Monday, April 23, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Midway

Hey there folks! Welcome to the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch, where we are just getting started on the home stretch of season four. Wow. Only one more season to go after that. Crazy. Anyway, today we will be discussing the episode "Midway."

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

What Happened


Teyla walks into Sam's office and is greeted by not only Sam but John. She has just returned from Earth, where she met with members of the IOA for an interview at the insistence of its newest member Mr. Coolidge. Coolidge is, apparently, very distrustful of aliens in general and doesn't really like the idea of them working with the stargate program, let alone serving as members of the offworld teams. Hence, the interviews. He wants to personally ensure that the aliens working with the SGC are trustworthy enough to be allowed to do so. Teyla, of course, managed to handle her interview well, dealing with Coolidge with grace and dignity. She does mention that he was distracted by her condition and seemed not to be too worried about her because he didn't think she would be returning to active duty after her child was born anyway. John scoffs at that and Teyla looks a little unsure on the matter herself. She bids them goodbye and leaves them to discuss the matter.

Ronon is next in line for an interview with the IOA and is scheduled to meet with them in three days' time. Sam and John are both clearly concerned about his ability to control his temper when confronted with Coolidge. Sam tells John she's had an idea about that though. She has asked Teal'c (one of her teammates from SG-1 and an alien himself) to come to Atlantis and coach Ronon for the interview, hoping to prevent any kind of incident while Ronon is on Earth. Teal'c arrives and greets Sam warmly. When she takes him to meet Ronon, it becomes immediately obvious that Ronon is not so much happy about being told he needs a "coach." He greets Teal'c with barely veiled contempt.

The scene shifts to a wasteland of a planet where we find a group of wraith approaching a stargate. They are carrying a lot of strange looking tech with them and from our brief exposure it is evident that they are up to no good.

On Atlantis Teal'c finds Ronon in the mess and sits down to join him. Ronon decides to be up front and tells Teal'c he doesn't need any help preparing for his interview. He has dealt with the IOA before (namely, Woolsey), and he knows how to play the game. Teal'c says fine and then suggests they speak of other things. He steers the conversation toward Sateda, asking Ronon about his homeworld and its destruction. He then begins to ask questions suggesting that Ronon's people were weak and reckless and that is how they not only incited the wraith to attack but also lost so easily. Ronon gets very angry very fast and stands up quickly, drawing his gun and pointing it at Teal'c's head. Teal'c doesn't even bat an eyelash. He just keeps on eating and when Ronon says his suggestions were a lie, he agrees. He then points out that if such a line of questioning were to arise in Ronon's interview, however, he is certain Ronon would not react in the same manner, seeing as how he knows how to "play the game." Ronon just stares at him, gun still drawn, until John arrives and diffuses the situation.

Seeing the tension between the two warriors, John suggests that Ronon take Teal'c to the gym to show him some of his fighting techniques. He says he is sure they can give each other plenty of tips. Shortly thereafter we find ourselves in the gym, where a crowd has gathered to watch (and bet on) a very intense and not-so-friendly sparring match between Ronon and Teal'c. Each man seems to be giving about as good as he is getting. Sam comes in and is appalled at what she finds. She breaks up the fight and declares it a draw, giving everyone a look of pure disgust. Ronon and Teal'c glare at each other over her as she stands between them and it is clear that in their minds the fight is not yet over.

The time comes for Ronon to head to Earth (and for Teal'c to return home). Ronon is extra grumpy about this because he and Teal'c are leaving at the same time and they are going through Midway, which after the Kirsan fever outbreak instituted a twenty-four hour quarantine period for any travelers between galaxies. That means an extra day spent on a small space station in Teal'c's company before being grilled by the always super pleasant IOA representatives.

On the desert planet, we see the gate in front of the wraith activate. One makes a comment that the buffers are stored as the gate shuts down, and then says that it should begin redialing soon. The wraith stand by and wait.

Ronon and Teal'c arrive at Midway and are greeted by Doctor Lee. Lee runs up to the control room and we see two more scientists, one called Dempster and also Kavanagh, who has apparently been recently assigned to the station. Kavanagh is still a whiny brat and protests being assigned a new set of diagnostics so he can learn the station's systems while Lee goes to get Ronon and Teal'c settled in for their quarantine period. Because it is such a small space station (and no one had really anticipated on the quarantine being put in place), there isn't really much in the way of guest rooms. Lee leads the two men to a very small room with bunk beds and tells them they will have to share. He leaves and they make to settle in, both turning for the same bed. They glare at each other.

