Warning: kind of long and rambly and--well, if you click, you'll see.
Dear SGA writers:
Thank you for giving us the very minimum amount of backstory humanly possible; I can it must have cost you blood to give us twenty lines worth of background. I understand your terror of giving anyone but Rodney anything resembling a comprehensible past, in that way I do not understand at all, unless this is a very, very long term set up for something hugely dramatic involving John actually being an Ascended Ancient and if you go that way? I apologize now. I just don't believe it.
Thanks for your time.
I will get this out of the way right now; if I'd waited three months to get into this show, I'd have fallen into the John/Ronon ship and this episode reminds me of how very, very much I sometimes wish that. I cannot imagine them long term, just because two people who do not talk all that much, one of whom speaking in the language of obscure pop culture when pushed, can only end in them encouraging each other into greater feats of deathly silence and significant looks, at which time they might as well OT3 with Teyla so someone can translate for them full time. But if I OTP'ed them, I'd probably be able to think around that.
John and the Trials and Tribulations of Family
John, per usual, made me want to give him cookies, milk, and orgasms when his jaw went tight and he tried to remember how to breathe when Carter told him. I would like to vaguely know why information like this wasn't given in a more private setting, where one can collapse into a chair if necessary, but I suppose a hall in the middle of Atlantis works just as well. I do like Ronon was there to watch; of all of them, including Rodney, Ronon probably tends to read John best in what he doesn't say. Like I said, communication in significant looks. Teyla translates John's speech into human; Ronon tends to know the body language and acts accordingly.
Rodney and John in John's bedroom; I admit it, even if I were a John/Ronon shipper, that was amazingly sweet, especially since a.) I love Rodney, but I cannot imagine anyone I'd want to take to a funeral less and I can't imagine him so much as considering it, so wanting to is too cute for words; b.) that was very long term dating; c.) Rodney thinking they should talk about it, which I just--I kind of want to hug him and kind of wonder what he was thinking on that one. Again, my love of Rodney is legion, but how in the name of God would they talk about feelings?
I'm pretty sure Rodney's later activities included calling an emergency team meeeting "We can't let him go to earth alone! What if he gets lost? What if an Ancient shows up? What if he runs off with her while out of his mind from grief? What if--" and Ronon's "Been packed for hours, McKay." while Teyla gestates calmly and tries to pretend pregnancy hormones are not making her vaguely homicidal.
I do wish we'd seen some Teyla here, actually, considering the team-circles the wagons thing going on, but oddly, it felt like Rodney and Ronon were picking up the slack, and it made me warm and fuzzy they cared that much to check up on him and make sure someone could go with him, when it's not anything he would have asked for himself or even thought to. Rodney is a good choice for keeping John distracted and outward-focused (which I tend to think is why John functions very well under pressure or disaster), but Ronon's better at letting John have solitude without letting him feel isolated or alone. And canon tends to state John prefers the first and unconsciously needs the second, so that worked for me a lot.
I liked John's startlement when Ronon showed up; I think it still comes as a surprise to him that anyone cares that much about him. Epiphany might be a turning point for him in terms of his general belief that his only value is in his abilities and his disposibility, but uncertainty is there. I love that Ronon acted like this was totally the plan. "I could have sworn I emailed you," Ronon's wide eyes seem to say. "Not so much," John's eyebrow answers. "And thanks," John's hair mutters while dipping toward the floor. "No problem," Ronon's dreds answer, "Lets get pizza later, okay?"
Like, I said, body language.
John could have worn his dress blues. I'd like to thank whoever responsible for putting him in a suit. I really really like this, in ways that are both inappropriate and vaguely pornographic. Ronon's new and fascinating interest in shirts that show off long scoops of chest (I'm pretty sure I own a shirt like that) is something I am sure all fangirls are grateful for. And his very black ensemble pleased me. A lot.
The problem with being a slasher is that sometimes I am not sure I am seeing what the general public would see. However, wandering up to Large House (which completely confirms my vague suspicion John came from a significant amount of money) with a tall, deeply hot, well-dressed guy hovering close; I mean, someone said bodyguard and sure, I can go with that, but John!Brother's look of resignation makes me wonder if John's been bringing deeply hot and well-dressed men with odd titles home for a while. Enough for John!Brother to remember that time John brought home his "thesis advisor" and caught them researching the strength of the library table and how much weight it could actually hold. "Reserach," John says with wide eyes and not even bothering to button his shirt. "Pretty sturdy. What is this, mahogany? Good stuff."
Stanford or Harvard makes me laugh; taking it as canon amuses me, but also taking it as John's idea of rebellion makes me wonder. When John was a teen, all the bad to the bone kids wore their ties with the wrong knot and went to Stanford to show off their teen independence. I--don't even know what to do with that one. I just--keep thinking, how did we get John Sheppard Rebel Leader and Disobeyer of Orders from this? It's utterly fascinating in ways I can't even articulate.
