Someone up thread said something about still reeling from the end of BSG. I have to say I'm right with you. The show has really grabbed me lately by having so much going on in every ep, something always ends up blindsiding you.
And in a way, this relates to SGA, or specifically SGA episodes written by Martin Gero. I've said it before, and I'll said it again: what I like about his episodes is that he doesn't take one or two characters and shut them off in a vacuum. We get to see the other characters trying to help, trying to be sympathetic, or even just standing around and waiting to hear news. He takes the time to craft small bits, like the idea of Sheppard running regular races with Ronon and Weir playing solitaire at her desk. He also always has something running in the background: Shep recruiting Ronon in "Duet" and Weir/Caldwell command tensions here. In other words, he never forgets that these stories take place in a world of characters, and he makes better use of that world than any other writer I've seen yet in this particular franchise.
As for the story itself, I really enjoyed it, but not for the plot so much as seeing how all of this affected and deepened the characters. I've found some posts on LJ over the last few weeks, written by new SGA fans trying to figure out why they like this show, and I have to say a couple of them really nailed it for me. Atlantis, as they pointed out, is much like its parent show, SG1,--*not* the place you go for kick-ass plots or long-term arcs. They understand that in a bid to keep their shows accessible to the casual viewer, TPTB at Stargate will most always give us plots that easily wrap up week to week and don't add all that much to the ongoing storyline. They also realize that the episodes of season two have pretty well kept to that pattern, so these LJ writers were asking themselves, "What keeps me turning in every week?"
The answer, according to them? Namely the fact that there may not be much of a plot arc, but that there are actually character arcs. And that's why they keep coming back. Because they want to see how character X acts after the events of episode 3, and even if there isn't as much impact as they'd like to see (Say after the events of "Trinity"), there's typically enough good stuff and enjoyable character moments, that they're willing to come back for more.
So they've basically determined what I've always suspected, the reason why non-SG1 fans are attracted to SGA. We're not engaged with the characters of SG1; we are engaged with the characters of SGA.
And from that standpoint, I'd have to say MG didn't let us down here. Also, neither did the actors. JF did extremely well with the whole "I'm turning into a monster/maniac" bit, far better than I've seen other actors do on other shows. (*Cough* James Marsters, if you're feeling a prickly feeling between your shoulder blades--Yeah, I'm looking at *you*, bub.) He didn't go overboard with it, but you still got a real sense of menace rolling off of him. The other actors did their own variations of "concerned" quite nicely, with Rachel Luttrell and Jason Momoa impressing me far more than usual. (Yes, I'm adding my vote to those who say the addition of Dex has done wonders for Teyla. I'm enjoying her much more this season, especially the little "You're a bad, bad boy" look she threw him at one point after he teased McKay.) Mitch Pileggi, meanwhile, managed to convince me that while he's coming on sort of strong, he really is just trying to do what he sees as best, not grasping for personal power. And while I think Weir does go a little overboard on him, I can see where after all this time alone, she'd have a sense of "These are *my* people; don't screw with them" and I'm willing to give her a pass on that.
As a result of all this, I enjoyed this epsiode very much, and once again, I feel that Martin Gero should do all of the writing for Atlantis. He's far and away the most talented writer I've seen in this franchise in a very long time.