Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SGA Rewatch: The Queen

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch! Today's episode up for discussion is season five's "The Queen." Join me, won't you? Spoilers for the episode and any that came before, as always.

What Happened

The puddle jumper exits from a space gate and we see that inside are the team and Jennifer. Rodney grumbles that he wishes they had brought backup and Teyla reminds him they are on a diplomatic mission. They approach a wraith hive ship and receive a message with docking instructions. They get inside and there is a knocking on the outer hatch. They open it up, weapons ready, and find several equally armed wraith on the other side, guns drawn.

From around the corner comes the order for the wraith to lower their weapons and then Todd appears and welcomes them to his ship. He leads them to a meeting room and introduces his second-in-command. He has even procured food for them. He begins things by saying he understands they've reached a breakthrough. Cue Jennifer, who explains about going through Michael's research. She says they have discovered information that would alter wraith DNA so that they wouldn't need to feed on humans anymore and could eat regular food again instead. Todd's second-in-command is skeptical. Todd himself doesn't see the benefit to this treatment. The humans point out that not needing to feed would give his hive a great advantage over others fighting for humans to feed upon. John also quips it would mean he could stop waiting for when he needs to kill Todd (in theory).

Todd asks how it would affect their longevity and ability to heal. Jennifer says she isn't sure. The "gifts" might continue, albeit in diminished form. There is no way to know until they test the treatment on live subjects, which is why they are bringing this to Todd in the first place. Rodney reminds them that there is no way to know which planets have been affected by the Hoffan drug still, and John pipes up that bottom line is there is a shortage of "food" for the wraith. Not needing to rely on that depleted resource would be a big benefit to Todd's hive.

Todd goes to confer with his people and the team waits. Ronon grumbles that this is wrong and they shouldn't be there. He still doesn't like working with the wraith. John for his part is surprised at the lack of resistance. Todd comes in and says he has considered their offer to test out the treatment. He thinks the idea has merit if Jennifer can make it work, although he follows that up by saying just converting one hive would be rather pointless. He is allied with several hives but doesn't really have the clout to sway them. They need to convince the Primary, the main queen, and if they do then the whole alliance would convert. Unfortunately, the queen will only speak with another queen and they don't have one anymore, a fact which Todd has kept secret from the alliance. He thinks that Teyla can help him with that though.

Back in Atlantis John tries to talk Teyla out of whatever it was Todd suggested. She says that Jennifer assures her that "the procedure" is perfectly safe and John says it doesn't matter. The whole idea is crazy. Even if they do convince the wraith and convert them, they will then have a huge technological advantage over humans. He is worried they will try to enslave them instead of feeding on them. Teyla points out that he's never raised this objection before and he says that's because no one was asking her to risk her life. She says her wraith DNA makes her the only possible candidate. The queen would detect anyone else immediately. John thinks they should just sit back and let the wraith keep killing each other. Teyla worries that if they do that Todd's hive will be destroyed and they will never have such an opportunity again. She thinks she needs to take it while it's here. Amelia radios John and tells him that Todd has arrived.

Teyla prepares to go into surgery and Jennifer says she is worried that Teyla is being pressured into this because of her research. Teyla reassures her that it is her choice. Todd makes his way to the infirmary and is stopped by Ronon, who threatens him if anything happens to Teyla. He clearly isn't happy about this situation either. Todd arrives and we learn he will be the technical advisor while Jennifer performs the mystery surgery. They get underway.

Night falls and the rest of the team waits tensely. Jennifer comes in and tells them they can see her now, leading them to Teyla's bed. She asks how she looks and the camera reveals that she has been turned into a wraith.

On the hive Todd begins training her in how to act properly like a wraith queen. She needs to have the proper manner and bearing or the Primary will sniff out their ruse and kill them. She cannot show any weakness. The team waits on board the ship. Todd arrives and fills them in on the plan, telling them the meeting with the Primary has been set. He thinks that as long as he presents the proposal as his (rather than the Lanteans') the queen might go along with it because their alliance is losing badly against the other wraith and her instinct for survival is strong.

Teyla has a video chat with the Primary and manages to be convincing enough to get an invite to her ship. Todd remarks that the Primary likes her, although it was hardly obvious. Teyla goes to see her team and inform them that she is about to head over for the face to face. They wish her luck and assure her they will be right there in case she needs them.

Teyla and Todd arrive on the other hive and are greeted by the Primary's second-in-command. The Primary is nowhere in sight. When Teyla asks after her, she is informed that they will meet with her in time. The wraith orders the others to jump to hyperspace and leads Todd and Teyla to a space to wait. The Primary won't leave her ship within weapons range of Todd's hive during the discussion.

