Michael.

On Atlantis the team receives a set of coordinates from Todd. He was able to track down rumors of a wraith holding a member of the expedition hostage. They go to check out the facility, along with Lorne's team. They gate as close as they can to the facility and the Daedalus picks them up to take them the rest of the way, beaming them down when they arrive and remaining in orbit for support. They split up to search the facility and come under fire when they encounter a guarded room. While they are dealing with the guards, who are human, not wraith, a wraith cruiser arrives in orbit around the planet. Seeing the Daedalus it immediately starts attacking and the Daedalus returns fire, trying to hold off until John's group can retrieve Teyla.

John gets to one of the guards and asks who he is working for. The guard just chuckles and tells John he is too early. John asks what he means and the guard replies that their boss should be back any time now on his ship, and he is expected to have a very important prisoner with him. John realizes that Teyla is probably on the wraith ship now in orbit and radios Caldwell to let him know not to destroy it. Caldwell orders his people to cripple the ship but keep it intact, but before they can do so it opens up a hyperspace window and jumps away. John meets back up with Lorne and tells him that Teyla isn't there. Lorne says that the guards were protecting something though and they decide to check it out before they leave. They break down the door to a cell, to find it occupied by none other than Carson (a very grumpy Carson who wants to know why it took them so long to rescue him). Everyone makes shocked face.

To Be Continued...


Oh man, Michael. He just always seems to crop up at the end of the season and cause trouble, doesn't he? Of course, this season he finally gets to graduate to Big Bad all by himself. Um, congrats, I guess? So. We now know who took Teyla's people, and why. Plus, we've got the galaxy-wide crisis that will need to be resolved, and, on a more personal note, one of Atlantis' own to rescue. End-of-Season Arc engage! I do love that all of these problems are extrapolations from the expedition's previous activity in the galaxy. Huzzah for actions having consequences! Of course, now we just have to figure out a way to get our people out of the trouble alive and intact.

Also, oh, hey. Carson's alive. Wait, what?!?!?!? Yeah, so, that happened.

This is kind of a crazy episode because it throws so freaking much at us, right there at the end of the season, with two episodes to wrap it up (more or less--I mean, come on, it's Stargate, odds are likely there will be a season-ending cliff-hanger). I kind of like it though, because I feel like that accurately represents how insane day-to-day life in Atlantis probably really gets (okay, yes, it's a television show--you  know what I mean). They have some more or less quiet time with a few incidents here and there and then, BOOM, all hell breaks loose at once. This episode is pretty much just setup for the next two, but I think it is done really well. It still feels like its own story.

I think part of that was that there were quite a few really good character moments in there with all of the insanity. Such as: Rodney noticing that something is wrong with Teyla, then asking her about it, then listening openly, then humoring her despite his own beliefs in order to reassure her. Wow. Seriously, that right there. That one scene might be the best demonstration to date of how much he has grown as a character (while still retaining his original arrogant quirky Rodney charm). Plus, there was Rodney's preoccupation with getting lunch while everything was going on. Nice touch there.

Then, there is the little byplay when they approach the trading village where Teyla explains the tradition of giving gifts among her people to show respect, admiration, and affection. Ronon quips to Rodney that maybe he should get him something and when Rodney is all, oh, really? Ronon smirks and says no. Seriously. Brothers, those two. Just like brothers. I love it. That wasn't Ronon's only place to shine, either. I also really liked when they were waiting to hear back from Todd on where Michael might be and Ronon was quietly reassuring John that they would get Teyla back. Everyone was worried about her, but even though John seemed all calm and stuff, Ronon could tell that he was the one who needed the out-loud assurance the most. That was pretty awesome.

Of course there was plenty of Lorne in this episode also (yay!). In my headcanon he and Teyla have a really nice awkward friendship. It was clear enough in the village that he was enjoying getting to help her out and trying to help her relax a little bit. It was also equally clear that while he was concerned about her safety, he was willing enough to let her call the shots because she is still extremely capable and this was her show. The look on his face when he came back without her and Sam asked where she was...that was just heartbreaking y'all. Plus, him volunteering to be on the rescue mission before John could even ask. Yup. All awesome sauce.

Plus, there's Todd. Yay for him not being the actual bad guy re: Midway getting invaded then blown up. Of course, he's still a wraith. But for a wraith he's actually pretty reasonable. Also, he has totally figured John out. It's kind of brilliant. Look, I just love Todd. He's a cool dude, wraith, whatever.

Favorite Quotes

"Hey, I've been cocooned inside an alien spacecraft, I've had another person living inside me, I've encountered not one but two different versions of myself. So who am I to judge? If you say it was a vision then I believe it was a vision." (Rodney)

"They have no way of knowing which of their food sources has been infected." (Sam)
"So it's just a matter of time before they become hungry and cranky. I mean, I know I would." (Rodney)

"Aw, come on! We just got back!" (Rodney)
"Sorry Rodney." (Sam)
"I haven't had lunch yet!" (Rodney)

"That's not gonna happen." (John)
"You always say that, but you always come around." (Todd)


We'll pick right back up on Monday with "The Kindred Part II." See you then!

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