The Best and Worst of Stargate Atlantis: Season 3

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For previous installments of Stargate SG-1:

For previous installments of Stargate Atlantis:

 

Season 3 is the final season to feature Dr. Elizabeth Weir as a main character, having been involved since the beginning, and also appearing in Stargate SG-1‘s Lost City (played by Jessica Steen) and New Order (recast, played by Torri Higginson). According to “Meta: The Unrealised Potential of Stargate‘s Female Characters“:

Elizabeth, the leader of Atlantis

My favourite episode of Atlantis without question is Before I Sleep. It’s just a fantastically well done episode. Here is an Elizabeth whose potential was realised: a woman who did everything she could to save those in her charge; who gave up her own life for the safety of the expedition. It’s this Elizabeth that appears in The Storm/The Eye, The Siege and again in Adrift/Lifeline, and I loved parts of The Return for showing the impact on Elizabeth from losing Atlantis as a purpose. But there’s no doubt in my mind for all the moments that Elizabeth was given to shine that there were a many more that relegated her to playing ‘Mom’ to McKay and Sheppard or the clichéd worried leader stranded back at base. In some respects, it is the nature of the role where the stories follow a premier team exploring the universe, but Atlantis was meant to be about the City and more stories based on Atlantis itself would have given Elizabeth potential to push beyond the boundaries.

Elizabeth and biogenic warfare against the Wraith

For me the Wraith-Human Biogenic Warfare arc is the one that really boxed Elizabeth’s character into something of a corner. There was potential to explore why Elizabeth approved of the gene therapy to turn the Wraiths human; why she went down that route; her emotions and fears when it went wrong – and yet, not very much of this is explored at all. Even the in-story review into her actions instigated in early S3 doesn’t really examine Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings, and she doesn’t even seem overly worried in Misbegotten about the outcome. There was so much potential in this storyline which was ignored.

Elizabeth to RepliWeir

The RepliWeir arc which gave Elizabeth active Replicator nanites to save her life was another story device that provided the character with additional potential but it was used primarily as a way of writing her out. I would have loved for Elizabeth to have remained in S4 with those abilities, unable to lead because she had been compromised, unable to return to Earth for the same reason, having to deal with her new abilities and exploring the pros/cons of them. That would have been a fantastic story arc for the character.

Even then, I might have been satisfied if the hint of a RepliWeir taking over the remaining Pegasus Replicators that appeared in Be All My Sins Remember’d had been realised with her becoming an ally or another ambiguous enemy for the expedition. Unfortunately, nothing was ever made of the hint and Ghost in the Machine was a poor ending to the arc and character (although thankfully the nature of the episode in posing ‘was it really Elizabeth?’ makes it possible to consider that it wasn’t the end at all).

 

The Best:

No Man’s Land, Misbegotten, Sateda, Progeny, Common Ground, McKay and Mrs. Miller, The Return, Echoes, Sunday, Submersion, Vengeance, and First Strike

Echoes

Quite briefly:

  • No Man’s Land and Misbegotten continues from Allies, in which the Atlantis Expedition was tricked by Michael’s Hive into giving the location of Earth to several Wraith ships;
  • Sateda is a great episode on par with action movies making it one of my favorite episodes. This is also the first episode since Runner in which effort is put to develop Ronon Dex’s character;
  • Progeny introduces the Asurans,  Human-form Replicators of the Pegasus Galaxy;
  • Common Ground introduces us to the Wraith we would later come to know as “Todd”;
  • McKay and Mrs. Miller introduces Jeannie Miller, Dr. Rodney McKay’s younger sister;
  • The Return is aptly named featuring the return of the Ancients to Atlantis via crew of the Tria, return to Earth for many characters, return of the Asurans, and finally, return of Col. Jack O’Neill and Richard Woolsey;
  • Echoes has always been one of my favorite episodes given the context of the story is exceptional, a ghost story that is not a ghost story (think Doctor Who‘s Hide);
  • Sunday features the death of Dr. Carson Beckett, a very good story overall, though this would later be retconned with a clone during The Kindred;
  • In Submersion, the team discovers a mobile drilling platform used by the Lanteans to provide geothermal energy to Atlantis. However, due to Teyla’s Wraith DNA, a Wraith Queen awakens after their arrival;
  • Vengeance features the return of Michael since Misbegotten, and is inspired by Alien; and,
  • First Strike introduces us to the Daedelus-class Apollo, whose commanding officer is Col. Abe Ellis, played by Roxbury native Michael Beach (Waiting to Exhale), which deals with a preemptive strike against the Asurans before they can attack Earth. Adrift and Lifeline continue the story.

According to the IGN review of No Man’s Land:

Last year saw Atlantis teaming up with a faction of the Wraith so that they could eliminate some of their competition when it came time to feed. In exchange for a retrovirus that would make the Wraith human, the Wraith willing gave up vital information about their ships and other such technologies. However, in the end, it was all a ruse meant to get a computer virus inside the Atlantis systems and to determine the location of Earth so the Wraith could go on a feeding frenzy. This episode actually begins with the culmination of the season finale from last year, as the Daedalus did battle with two Wraith hive ships. The season premiere starts with Sheppard, hanging out in a 302, hitching around through a warp field attached to one of the Wraith hive ships.

Weir, not wanting the Wraith to get to Earth, makes the decision to send the Odyssey and Orion after them, though both are far from fighting shape. McKay and Ronon, meanwhile, are still held in this sticky gunk inside one of the Wraith hive ships making its way to Earth. After warning SGC about what they are facing in the Pegasus galaxy, General Landry tells Weir she needs to come home for an investigation, because the IOA is questioning her decisions regarding the Wraith threat. Back at the hive ship, Sheppard makes contact with Michael (a Wraith they turned human last year with the retrovirus who ultimately slipped back into a Wraith, though now the Wraith look at him differently and actually seem to want him dead now), who says he will help Sheppard defeat the Wraith and gather his friends so that his own life may be spared; with Michael’s help he manages to takeout one target, but then his glider gets injured and he gets captured. But thankfully Michael is there to fetch him and keep him alive.

After Ronon cuts himself and McKay free of their bindings, they run across Sheppard and Michael, and he lets them in on the plan. The Daedalus and Orion show up for battle, manage to take one ship out of the equation by using some of the Ancient drones, and they beam over the four heroes and jet out of there now that the threat appears to be finished, but soon they have more problems to worry about when their life support systems (due to the fighting) are damaged and they only have nine hours left. Knowing the Wraith ships have oxygen inside them, Sheppard and the team get an idea to use the retrovirus on the Wraith ship, in order to take their ship over so they will have enough oxygen to survive. The retrovirus plan works, except for when it comes to the queen, but Sheppard easily dispatches her. So the Atlantis team now has the Wraith ship&#Array;and then the episode ends with a “To Be Continued.” Wow, that final scene was certainly disappointing!

