Search and RescueEPISODE #501
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 07.11.2008
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 09.14.2009
DVD DISC: Season 5, Disc 1
WRITTEN BY: Martin Gero
DIRECTED BY: Andy Mikita
GUEST STARS: Connor Trinneer (Michael), Mitch Pileggi (Colonel Steven Caldwell), Kavan Smith (Lorne), Martin Christopher (Major Kevin Marks), Amanda Tapping (Samantha Carter), Patrick Sabongui (Kanaan), Leela Savasta (Vega), Jeremy Jones (Edison), Sharon Taylor (Banks), Rainbow Sun Francks (Lt. Aiden Ford), Annalise MacCullouch (Torren)
Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and his team, along with other military personnel from Atlantis, have fallen victim to Michael's booby-trap. They have discovered the lab where the Wraith was going to bring Teyla to have her baby, but got there before him. When Dr. Rodney McKay accessed Michael's computer system, he triggered an implosion of the entire facility ("The Last Man").
When the dust settles, most of the soldiers there to rescue Teyla are dead. Colonel Sheppard, however, is alive, pinned beneath fallen support beams. A metal rod has pierced his side. Ronon Dex, relatively uninjured, pulls the rod out before making several unsuccessful attempts to free Sheppard.
Dr. McKay regains consciousness to find himself intact, but confined to a small space in a pocket under the rubble. Major Lorne is with him, with a broken leg. To stave off claustrophobia, McKay plugs his laptop into a hard drive fragment from the Michael's mainframe computer. He discovers building schematics, a list of planets, and medical research data. Lorne tries to reassure him that the Daedalus is only a few hours away, and can transport them out. He also hopes Lt. Edison, posted at the entrance to the compound, has escaped and reported back to Atlantis.
Slightly injured, Edison does make it back to Atlantis via the Stargate. Colonel Samantha Carter dispatches search and rescue teams in jumpers. They quickly locate and dig out McKay and Lorne – but the other two life signs are buried much deeper. When McKay realizes that the booby-trapped computer sent Michael a message before initiating the self-destruct, Carter sends a Jumper into space to keep watch.
Upon receiving the alert, Michael sets course for the destroyed lab, intent on capturing anyone who remains alive. En route he examines Teyla, who is soon to give birth. Her son will be his instrument of change in the galaxy, he tells her. Teyla realizes that Michael will kill her once the baby is born, and pleads with the baby's father, Kanaan, to save them. But Kanaan fears what Michael will do if he helps her.
Before Ronon and Sheppard can be dug out of the rubble, Michael's ship arrives in orbit. He activates the Stargate to prevent anyone from escaping. Newcomer Captain Alicia Vega handily takes out a scout Dart with an M4 rifle, and Carter orders everyone into the cloaked jumpers – where they will await the arrival of the Daedalus. Dr. Jennifer Keller points out that Teyla is likely aboard Michael's orbiting hive ship.
Hearing the sounds of digging, but not knowing who is attempting to reach them, Ronon continues to try to free Sheppard. When they call out to the excavators, a wary Sheppard realizes they are Michael's hybrids. He and Ronon plan to go down shooting.
The Daedalus jumps in, and Carter sends a coded transmission alerting them to Teyla's presence on Michael's ship. To Kanaan's dismay, Michael decides to abandon his Darts and flee, but the Daedalus's Asgard weapon takes out the hive ship's hyperdrive. Michael must turn and fight after all.
Sam convinces the ship's commander, Colonel Steven Caldwell, to lower the ship's shields in order to beam up Sheppard and Ronon – taking the damage Michael's hive is sure to inflict. Lowering her shields, Daedalus beams up the men just as the hybrids reach them. The cloaked Jumpers are also taken aboard, but not before Daedalus loses her Asgard weapons, hyperdrive, sub-light engines, and 50 percent of life support systems due to Michael's attack.
With the shields back up to protect them from the hive ship's constant weapon's fire, and Michael's hyperdrive out of commission for the time being, the two ships are at a stalemate. Carter and McKay join the repair effort while Keller examines a seriously injured Sheppard. He needs a transfusion and surgery immediately, but Sheppard refuses. He has been dreaming about Teyla and another friend he failed to rescue – Lt. Aiden Ford ("The Hive"). Sheppard will not abandon Teyla the same way, and wants to lead a rescue op over to Michael's ship.
With Teyla so close, Sheppard and Ronon concoct a rescue plan. A diversionary F-302 attack, targeting the hive's weapons, would allow a cloaked Jumper with a rescue team to board when Michael opens his bay doors to launch Darts. Colonel Carter questions Sheppard's physical condition, but he insists on going – even if it results in a court martial. She backs his plan when Colonel Caldwell dissents.
Once aboard Michael's vessel, McKay quickly locates Teyla. He also determines that the ship's hyperdrive is almost repaired. When the team reaches Teyla, her contractions are close together – her son is about to be born. Sheppard and Ronon head off to prevent the hyperdrive from being fixed, leaving Rodney alone to help Teyla. As they plant a C4 charge on the hyperdrive, Sheppard struggles through his nearly debilitating injury.
