so i finally decided to watch stargate Atlantis, seeing as it’s actually in netflix UK’s library so with such a miraculous occurance i might as well consider it some sort of sacred message from the snake gods that live inside our brains.
NOTE: i’ve decided to go for a quick summary style review as… i’m lazy and it has more episodes than TBAG.
Rising Part One:
so the ancients, a highly advanced race of incredibly lazy human wizards who built teleporter hula-hoops and eventually get their asses kicked so many times that they ascended to a higher plane of existence out of shame, take their tiny seed of a flying space city off of its… theres no other way to say this: “dildo mount” in Antarctica and fly off to find a galaxy that won’t bully them. unfortunately they have to leave behind some girl who had the dreaded lergy or something so a guy sort of stares at her and then leaves, huh i guess all that space magic didn’t include a cure for social anxiety.
cut forward 5000 or so years and Dr weir, a former civilian SGC base commander just recovered from her first actor transplant, has persuaded a team of crack scientists to march around the dildo tower which has been since filled full of ice in nothing but thin cardigans. Weir, Dr Rodney “Snarky Egotistical Genius Character” McKay, some Scottish MD called Carson Beckett and the immortal Daniel Jackson, who will not be appearing in this series, make some poorly veiled pilot episode exposition dialog and accidentally shoot a squid missile at an incoming helicopter containing Jack O’Neill, who will not be appearing in this series, and the R̶e̶n̶e̶g̶a̶d̶e̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶m̶a̶n̶d̶e̶r Major John Shepard. according to the wiki Shepard saves them from the missile but in reality they just spend several minutes backseat driving each other and are really saved by MD Beckett getting his shit together.
Daniel Jackson invents the address to the lost, in another galaxy, city of space Atlantis from the teaser at the start of the episode and it turns out that Shepard is ancient Jesus’ 5th coming or something so bring him along despite being such a renegade for… telling an asshole who wasn’t his direct superior that he wasn’t his superior…. SUCH A LOOSE CANNON!!!! they go through the stargate, usually controlled by Walter Harriman who will not be even appearing in even this, using last weeks MacGuffin from SG1 bringing the science community’s multicultural brigade, a couple of crates of spam and for some reason no helicopter.
so they get to space Atlantis, which is still underwater because the series’ main enemies can’t swim, and discover that turning a bunch of clapper lights on was so much of a drain on power that the city’s last macguffin, which has for around 340 years maintained a highly powerful forcefield strong enough to hold back water pressure hundreds of meters below the ocean, is kicking out. i’m disregarding any future knowledge based reasons as to why them having had the forcefield up all the way for the last millennium is stupid on the part of it’s time displaced custodian with the computer-timer-controlled cry tubes because i haven’t watched that far so there might be a perfectly good reason and i might be remembering that wrong anyway. because they don’t have enough AAA batteries to run the shield or go back to the milky way Colonel Douchy McNitpick assembles some readshirts, some black guy rookie who i’m guessing dies first but he did show up in the goodbye montage and Shepard who was the only soldier not to take charisma as his dump stat because HE’S SUCH A LOOSE CANNON!!!! and Dr McKay plot convenience dials them some unnamed planet to scout out a new base above water/look for macguffins. the red shirts manage to scare some space kids playing cowboys and space vampires in the middle of the night and their dad takes them to teyla, the local space MP. on the way the kids talk to shepard about some guys called the “wraith” but don’t bother to elaborate. Colonel McNitpick is a dick to her because he’s a dick to everyone but Shepard manages to sweet talk his way into a cup of tea. the next morning Douchy discovers a giant city like Atlantis across the lake from the space village but Teyla tells him that apparently the “Wraith” come when you poke around cities like that but again doesn’t bother explaining what they are. no, she’s way too busy taking Shepard to a cave so he can “discover” her necklace just lying there on the floor, they seem to be having a little bit of a flirting with each other right now so i’m guessing she went out there an hour before and just dropped it. she tells him about the wraith, finally, and it turns out that they’re the space vampires farming the space humans and go around hoovering them up in their space darts every 100 years or so. teyla says something about some of here people being able to predict the wraith but as we’ll learn before the end of the episode that is a load of old cow shite. we cut away to weir and Rodney suggesting an evacuation of the slowly flooding Atlantis to that other place and then it’s night time again, I guess Shepard wanted to see if he could get through all the romance dialog trees in one day, and the red shirts guarding the stargate get surprised by the wraith flying through the gate in their darts and beginning hoovering the locals. part one seems to end with teeyla declaring “it’s the wraith!” but because they’re bundled i’m not sure.
why the hell did they build their town next to the stargate? the wraith can get them there so it’d make more sense for them to move away from space vancouver to say… space New Zealand or something.
