Alrighty folks, we are heading down the home stretch. Welcome back to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch, where today we will be discussing season four's penultimate episode, "The Kindred Part II."
Spoilers for everything! Well, up to and including the episode at least. Onward!
As you may remember, the previous episode ended with John and Lorne's teams failing to recover Teyla but in the process finding one very annoyed Carson Beckett being held captive by Michael. This is quite shocking to our heroes, seeing as how Carson, you know, died the previous season. So, things kick off with Ronon, John, and Rodney standing in the observation room watching as Keller and a medical team in HAZMAT suits take a whole host of readings from Carson, who has been placed in isolation. Carson is relieved to be home and seems rather oblivious to the fact that everyone is extremely weirded out by his presence and chats away with them as if nothing strange is going on at all. He even looks up, sees the guys watching him, and waves happily at them.
Back in the observation room Rodney assures the others that they have checked and this Carson is definitely not a replicator. While that's a relief, it still brings the question of what the heck they are actually dealing with. Rodney points out that they could be dealing with a Carson from an alternate universe or timeline, or possibly a clone. Jennifer runs an exhaustive set of tests on Carson and his blood and DNA and tells the others that all of the tests conclusively confirm that he is Carson. So, at the very least he's not an impostor.
The next step being to find out what Carson knows about the whole situation, Rodney goes down to talk to him. When Rodney is surprised at Carson's mention of being held captive for almost two years, Carson is a little thrown. But Rodney says they just need him to fill in the details for them and Carson happily obliges. He explains that Michael captured him when he escaped from the planet where Atlantis had stored the converted wraith after their failed attempt at an alliance with Michael's hive.
He remembers Michael interrogating him and then giving him an injection of some sort. The next thing he knew he was waking up in a cell, a prisoner of Michael. Carson explains that Michael wanted his help in his research and work on combining wraith and human DNA. At first Carson was able to hold out and refuse to cooperate. But after a while Michael grew impatient and began executing people in cold blood in front of Carson. He told Carson that he would continue to do so until Carson agreed to help him, and Carson finally caved. He tells Rodney that it was very difficult but he never gave up hope that the others were out there looking for him and would find him eventually.
At this point Rodney, with a very pained expression, explains to Carson that they actually weren't looking for him at all. In fact, they didn't even know he was missing. Carson is surprised and very confused by this and Rodney explains that they rescued Carson, another Carson, from that planet. He returned to Atlantis and continued his work until he was killed in an explosion several months later. Carson is flabbergasted by this, and then outraged, especially when he learns that his mother was informed of his supposed death. He demands to speak to Elizabeth immediately and again Rodney makes a pained face as he tells Carson that isn't possible. Elizabeth is dead too.
John reports to Sam that they had no luck finding any trace of Teyla in the facility. He's checked with Todd but the wraith swears he has given them everything he knows. John doesn't believe him but acknowledges that there's not much they can do to make Todd talk. He tells Sam he thinks they should talk to Carson and see if he has any useful information. Sam is not so sure this is a good idea though, since they still don't know how this Carson came to be. She is worried that the whole situation might be a set-up or trap of some sort on Michael's part.
On an abandoned world, Michael and a group of his hybrids lead Teyla into a warehouse facility. Michael takes her to a cell and tells her he will allow her some time to get reacquainted before shutting the door and leaving. When she turns she finds that the cell contains many of her people, including Halling who runs to greet her. They are, for the most part, alive and well, though very few in number. Teyla sits down to speak with her people and finds out how they were captured (men with stunners infiltrated the settlement in the night, taking them all out before they had time to react). Teyla berates herself for not having been there but Halling assures her there is nothing she could have done. She asks where the rest of their people are and is told that Michael has been taking them and turning them into hybrids. Kanaan was among the first to be converted.
In Atlantis, Jennifer has figured out the explanation for the bonus Carson. She calls Sam down to show her the data, explaining that he is a clone. Next, they show the data to Carson so that he can look at it with his own eyes and know that it is true. Rodney is excited by the news, saying it basically means that one of his best friends has come back from the dead. Also, it means that they can trust Carson to help them find Teyla. Carson is not convinced however, well aware that the fact that it was Michael who created him still makes his actions suspect. Still, he offers to help, offering them all of the information he knows about Michael's operation. He has the layout of several facilities but no gate addresses, unfortunately. He was always blindfolded when moved. He did manage to see a gate address used by one of Michael's mercenaries once, however, and gladly gives them that info.
Sam is still wary, worried that maybe Michael let them find Carson so he could give them this specific information and they could walk into another trap. Still, as John points out to her, it is all the lead they have and they are not about to give up on Teyla. So they go to check it out and wander into a tavern looking for information. The natives aren't really inclined to be helpful, however, and while they are trying to convince the bartender to talk to them, someone in the shadows upstairs opens fire on them with a P-90. Ronon manages to stun their attacker and he falls over the railing into the room below, still alive but badly injured. They rush him back to Atlantis for medical treatment so that they can interrogate him. When Jennifer meets them at the gate, she recognizes the man. He is Nabel, the man that she and Teyla encountered on New Athos after discovering the Athosians missing. The mystery of how he got one of Atlantis' weapons is solved at least--he most likely stole it from the cache they had given the Athosians.
