The Best and Worst of Stargate Atlantis: Season 4

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For previous installments of Stargate SG-1:

For previous installments of Stargate Atlantis:

 

I had thought that Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter becoming Base Commander of the Atlantis Expedition was fantastic! Her character was quite versatile having military training (an Air Force pilot), knowledge of science and technology (astrophysics and engineering), and experience in first contact with alien races and technology as a member of SG-1. However, her depiction during this season was not as fantastic, only appearing in 16 out of 20 episodes, and not going off-world until Trio, as according to “Meta: The Unrealised Potential of Stargate‘s Female Characters“:

Sam in Atlantis

With Elizabeth’s departure, replacing her with a known character to the Stargate audience made sense and Sam had appeared in a cameo or as a guest character in every season of Atlantis. Additionally, given the expedition was facing a battle on three fronts (Michael, Wraith, and the Replicators) militarising the expedition seemed like a good story arc. But while Reunion and The Seer were good episodes that showcased Sam getting to grips with leading Atlantis, other episodes effectively reduced her back to Hammond ground. Even Trio which ostensibly had her off-world was a Rodney-saves-the-day episode rather than Sam-focused. While some of that may have been down to wanting to keep Sam’s introduction low key after the uproar of Elizabeth’s departure in fandom, it was to the detriment once again of showing Sam as a leader. They dropped the ball on Sam being the leader of SG1 and they dropped the ball on Sam being the leader of the Atlantis expedition too.

 

The Best:

Adrift, Lifeline, Reunion, Missing, The Seer, Miller’s Crossing, This Mortal Coil, Be All My Sins Remember’d, Spoils of War, Quarantine, Outcast, Midway, The Kindred, and The Last Man

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Briefly:

  • Adrift and Lifeline, continuing from First Strike, with the failed attack on the Asuran Homeworld, bringing in Col. Samantha Carter and Dr. Bill Lee in order to get Atlantis back to safety, meanwhile Col. Shapperd, Dr. McKay, and Elizabeth Weir infiltrate the Asurans home planet in order to retrieve a ZPM;
  • Reunion sees Col. Samantha Carter appointed leader of the Atlantis Expedition, meanwhile Ronon reunites with long-lost Satedans;
  • Missing sees Teyla and Dr. Keller travel to New Athos on a routine mission, only to find the entire settlement abandoned;
  • In The Seer, the Atlantis Expedition encounters a man named Davos who can somehow see into the future, as Richard Woolsey performs a three-month evalution on Col. Carter, while the Wraith from Common Ground contacts them in regards to the Asurans;
  • Miller’s Crossing features the return of Rodney’s sister, Jeannie Miller, when she captured by Henry Wallace, President of Devlin Medical Technologies, who wants his daughter, Sharon, to be saved via Replicator nanites;
  • This Mortal CoilBe All My Sins Remember’d, and Spoils of War was the culmination of the Asuran story arc featuring some of the best battle scenes ever produced, and setting the stage for Enemy at the Gate;
  • Quarantine sees a lockdown on Atlantis, trapping certain members of the team together;
  • In Outcast, Col Sheppard attends his father’s wake on Earth, only to be confronted by Ava Dixon about Project Archtype which has allowed a Human-form Replicator loose on Earth;
  • Midway sees Teal’c arrive on Atlantis in order to teach Ronon how to deal with the IOA, however, they learn that the Wraith have made it to the Midway Space Station, and are heading to Earth;
  • The Kindred sees the return of Michael Kenmore, the Athosians (who would not be seen ever again after this), and Dr. Carson Beckett as a clone; and,
  • The Last Man is somewhat inspired by the films The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and/or I Am Legend, and has a seriously poor cliffhanger.

According to the IGN review of Adrift:

If it’s action you wanted from the season four premiere of Stargate Atlantis, well it’s action you got, in the opening seven minutes. From there on out, it was same old, same old. Yes, the episode had great visual effects, but not enough to watch a predictable second act. But if you stuck around for the third act (which we know you did) you will have seen an incredibly tense and great moment between Sheppard and McKay, and a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more.

Coming out of the gate (pun intended) without its big brother SG-1,Atlantis did a fairly good job at kicking butt and taking some names, I don’t know what names, but names nonetheless.

Also, it was a breath of fresh air to see Col. Sam Carter come close to the scene, and it’s about time. I don’t see why it took SG-1 getting cancelled to bring members of the original team to Atlantis (that’s a conversation for another time), but as Sam gets closer to physically being there, that warm fuzzy feeling inside begins to grow.

During “Adrift,” Atlantis was briefly “Lost in Space” which was fun; shields failing, systems down, no Z.P.M. to be found. Dr. Wier was on her death bed needing a surgery we believe we saw in the movie Saw III, gets it from another Firefly reject, who makes her presence known, as it is up to Dr. Jennifer Keller (Jewel Staite) to save the day. While McKay has his hands full trying to save the ship, he takes some time out to reactivate some dormant replicator nanites in Wier (Which was rad!!), which leads to the toughest decision Sheppard has to make, save Dr. Wier by letting McKay activate the nanites who will save her, but would lead the replicators right to their door step, or let her die? This leads to the amazing moment between Sheppard and McKay, where they had the opportunity to add a huge amount of tension to two of the main characters who have had some brief words in the past, but the writers squashed it Brian Austin Green style, and everything was happy again. Needless to say, McKay activates the nanites, Wier is pissed, Sheppard is pissed, Teyla is useless? We mean, helpful, she is helpful, Ronon is macho with his awesome piece of glass stuck in his arm, but seems to be fine, except for when he is laying down in bed at the end “recovering.”