Rising Part two:
Ghost horses attack, McNitpick and some guy with amazing eyebrows shoot down one of the wraith darts with a bazooka but are hoovered up, teyla is also hoovered up while telling Shepard the ghost horses are holograms and the wraith retreat through the gate. fortunately Lt ford, aka that black guy from earlier, is there to jot down the coordinates they went to. Shepard yells out “Teyla” a lot and runs into the wreckage of the dart, shooting a crawling hand and meets one of the kids from earlier who’s father was hoovered and sister was put on a bus never to be seen again. they decide to retreat with the refugees to Atlantis.
meanwhile in Atlantis: the city is being flooded more and they’re about to leave before Shepard brings back a whole town of oxygen breathers. and then the city rises of it’s own volition, ya’d think the ancients would leave a note, they left a hologram lady to explain their history to nobody in particular in space english so scribbling down “hey when batteries run out the city automatically surfaces” on a post-it somewhere. the sequence with Atlantis rising from the ocean is aright but i can’t help feeling that it’d be even cooler if they’d got a physical model shot of it but as far as CGI goes it’s pretty decent, pity they repeat the same scene 5 times from different angles. now that they don’t have to run the forcefield they can keep the lights on with their generators even if the AAA mcguffin is fried, wait what’s keeping the massive metal city full of flooded confined spaces afloat? well… all except one of the theories i could find on the internet relied on power hungry inertial dampeners or the city being full of empty boat shaped corridors most of which just got flooded with all that incredibly weighty water just a moment before. the last theory? yes, this explains everything, well done internet.
anyway Doc Beckett studies the wraith hand from earlier and it turns out the crawling was just space rigor mortis, total let down, but that because “all the human inhibitors have been removed” (which is to say that the ever useful ancients made them from their own proto/advanced human selves, look it up I literally called this one) they are essentially immortal and can regenerate. damn space elf vampires, but at least they don’t sparkle.
cut to the wraith keeping those dudes they hoovered in a cell with a door with a bunch of holes in it. two of them, one with a silly beard and another with a meatball for a face come in and sneer at them till Douchy tells them to kill him and they saunter off. i thought that they might reveal in this sequence that teyla’s necklace repels wraith or something but apparently no, it doesn’t, LAME! back on Atlantis Rodney discovers that the wraith stargate is in space. Renegade Shepard wants to go on a rescue mission because that’s the reason he got fired from service in the first place. weir quite rightly points out that they have no idea about the wraith’s deal, resources or policy on taking prisoners and the last time they did this kawalsky went evil and died and the next time they do this gods from another galaxy track their location and invade. weir says no.
