Monday, July 2, 2012

SGA Rewatch: Infection

Hello everyone! We are getting very close to the end of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch, with only two weeks and four episodes left to go. Today we'll be looking at season five's "Infection." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before it, as per usual.

What Happened

Things open up with Atlantis cloaked and on high alert. It seems that  a wraith ship has been headed straight for them and is due to arrive at any moment. John is on standby in the control chair, ready to fire the city's drones if necessary. The ship arrives and doesn't do anything. After a few moments they receive a transmission containing an encrypted file. The encryption is similar to that used by the Daedalus. Rodney gets it cleaned up enough to see that it is a video message from Todd. They get "do not fire," and something about Jennifer and a formula, but the file is apparently too corrupted for them to make out the entire message.

The group in the control room apprises John of the situation and then they discuss options of what to do next. They wonder why Todd would send a message file instead of contacting them directly. Rodney thinks clearly this must be a matter of some importance. The team gears up and takes a cloaked jumper up to the hive ship to investigate. When they get close to the ship they try making contact by radio but get no answer. Rodney scans the ship and doesn't pick up any life signs. Teyla says she cannot sense any wraith either.

Rodney makes the reasonable assumption that the wraith on board are probably hibernating and John makes the call for them to board and check it out. They radio Woolsey for approval and then dock with the wraith ship. Inside everything seems to be in extra creepy mode. Rodney hacks the systems and sees that the wraith are in hibernation but notes that they did not set themselves a "wake up call." This seems strange considering they did not leave anyone awake to revive the rest of them.

There is a power fluctuation of some kind and then Rodney manages to find an intact version of Todd's earlier message. He pulls it up and plays it for the group. Todd tells them that he and his crew have developed a sickness as a complication of Jennifer's treatment (to make the wraith no longer dependent upon humans for feeding). Todd admits to swiping the formula when he had control of the Daedalus during their last interaction. The wraith's normal healing abilities have had no success in fighting the sickness. He asks for their help, reminding them that if he and his crew die so do their chances of distributing the treatment throughout the galaxy.

They return to the city and update Woolsey on what they found. John says now they know what's up they can just fire on the ship with their drones and destroy it. Woolsey tells him to hold that thought. He thinks that they need to find out what went wrong with the treatment, since according to Todd it did work as advertised at first. He tells them that the I.O.A. is very committed to developing this particular gene therapy and it's pretty much the only thing they all agree on. They need to find out how and why it backfired and if it really just is not a workable project.

Ronon thinks they should leave the treatment as is and start distributing it, using it as a weapon to kill the wraith, which he is sure the I.O.A. also agrees is a worthwhile goal. John points out that they have to figure out a method of delivery and would be back to where they were with Carson's retrovirus. Teyla also comments that it is unlikely that they would be able to wipe out the wraith entirely, probably managing only to weaken them, whereas if they got the treatment working properly, they would not have to worry about any wraith feeding on humans again. Woolsey thinks they should help Todd's hive. He orders the team to go back with Jennifer and Lorne's team and an extra unit of marines (just in case it is a trap).

They get the party back to the ship and set up patrols while Rodney gets settled in trying to stabilize the ship's systems, which are acting flaky. One of the marines finds something weird and calls Lorne. The wall in front of him appears to be melting. He moves in to get a closer look and a wraith lunges out and grabs him.

Rodney checks on Jennifer. She tells him she managed to figure out what was killing the wraith. The treatment worked like it was supposed to. The problem is that it also managed to create a virulent cancer-like disease at the same time that weakened their immune systems. Rodney asks if she can cure it and she says she thinks so but he senses her uncertainty. She admits that she is just not used to being the one making such huge decisions and she feels a little in over her head. Rodney gives her a bit of a pep talk.

John and Lorne go to check on the marine's last known position. One of the other men finds his gun where it was dropped. John makes sure Rodney has loaded the ship's schematics into the life signs detector and they use that to try to search for their missing man. John and Lorne get to a wall and are confused because per the schematic it is supposed to be an open corridor. Teyla radios that she and Ronon found the missing marine and he is dead. He was attacked and whatever did it tried to eat him, like an animal.

