This episode is part 1 of 2; it is followed by "The Return, Part 2".
Gallery Episode Transcript

"The Return, Part 1" is the tenth episode of the third season, as well as the 50th episode of Stargate: Atlantis.


While testing the McKay/Carter Intergalactic Gate Bridge, the Daedalus picks up an Ancient warship, the Tria, who retake control of Atlantis, and the expedition is expelled to Earth. However, the Asurans are heading straight for Atlantis.

Previously on Stargate: Atlantis[]

The Atlantis expedition made first contact with a surviving colony of Ancients called the Asurans. When the Asurans capture Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's team and Dr. Elizabeth Weir and probe their minds, Dr. Rodney McKay realizes that they are not people, but machines, a new threat of Human-form Replicators.


Midway space station 4

Unfinished Midway space station

With Atlantis' Zero Point Module depleted, Dr. Rodney McKay and Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter devise an ingenious solution to solve the problem of transportation between the Pegasus and Milky Way galaxies. Using 34 Stargates from both galaxies, Stargate Command has constructed a massive chain of Stargates between the galaxies that would reduce the time to travel between Atlantis and Earth from three weeks to thirty minutes. The test is successful, but after Lt. Colonel John Sheppard returns from the test, McKay detects strange readings on the Daedalus's sensors.

Upon closer examination, McKay finds out that the anomalous contact is actually an Aurora-class battleship moving close to the speed of light. McKay hypothesizes that the ship is a damaged Ancient battleship making its way from Atlantis to Earth, but because its hyperdrive is damaged, it is forced to move at near lightspeed. Though the trip would take thousands of years, relativity from moving close to the speed of light would mean that only a few years, shortened further from stasis, would pass from the crew's perspective. The implications of this would mean that there could be living, breathing Lanteans on board.

Lantean lockout device

Helia takes control over Atlantis

The Daedalus manages to make contact with the ship, the Tria, and transport the Lantean crew, numbering roughly a hundred survivors, back to Atlantis. The Lanteans are overjoyed to see that their city is still intact, but reveal shocking news. They intend to reclaim the city and ask the Tau'ri to leave. Without warning, Helia the captain of the good ship Tria mentally summons forth an Lantean lockout device that rises out of the gateroom floor, activates it, and casually informs all present that, "Atlantis is now under my control." Major General Jack O'Neill and Richard Woolsey arrive in Atlantis to try to negotiate, offering manpower, resources and infrastructure to help the Lanteans “restore Atlantis to its former glory,“ but the Lanteans' position is steadfast. They acknowledge everything the Tau'ri have done and the debt they owe them, but say they need time alone after ten thousand years and that at some point in the future, the Tau’ri will be welcomed back. O’Neill informs Weir privately that the Lanteans have agreed that one person can stay as a liaison, and that the IOA has decided it should be Woolsey. Weir is insulted that she was not chosen, but O’Neill explains that the Lanteans were concerned that she would not be able to “let go” and accept the new arrangement.

With no support from the Lanteans, and with an Ori invasion of the Milky Way galaxy to deal with, the Atlantis expedition is disbanded and returned to Earth. Teyla Emmagan, Ronon Dex, and the Athosians are relocated to another planet. Everybody attempts to deal with their sudden separation from Atlantis in their own way. Sheppard is assigned to lead one of the SG teams, McKay is reassigned to Area 51 and Dr. Carson Beckett is given a surgery post at the SGC. Dr. Elizabeth Weir essentially drops off the radar and becomes a virtual hermit until Beckett coaxes her out to have dinner with the others.

Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, O'Neill and Woolsey report that an Asuran ship was detected, but the Lanteans are confident that they won't be harmed, since the Asurans' base programming prevents them from doing so. They believe that once they inform the Asurans that Lanteans again occupy Atlantis, they will call off any planned attack. While receiving this message at Stargate command, Woolsey points out to Shepard that this means that if the Lanteans hadn't returned, they would have lost Atlantis anyway to the Asuran attack (since the city no longer had a ZPM to power the shield). Shepard agrees.

Beckett visits Weir at her apartment, where she is clearly depressed. He insists that she come to dinner the next night with himself, McKay, and Sheppard, and he won't take no for an answer.

