Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Storm"

“The Storm” serves as the midseason finale for SGA’s first season. The episode ends in a cliffhanger, so it is difficult to judge without seeing the whole story. For now, the first installment stands well on its own merit. The tension built up compels the viewer to come back for the conclusion. One cannot ask for more, no?

While flying to the mainland, Sheppard and Teyla discover two hurricanes have converged into a massive storm headed straight for Atlantis. Such a storm occurs every thirty years or so. The Ancients had shields to protect the city and it was sunk far enough beneath the ocean’s surface after they left for the storms to not be a problem. Neither of those defenses are available now. Atlantis run the risk of sinking until Rodney and Radek come up with the idea of harnessing lightning strikes to power the shields.

A skeleton crew will have to stay behind. Sheppard and ford arrange for all but a few to be evacuated to the home world of their trading partners, the Manarians. Once everyone has been evacuated, the Manarians betray Atlantis to the Genii. Cowen sends Kolya, one of his top commanders, the raid the city for weapons, supplies, and to eliminate Sheppard. Sora comes along with her own plan for revenge against Teyla, whom she mistakenly believes killed her father during the recon mission in “Underground.” Speaking of Teyla, she ford, and Beckett are forced to wait out the storm in a puddle jumper on the mainland when some evacuees take too long.

All this set up takes up about two-thirds of the episode. While it involves reams of dialogue with very little action to break it up--our heroes are literally boarding up the windows in preparation--the story never gets boring. You can chalk some of that up to personal experience. I have survived hurricanes Hugo, Floyd, and Isabelle. I am intimately familiar with the before, during, and after major storms, so I empathize with our heroes Another aspect that helps make the episode for me is Robert Davi‘s portrayal of Kolya. Davis plays a fantastic villain, particularly one like Kolya who is more than a snidely whiplash mustache twirler. Kolya is doing his job to protect his people. In fact, e even alters the plan to raid Atlantis into one to take it over instead because it will give the Genii a better position against the Wraith. His methods are warped, but you cannot argue with his motivation.

Plus Davi is a regular contributor to Big Hollywood.. One has to support the outspoken conservatives out there in Tinsel Town.

The best part about ’The Storm” is the cliffhanger. Sheppard beats the ambush set up for him. Kolya threatens to kill weir in revenge. There is no way weir is going to be killed, but it is difficult to see how she will be saved. We also have to wonder how Rodney is going to save the city from the hurricane, Sheppard is going to defeat the genii single-handed, and if Teyla, Ford, and Beckett can get off the mainland in time to be of any help. One just hopes the resolution is not a letdown.

There is not much to complain about in "The Storm.” Raedek’s Czech accent is not used for some recent. Has it not been established at this poin the is from the Czech Republic? There are many similarities between “The Storm” and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Invasive Procedures,” but the two are unique enough to not fret over. An interesting point to note is ’The Storm” aired nearly a year prior to Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans. The real life parallels--a storm nearly destroying the city, the military helping secure the place, evacuees refusing to leave, looters, etc--are starling enough to wonder if political correctness would have allowed “The Storm” to be made a year after Katrina rather than before.

As I said above, “The Storm” is dialogue intense and low on action until nearly the final act, but it still is never boring. The story keeps the tension up until the slam bang action of the final act. The personal moments are great as well. Weir attempts to appeal to Kolya’s military sensibilities in talking him out of seizing Atlantis. Ford shoots beckett a nasty look when he indicates he does not trust Teyla did not kill Tyrus because she has earned ford’s trust as a comrade-in-arms. Sheppard surrenders his military training to his personal feelings when he bargains with kolya to spare weir’s life in the cliffhanger. These points show how the dynamics of character relations have formed in such a short time together. It is all good. Now if the pay off is comparable.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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