Wednesday, July 4, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Identity

Well folks, it's another Wednesday and that means another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today we get the obligatory for science fiction body swap episode. Awesome! Join me for season five's "Identity."

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

What Happened

A strange and confused-looking woman stands in a corridor of Atlantis. She hears people and ducks into a lab. She is peering at one of the screens when Radek comes in, surprised to find her. He asks if she is looking for Rodney and she clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. He asks if she is feeling alright and tries to get her to lie down. When he goes to take her arm she grabs a nearby pair of pliers and stabs Radek in the gut. As she looks up from doing this she catches a glimpse of her reflection, only it doesn't show her face, it shows Jennifer's. She stares at the mirror in surprise for a moment and then runs out of the room leaving Radek bleeding on the floor.

The woman makes her way back to a more populated part of the city and ducks out of a balcony, looking around the city in wonder. A puddle jumper flies by overhead and she watches it in awe. She makes sure no one is watching her and drops the pliers off the edge of the balcony. Ducking back in she sees her reflection once more in a window and stares at Jennifer's face for a few moments, clearly still confused about what is happening. She is surprised by Rodney, who finds her and asks what happened to her, they were supposed to meet half an hour ago for lunch. He herds her along toward the mess, clearly thinking she is Jennifer. Noticing her confusion he asks if she is alright, worried he might have done something wrong.

The woman's earbud chirps and she gets a call from a nurse calling Jennifer to the infirmary to see to Radek, who has been found stabbed. Rodney goes with the woman, concerned about his friend, and when they arrive one of the nurses briefs her on Radek's status, saying he needs immediate surgery. Not wanting anyone to discover that she doesn't belong there (or that she stabbed Radek in the first place), the woman goes along with things, getting scrubbed for surgery. Of course, she doesn't actually know how to do the surgery. After a moment she says she isn't feeling well and excuses herself to go lie down.

John and Rodney go to report to Woolsey. Radek is better but not out of the woods. He is in a (medically induced?) coma for the time being. Woolsey asks about Jennifer not doing the surgery and Rodney tells him what happened. He notes that she has been acting strangely all day. Woolsey is concerned but not alarmed and comments that Carson is due back to the city soon. He should be able to take over in the infirmary until Jennifer is recovered from whatever she has come down with. He then asks if they have any leads on who stabbed Radek and John says they've got nothing. Woolsey tells him to get to work looking for the culprit. He wants to know who did this.

Meanwhile, the mystery woman starts going through Jennifer's things in an attempt to make sense of what is going on. She sees a graduation photo of Jennifer with her father and starts to realize she is actually in someone else's body, or people are at least seeing her as that person. The door opens and Ronon comes in, saying he heard she wasn't feeling well. She is clearly worried by his presence. He asks what's wrong and she says she's just tired. He comments that she's been pushing herself very hard and when she replies gives her an intense look. Rodney stops by, less than happy to find Ronon there, to see how she is and let her know that Carson is on his way back. He mentions that they sent a puddle jumper for the other doctor and at the woman's clear confusion Rodney and Ronon exchange a sideways glance of surprise.

Carson gets back and scans "Jennifer," not finding anything out of the ordinary. He asks her how long she's been feeling out of sorts. He decides to keep her overnight for observation, hoping that in the morning she'll feel much more like herself. He steps aside with Rodney and Woolsey and tells them that physically she's fine, but he's worried there may be something psychological going on.

That night the woman waits until no one is watching and sneaks out of the infirmary, hastily donning Jennifer's uniform. She finds a guard and casually asks him for directions to the puddle jumper. He is distracted by his duties and so directs her easily enough. She gets to the jumper bay and runs into the first jumper she sees. She finds the weapons storage and grabs herself a gun then sits down in the pilot seat, trying to start up the ship. Rodney finds her there and asks what she's doing. She plays it off like she couldn't sleep and just wants to go for a ride. Rodney is skeptical since she doesn't have the gene and can't fly the jumpers but she quickly realizes he can. She switches gears and asks him to take her out, somewhere secluded where they can have sexy fun times. He is tempted for a moment but then steps back and says no, telling her he doesn't know what's going on but she is clearly not herself at the moment. He wants to take her back to the infirmary but she refuses and pulls the gun on him. Before she can shoot him Ronon shows up and stuns her.

