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Reunion - Review

Reunion is the 3rd episode in Season Four of Stargate Atlantis.

Review

Reunion is as much about accepting change as it is about revisiting the past dealing within its major and minor plotlines with the reunion of Ronon with his Satedan buddies and the formal introduction of Samantha Carter as the new Atlantis commander. Both plots are woven together nicely in a tightly written episode that incorporates its character moments directly into the storyline. With everything generally adding polish to the final product, there is little to criticise in the episode with the negative points relatively minor.

The script and story provide an extremely good foundation to this episode. I have previously found with some of Mallozzi and Mullie’s writing, particularly on SG1, that at times the plot is weak and the episodes are saved only because of the character interaction (Family Ties, Morpheus in S10 come to mind). Here, the story is well-thought out (with the change of command seeming to help create a situation making it easier for Ronon to consider leaving Atlantis and his reunion providing an opportunity for Carter to prove her credentials with rescuing Sheppard and team), and the character interaction is an integral part of the plot; Carter’s goodbye to Teal’c, her conversations with McKay, Ronon and Sheppard, Ronon’s talk with Teyla and Sheppard, Teyla’s concern for Sheppard and McKay…all feel like a natural inclusion to the story; all move the story, or wider arcs, forward.

The characters themselves are nicely in-character and we get to see both their professionalism and their personal sides; Sheppard’s leadership on the mission contrasting with his personal desire to rescue Weir; McKay’s hiding from the Wraith and his innate arrogance at assuming he will be the IOA choice; Ronon’s quiet leadership of his Satedan team and his personal struggle to discover where he belongs; Carter’s mixed feelings at taking command expressed with Teal’c yet her calm assuredness when faced with her initial challenges, Teyla giving McKay support when captured and sharing her own sometimes mixed feelings about being on Atlantis with Ronon. The episode and story is filled with characterisation and character interaction. It provides warm, fuzzy moments that makes the audience care about the characters, and makes the team feel like a team. Kudos.

The acting is accomplished throughout; Hewlett’s acting in the scene where he gets stunned by the Satedans is brilliant but while all the cast do a great job, Jason Momoa shines as Ronon; he truly makes the brooding, protective brotherly Satedan come to life. The scene in which he discovers his friends’ betrayal is truly heart-wrenching – Ronon’s pain, anger, loss conveyed with passion. His scenes with Rachel Luttrell are fabulous. Both the opening walk into the village, their discussion in the work-out and the final scene; they have great chemistry. Luttrell also excels; her expression as Teyla when her attackers are hugged and greeted warmly by Ronon is outstanding; her confession of still debating her choice truly conveying Teyla’s vulnerable side nicely. It’s good to see both actors and their characters front and centre in the story.

However, a couple of the minor issues with the episode are around Teyla. While her losing a fight against three trained soldiers is very believable, there is an inconsistency as she manages to beat up Ronon blind-folded and then he manages to hold his own with the three trained soldiers who over-powered her. Even allowing that Ronon was distracted in his session with Teyla and powered by some pretty strong emotions in his fight with the others, it is an inconsistency that jars.

Additionally, the direction fails to hide Luttrell’s pregnancy; her altered body shape is clearly apparent in some shots and while it is clear that some shots have been blocked to try and hide the bump; that her new outfits are designed to try and hide the bump, it just doesn’t work. Still, relatively minor.

On the costuming side, the Satedans with the matching neck tattoos and their similar dress to Ronon were excellent – and a stark contrast to the Atlantis team in their matching uniforms. It was also good to see Carter in her dress blues as she walked onto Atlantis before she changed into the more casual Atlantis uniform, and another change into a BDU as she went off-world to rescue Sheppard and his team.

Carter’s introduction is done very well in the main; the farewell with Teal’c an appropriate nod back to SG1 (loved the undomesticated equines reference), the picture of O’Neill in her luggage another interesting call-back, her first discussions with Ronon and Sheppard an interesting taster of her command style. Tapping is always great; her acting in the moment on the balcony after the discussion with Sheppard definitely gives the impression of how lonely it is at the top with Carter having to deal with some difficult conversations right off the bat. The direction in her scene with Ronon where the Satedan looms over her is particularly well done.

The only thing that jars is Carter going off-world when she’s base commander. It never felt right when Weir did it and it doesn’t quite feel right here (Hammond went for years without stepping foot outside the SGC), but it does showcase Carter’s military credentials and the scene of her shooting at the replicator with Sheppard and Teyla is fabulous if a little unnecessary - after all, presumably they all know that their weapons were going to be useless?

Overall, the minor failings are few and don’t detract from the polished feel of the episode. The story is well-told, well-acted and well-directed; generally well put together on all counts. The result is an enjoyable outing, one which by focusing on the characters as an integral part of the storyline extends a welcome invitation to the audience to get to know these characters better, to care about them, and I hope it’s an invitation that will continue to be extended via future episodes.

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