Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Real World"

“The Real World” is a Weir-centric direct sequel to ”Progeny.” The general feel of the episode is a surrealistic nightmare in weir’s mind, but one that does not tip its hand too soon. A highlight is the prominence of Richard Dean Anderson as Jack, albeit as an hallucination.

The episode begins with Weir waking up in a mental hospital to be told she is being treated for temporary psychosis after being involved in a car accident which killed her fiance, Simon. Shortly after his funeral, she suffered a complete mental breakdown. She is told that her experiences with Atlantis over the last two years are a fantasy created by her mind in order to cope. There is no Atlantis or even a Stargate program.

It is obvious to the audience that something is up, particularly when jack shows up to confirm there is no stargate, but the story continues to go along as if the last two seasons have been a creation of weir’s mind for another three acts. I am oddly impressed by this. Knowing full well what weir is experiencing is an hallucination, the writers are iven the opportunity to go completely insane with imagery and circumstances, yet resists until nearly the final act Weir, dying in the Atlantis infirmary, takes matters into her own hands in the struggle against the illusionary world in which she is trapped. I like that the writers took a realistic approach rather than go into fevered dream mode too early. The temptation had to be strong.

The situation is that Weir has been infected by Asuran nanites from Niam attacking her at the end of ’Progeny.” the nanites are taking over her body and mind. Beckett comes up with a medical procedure to inject wraith cells into her in order to induce the nanites to converge on it in an attack so a EM pulse can kill them, but it is only partially successful. Weir has to conquer than remaining nanites herself. With bedside encouragement from Sheppard, she escapes the mental hospital for the stargate in Cheyenne Mountain and regains conscious in the real world when she steps through in her hallucination.

Speaking of hallucinations, it is interesting that, with the exception of the appearances of Jack and Daniel in the pilot, every appearance of an SG-1 character has been an illusion? Hammond was created by aliens. Sam was the product of Rodney’s concussion. Here Jack is created by Asuran nanites. Some of the real deals are going to appear throughout the remainder of the series--Sam even joins Atlantis--but it is strange that every appearance so far after the expedition lands in Pegasus is not the genuine article.

“The Real World” is an interesting critter. The series has done a number of episodes already which feature only one character for all intents and purposes. It is difficult to pull that off without feeling diminished. Even tougher is the minimalist setting of ’The Real World.” The bulk of the episoe takes place in two or three rooms of a hospital. Nevertheless, the episode never feels small. I must confess weir is not one of the most compelling characters in SGA, but I enjoy her here. It is also cool to see jack in full sardonic mode. I cannot call ’”he Real World” a favorite, but it makes me, but it makes me care about weir for a while. There is much to say for that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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