Overall, this was a decent Atlantis episode. Fantastic opening, great new cast members, some tense and wonderful moments, and a cliffhanger that demands our attention this coming Friday. Anything negative I’ve said kills me inside since I have a giant Stargate tattoo on my back, but certain things must be known. The end ofStargate may be near — three words: Kari + Wuhrer = Sliders.

According to the IGN review of Lifeline:

One of the elements that made the originalStargate: SG-1 so amazing, was its ability to continually up the ante, leaving you wanting more and more, and for 10 years it did just that. This week’s episode, “Lifeline,” brought back that loving feeling. With a combination of drama, comedy and action, we were riveted from frame one.

First, how to get to the Replicator home world? Easy, McKay with the help of Dr. Radek Zelenka soup up one of the puddle jumpers — or “Gateships” if you’re an Ancient — to be able to jump into hyperspace. A very funny exchange between McKay and Sheppard, which is part one as to why this episode is so great.

Second, now that they have the jumper cocked, locked, and ready to rock, who’s on board? They need a small crew, but once they’re down there how the heck are they going to get around? How about Sheppard, McKay, Ronon (for silent muscle of course), and Dr. Weir? Yes, Dr. Weir, a very difficult decision that Sheppard has to make. She is the only one who can interface with the Replicator tech, since the only thing keeping her alive since she was saved last week during the “Adrift” season premiere are nanites. But, if Elizabeth displays anything out of the ordinary, McKay is to terminate her immediately. Sheppard has now had two weeks of brilliant dramatic moments that show his serious side, and makes you believe you are part of the show. Part two as to why this episode screams, INSTANT CLASSIC!

Third, they’ve made a successful hyper jump, but with not enough energy left the only way for them to make it back is now dependent on the success of their mission. Get the Z.P.M., jerry-rig it to the jumper and get home. McKay interfaces with Dr. Weir who, in a very Matrix-style fashion is able to see every square inch of the Replicator home world. From where everything is, to where everyone is, Weir is now all seeing. Upon landing, Sheppard and Ronon go for the Z.P.M. while McKay is ordered to stay behind and terminate Dr. Weir if she gets a little weird.

On a side story Col. Samantha Carter and the Starship Apollo are on the hunt to try and find the missing Atlantis team. The writers are doing a great job of slowly introducing Sam into the mix. It was very important for incoming members of SG-1not to be stuffed down our throats and forced into the mix. Hats off to the writers ofSGA. Part three as to why this episode rocks the mic.

With no trouble retrieving the Z.P.M., Rodney makes the mother lode of all discoveries, the base code bible for the Replicators programming. One of their prime directives (yes, it sounds like the Borg from Next Generation): hunt down and destroy the Wraith, the Pegasus galaxies most feared villains. Making another executive decision, Sheppard and Ronon travel nine levels down to the Replicator control center and download the directive into the Replicator database, destroy the Wraith. Now, this was almost the only problem we had with the episode — How can a PC tablet interface with Ancient technology? — but thanks to awesome writing, Rodney explains how it works and saves a near perfect episode from being flawed. Part four as to why this episode should be the blueprint for all episodes of Sci-Fi drama.

And finally part five as to why this is one of the best episode of Stargate: Atlantis ever. In a very M. Night Shyamalan twist, as a final act, Dr. Weir pulls out the twist of all twists when she dupes the Replicator leader, Oberoth (David Ogden Stiers), and helps Sheppard and Ronon complete their mission and escape before she is over powered by Oberoth.

We are bowled over, we were glued to the television for one hour, we were almost brought to tears, and we give the second episode of season four a whopping 10. Chew on that!

According to the IGN review of Reunion:

We were a little disappointed in the beginning of this episode as it opens with Rodney jockeying to become the Atlantis Mission Commander. The loss of Dr. Weir has barely sunk in, and McKay is acting as if it never happened. We understand that there is finite amount of time to mourn, but it could be stretched out over an extra episode or two.

Our favorite moment of “Reunion,” which had the promise of a bunch of favorite moments, was the special appearance of Teal’c as Sam was packing to leave Earth. A beautiful moment is shared between the two (yes, I had a tear), and with a not so spectacular welcome, Carter arrives on Atlantis. Good job with the white streak continuity in Teal’c’s hair though.

While on a planet with Teyla, Ronon is reunited with 3 of his fellow Satedan’s. They appear to have been hunting Wraith for years, and ask Ronon to join them once again in the fight. A no-brainer for him, since all he wants to do is kill. He does show some sort of acting chops, which is nice since we don’t get a chance to see them very often.

Ronon asks for the help of Sheppard and his team, which leads to an unorganized assault on a Wraith ship, resulting in the capturing of Sheppard and Teala, and as Rodney is escaping it is predictably revealed that Tyre and his crew are working with the Wraith. Ronon escapes in a cool backwards slide through the gate, and asks for help from Carter to rescue his friends.