(Does anyone but me have a severe moment of cognitive dissonance imagining John at Harvard Business and taking over the family business with an MBA and a deep sense of hatred for his life? I just--stop and blink and think of him meeting CEO Rodney and if they'd hate each other as much as I suspect they would. Especially if John went along with it specifically to please his father. It just boggles the mind.)
The vague hostility between them was interesting, in that way that makes me wonder what happened there. John decides, for whatever reason, that his life was not going to go that way and walks out; other brother steps up and lives the life that John was supposed to have.
It was nice funeral, with lots of food and a disapproving brother (it is far too much to ask to get an approving one). Interesting in a mirror idea of what Rodney did to Jeannie when she disappointed him; I wonder if John's work to repair Jeannie's relationship with Rodney was proxy for what he couldn't do with his own father. He was in her position and knows how much it sucks and how much resentment builds up, and he doesn't want that for anyone else.
Ronon picking up snacks while screwing around with them [canon dialogue: "This is free, right?"] while they nod appropriately and think, where does John get these "civilian contractors" anyway will never, ever stop being funny. Later, John stares at his cell after listening to a voicemail: "I was asked if you have any brothers who would like to go into the civilian consultation business," John says, bewildered while Ronon smirks and says to add extra cheese to their pizza order.
John's ex-wife: well, that was. Something. John's sudden panic (in his understated John way) at her approach was the sort of thing we often see John do when faced with women when he's not sure what they want from him. The hug was--very John Sheppard, in that way he's praying for all of this to stop, stop, stop, and also, stop, please. Ronon wanders off to look at horses, because let's all face it, this never stops being funny. The stilted, awkward conversation between them seems pretty normal for two people who probably didn't know each other all that well while they were married and aren't sure what the rules are now.
Ava showing up to talk shop was annoying; if she's programmed with social interactions, I'm probably going out on a limb and saying she was programmed with the social interactions of a fairly socially retarded scientist. Funerals are not where you want to try and do business with anyone under normal circumstances. However, this is John Sheppard and external focus is his favorite thing on earth. He didn't do a little dance and song at finally having something to think about that's not related to dead father, estranged brother, and people coming up to assure him they understand Don't Ask, Don't Tell but want to say how glad they are he's found such a "civilian contractor": "I, uh, thanks?" John says as Ronon leans against the bar and presses his shoulder against John's while staring at the questioner, "Nice to see you too."
Later, When They Go Home
(Later, back on Atlantis, the debrief with the team while John's sleeping goes something like this:
"It was fun," Ronon says, eating the last of the pizza they brought back. Teyla's eyes narrow and Ronon remembers abruptly that her sticks are within reach. "Nice house, good food." Ronon waits until Rodney takes a bite of pizza, then leans back against Teyla's couch. "Told me that I really had a keeper in John."
Rodney spits out the piece in a fit of coughing while Teyla pounds on his back. "What--" Rodney says, red faced, voice strangled, "does that mean?"
Ronon leans his head back and looks at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Mom'd be proud. She always wanted me to marry well."
Rodney's silently hates him for the rest of the night and kidnaps John the next morning to subtly play video golf and remind him that Ronon's very pretty, but Rodney's a genius and also an excellent match.
"Your family would like me," Rodney says intensely as John lines up a spot. John blinks at him. "Better than Ronon, right?"
John stares back and tries to figure out how to answer this conversational equivalent of Do these pants make me look fat? There's really only one answer here. "Um. Sure?"
Rodney hits his radio triumphantly. "Ronon? They totally would have loved me more. Radek fix that problem with your door yet? Too bad about that." Turning it off, Rodney smiles at John over the top of the laptop. "Let's play again."
John's kind of scared to even ask. Later, Teyla tells him tiredly that she is never hosting anything in her room again, and also, John needs to get her some ice cream. He obeys without question; she's cuddling her sticks.)
Back to the main point
John!Brother's bitterness was kind of palpable when John had to go, but I was less than impressed with his conclusion jumping that John was back to contest the will and John's flash of anger at that. There's not nearly enough backstory to figure out what actually happened, but I get the feeling John might have taken literally the "And do not darken my doorway again" of his father's reaction and his father never got around to rescinding that completely. It makes me kind of wonder, actually, about how much his marriage had to do with himself and how much had to do with trying to find some way to please his father if his career and life choices were such a disappointment. It also makes me wonder if the final straw was the divorce.
John's short check when his brother told him that his father regretted their estrangement hurt.
