A team from Atlantis visits M5S224, a planet that hosts a stargate, a number of stelae (small stone pillers) and nothing else, anywhere. The planet is devoid of all signs of life and surrounded by a boundless mist. It is an uninteresting world, except for the strange energy field that seems as pervasive as the mist. The team prepares to leave over the strident objects of McKay who wishes to study the place under the rubric of pure research. Sheppard overrules him and the team dials out. That’s when McKay discovers something extraordinary. This particular gate draws power from the strange energy field - a planetary sized field that contains more than enough energy to establish a wormhole to Earth.
Back in Atlantis McKay argues for removing the control crystal from the Atlantis DHD. That crystal enables the Atlantis DHD to lock an eighth chevron, and thereby establish extragalactic wormholes given sufficient power. McKay proposes taking the crystal to the mist planet and connecting it to the DHD there. With the crystal in circuit and the power of the planet’s energy field he believes he can establish a wormhole to Earth. After some debate Weir authorizes McKay to proceed. Removing the crystal, McKay departs with Lieutenant Ford in tow.
The DHD on M5S224 differs from that in Atlantis so there is some question whether the plan will work.
While waiting to hear from McKay, Weir and Sheppard converse about going home. Each of them feels out the other one about the possibility of returning home permanently. Each argues there are good reasons to go but when the conversation ends each has reasserted a commitment to the Atlantis expedition.
McKay and Ford argue over who should go. This conversation has a different tone to the one that occurred between Weir and Sheppard. McKay believes himself a key man in the Atlantis expedition but also believes he is one of the few men clearly qualified to discuss the scientific discoveries. In short, he’s valuable both places. His egotistical commentary seems to amuse Ford.
Back in Atlantis Sheppard and Teyla talk about her visiting Earth and seeing the things he has only described before this. And getting more popcorn (they have exhausted their supply).
Finally McKay completes the modifications and dials Atlantis. A small team: Weir, Sheppard, McKay and Teyla travel to M5S224. McKay opens a wormhole to Earth and there contacts a skeptical Sgt. Harriman whose attitude melts when he receives Weir’s personal IDC code and realizes the message is legitimate. Harriman assuages their fears about returning, telling them the Asgard are fitting the Prometheus with engines that can reach other galaxies. Even if they can’t reopen a wormhole they can return to the Pegasus galaxy quickly.
Convinced, the team travels to Earth where General Hammond greets them in the gate room. In the briefing room Hammond tells Weir that her report concerns the Pentagon. Faced with the Wraith threat they are considering abandoning the Pegasus galaxy. Weir and McKay both argue against this and contend that if Hammond believed that approach sound he would never have sent SG-1 through the gate years ago. Hammond responds that once the Goa’uld knew about Earth that the die was cast. The Wraith do not know about Earth and the a hurried retreat is presently regarded as the best way to keep them from ever finding it. He also points out that the Wraith fought the Ancients to a standstill. Weir and McKay also share the view that the Atlantis expedition is the people who awoke the Wraith. That would have happened eventually anyway but they have hastened matters. Also, the Wraith may not know where Earth is, but they now know it does exist. Further, the Atlantis people feel they can help other Pegasus humans with their access to Ancient technology.
Moments later Sheppard catches up with Hammond who thanks him for his service and asks if he’s thinking about R&R. Sheppard tells Hammond he is and Hammond offers him a trip anywhere he wants to go. Sheppard stops long enough to collect Teyla from the infirmary where the medical staff have finished examining her. Once they leave, their first stop is to get her a new outfit.
A red BMW stops in a driveway and Weir gets out. She approaches the man there. He is Simon Wallis, her boyfriend.
McKay returns home and checks his answering machine. Finding no messages, he settles on to the couch and crunches a bag of junk food. Extracting it, he pops one of the months old snacks into his mouth and turns on the television. There is a knock and when he answers the door, the beautiful girl who has been watching his cat seems more interested in him now.
Teyla has a lot of fun – hours and hours of it – marveling at the vast array of choices in the Earth “marketplace.” Sheppard seems ill at ease. Something strikes him as odd, but he cannot decide what it might be. He orders the driver to take them to a park.
Weir has a reunion with her dog Satch. Simon tells her he watched the tape she left many times and wondered where she was – Korea, or Israel. He never expected that she was in the Pegasus Galaxy. Somewhat sadly, he suggests his security clearance isn’t high enough to know when she will return or how long she’ll stay next time and she confirms this. Removing a small jewelry box he asks her to at least take the contents when she goes – a gold pendant on a thin chain. Then he kisses her; she pulls away somewhat uneasily. Something seemed wrong with his kiss.
