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October 10, 2015

Stargate Atlantis: The Queen

by Brett Love, posted Sep 13th 2008 10:36AM

Christopher Heyerdahl - Stargate Atlantis
(S05E08) On paper, "The Queen" looked to have a lot of potential. The team was back together and off on an adventure. Even better, this wasn't some standalone excursion to an unknown planet that we wouldn't be seeing again. The story was set to tie the research that was recently discovered in Michael's lab in with the ongoing story of Todd. For the most part, all of that added up to a very good episode.

It actually took me a little while to get into the episode. The reasons for that are twofold. First, the miraculous transformation of Teyla into a Wraith queen. That's a really big deal. The kind of big deal that deserves some kind of explanation. My initial thought was that with all of the monkeying with Michael's research, Keller was able to also create a modified retrovirus. That really doesn't make sense though. It would require much more testing before being put to use on anyone, let alone Teyla. Also, she did say she was going to perform surgery.

I suppose we can chalk it up to crazy space plastic surgery, but given the dramatic change, even that is pushing some limits. Whatever it was, it really seems like a point that deserved some detail. Something more than rubbing iodine on the back of Teyla's hand anyway. The quick jump from preparing to operate to all done felt rushed, and lacking. Frankly, I would have bought into it more if they had just said they were doing movie makeup, and relying on Teyla's DNA to sell it.
Rachel Luttrell - Stargate Atlantis
The other bit that just wasn't working for me was Dr. Keller. As we move along, I'm starting to find the character more and more annoying. It's long past time for her to grow up. If we look back to when she joined Atlantis, she was unsure if she was up to the job. That's a fine starting point for a story. The problem is that it appears to be a story that the writers really don't want to tell. Keller keeps having all of these experiences that should be leading her character to learn and grow, but then we keep seeing the same character over and over.

It really stuck out when she was all nervous and freaked out by going to meet with Todd. Really? After all that she's seen and done? This is still the reaction that she has? It makes one question why she hasn't been bounced back to Earth by now, or at least demoted to a research position. Especially with a perfectly capable Dr. Beckett available to resume the duties.

Once those two things were out of the way, business started to pick up. The idea to work with Todd, using the new treatment, is complicated. They did cover the possibility that the newly non-feeding Wraith could enslave planets. They forgot the most obvious issue though. With Todd's alliance now not dependent on that food supply, are they not in the same position as the Replicators? It's not a big jump to think that they would turn to trying to reduce the food supply for competing alliances.

Despite that possible future issue, the advantages gained by Todd make a reasonable case for him to be on board with the plan. That, and the look at the inner workings of hive-alliance politics, was enough to capture my interest. Where things really got good though, was when out of nowhere, Todd killed the Wraith queen and put the knife in Teyla's hand. Totally didn't see that coming. That this is how power exchanges are made in Wraith politics makes perfect sense. And Todd's double cross, using the Atlantis eagerness to get him on board, was very clever.

It leaves so much up in the air. Does Todd really have interest in the new treatment? Or was that all just a part of his plan to seize control of the alliance? And we have to factor in what happened on the ship as well. Teyla clearly took advantage of her position to destroy a whole mess of Wraith. That can't be good for Atlantis/Wraith relations. But she also holds the trump card of still being the queen of the ship. I doubt that we'll actually see her under cover again, but it does leave Todd somewhat under her thumb.

Of everything that happened on the Wraith ship, I only had one minor issue with it. The hive ships, and the space battle, looked great. But did that battle make no sense to anyone else? Given that Teyla had just taken over the Primary's ship, I think we can assume that it would be the most capable in their fleet. How is it then that the best ship, with the element of surprise, is drastically losing the battle? Teyla launches her darts and half of them get destroyed, but the other ship can launch their darts without worry? It all felt just a little too convenient, like the only reason that the battle was going that way was because they had already decided on Sheppard saving the day.

At the end of the day, I'd call this a very good episode. The shenanigans with the transformation, and my growing annoyance with Keller, stop it short of being great. On the other hand, the double cross by Todd, and the look inside the Wraith alliance were both top notch. Also worth noting that Rachel Luttrell did a great job. Despite the cumbersome makeup, she managed to convey the whole range of Teyla emotions.

Other bits:

Are we to make anything of Teyla staring at her palm while in recovery? Is there something lingering from the procedure?

Todd is now my favorite recurring character. Christopher Heyerdahl does a really good job. Also, he had the line of the night with, "I hope they prove delicious as the farmers who grew them."

