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October 8, 2015

Stargate Atlantis: Ghost In The Machine

by Brett Love, posted Aug 16th 2008 7:32AM

Michelle Morgan - Stargate Atlantis
(S05E05) It's a strange week for Stargate Atlantis. Normally we talk about the episodes of various shows, be they good or bad, based on what was on the screen that week. Behind the scenes goings on occasionally come into play, but rarely to the extent that they do for "Ghost In The Machine." There's a lot of back story to this one, and now that I've seen it I find myself thinking as much about what could have been, as what it is we actually saw. And really, I'm not sure whether or not that's a good thing.

As we all know, this episode picks up on the cliffhanger ending to "Be All My Sins Remember'd." It's a story I've been wanting to see the conclusion of since about two minutes after that episode finished. Knowing a little bit about what went on behind the scenes as they tried to put this one together though, makes it hard to really grade it based solely on what ended up on the screen.

As the producers have said, this story was written with the idea that they would have Torri Higginson back as Repli-Weir. There were even hints that it was to be the launching pad for a much bigger arc. Unfortunately, as has been documented, difficult relations between Higginson and the producers eventually put the kibosh on both of those things.

The return of Michelle Morgan (Heartland) as Weir/FRAN was the solution. And, I have to say, given what they had to work with, it was a fairly clever and successful one. I liked her short stint as FRAN, and I thought she did a great job here capturing the Weir persona. Certainly, given the choice, I would have much rather seen Higginson return, but I was pretty happy with how the change worked out.
Stargate Atlantis
The return of Weir set the table for a whole host of odd reactions from the crew. It's something that was probably increased a bit given that she was in FRAN's body, but I think it would have played out much the same had this been done with Higginson. Some of those reactions were to be expected. Woolsey and Ronon being against pretty much everything, for example. Or Sheppard's conflict over so desperately wanting it to really be Weir, but knowing the dangers the replicators represent.

The one bit of it that really surprised me was Teyla's reaction to Weir asking if her son was with her on Atlantis. It surprised me not only because Teyla lied, saying he was off world, but also because the question gave me the odd feeling that there was much more too it. Like they were somehow mixed up in the whole business of Torren being a special child. Perhaps that was a remnant of the bigger arc that was mentioned.

For the most part, it was a well done story. I liked finally having an answer to just what the replicators were up to. And the story on Atlantis played out well. Of particular note was Woolsey's big bluff. I've now been won over by Woolsey being in charge at Atlantis. I was sure he was going to cave to keep the city from being sunk. When he made his bluff, it was a great moment for the character.

The escape, and resulting shenanigans, of Koracen (Robert Moloney) did offer up a couple of issues. First, with all the hand wringing over the security and access that the replicators would have as they went about their work, how did he have access to take control of the force field, and other systems? And second, I would have thought that about ten seconds after "The replicators are coming" people would have been digging the anti-replicator weapons out of mothballs. Sure, Weir saving Sheppard's bacon by giving Koracen the four fingered lobotomy was a cool scene, but the business of "just keep shooting them" didn't set right.
Robert Picardo - Stargate Atlantis
Where they really lost me though, was the ending. It just really didn't make any sense to me. I get that it was Weir sacrificing herself to save the city, but I just can't see how anyone on Atlantis went along with it. We've already seen that dropping the replicators in space doesn't actually kill them. They managed to take a group of people who they thought were a danger to the city, and gave them a reason to be pissed off. I suppose it leaves the door open to revisit the story again in the future, but that could have also been accomplished by a newer, more secure, environment for them to do their work in. They could have worked away, rarely being seen or acknowledged, like Kanaan and the Athosians, ready to appear should the need arise.

Overall, I'm left with mixed feelings. I think the ideas for what was to come from the Weir story were good, but whether or not that is to go anywhere now looks to be in doubt. Perhaps something will come from the information on the various systems that Weir gave to Rodney. While the idea was good, I just didn't buy that ending, and I can't shake the nagging thought of what could have been.

Other fun bits:
I'd be up for getting a look at the flying monkeys. The descriptions alone were very funny.

Very cool CGI in the opening. I especially liked the gate re-orienting itself after the jumper crashed into it.

Woolsey being dumped on the balcony. He does inept so well.

Favorite line of the night. Sheppard responding to "For all we know it could be Oberoth inside that body." "That's creepy."

How was the Weir wrap-up for you?
Sad, but a good ending to the story.80 (19.9%)
Ok, but I'm left thinking it could have been more.218 (54.2%)
Bah. I left with Torri.104 (25.9%)

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It was an OK ep.
The SGC can send a jumper, and get the replicators when needed.
The weir character can be put into fresh human body at some point.....
I thought rodney would send them back/forward in time.... not a spacegate.

What I really want to see though; is some Human Tech stepping up a gear.. factories to produce war-ships, and then some big ass battles. And get some of the advanced good-guys from SG-1 involved.
In fact, get weir back, so she can be killed off, one more time, by conventional weapons or in an explosion, during a final ep, where humans take over the universe.. from god

September 23 2008 at 9:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mack Swift

All in all, given what the writers had to work with with the absence of Torri Higgonsin, they did a pretty desent job.

