Lately, I’ve been so stressed out that I spend most of my days in a lightheaded haze.  It’s a feeling akin to the extended buzz of three Jagermeister shots.  Not wholly unpleasant but certainly very weird.  I haven’t been this wound up since that time I worked at the circus. Well, it wasn’t literally a circus but there WERE a bunch of clowns, a couple of pinheads, and a whole lot of shit that constantly needed shoveling.  In this case, it isn’t work-related.  I kind of wish it were because then, at least, I’d have a writing partner to shoulder some of the burden.  Or, at the very least, listen to my complaints.

Whenever I’m like this, the slightest thing can set me off so, really, it’s best for all involved if I just hibernate for the next little while. Shopping is always a bad idea because i have no patience for people. Especially people who work customer service.  Hey, it’s not as if I don’t have reason to gripe.  Just a word of advice: If I’m standing in front of you ready to make a purchase, don’t serve the woman who just strolled over and inquired about the zucchini – and then don’t follow up by serving the guy that came AFTER her.  Don’t look so offended when I put down your tomatoes, walk away, and don’t bother acknowledging your calls to come back.  My threshold for bullshit is at an all time low.

On the bright side, this sort of mood is conducive to writing – particularly horror.  The rewrite on the feature script is al-most done. I’d just like to come up with one more creepy chase sequence  and then send it on its way.  And, once it’s in my agents’ hands, it’ll be smooooooooooooooooth sailing.

I need to relax.  Some things that help:

My dogs.
My girlfriend.

Comedy
A good read.
A massage.

Dessert.
Dessert.
Dessert.

A late friend of mine used to have a saying…that I, unfortunately, can’t repeat without getting myself into all sorts of trouble.  But, boy, do those words sing to me now.

Okay.  Forget I mentioned it.

Oh, yeah.  Another things that helps relieve the stress is doing this blog.

Now, in our last Memory Lane installment, we touched on two of season 2’s best (Runner and Duet).  Today, we touch on what I felt were a couple of middle-of-the-pack entries:

CONDEMNED (205)

The original pitch for this episode saw the team encountering a civilization that used clones to keep the wraith fed and at bay. Eventually, the story evolved.  The clones were out and prisoners were in.  All in all, an interesting premise and, while the episode did have its moments, it never quite reaches the heights of the two that preceded it.

One pet peeve: The character of Eldon, the “brilliant one”, comes off as oddly goofy, borderline simple.

But, I did say the episode had its moments.  Namely: that dinner conversation between the Magistrate and the wraith and, later, Weir playing the role of diplomat AND hard-ass Commander when push comes to shove.  It’s nice to see both sides of her.

TRINITY (106)

What can I say?  I can never ever remember the name of this episode. Not even after having just watched it.  Or even after searching it out online for a photo to accompany this write-up.  The second I close the window it’s gone.  Trinity.  Trinity!  Right.  Maybe the problem is the title is only connected to the episode in the most esoteric of ways.  See, Trinity is a reference to the code name of the first nuclear test and, in this episode, McKay is working on something of a parallel nature as he attempts to harness an incredible power source.  Clever?  Cryptic? Both?

At the heart of this episode is the relationship between Sheppard and McKay, a friendship tested by the Rodney’s single-minded determination to succeed where the Ancients failed.  In theory, a great idea but, for me, the clash between them never attains the emotional punch one would expect.  Rodney’s a jerk, there’s some sniping and, by episode’s end, it’s all settled easily enough.  Sure, there’s the suggestion that McKay has crossed the line, that there may be repercussions for his actions, but they never materialize and on we go.

Most memorable moment for all the wrong reasons: At the end of the episode, Weir dresses down McKay for destroying 3/4 of a solar system. He responds: “Well, 5/6th.  It’s not an exact science.”  What, exactly, is his point here?  It would seem that, in typical Rodney fashion, he’s trying to downplay the damage.  Except that 5/6 is actually bigger than 3/4.  Is he simply not a math guy?

