The Best and Worst of Stargate Atlantis: Season 5

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For previous installments of Stargate SG-1:

 

Unlike Stargate SG-1, which has both a Smurfette with Samantha Carter (see Feminist Frequency‘s #3) and a Token Minority with Jaffa Teal’c, Stargate Atlantis had neither of these things.

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In Season 1, for women, there was both Teyla Emmagen, and Dr. Elizabeth Weir, and for people of color, Lt. Aiden Ford and Teyla Emmagen. But does this make Stargate Atlantis  any better from SG-1? Well, Aiden Ford was a bit of a generic guy, before written out as a

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By Season 2, Rainbow Sun Franks was to be reduced to a recurring character, and Jason Momoa, would be introduced as Runner, Ronon Dex, yet he is recognized as “the muscle,” which is not specifically complimentary.

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During Season 4, Torri Higginson, who plays Dr. Elizabeth Weir, left to show and they brought in from Stargate SG-1, Amanda Tapping as Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter.

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STARGATE ATLANTIS — Pictured: (l-r) Joe Flanigan as Lt. Col. John Sheppard, Jewel Staite as Dr. Jennifer Keller, Robert Picardo as Richard Woolsey, Jason Momoa as Ronan Dex, Rachel Luttrell as Teyla Emmagan, David Hewlett as Dr. Rodney McKay — SCI FI Channel Photo: F. Scott Schafer.

Finally, this season, Amanda Tapping left as Base Commander, and they brought in Robert Picardo as IOA Agent Richard Woolsey, a previous recurring character on Stargate SG-1, and Jewel Staite as Dr. Jennifer Keller, also a Stargate Atlantis recurring character. According to “Meta: The Unrealised Potential of Stargate‘s Female Characterson Teyla Emmagan, who can be described as Ms. Fanservice and absolute cleavage:

Atlantis it would seem began with good intentions. Both female characters were given regular status and both were introduced in the pilot in leadership positions: Elizabeth Weir, as leader of the Earth expedition and Teyla, as the leader of the Athosians. Elizabeth was a passionate leader with ace diplomatic skills; Teyla was a skilled negotiator and a fierce warrior with a spidey-sense. The potential for both characters individually was enormous and the potential for a friendship to develop between them equally nicely set-up. Unfortunately, good intentions are not a guarantee of a positive outcome and Atlantis mostly ended up wasting the set-up they’d created.

Teyla, the only female character to survive all five years, was woefully underused and although an attempt was made to redress the balance in S4/5, that was impacted by the availability of Rachel Luttrell given her real life pregnancy. Elizabeth was always in danger of being relegated to Hammond-esque boundaries until the character was written out. Additionally, mistakes were made in the introductions of the subsequent female characters, Samantha Carter and Jennifer Keller.

For me a lot of it comes down to the writing/production issues that plagued Atlantis generally: that the show fell into a SG1-in-Pegasus format rather than focusing on the City itself; that the odd couple friendship of McKay & Sheppard (as great as it was) took centre stage over all other relationship dynamics; that multiple cast changes affected the team and ensemble chemistry; that perhaps none of the regular characters, whether male or female, were actually given the opportunity to reach their maximum potential (with McKay possibly being the only exception).

Turning specifically to the characters themselves:

Teyla Emmagan

Teyla, leader of the Athosians

It was a little surprising that the fifth episode into S1 had the Athosians relegated to the mainland, with Teyla left behind as part of Sheppard’s team. In one fell swoop, the writers/producers managed to reduce the importance of Teyla’s leadership position and constructively demote her to nothing more than a team member. Rarely after that did Teyla’s leadership of the Athosians raise its head through S1-3. It wasn’t until S4 and the Missing Athosians arc that it once again became important to her story.

Teyla’s WraithDNA/Superhero mojo

It really wasn’t until the latter part of S3 that Teyla’s Wraithiness started to be exploited beyond the episode that introduced it (The Gift). Even then, there are only three prominent episodes (Submersion, Spoils of War, The Queen) although arguably the arc involving Michael and the Missing Athosians can also be loosely tied to it. Three episodes and a tentative arc can’t really be said to have maximised the potential of this aspect of Teyla. The Michael arc is probably the most successful as it had many dramatic scenes between Michael and Teyla, and ended with Teyla sending Michael to his death to protect her child. Personally, I think Spoils of War is the best of the three other episodes as Submersion quickly turns into another McKay and Sheppard save-the-day adventure, and The Queen never fully lives up to its potential of making Teyla a Wraith Queen.

Teyla and Other Female Friends

Weirdly, having set-up a perfect connection on which to bond (leadership), the show didn’t begin to showcase a Elizabeth/Teyla friendship until S3 when efforts were made to show the two women conversing and confiding in each other (Sunday, Vengeance, First Strike). That was then brought to a screaming halt by Elizabeth’s departure and no such friendship was built in S4 between Teyla and Sam despite the commonalities in their characters which could have been used as the basis of a friendship. They are only seen beginning to connect before Teyla is taken by Michael and then, of course, Sam leaves in S5. The nascent friendship set-up between Jennifer and Teyla in Missing is abandoned soon after the beginning of S5 too in favour of the Jennifer/Rodney/Ronon triangle. So much missed potential.

Additionally, for Jennifer Keller from the same post:

Jennifer, Child Prodigy and Nervous Nelly…or not

Jennifer was introduced in First Strike as a young medic expressing her concerns about continuing in the temporary position of Chief Medical Officer to her boss, followed by a competent display of skill during the crisis later. As a character arc from a young doctor who was unsure of her position to someone who gained confidence in herself, it had great potential – and there was some attempt to explore it: Doppelganger built on the idea of nervous-but-stepping-up-to-the-challenge-Jennifer as did Missing which perhaps overemphasised fears and phobias (after all, if she was that scared, why would she have travelled to another galaxy in the first place). She also alluded directly to being a child prodigy and thus socially awkward in Quarantine, adding less-than-subtle backstory and explanation.

However, there was inconsistency in the plotting and characterisation which undermined the potential of the arc. Firstly, self-confessed socially awkward Jennifer was suddenly informing other child prodigies Carter and McKay of bar games and ‘Who Would You Rather’ in Trio. It was left to fandom to explain the inconsistency (along with Pool Shark Carter being completely unaware of bar games). Similarly, her nervousness was dropped in favour of confidence and assuredness in defending herself (in Trio, and later in The Lost Race and Tracker). The show missed the opportunity to fully exploit the potential of the arc because it didn’t show Jennifer moving on from her experience in Missing to taking defence classes to other off-world experiences where she was slowly building her confidence but not yet confident. Instead, it simply skipped over the process and presented the conclusion (although in another fit of inconsistency had her talk about her lack of confidence in Infection).

