The previous episode was fairly intense, even as predictable as it was, so it's a bit of a letdown to see the writers stray back into less interesting territory. Episodes like this make me wonder if the studio wasn't right to put an end to "Atlantis" and option a new series with a broader premise. It's getting harder and harder to tell stand-alone stories with genuine surprises. Much like the Star Trek franchise, it may be time to shake things up a bit.
The most interesting element of the episode was Woolsey's realization that he was sent to Team Atlantis as a puppet of the IOA, and they are not happy with his quick and responsive independence. Woolsey, despite the fears of the entire team (and most of the audience) has been a capable commander. He's a bit naÃ¯ve at times, but that only serves to make the character more endearing in the end.
Frankly, I was expecting a lot more time to be spent this season on the struggles with the IOA and the general impression that Team Atlantis is a collective of loose cannons. Bringing it up this late in the season was therefore a bit of a shock, even if it was a welcome chance for Woolsey to defend himself and show loyalty to his people.
Unfortunately, Sheppard's apparent encounter with Kolya was only fun until the point where John lost a hand. At that point, it was clear that something else was going on, and that it was probably related to the artifact that Rodney and Radek had recovered. After all, once it was clear that something was unusual about Dr. Conrad, it didn't take long for the pieces to fit together.
The premise strayed into territory that would have been overly familiar in the Trek universe, so at this point, a lot of people in the audience have seen it all before. I wouldn't say that it made the story entirely predictable, but it did mean that there were few surprises. I'm a sucker for the more thoughtful episodes in the "Stargate" franchise, but this one never went anywhere fresh.
Which brings me back to where I started. I think that my growing dissatisfaction with this season is not simply a matter of wishing the series had ended on a higher note. I think it's the feeling that the cancellation has placed the remaining episodes under a more critical eye, as I hope for a strong sendoff, and it's not measuring up to expectations. If anything, I might even say there's a hint of complacency in the material. With another season and all the time in the world, that might have been ignored, but now I fear it's glaring. Perhaps shifting to a new series will give the franchise a fresh start and a chance to reshape our expectations.