After the last disc release – reviewed here – you may be sceptical that any Stargate DVD will ever be good again. You may have to be disappointed, as this could just be worth any price they stick on it.
In Tracker we meet a runner, just as we did in the season two episode Runner, in which we were given Ronan. When the Runner kidnaps Keller, it is up to Ronan and McKay to find and save her; little do they know it’s for a good cause.
As Ronan and McKay argue about every little thing from tracking to technology, one underlying plotline becomes crystal clear: both men have feelings for Keller. At the end of the episode they have a heart to heart about their ‘intentions’, and it turns from a one-episode plot into a recurring theme. The episode builds on the Runners’ backgrounds and starts to build on subtle nods that have been happening since season four. It’s one of the best episodes of the season.
Next up we have the standard mid-season two-parter. While Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) has been to Atlantis before, during Stargate SG-1‘s final season, most people didn’t count it, as it still fell under the SG-1 header. Now, with this Atlantis double, we get the original SG-1 foursome having a trip to Atlantis on their time. Jackson and McKay get to work on a hidden lab that may give more technology to the human race, but before long, three aliens dive straight into Atlantis and go straight for the lab, kidnapping them both and stealing an unknown device. They wake up on an alien planet and are told to make the device work, or else.
While they get to work on that, Woolsey, Keller and Ronan continue the negotiations about the Wraith-to-human treatment with Todd the Wraith aboard the Daedalus. Just when they almost have Todd convinced that it’s the right thing to do, McKay and Jackson get the device up and running, which destroys any Wraith ship that enters hyperspace. When two of Todd’s ships are destroyed by this, he suspects Atlantis is behind it, and takes over Daedalus with the entire crew hostage. Little do they know, Atlantis is not only not behind it, but, in fact, are being affected by the same device. It also tends to blow up any and every Stargate in the Pegasus Galaxy, starting with the Atlantis gate. And that’s just the first episode. It’s a brilliant episode, and the best multi-parter since season one’s finale rolled into season two’s opener The Siege, and that’s no small compliment, as that ranks very high in my list of Stargate episodes.
The final episode of the set, Outsiders brings the welcome return of Dr Beckett into a situation of division between two races. When the Wraith turn up on a planet where survivors of the Hoff virus (a virus which kills any wraith who feeds on any afflicted person) have been taken in by the planet’s residents, they offer an ultimatum that makes them regret their decision. If the original inhabitants don’t give up the refugees to the Wraith, the entire population will be culled. If they do, however, the Wraith promise to leave them be.
The people go into ‘kill or be killed’ mode and some vigilantes decide to take the matter into their own hands, with a few of the refugees getting captured by the Wraith. Of course, it’s up to the Atlantis team to save everybody and get out without dying. It’s a good episode and has the added bonus of keeping the crew together, rather than focusing on two or three of the team, even if some of the best scenes come from the ones that feature McKay and Beckett.
The extras are of standard Atlantis fare including four director/writer/producer commentaries, again featuring no actors’ points of view. An interesting point is a moment of silence after a little chatter about the fabled season six, which could have included Michael Shanks as a regular on the show. There’s also the standard ‘Mission Directive’ extra, this time featuring ‘Tracker’, going into depth on casting, effects and the burden of HD in shooting in the woods.
Also featured is a chat with Michael Shanks and Martin Gero about Daniel Jackson coming to Atlantis, and having a banter off with McKay. The final featurette, not including the photo galleries, focuses on the bad guys, also from the mid-season two-parter, taking them from original conception through sketches right through to the crafts section, who mould the entire thing from scratch. It’s the best of the extras and really takes a deeper look at the whole process.
Originally, I thought I might have to give the episodes a much higher rating than the extras, as they usually disappoint, but aside from the usual ‘actors missing from commentaries’ point which I always come back to, everything is really well thought out and put together. Aside from that, these are some of Atlantis‘ best episodes yet, and it gives me great pleasure to garnish them the highest rating possible, and make sure I point out that this, over any Atlantis release so far (bar the season one bookends) is the one to put your pounds into. A definite must buy.