SGA2-9: Aurora

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SGA2-8: Conversion

John has another buggy issue.

 

Last time on Stargate Atlantis: It turns out Carson’s retrovirus has the opposite affect as intended- they learn this the hard way.

Too Healthy

After the greenish wormhole effect, the camera cuts to the infirmary where Carson is with other medical personnel as John is wheeled in on a stretcher.  Rodney is trailing behind, whining because he has a splinter (Carson is not amused by his friend’s antics).  To the confusion of both Carson and John, the wound on the latter’s forearm has already disappeared with only a bloodstain to mark that it ever existed.  Rodney gets worried by this turn of events as well.

There’s a shot of Atlantis being tranquil and gorgeous.  In a room, John and Carson are discussing the vanished injury.  As a defense mechanism, John becomes flippant on the subject.  Carson decides to run tests on John every six hours but does shoo him off.

Up on a metallic walkway, John and Ronon are doing a jog.  For once, John is outpacing the Satedan and keeps running even after Ronon grows tired.

Carson is running tests of some kind when a blonde woman shows up.  Both people are in white lab coats.  They’ve run a test twice but Carson opts to do it once more just to make certain.

It’s now sunset at Atlantis.  In the gym, Teyla and John are sparring with sticks.  John is doing well for once, even after tossing aside one of the sticks.  Things get uncomfortable and awkward afterwards (he grabs her and kisses her in what would be a steamy scene if John was in his right mind; John seems to realize that his behavior has been altered afterwards.

John has gone to the infirmary where Elizabeth and Carson already are.  A stressed Carson confesses that John has been infected with the retrovirus.  It’s again stated John hates those bugs.  Elizabeth and Carson are both worried about John.  John knows that he can’t go off-world until they know more.

There’s a nighttime shot of Atlantis.  Caldwell arrives at Elizabeth’s office, where she is playing solitaire on a tablet.  He admits that the Daedalus crew keeps putting that game back on its computers no matter how often he tries to have it removed.  It’s pretty clear that he’s lingering to angle to get John’s position, though it turns out that off-screen Hermiod and Novak are running a scan on the hyperspace technology as “they’re worried about the constant use jumping between galaxies”.

Elizabeth concedes that she’ll think about Caldwell handling things until John’s recovery.  He asks for and gets a game of digital chess.

Transformations

John has returned to his room.  There’s a guitar seen in the background; I wonder if him playing will ever actually come up in an episode or if this was just set dressing.  More importantly, John finds a weird spot where his wound was so he puts his earpiece back in so he can contact Beckett.

The ominous music shifts into something less severe but equally worried for a shot of Atlantis.  John is back in the infirmary.  Carson heads across the space to whisper with Elizabeth.  If this continues, John will end up like Ellia in a matter of days.  Carson has the start of a plan but he has little notion on what to do.  Elizabeth is very stressed out and Carson knows that she should speak with him.  John sits up to ask for an update on himself so Carson non-verbally urges her to head over.

8ConcernedJohn

When Elizabeth stays quiet once she’s by his side, John notes, “Anything that has you speechless has me concerned.”

“You’re gonna be fine.”

“Wow.  That’s dead man talk.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Have you seen this?” John asks in reference to the bluish patch on his forearm.  She does her best to reassure her.  John compares himself to Ford in that he can feel the changes going on him and he’s freaking out because he’s not freaking out.  When he gets a bit prickly about her lack of bedside manner, Elizabeth apologizes so he tells her, “But I appreciate the effort.”

In what I believe is the conference room, Carson is leading a group of medical professionals on what to do.  He has an idea on how to get John back to normal, but they lack “the iratus bug stem cells” needed for the plan.  Carson decides it’s time for an “egg hunt”.

Caldwell is working on his laptop in a partially dark room when Elizabeth finds him.  She asks him to assure Sheppard’s duties until he’s better.  The colonel knows that she’s close to him so he does his best to reassure her but Elizabeth remains professional and leaves.

There’s another pretty shot of Atlantis; I don’t think I’ll ever tire of these establishing shots.  Rodney is speaking with Elizabeth, Carson, and Lorne in the conference room.  Elizabeth is worried as the last incident with the iratus bugs nearly cost them John in a reference to “Thirty-Eight Minutes”.  Carson argues for the plan but Elizabeth remains worried.

