Since I covered SG1 last week, I’m going to chat about its first spin-off Stargate Atlantis today. Premiering in 2004, SGA ran for five seasons before being cancelled in 2009. The show’s mythology started in SG1 with several references to a “lost city” which is eventually deduced as being Atlantis.
Stargate Command initiates the Atlantis expedition as a return to the original mission to search out new life, and gather more allies against the Goa’uld. However, it’s soon apparent that, due to the massive power required to activate the eighth chevron, the mission is likely to be one way.
The mission is led by Elizabeth Weir, who heads a team made from both military and civilian personnel. They arrive to find the Atlantis – as the legend tells – is underwater. The teams investigate the city, but soon learn that the systems which are automatically switching on are draining what’s left of the power. As it reaches critical, another automatic system kicks in and the city rises from the deep to sit on the surface of the ocean.
Like SG1, the main team on Atlantis comprises of four people; soldiers John Sheppard and Aiden Ford, civilian scientist Rodney McKay, and the leader of the indigenous people, Teyla Emmagan. Teyla and the military head Colonel Marshall Sumner are kidnapped by a fearsome enemy called the Wraith. John manages a rescue, though Sumner ends up dead. In killing the Wraith Queen, John accidentally awakens the entire Wraith population, who’ve been in hibernation for many years.
Atlantis also face opposition from humans known as the Genii, who’ve been trying to best the Wraith for many years and are unhappy with John’s interference, and an enemy common to SGC – the Replicators. The latter are eventually vanquished, but the Wraith keep on coming, right to the very last episode.
The cast of Atlantis goes through a few changes over the five seasons. Ford is captured by the Wraith at the end of season one, which Sheppard’s determination to find him driving much of season two. He’s found on a couple of occasions, high on the Wraith enzyme, though he never returns to Atlantis. His eventual fate is never made known on the show, but he’s “replaced” by runner Ronon Dex in season two. Weir ends up critically injured at the end of season three, after which the leadership of Atlantis falls to SG1’s Sam Carter. She gets called back to Earth and is replaced by IOA stooge Richard Woolsey, who quickly learns that the galaxy does NOT follow the neat and orderly rules he’s used to.
At the end of season five, the Wraith discover the location of Earth and set out to destroy the planet. The Atlantis team follows and takes on the Hive ship, depleting most of the city’s power in defeating it. Atlantis sets down in San Francisco Bay, close to the Golden Gate Bridge, though it’s hidden from the public by its cloak.