The B story involving Ronon’s revenge on his former Satedan taskmaster, is totally disconnected from the A story and feels too quick and neat.  Ronon discovers an old comrade, finds out there were survivors of the attack on his home planet, kills a traitor – and we’re done.

One thing I remember from this episode is the tavern scene in which a soused Ronon and Solen get caught up.  The Solen character is drunk. Ridiculously so.  Apparently, Marty G. was on set when they were shooting the scene and, after the first take, suggested they tone down the over-the-top drunken revelry.  It was a little (A LOT) big.  All were in agreement and, as they prepared to go again, Martin headed back up to the office.  As the door shut behind him, he heard director Martin Wood: “Here we go again!  Remember.  REALLLY DRUNK!  And – ACTION!”

32 thoughts on “June 28, 2012: Stress-busters! Days of Stargate: Atlantis Past! Condemned!

  1. I think it’s that time of year. I’ve been stressed myself for different reasons. Now, though, you’ve made me want some chocolate ice cream.:) I don’t remember too much about those Atlantis episodes. I guess they didn’t make that much of an impression. Well, the solar system part did, but only because it was mentioned in later eps.

    Have a great night!!
    Lisa R

  2. Joe, I thought Trinity packed some very strong emotional punches. If I’m remembering it correctly, I thought the scenes with McKay saying “I’m right and you can’t question me because I’m smart and you’re not!” were realistic and very insightful into McKay’s sense of isolation as a lone genius. I remember thinking, this is what he must feel like all the time, but he feels compelled to supress it (though not very effectively) for the sake of social norms.

    Then when he ends up being wrong, I felt like Weir’s dressing down would have been nothing to him, compared to his own internal self-doubt. Great tv drama!

  3. I hope you’re able to get your horror script done soon; it sounds like you need a vacation. Aren’t Vegas and San Diego (ComicCon) coming up in July?

    On Trinity…not my favorite episode. McKay’s manic/bi-polar obsession to get the ancient vacuum energy device working (which could be argued IS part of his character), is just one step too close to real word bi-polar behavior that I’ve had to deal with. Not fun.

    At least I get to see Jewel Staite as a wraith in the next episode…

  4. I love smoooooooth sailing..yes, right.. I hope you have found your happy happy place and that the crap is over and done for the day, I like your relaxing options, and that you did not choose to go hide under a rock or something equally not as fun. Uh, the creepy chase scene,,maybe eat all the food you showed in the pictures(in large quantities)(add some WFOTD) and you will have some mares to draw from. Better day tomorrow, sleep well.

  5. Then naturally, you should view the positives such as what you’ve just said Joe, once you’ve finished your writing things will be smooth sailing. Think of the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Anyway speaking of your Shop point, I would say when there’s a big queue of people with only 1 person serving. The rest of the staff either standing around, or doing other stuff, making you think hey, if someone else thought to serve customers this queue would go down quicker and I can finally get out of here. Not that I don’t mind waiting, it’s the principle of it if anything.

    On the Atlantis subject. Condemned was pretty good. Always did love the end of this episode. You know the karma thing. What goes around comes around and the Magistrate had a nice surprise.

  6. @ Susan Bowden – Yeah, I agee. The isolation opened the way for more innovation as the team found new ways to live and survive and fight. Alas, it was not to be, but we did at least get a bit of it in Universe, though I never liked the use of the stones in that one. In some ways the reliance on earth was a bit of a crutch, imho. I would have preferred to see what the team could do without that crutch.