Jennifer, Love Interest

If there was one plot arc that effectively restricted Jennifer’s potential, it is without doubt, the Jennifer-and-Rodney relationship that dominated much of S5. Personally, I was a fan of the ship shown in The Last Man but the execution of it through S5 I thought left a lot to be desired. Much of Jennifer’s personal scenes shifted from scenes with Teyla to scenes with McKay or Ronon. Her competence in defending herself in Tracker was put down to classes with Ronon; when she spoke about feeling out of her depth it was to McKay. Not only that but in Identity she was reduced to the damsel in distress and her male predecessor came back to fulfil the medic role! I fervently believe romantic relationships have a place in sci-fi stories – I’m a huge shipper! – but just as with Vala, they lost the balance between showing the character as an individual, and showing the character as the love interest of a male character.

Then there is also the issue of the Wraith Keeper, and Hive Queens. Although they appear to be a bigger threat than the male-depicted ‘drones,’ they do not appear frequently, and are seldom developed. A total of seven Hive Queens appear in the series:

  • The one in Rising who is killed by Colonel Marshall Sumner,
  • The one from The Hive whom dies in the explosion which starts the Wraith Civil War,
  • The one from Allies and No Man’s Land whom was resistant to the retrovirus and killed by Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard and Ronon Dex,
  • The one from Submersion who remains trapped on the planet,
  • The one from Spoils of War also killed by Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard as she was trying to kill Teyla’s child from within the womb,
  • The one from The Last Man who had only seconds of screen time, and
  • The one from The Queen known as the Primary.

Most of them appear in only a single episode before being killed. But then Wraith Hive Queens have not been the only foe in the show, as we should also look the Wraith drones known as Michael Kenmore, and Todd, whom both recur over several seasons of the show.

Unlike the Wraith Hive Queens whom usually only appear in s single episode, both Wraith drones Michael Kenmore and Todd appear over the course of several seasons within the show. Michael Kenmore appears throughout the series in 10 episodes, over 4 consecutive seasons (Michael, Allies, No Man’s Land, Misbegotten, Vengeance, The Kindred Parts 1 and 2, The Last Man, Search and Rescue, and The Prodigal) whereas Todd appears in 13 episodes, over 3 consecutive seasons (Common Ground, The Seer, Miller’s Crossing, Be All My Sins Remember’d, Spoils of War, The Kindred Part 1, The Last Man, The Queen, First Contact, The Lost Tribe, Infection, Vegas, and Enemy at the Gate). So, even if we were to remove The Last Man because it was an alternate timeline that never took place, that still leaves 9 episodes over 4 consecutive seasons for Michael, and 12 episodes over 3 consecutive seasons for Todd, a lot more screen time for character development not allotted for the Wraith Hive Queens.

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Furthermore, there also was the one Wraith King featured in the episode, Sateda, who as described on the Stargate Atlantis (Series) TV Tropes page, under “Authority Equals Asskicking”:

Wraith Queens are generally less physically powerful than their subordinates, although their telepathic skills are usually much stronger. The Wraith ‘King’ in “Sateda” on the other hand is by far the strongest member of his hive. After Ronon kills off increasingly bigger waves of Wraith hunters and warriors that his enemy sends after him, he taunts him to come down himself. The Wraith takes the challenge, and quickly curbstomps Ronon, forcing Beckett to kill him with a drone weapon. Considering the fierce nature of Wraith society this may even be an inversion, in that he might be King precisely becausehe’s so strong.

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He is shown in particular to be wearing body armor (seen here), something which the Queens are never shown to wear ever. Another notable thing comes from a remark of Lt. Col. John Sheppard during the episode, Allies, in which they work with a Wraith Queen associated with Michael Kenmore’s hive wants to team up with them to take down other Hives:

Hive Queen: This plan keeps us completely reliant on you to disseminate the retrovirus.
Sheppard: It’s meant to be a test to see if the gas works in the first place. If it does, you can come up with some other way to deliver it.
Hive Queen: Very well. I’ll transmit the coordinates to our new target as soon as I return to the hive. We’ll leave as soon as you are ready.
Sheppard: What’s a girl like her do for fun?

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The last comment, “What’s a girl like her do for fun?” is quite telling. It is intended to allow the hegemonic (most definitely male) gaze to freely sexualize her, despite the noticeable fact she appears to be a man-eating monster. This simultaneously, due to her plan, within the story, (and subsequent betrayal) makes her heavily ambitious on top of that in trying to get her Hive to Earth.

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But how about the male characters? Starting with Lt. Col. John Shappard, he is continuously played as The Kirk, notably treating women in show as primarily sexual objects (or being in situations that perpetuate such sentiment), such as Larrin in Travelers:

Noticeably, at the beginning of this episode, Sheppard has just visited a planet in which the inhabitants “little or no social inhibitions”:

Sheppard: Atlantis, this is Sheppard. I’m on approach to the Gate.
McKay: Acknowledged. Y’know, since I’ve been in Pegasus, I have set up, like, what, half a dozen research stations on various planets, and I don’t remember you ever volunteering to run a re-supply mission to any of them.
Sheppard: I’m a busy man, Rodney. Just happened to have a little free time.
McKay: And Doctor Mackenzie just happens to be studying a primitive tribe that lives in a tropical paradise and has, how did he put it, “little or no social inhibitions.”
Sheppard: Well, they were very friendly.

Teer in Epiphany (Note: This clip is not in English):

Mara in The Tower (Note: This clip is not in English):

Dr. Elizabeth Weir (possessed by Phoebus), while he is possessed by Thalan, in The Long Goodbye:

Tension with Teyla Emmagan, such as here in the episode, Conversion:

And  Chaya Sar in Santuary:

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Dr. Rodney McKay, The Spock in the show also has several interests in the series that pander to the viewers in the same way, including recurring character, Lt. Laura Cadman:

Botanist Dr. Katie Brown:

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Taranian scientist Norina Pero in Inferno:

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A vision of Samantha Carter in Grace Under Pressure:

And Dr. Jennifer Keller:

They, too, are intended to pander to the hegemonic male gaze, as Brandy Ledford, who played Norina Pero, was also on Baywatch.

So how is homosexuality depicted on Stargate Atlantis then? Well, following this kiss between Laura-possessed-Rodney and Dr. Carson Beckett, in Duet, this is said during Critical Mass:

McKay: Cadman? What are you doing here?
Cadman: Well, it’s good to see you too, Rodney.
McKay: No, I thought you were leaving on the Daedalus
Cadman: Yeah, I was, but something came up. I asked Colonel Sheppard if I could stay around a little while longer.
McKay: Oh, well, that’s fine.
Cadman: You OK with that?
McKay: Yeah, course it is, why wouldn’t it be?
Cadman: Colonel.
Sheppard: Lieutenant. I would think after all this time, you’d stop being creeped out by her.
McKay: She just has a way of getting under my skin. Literally.

