Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SGA Rewatch: The Seed

Hello! Welcome to another edition of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today we'll be rolling along with season five and discussing the episode "The Seed." Spoilers for the episode, as always, along with anything that came before it.

What Happened

Teyla stops by the med lab to visit Jennifer. She is walking Torren to keep him asleep. She thanks Jennifer for helping Kanaan to return to his normal self, as well as the other Athosians who were turned to hybrids. They discuss Mr. Woolsey's imminent arrival as well as Jennifer's progress in figuring out how to cure the clone of Carson so that he can come out of stasis. Jennifer tells Teyla that Rodney goes to visit Carson in stasis and talks to him, keeping him "up to date" on the latest news in Atlantis. She seems to think it is cute.

The Daedalus arrives at the city and beams Woolsey down to the control room. John welcomes him and the staff all stand at attention, waiting for a welcome speech of some sort. Instead of giving one, however, he asks for copies of all of the latest status reports so he can catch up on whatever he missed during his trip to the city.

Jennifer, who has fallen asleep at her computer, wakes up to find her hand covered in a weird clear goo. She looks at it in surprise and then washes it off. Another doctor comes in and tells her she shouldn't push herself so hard before wishing her a good night.

The senior staff gathers in the conference room, admiring the new table that Woolsey brought in, ready for their first meeting with with their new leader. Teyla and Ronon wonder why Sam is being replaced at all, but Rodney and John point out that she is a "victim of her own success" and because she managed to do such a good job lowering the threat level in the galaxy, the I.O.A. is jumping at the chance to put a civilian back in charge.

Woolsey comes in and starts by congratulating them for their progress in dismantling Michael's network of power. They would rather be celebrating killing him. Woolsey doesn't believe that Michael survived the explosion of the cruiser, however, and refuses to waste resources on a search without substantial proof that Michael is still alive. He then moves on to the topic of the recovered Athosian hybrids, referring to them as prisoners and hesitant to trust them, despite Teyla's assurances that they are indeed trustworthy.

Next up he wants an update on the research into curing Carson, given how much of Jennifer's time it is taking up. She thinks she has figured out the solution, but doesn't want to test it until she's completely satisfied. Woolsey, however, tells her that she either needs to test her solution or stop working on it and move on to a new problem. She and Rodney bring Carson out of stasis and give him an injection.

He wakes up in the infirmary a short while later and the team greets him. Jennifer tells him that he looks stable and it seems that her research has paid off. She says it's not a permanent solution, but it will do for the time being and give them time to find one. John tells her good work and suggests she go to get some rest. She agrees that she can finally do just that and heads to bed.

Rodney finds Carson on a balcony, basking in the majesty of the city and enjoying being back. Rodney grumpily tells him that he just found out they are sending Carson back to Earth though, there is a dial-out scheduled for later that day. While they are talking Teyla radios Rodney and asks for his help. He and Carson go to meet her outside of Jennifer's quarters. Teyla explains they were supposed to meet for breakfast but Jennifer didn't show and she has received no answer. She wants Rodney to override the lock on Jennifer's quarters so she can check on her. They go in and find Jennifer asleep covered with some sort of tentacles that seem to be growing out of her. Carson says he's seen something like that before in one of Michael's labs.

John apprises Woolsey of the situation. Woolsey expresses concern that Carson is so involved, seeing as how he isn't even on active duty, but John says he's the best chance they have to save her. They get her to the infirmary and Carson does some exploratory surgery to see if he can remove the tentacles. He gets one cut off and it causes havoc with her vitals. He manages to get her stable but says he can't cut the tentacles off. Woolsey tells Carson he needs to stop, he is supposed to go to Earth and is in no condition to be jumping in. Carson refuses to go back to Earth and leave Jennifer, however, adamant that he can help her.

Carson is pretty sure that what is happening is not part of Michael's process to convert humans to hybrids, so he goes through Jennifer's files. He manages to trace the source of her infection to while they were at Michael's lab that exploded during the rescue mission to save Teyla and then then the mission to save the rescuers. Unfortunately that means anyone who was at that lab was probably also infected. A doctor tells them that Jennifer has woken up and Rodney goes in to see her (in full HAZMAT gear). She has been quarantined but the tentacles have continued to grow, she is almost completely encased and they have spread all throughout the room as well. Jennifer is scared and confused and she seems to be hearing voices when Rodney talks to her. He tries to assure her that they will fix it. She realizes that the goo from the other night was probably the start of the problem.