If you read my review of the Stargate: SG-1 season premiere, I talked a bit about what a season premiere should be, and while SG-1 didn’t nail the formula perfectly, it was still a really good episode. Stargate: Atlantis, however, is a disappointment on all fronts. I can’t remember ever being this bored with an Atlantis episode so far. If television tradition is anything, episodes typically this sloppy and boring are supposed to come near the middle of the season, but this was the very first episode of the season – the episode you are supposed to say “look returning viewers and new viewers, we are back and this is why you should be watching us.” If this is all Stargate: Atlantis has to offer this year, then I fear what other dredge might be coming down the pipeline.

Let’s look at what makes Stargate: Atlantis a killer show on any other given night besides this night. For one thing, you’ve got the amazing Rodney McKay played by the hilarious David Hewlett. Seriously, if you ask any self-respecting Atlantis fan who their favorite character is, McKay will usually come in first and probably no farther back than second. Hewlett has this outstanding delivery, a bumbling cohesiveness if that is even possible, and the inflection in his voice is a work of comedic art. If you give Hewlett a comedic line of dialogue, even one so horrible you dread hearing it, he almost always finds a way to sell it, making it funny. So how did the writers use McKay this episode? Well, they didn’t really show him all that much, and barely gave him anything funny to say. McKay had maybe two funny one-liners and a nice diatribe about how the Wraith might have downloaded his porn from his computer, but that was it!

Keeping on the humor theme, if it isn’t McKay saying something to tickle that rib, it is usually Sheppard dryly offering his own one-liners. I sadly cannot remember one quote of dialogue Sheppard uttered this episode. And for that matter, all Sheppard did was sit in a ship, run around, and talk&#Array;I expect more from this character. And while we are speaking of characters that weren’t used properly, why were Ronon and Teyla barely used for that matter?

Stargate: Atlantis is not the Dr. Weir show. When you take your worst character (easily!) and center most of the episode around that person, you are making a dramatic and grave mistake. You tune into Stargate: Atlantis to see sci-fi elements; we get enough real world as it is – give me some aliens and space battle for crying out loud! If I wanted to see political negotiations sitting around a table I’d turn it to theWest Wing, but since I’ve never seen that show I guess it is pretty easy to assume what I think of political chats in the sci-fi genre. Note to writers: don’t do them!

And that final scene – what the heck was that? I think that was the worst denouement I’ve ever seen. Talk about disappointing. If you end a show with a “To Be Continued” you better have a cliffhanger making me wish the next day was already next week; with that so-called cliffhanger I wouldn’t care if I had to wait two years for the show to come back. I mean, literally, Sheppard uttering one line of dialogue about how everything is good now and giving an unknowing look is not a cliffhanger deserving of a “To Be Continued.” If anything, I was waiting for Sheppard to turn to the screen and say something about how he was punking the viewer and the real season premiere would be next week. Sadly, it was not to be.

So do I have anything positive to say about this episode? Sure I do. I loved when the episode ended. I never thought I’d be so happy to see credits roll.

According to the IGN review of Misbegotten:

I’ve come to the conclusion, before I even sit down and really start to think about what I want to discuss in these reviews, that the quality of an episode is directly proportionate to the amount of notes I have down about any given episode. After looking at my notes for this episode of Stargate Atlantis I barely managed to fill half a page. So far the signs aren’t pointing to a favorable review, and in all honesty, don’t be surprised when you don’t find one, either.

The episode begins with word spreading across Atlantis that a Wraith hive ship is heading directly for them. Weir (who is still at SGC) gives the word for them to cloak the base and hope. Atlantis lets their guard down when Sheppard patches through and asks how they like their new hive ship. After landing the ship, Beckett learns there are about 200-some odd human Wraiths milling about. There is also a great little scene near the beginning (about the only good scene, actually) when Teyla goes to visit Michael who is being held captive despite what he did to help the Atlantis team. Michael asks Teyla to help him escape so he can find a new life and if not that then kill him, but Teyla offers another suggestion, which is for him to go through the procedure again to make him human. Michael says he’d rather die. The scene works thanks to the excellent episode last season that first introduced the “human” Michael and the friendly bond that developed between him and Teyla.

The IOA tells Weir that she’ll still be leading Atlantis for the time being and Woolsey heads to Atlantis with her to investigate the matter even more fully. A few Atlantis team members head down to a nearby planet where they have established the human Wraith quarantined village so to speak. The human Wraith aren’t exactly pleased with what is happening to them and one wants to stage a revolt. It is here where a very human Michael leans into the frame of the camera and reveals he was given the treatment against his will. Michael says they should trust the Atlantis team.

Beckett is trying to establish the human Wraith village and teach Wraith to be doctors so they can administer their own drugs needed to keep them human each day. After the Wraith wanting to revolt goes missing, Atlantis team members and the human Wraith go looking for him. Michael and his fellow Wraith find him, turn on him, and the next thing we know this Wraith is dead and it has been made to look like he died accidentally, but Beckett stumbles across the truth when doing an autopsy on the body. It is too late for Beckett, however, as Michael and many of the others have already got their memories back and are turning back into Wraiths. Michael, in order to get back in good with the other Wraith, has a plan set in motion that will have another Wraith hive ship swinging by their planet, where they will join as that ship’s crew and let them have the human Wraith who haven’t turned yet for food.

Sheppard suggests taking the hive ship they have to the planet to wipe them out. Beckett is eventually saved, an in order to eliminate the Wraiths, Sheppard decides to setoff the bomb he had left there as a fail safe; the problem is Michael found out about the bomb and disengaged it. As the other Wraith hive ship comes, Sheppard uses the current ship to bombard the planet in hopes of killing them all. When the Daedalus comes it finds nothing but wreckage in space and no life signs on the planet, but thankfully Sheppard and the rest are alive in a cloaked puddle jumper. Woolsey leaves Atlantis saying that Weir is still in command for the time being.

Two episodes down and I’ve yet to see a semblance of what Atlantis used to be like the past two seasons. So far, out of two hours worth of programming, the only thing that has been worth anything was the brief scene between Michael and Teyla. The scene between the two worked because of continuity and emotion. There was a bit of depth there that hasn’t been prevalent anywhere else yet this season. It was a fairly quick scene, but the layers helped make it something more than just a throwaway meant to fill the time out.

Once again, the show continues to focus on Weir, which is an amazingly bad joke. We know she isn’t going to be giving up command of Atlantis anytime soon. Since the first episode of the series people have always been against Weir (a civilian) leading the team at Atlantis, and after several similar events Weir is still in power. Why is the viewer supposed to believe this time would be any different?

