Today we see a forgettable horror episode and then Wraith prosthetics make a big return.

Whispers

Synopsis

We begin on a fog-filled planet as two villagers come across a sitting person in the path ahead of them. As soon as they check it out both panic and are separated, with one being captured by someone in a gas mask. A year later an all-female Expedition unit finds the gas mask in some kind of lab. On the city Beckett has returned only to reveal he’s going travelling and doesn’t feel like he belongs on the Expedition anymore. His plans are put on hold however when Sheppard informs him a team have found one of Michael’s old labs.

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Sheppard and Beckett go off-world to join the all-female team who lead them to the lab, where Sheppard leaves Beckett with FemBeck and FemRonon while he goes to the nearby village with FemShep’s 1 and 2. In the village they find a lone man who believes the village was cursed and came back from a nearby village to warn them of the danger. Those in Michael’s lab make the journey over, not realising they’re being followed, only to all find themselves trapped in the village area when the things in the lab get released and start stalking them from the woods and tunnels below the settlement, with FemShep 2 being killed when Sheppard and the two FemShep’s are ambushed outside the village as they attempted to make it to another one. The group soon all hole up inside a hut, only for FemBeck to go walkabout, and try to work out what to do.

Deciding it’s a great idea to split up the remaining military members all split up to look for FemBeck, leaving Beckett alone with the weird local who’s soon pulled through a window to his death. Somehow outside none of the other teammembers are killed and they manage to find FemBeck safe too. When they get back however they find Beckett has gone runabout someplace in the fog all by himself. Without any idea where he is the others decide to blow the well in the center of the village with C4 to stop more of the creatures appearing, with Sheppard placing the explosives. As he does so one of the creatures ambushes him only for Beckett to save him but Sheppard has lost the C4 in the process. The C4 still goes off however via timer nearby and the group open fire on the creatures that had appear while Sheppard and Beckett had dived in the well for cover. The team go back to the lab to retrieve what data they can only to find other chambers with creature pods empty. Suddenly many more of the creatures appear but in the tight confines of the tunnel they’re easily killed.

Back in the city Beckett is once again packing to go on his Pegasus medical trips while Meredith attempts to get him to stay. Sheppard appears however and to Meredith’s annoyance begin to discuss having FemBeck added to his field team.

Analysis

Whispers isn’t a bad episode but it isn’t a good one either, instead it just sort of… exists really. It’s hardly memorable let’s be honest, with a plot that’s meant to be an homage to the old horror films and their clichés but zero characterisation of anything at all.

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In terms of the beats of the episode the references are all there, characters randomly running off, people being dragged from the darkness, or sudden arrival of more of the enemy. It’s a great homage but it doesn’t do anything with it which is a shame. Some of the best episodes of Stargate have been those that have taken a standard set of clichés and either subverted them in some form or just mocked them. Here however it’s just the clichés played straight with no real meat to it.

In terms of the characters despite them being the main subject the all-female team really has absolutely zero attempt to give any of the four woman something resembling a character. Three of them just shoot weapons while the other shoots weapons but also does sciency things. Instead they all just sort of exist with no purpose and are never brought up again. It doesn’t help that they are immediately overruled by Sheppard and science girl reduced to Beckett’s latest love interest. As far as female characters on the show go they’re rather backward and make me wonder how Atlantis was so bad when SG-1 was usually so great at having them.

Production-wise however the episode is very well put together, with the fog effects in particular being incredibly well done, and the small village it puts together a cohesive situation to be in. It’s just a shame everything else about the episode is at best forgettable.

Assorted Musings

· They really got to bring out all the old medieval village stuff for this ep.

· These things must chain smoke or something.

 

Quote of the episode: “All we need now is for the Prom Queen and the kid in the wheelchair to wander off and we’re all set.” – Sheppard

The Queen

Synopsis

FART plus Keller is on the way to meet with Todd aboard his Hive ship. After the usual pleasantries it turns out that Keller is working on the retrovirus drug again but that this new version rather than changing Wraith into humans simply removes the need to feed. While Todd and his second in command are sceptical the idea of losing some of their abilities but no longer being at risk of tainted feeding sites or the growing scarcity of culling grounds they agree to at least test the new drug on themselves. The problem however is that Todd is no longer high up the pecking order amongst his alliance and that he’s kept the rest of the alliance, including the head Queen, in the dark regarding his Hive’s lack of Queen. Teyla’s unique nature however provides an option to help both of them achieve their goal.

