In tonight’s penultimate rewatch we have two perfectly watchable episodes. Nothing special but nothing terrible either.
On the city they’ve detected a Hive Ship inbound and are prepping to defend the city once again. When the Hive Ship arrives however it simply sits in orbit and sends a corrupted video message from Todd that briefly talks about the gene therapy and some kind of disease. Given that Woolsey doesn’t want to put the city at risk the team instead take up a Jumper to make contact but detect no lifesigns. The team decide to board the craft and find the earlier scans confirmed, with all Wraith stuck in hibernation for some reason but manage to find a complete copy of the video file that details that a disease struck when the gene therapy was used and that Todd sent his ship to Atlantis to request help from them.
Returning to the city Woolsey is surprisingly deciding to try and save Todd and the crew because the IOA have the gene therapy as a top priority and rather than blowing the ship up instead sends FART, SART, and a bunch of Marines up there along with Keller to try and get at least Todd saved and the treatment fixed. Onboard however things with the ship start to get worse when a team member calls in that a wall is melting only to be attacked by a Wraith. By the team the others find his corpse there isn’t much left of him. Hunting down the killer they find it to be a maskless Wraith soldier driven made with hunger. Given the situation and fearing that more Wraith will wake up due to the power fluctuations they attempt to instead evac for the time being only to find that the ship itself is now slowly reforming and tearing itself apart.
Now trapped on the ship with no way off Meredith suggests they find Todd and wake him up as he’s the only person who really knows how to fly and deal with the ship. Despite fearing he’ll be a ravenous mess they agree to the plan anyhow finding that he’s still got his mind if unwell. Upon trying to access the ship’s controls he realises that the disease itself must’ve spread to the ship and is what’s causing everything to go wrong. Todd says that the only way to stop the disintegration of the ship is to continue trying to cure the disease which he and Keller set out to do. The others however set about trying to kill the rest of the Wraith in the crib as it were by shutting down the hibernation pods but one of them doesn’t shut down as planned and instead begins letting them loose.
While the armed personnel attempt to hunt down the escaped Wraith Todd comes up with a solution to the disease after Keller makes a comment about the Iratus Bug. It turns out that there’s a possible cure based on allowing an Iratus Bug Queen to feed on a Wraith to cleanse the system as it were. While Todd wants to journey to the nearest planet Sheppard overrules him due to the instability of the Hive. Of more pressing concern however is that the ship is slowly tearing itself in half and a number of the Expedition crew are trapped in the decaying portion of the ship. Barely making it to the front half when it splits off they now find themselves crashing towards the planet. Despite their previous confrontation Sheppard and Todd make a deal regarding him landing the ship before being allowed to try and save his life. Despite the odds Todd manages to make a somewhat graceful splashdown.
Back on the city after being rescued Woolsey agrees to Sheppard’s deal with Todd, with the Wraith being allowed to try and save his own life.
So here we are with the final Wraith cure episode of the show and thank Christ for that. Over the course of 5 seasons the show has time and time again come to a plot thread that the writers clearly didn’t want to risk as having an actual effect on the show’s universe. Unlike on SG-1 where a Goa’uld could be replaced by new Goa’uld which had allowed for a surprisingly large amount of universe shifting stories here every season they’d come to a cure for the Wraith only for it to go wrong in some way as the show had sadly never really diversified its threats in the same way. If the Wraith had gone and been dealt with the show really didn’t have anything that could replace them, with the Genii largely forgotten and the Asuran Replicators never really doing much either.
Here that constant knowledge there won’t be a storyline changing effect really undercuts the attempts at both playing the gene therapy as having a future and the horror theme. For the former it’s that you just know this future “perfected version”, which thankfully never appears, wouldn’t be perfect and instead caused some other problem again while with the latter of the horror them you just know something’s going to happen so the tense atmosphere it wants to create never full materialises even though they clearly went to great efforts to do it. Instead all those beats end up rather flat because there’s no sense of change or excitement that there was in season 1 or 2 when it still looked like they could mix it up.
In terms of the characters only Todd really gets any good character moments which this time are down to his still angry feelings towards the Expedition and the fact he still views their actions as only about killing Wraith, especially when they kill off the rest of his crew without telling him. It’s only at the end of the episode that we see despite the anger there’s still a friendship and respect that exists between them despite the events of the last half season. However overall the episode simply remains a sad reflection of the dead end the show found itself in with the Wraith storyline.
· With all that floor mist I’m surprised the Wraith aren’t always tripping up.
· Todd and Keller are once again surprisingly chummy.
· So instead of just defending a single area they split a small number of personnel into a giant Hive? Great idea idiot.
Quote of the episode: “You guys are so used to making decisions that affect the lives of thousands, and even millions, of people. I’m not so used to having the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.”
“Oh, that. You get used to it, helps to have a massive ego.” – Keller and Meredith
An unknown woman is standing in an Atlantis hallway confused as to why she’s there only to start avoiding others. She soon comes to a lab where Zelenka walks in uncaring at her behaviour before asking if she’s looking for Meredith before questioning her odd behaviour and answers. Zelenka attempts to lead her to the infirmary, thinking she’s ill, only for her to pick up a set of pliers and stab him. In a nearby reflection we see that this person is inhabiting the body of Keller. Continuing to explore the city she comes across a balcony where she disposes of the pliers before being surprised by Meredith who’s wondering if her comms unit is malfunctioning. As Meredith attempts to lead her to the mess where they were going to get lunch a call comes in regarding Zelenka’s stabbing and that Keller is needed for surgery.