One of the wraith tells his commander that he has deciphered the program. The commander expresses approval and then tells his men to ready the first wave. On Midway, there is an unscheduled activation of the Pegasus gate. Lee walks to the window overlooking the gate room and is unpleasantly surprised to find a group of wraith strolling into the station. As the wraith come through they start attacking everyone they find and Lee sets off an alarm to notify the station of the incursion. In their room, Ronon and Teal'c are stolidly watching The Three Stooges when the alarm sounds. They look at each other and get up to investigate without saying a word. In the corridor they run into some wraith and easily dispatch them, taking their weapons and wondering how the heck they got on the station. The commanding wraith, meanwhile, arrives in the control room, taking Lee and the others hostage and ordering his minion to open up the Milky Way gate to Earth.

On Atlantis John answers a call to the control room and learns from Sam and Rodney that there has been some sort of malfunction with the gate bridge. Rodney explains they were getting ready to send their weekly report to the SGC but were unable to activate the macro. He thinks (and Sam hopes) it is just a glitch in the software, but they are working on it. John's first worry is for Ronon and Teal'c but Rodney assures him that the malfunction didn't occur until after they had arrived at Midway (although Sam is not so sure about this).

Ronon and Teal'c make their way to the armory and then try to decide on where to go next. They of course disagree. Ronon thinks they should head to the gate room and clear out all of the wraith as they come in. Teal'c thinks the control room is a better idea, pointing out that the wraith can't use the gate without the control room. Deny them access and they will be easier to clean up.

In the control room the minion goes to dial Earth but finds that he has been locked out of the system. He says an override code is needed in order to get back in. The commander whirls on Lee and the others demanding the code. Lee admits to initiating the lockout but swears that neither he nor the other men have the override codes. The wraith tells them if they won't talk, he'll just have to persuade them to change their minds, and he holds up his feeding hand in clear threat.

On Atlantis Rodney has determined that the malfunction in the bridge was caused by someone on the desert planet dialing out and preventing access to the bridge. John wonders if it is Ronon and Teal'c, maybe having been dropped on the wrong planet by the malfunction and trying to get back. Rodney doesn't think that's the case, though. This begs the question of just who exactly is using the gate on that uninhabited planet. They dial in and try to raise Ronon and Teal'c on the radio, just in case, but of course get no answer. Next they send through a MALP and see first the wraith tech attached to the DHD, then a wraith ship, then a wraith drone, who shoots the MALP, breaking their feed. They realize that the wraith have hijacked the gate bridge, though they can't figure out how since no one knew about it and all of Rodney's codes and programming were super encrypted. John points out that Todd sure had a lot of access to stuff while he was on Atlantis and Rodney rules out that possibility in a knee-jerk reaction then stops to pause and thinks John might have a point. Sam has Rodney get to work reconfiguring the gate bridge macro to use a different gate instead of the one on that planet and then orders John to get a strike team ready.

On Midway, the wraith commander has killed Dempster after the scientist's refusal to give up the code. He then turns to Kavanagh, who swears he doesn't know the codes either. The wraith doesn't believe him and raises his hand to feed, but Kavanagh promptly faints. Undeterred, the wraith then turns to Lee and is about to attack when his minion announces he's managed to crack the lockout and is back in the system. The commander tells his minion to dial Earth while Lee looks simultaneously relieved and terrified.

The commander then orders his men to bring out a device they brought with them and send it through the gate to Earth. They roll a large glowing orb through and when it arrives in the SGC it gives off a pulse of some kind that knocks out the gate room controls, along with rendering all of the people on the base unconscious. After they are sure their device has had time to work, the commander orders the wraith to go through the gate. Teal'c and Ronon arrive at the gate room just in time to see the wraith going through the Milky Way gate and agree that they have to follow and do what they can to stop the wraith. They shoot their way through the gate room and get through just as the connection shuts down.

The commander is annoyed that they managed to make it through but he is not overly concerned, pointing out that they will be dealt with by his people on the other side. As he is gloating the Pegasus gate activates and he looks at it, confused, saying that the next wave was supposed to wait for his command before coming through. It is not his people, however, but John's strike team from Atlantis. The group splits up and begins making their way through the base, killing any wraith they see.

On Earth Ronon and Teal'c arrive through the gate and find the staff of the SGC unconscious but alive. There is no sign of the wraith.

As John and Rodney make their way through the station he tries to raise Ronon or Teal'c on the radio but gets no answer. As they pass a video screen, it lights up and the wraith commander tells them the surrender. He confirms that he learned of the gate bridge and how to access it from Todd and then tells them that they will never be able to retake the station. Even as he speaks, reinforcements are arriving. John shoots out the screen and sends most of his group back to the gate room to try to kill as many of the wraith as possible as they come through the gate. He then takes Rodney and a few marines for backup and starts making his way to the control room.

