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Recap / Stargate Atlantis S02 E05 "Condemned"

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Well, I could kill you. But you strike me as the type of man who, despite being weak and cowardly on the outside, harbors a strength of character he doesn't even know he has.
Torrell "motivates" Dr. McKay

Sheppard and his team find themselves on a world inhabited by technologically primitive people who keep shooting crossbows at them for probably no reason. They are swiftly rescued by local security, who reveal that they had accidentally landed on an island being used as a Penal Colony. While it is an admittedly odd place for the stargate, the rest of Olesia is quite civilized and remarkably technologically advanced, given that the Wraith rarely allow that sort of thing. Olesia, however, as the Magistrate explains, is untouched by the Wraith.

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Well, not quite. The Wraith do come through the stargate, but they cull from the prisoners on the island, and leave the rest of the planet alone. The team has a bit of Values Dissonance at this (particularly our anti-death-penalty Canadian), but for once decide they're not the ultimate moral authority in the galaxy, and call in Dr. Weir to open up negotiations.

On their way back to the gate, they get shot down by the prisoners, who have manage to build a cannon. Torrell, the leader of the prisoners, wants the puddlejumper so they can return to the mainland - or, barring that, escape off-world. Unfortunately, the jumper has been irreparably damaged by the crash. Torrell ties up Ronon, Sheppard, and Teyla and sets McKay the task of fixing the ship, against his protestations that it is completely impossible. Torrell is not impressed, and offers to start killing off the other three until the ship can be made to work.

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Meanwhile, a Wraith has come to visit the Magistrate. It turns out that feeding the prisoners to the Wraith was an explicit deal made centuries ago, with the full knowledge of both parties. Now that the Wraith are waking up, the visitor explains, many more prisoners will be needed. The Magistrate starts ordering arrests on ever more minor crimes, but Weir catches on and breaks off negotiations. She also finally realizes that Sheppard and his team are missing, and takes her Jumper in stealth mode to go rescue them.

They've already been somewhat rescued by a prisoner named Eldon, the local Smart Guy, who unties them all in exchange for their promise to take him back with them to Atlantis. McKay does have a plan, as it turns out. While the Jumper will certainly never fly again, it might be possible to get enough power to the DHD to dial the gate. Unfortunately, just as he gets it to work Torrell shows up again, and by the time they're all done fighting with each other the power is gone. And then the Wraith turn up.

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Weir arrives in the nick of time (and happily cloaked). Her jumper dials the address to a potential alpha site world and they evacuate all the prisoners (except Eldon, who's coming back to Atlantis). Once they're gone, she dials Atlantis and they all make it home safely, as Wraith cruisers descend en masse on the (happy and peaceful) Olesian mainland.


Tropes:

  • All Crimes Are Equal: Averted at first, but played ever more straight as demand for criminals increased (and supply decreased).
  • Asshole Victim: With draconian laws that are responsible for sending any criminals to the island, often on trumped up charges, it's hard to feel sorry for the Olesians on the mainland that end up being culled by the Wraith.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Olesians made a death with the Wraith to send prisoners over for them to live with the Wraith in peace.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Wraith Commander during his dinner with the Magistrate.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Olesians send criminals to a penal colony to curb crime and appease the Wraith. Unfortunately, crime drops due to this new policy, forcing the Magistrate to exile new prisoners on more shaky grounds.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: The Wraith Commander admits to being one of those amongst his people that enjoy tasting fine cuisine, despite it providing no nourishment or sustenance whatsoever.
  • Karma Houdini: Torrell and the other guilty prisoners, who end the episode escaping through the Gate to safety.
  • Mad Scientist: Eldon, the prisoner who constructed the explosives and becomes McKay's assistant.
  • Meaningful Name: Olesia is a homophone of Elysia, the paradise of Greek Mythology
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on the Magistrate's face when he sees the Wraith ships at the end of the episode.
  • Penal Colony: Also the location of Olesia's stargate, allowing the Wraith easy access to Olesia's offerings.
  • Scotty Time:
    Sheppard: How much time do you need to rework the DHD?
    McKay: Well, in a perfect world, two days.
    Sheppard: Rodney!
    McKay: Right now... 10 minutes, give or take.
    • Lampshaded by Torrell, who astutely recognizes McKay as just the sort of man to invoke this just to make his achievements seem more impressive.
  • Sherlock Scan: Torrell pulls this on McKay, summing up his character despite being in his presence for only a few seconds.
  • Shout Outs: several!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sheppard lets Eldon go with him to Atlantis, but Eldon is never seen again after this episode.
  • Worst Aid: Ronon gets hit in the leg with an arrow. He simply breaks off the fletching end and pulls the shaft through without hemorrhaging from the wound.

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