Monday, April 9, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Quarantine

Well, it's Monday again. But if you're bummed out about the start of another week, I have something to cheer you up. That's right, it's time for another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we'll be looking at season four's "Quarantine," which always amuses me greatly.

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

What Happened

John is hanging out in Rodney's lab while Rodney prepares to meet Katie for lunch. He shows John a ring and reveals that he is going to propose to Katie over the meal. John is surprised but wishes Rodney well. As Rodney leaves Teyla enters the lab. She finds John and asks if he has a moment to talk to her.

Ronon walks into the infirmary with a gash on his arm. Keller is not at all surprised to learn it was obtained in a sparring accident and settles in to patch him up.

Sam and Radek bump into each other in a corridor outside of a transporter. They find they are both heading to the control room and step into the transporter together.

Rodney finds Katie in the botany lab and she greets him warmly. He begins to bumble his way through his proposal but before he can actually pull out the ring or ask the question, an alarm sounds and the doors to the lab slam shut. We see the doors closing all over the base as well, including the lab and infirmary, and the transporter carrying Sam and Radek shuts down completely, locking them inside.

Our stranded heroes all immediately begin to try prying open their doors but it is to no avail. The city has gone into lockdown. Sam, John, and Keller all try to radio Rodney to find out what is going on, but he is without his radio, and Katie informs him that they don't keep one in the plant area when he asks for hers. Unable to reach Rodney, Sam then tries John but still gets no answer. Radek informs her the the city-wide communications appear to be down.

In the botany lab, Rodney quickly explains to Katie that the city has most likely gone into lockdown due to an outbreak of some sort. After the Kirsan fever incident, he tweaked the city's quarantine protocols so that they wouldn't find themselves in that kind of situation again. He tells her he needs to get to a computer so he can find out what is going on and get in touch with everyone else. She looks at him with dismay and he realizes that like the radio, the botany computers are beyond his reach, locked up tight in the next room.

Keller also realizes that the city's quarantine protocol has kicked in. She is very frustrated by the lack of communication and being unable to get out of the infirmary. Still, if there is an outbreak, she tells Ronon, they need to be ready. He helps her begin to make preparations to receive incoming patients.

Stuck in Rodney's lab, John and Teyla do have access to the city's systems. Teyla sees that the city has detected an outbreak and put itself into a category five lockdown. Neither she nor John is very sure what category five entails, however. They get to work going through the data available to them and trying to figure out what is going on.

In the transporter Sam and Radek also assume there must be an outbreak of some sort. Sam opens up a panel in the wall and borrows Radek's tablet, hooking it up to the transporter's systems so she can attempt to access the city's mainframe and get information about the current situation.

As John and Teyla work, John nervously asks how she is feeling and hopes out loud that she's not about to go into labor or anything. She rolls her eyes and remarks that she is nowhere near her due date. He replies that he knows that but that on television and in the movies in this sort of situation the pregnant woman always goes to labor. He eyes her belly suspiciously. She dismisses the notion and tells him that is what she wanted to talk to him about. She came to discuss his decision to take her off the team. He steels himself for another argument about the matter but she quickly reassures him that she doesn't object and understands his decision. She just wonders what will happen once she's had her son. He tells her she'll be back on the team again as soon as she feels ready, but she's not so sure. With the baby's father out of the picture, can she really justify going on offworld missions once he is born? If something should happen to her he would be an orphan. John responds understandingly. He tells her about a friend of his from college, a woman with three children who is a police officer. He tells Teyla that his friend has to face that same doubt every day that she goes to work. Teyla asks how his friend is able to justify it to herself and he responds that he thinks she reasons that she is fighting the bad guys and in doing so is protecting not only her children, but all of the other children in her city as well, which makes it worth the risks. Teyla mulls this over.

Sam looks over the information she has been able to access on Radek's tablet and realizes that systems all over the city are down, not just communications. Based on the information available, she thinks there might not be an outbreak at all and that some kind of malfunction caused the quarantine protocol to activate.