    @ Tam Dixon – I have yet to read Cold Vengeance. Personally, I prefer Pendergast when he’s less than human…lol. The weirder, the better. 🙂 If you go to Preston and Child’s facebook page (or their website), you may be able to get the link that will allow you to start reading the first act of the new book, which they will be offering on line through that link only. I haven’t read it yet, of course, seeing as how I still have to read CV. 😛 Almost done my friend’s book, The Prodigal. I’m getting to the ‘I can’t put it down’ stage. I know the story since I read her rough drafts, but I’m still on the edge of my seat! Once I’m done, I have a Zenith the Albino story to read, then I’ll be cracking open Cold Vengeance. Woo! 🙂

    Joe – Condemned is one of my top 5 favorite episodes. Some funny lines, yes, some action, yes, and some good character moments, yes. But the very best part of the episode was, of course, Shawn the Wraith (not sure who named him, but that’s what he’s called in the Defenders circle). Though his scene was short, we learned some interesting things about Wraith:

    1. They can eat regular food, but it does not sustain them.
    2. They swallow like pelicans.
    3. They drool.

    Okay, okay, we learned a lot more than that (such as some insights into hibernation and that Wraith look sexy hawt cupping a glass of wine in their hand), but I’m tired and beyond deep thinking. It’s just comforting to me knowing that Shawn the Wraith is still out there cruising the galaxy and dining at Michelin star restaurants, or – better yet – on Michelin star chefs. 😉

    das

  7. Sorry you’re stressed. Maybe it’s because all the nut jobs angry at our Supreme Court’s decision today are threatening to move to Canada (where incidentally there is actual government-run health care)? I’d be worried too!

    I’ll never forget the episode named “Trinity”. It spawned a whole sub-genre of fan-fic called ‘post-Trinity’ fic, in which Rodney is shunned by John and/or all of Atlantis crew for his behavior, mistakes, and hubris. The worst of the shunning may include the mess serving him lemon chicken, on purpose! In these stories, Rodney suffers intensely and/or is sent away and/or leaves on his own, for example, to China. Then something horrible happens and/or everyone realizes they are being too mean, so they start to feel guilty and finally apologize and accept Rodney back. Sometimes he tells them to eff off. In McShep slash stories, John and Rodney of course realize their true feelings. Oh look, there’s a fan lore wiki entry about this genre! Complete with a link to all the fan fics, rated from 1 – 10 lemon chickens based on angst level. Awesome!

    I completely agree Rodney should have been chastened when talking to Elizabeth, not still minimizing what happened or correcting the fraction of a solar system destroyed (ha). I heard that was ad-lib by David and Torri? The John/Rodney moments were awesome all the way through however.

  8. Well, I’m not a fan of Condemned. It’s not that memorable for me. Trinity was because it tested relationships. I think I would have liked to have seen more of the aftermath of the failed ancient experiment. It seems like Rodney would have had a crisis of confidence…at least in a degree where it might have affected his work. Maybe if someone had died as a result of that solar system exploding it might have had greater emotional impact with Weir coming down on him and Shep’s avoiding him. It’s a good episode, IMO. I just think it could have been taken farther.

  9. Aw, I love Trinity, but maybe because I’m willing to see the tension as more than what is explicit in the episode? I imagine it did damage their friendship for a bit, and I love seeing the humanness of McKay when he’s knocked down a peg or two, unable to solve the Ancients problem. At the same time, I am far more inclined toward Rodney than the Ancients, and while he’s arrogant, I think he was also right. And he and Sheppard geeking out over the weapon is always funny.

    Sorry to hear you’ve been stressed!

  10. I liked Condemned. It was not a spectacular episode, but it was not bad. I loved it when Teyla broke that branch on her leg and Sheppard tried to do the same thing and couldn’t. I liked that look on the evil Magistrate’s face when the wraith were coming for him. He got his just desserts.

    I remembered Trinity for that big gun, and McKay getting griped out for almost punching a whole in the universe. The B story was good (of course). Glad to see Ronon still had some of his people around when he thought they were all dead. When he killed that old military foe, that was surprising.
    “Martin (Gero) headed back up to the office. As the door shut behind him, he heard director Martin Wood: “Here we go again! Remember. REALLLY DRUNK! And – ACTION!” That’s pretty funny!

