Some observations about one of my favorite scifi races:
*Others should not be judged, as people or as a culture, for starvation, self-defense, or characteristics of birth none get to choose. Let us not forget: the Tau’ri were genociding the Wraith during SGA. By the end of season 5, the Wraith lost around half of their friends and family– and starving all the while. A race who knew 10,000 years of peace was thrown into chaos and upheaval. Would you like to be judged if you were starving, fighting and competing with friends and family for food, and being genocided and under threat all the while by invaders from another galaxy who haphazardly wield unearned technology from multiple races, blow up a solar system, and litter non-biodegradable PowerBar wrappers everywhere? No!
*The Wraith had the chance to genocide the Asurans, when they turned off the Asuran attack code, but they did not. The Asurans were no longer a concern to the Wraith and the Wraith ceased and desisted, leaving the Asurans to their own freedoms… unlike the Tau’ri, who wanted to use the Asurans and then forcefully compelled the Asurans to go out and kill.
*Ellia was already a few years old when adopted, not an infant or toddler. She must have been treated well, used to being loved, and not taught prejudice or hate against humans, to transfer her need for affection to Zaddik at such a later age. Zaddik did not brainwash her. Her biological family had already taught her love and seemed to have shielded her from the truth of what she would have to face as an adult. The adult Wraith stranded with her knew she would be better cared for, fed, and clothed with Zaddik and he never attacked Zaddik after she outgrew solid food either, even in spite of Zaddik admitting he had initially participated in killing his fellow adult survivors, his hivemates.
*Michael, after getting to know the Lanteans and developing a friendship with Teyla, said that humans are not much different from the Wraith. He also tried to go out of his way to get along with Ronon, to be in harmony with his new “hive.” He desperately wanted to belong again, anywhere, with anyone, even if he had to create his own army to do so.
*Todd tells John he is more like the Wraith– NOT Kolya! John represented perseverance; Kolya was cruelty.
*Rhys was selflessly willing to give his life for his hive. The Lanteans knew he would and used it against him. I can’t see someone willing to die for others so willing to kill his hivemates and I can’t see Commanders and Queens putting up with random killings going on within hives over positions, which need to be earned by competence, not drone-like brute strength. I also doubt someone willing to die for his hive would revel in absolute power, in commanding his or her subordinates in battle and not mourning their losses or wondering if better commands might have been given which could have saved more lives. Power, when one cares for the hive, means responsibility and burden. Bob and Steve didn’t sell out their hives either, giving no useful information, in spite of being starved and shot multiple times. No doubt Taina and Greg felt loneliness and regret for the sacrifice of their crewmates, who probably also willingly gave their lives as Rhys was willing. The drones on Greg’s ship were upright in dignified poses and drones are very willing to sacrifice for their hives. Also, Todd does not feed on Jean-Luc, so not all Wraith or hives are willing to take the lifeforce of unwilling Wraith. Just as with stranded and starving humans, cannibalism is not preferred and would probably be less so for a telepathic race who have lived together for over 10,000 years in peace.
*After Todd mistakenly thought John betrayed him, he and his crew did not go on a feeding frenzy after the Lanteans had been knocked out. Todd can’t afford to lose experienced and valuable officers, nor masked warriors with no Queen, and feeding on Lanteans to heal those Ronon shot would have been indemnification.
*Todd and his crew were willing to respond to alien invader Woolsey’s invitation, even under hypocritical threat of gunpoint, even when Todd knows how to welcome others to his ship and lower weapons, to work with Jennifer to find solutions, even after they had also previously held him in starving conditions. If someone killed off half of my friends and family and sent me an invitation, I would probably sharpen my nails, throw on my finger armor, and give the Lanteans a rude hand gesture. So, I could only hope to be so wonderful as Todd’s delegation if I had thousands of years of more life experience.
*Todd and his crew were willing to discuss peaceful solutions, including Keller’s idea, which would alter their hands and prevent them from giving the Gift of Life to heal their wounded family in the future. That is major! And, it put their lives at risk and the Lanteans were not kind to Todd when he tried it and would not help his crew! Todd was not treated equitably by the humans in the show.
