Visit GateWorld every Friday this summer for a new installment of the Friday Five, a countdown of our favorite episodes, characters, technology and more from 15 years of Stargate history! Use trackbacks to post your own Friday Five for this week’s topic on your blog, or post a comment below to let us know how your picks compare.
This Week: The Best of Todd
Stargate Atlantis introduced a cool and unique villain in the Wraith — but it wasn’t until we met specific characters like “Michael” and “Todd” (our team’s nicknames … not their given names!) that they acquired a little personality. Through a recurring role in Seasons Four and Five, Todd was established as one of the team’s most dangerous allies. He is a pasty frienemy, if you will, who might just as easily suck the life out of you or ask you for help. This week we pay tribute to this interesting character and Christopher Heyerdahl, our friend who plays him.
Beware of SPOILERS for Stargate Atlantis‘s fourth and fifth seasons below.
Thanks to Kathy for suggesting this week’s topic!
Season Four, Episode 12
After the Atlantis team has (reluctantly) joined forces with Todd and his hive to fight the Replicators, they discover their new buddy has bigger ambitions than just ridding the galaxy of a common enemy. He also sent his lackies to steal several Zero Point Modules — a highly valuable power source — from the Replicator homeworld Asuras before it exploded. The team finds him in a secret Wraith cloning facility, where he is building an army … or rather he was, before he was double-crossed by one of those lackies and ousted. Once again, Todd finds himself working alongside John Sheppard and his team toward their common interests.
And the lab gets blowed up real good when the team crashes a Wraith hive ship into it. That’ll set Todd back a few.
Season Five, Episode 17
The team has shared Dr. Keller’s Wraith gene therapy with Todd, in the hopes that he will use his influence to test it out on live Wraith. Using the Wraith hybrid Michael’s research, the gene therapy is supposed to remove a Wraith’s need to feed on humans. Todd sees great initial results, and uses it on himself and his whole ship … only to have his soldiers turn into flesh-hungry monsters he can no longer control. His hive is infected and falling apart when Sheppard’s team finds it in orbit over Atlantis.
Todd is pure awesome in this episode. He faces an identity crisis (unable to feed on Sheppard even if he had the chance). He has to turn to an enemy for help when his over-eagerness ends in disaster. He pilots half his ship as it free falls into the planet’s atmosphere and crashes into the ocean. And he negotiates his freedom with Sheppard, leaving through the Stargate with a last-ditch plan to save his life. Todd is the star of this show.
Season Five, Episode 10
“First Contact” is when those gene therapy trials with Todd’s gang were supposed to begin. Keller and other reps from Atlantis meet Todd and his Wraith on board the Daedalus. This leads to one of Todd’s best monologues ever, as he wonders aloud what the gene therapy will mean for himself and his kind: “Then what would we do? Who would we be?”
The plan goes sideways, of course, when Todd becomes convinced that the Atlantis team has betrayed him. He uses a hidden device to knock everyone unconscious, taking command of the Daedalus for himself. Along with part two, “The Lost Tribe,” this episode marks a significant turning point from “ally” to “enemy.” Sheppard no longer has any patience for Todd, and seems convinced in later episodes that they would be better off without him. That’s also why these episodes are great for Todd: they show that, for all his philosophizing and sweet talk, he still has his fangs.
Season Three, Episode 7
When Todd was first introduced in the third season of Atlantis, we didn’t know he was a brilliant scientist, strategist, and up-and-coming Wraith King wannabe. He didn’t even have his nickname yet. He was just a prisoner, held in a rickety old prison cell by the Genii Acastus Kolya. When Kolya captured John Sheppard as well, he used the Wraith prisoner as an instrument of torture — sucking the life out of the Colonel and demanding that Atlantis hand over the Genii usurper, Ladon.
Todd and Sheppard eventually worked together to escape, and form something a bond between them — particularly when Todd voluntarily restored all of the life energy he had sapped from John. The character’s introduction made him instantly compelling and sympathetic.
Season Five, Episode 8
Arguably Todd’s best episode is one in which he is most at the center of the story, most able to shine — which, for him, means smiling while he stabs you in the back. The team wants Todd to try out Dr. Keller’s gene therapy, but of course it’s the hive queens who get to decide that sort of thing. So he convinces Teyla to go in disguise as a queen, in order to meet and try to influence the “Primary” — the head queen of his entire alliance. And by “influence,” of course, Todd means assassinate and replace.
This episode is full of Todd at his most Todd-ness. He’s the sort of frienemy who agrees to a plan, changes it drastically in a way that makes you think he’s turned on you, then calmly explains why his way is really the only way. It’s the old bait-and-switch, only he wants you to thank him for it afterward! Fortunately Teyla ends their covert mission by getting the best of him, threatening to return as the new Primary and make him pay if he doesn’t hold on to his end of their bargain.
NEXT WEEK ON THE FIVE: Best Cliffhangers! Blog about your top picks for Stargate‘s best season finale and mid-season cliffhanger moments next Friday, and trackback to our post!