Alrighty. Continuing our reminiscences of Stargate: Atlantis. When last we left our stalwart heroes, it was the end of the show’s first season and the city of Atlantis was under siege (so this is one of those rare occasions when the episode title actually made sense) by a relentless enemy: the wraith.
SIEGE III (201)
Season two kicks of in fine form with this concluding chapter in a pulse-pounding, action-packed, visually spectacular three-parter. The episode is a game changer on many levels. We are introduced to a couple of new characters who will become part of the Atlantis family. First, there’s Colonel Caldwell, commander of the Daedalus, played by actor Mitch Pileggi who delivers a terrific performance, at turns assertive, cagey, headstrong but, ultimately, endearing. And then, there’s Hermiod, the cranky, acerbic Asgard who ended up drawing the short straw and having to go on a ride-along to babysit the previous Asgard tech. Mitch was an easy-going, affable guy. A pleasure to work with. Hermiod, not so much.
While not a new character, Lieutenant Ford undergoes a transformation both physical and mental that sends him spiraling off in a dangerous new direction. First seasons are always a period of creative growth, where certain unexpected elements surprise and thrive (ie. Beckett, Zelenka, even McKay who fast developed into an incredibly popular character among the viewers and writers as well) while others flounder for various reasons. In the case of the Ford character, he was a youthful, somewhat innocent, nice guy who seemed to get lost in background amidst the more dynamic likes of Sheppard, McKay, and Teyla. So, a decision was made to reinvent the character and give him a bit of a darker edge . In so doing, we ended up evolving some of the wraith mythos (specifically with regard to the feeding process and its chemical interactions with the human body), thereby laying the groundwork for the notion of the wraith worshipers (who would come into play later in the season and pay off big time in episodes like Reunion and Broken Ties).
The city finally got a fully charged ZPM and, with the introduction of the Daedalus, Atlantis was no longer quite so isolated from Earth. Now, the expedition members could step through the gate and be instantly transported back home. The return trip, at approximately two and a half week aboard the new, retrofitted Earth ships, was still better than nothing. Of course, whether losing that sense of isolation established in season one was necessarily a good thing – well, that’s up for debate.
A final mention of (and hats off to) Mark Savela and co. for another brilliant display of CG pyrotechnics. All those darts impacting the Atlantis shield…wow!
THE INTRUDER (202)
The working title of this one was Murder in Space. It took our heroes out of the comfy Atlantis environs we’d grown to know and love over the course of season one, and placed them in the new, comparatively claustrophobic environment of the Daedalus. It’s a tough episode for Weir who not only sees her relationship fizzle back on Earth (Simon, we hardly knew ya!), but suffers a power play at the hands of Caldwell who has designs on her position on Atlantis. Elizabeth shows amazing strength in the face of both blindsides. I particularly love her standing up to the boys in the conference room and telling them, in no uncertain terms, that there will be hell to pay if any attempt is made to force her out. Through most of the show’s first season, she is shown as diplomatic and given to compromise but here, finally, we are offered a glimpse of the take-no-shit, won’t-back-down attitude that no doubt won her the position of Commander of the Atlantis expedition.
Some memorable lines in this one:
“Airperson, don’t be there.” (ad-libbed by David Hewlett). A not-so-subtle Rodney telling a member of the Daedalus crew to move it.
“Ten fingers, ten toes. I’ll check the rest later.” (written by my writing partner, Paul). Sheppard’s response the second he is beamed back on board – presumably in one piece.
“Crap indeed.” (This one’s mine). Hermiod agreeing with the dire assessment of their situation.
And you? What were your high (and low) points of the first two episodes of Atlantis’s second season?