Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"Vengeance"

“Vengeance” features the return of Michael in the beginning of what promises to be a long story arc of both his plans for conquest and the Atlantis crew seeking to correct their mistake of creating Michael in the first place. The episode is a pretty cool action oriented piece that is even more of an homage to Ridley Scott’s Alien than the previous episode.

When the Taranians, last seen in ”Inferno,” fail to return communications for a long period of time, the AR-1 team is sent to their relocated settlement to investigate. They find the settlement empty, but read life signs from tunnels underneath the settlement which had been built by the previous occupants as a place to hide from the Wraith. In the tunnels, they find the corpses of a number of Taranians and a lab with an Iratus bug in an aquarium.

The life signs they were reading are from Iratus Wraith, man size bugs they quickly discover Michael has been developing by modifying the retrovirus that failed to correctly expunge the Wraith DNA out of him. We o not get a particularly good look at the Iratus Wraith because the tunnels are dark and the attacks on AR-1 are chaotic, but they are mostly men in suits with some CGI elements in certain scenes. The idea of an Iratus Wraith is a neat idea--Sci Fi movie Mansquito not with standing, but the powers that be took a big risk going the Godzilla costume route. I can see why the Iratus Wraith only appear once.

The Iratus Wraith’s physical appearance is the only weak point of ’Vengeance’ and even that is mitigated by never being able to really see one in it entirety. There is a lot of sounds of the iratus Wraith stalking our heroes and the outline of one in the shadows. Otherwise, the direct battles with them happen fast in close quarters. They are still hard to swallow, however.

What makes “Vengeance” good, in addition to the claustrophobic atmosphere is the continuing moral question of using the retrovirus on Michael. So far exploring the morality of altering Michael from a Wraith to human has been the hottest discussion the series has generated at The Eye. The original issue was compounded when our heroes nuke an entire planet of former Wraith in order to keep them from regressing back to their former selves. Michael survived, but is now an outcast among the Wraith. So his actions in creating this new bug army, not to mention the slaughter of the Taranians, whom he discovered through the Atlantis database, is a result of our heroes’ actions. Ronon points that out in an act of near insubordination when he convinces Sheppard they need to hunt down an kill Michael to clean up this mess. I am pleased the whole storyline was not dropped thanks to a nuke and have high hopes for the eventual resolution.

“Vengeance” is an entertaining episode. The look of the Iratus Wraith is the only weak spot. I must note the tunnels are clearly the same set as Kolya’s safe house in “Common Ground,” right down to the escape hatch Sheppard and Todd used. In hindsight, the set has been used quite a bit in the franchise. I believe the set was also used in “Icon” as well, so actors are not the only thing being recycled between shows. “Vengeance” is a nifty adventure, and the return of Michael promises a new, formidable villain. I would call the episode a winner overall.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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