Lorne backs up Carson and Rodney can’t refute the plan so Elizabeth gives them the go-ahead.  The three guys head off.

Atlantis continues to be gorgeous.  Elizabeth is reading as she heads for her office.  John shows up, being followed by a guard.  By now one whole hand has been Wraith-ified, which he tucks back into his pocket.  It turns out he got permission for a walk.  Also, the blueness is creeping up his neck.  John wants to go on the mission with his teammates.

He is on an inhibitor which keeps him lucid.  John is stressed out by the fact that people are risking their lives for his.  Elizabeth refuses to let him go on the mission despite John’s insistence.  He ends up punching a glass wall, shattering it.  Realizing that he’s just proven her case for Elizabeth, John opts to head back to the infirmary.  Elizabeth is uneasy, presumably recollecting what happened with Ford under similar circumstances.

The Cave

Out in some mossy woods, there’s a group searching for the Iratus bug nest based off of what the Ancients’ database says.  Ronon figures that there has to be something out there that feeds on the bugs, which further freaks out Rodney.  In addition to them, there’s Teyla, Carson, Lorne, and two red shirts.

Atlantis is lovely.  In a room, Elizabeth arrives to confront Caldwell, who is speaking with a sergeant (who is quickly dismissed).  She’s upset that he’s already implementing changes in security protocols and planning to make changes in the off-world teams.  Elizabeth spells out that she doesn’t even disagree with all of the changes, it’s just that he’s doing them without speaking with her and worse, doing this now sends the message that Sheppard won’t be coming back.  She then leaves, either to let Caldwell think things over or because she doesn’t want to hear any further defenses he has.

The group has reached a cave entrance.  Picking up some orange goop, Ronon sniffs at it to determine that it’s fresh.  Poor Rodney is squicked out.  Lorne has them refocus on the plan.  Rodney attempts to stay outside until Ronon points out that would mean him being alone when or if the bugs come out of the cave.  Putting on their night goggles, the group heads into the cave and soon can hear the iratus bugs.  Rodney’s worry is making Carson exasperated (Rodney has pulled up his collar to protect his neck).

Elizabeth has arrived outside John’s quarters, which has a guard stationed outside it.  She still heads inside, where John asks for the lights to stay off.  She’s worried about him while John is stressed out and looking away from her.  He asks for there to be two guards outside the room because he thinks it’ll be needed.  When he finally looks at her, it turns out that his face and eyes have altered as well.  He wants to be somewhere secure.  Growing angry, John knows that he isn’t safe to be around anymore.  Conceding the point, Elizabeth leaves.  Before the shut doors, Elizabeth gives the order to the guard to double up.

In the cave, the group has found the chamber containing the iratus bug nest.  It’s rather gross and I’m thankful these shots are in the dark.  Rodney is understandably frazzled.  Carson has a plan involving his container of salt water; he uses it to clear a path towards the egg sacs hanging from the ceiling.  When Carson pulls up his own collar, Rodney becomes smugly amused to Carson’s agitation.

Everybody is on edge; rightfully so, as the bugs soon start to attack them.  They fire upon the bugs and retreat through the cave.  Walter and Stevens stayed behind to fire at the bugs and end up dead off-screen so Lorne sets off a grenade (the explosion ends up bursting out of the cave).  The survivors (AKA the major and the major characters) opt to head back for the Gate.  Carson is worried about John but Lorne knows that they can’t go back in there.

In the Dark of the Night

It’s nighttime at Atlantis.  Elizabeth is listening to Carson, in what I believe to be her office, about what happened off-world.  She then heads back to the hallway outside John’s quarters.  The guards (who have Wraith stun guns) are uneasy about letting her in but Elizabeth insists.  The room appears to be empty; Elizabeth has the guard shut the door behind her.

Elizabeth expresses her worry about John; she tries to make light of the situation at first but she’s clearly worried about him.  A semi-mutated John shows up; he soon loses his temper and partially chokes her before heading out in the hallway where the two guards are no problem for him to fend off.

In the control area, Caldwell takes point in giving orders for finding him.  Elizabeth does her best to prevent lethal force from being acceptable.  Ronon gets Teyla to accompany him.  Elizabeth tells Rodney to lock down the Stargate.