They move her to the isolation room. The team, Carson, and Woolsey look over her from the observation room, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Rodney realizes that she likely might be the one responsible for stabbing Radek. Ronon says that she is not Jennifer Keller, something has taken over her. They see that she's awake and go down to question her. They ask her who she is and she tries to play it off but they aren't buying any more.

Finally she admits that her name is is Neeva Casol and she has no idea how she got to Atlantis or into Jennifer's body. She tells them one moment she was searching through some artifacts in a village and the next she was in Atlantis in Jennifer's body. Rodney asks her what kind of artifacts and she says that she and her associates steal valuables from planet to planet. They heard about a stash of Ancestral artifacts and went to check it out. She flashes back to the robbery and we see her find an Ancient communication terminal and put the stone on it, and there she was in Atlantis. She apologizes for hurting Radek but says she felt threatened
and reacted on instinct. She doesn't want to hurt anyone else, she just wants to get back to her body.

Rodney goes through some records and shows the others the communication terminal that SG-1 found a few years back. They wonder how Neeva connected to Jennifer but Rodney says that there were some communications stones in Janus' lab and that Jennifer was in there fiddling with the stones a few weeks back. Those stones and the ones Neeva discovered must have been connected. Woolsey looks concerned, pointing out that from the reports on SG-1's encounter with a similar device, disconnection had been difficult. Then it dawns on them to wonder, if Neeva's mind is in Jennifer's body, does that mean that Jennifer's mind is in Neeva's body?

Cut to Jennifer, wearing Neeva's clothes, sitting in a prison cell. She stares at a mirror on the wall, seeing Neeva's reflection looking back at her. She hears footsteps and an official of some sort arrives at her cell. She asks if they contacted Atlantis and the man tells her no. He tells her he contacted some of his contacts on other planets first and learned what kind of crimes Neeva and her associates committed elsewhere in the galaxy. They are responsible, he tells her, for no less than five murders. Jennifer tries to explain that she is not who he thinks she is but the man says she is also known to be a very convincing liar and it is clear he thinks she is just trying to talk her way out of the cell. He pronounces that as magistrate of this village he is taking it upon himself to find her guilty not only her crimes there, but also her crimes on all of the other planets in the coalition. He says that on the morrow she will be executed. Jennifer watches in horror as he walks away.

In Atlantis the team discusses their options. John says there's only one. They go to the planet where Neeva found the device and shut it down to break the connection. Woolsey asks if they have found a way to safely do that. Rodney says not yet but he'll figure something out. Carson pipes up that they need to be very careful. The connection is more than just psychological. If one of the people dies while connected to the device, then they both do. If they screw up the disconnection they risk killing Jennifer and Neeva both. Woolsey says they need to hurry then and gives the mission a go. He asks if they know where the village is and John says they will.

He goes to ask Neeva its location. She says she'll happily tell him where it is. In fact she'll take him there herself and lead them right to the device. On one condition. They have to promise to let her and her accomplices go free once the connection is severed. John agrees to this but then she says she wants a puddle jumper too. He denies that request and she next asks for weapons. He says no, take them to the device and he won't pursue her or her friends.

The team, Carson, and Neeva go tot he planet. They exit from the gate and she points them in the direction, saying the village is a few hours' walk away. Rodney grumbles about this and she asks John in disbelief if he and Jennifer are really dating.

The magistrate comes for Jennifer and tells her that it's time.

The team gets to the village and Neeva tries to talk them into giving her a weapon. John says they aren't sneaking in, they are going to ask the villagers for help. Neeva realizes that John tricked her when he promised to let her go, since he has no intention of breaking her out of the villagers' custody if Jennifer has already been captured in her body. He says he never said anything about not letting the people she robbed pursue her. She eventually agrees (grudgingly) to accompany them into the village.

