Stargate Atlantis: The Shrine
(S05E06) The folks over at Atlantis had quite a week, even before we got to the new episode. Knowing that the countdown to the end of the series has now begun made it feel just a little different tuning in on Friday night. The plans for a movie lessen the gravity of the news, as the show won't have to build to its final climactic moment, but there is still something to knowing its all ending. To take our minds off of that news, the crew checks in with a solid stand-alone episode that really stood out thanks to the performance of David Hewlett.
Gallery: Stargate Atlantis: Season 5
That's really where this one begins and ends, don't you think? In the big picture, "The Shrine" doesn't carry much weight. It's a decent enough idea for a story, scary space parasite and a ticking clock. But it's something that we've all seen before. That plot on its own wasn't enough to carry this episode anywhere past a C grade. Where the episode really shines though is in the work of David Hewlett.
I've always been a fan of McKay. His unwavering love of himself, and his own brilliance, is at once infuriating and amusing. To see him reduced to that child like state of confusion, and his experience of the anguish of knowing what is happening to him was very gripping. And a lot of the credit for that goes to David Hewlett. On his blog, producer Joe Mallozzi had said, "'The Shrine of Talus' will be a David Hewlett tour de force." He called that right. It really was an outstanding performance.
That's not to say that Hewlett did all the work. The story provided an opportunity to really show the dynamic of the team and the bonds that have formed. It even coughed up an opportunity for another good Woolsey scene. It totally caught me off guard when his touching story about his father was turned as a reason not to follow through with Ronon's plan. Ronon and Teyla both took a bit of a back seat, but what they did get was also good.
Their lack of screen time did provide an opening for the return of Jeanie (Kate Hewlett). If Jeanie was ever going to come back, this was certainly the time and place. It made sense that they would call her, and it turned the tide so they could move forward with Ronon's plan.
Although, that was one of the things about the episode that just didn't feel quite right. I struggle with the idea that Keller was stopping anyone from doing anything. It still feels like she's trying to work her way into her position and I can't imagine any of them actually giving her decision much credence. It's more like they would pat her on the head and think it's cute that she's trying to execute some authority.
Fortunately, those protests were short lived, and the scenes at the shrine worked out very well. I especially liked McKay's reaction to the realization that they had brought him there to die, after a nice lunch. It led to a nice exchange.
"With honor and dignity."
Also good was Sheppard's do it yourself MacGyver brain surgery kit. That one initially gave me pause, because I can suspend a lot of disbelief, but I was wondering just how Keller was going to open up his melon for brain surgery in that cave. The parasite wanting to escape the radiation was a clever solution to that problem.
Through all of it though, the one scene that stood out for me above all the others was McKay and Sheppard on the pier. It's telling that when he was really scared, he went running to Sheppard. And Sheppard's reaction to it was just what McKay needed. He didn't patronize him and the two of them shared a very nice moment that really showed what their relationship has become, over a Budweiser. There was still enough of the real McKay there for him to explain, "I want you to remember me as your genius friend." It also provided the line of the night with, "You're a good friend, Arthur."
And finally, there's the business of the McKay/Keller romance. The ending took me by surprise. I thought the earlier conversation where Keller said, "You bought me one drink." was putting that story to rest. But with that final bit, the whole can of worms is all over the table again. I'm kind of, eh, on the whole thing. It's not a strong suit for the show. It's not going to turn me away, but the show could really do without it. So, there we have it. One step closer to the end. A good idea, turned into a great episode by some great performances.
Other fun stuff:
"The Shrine" is episode 300 of the Stargate franchise. Crazy.
For any of you upset about the cancellation, feel free to use Flu Bird Horror as this week's rally cry. Because, seriously, they made a movie called Flu Bird Horror. If I tried, I don't think I could come up with a more ridiculous title.
The FX for season five continue to impress. I really liked the submerged gate in the glacial lake and the Atlantis backdrop to the conversation on the pier.
Update: Reader george points out in the comments that there was a parasite floating in the water when the team was on top of the gate. If you want to check it out, it's just after Sheppard says he "got a little damp dialing the DHD." I took a screencap of it, but given that it's already blurred being underwater, it doesn't look so great. The effect is much better as you watch it travel across the screen during the scene.
|Heck yeah. More of that.||300 (57.1%)|
|No thanks, but only because I'm after another pairing.||93 (17.7%)|
|Nah, that just doesn't work on Atlantis.||132 (25.1%)|