Review by Taylor Brown
A good friend of mine -- Kelly -- has a saying, and she uses it whenever people are arguing and start to snap at each other: "Oh, snap!" It's silly and stupid, but I found myself saying it over and over again while watching "Suspicion." This is the kind of episode where the action takes place within the dialogue -- and while that's not all bad, there is an awful lot of dialogue.
At the beginning, Sergeant Bates comes off as overzealous but genuinely concerned about the safety of Atlantis. He is even a little more pragmatic than Sheppard and his "It's not fair" attitude. As he directs his attention at Teyla, he becomes more and more unscrupulous about what he's saying, to the point where he's almost snarky towards his commanding officer when Teyla and Ford are left behind on a mission.
By the time Teyla is exonerated, I found myself with a great need to slap Bates -- and I'm usually all for characters that have a different point of view than "our heroes." I got the feeling that by the end of the episode, the writers wanted us to hate him -- so mission accomplished there -- but I'm not sure that having the chief of security as one of the show's antagonists is a smart decision. He does manage, however, to hit on a sore spot with Sheppard on the "if Colonel Sumner was here" issue. I wonder how much of a problem that's going to present with the other Air Force personnel.
Back when "Rising" first aired (remember the good old days, when we didn't know anything?), I groaned about the scene where Sheppard finds Teyla's necklace and puts it on her. Good for the Atlantis crew for having me take the bait. It's nice to know that the necklace does serve a purpose other than to manufacture a moment of unresolved sexual tension between Teyla and Sheppard, and that further surprises may be in store.
What I love about Atlantis overall -- and "Suspicion" is a great example of this -- is the continuity from episode to episode. Ford brings that turkey sandwich that Sheppard wanted to the Puddle Jumper, but he still can't name anything. Dr. Zelenka, everyone's favorite Czech scientist, is back. And even Stackhouse (one of the Air Force pilots stuck inside the event horizon in "Thirty Eight Minutes") gets a mention. Bringing back familiar themes and characters, even this early on in the show, makes this part of the Stargate universe seem even more real.
I'm still not impressed with the Wraith, though. Sometimes their dialogue is scarier than they are, and they are pretty easy to paralyze or kill. The Atlantis team hasn't been at it that long, and they've already got one as a pet. Doesn't sound like much of an enemy -- but to be fair, we really haven't seen a large number of them yet.
The one thing that bothered me in "Suspicion" was the scene where Teyla and Sheppard talk outside on the balcony. I'm assuming this is the same place that Weir and Sheppard argue in "Rising," but in this scene, the background looks fake and the actors are lighted too harshly. This is an example of the visual effects team being a victim of their own standards, as I would have hardly noticed if the similar scene in "Rising" hadn't looked so much better.
There's also a lot of parallels made between Teyla and Weir as leaders -- most disturbingly in the fact that they are both somewhat undermined by another strong personality. Halling is calling meetings and making decisions without telling Teyla, while Bates orders around McKay without the approval of Weir. What's happening here? Elizabeth Weir and Teyla are born diplomats, and while that's good for this expedition, the power vacuum created by Colonel Sumner's death means heightened tension about who is really in charge of what in Atlantis.
"Suspicion" shows us that Atlantis is just not going to be about fighting the Wraith or getting home. There is as much dramatic tension in how these expedition members relate to each other as there is in catching the bad guy. The Atlantis team doesn't automatically like each other or even trust each other, and that's OK. It's a mark of a good science fiction show to have real human conflict alongside exploring alien worlds and battling the enemy.
I just wish this episode hadn't been 80 percent talking.
"Oh, snap," says Kelly.
Rating: * * 1/2