By the episode, The Return Part 1, it is revealed that the relationship between Cadman and Beckett didn’t work out because of it:

Sheppard: You should call her.
McKay: Mmm.
Beckett: Who, Cadman?
Weir: You guys did make a cute couple.
Beckett: It didn’t work out. May have something to do with our first kiss being through Rodney!
McKay: Oh, I thought we made a solemn vow never to speak of that again!
Beckett: I remember no such thing!
Weir: You know what? It’s getting late.
Sheppard: Since when do you sleep?
Weir: Since I got back. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. But it’s been lovely seeing all of you again. Thank you for getting me out.
Sheppard: No, we should thank you. You’re taking us to dinner, right?
Weir: Cheeky!

This comment, of course, suggests that two men kissing is shameful and should be kept secret, “never to speak of that again.”

Stargate Atlantis, like it’s counterpart Stargate SG-1, can be described as abysmal on representing LGBT people on the show. As a member of the GateWorld Forum, since around the time this series began to air in 2004, I began an endeavor to speak on behalf of including LGBT characters onto the show, but this was met with all sorts of reasons to not do so, most notably because the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was still in place, and apparently, much of the story takes place on duty and on base…except for parts of Secrets, 1969, The Curse, Nightwalkers, Sight UnseenChimera, Lost City, Threads, Affinity, and Citizen Joe. Furthermore, many episodes have taken place with alternate realities/timelines that often helped pushed the Sam/Jack story throughout the show, such as There But For The Grace of God, and Point of View, because protocol actually prohibited them from being together. So, the reason regarding “protocol” by the Executive Producers was unfounded and not uniform within the show’s presentation.

By the final season of the series, the producers decided to out two of the characters, as according to io9‘s article, “So Who’s Gay On Stargate Atlantis?“:

Stargate Atlantis is a veritable rainbow of sexuality — we just never knew it. The producers are now outing two SGA characters whose gay subplots were left on the cutting-room floor.

Stargate Atlantis producer Joseph Mallozzi took to his blog to write about the “What Ifs” of SGA including the queer love square they never followed through with, and which character is still in the closet to fans.

According to him, Captain Alicia Vega (played by the gorgeous Leela Savasta) was supposed to be a vying for the affections of Dr. Keller (Jewel Staite) along with Rodney McKay and Ronon, thus turning that incredibly cold love triangle into a love square. (Love rhombus?) But alas, the scene where Vega asked Keller out on a date was cut from the “Search And Rescue” episode this season. Sadly, we’ll never get to know this adorable supposed lesbian because she was unfairly slain in “Whispers” by one of Michael’s test subjects.

From Mallozzi’s blog:

The character of Alicia Vega, meanwhile, did offer an opening that an established character did not: she was new and the final scene of the season five premiere felt neither forced nor insignificant. Of course, as Paul pointed out: “Do we really want to make this love triangle a love rectangle?”. Well, again, the decision was made for us when the episode ran waaaay too long and a good portion of Vega’s scenes, including the last one, had to be cut for time.

It’s sad to think that Vega could have had a fun side story, but instead she was killed. Still you never know, because NO ONE DIES ON STARGATE. She could be back, and gayer than ever. Oh, Mallozzi — you should have gone through with it. I would have applauded the effort, and it would have brought in more character development, something SGA can always use more of.

But wait, there’s more under the big rainbow of SGA. Another character on the show is secretly gay, and we’ll probably never find out who he is. Here’s a hint from Mallozzi:

The prospect of introducing a gay character to the Stargate universe was always an interesting possibility, but one that would require the right circumstances. In fact, for several years now, there has been one recurring character who, in my mind, is gay, but there has never been an opportunity to confirm the fact. While I feared that suggesting it in a throw-away (“I’m heading back to Earth to spend time with my boyfriend. See ya!”) would seem like a truly forced WTF moment for fans, alternately, making a big deal of it felt wrong as well. So, unless the right circumstances present themselves for this character, the fans can simply go ahead assuming he is heterosexual until such a time that, in a Rowlingesque postscript, I can add: “And, oh yeah, by the way – he was gay.”

Okay, so it’s Lorne — at least I think it is, why because I always knew there was more to him than just that guy standing there. Or maybe I just wish it was Lorne, cause he’s far too pretty compared to the rest of the crew, and even though I think he had a thing for Teyla, it seemed forced.

You can tell that this was the type of character that the writers always thought they were going to do more with but couldn’t find the time. Now we’ll never know who it is until more details come out, and I know the final episodes are in the can. But I could always do with more Lorne. A few other sites threw out Chuck the technician and Radek Zelenka, but my money is on Major Lorne. Zelenka is another good call, as I know nothing about the man’s back story but it would be a bit jarring for both Z and L to just off handedly mention that they have a boyfriend. So while I agree that they couldn’t just toss it in there, I wish they’d at least tried.

Now that all of this is coming out, I feel the need to say: Kinda lame, guys. You know I love Stargate,, but this Monday quarterbacking a dead show is a little frustrating. Cool that one character had a gay love storyline that was actually shot, but to make another recurring character gay off-camera is kind of disappointing.

Of course, Captain Alicia Vega, who only had appeared this season, before dying, was not nearly as significant as Major Evan Lorne, who first appeared in Stargate SG-1‘s Season 7 episode, Enemy Mine. However, because this was not addressed on screen it really doesn’t count.

 

The Best:

Search and Rescue, The Daedalus Variations, Ghost in the Machine, The Queen, First Contact, The Lost Tribe, Inquisition, The Prodigal, Remnants, Brain Storm, Infection, and Enemy at the Gate

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In brief pieces:

  • Search and Rescue continues from The Kindred and The Last Man, in regards to the kidnapping of Teyla by Michael;
  • The Daedalus Variations is a personal favorite episode because of it’s deviation from prior alternate reality stories, such as SG-1’s Point of View, Ripple Effect, and There But For The Grace of God, which take place on base, rather than a vessel moving from one alternate reality to another;
  • Ghost in the Machine features the final return of Dr. Elizabeth Weir, for the last time;
  • The Queen features Teyla posing a Hive Queen in order to convince the Wraith to use the gene therapy that would remove their need to feed;
  • First Contact and The Lost Tribe is one of the best stories from the series, bringing back Dr. Daniel Jackson to the Atlantis Base since Stargate SG-1‘s The Pegasus Project, and introducing a new faction of the Asgard, the Vanir;
  • Inquisition is a fantastic clip-show, similar to that of Stargate SG-1 ‘s Disclosure or Inauguration;
  • The Prodigal features the final appearance of Michael;
  • Remnants features a Sekkari seed carrier whose AI creates hallucinations for Woolsey and Sheppard, in order to ensure it’s survival;
  • Brain Storm has a wicked awesome cameo appearance of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and physicist Neil de Grasse Tyson;
  • In Infection, a Wraith Hive Ship appears over Atlantis using a distress signal; and,
  • Enemy at the Gate is the series finale in which the Atlantis Expedition makes it back to Earth, with Teyla and Ronon.