The Atlantis team wasn’t seen or even used that much this episode yet again. Sheppard and Weir were the focus, but where were Teyla (beyond the one scene), Ronon, and McKay? Instead, the episode decided to focus on the Wraith, which has lost all appeal to me. The Wraith, within a span of two seasons and two episodes, has already become as stale as the Goa’uld over in SG-1, but at least there it took multiple seasons.

Though they’ve been placed on the side by the arrival of the Ori, whenever they do make an appearance I never give a sigh and go, “not another appearance by the Goa’uld.” The Wraith I could care less about. There was potential when they the show started – who didn’t think the idea of space vampires was cool? – but since their inception that is all they have been. The Goa’uld had a layer of depth to them, as they didn’t have just one sole purpose, but rather had multiple plans going on, factions within factions, a nice paralleling symbology that compared itself to religion; with the Wraith all you still have our creatures who want to feed and nothing more. The Atlantis writers need to either create a new villain to reinvent the show or make the Wraith something more than what they are now.

Ultimately, the episode works slightly better than the season premiere if only because it doesn’t try to pass off a lack of direction as a cliffhanger and actually has a tiny bit of story to it. If anything, the best thing about the episode was the preview for next week’s episode, as the show looks to finally be moving away from all this IOA chit-chat stuff and the story of the Wraith to give us a “story of the week” with what appears to be an actual science mystery.

According to the IGN review of Sateda:

Since the appearance of Ronon in the second season, he has been a relatively flat character in regards to depth, but he has always been that essence of cool. Ronon has the cool hairstyle, the awesome clothes, and that gun he wields with ease like Roland Deschain. In this episode Ronon became something a lot more than just cool&#Array;he actually became a rounded character.

The setup for the episode is simple – on an away mission Ronon returns to a village he accidentally set Wraith loose on when he was still a runner and sought hiding. Wanting revenge for what happened, the villagers grab Ronon and hand him back over to the Wraith. Once again, Ronon finds himself playing the role of runner back on his home planet; an abandoned and rundown planet filled with tall buildings. Though the setup is simple, there is a ton of depth and a lot to like about this episode.

First up, the episode is filled to the brim with action; from the moment Ronon finds himself on the run it is nothing but one action scene. The style is very reminiscent of a Michael Bay film, as there are tons of explosions, videogame like gun fighting maneuvers with ducks and rolls galore, and the occasional slow-mo walk just to show how badass something really is. For the most part, it all works, though by the end the action does wear on the viewer a bit.

While Ronon finds himself retracing his steps from the last time he was on his homeworld, Ronon is constantly berated with flashes from his past, mostly involving his girlfriend/wife (not really made clear) and how much he loved her, cared for her, and wanted nothing more than to keep her safe. The key moment in the entire episode is when Ronon finds himself back at the hospital where she worked, and as he mends his wounds in the present, his heart hurts for the past; the director should be commended for this episode, because the way in which his screams of pain (coming from suturing himself) jump back to the longing for this woman, one has to wonder if it is really the loss of this woman he is still screaming about.

Beyond that beautiful moment of cinematography, the whole episode shines with a special polish rarely seen in Atlantis. When the episode isn’t making those brilliant interwoven cuts, the present is filled with these cooling blue and gray hues; the past is painted with a golden glow like a sunset, mixed with a grainy edge to show it is the past, and the entire film is sped up to show the quickness with which these memories return to Ronon. It features some truly creative scenes – the battle in the dark between Ronon and a Wraith, illuminated only by the occasional blast of gunfire and the Predator-esque nightvision with which the Wraith has to see Ronon, makes for a chillingly brutal and visceral battle as the screams and grunts help paint the picture when the darkness and the viewer’s eyes fail them.

And though Ronon and the cinematography were the key stars, this was also the funniest episode of Atlantis yet this season; mostly the jokes came from McKay and his ass (literally, since he got shot there by an arrow), but a laugh is a laugh and this episode brought them to the table. This episode could’ve easily been a throwaway, but the passion visible in Jason Momoa’s acting and the directing proves that sometimes execution means more than anything else.

According to the IGN review of Progeny:

When the season started out, Atlantis seemed to be suffering hard. Stories were uninteresting, characters weren’t behaving like viewers were accustomed to, and everything seemed amateurish, as though instead of a show into its third season, it was a pilot just looking to be get picked up by a network. How the times they do change, because for two weeks in a row now Atlantis has come firing on all cylinders, and have delivered two outstanding episodes.

After investigating a planet, Atlantis is invited over and finds a city that is a near duplicate of their own. Could it be that they have finally found some Ancients? Turns out&#Array;nope. Instead, the Atlantis team is imprisoned, but thankfully they escape, only to return home, have it bombed by 15 Wraith ships, and then Sheppard sacrifices himself to protect Earth while everyone else escapes. In a twist, all of this is actually happening in Sheppard’s head, and it is revealed that SG-1‘s old enemy – the Replicators – have returned in high fashion.

Long thought dead, this episode marked the return of the Replicators, as all the previous ones were wiped clean in Earth’s galaxy several seasons ago. The Replicators were always a solid villain, as they were very Borg like in design, and there was always something innately cool about those crawling mechanical spiders. It was a loss when they were destroyed, but thankfully someone decided to resurrect them for Atlantis, and nothing better could have just happened for the show. Instead of the dull-as-elevator-music Wraith, hopefully the Replicators will take a more predominant stand, and will be a continuing villain, perhaps even surpassing the Wraith much as the Ori have done the Goa’uld in SG-1. Though the writers have reworked the history and origin of the Replicators, it actually isn’t as glaring as one viewer may initially think, because while viewers know that a young girl named Reese created the spider Replicators as toys, very little is known about them before that. To assume that Ancients created the Replicators to combat the Wraith and then Reese was born from that isn’t that much of a stretch, and actually it makes the story of the Replicators quite interesting.

The revelation of the Replicators came as quite the twist, because while everyone at home probably knew that the Atlantis base wasn’t actually being destroyed, the writers, instead of surprising viewers with that twist of a revelation, instead hit you with another at the same time; more than one viewer was probably scratching their heads at the Replicators’ leader with his fingers in Sheppard’s head, as everyone probably thought they were an enemy never to be seen again.

Beyond the excellent storytelling and reintroduction of the Replicators, “Progeny” was also perhaps the funniest episode of Atlantis yet this season. Sheppard and McKay both got off some great lines, and their interactions together – arguing like two rival siblings – made nearly every scene with them together a smile inducing joy. Also, you can’t deny the fact, that for the first time all this season, every character was used well and given a proper amount of screentime. Even Weir, who is usually detestable in any given episode based on how she has been written so far, managed to be interesting this episode and actually contributed something to the team other than a minor line of dialogue to reassure the fact that she is indeed the leader of Atlantis.