    Joe, I’m right there with you in the stress line. A couple weeks ago my elderly mom fractured a vertebra in her back just getting out of a chair. Now she is in bed. Both my parents are 87. And at work we are so short staffed, and have been for a few years, I am doing at least 2 full time jobs. Haven’t had a week off in 6 years! Top it off with a new company takeover and job eliminations, I work 10 hour days easily. Then after work I go to my parents house for a few hours each day to make sure they eat dinner. On weekends I spend each day at their house cooking enough for a week and doing their laundry. Thank God they have a cleaning lady. Then I drag my butt home each night. When I am super stressed, I can’t eat. So I’m losing weight. (That’s a good thing) And I get very grumpy at work. I hope your mom is okay.

  11. The “little” thing that I enjoyed most in CONDEMNED, was in the “background”… Check out the scene where THE GANG are in the Guest Quarters of the City – whilst important “discussion” is going on in the Foreground, in the back of the room Ronon & Teyla are checking out the place – WHEN you see Ronon packing away some nuts or whatever food into pockets like some Squirrel!! — It’s hilarious! 😀

  12. Joey, if it makes you feel any better, it’s going to be over 90 with high humidity tomorrow, and we’re down to one mechanic who’s been working 16 hour days because our other mechanic (the main guy) is off on vacation that he doesn’t even ask to take, he just tells us he’s taking off (hands tied – as I said before, it’s near impossible to find a good refrig mechanic, and the guy is good – otherwise, we would have fired his ass years ago). On top of that, something just bit my foot and it’s itching like hell, I have to replace the compressor in my car ($700-$1000 that I do not have), I just realized it’s the end of the month and I have to pay bills with money I do not have, I really need to clean the house but just haven’t had time, the cat peed on the garage floor, I have a Scutigera coleoptrata the size of a field mouse living in my house and it keeps scaring the crap out of me, I think I gained about 10 pounds over the past week, and on top of it all I’m going to be half a friggin’ century in a few days (no well wishes, I do not celebrate such a catastrophe!!!). There’s more – but that’s just the highlights.

    Now, regarding my ‘pet’ Scutigera coleoptrata…otherwise known as a house centipede. Pretty sure it’s coming up from the crawl space. We’ve had them before, and we just catch them and put them outside (they can sting/bite, so must be careful). I was going to catch this leggy bugger (if possible) and relocate it, however, I have since learned that such critters are insectivores that feed on other house pests, such as ants, silverfish, and spiders! Lesser of two evils, perhaps??

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mJbzpgbdkM

    😛

    das

  13. I was going to mention the vast amount of Rodney angst fic (which I hate, by the way) spawned by Trinity, but michelle beat me to it. A very influential episode for fandom, at any rate. I liked the tension between Rodney and John and felt it very realistic for Rodney’s character that he’d get carried away by his arrogance. And the militiary hunger for more and better weapons was fed by his promises. It seemed like a great commentary on real life to me.

    I loved Condemned because the team in collars? Also spawned a lot of fic…
    And that bit with Sheppard and the stick was pure gold.

  14. Can’t fault your means of relaxing(well, Akemi’s doen’t do anything for me, but I get it that a close relationship helps defuse things). The other great stress relief for me is hitting the road. Even a couple of hours on the road helps me loosen up, and let’s my blood pressure come down especially if it’s on roads I have not been on. If I go far enough to spend a night or two out of town, even better.
    I agree on Condemned. Not a terrible episode, but one that is sort of bland. Like most other Atlantis episodes, it has moments that raise the overall quality, but it suffers in comparison to other episodes.
    I disagree on Trinity. While in SGA 1 we were used to Rodney being wrong, in season 1 he more often stepped up Carter fashion to save the day. Here, we see him at his worst, clinging to his certainty he can handle the situation, even in the face of death. Had Sheppard not been physically there, I wonder if McKay might not have hesitated too long.
    Another point of this episode is that the Ancients got things wrong in a big way. And that for all of the abilities of our heroes to grasp their technology, there are limits to how far humans can go using, adapting, or improving that technology. And finally, maybe there are no repercussions in later episodes, but the final Sheppard/McKay scene is a big emotional one. Rodney humbles himself, explicitly making it clear how much he values Sheppard’s friendship. And the fade of his relieved smile to the realization Sheppard has not in fact forgiven him yet carries a nice emotional punch.
    Ok up at a ridiculous hour and have to go in early to work. Outa here, and looking forward to the next installment tomorrow.

