Stargate is a huge franchise, and it would be remiss of me to not mention it, as if Stargate Atlantis didn’t live up to its predecessors, it would be a big letdown. This disk literally kicks off with a bang, and jumps straight back into the action we left season 3 at, so we will too.
The first episode, Adrift, is the second part of a three-part arc that started with the last episode of season 3, First Strike. In First Strike, Atlantis comes under attack by the human replicators, and forces them to use drastic measures to avoid harm. These drastic measures lead to Atlantis taking off from their current homeworld, and heading across the galaxy to find somewhere new. It also left us with the worrying cliffhanger that Elizabeth Weir, head of Atlantis, was or could be dead.
The episode left me with the jitters, as I was so eager to see the next part, hoping the next episode would keep up the pace and interest of First Strike. I’m glad to say that both Adrift and the third part Lifeline lead on from this episode fantastically and further the storyline to places unimaginable, even leaving more cliffhangers at the end too. Stargate Atlantis has been making great use of the three part arcs that more shows should use, as they give you more chance to get involved in a story. They’ve been using them since season one and already have more than SG-1 ever did under their belts. This three part arc is just as good as any before, and comes close to matching the season 1 ender/season 2 starter, which I hold as probably the best in all 14 seasons of Stargate.
Not wanting to give away too much, Weir exits, and Carter takes Atlantis over from this episode onwards. It’s an interesting move from the guys at Stargate central, as Atlantis has always felt kind of separate from SG-1. The transition isn’t exactly the smoothest of fits, and it wasn’t my personal choice, as I would definitely have stayed away from military command, and went with Daniel Jackson, whose character had been aching to go to Atlantis since it was found.
It’s something to adjust to, which is exactly how Ronon Dex, the loveable Neanderthal of the group feels in the episode entitled Reunion. In this episode, he is reunited with some people from his past that he assumed were dead, along with the majority of his race. They aren’t, and they have been taking down the wraith in small efforts, and try to rope in Ronon to join them. When Carter disagrees with him, he considers leaving in general, and it’s up to the cast to keep him on board. It’s an alright episode, with a few nice moments, but it never feels like it’s really going to happen, and thus any suspense for that part of the episode is lost.
Carter’s story, which is basically getting used to be the new leader, is the better part of this episode, with different characters giving their thoughts on her leadership. The previous relationship with Rodney and Carter is touched on with fondness too, which is a nice hark back to SG-1. It’s definitely a 50/50 episode, which is a shame as it’s Carter’s first episode in charge, and probably starts the dislike of moving her character there, which inevitably leads to having her replaced next season. Bummer.
Episode 4 on the disk is called Doppelganger and leaves all the previous problems and storylines down for an episode of pure gold. An alien entity that attacks you in your dreams, and can be transferred from person to person, gets into Shepard’s mind. Dreams are explored and brilliant set pieces are explored. It’s one of those episodes that science fiction shows just have to do. The time travel episode, the alternate dimension episode, the time loop episode are all staples of sci-fi shows, and this is one of the ones on that list. Not only do you get to explore the inner workings of your characters’ minds, but you can also put your characters in stranger situations than they are already in, being that they are on alien planets or on spaceships, which is already strange.
It’s a brilliant episode and it’s one of those standalone episodes, which work perfectly on their own, as well as part of a series. Instead of tying up loose ends or dealing with things that have happened previously, this episode just lets you kick back and have some fun. And when any series has one character fighting himself, it’s either going to be hilariously bad or insanely kick ass. This is the latter, as Shepard has a great super-fuelled fight with himself in alien form. It’s definitely one of the best of the season.
As for extras, Stargate definitely doesn’t wimp out. This is choc-a-bloc with commentaries for each episode, along with two insightful featurettes on how the series is directed and what it’s like to have Amanda Tapping join Atlantis. As with any Stargate release, you have to be really invested in the series to be really enthralled by these features, otherwise they’ll fly right over your head. Still, who else would buy such a DVD?
The DVD is definitely up to the standards of any Stargate release; it’s nothing short of really solid entertainment. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the rest of the volumes hit the shelves, as I know that the great standard set in violume continues from here to the end.