This episode is part 1 of 2; it is followed by "Conversion".
Gallery Episode Transcript

"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.


Appearances for Instinct





Sentient Species




Notable quotes

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.
Child: Really?!

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.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • 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.
  • In this episode, the type of Wraith ship that crashed is not revealed but it is most likely a Wraith scout ship. A Wraith Dart would have to store its passengers in its buffer for travel while the scout ship has been seen to also act as a transport. Given the number of Wraith found in the forest, it was likely a scout ship that was carrying several Wraith passengers instead of a Dart. If this is true, then this episode has the first appearance of a scout ship, albeit as a flaming light in the sky and wreckage.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Near the end, when Ronon Dex is shooting at Ellia for the second time, she falls on her back and you can see her human hand below the blue exoskeleton.
  • When the Daimos attacks Dr. Rodney McKay and Dr. Carson Beckett and Beckett is thrown backwards, you can see a blue box of equipment in the background (around 31:30 min). It might also be a winch.
  • No reason is given for why they chose not to use the Puddle Jumper's sensors or a life signs detector while searching for a lone Wraith in what McKay called, "100 square miles of forest".

Other languages

  • Russian: Инстинкт (Instinct)
  • Hungarian: Ösztön (Instinct)
  • German: Instinkt (Instinct)

External links

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