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Recap / Stargate Atlantis S01 E17 "Letters from Pegasus"

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Beckett: What shall I say?
Ford: Uh, uh, "I miss you?" "I wish you were here?"
Beckett: I wish who was here?
Ford: I don't know. Who do you wish was here?
Beckett: Nobody! I wish I wasn't bloody here!

Three Wraith hive-ships are bound for Atlantis, picking breakfast, lunch, and dinner off every inhabited planet between them and the city. Recognizing their impending doom, the denizens of the city decide to send a high-density burst of information back to Earth in the 1.3 second window they can create by draining what little power they have left into the gate. McKay manages to compress the data summarizing everything they have learned during their time in the city down to a 0.3 second transmission and, with the spare 1 second, Weir decides to include video letters from each member of the Atlantis expedition to their families back on Earth.

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Meanwhile, Sheppard and Teyla take off in a jumper to warn all the delicious humans in the way of the Wraith that they're about to be eaten.

Tropes

  • Aliens Speaking English: In this case, a Japanese scientist records her message in English.
  • Apocalyptic Log: If Atlantis falls, the crew intends for their message home to be one.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Zelenka's message home is entirely in Czech — without subtitles.
    • Doubles as a Funny Moment: Zelenka describes the events of the first episode (well, the part about Atlantis rising, anyway), and afterwards, Ford asks if he said anything that would require security clearance:
    Zelenka: (With an Oh, Crap! look on his face) Security clearance?
  • The Cameo: Walter Harriman and Samantha Carter show up briefly in the last scene, in the SGC control room.
  • Cats Are Superior: As a boy, McKay had bad luck with dogs, so
    McKay: Now cats — now that's a whole different story. Cats are self-sufficient, they're dependable; you shake the box, they come running — a cynic would say it's because of the food but my cat.... See, I truly believe he enjoys my company.
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  • Classified Information: The Atlantis crew are forbidden from mentioning anything about Atlantis, Pegasus, or the Stargate Program in their personal messages.
  • Clip Show
  • Conflict Ball: Sheppard's refusal to help Orrin and his family escape the imminent Wraith culling comes off this way, especially considering his Leave No Man Behind attitude in previous episodes.
  • Death Notification: Weir records messages to the families of expedition members who've died, but leaving Col. Sumner's for Sheppard.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: McKay's message home.
  • Due to the Dead: Dr. Weir records personal messages to the families of all the Atlantis Expedition members who have died, with one exception. The message for Col. Sumner's family is done by Major Sheppard.
    Sheppard: I'm not sure if Colonel Sumner's parents are still alive. I'm not sure he even has a family back there. Not all of us do. But if he does have family, they should know that he died with honor and courage in the performance of his duty. He carried the burden of a leader, and he carried it well. I didn't get the chance to know him well, but I know this... Considering the type of man he was and what we're up against... I wish he was still here.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: McKay takes a stab at this, but doesn't quite get there.
    McKay: Samantha Carter –- if you're watching, the torch is still burning -– sadly, soon to be extinguished, but, uh.... You know, you should know –- I think you are just ... so ... well, you're great –- you're really, really great, and, uh, I would go so far as saying you're the hottest scientist I've ever worked with.
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    • The message he finally gets around to addressing to his sister.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: Played with in Beckett's message home:
    Beckett: And if there's one thing I've discovered about we Earthlings, we're a scrappy bunch. I wouldn't be surprised if I bring back...
    Ford: Doc, you can't say "Earthlings"! Your mother doesn't have security clearance.
    Beckett: She knows I'm from Earth, son; it's not a bloody secret!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sgt. Banks is a bit of a dick, especially to Teyla, but his message home shows at least part of it may be due to homesickness and missing his younger brother.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Dr. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, decides to record a report to General O'Neill listing all of Dr. Weir's mistakes since the expedition began. Ford refuses to stay in the room while he does it.
  • Large Ham: McKay chews a lot of scenery in his video recording.
  • Mood Whiplash: The video recordings cut immediately from McKay getting ready to expound on 'leadership' to Dr. Weir recording messages to the families of Atlantis expedition members who have been killed.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: played with.
  • Running Joke: "Leadership."
  • Video Wills: Some of the messages home have undertones of this.
  • Wham Shot: The Wraith fleet exiting hyperspace.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Teyla lets Sheppard have it at length.
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