Rodney, meanwhile, is going nuts stuck in the plant lab. Without a radio available to him, he doesn't even know that communications are down all over the city. Without a computer, he can't monitor the situation to find out how many people are infected, where, or what kind of disease they are looking at. All he knows is that the city has detected an outbreak and he can't do anything at all about it. Katie tries to calm him down but he refuses to be reassured. He just keeps going through worst-case scenarios, each more frightening than the next. When Katie calls him on the doom and gloom attitude he says he can't help it, and we get a huge stroke of insight into his inherent pessimism.

Radek takes his turn at sifting through the data about the city's systems and finds that there was some sort of storm or interference in the planet's ionosphere right before everything went wonky. He remarks that this new planet continues to surprise them and that in the future they will have to recalibrate the city's systems to prevent the activity in the ionosphere from causing these kinds of problems again. Sam tells him first things first, however, and sets to work trying to find a way out of the transporter so they can fix the current set of issues.

John suddenly realizes that Rodney was probably in the botany lab when the lockdown went into effect. He tells Teyla that there's no radio or computer in that lab, which means Rodney is stuck with no way to get them out of their current mess. He and Teyla share a knowing look and comment that Rodney must be freaking right the heck out about the whole situation. He is.

As they continue to go through the data, they also find the information about the ionosphere and realize that there is no outbreak. They note that the life support has also shut down, which means that everyone is shut up with no oxygen getting to them. It also occurs to John that since it is something that should be a simple fix, if Sam and Radek had access to a computer, they would probably have set things to right by now. That means they must be stuck somewhere too. Teyla asks if there is anyone else who might be able to restore the city's normal functions but John shakes his head and says not without Rodney's password. Fortunately, however, hey, he happens to know it! He logs in to the system as Rodney. Once he's logged in, John finds something even more disturbing than the lack of life support. To prevent any visitors from coming to Atlantis while in quarantine, the city has been transmitting a warning beacon to keep people away. Since they are trying to keep their location hidden from the rest of the galaxy this is, of course, a Very Bad Thing. The only way to turn off the beacon is from the control room and with Rodney's password.

Unaware that there really isn't an outbreak, Rodney's hypochondria kicks in to overdrive and he becomes convinced he's been infected with whatever disease set off the quarantine. He freaks out even more, saying it is only a matter of time before he drops dead. Before they both do, because surely by now he's infected Katie as well. She looks on him with pity, insisting she feels fine but he refuses to believe it.

Ronon watches as Keller paces through the infirmary, unable to sit idle when she believes there are sick people who need her help. Ronon realizes she feels as if she is letting them down and tells her it isn't her fault. She is stuck and there's nothing she can do about that. As she calms a bit he tells her that she reminds him of someone he knew from Sateda, and tells her a little bit about Melena, including how she died. When he reveals that he blames himself, that he should have forced her to leave the planet, it is Keller's turn to step in and comfort him. She tells him it's not his fault that Melena died.

Unable to override the doors to the lab or force them open, John begins to think that he will have to blast his way out in order to get to the control room. He and Teyla start looking for any explosives that might be on hand when he spies a window. After looking at it for a moment, he breaks it open and climbs out on the sill. When Teyla demands to know what he is doing, he tells her that the control room is only four floors up and begins climbing the tower. Teyla leans out the window and watches him nervously as he goes.

John manages to make it to balcony of the control room with only a few close calls along the way. Inside the control room we see Lorne and a team of marines trying unsuccessfully to pry open the doors. Chuck and another tech, Amelia, are trying to restore the city's systems. Amelia has just announced that she has been able to get the ventilation back on in most of the tower when a window smashes behind her and John plows into the room. Chuck and Amelia gape in surprise as he heads straight to a computer and enters in Rodney's password to shut off the beacon. He barely gets to breathe a sigh of relief when all of the computers shut down and the city's self-destruct alarm begins to sound.

Hearing the self-destruct alarm, Ronon decides he has finally had enough and that they need to get out of the infirmary. He starts rifling through its contents, asking Keller if she has any explosives handy. She points out that they don't keep that sort of thing in the infirmary and they both look around, trying to think creatively of a way to blast open the doors. Keller spies a pair of oxygen tanks and suggests those. Ronon loves this idea--now all they have to do is devise a way to set the tanks off.