According to the IGN review of Search and Rescue:

Picking up where season four left off, members of the SGA team are trapped under tons of rubble after a booby-trap set by Michael is tripped off, causing a building to collapse on them. Sam and a rescue team are there to save the day, but are unaware that Michael is still nearby.

Not skipping a beat, the beginning of season five starts off with a bang, a couple surprises and a beautifully shot cinematic opening sequence. If you want story that will suck you into season five this episode does it, and does it well.

One thing that has always driven this series was the ability to tell amazing and fantastic stories. “Search and Rescue” is one of those stories. The opening was very reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s 2006 filmWorld Trade Center. The only difference was that this was bearable to watch and got to the point where as Stone’s film took about two hours too many to get to the point.

Without giving anything away, the much-anticipated arrival of Teyla’s baby comes to fruition and let me tell ya, it’s a doozy! Some great acting takes place and very believable performances by all. We even get to see Kenan, Teyla’s husband, and what his fate is is still unknown, but it will be interesting to see how they incorporate him into the show.

Ronon’s dreads are still there, and so is more dialogue for the giant Satedan. He’s a bit Chatty Kathy this episode, and you know what? It actually worked. It’ll be interesting to see how much more they develop his character this season.

The ending of the episode is pretty predictable, but the execution of it really fuels your fire for the rest of the season, and is very reminiscent of how a certain character from season one of SG-1 acted in the beginning. He was stern, tough, and at first you really didn’t like him, but as time went on you grew to love the man. I am of course speaking of the late great Don S. Davis whom we all knew and loved as General George Hammond. He will be missed.

After what seemed like an eternity of a break, SGA is back! This episode has everything you need in a Stargate episode and then some. It is a great way to start of the fifth season, and from the looks of it, it is going to be a good one.

According to the IGN review of The Daedalus Variations:

After five seasons of Stargate: Atlantis I have finally discovered the formula to a fantastic episode; it’s simple and makes perfect sense, and here it is: Short Tease + Intro = Great Episode. I’ve noticed the shorter the intro the better the episode. With a shorter intro you can tell that the writers have more story to tell and don’t want to waste time leading into it. This episode was a perfect example of that.

This was classic Atlantis from beginning to end. We start off with a gripping story that draws us in and never lets up. With strong characters and a strong story the momentum just kept building and building; I found myself actually thinking that they weren’t going to make it out of one of their jumps.

The dark tones throughout the episode gave us a sense of despair. Every time a light would be turned on I felt a sense of relief because I wasn’t trapped in that dark area that the writers put me in. The director of photography really pushed the look of this episode to the limits, and the overall tone of the show has been fantastic this season.

Jason Momoa as Ronon Dex, Joe Flanigan as Lt. Col. John Sheppard
Much like SG-1 and the transfer of villains from the Goa’uld to the Replicators to the Ori you can only tolerate the same villains for so long, and Atlantis reached its boiling point with the wraith. Enter the next big threat to the Pegasus galaxy, a mysterious race who seem to be fueled by rage, much like the “Reavers” from Firefly. The big questions that were left unanswered are the obvious, who are they, what are they and how can we see more?! It was a perfect tease by the writers, give us a taste, and make us beg for more. These violent beings are from an alternate parallel dimension, but that doesn’t mean they won’t show up in our reality. I for one am excited to see what they have in store for us.

This show is very much team-driven, with a massive ensemble cast, but every now and then they show us that sometimes all you need is four people and you can have something that is worth watching.

According to the IGN review of Ghost in the Machine:

In an episode that gave us closure on a big question that was left lingering in the air like the stink of a dead skunk (What happened to Weir after we saw her in a ship floating amongst the scattered remains of the Replicator home-world?), we got answers and high drama.

Oftentimes when you are trying to stress a haunting feeling on television it doesn’t always pay off, and is a huge risk when that is what you are trying to extract from your audience. But, “Ghost in the Machine” pays it off with a frightening few scenes of the computer monitor spelling out “Help Me” multiple times. It’s even more eerie when we find out it Dr. Weir trying to communicate with us. The emotions they were trying to get work in spades. Those scenes were shot beautifully, and left the proper amount of mystery and pause to really make you scared and anxious.

The only time I was disappointed while watching “Ghost in the Machine” was that the creepy tone set by the opening few scenes disappeared. It had the makings of a great thriller episode, but fell short of that. They had such a strong opener, but they had to make the reveal and move on. Which is a shame since it could have driven this episode to greatness.

However, the story kept me interested though out the whole episode, and even made me like Woolsey a little more. There is an obvious answer to the Replicators, don’t let them do anything anytime, and as had of a decision that was to make, Woolsey made the right one, buy not letting them so anything. Of course he had to let them do some work otherwise this episode would have been a waste of time. It shows strong character development on his behalf, and makes him feel more organic to the team.

The new version of Weir actually looked like a cross between Sam Carter and Weir, it was strange and exciting all at the same time. A lovely casting choice bringing the likeable and lovable FRAN (Michelle Morgan) back onto the show. She was very believable as Elizabeth.

Knowing that there is a full-blown horror episode coming up this season, gives me hope after watching this episode that they know how to shoot it.

According to the IGN review of The Queen:

My short-credit-opening theory stands true. That theory being, the shorter the opening credits the better the episode will be. Being that “The Queen” didn’t really have any at all told me right away that is was going to be a fantastic episode, and fantastic it was.

Right off the bat we were re-introduced to an old “friend” who we haven’t seen in a while, Todd the Wraith. One of my favorite characters that is always enjoyable to watch, brought his game to a new level. This character is always well written, and continues to bring a fresh perspective the show. Watching him work and trying to figure out what kind of character choices he will make is always fun to see. My only problem with him this episode, wasn’t really with Todd at all, it was with his lack of name use. He isn’t mentioned by name until the team is back on Atlantis from Todd’s hive ship, and only then does Teyla mention him by name. Now, for you avid SGA fans we already know this character’s name, but for someone who is just tuning in for the first time, Teyla rattles off this name, but you don’t really know who she is talking about until later on in the episode. And that can be a little confusing.

