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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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sgareview - michael, s2e18
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Oh my God I loved this episode.



It's like Stargate: The Cows Fight Back.

I'm coming at this from a highly unethical perspective. My greatest regret is that it might/could/maybe have worked and it didn't.

I didn't remember what this was about until the bit in the bed with the dreaming and wow, that was *very cool*. I felt bad for Michael. Not bad enough not to shoot him up myself if necessary, but hey, he'd get my chocolate ration. And then things happened and he found out, of course, and he escaped, which I so didn't see coming, and now come the great ethical debates.

I'm just--okay, I'm from a tradition of nonsensical sci-fi. I honestly do not give a shit the scientific blah blah blah. If they say it works, then whee! More fun than a barrel of monkeys. So instead of killing Michael, or you know, leaving him to take however many lives he feels necessary to keep survival going, they changed him to human. Bravo. I am behind this. I am *mixing the drugs* in the backroom of the lab, the mad scientist lab, where I will give Carson footrubs if necessary.

Think. There is the cow. The humans are coming to make him into hamburgers. I'm thinking prime rib. I can honestly state that if the cow spoke to me, I'd back the fuck off, not least because that cow would be making me *so much money*, but also because a predisposition of sentience and self-awareness makes me uneasy as to my food.

The Wraith do not back off the cows when they talk, build civilizations, or try to flee them. There really isn't much of a comparison. It's grey and messy and not really something I'm terribly comfortable with thinking about. But I'm very comfortable with doing whatever it takes to bring them down. It's kind of dove grey, even, in the spectrum. It's not like the Wraith aren't, you know, capable of space travel and stuffed with fantastic technology--they could sure as *hell* develop something that substituted for the use of sentient life for the daily three courses. I'm just saying, if Star Trek could make replicators (the other replicators, not the bug things), then the Wraith could have figured something else out.

What makes us better? We go to war, we go to peace, we kill and maim and slaughter, build civilizations and create art. We do not eat our sentient life. We're just weird about our food being able to think. The Wraith are--God, I don't even have words. I hated the Goa'uld, but the Wraith are the anti-thesis of everything that makes life, even moreso than the Goa'uld. They're like anti-life. You can't take a moral high ground when there isn't common ground. Humans are *dinner*. And I'm just saying, as a member of the species that makes part of the ten course Wraith feast, there's a difference.

But even beyond that--maybe it's my instincts speaking, from a deep dislike of the idea of showing up on a plate, but--seriously. Almost any means necessary here. I'm just in that place where I am just fine with it. There won't be peace, there's no *hope* of peace, there's no way to stop the Wraith from *eating them*, so--yeah.

Random Thoughts

1.) John freaked me the hell out with that infirmary moment of wrestling down Mike the Future Lieutenant Wraith. That was just--it's one thing to see it from the team pov, quite another to have Michael watching it and seeing it from his. John officially scares me about as much as the Wraith. God that is hot. Mike. Jesus.

What I'm not entirely sure of is his opinion on the subject and I'm thinking that it's deliberate. He, Rodney, and to a lesser extent, Teyla, seemed to fall into the category of wary acquiescence with what was going on. Weir and Carson were All About Turning Wraith to Cow, and Ronon was death first. Which is pretty much characteristic of all of them, so no huge surprises. Which really makes me want to see the staff meeting where this was decided, because whoo-doggies, I bet that one took a couple of *days*.

2.) I liked Teyla's bond with Michael a lot, and I don't buy that entire Wraith instinct bullshit. He freaked out over being lied to about what he was, freaked out about being penned up, just--he acted to me like a scared human. He wanted to get away from the people who were scaring him, injecting him with drugs, etc. I totally get that. He didn't use deadly force until he felt himself completely out of other options. I just--it failed, but it failed for reasons that actually, to me, had little to do with the actual transformation and more to do with the control of the experiment failing.

3.) Ronon annoyed me. A lot. It was just stupid. I get he's bitter against the Wraith, I get his trauma, yes, seven years. Then in the name of God stay out of the way of the experiment. You don't ask the scary evangelists to help with stem cell research, you *keep them away*. And you don't go sabotaging it, either, and frankly, that is what he was doing. Not cool.

4.) I was terribly impressed with the level of paranoia going on. Security cameas, twenty-four seven watching, guards, John looking worried and pretty and worried. It was nice. I like.

