Recap / Stargate Atlantis S01 E12 "The Defiant One"

I have fed upon countless thousands of humans and Lanteans, and even my own crew, and I will feed upon you before this day is done.
Ancient Wraith

Sheppard, McKay, and a couple of up and coming young scientists take a romp around their local solar system. This serves the dual purposes of checking out an Ancient defense satellite discovered by Dr. Gaul and giving McKay some driving lessons out in space where there's nothing much to hit. When they get to the satellite, which is huge but apparently burnt out, they pick up a faint Wraith distress signal from the planet's surface, and manage to extract permission from Weir to go and investigate.

It turns out to be a Wraith supply ship, shot down by the satellite in the last days of the war. Finding no life signs except some ubiquitous glowy bug things, they decide to split the party: Gaul and Abrams catalogue the hold full of cocooned dead people while Sheppard and McKay head off to find the bridge and any information stored in the computers. And so the solitary Wraith survivor comes out of hibernation to take advantage of this snack that has been dropped in his lap.

The Wraith eats Abrams immediately, but cocoons Gaul and starts dragging him off to another part of the ship, with Sheppard and McKay in hot pursuit. He feeds off of Gaul but leaves him alive, thereby discovering the location of the cloaked Puddle Jumper. When Sheppard and McKay catch up, he's already gone. McKay stays behind with Gaul, who is still mostly paralyzed, while Sheppard takes off after the Wraith, hoping to beat him to the Jumper.

He's too late. The Wraith has captured the Jumper, and its weapons, but cannot fly it because he lacks the Ancient gene. The two of them begin a sort of cat and mouse game of dueling strategy and trading trash talk. Unfortunately for Sheppard, this ancient Wraith seems to be able to take a lot more punishment than his modern counterparts, including all of the rounds in Sheppard's P-90 and a grenade to the face. Sheppard is wounded, out of ammo, and continually harassed by the glowy bug things, who seem inordinately interested in his chocolate.

When it seems that the Wraith is about to get him, he is unexpectedly rescued by McKay, who has uncharacteristically leapt into the fight. Having two targets momentarily confuses the Wraith, long enough for Ford to suddenly appear in a second Puddle Jumper. Sheppard sticks his last chocolate bar to the Wraith, attracting a horde of glowy space bugs, and tells Ford to "shoot at the target with the biggest life-sign!" This, at last, seems to finally put the Wraith down for good, and McKay is able to fix the Puddle Jumper and drive them home.


  • Badass Boast: see page quote.
  • The Cavalry: Ford and his team in the second Puddle Jumper.
  • Character Development: Gaul notes that McKay has changed — he wants to go join Sheppard in the fight, rather than staying where it's safe. This might or might not have something to do with getting tortured in the previous episode.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally. While trawling through the jumper, the wraith finds a pistol and throws it aside. After being shot, he plays dead long enough for Sheppard to come close before picking up the gun and taking him by surprise.
  • Ghost Ship
  • Gut Feeling: Dr. Weir knows to send a rescue mission before the team is even late reporting in.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The episode title refers to Sheppard, not to the Wraith.
    Wraith: I will savor the taste of your defiance!
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Gaul shoots himself so that McKay will go out and join the fight.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: McKay
  • Kill Sat: The Ancient defense satellite.
  • Last of His Kind: Sheppard tells the Wraith he is the last, that the Ancients won the war. Though it should be noted that the Wraith immediately calls bullshit on this statement.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Averted in the case of Dr. Gaul, despite McKay's protestations to the contrary.
  • Prop Recycling: Or rather, visual effect (and sound) recycling: the "Light Bugs" previously made an appearance in an episode of SG-1. Though this being another galaxy, and them not having the same behavior, it's certainly a different species.
  • Rasputinian Death: The surviving Wraith on the planet manages to regenerate from assault with a full P-90 magazine, dozens of 9mm rounds, and a grenade in his face. It takes a Lantean drone fired from a Jumper to finally kill him.
  • Shout-Out
  • Sole Survivor: The shipwrecked Wraith.
  • Sound-Only Death: Gaul's suicide.
  • Spot of Tea: McKay's proposed solution to Gaul's problems:
    McKay: All you need is a good meal, a pot of tea, and to stop talking.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Sheppard sets a smoke flare and fires a couple shots to get the Wraith to leave the Jumper and investigate it. Unfortunately, the Wraith is smart enough to set a force field before leaving the Jumper.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Gaul points out that McKay has done this, that he has stopped being a coward since he arrived in Atlantis.