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Recap / Stargate Atlantis S03 E07 "Common Ground"

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You pace in your cell, cursing that I took years from you. I stand here cursing that I was not allowed them all. Each in our own way, we suffer.
Todd the Wraith

Sheppard is captured by a rogue band of Genii lead by our old wacky friend, Acastus Kolya. He wants to trade him for Ladon Radim, the new leader of the Genii. Kolya believes that Ladon has usurped his rightful place, enacting the coup that he had planned. But so much for Genii politics. He's going to let their captive Wraith feed on Sheppard every 3 hours until either Ladon is turned over or Sheppard dies, whichever comes first.

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Weir and Ladon discuss options, while Sheppard starts making friends with the guy in the next cell over. The other prisoner has been here for a long long time, and assures Sheppard that escape is impossible. Then Kolya's men grab him and strap him to a chair, making Weir watch while they let their captive Wraith feed on him. Ouch. Back in his cell, Sheppard and his companion discuss whether the Wraith is in fact to blame in this, since it is in the process of starving to death. Sheppard finally puts two and two together - his prisoner buddy is in fact the Wraith! With no hard feelings, Sheppard proposes that the two of them team up to escape.

Back on Atlantis, McKay and Ladon have been frantically comparing gate adresses to try to discover where Kolya is holding Sheppard. After their best guess turns out to be a red herring, Weir releases Ladon back to the Genii to try to get information via his own sources, although Ronon maintains that this is a mistake (and they should just have agreed to the trade in the first place). Kolya hauls Sheppard out to be fed on once again (and it's really starting to take its toll) - but the Wraith stops of its own accord just before killing him. He approves Sheppard's plan to escape together, and the next time the guards come, the two of them overpower them and flee the compound. And guards sure are delicious!

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Away from the compound, though, things aren't looking so good. They have no idea where the gate is, Sheppard is getting too old for this sort of thing, and Todd (the Wraith) has taken rather more gunshot wounds than he can heal without feeding again. And then they get ambushed by Genii. Todd sucks the last of the life out of Sheppard and proceeds to wipe the floor with everybody. He feasts on the soldiers...and then returns the life he took from Sheppard. Because apparently Wraith can do that. In fact, Sheppard even looks younger than he did before!

Just then, the rest of the team arrives, guns blazing. Ladon made good on his offer of information - but Kolya still manages to escape. Sheppard convinces them not to kill his new buddy Todd, and they release him on a planet where the other Wraith can come and pick him up. They part on good terms, but with the caveat that if they ever cross paths again, "all bets are off."

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Tropes

  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: At one point, "Todd" is shown handling a gun in a VERY dangerous manner. However, this is justified in the story. He is an alien from another galaxy, who has never used a human weapon before. Also, his own race's handheld weapons are Energy Weapons that are specifically designed to stun only (they use human life force for food, which tends to work a lot better when their victims are alive, killing them is counterproductive). It's very likely he has never had any training in handling lethal handheld weapons, and he certainly has no experience in weapons based on chemical propellant, as the Wrath are far more advanced than that. The rest of the series (and indeed all of Stargate) very carefully averts this, as the human characters (who are generally military) handle guns properly at all times.
  • Badass in Distress: Sheppard spends most of the episode imprisoned and brutally tortured, while Elizabeth and the team are forced to watch. However he does end up escaping with Todd's help.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Type 2 - that is to say, Todd's wraithness actually doesn't make him a bad person.
  • Enemy Mine
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kolya's torturing Sheppard by allowing a Wraith to feed on him is an act of desperation, and even he is disturbed by the act. When McKay protests that Sheppard doesn't deserve this, Kolya's grim response is, "Let's be clear, no one does."
  • First-Name Basis: Sheppard corrects Koyla's 'Doctor Weir' to 'Elizabeth' to emphasize his faith in her and their close friendship.
    Koyla: "I think you underestimate the sympathetic nature of Doctor Weir."
    Sheppard: "Well I think you underestimate Elizabeth."
    • Of course this probably wasn't the the smartest thing to point out, given Koyla was already using the pair's relationship to try and break Elizabeth and in fact her affection for Sheppard was why he was chosen to be tortured in the first place. So maybe not the best time to mention that.
    • Also averted. In contrast to the above example, Rodney uses the extremely formal “Doctor Weir” to get Elizabeth’s attention when in the company of the Genii, who they are suspicious of having a part in Sheppard’s capture. This is very noticeable as the number of times they call each other by their last names and/or “Doctor” could be counted on one hand.
  • Gun Twirling
  • Horror Hunger: This is the first time the Wraiths' hunger for human life-energy is described from the Wraiths' point of view.
    Todd: The Wraith must feed in order to live. For Wraith, hunger burns like a fire. Tell me, Sheppard, if you found yourself burning alive, would you settle for just one drop of water... or would you take more?
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Todd the Wraith became considerably more human during his imprisonment by the Genii
  • Human Shield: A rare heroic example.
  • I Have Your Wife: Koyla to Elizabeth. Or rather, I have your military commander, as he threatens to drain more of Sheppard's life every few hours until Elizabeth hands over Ladon.
  • Leave Him to Me: Ladon requests that they leave Kolya for his forces to find.
  • Meaningful Echo: Todd tells Sheppard several times "There is much you do not know about Wraith" - culminating in the revelation that the life-sucking can go both ways. When Sheppard releases him at the end of the episode, he says in turn "There is much you do not know about humans."
  • No One Gets Left Behind: What Sheppard is counting on.
  • Not So Different: Todd comments that Sheppard is more like a Wraith than he thinks.
  • Ship Tease: Sheppard and Elizabeth. Koyla's banking on Elizabeth's attachment for Sheppard persuading her to hand over Ladon.
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