Chuck manages to get the self-destruct alarm (if not the self-destruct itself) turned off and tells John that before the computers shut down he was able to see that the city had detected a breach in the quarantine and that was why it armed the self-destruct. John realizes that he must  have been responsible for the breach, triggering it when he broke the window. Since the city still thinks it has an outbreak, self-destruct is its last resort in the event that the disease can't be contained. Unfortunately, no one was able to see how long the self-destruct had given itself before detonation. Without the computers, the only way to shut it down is by doing a manual shutdown in the city's power room, which is six floors down and in the middle of the tower. All kinds of sealed doors in between them and it. Lorne has a little bit of C4 on him, however, so John grabs Lorne, Chuck, and Amelia and they begin making their way to the power room, blasting doors as they go.

Rodney is still freaking out and feeling sicker than ever. He lies down on the floor and as Katie moves to sit with him, she finds the ring that has fallen out of Rodney's pocket.

Ronon and Keller have set up a Goldberg device to set off the oxygen tanks and attempt to blow the doors to the infirmary. They cross their fingers and set it off but despite some impressive maneuvers on the part of the oxygen tank, the doors remain sealed.

John and his team have managed to make it down a few levels by blasting open doors using the C4. They make it to the level that Radek and Sam are trapped on and when the pair hears them they begin calling out and banging on the transporter doors. John and Lorne hear them and quickly manage to pry open those doors, letting Sam and Radek out. John and Sam swap information and then they realize that they have used up all of their C4. They are stuck on this level with no way to get to the power room.

Katie gazes at the ring and gets all misty eyed. She asks Rodney about it and he flippantly tells her he was going to propose to her at lunch. She asks him, well, why doesn't he? Doesn't he want to hear her answer. He just sighs and tells her there's no point now. They are all going to die anyway. Her face falls and it is clear that she has finally had enough of his pessimistic attitude.

Prowling the corridors, John spies a large vent and realizes it is one of the city's main shafts. He asks if it goes to the power room and receives a positive answer. Amelia points out that with ventilation restored in the tower, they should actually have a clear shot to where they need to go. John pries off the cover and looks inside, saying he thinks that it is their best bet. Unfortunately, it is too small for him. Sam starts to volunteer but Radek steps in instead, pointing out that he is smaller and more familiar with the city. They get him up there and he begins a trek through the vents, cursing away in Czech.

Ronon and Keller sit against a wall, clearly wrung out by their failed escape attempt. Ronon tells Keller that he had underestimated her. He thought she was weak but has realized today that she is not weak at all. He has been very impressed with how strong she has proven herself to be. She just shakes her head and tells him her whole life has been like this, she's always been something of a square peg in a round hole. They share a look of understanding and snuggle up, waiting for whatever is going to happen next.

Zelenka makes it to the power room, falling right through the shaft which is placed on the ceiling. He gets right back up and begins shutting down all of the systems, turning off the self-destruct. Then he begins restarting everything, restoring the city's normal functionality.

Ronon and Keller have just leaned in to kiss each other when the power goes out in the infirmary. They stop and look around, wondering what is going on. After a moment, they look at each other and shrug and lean in again but are once more interrupted by the power returning, followed by the sound of the infirmary doors opening. Doors all over the city open and everyone is relieved that the crisis seems to be over.

Later on in the mess hall Teyla, Ronon, John, and Radek are exchanging stories. Carter comes by and informs them that as far as they can tell, there is no indication that anyone detected the city's warning beacon. They seem to be safe for now. She also thanks Radek for his part in restoring the city's normal functions. Keller comes to join them and Ronon reacts immediately, getting kind of shy and respectful at the same time. As he and Keller exchange a shy glance, John and Teyla notice and exchange knowing looks and a smile.

