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Recap / Stargate Atlantis S01 E01E02 "Rising"

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Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2

Rising

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"I just sat down." —Major John Sheppard

All living things must eat.
Wraith Caretaker
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At the SGC's Antarctic research site, where most people seem to be concerned with getting the furniture to glow, Daniel Jackson has just found the fabled Lost City of the Ancients. It's in another galaxy! (Which is why they haven't been able to find it before). While Daniel persuades O'Neill to authorize the use of Earth's ZPM to power the gate to make the journey, the rest of the cast discovers that O'Neill's pilot, Major John Sheppard, can make the furniture glow — that is, use Ancient technology — better than anybody else. This makes him a must-have for the mission, even though he only heard about the Stargate this morning.

Heading the risky one-way mission into the unknown is civilian Dr. Elizabeth Weir, who had replaced General Hammond at the SGC, and was given Antarctica as a concession prize when she stepped down in favor of General O'Neill. Under her are Colonel Marshall Sumner, USMC, and Dr. Rodney McKay. And a lot of other people who may become relevant. When the MALP reports breathable air, and after being repeatedly warned that this is a one-way trip, they all step through the gate into darkness.

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As it turns out, the Lost City of Atlantis is surprisingly well-preserved. And it seems to like them, since it starts turning on lights everywhere. And it's under water! These last two turn out to be a major problem, as McKay soon discovers that the city is almost out of power, and the effort of keeping them alive is weakening the force fields holding back the sea. Even worse, an Ancient recording reveals that the city was ultimately abandoned by the Ancients and sunk for safekeeping after they had their butts handed to them by a sinister alien race just as powerful as they were. Well, crap.

The power issues, however, are the more immediate concern. Colonel Sumner leads a team through the Stargate looking for any help that might be found locally — that is, in this galaxy. True to their Stargate heritage, they find themselves on a world that looks suspiciously like British Columbia. Sheppard befriends the local people, especially a woman named Teyla, who tells him about a sinister alien race called the Wraith, who have periodically abducted and/or massacred people throughout their history. In the morning, they discover a nearby Ancient city, where they hope they might find a replacement ZPM. Teyla warns Sumner that if anyone enters the city, the Wraith will come. Naturally, they explore the city anyway. And the Wraith come.

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The Wraith zoom around and teleport up a bunch of people, including Teyla and Sumner, before retreating through the gate. Luckily, another member of the team, Lieutenant Ford, manages to catch six out of the seven symbols in the gate address. Ford and Sheppard evacuate the remaining natives, whose village has been utterly destroyed, through the gate to Atlantis. This is the last straw for the failing ZPM, and the force fields collapse, drowning the city forever.

Haha, no. When the force fields no longer have the power to hold back the sea, instead of everybody dying, the city suddenly returns to the surface, where the inhabitants encounter sunlight and breathable air. Even better, with the force fields gone, the Naquadah generators the humans brought with them are sufficient to power the entire rest of the city. They no longer have any cover or defense, of course, but it's not as if there's a sinister alien race waiting to suck out their very life.

With the power back on, Weir reluctantly authorizes a rescue mission for the people taken by the Wraith. Unfortunately, the Wraith gate seems to be floating in space. Fortunately, Atlantis just so happens to have a handy supply of Gate Ships Puddle Jumpers capable, like all Ancient technology, of responding to Sheppard's mental commands. And they can cloak! With success therefore assured, Sheppard, Ford, and their team head off to assault the Wraith homeworld.

Meanwhile, the Wraith have been treating their captives to like dinner. Colonel Sumner is taken to a female Wraith, who offers him lunch… at a table whose other diner is a withered horror-struck corpse. She is bemused by his lack of willingness to give into his hunger — and also by his lack of familiarity with the Wraith. She manages to drag the name "Earth" out of him, but is unable to discover the location of this "rich new feeding ground" even with torture. So she settles for sucking the life energy out of him with a tiny mouth on the palm of her hand.

Sheppard and his team make it to the planet and find and rescue the remaining humans without difficulty. Sheppard then proceeds alone to find Sumner, who is already in the process of becoming Wraith lunch. When bullets fail to seriously inconvenience the Wraith, he instead shoots Sumner, who is too far gone to save. He, in turn, is rescued by Ford, and manages to impale the female Wraith on a particularly pointy Wraith weapon. It does the trick, but as she dies, she reveals that only a handful of individuals have been terrorizing this galaxy for time immemorial; the rest of the Wraith have been in suspended animation, with her as their caretaker. Now that she is dead, they will wake up. All of them.

