At this point in the series, and with these reviews, I feel confident that most people interested in reading this will have at least some idea what any of the following words mean: Replicators, Puddle Jumpers, Pegasus Galaxy, Wraith, Dilithium Crystal (oh, wrong show!) And if you don’t, you may be in the wrong place.
We start with Ghost In The Machine, a return for the character Dr Weir, but not as we know her. While looking for a potential secondary base in the Pegasus Galaxy, a mysterious build up of energy shorts out all of the puddle jumpers’ systems, putting the team in danger. The systems come back on just at the last second, giving the crew just enough time to escape and get home to Atlantis. It turns out it was the disembodied life-force of Dr Weir hopping a ride back to Atlantis, trapped in the computer.
Eventually, she gets downloaded into a replicator body, and the real reason for this convoluted plot becomes clear. The actress who originally played the character, Torri Higginson (okay, she was originally played by Jessica Steen, but let’s not go there), wouldn’t come back just to get killed off for the third time in the series. I do agree with her, to be honest, even if this cap on Weir’s story feels a little contrived.
The Shrine is a terrifying and pretty horrible experience. It’s one of Stargate’s best episodes, and it deals with a heavy subject matter that affects a huge amount of people across the globe. It opens on an image of Dr Rodney McKay recording a video, who in his current state barely remembers his own name. The video is dated ‘Day 15’, and we can tell pretty quickly that he has a severe case of Alzheimer’s. Through flashbacks, and looks at earlier videos showing various stages of the memory loss, we see the story unfold.
It’s a very dramatic story, and the only way it could be better is if McKay died at the end instead of the miracle cure that inevitably turns up. It would never have happened though, considering the syndication value of the show. It does though, give a great wealth of character growth, and the scenes between McKay and Sheppard are some of the best that the show has seen.
In Whispers, we meet an all female team who, unluckily for them, turn up in the only episode of Stargate: Atlantis I can qualify as ‘horror’. Sheppard and Dr Beckett meet up with the ladies on a planet to investigate a lab, when a mist appears, blocking visibility, and somehow radios and flashlights too. Then enters the genetically mutated zombie-ish creatures. Kill some red shirts, throw in some sexual innuendo and make a few references to horror films and you have a very blasé episode of Atlantis, that only barely passes as entertaining.
The Queen goes back to the bigger story at hand, and is all the better for it. We join Sheppard’s team, with Dr Keller along for the ride, as they go into negotiations with a familiar Wraith face, Todd. They present the offer of taking the Wraith’s feeding ability from them, giving them a significant advantage over other Wraith factions. In order to convince their leader, The Primary, Teyla must dress up as a queen, and deceive their leader into accepting. It’s a good concept, which is executed pretty well, and it also gives us a deeper look into the Wraith and their inner workings. It turns out that Teyla makes a pretty good queen, and is quite convincing too, which gives us a better look at Rachel Luttrell’s acting skills, more so than the quite subdued Teyla Emmagan that we’ve known for four years.
Extras Unfortunately, the extras are focused on the latter half of the disc, Whispers and The Queen getting the only commentaries on the DVD, and Whispers getting the main effects featurette. There’s a wee look at one scene in ‘ep6’ where there is a Stargate submerged under water, and an interview with Joe Flanigan looking back on the five years of Atlantis. It comes up a little short compared to earlier discs, but the interview is an interesting turn, and offers a considerable amount of depth that many discs lack by droning on about effects for three hours.
Overall, it’s a hit and miss disc, with The Shrine streaking forward as the best of the bunch, and with the extras lacking just that little bit of punch. You won’t miss out by not buying it, but it’ll make your otherwise great season five set look darn silly. Now, where did I put disc three?