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October 9, 2015

Stargate Atlantis: The Shrine

by Brett Love, posted Aug 23rd 2008 10:18AM
David Hewlett - Stargate Atlantis
(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.

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.
Kate Hewlett - Stargate Atlantis
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.

"I die?"

"With honor and dignity."

"Screw that!"

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.
David Hewlett - Stargate Atlantis
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.Stargate Atlantis - parasite

Rodney and Jennifer, sittin' in a tree... What do you think?
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%)

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Tim McCleese

Ah....yet again, more negative references to "Enterprise". I loved that show. I realize that opinions concerning tv shows are subjective (I respect that) but I never understand why that show is not embraced more than it is. I think it would have turned more people if allowed to stay on the air a couple more years. After all, TNG didn't really take off until right after "The best of both worlds". You good folks who are not partial to "Enterprise" were not given a fair chance to appreciate its merits. For one, the weak network it was on almost seemed to try to bury it with poor time slots and meager advertising. And gentlemen, you cannot argue the visages of Linda Park and Jolene Blalock....right?

September 26 2008 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't like the Keller/McKay romance at all, so I just stop watching the ep before the end. The rest was wonderful, though, the absolute best being the McKay and Sheppard scenes, so much emotion, so much friendship.
I see them together much more than I do Jen and Rodney...

August 25 2008 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do agree that it's better that they don't literally show them get together (if ever that were an intension of the show). Sometimes implying is nicer because it allows the audience to choose the way to view a relationship (I agree about Carter/O'Neil). I, too, feel as though the current state of their relationship does not feel romantic, but it was something I hoped that maybe could happen as the show continued to develop. Unfortunately, we won't really have that opportunity anymore.

I noticed something that I did not in my first viewing of the episode. When McKay says goodbye to everyone, I was disappointed he didn't say "Bye, Jennifer" as well, but then the second time I watched...at the very end, you see his saddened eyes look away (towards her) from the camera and he breathes out a "bye".

August 24 2008 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry in my post on 8-24-08 @ 8:03pm (that time can't be right) I said the feelings between McKay and Keller were hinted in episode 16 season 1, I of course meant episode 16 season 4.

Also Whedon is good, I enjoy his work a lot. But not everything he does is fantastic, amazing, mind blowing. Sometimes it's just fun to watch (or read) and entertaining (kind of like this show), I'm thinking of his run on Astonishing X-Men.

August 24 2008 at 9:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode was horrible. Wasn't Rodney in love with that botanist girl? All over now? Guess he can fall back in love in a heartbeat. Great performances... yeah right.

The FX are great, yes. I also saw the parasite. But watching Rodney talk into the camera for no reason at all was just a vehicle for him to be able to confess his love to somebody not in the room. Like the first time he wasn't able to. This wasn't romantic. It wasn't interesting. It was nothing. It was totally boring and him losing his intelligence was so totally half-assed because we all know he WON'T die.

Joss Whedon would've pulled this one off. His shows are always open for dire consequences.

The Stargate folks can't. They were never able to. The closest they ever got was the O'Neill/Carter scene with the forcefield separating them as well as the mind probing later on. But after that every time they try to do this it is just a pile of pathetic garbage. The whole season has been totally sub-par up until now and the cancellation more and more seems justified. They are just cranking out the same type of show every week. Nothing happens and IF something happens it is because of budgetary constraints or contract mishaps (Weir/Carter/O'Neill et cetera). The only time they were able to really work around this was when Michael Shanks dropped out of the show.

Stargate at the moment feels like the time when "Enterprise" was in season three and Star Trek X left you with a feeling of "meh" all over. Nothing happens anymore. You don't feel for the characters. It's like a soap opera.

"If you don't like it, don't watch it".

Well that's just it. I watched all those 300 episodes and I liked about half of them. I was in pain for about three to four years now, with only one or two episodes really shining amongst all those dull unpolished diamonds with only the S/FX pulling the show(s) out of the mud of mediocre Sci-Fi. And now I'm just about to quit Stargate altogether. Sci-Fi (the station) thinks it's over and there needs to be a fresh start. I'm all for it. But if you ask me the situation is just like it was just before "Enterprise" started right after "Voyager" ended.

There are too many Rick Bermans still left in Vancouver.

August 24 2008 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to StillBash's comment

Hewitt certainly is a fine actor. Tremendous performance. He was so good he made it all look such an easy role to play. Yet it needed talent and lots of it.