There is a brief kerfuffle on Todd's ship when the Primary's ship jumps away but Todd's people assure the team they didn't know that would happen. The two groups realize they are just going to have to trust each other until they find out what's going on.

Teyla starts to freak out but Todd swears he didn't know this would happen. He says that if the queen didn't believe them they would be dead already. She is clearly just taking precautions. The queen interrupts their discussion and asks why Todd is there. Teyla says she thought he would be helpful since he is the one the Primary has been dealing with up until now. They have a brief "you show me yours I'll show you mine," and then they seem to accept each other. The Primary invites Teyla to sit so they can discuss the matter at hand but as she turns away Todd stabs her in the throat. She dies but not before managing to set off an alarm that blares through the ship. Teyla looks at Todd in horror and he carefully places the knife in her hand, asking forgiveness and telling her this is the way it has to be.

He tells Teyla she must claim the kill, explaining that this is how power changes hands among the wraith. If she can convince the Primary's hive that she is capable of replacing the Primary, they will accept her as their new queen. The Primary's second arrives with drones in tow and he is less than happy. He moves to attack Teyla but Todd starts to defend her. She knocks him down and tells him not to speak unless spoken to and thus displays strength worth following. They accept her rule, although the Primary's second does so very hesitantly.

Teyla gets Todd alone and he says that everyone on board has been fooled. She is pissed that he didn't tell her about the plan. He assures her that it was necessary and everyone will fall into line. She is unhappy but uneasily agrees to accept the rule for now. She tells Todd to take her back to his ship and he says in due time. She must remain aboard the taken hive for a while to let everyone get used to her and then once things are running smoothly she can take her leave.

On Todd's ship the team is trying to figure out if this whole thing was a setup or not. John is leaning toward no, but still, they realize they probably shouldn't linger on the hive without Todd around to keep the other wraith in line. John doesn't know what exactly they could do to get Teyla back though. Todd's second finds them and tells them that the Primary's hive has dropped out of hyperspace and they are receiving a transmission, it's Todd's tracking beacon. They decide to go after it. Along the way they try to come up with a plan for their arrival. Todd's second points out that it is likely to seem highly suspicious when they arrive exactly at the Primary's ship's location and it could provoke an attack. They consider the possiblity that maybe they should come out of hyperspace with guns blazing.

On Teyla's ship, the Primary's second comes to inform her that a rival hive has been detected feeding off of one of the worlds in the alliance's territory. They are the closest hive to the world, so he says they need to go investigate and deal with the rival hive. Teyla is adamant that they remain where they are (to allow Todd's ship time to find them) but Todd realizes they need to go. He asks if he might speak to Teyla privately. The deposed second watches their byplay with suspicion and they dismiss him. Todd manages to convince her that his ship will find them even if they move and that dealing with the rival hive will help cement her position. She relents and tells him to order the bridge to set course.

They arrive at the feeding ground and Todd reminds Teyla that she must remain firm when the other hive opens negotiations. Teyla doesn't respond to his coaching, she orders the second to charge weapons and fire on the other ship. The second is surprised she would attack unprovoked and she says intrusion on their feeding grounds is provocation enough. Todd is mad and points out that their hive is likely to suffer heavy losses once the other ship returns fire. Teyla says she is aware of the consequences and reminds him he told her not to show any weakness. He mutters that she is doing this on purpose to kill wraith.

Todd's ship gets to the Primary's first location and realizes that the ship is gone. They find the new location but don't want to just follow because then it will definitely alert suspicion of the Primary's hive. John asks if the planet they are at has a gate and Todd's second says yes. John tells them to drop the jumper off and the team gates to the planet where the Primary's ship is. They arrive and pick up the two hive ships engaged in battle and debate how to proceed. They see that the ship Todd is on is severely outgunned. John decides to join the battle, tip the scales a little. He takes the jumper in and scores a couple of critical hits on the enemy hive, destroying it completely.

The Primary's second expresses disbelief when the enemy's hive is destroyed and Todd congratulates the queen. The second orders the darts recalled and John flies the cloaked jumper into the hive along with them. The team sneaks onto the ship and tries to track down Todd, and hopefully Teyla. They encounter too many wraith to hide from and open fire. They begin to fight their way through the ship and are captured pretty quickly. The Primary's second orders the other wraith to inform the queen that they have intruders.

The team is locked in a cell and Teyla goes to talk to them. She dismisses the guards and greets her friends, telling them they should not have come. She promises to explain more fully later, but gives them the short story about being the queen now and needing to stay to secure her position. She tells them they must not try to escape and need to just wait it out. Of course, the Primary's second was eavesdropping and hears all of this. He follows Teyla back to her quarters saying he needed to see her in private. She tries to order him away but he refuses to comply. He confronts her for being a fraud and attacks her. Todd arrives just in time to prevent the second from killing Teyla.

