View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: No Man's Land
July 14th, 2006, 03:16 PM
<DIV ALIGN="center"><TABLE WIDTH="450" BORDER="0" CELLSPACING="0" CELLPADDING="7"><TR><TD STYLE="border:0;"><DIV ALIGN="left"><FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, san-serif" SIZE="2" COLOR="#000000"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s3/301.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/graphics/301.jpg" WIDTH="160" HEIGHT="120" ALIGN="right" HSPACE="10" VSPACE="2" BORDER="0" STYLE="border: 1px black solid" ALT="Visit the Episode Guide"></A><FONT SIZE="1" COLOR="#888888">ATLANTIS SEASON THREE</FONT>
<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s3/301.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">NO MAN'S LAND</A></FONT>
<FONT SIZE="1">EPISODE NUMBER - 301</FONT>
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The team desperately attempts to stop two Wraith hive ships from reaching Earth. Sheppard must rely on an old foe to rescue McKay and Ronon.
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July 24th, 2006, 03:25 PM
Like the little boy who cried wolf one too many times, 'Allies' overused 'Oh no, is Sheppard's dead??' left me with more a ‘whatever' feeling then the furniture chewing anticipation of a really good cliff-hanger. It was all a little too reminiscent of 'The Siege', a hodgepodge of previous plot tactics. So I wasn’t holding my breath for 'No Man's Land' and was refreshingly entertained.
The episode quickly picks up the pace with a better sense of ensemble cast use and rounded scripting, though a little predictable. We already knew Sheppard would be lurking somewhere ready to rescue McKay and Ronon on cue, ‘somehow’ pulling another cool and heroic stunt. The addition of Michael did serve to shake things up a bit, his sense of betrayal and isolation from his own race right on the mark thanks to Connor Trinneer's performance. But overall its plot was still typical of Atlantis increasing lack of originality. With season 2 full of enjoyable but over formulaic and predictable scripts, it's eventually going to wear thin. The execution is what lifted the script, with fantastic special effects, top notch direction and great performances from both its regular and guest cast. And while the plotlines have been thin on the ground, scripts are always packed with snappy dialogue and cracking one-liners. McKay’s 'Good job I remembered DOS' comment whilst trying to use the wraith ship's systems will bring a knowing 'in joke' chuckle to all the computer geeks out there.
This episode also FINALLY addressed a major issue from last season, giving Weir the kind of story the character has desperately been in need of. So many big decisions have been made with little or no sense of personal cost, the focus on events rather then the characters themselves. No normal thinking and feeling human being, leader or otherwise takes such huge decisions lightly. Weir practically holds the future of an entire species in her hands and the ultimate burden of conscience for the questionable and highly controversial ethics behind the use of Beckett's retrovirus.
I also felt that Weir’s justification of her leadership decisions almost seemed as much a defense of the character itself, as it was part of the story. And as much as I had to swallow down my distaste of crossover (I like many of my fellow SGA fans, don’t watch SG1) I did find Elizabeth’s defense of her actions and defiance in the face of such frustrating bureaucracy to have an intensity not often reached by b-plots. Speaking of frustrating bureaucrats, how Woolsey will fit into the SGA dynamic is an interesting question? SG1’s strength has been to find things to route it in reality, with its strong ties to the US military. SGA hasn’t had that and in my opinion, doesn’t need it. You base your series in a city right out of legend itself, why ground it? Why tie it to Earth (something which took the wind right out of its sails last season)? Why add the annoying bureaucracy? Yes, for this one episode it was great (especially with the addition of Beau Bridges who is always a class act) but future episodes? All I can say is that I hope it won’t distract from the REAL themes and core characters of this series.
Another issue I had was the lack of Beckett, this is the season premiere and he is a series regular after all but the good doctor has never truly been treated as such and unlike the likes of McKay, is still generally bound by his job description. Teyla also seemed to get shoved aside and her inclusion as background in scenes left me a little confused. It feels like she is being left in charge when Weir returns to Earth (an impression I also got in last seasons 'Intruder') but while Atlantis is civilian led and Teyla is a leader in her own right, having her as boss while Elizabeth is away seems unrealistic.
To sum it up, visually outstanding and storywise, a good solid start to the season but the show still has a long way to go to regain its earlier magic. 7/10.
July 31st, 2006, 01:27 PM
The first thing I did after watching the season two finale Allies was shout and curse at the screen. This lasted on and off for a good fifteen minutes and then I had to accept the fact that I would have to wait several months for the resolution of this awesome cliffhanger. Needless to say my expectations for No Man’s Land were high, but I wasn’t dissapointed in the least. Both cast and crew seem to have pulled out all the stops to create a fantastic episode, maybe the best one to date.
