Monday, May 21, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Ghost in the Machine

Well hello there. It seems we've stumbled into yet another Monday. The good news is that means yet another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch, woohoo! Today's episode is season five's "Ghost in the Machine." Let's get started, shall we? Bear in mind that this post will contain spoilers for the episode and any that came before.

What Happened

The team is in a jumper returning from an exploratory mission to a planet that seemed really nice, aside from what appeared to be flying monkeys. As they fire up the gate the jumper encounters a power spike and the systems go wonky before power goes out completely. The jumper careens into the side of the gate (which quickly rights itself with the aid of attached thrusters) and then tumbles back toward the planet. Rodney frantically tries to figure out what's wrong and sees that they still have power but it isn't getting to the primary or secondary systems. He rules out the problems being caused by something they encountered on the planet, thinking the issue is with the jumper itself. Just as things start to look dire, their power comes back online and they manage to make it back to the city.

Rodney and Radek get to work trying to figure out what the heck happened. Thankfully it seems isolated, none of the other jumpers are affected. Unfortunately they can't find anything. The jumper appears to be completely functional and they are unable to replicate any of the issues.

Woolsey steps into a transporter and selects his destination. The power flickers and when he steps out of the transporter it is to find that it has taken him to the wrong location. He turns around to go back but the doors have shut behind him and won't open. He tries to radio the control room for help but his radio appears to be out, leaving him stranded on some random balcony.

John walks through the corridors and notices flickering lights. Then he sees a spike of electricity similar to something they experienced in the malfunctioning jumper. He radios Rodney who tells him that he is getting reports of power issues all over the city. As Rodney tries to figure out what's up, Radek comes in to ask if he knows about the problem. Radek says it sounds like what happened in the jumper and maybe it spread to the city's systems. Rodney doesn't think that's possible because he disabled the jumper's network connection before returning, but he can't deny that what is happening in the city is exactly like the problem with the jumper. Systems keep messing up. Woolsey eventually makes his way back to the control room and gets the lowdown from Rodney. Rodney is the only one who doesn't believe it is the same problem from the jumper, but he has no alternate explanation.

As they discuss the situation, the power in the city goes out completely. One of the laptops in the control room boots up by itself and they move in closely to examine it. A string of code starts scrolling across the screen as they watch. It eventually forms the word "help." Rodney types in a question asking "who are you?" and a reply appears on the screen "Elizabeth Weir." They ask where she is and she says in the computer. The power comes back on and they ask if she did that. There is no coherent answer and they ask if she is still there. The answer is "help me."

Rodney manages to merge all of the different parts of the entity that has spread throughout the system. This should hopefully allow normal operations to resume. He gets one massive program assembled and sets it up with a voice simulator so they can talk to "Elizabeth." They say they thought she was dead. She says that her physical body is but her consciousness is still intact. She tells them about what happened to her after being captured by the replicators and being joined to their consensus. But even as a replicator she was still herself, and remnants of Niam's old group sensed that and recruited her.

She explains that they went on the run, persecuted by Oberoth's factor. Once the replicator homeworld was destroyed they were able to pursue their goal of ascension in peace. Elizabeth tried to guide them through the process but it was difficult because of their mechanical nature. One of the replicators, Koracen, thought they should find a technological solution--uploading their consciousnesses into subspace. He believed that would allow them to continue to the next plane of existence. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and they have been trapped in subspace ever since then. They have since been looking for a way to regain physical form. They haven't had much luck though. So Elizabeth sought out Atlantis. She had been searching for them for months before finding the puddle jumper and connecting with it.

Ronon suspects a trick, that the program is an impostor. Rodney thinks the machine he used to create FRAN can give her a body but Woolsey is dead set against it. John suggests uploading her consciousness to a virtual reality like they did with Ava and they consider that for a moment. The discussion ends up being moot, however, as Radek finds the group and tells them that he's picked up energy spikes in the replicator production machine room. It seems Elizabeth found it in the database and decided to take matters into her own hands (or at least give herself hands). They ask Radek if he tried to shut it down and he says yes, to no avail. He also tried radioing the room but communications are offline.