All of this leads to the moment we, and all Ronon fans were waiting for&#Array; The ass kicking showdown between Ronon and everyone!!! For the past two seasons every fight we’ve seen with Ronon has been a spectacular display of power and great choreography, and with an awesome guest star like Dacascos, we expected nothing but the best. Was it bitchin’? Yes. Did it deliver the smackdown we have come to expect from Ronon on a regular basis? No.

Overall, it was a good episode that was paced nicely. Our deciding factor that took this episode out of the 7 ratings and into the 8’s was thanks to Sheppard, who for a third week in a row, delivered yet another brilliant moment. It took place when he completely ignored Ronon and walked the other way. The Sheppard character has been having a spectacular fourth season, let’s hope they can keep it up.

According to the IGN review of Missing:

“Missing” reeks of mediocrity. While it is nice to have Teyla featured, and a chance to get to know Dr. Kellar, who we find out is a spineless coward, we don’t think it merits a full hour of time. The Bola Kai seemed interesting enough, but if they are so bad ass, why would any weapons scare them at all? They should have been more ferocious, not to mention, if you’re going to bring in a heavy hitter like Danny Trejo (Omal), then use him. There’s a reason he plays a mean mamba-jamba in every movie he’s in.

It’s good to see Teyla let loose like she does in this episode, with a huge kill count, but there is never a true pay-off. We felt left with something missing. But when you thought this episode lacked substance, it hit us with a killer cliffhanger. Something’s wrong with Teyla, and we will have to wait a long seven days to find out.

There was no reason to even have Sheppard, McKay, or Ronon in the episode; they served very little purpose, except for a typical rescue. We would have been more surprised and impressed if Teyla and Dr. Baby, we mean Kellar, got out of the situation themselves, gone back to Atlantis told them nothing big happened, then Teyla could have passed out, something’s wrong with her, cliffhanger, see you next week. Instead we got another last minute rescue.

Maybe there are too many people on Atlantis, or maybe not enough people we care about. SG-1 was so successful because of the chemistry between the four main protagonists. We even cared about the secondary players, it was a well rounded show. Something Atlantis has almost found, but not quite there yet. They better find it fast however, if they want to be around for a sixth season (seeing as they’ve been picked up for a fifth).

In closing, we’ve waited long enough, it’s probably time to start featuring Col. Samantha Carter a lot more. The tease of her character being on Atlantis is seven weeks old now, enough already! We want to see some Sam, and we want it NOW!!! We have big hopes for next week’s episode “The Seer.”

According to the IGN review of The Seer:

While trying to find Teyla’s fellow Athosian’s, the Atlantis team comes across a man who can see the future, but as the team quickly finds out, knowing the future may not be the best thing to know.

After last weeks not so special episode (“Missing”), Stargate Atlantisbounces back with a hum-dinger to end all hum-dingers. With a combination of high action and high drama “Seer” delivered an episode that didn’t let up.

“Seer” raised the question, is the future set in stone? And are the choices we make predetermined? Questions always hard to answer in a one-hour television show, and not sound rushed or stupid doing so.Atlantis accomplishes that answer thanks to great writing that breaks it down in a language everyone can understand, simple English.

They also did a good job working Teyla’s pregnancy into the show. We think this is easier to do in sci-fi because anything extraordinary can happen at any time, and if they (the writers) are clever enough, they can weave it into something amazing. Plus, we will hopefully get a chance to learn more about the Athosian physiology.

What’s really awesome is what’s happening with the Replicator/Wraith/Human war. It pulls us in every direction. You want to hate the Wraith, but every now and then they throw one in who makes you want to “shake his hand.” Also, it was nice to see Sam have a bigger part in this episode, and it’s always annoying to see Wolsey, who makes his sniveling presence felt once again.

Ronon Dex is hardly a presence in this episode and it feels like a waist to even have him say the one line he did say. You don’t need every character in every episode, and they’ve clearly showed this in their lack of Sam.

On a good note, we attended the Stargate Atlantis convention this weekend in Burbank, CA and Joe Flanigan (Col. John Sheppard), let us in on a little secret (not a spoiler), Jill Wagner (aka Larrin from the episode “Travelers”) will being reprising her character in the season four finale. We were also told by Joe that the current writers strike will not effect production of Atlantis. So fear not felloe Gaters, the show will go on!

According to the IGN review of Miller’s Crossing:

First of all, it was good to see Jeannie again after a yearlong absence. She seems to be the only one who can put Rodney in his place. Family is always the great equalizer. In an episode that reeked of family holiday spirit, just without the holiday, D.M.T. (Devlin Medical Technologies) president Henry Wallace (Stephen Culp) kidnaps Rodney’s sister knowing that Rodney will come after her. Our biggest problem in an otherwise entertaining episode is the way in which they set up the capture. D.M.T. has been monitoring Jeannie’s emails with Rodney, which is how the two keep in touch. Now forgive us if we’re wrong, but if you’re trying to send a transmission from, let’s say Mars, would take at least a few minutes if not hours to receive said transmission? Now, how long to you think it would take to send a message from another galaxy to Earth without the Stargate being active? With that minor problem set aside, it was a rather fun and exciting episode.

