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Stargate: Atlantis: "Michael"

Our Boy awakens on a hospital bed, under one of those SPOTLIGHTS which is usually blocking a Russian villain and a goon who hass vayss ov making you tock, and looks around in bewilderment. He looks down at his forearms and makes an open-handed gesture, as though he's restrained, but doesn't appear to be. He's surrounded by monitors. He looks unhappy and confused.

Shortly afterwards, Dr. NotTheRealMcCoy is testing Our Boy's vital signs, which all seem to be great. "You're bouncing back quite nicely," he tells Our Boy, as two more of the show's main characters appear. "Hello, Michael," says the woman, kindly giving us Our Boy's character's name early on. "Do you remember me?" He does not. (Which is unsurprising, because all the humans on the show are fairly bland.) She introduces herself as Dr. Elizabeth Weir, and the Generic Handsome Fellow beside her as Lt. Colonel John Sheppard. Sheppard tells Michael he served in Sheppard's command.

Status questions continue. Michael says with a regretful chuckle that he doesn't even know who he is, much less where. Lt. Michael Kenmore, Weir explains, is in the infirmary in Atlantis, which jogs something in his noggin. Sheppard says he was captured by "the Wraith," SGA's main bad guys, which jogs something less pleasant. Dr. McTroi notes it.

"What did they do to me?" Michael asks urgently. The main characters prevaricate vaguely, saying Michael was injured in his rescue and has been unconscious for days. Michael is concerned that he can't remember anything at all. Dr. Scotty says they have a call in to House and his team for a consult, and they'll let him know when they get some answers. Michael swallows hard and doesn't look convinced. I wouldn't be either, if everyone talking to me was wired with those distracting little earpieces and mikes like Borglets.

Afterward, as Michael tries to sleep under that SPOTLIGHT, Weir, Sheppard, and Dr. McNervous look down at him behind glass from a second-story observers' balcony. Weir orders them to keep an eye on Michael and to proceed carefully -- "This may just be the start of our problems." (duhn-duhn-DUHHHHHN!)

(Hey, don't I know that name in the credits? That guy is all over the place lately.)

Could be later in the day, could be the next day -- the show is indifferent at best about timekeeping -- Dr. McPointy brings a hypo to Michael's bed. "What's that for?" he asks reasonably, squinting against the SPOTLIGHT. McPointy says he has diabetes, and this is his insulin shot. (Mmm-hmm. Interstellar travel, interspecies cooperation, underwater city with a cloak, but they haven't cured diabetes, and they still need to inject insulin. Hey Doc, I have this bridge I'm looking to unload -- great architecture, lovely view of Brooklyn, just renovated. Call me.)

Dr. McObfuscate tells Michael he's suffering from Generalized Plot-Complication Amnesia, usually brought on by deus ex trauma. He says the group will try to feed Michael back his memories in teaspoonsful, so as not to fry what brain cells are managing to work. Michael grins wearily. "I'm already completely overwhelmed; how much worse could it get?" (duhn-duhn-DUHHHHHN!) Dr. McUhOh looks appropriately queasy after he turns away from his patient.

The door to Michael's room opens. He's sitting up for a change, and the SPOTLIGHT completely blows out the back of his hospital gown and makes each individual gel-spike of hair stand out. The Show's Babe comes in and introduces herself as Teyla. He sits up a bit more and looks slightly less despondent -- hey, even if his situation isn't improving any, at least the view is.

A pleasant surprise: he thinks he knows her. She smiles widely and assures him they've worked together before. He thinks they might have been friends. "Yes," she says, blinking A-R-E-Y-O-U-N-U-T-S? in Morse code. He laughs in relief. "That's the best news I've heard all day," he tells her. She asks after his health, which he says is physically fine, but his mind hasn't checked in from the border yet. He leans forward and lowers his voice a little conspiratorially."They said I'm a lieutenant."