Plot A: The Return of the Replicators, again
I could have lived without it, or actually, with something that was directly related to his family; I was hoping for his family's company to be involved (PTB, please do this please do this) and there could have been family drama and hard choices, but whatever.
Peterson, Ava, and Replicator3 were interesting, though I still can't tell what the actual purpose was supposed to be. Bates showing up was awesome; apparently civilian life is very, very good for mood disorders, what with being all about the awesomeness of seeing John and Ronon eyeing Bates thoughtfully and wondering more and more about this civilian contractor business.
"I thought he didn't like you," Ronon says later as they wander through Barnes and Noble to update John's golf magazine collection. John shrugs. "Didn't think he did." "When I was a kid, Ronon says seriously, "I really liked this girl and I used to pull her hair until she tried to hit me. She really hated me." John nods absently while sorting through the magazines; Tiger Woods, he thinks, then rewinds. Frowning, he looks at Ronon. "Why did you want her angry?" "I wanted her to notice me," Ronon answers. "Huh," John answers, and Ronon suddenly completely understands Rodney. He wonders if Rodney and Bates are still in touch.
But yes, bringing Bates back was very, very awesome. The plot, not so much. They question the guy about his research, he doesn't want to give it, which first is Oooh Military Secret Bad Thing or whatever and John works out which buttons to push; I can't help but wonder how often he used to do interrogations if he can figure out a weak point that quickly and how much he hates that he's so good at it. It also reminds me, in a completely vague association way, of the thing with torture and Caldwell from season two.
Dragging the sunburned scientist in was funny as hell; I do like knowing the guy did, in fact, go outside and not hole up with World of Warcraft in the tropics. Though his unfamiliarity with sunscreen is a concern.
John's second interaction with his ex was a lot better than the first; John had a specific purpose and more comfortable with her when he can move it to a less personal level. She doesn't seem so much bitter about their relationship and its end as frustrated that John still doesn't seem to think it's something he needs to apologize for, nor something he regrets. He wants information and knowing about her directorship, moves in, as John is nothing if not good at using what resources are available. It makes me wonder why he couldn't get it from anyone else; seriously, he has access to the SGC and the IOA resources, but this was somehow blocked from them all? I'd have been happier if they'd implied some kind of vague conspiracy somewhere to at least explain why he couldn't use someone who wouldn't a.) need an explanation, as they'd know or know tehy wouldn't get one or b.) be a former personal relationship that ended badly.
Blah blah, try to catch Replicator, blah blah, guy dying, blah blah, John wonders why he always gets assigned these guys who can't shoot. It was interesting, and it became more interesting when Ava found out they were brekaing the code. Ava turning out to be a replicator was a genuine surprise. And here's why I get a little confused.
Ava, early in the show, has a search running to find out when John comes back, which blips at the death of his father. Okay, so, she wants John. Why? I'm not sure what to think on that one, except that I kept wondering if she got impatient, because the convenience of John coming back just when she needed him and for the one thing her social programming would tell her would force his attendance--hmm. How long would she have waited for this specific person to return?
Replicator in space and re-entering atmosphere? Awesome. Ava doing an Aurora. Fantastic compromise, except why not let her work on science, because replicator and smart. Then it occurred to me, thanks to astolat's fic Time in a Bottle that even a really good VR is still not Real World and might not follow the laws of physics, especially those that they don't know about yet. So--yeah. Plus, she might find out where she was, or what had , and program herself an internal interface or who the hell knows. So that works.
John going to see his brother was sweet, but I just--seriously. SGA writers. I'd like to know what the hell happened. Two, three lines, something. I'd like to think we'll find out eventually, but it does give food for thought in John's abandonment issues if his family rejected him for whatever reason, he went off to do super secret things (SpecOps, Black Ops, amused with John's protest he'd never been on secret missions to Somalia (But North Korea, sure)) and ended up all his friends dying in super secret ways he couldn't even talk about to anyone, blackmarked and sent to freaking Antarctica, in which John gave up on that entire connection with human race thing because he's getting very, very tired of losing people he cares about.
No wonder he didn't want to leave Antarctica--at least there, being alone was finally his choice, not his destiny.
I loved this so much. My loud squee is muted for respect for John's grief, but so there. It makes me wonder about when he visited his brother, what he was thinking: reunion, duty, last goodbye, trying to mend something. I'm not sure he could have done that before now, since as of season one, he'd still been, at least to himself, without a family to claim and to claim him, and who he didn't think would care either way if he died.
First season, he chose three people for his team, and in light of this, I wonder what he was looking for, or if he even knew himself what he was doing, why he chose them, what he thought they would be to him or if they'd be anything at all.
And that is your overanalysis of the day. Please come back again for the cookies.
God, writing this took me almost three hours. I want a cookie.