Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"This Mortal Coil"

“This Mortal Coil” is the fourth midseason finale. It also features the all to brief return of Torri Higginson, although she does not play the real Weir. The episode has a plotline involving duplicate versions of our heroes. While it is more like the awful "Course Oblivion" from Star Trek: Voyager than the mediocre "Tin Man" from Stargate SG-1, "This Mortal coil" handles the plot the best out of the three.

“This Mortal Coil” is like VOY‘s “Course Oblivion” in the sense we are introduced to the duplicate characters as though they are the real deal and follow along as both they and the audience learn what they really are--Replicators. We learn that only AR-1 and weir, whom they eventually discover whil looking for the truth about their identities, are nanite creations. Their entire environment was created by a faction of Replicators who have broken away from the collective in order to study ascension. Specifically, they want to know what quality humans possess that allows them to ascend. They used images from weir’s mind to create a second Atlantis.

But things are not perfect. The duplicates are being subtlety sabotaged in their daily routines by the Replicators, which raises their suspicions. They also exhibit the rapid healing ability. The realization they can regenerate practically any injury is the point of no return. Therefore, it is also something the Replicators should have foreseen. People get cuts an bruises all the time even when they are not adventurers living in outer space. The dead give away should have been foreseen as a fatal flaw.

AR-1 and weir are thrown in the brig and are about to have their memories wiped to start the experiment again when the Replicators attack the city. This is the destruction of Atlantis Davos foresaw. Is it a cop out that the target is not the real Atlantis? Meh. Avos’ gift of prophecy was ambiguous enough for it to not be a big deal as far as I am concerned. I am feeling generous today. Mitt Romney is in the lead. The duplicates appeal to RepliKeller that the human qualities her faction are seeking is compassion. They convince her to not only let them go, but leave with intelligence that can help prevent the Replicators from killing off all the humans in the Pegasus galaxy.

The duplicates escape and make contact with their real counterparts in order to hand off technology capable of tracking Replicator ships. Their meeting is both funny an bittersweet. Rodney likes the idea of working with his genius counterpart. Ronon is not happy to see himself as he is. They all feel awkward about Weir. They assumed she was dead, and even though they are happy to see her duplicate, they are sadly aware it is not really her. As anyone who has seen any amount of television knows, the duplicates must sacrifice themselves, and they do as a diversion for the real McCoys to escape a Replicator attack. The cliffhanger is the revelation the Replicator ships are everywhere poised to devastate scores of planets

If it were not for two aspects of the episode, “This Mortal Coil” would probably go down as a bad idea. One, RepliKeller is a cool idea. Who really pictures Jewel Staite portraying a menacing villain? She is dear, sweet Kalety Frye, for heaven’s sake! But she pulls of the character with a cold demeanor that she is believable. The other point is the return of Weir. I am surprised, considering how little proactive roles Weir played in later episodes, what a gaping hole Higginson’s departure let behind. It is touching to see how much Sheppard and Rodney missed her, particularly Rodney. He carries such a pronounced torch for her, one wonders why shippers have not latched onto to it more adamantly.

“This Mortal Coil” is a winner for those two reasons. The cliffhanger is an exciting one, too, though it could have done without the “Oh, crap!” right after the fade out. The ominous implication of a Replicator armada is good enough to end on without adding a laugh line. No matter. None of these small problems are enough to detract from the episode as a whole.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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