Teyla tells him he's new in town, but is an excellent soldier. "Then how did I get captured by the Wraith?" he points out very logically. She nods slowly and spits out her clearly rehearsed story. Michael's team was ambushed, and he covered for them so they could escape. He thinks about this a moment. "Were you part of the team that rescued me?" She pauses again, as if debating what to say. "Yes," she answers, packing a world of "no" into her body language.

The main characters quibble about how he's doing and whether to let him out of his cage; the answer is yes over Sheppard's objections. Teyla walks Michael around -- all the doors are two stories tall, and glass; I can't imagine how expensive those were or how much their janitorial bill is every month -- and brings him to what she says are his quarters. Airy, but spartanly decorated. (Did I mention he's out of hospital whites and wearing a tight black T-shirt and comfy jeans?) In a control room somewhere, they're being monitored by several cameras. None of the room is familiar to him, but would you remember any given Best Western room you'd ever been in?

To the audience's amusement, Michael picks up a cowboy hat from the dresser. Teyla says he comes from "a place called Texas." He's blanked that out too, but she doesn't particularly encourage him to remember it. He doesn't recall the people in the photo on the table, either, and Teyla says they're his parents. That distresses him. He's worried that his name might really be Bobby.

The Real McKay finds Michael at lunch. (Food Chain inta-- no wait, wrong show.) Michael gets the vibe that he's supposed to be holding up his end of the conversation but left it in his other brain, and apologizes. McKay is unaccountably nervous, to the point of stuttering and babbling. (Actually, that's apparently a pattern with this guy, so maybe his nervousness isn't "unaccountable" after all.) Michael acknowledges the two goons standing over him like glowering salt and pepper shakers. While making much smoother chitchat than Dr. Dangerfield, the laptop McKay is clutching suddenly catches his eye. "Wraith TECH schematics?" he asks, surprising them both.

Connor makes the most adorable snickpiddled moue and asks, "How did I know that?" McKay thinks as fast as he can, which isn't very, and makes up something stumbling about Michael's team being on an intelligence mission.

"And our mission was successful," Michael says. "Oh, yes, very successful," McKay agrees. "Except for... getting captured," Michael adds. These folks did not spend nearly enough time working on their cover story. McKay continues to babble. Michael makes another self-deprecating joke about being safe but not quite sound, and finally flees rather than watch Dr. Dangerfield continue to struggle to speak coherently.

After lunch (a while after lunch, I hope, or he'll get cramps), Michael and Teyla are sparring. She starts by calling the moves, but then spins a few times, knees him in the stomach, and puts him flat on his back on the mat.

He groans and ouches and gets to his feet. "Now you try," she says. "I can't do that move," he chuckles, still trying to catch his breath. "Oh, yes you can," she disagrees. (duhn-duhn-DUHHHHHN!) They recommence the punching and slapping, and he starts to remember the counters in time. He laughs, delighted in his own skill. The second time she knees him, he spins instead, and puts her on the mat.

And Ronon abruptly charges in, yanks Michael off Teyla, and slams him against the wall, two feet off the ground.

Ronon growls something about today being a good day to die while choking Michael. Teyla yells about physical therapy. Ronon eventually lets Michael down. Michael gasps an apology as Ronon snarls "Qa'pla!" and stalks off.

Atlantis seems to be a holistic kind of place, believing in both physical and mental therapy, so once he's sluiced off from gym class he goes to the guidance counselor's office. Dr. Taffy makes culture-shock excuses for Ronon. Michael says he'd probably be better off just steering clear of the big guy altogether -- historically, he's never gotten along well with Klingons. Michael expresses his frustrations, saying in a quiet, mournful voice, "I just want to get back to normal."

Long-haired Wraith wander around to Psycho saxophones in smoky, blue-lit tunnels. Michael gasps and awakens -- a nightmare. He gets up for a drink, showing off his still-nicely-defined shoulders in a black tank top. He looks over at the mirror suddenly and a Wraith screeches at him from it. Michael gasps and awakens for real this time.