Jennifer rushes Nabel into surgery and Carson scrubs in, volunteering to help. He moves to grab something that Jennifer had asked for and instead collapses on the floor of the operating room. Jennifer has him moved out and taken to be examined. Once she's got everyone sorted out she calls Sam and John down to the infirmary. It turns out that while Carson looks perfectly healthy on the outside, his cells and internal organs are all aging ridiculously fast. Many of his organs are in danger of shutting down completely. She believes it is due to his being a clone. Rodney wonders why the deterioration is just now starting, seeing as how this Carson has been alive and kicking for almost two years. Carson realizes that Michael must have been dosing him with something to prevent the deterioration--he had been given a weekly injection during his captivity. He had assumed it was some kind of sedative to keep him from escaping but he now realizes that was probably something to keep him stable. He and Jennifer both realize that if it takes a whole week to break down, he likely still had some in his system when he arrived in Atlantis and was scanned and tested by the medical teams. Maybe they can find it from that data and duplicate the drug.
Teyla sees that Kanaan has been stationed as guard outside of the Athosians' cell and she goes to speak with him. She talks to him fervently, trying to appeal to the man that he was before Michael's experiments, hoping that some of him still remains. She tries to appeal to his fatherly instincts by begging for the safety of their child. Kanaan does not respond, and after a few moments a door opens somewhere and he turns and leaves. He is replaced by a group of human mercenaries who have come to take Teyla to Michael. Halling steps forward telling them to take him instead but they refuse and though the Athosians try to fight back, they are quickly subdued and Teyla is taken away.
Jennifer and Carson do manage to identify the drug that Michael had been using to keep Carson stable. Of course, it is crazy complex and though they get to work immediately trying to duplicate it, they do not have very much luck. Meanwhile, Carson just keeps getting worse. Jennifer suggests putting him in a stasis pod to halt the deterioration while she continues to work on the cure, but Carson refuses.
The mercenaries take Teyla to a lab and strap her to a table then leave. Kanaan comes in and she again begs him to help her. She says she can help him escape, help the others escape, but she needs his help. He seems to come to himself for a moment, surprised to find her there, and pregnant. He places a tentative hand on her stomach and then moves to begin trying to free her from her restraints. Before he can get her lose, however, Kanaan snaps to attention, and leaves off what he was doing. Teyla looks at him in confusion but then Michael arrives dismissing Kanaan and telling Teyla it is time to get to work.
Nabel wakes up after his surgery and finds Jennifer and some of the others standing over him. He mocks Jennifer about saving his life once again and John says she only did that so that Nabel could give them information. Nabel shakes his head and refuses, saying that if he talks and they let him go then he is as good as dead. John says they can protect him and he scoffs, saying Michael has spies everywhere. Nowhere in the galaxy is safe. John points out that Nabel doesn't have to actually stay in the galaxy and Nabel seems to consider the implied deal.
Michael, meanwhile, gives Teyla the creepiest ultrasound ever, assuring her that her child is fine while also scaring her out of her wits by making vague comments about his plans for her baby. She asks Michael what Kanaan had meant on the ship when he had said that the child would "serve the cause." Michael explains that since Teyla and Kanaan both possess the "gift" of wraith DNA, that makes their child genetically unique. Such a child would be a huge benefit to Michael's research and attempts to create a race superior to both humans and wraith. Teyla stares at him in horror as he injects her with a large needle.
Nabel agrees to talk and tells them where Michael has taken Teyla. From his description of the lab, Carson recognizes which facility it is and briefs John and the team about the building's layout and what to expect where. He also volunteers to join their mission so he can help them find Teyla more quickly. Rodney is not happy about this, worried that so much exertion in his condition could kill him. Sam isn't very happy about it either, but for different reasons. John and Ronon both reason that even if Carson is leading them into some sort of ambush (intentionally or not), it really won't make much of a difference whether or not he goes with them, and they would rather have him along on the off chance that it isn't a trap. Carson, for his part, is determined to do everything he can to help them bring Teyla home. They gear up and head out to the planet, quickly finding their facility and beginning to sneak their way through to the lab.
Teyla has been left alone in the lab, still strapped to the table. She starts when Michael strides in quickly, accompanied by two hybrids, and begins packing things up and shutting down his equipment. Teyla says they are connected and she can sense his fear, but he denies it, saying he is merely concerned. Also in the lab are several unconscious Athosians undergoing the conversion process. Michael shuts down their equipment, killing them all, explaining that he can't leave anything behind. The hybrids release Teyla from the table and Michael directs them to take Teyla to his ship, telling her they are leaving.
