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Recap / Stargate Atlantis S03 E06 "The Real World"

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Imagine you were in my position, listening to your story. Traveling to another galaxy through a Stargate. Leading an expedition to the lost city of Atlantis. Would you believe it?
Dr. Fletcher

Dr. Weir wakes up in a mental health institute, recovering from severe emotional trauma. Three days ago, the doctors tell her, she collapsed in the middle of the nuclear disarmament negotiations that she was heading. She asks them when she got back from Atlantis, since she doesn't remember returning to Earth. Atlantis? What's that?

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A little panicky from her amnesia, Weir calls in the one person she can talk freely in front of: General O'Neill! When O'Neill also has no knowledge of Atlantis, or, in fact of the Stargate program, she really starts to panic. Her doctor, Dr. Fletcher, patiently explains that the last two and a half seasons years happened only in her own mind, during the three days she was comatose after her collapse. They were most likely a reaction to the trauma of Simon's death in a car crash three weeks ago. Weir tries to accept this and piece her life back together, but she is haunted by recurring visions of a shadowy figure - a dark-haired man whose face she can't quite see.

Cut back to Atlantis. Phew! Weir is in a coma, attended by Dr. Beckett, while McKay and Sheppard stand around and fret. Her body is being taken over by Asuran nanites, which are using bits of Weir to replicate. Beckett hits on the idea of injecting her with a bit of Wraith tissue. Since the Asuran nanites are programmed first and foremost to attack the Wraith, this will destract them away from Weir's neurons long enough to zap everything with a handy EM pulse. Sheppard continues to offer moral support, encouraging the unconscious Weir to fight them.

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As the EMP takes effect, Weir is able to put up more of a resistance. She stops taking the pills Dr. Fletcher prescribes, and the shadowy haunting man coalesces into a recognizable Sheppard. She fights her way through hordes of orderlies, eventually finding herself at the SGC. The nanites have incorporated too much Weir-based material for the pulse to take them all out - it is all up to Weir to fight the rest of them herself. O'Neill appears to offer "help" - but she realizes he's a trap and follows the image of Sheppard instead. O'Neill turns into Niam and tries to halt her progress once more, but she forces her way through him and escapes through the Stargate, to wake up back in Atlantis.

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Tropes:

  • Asylum Plot
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind
  • Cuckoo Nest: The episode ends with an off-handed comment by Sheppard that they might still not be in the "true" reality
  • EMP
  • Go Among Mad People: Weir is in a mental hospitalnote , and everyone's denial of the Masquerade drives her to question her own sanity.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Sheppard for Weir, in a particuarly heartwarming example.
  • Idea Bulb: Apparently having an idea is signaled by a recognizable facial expression.
    McKay: What?
    Beckett: What?
    McKay: It's that look. That's the same look I get when I have a brilliant idea.
    Sheppard: How would you know how you looked?
    McKay: Cause it's happened more than once in front of a mirror, ok?
  • Hand Wave: It's not quite clear why the battle in the mind actually works. McKay even points this out.
    McKay: She has microscopic robots in her brain. How is she supposed to "fight them?"
  • Meaningful Echo: "you never left"
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Weir and sports.
    O’Neill: Well maybe you’ve got to work your way up into playing shape. Spend a little time doing short shifts before you work your way up to the front line.
    Weir: I know nothing about football.
    O’Neill: Nor hockey apparently.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly
  • Shout-Out: The Willoughby State Hospital, where Dr. Weir is interred, is a reference to an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) about a peaceful town called Willoughby, which only exists in the main character's mind.
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