Alrighty.  Continuing our reminiscences of Stargate: Atlantis.  When last we left our stalwart heroes, it was the end of the show’s first season and the city of Atlantis was under siege (so this is one of those rare occasions when the episode title actually made sense) by a relentless enemy: the wraith.


Season two kicks of in fine form with this concluding chapter in a pulse-pounding, action-packed, visually spectacular three-parter.  The episode is a game changer on many levels.  We are introduced to a couple of new characters who will become part of the Atlantis family. First, there’s Colonel Caldwell, commander of the Daedalus, played by actor Mitch Pileggi who delivers a terrific performance, at turns assertive, cagey, headstrong but, ultimately, endearing.  And then, there’s Hermiod, the cranky, acerbic Asgard who ended up drawing the short straw and having to go on a ride-along to babysit the previous Asgard tech.  Mitch was an easy-going, affable guy.  A pleasure to work with.  Hermiod, not so much.

While not a new character, Lieutenant Ford undergoes a transformation both physical and mental that sends him spiraling off in a dangerous new direction.  First seasons are always a period of creative growth, where certain unexpected elements surprise and thrive (ie. Beckett, Zelenka, even McKay who fast developed into an incredibly popular character among the viewers and writers as well) while others flounder for various reasons.  In the case of the Ford character, he was a youthful, somewhat innocent, nice guy who seemed to get lost in background amidst the more dynamic likes of Sheppard, McKay, and Teyla.  So, a decision was made to reinvent the character and give him a bit of a darker edge .  In so doing, we ended up evolving some of the wraith mythos (specifically with regard to the feeding process and its chemical interactions with the human body), thereby laying the groundwork for the notion of the wraith worshipers (who would come into play later in the season and pay off big time in episodes like Reunion and Broken Ties).

The city finally got a fully charged ZPM and, with the introduction of the Daedalus, Atlantis was no longer quite so isolated from Earth. Now, the expedition members could step through the gate and be instantly transported back home.  The return trip, at approximately two and a half week aboard the new, retrofitted Earth ships, was still better than nothing.  Of course, whether losing that sense of isolation established  in season one was necessarily a good thing – well, that’s up for debate.

A final mention of (and hats off to) Mark Savela and co. for another brilliant display of CG pyrotechnics.  All those darts impacting the Atlantis shield…wow!


The working title of this one was Murder in Space.  It took our heroes out of the comfy Atlantis environs we’d grown to know and love over the course of season one, and placed them in the new, comparatively claustrophobic environment of the Daedalus.  It’s a tough episode for Weir who not only sees her relationship fizzle back on Earth (Simon, we hardly knew ya!), but suffers a power play at the hands of Caldwell who has designs on her position on Atlantis.  Elizabeth shows amazing strength in the face of both blindsides.  I particularly love her standing up to the boys in the conference room and telling them, in no uncertain terms, that there will be hell to pay if any attempt is made to force her out.  Through most of the show’s first season, she is shown as diplomatic and given to compromise but here, finally, we are offered a glimpse of the take-no-shit, won’t-back-down attitude that no doubt won her the position of Commander of the Atlantis expedition.

Some memorable lines in this one:

“Airperson, don’t be there.” (ad-libbed by David Hewlett).  A not-so-subtle Rodney telling a member of the Daedalus crew to move it.

“Ten fingers, ten toes.  I’ll check the rest later.” (written by my writing partner, Paul).  Sheppard’s response the second he is beamed back on board – presumably in one piece.

“Crap indeed.”  (This one’s mine).  Hermiod agreeing with the dire assessment of their situation.

And you?  What were your high (and low) points of the first two episodes of Atlantis’s second season?

21 thoughts on “June 26, 2012: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Resuming our trip down SGA memory lane as we reflect back on the show’s second season! Siege III! Intruder!

  1. G’day Joe

    Highlights for season 2, the shoulders and butt of Colonel Caldwell. Hubba hubba, finally got some spunkage into Atlantis…
    Low points…McKay, sorry did not like him at all.

  2. I’m currently rewatching the entire series in order again. I have actually lost count on how many times I’ve done this. Currently on season 6 and excited to get back to Atlantis as its been awhile since I’ve watched it. I don’t need cable when I move out this fall as I can just watch Stargate. I’m also watching Farscape at the same time. It’s so weird watching Claudia and Ben in those roles as I’m so used to their Stargate characters.