Arriving at the infirmary Meredith notices “Keller” is acting strangely and unable to understand what she’s doing before she claims to be feeling unwell and stops the surgery. When reporting later to Woolsey he comments to him that it’s like she’s never been in an OR or seen a scalpel before. Around the same time Ronon goes to visit “Keller” in her quarters only to grow suspicious at her behaviour as well. Beckett is soon called back to the city to take over while “Keller” is unwell and gives her a medical only to conclude everything is fine but keeps her in overnight, putting the odd behaviour down to being tired. That night “Keller” attempts to sneak out the city via the Jumper bay, finding an M9 that had been left in one along the way. While she tries to get the Jumper to fly Meredith shows up who she then tries to get into taking her to the Mainland through first seduction and then at gunpoint, only to be stunned by Ronon who’d also magically appeared.
The team has “Keller” put in an isolation room until they find out what is wrong with her, also fearing she may have been the one to stab Zelenka in the first place. The group decide to question her when she wakes up quickly coming round to the idea it’s not Keller they’re really talking to, especially when she tries to claim self-defence for stabbing Zelenka. The person decides to give up the gig, admitting that she’s really called Neeva and that she doesn’t know how this happened. Her story of stealing Ancient artefacts, which Meredith realises must have been Communication Stones that Neeva accidentally activated, that caused the problems means that she ended up connecting to Keller who had pinched a stone, thinking it was an ornament, when she was in Janus’ old lab a week previously. Now knowing the cause the team wonder where Keller is.
On another world Keller finds herself in jail under an unsympathetic Magistrate who doesn’t believe her story of mindswapping and instead sentences who he thinks as Neeva to death for the crimes that the woman had committed. Pretty soon the Magistrate has her brought into the woods to have her head cut off. As the execution is about to take place the executioner is shot from the woods which Keller uses as a distraction to run for the woods. As she enters the woods two men show up and free her, believing she’s Neeva.
The Expedition, having gained Neeva’s cooperation, go to the planet to find the initial terminal that created the link and disconnect it. In the village they find the vault but the villagers are unwilling to allow them access until the Magistrate returns from an execution. The team run for the execution but find the Magistrate and his men alive but attempting to search for Keller and Neeva’s men. As they look through the woods Neeva attempts to make a run for it, getting away from the team and finding the cave where the two men had taken Keller. Though Neeva tries to explain what’s happening the men don’t believe her and instead keep the two hostage before attempting to make it to the ring.
On the way to the ring however they come under attack from a patrol by the village where one of the men is killed and Neeva injured. The team however, hearing the gunfire, arrive in time to save her. Taking her back to the village to treat her the Magistrate agrees to show them the terminal which Ronon destroys, breaking the link. As Keller recovers Neeva finds herself killed by her former partner in the woods who still believed her to be Keller.
Back on Atlantis Meredith goes to visit Keller in the infirmary, where Zelenka is also recovering with no hard feelings, before suggesting they go on a date to the Mainland while Lorne and his team are unable to find any trace of Neevan.
And here we have the final Keller focused episode of Atlantis and it’s probably not a surprise that the most watchable one ends up being the one where Keller appears the least. Instead for the majority of the episode she doesn’t appear at all, instead the story focusing more on the character of Neeva and her attempts to escape Atlantis without being found out. The concept of following this new character just dumped in the middle of the city with no idea of who she is from the audience perspective and the character having no idea what they’re doing either is an interesting one as it means we don’ really know whether she’s good or bad, with the stabbing of Zelenka admittedly understandable on some level due to her fear. Even at the end of the episode the audience is still left ambiguous as to whether she deserved her fate, whatever that ended up being. Instead it’s all open-ended as to who this person is and it’s a great change for a show that has been very reliant on exposition whenever a new character appears.
By contrast Keller really has nothing to do on the episode. It seems in the two seasons of her being on the show they still really don’t know what to do with the character as she only really works when put with someone else. Look at her conversations with Todd for example in other episodes where she comes across well as a person but on her own she never seemed to be defined as anything and never given the chance to be built up. It’s a shame that they had such a capable actress on their hands in Jewel Staite yet had absolutely no idea what to then do with her. To be honest that’s been quite a common problem with the female characters on Atlantis, many of whom became lost behind the starring pair of Meredith and Sheppard.
But yeah that’s Identity, an episode with a surprising amount of creativity when it comes to the core concept but sadly relies on a character that doesn’t have much to say or do.
· After all the stuff he’s suffered you’d think Zelenka would be a more bitter person by now.
· God this is the world’s worst “I’m fine act” ever.
· That Magistrate looks like a Gaius Baltar cosplay.
· Apparantly Zelenka’s Czech at the end of the episode is wishing he’d stabbed Meredith.
Quote of the episode: “Perhaps I should wheel you to another room.”
“Just until he’s gone, please. Thank you.” – Beckett and Zelenka