Welcome to another week and another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we'll be talking about season five's "Tracker." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before it.
Things open up with Rodney preening in front of a mirror in his quarters, saying a random technical phrase over and over again. John comes in and we learn that Rodney is going offworld on a follow-up medical mission. On his day off. John teases him a bit that it's odd that Rodney would volunteer for a goodwill mission on his day off. Rodney heads to the gate room where he finds Jennifer and the surprise addition of Ronon. Rodney is a little bit less than pleased at Ronon's inclusion but the three of them head out.
On the planet Jennifer explains that a sickness similar to influenza has been sweeping through the village so she is just checking up on people and making sure they get the necessary medical attention and treatment to keep it from being a deadly outbreak. They check on a little boy and she tells his mother that he is ill but should be fine as long as he gets plenty of rest and fluids. She also mentions she will prescribe some medicine and Rodney pops out that term he had been practicing earlier, impressing Jennifer. Jennifer says she would like to check the mother as well just to be on the safe side and asks Rodney and Ronon to give them some privacy. She suggests they head into the village and grab some lunch at the tavern.
The two of them have an awkward meal where each tries to convince the other one to go home without saying outright that each of them wants to be alone with Jennifer. They head back to the house where they left Jennifer but she is not there anymore. The mother tells them that Jennifer finished with them and left a while ago, saying she was heading to the tavern to join them. They try to radio her and get no answer. Rodney thinks it might not be working, either that or she turned it off. Ronon says she wouldn't do that and they realize something must have happened to her. They check with the other villagers but there is no sign of her. They worry that someone might have taken her against her will. Ronon tells Rodney to head back to the gate to radio for help while he checks the village and the surrounding area.
Jennifer wakes up in the woods with her hands tied. She sees a strange man, her abductor, going through her things. He sees she's awake and aims a stunner at her, telling her if she wouldn't struggle he wouldn't need the stunner. She tries to find out what he wants and why he's taken her but he refuses to answer, instead telling her it is time to go.
In the woods Ronon finds something and radios Rodney. He says he's picked up tracks of standard Atlantis issue boots--Jennifer's--but that there is someone with her. Bigger tracks, closer to Ronon's size, and it looks like there was a struggle. The strange thing is that they seem to have just appeared out of nowhere. Then he finds a single set of tracks heading into the woods, the man's, they are deeper and Ronon suspects the man was carrying Jennifer, hopefully after just knocking her out. Rodney says he is almost back to the gate and Ronon tells him good, to call for help, he's going after Jennifer. He finds the spot where Jennifer woke up and sees that there are two sets of tracks again, informing Rodney in a relieved voice that Jennifer is definitely still alive.
Rodney gets to the gate but before he can dial Atlantis it activates and a group of wraith walk through. Rodney quickly hides but he steps on a branch and attracts their attention. One comes after him and he runs, radioing Ronon and firing blindly behind himself. The wraith catches him but Ronon arrives and kills it before it can feed. Ronon looks at the wraith and declares that it is a hunter, the kind that chases Runners. Which means there is a Runner on the planet. He asks Rodney where the other wraith went and Rodney replies that they spread out through the forest.
The man leading Jennifer through the woods stops and declares that this is as far as they go on the trail. She asks where he is taking her and then asks that he at least tell her his name. He replies there will be plenty of time to talk when they get "there," but won't say where "there" is. The man begins treading deliberately away and Jennifer hears a noise in the brush. She thinks it is Ronon and calls out but it is one of the wraith. She turns to the man and calls out a warning. He activates a device on his wrist and disappears. The wraith moves in and the man reappears behind him, cutting off his head. Jennifer looks at them both in horror.
Ronon and Rodney warn the village that they have spotted wraith on the planet. They don't think the wraith are headed to the village but still suggest the people gather themselves up and get to a safe hiding place. They ask if if the villagers have seen any strangers lately but they say no.
