With the resolution of the fourth season finale out of the way, the writers turn back to their usual pattern of front-loading some character development. In this case, the writers do their best to serve two different segments of the fan base while covering off a couple of cast-change requirements. There's also a nice bit of world-building, as more information is provided concerning the Wraith.
This is an interesting episode for Dr. Keller, because it puts her through the wringer. Her initial scenes did much to build on the good graces that I happen to hold for the character. On the other hand, I must admit that the writers are saddling her with the unenviable role of "single young hottie", as many feared during the second half of the fourth season. There's a love triangle brewing between Keller, McKay, and Ronon that has little chance of working well.
In a nice move (and one that will please many long-term fans), an apparent cure for Dr. Beckett's condition is discovered by Keller, bringing him back as a viable part of the Stargate universe. It's clear that his appearances will be, at best, an infrequent event, but it does open up possibilities that were eliminated by his premature passing. (Besides, his death was badly handled anyway, so why not make it a moot point?)
This serves to bring up a couple of interesting tidbits, right there in the episode itself. Many fans noted (and corrected me, for which I'm grateful) when they pointed out that the jumper was missing at the end of the premiere. That's a good sign that Michael is still alive out there. That said, his infrastructure is rapidly disappearing, and part of his effectiveness was his deep and almost insurmountable network. It's something he might be able to rebuild, thus explaining any lengthy absence, but it's disappointing.
On the other hand, Beckett's survival does appear to bolster the notion that Sheppard's glimpse of a dark future for Team Atlantis may be prevented. While Woolsey is in charge, Carter is not dead and the circumstances are sufficiently different. While many of the same threats may emerge, I suspect that the writers made sure that they had the option of diverging completely from that vision as they deem necessary. (Which, in a sense, renders the fourth season finale pointless, which is pretty much what I expected.)
I also expected the writers to paint Woolsey in the best light possible. Woolsey has been the semi-reluctant mouthpiece for the IOA for quite some time, and it seems like this is a natural extension for the character. The IOA has its head in the sand, as it always has, and when that reality begins to impose itself, they take whatever opportunity possible to tighten control over Team Atlantis. If nothing else, as this episode demonstrates, it should be interesting to see how Woolsey deals with the realities of the Atlantis mission while bearing responsibility for its success.
On top of the interesting character work, this episode also revealed that the Wraith ships are organic technology, requiring a living host to be grown into form. This makes a certain amount of sense, given their appearance, and it also adds another element to the nastiness of the Wraith. It does harken back to the organic technology concepts at play on "Babylon 5", but Keller never would have recovered intact on that show. It's expected, in the Stargate franchise, that scenarios like this resolve to the status quo.