According to the IGN review of Common Ground:

So far all the best episodes of this season (except “Sateda”) have had nothing to do whatsoever with the Wraith. Why is that? Because the Wraith lack personality and are nothing more than mindless eating machines (given, Michael is a slight objection). However, if the writers can keep injecting them with this sense of humanity, then perhaps the villains can be saved (though I’m sure some wouldn’t mind the Replicators taking over as the Big Bad).

After being captured by the Genii’s Koyla, Sheppard is held in prison as Koyla demands Atlantis give over Ladon (leader of the Genii) who took over the people after a coup that he got the idea for from overhearing Koyla’s plans. Unwilling to give into terrorist demands, Weir refuses the offer since Ladon and the Genii are partners with Atlantis, but Koyla tries to force Weir’s hand by having a Wraith prison slowly feed on Sheppard, sucking the life and years from him. After several feedings, Sheppard and the Wraith form a partnership to break out.

First off, the bad news – the ending was horribly telegraphed from a mile away. Sure, albeit it was really cool to see Sheppard slowly aging, because after the first feeding it was hard to tell if he was being aged through makeup or if he was just in some bad lighting, but the more and more he fed, the older and older he got, with wrinkles and white hair becoming even more prominent. It could’ve been possible to remain Sheppard looking a little old, but what with his popularity and the “anything goes” mentality of sci-fi possibilities, there was one and only one possible cure to reverse Sheppard’s dilemma, and that was for the viewer to learn that the Wraith can actually discharge health into those it chooses rather than simply suck the life from them.

Otherwise, the episode worked pretty well, mainly because of the dialogue and relationship that formed between Sheppard and the Wraith (never given a name, but with the way they parted ways and the star shaped mark over his eye, it probably won’t be long before viewers see this particularly cool Wraith again). The dialogue-heavy scenes wouldn’t have worked if not for the Wraith, who had infinitely more interesting and rewarding things to add to the discussion, because in some way he almost came across with a samurai-esque mentality. The two unlikely partners also formed a rather entertaining “buddy/cop” relationship, as Sheppard constantly had to remind the Wraith not to feed on him in constant comedic quips.

As for Kolya, well, he is a pretty decent bad guy, though there sure are others out there who could care less about the Genii and all the screentime they’ve been given since Atlantis premiered. It isn’t that they haven’t had a few good episodes, but rather the fact that they are just so human. Besides the Genii, the other actors on the show did rather well, with Ronon (showing off the respect he holds for his friendship with Sheppard) and McKay of course getting in a few funny lines here and there. Overall, it wasn’t as good as a few of the past episodes have been, but it was still solid storytelling executed amazingly well.

According to the IGN review of McKay and Mrs. Miller:

McKay centric episode are always a joy to watch, as he is easily the best character on the show. If there is a hilarious moment to talk to a friend about, it’s a good chance that McKay probably said it. So when this opportunity came around for another McKay hour of goodness, fans had high expectations, and they were met.

While playing with her child, McKay’s sister works up an equation that ends up resolving the problems they were having with “zero point energy”; by making a bridge into an alternate reality, they can send the negative particles so an uninhabited reality will receive them and nothing will happen in their own (like the last time when McKay blew up the galaxy). Though the experiment goes off without a hitch to begin with, suddenly something goes wrong and another Rodney from an alternate reality has arrived at Atlantis saying the negative particles are affecting his reality. Will the three McKays come together to figure out a solution?

David Hewlett is a genius when it comes to playing Meredith (have to love that) Rodney McKay and you’d have a hard time convincing fans otherwise; this episode is easily the most on-point McKay has been yet this season, because when you add another McKay to the equation, things only get better. Hewlett does a fantastic job portraying the two McKays, as Rodney (this reality McKay) is his typical genius and bumbling nervous self, while Rod (the other reality McKay) is a laid back, cool and collected individual who is everything Rodney is not when it comes to personality; even if the two McKays were dressed exactly the same, you’d have any easy time telling them apart, such as the scene with them sitting across from each other (Rodney is holding himself in a tight little straight line while Rod is sprawled out, open to the world, with his arm slung around his chair).

Another reason McKay works so well this episode is because he had an amazing actor to play off, who just so happens to be David Hewlett’s sister in real life – Kate Hewlett. Jeannie was a great character, as her interactions with Rodney were a laugh-out-loud joy, as they bickered just like you’d imagine two brilliant geniuses would; when viewers heard the ZPM had depleted all its energy, they were probably hoping this character would be sticking around for a while (alas, she left on the Daedalus at the episode’s end).

Though the comedic moments between the McKay siblings were some of the best of the night, it is hard not to remember the calm, more heartstring tugging ones, such as Jeannie confiding more in Rod since he took an instant liking to her while she hasn’t talked to Rodney in four years, and the absolute best moment of the episode came when Rodney hugged his sister and asked how she was doing and if she was happy; it looked like some real emotion there, and though the Hewletts are probably closer in real life than their onscreen characters, it was like they were feeling exactly what they would be if they were the McKays, and you just felt the moment emanating from the screen.

Equal parts comedy and beautiful sadness, “McKay and Mrs. Miller” continues the recent trend of showing why Atlantis is currently the best of the Stargate shows on right now, and if the people behind the scenes know what is good for them, they’ll hire on Kate Hewlett in the hopefully near future, and treat fans to even more of these wonderful McKay moments.

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

The Ancients have returned home to roost, the moment Atlantis has seemingly been building up to ever since The Ancients were first discovered way back in the days of Stargate SG-1, and yet there is nothing to feel about their return. The Ancients, the heralded of the heralded, come home to reclaim their city, and this is it?

While onboard the Daedalus performing a trial test on a new stargate transport bridge developed by McKay and Carter to get transportation from the Pegasus Galaxy to the Milky Way Galaxy in 30 minutes instead of three weeks, the radar picks up a ship moving at beyond lightspeed, and when they manage to catch up with it and make contact, they find that it is an Ancient warship. When the Ancients of the warship (about 100) return to Atlantis, their leader takes complete control of Atlantis and tells the people they need to go back home now. After everyone leaves, the episode then cuts to six weeks later to show where everyone is with their lives now, and then finally they must team back up together to head back to Atlantis and stop the Replicators who are heading towards Atlantis.

Much like the Sangraal in this week’s episode of Stargate SG-1, The Ancients are even bigger than that, as it has been a major factor of both series, and yet it comes off completely like a non-event; to put it in perspective, in the past, when they’ve run across people they thought were Ancients (like the Replicators earlier this season) there was infinitely more awe and surprise than here where everyone approaches the situation like seeing a co-worker on a Saturday when you just saw them at work on Friday. And even then, when they finally meet, there is no grand celebration to the viewer of “this is the moment we’ve been waiting for” but rather a tired yawn, wondering why the Ancients are such jerks instead.

