View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: Misbegotten
July 21st, 2006, 06:12 PM
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<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s3/302.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">MISBEGOTTEN</A></FONT>
<FONT SIZE="1">EPISODE NUMBER - 302</FONT>
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The Atlantis team must decide the fate of a colony of Wraith they have turned into humans. Dr. Weir must defend her leadership when she is evaluated by the I.O.A.
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July 21st, 2006, 11:25 PM
"Misbegotten" Puts Forward Important Moral Issues
This episode written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie and directed by Martin Wood continues from last week’s episode "No Man’s Land." Sheppard , MacKay and the others have captured a hive ship and brought it home to Atlantis. Unfortunately they also have a crew full of Wraith males, now converted into humans that they had to put into stasis. The plot revolves around stranding the Wraith on an island planet with Dr. Beckett studying them and Mackay and others trying to figure out how to operate the Wraith ship. A large question revolves around whether to trust and help Michael, again played by Connor Trinneer.
There is also a subplot continued from last week with Woolsey and Weir, now on Atlantis and Woolsey evaluating Weir’s Management style.
There was an early scene between Woolsey and Mitch Pileggi as Colonel Caldwell that I found quite intelligent. Woolsey tried to scope Caldwell out for his loyalties and Caldwell made it quite clear that he’d been around long enough to know how these things work. Caldwell smiled knowingly through the entirety of Woolsey’s smarmy approach. I’m liking Mitch Pileggi more and more in every episode.
I found the moral issues of this episode to be very interesting. First was Michael’s second betrayal when Dr. Beckett injected him with the serum once again and stranded him on the planet with the other Wraith. The second moral issue is what to do with the converted Wraith? Should they keep injecting them with the serum and lying to them about why they were there? And will that work? The third issue is that if it doesn’t work and the Wraith remember who they are, should they be stranded on the planet to starve or even worse should we obliterate them with a nuclear bomb?
I was shocked by some of the solutions being discussed on this episode. I was shocked by the treatment of Michael. I was very deeply bothered by the discussion of treatment of the Wraith as if by not being Homo-Sapiens, they are worth less as intelligent beings. However, I also couldn’t discount that the Wraith are deadly enemies and if the humans take the moral high ground and treat the Wraith humanely, will humans survive against them?
These are good questions to bring forward, important questions, that in my mind are analogous to Guantanamo and present day terrorists. "We did what we did in order to survive." Joe Flanigan as Colonel Sheppard tells Woolsey, but does that make it right? I don’t know the answer.
I can tell you one thing. They’ve made an enemy of Michael.
This was a good team episode, well acted and focused. The moral issues were most focused with the characters of Dr. Beckett and Teyla well played by Paul McGillion and Rachel Lutrell. They both showed their personal moral struggle which reflected the questions put forward in the episode. Joe Flanigan argued the security side of the issues with strength and a sense of responsibility.
There was a puzzling meeting that acted as an episode epilogue between Woolsey and Weir. Weir questioned her leadership and Woolsey forgave all for seemingly political reasons...at least for now.
Of "Stargate Atlantis" episodes, I would argue for this as one of the most thoughtfully written and directed. The questions put forward here, and how they are resolved or not resolved will have many repercussions for the show and leave us many questions of our own to ponder.
Bonnie Arbuthnot has worked with Martin Wood who directed this episode.
July 22nd, 2006, 04:46 PM
For me 'Misbegotten' was as much 'hit' as 'miss'. I was rather disappointed on first viewing, so went back and rewatched it, and while I'm in no means 'unbiased' I tried to be objective and giving the episode its due, it did kick up a number of intriguing questions and subtexts.
I have to say I am not a fan of crossover and 'Misbegotten' proved why. The Woolsey subplot seemed to be leftovers from the previous week and while it did allow for some wonderful lighter moments (Sheppard's need to 'smack Woolsey in the head' most notable), it felt surplus and distracted from the main plot. Yes, it was well utilised in 'No Man's Land' to give Weir the chance to account for her actions, but in 'Misbegotten' simply ate up screen time which could have been used to greater effect elsewhere. Much of last season's episodes kicked up a series of ethical and moral dilemmas so far unresolved, especially for the characters of Beckett and Weir. Elizabeth got her chance to work through some of the issues that have resulted from her decisions last week, and this episode tried at least to address Beckett's.