Todd's hive arrives and he sends the "prisoners" over to it. After enough time passes, Teyla assembles the hive to tell them she is taking her leave. In her absence they will answer to Todd. They accept this order without question. As they leave Todd congratulates her on a job well done. She reminds him of the reason for all of this, to get Jennifer's treatment refined and distributed. Todd says yes, yes, in time. Teyla reminds him that as far as the hive is concerned she is their queen and she will be watching him. If he steps out of line she will return and will have him removed permanently.

Back in Atlantis Teyla is finally returned to her normal self. John goes to visit her in the infirmary and she tells him she is ready to get back to the regular routine. She asks if there has been word from Todd and he says that they have heard that Todd has solidified his position as "leader" of the alliance. Teyla wonders out loud if  maybe Todd had been playing them all along to get control of all of those hives. John says it is what it is and leaves, telling her to get some rest.


Wow, it's just not a Todd episode without a delicious apparent double-cross, is it? I love Todd. He hands down wins the award for Best Wraith Ever in my books. If every episode had more Todd I would not complain one bit. Although, man do I wish the wraith were in the habit of naming themselves. Any episode that involves multiple wraith as a big part of the plot is kind of a pain to write about sometimes. I mean, I get that it's derivative of their hive culture and all, but geez.

I do think the whole idea behind this episode is amazing--although I agree with John that the plan itself was totally nuts. But the concept of reversing what Carson had been working on to turn wraith to humans and instead turn a human into a wraith...that's just a nifty story right there. Also, Teyla rocked it.

I mean, compare this episode to the last one and here you get an example of girl power done right. It's very subtle, but it is there. The wraith are definitely a matriarchal society, which means in order to get anything real accomplished, Todd needs a woman to help him out. Also, notice how quickly Teyla starts to lose respect when it seems she is willing to let Todd, a man, speak for her. As soon as she can demonstrate that she is in charge of him, the others are a lot more willing to fall in line. Teyla even managed to demonstrate her own strength outside of Todd's guidance. I mean, yes, she displayed apprehension to start--because let's be honest, going full wraith is quite honestly Teyla's Worst Nightmare. But once she settled in to the role and assessed the situation, she was able to resume her general badass ways. Big props to her.

As far as for the season as a whole, this episode starts to set the stage for the larger arc. Michael's been dealt with and his research has been assessed,'s not completely terrible. Okay, yes, yes, his methods were ALL horrid and reprehensible, but some of his ideas on the surface--like eliminating the need for wraith to feed on humans--have merit to Atlantis.

Now we are looking at a way to at least start eliminating the nightmare aspect of the wraith without destroying their cultural identity or resorting to genocide. This is the diplomatic solution if they can find wraith willing to go along with it, and it seems that they have. For now, at least. Because Teyla's right, sitting back and just waiting for the wraith to whittle themselves down to manageable numbers is not the answer. There's no guarantee that the victors in such a fight would be willing to reason with humanity. Once the wraith eliminate resistance within their ranks, they will just turn their attention back to the humans of the galaxy. Also, the fallout from such a battle isn't likely to be pretty. Casualties are likely to be just as high among the innocents as the guilty.

So, woohoo Atlantis trying to find a better way. I guess we'll have to keep watching to see if they manage it, eh?

Favorite Quotes

"So, what happens now?" (Jennifer)
"If history's taught us anything, this is the part where we get double-crossed and taken prisoner." (Rodney)
"That will not happen this time Rodney. We were invited, remember?" (Teyla)
 "And that makes a difference?" (Rodney)

"Hmm. Fruit bowl. Nice touch." (John)
"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." (Todd)

"Why are we thinking of ways to fix them when we should be thinking of ways to kill them?" (Ronon)
"We've been trying to do that for four years. They're still here." (Rodney)
"The wraith may not deserve our consideration, but as John pointed out, we're not doing this for them." (Teyla)

"I still say this was a setup." (Ronon)
"I don't know, Kenny seemed pretty surprised when that ship disappeared." (John)
"Who?" (Rodney)
"Kenny--Todd's second in command." (John)
"Well, since when did we start calling him that?" (Rodney)
"Maybe he wasn't in on it." (Ronon)
"I don't know. If Todd wanted to kidnap Teyla, he'd have done it the second we arrived. Doesn't add up." (John)
"Seriously, the next time we name one of these guys, we should take a vote." (Rodney)


So ends another episode. Next week we get a little bit of resolution to a hanging plot thread, so that should be fun. Join me Monday for "Tracker."

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