Review by Taylor Brown
Previously on Stargate Atlantis: The team ran into Ford and his gang, where McKay's love of food ended up with him eating more Wraith enzyme than dessert. Ford and the "lost boys" hatched a plan to destroy a Wraith ship, and Sheppard made the mistake of believing Ford wanted to come home again.
"The Hive" starts immediately from where "The Lost Boys" left off: Sheppard in the hands of a Wraith Queen, not quite as Marilyn Manson-esque as last time, but nonetheless still creepy. (Fun Internet Movie Database fact: the actress who plays the Wraith Queen in this episodes is the same as the redhead in "Rising"). Suddenly the Wraith Queen breaks away ... and I'm utterly confused as to why a such a cliffhanger gets partially resolved by the imposing Queen just walking away.
Teyla's super-Wraith sense soon provides an explanation: another Hive ship has shown up, and the Queen doesn't want to share. I'm glad the episode moves along at such a quick pace, but after months of waiting, the first part of this episode is disappointing.
Back on the planet, the guards tell McKay that if he wants to get the control crystals, he has to go through them. I thought that piece of dialogue was just a throw away, until McKay takes "one hell of a karate chop" of the Wraith enzyme, and Atlantis gets one of its oddest fight scenes ever, including some well placed hands to the face.
McKay manages to stay sane long enough to get to Atlantis, and his entrance is memorable and reminds us that Weir and the rest of Atlantis have no idea that Sheppard's team even met up with Ford, much less that the rest of the team is on a dangerous mission with him. McKay runs in circles around Weir, blabbering about the enzyme and the guards and what has to happen ... until he faints. Not of manly hunger this time.
His withdrawal from the Wraith enzyme is dropped too quickly. After his initial withdrawal McKay shows up in one scene, looking as healthy as when he left. After seeing the long-term effects on Ford and what Ronon and Teyla go through on the hive ship, it doesn't seem to make sense that McKay would have no lingering after-effects.
Sheppard, usually clueless to the alien woman throwing themselves at him, does however, seem to remember not to trust the sweet, innocent-seeming alien girl. Nobody imprisoned in a Wraith hive ship against their will has that good of a complexion.
Ford chooses to stay back to cover his former commanding officer's escape from the Hive ship. While this feels initially odd, considering how much he and Sheppard butt heads throughout, it makes sense as a last-ditch effort to remind us that the "real" Ford, the one who is loyal and a team member, is still a part of the Ford that has changed. He allows Sheppard to be the hero once again. Seeing Ford in this pseudo-team setting again is bittersweet, as I doubt Ford's character (even if brought back) will ever be dealt with in a satisfying way.
The final battle scene between the two hive ships and the Daedalus is a highlight of the episode. By focusing on the Dart Sheppard has stolen, it gives the viewer both a visual and a narrative focus on how and why the hive ships start firing on each other. By the time Sheppard, Teyla, and Ronon step through the gate, the episode reaches that larger, "two-parter" feel -- that while the immediate situation has been resolved, the stakes have been raised yet again.
"The Hive" isn't my favorite season / half season premiere, but it does have some great moments and sets up the back half of Season Two well. While it partially resolves some of what "The Lost Boys" brought up -- including an open-ended "death" for Ford, as Sheppard knows that unless they saw Ford die themselves, he'll be back -- it also brings up some interesting questions about the Wraith-worshipers like Neera, who rattles off some vague "end of days" prophecy. Is this prophecy something the Wraith made up, or something of which they just took advantage? Are they trying to set themselves up like the Goa'uld did?
We're already seeing more of the feuding between Wraiths, so I hope these aspects will be played up in future episodes.
Rating: * * 1/2