Speaking of names, a laugh out loud moment this episode was the introduction of, Kenny. I don’t know what it is, but when they give random names to Wraith it always cracks me up. The exchange between Sheppard, Ronon, and Rodney regarding Kenny the Wraith was awesome. It was a very nice bit of writing, and the three of them played off of each other perfectly, the scene was completely natural and fun to watch.

My biggest question for this episode was how deep did Teyla’s transformation go? I’ll back it up a bit. Teyla being turned into a Wraith through an experimental surgery was questionable writing, but that didn’t matter, she was a brilliant Wraith Queen. Not only was she creepy to look at, but also she played Wraith and Teyla perfectly. She was very believable as the Queen, and it was great to see her act as Teyla through the make-up. As for the depth of her transformation, we never really knew how much of her was altered. She never fed, nor did she express a need to feed, that is however until the end of the episode where she is rubbing her hand, and it is alluded to that she could have wanted to feed. Also her taste for regular food would be coming back. It would have been great to see her feed and watch that whole scenario play out to its fullest extent.

This episode could have and should have been a two-parter; it had everything it needed for a solid hour and a half of programming. Don’t get me wrong, this episode in no way felt rushed or forced like some episode in the past, I just felt like they should have put in a little more time. It was a great episode and completely enjoyable to watch!

According to the IGN review of First Contact:

When watching a show of this magnitude it’s good to brace yourself for any possible situation, but at no time did I expect to have a giant grin on my face for a full 45 minutes.

Everything in this episode from the writing to the acting, the special guest appearance to the score, made this quite possibly be the greatest episode in the five-year run of Atlantis.

From the first scene the story was developed in such a way that the exposition of the whole episode just kept building and building until the very end with the inevitable cliffhanger. The writing was so fresh and so crisp it was as if I was watching a brand new episode of a new show. At no point did the action ever let up.

The resurgence of Dr. Jackson was a fantastic thing, and watching him and McKay motor mouth off of each other was brilliant and hysterical. When McKay was first on SG-1 it was great to see him and Jackson interact, but we didn’t get to see it much more after that. After way too many years we finally got the opportunity again. Thanks to the great writing both through continuity and development Jackson and McKay picked up where they left off, and even had an opportunity to grow beyond old petty differences. I look forward to part 2 of this episode and seeing where they end up.

The introduction of this new race of beings was incredibly cool. Although every time I see someone in the Stargate universe wearing full body and face armor I am reminded of the Kull Warriors, or super soldiers as they were called back in season 7 of SG-1. It isn’t a bad thing, but I’m sure they could have looked like something else; it’s a whole other galaxy, give us something fresh and unique. Back to the positive side of “First Contact,” I loved the way they moved and worked together. Everything from the choreography and direction to these characters was smooth and fluid. Another thing I really liked in this episode was the editing around that device that melted through the Atlantean floor; it was hot, as was the rest of the cutting around this episode.

The continuing love triangle between Keller, McKay and Ronon took another step forward as Ronon got a leg up on McKay when he chose to accompany her on the mission to see Todd. When past episodes are referenced it really helps bridge the show together and gives us a sense of a time line. Even though the triangle really went into full effect only a week ago in “Tracker,” it’s something that in my opinion needs to happen more often in all television shows. Even in standalone episodes, it’s good to reference something that may have happened in a past episode so it feels organic to the show and isn’t completely a standalone.

Another thing that really popped this episode was the musical score. This season has heard lots of great music accompanying many episodes, but “First Contact” really drove it home. The subtle strings throughout were a huge reason this episode was such a huge success.

“First Contact” was a perfect mid-season finale, and did everything it was meant to do, leave us wanting more than we could possibly imagine. These next two weeks are going to be a grind, but thank the Ancients we only have to wait two weeks, and not 2 months!

According to the IGN review of The Lost Tribe:

After watching this episode, and the one prior to it, it makes one wonder why they can’t make whole seasons this fantastic. Picking up where the mid-season finale left off there was not a beat skipped. The pacing, action and story were still perfectly intact and helped take me back to the glory days of Stargate.

The art of keeping the tension high and the exposition of story strong are done with expertise in “The Lost Tribe.” Each storyline was fun and interesting to watch. I especially enjoyed watching Ronon get shut down by Dr. Keller. I felt a little bad for the guy who tried so hard; the interesting thing to see would be if Keller were talking about Rodney. Logically yes, that would be whom she was talking about, but in a world of twists and turns who knows? It’s a good little piece of writing that keeps us interested in the love triangle.

The sense of destitution I had while they were trapped on Atlantis without a gate or a starship was moving. It’s attributed to solid writing, writing that had me completely engrossed in what was happening in that universe. It also reminds us how dependent they are on other technologies. Imagine what would happen today if cell phones stopped working, or coffee shops all of the sudden went out of business? Sure it’s an extreme difference, but you get the point.

Now on to the good stuff, the moment I, you and everyone was waiting for. If you were able to keep your eyes away from spoilers, then you were in for the shock of a lifetime. When they revealed whom the “Lost Tribe” were I was blown away. Yes, I was a tad disappointed when I saw the Asgard climbing out of the battle suits, but that still didn’t wipe the smile off of my face, and the disappointment quickly turned to familiarity and comfort as we learned all about this group of lost Asgard. Watching Daniel interact with them was a great throwback to the good old days of SG-1. Also it was a great bit of storytelling to listen to their back-story. There is a part of me that would have like to hear them mention Thor, and the famed ship “The O’Neill,” but I’m glad it didn’t happen, it helped show how alone those Asgard were and are. It’s a wonder this show got cancelled.

However, there was slight disappointment when The Travelers showed up and Laren wasn’t among them. I started cursing ABC and my show Wipeout, which kept Jill Wagner (Laren) away from Atlantis. But our new captain, Katana (Daniella Alonso) was not only easy on the eyes, but also enjoyable to watch.

Overall this was a near perfect part of a sure to be classic SGA two-parter. Great acting, good visual effects and a fun storyline kept me on the edge of my couch the whole time, and leaves me wondering A) Will we get to see anymore of the Asgard before the end of the series? B) What is the fate of the Janus device? C) Why the hell was Atlantis cancelled?

According to the IGN review of Inquisition:

As far as flashback episodes go this was a fun one, but it was far from anything we have seen thus far this season.

In the fifth and final season of Atlantis one would think that they would fill it with more substance than “Inquisition offered.” Some would also say this was a great chance to reflect on some great adventures that took place over the past five years, I say while it was fun to watch it was a waist of time.

It’s true that during production of this episode they had yet to know the fate of the show, but that is proof that when writing a show you should always fill them with some purpose. In the end, the purpose behind this episode was to put the Atlantis expedition in a more active place in the Pegasus Galaxy, but the manner in which it was executed was wrong.