Jennifer asks the man what the device is but he says it will take too long to answer. She asks if they can at least rest a bit but he says no, that will give her team time to find them. She feigns ignorance but he tells her that he knows she is a doctor from Atlantis and that there are two men traveling with her. This scares her and she runs. But she doesn't get very far before the man appears in front of her, stunner aimed. He shoots her.
Ronon and Rodney get the villagers moved to the caverns and then try to decide what to do next. Rodney wants to go back to the gate but Ronon thinks if they don't find the Runner right away, they won't ever. Rodney says he doesn't think it is a good time to split up but Ronon just stalks off into the woods.
Jennifer wakes up and her captor pulls her up and says they need to keep moving, there are more wraith. She continues to ask him questions he won't answer, realizing he isn't from the village and that the wraith are after him. She asks why and this time he does answer, saying he is a Runner. He asks if she knows what those are and she says yes, one of the men she is traveling with used to be one. This stops the man up short. He says Runners don't just stop being Runners. He asks how that's possible. She tells him to take her to Ronon and she'll tell him. He is tempted but declines, telling her nice try.
Rodney catches up to Ronon and they find where Jennifer's tracks start up again. He thinks that the tracks are too clear though, no Runner is that stupid, he says. They keep moving and stop when they find blood, Rodney is worried but Ronon tells him it is wraith blood. Ronon thinks something is odd about the tracks in the area and proceeds carefully. His caution pays off when he finds a trap in the ground. As he said, no Runner is that stupid.
Jennifer and the Runner reach a cliff wall and he tells her they are going up top of that. She asks how, they don't have any ropes for climbing. He tells her they don't need ropes and activates his device. They are teleported to the top of the cliff and she realizes that is how he got her out of the village without being seen. He says he found the device on another planet and it has helped him stay ahead of the wraith.
Ronon is tracking and realizes Rodney is not with him. He calls out and finds that Rodney has stopped to shake a stone out of his boot. Unfortunately before Ronon gets back to him a wraith steps out of the woods. Rodney manages to shoot it dead though and the two men get in a brief argument. Ronon is angry that Rodney is slowing him down. But Rodney grins and tells Ronon they don't need to rely on old school tracking anymore. He takes a device off the wraith and says now they can track the Runner with that. Ronon looks at it and says they are even farther away than he thought. They keep on and Rodney tells Ronon that he shouldn't be resenting his presence. He guarantees that sooner or later Ronon is going to need his help with something and then will be glad he is there. He needs to remember they are on the same team.
Jennifer asks the Runner when he is going to tell her what he wants from her. He answers that he needs her to help someone. She tries to get more details but he says she'll find out. He says once he gets her to her patient he can't stay with them. The longer he is one place the more likely the wraith are to find him, and there could be a dozen more on their way.
Rodney and Ronon get to the cliff and Ronon says the trail ends there. Rodney looks at the tracking advice and says they are dead ahead, so they either climbed it or found a way around. Ronon asks Rodney to solve the problem of getting up there and Rodney says that's not in his wheelhouse. Ronon just shrugs and says he thought so before stalking off.
Jennifer asks the Runner if he's considered having his tracking device removed. He says he's seen several doctors and none of them have had any luck. She says that she's got some pretty advanced skills and tech and admits that one of their doctors removed Ronon's tracker, which is how he stopped being a Runner. He asks if she has something in her kit that can remove it. She says she's got a scanner and anesthetic, if he wants her to help someone it will be a lot safer for all parties if they throw off the wraith before they get there. He grudgingly cuts her bonds and lets her look at it. She gets out the scanner and after a moment she makes a grim face. She explains that his tracker is different. It is fused to his spine and his brain stem. Removing it would kill him. He doesn't really react and just tells her they need to get going.
Ronon and Rodney find a way around the cliff but it costs them some time. Nightfall is quickly approaching, although Rodney says at least it will be a very short night. They trigger another trap but Ronon's quick reflexes keep them from being hurt. He remarks that this guy is good.