They head down to the room, trying to figure out how to break in but before it comes to that the door slides open, revealing a duplicate of FRAN. She explains that she is Elizabeth and Rodney posits that she was probably in a hurry and just used the last form that was programmed into the machine instead of trying to make it look like her own. Everyone eyes Replizabeth warily and she tries to convince them that she is not a threat. Rodney disables the machine and removes the control crystal. Elizabeth assures them that the alterations Rodney made make her completely not dangerous.

She says she wishes she could convince them that she really is Elizabeth but knows that they are unlikely to believe anything she can tell them, knowing any information she has could easily have been obtained by an enemy replicator interrogating Elizabeth. She does offer them a gift--technical specs of all of the advanced civilizations her group has encountered. Rodney assures them that she is completely safe--she enacted every safety protocol he built in to the original FRAN. He says if they put her in a secure lockdown she will be no threat at all. Woolsey has no intention of keeping her in the city, however. He says they still have no way of knowing that she is really Elizabeth and no way of controlling her if she is not who she says she is. He wants to go with their original plan and upload her consciousness into a virtual reality.

Teyla goes to visit Elizabeth (who is being kept under heavy guard) and reveals that she has had a child since last they met. Elizabeth is very happy for her and asks after the child--thinking upon hearing his name that he might be John's. When Teyla says no, that the father is Athosian Elizabeth guesses that it is Kanaan. She asks if the baby is in Atlantis and Teyla hesitates and lies saying that he is offworld with his father. John comes in and Teyla leaves. As they are talking she gets a far away look and John asks her what's wrong. She says that the others have found her and are on their way to Atlantis.

They scramble to get ready and find some way to protect the city. There are eight more on their way. They arrive and systems in the city start to go haywire. That many consciousnesses at once are way too much for Atlantis to handle. Radek orders one of his men to pull the ZPM to deny them power, but the scientist is killed by the electric discharge.

Koracen makes contact with them via the computer. Elizabeth tries to tell him they need to leave and he says they will, once they have been given bodies like Elizabeth. They tell him that's not an option and he says if they don't comply they will pay. The replicators disable the shield and begin to sink the city. Elizabeth tries to communicate, telling them to stop but they won't listen. Woolsey tells her to tell them to go ahead, but if they destroy the city, they destroy their only chance of regaining physical form. They say they will continue and Woolsey says fine and they back off.

Elizabeth comes up with a possible solution. She suggests building human bodies, like the other replicators made copies of the team from. If they give them temporary replicator bodies they can build the human forms and then transfer, which will render them just as vulnerable as any other human. The others agree to this suggestion and with insistence on several security precautions, so does Woolsey.

John asks Woolsey what they will do with the replicators once they have human bodies and Woolsey says he sees no reason not to let them go at that point. He thinks maybe they could even become powerful allies. John asks what if one of them wants to stay, clearly meaning Elizabeth. Woolsey says they will cross that bridge when they get to it.

The replicators are given bodies and get to work under close observation by Rodney and Ronon. After a while Koracen makes a creepy face at the camera and then power in the lab goes out. Ronon goes after him, finding Koracen in the corridor, but he just tosses Ronon aside like a doll. A group of marines tries to stop him but it doesn't even slow him down. The rest of the replicators protest their innocence and remain under guard in the lab. Elizabeth is missing, however, and they learn she has gone after Koracen.

John finds Koracen and asks him why he is going against the plan. He says a human body is frail and weak, and he'll never live long enough to figure out ascension. His only chance is of doing that in his replicator body. He knocks John out and runs off. John gets back up and finds Elizabeth. She tries to convince John that she didn't know what Koracen was up to, but Koracen appears and says the whole thing was Elizabeth's idea. That she told them they needed to go to Atlantis and when to come. She helps him deal with Koracen (by sticking her hand into his head and dissolving him into his component parts), swearing that she didn't know he would rebel. She really thought they weren't a danger to the city.