  3. @Joe:

    After I came back from Vancouver, my kids got me SGA on Bluray for father’s day, so travel aside, I’ve been watching along with you. I have to agree, Mark Savela’s CG work with the darts impacting the shield were incredible…especially on Bluray.

    “Crap indeed.” (This one’s mine). Hermiod agreeing with the dire assessment of their situation.

    I really enjoyed this. Were you also the one responsible for Hermiod (presumably) cussing to himself in “Asgardian”? I also loved the awkwardness of the Hermiod/Novak interchanges…although I kept expecting her hiccup 😉

  4. What was the point in making Ford more interesting just so you can write him off the show? I agree that the character wasn’t standing out that much, and when he was altered at the start of season 2 I was excited because I thought that would be a cool character to keep around, not appear randomly in 3 more episodes and then never heard from again. If you wanted to get rid of him, I would have preferred him going out in a heroic death saving the city or something like that. I’m sorry but “reinvent the character and give him a bit of a darker edge” seems kinda pointless if he’s not going to be around anymore…

  5. McKay with gun in The Siege 3, “You want some of this!?” Then he drops the bullets. Seige 3 kept the action coming fast and furious. I liked Colonel Everett. Wished he could have stayed around longer. Poor Ford! But a much more interesting Ford! Nice hug from Weir to Sheppard. Loved this season opener episode. Nothing but highs.

  6. “Of course, whether losing that sense of isolation established in season one was necessarily a good thing – well, that’s up for debate.”

    I think I would have liked to have it continue (the sense of isolation, that is) for a lot longer. After all the hooplah about “this could be a one-way trip”, it seemed way too quick for me. Still, I loved The Siege III. “Crap, indeed” was brilliant! Loved Rodney throughout the series, he was my absolute favorite character in SGA. Can’t wait for you to get to the “Rodney episodes”.

    The rain has finally slowed down here, although there’s mud everywhere and quite a few roads closed. We did better than other parts of Florida, anyway. Two blocks from my son’s house in Tampa, they found a dead mother manattee with two calves. Apparently, the calves survived and were rescued. My son’s house was ok, but he’s right by the bay, and that whole area was under water. Hurricane season goes on for a couple of months, too.

    Have a good night, everybody!

  7. Hermiod must have met Teal’C somewhere along the way. Mark Savela & crew are amazing and continued to be through SGU. And have you seen some of the Echoes trailer? Not the SGA episode Echoes, but the show he and Ken put together? I have to remember back without the benefit of watching it before commenting, but isn’t this the episode where Sheppard sees the “naked” Hermiod for the first time? That was funny. I adored Mitch in XFiles so it was good to see him again. And I was heartbroken for Weir when she found out she had been replaced in her lover’s heart. As much as I loved Rainbow’s performance, I agree with your reasoning. He did not really fit in the team dynamics and Jason wound up being a much better fit. You needed a ‘Teal’C-like” character and Ronan was it. I’ll see about rewatching it and tell you more about my favorite parts, but I think I got a lot of it down.

  8. Eh, start with the lows:
    – Col Everett is improved, but not enough to erase the total jerk impression. Why did O’Neil send this guy?
    – McKay’s gun gag. Good grief.
    – Weir’s flashback dress. (Did Tori offend Wardrobe?)
    -Simon. Er, how long was Liz staying before he ‘fessed up?
    – Shepherd picking that moment to search for Ford.
    – Shepherd still not contacting family when he has the chance.

    – All the fx. Just gorgeous!
    – Snarky Asgard. Genius.
    – “Shall I inform the Wraith you are unavailable to fight?” Hee!
    – Shepherd does visit Ford’s family. (Now if he could spare a thought for his own…)
    -“You have to protect me with your lives… er, the ZPM…which means me…”

    And a question: Caldwell seems to be gunning for Shepherd’s job – they talk about replacing him as the military commander. Did a line get cut, or have I always misunderstood that?

  9. Thanks for doing the retrospective. Love your posts!

    I remember watching SGA season 1 every single week when it came out in Australia. Got to the far end of season 1 and suddenly the local broadcaster stopped (played a special show on Michael Jackson from parts 1 to something like 8 instead). 8 weeks later SGA was back on the TV guide.. Stay up until 11pm on a Thursday night (I was like 12 back then).. Then the terrible london bombings occured so it switched to the live CNN feed that day. Frustrating.

