Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Siege, Part II"

“The Siege, Part II” is the first season finale. Amazingly enough, the story, while continuing the long, drawn out invasion of Atlantis story, does not conclude it. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, thereby promising at least another episode in the story arc. It may even have brought up fears the remainder of the series would be about this huge, single battle.

Okay, I exaggerate. But the powers that be have dragged out material for a trilogy into twice as many episodes. I fully understand now that it is all in the name of continuity. The ZPM SG-1 stole from Ra in “Moebius, Part II” needs eighteen days to reach Atlantis as its ultimate salvation, so the real story up to the cliffhanger becomes whether a battalion of freshly arrived Marines can hold off the Wraith for the remaining four days until the Daedalus rides in like the cavalry amid personal conflict. At least there is good no to continuity?

As preparations for the hopeless battle continue, Atlantis receives an incoming wormhole transporting marines under the command of brash Col. Dillon Everett. Their orders are to hold Atlantis at all costs until the Daedalus arrives with the ZPM. The predictable happens. Everett and weir clash over who is actually in charge. Sumner was a close friend of his, so Everett is not fond of Sheppard for his mercy killing on top of the general Sheppard does not follow orders animosity everyone in the military other than the fawning Ford has for him. Everett also has strong misgivings about Teyla, even when she an her people volunteer to join his forces.

What is really amusing about the set ups I just described are that only weir and Teyla win Everett’s respect during the episode’s events. Weir riskes her life to acquire nuclear bombs from the Genii. They turn out to be the only real offensive capabilities Atlantis has against the Wraith. Teyla uses her abilities to sense the wraith to warn that a group of them are already in Atlantis in preparation for an ambush. Alas, poor Sheppard’s act of heroism--a suicide mission to plant a nuke on a hive ship--is lost on Everett, as he may or may not have been killed by a Wraith. Sheppard cannot win for losing, folks.

If I sound a bit snaky about "The Siege, Part II,” it is almost entirely because the story has been dragged out too long. Certainly, it is also predictable Everett is going to clash with the powers that be on Atlantis. I am also unclear why the whole sequence with the Genii planning to hold weir hostage in exchange for C$ until she convinces the morons they can test their nukes safely on the Wraith if they stick with the original deal had to be put in there for anything other than filler. But besides those two points, “Te Siege, Part, II” is an exciting start to the battle against the Wraith. The CGI of the initial attack from the air are impressive for a cable show. They also forgo the George Lucas urge to fill every inch of the screen with explosions for as long as the money holds out. That has been a pet peeve of mine post Prequel Trilogy, so your mileage may vary.

But the thing that really sells "The Siege, Part II” is the legitimate fear certain characters may not survive. It is tough to pull that dreaded feeling off for a show, and while I know Teyla and Ford--the two characters I mostly have in mind--do survive, I could see it not happening on a show with such an extensive and growing ensemble cast. You cannot oversell it when a series can pull that feeling off with the audience.

The bottom line for a season finale is whether it convinces you to come back for more. “The Siege, Part II” does for me. Sure, we already know Sheppard is not going to die. We already know Daedalus is going to swoop in the nick of time to save the day. Yet I still want to see it all unfold. If for no other reason than to justify all the grey hairs I have grown waiting for the resolution to come. Not grey hairs because of stress, but because it has taken that freaking long to come around.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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