With Todd’s help Keller is able to temporarily give Teyla the look of a Wraith Queen which isn’t creepy at all. Todd also begins training Tela to act like a Wraith Queen. Soon the Hive is on its way to meet with the “Primary” Queen. The Primary’s Hive however soon disappears when Todd and Teyla are brought aboard before she meets them in person where Todd stabs her in the neck and kills her. Todd has Teyla take the blame and claim the Primary was weak and that she’ll make a better leader, attacking Todd in the process to sell the lie. While many on the new Hive easily switch to the new order the previous Queen’s main officer grows suspicious of the new Queen.

On Todd’s Hive the second in command, dubbed Kenny, gives the team word that the Primary Hive has gone. Despite thoughts of betrayal Sheppard is able to get Kenny to take the Hive to the meeting ground but find no one there. Reading their new location Sheppard decides to take a Jumper via the nearest Stargate to the planet in question and find out what’s happening.

It turns out that Teyla’s new Hive has been forced to go to a feeding ground owned by the alliance where an unallied Hive has arrived. Upon confronting the other Hive Teyla chooses to attack it at once in a show of strength but to also weaken both Hives deliberately. Despite Teyla’s Hive taking significant damage the odds are turned in her favour when Sheppard attacks the other Hive with his Jumper, delivering critical damage. Following Sheppard and the team try to infiltrate Teyla’s Hive but is quickly captured. Teyla soon visits them in custody, surprising them that she now leads the Hive, and asks them to play ball until the situation is stabilised. Unfortunately the former main officer overhears the conversation.

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When Teyla returns to her quarters the former officer attempts to murder her but is stopped by Todd who quickly deals with him, removing the last threat to the new situation. Following the successful battle Teyla places Todd in command of the alliance “on her behalf” while Todd has the team moved back to the friendly Hive. After Teyla takes her leave, first reminding Todd not to go against their agreement, they return to Atlantis where her Wraith makeup is undone though Teyla seems to have some time to go before the psychological effects wear off.

Analysis

I always like the Todd heavy episodes as they usually end up shining a light regarding how the Wraith work as an organisation and The Queen is no different in that regard. Once again the show’s friendly Wraith steals the show and ends up giving us further insight into the Wraith cause. This time Todd ends up taking control of a whole Wraith alliance through devious use of the line of succession with some help of the team’s resident Athosian. The idea that the current leader is knocked off when they grow weak fits in with the overall Wraith way of life and survival of the fittest but hasn’t really been shown to include the Queen as part of this before.

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Even with this devious aspect Todd is still shown to be a dependable and on the level ally of the team, happily working with them towards a goal of mutual gain. This willingness of his to work with humans seems to have spread to his Hive as well with other members of it getting along somewhat with the team and listening to their orders in the process. It’s a long cry from the start of the series when it was shooting each other on sight.

Elsewhere we have Teyla finally having a purpose in an episode which hasn’t happened for a longtime now, in this case disguising herself as a Wraith Queen to take control of the alliance on Todd’s behalf. Her slow descent into easily filling the role of a nefarious and ruthless ruler is surprisingly easy for her and shows a side to her we’ve rarely seen before, showing that anyone on the team can reach that sort of state. The transformation isn’t without problems however, what with previously her half-Wraith situation not being enough to fool other Wraith but now it can for some reason, but outside that it’s an interesting character move for a character long forgotten by the show.

If there was an annoyance with the episode it was the returning to yet another Expedition genetics mess around plot which has up to now never gone well. Every season they’ve had some nasty blowback from messing with the Wraith somehow, all the way back to the Hoffan drug of season one, yet they still time after time throw it out there but we all know how it’ll no doubt end.

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In the end however it’s a good character-centric episode with some nice action sequences to boot.

Assorted Musings

· Oh look, yet another “fuck with Wraith DNA” plot, because that went so well the last four seasons.

· I see “Surgeon” is just everything surgical now.

· God Todd’s teaching is like every PE teacher I ever had.

 

Quote of the episode: “Hmm. Fruit bowl, nice touch.”

“Well we picked them up on our travels, I thought it would make our discussions more comfortable. I hope they prove as delicious as the farmers who grew them.” – Sheppard and Todd