The key factor to the retrovirus arc has always been, are we committing genocide by changing the Wraith into humans as surely as if we blasted them all to hell? Michael's excellent line, 'What I am is not a disease you can cure', sums it up perfectly. To strip a vital part of what makes the Wraith who they are as a race, and erase their pervious memories is a death of 'self', still genocide in Michael's eyes and rightly so. I also found the switch of situations for Beckett and Michael, captive becoming captor, to be the high point of this episode. The interrogation scene sizzled with tension, excellently portrayed between the two actors. Just what did Michael mean when he said 'You underestimate your own value' to Beckett? And, 'You have a strong sense of empathy towards others......You are exactly what I need', suggests there was more going on then simple information extraction. This is especially intriguing considering Michael's earlier mind control of Teyla apparently due to her 'telepathic' abilities with the Wraith. Though I felt the scene was cut short and the 'fade out at crucial moment' only to return and find a 'barely conscious' Beckett though ominous, was a little too cliche. Whether this subtext will be pursued however is the question; Stargate has never been strong at capitalising on the potential of previous episodes subtexts and this one could really prove to a great way for Michael to yet again be a thorn in Atlantis' side.
However an overly busy story and too many plot holes wasted a lot of this episodes potential. What were they doing in the 5 days it took Weir and Woolsey to return from Earth? Where did the nuke come from when the Daedalus had exhausted its supply? Not to mention silly cliché moments, namely, Beckett sneaking off sans security into an alien forest with 200 de-Wraithified human's running around. Definately a rather stupid decision, something SGA seems fond of having its main characters do if it fits the plots purposes. I also found Sheppard's barely concealed disdain for the Wraith who were now essential venerable and helpless humans rather unsettling. If the point of the retrovirus is to remove the Wraith threat without the loss of life, then why be so quick to dispose of them? Only Carson seemed to be concerned with the humanised wraith's welfare, his humanity once again shining through and adding a much needed counterbalance to Sheppard's ruthlessness.
I also greatly enjoyed the casts performances, most notably guest star Connor Trinneer whose 'Michael' is shaping up to be the best 'villain' this show has. As the darkly complex and redeemable bad guy, Michael adds much needed ambiguity and depth to the Wraith. And of course, Paul McGillion's portrayal of the ever expressive Carson Beckett is always a delight to watch, the character really is the heart of SGA's core characters and he shows this yet again to great affect.
Summing up, a good episode which posed some interesting questions for the season ahead. However, the Woolsey subplot detracted focus from the more important issues and wasted a good episodes potential to be excellent. 3/5
July 22nd, 2006, 07:25 PM
In advance I’m going to ask forgiveness for the comparisons to SG-1's Morpheus. It’s a habit of mine to compare corresponding units of the two Stargate series and its part of how I evaluate the episode.
Misbegotten was a great episode. It addressed (in part) an eithical issue with the whole retro-virus arc and - in my eyes - re-affirmed the value of two characters while finally endearing another character to me, but the resolution left me wanting more (in a bad way).
The episode’s A-story started out fantastically. The issue of using the retro-virus to transform Wraith into Humans was one that I had thought about myself and after reading GateWorld’s brief synopsis on the episode’s page I had high hopes that this issue would be explored, specifically exactly how these new Humans would be treated by the rest of the universe.
The theme was strong at the beginning of the episode but waned as it went on, even though 20+ Humans began to turn into Wraith. I feel that there were a lot of missed opportunities, most of all having Michael and the others speak with Sheppard. That said, I did particularly enjoy Beckett and Michael’s interaction – he’s turning into a fantastic villain.
Just as with Morpheus, the end of Misbegotten’s A-story was weak, even more so because it was so unresolved. Cutting away from the action just as the story’s resolution was reaching a climax didn’t ante up the tension, it dissolved it. Having the resolution occur offscreen was a big mistake, and leaving the resolution of Michael and the other humano-Wraith (it’s a new word, I’m trying it out) hanging in that way was just a plain bad decision.
However in the A-story’s defence, it was excellent to see a Beckett-oriented story – I can’t remember the last time we got a Becket episode – and Paul McGillion did a fantastic job with the early moral scenes and the later scenes with Connor Trinneer (who was also excellent).
To again draw parallels to Morpheus, this episode made me appreciate a character that I hadn’t before; Woolsey. He had always struck me as a neutral character, an unusual cross between Maybourne and Kinsey in that he would be an adversary or ally depending on whether or not it benefited him. But in this episode he showed his true colours as a Weir supporter and an ally against the IOA, though its never explicitly stated until the very end. He’s still nosy, and he can still rub the other characters and the audience the wrong way, but for me this is the episode where he showed me that his intentions are good and his heart is in the right place. Kudos to Robert Picardo too for being able to perform a character who switches from aggressive to meek to inquisitive from scene to scene yet still makes it seem perfectly in character.