The whole episode moves a bit too quick as well, as the discovery, the eviction, the six weeks later, and the ultimate reunion all happen as quick as a finger snap; it wouldn’t be such a problem if it worked, but it all feels like a rush job effort rather than a considered story point for the season.

It isn’t like everything is terrible, however, as it is nice to see that the Replicators are being used so far as a considerable threat and one that has proved ultimately more rewarding than The Wraith so far this season. Another positive was the six weeks later, as we got to see what all their characters are doing, with the two biggest reveals being that Sheppard and McKay still keep in touch and actually hang out, and that Weir has taken things pretty hard and fallen into a state of depression (interesting considering the episode earlier this season where the Replicators made it seem like she was insane and in a mental hospital).

The episode did a pretty good job of setting up the next episode, which will just so happen to be the mid-season premiere episode, but to get to what will hopefully be a satisfying conclusion, viewers are instead given this fairly boring (but systematically needed) episode so that the ending will feel justified when it finally comes along; the episode will probably work better when paired with part two, but as a solo effort a lot was left to be desired.

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

Stargate Atlantis makes its return this week, after a long mid-season break, and though the reason the episode is so fun might not be around ever again after this one episode, it still makes for an enjoyable time with plenty of laughs to be had from beginning to end.

Last episode, the Ancients came back home to Atlantis to roost, but with the Replicators also heading home, things didn’t go so well, and suddenly Jack O’Neill and Woolsey were left alone in Atlantis and the Atlantis team needed to reassemble and head to take the city back over before General Landry issued a nuclear blast to completely obliterate the city they had searched so long for and had been such a part of the lore of Stargate for so many years. So, would the Atlantis team save the day and the city? Well, what do you think?

The big draw for this episode is the official return of Jack O’Neill. Now, we know, he has made appearances in past episodes after his last episode, but he never exactly felt like the Jack O’Neill we saw those early seasons. However, when it comes to this week’s episode, though he has obviously gotten older, Jack’s breaking off quick jabs left and right and is his old sarcastic self, and almost literally every word that came from his mouth’s golden and made us laugh. Perhaps even more surprising is that Richard Dean Anderson got a bit of action in and filmed what honestly looked to be a pretty daunting scene.

As for the usual cast of characters, of course the standbys Sheppard and McKay provided some humor, but mostly the “real” stars of the series don’t have much to do when all was said and done; it almost seems like someone wrote this episode specifically for Richard Dean Anderson’s character, and everything that happened was centered around him and simply plot points to advance the story closer to Jack. One thing we will say ultimately about the story is that it has a “twist” ending that, upon retrospect, is pretty interesting and yet at the same time leaves us wondering what the point of almost a quarter of the episode was other than to be a misdirect for the twist.

The episode isn’t really more than anything but the second part of a two-part episode meant to reset the series to the default where once again our heroes are living in Atlantis. Now that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun or entertaining episode, because with the level of care and attention they gave Jack O’Neill, we were laughing through and through and it felt like one of the early seasons of Stargate SG-1.

According to the IGN review of Echoes:

Perhaps the Stargate Atlantis writers should write the whales of the planet into every episode, because in the two episodes they’ve now appeared in, they’ve both been well received and pretty outstanding hours of television. This week, instead of playing just a bit part, the whales are actually one of the headliners of the whole show.

The story goes that, mysteriously one day Teyla starts to see visions of a woman talking in some strange language, soon followed by that of a burned man. Though perhaps an isolated case and too much stress and strain on Teyla, others soon start experiencing the same hallucinations of apparently things past, as well as other more varied hallucinations regarding the Ancients and some catastrophe that happened at one time in their history. The question is what was the event in question, how did it happen, and why are the people of Atlantis seeing these strange visions. Meanwhile, while the Atlantis team works to figure out the ghostly mysteries, McKay’s whale buddy who helped save him (who he names Sam after Samantha Carter) shows up, but he isn’t alone. In tow with Sam is his momma (a much larger whale) and a whole giant pod of whales that number well near or into the hundreds. What is going on with the whales, and could it possibly tie-in to the ghosts?

Infinitely better than the mid-season break return last week, Stargate Atlantisbrought to the table a really well told hour, as the episode featured some really solid humor and comedy (though not as good as the O’Neill interactions last week) and an excellent mystery that had us constantly guessing what could be going on and how everything could possibly be worked in together; it was like a beautiful amalgamation of The Sixth Sense meets Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The episode also did a great job at bringing a sense of tension and real dread to the show, because when you have your main stars bleeding from various orifices, you start to think maybe one of their days is numbered.

Beyond the central story, the show also did a great job letting all the characters get to shine and take part in the episode, instead of being relegated to the sideline. Of course Sheppard and McKay were the two main stars as always seems to be the case (hey, we won’t complain – McKay is gold), but we also got to see Teyla and Ronin share some moments (including a nice sparring action scene) and we even saw all of the scientists and doctors working together to show their strengths off and what they do on Atlantis.

The episode still wasn’t one of the best the show has ever done, but it was a really entertaining hour of television and one that had us glued to the television for the entire time.

According to the IGN review of Sunday:

Yes, we know Beckett wasn’t Irish, but who doesn’t get choked up when they hear “Danny Boy” played at a funeral. Besides, quoting “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 would’ve been just too easy and clichéd.Once upon a time, we recall when Stargate Atlantis seemed to be nothing more than the black sheep of theStargate franchise, an hour here and there you’d catch if you had time, but nothing that was must-see or demanded attention. So imagine our surprise when slowly, but surely, Stargate Atlantis emerged as the best of the Stargate bunch. We’re still sad to see Stargate SG-1 leaving after this year, but we’d perhaps be even more disappointed if it was this show, which has been on a creative high this year.In one absolutely stellar episode, we see Atlantis on a mandatory rest day, where nobody is supposed to be working, and just kicking back and taking easy. The episode starts off innocently enough, what with Teyla talking to a young science officer about a guy she likes (almost assuredly Ronon after that arm pat and squeeze seen later), but then in a brief instance, an explosion rocks the place they were at, and Teyla finds herself injured. What the heck just happened?Episodes that flashback several hours before the events that actually inspire happen can oftentimes be a sign of an apparent bad episode (need we remind you of those several weeks in a row of Battlestar Galactica where they always jumped back), and though we just had this story mechanic used during the last new episode, it is used immensely better here. We slowly flashback a few more hours with each new commercial break, first joining Weir who goes on a date (surprisingly sweet story); Sheppard and Ronon playing golf and reflecting on bachelorhood; McKay realizing after his sister’s visit he wants to have a family; and then of course there is Beckett, who just wants to get away from the office and fish.