    Anyway, loved the build up of Siege Pt 1/2. Waited for what seems like an eternity then one day I learnt the new season of Atlantis is out so I go down to a friends house who’s got the episodes and burn a DVD full of the first 3 or 4. I LOVED IT. Every week I used to go down and get the latest episode from my friend. It was my #1 favourite show. So awesome.


    Best episodes that come straight to mind:

    Seige part 3. (great everything and very beautiful cgi too)

    Duet – ONE OF THE FUNNIEST EPISODES EVER. As the audience we understood not every episode can be expensive action packed, CGI-heavy epics – you need cheap episodes. We had a rule of thumb, every 3rd episode moves the overall story along (surprisingly good rule: 2 fillers then 1 story ep).

    SG1 was full of non-that-great filler episodes in SGA (once you guys realised how cool McKay and were able to incorporate that into the story) there was a new kind of filler. The McKay filler. Whole story based around McKay. Sooooo great!! Soo funny. That’s why duet is an awesome ep.

    Trinity (love ancient tech, great cgi too haha)

    Aurora (like I said I love ancient tech and real life ancients)

    Inferno was pretty good too. (more ancient tech!!)

    Worst episodes:
    The Tower (I wrote about this in the gateworld forums.. at length.)
    The long goodbye wasn’t that good either.

    Don’t get me started on The Tower. Cloning Atlantis and never mentioning it again 🙁 At least if it was built by the Atlantis Replicators that would be ok, but this was way before they were introduced.. Not a fan at all of that ep.

    Great season overall though. Season 1,2,3,4 is amazing of SGA. Season 5 had a few great eps (Daedalus variations, mid season 2-parters. last 2 eps) but season 2/3 are the greatest Atlantis imo. Where it hit it’s stride.

  10. Well, of course the arrival of support from Earth kinda ruined how totally awesome the Wraith could have been. In my alternative universe (which exists only in the shadows of my mind, since I don’t write fan fic and I don’t have time to think up a full-blown storyline), Atlantis would have remained isolated. I think the whole struggle for survival idea would have been much stronger this way (and it’s one of the elements I enjoyed later in Universe). I would have liked to see Atlantis become refuge for Pegasus…ians?…who were looking to escape the Wraith. It would have made Atlantis a real city, instead of just a military base-cum-science lab. Eventually the Earth-folk would have discovered an Ancient ship (mebbe even two), and instead of manning it with other Earth-folk, various Pegasus…ians… would have become its tender crew. Wraith would have control of the greater part of the galaxy and the humans that lived under their control, while little Atlantis defended the few planets that lay…lie…that exist outside of ‘Wraith space’. These planets and their inhabitants would have been better developed, too, so that the audience could feel a connection to them.

    Meanwhile, the people who live in Wraith space do so both out of necessity as well as for selfish gain. Thieves, mauraders, dictator sorts, villains – all battling for some sort of wealth or power while struggling for survival under the ever-menacing shadows of hive ships. There would also be innocents – slaves and ordinary folk who have no choice in the matter – and in some cases these ‘innocents’ would have to cross lines they never dreamed of in order to survive, even if it means making deals with pallid, long-locked devils. 😉 I just think it would have mixed things up a bit and added a wider variety of villains – both in black and white as well as in shades of gray,

    That really didn’t answer your question, did it? 😛


  11. The isolation issue. Liked having Daedalus available, but it definitely cut into the tension and uncertainty of keeping Atlantis totally isolated. Without the added resources from Earth though, we would have lost out on a lot of good storylines. How many good ones we might have had, of course we cannot tell. So, I am content with the way things went.
    Lots of high points in the episodes. Watching Daedalus score some real blows against the Hive ships was fun, but the Wraith adaptability is definitely something to be concerned about. This is strengthened when Intruder shows them able to corrupt computer systems they have barely been exposed to. And among the many fun moments in that episode; Rodney’s face lighting up when he thought for a fleeting moment he might get to fly the fighter, only to be swatted down. So Charlie Brown…and the whole episode was a fantastic ratcheting up of tension, as solution after solution fails, and the threat to life increases. How you found the time for the flashbacks on the Earth visits is beyond me.
    @ Janet. Yes, Caldwell’s addition to the crew definitely spiked up the delicious factor. I’ve always been a sucker for slightly older men, especially with rugged good looks.

