2.9 Aurora

Compared to its parent series, “Atlantis” has been struggling to find its direction this season. Some plot threads have been introduced that will continue to play out over the course of the season, but the strength of the first season arc has given way to something less well defined. The result has been a hit-or-miss season thus far, and this episode is another example.

Like with the “SG-1” summer finale, I’m speaking only of the first hour; episode 2.10 will be covered in another review. In particular, this episode felt very small-scale. While there were some stakes introduced into the story, and the presence of the Wraith in the virtual world was clever, the end result was the preservation of the status quo.

Those kinds of episodes have never been satisfying for me, though I recognize the general necessity. My real concern with this episode is that the majority of the plot elements could have been present even if this were a first season episode. In fact, it was the inclusion of second season elements that kept this from being a sub-par episode.

I like the fact that Caldwell was in the position to demonstrate his priorities and further define his point of view. Just as the SG-1 team always had strife with groups like the NID, seeking to use the gate system for a questionable agenda, it’s better to have someone like Caldwell who can push for a more military approach without being a villain or necessarily negative in his impact.

For all that, Ronon’s presence was something of a waste. He didn’t contribute much to the episode, other than as someone for Teyla to flirt with on occasion. I’m sure he was included on the team just in case there was trouble on the Aurora, but since the trouble was largely left to McKay to resolve, he didn’t have much to contribute.

Teyla wasn’t all that useful either. This is becoming more and more of a concern. It makes sense for Sheppard and McKay to be prominent, given their popularity, but there are other characters to focus on and the first season was a lot better at spreading the joy. I also find it a little predictable for Teyla to be so interested in Ronon, especially since he’s not exactly the most sensitive person on the planet.

The tension over keeping the secret of Atlantis from the Wraith was nice touch, though the writers had to make the actual Ancients within the virtual world rather bland so that Hot!WraithGirl stuck out like a sore thumb. I didn’t figure that she was a Wraith, but it did seem odd that she was the only one with a real attitude about Sheppard.

Other than that, I’m just annoyed that there was nothing for the team to gain from the situation. Sure, they took out two more cruisers, but the Wraith have a ton of ships out there. It’s not hard to believe that the Wraith are trying to overcome the hyperdrive problem, since they are rapidly starving, if earlier episodes are to be believed. But couldn’t Sheppard have gotten a hint about the nature of the Wraiths’ weakness?

Whatever the case, this episode just didn’t do it for me. McKay found some ways to manipulate the virtual world that felt more like plot convenience than something he actually could have accomplished. That sort of thing is normal for this series, but it seemed excessive this time around. Hopefully the second hour of the “summer finale” was a bit more substantial.

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