Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Gift"

I was apprehensive when the Wraith invasion storyline was introduced halfway through the midseason events would be dragged out to the point the tension would break. It may not be fair to say such has happened yet, but “The Gift” feels like it is misplaced in the episode order. Teyla certainly deserves an episode centering on her, but now is a strange time for it. Not only that, but there is an awful loyt of padding as well.

Teyla is suffering nightmares in which she imagines she is a Wraith. Upon consulting with a psychologist who is overworked thanks to the impending invasion, Teyal tries coming to terms with her “gift.” Like only a few Athosians, she can sense the Wraith coming. Following a hunch from an old family friend, she and her teammates visit a long abandoned planet upon which some of her family members lived. There she stumbles upon an lab in which a rogue Wraith had been performing experiment on humans to expedite the feeding process. He inadvertently created the ability in humans to telepathically connect with Wraith. The Wraith attempted to wipe out the indigenous population to avoid the trait spreading, but some escaped.

The psychologist uses hypnosis to remove a suspected mental block on Teyla so she can utilize the telepathic abilities to gather intelligence. She does this not once, not twice, but three times, with each attempt ending more dramatically than the last. These attempts are what I consider filler. The writers seem to run out of material, so they repeat the same sequence with a different result for the entire penultimate act. All that is for a payoff we already knew--the wraith want to attack Earth. We knew that from sumner’s interrogation in the first episode. I suppose it is new information that there are too many awaken Wraith and too few humans to feed upon, but did we need to waste a whole episode waiting on that revelation?

We do learn more about the Wraith’s origin. They evolved from those insects from “Thirty-Eight Minutes” when the Ancients allowed humans to settle on a planet infested with them. Eventually, bug and human DNA became mixed. Thus, the Wraith were born. The exposition regarding the Wraith’s beginnings had to go somewhere. “The gift” is as ood a spot as any, I guess.

“Good” being a relative term. While I am far more interested in Teyla than I was with Teal’c--they are essentially the same character--and Rachel Luttrell’s smoky voice calls up fond memories of Michele Carey, I do not think “The Gift” is a good showcase for her. There is not much material, hence the repeat hypnosis sessions when when one extended would have sufficed. “The Gift” appears to be largely an exposition dump for everything you ever wanted to know about the Wraith, but wree afraid to ask. Why such a dump should come in the middle of an invasion storyline is anyone’s guess. The effect is a near derailment. One wonders not only why that is thought to be a good idea, but why ford jabbing Rodney with innuendo regarding his manhood is necessary. A penis joke? Seriously?The joke does not downgrade “The Gift” to the cellar, but there is not much lifting the episode out, either.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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