Carson updates Woolsey, who is very concerned that her mind appears affected. Woolsey wants to know if it will be a threat to the base and Carson says that is a definite yes. He has just received a report that John's whole team (except Teyla) has been infected, along with Lorne and Sam and several of the combat engineers. Woolsey has them all confined to their quarters just in case (even Sam is quarantined back on Earth), though they are pretty sure it isn't contagious and no one else is displaying signs of being affected like Jennifer.

Radek and Carson get to work trying to figure out what the tentacles actually are and come to the alarming conclusion that it is the same organic material from which wraith ships are made. There is a wraith ship growing in the city, centered in Jennifer. The entity has already spread throughout walls in the level above and below Jennifer's isolation room. As it grows it is consuming and converting the material it encounters. It also has managed to tap into and seems to be feeding off of the power grid, so Radek suggests turning off the power to that section of the city.

Teyla reports to Rodney on what is going on and he freaks out about Woolsey taking advice from the "B Team," explaining that they don't know what they are dealing with.  He suspects it didn't hit the power grid by accident and probably actually grows toward energy sources, like a plant towards the sun. In which case, shutting off the power in that section will just cause it to grow faster towards another part of the city that still has power. Like, for instance, the main power conduit that runs through the city distributing power from the ZPM.

Teyla takes this information back to Woolsey, Radek, and Carson. While they are suspect about the information coming from Rodney, worried he might be under the influence of the pathogen, Radek says it doesn't matter. Rodney is definitely right that letting it tap into the ZPM conduit would be a Bad Thing because it would have pretty much unlimited power at that point, allowing for exponential growth and consumption of the city. The only way to prevent that would be to disconnect the ZPM. Before agreeing to anything so rash, Woolsey wants them to find out how far it has actually reached into the city. That means doing a manual search, since with the power down in that section sensors are out. Woolsey also directs Carson to figure out a way to actually kill the thing once they have managed to stop it from growing.

Radek and Teyla lead a team to search through the city's conduits and check on the growth of the pathogen. Radek finds that the entity has reached the power conduit and attempts to find out how much power it is draining. As he scans it, the tentacles knock him off his feet and start to wrap around him. Teyla arrives and shoots them up, causing them to pull back and allowing her to get him out of there.

They get him to the infirmary and he is mostly fine. He tells them that it has siphoned off a ton of power already. Teyla suggests they pull the ZPM immediately but Woolsey says they have other problems, now that it is attacking people. Carson realizes that the entity is using Jennifer to recognize threats and figure out where and how to grow. He thinks that if they can get it separated from Jennifer, the rest of the entity will die out. He has a drug that he thinks might work, but it hasn't been tested. Woolsey goes to John and the team to update them on the situation. He explains about the drug and says that it will need to be injected directly into Jennifer, which means someone needs to brave the gauntlet of tentacles to get to her. Their other option, he tells them, is to have someone with a jumper fly up to the tower and take out Jennifer with a very well-placed shot from a drone. No one likes that option.

Woolsey doesn't like the idea of putting more people at risk to get to Jennifer, but since John, Ronon, and Rodney are already infected, he suspects they might be willing to help, and he is right. Ronon volunteers to let them test the drug on him to see if it will kill the pathogen, but John steps up and says they should test it on him instead. It is mentioned that Lorne and some of the other infected men are starting to show symptoms, meaning they need to step up their time table.

The next move is to pull the ZPM and keep the entity from getting any bigger. They put a few of the crucial systems on emergency generators and then pull the plug. Carson, Rodney, and Ronon continue to monitor John and he starts to crash. When they get him stabilized, Carson checks his blood and sees that the pathogen is gone. The next step is to inject Keller. Ronon volunteers to go but Woolsey is loathe to send someone who is infected. Carson says that might not be a bad idea though, thinking that might keep the entity from perceiving him as a threat. He begins to make his way through the jungle of tentacles. They do not react but he quickly comes to a passage that is completely blocked and he can go no further.

He wants to shoot his way through but Carson advises against it, pointing out that once he does that the entity will start fighting back. Ronon decides to risk it and starts making a hole. The tentacles quickly grab hold and immobilize him. John has them put Jennifer on the intercom but she is no longer Jennifer, talking in a weird wraithy voice and saying she has almost become what she was meant to be. She tells them Ronon is alive for now but she can easily kill him. John grabs a syringe of the medicine and takes a jumper to the tower where Jennifer is. He flies right into the building and makes his way to her side, giving her the injection.  Her eyes fly open and the tentacles start to writhe, tightening around Ronon's throat and one stabbing John in the gut. He aims his gun at Jennifer but then she falls limp and so do all of the tentacles. John radios Woolsey to come get them.