Jennifer and the Runner get to their destination and he leads her into a hidden cave where a little girl is sleeping. Her name is Celise, she broke her leg and it has become infected. He tried finding a doctor on three different planets before hearing that doctors from Atlantis were helping in the village so he came here. Jennifer starts her examination and asks if Celise is his daughter. He says no and explains she lived in a village that was destroyed by the wraith after he stayed there for one night. The whole population was culled and she was the only one he could save. Jennifer chides him that he could have just asked for her help but he says he couldn't take that chance. He asks how bad it is and she says bad. She will do what she can but Celise needs stronger medicine than Jennifer has with her. He says that Jennifer cannot let her die and then goes outside.
Jennifer gets the wound treated and the girl wakes up, momentarily surprised by her presence. She asks after the Runner, calling him Kiryk. Jennifer assures Celise that Kiryk is just outside keeping watch. Celise says Kiryk isn't really mean, he just pretends to be, and Jennifer replies that she knows someone just like him.
Rodney and Ronon come upon a wraith in the woods. They sneak up on it and see that it has been impaled by one of Kiryk's traps and is dead. They move on.
Jennifer pops out of the cave and tells Kiryk she's done everything she can for Celise with what she has but she isn't out of the woods. Jennifer wants to take her to Atlantis to continue her care. Kiryk can't go to Atlantis because of his tracking device, but he agrees as long as Celise is returned to him after she's healed. Jennifer says she isn't sure that's a good idea. Living with a Runner is dangerous and no life for a little girl. Kiryk hears something and hides Jennifer. Some wraith approach and Kiryk fights them off but is stunned when another one sneaks up during the struggle. From inside the cave Celise calls out and the last wraith goes to investigate. As he approaches the girl Jennifer stabs him from behind.
Kiryk wakes up in the woods and finds Jennifer and Celise nearby. He asks what happened and Jennifer tells him she knew they couldn't stay so she carried Celise there and then went back and dragged Kiryk. He says he'll carry Celise and they'll head to the gate. Jennifer says there are wraith everywhere, that's a bad idea. She tells Kiryk she thinks she has figured out a way to disable the tracking device using her portable defibrillator. She warns him it is a risky procedure but he says the end result is the same either way and agrees to let her try, as long as she promises to take care of Celise if he doesn't survive.
Rodney and Ronon see that they are getting close to the Runner's signal.
Jennifer puts the defibrillator pads on either side of the tracking device and charges them. In the woods Rodney loses the Runner's signal. Jennifer does CPR to revive Kiryk and she scans the tracker, saying she thinks she managed to fry it for good. Unfortunately it also seems to have fried Kiryk's teleportation device. He says it doesn't matter, he doesn't need it anymore. She asks if she can have it, saying she knows someone who would love to study it, working or not.
Ronon and Rodney keep tracking the old school way and Ronon finds the marks from where Jennifer dragged Kiryk. Then they find the clearing where Jennifer stopped to rest and Ronon figures out more or less what happened (Jennifer dragged Kiryk, revived him, they left together) from the tracks. Rodney said that Ronon mentioned two bodies had rested there and Ronon tells him the other one was small, probably a child. They find Celise's doll. Then they hear darts overhead and realize the wraith must have noticed that the signal died.
Jennifer and Kiryk get back to the cliff and Kiryk leaves to check out the path down. Ronon comes from out of nowhere and the two men start fighting. Jennifer jumps in between them and manages to convince Ronon to stand down. Rodney calls her attention to Celise and Jennifer sees that her sutures have torn. They will need to be restitched before they can move the girl. Ronon and Kiryk stand guard while she does this.
Just as they are ready to move on, wraith find them. Jennifer and Rodney together manage to take one out while Ronon and Kiryk each take care of one. Rodney asks Jennifer where she learned to fight like that and is less than enthused when she tells him she has been taking sparring lessons from Ronon. They head back to the gate and Jennifer distracts Rodney from griping out Kiryk by giving him the broken teleportation device. Ronon asks Kiryk about Celise and he promises to get both of them out this situation.