Ronon and Teal'c head to the control room in the SGC and find the wraith on the surveillance feeds. The wraith are systematically trying to work their way to the surface. Teal'c remarks that it won't work, however. When they knocked out the gate room systems, they triggered a lock down. The only way in or out of the base is through the stargate.

John and Rodney get to the control room on Midway but the commanding wraith has fled. Rodney moves to shut down the gate but quickly realizes he is unable to. Lee pipes up that the commander entered in a lockout code of his own before fleeing. With no way to shut down the Pegasus gate, the marines are quickly being overrun. John leaves the two soldiers with him to watch over the scientists, telling them to lock themselves into the control room and work on getting the gate shut down. He then heads back to the gate room to help the rest of the marines. As he tries to contact one of his officers over the radio, however, he hears them all being slaughtered before he can manage to get to them.

Ronon and Teal'c start making their way through the SGC, working together to take out any wraith they can find. Teal'c is duly impressed by Ronon's gun. They find a few bodies, people the wraith fed on to gain strength, but mostly just unconscious people everywhere. They hear a noise from behind a closed door and when they check it out they discover the IOA representatives. All except for Coolidge are still knocked out. When Teal'c introduces him to Ronon, Coolidge immediately begins grilling them about the situation and demands that they get him to a radio despite their advice that maybe he should stay put until they have taken care of the wraith.

Rodney and Lee confer on the best way to work around the wraith's lockout and Kavanagh suggests they just bypass the critical systems. When they don't acknowledge his suggestion, he just huffs and does it himself. This does shut down the gate, but it also, thanks to a booby trap by the wraith, triggers the station's self-destruct sequence. Rodney berates Kavanagh, pointing out that this was exactly why he didn't do what Kavanagh suggested. Lee checks the computer and tells them they have less than ten minutes to get to safety. There is no way to figure out how to disarm the self-destruct before it goes off. When they inform John of the situation he asks if there is still a puddle jumper docked with the station. Lee acknowledges that there is, put there for use as an emergency escape pod. John says this situation qualifies. He tells them they need to get to the jumper. There is just the problem of all of the wraith between point A and point B, some of which have arrived at the control room and have begun trying to shoot their way in. John has a flash of inspiration and orders them to vent the entire station except for the control room. Rodney hesitates, because John isn't in the control room, but he complies with the order at John's insistence. John continues making his way through the station, trying to get to the jumper before the air is gone, and the wraith start keeling over from lack of oxygen. Of course, this starts to affect John as well, and he falls to the ground after confronting and killing the wraith commander, clearly close to blacking out.

As Ronon and Teal'c "escort" Coolidge through the SGC, they encounter a big cluster of wraith. While they are killing the wraith they manage to lose Coolidge. Neither seems terribly concerned about him, however, and they agree to split up to cover more ground. Ronon makes his way to the control room again and finds Coolidge there. Coolidge tells Ronon that he has just contacted the government and notified them of the situation. They are preparing to nuke the facility, unwilling to risk even one wraith getting to the surface. Ronon is pissed, and tries to argue Coolidge to call it off as the rest of the personnel start to wake up. Coolidge insists that it is necessary, however, and tells him there is an emergency escape hatch to the surface they can use to get out before the place is blown up. On the surveillance feeds they see Teal'c being attacked by a cluster of wraith. Ronon insists on going back for him and tells Coolidge he can run if he wants, but Ronon will be staying to fight the wraith.

After long enough has passed to be certain the wraith on Midway are all dead, Lee tells Rodney they need to repressurize the station. Rodney agrees but is clearly distraught at their lack of communication from John, worried he didn't make it to the jumper in time. As they make their way through the station to the jumper, Rodney notices a row of space suits close to the station exit and is relieved to find that John managed to get in one before he passed out completely. They all get aboard the jumper and John flies it away from the station just as the self-destruct goes off and Midway is blown to smithereens.

Ronon catches up with Teal'c and helps him dispatch the rest of the wraith, killing the last one just before it manages to feed on Teal'c. Realizing they have managed to get all of the wraith, Ronon tells Teal'c of the attack ordered by Coolidge and they run to contact the government and call it off.

Some time later, order has been restored to (an un-nuked) Cheyenne mountain and Ronon finally meets with the IOA for his interview. Coolidge simply asks him if he thinks he is up to the challenge and capable of living up to the guidelines and expectations of the program and he says yes. Coolidge says that's good enough for him. Ronon exits the room to find Teal'c waiting outside and he tells the jaffa that he passed. Says they told him he is exactly the kind of person they want fighting the wraith. Teal'c informs Ronon that the Daedalus is ready to leave for Atlantis and will beam Ronon up as soon as he is ready to go. He also informs him that they have had no word from Midway since the strike team left Atlantis and so the Daedalus will stop by on its way to check on that situation.