*Todd said that the Gift of Life was reserved for brethren and devout worshippers and was very concerned about his crew in “Infection.” His concern for his crew betrayed the previous brush-off of those feelings when Rodney tried to persuade him to help his sister. His hive wasn’t under threat then and he was being imprisoned and starved. Anyhow, if Wraith showed humans they cared for one another, it would show humans a vulnerability, as was exploited in Rhys and others such as Replicator Fifth. Todd also tells John he is more like Wraith than he knows, though John doesn’t want to think about it and tries to shut down those conversations.
*Some scientists seem not to have been trained how to fight or carry weapons at all. Erik did not fight back with Ronon and Tommy had to reach for a fallen drone’s weapon.
*Erik tells Rodney it had been so long since the Wraith fought a real battle that so much of the knowledge of structuring hives for the purpose of battle had been forgotten.
*Wraith culture had 10,000 years of inter-territorial cooperation, sharing databases, Keepers, and knowledge until Tau’ri invasion made them splinter it, probably for the first time ever. Most human nations seem not to be able to go 100 years without a war, let alone 10,000.
*Todd is trusting of his subordinates and migration among hives seems accepted. Todd allows Kenny to speak his mind and also treated his other officers well. Not many human managers are so awesome. John yells at his subordinates a lot on the show, much more than Todd, and John still cares about his team too, but somehow people blame Commanders and Queens for raising their voices in life and death situations while the Lanteans get a free pass. Lanteans also get free passes for shooting Bob in cold blood while he was imprisoned and shooting an ex-Satedan military commander in cold blood. Double standards.
*Wraith scientists had enough free time/vacation time and individuality that scientists could be away for long enough to create secret labs on various offworld planets.
*Todd says not all hives have Queens and Wraith feared being without Queens. With so many vacancies and the need for genetic diversity, I can’t see Queens killing off one another as an epidemic. Akasha seemed to like Queen Teyla and wanted to meet with her and discuss things with her, in spite of the shady, mysterious background and sudden appearance of Queen Teyla’s masqueraded character– cautious, but still open. And, that caution was justified. Also, there are double standards when people think Rush vs. Young, John vs. Kolya, Ronon vs. Kell, etc. are intriguing while decrying any Wraith infighting.
*When unallied hives approach one another, Todd tells acting Queen Teyla that they are expected to negotiate, to make concessions, that neither side wants to fight the other.
*Runner hunting seems rare, but every culture, organization, and family has aggressors. There were only 7 transmitters like Ronon’s on the Lanteans’ monitors, but Todd’s also showed up later. So, not all transmitters might signify runners. I also doubt other hives would tolerate territory intrusion of the chase and the wasted drones for all the effort it took Queen Laura to make them. The Wraith who were stalking Ronon had been doing that for years before Atlantis rose again, meaning while the others hibernated. In theory, they were either supposed to be sleeping or watching over their sleeping brothers and also helping with the New Lantean invasion, not gallivanting around. I don’t condone runner hunting (or humans hunting other animals) and view it as unproductive escapism and sad mistakes, but most Wraith and humans do not do this and there are some great people out there who used to do this and now use their voices for good instead.
*Yes, Wraith do have art, such as Iratus bug sculptures and flowery and leafy sculptures (there are spotlights right on them, how can they be missed?), and the complete insides of hives were never explored in the show. Misbegotten also showed them singing/chanting together. But, should we expect them to hold art shows and accuse them of being lesser beings for not having art shows or running around throwing parties and laughing when half of them have been genocided and they are starving?! For crying out loud! They also enjoy the beauty of the natural world around them, such as stars and rivers, and decorate their homes with lovely colored lights and patterns. That said, art and beauty are still important to Wraith, even in hard times. Starving Todd in “Common Ground” admired the stars. Starving and imprisoned Todd in “Vegas” freely made up poems on the fly. Imagine what poetry or literature could be created in free and normal conditions.