In a galaxy filled with little to no technology one would think that Atlantis would be welcomed with open arms especially when fighting someone as powerful and deadly as the Wraith. As stated in the show, pretty much everything that has happened would have eventually happened and the people of the Pegasus still wouldn’t be prepared. The Ancients were around 10,000 years ago, as were the people of the Pegasus, and over those 10,000 years we can clearly see how far they have advanced, not very. I understand that the trial was a set-up, but the whole thing was a simple waste of time. I could think of a million different and more exciting way to get Atlantis involved in galaxy affairs. It did however allow the writers a chance to give a nod to Star Trek with the mentioning of a “Federation,” very nice.

“Inquisition” was a chance for Woolsey to shine once again, and shine he does. Although at no point did I think he was a great lawyer, he was a very convincing speaker, and his dedication towards Atlantis was clear as day. His roll as leader of the expedition is acceptable and welcomed.

Overall, this was a poorly written episode, but fun to watch. It did up the ante as far as the presence of Atlantis goes, which will hopefully pay off before the end of the series, but the way it was presented could have been better.

According to the IGN review of The Prodigal:

When Michael commandeers the control room in a plot to kidnap Teyla’s baby, the team must figure out a way in before he destroys Atlantis.

Problems, problems and more problems are plaguing the second half of this season. There is no doubt in my mind that the series finale will be awesome, but the episodes since the break are hard to watch and if I wasn’t already vested in the show I probably would have jumped ship by now.

I understand the need to bring closure to a character like Michael who has played such a big roll in the show, but this was absolutely not the way. We know they are making an Atlantis movie – they should take a cue from SG-1 and wrap the series up that way, including unresolved issues and characters, like Michael. It could just be lazy writing since they knew they probably weren’t going to get picked up, and a usually good to great show suffers for it.

The poor writing is clear as day in “The Prodigal” when the whole storyline of this episode is Michael breaking into Atlantis to kidnap Teyla’s son. If you could look past the fact the this hybrid Wraith has a limited crew and he is trying to infiltrate a far more technologically advanced group than himself, then you’d find an even sillier plot of him blowing up the city. If he is going to kill everyone anyway, why not just do it to Ronon, Woolsey and the other crew members that were knocked out by the “stun bubble” right away. Why wait? Plus, as mentioned to him by one of his hybrids, he had Torren (Teyla’s baby) – they should have just left. Yes, he wanted revenge, but it could have waited if his work was so important. I could go on for days about the poor choice made for that storyline, but I won’t.

Instead, I will move on to the horrible, even laughable puddle jumper fix. So here is a little back-story for me: Many moons ago I used to be quite the electronic guy. Mostly Audio/Video stuff, but there was lots of wiring and troubleshooting involved. Even the most simple of problems or fixes could take upwards of an hour plus. Now even if I remind myself that this is just a television show, you still want me to believe that Mckay — or anyone for that matter — can just go down to a shuttle bay and fix a jumper or two in 15 minutes? A, after they have just been sitting there for two years, and B, you have zero idea what’s wrong with them? I would like to think that home theatre wiring is less complicated than an alien ship’s wiring. That whole concept was ridiculous from the moment it was mentioned.

The only redeemable aspect of this episode was the fun fight sequences, which are always cool to see, especially watching Amelia Banks (Actress Sharon Taylor) do some serious ass kicking, but even then, the Choreography for Ronon and Michael’s fight seemed recycled. Yes, I’m talking about Ronon’s flying punch.

All around the acting was good, and the emotion between Michael and Ronon felt real and strong, nut it wasn’t enough to even come close to saving this episode. Please, dear television god, let the last few episodes be stellar!

According to the IGN review of Remnants:

The writers almost hit a home run this week with “Remnants,” but a lack of courage in writing held it back. I’m always preaching about taking chances when you write especially when you know a show is going of the air, and this episode had a perfect opportunity to go all the way, but in the end held back. I am of course referring to the chopping off of Sheppard’s hand. If you want people’s jaws to drop and say holy $—, commit to the hallucination. Kolya tells Sheppard that Sheppard inflicted the torture on himself; it could have been very feasible that Sheppard lopped off his own hand during said time, thus creating an incredible conflict for Sheppard and this new race. Understandable since it is the end of the show, but then don’t bother introducing a new race especially since they are incredibly cool. Sure it lends well to possible features, but a bad choice to tease a palette only to leave us wanting more, they are like the Furlings fromSG-1, at least on Atlantis we got to catch a glimpse and some history of these beings.

The writers did do a great job of answering questions that kept popping up throughout the episode, and pretty much covered all of their bases on that front. For example, I for the life of me couldn’t figure out why out of nowhere Zalenka decided to explore the ocean floor, and I was prepared to unload another writers lashing, but I was pleasantly surprised when that “mistake” was answered at the end of the episode.

I was beginning to wonder what happened to Dr. Keller, and was happy to see her even if it was for only a brief period.

Robert Picardo delivered another stellar performance, as he has for pretty much the whole season, he has become a very enjoyable new addition to the Atlantis cast.

There were a lot of cuts this episode that sometimes felt forced and not as clean as they could have been, but there was a lot going on, but came very close to completely distracting me from what I was watching.

Overall it was a very enjoyable episode to watch, thanks to some good acting, and good writing in the form of coverage and questions answered. I just wish the renewed alien race had a chance to resurface, but like I said, they will be making movies… so let’s see what happens.

According to the IGN review of Brain Storm:

Writer-producer Martin Gero does a pretty good job in his Stargate directorial debut, and he also had the good fortune to direct some science gurus and the love moment we have all been waiting for!

The science and celebrity cameos were a bountiful in “Brain Storm” — from Marshall Bell to Bill Nye the Science Guy — this episode was filled with fun times and laughter.

Gero did a great job pacing and shooting this episode. The comedic bits were spot on and I never got a sense of lag or boredom. The truly best part about this episode was the payoff at the end. For a couple of seasons now they have been toying with Dr. Keller’s love life, and early in this season when she decided Ronon wasn’t for her, I was wondering when she would make her move towards Rodney. Well, it happened, and boy did it end well! It was like watching two kids trying to get away with something. Who knew they would have the balls to write in a mile high bit, but they did and it was great.

Another aspect to this episode that was downright neat to see was the interaction between McKay and all of the other scientists. Watching the show one tends to forget that there are other brilliant people out there, but to see a whole group of them in one place, incredible. The writing was solid for them too, all very believable, and very likable. I even enjoyed the “Stephen Hawking” character.

This was a very well done standalone episode. I never for a moment wondered where the rest of the team was, even though I knew where they were. These are the moments I like, especially when these types of episodes are usually boring and just simple throwaway shows.

