I’ve had my issues with “SGA” over the past season or so, in large part because of a lack of strong continuity. I’ve seen apparent arc elements fall apart and fragment so badly that the eventual resolution doesn’t feel like the culmination of anything at all, and I’ve seen character arcs bungled to the point of absurdity. But every so often, the writers have managed to deliver. The past few episodes have been a step in the right direction.
If this had been an episode about the Genii, with nothing else but their politics as the driving force of the story, then it might have been disappointing. The Genii have come to enjoy using Team Atlantis as pawns in their reindeer games, and it has gotten a bit old. Kolya is a fun villain, and you can never tell what his next move might be, but the stakes need to be more even. If it’s all a question of suffering at the whim of the Genii, it’s not as interesting. Team Atlantis needs to have more of a stake in the situation.
Putting Sheppard in the middle of the fight wasn’t a bad idea, and his “relationship” to the Wraith was the key to the episode’s success. It is a little predictable for them to work together and gain a measure of mutual respect, but they took the familiar elements and gave them a particular “SGA” twist. Specifically, they used the situation to suggest that the Wraith are more complex than given credit for, especially in terms of what they can do and the meaning behind it.
I saw the whole “Wraith restores Sheppard” thing coming, but they took me by surprise by explaining that the ability had been hidden for reasons that could be seen as spiritual. In fact, it’s possible to understand the Wraith as more than predators now, which is a step in the right direction. After all, if the Wraith can be understood, it possible for Team Atlantis to get some Wraith to see them as worthy allies (even if uncomfortable ones).
My suspicion is that this plot element will be critical to plans for the Asurans later in the season. Granted, I may be completely off the mark, considering how the writers for “SGA” can go off the rails pretty damn fast, but there had to be a reason for the writers to make such a concerted effort to expose that ability and give the audience a reason to wonder about Wraith society. All I can say is that I’d be damned disappointed if all this character development and additional detail went by the wayside.
If I have one minor quibble, it must be the fighting scenes in this episode. Take a look at the first time that Sheppard takes a shot at one of the Genii, when he’s just outside of his cell. He turns to throw a punch, and his fist is easily a foot away from the other actor’s face. Usually I’ll give them a pass for that sort of thing, given the budget and time restraints, but that was just bad! Thankfully, the rest of the episode made up for it.
(As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Recent episodes cover the “Stargate: Atlantis”, so it might be something of interest. Go to http://entil2001.libsyn.com if you want to listen!)