*Wraith can care about their worshippers, in various capacities. Queen Betty graced Neera’s face with a gentle touch and gave them all lovely clothes with Iratus bug elements and Wraithy scroll-like patterns and even silvery hair wraps just like hers. It would be an honor to be accepted into the hive with these clothes. Some viewers also choose to interpret Eddy’s glace as being suggestive. Other scifi shows like Farscape and Babylon 5 are more progressive and less prudish. (Think of the austere, narrow cot in John’s quarters, for example, which is ridiculous for a divorced adult male who is always hitting on the ladies.) It’s also fine to imagine being a worshipper and not a Queen, because I can’t imagine the life and death responsibilities a Queen has over thousands, children and recruits.
*When Wraith pass one another in the hallways, they look perfectly at home, at ease, and respectful and cohesive with one another to me.
*If Wraith happen to have their share of Sgt Bates or Kavanaughs on their hives or Kolyas or Lucius Lavins running around, well, every culture, organization, and family tree has them.
*Wraith tech is environmentally friendly and life-affirming. Many of their items, such as their computers and ZPM satchels, suggest they grow their own belongings- creating and keeping and not destroying. All around them, Nature remains pristine and they are clean. The same can’t be said about humans and we could learn a lot from their long-range planning and clean tech. It is also tidy, not slimy, unless Lanteans are running around and injuring the ship by injuring the walls with guns, cutting into them with knives, or forcing doors or parts to effectively make them bleed– as can be expected of our bodies too. If the tech were slimy, it would get into their immaculate hair. Also, the surgical instruments for use on this organic tech. Healing and arranging organic tech is part mechanics, part surgical skill. The corkscrew-shaped piece on Michael’s desk is called an auger, made for boring holes through solid planes such as wood, most likely to pass organic cables through the organic computer stands.
*Wraith value female leadership. That said, I do think males such as Todd have the right to be leaders, equal in their own intellectual right, to Queens, even though they can’t produce drone soldiers.
*They are prone to PTSD, as Spike demonstrated when he relived his dart’s crash, suggesting battle is not fun, desired, natural, or accustomed for them. For a telepathic being who has known his teammates for thousands of years, losses would be immediately felt and very profoundly. They still stayed brave, just like anyone else, out of necessity.
*They have strong enough of a fear of being captured by humans they would rather die first. This suggests they hate the risk they must take during culling and that they know how humans can be extremely cruel.
*They are not always eating or thinking about eating, only when they feel like they are burning alive and who wants to feel like that? Per “Instinct,” they only need to feed 3-4 times per year, unless injured, and only a short amount of time, making the total time less than 10 minutes per year. The average human spends 67 minutes per day eating, nearly 24,500 minutes per year, and that doesn’t even count prep time and waiting time in supermarket lines or at dining tables.
*No, their teeth are not dirty. Darker gums, tongues, and teeth are pigmentation, similar to freckles, birthmarks, and tans. Additionally, someone who hasn’t eaten in thousands of years will not have bad breath from acid reflux or food stuck in teeth. If anything, their superior immune systems would probably also kill off bacteria.
*No they are not slimy. Smooth skin, such as Woolsey’s bald head, is shiny because there are not small hairs to break up the light. If they were slimy, it would get into their gorgeous hair and clothes.
*No they do not have warts. Warts are raised bumps caused by viruses, which Wraith immune systems would destroy. Wraith have freckles, which are darker pigment, flat skin just like sun tans.
*Concerning the making of hiveships: Michael used humans to turn them into obedient hybrid drones and it seems also made seeds which could use humans for ship bases, because he was not a Queen and could not make his own drones. I would bet a full-blooded drone would make a stronger, better ship base and allow symbiosis for the drone, with matched-up telepathy and no personality override as was with Michael’s makeshift method. Drones care about the well-being of their hives.
*Wraith have fewer choices available to them and humans have done much worse- all needlessly! But, all people are not bad and our race keeps progressing and is making great strides with the advent of free trade and easy media access to knowledge. There is no such thing as being pure in such an imperfect situation we are born into, just as Wraith are not evil, but we keep getting better and people who went through some of the worst mistakes or tragedies make some of the best change agents. (Thinking of Delenn of B5 here too.) Humans, Iratus bugs, and Wraith as hybrids of the two– none of these are evil.