Back in gym class, Michael is telling Teyla about the disturbingly real images. "They did something to me, didn't they?" he asks her softly. "They did something to my mind, planted something in my brain..." Teyla looks away; she can't think any faster or lie any better than McKay, but at least she knows how to keep her mouth shut. Michael correctly interprets her silence. "Tell me!" he pleads. "We do not know," she says at last, semaphoring Y-O-U-A-R-E-A-W-R-A-I-T-H with her eyebrows. Teyla tells him other people have had dreams where Commander CameraHog is hiding in their mirror, so he shouldn't worry too much. She then promptly rats him out to the other main characters, who then quibble about whether to up his meds or just come clean with him.

For the next nightmare he's changed to a gray T-shirt (so has the guy in the mirror).

Dr. Taffy says it's PTSD, and says Dr. FeelGood could give him some pills to help him sleep. ("But don't worry, neuropressure is not an AMA-approved treatment for insomnia, and our HMO says acupressure is quack medicine, so we don't prescribe it," she adds.) Michael shrugs that off. He insists there's something wrong with him, even if he can't put his finger on what. He's also suspicious that people know something they aren't telling him. Dr. Taffy hesitates before speaking, and he calls her on it.

Strolling through the halls with Salt and Pepper, Michael meets up with Sheppard and Ronon. He says Dr. NotPhloxEither did indeed give him a medically sound way to get some rest. As everyone starts to go their separate ways, Michael attempts to make nice with Ronon and apologize for whatever might have happened between them in the past. Ronon gives him the Smirk Of Doom and leaves him standing there with his hand out.

When Michael tries again, Ronon slugs him in the jaw. They exchange brief fisticuffs before Sheppard and Salt and Pepper break it up.

Back in hospital whites, Michael can't sleep even with the pills. He leaves his quarters, where Salt and Pepper are standing guard (don't these two ever get to switch off with Bread and Butter or Peas and Carrots for a shift?), and heads for the infirmary. But it appears that the good doctor is the kind who licks his own fingers, and is snoozing himself. Michael looks around the room and notices a calendar of Scotland... with a photograph of the village of Kenmore. (duhn-duhn-DUHHHHHN!)

Salt and Pepper are talking with Nurse Spice in the other room. Michael tries poking into things, but the laptops are password-protected, since Atlantis is more security-conscious than Archer. There are plenty of CDs lying around, however, helpfully marked "Day Four" and the like in a folder labeled "Lt. Michael Kenmore." (duhn-duhn-DUHHHHHN!)

Michael returns to his quarters, leaving Salt and Pepper outside. He notes the MagnusFraterVision and takes his laptop to the Winston Smith corner of the room. The goon in the control room immediately gets nervous and runs to tattle.

He starts at the end, Day 12 or 13, and sees video of himself on a biobed. Dr. McMorpheus is telling Dr. Weir that Michael may wake up soon. Day 10 shows Michael growling and spasming, and Dr. McPanic running around yelling for stuff. Day 7 is more disturbing: Michael is strapped to the bed, howling "Release me!" in a voice which sounds distorted and deeper. Watching the video, Michael is growing increasingly horrified.

Now he puts in Day One. A deep, snarling voice shouts "You will die for this!" and other imprecations. Ronon is heard pooh-poohing the snarler. On the video, Sheppard and Ronon are holding somebody down. "You're gonna need a name," Sheppard quips. "How does Mike sound?" The figure which lunges up from the biobed is the Wraith from Michael's mirror, and his worst nightmare.

The door bursts open, and Dr. McMengele runs in with guards in tow. Michael looks up with a truly Emmy-worthy expression of mingled horror, denial, and betrayal.

He spins the laptop around, defying McFrankenstein to deny the evidence. He doesn't. He can't.

The rest of the team arrives in short order. "You lied to me," Michael spits, voice shaking and filled with self-loathing. "I'm a Wraith."

"You were a Wraith," Weir tries to correct him. She tries to call him Michael, and he shouts that it isn't his name. (The Wraith don't have them? Do they all just address each other as "hey you" or point?) She asks him to let her explain. "Go ahead," he says with a bitter half-grin.

