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Stargate Atlantis: Quarantine

by Richard Keller, posted Jan 20th 2008 12:47PM

Sheppard and the Major try to disable the self-destruct

(S04E13) 'Wait, what are the other numbers?' -- Teyla

'42.' -- Sheppard

'What is that?' -- Teyla

'It's the ultimate answer to the great question of life, universe and everything.' -- Sheppard

I seem to be getting the episodes of Stargate Atlantis to review that remind me of episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This week's episode, in which various members of the Atlantis team are trapped in different parts of the city after a false quarantine is declared, reminded me very much of the TNG episode 'Disaster', in which the crew members of the Enterprise are trapped in different parts of the ship after being struck by a quantum filament.

The difference between the two was that the episode of TNG was equal parts character driven and action. This week's Stargate episode was definitely heavy on the character interaction and development and light on the action (although there was one action sequence that was just terrific. More on that later.). Plus, it was a quiet episode. A very quiet episode. So much so that I fell asleep watching it.

That was probably more me and the exhaustive playboy lifestyle I lead than what was going on in the episode, but you could tell that it was one of those 'breather' episodes that they put in after a series of big installments. Plus, it was one of those 'fishbowl' shows (like TNG's 'Disaster') that took place just in the city of Atlantis itself -- mostly in the tower. Those are usually done when the budget is blown after a series of big episodes. I personally couldn't tell you if this story was run because of the cost of the special effects used in the previous episodes or because the characters needed to be fleshed out a bit more.

Regardless, 'Quarantine' did help give more dimension to the characters we have grown to love as well as set up some plot points for the future. Two of these plots involved relationships. One was the relationship of McKay and Katie -- probably one of the least physical relationships on television that I have ever seen. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but have you ever seen Katie and McKay show anything resembling love? You can tell that they like each other, sure, but there hasn't been any real measure of how far their relationship has gone. And now, out of the blue, McKay wants to marry her.

Of course, it was destined not to be. McKay, despite the growing he has done in the last year-and-a-half, still has lots of problems. One of them being extreme negativity. With Dr. Brown being a fairly positive force in his life, I'm really not too sure how these two would have made it as a couple. We may never find out, since it seems that their relationship may be over. At least that's what I saw from their last conversation before the credits rolled.

As an aside, let me say that Rodney must have felt totally impotent without anyway to investigate what was going on with the quarantine. He didn't have a tablet, or a desktop, or anything that he could use to communicate with the other team members. I guess he felt like many of us do when computer issues deny us use of the Internet or our email. Gosh, isn't modern technology wonderful?

The other relationship we saw was between Ronon and Dr. Keller. Well, they were really seeds of a relationship -- we really don't know how it will turn out. Their mutual affection could have been a result of the dire straits they thought they were in. On the other hand, their attraction to each other has been simmering for awhile now, and this may have been the spark to ignite their passion. Man, I sound like a romance novel!

Anyway, I am interested to see where this relationship goes. Ronon is a man's man, yet he definitely has his sensitive side, which he displayed to Jennifer this week. Dr. Keller, who many of us thought the weakest link of the team, is showing a good amount of strength and could be a very good partner for Ronon. I hope that this isn't a plot thread that is left to dangle.

In addition to these relationships there were also some surprises in characterization. One was Zelenka. After so many episodes where Rodney comes in to save the day it was very refreshing to see Radek be the man on the white horse (it must've killed McKay when he heard about it). Why David Nykl is not a full-time member of the cast is beyond me: he has great potential to be the anti-McKay. In other words, a less self-absorbed version of Rodney.

Another surprise was Sheppard. I know that John is smart, but I didn't realize how smart he was. He was able to pull Rodney's very long password out of memory, and he was able to rattle off to Teyla what the numbers meant. I mean, I certainly know why he knew what the number 42 meant since he's full of pop culture references, but to rattle off the birth date of Isaac Newton...now that's retention!

The most exciting part of the episode was Shep's climb up the tower to the control room. I know that it was all special effects, but they were done so well that I had a case of vertigo when the camera showed the Colonel's climb. I was even nervous that John would slip and fall down the tower. It was a very well done sequence.

Next week -- Shep and Rodney try to protect a princess from their most trusted allies.

What relationships would you like to see on Stargate Atlantis
Ronon and Dr. Keller206 (49.3%)
Teyla and Sheppard93 (22.2%)
McKay and Katie Brown25 (6.0%)
McKay and Samantha Carter35 (8.4%)
None of the above59 (14.1%)

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I liked this episode. Even though it was light on action, I too appreciated the character development. I liked that it didn’t degenerate into a McKay saves the day story. Seeing Rodney have a complete melt down because he couldn’t fix the problem was just hysterically awesome.

I am digging the potential Ronan/Keller as a couple subplot. They are cute together. They have a yin/yang vibe going for them. She will definitely soften him up and hopefully get him to cut his hair. Ronan, as a character, is one dimensional. (the go to tough guy that says very little) Let’s face it; his background story is kinda lame. His character could easily be written off the show, so this minor romance might flesh out his character.