Special effects just keep getting better and better and better. Love 'em in high def.

Woolsey is showing not only does he have the chops to run Atlantis, but he's got the big brass ones to call the bluffs and make the calls.

The story like I said, it was good given what they had to work with. And it left it just open enough in the end to follow up this storyline should need be.

August 19 2008 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oops, I watch two episodes back to back and got them mixed up when I mentioned the Ronin/Borg scene in the previous comment. I'd edit that out if I could figure out how.


August 18 2008 at 11:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I too found Teyla's body language to be unconvincing during that lie about her son, but I also got the impression that Fran/Weir didn't fully believe it either and just chose to ignore it. I wonder if that was intentional to help convince the audience that it was the real Weir, since she would understand the crew's difficulties in simply accepting her word so quickly.

As for the "open" ending, since we did not hear exactly what Weir's proposal was, I suspect as others have that they either already have plans for a continuation or are leaving the door open for that eventuality. If it were me, I would suggest that she voluntarily opted for "hibernation" and agreed to trick the other replicators into the same, giving Rodney, or someone else, the time to find an acceptable solution. Perhaps develop the nanite human body building process with the new information Weir uploaded to the Atlantis database. Although not specifically mentioned, I would think that some sort of monitoring and motion control would be put into place to prevent the replicators from drifting away and being accidentally discovered and reactivated. If they had wanted a final ending, they could've easily shot a scene of them falling and burning into a planet's atmosphere or a sun.

The new data on other technologies Weir uploaded also opens the door for new super "tech" to be developed by the Tauri, given the recent demise of the Asgards. After all, the galaxies still need protecting. I don't know if anyone else got the same impression, but when the door opened and the alien in body armor and red LEDs above the eye attacked Ronin, the first image that came to my mind was BORG! I know, wrong TV show, but that was my initial impression, until he started to act like the typical alien enemy with no aim and standing there like a zombie taking hits.

I've been out of touch with the SG1/Atlantis stories and the associated backgrounds of the cast and crew, so I don't know about the whole Higginson/producer difficulties, but she did make an appearance didn't she? Or was that scene of her in the captain's chair of the replicator ship from a previous episode? I'll have to google up some information about that fallout and keep a watchful eye out for a rerun of the Fran episode now that I know about it.


August 18 2008 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The ending was silly.
If SA crew considered the replicators a serious danger then kill them with some finality. Don't Piss 'em off and know they can eventually find a way back. That's plain daft. We all know this is a way of continuing that storyline at some future date, but it's being done in a very amateurish way. Producers come on! Try harder in the future....
To me the whole ep was a waste of time because all it did was bring back the "character" for another future set of eps and little else happened. Except for the Teyla child straw.
Boring ep IMHO.

August 17 2008 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched this episode, just because I was horrified at what they could possibly do to Torri's character yet again. It wasn't as bad as I expected, mainly due to Michelle Morgan and Joe Flanigan's efforts.

But really, I have no interest in staying with this show. They've killed Weir yet again. They screwed Torri over. They screwed her fans over.

In the long run, I think the loss of Torri Higginson from the cast will be seen as a turning point for this show, and it's not a good turning point. It's the point at which they voluntarily said goodbye to her fans.

August 17 2008 at 10:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't like the way they treated Tori Higginson, and now I don't like the way they resolved the "Dr Weir" storyline. I also didn't like the way the return of Michelle Morgan was done. Good to see the actor, but I wanted to see her as "Fran".

I liked the sequence of the jumper running into the space gate, and the scene where Woolsey showed that he does in fact have a backbone. Beyond that, I found the ep rather unsatisfying.

August 16 2008 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ras Thavas

Anyone catch the easter egg when Weir was communicating with Rodney while she was in the laptop?

After he types "Did you do that?" Letters appear on the screen, if you pause the video and move ahead a frame at a time you will see "allouhrbse" and "allouhrblngtoe"

I lol'd at it.

August 16 2008 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ras Thavas's comment

Call me stupid, but i thought that was just random letters. What does that mean?

August 17 2008 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry Hamilton

I saw that! LOL. All Your Base Are Belong To Us. That is what I thought when I saw that scene and then I rewinded and went in slow motion to see the letters changing. It didn't spell it out perfectly, of course, but got the point across.

August 18 2008 at 8:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that having them floating out in space was not the best way to handle it, but I thought McKay sold the episode for me. His need to set things right for his friend and his continuing belief in her was touching. His final barb at John and the other doubters felt very emotionaly real to me as well.

August 16 2008 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I totally understand why Torri Higginson felt betrayed by the producers of Atlantis and refused to come back, but this story would have been so much more poignant if she could have been there. Like you I thought the ending was completely lame. After Woolsey spent the entire episode reminding us how dangerous the Replicators were they end up just dropping them in space for any Tom, Dick, or Wraith to pick up and use against Atlantis later?? Lame ending to what ended up being a very good episode.

August 16 2008 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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