5.) I agree with everyone else. Rodney's great brilliance and personality should never, ever, ever do anything even *resembling* undercover. For his own safety.

I have all these weird thoughts of vague comparisons to the Borg, which actually don't apply except I think in some ways they do, but I need a lot more concentration to pull that off. And I'm basically still stuck in the infirmary, watching John and Ronon holding down that Wraith, and freaking myself out.

Okay, I'm done. Yeah. That just--it worked for me in all ways. I am all about the giant bioweapon of humanity dropped on them. They can learn to love steak.


Wow. Except for like 2 little bits I'm like...Woah...you are so inside my head.

Your thoughts on the sciency stuff and the Wraith and stuff, it's just how I feel only you wrote it in a way that's way more understandable than the mess of thoughts in my head. Yeah.

I am the least cool person ever, but there really is no other way to express my thoughts on this: WORD.

Exactly. I didn't articulate it half as well, but yes. In pretty much all ways. It wasn't what they managed to do that freaked me out, it was the way they handled the aftermath. Damage control? Not so much.

Thanks for putting it better than I.

Yep. But it was an experiment, and a first one at that, so a part of me keeps hoping they'll be like, *next time, we'll do it this way...* But that's just me. Do not let failure stop you.

And God, do I want to see what John wants to bring in way of weapons to Atlantis. Seriously, I am *drooling*.

Was I the only one that wanted some pervy fucked up figuring out what mastrubation was while he was being spied on fic?

No? Just me?

Okay then.

*slinks away*

Yes, John in that one clip was bonechilling. And I like that he's creepier than Jack or Teal'c or Ronon when he's pissed.

*snorts* You should write it. *g*

And yeah, John--dear *God* John. *sighs dreamily*

John officially scares me about as much as the Wraith. God that is hot. Mike. Jesus.

Me too. I had this mutiple reaction that it was a) horrifying b) John is hot and c) the writer who came up with that is hot. I'm still processing it.

And yeah, I agree with your points. The moral debate is interesting, but I know if this was real and I was there, I would so be in the "kill them all, make them human, whatever, as long as it stops them" camp.


Yes! Yes! Just like that! I want whoever wrote it to be sent, like, chocolate. Becuase omg pretty.

*nod* Yeah, totally with you. Die, go away, turn human, start a post-Wraith colony. Just don't eat me.

I really loved this episode and agree with pretty much everything you said. My one problem was with Elizabeth. I feel like I missed something that made her go from being horrified over her behaviour in Critical Mass to the point where this experiment was acceptable. It just felt like there was a missing step.

It also bothered me a little that with all the security measures they were taking that Michael was able to steal those files. I can't believe that they wouldn't have cameras following him everywhere.

But all in all it was a kick ass episode.

Okay, point there--I am *really* surprised those guys let Michael out of their sight and dear God, do I bet John got on their ass for that. That was a definite breakdown. But I love how fast they reacted to him hiding the screen of his computer. That was *cool*.

In an old, old post, I talked about this idea I had, where the Wraith *are* kind of freaked out by the fact that their food talks. One day, they try cows, and quite like them, and so the Wraith have great needs of cows. Earth because a great productor of cows.

SGA=Cow boys. The Genii wants to know the secret to Atlantis high cow production (sabotage and spying in the food industry!). The humans would be the only ones in the Pegasus galaxy to be able to raise cows since poor cows, they die of fright when cared for by the Wraith.

The Wraith themselves would try and steal the Genii and SGA cows without paying for them.

Beckett could be a clone the animals expert.

And there would be some rogue Wraiths that want purity and that's by eating humans.

Brokeback Moutain meets SGA. Only, one of the two is a veterinary (Rodney) and John's a cow boy. Hee.

*snorts coffee laughing*

I *like* that.

Very thought-provoking post, almost as thought-provoking as the episode itself. Thank you. You've given me even more to puzzle over.

3.) Ronon annoyed me. A lot. It was just stupid. I get he's bitter against the Wraith, I get his trauma, yes, seven years. Then in the name of God stay out of the way of the experiment. You don't ask the scary evangelists to help with stem cell research, you *keep them away*. And you don't go sabotaging it, either, and frankly, that is what he was doing. Not cool.