*Wraith reward and protect humans like Neera, who are cooperative, the way hivemates are cooperative and interdependent, and prefer to cull hateful, destructive, treacherous criminals. With their enhanced senses, they can probably read these things more clearly. The Commander from “Condemned” said their defiance was sweet. If Wraith were deliberately trying to be evil and chaotic, they would encourage vicious behavior and the Bola Kai and Kolya would be their #1 favorites. In spite of starvation, they still do not betray their worshippers. In the end of season 4, Todd was able to get info from the worshipper network about Teyla’s whereabouts.
*They can share the gift of healing, the Gift of Life. If given an unlimited alternative energy source, such as tapping into star energy like Destiny for their ships and then get energy from the ships in waking hours as they do in hibernation, they could use their ability to heal others compatible with their systems in seconds (and should receive generous compensation in return, of course, or just be allowed to roam the stars in peace). Nonviolence and syncretism are the way, allowing them to keep their feeding/giving abilities, not genocide or dispossession. Wraith would have no reason or need to enslave humans afterwards, either, because they are not into conspicuous consumption and waste. Again, they left the Asurans alone and could have reprogrammed them to use them but they did not.
*Close-range Wraith weapons, for the most part, only stun. This is worth noting because there were so many times the Lanteans could and should have used stun weapons instead of lethal force and also the Lanteans point lethal weapons at Todd and his crew (even in alleged peace missions) while Todd does not retaliate in like in kind against the Lanteans when they board his ship. Lanteans even threaten Todd on board his own ship multiple times with lethal weapons they rudely brought in “The Queen.”
*Telepathic communication of sorts seems easier from Wraith-to-human when the human is more empathetic and open-minded. In “Michael,” Michael tells Teyla, “You’re the only person willing to understand. The only one with a truly open mind. The only one willing to show compassion. In “Misbegotten,” Michael says to Carson, “I don’t like to question military men. They’re like our own Wraith warriors — unimaginative, rigid thought patterns. But you, on the other hand, are trained to have an open mind, and you have a strong sense of empathy toward others.”
*Rhys let Tyre go, rather than to feed on him. Yes, Tyre was supposed to be an example of losing Wraith protection, but wouldn’t being fed on also have made an example out of him? Especially when Wraith are starving and Tyre had been proven to be free of the Hoffan plague? Even though Tyre’s service was involuntary conscription, he had still worked for the Wraith for a number of years and was given a fighting chance to move on with his life. Being fed on would have been a 0% chance.
*In spite of being tortured in Kolya’s cell for years, laughing at John’s sense of humor came naturally to Todd. He had to have learned humor from somewhere (certainly not from Kolya) and had other Wraith who appreciated his sense of humor.
*Any Wraith hesitant about Keller’s retrovirus is justified– how many parents would want to give up the ability to heal their children and brothers or see them put at risk due to the retrovirus itself, which killed Todd’s soldiers and would have killed Todd? This goes double for a telepathic race who would feel the suffering of their family without being able to help.
*Andee and JL, who portrayed the most Wraith and earliest on, have forward-thinking values, including not eating fellow animals. JL made Kale Trail videos on YT and Andee blogged about rescuing stray bees. The very foundation of what makes the Wraith deeper and intriguing characters who have fascinated us so much for years is owed to a more inclusive worldview. They saw the Wraith not as 2D villains or evil feeding machines, but as individuals—each with his or her own nuances, communication styles, skill sets, ambitions, and so forth. Andee and JL are praised often for their good looks, and the good looks of their characters in turn, but there is more to it than that. (See an excellent interview by Andee on how the Wraith are not evil here.)
Things worthwhile and lasting in life involve thoughtfulness and care. This can’t be buried or ignored. No matter what others say over the years, Wraith haters or fellow fans, I remain a Wraith defender, always, and will always admire my favorite officer in Todd’s delegation as a shining example of a positive on-screen role model. Being a Wraith fan, for me, is about how we are all more alike than different, beauty and noble attributes come in many forms, and we all deserve lives of freedom and respect, not destruction, for Wraith, human, or any other.