Once Koracen is dealt with, Woolsey says he has decided to let the rest of them continue their experiment. Elizabeth says no, there is too much chance it will go wrong. She has another idea. She and the others leave Atlantis and it seems as if they are going to their old homeworld to continue working on their human bodies. Elizabeth steps through the gate first and after a moment one of the others says it is safe and they follow, only to find themselves stepping into space, soon to be frozen solid and rendered inert. Apparently Elizabeth had Rodney reconfigure the DHD so the others would think they were returning to their planet, but instead they were going to the space gate so they would no longer be a threat to Atlantis or the galaxy. Rodney remarks that he guesses that answers the question of whether or not she was really Elizabeth.

The episode closes on Elizabeth drifting in space, her eyes still moving as her body shuts down.


Wow, this episode ties together pretty much every replicator story line this series has ever had. It is craziness. Still, I think it is kind of a cool episode even if you don't remember or hadn't seen all of those previous stories. I like the concept of the replicators trying a mechanical type of ascension when the traditional methods continue to fail for them. I also kind of like that even that solution didn't work for them though. That could just be because my personal opinion about ascension is that it is rather pointless, but hey, to each his own.

Also, I would like to take a moment to be completely wowed buy how well Michelle Morgan nailed being Elizabeth Weir. While Rodney's explanation for why Elizabeth gave herself a body using the FRAN template was perfectly reasonable, the real truth is that Torri Higginson didn't like the direction the writers were taking her character and refused to reprise the role. But I think it worked out really well the way they ended up handling it, and as I said, the actress who played Elizabeth in this episode did a good job of incorporating the character's mannerisms and speech and gave a pretty good impression of still being Elizabeth, even if her body was different. It is also amusing to me that the character's arc gets closed off with a different actress, considering that when the character of Elizabeth Weir first made her appearance in the Stargate universe, over on SG-1 (she actually ran the SGC for a little while), she was played by yet another actress. Jessica Steen was the first to play Elizabeth. So yeah, nice little bit of random symmetry there.

I also really liked "Eizabeth's" interaction with the other characters. First, there was Teyla, taking the time to visit and catch her up on what she had missed, but still not quite trusting her enough to let her see Torren, or even to let Elizabeth know he was in the city. Rodney seemed more willing to believe, and his expression of guilt about all that has befallen Elizabeth since he reactivated the nanites in her was a brilliant character moment. Then there was John's hopeful little scene where it is clear that he wants Elizabeth to stay in Atlantis as soon as she has a human body and is definitively no longer a threat.

Then there was Woolsey. Dude. Woolsey calling the bluff when the replicator consciousnesses started to sink the city. That right there was some pretty amazing stuff. I don't think that's a reaction that anyone would have expected out of him. But he pulled it off impressively. I think it is a sign that he is learning to roll with the punches in the Pegasus galaxy and coming into his own as leader of the expedition. Even Elizabeth, when she left, seemed to be giving him her stamp of approval as her replacement.

So overall this was a really cool episode. I like that it drew from the series' history and gave us closure to Elizabeth's character and that random teaser scene from "Be All My Sins Remember'd."

Favorite Quotes

"What the hell was that thing?" (Ronon)
"It just appeared out of nowhere." (Teyla)
"And that shriek scared the crap out of me!" (Rodney)
"Kind of a...flying monkey." (John)
"Flying monkeys! What is this, the planet of Oz?" (Rodney)

"Now as much as you want to be certain that this new FRAN is indeed Doctor Weir, we cannot be certain of that. For all we know it could be Oberoth inside that body." (Woolsey)
"That's creepy." (John)

"Ronon you don't have to stay there the whole time you know." (Woolsey)
"I'm good." (Ronon)
"Talk, talk, talk, that's all he does, you can't shut him up!" (Rodney)

"I truly believed that we were no threat to you." (Elizabeth)
"You may still think that you're Elizabeth, but you're not." (John)


That's it for today, folks. See you back here on Wednesday for the next episode, "The Shrine."

No comments:

Post a Comment