Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Siege, Part I"

“The Siege, Part I” is the penultimate episode of the first season. It continues the often glacially slow slide towards doomsday at the hands of the Wraith. As sch, the episode features reams of dialogue up until the final act. The final act manages to elevate the story beyond the point at which I wondered why the powers that be decided to draw such a thin story out over so many episodes. Of course, that simply means the action is a distraction from dwelling on that question, but does not eliminate the question altogether.

Rodney gets the idea to use the Ancient weapons platform discovered in “The Defiant One.”. Conveniently, weapons platform can be powered by a naquadah generator instead of a ZPM even though other Ancient technology of that magnitude requires a ZPM. Speaking of, there are two other ZPM out there according to the list Old weir left behind, but Our heroes have not bothered to look for them even though one of them will offer a necessary defense. Are we just supposed to forget this fact and go with the inevitable doomsday scenario? I suppose so. Rodney and Peter Grodin travel to the platform to hotwire it while Atlantis discovers the Wraith pilot of the recon ship is still alive somewhere in the city.

Such is the plit in the two stories that comprise “The Siege, Part I.” Rodney an grodin’s expedition involves a lot of techno babble and humor at the expense of Rodney’s extreme arrogance interrupted by a spacewalk that counts as an action sequence. On Atlantis, the tension between Teyla and bates escalates when he continues to believe she is an inadvertent traitor thanks to her psychic link to the Wraith. When Bates is found severely beaten, Teyla is the natural suspect, but suspicion evaporates immediately when Bob the Wraith is discovered.

The weapons platform story is slow an fairly boring. The Teyla/Bob story has a couple issues that kill it. For one, how does Bob resist sucking the life out of Bates? It could be because he does not want to be discovered yet, but he could have done the deed and hidden the body. The only reasons bates is left alive is to create some drama with Teyla and allow bates to continue on as a character. I dwelled on those two points the entire time rather than accept them as a logical part of the story. Frankly, the idea teyla is suspected of being under the control of the Qraith while an actual Wraith is responsible for the incidents of which she is being accused could have/should have been an episode in itself rather than falling in the middle of a larger, more important arc, but whatever. This is what the powers that be decided to run with, so okay.

The final act saves bth stories from the doldrums. The weapons platform becomes operational long enough to destroy a Wraith ship, but then overloads so it cannot fire again. The other Wraith ships destroy the platform with Grodin inside. While he was not a majorly active character, Grodin had been there from the beginning and was in practically every episode in some minor capacity, so his death is more meaningful than a typical red shirt. In the other story, Bob the Wraith is captured and does his usual threats before Sheppard shoots him to death in his cell. Sheppard’s brutal act shocks the rest of AR-1, but I assume the matter will not be heard from again. The episode ends, like every episode since the Wraith began advancing towards Atlantis, with a threat against Earth. A little on the redundant side.

The biggest problem with ’The Siege, Part I” is how much the invasion story arc is being dragged out. The tension has been maximized to the point it has already peaked and gone down some. I can imagine how ineffective the storytelling method would be if I was waiting a week between episodes. I would have made the arc much shorter. Three episodes tops,. The way things are now, I have time to poke holes in the plot, such as why our heroes are not seeking out the other two ZPM or the convenience of the naquadah generator being useful or Teyla’s subplot slowing proceedings down. Some of Rodney’s bits are funny, and watching Bates get his rear end kicked is satisfying in consideration of his attitude, but most of the episode is just kind of there. Not bad, necessarily, but distracting from the overall gloom and doom purpose.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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