The episode’s B-story was good too. Not great, but good; if the investigator had been anyone other than Woolsey I’m quite certain that the B-story would’ve fallen apart. Weir and the rest of the Atlantis team were on the ropes and even though Woolsey was giving me some positive vibes I wasn’t entirely sure until the end which way his decision would go, and that gave me a sense of foreboding about how this plotline would turn out. That may sound like a contradiction to my above praise of Picardo and Woolsey, but all I can say is that the character was appealing to me even as he looked like he might rule against our heroes.
Kudos must also go to the Costumes and Make-up department for the way they contributed to the slow transformation of the humano-Wraith. Their human forms looked sufficiently creepy that we still knew they were villains while still making sure we knew that (for the moment) they were human. Their transitional prosthetics and make-up were brilliant too, and Michael’s look in his last couple of scenes was simply brilliant, a blend of harsh Wraith features and expressive Human ones. I’m certainly hoping that we see a lot more of the humano-Wraith because they looked awesome.
So, in summary: the episode’s A-story started strong but ended on a weak note while the B-story remained consistently good, the whole episode being helped by great performances from McGillion, Trinneer and Picardo. I say the episode was great, 7 out of 10.
July 22nd, 2006, 09:04 PM
After a strong start to the season with No Man's Land, Misbegotten was a disaster. Any good created in the first half of the premiere was destroyed by the conclusion. Rarely have I hated the Atlantis expedition more than I did in this episode; their arrogance and unwavering stupidity in all things was, at times, unbearable.
Given the disaster with Michael last season, you'd think the team would have learned from their mistakes. You'd think they'd have better ideas about how to treat (and not treat) a Converted Wraith. You'd think they'd come up with a better plan. You'd be wrong. In a singularly stunning move, Team Atlantis did the unthinkable: they tried a failed trick twice.
At least they learned enough to not keep the Wraith in the city, but they still need a better cover story. The whole "plague" scenario was possibly even more asinine than the "you were a victim of Wraith experimentation" line they fed Michael. I had this issue last time, too: you can't make an alien "remember" life as a human; they can't even put it into context! If they remember anything- and you KNOW they'll try- it'll be their life before the conversion. Why bother lying?
Adding insult to injury was the attempt to re-convert Michael. You guys did notice how spectacularly that failed the last time, right? What made you think Round 2 was going to be any better? Giving him a stronger version of the drug he was building immunity to and placing him among several hundred other Converted Wraith is just asking for trouble. And trouble is exactly what they got. It amazes me that no one foresaw this happening, especially after last season. Maybe the Wraith aren’t the only ones suffering from memory problems.
These "ethical" situations need to be handled more cautiously. I'm not sure what the writers intended with last season's Michael and now with Misbegotten, but I do know that I feel a lot more empathy for the "enemy" than for the "good guys" and that's a very dangerous road to take. The all-too-brief scene with Michael and the other Wraith looking at the bomb was heart-wrenching. "I don’t understand," said the Wraith. I knew, though, and so did Michael: humans are the REAL monsters. The Atlantis team made those people trust them, but all the while they had their finger on the button that would vaporize them. At least the Wraith are straightforward about killing people.
You don't want to alienate your audience, but that's exactly what I see happening: the main characters are becoming so witless and self-important that they're making the bad guys look good. Not a smart move.
Sheppard's team could easily have blown up the ship while the Wraith were in stasis and I doubt anyone would have thought twice about it, but by making the moral choice to allow them to live, the team faced certain obligations to help those people; obligations they failed through lies, deceit and treachery. Again.
Shep's behavior toward them was deplorable. Sympathy and understanding were what was called for, not rudeness and dismissal. Spare them a few words of comfort even if you're pathologically incapable of telling them the truth.
Connor Trinneer, meanwhile, was fantastic. I can understand why people want to see more of him on Atlantis- he's capable of breathing life into an otherwise two-dimensional character. He has a firm grasp on who and what Michael is and it's refreshing to see a character remain strong and consistent. I'm inclined to think that a majority of "Michael" is a result of Connor's input rather than anything that may have appeared on paper; it's too good.