The team gets to the magistrate's office and John introduces himself. Rodney asks about their Ancient artifacts, the terminal in particular. It is clear the people recognize it from his description. The woman in charge asks why they want to know about it and tells them that it's well hidden and they have no chance of getting to it if they are thinking of trying to take it. They quickly reassure her, explaining they just need to see it because they are afraid it might have accidentally be turned on. They don't want any trouble, they just need the villagers' help. The woman says they need to talk to the magistrate and they ask where he is. She says not there, he will be back when the execution is over. They realize who he is likely about to execute.

In the woods the magistrate's men lead Jennifer to a stump and the magistrate declares her conviction and sentence. We see the team running frantically through the woods. Jennifer tries to proclaim her innocence but the executioner raises his ax and prepares to swing. Shots ring out and Jennifer takes advantage of the chaos to flee. She encounters two men in the woods, one of them holding a knife. He approaches her and Jennifer stares at him in fright but he simply cuts her bonds. Then he asks if he gets any thanks for the rescue.

The team reaches the execution site to find the magistrate shouting orders to his men. He orders them to find the escaped prisoner as well as to guard the stargate. No one leaves the planet until the prisoner is returned. The team fades back into the woods and Neeva says her men must have rescued Jennifer. They ask how many people she is working with and she says two.

Jennifer, meanwhile, finds herself hiding in a cave with Neeva's cohorts. They remark that she actually look scared in the clearing and are a bit offended that she didn't think they'd rescue her. Jennifer tries to find an answer. They ask her what the plan is and she says she doesn't know and at the look they exchange she hastily adds "yet." They tell her to think fast because the villagers will find their cave soon enough.

Ronon tracks Jennifer's escape with the team following behind. They stay out of sight from the village patrols but note how numerous the patrols are. Neeva takes advantage of their momentary distraction and bolts. Ronon gives chase but she quickly evades him and manages not to leave any tracks for him to follow. The team looks at each other, lost for how to proceed next.

In the cave Jennifer says she thinks their best bet is to leave the planet. The men point out someone will be guarding the gate and she says they need to create a diversion. She suggests setting an explosion but they shoot that idea down. They suggest waiting until nightfall and then launching an attack on the gate, killing the guards and making their escape. Jennifer is so not on board with this plan but clearly doesn't want to make them angry. They hear a sound from outside and both men draw their guns. Neeva comes in and they are instantly on guard. She tries to convince them she actually is Neeva and to explain what happened but they are skeptical.

Neeva starts listing experiences that they have had together to try to convince them and then says that in order to fix the situation they need to act fast. They have to go back to the village and turn off the device. She says they have to be super careful because not only are the villagers but so are the people from Atlantis. Jennifer is understandably relieved to hear that her people are on the planet but Neeva shuts her down pretty quickly saying that the Lanteans will turn them in to the villagers if they catch them so they need no problems from her.

Jennifer seems more than willing to go along with the angry armed people. Neeva begins giving orders but one of her men, Jannick, says no. He is more than a little freaked out by this turn of events and doesn't really believe Neeva about what's going on, saying he doesn't know her. He says that they are going to attack the gate now, get somewhere else, and then sort out who's who there. He promises to Neeva if she is lying she is good as dead. They move out to the gate, Neeva commenting to Jennifer that she could do better than Rodney.

Before they get far a village patrol finds them and starts firing. They take cover and Neeva's men try to return fire. One of them, Bordal, is killed. The team from Atlantis hears the gunfire and runs toward the fray. Jennifer runs and Jannick turns to shoot her. Neeva, seeing him, grabs his arm to stop him and she is shot by one of the village men. Jannick takes off and the team arrives in time to stop the villager from finishing Neeva off.

They take her to the village and Carson starts to tend to her wounds while Rodney explains to the magistrate what has happened. He listens in shock as he realizes Jennifer was telling the truth. John asks him to show them where the device is and the magistrate leads the way. Carson removes the bullet and Teyla assists him while the rest of the team tries to figure out how to turn off the device. In the woods Jennifer runs into Jannick. He says she is definitely not Neeva and she says she thinks she can help him. He says she's not helping anyone. He draws his gun and says he is going to return the favor for her getting Bordal killed and almost getting him killed, he cocks his gun.

