|Original air date|
John O'Callaghan as Niam
|Atlantis Season 3|
|Season 2||Season 4|
- This episode is part 1 of 2; it is followed by "The Real World".
The Atlantis expedition makes first contact with the Asurans, who claim that they are the last of the Ancients. However, after holding the team prisoner, they learn that they are not people, but machines; Replicators, and they plan to destroy Atlantis.
After discovering an Ancient outpost, Dr. Elizabeth Weir joins Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's team on a mission to Asuras, a world inhabited by a society of millions. They are an advanced people, and it doesn't take the team long to conclude that they are (unascended) Ancients. Their leader is Oberoth, a powerful, arrogant man.
The team also meets a more quiet, sensitive Asuran leader named Niam, who brings the team before the Asuran Council. There Oberoth explains that they are an off-shoot from the Ancients who long ago inhabited Atlantis. Though their race was once united, the Asurans left when the Lanteans did not heed their counsel during the war with the Wraith.
Weir and Sheppard challenge Oberoth about the persistent threat of the Wraith, and are amazed to hear that the Asurans have a plan to completely eradicate them, but he will not share the details with them. Oberoth is curious, however, when he learns that Weir's team has set up a base of operations in the Pegasus Galaxy, though she is careful not to reveal that it is Atlantis. She hopes the Asurans might spare some Zero Point Modules in trade, since they are able to make them and have an abundance of them.
The negotiation doesn’t go well, since Oberoth believes that the Atlantis team has nothing worth trading for. But he is surprised to find out that Weir requires a ZPM, and suspects the city is of Lantean design. Unable to get a ZPM, Weir and her team plans to leave the Asuran city.
But when the team is ready to depart through the gate, Oberoth shows his true colors. The team is restrained and put in a holding cell, however, they are able to easily escape. Stealing a Puddle Jumper, the team dials Atlantis, arrive safe and sound. Soon, though, Atlantis comes under bombardment from 7 Wraith Hive Ships, and 15 more are on the way. Weir orders them to dial Earth and set the self-destruct. However, automated systems were damaged in the initial strike. Unable to give themselves enough time, Sheppard stays behind to activate the auto-destruct.
But just as the auto-destruct is about to go off, Sheppard wakes up: his mind has been probed by Asurans, who now know the gate addresses of both Atlantis and Earth. Sheppard, surrounded by his unconscious companions, and still in the cell, is surprised that they are still on Asuras, but a horrified Dr. Rodney McKay reveals that they never left. What's more, the Asurans are not humans: they're similar to Human-form Replicators. When the rest of the team awakens, Niam reveals that they are in space. The Asuran city is an Ancient city ship, and they will finish what they started, destroying the original home of their creators.
The Asurans, as Niam reveals to Weir, are not biologically Lantean. They are artificial lifeforms that evolved from an experiment to create nanites to attack the Wraith on a cellular level ("Hot Zone"). But the microscopic creatures came together to form increasingly larger and more complex organisms, eventually imitating their creators to become human in appearance. The Asurans begged the Lanteans to remove the aggression program, but they refused, having put safe guards up, and desperate for a weapon. When the Lanteans realized their experiment had gotten out of hand, they attacked this new race with their fleet of warships and nearly wiped them out.
McKay suspects that the Ancient experiment may have been the genesis of the Replicators that SG-1 and the Asgard battled in our own galaxy. But Niam is not like Oberoth. He is one of a few among them who still wishes to imitate his creators, to reach ascension, but killing the inhabitants of Atlantis surely cannot help them reach enlightenment. Niam believes that the only way it is possible, is for McKay to rewrite their Base code. In return, he will stop Oberoth from attacking Atlantis and help in Earth's fight with the Wraith. McKay manages to successfully reprogram Niam, but the team cannot trust Oberoth to call off the attack. Because of this, the team decides to destroy the city before it can reach Atlantis. McKay succeeds in reprogramming Niam by overwriting his aggressive nature. Then he stumbles on a major discovery.
McKay sees that the Asurans are connected through a subspace network and inserts a glitch that will paralyze all of the Asurans. The team takes advantage of this by programming the ship's ZPMs to overload. Unfortunately, the Asurans begin to override the glitch and try to stop the team. They manage to escape on a Puddle Jumper with Niam, and destroy the Asurans before it attacks their city, but the Asurans remotely reset Niam in retaliation. The reset Niam reverts to his aggressive nature and attacks Weir, forcing Sheppard to launch him out into space. On Atlantis later, they discover that the Ancients either deleted all records of the Asurans or hid them very well. Despite the victory, they know the Asurans are likely rebuilding and will come again.
Ancient; Ancient nanovirus; Ascension; Asuras; Asuran; Asuran city-ship; Asuran Council; Asuran pistol; Atlantis brig; Atlantis database; Atlantis' shield; Aurora-class battleship; Base code; Chair room; City-ship; Cloak; Control chair; Daedalus; DNA; Drone weapon; Electromagnetic pulse; Failsafe mechanism; FN P90 Personal Defense Weapon; Hive ship; Human-form Replicator; Jumper bay; MALP; Nanite; Niam's faction; Particle magnum; Puddle Jumper; Replicator; Skirmish on the Asuran City-ship; Stardrive; Self-destruct; SG-1; Wraith; Zero Point Module; ZPM room
Niam: I apologize if you felt Oberoth was condescending in any way.
Sheppard: How about in every way?
Niam: It is difficult for him to see you as capable of understanding.
McKay: Yeah, well how many Ph.D.'s does he have?
Teyla: Might it not be possible that these people merely discovered this city, as you discovered Atlantis?
Sheppard: Wouldn't be surprised. They don't seem very... ancienty to me.
