Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"Doppelganger"

“Doppelganger” is te only episode of SGA to be restricted for ages fourteen and up. For whatever value it is to arbitrarily say one has to be at least fourteen years old to purchase the DVD. Extreme violence is the issue here, as our heroes suffer from alien induced nightmares that are incredibly disturbing even to my jaded soul. The episode is not particularly original--as noted by character references to past episodes--but the weir nightmare sequences are effective.

While exploring a jungle planet, the AR-1 team comes across a crystal that Rodney believes is a new power source. Sheppard feels compelled to touch it and is thrown back for his curiosity. He is given a clean bill of health after returning to Atlantis, but he actually brought back an alien presence with him that bounces from person to person giving each one vivid nightmares. The common element in each nightmare is an evil version of Sheppard.

The nightmares can become fatal, as evidenced by Dr. Katie Heightmayer jumping to her death in her dream while dying of cardiac arrest in the real world. Yes, I do note the irony of someone named Heightmayer leaping to her death for a high building. I am also curious why a psychologist would dye her hair. Does changing one’s natural appearance not indicate some emotional issue with self-image that she ought to have a good grasp? Or am I just being hypercritical? Regardless, the most compelling reams to watch happen are not the fatal ones. Keller, for instance, dreams an iratus bug bursts out of her stomach while Sheppard stands aside and laughs. Ronon dreams Sheppard is burying him alive. Lorne sleepwalks with a loaded gun after he dreams Sheppard is a Replicator. Why some nightmares are fatal while others are not can only be explained by obviously not wanting to kill off major characters.

The alien eventually hops into Rodney. Using a virtual reality device, Sheppard travels into Rodney’s nightmare, which involves rowing a boat with a clown to avoid being eaten by a whale, to convince the alien to leave. When it believes it has killed Rodney, the alien enters Sheppard’s dreams and forces him to fight himself. The alien is defeated by being thrown threw the stargate. It is all very existential. Our heroes return the crystal back to it home planet and depart with due haste.

References, references. Have we got references? Sheppard jokes about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when asking if 42 is the answer to a significant question and Mirror Spock when inquiring if his evil nightmare self has a goatee. Rodney mentions the Iratus bug bursting out of Teyla from Keller’s dream is reminiscent of the famous scene from Alien. The Sheppard v. Sheppard battle reminded me of the Clark Kent v. Evil Superman duel in Superman III. (Talk about nightmares! Who wants to remember that film?) Several SG-1 episodes are referenced. The crystals are similar to those from “Cold Lazarus.”, Sam recalls being taken over by an alien in “Entity,” and the device used to transport Sheppard into Rodney’s nightmare is a version of “The Gameskeepr” device. I suppose since characters verbally acknowledge these thigs, they cannot be considered unoriginal rip offs.

“Doppelganger” is definitely not the most original episode one could hope to see, but it is entertaining. The nightmare sequences are effectively ethereal. Joe Flanigan looks like he is having a ball chewing up the scenery while torturing his friends. I confess I am not certain whether the crystal actually did just want to go home or if it is an evil jerk that gets its jollies killing people in their dreams like Freddie Krueger. It could not be reasoned with, so I will guess the latter. But then it is interesting the ancients would not have put up some kind of warning. Well they were absentee landlords there towards the end. I will stop over thinking and award “Doppelganger” a solid rating.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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