This episode is part 2 of 3; it is preceded by "First Strike" and followed by "Lifeline".
Gallery Episode Transcript

"Adrift" is the first episode of the fourth season of Stargate: Atlantis.


With only 24 hours of power left, Atlantis drops out of hyperspace and is helplessly drifting through space, while the Atlantis expedition work tirelessly on a way to save the city. However, with Dr. Elizabeth Weir injured and several obstacles standing in the way, it may not be easy.

Previously on Stargate: Atlantis

The Apollo arrived in Atlantis to take down the Asurans, since they were building ships, which Colonel Abraham Ellis believed were intended to attack Earth. The preemptive strike was a success. However, the Asurans planned revenge, by sending a Stargate satellite to attack the city. The beam was quickly depleting Atlantis' shield. Dr. Rodney McKay tried to submerge the city, but beam was not weaken enough. Their next plan was to bring an Asteroid to block the beam and allow Atlantis to use the Stardrive to leave the planet. However, in the process the beam grazed the side of the central tower. Due to this, the city dropped out of hyperspace early, and are now drifting in the middle of nowhere, with 24 hours of power left, and no hope of calling for help, or re-engaging the Stardrive.


The team furiously works on restoring the hyperdrive.

Dr. Jennifer Keller and a medical team takes a gurney with an injured Dr. Elizabeth Weir to the infirmary. However, on the way, Weir flatlines. Keller tries to revive her, and soon arrives in the infirmary to operate on her, but they have to revive her first. Ronon Dex is also in the infirmary, demanding that a Doctor remove a piece of glass in his chest. Meanwhile, in the control room, Dr. Rodney McKay works furiously to restore the Stardrive, and Subspace communications, since they were all damaged by the brush with the beam. McKay discovered that the power conduits are damaged, which prematurely deactivated the stardrive. They work on repairing them. Back in the infirmary, Weir has flatlined for two minutes. She's suddenly back in V-fib, so Keller uses the defibrillator, which brings her back to life. Back in the control room, McKay tells Lt. Colonel John Sheppard that they are draining too much power, and will be lucky if they survive the night.

A while later, Sheppard approaches McKay, and tells him that since Weir is incapacitated, Sheppard is in charge, and wants McKay to keep him in the loop. McKay tells him that he deployed some teams to patch up the damaged conduits. They have made significant progress in fixing them, and they would have at least an extra hour of power. However, an alarm sounds. They discover that the shield is collapsing, and McKay can't stop it. Sheppard warns a team led by Matthews to finish the work and escape to the central tower. The team attempts to do so, however, the shield is collapsing too quickly. The team almost makes it, but the artificial gravity shuts down, and the shield passes the helpless team. In the control room, the team watches helplessly, as they see the bio signatures fade away. Sheppard orders the other teams not to take too long.

Carter and Lee in the almost operational Midway station.

Meanwhile, in the almost completed Midway space station, Colonel Samantha Carter and Dr. Bill Lee work on activating the artificial gravity, when Bill vomits due to the weightlessness, but insists on staying to get the gravity on. Suddenly, the Pegasus Stargate activates. Colonel Abraham Ellis contacted her to inform her that Atlantis has left Lantea, but did not arrive on M12-578, since Atlantis was supposed to beat them there. Ellis then took the Apollo to the nearest planet with a Stargate and told Carter the situation. Ellis then decides to head back to 578 and dial back in one hour.

Back in Atlantis, Ronon checks up on Weir. There, he learns that Weir is in critical condition, her brain is swelling and if it continues, then they have to perform a decompressive craniectomy. Meanwhile, McKay tells Sheppard that the teams have finished, and in order to save more power, the shield has to collapse to cover only the central tower, which Sheppard authorizes. The shield quickly transforms to a cigar shaped bubble surrounding the control tower. Back in the infirmary, Keller learns that Weir's brain is swelling to dangerous levels. Keller has to stop it, so she performs the craniectomy, which does stop the swelling.

McKay brings the team two pieces of good news. A), they're no longer lost, but the subspace communications are beyond repair. B), the stardrive wasn't damaged, just that the conduits were damaged, and Dr. Radek Zelenka is making excellent progress, by using secondary conduits to patch up the damaged ones. Sheppard then pops into the infirmary, where Keller gives him a diagnostic of Weir's condition; she has six broken ribs, one of which punctured a lung, but no spinal damage. However, her head got knocked around badly, causing substantial brain damage. Meaning that even if she will revive, she'll never be the same Elizabeth again. This news puts Sheppard on an uneasy position.