Carson was another saving grace of the episode and while I had some severe issues with the actions he took (why would he agree to re-administer the retrovirus to Michael?) I think Paul McGillion did an excellent job of bringing depth and emotion to Carson and his situation. I wish we could have seen more of the confrontation between him and Michael. I know the writers thought they were setting up a surprise ending, but it wasn't very surprising. Who needs a nuke when the whole episode was a bomb?
One thing that confused me is that the B-plot revolved around Weir and her bad decision-making. The implication was that she knows she's made mistakes and that she'll try to correct them… And yet the A-plot has everyone repeating the same mistakes that got them into trouble in the first place. Was that intentional? Somehow I doubt it, especially given all the linguistic contortions taking place to keep Weir in command. Why?
What happened to "Weasel" Woolsey? I thought he was supposed to be a petty bureaucrat more concerned with the bottom line than the bigger picture? Instead he's simpering and fawning over Weir and lying to protect her. That seems... off- and very convenient. I want Weir's position to be in serious jeopardy. I want there to be a real question about whether or not she'll be allowed to stay. Conflict, people! Stop taking the easy way out! And if this episode is supposed to be "dark," someone needs to re-check their dictionary.
At least Rodney seemed more like his old self: more competence, less whining. I just hope it sticks.
Caldwell was a pleasant surprise. His character is developing very nicely and becoming much more than the one-dimensional cliché he was when he first arrived in Atlantis. Getting snaked in Critical Mass seemed to help him grow as a character. I like the change.
All in all, I found the episode disappointing. The characters need to learn from their mistakes in order to grow, but the writers seem determined to keep them all in the same ruts. Why? Newsflash, guys: If you have to lobotomize your main characters in order to accomplish a goal, it's time to rethink your storyline. Atlantis is supposed to be home to the best and brightest, right? Prove it!
July 29th, 2006, 03:07 PM
Though this is not formally the second half of a two-part episode, it might as well be, since most of the plot elements continue from the season premiere. More correctly, this is the fourth episode in a row to deal with the moral question of the Wraith “cure”. If anything, this episode puts Weir and her team in an even more compromised position. The situation was handled poorly, to say the least, and it’s hard to know what the long-term effects are likely to be.
The arrival of Woolsey in the Pegasus Galaxy is interesting, because it may result in a softening of his character. It wouldn’t be the first time; McKay began as a character with few redeeming values on “SG-1”, and now he’s one of the more sympathetic characters on the series. Will this same transformation take place with Woolsey?
It might be more interesting if it was less successful, especially if Weir and the others are lulled into a false sense of security. After all, one interpretation of this episode is that Woolsey let Weir off the hook to demonstrate his willingness to keep an open mind and be fair. He doesn’t seem to like being the bad guy while in such an isolated position. However, it could be a ploy; convince Weir and Team Atlantis that they Woolsey is one of the gang, making his job easier.
The mistake in this episode was not the decision to leave the converted Wraith on the planet or fooling them into believing that they were victims of a plague. It was close to the line, but under the circumstances, the best alternative short of wiping them out. The mistake was in letting Beckett’s crisis of conscience turn into an error in judgment. Once the colony was set up for injections, they should have been left alone. Sure, some of them would revert, and they would start killing each other. But the final outcome was the inevitable result of not following through on the isolation plan.
It’s also unfortunate that Michael could not be an ally of sorts. It might have worked to Weir’s advantage to have a group of “humanized” Wraith, if there was any chance of getting them to see other Wraith as the enemy. Michael would know, all too well, how his “humanized” brethren would be treated by other Wraith. They could have been a fifth column within the Wraith population. Granted, it was a long shot, but I think it might have made things a little more complex.
As it was, Michael’s characterization seemed out of synch with the previous episode, where it seemed more likely. I’m not sure whether or not this situation will continue to play a role in the season as a whole, or if the Wraith “cure” will give way to some new plot thread. The colony could have been that recurring element, but obviously, that won’t be happening now. The Woolsey subplot should keep going for a while, but that’s not going to be enough. I’m still wary after the second season, but I also remain cautiously optimistic.
Final Rating: 7/10
August 3rd, 2006, 09:59 AM
Misbegotten. Well, what can I say? Wasn’t a fantastic episode was it? The word average comes to mind. Like SG1’s season episode of the season, Atlantis’ Misbegotten doesn’t live up to the promise that was made by a fantastic season opener and several interesting storylines.