Haven't seen the episode yet, but this seems to me to be a failure on the part of Weir and Sheppard. They should've said, "Ronon, go visit the mainland while we perform our little experiments to which you object to so violently, m'kay?" But then I suppose the episode needed his perspective, even if it was just to yell and be an obstacle.

Sounds like this was a good ep -- I should probably start watching the show again.

But then I suppose the episode needed his perspective, even if it was just to yell and be an obstacle.

*nods* I'm starting to really see, in eps like this, why they wanted to replace Ford with a character who, on paper, is pretty similar. His uncompromising position on the Wraith serves as an interesting Devil's Advocate.

I really enjoyed this episode - the issue of a dark epi is rather thrilling to me besides seeing Connor in another show besides Enterprise.

I quite agree with most of your comments - I was thinking about some of the ethical issues but then again, I used to be pharmacologist who didn't do nice things in the lab either...

As for ethics, well, the Wraith do suck! Negotiation, talking, reasoning - none of those work with them. How can you fight an enemy that simply has no morals and no guilt and one you can't even make peace with? Sure, doing what they did was morally questionable, but they are at their wits end trying to protect themselves and Earth and this was the most viable course of action.

Great performance from Connor, Joe and Rachel.

Elizabeth confused me a little. I found myself at times resenting her. I don't know why I didn't feel that much resentment towards Carson even though he was a part of it too. Maybe it's because Carson shows remorse and guilt whereas Elizabeth just, well, she didn't really show many emotions or it's just me not getting a vibe off her.

But I am also glad that her character has gone darker and is now doing some rather questionable things. It's a challenge and a refreshing change to being all nice and sweet and just agreeing with John all the time.

Interesting to read your thoughts.

:D

I really love your point of view.
I loved Ronon in the sense he was all trauma-death, but hated that he used sabotage.
Which is pretty much characteristic of all of them, so no huge surprises.
Yes, I think so too. I think the writers got the characters right this time, they didn't make them do things for no reason.

The thing I'm not so sure about is the Wraith, and us as happy meals. We really don't know if it's actually possible for the Wraith to eat any other kind of being (non sentient) and survive. We really don't know if there's a technology that could create some sort of serum or something. There's this whole vampire comparison going on with the Wraith, but normally vampires can drink from many victims and not kill any of them, or find alternate sources. We don't have any sort of indication that the Wraith could do this.
The only idea I can come up with is some sort of non-sentient clone of a human, just the packaging if you will, and that has enough moral implications of it's own. So yeah, I don't totally agree on Wraith-ultra-evil-wrahh! just because we're beneath them on the food chain. I'm obviously not pro-Wraith, but I'd love to see someone come up with something other than total annihilation of an alien race, whether it's ours or theirs.

With that in mind I liked the idea of the retrovirus. But after such a monumental fuck up (and I don't mean the Michael getting away part, but the actual trying to deceive him part) I'd rather they didn't toy with things so obviously beyond their control. Why aren't the scientists trying to come up with an alternate food source? That's why I loved 'Instinct', because it showed the Wraith being more than technologically advanced predators to the point of beings. The utopian way to end the show would be not killing them, or even turning them, but finding something they can eat so they lay off of us.

Well, that's what I think.

I just want to point out that in The Defiant One the surviving wraith was eating the little bugs that showed up on the scanner as large life signs.

Yeah! I'm so glad somebody said it. Lots of people are like "Oooh, morally ambiguous" or "Meddling in things beyond our ken! Playing GOD!!!", but *dude*. They eat us and are perfectly aware we're sentient.

If there's something else they can eat, that's pretty evil. If there isn't, well, too bad! Turning them into a species that doesn't *need* to eat us is actually really humane, compared to the ever popular alternative of Ginormous Wraith Genocide.

It isn't that they aren't as smart as humans or capable of emotions or creating good stuff or whatever. Totally not denying that. But as it currently stands, they eat us. Either that has to change, or they have to go. Because, well. They eat us. Of course doing something about it will probably cause a great number of sentient deaths or at the very least, some Wraith Identity Crisis. Is anyone surprised? The fact remains, though, that allowing them to continue to feed on the innocent is hardly humane either!