In the ZPM room, Zelenka tells McKay they will soon finish repairs to send Atlantis to M12-578. However, there's a problem, the city is on a collision course with an asteroid belt, which leaves them an ultimatum. If they take the shields back to its original shape, the power drain would lose any chance of restoring the stardrive. If they remain, the city would fall apart. With the Chair room out of reach of the shield, Sheppard has one plan left. He calls in everyone with the Ancient Technology Activation gene to fly Puddle Jumpers to make a clearing for Atlantis to go through unscathed. However, most of the people rarely flew Jumpers and had little experience. However, Sheppard has complete faith in them. They fly away and get into formation until they are in firing range of the asteroids.

McKay chases after an asteroid zeroing in on Atlantis.

The pilots start firing Drone weapons into the asteroids. Despite little experience, the pilots managed to have wiped out several asteroids. After the halfway point, McKay and two more Jumpers pick off some stragglers, particularly the big asteroid about to hit Atlantis, which is intercepted by McKay. The other Jumpers make it through and return to pick off the stragglers. In Atlantis, they feel the effects of some smaller pieces hitting Atlantis. The city sustains multiple hits, but went through the field, putting everyone into relief. The Jumpers return, with McKay's shock that the plan worked. However, he is called to more bad news; some of the asteroids that made it through Atlantis has damaged some of the stardrive's control crystals. They have to repair it.

There is a catch, the crystals are outside the shield, meaning they would have to make it there in space suits, and would have to work fast, before the power levels will dip too low to get the stardrive online again. Sheppard and Zelenka ready their space suits. Meanwhile, McKay gets a visit from Keller, who gave him an idea to get Weir back to her original self, by reactivating the nanites she was infected with by Niam a year ago. McKay tells Sheppard about the plan, only to tell him not to, since Weir wouldn't want that to happen. However, McKay works on a plan to reprogram them in a way that it will not be a threat to her.

Back in the Midway station, the artificial gravity is now online, where Carter and Bill work on a way to contact Atlantis. Bill proposes an All-gates bulletin, which Carter declines, due to its numerous flaws.

Sheppard and Zelenka perform a space jump through a damaged section of Atlantis.

Sheppard and Zelenka walk through the exposed hallways. However, on the way, they find a big gap between them and the control crystals. Sheppard plans on a space jump, by pushing Zelenka and using his inertia to pull Sheppard across the gap. It works and Zelenka starts on replacing the damaged crystals. However, a micro-asteroid cuts through Zelenka's uniform and through one of his legs. However, Zelenka insists on continuing.

In the infirmary, Ronon comes up to Weir and thanks her for letting him in Atlantis, because he would be dead if he carried on as a runner. However, her vitals spike. Keller pushes Ronon away and tells McKay to activate the nanites or she'll die. Despite not being finished, McKay gives her the activation codes.

Weir awakens from her coma after her nanites reactivated.

Zelenka finishes replacing the crystals. However, when Sheppard tells Teyla Emmagan, she tells them that the power levels have dropped below the minimum level required to jump. They have 30 hours before the shields completely fails, which will kill them all. But there's another problem; Sheppard finds out about Weir, and snaps at McKay. He orders him to terminate the nanites, which McKay refuses. But Weir has just awakened from her coma and wonders what is going on. They put the room Weir is in placed in quarantine. Weir tells Teyla that reactivating the nanites is a bad idea, as they have no idea what she went through last time.

In the Midway station, Carter has an idea. They use the Apollo to make several little jumps and use the Long range sensors to find Atlantis. However, since several thousand jumps are required, Carter plans on augmenting the ship's sensors. They plan to dial to the Pegasus Galaxy.

Sheppard hears McKay's proposal to infiltrate the Replicator homeworld.

Back in Atlantis, the team tries to figure out an alternate plan to save Atlantis. Zelenka proposes they override the city safeguards and try to activate the hyperdrive with their available power. However, doing so means there is a 50/50 chance the hyperdrive will either work, or destroy the city. Sheppard rejects the plan as it is too dangerous and insists they try something else. McKay and Zelenka then realize they can use the hyperspace-capable Jumper that McKay designed when he was once physically augmented. Though it can't travel very far, the Jumper does have enough power to jump to a nearby planet and return. McKay and Zelenka plan to take the Jumper to a nearby planet. On the screen, McKay finds M7R-227, which has several Zero Point Modules. 227 is actually the Asuran homeworld, and McKay proposes a heist to steal a ZPM.



Appearances for Adrift





Sentient Species



Notable quotes

Zelenka: Several of the main conduits were affected by the brush of the beam.
McKay: Alright that means that we need to uh...
Zelenka: Yes, yes, yes. You should get the...
McKay: Yeah I will as soon as I shut down all the...
Zelenka: Yes, yes, I will do the same thing here.
Sheppard: Wait, wait, what's going on here?

(Ronon, trying to have a medic take out the glass shard)
Ronon: Just pull it out.
Young Doctor: I can't do that.
Ronon: Why not?
Young Doctor: We have to wait to get you under the scanner, make sure pulling it out is not gonna cause you any more damage.
Ronon: Pull, it, out.
Young Doctor: Yeah, yeah, I get it. You're a tough guy. If you wanna pull it out, go ahead. (Ronon reaches for the piece of glass, the medic tries to stop him) Are you CRAZY?!