This episode is the first time that we have seen anyone other than Andee Frizzell playing a Wraith queen. Apollonia Vanova is the actress behind the Primary Queen.

What do you think of the Keller story?
Totally dig Keller. No problems here.98 (31.8%)
Take it or leave it. I'm watching for other reasons.109 (35.4%)
Driving me crazy. Buck up little soldier.101 (32.8%)

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SO...... where are the new Stargate columns?

October 13 2008 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great review. I agree with everything you said. I honestly don't understand the writers fascination with Keller, a very weak character in my opinion, nor do I comprehend how she has to be in so many episodes. It almost seems that more and more eps this season have a medical bent simply to give her something to do. And the romance with McKay seems contrived and unrealistic. I mean, honestly, talk about coming out of left field. I wish the show concentrated more on the team dynamics and less on a character, Keller, who would probably work out better as a supporting player than a full time cast member. Dr. Frasier made more of an impact Stargate without all the big storylines or romance. And if there was plastic surgery to be done she probably would have only assisted during surgery. To believe Keller capable of everything is borderline ridiculous.

September 14 2008 at 8:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was hard to believe Keller was able to transform Teyla like that - and even assure her that "the procedure is completely reversible and will have no lasting ill effects." How can you make that kind of guarantee with such an extensive surgery? Even in Star Trek - with their far more advanced technology - such transformations are unbelievable. (Just yesterday I watched "Face of the Enemy" - the TNG episode which ends with Deanna Troi having "instant surgery" to undo her Romulan face. Haha.) The least they could have done is have Keller describe some risks for Teyla instead of promising there would be no ill effects.

But, you know what? We've already suspended disbelief enough not to mind that Teyla and the Wraith queen are speaking English to one another (no universal translators or Babel fish in the Pegasus Galaxy, right?), so we may as well suspend our disbelief a little further.

All in all, I enjoyed the episode for the doublecrossings and the solid return to the Wraith story arc.

September 13 2008 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No mention of Kenny, whenever the sga team names a wraith we see more of them. I am just waiting on them to name a queen, cause i wonder what the writers will come up with.

September 13 2008 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Like the review said, lots in the episode that didn't make a lot of sense, so I don't need to list all of it. I liked it better than "Whispers" but still not terrific.

Some things that struck me;

-Was it me or did the queen (Not Teyla, the other one) act a little "un-queen-like"? Not much hissing and baring teeth and acting all ethereal.

- After the team was captured did their jumper end up getting left on the hive? How many have they lost over the course of the series? Not an infinite supply of those...

- So, are we to believe that the modified Wraith, when they do their culling will scoot around in darts scooping up farmers fields (instead of the farmers) and livestock and the contents of grocery stores?

- When will the team (especially McKay) learn to not just sit down at a table spread by their "frenemies" and start chowing down? He ought to stick to his powerbars on missions. Remember what Ford did to them with the enzyme in their food?

September 13 2008 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There was a Keller storyline? She did some incredibly miraculous surgery on Teyla (which obviously can't be explained, and hell, if she can do that, she could be a billionaire on earth marketing it).

Anyway, teyla was fantastic in this episode and her "kill them all" in doing away with the other hive ship was, well, priceless. Guess the double-cross went both way. Todd used her, but she used him.

While I like Todd, I'd like to see him become a definite villain in the SGA movie - a tiger can't change its stripes - and it would be cool to see that all come to an end in the movie (yes, I have no problem in seeing Todd die, he's a wraith after all).

September 13 2008 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Thank you, TV Squad, for the screen caps. Again, it's a nice added touch to your reviews.

I loved Rachel in this episode. We got to see a darker side of Teyla's nature. She's been fighting the Wraith her whole life, and it doesn't look like she's going to stop fighting so easily. The double-crosses, and triple-crosses in the episode, were terrific.

Christopher Heyerdahl is marvelous. He is part of the cast of the new SciFi series, Sanctuary.

As to Keller, I take option B. Works every time.

September 13 2008 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The doctor has always been a problem, but none of the Atlantis characters have grown at all in the 5 years the show has been on, and she is no different.

September 13 2008 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Oreo's comment

I completely agree more. This has been my biggest gripe with an otherwise solid space opera. By the end of the second season, the characters of SG-1 were already heavily developed. Of course, with the revolving door of main cast characters it's no surprise there's little character develoment. I enjoyed this episode, even with the Star Trek-like premise of altering a character's appearance, because it was Teyla-centric and took the character out of her comfort zone. This is the kind of character development we should have been seeing in the first couple of seasons.

September 13 2008 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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