They get to the gate and see it is surrounded by wraith. Ronon and Kiryk discuss strategy and Rodney exclaims that he managed to fix the teleportation device. Kiryk snags it and ports down to the gate, attacking wraith left and right. Ronon heads down to help him but Kiryk manages to dial the gate and jumps through, drawing the wraith behind before Ronon can get there. Jennifer takes Celise through to Atlantis while Rodney goes to tell the villagers they can return to their homes.
Back on Atlantis Celise is well on the road to recovery. Rodney is showing her a video game and John and Ronon stop by to visit. Jennifer tells them that a woman on the planet where they found Celise has agreed to take her in. Celise asks if she will see Kiryk again and Jennifer replies that she doesn't know. John promises they are looking for him though. Ronon gives Celise her doll and Rodney's face falls when he sees the happy look Jennifer gives Ronon.
Later Ronon is training by himself and Rodney goes to pay him a visit. He says he needs to know Ronon's intentions with Jennifer. Ronon says he doesn't have any but then asks what Rodney means. Rodney asks if Ronon is interested in her in a romantic fashion. Ronon says maybe he does have intentions then asks if Rodney does. Rodney says of course he does, that's why he was asking. Ronon asks what they do about that and Rodney says he isn't going to fight Ronon for her, but he's not going to step aside either. He guesses they'll just have to let her decide. (Well, duh.) Ronon says okay and they shake on it.
So pretty much the whole point of this episode is to advance the Jennifer-Ronon-Rodney love triangle plot. I get the impression that when John gave his report of what he saw in the future, he didn't tell anybody about the relationship that Jennifer and Rodney developed. He is definitely having fun watching Jennifer and Rodney dance around each other now, although he seems oblivious to Ronon's interest. In fact, this episode kind of establishes that up until now neither Ronon nor Rodney were aware that they were competing for the good doctor's affections.
While I do think that Jennifer seems to enjoy Ronon's company, to me it seems pretty obvious that romantically she is more interested in Rodney. Part of that is a given, I guess, after the events of "The Shrine." I'm speaking not only of Rodney's confession of love but also how clearly opposed Jennifer and Ronon were to each other in that episode. I think from that we can suss out that Rodney is a lot more compatible with Jennifer than Ronon is. Then there is Jennifer's remark about knowing someone who pretends to be mean, which could apply to Ronon, but I think she meant Rodney. Ronon holds himself as more aloof than unpleasant. Also, Jennifer was thinking about Rodney enough to snag that teleportation device for him to study. In the middle of being kidnapped and running for her life and protecting a patient, she thought to get him a present. I mean, come on. So, yeah.
With that in mind, it just comes down to whether or not Rodney can handle the competition on his own, and this episode shows that he can. He clearly cares about Jennifer enough to continue pursuing the relationship even in the wake of a friend's obvious interest. But he also respects Ronon enough to go to him and let him know where they stand on the situation. While a part of me was kind of annoyed at their almost second-thought decision to let Jennifer be the one who decides which guy she's gonna date, I do like that they were very adult about it and clearly don't want to let it get in the way of their friendship.
Finally, I like that this episode gave everybody: Ronon, Rodney, and even Jennifer, a chance to shine at one point or another throughout the episode. In the end, each of them contributed to getting them out of the situation. That was pretty cool.
"What the hell are you doing?" (Ronon)
"At the moment, killing wraith!" (Rodney)
"I'm sorry, but I guarantee you: at some point you're gonna need my help. You'll see. There'll be some problem you can't solve and you'll turn to me, I'll figure it out in the nick of time and you'll say, 'Good job,' or just grunt, or slap me on the back harder than necessary. Anyway, the point is we both have our gifts, so you need to stop resenting my presence here and start realizing that we're on the same team, both trying to achieve the same goal, right?" (Rodney)
"Don't worry, we're gonna get you out of this. Both of you." (Ronon)
That's it for today. See you back here on Wednesday for our next episode, "First Contact."