Being back on Earth was very refreshing for us, we felt as if we were getting shore leave. And there was nothing funnier than seeing Ronon in business attire. While on Earth, we got to see the SGC once again, which is good to see that they haven’t torn apart the SG-1 set apart yet. Everyone’s favorite gate technician dusted off the old uniform for a cameo; Walter Harriman (Gary Jones) had a lovely bonding (if you can call it that) with Ronon, while eating some yummy mess hall slop. It was also a bit refreshing to see the N.I.D. helping out for a change. Malcom Barrett of the N.I.D. helped Sheppard and Ronon, save Rodney and his Sis.

John Sheppard seems to be getting darker and darker as the season moves forward. After “feeding” Henry Wallace to their very helpful, and very starving, pet Wraith (Christopher Heyerdahl), Sheppard’s character feels very cold and blas&#Array; towards the whole thing, joking with Rodney as the show ends.

Overall, a very fun episode. “Miller’s Crossing” of course leads us into next week’s mid-season finale, “This Mortal Coil” Which hearkens the return of Elizabeth Weir (who I ran into a couple weeks ago in L.A., and when asked if she would return to Atlantis, she sadly told me, “No.”). Looks like the Seer’s premonition may come to fruition after all.

According to the IGN review of This Mortal Coil:

When a strange Replicator drone crashes into Atlantis, the team gets concerned that they have been found by the pesky robots.

As we draw an end to the mid season of SGA, we find ourselves sad and alone in the universe, until January of course when the show comes back. Much in the fashion of mid season finales for SG-1 andAtlantis huge things are a foot and we went out with a bang.

We noticed right away that everyone was acting a little strange especially Dr. Keller, and when Sheppard healed him self, we knew that the nanites were somehow involved. We didn’t however think that everyone and thing was created by the Replicators. They are a rouge group of Replicators who believe in humanity and want nothing more than to learn the one thing that we can do that they can’t, ascend.

Sheppard, Rodney, Teala, and Ronon break up into groups to try and figure out what going on, but what they find… Dr. Weir, lying on a slab in a secret room. Weir’s big reveal was a little simple for our liking, but fun and exciting none-the-less. She later explains to Sheppard that the real Weir is dead, and this leaves a sad and empty hole in our hearts (the beauty of science fiction television is that you can always bring people back… IF, the price is right.)

With finding out that Sheppard, Atlantis and his crew are copies, they set out to escape before the city is destroyed by the war Replicators. They hitch a ride with A Replicator battle cruiser (very Star Wars of them) and wind up on the Replicator home world, which we don’t get to see. They steal a ship that has FTL (Faster than Light) drives, which we don’t see, and end up on a planet where Dr. Weir as arranged for the copies to meet the originals. A very funny conversation takes place between the two McKay’s, then after the copies hand off a device that can locate all Replicator Aurora class battle ships in the galaxy, Weir and her copies sacrifice themselves to the approaching two battle cruisers in order for “our” guys to escape through the gate. In a final moment for the copy Sheppard, we get a glimpse of his insanity once more. Even his copy is going nuts. We have no idea where they are going with the John Sheppard character, but dark things are ahead for this guy.

Fast paced fun, with non-stop excitement, the mid season finally kept a smile on our faces from beginning to end. It’s a huge cliffhanger ending, as they hooked up the device that the Replicator Dr. Keller gave them. Red blips appear on the screen signifying where the Replicator Aurora class battle ships are located though out the galaxy, that ends with the screen going black (sopranos style), we hear more blips pop up, then we hear McKay say “Oh, Crap!” It was funny ending to a better than average first part of season four. At least we don’t have to wait til March for new episodes!!!

According to the IGN review of Be All My Sins Remember’d:

In what can only be described as an epic episode, Atlantis starts off 2008 in a fashion we’ve come to expect from the Stargate franchise season openers. It was huge!!! All the stops, pulled! All the bells and whistles, rang and blown! It was great to see everyone back together again after our winter hiatus. It’s was also pleasant for them to acknowledge Teyla’s pregnancy, although we didn’t like that she got pregnant by some random guy. Yes, we know they set him up in the show, but come on, it’s a sci-fi show, zing it up! Do a Mala Val Doran and make it the Immaculate Conception, anything other than soaping it up. (That’s our hip term for a soap opera.)

While watching the episode, we came to the conclusion that they probably shouldn’t have brought Sam on board (which crushes us to say). We know she has a bigger role in the whole scheme of things, but her talents lie in her brilliance. She did however flex some mind muscle, which was awesome. It was like being back in the early days of Sam and Rodney. It was also a thing of kick-assness (another new hip term for 2008) when she got in Col. Ellis’ face and shut him down. Always a nice surprise to see her angry, however brief, in place of her usually happy self.

Another fun part of the episode — which was seen from a few million light years away — was the return of the ever sexy, and ever beautiful Larrin (Jill Wagner). Right away she and Sheppard are back to their old form as if no time had passed. Something about her knowing she is super frakking hot makes her that much more of killer character. She isn’t goofy like Vala (who we’re likening her to, thank you very much), she knows what has to be done and will go to any lengths to see it so. An especially nice touch when she shuts down Sheppard’s attempt to “get her number.”

