Childhood's End (Stargate Atlantis)
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|Stargate Atlantis episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||David Winning|
|Written by||Martin Gero|
|Original air date||August 13, 2004 (United States)|
"Childhood's End" is the 6th episode of the first season of the military science fiction television series Stargate Atlantis. The episode first aired in the United States on August 13, 2004 on the Sci Fi Channel and on Sky One in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2004. It was the first episode to be written by executive producer Martin Gero, and directed by David Winning. The episode portrays Major Sheppard and his team arriving on M7G-677, a planet where the inhabitants ritually sacrifice themselves when they reach the age of twenty-five. "Childhood's End" earned a weak Nielsen rating though the episode was generally well received by critics and fans alike.
The Atlantis team suddenly loses control of their puddle jumper and crashes. Investigating the electromagnetic field that made them crash, the team discover that the planet they've landed on has no one over the age of 25. They soon learn that upon turning 25, the people of this society commit suicide because they believe it keeps the Wraith from coming back to the world. The team discover this isn't the case when they try to find out what brought their puddle jumper down. They find a device powered by a Zero Point Module (ZPM) which acts as a sort of an electromagnetic pulse device which disables all electrical devices within the radius, including those of the Wraith and the Atlantians; the Wraith have never returned because, even if they simply landed outside the field, they would subsequently lose their technological advantage.
Dr. Rodney McKay believes that the ZPM will allow the Atlantis team to power the Atlantis shields and takes it upon himself to bring it back to Atlantis, but Sheppard tells him to be quick, as one of the natives he has befriended — Keras, one of the village 'elders' — is going to kill himself the next day. However, upon returning, he is ordered by Dr. Weir to return it; the ZPM is effectively useless to Atlantis, as it only has enough power to keep their shield running for a few hours, while it is the planet's only defense and could maintain its shield for at least several more years.
McKay also deduces that the suicide pact is actually connected to the device; the shield has only a limited range, so the suicide pact was created as a means of population control to stop them expanding too far. Prior to McKay's re-activation of the emitter, a Wraith scout's radio, long deactivated due to the emitter's activity, becomes active and begins broadcasting a distress beacon. Wraith scouts are immediately dispatched, nearly resulting in a confrontation between John Sheppard's team and some of the natives who believe they are responsible for this change, but McKay reattaches the ZPM, the emitter is re-activated, and the scouts are unable to broadcast any data back to their hive ship of origin. As they depart, McKay reveals that, although the ZPM's power is limited, he has managed to work out a means of expanding the shield, allowing for population growth and rendering the suicide pact unnecessary — at least for the next couple of generations. As he departs, Sheppard gives Keras a birthday present of a bag of chocolate, commenting that such a thing is traditional on birthdays back on their planet.
"Childhood's End" was the first working title for an episode of Stargate Atlantis revealed to the public. The title is a reference to Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. This is nothing new in the Stargate series; two episodes of Stargate SG-1 were named after Sir Arthur C. Clarke novels of The Space Odyssey series, namely "2001" and "2010". This is the only episode in the Stargate franchise to be directed by science fiction veteran David Winning. Courtenay J. Stevens originally played the role of Lieutenant Elliot in Stargate SG-1, appearing in the Season 5 episodes "Proving Ground", "Summit" and "Last Stand". Writer Martin Gero compared Ares in "Childhood's End" to a villain in The Incredibles. In the scene of the final confrontation with Major John Sheppard, he begins "monologuing," which is a key feature of villains in the film. The effects team of the episode built the village and took care of all the decoration in the episode. This is the first episode of the series which doesn't deal with the overall mythological arc of the series. This is also the first episode written by Gero, as he joined the Stargate franchise writing staff earlier that year (2004). He was able to join the writing staff of Stargate Atlantis, since they were undermanned at that time.
"Childhood's End" reached a Nielsen rating of 1.9, beating the rating for that weeks episode of the sister series, Stargate SG-1. The episode was first broadcast in the United States on August 13, 2004 on the Sci Fi Channel, later it was broadcast on Sky One in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2004. The episode debuted on broadcast syndication in the United States on October 24, 2005. The episode won the Chicago International Film Festival "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Drama Direction" for David Winning. It also won a New York Film Festival award in the category "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Drama". "Childhood's End" is the only episode in the series which has been nominated and won one of these awards.
- Taylor Brown (April 7, 2004). "First post-premiere episode title for Atlantis". GateWorld. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- Gero, Martin, Luttrell, Rachell and Sun Francks, Rainbow (2005). Audio Commentary for "Childhood's End" (DVD). MGM Home Entertainment.
- Gilles Nuytens (22 June 2005). "Interview with David Winning". The SciFi World. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- "Childhood's End". GateWorld. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- Taylor Brown. "Stargate Atlantis Episode Review: "Childhood's End"". GateWorld. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- Darren Sumner (March 28, 2006). "Gero reveals original 'Grace Under Pressure'". GateWorld. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- "Ratings: 'Avatar' and 'Childhood's End'". GateWorld. August 30, 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- "Sky One announces October schedule". GateWorld. September 13, 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- Darren Sumner (August 30, 2005). "Syndication premieres set for September 19". GateWorld. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- "Groundstar Entertainment Presents David Winning - Filmmaker - Director". Groundstar. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
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