(McKay explains the situation to Sheppard)
McKay: The conduits weren't severed, they were damaged. It's complicated, but imagine them as leaky pipes, OK?
Sheppard: OK.
McKay: So you pump water through them, they leak, right?
Sheppard: Dumb this down any more, you're gonna get hit.
McKay: Sorry.

McKay: It's just like the video game "Asteroids".
Sheppard: Whatever works for you.
McKay: I was terrible at Asteroids, I think I actually scored zero once.

McKay: It will be a breeze, with the exception of the micro asteroids.
Sheppard: The what?
McKay: We've just been through an asteroid belt. The big stuff is behind us but there's still an amount of bullet sized rocks out there.
Sheppard: Tiny rock bullets? Great.
McKay: I'm sure you'll be fine.

Sheppard: Who would that be?
McKay: That, that would be the replicator homeworld. You feel up to a heist?


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • Q4H, as mentioned by Dr. Jennifer Keller, refers to "every four hours" in medical terminology.
  • This is the only season premiere of Stargate Atlantis to not feature or make mention of the Wraith.
  • On September 12, 2007, unfinished versions of this episode and "Lifeline" were leaked onto the Internet. They were rough cuts without sound effects or music, as well as missing many computer generated scenes used solely for aesthetic purposes and scene changes.
  • There was about 90 threatening asteroids in the way of Atlantis. This must be true because the fully armed flight of 15 jumpers managed to clear a path while carrying an armament of 90 drones (six drones per jumper). The number of asteroids is an estimation based on the fact that some asteroids got through and damaged parts of the city, meaning the flight either ran out of ammunition or outright missed some asteroids (although there was not significantly more than 90, otherwise the city would've been more extensively impacted).
  • During Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay's discussion about the chain of command, McKay tells Sheppard he'll get him the Coles Notes, to which Sheppard is confused, and McKay responds with CliffsNotes. Coles Notes are literature guides for students, published in Canada by Jack and Carl Cole, where McKay is from, so it's understood that Sheppard wouldn't know what they are. In 1958, Coles sold the U.S. rights to Coles Notes to Clifton Hillegass under the name CliffsNotes.

Amanda Tapping in the opening credits.


  • At the beginning of this episode, there is a continuity error regarding a prop. At the end of "First Strike" Dr. Jennifer Keller was seen wearing a standard Sprague Rappaport stethoscope around her neck. This episode begins only a few seconds later, but Keller is using a Thinklabs electronic stethoscope, the one Dr. Carson Beckett used in seasons 2 and 3.
  • Contrary to the popular movie and TV trope, asteroid fields are not nearly as dense as depicted otherwise the asteroids would have pulverized each other millions of years ago. Additionally the effects of gravity work in favor of fewer bodies with bigger individual masses that are more spread out in space. Small asteroids and "space dust" will coalesce into/rain down onto a big object over time. In our own solar system the average distance between the bigger asteroids are on the order of millions of kilometers, more than enough to fly Atlantis, the Millennium Falcon and every other space ship in the history of Sci-Fi through without ever being in danger of collisions. A person on the surface of any of Sol's asteroids would not be able to see even the next closest asteroid with the naked eye.
  • Additionally, the odds of Atlantis randomly dropping out of hyperspace anywhere NEAR any asteroid/planet/star are quite literally astronomical. Space is really, REALLY empty. Like, if two hefty spiral galaxies collided face-to-face, the odds of any star/planet colliding with another would be essentially zero. And if the city really WERE to face such an encounter, the odds of the city and asteroids apparently having very little difference in their relative velocities is equally nonsensical. If the city is indeed moving too quickly through space for the Stargate to calibrate, it must be moving significantly greater than the Earth's orbital speed of 30 kilometers PER SECOND. And it is shown to be heading towards the belt perpendicularly, so it can't be "gaining" on the asteroids, as if they were moving in the same direction. However, during the Jumper scene, the asteroids are apparently moving only a few miles per hour, in relation to the city.
  • When Sheppard goes out to fix the hyperspace array, he can hear several of the micro-asteroids tearing through the city. However, given that they are in open space, he should not hear any noise at all, although it is a well-established trope that in television shows and films it's to be expected that they'll ignore this fact for the sake of entertainment value, and avoiding whole stints of silent scenes in a series that involves itself in an intergalactic expedition.
  • On the Midway space station, the gate status screens show the Milky Way gate with the Iris closed, however, an Iris is not seen when the Milky Way gate is shown seconds before, and in "Midway" the station is stated to not have an iris.


Other languages

  • Hungarian: Sodródás (Drift)
  • German: Verloren im All (Lost In Space)

External links

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