Although we don’t think the VFX team nailed it like Battlestar Galactica has, the space battle between the Replicators and the Wraith/Human team-up was legendary! It did look great, but we feel it could have looked better. The destruction of the Replicator home world was fun and looked cool. But why such laid back security? We looked past it, because the episode was really just a fun time that we feel could’ve have gone on for another few hours.

By-the-way, F.R.A.N. was really, really hot, and we are hoping she makes many, many guest appearances. Does anyone really die? And, um, of course we knew something was going to survive the explosion, but WOW… We had no idea… OK, OK, OK — we won’t spoil everything. Great episode, and we’re glad to see it back. Hope you all had a great New Year!

According to the IGN review of Spoils of War:

Picking up where last week’s mid-season opener left off, “Spoils of War” waists no time jumping into the action, and not letting up. From finding the Wraith ship, to discovering it’s their “Wraith Friend’s” cruiser, all leading to finding a Wraith cloning facility, this episode has it all.

Their were two things that popped in this episode for us, and one the we already know is going to be an annoying, poison-filled thorn in our side. One, we loved, laughed, and were thankful for the name they gave the Wraith, Todd, nothing is more simple than that. The other pop that seems to be an ongoing joke, or the building of something epic, but probably the first, is when Lorne says he didn’t even know Teyla was seeing anybody. It should probably become a drinking game. But only if you are of age, and you drink responsibly, and have really cheap alcohol.

Now for the moment I’m sure if you have been reading my reviews you could probably guess what is coming: WHERE IS SAM?! Look, we know she was only supposed to be on a handful of episodes this season, but come on. She is the head of the Atlantis mission, she should be on every episode. It really does feel like her character is a waste and is forced on us when she is on the show. Commit to Sam, or take her away, don’t half-ass her on the franchise she helped build. It wouldn’t be a review without mentioning the amazing job they did on the Wraith cloning facility. It was pretty intense, and looked scary.

Teyla’s role in this whole adventure is becoming dangerous with her being preggers and all, and they address this in this episode. Knowing a little something about pregnancy, Yes she can work out, but not as vigorously as she was when she was on the exercise bike. We understand that she wanted to keep fighting and doing her part, but we’re pretty sure her people have been having children for a long time, and for her to think she could keep going the way she was going with zero regard for her child, yikes. Teyla has always been a strong kick-ass character, but we never pegged her for ignorant. There is tons of things Teyla can do for the team, going out in the field, not one of them.

Overall, another great episode, for what looks like a stellar second half of a season that started off mediocre at best. Keep it up team, and season five will blow our minds!

According to the IGN review of Quarantine:

Alright, I love the Stargate franchise more than any other show in history of television, so much so, that I have a giantStargate tattoo on my back. I want you to know that before I ever so painfully write this review.

What the F@#$ did we just watch!? From the opening of the episode to the bitter end, “Quarantine” was a big frakking waste of time. Why the hell was McKay proposing to a horrible actress? I mean Katie Brown. Every scene the two of them were in together, which was over a quarter of the episode, it was like watching a bad high school play every time she opened her mouth. But come on, aside from the bad acting, the proposal seemed F.F.F. (Fake, Forced, and Fraudulent). At what point in McKay’s relationship with her was this even hinted at? We knew they were going out, but come on. We are trying really hard to deal with Teyla’s pregnancy, don’t spring this on us too.

A “get-to-know” episode is exactly what we needed to slow down the pace of a near-perfect second half of season 4. Jesus Howard Christ, why? During pre-production on this episode… maybe even a table read… someone should have noticed what was about to be produced. We would have been happier with a flashback episode, instead of the hour that we can no longer get back.

We would like to remind you that Katie Brown’s acting is still disgusting.

It’s been acceptable thus far, that McKay has been the go-to guy on Atlantis, but there is no way in any universe on any mission as big as the Atlantis one, that he would be the only one with access codes for the city. There is no security measure anywhere on our planet that one person is in control of. Col. Samantha Carter is in charge of the city and mission, wouldn’t she too have his codes? What would happen if McKay is taken over by a mysterious pregnancy or urge to propose for no reason and uses his powers (codes) for evil? Oh, right, Sheppard was told the secret code only because McKay thought he wouldn’t remember it. Come on…

Guess who’s still on the show? Samantha Carter and Dr. Keller!!! We know, we forgot about them too (not really Sam, but Dr. Keller, kind of). At least Doc Keller is going to bone down with Ronon, that made perfect sense as well, and completely in character with her and him. Wait, no, that too is ridiculous and makes no sort of sense. Usually in great times of stress and with a sense of hopelessness something like that might happen, but at no time during this episode were we ever worried something that stressful or hopeless was happening.

Carl Binder usually writes good episodes, and Martin Woods’s episode are mostly above par — he’s a good director — but something terrible happened this week, something that better be rectified by next week.

The only believable thing in this tragedy of an episode was Teyla climbing out the window, and the only reason that wasn’t torn to shreds, was my wife did that once while she was pregnant and locked herself out of the house. I couldn’t believe the insanity she was thinking, so that made me laugh. I guess the other kind of funny thing was the Rodneyana Villosa, which looked like a giant…cactus. Phallic symbols are funny.