With each subsequent flashback we start to unravel what is going on, which is that two science officers under McKay’s orders chronicled a science lab on Atlantis, turned on a machine, and made themselves ticking time bombs; the idea sounded stupid upon thought, but the way in which it was described how people become the bombs was interesting and immediately erased the silliness.Eventually, Beckett finds himself in the sickbay with the other science officer, and decides to not let the man simply die, and instead chooses to save his life by removing the explosive tumor. Things go great, but while transferring the bomb over to the bomb squad, it goes off, and Beckett gets caught up in the flames and dies. We could usually give or take on Beckett, but dang, we felt really sad over his passing here, mainly because it was presented in such a well-told and emotional way. Hearing Weir’s speech at his funeral procession was hard to take, but the kicker was McKay taking the loss personally, saying Beckett was the closest thing he ever had to a best friend, and blaming himself for his death since he felt it wouldn’t have happened if he had still gone on the fishing trip with him or never sent those science officers on that job in the first place. Watching these natural, and very real thoughts on death and grief, was truly touching and made for an amazingly emotional time.We wouldn’t go so far as to say this ranks up there with the all-time greatest TV boohoo deaths (we save those for the death of Buffy’s mom, the death of Dawson’s dad on Dawson’s Creek, the series finale ofDawson’s Creek, and the Angel episode “A Hole In The World”), but it still got to us and was an expertly told hour of television. Typically, we’ll tape over our Stargateepisodes after they air, but we don’t see this one leaving the DVR anytime soon; it’s so good that we definitely will want to see it again.

According to the IGN review of Submersion:

Television episodes can inspire any number of mantras the viewer adopts as they watch them. The viewer could be sitting there in constant amazement, internally or even vocally going, “Oh wow,” “Oh my god oh my god oh my god,” or “WTF!” Typically, those are the kinds of responses you want for your episodes, as those usually mean you’ve got a real winner on your hands and the viewer is glued to the television. And of course, there are those episodes with very different mantras. Our mantra for this episode – “I’m bored.”

If we were a bit more musically influenced, perhaps we’d write this review in tune to The Little Mermaid’s song “Under The Sea,” because it would be fitting for this episode. Something along the lines of “The Wraith are always meaner, Oh when they first wake, They dream about heading to there, And having a big human steak” is what we might even come up with as a part of a first verse. And yet, beyond all other things, we don’t feel like putting in that much effort into an episode that wasn’t even average.

The episode boils down to the Atlantis team going down to a submerged drilling device to find an alternate energy source, and while down there Teyla gets that funny feeling, which can only mean a Wraith is nearby – a queen to be exact. Teyla’s mind gets taken over, she does a bit of sabotage, the queen swims in, yadda yadda yadda, there is a Wraith cruiser buried out in the sand not far off, there is a bomb, and then Teyla tricks the queen to stop the bomb and the queen is killed. Long live Atlantis!

We’d say we’re surprised by our huge disappointment in this episode, especially after last week’s great “Sunday,” but frankly, we just aren’t. We kind of expected this, because whenever the Wraith are involved, boredom is usually not far behind. The Wraith are one of the worst villains in the Stargate Atlantis world, and when they are your main baddie, that’s usually not a good sign. We still say the Replicators should be the main enemy, and the Wraith should be killed off&#Array;swiftly. The Wraith are nothing more than one-note villains and complete rip-offs of vampires. The Wraith want to do one thing and one thing only – feed. Really, not anything interesting at all there.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that usually we don’t get to see the team actually interact and be a team. Last week showed off everyone to an excellent degree, but they weren’t acting as a team (we just followed them individually). Here, when you finally get the gang together and have the opportunity to have them play off each other and work together to show their chemistry, we get a sub-par episode that puts us to sleep. Heck, just writing about the episode and recalling it is already making us drowsy.

How about another verse, shall we? “Down here all the fans aren’t happy, Because this episode broke the roll, Cause Atlantis had made us happy, And now it feels as if we paid some toll, But fans should still be lucky, They could’ve had a worse fate, Cause when the writers they get bored, A Genii/Wraith merger could be on the plate. Oh no! Hopefully not under this sea, not under this sea.”

According to the IGN review of Vengeance:

It’s a very interesting time for us here, sitting, watching this episode, and then attempting to review it. In one way, the episode plays out like what you’d expect from a typical sci-fi horror experience, and yet at the same time it comes off as part parody. When you’ve got alien creatures running around in tight corridors, crawling through venting shafts, and a mechanical tracking device to warn you of impeding doom, you can’t help but look around to see where Ripley is. The problem is that we could have accepted for the most part the show ripping off Aliens and not mentioning it, but it’s a whole other thing to purposely mention how eerily similar the events are. You have to wonder as a viewer, why even do this story if you know you are blatantly stealing? Given all that info in this introductory paragraph to this review, the episode wasn’t as bad as one might imagine. Not great, but not bad either.

After heading off to check-up on the civilization from the volcano planet earlier this season, the Atlantis team find that in an underground tunnel system, all the settlers are dead. So what could have caused all this? As we soon find out, a giant, mutated blue bug creature&#Array;or at least we think so. See, the big problem of this episode was the fact that so much of it took place in the dark, and was therefore quite hard to make heads or tails out of what exactly this monstrous bug looked like. And yes, we know the constant darkness and shadowing was to hide the makeup effects of the mutated Wraith, which were probably not completely up to snuff or truly frightening looking in the dark, but after teasing us so much with how hideously evil this behemoth looked, it was disappointing only to see the outline of its visage or quick cut camera edits on sections of its body. If you can scare someone with the dark, that’s one thing, but to be able to scare someone in the blistering light of the sun is a whole other&#Array;sadly, the episode wasn’t that creepy at all.

The episode also featured the return of Michael, the Wraith they had captured, used the retrovirus on once upon a time, and thus had made him human for a limited time. Now, Michael finds himself an outcast of both worlds, being chased by the humans cause he is too much a Wraith, and by the Wraith because he is too human. Michael ended up creating the mutated Wraith to serve as his new people, and to help him take over and destroy. The problem is that, much like the Wraith themselves, Michael isn’t too interesting. We’ll give you the fact he is slightly more interesting than your run-of-the-mill Wraith, but the truth is that the only really good episode with him in it was the first, but only because of the twist reveal.

Despite those shortcomings and the problems we’ve already listed, it was a pretty good episode overall. There was some good humor involved (such as Ronon training McKay to always keep his eye on the enemy), the effects of the crawling bug were at least well-done, and the cinematography was also pretty good considering the cramped spaces and limited lighting that was at work against it during the episode. Hopefully future episodes will show the mutated Wraith in the light, and give us something to really be scared of.

According to the IGN review of First Strike:

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: screw the Wraith and give us the Replicators. The Replicators were always one of our favorite villains on Stargate SG-1 before the destruction of their race in that galaxy, but thankfully this season remnants of the civilization was found by the Atlantis team and so far they have been shown to be an excellent villain that deserves the Big Bad moniker for the series rather than the Wraith.