then Dr Rodney “in this series i’m not an asshole” McKay takes Shep to Atlantis’ shuttle bay to pick up a GateShip (Hey, it’s a ship that goes through the gate… it’s also only two syllables and i’m lazy) to see if Shep can mind pilot it. then of course now that they have a cloaking spaceship they ask for weir’s permission again…. BECAUSE HE’S SUCH A LOOSE CANNON!!!! she OK’s it and he takes redshirts and Lt blackguy through to the wraith planet and tries to rescue douchy by… getting the heavily armed invisible space ship to poop out a motion tracking gameboy colour and then parking it in the stormy autumn trees bit of Vancouver. in a pretty standard if surprisingly unopposed stargate base infiltration sequence Shep and Ford infiltrate the wraith base alone, leaving the whole team of redshirts behind who can’t even fly the ship because Shepard the only one they brought with the alien Jesus genes. meanwhile the wraith’s queen, what is it with pale alien armies and queens?, invites Douche over to be dinner. she speaks space English unlike her sneering minions and just generally is creepy in his face about him eating a roast dragon head. Shep and ford come across the prisoners, shep tells ford to set charges and free them but despite being the only guy who can fly the ship shep decides to go looking for the colonel, who is being mindraped by the wraith queen to find the location of earth and all those delicious squishy humans, he tells her to go to hell (guess he didn’t get the memo that they blew up hell back in season 3 of SG1) so she last crusades him and Shepard has to go along and mercy kill him. Shep get’s caught but fortunately Ford follows him because standard issue mumble mumble tracking or something. they shoot up the house and stab wraith chick but that just makes her go into an overly dramatic death sequence… then the whole hive wakes up and everyone runs away, detonating the C4. Ford tries to fight a ghost horse (SERIOUSLY? DOESN’T ANYBODY COMMUNICATE EVEN THE MOST BASIC OF FACTS!?) and teyla and shep have to go back and save him. it turns out that you don’t even need a bazooka to take down a dart as shep just unloads a LMG into one and it dies. come on guys, at least goa’uld death gliders actually provided a tactical advantage to them in a battlefield, even the convertable ones and their equivalent gateship the needle threader managed to kick ass flown by two octogenarians, your ships just suck things and die.
they flee the planet but the wraith have already blockaded the gate, so they do evasive manuevers (read: Get cloaking device shot out) and then charge at the gate. because Atlantis has a shield for it’s stargate they pull the old “don’t let them materialise” trick on the pursuing wraith rubbiships. the episode ends with the atlantis expidition and guys from that planet getting hammered, geez guys it’s not like you have a limited amount of supplies and have limited goods for trading.
so i figured I’d go over characters and character development, so here that is:
first we have John Shepard: he’s charismatic, doesn’t leave anyone behind and doesn’t spend all his time moping over the incident in his past. things have started coming easy to him with his plot convenience gene but he uses it to help others. so he’s a pretty likeable character and analogue to O’Neill for this series and after two episodes i already like him more than the rather bland Cam Mitchell. if only he wasn’t SUCH A LOOSE CANNON!!!!
next the expedition leader Elizabeth Weir: weir had already appeared in a few episodes of SG1 season 7, she was another actress playing a diplomat appointed head of SG1 because Don S. Davis was retiring and wanted a go on the space ship sets. so far we haven’t seen her do much diplomating but she seems to come off as a competent leader.
Rodney McKay and Carson Beckett seemed to be on supporting cast duty for the pilot because they’re both non-combat staff. as mentioned above somewhere Rodney was a 4 shot supporting character in SG1. he’s a guy who thinks he’s smarter than everyone but is proven wrong when he meets major carter, who was essentially a demigoddess of science at that point. for this series he was apparently toned down a bit. his main character bit in this episode is at the start when he’s frustrated that he hasn’t got the “super special awesome” gene. because of this at the start of the episode he’s trying to get the cautious Carson Beckett with the gene to do the job that he can’t. by the end of the episode they appear to be somewhat friendly with each other probably because they’re in a large group of people they don’t know so they might as well stick together. i kinda hope they form some sort of whacky schemes/comic relief duo along the lines of Dup and Fatani from wild of heart.
Lt Aidan Ford: doesn’t really seem to have much character at this point. he just didn’t do much.
Teyla weirdandlong surname and the… athosians apparently: these guys seem to be adapting to the guys with guns and a floating city rather well, that said they have used the stargate before and might be friends with genii, and we all know that he lives inside the digimon internet so he must have told them about guns and how to attach them onto weirdly coloured animals. Teyla herself didn’t really do much for the leader of the pathosbrains but maybe the role of PorthosMaine president is somewhat of a figurehead. but still that’s one more female head of state for the space peasants than more than a couple of countries on earth have had, I’m looking at you molassia. as mentioned she did some minor flirting with Shepard, i see this going places as even i picked up on this and i’m rubbish at human interaction.
Final score: good for a pilot, there was a lot of clunky exposition but they managed to introduce a likeable protagonist, characterise most of the main cast and provide imposing villains. the action and dialog is well paced and the visuals mostly impressive, even if the polystyrene ice and people walking around the Antarctic in jumpers that look more at home in the “chillier” parts of an english autumn.
wow, that took ages to write… might as well laugh at the ironic name people, it’s the closest thing to humour on this site.