Here is the only reason this episode got a rating above 5.0; Samantha Carter was hot when she took her jacket off. Yes, it’s shallow, but she looked hot. It was reminiscent of the season two episode “Grace Under Pressure.”

Let’s all agree to forget this episode, and remember the brilliance of the past two weeks. Remember? Remember the good times; forget the bad…forget “Quarantine”… forget…

According to the IGN review of Outcast:

Towards the beginning of the season it was revealed that Kari “I kill T.V. Shows” Wuhrer was going to be on Atlantis. I foretold the possibility of the beginning of the show’s end, but I was wrong. Usually a combination of bad writing and poor acting follow in her wake, so I can only come to one conclusion as to why she wasn’t bad at all in “Outcast” – Her missing breast implants.

But seriously, Kari looked as beautiful as ever, and wasn’t too over the top like she usually is. Kari played Sheppard’s ex-wife Nancy who is now the director of Homeland Security, and decides to help him out with some information. The only problem here is that he asks her to get information on a top-secret project called “Archetype”, which he won’t tell her about, and she reluctantly does so anyway. But if Nancy is getting the information for Sheppard, why couldn’t she just look and see what it is? Besides, wouldn’t she have to see what “Archetype” is in order to get it?

We always love when hot new characters come on the show, and in “Outcast” this love is filled in the form of Emma Lahana who plays another human-form Replicator, Ava Dixon. After shedding her Mighty Morphin Power Rangers gear, Emma takes the stage, and does a little ass kicking in the process. Although the fight between Ava and Adrian Hein (the other Replicator) was short, it was still nicely choreographed, and you can tell Emma my have lost the suit, but still has all of her Morphin fighting style. I would love to see a Ava Dixon/Cameron Phillips (Summer Glau: Terminator) throw down, but I don’t think anyone is brave enough to bring the two universes together, oh well… a boy can dream.

In an attempt to preserve a character, the writers decided to keep Ava’s mind in a virtual world. Wouldn’t it be bad to keep any part of a Replicator anywhere? They’ve done such a thorough job at letting us know what a threat these machines are, why would they spend a thought thinking about what to do with it? Yes, that’s what makes us human, but when you have no way of knowing the future ramifications of keeping some like Ava around, doesn’t that just open a whole bunch of potential problems?

In this episode we get a lot of much needed Sheppard back-story. In the Season 1 episode “Letters from Pegasus” we learned a lot about everyone, just not so much from Sheppard. In “Outcast” we got to meet his brother, learn about his relation with his father, meet his ex-wife. His character seems to always be evolving and getting more complex.

I’ve mentioned in the past about Sheppard’s rage, and thought it was going to come to a boiling point this episode, when he was interrogating Dr. Poole, but sadly, he didn’t snap in the fashion we have grown accustomed to seeing.

The best part of the episode was the death of the Male Replicator. The conversation leading up to it, and the actual act of his death was fantastic. When they beamed him into low Earth orbit, it was hard not to think, yikes this doesn’t look so hot, but as he started falling towards Earth, it looked incredible! I wish they would have drawn his burn up out a little longer, but it was still incredible.

According to the IGN review of Midway:

It has been a showdown three years in the making. A battle every Stargate fan has been waiting for. Who is a better fighter: Ronon Dex from Atlantis or everyone’s favorite Jaffa, Teal’c from SG-1?

From the moment Teal’c steps foot on Atlantis, and he is reunited with Sam, and a calm washed over my heart. Half of the team was back together, and everything seemed right with the franchise once again. Don’t worry, this feeling never went away.

This episode was filled with the fun of old, with plenty of gate travel, three separate locations, and lots of Stargate action. We had a chance to see some serious tension between Ronon and Teal’c, which could have had a little explaining. Why was Ronon so angry towards Teal’c? Did the Goa’uld ever get to Pegasus and enslave the Satedans? There were a lot of questions that we should have been given an answer to. We did, however, get to witness a fun sparring match that I think was cut way too short between these two battle heavy combatants. Personally, I believe Teal’c would wipe the floor with Ronon, and he does a pretty good job.

I particularly like the way Teal’c was questioning Ronon during the mess hall scene, pushing his buttons and getting under his skin. It showed you that Teal’c had been there before, and that he does have wisdom when matters of the I.O.A. are concerned.

There was a funny moment between Teal’c and Ronon, when Ronon addressed the fact that Teal’c says “Indeed” a lot. This episode reeked of good writing, but also had some problems in that department.

It was incredibly cool to see the Midway station finished, and up close and personal. It was a little disheartening however that there was so few security concerns that McKay had when it came to the station. With the threat of possible Replicators still around (they should know better than to count someone out) or the brilliant minds of the Wraith, you’d think protection and security would be the top of the food chain. But, like we saw, the Wraith had little to zero problem taking over the Midway station, and then making their way to Earth.

Also, why is the I.O.A. always so quick to nuke the SGC? Mr. Coolidge was way out of line, and I don’t think he was testing Ronon, if he was, that was never paid off.

I know this has been done in the past, but I have never understood it, why do they always fire live rounds of ammunition on a space station, especially when you have Zats and pulse type weapons?

It was sad to see the Midway station get destroyed, but I’m sure they will re-build it better and stronger.