Ever since the discovery of the Replicator planet, the Earth forces have been keeping tabs on the planet, making sure they don’t come heading to Earth or Atlantis to takeover. While doing one of their runs, a giant fleet of ships was seen from reconnaissance and so a first strike was declared to hopefully cease their plans. However, you don’t make Replicators mad, because soon Atlantis found itself under the threat of a stargate satellite, which the Replicators were using to beam an energy weapon bent on destruction towards the city all the way from their planet. Atlantis soon found itself hiding for cover behind a shield, then underwater, and finally some place completely new – out in space! Though Atlantis has taken off and is now floating around in space, it jumped out of warp too quick, and now they are lost in space with not a lot of time to find habitation before the shields collapse, atmosphere vents, and everyone dies. Very tense, but then they have to drop the big “To Be Continued” and now we have to wait to see how everything comes out. Thankfully, a wait until September isn’t that far away.

Atlantis has always excelled at the technical wizardry, and such was the case for this episode too. There were a ton of effects shots, perhaps more than any episode yet. There was a really cool looking bombing run in the early parts of the episode, and then of course the Replicator beam carving its way towards the city, Atlantis sinking under water, rising above the water, heading into space, and a great boom that shook the foundation of the city.

Fans have known for some time who was going to take Beckett’s place after his death (if they read the web that is), but we were surprised the new doctor was shown in this, the final episode of the season. Sure to please the Firefly fans out there, the new doctor in charge is none other than everyone’s favorite and lovable mechanic – Kaylee (as played by actress Jewel Staite). We didn’t see much of Jewel other than two scenes, but we loved her in Flash Forward (props if you remember that show or were also a fan of it) and loved her in Firefly, so we’re sure we’ll end up loving her here too on Stargate Atlantis.

The state of Weir remains up in the air, because she was almost threatening to quit this episode, but beyond that, she might actually die, because she took a blast from the Replicator beam before the shield closed, and got thrown a great distance by the blast. We already know a bit about the upcoming season of the show, which will change Weir, but to what capacity remains to be seen. Usually we’d say good riddance, get rid of Weir, but that was all before this season when she had quite a few moments to shine, and did more than just stand around and say things like, “Granted” or “Do it!” The fate of Weir and the entire cast of characters are up in the air at this point, and sadly we have to wait until the fourth season return in September. And to end on such a good episode, filled with tension, just makes the wait even harder to handle.

 

The Worst:

Irresistible, Irresponsible, Tao of Rodney, and The Game

Irresponsible-16

Briefly:

  • Irresistible and Irresponsible features Lucious Lavin, whom I loathed as a character, largely due to Double Standard Rape;
  • In Tao of Rodney, Dr. McKay gets zapped from a device that causes him to gain the powers of the ascended; and,
download

The Game

  • The Game features a world in which Col. John Sheppard and Dr. McKay had been playing a videogame, à la Sid Meier’s Civilization.

According to the IGN review of Irresistible:

Sheppard has a cold… okay, like I don’t see this playing a factor at all during the episode. McKay has come with the idea of a stargate jump system, which will help save on the ZPMs and make the trip in a theoretical 30 minutes instead of the 3 weeks it takes on the Daedalus. McKay wants to gather several stargates in a line so you can jump from one to the next, each one taking you closer to home, shortening the time considerably. The Atlantis team arrives at the planet first up as a possibility and meet Lucius (the lovable Richard Kind) who everyone worships as a great person. Did I mention he has like six wives? He is either a very lucky man or very unfortunate one depending.

Lucius wants the people to stay and trade with him, but they head on home. Beckett comes back later to see what they can offer for a beneficial alliance, but Beckett never comes back when he should’ve. We see Lucius in the village square, everyone around him, marveling like little children at storytime, as Beckett is drawn into Lucius’ story of awe as well.

Falling under his spell, Beckett takes Lucius to Atlantis, who drinks a potion when he is kept in his room, and after Sheppard and McKay arrive from a mission to check on Lucius’ planet (the people are getting sick and depressed without him), the whole city of Atlantis is like those villagers on the planet, marveling at his stories and following his every word. Sheppard theorizes he is okay cause he has a cold and can’t smell the pheromone.

After an away team brings back an herb Lucius apparently needs, Sheppard steals Beckett away – along with the potion sample from the village – taking him to the mainland of Atlantis to cure him. Sheppard is captured before he can cure Beckett, and Beckett begins to give Lucius the procedure that would allow him to control Atlantis equipment. It turns out to be a plot, because waiting in the jumper is Sheppard (released from holding) and Beckett who has been fine all this time (he was healed when Sheppard took him to the mainland). Lucius was given the serum so his potion wouldn’t work anymore, and they dropped him off on his planet after they cured them as well.

Finally, Atlantis delivered an episode that actually kept me entertained throughout the entire hour. There were no Wraith, no IOA, no abundance of Weir (except for the funny times when she flirted with Lucius and acted like children listening to a story) and it was just a nice mystery with a good abundance of humor. Though the humor was nice, no one-liners really stood out to me. Rather the humor came as a whole, watching how people acted like brain-dead children. All the actors did a great job portraying this feeling, and I’m sure they were all probably cracking up on the set – because the crew said some of the funniest things, while having the oddest looks on their faces while saying them.

Richard Kind must also be commended for his role as Lucius. Sure, he plays the character practically like he plays almost every other role he has ever done (especially the one in Spin City). But it works for what Lucius is. Lucius is just a simple baker who stumbled across something good and used it to his advantage. He is a nice, likeable guy, but in many ways it is a false happiness, which is why Sheppard and the crew are so wary of him at the beginning of the episode. I wouldn’t want to see Lucius every episode, but for a one-time deal he was pretty entertaining.

So finally Atlantis gets back to what it does well and for that it brings a good, quality hour of sci-fi television to the screen for all to enjoy.

According to the IGN review of Irresponsible:

This week’s episode saw the return of Lucius, played expertly by Richard Kind, who does a great job here from everything from mannerisms to facial expressions to comedic timing and delivery. Lucius was seen once before as a storyteller, who used an herbal drug to put everyone in Atlantis under his spell. Though clean of the drug, Lucius is still far from a moral man, as he has resorted to hiring mercenaries to systematically invade the village he is the hero at, so that he may occasionally stop them so he will still have a high standing in the village. But Lucius? How would he be able to defend a village from invaders? Turns out Lucius stole a shield device from Atlantis on his first visit, which protects him from all damage&#Array;even crotch shots.

It’s odd to say that crotch shots were indeed the best part of an episode considering this isn’t America’s Funniest Home Videos we are talking about here, but in order to show his “power” to a young kid, he had him repeatedly kick him in the crotch to show he felt no pain. At the end of the episode, however, after Sheppard had depleted the energy source, Lucius ended the episode by having the kid kick him again, only to not know his shield was no longer working, and so he went down in agony.