Lee and Kavanagh are playing cards and arguing about movies while the marines snooze in the back of a jumper. Rodney gets fed up with the two of them and it is clear that they have all been cooped up with each other for too long. Just as he starts ranting at them there is a loud clang and a knock on the back hatch. They open it up to find Ronon outside, and he explains that they are on the Daedalus, which found the jumper when it was checking on the wreckage of Midway and scooped it up in the 302 bay before getting back en route to Atlantis. Rodney is extremely relieved to see Ronon. He then points him to the sealed off cockpit when Ronon asks about John, explaining that the colonel lasted about a day before he locked himself inside where he wouldn't have to deal with Kavanagh and Lee. Ronon finds John napping with headphones on and wakes him up, telling him he and Teal'c dealt with the wraith at the SGC and he passed his IOA interview, which John assures him was never in doubt.

Commentary


Okay. Well, bye bye Midway station/gate bridge. Honestly, it was a cool concept, but I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. Having such easy back-and-forth access between Atlantis and Earth was just way too convenient. Far better for story-telling purposes to keep the expedition more isolated.

I do think it was kind of a cop out to put the eternal fandom question of who would win in a fight between Ronon and Teal'c so front and center and then have Sam come in and call it a draw. But still. There was probably no way to answer that question without pissing a significant portion of viewers off, so it made sense that they did it like that. Also, it made sense story-wise, since the point was to show them as equals and to have them earn a mutual respect for each other over the course of the episode. That doesn't work if one of them manages to kick the other's butt. I do really like how they showed that while each man is different, just because their strengths are different does not make either one of them better than the other. They were able to work together in a way that was complimentary and got the job done. Together they were a pretty darn unstoppable force. That was, quite honestly, cool.

Small quibble here: I don't get how Coolidge thought they would be able to use the escape hatch during the lock down. Isn't that the point of a lock down, that it was locked down? Otherwise, wouldn't the wraith have been able to use it too? Maybe I missed something there...

I did also really appreciate Teal'c's patience with Ronon, and his recognition of potential in the younger man. Teal'c has never really been a hothead anyway, but at this point, he's like 150-something and he's seen and done a lot. It was very in-character to have him handle the situation as he did.

The few quick little moments between Sam and Teal'c were also really nice. Even to people who never watched SG-1, I think it was probably quite evident that the two shared a very deep friendship. Also: Indeed.

Kavanagh. (shakes head) Kavanagh, Kavanagh, Kavanagh. I get that the SGC is a really cool program and all, and, I mean, Atlantis. But why, why do you keep trying to go back to work with these people? You don't like them, they don't like you. You clearly aren't suited for field work, or even an outpost in the middle of two galaxies. Just...go work at Area 51, man. Your life would be much happier, I swear.

Overall this was a really good episode. It had lots of action, it deepened the mythology of the whole franchise by bringing in Teal'c, and it put Atlantis in a precarious position. Things have been all nice and relatively quiet up until now. But with this episode they've lost their quick and easy reinforcements from Earth and have learned that wraith are still determined to get to the Milky Way. Also, we get a glimpse of what Todd has been up to. I love that Rodney was so surprised that Todd would betray them--for like three seconds. Then he was just resigned.

Three episodes to go. I wonder what big crazy thing this new setback has left our protagonists wholly unprepared for, hmm?

Favorite Quotes


"But Mr. Coolidge, his demeanor toward women differs from his demeanor toward men. He kept calling me 'honey.' I admit, the urge to inflict harm on this man was quite strong, but I managed to refrain from doing so." (Teyla)
"Good call. Bad idea to run around beating the crap out of people with a baby on the way." (John)

"Do you not speak, Ronon Dex?" (Teal'c)
"Not when I've got nothing to say." (Ronon)

"Um, like I said, it's a bit small, but you're only here for a day. So, kick back, relax, have an Earl Grey and get to know each other better...or not..." (Lee)

"Look. They're working their way to the surface, trying to get out." (Ronon)
"They will be unable to do so. A pulse of energy, no doubt from that wraith device, has triggered the SGC automatic lock down." (Teal'c)
"So. No one gets in, no one gets out." (Ronon)
"Indeed." (Teal'c)
"Just the way I like it." (Ronon)

"You say that a lot." (Ronon)
"What?" (Teal'c)
"Indeed." (Ronon)
"Do I?" (Teal'c)
"Yeah." (Ronon)
"I had not noticed." (Teal'c)

"We've made a terrible mistake: we never should have revived Kavanagh!" (Rodney)

~*~

Okay, that's it for today. See you back here on Wednesday for "The Kindred Part I."

1 comment:

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