Meanwhile, Teyla enters full labor, and convinces Rodney that he must deliver the child.
Michael realizes someone is on board when the explosion knocks out much of the ship's power. With much reluctance McKay delivers the baby, and even manages to cut the umbilical cord. He hands the crying newborn to Teyla as Sheppard and Ronon return. With Ronon carrying mother and baby, they race to the Dart bay – but cannot locate the cloaked Jumper. As McKay prepares to contact the Daedalus, Kanaan finds them.
Showing him their baby, Teyla begs Kanaan to help them escape. He arranges for them to use a Dart. Sheppard puts everyone except the baby in the Dart's storage and contacts the Daedalus. Caldwell suggests they return to Atlantis via the Stargate while he destroys the hive ship with the repaired Asgard weapon.
Back in the Atlantis infirmary, Teyla thanks Sheppard for rescuing her. She decides to name the baby after her father and Sheppard – Torren John Emmagan – just before Sheppard is wheeled off for his much-needed surgery.
Meanwhile, Carter says goodbye to McKay before gating back to Earth. The last Baal clone has been captured, she tells him, and the Tok'ra want SG-1 present when they remove his symbiote (Stargate: Continuum). The I.O.A. also wants to conduct an exhaustive review of her first year in command of Atlantis. Greeted at the S.G.C. by Richard Woolsey, Carter is informed that she has been relieved of her command. As she digests the stunning news, he adds that he is going to replace her as the commander of the Atlantis expedition.
- Samantha Carter departs Atlantis in this episode, with actress Amanda Tapping departing the show after one year. Tapping was offered a lucrative deal for Season Five, but turned it down to executive produce and star in Sanctuary for SCI FI Channel. Carter is expected to return for at least one more episode by the end of the season, if Tapping's filming schedule permits.
- A new recurring character is introduced in this episode, though many of her scenes scripted for this episode were cut. Leela Savasta plays Captain Alicia Vega (originally to be named Alison Porter – a name given to a different character who will appear in "Whispers" later this season), the gun-toting soldier who has just joined the Atlantis expedition from Earth. Savasta will return for a larger role in "Whispers."
The original script revealed that Vega had arrived on the base one week before the episode's start, and is a bit frustrated that she has not yet been assigned to a team. One cut scene was an exchange with Colonel Carter in her office above the Atlantis control room, before Lt. Edison arrives through the Stargate. Another scene, at the end of the episode, saw Vega trying to make friends with Dr. Keller.
- Savasta previously guest starred in the third season episode "Tao of Rodney," playing Dr. Esposito – who discovered the Ancient device with McKay and Zelenka. McKay later read her mind and believed that she thought he was hot ... until he realized she was thinking of Ronon.
- "Back in early November, we did come up with a bunch of jumping off points, fleshed out notions, and lame episode titles. We put them up on the white board and, at last count, had 14. As you may or may not have guessed, the title of our premiere (which I cryptically referred to as S&R) is 'Search and Rescue.' Who's searching and who's in need of rescue? Tune into the Season Four finale to find out." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a message at his blog)
- "A fair amount of the development of Season Four will carry into the beginning of Season Five. I sort of left off with a hint of the premiere, and the title is 'Search and Rescue.' Who exactly is doing the searching and who is in need of rescuing is a question for another time, probably later this season, once the rest of Season Four airs. There definitely will be carry-over in terms of certain relationships, character and big story arcs." (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in an interview with Slice of SciFi)
- "The big challenge with that episode was to convincingly film people who were trapped deep under rubble from a structure that had fallen on top of them. So I sort of took my visual cue as well as design cue from the  World Trade Center feature film because they shot a number of scenes showing people buried beneath the remains of the Twin Towers. With Atlantis, we had to show two different teams of people; we had Dr. McKay and Major Lorne in one debris pocket, while Ronon and Sheppard were in a second pocket.
"It was very difficult for the show's art department to come up with a set design that would be believable and show that these people are trapped underground, without resorting to using just Styrofoam rubble. On top of that, we had to keep the [work] environment very safe as well as user-friendly and do things on a TV schedule and within budget, which isn't always easy. Basically Sheppard is completely immobilized and Ronon is trying to offer his support and at the same time assist in freeing him. The two of them eventually get 'beamed out,' but prior to that there are some neat character beats between these guys as things aren't looking too good given Sheppard's condition and the fact that both men are stuck so far below the surface.
"Ultimately, James Robbins [production designer] and the rest of his art department along with the construction team designed and built a really cool set. It was very effective and I think allowed our story to come across quite well to the audience. Besides the two debris pockets, we also built a debris surface that our rescue teams, led by Colonel Carter, could physically climb up onto and walk around on before eventually locating Sheppard and the others and then begin the process of digging down to extract them.
"So it was a big art department show insofar as those particular scenes, and from a shooting perspective they were also the most interesting component for me. All in all this was a really fun story to work on and a nice way to start the year off as well." (Director Andy Mikita, in an interview with Newsarama)