  15. @DAS

    Happy Past-The-Point-Of-No-Return-Day, you YOUNGSTER!! ;-D Frak! My *PHONE NUMBER* is older than You are!!

    — BTW, You should do what I did back “THEN”… Head WEST a Time Zone or 3 just before. That way you’ll be Those-Hours LESS of Your “new” Age! 😀 I did it at my 40th too! Went to Vancouver both times… Think I’ll try Hawaii for my 60th!

    Oh, and replace the CREEPY BUG with a DRAGONFLY! Nicer looking and they go for the mosquitos! Get a Gecko for the ground critters…

  16. I hate rudeness like that too. I came across a customer service person the other week who you would have have liked. Someone came up to ask a question while she was serving a customer. She smiled and answered politely, “I’m serving this gentleman at the moment, would you mind joining the end of the queue?” That’s the way it should be done.

    As for Trinity, ITA agree about the Ronon scene. It deserved an episode of its own. To simply end it there, and pay scant regard to it every again was a waste of a good story line, and dare I say it, a little insulting to the viewer. As for the main thrust of the episode. For me it was a turning point in the relationship between McKay and Sheppard. Both men knew afterwards that McKay wasn’t infallible. And McKay realised, perhaps for the first time, how much Sheppard’s respect meant to him. However, I can’t say it was my favourite episode either.

  17. Damn, I did not need the phrase “McShep slash stories” in my head. Come on short term memory failure.

  18. I agree that Condemned was a middling episode, but I thought Trinity was great. Of course for a long-running show (though still cut a season or two short!), the relationships between the main characters are important, maybe even centric. But for me, I found as always, the Ancient technology concepts one of the more interesting aspects of the whole show, and the Atlantis team’s attempts to understand and utilise it always made for the more interesting episodes.

  19. Cheer up Joe! It’s Friday! Not that you’re a 9-5er, but it’s STILL Friday!

    If it makes you feel any better, I’m soaking wet today because I left the top down on my Jeep last night, and we had a flash thunderstorm and hail this morning at 4:30AM.

    So, not only did I wake up an hour early to run out to try to put the top up, get soaked and pelted with hail, I got to drive to work this morning in a Jeep with 3″ of water on the floor and soaking wet seats. Which makes for a soaking wet me. Even after sitting on two towels.

    I pulled the floor plugs and re-lowered the top in hopes it will dry out during the sweltering 100* heat today.

    Happy Friday!

  20. So sorry that you are stressed out Joe. Here’s a cute and heartwarming pug video that hopefully will relieve your stress. Or it could make it worse if the song stays in your head for a week like it did to me.

  21. I got a saying. It takes two to tango. It only takes one asshole to kick my legs out from under me while I’m dancing. That guy loves that people say “it takes two to tango”.

  22. The Wraith feeding on clones mention always made me wonder what would happen if the Wraith got their hands on an Asgard. Considering cloned Asgard don’t seem to age in the sense that they grow old, would they even get any nutritional value from it? And if they did, could cloning offer the Wraith a steady food source without having to reap the galaxy like they have.

    Which…made me think of another question, We’ve seen the Wraith feed on other Wraith if necessary. We know the Wraith had that cloning facility in the last season. Instead of producing more ‘mouths to feed’, was any consideration given to them cloning more food?

  23. Sounds like you are working too hard! What is that Japanese word for “working yourself to death”?

    So did you get in trouble for listing the dogs ahead of Akemi? Rookie mistake 😉 .

    Those desserts would cheer me up too!

    Thanks for the SGA memories!

    Das: Pendergast is definitely more flawed but I like that in a “hero”. He’s still unstoppable though!

