Again, Atlantis reuses a plot from SG-1: the team gets trapped with a penal colony; in the original episode, it was a one way gate (that they eventually used manually). This time, the gate is in the middle of an Alcatraz-like island, used as a dumping ground for criminals and a Wraith-offering/feeding ground. The ship is shot down and they’re taken hostage, during which time McKay is told to fix the downed ship or else. (“Who do you think I am, MacGuyver?!”)
The leader of the penal coloney takes McKay on (more David Hewlett airtime!), claiming that he’s a Scotty-figure, claiming he can’t do it so that he can be heroic when he does succeed. He also realizes that McKay is not motivated by personal threat of violence, but of violence on his friends, and thus threatens the lives of everyone else on the ship. (Amusing sidenote: Sheppard’s nickname for Ronan? Chewie. I like.)
The team eventually discovers that the penalty of being sent to the island is such a deterrant that crime rates are too low to keep the island populated for Wraiths. People end up being sent there for the smallest crime.
And whoa, major spoiler that I won’t reveal here, but I did NOT see that coming. The Wraith, however, are terribly interesting. Reptilian and Asian, with a weird Vampire Hunter D quality thanks to the hand-mouth.
So although the major ideas of the plot are recycled, the writers manage to pull an original story out of it anyhow, and one filled with amusing dialogue and character interaction. It’s nice to see Sheppard doing a bit more; although I love the focus on the scientists, this is supposed to also be military. That Sheppard admitted he doesn’t fight because he’s lazy was just precious, and endearing.
I do have one complaint: it appears that they sped up the film when Teyla and Ronan are fighting hand to hand; whatever they did, it’s a visible effect that ended up looking cheesy and not at all good.
Okay, I take that back. Two complains – while I praise SG-1 for its literal morals debate, I have to wonder at the ethics of what the team did, and how the episode ended. I’m not entirely certain I like their sanctioning of the cull.