The episode starts of with the expedition still not knowing what happened in No Man’s Land and therefore being quite worried about the Hive ship approaching at high speed. Of course the audience knows it’s the team in their brand new Hive ship, but it’s nice to see that everyone is still very much worried about the outcome of last weeks battle. That, and it gives Beckett the chance to sit in the control chair again, which always makes for nice scenes to watch.
After this, the biggest question becomes what to do with the prisoners. Keeping them in stasis for the time being would be a good option, but that doesn’t make interesting television, so the team has to try and give them a home somewhere. The same goes for Lethan not trusting the situation. This is quite a common thing for a writer to do in order to move an episode forward and create a conflict between the prisoners and the team. This time however, they put a little twist on it. Making Michael and several others already have their memories return (or remain) while on the treatment makes for an interesting twist. This also makes the drugs a less important storyline to follow in the future. It’s pretty much served it’s purpose and we have to try and find new and better ways of defeating the Wraith.
Connor Trinneer plays Michael quite well and I was actually surprised to see he didn’t buy the story fed to them. Trinneer seems to be more comfortable overall playing the human form of Michael, while the Wraith Michael feels like too much of a standard Wraith.
The second storyline of Woolsey determining if Dr. Weir should remain in command of the expedition was firstly necessary after last weeks episode. It could easily have felt to forced, but it didn’t. I really enjoy Robert Picardo’s portrayal of Richard Woolsey as sort of an antagonist. But like Weir says in her conversation with Sheppard, he’s really not such a bad guy and quite often we’ll find him on our side. It’s nice to see that Woolsey’s report in the end is less than completely accurate, because he believes it serves a higher good. Weir is the right person in the right place and her position has just been solidified.
Speaking of that conversation, was Weir actually flirting with Sheppard or was that just me? In any case, he was caught completely of guard and didn’t know how to respond. This moment was probably my favorite in the entire episode, because it’s also those little moments between characters that keep the show really interesting, not just having a good enemy. The writers already promised us more relationship developments between the main characters this season and it seems like they’re coming through.
Now, I really think both Stargate SG1 and Atlantis were fantastically cast and they both have the right actors for the right characters. Therefore, you won’t see me saying I didn’t like the acting of any one person very often. The episode is pretty much the same. The story may not have been fantastic, but the characters acted just like we know them and the actors brought them to live without too much trouble or effort. I’m just getting a bit bored with Teyla. It’s starting to look like the writers are struggling to find things for her to do. Don’t get me wrong, I think Rachel Luttrell plays Teyla very well, but in the last several episodes she’s just not had a very great deal to work with. I seriously hope this will change in the future, because I don’t like the idea of losing either Rachel or Teyla like happened with Lt. Ford.
The conclusion for the main storyline was rather standard. Sheppard having placed a nuke as a fail safe was completely in line with character (and military protocol), Michael finding and disabling upped the tension and even helps with possible future storylines. As it is now, we don’t know for sure if any of the Wraith on the planet survived. If this is the case, Michael will of course be one of them. But I guess we simply don’t know and we’ll probably find out soon enough.
Overall, the storyline just didn’t seem to able to hold my attention. The second time through the episode I found myself doing others thing than watching the episode itself, which is usually a pretty good sign that the episode isn’t very good. But at least the episode never irritated me and did keep me entertained the first time I saw it. Like I said at the beginning of this review, Misbegotten isn’t a great episode, but it isn’t a bad one either. So, it receives 6 failsafe nukes out of a possible 10 from me.
August 13th, 2006, 06:54 PM
“Misbegotten” deals with the repercussions of a series of decisions that the Atlantis Team has made beginning with the DNA retrovirus experiments from the season 2 episode, “Michael.” It is a complex, sophisticated and somewhat disturbing story that strives to take on the darker aspects of the consequences of these decisions.
The choice the Atlantis team made in “Michael” came back to haunt them in the last episode of season 2 as well as the first two episodes of this season. They find themselves backed into a series of Catch-22 situations – in “Allies” the forced alliance with the Wraith and in “No Man’s Land” having to use the retrovirus gas to change the Wraith into humans in order to survive. Now with “Misbegotten” the question of what to do with Michael and 200 Wraith turned humans - only to find themselves forced to make additional morally and ethically challenging decisions. One such decision was whether to give Michael the retrovirus again vs. letting him go to another planet or letting him wander freely around Atlantis but knowing either one is dangerous and a security risk vs. keeping him a prisoner for the rest of his life, but then the dilemma on how to feed him. And another in the final moments as the Wraith hive ship was approaching the planet they were left with only two options, to let the wraith/humans be taken by the Wraith and risk having the location of Atlantis and Earth discovered or to destroy the camp and its inhabitants. Sheppard realizes that if Michael got his memory back then the others probably have too – and that the location Atlantis and Earth could be compromised. His decision was guided by the fact that it was his duty to protect Atlantis and Earth – and at that moment he felt he had “no choice” but to fire on the camp.