Though the stuff involving Lucius was good, that was really this episode seemed to focus on at all, as the Atlantis crew were more secondary peripheral characters rather than the true stars of the episode; Richard Kind is a great guest star, but he shouldn’t be the main star of the episode. Perhaps Sheppard had some moments, but everyone else was just kind of there, standing around, and even the always reliable McKay didn’t have anything to do.

Another problem with the episode was that everything was way too obvious and telegraphed. For instance, almost immediately we had a feeling that the bandits invading the village were nothing more than thugs hired by Lucius to get him over with the crowd, and though this wasn’t held a mystery for long (the Atlantis people pretty much thought the same thing when we did) it was still a disappointment that the answer was so easy and predictable. Even the return of the crotch shot gag at the end without the shield on was inevitable; still funny, yes, but would’ve been funnier had we not been expecting a return of the gag for some time.

This week also had the return of the Genii and Kolya and honestly, someone hurry up and blow them up and get rid of them completely from the Atlantis mythology. Who honestly likes them? They are just normal guys, wearing what looks to be Confederacy inspired uniforms, and all they do is rage war and kill people. There is no depth to them. There is no, “Uh oh, run Sheppard, it’s the Genii!” No, instead it’s, “Oh, whoopee. Can’t wait to see how bad this episode will suck.” Thankfully, at least Kolya was killed by Sheppard, so hopefully some good will come from it and we won’t see the Genii for some time to come&#Array;or never again – we’d be happy with either one.

 

According to the IGN review of Tao of Rodney:

Talk about a complete 180 degree turn! This week we were complaining about the amounts of boring and uninspired talking on Stargate SG-1, here we are praising the fact that there was so much talking – as it was one of the funniest episodes since, well, the last McKay centric episode. McKay is a sci-fi fan’s dream come true.

David Hewlett is the man! Really, there isn’t much you can say to prove otherwise, so we dare you to try it. If Hewlett wasn’t a part of the cast, we highly doubt the show would be nearly as entertaining as it is – he is easily the best thing about the show and always has the best lines and episodes. Hewlett simply has pitch perfect comedic timing that always leaves us hysterically laughing. And perhaps his greatest asset is his ability to turn on a dime, going from a self-centered ego driven jerk, to quick witted know-it-all, to concerned confidant in the blink of an eye. For proof, look no further than “The Tao of Rodney,” where a scene was literally conveyed by McKay’s talking only, as he expunged fact after fact, detail after detail, and by reading people’s minds, was able to answer them and reassure them so quickly it was like we heard the actual conversations in our own heads – except we weren’t and only the fast talking McKay brilliantly throwing off line after line. An amazingly well-done scene in terms of acting and hilariousness.

To show Hewlett isn’t strictly comedy, there were also some surprisingly touching scenes as McKay tried to share some final moments with his friends since he figured he was going to die (he had been made super smart by an Ancient machine and was either going to ascend or die). We get to see McKay share a ritual tea ceremony with Teyla, write a novel about the positives of Weir’s leadership, and best of all, asking Ronon about the scars on his back. After finding out that he didn’t have them still as a badge of honor, McKay took the time to heal them, hopefully removing the thought of them from Ronon for good.

Beyond being a funny and interesting episode, we loved the more spiritual side of “The Tao of Rodney.” In the episode everyone tried to help McKay clear his mind and thoughts, in hope that they would be able to get his mind to a state where he could ascend and not die. In a world where we often will let self doubt and insecurities reach us and affect us so thoroughly, it was a nice change of pace to see an episode where the characters kept talking about centering oneself and practicing spirituality – and not religion necessarily, as there is a big difference between the two.

If we have one complaint about this episode (which we do) it would have to be the end result, which is the very definition of a deus ex machina. Faced with a decision to ascend or die, Rodney is on his way out when suddenly, BOOM, the machines go haywire and McKay mentally talks with the doc in order to explain how to save him. McKay gets hooked back up to the Ancient machine from the beginning of the episode… and then, BOOM, again, McKay is good as new. Really, it was way too hard to accept, and reeks of the writers writing themselves into a corner and needing a way out. But regardless of the deus ex machina, “The Tao of Rodney” was still an excellent episode.

According to the IGN review of The Game:

Who doesn’t love videogames? We know we do. But what if that game you were playing had real world consequences, and each individual AI entity was actually real, and when you playfully planned a course of action to lead an attack on perhaps some other village, you were really killing thousands in the process. Welcome to the situation McKay and Sheppard finds themselves in this week.

After arriving at Atlantis, the two found what amounted to a game room, with what appeared to be a real time strategy game along the lines of Warcraft, Starcraft, Civilization – those kinds of games. The two friends enjoyed playing against each other, trying to make their country the best it could be. But then, one day, a picture of McKay is found hanging in a town square by an away mission team, and the two soon learn they’ve been controlling real people and not games.

It’s hard to reference a certain book that this episode feels it was obviously taken from without spoiling said book in question, so don’t go emailing us saying, “Oh, it was a complete rip-off of the book so-and-so!” Yes, we’ve read this certain sci-fi book, and when we learned the game was real, we instantly thought about the book in question. So just because we don’t name the book, know that we know the book and know that we know we felt the same thing too. Regardless of that fact, it was still a really fun and interesting look at the idea of if games were real.

McKay and Sheppard represent all the players out there, as McKay wanted to be the showy and defensive minded RTS player, choosing to work on technology advancements, and plastering his mug all over his world. Sheppard, meanwhile, chose to go the more militaristic route, increasing his army beyond that of McKay. The country leaders – Sheppard and McKay’s avatars more than anything – looked like their personifications too, as McKay’s was a woman (with Carter styled hair, which was a hilarious gag) who dressed very regally and lovely, while Sheppard’s guy looked very military and as if he was ripped from the Mad Max films.

The funniest thing was watching the episode as someone who is into gaming, and getting little references or noticing certain behavior that perhaps you’ve done so before in a game of this ilk. And in those moments, the best were the discussions between Sheppard and McKay, who though they now knew the truth, still argued as if they were playing a videogame, and it was great hearing them bicker back and forth, especially with Sheppard constantly claiming that McKay was cheating by having them advance intellectually faster than they should’ve been.

The episode was very much a philosophical rambling on the idea of “what if artificial intelligence in games are actually real,” and in that it does indeed make you think about things. The episode was also a really nice showcase for (once again, and we aren’t complaining) McKay and for Sheppard as well – of course, since they are the two big stars, why wouldn’t they get most of the episode time? However, if you went looking for any of the other actors, be prepared not to see very much of them. Still, it was a really fun and interesting look at gaming life, and though the premise may feel borrowed from a certain book we shall not name, it was still pulled off really well.

 

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The next in best and worst is Season 2.

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5 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Stargate Atlantis: Season 3

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