As for this episode, an over all fun ride reminiscent of old Atlantis. It took a little help from some old friends, but I believe they are back on track, which is a good thing since season four is rapidly coming to a close. Indeed.

According to the IGN review of The Kindred, Part 1:

O.K., I’ll admit it. When this episode started I was duped. With the sub-par writing this season, and all the shortcuts I thought, hell, why not just burn Teyla’s baby’s daddy so we never get to see, know, or learn about him. This is one of those moments where I thanked the writing gods for dream sequences.

The first half of this episode was filled with forced story and boring ideas. It felt as if they had this great idea about a galaxy wide illness, but not enough substance to fill in the blanks, so they made a silly Teyla storyline. But once we got past the first 20 minutes of the episode things started to pick up and everything made sense.

It was great to see Michael back in action, and I like that they didn’t drag on who is behind the illness. Sometimes it’s good to give a big reveal and let the story build around it. Otherwise you could find yourself in a Lost situation, and keep building without ever truly revealing anything.

Another Wraith who has become a fan favorite, Todd, made a special guest appearance. It’s still up in the air between who is trustworthier Todd, or Michael, but if I were a betting man, my money would be on Michael.

A lot of really nice VFX in this episode helped make it visually stunning to look at. It is always refreshing to see new locations on Atlantis. You can only shoot so many episodes in the same forest.

I am still wish-washy about this season, even though it started with big guns and a whopping 10 rating, things quickly went downhill and didn’t start picking up again until recently. With only two episodes left in season four, some amazing things better happen if they want to keep us happy.

According to the IGN review of The Kindred, Part 2:

With the season finale only one week away, things for the SGA team aren’t heating up as much as I think they should be. Usually Atlantis has epic tales that span a season, but this is not the case for season 4.

In the two-part storyline “The Kindred” we got to see Beckett again, I think perhaps just so he could say goodbye to everyone. His storyline really didn’t serve a purpose save one – To say so long.

He did almost help the team find Teyla, who obviously hasn’t learned anything about being pregnant and caring for her child. With all the strange stuff that happens to them on a regular basis it isn’t hard to believe Dr. Beckett has come back. She knows Kanan is still alive, she knows she is brainwashed. With her child’s birth so close, she shouldn’t hesitate to go with Carson. Yes, love plays a factor, but as far as we know, they haven’t been together that long, and her unborn child should come first.

Also, It was pretty obvious that Carson wouldn’t be able to kill Michael. If I were held prisoner for 2 years and I had an opportunity to kill my captor, I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute! Why would Carson? It was all very predictable, and not really up to the standard the Stargate franchise has built for itself. Remember, if it wasn’t for SG-1there would be no Atlantis. Show your creator a little respect, and smarten up.

The same writers and directors that were on SG-1 work on Atlantis. Maybe they’re tired and lazy or maybe they have run out of unique ideas. Freezing Beckett? It’s a little reminiscent of Jack O’Neil getting frozen the same way when the Ancient Data Base was killing him back in Season finale episode of SG-1 “Lost City, Part 2”.

One thing that has been happening as of late, which is nice to see, is the use of beautiful land and cityscapes. Over the past few weeks we have seen some visually stunning worlds, which has definitely been a plus in a show which has been hurting in the story department. It’s almost like they’re saying, hey, don’t worry about story, we have beautiful vistas that will take your minds off the simple, drab and boring stories!

I am looking forward to next week however for a few reasons. One, much like most Stargate season finales, it looks like it’s going to be huge! And two, the show really needs a break to help us forget the questionable Season 4 we just watched.

According to the IGN review of The Last Man:

Aside from a not so original story line, and the fact that 48,000 years into the future there is still no cure for Dr. Carson Beckett, the story for the season four finale was pretty good.

It was very interesting to see where they were going to go with this final episode of season four, but the direction they went seemed rushed, and would have been better off had it been stretched over 3 episodes. Instead, we were left with a future that should have been explored, and a history of the main characters’ demise that isn’t glorious enough for most of them. That’s not to say the ideas weren’t grand, it just all felt rushed. We did get a chance to see how the main characters would have grown in this alternate time line. Sam got her own ship and had a captain’s death, going down with her vessel, Ronon’s hatred for the Wraith seemed to have mellowed as he and Wraith Todd died a warrior’s death together, and McKay finally got the girl as he and Dr. Keller lived a short but happy life together. All great, and all would have been more enjoyable if they had been stretched out.

Visually it was an incredible sight to see, Atlantis is a desert wasteland, what was a little hard on the eyes was the lack of attention to the exterior of Michael’s lair. For a show that is VFX heavy, and 95% of the time the CG looks great, this was way too animated to be believable.

Having the hologram McKay tell Sheppard everyone’s back story was enjoyable enough, but having McKay tell it to him as he is crossing a desert in the middle of a +50 M.P.H. sand storm is a little hard to accept. I’m sure there were better ways to tell Ronon’s story, that’s sloppy writing.

The only other shortcoming to “The Last Man” was the aging effect. Not so much with Lorne, but with McKay. I believe Rodney was born in 1968, that being the case he would be 40 years old during this season, blast him 25 years into the future, he is 65 years old when he programs the Ancient Hologram room with his current likeness. Unless he was a heavy drinker and smoker, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t look that bad. I know plenty of 65 year olds who have taken pretty bad care of themselves and they don’t look that old.