Sheppard and Ford flee back to the Puddle Jumper as all around them the sleeping Wraith begin to stir. They blast through the Wraith ships defending the gate, and make it triumphantly back to Atlantis, where Sheppard is now the ranking military officer, having just shot his immediate superior. There is general rejoicing, despite worries that the Wraith problem has just been made much much worse, and McKay discovers, to his horror, that his dinner contained lemons.


Tropes

  • Ace Pilot: Sheppard.
  • Activation Sequence: After the expedition arrives on Atlantis for the first time, the city, which had been slumbering, begins reactivating. Unfortunately, this quickly proves to be a problem as Atlantis' power sources have been completely drained, and since they are underwater, the more power they use, the less of the city is able to be kept dry.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The ruins on the Athosian planet and Atlantis itself.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The ancient hologram Dr. Beckett finds as the expedition explores Atlantis, the Wraith, the Athosians, just everyone.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The ancient hologram.
  • Atlantis: Well, yeah.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Teyla at the party.
  • Call-Back: To the original Stargate. The plot is once again kicked off when Daniel Jackson figures out the last chevron needed to dial out the gate. This time he needs an eighth chevron.
  • Canada, Eh?:
    McKay: We need the Zed P.M. to power the Gate.
    O'Neill: What?
    Jackson: Zee P.M. He's, uh, he's Canadian.
    O'Neill (sympathetically to McKay): I'm sorry.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: O'Neill's pilot (pun not intended) initially seems like a throwaway character… until he waltzes into the Antarctic outpost and it turns out that he possesses the Ancient gene, and is immediately recruited into the Atlantis Expedition. Turns out the pilot, Major John Sheppard, is The Hero of the new series.
  • Cross-Cultural Handshake: The Athosians touch foreheads.
  • Crossover: Daniel Jackson, Siler, Ayiana and Jack O'Neil from Stargate SG-1 are there to get the Spin-Off started on the right foot.
  • The Cynic: Rodney's role pointing out all the things that could go wrong.
  • Deadman Switch: Implicitly with the Wraith caretaker.
  • Detect Evil: Teyla's ability to detect the Wraith.
  • Distant Prologue: The opening scene shows Atlantis departing pre-historic from Earth millions of years ago.
  • Domed Hometown: Atlantis, at least under the Ancients when they had the power to maintain the shield.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: O'Neill's only instruction to Sheppard, which he fails to obey.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: The Wraith cull the humans of the Pegasus galaxy before they can advance.
  • Engaging Chevrons: Defied. McKay starts the routine, but after a Death Glare from Dr. Weir, he gives up and just punches the buttons without ceremony.
    • Played straight earlier during the dial to Atlantis but justified as a way to build tension for the journey to Atlantis. After all Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: Hello, Wraith!
  • Evil Redhead: The Wraith Queen.
  • Faceless Goons: Wraith guards who have a mask completely obscuring their faces.
  • First-Episode Spoiler:
    • The address connects to a remarkably well-preserved Atlantis.
    • The Ancients left Atlantis because they were under siege by a powerful enemy.
    • Atlantis is almost out of power, so the expedition is unable to establish a wormhole to return to their galaxy, and the city's force fields are on the verge of collapse.
    • There are many worlds in the Pegasus galaxy settled by humans who were seeded by the Ancients.
    • Atlantis rises to the surface of the ocean when the power is depleted to a critical level.
    • The expedition awakens the Wraith, the powerful enemies who defeated the Ancients.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Zigzagged. Small arms fire do nothing to the Wraith Darts but a stinger missile can take one down and a high-caliber weapon can damage them.
  • Healing Factor: The Wraith.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The Wraith.
  • Helping Hands: Wraith Arm.
  • Hive Queen: The Wraith Queen.
  • Human Resources: The humans of Pegasus are little more than cattle for the Wraith to feed on.
  • Horror Hunger: The Wraith.
  • If I Do Not Return: "If I'm not back in twenty minutes, blow the cells and get out."
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Sheppard impales the Wraith Queen with the sharp back end of a Wraith Stunner, it ends up being a poor call on his part.
  • Invisibility: A feature of the puddle jumpers that allows tactical advantage.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Jack O'Neill, he may not initially want the team to go to Atlantis, but the last thing he sends through the gate after them is a bottle of champagne with his congratulations.
    • Colonel Marshall Sumner; he expressed a negative opinion of John Sheppard's reputation for disobeying orders and was uncertain if the Athosians had anything of value to offer them, but when he was part of the group captured by the Wraith, he immediately volunteered to be taken away by the Wraith rather than just allowing an Athosian to be questioned, and stood up to Wraith mental torture even as the Keeper fed on him.