Lorne picks up a new life sign on the detector and John tells Teyla and Ronon to join them. They follow the life sign but when they get to its location they don't find anything. They examine the room and then the wraith jumps out and attacks John. He kills it and they see that it no longer has the feeding mouth on its hand. It seems the sick wraith, now starving as well, have gone feral.

The team gets back together to go over the new information. John wants to know how the wraith got out of its hibernation pod. Rodney says it must be the power fluctuations. It is probably a safety protocol that when the power to a pod flickers the pod shuts off and wakes up its occupant. Jennifer worriedly asks Rodney if he stabilized the problem and he admits he never actually figured out what was causing the fluctuations. Teyla wonders if any other pods have been compromised. John decides they aren't sticking around to find out. He tells them they are leaving and to hell with the I.O.A.'s desire for this data.

They head back to the jumper. Ronon says that he knows they are going back the way they came in but comments that it looks different. Just as John tells him he is imagining it they run smack into a wall that wasn't there when they arrived. Rodney looks up an alternate route and they backtrack. They get to a door that should lead to a corridor that takes them straight to the dart bay. When they open the door, however, they find a gaping chasm in the middle of the ship. They have no way out.

They fall back to the control room. Rodney says he thinks he's figured out what happened. The ship is largely organic and automatically repairs itself when damaged. Because of the malfunctioning systems, the ship seems to be reconfiguring itself incorrectly and has, as a result, cut them off from leaving the ship. John wants to call Atlantis for reinforcements to cut them out but Rodney says that's not an option, communications have just gone off line. Rodney suggests reviving Todd, he is the only one with enough knowledge of the ship to be able to help them find a way out. They don't have much time either, as the ship's systems continue to degrade.

They wake Todd up and he isn't really enthused when he learns what's going on. Todd goes over the systems and is even less pleased. After a moment he says he thinks he knows what it is, he thinks the disease has moved into the ship itself. When wraith hibernate there is a certain connection to the ship, and its organic components must have been infected. He says they have about four days before the ship is completely uninhabitable and the only way to get off alive is to cure the disease.

While Todd and Jennifer get to work John takes Lorne, Ronon, and Teyla to check on Rodney's progress in keeping the ship afloat. John says they definitely need to make sure that no more of the other wraith come out of hibernation. Rodney says he's figured out how to disable the safety protocol, but it would effectively kill all of the wraith in hibernation. He hesitates to just do that though, since they no longer feed, but they remind him of what happened to the dead marine. Teyla wonders how Todd will react if they take this step, this is his crew after all. John tells Rodney to do it and says they will write it off as another malfunction.

Jennifer works with Todd and notices that he is suffering from the illness too. She apologizes for getting him into this mess, saying she really thought the treatment would work better. He laughs at her apology and they have a debate about compassion.

Rodney tries to override the safety protocol but the pods in the last chamber won't accept the new code. John takes the soldiers to check out the room and along the way they encounter another awakened drone. They take it out and get to the room finding that all of the pods in that chamber are empty. They split up and spread out to hunt down the loose wraith.

Going over Jennifer's data Todd sees she used iratus bug DNA in the treatment. She tells him she thought using pure iratus DNA would help them keep their abilities. He tells her he has an idea. She calls John to the lab. He puts Teyla in charge of the soldiers and heads to the lab. Todd says he has found a way to undo the treatment. He tells them back in ancient wraith days super sick wraith would cure themselves by allowing a queen iratus bug to feed on them. He knows of a planet nearby where they might find one. John is not even remotely in favor of the idea and Todd gets mad. They fight and then Todd tells John that he owes him. John says no and has the marines take Todd away. The ship shakes and Rodney calls John to the control room.

Rodney tells John that the chasm they found is a getting bigger and threatening to rip the whole ship in half. If that happens they are looking at explosive decompression and the death of all. John orders everyone to fall back. Teyla says they are not done handling the wraith yet and he says leave them. They try to fall back but encounter a locked door and cannot get it open. John gets to it on the other side and while Teyla and Lorne hold off the oncoming wraith he and Ronon manage to get it open and everyone makes it through and beyond the bulkhead just before the ship tears in half.