Back in Atlantis, the Lanteans are taken completely by surprise when the Asurans suddenly destroy the jumper the Lanteans have sent out to make contact, and then attack Atlantis.

Bill Lee 7

Weir distracts Dr. Bill Lee

Sheppard, McKay and Weir are summoned to the SGC, along with Beckett, despite the fact he did not bring his cell phone, though he wasn't called-in in the first place. O'Neill's final transmission explains that somehow the Asurans have overcome their base code and have already taken most of the city. He requests immediate evacuation and weapons fire is heard in the background. However, he and Woolsey are never able to make it to the gate.

During the briefing at Stargate Command McKay realizes he may have removed the protective block on the code when he reprogrammed Niam, but Sheppard says the Asurans may have figured it out on their own. What's important now is how they retake Atlantis.

However, Major General Henry Landry informs them that he has already decided to send the Daedalus to Atlantis and destroy the city with a nuclear warhead. With the gate bridge in place, the Asurans could use it to gate to any planet in the Milky Way, which the SGC cannot allow. He wants the Atlantis team to tell him the best way to get a nuke past the shield.

The four Atlantis expedition members told of the mission are horrified at the news, and protest, but Landry says these are O’Neill's standing orders, and they have to protect the Milky Way galaxy.

The four team members meet privately and hatch a daring plan to try to save O'Neill, Woolsey, and Atlantis. The four trick Dr. Lee and use his workstation to add McKay to the Puddle Jumper storage access list. They then steal a cache of upgraded Replicator disruptors (calling them "Anti-Replicator guns" or ARGs), hijack a Puddle Jumper, and use the gate bridge to travel to the Pegasus galaxy. General Landry sees the puddle jumper in the gate room and orders Sheppard to stand down, but the jumper continues. He manages to get a message to them when they stop at the Midway station, but Sheppard cuts him off and they continue on to Pegasus.

Ronon Dex 6

Teyla and Ronon in Athosian settlement

On the new Athosian homeworld, Teyla and Ronon are approached by Ladon Radim, asking them to consider working with the Genii against the Wraith. After Radim leaves, the two discuss this: Ronon has no desire to join the Genii, but Teyla comments that he may not be happy as a farmer.

At that moment, Sheppard, McKay, Weir, and Beckett arrive, and recruit Ronon and Teyla to help retake the city. With the team assembled, McKay uses a special backdoor program embedded into the Stargate's programming to open a wormhole to Atlantis and disable its Stargate shield. Sheppard then flies the Jumper straight through the gate, uncertain of what is waiting for them on the other side.



Appearances for The Return, Part 1





Sentient Species


  • Cat (Mentioned)
  • Dog (Mentioned)
  • Turtle (Mentioned)
    • Jeffrey and Michelle (Mentioned)



Notable quotes[]

O'Neill: He's late.
Landry: When traveling almost three million light-years I'm not so sure there's such thing as late.
O'Neill: Right. Yes.
Landry: You're just mad that you didn't get to fly the maiden-voyage yourself.
O'Neill: General, I'm quite fond of both maidens and voyages. I mean, put the two together...
(Landry interrupts)
Landry: You're not a test-pilot anymore, Jack.
O'Neill: That's what the President said.

Sheppard: What if you were forced from your home by war, only to return to find someone on your couch, eating your Cheetos, watching your TV.
McKay: Well, I would be fine with that.
Sheppard: No you wouldn't.

Woolsey: Keep in mind that when they left Atlantis, we were basically a hunter-gatherer species.
McKay: Well, did you remind them if we hadn't hunted and gathered them out of the void between galaxies they would still be stuck there?

Sheppard: You should call her.
Beckett: Who? Cadman?
Weir: You guys did make a cute couple.
Beckett: It didn't work out. Maybe it had to do with our first kiss being through Rodney.

Landry: Colonel Sheppard, I'm going to assume you're still at the Midway Station waiting for Dr. McKay to rewrite his macro. I understand what you're doing, Colonel - Hell, I'll even call it brave, but if you don't turn that ship around immediately and come back to the SGC, I'll see to it personally that your career in the military is-
(Sheppard slaps a button, disconnecting the communication)
Sheppard: That way I won't know what he was gonna say.

