Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Defiant One"

"The Defiant One," like "The Eye," is another action oriented episode highlighted by good character moments. I was afraid judging by the title and the authorship of Peter DeLuise the story would be Sheppard and some Wraith handcuffed together after escaping an alien prison, but fortunately, the title merely refers to the featured Wraith's willingness to survive most anything thrown at it.

Sheppard and Rodney take two scientists, Gaul and Abrams, to the edge of the solar system in order to investigate a Wraith weapons platform the two have discovered. Upon arriving at the platform, they receive a distress call from a downed Wraith ship that has been stranded on the planet for 10,000 years. Thinking it has to be an automated signal because of the ship's advanced age, they go down to investigate. They soon discover they are wrong. One Wraith has survived all this time by way of cannibalism. The lone wraith kills abrams, drains half the life from Gaul, and duels with sheppard over the Puddle Jumper.

The bulk of the episode involves Sheppard battling the Wraith over control of the Puddle Jumper. There are several Star Trek jokes peppered about calling attention to Sheppard's possessiveness regarding the Puddle Jumper as James T. Kirk's attachment to the Enterprise. The Wraith survives 10,000 years of isolation, harsh elements, gunshot wounds, and a landmine before getting blown up from the sky by a rescue Puddle Jumper. Truth be told, there is a certain Wile E. Coyote vibe to this Wraith, but i much appreciate his much more feral personality in keeping with his living circumstances over the last few millennia.

But it is not just the Sheppard v. Wraith show. Rodney has many good scenes which demonstrate his character growth since the beginning of the series. Gaul is half eaten by the Wraith and must remain in the ship while Sheppard runs off to defeat the Wraith. Rodney stays with him because he is not an adventurer. Nor is he muxh of a nurse, but he stands by his colleague to encourage him while he is likely dying. the circumstances are even more poignant because gaul is much like rodney. e is an arrogant genius with no field training in way over his head, and look what has happened to him. He knows rodney wants to get out there and help Sheppard even if Rodney does not know it himself, and commits suicide in oter to allow Rodney to do so.

Gaul's suicide is a brutal moment for Rodney. not only is there the gruesome scene of a dead man, but the realization he was so much like Rodney that he could share the same fate if he does not develop more of an edge. Rodney goes after the Wraith, but is still out of his element. i liked the bit where he ran out of bullets and asked sheppard what to do now. "Reload!" is Sheppard's answer. Rodney is still largely the comic relief character, but he is growing on me as a vital member of the Atlantis team. He certainly does not have Daniel's scientist/swashbuckler combo going, but it is fun to watch his continuing journey to that point.

Let us just skip the fact a guy named Gaul, the ancient name of France, surrendered to pressure and shot himself, all right? We should also skip the fact Sheppard's pants change color four times during the episode from black to grey to green and back to black. There is no way he would change pants while battling the Wraith over the fifteen hour period, so the wardrobe malfunction is a really strange production error.

I am happy to see another environment besides the forests outside Vancouver, as well. "The Defiant One" takes place in the same sand dunes which have served as ancient Egypt, abydos, and Lantash, but I do not recognize any specific spots from the parents show. Or, worse yet, the spot where mulder found the buried railroad car full of alien hybrids, for instance. for that matter, this place must have doubled for Afghanistan back in the MacGyver episode, the name of which escapes me after 24 or so years.

"The Defiant One" is a highly entertaining episode that manages to put Sheppard and Rodney into predicaments to highlight their true natures. There is a lot of action, but it is not mindless violence by any streth. certain elements, such as this Wraiths incrreased healing abilities, seem to foreshadow discoveries about their trues powers, but we shall see if and when that pans out. Quite a good show, pants switching in the heat of battle notwithstaning.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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