Weir says the Wraith evolved from the Iratus bug, which "began taking on characteristics of the humans it was feeding on." (You know how Mom used to nag "You are what you eat"? She wasn't kidding.) Dr. McQuack developed a retrovirus which suppresses all the Wraith/Iratus genetic code, leaving a human with a cute dimple behind. (It doesn't do anything for hair, however; cutting and restyling his long locks into something more fashionable had to be done manually.) Michael wanders around the room, scrubbing his hands over his face, hanging his head, looking away, and generally being distraught. McQuack acknowledges that the "insulin injections" were actually an anti-Wraith cocktail.

"So what are you saying, that being a Wraith is some kind of disease, something you think you can cure?" Michael asks. The team squirms and looks uncomfortable. "What gives you the right to do this to me?" he says, anguished. Sheppard says they're at war to prevent genocide. "You made up everything," Michael retorts, his voice thick. "My name...the photograph of my parents..." That particularly seems to piss him off. Weir takes responsibility for the experiment and the lies, and Sheppard explains the point was to completely deWraithify him, even mentally. They've de-somethinged him, all right.

The main characters quibble about whether this was a good idea. Ronon growls that once a Wraith, always a Wraith. Teyla comes to visit Michael the next day, to apologize and try to reach out. He's sitting on his bed, out of the range of the SPOTLIGHT they installed. "Were you part of the team that captured me?" he asks in a low, bitter voice, fully aware of the symmetry and irony in the question. Silence is assent. He rubs his face again. "And you have the nerve to tell me you're my friend." She tries to protest. "Making you human could make your life better," she says.

"From what I was told, you made me human in order to make... your lives better," he zings back. He gives her an opening to make her case. The Wraith are evil, killing and feeding on people, she says, and have no mercy or compassion. "So what you did to me... that was done out of compassion?" She has no answer. (On Trek there would have been a whole speech here about quality of life and pursuit of happiness and live and let live, and I'm a little disappointed not to hear one.)

Dr. Taffy tries to pile on the psychobabble, but Michael's gone over to the Dark Side mentally, so it all slides off the tight black T-shirt. (I have to commend the camerawork and lighting done in this room throughout -- as Michael slowly loses his innocence, the stripes of light are positioned so he slips farther and farther into shadow each time, ending with a shot of him nearly in complete silhouette.) He admits that one thing has been cleared up: that lingering feeling he's been carrying around is hunger.

The main characters quibble again about whether to up his meds and rewipe his memory. Salt comes into Michael's quarters to escort him to the infirmary for his next shot. He appears to come quietly, glancing behind him to see that Pepper has finally been relieved by Sugar and Ronon is rear-guard. This gives him an idea.

He turns and thanks Ronon for being the only one in the credits who didn't lie to him about what he was. Salt nudges him to get moving again. Michael slowly turns, and then explodes, hurtling Salt down the steps into Ronon and slamming Sugar against the wall so he can steal the guard's weapon. Ronon draws his blaster and runs after Michael.

They race through lots of glass and steel corridors. Michael ambushes Salt and tells him to drop his weapon. Salt starts to comply but then turns to shoot, and Michael kills him. He actually looks shocked at himself. He crouches to touch the blood seeping out of Salt's vest, and lifts his hand to his nose to sniff it. He stands slowly, and turns -- right into the barrel of Ronon's gun. Sheppard, coming from the other direction, is just a little faster (Ronon must have skipped his K'Wheaties that morning) and stuns Michael into oblivion. Connor's had plenty of practice making that particular face.

Michael's in the brig, a surprisingly spacious cell dimly lit in green (is that supposed to make him calmer?). The main characters quibble about what to do with him. Ronon votes to kill him. The others decide to find a remote colony to stick him on and continue with the cocktail at increased dosage. Teyla come to his cell and dismisses Bread and Butter. (They actually don't leave, but instead turn to watch her and the prisoner, which is amusing but tactically sound.) Michael asks her what's next. She explains that they're going to move him to the Outer Mongolian Cluster. He acknowledges the tactical risk he poses, and that he could potentially tell the Wraith where Atlantis is.