The team encounters a group of mercenaries and a firefight ensues. From their cell, the Athosians hear the gunfire and when it dies down Halling calls out, hoping help has arrived. The team finds them and lets them out. Halling says he will get his people to the gate and tells John to go after Teyla. They keep through the facility and find the lab, full of dead experiments but no Teyla. They do find evidence that she was there however. Before they can move on, more of Michael's men start firing on them, pinning them down. On his scanner Rodney picks up an energy signature indicating a ship is firing up nearby. Carson looks down a corridor and seeing that he is clear runs down it.
Teyla and Michael's hybrids are almost out of the building when Carson finds them. He shoots the hybrids, killing them, and greets Teyla. She is extremely shocked to see him and immediately wary of another trick. He tells her there is no time to explain but that the others are here to save her. He tries to get her to leave with him but she refuses to go without Kanaan and before Carson can convince her Michael finds them. Carson raises his gun and aims it at Michael but is unable to shoot. Michael smirks and explains to Teyla that Carson, like all of his creations, are subject to his influence and therefore unable to hurt him. He takes Carson's gun and then stuns him. He grabs Teyla's arm and drags her out of the building to the ship.
When the rest of the team finally manages to subdue their attackers Rodney tells them that Carson went ahead. They go after him and find him where he fell when he was stunned. They wake him up and he asks about Teyla, but it is too late. Even as they run to the exit they see Michael's ship take off and leave the planet. They take what prisoners they can for questioning and head back to Atlantis.
After all of that activity, Carson's condition is really bad. He finally agrees to go into stasis. Keller promises to put all of their best people on finding the cure and to keep working at it until they do. John pipes up that as soon as they capture Michael they will have the cure and will have a much easier time duplicating it. Carson makes his goodbyes. He tells Sam that he wrote his mother a letter (carefully, so as to not give away the situation) and asks her to pass it along, telling his mother that they found it after they had already shipped back his belongings. John he urges to bring Teyla home and John promises he will. He then says goodbye to Ronon and Rodney and steps into the stasis pod.
This episode is interesting in that it is actually two different stories woven together (quite well). First, there is the ongoing search for Teyla. While they are not able to recover her, they get close, and they do manage to finally free her people. We also now have a better idea of what Michael wants from her (and in general).
Then there's Carson's clone. Fan outcry when Carson died was insane and finally the writers said if the people spoke up they would find a way to bring him back. Speak up the fans did and so here's Carson. I actually feel like they did a really good job of this. They managed to make his return an event that was relevant to the ongoing story and also do it in a way that did not lessen either the impact or import of his original death (which is often a problem for the revolving-door character deaths so common in science fiction). In addition, they did it in a way that didn't render this new character of Jennifer we've been getting to know and love moot or unnecessary. Seeing her get to work with Carson was actually really cool.
I like the detail that was given to Ronon and Rodney's reactions to Carson's "return" as well. Ronon's silence and distance--because he was worried it would turn out to be a trick or that Carson would just go away again--were very well done. Rodney's palpable joy at having his friend back, as well as his stanch defense of the man once the truth was discovered, were also very nice to watch.
I think weaving together the two stories makes this episode feel a lot more whole than it would have had they just focused on prolonging Teyla's captivity. Because honestly, not a lot of progress was made there, was it? Also, there was absolutely no mention of stopping the spread of the Hoffan virus. Now granted, their priorities have shifted a bit since Teyla was taken, and stopping Michael is likely to also stop that from being further introduced to the galaxy, but still. It was weird that such an important plot element just fell to the wayside.
I do think it is interesting how many different instances we have of people who have been captured holding out hope for rescue in this episode. The Athosians waiting for Teyla to find them, Teyla waiting for her team to come, poor clone Carson, spending all of that time hoping for a rescue from people who didn't even know he was gone. "No one gets left behind" is a big philosophy of the stargate program (and evident across all three franchises), but sometimes it's not always possible to find those people who are missing, or sometimes people slip through the cracks and no one knows they need to be rescued. I've seen these shows several times now and I have to say, watching this again this time, this is the first time I have really been struck by how much the writers were trying to emphasize what an imperfect philosophy it really is. I don't think they are trying to say it is bad, or suggest that people shouldn't hold out hope, but maybe they want to emphasize that hope and determination alone are not always enough. It's very subtle, but it actually makes a big impact once you've noticed it. I also think it sets the stage very nicely for the next episode, but we won't talk about that just yet.
"You know, for the better part of two years, I imagined what it would be like the day I finally got back to Atlantis. This isn't exactly how I pictured it." (Carson)
"It doesn't matter." (Rodney)
"Well that's easy for you to say, but you're not the one who just found out he was made in a test tube." (Carson)
"As far as I'm concerned, one of the best friends I ever had just came back from the dead. I'm not gonna quibble over a couple of telomeres!" (Rodney)
Okay. Well, the next episode, "The Last Man," closes out the season. See you back here on Wednesday, folks!