Weir comes to see McKay, who is asleep on his couch. McKay is surprised and happy because he has a date with the girl in 302. Then Weir tells him an accident on the Prometheus will delay their return to the Pegasus Galaxy indefinitely.
Back at Stargate command McKay realizes how to reestablish the gate. He believes the depleted ZPM contains enough energy to establish a wormhold for 3.5 microseconds. That’s not long enough to transmit anything but it is long enough for the gate on the other end to begin feeding energy into the wormhole from the M5S224 energy field. Someone reluctantly, Hammond orders the ZPM brought to Stargate Command so that McKay may conduct experiments.
Weir visits Hammond and suggests the Asgard could lend a ship. She doesn’t want to abandon her expedition team. Hammond says he will try but cannot make any promises.
Lieutenant Ford’s welcome home party received an unexpected visitor. A sergeant appeared with orders reposting him back to Antarctica. These orders confuse the young officer who does not understand them. Noticing McKay with other scientists, Ford catches up and McKay tells him the ZPM is entirely depleted and there is no way back.
Back at home Simon asks Weir if it would be so bad if she had to stay on Earth. He realizes it’s tough to compete with the greatest adventure and tells her he doesn’t blame her for going. She comments that she should have stayed in Atlantis and Sheppard should have come to Earth...
Sheppard arrives at his home, a large “bachelor pad” full of electronic gear, comfortable couches, a foosball table and other entertainments. He fishes a pair of beers from the refrigerator and offers one to Teyla. She tastes it and then drinks with gusto. He tells her he thinks about Weir and the others back on Atlantis, Teyla tries to reassure him by telling him they’re fine...
The ZPM test results disappoint McKay. He dismisses the scientist and conducts the tests himself...
Hammond calls Weir into his office and tells her McKay has a solution for returning to Atlantis. But he also shares that the Pentagon has reassessed the mission and determined that it should be a military command. Stargate Command will send reinforcements and a new commanding officer; Hammond tells Weir her services are no longer required. She asks if Sheppard has an opinion on this and Hammond tells her he contacted the SGC via the Stargate. When told of the plan he endorsed it because of the Wraith threat.
Sheppard decides he wants to get out of the house and take Teyla to see more of Earth. She suggests a party. No sooner does she say it than the doorbell rings and two old friends of Sheppard’s appear: Mitch and Dex.
Weir confronts McKay in his laboratory. When she talks to him, he is wearing a lab coat and fully supports the militarization of Atlantis. He tells her the ZPM cannot be exploited to return to Pegasus and smashes it on the floor. Interspersed with this conversation is another conversation from Rodney’s point of view. He is dressed casually and Weir is in a dark blue suit instead of the red shirt she wore moments earlier. She doesn’t seem to understand that Rodney’s tests suggest the world doesn’t work according to the normal laws of physics. Each of them grows frustrated at the other’s apparent disinterest...
Sheppard’s house now hosts a big party. Mitch and Dex talk about some of their past exploits with Sheppard; Lieutenant Ford appears with a stack of pizzas – he crossed paths with the pizza guy on his way in.
McKay tells Weir to go spend time with Simon. When she realizes she never told him about Simon she realizes something is terribly wrong with the world.
Sheppard is increasingly unhappy. People from his past surround him. In a corner is his sexy sixth grade teacher and all of his military buddies are arrayed about the room. Suddenly he pulls a pistol and shoots Mitch! He tells Mitch and Dex their helicopter caught an RPG and burned up; there was barely enough left of them for a military funeral. They cannot be here.
Each member of the team realizes that something is wrong with their world. Weir confronts Hammond and he admits that each of the team exists in his own illusory world. He brings them all together in the gate room and tells them their realities are a fabrication of their own minds. Teyla had no memories of Earth so she shared Sheppard’s illusion. Then he tells them to create a reality to occupy for the rest of their lives, for they will never leave – their real bodies are still on M5S224, unconscious. McKay realizes they are slowly starving and Hammond tells them they should make the most of what time they have left. He turns to leave and they ask him why.
Hammond tells them this was done to protect his people, who live on M5S224. Each use of the stargate drains their energy and kills them. When McKay and the others returned to their world they grew alarmed, realizing the energy necessary to create a wormhole to Earth will kill millions of them. The Atlantis folks were never supposed to realize their reality wasn’t, but the aliens lacked a thorough understanding of them and so the illusions were flawed.
They tell Hammond others will come when they fail to return because humans don’t leave their own behind. But they offer to stay away if he allows them to leave and invite him to examine their minds to confirm this. He studies their minds and then agrees that they can leave.
They wake up on M5S224 and thank the aliens for trusting them. Then they disconnect the control crystal and return to Atlantis. Share this article with your friends