Monday, October 8, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"Adrift"

“Adrift” is the fourth season premiere. We are rolling right along in our SGA reviews. “Adrift” features the first appearance of Amanda Tapping as a cast member. She reprises her role as col. Sam Carter. For all intents and purposes, she replaces Torri Higginson’s Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Weir is reuced to a recurring character, but she promises to be part of an interesting story arc. Until Higginson bails on the series entirely for the final season, that is.

Now is a good time to mention that beyond the third season, I have no idea what is coming story wise. When the series originally aired, I stopped watching regularly sometime during the second season an saw only scattered episodes from then through the third. While my knowledge of the series from seasons two and three were limited, there was still an air of familiarity as I reviewed them for The Eye. Not so anymore. We are now entering charted territory.

“Adrift” takes up right where we left off in the season three cliffhanger. The teaser is a manic back and forth between Rodney attempting to shut down non-vital systems so the shields on the lost and adrift in space Atlantis will remain active that much longer and Keller performing emergency brain surgery on Weir to save her life. Aside from two brief interludes with Sam attempting to locate Atlantis, the entire episode shifts between attempts to boost power to Atlantis and save weir’s life.

What is great about the one-two punch is how both stories measure up. Getting power back online involves all sorts of high action sequences like a crew racing the vaccuum of space as the shield shrinks, Puddle Jumpers blasting away at an asteroid belt to clear a path for Atlantis, and a spacewalk to repair asteroid damage on the city from one they missed. It is a Murphy’s Law day on Atlantis. Weir’s medical condition goes from bad to worse until Keller gets the idea of reactivating the Replicator nanotech inside her to repair the damage. Sheppard refuses to allow that to happen, but roney reactivates them anyway in order to keep her alive. When weir awakens, she is perfectly healthy, but not thrilled to now be part Replicator. The episode ends with our heroes needing another ZPM. The only way to get one is to steal it from the Replicator home world. To be continued…

I am not certain if there has been a member of the Atlantis expedition from China in a previous episode, but this is the first time I have noticed a Chinese flag emblem on a uniform. I saw one from Spain, too, which is kind of cool. The series out to include more background characters from a variety of countries. So far, there have been lots Americans, Canadians, British, and Germans, but not many others. Zelenka is from the Czech Republic and one of Rodney’s put upon underlings is from Japan, but that is about it. Where is Russia, India, or even Israel? Sure, the French are not going to go anywhere near the Wraith, but there are plenty of countries out there who could contribute to space exploration if given the opportunity.

“Adrift” does not disappoint. In every way the previous episode failed to strike a balance between spectacle and heart, “Adrift” succeeds. There are plenty of neat special effects sequences with the city flying through space, the asteroid belt blasting, and the space walk, but there is genuine emotion with weir’s failing health. I particularly liked Ronon sitting by her bed and whispering thanks for allowing him to stay on Atlantis. I also liked the bit of quiet continuity from weir expressing love for Rodney when she believed he was dying last season and his disobeying Sheppard to save her now. The emotional connection is not specifically mentioned, but that is exactly why Rodney did it. Sheppard is angry, but also relieved Weir is alive without the Replicator nanotech being his responsibility. “Adrift’ is a goo episode all round.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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