  • Jumped at the Call: Ford, who gives an excited yell and goes through the Stargate backwards.
  • Kneel Before Zod: The female Wraith, to Sumner.
  • Law of Alien Names: Teyla; Toran; Jinto; Halling.
  • Life Energy: What the Wraith apparently eat.
  • The Little Detecto: Life signs detector.
  • Living Ship: The Wraith ships are organic in nature.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: The ancient chair in Antartica and much of the technology in Atlantis only responds to people with a specific gene that enables them to mentally interface with it.
  • Master of Illusion: The Wraith create images on the ground.
  • Mercy Kill: Performed on Colonel Sumner by Major Sheppard.
  • Name's the Same: Don't confuse our Major John Sheppard with Commander John Shepard.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Sheppard is still new to Gate travel, but he gets over it pretty fast.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sheppard rescued most of his people, but by killing the Wraith Keeper, he triggered the awakening of all Wraith in the Pegasus Galaxy, far in advance of when they were ready.
  • Noble Savage: The Athosians.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: No one ever comments on the similarity of the Wraith and vampires.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Rodney McKay seems less emotional, which may be because this character was initially written as Dr. Benjamin Ingram, who was described as a cold fish.
  • Pilot Movie
  • Plot Allergy: Rodney's citrus allergy will be a Running Gag in this series.
  • Precursors: The Ancients.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Atlantis has been abandoned for 10,000 years at the bottom of the sea with a shield covering it, but most of the things inside are in working order or at least intact, down to the dead plants.
  • Rapid Aging: When the Wraith feed.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Wraith have amazing regenerative properties and don't die of old age. The ones in this episode are much much older than they look.
  • Reassignment Backfire: The reason Sheppard is there in the first place is that he was reassigned to McMurdo Station after screwing up in Afghanistan.
  • Retroactive Wish: Major Sheppard declares that he's been thinking how to find his kidnapped comrades on a Wraith-controlled planet. Immediately, the telepathic ship delivers him a life-signs detector. Then he says, "Now I'm thinking about a nice turkey sandwich." Nothing happens, and Lieutenant Ford remarks, "Worth a try."
  • Refused the Call: Sheppard at first, he gets better.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Wraith, perhaps justified after their origin is revealed.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: The heroes have just pissed off the Wraith, a race who defeated the freakin' Ancients, while they themselves are cut off from Earth and any sort of reinforcements. What do they do? Party with the Athosians, of course.
  • See You in Hell: Col. Sumner, to the Wraith caretaker.
    Sumner: Go to Hell.
    Wraith: Earth first.
  • Shout-Out: Sheppard tells Jinto his is from "a galaxy far, far away".
  • Stripped to the Bone: Toran
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Glad to see they brought the C4 to Pegasus.
  • Take Me Instead: Teyla and Sumner offer themselves in Toran's place.
  • Technopath: Those with the Ancient gene.
  • Thing-O-Matic: Gateship, it's a ship that goes through the gate. Subverted by Sheppard who christened them puddle jumpers.
  • Tracking Device: The necklace Sheppard finds and gives to Teyla.
  • Tractor Beam: How the Wraith abduct their prey.
  • Transplant: Elizabeth Weir and Rodney McKay from Stargate SG-1.
  • Transplanted Humans: The Athosians are the only ones we meet in this episode, but we are told there were once thousands of human worlds in the Pegasus galaxy.
  • Trapped in Another World
  • Understatement: Weir's fiancee tries to call her after watching her goodbye video.
    Operator: The cellular customer you are trying to reach is currently outside the coverage area.
    Simon: No kidding.
  • Underwater City: For the first half of the episode, at least.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Ancient hologram claims that they discovered the Wraith when they first came to Pegasus… we later find out, the Ancients accidentally created them.
  • California Doubling: The Pemberton Glacier in British Columbia doubles for Antarctica.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Wraith Queen.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Sheppard questions his overall performance after failing to rescue Sumner and causing the Wraith to awaken from decades-long hibernation prematurely. But Weir and Teyla are there to reassure him that they can still do good.
  • We Need a Distraction: "How about a diversion? You really need to make some noise out there."
  • West Coast Team: In this case, the team was relocated to a different galaxy.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The expedition is trapped on Atlantis until they can find enough energy to power a way home.
  • You Look Familiar: Weir's boyfriend Simon is inexplicably that Tollan guy who was in love with Carter.

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