I’m glad the first thing the writers did was show us what happened to Sheppard. Like last year there was a bit of a cliffhanger around him, but anyone with half a brain knew immediately after watching Allies that he had hitched a ride on one of the Hives. Flashing back to see events from Allies in Sheppards perpective (kind of similar to the first minutes of SG1’s Flesh and Blood isn’t it?) was a very nice move and the dogfight between the 302’s and the Darts was beautifully done. Once in hyperspace Sheppard uttered a trademark ‘Okay, this is new’ and from there one out Joe Flanigan played his character with all the talent and finesse we’ve come to expect from him. And didn’t that shot of the Hive up close look great?
After this high speed action sequence and the opening credits, the episode settled into a slower, more comfortable pace. Although a great deal happened in just 43 minutes, it never felt rushed or uncomfortable.
Every character did what they do best, Sheppard fights back with all he’s got, Dr. Weir cuts straight through all the bureacracy and makes the difficult decisions, McKay is the ever so optimistic scientist accompanied with the Ronon, as cheery as ever. The only character that had pretty much nothing to do, less even than several guest stars, was Teyla. She served absolutely no purpose in the episode and it seems she was only there because she’s a main character.
It’s also nice to see that what the team did to Michael last season as it’s effects in this episode and the near future. Michael doesn’t fit in with the Wraith anymore and probably isn’t terribly welcome on Atlantis either. His betrayal of the Wraith and helping Sheppard blow up the hyperdrive and capturing the Hive ship could have felt a little contrived. But Connor Trinneer did sell his motivations and with the Wraith infighting in the back of my mind, I am willing to believe them. Trinneer’s performance as Michael wasn’t as good as it was in the episode Michael, but considering he had less to work with, he did a good job overall.
McKay and Ronon trying to escape and later disable the Hive ship was very nice to look at. They really seem to be developing a certain chemistry and you can see there’s is a mutual respect between them (although neither of them will probably admit to this in the near future). In any case, both David Hewlett and Jason Momoa played their roles very nicely, with Hewlett being just the better actor (but that’s usually the case in my opinion).
Tori Higginson also really sold her character, as she was dealing with Woolsey and the IOA bureaucrates at the one hand and the tough decision to send both Daedalus and Orion after the Wraith on the other.
Back in the action, the fight between the Deadalus, Orion and the two Hive ships looked absolutely stunning. The distant shot of Deadalus opening up on the one Hive showed us just how much bigger the Hives are and exactly what the Deadalus crew is up against. The Orion’s fight with the second Hive was also done very nicely. We got to see some more details on the ship and we were shown just how formidable the Lantean ships were. The drone attack was also beautifully done, following the single drone among many dodging Darts and making its way to the Hive. The subsequent dinstance shot of the Hive blowing up was very reminiscent of SG1’s season seven finale The Lost City. This, of course, makes great sense and offers a nice feeling of continiuty between the shows.
The Orion being destroyed was probably a necessary evil, because giving the team a fully functional Lantean warship (after repairs) would have been over the top. And in this way we don’t get the feeling we can handle the Wraith with too much ease, we also lost badly.
So what do we have now? A crippled Deadalus, a seriously damaged Hive ship and hundreds (if not thousands) of dewraithified humans with the knowledge that Atlantis remains buried in their subconscience. And let’s not forget Michael, who’s allegiance seems as shady as ever. All this and everything that led to this situation makes that this viewer was glued to the edge of his seat throughout the entire episode, not wanting to have to wait a whole week for the next one.
Overall, No Man’s Land is a great episode that creates about as much problems as in solves. The episode is very nicely writen, the acting is top notch and it opens up several new problems for the team. I give it 9 dewraithified humans out of a possible 10.
October 23rd, 2006, 11:48 AM
‘No Man’s Land’ looks promising as a thrilling season opener given its set-up in Allies but it fails to live up to its potential because of a lack of sympathy toward the main characters created by the overall arc and a lack of dramatic tension inherent in the story and overall direction. It is only saved from total disaster by the quality acting, great individual moments and special effects.
The main plot revolves around the Wraith ships heading towards Earth having fooled the Atlantis team. It is the continuation, and arguably the climax, of the Wraith retro-virus arc that has plagued the show. There is a satisfying sense that cosmic justice has been enacted on the Atlantis team for their decision to pursue the morally dubious path of biological warfare. The team have received their just desserts in being betrayed and the story needs to provoke sympathy for the team in order that the audience cares about their fate and roots for their success. To this end, the main plot relies on two of Atlantis’s most popular characters to carry it; Sheppard and McKay.
