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The Wraith child, Ellia.

Stargate: Atlantis



Original air date

August 26, 2005

Written by

Treena Hancock and Melissa R. Byer

Directed by

Andy Mikita

Guest stars

Jewel Staite as Ellia
John Innes as Zaddik
Stephen Dimopoulos as Goran
Tom Bates as Callup
Nico McEown as Boy
Blake Stadel as Young Zaddik
Tanya Champoux as Screaming Woman (Instinct)
Kayma Seamark as Young Ellia
Jeff Robinson as Wraith

Preceded by


Followed by


Atlantis Season 2 banner
Atlantis Season 2
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Season 1 Season 3
This episode is part 1 of 2; it is followed by "Conversion".

"Instinct" is the seventh episode of the second season of Stargate: Atlantis.


Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's team find a civilization haunted by a string of mysterious periodical killings, by the "Daimos", a Wraith. While hunting it down, they find a young female Wraith named Ellia, whose "father" Zaddik apparently found a serum to stop her need to feed.



Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's team discovers a village on the planet. They hear stories about a creature called the Daimos that comes out of the woods to feed on humans. The villagers tell of a ship crash many years ago, where there was apparently one survivor – a Wraith.

The team decides to help rid the village of the creature they fear and go out looking for it. One of the team’s members who has the ability to sense Wraith, Teyla Emmagan, says she senses the presence of a Wraith, but that it is different. She can’t pinpoint why, but she knows that there is something different about it.

Ronon Dex, the newest member of the team and an expert Wraith hunter, tracks down the Wraith as it runs into a cave. When the team enters the cave they find what they are looking for and are also surprised to see a man, Zaddik, protecting the frightened Wraith. Immediately, they assume that this is the Wraith that is feeding on the humans in the village and causing much fear amongst the villagers. They are prepared to kill her, but the man insists that they listen to his tale.

They learn that the Wraith is named Ellia and was discovered by Zaddik at the site of the crash that the villagers described earlier. He could not bring himself to kill her, like he was supposed to, and he raised her by himself with compassion and love. Her personality is like that of a human and she is both excited and fearful of the team from Atlantis. She dreads the thought of feeding off humans. Zaddik tells them that she could not be responsible for the humans that are being fed upon because he has created a serum that suppresses the Wraith's natural need to feed on humans. Initially wary of his claims, the team is convinced when they hear of another human being fed on while Ellia is in the cave with them. This means that Ellia could not have done it. The team is excited about this discovery.

Teyla asks Ellia to help them discover the other Wraith. All Wraith are connected through a telepathic network and Teyla plans to use this to help them discover the whereabouts of the other Wraith. They have some success with this and are given the general direction of that the other Wraith is heading.


Ellia, transformed.

Meanwhile, Dr. Carson Beckett is called in to examine the serum. They believe it could be an invaluable discovery. While Beckett and Zaddik are talking, Beckett mentions an Iratus bug retrovirus that he has been working on. This retrovirus is designed to turn Wraiths into humans by altering their DNA, because Wraiths started out as humans. Ellia overheard this conversation and was overjoyed that she would have a chance to become human. She hates being a Wraith and is desperate to be human. The secret that she carries with her tears her up inside. Zaddik truly believes that the liquid works in suppressing her need to feed on humans. It doesn't. Ellia has been feeding on humans without Zaddik knowing, and she hates herself for it. She decides that she can’t do it any longer and despite the retrovirus not being ready, she takes it without Beckett’s knowledge, and it has a horrible effect on her. The exact opposite of what she was dreaming for.

Wraiths are a mixture of human and an insect called the Iratus bug. The retrovirus turns her more into the bug than human. Ellia confesses what she has done to Zaddik and also tells him of how she has fed on humans the whole time, timing it to match the feeding time of the other Wraith, and that his serum never worked. She is overwhelmed with guilt and runs out of the cave.

During this confession, the team is out looking for the other Wraith. Beckett and Dr. Rodney McKay are attacked by it. However, despite Ellia turning more and more away from being human, she finds it in her to kill the Wraith who had attacked Beckett and McKay. They probably would not have survived without her. Ellia runs off immediately after saving them. Zaddik is out looking for her while this is happening and they encounter each other. Ellia throws him across the forest when he approaches her.

The villagers hear the commotion and locate Zaddik. He is mortally wounded. One of the villagers, Goran, is told by Zaddik that Zaddik is his son. Initially, Goran does not believe it. He says that his son would be much younger than Zaddik appeared to be. It’s revealed that Zaddik let Ellia feed on him briefly during the time he worked on his serum, which made him look older than he was. Zaddik never reveals that Ellia ever fed on anyone and dies shortly after.


Ronon and Sheppard are forced to kill Ellia.