The last scene between McKay and Katie tugged at my sappy heart, a little. I never believed them as a couple. Their relationship was, for the most part, nonexistent and lacked chemistry. When McKay told Sheppard that he wants to take his relationship with Katie to “the next level,” and Sheppard said, “second base?” I had to giggle. It was spot on. If we were not told they were dating, would we have known? Sheppard and Larrin have more sparks between them, or Sheppard and Weir, or Sheppard and Teyla or Teyla and Ronan, or hell—Sheppard and McKay! (Also, was it just me or did anyone else think the ring was small and cheap looking?)

On the other hand, where is McKay ever going to find someone who will put up with him? As his sister said, “he’s no John Sheppard.”

The thought of Sheppard and Teyla (barf!) as a couple is gross and would ruin the dynamic of the team: 1) the friendly affection between them makes the show more interesting; 2) he is her superior; 3) when they are in a dangerous situation, it would be lame if he is also thinking/worrying about his girlfriend; 4) we’d lose all respect for Teyla if she--one of only two strong females on the show--is chasing after her boss. It’s the same reason why Carter and O’Neil don’t belong together.

The other funny bit I liked was when Zalenka’s reaction to Carter taking off her jacket in the elevator.

Anyway, I liked this episode.

January 22 2008 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stacy's comment
Akbar Fazil

FYI: It is spelled Ronon. No "A"

Ronon's character is kinda lame? I will have to disagree on that one but each to their own. As to his hair, don't expect that to disappear at all. It is part of who Ronon is and the producers will never get rid of it.

"Also, was it just me or did anyone else think the ring was small and cheap looking?"

Ok, this statement kinda pisses me off. Why exactly does the monetary value of the ring matter?

January 22 2008 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

"Next week -- Shep and Rodney try to protect a princess from their most trusted allies."

Man that promo really bugged me. Once again shows that whoever makes the sci-fi promos has no idea how to do so or watches the show. I would hardly call the Genii a "most trusted ally" (Joe Mallozzi has already appologized for the promo over in his blog) Reminds me of the promo last season for "Phantoms" revealing who shot who.

January 22 2008 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Enough said.

January 22 2008 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite part of the episode was the Zelenka and Carter were more or less stuck in a futuristic elevator.

January 21 2008 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The reason people care about these characters is not because they get so attached to them while they're shooting bad guys. It's because they're human and they interact. This was, in my opinion, an excellent episode. I didn't see how any of the people would get out and solve the quarantine problem, which was a change and the point about Rodney and Katie not being physical at all is something I've noticed aswell. The self-destruct probably would have worked a little better if we HAD known when it was going to go off, but overall this episode was really solid.

I also wonder if there's any budget overloading on heavy special effects, because Stargate has an full-time in-house special effects team. Explosions might be a little expensive, but loads of special effects would just strain the time available for effects in other episodes, not the budget.

January 21 2008 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


What a boring, over the top, and annoying episode. I'm not wasting anymore time of this episode than to say that.

January 20 2008 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Oreo's comment
Akbar Fazil

at least your negativity is constant.

I for one found the episode an entertaining take on the whole "stuck in a...." story concept.

January 21 2008 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shep's intelligence has been a 'quick in passing' mention on the show. In the first episode, he surprises Rodney by knowing the number of permutations a given set of dialing characters would be able to dial out, and his intelligence has been a running joke ever since.

He's been mentioned as qualifying for Mensa (though he never joined); capable of beating Rodney at chess (which apparently no one else could do) and now this incredible memory retention.

Apparently Sheppard is smart but too nonchalant to point it out.

January 20 2008 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoyed the character building done in this episode, even though it was one of the more low key ones. I'm glad they ended the Rodney-Katie relationship, as they always seemed vaguely fond of one another but nothing more. Rodney needs someone with a little more forceful personality that can handle his neurosis and challenge him.

I'd have to go for Keller & Ronon in the poll-- the build-up in their relationship has been nice so far and I'd like to see where it leads. Plus, John and Teyla give me more of a protective brother-sister vibe than anything romantic, but that's me.

January 20 2008 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes some relationship "builds" and some doubtless will be left alone....
Is John being affected by the anciant's machines so that's why his memory and logic are enhanced?
I cant remewmber who is the father if Teyla's soon to be child? Good to see that they openly bring the actress's pregancy into the storyl;ine. Nicely done.

January 20 2008 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For what is was, a filler episode, this was enjoyable episode to watch. I especially liked seeing the main team members with people they don't normally interact with and I got a quite a chuckle out of the look Teyla gave John when he explained 42. Priceless. I love the interaction between John and Teyla, but I hope the writers don't develop that into a sexual relationship; that would just ruin things. Keller and Ronin, on the other hand, would be an interesting couple. All in all, this was a nice filler episode.

January 20 2008 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jimmy's comment

Why would it ruin it if John & Teyla developed a romantic relationship but not Ronon & Keller?
I have always sensed there was something there between Shep & Teyla. This episode reinforced it. I also loved the development of a relationship between Ronon & Keller.


January 20 2008 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

Because Teyla's not a whore, and presumably loves the father of her baby? Because John is still grieving that he can never be with Elizabeth? For the same reasons Carter never hooked up with Daniel, T'ealc, Jack, Jonas, Vala or Cam while they were on the same team?

January 20 2008 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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