Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Long Goodbye"

“The Long Goodbye” is another high adventure episode that minimizes production costs by not only setting all but the teaser on Atlantis, but by having the guest stars inhabit Weir and Sheppard’s bodies in order to pay the actors as extras for their very brief, no dialogue appearances. Pretty sneaky, if you ask me. There is not much new ground broken here, but watching Weir roam around Atlantis with a fully loaded P-90 stalking Sheppard is a highlight.

While out in a Puddle Jumper, the AR-1 team discovers two life pods floating in space. They contain a man and a woman. Taking the woman’s life pod back to Atlantis, they decide to revive her. Unfortunately, her boy is too far gone, but her consciousness enters Weir. Later in the infirmary, the woman possessing weir says her name is Phebus. The man in the other life pod is Thalen, her husband. Their ship was attacked by Wraith however many centuries ago. Since their bodies have both deteriorated beyond salvation, Phebus would like Sheppard to allow her husband to take over his body so the two can say goodbye. Under the promise Phebus and Thalen will fade away within hours, Sheppard agrees.

Unfortunately, it is all a ruse to regain physical form so Phebus and Thalen can continue the war their respective fighting. Armed with all the secrets of atlantis operations thanks to Weir and Sheppard’s minds, the two arm themselves up like Rambo and hunt each other down. Until, true to their word, they fade away before weir an Sheppard seriously injure one another. It is a wee bit anticlimactic all our heroes had to do was stall for time until Pebus and Thalen lost their hold, but there you go.

What is surprising is how little of “The Long Goodbye” is about Phebus and Thalen. They share only three scenes together, and one of those is a shipper tease in which they kiss while pretending to be married. In the other two, they are shooting at each other and little else. It is the other characters who steal the show. Caldwell in particular plays a big role as he takes charge of Atlantis while weir and Sheppard are possessed. There increased screen time offers an opportunity to demonstrate his true, more pleasant personality now that the Goa’uld no longer possess him. Other characters are in fine form, such as Beckett performing emergency surgery on Ronon with the power out and Teyla unable to shoot Sheppard, even when ¾ of the expedition’s lives are at stake, because of her latent feelings for him. Even Rodney adopts some humility as Caldwell impresses him during the crisis.

Very little attention is paid to convincing Phebus and Thalen the futility of fighting a centuries old war in which they are the only two survivors. As far as the two are concerned, the novelty of Weir engaging in hand to hand combat and firing a P-90 at Sheppard is all the amusement needed for the situation. The plot is merely an excuse for that. The general story ideas of two enemies as the last of their kind still fighting has been done in the past with far better intellectual results in Star Trek: The Original Series“Let that Be Your Last Battlefield” and Doctor who’s “Dalek.” I would look to either of them long before I would recommend “The Long Goodbye.”

The plot is terribly thin here, and it does not get much traction at all, but “The Long Goodbye” has its entertaining points. It is exciting to watch weir do her Rambo thing, although I get the definite vibe Torri Higginson is not into the role. She does no feel like she is naturally cutting loose. I do not buy into her sense of menace. But the rest of the cast help save the episode. They work together like a cohesive unit. What is even cooler is they can do so without weir and Sheppard. “The Long Goodbye’ could have been much better if Phebus and Thalen had gotten more character moments, , but there is still some goo stuff here amid the shallow plotting.

Rating; ** (out of 5)

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