In the village Ronon shoots the device in the hope that will sever the connection. Jennifer wakes up in the village in her own body with Carson telling her she should be alright. Neeva returns to her own body and finds Jannick holding a gun on her. She tries to convince him she's herself again but he doesn't believe her. The screen goes black just as there is the sound of a gunshot.

Back in Atlantis Rodney runs into Woolsey as he is on his way to visit Jennifer in the infirmary. Woolsey tells him that Lorne's team just got back from searching the planet and there was no sign of Neeva, so it seems that she got away after all. Rodney isn't so sure, recounting what Jennifer said happened just before the device was shut down. He thinks likely Neeva is dead and disposed of, although Woolsey wonders if maybe she wasn't able to talk her way out of getting killed. He says if she did, she likely won't be free for long, as every planet in the coalition is now keeping an eye out for her. As soon as she steps foot on one she'll be arrested.

In the infirmary both Jennifer and Radek are recovering nicely. Rodney asks Jennifer if when she's feeling better maybe she'd like to go for a romantic puddle jumper ride and have a picnic under the stars. She teases him about how unlike him the idea seems but then says it actually sounds like a great idea. They smile at each other as the camera pulls away.


Well, I guess it's been a while since the writers messed with Jennifer. Can't go too many episodes without that happening, can we? We made it, what, one? Huh.

While this is a pretty fun (and upon rewatch, surprisingly kind of dark) episode, it doesn't serve very much purpose within the greater arc of the season, or of the series really. I mean, it does show some of the further consequences of finding Janus' lab, as well as reiterating the "don't play with Ancient tech unless one of the experts says you can" rule, but that's really it. Now, I will note that SGU's first season was in development at the time* and this does serve as an excellent introduction/reminder of what the communications stones are and how they work. Considering how important those were to the other series, that could actually very well have been the intention here.

I do suppose it also gives a little more of an idea of how the galactic coalition is coming along, as well as Atlantis' emerging place within it. I really have to wonder if that wasn't meant to be a big part of how season six would have played out. It is certainly an idea for speculation at least.

I do love that Jennifer has been hanging out with Rodney long enough that she's totally on board with the "explosion as a diversion" tactic, expecting people to run toward it. Either that, or they are way more alike than I thought. But it is a nice little reference back to "The Lost Tribe" regardless, and I always enjoy a good running joke. Also, I found it terribly amusing just how hard Neeva failed at seducing Rodney because she so just didn't get him.

It was interesting that Ronon seemed to cotton on the quickest that Jennifer was not, in fact, Jennifer. Rodney definitely noticed the strange behavior, but it took him much longer to put two and two together. He was just worried that he did something wrong to screw up their new relationship.

Favorite Quotes

"Oh, you could take me somewhere secluded and we could make love underneath the stars." (Not!Jennifer)
"Really?!" (Rodney)
"Would you like that?" (Not!Jennifer)
"Well, yeah! I mean, I'd have to get a blanket though, because the mainland's ground cover is loaded with allergens..." (Rodney)

"They'll be guarding the ring." (Jannick)
"I know. Maybe we could create some kind of diversion?" (Not!Neeva)
"Well, how do we do that?" (Bordal)
"I...I don't know. Um, maybe...maybe we could set an explosion?" (Not!Neeva)
"And why would they run towards an explosion?" (Jannick)


Happy Independence Day folks if you're in the US and celebrating. If not, well, have a lovely Wednesday, won't you? See you back here on Monday for something a bit different in "Vegas."

*Just in case there is any confusion or temptation to be a SGU hater in the comments, please, just don't. This blog is really not the place for that. That show was already greenlit and in production before the decision was made not to give Atlantis a sixth season. Would I have liked another year (or ten) of SGA? Hell yes. Do I blame SGU for its demise? Hell no. 

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