The mutated John hauls a guy out of the transporter so he can use it.  Caldwell is upset as they hadn’t thought John would be aware enough to use them.  Although pointing out that it would be stranding the search teams, Rodney follows the order to shut down the transporters.

Ronon heads off on his own while Teyla stays with the other guys.  The whole area is darkened.  It’s reported to them that John ought to be in the same room as them.  Elsewhere, Ronon is wandering around with his hand cannon out.

Teyla and the other guys are on edge.  John is climbing up a wall and when noticed, he ends up beating up everybody.  Teyla calls out “Colonel” as she has a gun aimed at him.  She ends up firing at his feet.  John darts off, with Teyla giving chase.  From behind a corner, Ronon fires at John, knocking him out.

In the infirmary, John is unconscious in a bed.  Carson tells Caldwell and Elizabeth that they have about twenty-four hours left until the changes are permanent.

Ronon, Teyla, and Rodney are having a late-night snack when Elizabeth finds them.  It’s mentioned that John is still in a medically-induced coma.  Ronon isn’t happy to be stuck being still.  Elizabeth appreciates them and she offers them to head over to the infirmary so they can have a “private goodbye”.  Neither Rodney nor Elizabeth are okay with the situation.  Beckett radios Elizabeth as he’s had an idea so all four of them head off.

They have gathered in the control area.  Beckett’s plan is to send ‘someone’ who smells like the bugs into the cave so they can safely obtain the eggs.  Rodney gets grumpy so Carson spells out that they can send in John (after super-dosing him on the inhibitor) but Rodney remains snarky.  Although both Carson and Rodney acknowledge the risks, Elizabeth gives the plan a go-ahead.

The Long Road Back

John wakes up in the bed.  Nearby, Elizabeth is worried about him and speaks gently to him.  Carson apologizes for the medicine giving him a headache.  Now lucid, John worries if he hurt anybody so Elizabeth reassures him that nobody was seriously hurt before telling him the plan.

The Gate is active off-screen, making flickers across the area.  Ronon tells the others that he has the hand cannon on stun like before.  John shows up in a hooded grey cloak, Elizabeth at his side.  Rodney is awkward while Carson is eager to get going.  Watching them go through the Gate, Elizabeth whispers, “Good luck.”

The greenish wormhole effect is used.  The group has reached the cave entrance.  John has the hood down now.  Carson hands over the gear.  Teyla is very worried about the limited time left.  John heads into the cave, taking off his cloak and he has a flare to use at the nest.  Dramatic music plays as John heads into the nest to gain some eggs via super-leaping to an egg sac.

Everybody else is clustered at the entrance.  Carson’s timer goes off as it was his best estimate for when the inhibitor would wear off.

Having gathered eggs into the container, John leaps back down and puts on the lid.  He’s in a lot of pain now.

At the entrance, the quartet is very worried.  John runs out of the cave so Ronon stuns him.  Carson checks that enough eggs were gathered.  Ronon picks up John.

There’s a long-distance shot of Atlantis.  Carson reassures Caldwell, Elizabeth, Teyla, Ronon, and Rodney that the transformation is slowly reversing itself.  His arms crossed, Rodney remarks, “Well done, Carson, for once again elevating medicine to actual science.”

8Carson'sFace

“Well, thank you, Rodney.”  As seen above, Carson’s expression clearly shows that he’s both affronted yet aware that Rodney thought he was genuinely complimenting him.

Elizabeth wants everybody to get some sleep; she and Caldwell head off.  The three teammates opt to linger in the infirmary for a while longer, with John out of it in a bed.

In the hallway, Caldwell and Elizabeth do a snarky walk-and-talk.  At some stairs, Caldwell tries to promise that he’s not her enemy.  Elizabeth just tells him that he wouldn’t want to be.

There’s a shot of Atlantis being pretty.  In the gym, Teyla is training an Athosian lady when John shows up in civilian attire (I like his pale blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up).  The two women bump foreheads because the trainee heads off.  Teyla expresses concern for John as he’s been slowly healing over the past few weeks.  John affirms that his DNA is back to normal now; there’s one patch on his forearm that’s lingering that will probably vanish eventually.

John tries to express how he acted “out of character” and tries to apologize.  Teyla is serene with him, but she exhales as she walks off.