The CG was pretty nice on the complex and the tornadoes looked good, but my only problem if I were to have one with the look of the episode, was that the front desk where they checked in and the reception area looked like they were two completely different places. For continuity’s sake, it would have been less distracting if both locations had a common theme. But that is an art department problem, and me being nit-picky.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode, even when the previews for it made me think it would just be mediocre at best.

According to the IGN review of Infection:

With only three episodes left in the series, I find it very important for Stargate Atlantis to pull out all of the stops in the end game. In order to leave a lasting impression of a strong show that finished incredibly strong you really need to go all the way. Starting with this week’s episode I think they hit the nail on the head.

This is the type of episode that makes Atlantis such a good and interesting show to watch. Cinematically it looked good, with awesome Hive effects, in space and during the crash sequence. There were moments I didn’t think we were going to see the actual crash because in past episodes they have cut visual effect corners, but I was pleasantly surprised when we got the whole shebang.

The narrative was solid. The story moved along wonderfully with a perfect balance of story and action, each lending to the other to create a true sense of urgency amongst the cast members. A lot of times when viewing the show I am well aware that it is a TV. show and all will be well in the end, but in “Infection” I was taken into their world, and felt nervous for the crew as to how they would get off the dying ship. Alan McCullough did a fantastic job writing this episode, as did Andy Mikita directing it.

My only problem, which I can’t seem to let go of, is how easy it is for everything to interface with each other. I am of course referring to McKay and his freaking Notepad. Why can he so easily communicate with the Wraith Technology? I understand that they are five years deep on the expedition and I am just being nit-picky, but this is something that should have been addressed a while ago. That doesn’t change the way I feel about this episode, just something that needed mentioning.

This episode also said a noble goodbye to everyone’s favorite “kind of” bad guy, Todd. They wrapped up his storyline perfectly leaving him an obvious and possible return in future SGA films. It was a much better goodbye than the Michael send-off because we got closure with a bit of curiosity left dangling in front of us, not just some guy falling into the water, leaving us without a body for proof of death.

Overall, this was a more than fantastic episode that left me chomping at the bit for next week’s episode which heralds the return of one of my favorites, Samantha Carter.

According to the IGN review of Enemy at the Gate:

The title of this episode says it all as the five year run one of SCI-FI’s few remaining original scripted series comes to an end. I got a sneak peek at Friday’s series finale, and here’s what I saw. Don’t worry, no spoilers below, except…

Everyone dies, the Wraith destroy Earth, and Sheppard and Ronon kiss. Oh wait, that episode would have been fun to watch. Instead I sat through 45 minutes of not so good television. Yes, I review the show, but more importantly I am a HUGE fan of the Stargate franchise. Probably more so than most of you, considering I have a giant Stargate tattoo covering my entire back [Editor’s Note: It’s true, he does], I’ve watched both shows multiple times on DVD, and I’m a stalker fan. So, it is very easy for me to turn a blind eye to things that aren’t good, or just plain bad when it comes to anything Stargate related, but as a journalist I need to remain objective and not let that blind fanboy devotion dictate my reviews. I wanted so badly for this episode to be an epic, heartfelt finale, but it just wasn’t there.

“Enemy at the Gate” starts off with immediate action and keeps this pace throughout the entire episode, but the situations and convenience with which things happen don’t lend to this being anything but a mediocre Atlantis episode. It was shot poorly, it had choppy edits, and the story wasn’t that good – everything seemed forced. In fact, there were such weird story points that I couldn’t believe the contradictions I saw were taking place.

Another weak point in this episode was the dialogue. Usually the dialogue written for this show is clean, it flows, and most importantly, it sounds natural. But here it just missed for me, and again I felt let down.

There is a major shocker that will leave you slacked jawed, but shortly after you feel unfulfilled. They had plenty of opportunities to take this show over the edge and to the next level, but they pulled back on the reigns, and in my opinion, chickened out. There were so many things wrong with this episode that it felt like half way through writing it they just gave up. I could go on for days with the problems “Enemy at the Gate” had, but without giving everything away it is kind of hard.

Instead, I will move on to the good things. Because even in its weakest episodes,Atlantis still manages to have some good moments occur, some even great.

The score for the finale had some very beautiful moments. Overall it was rather bland, but the few times it hit, it hit hard and did its job, pulling me back into the episode.

The cameos were plentiful, and some were even surprising. But the most exciting moment came during a conversation between Col. Samantha Carter and Sheppard. It was a moment that was so awesome that it brought an actual tear to my eye. In that particular scene, the acting was wonderful by Amanda Tapping and Joe Flanigan.

Lastly, the final shot of a series finale is always supposed to be memorable one. Think of the cast of Seinfeld sitting in a jail cell – a bad episode, but a memorable final shot. But this, this was boring and uninspiring. One of the characters didn’t even look like they cared to be there.

Overall, the series finale was subpar and shouldn’t have even been shown. I would have rather watched the “Vegas” episode again – at least that gave me something positive to think about. Lastly, before you decide to slag me for tearing this episode apart, take off you fanboy goggles, and tell me you truly believe this is how you think this show should have ended.

 

The Worst:

The Seed, The Shrine, and Vegas

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Continuing:

  • The Seed sees Dr. Keller taken host to a Wraith pathogen, and Dr. Beckett has to find a cure;
  • The Shrine sees Rodney McKay develop the Pegasus Galaxy’s version of Alzheimer’s disease, and has to be brought to a planet once inhabited by the Ancient to the ‘shrine’ which will help him overcome the symptoms for a day; and,
  • Vegas sees Detective John Shappard of an alternate reality investigate a series of bizarre murders done by a Wraith intent on sending a message to other Hives.

According to the IGN review of The Seed:

This episode is the very definition of getting legs. What started off slow, with slow beats, and slow drama, began to pick up more and more steep and by the halfway point we were in a full sprint and never let up. Not only did the tone of the show start slow and pick up, but the visual effects seem to do the same thing as well. Dr. Keller’s goopy hand was fine, but didn’t prepare us for what we were about to see. Her first cocoon stage looked hokey at best, and I thought there goes the make-up effects for the show, but as time went on I was more than pleasantly surprised at how incredible it actually became. The detail to the veins, then the CG in their movement, it looked really good, which should be expected since the show was nominated for a 2008 Emmy for visual effects. Then another incredible sequence was the puddle jumper scene. I loved the way the hole looked. It appeared very organic to the scene, and just visually pleasing to look at.

