Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Hive"

“The Hive” is the opening episode of the back half of the second season. As such, it concludes the story begun in “The Lost Boys” and establishes plot threads for the remainder of the season. At least I think it does the latter. Not much jumps out at me other than the Wraith are collapsing into warring factions over food sources.

The episode begins with the resolution for the cliffhanger. It is a disappointing one. The Queen’s interrogation is interrupted by some issue unknown to the audience until a couple scenes later. She just walks off, sparing Sheppard torture. The issue with the Queen is another Hive ship’s appearance. The tense ensuing conflict, which conveniently remains a staring contest until the final act, is enough distraction for the character hooked on wraith enzyme to suffer withdrawal while imprisoned. The bulk of the episode is the drama surrounding the withdrawal.

That would not be so bad if the B-story did not detail how Rodney takes an overdose of ensyme in order to fight his wife off ford’s Planet and gate back to Atlantis. He manages to kick the enzyme habit in what seems like a day or so. He is none the worse for wear as he clear-headedly leads Caldwell on a rescue mission to the hive ship. Meanwhile, Ford’s lieutenant dies from his withdrawal. Ford would have, too, if not for his killing more Wraith and restocking. The contrast between withdrawal experiences is jarring. Too much so for them to happen so different simultaneously.

The fight scene in which a juiced up Rodney does his kung fu on ford’s men is great, however. It is played mostly for laughs, but is not so over the top that it sticks out like a sore thumb against the serious tone of the rest of the episode. Do not get me wrong about Rodney’s DT experience, either. As miraculous a recovery as he makes, David Hewlett plays the cold turkey process wonderfully well as both deliriously funny and tragically painful.

Ford apparently sacrifices himself after far too conveniently escaping the Wraith off screen in order to save his former comrades. Sheppard tricks one hive ship into thinking the other has attacked. They wind up destroying each other while AR-1 uses a stargate in order to return to Atlantis.

‘the Hive’ reveals the Wraith are breaking off into factions and fighting one another. They are also employing human slaves that work for them in exchange for not being consumed. The arrangement is strange considering a limite food supply of humans is the source of the Wraith conflict, but perhaps some light will be shed on that in the future. Some of these humans worship the Wraith, though whether the Wraith have establishe themselves as gods or are taking advantage of superstition is not clear.

“The Hive” is not as epic as most midseason premiers. The problem is more than just my ambivalence at ford’s story. By mot accounts, he disappears from the serries completely until a single appearance in the final season, so I am probably not alone in my boredom. The story jusy feels small up until the battle between the hive ships at the end. It is largely character suffering the Dts until Ford escapes by means we never learn to free our heroes. A few more blanks could have been filled in to make the story more satisfying. There are some good points, most of which involve Rodney’s plight, but ’The Hive” is just an average episode. Not bad in spite of its flaws, but not as monumental as one would hope after months of wating for it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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