Conclusion

I’ll admit that this episode is basically Atlantis’ response to SG-1’s “Bane”.  Though I appreciate that the transformation doesn’t mess with John’s great hair, even if there’s no Watsonian explanation.  Like that episode, there is a slow buggy transformation and a reoccurring character who tries to take advantage of the situation.  The difference is in the specifics of how things play out.

The commentary is done by Martin Gero, Joe Flanigan, and David Hewlett.  Joe hates the bugs like his character does (aw, poor guy).  I bet Joe would be hard-pressed to say whether this time or the time in “Thirty-Eight Minutes” was worse.  They acknowledge that the walkway was used in “The Storm” and “The Eye” and they ought to use it more.  Martin and Joe discuss the kissing scene and how it was meant to show John’s animalistic instincts taking over.

Personally?  I suspect the iratus bug influence was definitely a factor, given how Teyla also has some Wraith/iratus DNA in her as well.  I also get the vibe that intentionally or not, the show was distracting the viewers from the emotional bond between John and Elizabeth by having a physical moment between Teyla and John.  It’s just odd, given how that sort of smoke-screen usually happens when X and Y are the same gender but Y and Z are different genders.

Usually, John and Teyla have a respectful friendship that’s strictly platonic.  And unlike “The Broca Divide” with Jack and Sam, John explicitly says he was acting uncharacteristically to Teyla at the end, implying that he’s normally not attracted to her (or at least, wouldn’t act on any such attraction).  And there are a lot of scenes between Elizabeth and John here, highlighting their closeness.  And Caldwell’s remark on them being close reminds me of Kinsey’s scorn about Sam and Jack.

It turns out that Torri actually plays solitaire on set, so this was a nod to that.  Martin wanted to have Caldwell be a nuanced character and not just a “bad guy”.  They also wanted to have the episode be not just about John, but to showcase how the other characters felt helpless when John is ‘sick’.  This is played out by seeing everybody react to John’s infection.

Joe wants them to explore the city more, an idea I back up because Atlantis is amazing.  They also talk about how the retrovirus organically ended up being the overarching plot for the season as they initially wanted to tell more one-off stories.  Joe points out the skateboard in John’s quarters during the scene where John looks away from Elizabeth until he can’t.  It seems John has a lot of hobbies… or maybe Joe does and that’s bleeding over to his character (I’m not sure).

They all snark about how everything that goes wrong in these episodes is because of Carson.  There is also some genuine praise for Joel Goldsmith as the show’s composer.  They’re right in that the score is particularly good in this episode.  It’s also admitted that the time skip is so that it doesn’t become critical to watch every episode.  Joe claims that there was a take where the apology was handed differently, but as it’s at the very end there’s not a lot of clarification (maybe it was to imply he has an actual attraction to her?).  In any case, I appreciate that the franchise has been consistent in showing that sudden stereotypical alpha male behavior from Jack and John is a sign that something is Very Wrong rather than presenting it as romantic.

While I can buy John finding Teyla beautiful because she is, I kind of prefer to believe that John and Teyla have a close but platonic bond though I guess that’s another thing to keep an eye on as I progress through the show.  On a similar note, it was amusing to hear the guys praise Jewel from last episode given how I know she’ll return to the show later on.

This is technically a two-parter with the previous episode, but the two stories can and do largely stand on their own, unlike “The Siege” trilogy.  Speaking of which, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop about the Wraith finding out about Atlantis’ survival.  It cannot end well when they do.

On this disc, there is also an extensive featurette about Ronon Dex.  I suspect this is more relevant for the season summary, so I’ll save most of that information for then.  There was a spoiler that Ronon and Ford will team up against the Wraith at some point, so I have that to look forward to.

I really did enjoy this episode as although a John-centric episode, all the major characters had a moment to shine.  It was nice to see Lorne and Caldwell again as well, with a bonus mention of Novak and Hermiod.  Caldwell is an interesting character as he is a heroic figure, but his ambition causes him to clash with Elizabeth and John.  There’s not much elaboration, but it seems like John’s inexperience in leadership might have caused issues.  Then again, maybe Caldwell just has a different perspective on how matters should be handled.  There’s also the fact that protecting and running a city in the Pegasus Galaxy would require a new book to do things by so John might need some slack in that regard.

 

Next time on Stargate Atlantis: An Ancient ship has been found.