And here we are again in the Pegasus Galaxy, with the team this time being serious and suspicious and serious around kids. All very serious.
On Atlantis FART is returning once again to the base under fire from the Wraith, with Rodney barely making it through only to get hit by a Wraith weapon, leaving him numb inside the infirmary. Given the fact that their missions are now encountering the Wraith more than 50% of the time Weir and Sheppard believe that there is a Wraith spy on the base. At a meeting the head of base security Sgt. Bates believes that the Athosians are to blame and that Teyla should be kept under watch. While Sheppard is able to protect Teyla from blame the group still agrees to stop off-world travel and to tighten security for the Athosians while all of them are unofficially questioned.
During the meetings Weir tries to maintain a more diplomatic tone but Sgt. Bates’ more targeted questioning starts to run the Athosians the wrong way. In private many of the Athosians begin questioning their hosts and their recent treatment, with Teyla finding herself now ostracised from both groups who view her as too much like the other side.
Elsewhere on the base Rodney and Zelenka find that the Jumper Bay contains a roof hatch, which means that they can explore the planet using one of the ships. Sheppard and Ford take the first Jumper out to do some exploration and get away from the growing tension on the base. While they didn’t expect to find anything they discover a large mainland on the planet, meaning that another option regarding the Athosians exists in the longterm. While the Expedition initially want to do a proper survey before any major action is taken the Athosians make the decision for them, deciding to leave for the mainland as long as Weir still allows them to use the Stargate when needed.
Soon after the Athosians are all transported to their new home Gate operations are resumed but once again the team find themselves under attack almost immediately, confirming that the Athosians weren’t ratting them out. Before they’re able to make it back to the Gate and evac Sheppard also suffers the effects of a Wraith weapon and Ford and Teyla are left behind, having been off in the woods at the time of the attack. When the team retreat Bates once again tries to pin the blame on the Athosian, though Sheppard confirms it was his orders that separated the two of them. Their argument is cut short when Teyla dials the address, claiming that Ford is injured. While protocols dictate that they shouldn’t open the Gateshield Weir does so, confirming Teyla’s story when she drags Ford through the Gate.
As the base once again turns against itself Bates has Rodney check all of Teyla’s belongings off the record. To their surprise the search turns up the amulet that Sheppard gave her in the ruins back in the premiere, revealing they’d brought back the very device giving them away unaware of its true purpose. The team decide to turn the tracker into an advantage, allowing them to stage an ambush off-world in the hopes of capturing a Wraith to learn more about their new enemy. While the ambush initially goes to plan a Wraith grunt they capture kills himself but the team are able to overpower their commander instead.
The episode ends with Sheppard and the captured Wraith taunting each other in the Atlantis holding cells.
As an episode Suspicion is surprisingly early in the season order, already closing a major plot development from the premiere while also introducing some more developments regarding the Wraith and the team makeup.
The episode largely sees the relegation of the Athosians from the base, likely to stop having to work and pay all those damn unionised child actors, with a story regarding the suspected presence of a Wraith spy on the base. This sees a quite believable rift in the two sides emerge as the Athosians begin to feel like prisoners while the Expedition see themselves as betrayed by those they helped, with Teyla caught in the middle as both sides see her as too much like the others. When the solution of shipping them all the mainland (a rather grim solution tbh) is implemented it cements Teyla’s main character development of the season in her role as the intermediary between the two groups who want to but fail to get along due to their differing customs.
Outside of this we finally see the Wraith again for serious screentime since the premiere, with the demonstration of just what their ground abilities actually are. Unlike the Goa’uld who simply kill to dominate the Wraith’s need to feed on living humans has meant that their weaponry is designed to stun, much like a large version of a Zat, as opposed to kill outright. The effects are also shown to be longer lasting than the Goa’uld handheld equivalent and the Tau’ri taser as while others recover quickly from the former two Rodney and Sheppard are both shown to be out of commission for several hours as after waking it still leaves the victim numb and helpless, which leaves open the gruesome possibility of being drained while conscious.
Another difference to the Goa’uld is that while the Goa’uld care nothing for their Jaffa servants, expecting to die in their thousands, the Wraith issue their grunts with bombs to allow themselves to detonate in the hope of taking their enemy with them. This is something I wouldn’t be surprised in being influenced by the state of the world in ’04 which saw suicide attacks entering into the public consciousness as they happened around the world on an almost daily basis.
Outside of this I think the most surprising thing is the scale at which the US Military is portrayed as the bad guy in this episode, something unheard of in the franchise up until this point. Sgt. Bates is shown to be an unlikable and almost paranoid soldier who repeatedly questions the team’s alien member and allies, at some points claiming they must be deliberately helping the enemy. While there have always been Defence officials and military Officers who have gotten in the way never before has it been so framed as a military versus civilian matter.
In the end the episode is another serious affair for the show, which so far has been surprisingly devoid of humour, this time portraying the military in a less than flattering light that sees them lose precious allies all in the name of paranoia.