The new Commander of the Atlantis expedition is Richard Woolsey, who after being a pain in the butt as an IOA agent, can now be a pain for our Atlantis team. Woolsey has been around since the death of Dr. Frasier on SG-1, and has been a by-the-book kind of guy. But as he quickly found out, in order to get things done you can’t always do things by the book. His transition into a team player will come quick, but not quick enough to where it seems uncomfortable to watch. We saw some of that change this episode when he broke a bunch of IOA rules. The best part of the episode which was a great welcoming was when Sheppard was laid up in a med-bed and “Welcomed” Woolsey to Atlantis. It seemed very appropriate.

As far as continuity goes, I’m glad they mentioned that Sam was in quarantine on Earth. Although it wasn’t very clear to me as to why no one else showed symptoms of the organism, it would have been nice to see some of them get sick. Sometimes just telling us that they have the illness isn’t enough, we need to see things happen, don’t just tell us, that’s lazy television making.

The return of Dr. Carson Beckett was awesome! It was great to see him back interacting with everyone. He and Rodney got straight into it as if no time had passed with him being gone. I’m glad he isn’t dead and welcome back at any time. He was and is a valuable part of the Atlantis expedition, even though technically he isn’t part of it anymore as pointed out by Woolsey in this episode.

Possibly the most fascinating part of the episode was getting to learn how Wraith Hive ships are made. It was a nice little piece of back-story that was long over due.

Overall it was a slow start, but ended up being a fun and exciting episode with enough action and drama to feed the belly for another week.

According to the IGN review of The Shrine:

This was a surprisingly fantastic episode, with brilliant, versatile acting by David Hewlett, and some stunning visual effects throughout.

Through the years we have come to see some great acting from most of the characters of Atlantis, but never have we had the opportunity to see what McKay had to offer. He is always the fast-talking brainiac, whose range went from scared to excited to annoyed and for five years has stayed that way, but in “The Shrine” all that changed.

David Hewlett delivered an Emmy-worthy performance that frankly, I didn’t know if he was capable of. He demonstrated a depth of character that you don’t see a lot of in Science Fiction. The key to his performance was his believability, and conviction of character. A wonderful touch to the direction of this episode was watching his transformation via video diary. We got to see the subtle changes he went through as an actor, and we were even treated to a certain love he has for Dr. Jennifer Keller.

The relationship between Keller and McKay would have been great to see played out, but with the show being cancelled, who knows if we get to see some of that this season. Maybe in the SGA movie they will wrap up story arcs, we can only hope.

Another very cool part to this episode was the parasite. Not so much what it does, but the fact that it exists. It is a very nice touch to a show that takes place in another galaxy. It shows smart writing by the creator and writers of the show. Who knows what is in the air or foods they eat? It is a strange galaxy, so it is very likely that there are things that we know nothing about, like the Wraith virus, and now this parasite.

The visual effects department has really nailed the Atlantis night shots. Everything from the way to the city looks absolutely real and believable.

I personally like seeing the team stranded on the gate surrounded by water, and especially liked the little foreshadow of the parasite that if you looked close enough you could see it swim by on the bottom of the screen.

Overall this was a great episode and by far one of the best of the season as far as acting is concerned.

According to the IGN review of Vegas:

Whether a show gets cancelled or it is just coming to the end of the season it is incredibly important to finish as strong as possible to keep the viewers interested in the show during it’s hiatus or its life after the show as ended, and “Vegas” did just that!

I’ve been waiting all season for this episode, wondering what they were going to do with an episode called “Vegas,” and what was shown was nothing short of fantastic! Cinematically it looked great with stunning panoramic shots of Las Vegas, snappy editing through out the entire episode, and rock solid photography I couldn’t believe I was seeing. It was shot unlike any Stargate episode I’ve ever seen. Physically and visually, it was a completely original different type of Stargate, different from SG-1 and Atlantis. From the way it was shot to the score and music choices this was a fresh and unique look at a show that in some form has been around for 13 years.

I was very curious to see how they would work Teyla and Ronin into the episode, and unless I missed something they were nowhere to be found. Clearly, because in this universe they are wherever they are in Pegasus. This is an example of courageous and smart writing. They didn’t try for one moment to try and force all of the characters into this episode knowing they didn’t belong. It was a story choice that helped move everything along, no need to explain who they are and why they are there. Although anything is possible in an alternate dimension, they made the right choice. The most pleasant surprise was getting to see everyone’s favorite gate technician Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman (Gary Jones) make a little cameo.

Even cooler than old Wally Harriman’s cameo was that of Steve Schirripa and Frank Vincent, aka Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri and Frank Leotardo from the greatest mob show in the history of television HBO’s The Sopranos. You really can’t do Vegas without a mob presence and nothing says Mob than those two very familiar faces. This is just another example of Robert C. Cooper (Writer/Director of the episode) pulling out all the stops as they wrap up the series.

This version of Dr. Rodney McKay was great. He was smooth, tough, and confidant, the complete opposite of “our” McKay. The one thing however that was consistent with “our” McKay was his hatred for Zelenka; it was great to see that their bickering carries over into multiple realities.

I really liked the little details of this episode like the Johnny Cash poster Sheppard had behind his desk, the very same poster hanging in his quarters on Atlantis. It was a great touch that wasn’t obvious.

It was great to see that they spent some money on the music. It wouldn’t have been the same with music that wasn’t familiar to us. The first track that I was completely shocked at was The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” which was a great choice to accompany the scene for which it was attached. The Wraith (Neil Jackson), who is no stranger to the Stargate franchise (he first appeared on an SG-1 episode from season nine called, “Prototype” where he played the genetically engineered son of Anubis, Khalek.), was cruising through Vegas along with this great track and it looked great. The other track that was incredible was Johnny Cash’s version of “Solitary Man.” Originally written and recorded in 1966 by one of my favorites, Neil Diamond, “Solitary Man” was a perfect narrative for Sheppard’s driving sequence. It’s as if the song was written for that moment. Also, it was closure for Sheppard’s unspoken love for Johnny Cash. That poster has been hanging over his bed since season 1, I’m glad they got a chance to feature a song by “The Man in Black.”

My only complaint from this episode, which broke my excitement, was the Ancient Chair scene. Everything up until that point was near perfect for me. It wasn’t that the scene was there — that was fine — it was the way it was shot. I was taken from this great and completely original style of shooting to what I had been watching for the past five years. It felt completely phoned in. But, I still liked the fact that it was there and I guess there wasn’t another way to do it.

Overall, this is the type of episode that gives me hope that Stargate Universe could be a good show. It proved that there is still originality left in the Gate franchise. I pretty much loved every moment of “Vegas.” Sure it was a knock-off of CSI, but who cares it was done well, looked great, and it was shot in Vegas Baby, Vegas.

 

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The next in best and worst is Season 4.

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9 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Stargate Atlantis: Season 5

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