So much time has been spent developing individual characters and relationships on this show that it's really a crime to pull the plug so suddenly. Especially as the main story arc is way from complete. Yes I know there will be films, but these tend to be dropped also quite quickly.

I wonder what SciFi channel feels? They were likely caught be the shut down as well. Maybe this will mean more original SciFi shows? But original SciFi 2 hour features are really their weakest point, so the same would be true of inhouse shows IMHO.

August 24 2008 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

David Hewlett should get an Emmy for his performance in this episode. He is so good and knows how to draw out the emotions. I found myself tearing up a few times in his scenes. I wondered if that line with John, "You're a good friend, Arthur" was ad libbed because Joe Flanigan really looked taken aback just before he snorted out his beer in laughter. I love Atlantis and I will miss it. But I'll miss my Rodney most of all. I'm glad to hear they'll be making some movies, letting the show carry on that way.

August 24 2008 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One of my favorite episodes...well, I love anything with McKay, especially when he is the main focus (because David Hewlett performs this character with such genius).

I am saddened and disappointed that this series is coming to an end. As some have said, what will be left, really, after its departure (although, I am happy to see some Star Trek: TNG)? I have to say, the premise for the new series doesn't spark too much interest in me (maybe that's some resentment talking, not only from the eventual loss of Atlantis, but I think still from losing SG-1 : / *sigh*)

Ok, back to the reason I wanted to comment. I can see how the McKay/Keller romance seems to feel to come out of nowhere, since it hasn't been touched upon since that drink in "Trio". However, I feel that how McKay echoes Keller's "torture" in describing the situation shows how well Keller understands him. So, his declaration of love (tbo, I was actually expecting him to say 'really like you' or 'care for you') was not a big surprise and expected when he said he wanted to say something to her. I'm quite happy about it. I hope they will get to develop their relationship, no matter their prominence within the remaining episodes. Actually, being subtle about relationships in such shows based on group dynamics, collaboration, etc.,...with occasional moments of prominence such as in this episode, is the best way to go about it. I think that's what they tried (trying?) to do with Shepherd and Teyla. I had really hoped they would become even closer after the birth of her child, but they had to go ahead and let Kannan (sp?) survive, so it kind of spoils it : (

AN-Y-WAYS...sorry for the slight veer off course...

Thanks for the review and someone needs to give David some awards for his performances already!!

August 24 2008 at 3:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to 2Ds_Tennant_Hewlett's comment

I actually like that Teyla and Sheppard aren't together. I like that they show this team where Sheppard and Ronon, two very attractive guys, can work with a very attractive woman, and they have respect and love for each other and the team and that's it. Basically it's that men and women can work together without it eventually leading to more.

You know how everyone kind of assumes that Jack and Sam are together even though it's never been shown explicitly, which is great except I'd like to think that because they're both still working in the Air Force they have not actually done anything about their feelings. So that was a slightly different situation. Here in SGA I'm sure Sheppard loves Teyla but I never thought it a romantic love.

August 24 2008 at 10:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Han Solo

Am I the only one that kept thinking it would be nice if his friend Dr Zelenka was there? Of all the episodes, this would have been one.

And he might have even had a better chance.

August 23 2008 at 10:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Again, thank you TV Squad for your terrific screen prints from the episode. They really are icing on the Stargate Atlantis 'cake.'

A wonderful, delicious episode, sort of a like a seven course meal. Instead of say, for example, a beef stew, with everything in one helping, we were treated to separate courses: 1) the appetizer in the introduction of Jeanie Miller on Atlantis, 2) the soup -- literally, Team Atlantis sitting on TOP of the offworld Stargate, surrounded by water, 3) the entree, Rodney in danger and the team trying to find an answer, 4) the main course -- the journey to The Shrine, 5) the bread -- David Hewlett tearing into his performance in the cave, 6) the salad -- every character in this episode having their own special moment -- Ronon with Jeanie in the hallway, Teyla with Rodney, Shep and Rodney on the pier, Jeanie with Rodney, Woolsey's memory of his father, Keller and Rodney with the video logs, heck, even the MALP gave its life as a distraction to the puddle jumper's entry through the Stargate, and 7) the dessert -- Rodney's admission to Jennifer that he has loved her for some time.

Stargate Atlantis, you're a jewel, and you're treasured by many fans. Thanks to all who have worked on and with the series for all your talents.

August 23 2008 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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