Later John is back in the infirmary again and Woolsey comes to see him and tell him that Ronon is doing fine. Jennifer also stops by, freshly out of isolation and back to her normal self. Carson says that now that the matter is resolved he is finally headed back to Earth. Woolsey tells John he just got off a call with the I.O.A. They seem to be okay with his violation of so many protocols in his first week since he managed to get the job done but he is disturbed by that fact. He tells John that if the rules don't apply in this job, he's not sure he can do it. John tells him he will get used to it.


Gah, this episode is so freaking confusing. There is just so much going on here.

First, we've got Woolsey's arrival and setup as the new leader. He is very adamant that he will be playing things by the book from the get go (although we quickly see how long that notion lasts against the crazy that is everyday life in Pegasus). He is also quite clearly under I.O.A. directive to get everything running as efficiently (and as cost- and resource-effectively) as possible. So, new leader. Of course his first day (week) on the job will be a doozy.

The writers use his new management style and first briefing to rattle off several facts at us to tie up loose ends from last season and the previous episode as well.
  • Pretty much all of Michael's plans for galactic domination have been foiled and the denizens of Atlantis have been busy clearing out his labs and making sure all of his research is destroyed.
  • However it seems pretty likely that Michael himself survived the destruction of his cruiser, which means that he's still out there and probably nursing a monster-sized grudge.
  • All of the captured and recovered Athosian hybrids have been returned to their human state and are being kept on the mainland. Teyla wants them released to get back to their lives but Woolsey (and the I.O.A., likely) still see them as potential enemies since as hybrids they served Michael.
  • Jennifer has been working on stabilizing clone Carson so that he can be removed from stasis.

So, that's a lot to take in right there. The episode then seems like it will be about waking up Carson but that goes off pretty much without a hitch, just in time for Jennifer to get compromised (ah, and so begins a new season of the writers torturing Jennifer). That brings me to the main plot, about Jennifer somehow getting turned into a wraith ship. I just...what? That made so little sense, I just don't even know where to go with it. Really I think the "plot" of this episode only served to do the following: 
  • Give Woolsey a rough introduction to running Atlantis.
  • Screw with Jennifer.
  • Give Carson something to do so they could justify bringing back his character.
  • Ramp up the love triangle between Rodney, Ronon, and Jennifer.

I mean, I'm not complaining about any of these specific things, I just wish that the story to get them all into play had made more sense/been more interesting, you know?

As far as the love triangle goes, that was at least kind of subtle, and very well played. From Rodney and Jennifer being chummy at the staff meeting (and John watching them curiously, remembering what he knows about the alternate timeline), to Ronon's fierce protectiveness of her and willingness to volunteer to be a guinea pig and then to brave the tower of tentacles. It seems clear to me at this point that Jennifer has kind of settled on Rodney, I mean, he is definitely the one she seems to actively be expressing an interest in. So it just remains for Ronon and Rodney to realize that they both have feels for her and then deal with how that affects their bromance with each other. 

As far as Woolsey goes, I do think this episode serves to show that him in charge of Atlantis might not be as bad as it was in the alternate timeline. He demonstrates a surprising amount of flexibility and potential to grasp that sometimes those rules he loves so much just don't apply to the situation at hand. Also, Robert Picardo just does a fantastic job playing him and he is a real joy for me to watch. So, yeah, I'm okay with Woolsey in charge.

Favorite Quotes

"What do you want me to do about it?" (Rodney)
"Override the door controls." (Teyla)
"I am not breaking into her room!" (Rodney)
"Rodney, there might be something wrong." (Carson)
"Fine. But if she's just in there sleeping, or naked or something, you guys are taking the blame." (Rodney)

"You're not sending him back, huh?" (John)
"Well, he is the closest thing to an expert we have." (Woolsey)
"It's not exactly by the book." (John) 
"Don't get used to it." (Woolsey)

"Just try not to make any sudden moves or threatening gestures." (Woolsey).
"Yeah. I'll keep that in mind." (Ronon)

"Once you start shooting, you'll have to move quickly!" (Woolsey)
"Thanks for the advice." (Ronon)

"Sheppard, what are you doing?" (Woolsey)
"I'm taking a little shortcut. Sorry I didn't have time to fill out the paperwork." (John)

"How's Ronon?" (John)
"He has a bruised larynx. Apparently he won't be able to speak for several days." (Woolsey)
"Wonder if anyone will notice the difference?" (John)

"The rules are there for a reason, Colonel. If I can't trust them, then I'm not sure I can do this job." (Woolsey)
"Welcome to the Pegasus galaxy." (John)


Alrighty folks, that wraps up another episode. See you back here on Monday for "Broken Ties."

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