The force of the separation altered the ship's orbit and the half holding the team is headed for the planet. They frantically try to figure out a way to survive reentry into the planet's atmosphere and impact with their landing zone. Rodney thinks he can reroute power to the forward thrusters to slow their descent and give them a chance to survive. He says he needs help though. He goes to Todd and asks for his help. Todd is not so forthcoming but John promises that if he helps they will take Todd to the planet where he can find the iratus queen. Todd asks about his crew and John admits they are dead, though he does play it off like that happened when the ship broke in half rather than when he had Rodney, you know, kill them. Todd is angry but he agrees to help and they manage to make a very rough landing in the ocean.

Woolsey sends rescue jumpers to the wreckage to retrieve the survivors. Afterwards John convinces Woolsey to let Todd go to seek out his treatment. Woolsey is surprised that John pushes for that but John says that it is unlikely Todd will live anyway. If he does, then he will remember what they did for him and remain an ally, especially if they do manage to get the treatment perfected. His parting words to John as he leaves the city seem to confirm this. They share a meaningful look and then Todd steps through the gate, once more gone from their lives.


I think to me the most interesting thing about this episode (apart from that there was so much Lorne in it, yay!) was the revelation that Todd swiped Jennifer's research on the treatment. He plays it off as curiosity, yes, but that's a hell of a risk to take merely to satisfy one's curiosity, no? I would definitely think that Todd would have at least only treated a few of his crew and kept them under observation for enough time to determine if there were any negative long-term effects (especially as he was so concerned about them losing their innate wraithy abilities). That he didn't speaks of either a lot more enthusiasm for the idea than he ever let on to the humans or a lot more desperation on his part than he has shown.

I do think the idea of the wraith hive getting infected was really a stroke of brilliance. All along it has kind of been demonstrated that the wraith are very connected to their (largely organic) ships. That the ship could provide sustenance for hibernating wraith seems like a reasonable step, and from there, even more so that the sick wraith might infect the ship itself. As plot points go that one was really nifty and I think it was portrayed very well in the episode too.

I am amused that "curing" the wraith of the need to feed on humans is the one thing the I.O.A. is in complete agreement on. That is pretty funny. As much as Ronon is right that they wouldn't mind someone or something just killing the wraith off, you can bet your butt not a one of them wants to have to accept any sort of responsibility for that kind of action either.

Speaking of Ronon, I do think it is very interesting that he continues to hold his "kill all wraith" attitude while still continuing to stay so firmly under John's command. I think, at heart, he knows he can never forgive the race for the atrocities done to the galaxy and to his planet and himself in particular. But he also sees the benefits in finding a different way. That doesn't mean he's not gonna at least advocate for taking the "kill all wraith" path whenever it is an option though. I am not sure what it says really, I just think it is interesting. It's good character development, because it keeps him from being one-dimensional, I suppose.

Lastly, I did very much enjoy that little moment between Jennifer and Rodney. It was very much a "couple" conversation but I loved that it wasn't all overly sappy and sentimental and it was both of them still very much being themselves. But it also demonstrated just how well they actually fit together. Huzzah for realistic and yet still entertaining romance!

Favorite Quotes

"I'm flattered you think Todd would go to so much trouble to kill me." (John)

"I look at you and Colonel Sheppard, the rest of the team. You guys are so used to making decisions that affect the lives of thousands and even millions of people. I'm not so used to having the fate of the galaxy hang in the balance." (Jennifer)
"Oh, that. You get used to it. Helps to have a massive ego." (Rodney)

"I find it amusing, human apologizing to wraith." (Todd)
"That's 'cause you don't understand compassion. You view it as a sign of weakness." (Jennifer)
"Isn't it?" (Todd)
"No, not by a long shot." (Jennifer)
"I'm not sure Colonel Sheppard would agree with you." (Todd)
"Colonel Sheppard's a soldier. I'm a doctor." (Jennifer)
"Ah, yes. His job is to take lives and yours is to save them." (Todd)
"No, his job is also to save lives. He just has a different set of tools." (Jennifer)


That wraps up another episode. Please join me back here on Wednesday for "Identity."

And don't forget to vote for the next series I rewatch! The poll is in the left hand sidebar.

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