All these things are being nit-picky; the overall tone of the episode was great. The pacing moved this episode along, and the story was strong. Just as everything came to a close, and I thought to myself, why isn’t there going to be a cliffhanger? Everything has been wrapped up, and Sheppard will go back and save the day, just as I was writing it off, a building fell on everyone, and there was my cliffhanger. A strong finish for Stargate: Atlantis that will hopefully get season five off to a running start. Here’s to hoping they pull out all of the stops, and hit a home run this summer.

 

The Worst:

Doppelganger, and Harmony

harmony_portrait

Doppelganger is essentially a rehash of Stargate SG-1‘s Cold Lazarus, while Harmony features a medieval society utilizing Ancient technology in some way.

According to the IGN review of Doppelganger:

We think it’s too early — in the first four years of Atlantis — to start rehashing old SG-1 episodes. We are of course referring to the season one episode of Stargate: SG-1 called “Cold Lazarus,” where O’Neill comes in contact with a living crystal and it creates a doppelganger of himself. Thank the Gods Sam was there to explain that this has happened before to them. Which leads to a potential problem we see with Atlantis and Sam being on board. Twice in this episode she referred to things that has happened to her in the past, which is great for DVD sales, because it makes you want to see what she is talking about, but kind of redundant if it keeps happening on the show.

“Doppelganger” was filled with great references to the movies Alien and A Nightmare on Elm Street, which is always good to hear, it helps remind us that they are from Earth if you happen to forget.

This episode had a huge chance to do some Matrix style rip-offs, and to give McKay a chance to kick some serious butt, but it never really paid off. McKay did however look tough and mean for a moment, and we did laugh out loud when they both made the comment about there being “more hot girls,” in the dream. But that wasn’t enough to sway our opinion towards the positive.

We really do like Carter’s role on Atlantis, and the fact that it isn’t all about her, but like we said before, we hope she isn’t there to be the new Teal’c — always going to her when they don’t know what something is, because she has “seen it before.”

Evil Sheppard was good to see. There were no awesome Sheppard acting moments as seen in the past three episodes of season four, but boy did he whoop some butt on himself. One thing the show has never really lacked (since Ronon came on board) is great stunt choreography. A definite breath of fresh air to see someone other than Ronon do some face bashing!

Our biggest problem that has been festering for this season is the lack of gate use. Um, the show is called Stargate right? It’s great that they have ships and all that jazz, but come on people&#Array; Stargate Atlantis &#Array;. STARGATE &#Array;. Atlantis&#Array; Use it or lose it.

According to the IGN review of Harmony:

What was thought to be another ho-hum episode quickly turned the tables, and re-upped our investment in the Atlantis world!

At first glance, we thought to ourselves, oh crap… Here we go again, an annoying unlikable kid we have to watch for 42 minutes. But as time went by, the funnier she got, the funnier McKay became, and BAM we were in!

We are of course talking about Jodelle Ferland (Harmony), who some of you may remember from the SG-1 episode “Flesh and Blood” where she played the 7-year-old version of Adria, queen of the Ori. Maybe she is being typecast these days?

Almost everything in this episode was predictable, not in a bad way; we just knew what was coming. But the comedic banter between McKay and Harmony was funny enough to keep us vested. We especially looked forward to seeing how Harmony was going to make McKay look foolish in front of Sheppard.

During all of the hoopla, there was time for the guys to give Harmony life lessons on how she should act as Queen of her people. The type of guidance, it appeared, she never received.

It was kind-of weird the way she was acting towards Sheppard and then McKay. Yes, it was innocent, but really creepy. They were going for a Lost in Space type thing where Penny was gaga over Maj. West, but instead of it being sweet it fell short.

We don’t know if it was the writers being lazy, or not having the time to explain a new race, but there was really no need for the Genii to be involved in this episode. We are sure there are other people or beings in the Pegasus Galaxy who could be trading with Harmony’s people. The Genii are an awesome group with incredible history and back-story, don’t use them here as petty thugs.

Then, clear out of left field, the Ancient device that created the drones! That statement sounds snarky, but it’s not — we were excited! It felt like we were going back to the SGA of old. Those are the sort of things that made the Stargate franchise so cool, not so much how it just popped in on this episode, but the discovery of something new. We don’t know everything about the Ancients or about their technology, so when new devices, technology or anything like that is found, it brings a warmth to our bellies.

In a who’s who of SG-1 alumni, we had at least three characters in “Harmony” that have appeared on Stargate: SG-1. One of the bad Genii was in a season 7 episode ofSG-1 called “Orpheus,” Harmony’s older sister Mardola was in a season 1 episode called “Emancipation,” and as we mentioned earlier, Harmony herself was on SG-1.

Whether you love or hate my reviews, in the end, the one thing I think we can all agree on, the single greatest thing any of us as ever seen in any Stargate show: the painting hanging behind Harmony’s throne! I personally would gladly pay large sums of money for a copy of that thing! And that’s why she’ll be a great queen! It was pure brilliance!

 

Misbegotten

The next in best and worst is Season 3.

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6 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Stargate Atlantis: Season 4

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