Now the team is looking for Ellia, because she is too much of a danger to be left alone. She barely resembles a human at this point and is extremely strong and fast. Sheppard finds her and says he will try to help her, to reverse the effects of the retrovirus. But it is too late. She is too far gone and attacks Sheppard. She begins to feed on him while Ronon runs up to the scuffle. He realizes that there is nothing he can do but shoot her. She is fatally wounded. Sheppard and Ronon both realize that there was nothing else that could be done, even if they wanted to save her.


Atlantis infirmary; Colt M1911A1 pistol; DNA; Ferassin root; Ferassin root serum; Iratus bug; Iratus bug retrovirus; Particle magnum; Ratira; Skirmish with the Daimos; Tavern; Tea; Telepathy; Wraith; Wraith scout ship; Zaddik's homeworld; Zaddik's people

Notable QuotesEdit

Ronon: That's it? One Wraith, in the forest?
Goran: Yes.
Ronon: I'll be done by morning.

Child: (about the Wraith) My uncle says it'll come and take me if I don't do my chores.
McKay: He said that, huh? Well then if we get rid of it you've got nothing to worry about and you'll never have to do chores again.

McKay: We're talking about a hundred square miles of forest here.
Sheppard: Be patient. Ronon's been going up against the Wraith, one on one, for last seven years. If anyone can track this thing, it's him.
McKay: And exactly how is he going to do that, huh?
Ronon: (in the distant background) It helps to have good hearing.
McKay: Right! (Sheppard smacks him) Carry on.

Sheppard: So it's a teenage thing. Pimples, rebellion, life sucking.
Beckett: Something like that.

McKay: I could never get into Biology. It's too much information about the human body. Once, as an undergraduate, I diagnosed myself with half a dozen separate medical conditions before I had to drop the class.
Beckett: Really?
McKay: Yeah, believe it or not, back then I was a bit of a hypochondriac.
Beckett: You know, this does require a bit of concentration.
McKay: What? Am I bothering you?

McKay: You know, I thought it was pretty nuts when Ronon was trying to track a Wraith through this forest.
Beckett: Now that it's just us, do you feel any better?
McKay: Oh, yeah. Supremely confident.


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Stargate Wiki has 14 images related to Instinct.
  • Despite Zaddik's permanent affliction after being fed upon by Ellia, later episodes establish that given enough time, the effects of the feeding process on the Human body can be healed, so long as the feeding only lasts a short duration. This apparent discrepancy could be attributable to the fact that Ellia fed too long on her father.
  • While the crashed ship in this episode is indicated to be a Wraith Dart, a Dart could not carry so many passengers unless they were stored in the buffer, and for that matter wouldn't be very likely to have an infant as a passenger. A Wraith scout ship, which is of similar size, would be more plausible. As the scout ship hadn't been seen by the team yet, they likely automatically assumed it was a Dart, not knowing better.
  • We learn in this episode that the Wraith have children, and that they start out more human than Wraith. We learn the children can survive on food till later in life, when their hunger for human life force becomes predominate.
  • The outdoors parts were filmed on location at Lynn Valley Canyon, North Vancouver.[1]
  • This is the only episode of Stargate: Atlantis written by Melissa R. Byer and Treena Hancock.
  • Jewel Staite (Ellia) is best known for playing Kaylee Frye on the cult Sci-Fi show Firefly. She is the second Firefly cast member to guest star on a Stargate series, the first being Adam Baldwin in Stargate SG-1 episode "Heroes, Part 1" and "Heroes, Part 2". She would later go on to play Dr. Jennifer Keller as a recurring guest star at the end of Season 3, continuing to become a regular cast member in Seasons 4 and 5 of Atlantis.
  • Jeff Robinson (Daimos) previously played Wraith Commander (The Siege) in the Stargate: Atlantis episodes "The Siege, Part 2" and "The Siege, Part 3" and Wraith Pilot in the episode "Duet".


  • When Ellia begins to feel the effects of the Iratus bug retrovirus, she pushes Zaddik away. Immediately after, the camera switches to an over the shoulder shot of him, and you can see the blue exoskeleton already on her face before it actually changes in the next few moments.
  • The team never actually mention military designations upon arrival yet after John Sheppard returns with Beckett, the villager knows him as Colonel.
    • Presumably he could have told them this later.
  • Near the end, when Ronon is shooting at Ellia for the second time, she falls on her back and you can see her human hand below the blue exoskeleton.
  • The team hunt the Wraith on foot using Ronan as a tracker when they could have easily used the Puddle Jumper or the life signs detector, or both, to track it. They would have had one because the Stargate was in space.
    • the life signs detector would have only told them that there was life in the forest, and would have been unable to distinguish between the Wraith and a deer.


  1. Stargate Official Magazine issue 6

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