Strengths: Congratulations to the writers for taking the risk of presenting a story arc that did not have a happy ending with all the moral pieces satisfactorily resolved. It could have been very easy to write a different course of events such as; the vaccine works, the Wraith turned Humans believe the story they were told; Michael agrees to become human again, or the Wraith ship is blown up in “No Man’s Land”, (in which case there would be no “Misbegotten”), but neat, pretty packages do not challenge the viewer, and science fiction should not just entertain, but challenge one’s imagination, visions and even – from time to time - moral beliefs.
Ironically the “B” story, which had Woolsey coming to Atlantis to evaluate Weir’s decisions and to determine if she should remain in charge also ended with a question of ethics. He decided to file a “false” report to the committee stating that it was her decision to protect Atlantis and Earth by destroying the settlement so the IOA would allow her to remain in charge.
Weaknesses: What was missing from this episode was seeing how the characters would have struggled with the decisions that were made. As the viewer, we were told what the plan was but were not given the opportunity to see the characters express/argue their views. There were some attempts at this; the discussion in the tent between Sheppard and Beckett or when Woolsey was questioning Sheppard, but both scenes fell short of what was needed. The only characters with clear and unwavering views were Ronon - they are still wraith and should die; and Beckett – they are humans now and we need to help them. The other characters represent the grey area between those two opposing points of view and that is what should have been better explored. This was an opportunity for character growth and understanding that was missed.
A short scene to answer some of the following questions would have helped the viewer sort out the moral aspects of the story from the characters perspective and helped even out the story flow –which seemed choppy and rushed in places:
“Were the inhabitants considered to be humans, Wraiths or prisoners?”
“Did Sheppard ever feel the plan would work or was he always prepared to make the decision to use the ‘failsafe’ plan?”
“Who was a part of the decision to give Michael the retrovirus?”
“What were Sheppard’s feelings concerning Michael?”
“Was Dr. Beckett’s steadfast determination to make the plan work a testament solely to his compassion and/or a need to make it work to help resolve guilt he may have had over developing the retrovirus?”
Connor Trinneer for his portrayal of Michael; he helped create a complex character that had one feeling sympathy for him (we “did” this to him) as well as fear (he is still a murderous Wraith that will require humans as food).
Mitch Pileggi and Robert Picardo for their short but strong scene together on the Atlantis balcony; well played and the tension between the two was palpable - rather like a chess game with the two players carefully calculating their own as well as their opponent’s next move.
Joe Flanigan, his portrayal of a militaristic, tough Lt Col John Sheppard was excellent, though the writers need to give him even more to work with. We have seen glimpses of this side of Sheppard’s character and a better exploration of it is needed.
Paul McGillion for his portrayal of Dr. Beckett; as the compassionate healer, he was willing to risk his own life for what he believed was right.
“Misbegotten” was overall a good episode that challenges the viewer on many levels. It is a complicated, engrossing yet provocative story that could have been better if the characters own perspectives on the issues/decisions that were presented them had been more clearly explored.
October 26th, 2006, 10:34 AM
The continuation of the season premiere, Misbegotten, is left to tie up the loose ends from in the previous instalment. The focus is shifted back to Atlantis as the team deal with the mess they created by using the Wraith retro-virus while Weir's leadership continues to be scruntinised. Unfortunately, the whole episode ends up feeling like it’s doing exactly that; cleaning up a disjointed mess although the final act provides a flash of the excellence Atlantis can achieve.
The main plot continues to focus around the Wraith retro-virus arc and the morality questions of biological warfare. No Man’s Land felt like a justification for the team in using the virus by not only gaining their lives but a hive ship in the process. Misbegotten wipes out that prior success and forces them to deal with the consequences of their actions: this time the team truly escapes their fate only by the skin of their teeth and with significant loss.
The most successful element is the thrilling finale. The final battle with their desperate firing on the planet below as they are shot at by the arriving Wraith ship is tense, dramatic and well-executed; the special effects providing a visual feast to support the well-drawn character reactions. The arrival of the Daedalus to find nothing but debris and no life-signs provides a moment of anxiety before the expected confirmation of Sheppard’s voice from the cloaked puddle-jumper provides relief. The loss of their newly acquired hive ship provides the notion the team have paid a price as does the very personal nature of Beckett’s torture by Michael on the planet.