  12. The most standout moment of Siege III was the Weir/Sheppard hug and the awkward few seconds afterward. So moving and such foreshadowing of what could have been a great relationship. Why oh why didn’t you pursue that?

    The Intruder seemed to set up a Sheppard/Weir/Caldwell conflict that fizzled way too soon. I love Mitch and would like to have seen what he could do with the character being more of a bastard.

    Great 2 episodes though and a super start to the season.

  13. As a colonel that is the rank of a base commander so I could see where Col. Caldwell would want the position of expedition commander, not as a subordinate for base security. I would have thought Caldwell’s response to her accusation on the Daedalus might have been, “I am in charge of the biggest baddest ship in the Milkway, I don’t need to be in charge of sniveling scientist.” Followed by McKay walking by making one of his “mountain out a mole hill” complaints.
    Asgaard with Attitude-Hermiod, I liked it. I am most shouted “Yes” when McKay realized he was not the smartest creature on the ship. It was almost like that moment with Kensey and (Supreme Commander) Thor confrontation.
    I agree that we are able to see some command qualities and back bone from Weir in the conference room. Some time a good negotiator must know when to say “NO” and willing to pull away. That is not to say the Air Force officers’ opinion of about command choices were out of line and her choice seemed to be based more on emotion than evaluation. But I like Joe, and his character stepped up from the “Hawkeye-from M.A.S.H.” caricature. That is why I liked his Dirty Harry moments with the Wraith. The confrontation of Military needs and Civilian command never came to an end. There were many moments of tension between the factions to come.
    I came to appreciate the evolution of Col Everett’s by the end of the SiegIII. His stopping on feet was reminiscent of Patton (the movie) taking charge of II Corps after Battle of Kasserine Pass, but in a overly (too) arrogant display. He ended up as a commander in battle and working with his men.

  14. There was one thing I didn’t understand in Siege III. How could Ford escape with a jumper? In Hot Zone it was said that he didn’t have the ATA gene, and presumably didn’t try to get it than because it would have been too late anyway if they didn’t kill the nanites. Jumpers could only be flown by gene carriers, that was mentioned later too when they wanted to test Lucius’ new gene with a jumper.

  15. I love Intruder for the McKay-Sheppard interaction. The bit in the hanger never fails to crack me up. And Sheppard and Hermiod were priceless! “Why is he naked?” 😀

    I have to admit, I was never a big fan of the Ford storyline from this point on (well, except in Runner where he’s cranky at McKay), so I guess that’s a low.

  16. “Ten fingers, ten toes. I’ll check the rest later.” I love that line.

    Duet was the funniest episode of the entire SGA run. Awesome!

    My favorite episode of season 3 is called Common Ground. Loved the twist.

  17. Enjoying your trip down memory lane! Although McKay is one of my favorite characters, I really felt, towards the end, you were relying on him far too much. A little McKay spice goes a looooong way. It got to be a bit overkill. I did like Super Ford and wished he could have come back periodically to pester the expedition. And loved Sheppard’s reaction to Hermiod!

  18. Been awhile since I read your blog, but once I started reading yesterday John Scalzi’s latest book, Redshirts, it’s hard not to think of you, especially since he dedicates the book to you, along with Brad Wright, Wil Wheaton, and Mykal Burns. The dedication page can be found at Google Books, fifth page in.

  19. Speaking about McKay, I would say it’s his personality that won people over, he has no physical qualitys, nor would he be any good in a fight really against Wraith or anyone, doesn’t have a huge amount of friends but despite his flaws is very intelligent and manages to save everyone when they really need him.

    And speaking about Ford, his actions were reasonable. It was clear he was in some ways scared about what was happening to him, and more so that no one had any answers for him. Seemed to just accept his situation as it couldn’t be changed.

    And lastly, this has to be one of the best songs to come out of Japan Joe, it’s from Macross Frontier and is called Seikan Hikou, song is by Ranka Lees voice actress and heard various times throughout the series and is one of the openings. It’s so happy lol.

    You can see why it has 738,229 views on Youtube

  20. Don’t really remember any low points, but high points…

    1) Mitch Pileggi (Col. Caldwell is one of my Favorite Atlantis guys)

    2) Asgard (Yea!)

  21. Do you recall the name of the actress who portrayed the unlucky “airperson” who got yelled at?

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