"I didn't mean to kill him," he says softly of Salt. "I just wanted to escape." "We would like to continue the drug treatments," she answers, as though he hadn't spoken. Michael closes his eyes in quiet despair. "The alternative is death." That gets his attention.

The main characters quibble about the logistics of moving materials and the ultimate moral responsibility for Salt's murder. Michael is sitting quietly in the corner of his cell, which has also acquired a SPOTLIGHT. Sheppard comes in and opens the cell door. Michael rises to greet him. "Colonel," he begins. Sheppard says "Time to go" and stuns him again. Connor's had plenty of practice making that particular face. The rest of the medical team runs in with a stretcher and loads him up.

One wormhole later, at Camp Wanamakabisai, Michael wakes up strapped to a stretcher in a vaguely M*A*S*H-like tent. Teyla is with him again. She reassures him that he's safe, and was "sedated" for the move. The straps are merely "a precaution," which even she doesn't buy. He says he's hungry, so she brings him soup. He looks up at her mournfully and rattles his straps in a gesture of futility. She offers to spoon-feed him. One bite is quite enough. He wasn't hungry for that.

He starts murmuring how she's different from the others (Teyla's ancestors were experimented on by Wraith gene-splicers back in the day, so she has some "bug juice" [™ Sandy] in her DNA). She blinks slowly. It seems the Wraith acquired some basilisk genome along the way, because he continues to sweet-talk with an echo-echo-echo and she starts removing his restraints. Once he's free, he thanks her -- then spins her around and gets her into a standing full nelson.

The main characters discover Michael's escape with Teyla, and surprisingly don't quibble about going after them. Michael binds Teyla's hands ("a precaution") and insists he won't let them experiment on him any more. (I think he's just upset that they put blond highlights in his hair while he was sedated.) Ronon and Sheppard are tracking them through the woods -- I'm not sure how Ronon's sword is supposed to help against an ex-Wraith armed with a pistol -- but Michael finds the local gate first. Teyla scratches his control panel pattern on the rock where she's sitting. They run through the gate and it closes just in time for Ronon to fling himself at it and land in a sprawl on the local ground.

On the other side, Michael herds Teyla along. She gripes about the hike. They come to a clearing. Michael bends over and leans against a tree, panting, conveniently out of camera range. Teyla's Spidey senses start to tingle. "I am sensing something... there are Wraith nearby." The camera pans back to Michael, who is struggling to stand up, now sporting the ghoul look. Apparently it hurts to have genes turned on and off. "Yes there are," he confirms.

"It's not too late!" she tells him -- they can still go back to the camp and he can get another injection. He refuses. "This is how it's supposed to be," he grates, his eyes gone yellow and slitted.

Somehow Teyla is able to fall asleep with this clown running around, because the next shot is her waking up, by herself, with her restraints removed. She looks out over the edge of the cliff and sees a Wraith hive ship, crawling with Wraiths, busily doing whatever it is they do when they're not screeching and eating people. "This... is what I was drawn to," says a husky, computer-distorted voice to her side. She whips around to see Michael mostly Wraithified, looking down at the hive ship.

He tells her he will return to them. "Then we shall be enemies again," she says. They never stopped, he answers, circling her like a wary dieter around a buffet. She challenges him: is he going to feed on her? "I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel the urge," he admits, twisting his head around like he just put it back on his neck and hasn't worked out all the kinks quite yet.

Teyla dares him to go ahead. He looks reluctant and somewhat pained. She stands her ground, mostly, until it looks like he's changed his mind.

Abruptly he rears back to give her the ol' Indy Jones heart plunge. Sheppard stops him by shooting him from the bushes. He jerks and falls so fast I couldn't get a screencap. Sheppard and Ronon provide cover for Teyla to escape while more Wraith soldiers come from the other side of the clearing and surround Michael. "He's alive!" one growls. "Yeah, but lookit what they did to his hair!" another one sneers, and they have a good laugh while they cart him back to the hive. The main characters reassemble at Atlantis to quibble about what the Wraith now know and just how screwed the Atlantis team is.

Photos: Hoshissis, MGM Television Entertainment via SCI-FI Channel, Gateworld