The Siege, Part 3
Review by Taylor Brown
After picking up immediately after last spring's cliffhanger, it seems that it's become an even worse day in Atlantis than the team imagined. While Major Sheppard's part of the cliffhanger is resolved quickly, Ford's tumble into the ocean with the Wraith is shocking. After reading some spoilers, I knew he would be seriously altered by the events of this episode, but the visual of his impossible fall to the ocean was stunning.
"The Siege, Part 3" shows that it's already shaping up to be a tough year in Atlantis.
When I first found out that Rainbow Sun Franks ("Lt. Aiden Ford") wasn't going to be a regular this season, I didn't quite believe the optimism from the producers and Franks about the new storyline for his character. About three quarters of the way through the episode, it is perfectly clear that this "new" Ford is more compelling than last season, partially because the personality change provoked by the Wraith enzyme and the conflict that it creates.
Unfortunately, this is at a loss of both screen time for Franks and of the character we saw in episodes like "Letters From Pegasus:" loyal, helpful, and all around good guy. How much we'll see of this new Ford is not clear yet, but I would hope it would be sooner than later.
The personality change is creepily manifested in Ford's literally split face. Congratulations to the makeup department for that, because it was truly a creepy feeling to see both the regular features of Ford and then the dark, Wraith-like eye and older features of the other side of his face. The double-take of each expedition member is enough to telegraph the uneasiness that Ford has suddenly injected into the situation.
The strongest point in the Ford storyline (and also the most heartbreaking) is the scene in the infirmary when he threatens to shoot a sick patient to get Beckett to give him the Wraith enzyme. Much like the end scene where he tells Sheppard that he could have shot him, Lt. Ford seems to be acting more threatened than purely violent. Maybe the Wraith enzyme has made him paranoid as well as stronger.
There are a lot of important emotional beats in this episode: Weir hugging Sheppard when he beams back down to Atlantis, Colonel Everett finally understanding Sheppard's action in shooting Colonel Sumner, and Sheppard's reaction to losing Ford. But for time consideration, they all feel rushed, or at least quickly forgotten in the tempo of the episode. There's too much going on, and the best things are hurried over to make room. Parts one and two already set many things in motion, and I was surprised that part three manages to resolve the cliffhanger and then set up bigger, multiple issues and resolve those. The Ford storyline could have easily been its own episode (and probably should have been).
With the arrival of the Daedalus, several new faces are added to the roster of Atlantis characters. Lindsey Novak from SG-1's "Prometheus Unbound" returns (without hiccups this time), and an Asgard character, Hermiod, is introduced. On the top on this list is Mitch Pileggi as the commander of the ship, Colonel Caldwell. As much as he will always be Skinner to me, Pileggi's Caldwell reminds me of the more stoic, military presence that has been in SG-1 for many years.
The presence of a ship that can go in between in Pegasus Galaxy and Earth changes the entire feeling of a series that up until now was dominated by the problems of being stranded in another galaxy. That theme created some great stories last year and helped Stargate Atlantis distinguish itself. I hope the relative ease of having the Daedalus (and by extension the S.G.C.) help out won't make Atlantis into a carbon copy of SG-1.
The special effects on Atlantis constantly surprise me, and this episode is no different. Most spectacular are the close-ups of the fight between the Daedalus and the hive ships, and the nuclear explosion over Atlantis.
Overall, I was satisfied to see last season's cliffhanger resolved and a new season set up so well. While not as impressive as last season's opener, Stargate Atlantis has already proven itself to work up to its best moments. I can't wait to see what happens.
Rating: * * *