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The Seer - Review

The Seer is the 8th episode in Season Four of Stargate Atlantis.

Review

With so much embedded into the plot of The Seer, it would have been easy for the episode to lose its way, yet The Seer manages to deliver each nuance, preparing the way for character and season arcs without losing anything of its own storyline along the way. The characterisation is great throughout with the cast, both regular and guest, delivering good performances while the production quality remains high.

The special effects continue to deliver with the battle of the hive ships in orbit around Atlantis and subsequent explosion especially fantastic; the premonition of Atlantis being destroyed was equally impressive and chilling. My only complaint is the Stargate on the planet seemed very small when the Atlantis team stepped out. The production throughout though was excellent with the use of lighting to denote the various moods brilliant. It is a sign of true quality when everything – special effects, stunts, wardrobe and make-up – fits as seamlessly into the episode as it did here, complementing the storyline.

The storyline itself while simple is surprisingly strong; the members of the Atlantean expedition have to face the consequences of their actions. It focuses primarily on Carter, Sheppard and McKay in the main plot with Carter having to face the consequences both real and potential of being the boss. This is very much Carter’s version of SG1’s Zero Hour as the stark realisation of what it means to be the one in command suddenly hits in a big way. The interaction between Carter and Woolsey is great for playing out how difficult it is to make the right decision and how sometimes it is not clear what the right decision is. The scene where she tells him to shut up and further doesn’t let him take over her command is very powerful not only because of the drama of the scene itself, the great tension and the way Tapping and Picardo play the scene (and those that come before) but because by its very nature, this is the scene where Carter really takes command of Atlantis. There is a sense – played in the prior scenes as she questions herself and tries to find the right path – that until that moment, she had been doing the right things, making small decisions here and there, nominally being in command without necessarily feeling like she is. But here, finally, she has to step up in a big way and grasp her command fully, and she does it with style and panache. Great acting by Tapping who played the whole episode to perfection; the doubts and uncertainty, the slight hint of O’Neill snark in pulling Woolsey in to see the Wraith, and ultimately, Carter leading and commanding – all was well done.

Vital to this whole piece was Sheppard who provided the counter-voice to Woolsey in Carter’s debate. The dynamic between Sheppard and Carter is turning into an interesting one; military colleagues who understand each others’ positions, who are supportive and working in partnership but it is clearly and definitely a professional friendship. It’s great to see such a dynamic being played out. Perhaps it was attempted in SG1’s latter seasons with Carter and Mitchell but I feel it has actually been realised here on Atlantis. Credit has to go to the writers, actors and direction for constructing the scenes so well in that respect.

Yet what was great about The Seer was that Sheppard’s role was most definitely not restricted to being simply Carter’s foil. He also had to deal with the consequences of his choices; of choosing to send the Replicators after the Wraith; of his previous alliances with the Wraith. What came across powerfully was Sheppard’s sense of duty to the wider ideals of the expedition, of his taking responsibility for his actions at every turn – both in his conversations with the Wraith, Carter and McKay. Here is the serious soldier at the core of the man and it is one that is much appreciated as here is a character with depth and gravitas who is interesting and inviting.

All the characterisations in The Seer were very well drawn. McKay’s arrogance intact when he notes he wouldn’t have spotted the missing code if he wasn’t as good as he is, yet subdued when he realises the consequences of his decision to suggest turning the Replicators’ attack code back on. Of all the main characters, only Ronon is left unexplored while Teyla’s story – a continuation of the previous episode – formed the sub-plot. Here, Teyla is portrayed to be much more vulnerable; who is desperate to find her people and who is given the small comfort that her people are alive while the audience is provided with the revelation of her pregnancy.

The guest cast also do a fantastic job; Picardo is great at Woolsey as ever while Christopher Heyerdahl portrays the Wraith that worked with Sheppard very well, imbuing him with a sense of humour and individuality. It was also great to see veteran British actor Martin Jarvis as Davos; his part is relatively small given the title of the episode but in the overall scheme of the season arc, it is clear that the future of the Pegasus Galaxy, and the Atlantis expedition, may very well be down to the interaction that the Atlantis team have with the character.

Overall the episode is a success; a tight main plot which is driven by the characters – by their previous choices and the feeling very much is that the choices here will be pivotal to the rest of the season. Alan McCullough deserves praise for what is a good script that provided good structure on which the rest of the episode could build. I hope the promise of The Seer is fulfilled as we go forward, and if the rest of the season matches this quality then I am definitely looking forward to seeing more.
 

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