· I’ve just noticed that the Wraith stunners are a great way for lowering set costs as they don’t actually damage when hit, so don’t require the set to be damaged to display its effects like a Goa’uld Staff weapon.
· Really Teyla, walk up to an enemy you know can take serious damage and then act surprised when a single M9 clip doesn’t kill him?
Quote of the episode: “I can’t even begin to tell you how fascinating this is.”
“Anthropologist fascinating or actual fascinating?”
“Yeah well maybe “fascinating” is not the right word.” – Atlantis scientist and Sheppard
The team are back to exploring off-world, this time inside a Jumper over a seemingly uninhabited planet. While listening to Rodney talk about his thing for Carter the team find their Jumper is starting to lose power, seeing them crash-land on the planet. They also find that much of their advanced equipment isn’t working either, suggesting that it’s some kind of EMP-like effect. As the team explore some nearby ruins looking for the source of the problem they find themselves ambushed by a bunch of children armed with primitive weaponry who call them “full-growns”, who bring them to their village.
In the village the team find the remains of a Wraith Dart arranged almost like a shrine before being led to the elders, kids in their late teens to early twenties. While the team try to explain that they came through the Gate the villagers are unbelieving, having not been visited by anyone or the wraith for 500 years. It turns out that the lack of people over the age of 25 is their belief that their safety is guaranteed by the ritual self-sacrifice by anyone over 25. The current elder, if you can call him that, Keras decides to allow the team to stay as long as they leave as soon as the Jumper is repaired, fearing that the Wraith will attack if they stay too long. In private Keras reveals to Sheppard that he will soon be required to kill himself. Unknown to them all another of the elders, Aries, is planning a coup to seize power by force.
Elsewhere Rodney and Ford are looking to find out whatever caused the ship to crash in the first place, only to be followed by two of the kids from the village. While Ford is happy with the kids being there Rodney detests their presence, finding them to be needy and annoying. Eventually, after seeing Rodney berate them, Ford takes the kids away to have fun while Rodney instead focuses on the cause of the crash, an EMP device powered by a ZPM. Rodney decides to remove the ZPM to test its current usefulness for the Expedition, not realising that it’s activated a Wraith homing device back at the village.
While Rodney performs tests on the ZPM back on Atlantis, which is found out to be barely useful at all to the team given its low charge, Sheppard tries to convince Keras about the pointlessness of the sacrifice ceremony but Keras is steadfast in his belief to protect his people, asking Sheppard to take part in it. While the prep continues to go ahead Sheppard notices the active bracelet and shoots it, finding himself detained by the villagers as a result. While Aries attempts to have the team executed for defiling their shrine Keras convinces the others to let the team leave now before leading them to the ruins where Rodney is. After they leave however Aries launches his coup, having the village armed and marching after them.
At the ruins the team and Keras find Rodney failing to fix the shield device, with Rodney not knowing how he broke it. While Rodney attempts to fix it Keras and the others are captured by Aries. As they’re marched back to the village a Wraith scout arrives, leading to Aries wanting to summarily execute the team. While the two groups are stuck in a standoff at the Jumper Rodney attempts to fix the shield, eventually doing so just as two of Aries’ men try to stop him who rely the news back to Ariel to stop the executions. Before the news is able to be relayed however an arrow meant for Sheppard is released which Keras takes in the shoulder for him.
Later on with the executions finally stopped the team leave, presenting Keras with a 25th birthday present as he once again takes control of the village.
And here we have yet another very serious episode directly on the tails of the previous one.
This time we see the team arrive in what is essentially yet another Lord of the Flies scenario where a society of children run amok in several villages throughout the forest. It turns out that all are protected by the field of a ZPM device that stops advanced technology like that belonging to the Wraith from functioning. Much like the inspiration for the episode, this hasn’t stopped the villages displaying the same level of violence and resorting to Chinese whispers as those who were stranded on the island in the book. The society in the episode is essentially run through fear of the Wraith, with the elders being peer-pressured into killing themselves by the others upon their 25th birthday. This has also seem the rise of differing factions within the community as well, with some using the deaths as a way to assume their believed rightful place as leader of the tribe. This all comes to a head however when the team realise that the ritual killings were the result of their original elders need to control the population so it wouldn’t move outside the shield and be at risk from the Wraith but this was lost to history.
Outside of this one of the more puzzling aspects was to once again make Rodney completely unlikable as a character. We all know the politician who steals candy from a baby but here we have the scientist who shouts at them and then steals their only protection gleefully. It’s an abrupt turn for a character who was so far this season shown as increasingly heroic if still a pain to get along with. Here however it’s season 5 of SG-1 Rodney all over again and no one liked that bastard.
Other than those two main points the episode is largely empty, more Atlantis’ required primitive episode much like SG-1 used to have in the early seasons, with it here introducing another item of the Wraith that is then never seen again as far as I can recall.
· So the village is led by a former SGC/Tok’ra host and the next in line is a deck hand from the Galactica.
· These people move very quickly from “let’s kill them” to “oh they have sweets”.
Quote of the episode: “You’re mean!”
“Thank you for finally noticing.” – A kid’s deduction of Rodney