Rodney, however, has gone to see Katie in the botany lab once more. He tells her that yes, he had intended to propose to her earlier. But after what happened he has realized that he was rushing things and he is just not yet ready to be talking marriage. Katie gives him a sad look and says she knows, and that she's not ready either. Rodney is relieved that she seems to understand and turns to go. When Katie tells him goodbye, however, there is a note of finality in it that makes him pause and turn back sadly to look at the door that has closed behind him.


So, I really like this episode. I felt it was a very creative spin on the "get everybody trapped in a room" scenario that most shows tend to go through at some point or another. I liked that everyone was paired up in a less than familiar combination, or that combinations that shouldn't have been awkward totally were due to the circumstances at hand.

We get a lot of nice little random character details thrown in here, and those always make me happy. For example, Radek raises homing pigeons back on Earth! Of course he does. He has actually casually shown a random fondness for/knowledge of pigeons before but this is the first time I can recall that we find out why. Also, I love the little exchange between him and Sam when she wishes they had one with them, and her face at realizing how hard her attempt at a joke failed. Their whole little awkward vibe was really amusing to me for some reason. Even though it is widely accepted by the fandom as canon that Radek had a huge crush on Elizabeth, I think he would still have been much more at ease trapped in an elevator with her than with Sam. Despite their common scientific background and experience, they are hard-pressed to find something to talk about.

Things with John and Teyla seem to be going a lot more smoothly after this episode as well. I am very glad they didn't have her decide to pop out her kid during the whole situation. I also found John's irrational worry (which given that this is a television show wasn't that irrational) that she would kind of funny, as I also found how ridiculous Teyla found the very suggestion. It is a random little detail, but I really enjoy it whenever they show Teyla getting to play with the technical stuff too. She has clearly been paying attention to Rodney and Radek and learning the city's systems and what a lot of the technobabble actually means. A lot of people write her off as a "primitive" because the Athosians are nomads, but they were never technologically inept. With Teyla's role in the city shifting due to her pregnancy, it is good to see that she is still clearly of value.

I also absolutely loved that while John so easily explained the significance of the number 42, he didn't even bother trying to explain that it was a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Nor does Teyla even bother to ask him to do so. For some reason, that moment right there, with John telling Teyla Rodney's password, is one of my all-time favorite moments from this series.

Other awesome things included:
-Ronon likes Jaws. Of course he does.
-Keller's backstory, yay! Aw, of course she was a little super-genius geeky kid who is socially awkward but still adorable. This is exactly why Atlantis is that square hole she has been looking for.
-Her flirtation with Ronon was also kind of cute, although I will have more to say about that at a later date, I suspect.
-Radek in the vents also makes me giggle every. single. time.

This episode is pretty much a stand alone plot-wise, although it does set up a couple of different personal events for characters later on in this season and the next. I won't say more about those, however, in the interest of avoiding spoilers.

Favorite Quotes

"Honestly. I don't think I've ever met anyone with such a reckless aggression... That's not a compliment." (Keller)
"If you say so." (Ronon)

"He told you his password?!" (Teyla)
"Well, he didn't think I'd remember it. One six four three one eight seven nine one nine six eight four two. See? Doesn't take a genius." (John)
"It doesn't?" (Teyla)
"1643 is the year Isaac Newton was born; 1879, Einstein; and 1968..." (John)
"The year Rodney was born." (Teyla)
"Never underestimate the size of that man's ego." (John)
"Wait, weren't there other numbers?" (Teyla)
"Forty-two." (John)
"What is that?" (Teyla)
"It's the ultimate answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything." (John)

"Climb the tower?! Is that even possible?" (Teyla)
"Sure. Batman did it all the time." (John)

"Colonel, where the hell did you come from?" (Lorne)

"Got any C4 in here?" (Ronon)
"In the infirmary?" (Keller)
"Anything we can use to act as an explosive." (Ronon)
"I don't know. Uh...the oxygen tanks, maybe?" (Keller)
"Right! Shoot 'em like Sheriff Brody did in the movie Jaws." (Ronon)


Alrighty folks. Back to your Mondays you go. Sorry. But hey, come back Wednesday and we'll have an even funnier episode to talk about in "Harmony."

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