Beckett: My turtles!
(Everyone pauses for a while, looking confused)
Weir: What?
Beckett: I just bought some wee baby turtles and no one knows to feed them.
Weir: Well, turtles are pretty hardy. I'm sure they will be fine.
Sheppard: And they make good soup.
(Beckett frowns)

McKay: They emit a directional energy beam that disrupts the connection between nanites.
Ronon: Not what I asked.
McKay: Yes...they work good.
Ronon: Good.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • The time elapsed on board the Tria due to time dilation caused by traveling at 99.9% light speed, assuming they left Atlantis 10,000 years ago, would be 447.1018 years. Compounding the slowed aging effects of using an Ancient stasis pod (around 1 apparent year to 200 actual years), the crew of the Tria would, in total, have aged around 2 years and 3 months.
  • During Dr. Carson Beckett's visit to Weir's apartment he mentions that he grew up with 7 siblings, this is a reference to Paul McGillion's own childhood as he was the 6th of 7 children.
  • This episode takes place over the course of approximately six weeks.
  • This is the third time that Richard Woolsey has been off-world and the second time he has nearly been killed while off-world. The first is in "The Scourge".


  • As with several other episodes, the Spacegates portrayed possess only eight chevrons compared to the nine that all Stargates are considered to have. Most fans (and this wiki) put this down to an oversight on behalf of the SFX team and consider them to have nine-chevrons as far as Stargate canon is concerned. This time even the Milky Way Stargate has only 8 chevrons.
  • Dr. Bill Lee claims to have a "Level 75 Mage, specializing in engineering and jeweling" in World of Warcraft. However, at the time the episode aired, the maximum level possible was 70. He also says that he wants to increase his enchanting skill but it is not possible to have more than two professions and he already said he was an engineer and jeweler. He mentions that he has a beta of the expansion (though does not specify which, it can be assumed it is Wrath of the Lich King), thus explaining his ability to be level 75. He also mentions that raising his enchanting skill is "not going so well" probably due to the inability to have more than two professions. Furthermore, when asked her race, Dr. Elizabeth Weir replies 'mage'. Mage is a class, not a race, and Lee should have known this. The Beta for Wrath of the Lich King would not even have been started when this episode aired in Sept 2006 because the 2nd expansion, The Burning Crusade wasn't released until January 2007, with a max level of 70. Therefore, his claim that he was "level 75" is way off and you cannot assume he was in The Burning Crusade beta either because of the max level of 70.
  • Not for the first time one of German Atlantis crew member can be seen sporting his German flag patch upside down. It is seen in the background at (11:21) during the meeting between representatives of Atlantis and delegation of the Ancients.
  • In the scene that O'Neill is telling Weir what went on during the transitional meeting, the background changes occasionally from a mask on the wall, to a type of crest/shield.
  • During the establishing shots of the Midway station and Daedalus, two galaxies are shown at different points in the background. One or both of the galaxies (depending on the location of the midway station) are significantly larger than they should have appeared from that distance.
  • Despite the station being approximately 1.5 million light years from the Milky Way in intergalactic space there is an abundance of stars all around, including stars and constellations (Taurus, Orion, etc.) that are WITHIN the Milky Way.
  • The Milky Way is shown as a standard Sb spiral galaxy. It's actually a barred spiral galaxy with a designation of SBc.
  • When Dr. Rodney McKay dials Atlantis at the end of the episode, a Tau'ri soldier can be seen at the bottom right hand of the screen. Only O'Neill, Richard Woolsey and the Lanteans should be on Atlantis. This is due to the reuse of footage from a previous episode.
  • When Sheppard is talking to Major General Henry Landry after taking command of an SG team, he is not wearing an SG team patch or an SGC patch; while the Atlantis expedition typically removes their identifying patches when going on missions, this isn't the practice at the SGC. In addition, when Sheppard is speaking to Dr. Rodney McKay on the phone, Sheppard is wearing a general Stargate Command patch (without a number over the chevron), not the patch of a specific SG team.
  • Sheppard, while talking with Weir, offers the quote "Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death." He identifies the source of the quote as being from The Princess Bride movie; in fact, that quote does not appear in the movie and comes from the novel.

Other languages[]

  • Russian: Возвращение, Часть 1 (The Return, Part 1)
  • Hungarian: A visszatérés 2/1. (The Return 2/1)
  • French: Exil forcé, Partie 1 (Forced exile, Part 1)

External links[]

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