Unfortunately, the lead up to these events is plodding, the scenes shifting from the SGC, to Atlantis, to the hive ship, to the planet in an almost disjointed manner. The bizarre decision to take the humanised Wraith out of stasis and placed on the planet is never truly explained beyond the need to conserve power on the hive ship. Given the failure of their previous attempt with Michael and given there is always the risk of reversion, it seems another poor judgement on Weir’s part. Yet it does provide the opportunity to examine the morality of creating and using the virus, and the obligation of the Atlantis team to care for the dehumanised Wraith.
The morality question is played out by Michael in his discussion with Teyla when she suggests using the virus will give him a life again. He correctly points out that in destroying the sense of his true self, they are effectively killing him; that the use of the virus is a form of genocide. His observation that he is not a disease to be cured is suitably poignant and heart-felt while the menace of what he is highlighted in the dynamic played out by the actors. This is taken further in the torture scene between Beckett and Michael.
Michael’s torture of Beckett serves to punish the doctor at an individual level for creating the virus and by doing so shifts the sympathy from Michael back to the Atlantis team because Beckett is the most empathetic to the humanised Wraiths. Beckett does feel a moral obligation to them. He cares about their fate and won’t abandon them. This is contrasted sharply with Ronan’s and Sheppard’s viewpoint; they don’t see the community as humans at all. Sheppard effectively admits to Woolsey that as far as he’s concerned the humanised Wraiths can never be trusted. Ultimately, the original idealistic vision of turning the Wraiths into humans and not killing them will never be achieved; the retro-virus can only be used as a weapon to weaken the Wraith before they are killed one way or another.
The story demonstrates this effectively and it is Sheppard who eventually makes the morally repugnant but strategically correct decision to destroy the humanised Wraith on the planet because they cannot risk the intelligence of Earth’s location and Atlantis’s existence to leak again. Here is the strength of character that enabled Sheppard to shoot his commanding officer and end his suffering. Sheppard excels as a military leader in Misbegotten; tough, strategically focused and utilising his team to the best of their abilities.
In contrast it is hard to see why Weir retains her position. The entire continuation of the review into Weir’s leadership has no tension or bite – even Weir seems remarkably relaxed about it, teasing Sheppard for being upset on her behalf and dismissing Woolsey as harmless. Woolsey’s decision to report less than the complete truth and facts is out of character. His distrust for the military and preference for civilian oversight might have provided an explanation except for his own quote right at the beginning (the best line of the episode); ‘nothing renews your appreciation for the military like the threat of invasion from life-sucking aliens.’ Losing the leadership would have sharply emphasised the cost of making morally ambiguous decisions.
If Weir’s decisions provoke questions over her leadership ability, her team-building does not. Both the opening scene and the briefing scene with the team united at last finally provide the all important ingredient of showing how much they care for each other. It is a shame the opening was not the ending of No Man’s Land which cried out for such a scene. Misbegotten also makes better use of its ensemble cast with all on screen although some get more of the action than others.
In many ways, Misbegotten delivers the appropriate sense of gravity needed, evokes sympathy for the Atlantis team and the final act delivers some much needed tension; all qualities missing from No Man’s Land. Indeed, the two work better when viewed as a whole yet there is still the sense that there is room for improvement; a sentiment that could be attributed to the entire retro-virus arc and unfortunately, with the fate of the humanised Wraith including Michael left ambiguous for a possible sequel, the story cannot be said to be concluded nor the mess completely cleaned up.
June 15th, 2007, 08:53 AM
This episode is the third of a three part episode.
Agian very much like the first episode only a bit of a step up in the sense of charactors the episode starts with the team along with Michale back as a human.
The crossover part agian in all honesty was like trying to fly through a black hole no real conduct in with the two charactors and the IOA this part of the episode was a big let down i was expecting RDA to show up witch would have made the part much more interasting.
The Atlantis part was amazing in the sense that we see what the wrath look like as humans and seeing Carson in this kind os situation was intersting to watch. And most of all i think there's some heat between the charactors in Atlantis.
All in all big step up from the first episode.
Rating 9 out of 10.
