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The Kindred Part II - Review

The Kindred Part II is the 19th episode in Season Four of Stargate Atlantis.

Review

Strong emotion runs through the second part of The Kindred as the theme of reunions, and how they are never quite what you expect, weaves through the story. It is an unexpected story in some ways; the ending bittersweet and unpredictable yet it is more powerful because of that. While it lacks the certain something that would elevate it to the heights of a Sateda or Common Ground, it delivers a quality episode in its own quiet way with the assistance of some powerful performances and complementary production.

Teyla’s search for her people – the main plot in the first half of the story – is demoted to sub-plot in the second part. Here is the long awaited reunion and the moment she and Halling are reunited is beautifully poignant – excellent acting from Christopher Heyerdahl and Rachel Luttrell. His defence of her when the others come to take her away is heart-warming. As a result, these interactions provide something meaningful to the arc in a way the search perhaps failed to do given the lack of interaction seen between Teyla and the Athosians before it began and the sporadic mentions of it in the second half of the season.

The other emotional resonance of Teyla’s reunion is with her child’s father, Kanan. The scene in which Teyla’s pleading with him finally cracks through Michael’s control is very well done. As Kanan reaches out to lay a hand over Teyla’s – and his – unborn child, suddenly I found myself believing in their relationship and why Teyla had fallen for him. Again, excellent acting which Luttrell followed through in the rest of the scene as she begs Michael not to harm her child only for him to perform an ultrasound to check the baby’s health. Her dismay at Michael injecting her regardless is palpable. Connor Trinneer continues to portray Michael as simply thinking he is being misunderstood in his motives while also showing the bitter anger at what has happened to him and which helps provide the audience with the knowledge of why he is the way he is. It is a masterful piece of acting supported by the writing and direction.

Overall, the sub-plot is very successful especially for the ending which unexpectedly leaves Teyla in the hands of Michael. While the set-up for that – Teyla hesitating when initially rescued – would be fine if Teyla were not pregnant, it is unbelievable given her child must come first now. Still, the unpredicted ending provides a bittersweet conclusion despite the rescue of the other Athosians.

Given the powerful content of the sub-plot, the main plot also had to deliver – and it did. The return of Carson Beckett also provided the Atlantis team with an unexpected reunion. The reactions are perfectly characterised from McKay’s desperate joy at having his friend back, to Sheppard’s reserved acceptance, to Ronon’s refusal to deal with it, to Sam’s concerns. Everybody delivers a good performance but David Hewlett is absolutely superb as McKay; joyful at being reunited, apologetic and distraught at having to deliver bad news, protective of Carson at all times. His initial scene on filling Beckett in and the final goodbye scene are incredibly moving simply for the way Hewlett plays McKay’s emotions so out in the open for all to see. These scenes though are complemented by Paul McGillion who acts his socks off through the entire episode.

It’s great to see McGillion back and while the clone storyline had the potential to be disappointing and cliché, McGillion’s acting fully brings home how torn this Beckett is at finding out he is a clone and his desperate attempt to prove himself worthy perhaps of being alive at all. He manages to raise the underlying philosophical discussions around clones within the story without ever making it seem obvious and never detracting.

That final scene for Beckett is also unexpected; just as Team Atlantis fail to recover Teyla, they also cannot save Beckett – there is no appearance of a sudden miracle cure only the stasis pod. Everybody delivers a fantastic performance in this scene; their regret, their goodbyes, their efforts to reassure Beckett and each other that it is only temporary are realistic and heartfelt. The moment where Beckett tells Sheppard to bring Teyla home is very touching. The music underscoring this scene just adds to the poignancy. Here is not victory but defeat.

As a result of the unexpected turns in the final act, the story finishes on a bittersweet note – much like most reunions – yet the story is all the better for this. Had Teyla been rescued, had Beckett been cured, it would have been too pat, too easy – and the impact would have been much, much less. Alan McCullough deserves praise for the writing here.

If I have one complaint in the episode it is around the last reunion in the story between Keller and Nabal. Nabal had much potential as a character yet here he is demoted to unimportant spy for Michael status (such a waste) and his scenes lack the emotional resonance of the others. Jewel Staite tries hard to evoke shock and disgust at her initial identification but with Beckett reminding her pompously of her duties of the doctor, the scene falls flat. Keller does much better in her interactions with Beckett as they work on the cure and in the last scene coming across as a caring colleague.

Given the emotional, character driven content of the story with only minimal action sequences, the episode could have lost pace but the excellent direction ensures that the episode retains the interest. The rest of the production matches quality; the special effects, the set designs of Michael’s complex, the make-up of the hybrids and Michael – everything sparkles with polish.

Unfortunately, the few flaws here and there do detract from the overall quality and the episode although powerful and moving never does reach the heights of Sateda or Common Ground. Perhaps, ultimately, this is because this is the conclusion of a two-part story and the former while enjoyable did not equally match the quality of this finale. Regardless, The Kindred II could almost stand alone and it is a powerful and emotional slice of entertainment and perhaps, even art.
 

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