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Childhood's End
Stargate: Atlantis, episode 6 (1.6)

Last Modified: 29 Jul 2007 10:09:14

         
Cast:
Joe Flanigan   IMDB   Major John Sheppard
Torri Higginson   IMDB   Doctor Elizabeth Weir
Rainbow Francks   IMDB   Lieutenant Aiden Ford
Rachel Luttrell   IMDB   Teyla Emmagan
David Hewlett   IMDB   Doctor Rodney McKay
Guest Cast:
Craig Veroni   IMDB   Doctor Peter Grodin
Teaser

The team crash-land on a planet where the locals, in fear of the Wraith, practice ritual suicide when they reach the age of twenty-five.
Synopsis
While Maj. John Sheppard does reconnaissance over a new planet, with Teyla, Lt. Aiden Ford and Dr. Rodney McKay with him aboard Puddle Jumper One, his team is brought down by a mysterious electromagnetic field emanating from the planet's surface.

As they search on foot for the Stargate they had come through, they discover a ruined city. McKay surmises that the device dispersing the electromagnetic field is here somewhere. The plan is to find it, deactivate it so they can pilot the Jumper out of the 'gate and back to Atlantis. But they are ambushed by a group of primitively clothed children and teens armed with bows and arrows. The children refer to Sheppard and company as "full-growns" and take them to see "the elders" at their village - where the team is surprised to see the remnants of a downed Wraith Dart and the skeletal remains of the pilot set up like a shrine.

Then team discovers that these "elders" are all only 24 years old. The oldest by days is Keras, who explains that 500 years ago, the Wraith farmed this planet for food and their people were their herd; the downed ship is kept as a reminder. They believe the Wraith feed only on "full-growns," which is why the Wraith have not been back - since no one here lives beyond age 24. They moreover believe that the presence of the Atlantis team, who are all over 24, will bring the Wraith back through the Stargate, which they call "the Wraith Well." Keras' 25th birthday is tomorrow - and he is to be sacrificed tonight.

It's obviously no use to try to explain to the youngsters that it was not their sacrifices that have kept the Wraith away, but rather the EM field. At Sheppard's request, Keras let McKay and Ford, accompanied by children Cleo and Casta, to return to the ruins, where Sheppard says there is a device that will help them fix their ship. Yet Aries, the next elder in line, wants the full-growns gone now and plots behind Keras' back to force Team Atlantis back through the Wraith Well - or kill them before the Wraith detect their presence.

McKay discovers the EM device, which is powered by, of all things, a precious ZPM (zero-point module). He turns off the device, removes the module and, after conferring with Sheppard, returns with Ford to Atlantis with the items, hoping to use them to protect Atlantis. Of course, now the tribe's protection is gone, but Sheppard figures a few hours won't make a difference.

Wrong.

The homing device bracelet on the Wraith skeleton's hand starts to blink, now that electronic devices are working again. Sheppard smashes it. This is seen as sacrilege. Aries wants them punished, but Keras promises to escort them to the Wraith Well himself.

Back at Atlantis, Dr. Elizabeth Weir tells McKay that taking away the tribe's protection was a bad call. McKay thought they could just whisk the young people to Atlantis so they could stop killing each other needlessly, and use the ZPM to power Atlantis' shield generator. But Weir suggests that the suicide pact and the field are connected: It stands to reason that since the field isn't powerful enough to protect the entire planet, but only the twelve villages in which the tribes live, that the suicide pact was instilled as population control to keep the people from growing out beyond the field's protective range. Furthermore, the ZPM is only at 50% - not strong enough to power Atlantis' shields for more than a few hours, but more than enough to power the planet's EM generator indefinitely. Weir orders McKay and Ford to return it and get the EM field back online to protect those people.

Back at the planet, McKay struggles to get the EM device working, which wasn't as easy as switching it off. Sheppard and Teyla show Keras the device and try to explain that this is what has been keeping them safe - not the sacrifices.

Just then Aries shows up with his hunters. Sheppard tells them McKay is waiting at the Puddle Jumper and they were just about to leave. As the hunters escort the team back to the ship, McKay, who was hiding in the ruins, goes back to fixing the device.

Suddenly, a Wraith probe appears. Sheppard and company shoot it down. Aries is convinced it showed up because the Wraith sensed a "full-gown" crop worth harvesting. Aries' hunters and Sheppard's team are at a standoff, with Sheppard and company exercising extreme restraint not to use their P-90s.

But when a scout sent back to get McKay sees McKay turn on the device, dropping another Wraith probe out of the sky, he runs back and convinces Aries the device works and that Sheppard was telling the truth. The standoff is over. McKay boosts the power on the device to expand the shield range so that the population can grow again. And Keras will live to see his 25th birthday.
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