Zombies Rise from the Sea
August 10th, 2012, 07:29 PM
So after they teamed up with Michael, turned a Wraith ship into a human and saved Earth; they return home to Atlantis to a heroes welcome, complete with a Hive ship filled to the brim with the Wraith they recently transformed into humans. This episode appears to be the third part of a three episode saga but I honestly think it could of worked as a standalone episode; if they cut out some of the actiony parts like them returning, (which was unnecessary) focused a bit more on the Wraith society and remove some of the stuff that's noticeable in two parters then it could of passed.
The Wraith society has got to be the most interesting concept/parts of the episode; It's something to see a bunch of human-turned Wraith living together, forming a society and bonds out of nothing... These people have no idea who they are, no connections, no bonds but they manage to build a society from the ground up, homes, traditions, communication, life, they even manage to have meetings and organization, even Michael is utilized well here showcasing an alternate opinion that's easily representative of this society. (and overall, acting well with a sense of awareness and character that we've come to know and love.) This is the stuff sci-fi is made of, it somewhat digs into the concept of life and how life is formed; nobody knows how life is formed, even the SGA people don't have a full understanding of the formation of life in general but they have some idea and they manage to show that to some extent as we witness shots of the Wraith society. Though much of the shots depicting life are in the background, those of you who are interested in life or researching life in some way or another will be pleasantly surprised by what they find here.
Wraith, having a conversation...
However, the episode doesn't focus much on the society and them adapting to live, instead it focuses on a possible rebellion and a "will they or won't they" factor that drives the plot. It wouldn't be SGA without it would it? They manage to further the morality introduced in "Michael" in this episode as we get stuff relating to weaker vs. stronger minds, the racial differences between groups and even the value of life; what happens in this episode relating to this may be action packed but it's also worthy of critical thinking, just the idea of who's considered strong and who's considered weak and what is considered valuable amongst the hecticness of the situation. However, this stuff feels like it's being pushed out to the forefront; what Michael says about the racial differences seems deep but it feels like if the writers push it out to the forefront then it becomes clever... What was shown in "Michael" showed the racial differences and the moral implications but it did so in a clever and meaningful way, this is just something that while somewhat clever, it isn't meaningful in any way, which is disappointing and the initial scenes that lead up to the rebellion are also disappointing; compare those episode to "Suspicion" and you'll see what I mean.
Dr. Beckett is given a good focus and he also manages to act the best in this episode, mainly because he's in a situation that's good for him. The worries about medicine, the analyzation part of it, the determination to go further and explore a bit... these are the things that make Dr. Beckett a character work watching in his episode; from his curiosity to his worry to even his bad times, we're invested in him throughout the entire episode. The same can't be said for the other actors though and while our Atlantis crew is in tip-top shape, they are becoming complacent. They command the situation well, recognizing the environment around them and reacting accordingly and there are even times where they get to show off their action skills, taking guys out like they know how; however there is a sense of questionability between their actions that unfortunately seems to be a growing point of this season. Certain actions from them seemed a bit too sudden, it's as if they just said what was going on in their mind without thinking about it and the lack of awareness when it came to a climatic moment just seemed a bit iffy; I mean there couldn't of been any way they could not notice that arriving.
The hectic moments were done well enough in that we could truly get a sense that they were in possible danger, the moments where they interface with the Hive ship are intriguing as they are informative and the wrapup moments involving the SGC were done nicely enough. In fact Woosley manages to jump onboard to Atlantis in order to provide the episode with a subplot that's more political and more subversive then the one preceding it. Woosley proved himself to be a nice character; though his political motives were mostly obvious, the what he portrayed it made his scenes engaging... to see him try to sweet talk various characters and to provide a critical analysis where he places the questionable decisions of the crew into light, it really brought out that political side that Stargate is known for. The game of wits, charm and brevity has never been any more clearer or fleshed out in SGA then it is here and though many of these scenes are boring and take up time that could of gone to the Wraith society plot, it was still good to see the political side which is rarely mentioned but is an ever so important part of Stargate.
This episode is better then "No Man's Land" but not by much. It is good, it is watchable but it's nowhere near a massive quality improvement then I was expecting. I was expecting so much from a Wraith society, a bunch of blanks who have no idea who they are but still manage to retain perfect English but I guess that expectation went nowhere as it turns out the SGA guys focused on action rather then the most interesting concept, don't get me wrong the action is good but sci-fi isn't all about action, it's about a whole lot of things; mainly utilizing metaphorical contexts and giving them an area where they can breath and expand on. Our heroes are still in good shape, it's engaging and again, it's good but it's a disappointment.
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