Sheppard: Yes. That's the word I was looking for.
Sheppard: I thought our escape seemed too easy.
McKay: At least you escaped.
Sheppard: What did they do to you.
McKay: Uh, torture.. in ways too hideous and, um.. intimate to recount.
Ronon: Like what?
McKay: I said, too hideous to recount.
Niam: Your minds are no longer being probed.
Sheppard: It's good to know it was just our minds...
McKay: Oh, please don't make me sick!
Sheppard: How's it coming, Rodney?
Sheppard: What's the hold up?
McKay: What's the hold up? Do you have any idea what I'm trying to do here?
Sheppard: Niam gave you access to the program code and you're screwing around with it?
McKay: Oh, that is so... Relatively accurate.
Sheppard: Thank you.
McKay: Okay, still, we're not dealing with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots here, we are dealing with a complex code of over three billion chemical based sequences. It's like trying to reconfigure the DNA double helix.
Sheppard: Okay, so what? Five minutes?
McKay: I figured out a way to create a glitch, that, on my command, should momentarily freeze them.
McKay: Okay, will. I mean, dead in their tracks, like hitting the pause button. I mean temporarily, until they figure out how to override it.
Ronon: How long?
McKay: Well, I don't know, that's why I said momentarily.
Sheppard: Days? Hours? Minutes?
McKay: Well, look, it's, it's minutes, but I don't know, that's what I was just saying to him. (points in Ronon's general direction)
Sheppard: Ten? Twenty?
McKay: Look, yeah, fine. You want a number, yeah fine: seven. Seven minutes and thirty one seconds. You happy?
Sheppard: It's not enough time!
McKay: Ok, you wanted a number!
Sheppard: A bigger number!
McKay: Yeah, but it may very well be longer.
Sheppard: Or shorter!
McKay: Look, I don't know! Look, you're missing the point...
Weir: Gentlemen! Focus! Please!
- MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS BELOW
- This episode introduces the Asurans who become a major enemy until they are destroyed a year later by Dr. Rodney McKay with the help of the expedition, the Wraith and the Travelers.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Oberoth who survives the destruction of the city but is later destroyed along with all of the rest of the Asurans by McKay.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Niam who returns briefly as an image in Weir's mind in the next episode "The Real World" and for real as part of a plan in "The Return, Part 2" where he reactivates and is destroyed by McKay.
- This episode has a few aspects similar to the Stargate SG-1 episode "Unnatural Selection".
- Both teams meet Human-form Replicators after encountering their lesser forms in previous episodes. SG-1 fought the bug block formed Replicators in episodes before and Atlantis encountered the nanites in "Hot Zone".
- Both replicator groups have a member(s) who is willing to help the team and betray the others.
- Niam allowed Dr. Elizabeth Weir into his mind and Fifth allowed Major Samantha Carter into his mind.
- Both teams took advantage of the friendly Replicators' help. Though the Atlantis team tried to help Niam before he was reprogrammed.
- Both teams had their minds probed.
- This might explain why the Ancient Repository of knowledge downloaded into Colonel Jack O'Neill's brain happened to contain the schematics for a weapon capable of destroying a Human-form Replicator with a single shot, by disrupting the bond between the nanites ("New Order, Part 2".) Clearly it was a technology with which the Ancients were quite familiar.
- Human-form Replicators of the Milky Way Galaxy were originally conceived as the series' primary villains, with Atlantis on Earth, when the show was on the drawing board. When Stargate SG-1 was picked up for an eighth season the show was shifted to the Pegasus Galaxy and the Wraith were created. The Milky Way Replicators were defeated at the end of season 8 by SG-1 in the episode "Reckoning, Part 2." In the Season One episode "Hot Zone" the writers introduced the idea of an advanced antagonist in the Pegasus Galaxy and expressed a desire to revisit the mysterious creators of the nanite virus in Season Two, but didn't get to it.
- Paul McGillion (Dr. Carson Beckett) does not appear in this episode.
- The Asurans backstory, which they explain to the team in the beginning bares notable similarity to the story of the Ori and Alterans.
- When Lt. Colonel John Sheppard is having his mind probed, he gets in the Puddle Jumper without his vest, but in the next shot he has his vest on.
- When the team "escapes" from the Asurans in the jumper (actually during the first mind probe), a "jet wash" can be seen behind the jumper despite its drive pods being retracted for travel through the gate. The "jet wash" is generally never shown even when the drive pods are extended.
- When the team was walking along the bridge in the beginning, you can clearly see that the bridge has no other balconies except for the one where Dr. Weir stopped at to admire the city. But when the camera zooms out, you can clearly see other open balconies on the section of the bridge which they already passed.
- Looking at the floor at the end of the bridge scene, you can clearly see the shadow that doesn't match the window which is clear, the shadow has criss-cross.
- In the beginning, when the Stargate shuts down, a great hall can be seen behind the gate which is almost bigger than the control room itself. Still, the copy model of Atlantis from the outside depicts the main tower the same size, without a place for the hall, and also any of the bridges are too small to include it.
- After the team has their mind probed Oberoth and Niam are walking down a hallway discussing what to do with them you can clearly see a camera man (very brief at: 21:18).
- Sheppard blows Niam out of the back of the Puddle Jumper and the front remains pressurized. In "Thirty-Eight Minutes", McKay stated that even with the bulkhead door closed, the Jumper would "leak like a sieve" if something similar happened. That doesn't happen when Sheppard blows Niam out of the Jumper.
- Niam is seen still active at the end of the episode. Later episodes state that being blown into the vacuum of space instantly renders a Replicator inert, as seen in "Ghost in the Machine" when the remnants of Niam's faction are tricked through a Spacegate.
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