Except that I think that humans to some extent just declare that our living food sources are different enough from us. I mean for example, humans hunt and eat apes like chimpanzees for meat (which I guess is less common now than back when they weren't an endangered species adding a whole other reason not to hunt them). And okay the debate just how intelligent or aware apes are is sort of controversial and some say they can't really learn sign language or whatever signs of animals being like us people choose, but still, they're not that different. And even non-sentients (however you draw the line around "sentient") feel pain and fear and the moment they're about to be eaten that's probably not so different from how humans feel.

But then personally I'm vegetarian for precisely that reason, so I haven't eaten any cows or other animals for well over a decade, and occasionally I feel really guilty for still not succeeding to give up milk products for long (as milk production inevitably results in animal deaths even if I myself don't eat the meat) despite having tried for staying vegan a couple of times. Though at least I managed to give up eggs with those attempts, which I now only eat if others invite me for cake or such, not when I cook or bake myself, and since I'm now egg-free for over two years I don't expect relapses, so there's progress....

But anyway, my guess is if Wraith were trying to justify why they eat humans in their kind of alien ethics (we don't get much of an idea of their philosophy debates if there are any) they'd have complicated classification systems why talking and building cities still doesn't make humans sentient in the same way Wraiths are sentient because they lack trait X. Like Wraith can communicate telepathically with the rest of their people in that hive mind thing, and clearly all *real* sentients would have not just individual but also group conscience, so clearly humans are lesser and not sentient in the way Wraith are sentient and thus okay to eat... Justifications like that.

And from what it looks like it could be a lot harder for Wraith not to eat humans than for humans to just eat plants, seeing how adult Wraith would have need some fancy sf-science to substitute the humans in their diet, unlike humans who can just stop eating animals, so I guess if they felt the need for fancy ethics to placate their conscience, their motivation to develop such justifications would be much higher than what humans do to justify eating animals.

Like Wraith can communicate telepathically with the rest of their people in that hive mind thing, and clearly all *real* sentients would have not just individual but also group conscience, so clearly humans are lesser and not sentient in the way Wraith are sentient and thus okay to eat...

*nods* That's a very good point.

I don't buy into the whole Wraith=Evil that Teyla believed. It's as simple as Wraith are the more evolved version of human, eating things under them on the food chain partly to survive and partly because they're *tasty*.

I mean, I'm fully behind the idea of "Kill The Wraith!" because it's *us* on the food chain below them, and hell, even if it wasn't? When there's a more advanced alien race that likes to go around killing people? I'm all for defending yourself by killing them off.

But, yeah, the Good vs Evil thing isn't something I agree with. But I like the idea that Teyla believes in it, because she's grown up with stories of it, her culture has had references to the danger for generations. It would be like us fighting vampires or werewolves or anything else out of our mythology. It'd be reduced to Good vs Evil terms really, really quickly.

I loved this episode. LOVED.

Of course I love the actor who played Michael, but that was just a bonus! *g*

Oh god, I am *so* envious. I read the damn episode summary not expecting that it would totally freaking spoil the whole episode.

I so wish I could have seen this unspoiled.

Other than that, my only complaint was the relative lack of Rodney.

instead of killing Michael, or you know, leaving him to take however many lives he feels necessary to keep survival going, they changed him to human. Bravo. I am behind this. I am *mixing the drugs* in the backroom of the lab, the mad scientist lab, where I will give Carson footrubs if necessary.

Mostly, I'm behind everything you said, but one thing bothers me about it. Michael never completely lost his Wraith-like hunger, his Wraith compulsions, so even if the Atlanteans are successful in changing the Wraith into something that no longer needs to eat people, there's still the chance that they might *choose* to. Humans can survive without meat, but we still eat it, because it's tasty. So even though they might not be physically able to feed with their hands if transformed into humans, there's still... well, Michael took an overt interest in that guy's blood. Transforming them won't necessarily solve the problem, just make it more bloody.

Michael never completely lost his Wraith-like hunger, his Wraith compulsions YES! I was skimming through reveiws and you're the first I noticed to write that.
It is somehting that bothered me too, and scared lots. And this is something the Atlantis team didn't explore, perhaps not even notice. Their failure to properly study the subject of experiment - Michael - and the remains of Wraith in him made me livid. It makes the so called brilliant scientists stupid and superficial, their experiment sloppy.