Sheppard as a hero battling against the odds does evoke admiration especially his daring attempt to take out the hyper-drive engines of both Wraith vessels. The special effects are fantastic in demonstrating the scale of the task facing the lone pilot and when his 302 is badly hit there is an audible intake of breath. But that moment of drama is immediately ruined when he survives without a scratch. Indeed, any tension that might have been built by Sheppard being the lone hero is undermined very quickly because of his alliance with Michael.
Michael is a sympathetic character because his alienation from his own kind is a direct consequence of his experience at the hands of the Atlantis team. However, the team’s lack of sympathy for Michael while understandable doesn’t help elicit sympathy for them. He is what he is because of them and it would have been good to see them assume some responsibility for that. Still, Michael is truly a character that lives in ‘No Man’s Land’ with his ultimate categorisation as friend or foe ambiguous. But the story misses an opportunity to fully capitalise on that ambiguity. Michael’s loyalties, whether he was truly helping the team or setting them up again to win favour with the Queen, could have added tension but his shown motivation, a deep need for survival, provides none.
Added to this, he becomes the straight man for Sheppard undermining what little tension exists in teaming the two of them up. While the sharp one-liners are funny and in character for Sheppard, it suggests that the situation is not that serious thus diluting the tension. Unfortunately, McKay and Ronan are also used for comic relief. The humour endemic in McKay’s musings and Ronan as an increasingly irritated straight man also eliminate any tension around the fate of the captured duo. The tension of the story would have been better served had one pairing been used for humour and the other to provide a serious contrast.
At least, the space battles provide some much needed excitement. The special effects are superb and the Orion’s destruction a harsh reminder of the cost of their choice. However, the aftermath of the main battle is another damp squib. The life support problem is suitably dramatic but with the ultimate solution being the retro-virus, it ruins any sympathy built thus far and, as it requires the team to wait around listlessly, the slight dramatic tension built from the moment of discovery and McKay’s power walk through the corridors with Zelenka is completely lost. The take-over of the Wraith ship is anti-climatic and the unaffected Queen attack cliché. Only the quality of the acting and the special effects save the main plot from complete ignominy.
The main plot does at least reunite a sub-section of the Atlantis team but the entire story fails overall to provide a sense of that team as a whole. The presumed loss of team-mates is summarily dealt with and there are few moments of caring between the main characters about each other. This is underscored by the criminal under-use of Teyla and Beckett – possibly a direct result of the sub-plot of Weir’s recall to Earth.
It only further erodes tension despite more quality acting. The scenes at the SGC lack urgency and fear given the danger the planet is facing. It feels like another day at the office and Earth never feels like it is in peril. Indeed, every element introduced to add tension fails miserably. The first, whether Weir will retain her leadership, is undermined as she is visibly supported by Woolsey and, particularly, Landry. Landry’s pep-talk to Weir leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling (if only it had been with Beckett or Teyla) but it doesn’t create tension.
The second, the IOA’s prevarication over Weir’s plan, goes nowhere in order to show Weir acting as a leader. Weir being taken to task elicits sympathy and provides justification that the course of action in allying with the Queen had wider support; that they are not wholly responsible but are taking responsibility while others are not. A fine idea that buys sympathy but it is at the cost once again of tension.
Overall, thanks to the quality acting and special effects, the episode still manages to be enjoyable but given the subject matter perhaps this is the underlying issue: it needed to be less amusing and much more weighty fare. Had there been less humour; had Weir’s leadership really hung in the balance; had the team truly escaped cosmic justice for their morally ambiguous decision by the skin of their teeth yet at a suitably high cost…maybe then there would have been tension and sympathy; and maybe then there would have been a story worthy of the season opener.
June 15th, 2007, 07:43 AM
Season three kicks off with the second of a three part episode!
NO MAN'S LAND (2)
Well this episode is more of a crossover with the team leader going off to meet with the IOA and John MacKay and Ronan trapped on the wrath hive ship seeking the help of Michale an unlikely alliance is formed.
The charactor interactions in this episode where fun to watch MacKay and Ronan for example as they try to escape seeing John seeking help with a wrath was strange for a lack of a better way of putting it.
All in all i give this episode a rating 7 out of 10
Good but not the best.
August 6th, 2012, 07:06 AM
No Man's Land
For those in 2006, this is the moment people have been eagerly waiting for, the premiere of the third season and obviously, it's a continuation of the previous episode "Allies" which means that yes, this is the second part of a two parter; and the first of what would be a common trend in Atlantis.
