Stargate: Atlantis – Season 5
by Joe Steiff
The Season 5 Premiere, “Search and Rescue,” premieres July 11th!
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The first five minutes of the Stargate: Atlantis season five premiere are like watching a movie, as the camera captures sweeping cinematic movements and compositions. Though it’s impossible to maintain this visual style on a television series (camera movements and special effects take time and are therefore expensive), these first five minutes announce a whole new universe and reinforce the idea that things on this TV series have changed.
Other Sci-Fi Channel series may have gotten more respect over the years (Battlestar Galactica, Farscape), but none has come within a lightyear of the Stargate franchise’s longevity, first with Stargate SG-1 (which lasted 10 seasons) and now Stargate: Atlantis, a spinoff entering its fifth season. Both Stargate series blend the exploration of alien worlds with a slightly militaristic viewpoint and (more importantly) an irreverent sense of humor. More than its parent series, Stargate: Atlantis has teetered on the edge of full-out examination of the tension between civilian versus military ownership of scientific exploration, but that tension usually remains comfortably in the background despite an exploration team that is made up of military and non-military personnel.
Like many television premieres on Sci-Fi, this is not necessarily the time to dive into the series if you’ve never seen it, but never fear, previous seasons are on DVD. The fifth season picks up within seconds of the cliffhanger from season four (“The Last Man”), and the title of the episode—“Search and Rescue”—does double-duty. The first search and rescue is of Sheppard and Ronon, who have been buried in the rubble of a destroyed complex in their search for the kidnapped (and very pregnant) Teyla. Their rescue is threatened by the arrival of one of the series’ main villains and kidnapper, former humanized Wraith Michael (played by Star Trek: Enterprise’s Connor Trinner). By the end of the episode, the search and rescue has shifted back to the original mission at the end of season four: trying to find Teyla and bring her home.
Along the way, several surprises lie in store, not the least of which is a new commander for the Atlantis outpost—Colonel Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) returns to Earth for what she assumes is a routine debriefing, only to discover that she is being replaced (the opening credits give away this change before the episode even starts). One of the more pleasant surprises is the promotion of Jewel Staite (Dr. Jennifer Keller) to a series regular. During season four, she became one of my favorite characters, though some of the less-than-confident spunk and resourcefulness that made her a favorite seems to have been diminished a bit in this episode, where she seemed more whiny or naïve than usual. But really, her part here was so small, I’m hoping that we see more of the Dr. Keller who was trapped with Ronon in a medical lab (season four).
Joe Flanigan as Lt. Colonel John Sheppard also seems a bit sidelined this outing, keeping in line with his initial season one bad-boy smirkiness gradually giving way these past four seasons to a more standard (or perhaps mature) team leader. He does have a couple of nice moments early on with Ronon (Jason Momoa), but this episode’s most memorable scenes belong to Teyla (Rachel Luttrell) and Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett). The only loose end is what happens to the father of Teyla’s child.
Fans of the series will be glad to know that Paul McGillion will reprise his role as Dr. Carson Beckett (whose clone storyline in season four was particularly affecting). And we haven’t seen the last of Colonel Carter, or even SG-1’s Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks).
So there’s much to anticipate this season besides the syndication-worthy benchmark 100th episode. Rumor is that we’ll learn more about the Pegasus galaxy as well as a new adversary. The crew changes will definitely create a new dynamic, and it will be exciting to see where Stargate Atlantis takes us.
Joe Steiff is the co-editor of the Open Court book, Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up? What better job could there be, watching sci-fi writing about his favorite TV series?
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