  24. Hi Joe,
    Chocolate, dogs, a swell girlfriend for helping to reduce stress, not necessarily in at order. Very Nice.

    Oddly I do not remember seeing this episode on TV, butI liked Condemned. Thanks for DVDs, I enjoyed watching the characters. It appeared Sheppard like one in particular too. As the group is being lead down the hall by the secretary to see the Magistrate I could see him checking her out. Maybe he was amazed to see her walking so fast in the tight dress. A disappointing aspect of the show was the secretary did not survive. I do not recall her being in any other episodes as a different character either, oh well.

    This episode provided a lot of back story into the wraith worship and the morality of “feeding the Allegator.” This is an episode that foreshadows one to come in which I disagree vehemently with a closing line of Weir.

    I liked Trinity as we see the McKay must deal with his infallibility. We also see that his faith in himself is greater than the science he purports to hold as he so willingly rejects Radick’s warning. I also see Sheppard being faithful to his team members. Sorry I did not pick up on the episode’s title, but good choice. In Rodney’s comment about how much was destroyed, is his means of show himself superior to others by always trying to be right, self therapy in trying to repair his ego. At least that is how I interrupted it.

  25. @ Ganymede – I gots a week of youth left! Don’t rush it! 😉

    @ Thunder – Awwwww! I love the pug video! It made me tear up at the end, though. Damn those Irish and their ballads!!! 😛

    @ Tam Dixon – Oh, flawed is good! I thought you meant that he was less eccentric. I just love all his strange little ways and habits and would hate to see him lose those elements of his personality. I don’t like a perfect hero, and in past books Pendergast has admitted to his mistakes. I always love a guy who beats himself up a bit over real or imagined errors in judgment.

    das

  26. PS: To my last comment…’I always love a guy who beats himself up a bit over real or imagined errors in judgment’…unless I’m married to him!!! I mean, there’s only so much lamenting and ‘shoulda, coulda, wouldas’ a person can take!

    das

  27. Das: We are the same age! My birthday is soon also but I prefer to spin it. Five decades, or maybe 1/20th of a millennium? Those sound better than I’m going to be half a friggin’ century in a few days. I hope your life gets less stressful soon!

    Ponytail: Sending {hugs} and I hope your mom feels better soon.

  28. @Thunder:

    Nothing helps you recover from a “Mind Virus” like spreading it, huh 😉

    Now I’m trying to design digital circuits while I “Bouncing and Trouncing…” going through my head! Shoulda never clicked that link…

  29. @ Tam Dixon – Oh, my life will never get ‘less stressful’. It’s my personality. I stress over every. thing. I’m a worrywart. 😛 (Which, to some people, is still better than being a tramp, or …ya know… a teamster. 😉 )

    However, I do have some ways of dealing with stress…namely, a few squares of dark chocolate with a glass of wine, gardening (until I find a spider, that is!), a mid-afternoon nap, or a 5-hour marathon of the Pride and Prejudice miniseries. All of those things put me in a happy place. (You payin’ ‘ttention, Joey? Start sending the chocolate!! 😉 )

    das

  30. Hi Joe,
    Last time I hung out with Louis F we found this book at an Urban Outfitters store:

    Dear Asshole: 101 Tear-Out Letters to the Morons Who Muck Up Your Life
    (http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Asshole-Tear-Out-Letters-Morons/dp/0762442867 )

    “Ever wish you could leave a nasty note for that jerk in the Hummer who blocked you in, or the idiot who didn’t clean up after his dog? Now you can! Dear Asshole includes 101 letters to all of the assholes you encounter on a daily basis, each letter conveniently perforated so you can tear it out and give it to the desired offender. Whether it’s the asshole landlord, the asshole cheapskate, the asshole backseat driver, or the asshole with the Bluetooth, you will surely never leave home without this humorous and useful book ever again!”

    We laughed ourselves silly over it, but it was SO TRUE!! Of course Louis had to get it and I’m sure he’s busy handing out those letters.

    I highly recommend it.

    And perhaps some Yoga.

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