First off, this episode is what can be considered "Action R' Us"; you've got tons of space shots, visual effects, battles, tense moments, sneaking around the hive, taking down the wraith etc. and it's really visceral. If I'd had to guess the percentage of how much is action and how much is dialog, I'd say 80%/20%. For those Stargate fans who are also action buffs, you won't be disappointed; this contains some pretty fine presentation and pacing that represents the action well and at some times even enhances it. As the blasts hit the ships and explosion happens and even the crew is on the line, you will be taken in by every second, every breath and thanks to the effort they put into the characters, you will be wondering, just worrying for their lives every second they're out there. These scenes are certainly done well and they represent the action side that Stargate is known for well.
Unfortunately, there is just too much action. There were many times where it felt like nothing we haven't seen before; sure there are some creative shots and inspired choices but it just feels like the same old, same old and there is only so much a man can take from continual blasts of a spaceship... It's kind of like comparing it to the making of an action movie, these people think that including tons of blasts, explosions and tense moments will make a movie what it is and in some cases they're right but it ends up being dull and tired. People need variety in order to keep themselves invested, especially in an episode like this; I will admit that it's somewhat varied as there isn't action everywhere and they include some depth that will keep viewers engaged but still. The franchise continues it's perfect mixture of Star Trek and Star Wars as the scenes where the people command and the scenes where the people fight in individual jets are as good as ever; this has got to be the only thing that makes Stargate different from other franchises when it comes to space action but was space action really needed in Stargate in the first place, especially when it's deferential to it's original purpose?
We do get to see what happens inside of those Wraith ships and the focus on Michael is quite nice; it really shows his position and his rank after he's been subjected to the stuff he's been through. It's really sad to see him like this, to not be on the same page as them especially after what we've seen in the previous episode. Who wouldn't feel him when he's rejected, restricted and treated like a lowling? This gives him a dynamic that's more then appropriate for his character and makes him more then just someone who's used for the concept of one episode then goes back to being a wraith, (which I really appreciated.) and they even manage to use him to explore wraith society and individual personality as a whole, something which we've seen only once or twice before. Anybody dieing to know more about them will be pleased with this episode but it seems like Michael isn't given as much focus as we thought, seeing as how he's relegated to the person who helps out our heroes for most of the episode. There is some hints about trust and some hints about who he was but mostly it just seems like they're treating him as the unlikely ally, someone who was the Wraith but uses their knowledge against them and mostly sticks close to our heroes; it's a shame, because Michael is a character that could of used so much more.
Fortunately, the action mentality with the characters are there. Ronan and McKay make a decent team as they go together through the hive, bouncing off each other the best that they can. Ronan's confidence works wellish with McKay's somewhat worrisome behavior and that can lead to some good scenes. Sheppard works well as the action hero who knows the right things to say and as a plus, we even get some hints of his character... who doesn't love the joke that Sheppard makes? and even Zelenka and Cadwell get a chance to make themselves stand out with their changing mood and their commandeering personalities. All of them work well to provide the energy that these two parters are known for, doing action stuff, contributing lines and being awesome but look closely and you'll notice that something isn't right, they're just not as into it as they are before and they seem like they're almost on autopilot. McKay's lines tip from good to bad but it doesn't seem like he's saying them to fit the moment, it's like he's saying them just because he has to say them and Sheppard seems almost robotic in nature sprouting out lines like a real-life action figure... Earlier two-parters brought out the best in these characters, I have to ask what happened inbetween that made them incapable of reaching that extra level.
The Atlantis Action Squad.
It has it's moments, it was nice to see the SGC (though I am irked that they didn't mention another threat) and we even got to see Weir in a political mood, the one where she takes no chances and pulls out all of the stops, plus the moment with the CO-2 and the ending (which is anticlimactic though) of the episode is something that more then show's Stargate's ability when it's motivated but I can't help feeling something is off, Weir was good in her political role but it almost seems like this stuff was too easy, like the IOA guys aren't at their political best; Stargate's political side is one of the things that makes it different from the rest and it has provided many of the franchises best moments and best episodes (the secrecy, the motivations, the red tape, the pressure, who wouldn't want to see that in a sci-fi series?) but when it's simplified and made easily noticeable then it just dilutes the edge of it; don't get me wrong, her ability was shown and the conversation between Weir and Hank was done nicely as t showed the personalities of both characters, gave us a sight of what's going on in Washington and the SGC but it just felt didn't feel like the political stuff was given much weight.
This is a good episode but it's nowhere near the caliber of those used to start the previous two seasons and when compared to previous two-parters; it's quite disappointing. You do get your action, moments and character exposition but there doesn't seem to be a balance that makes it truly good; there is more action then there is dialog and the moments that do exist don't really go above and beyond like they did in the past. SGA fans will be satisfied but for the rest of us, we'll be looking for something more. Hopefully this is just a fluke, hopefully...
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