View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: 'Miller's Crossing'

November 30th, 2007, 10:38 AM
<DIV ALIGN="center"><TABLE WIDTH="450" BORDER="0" CELLSPACING="0" CELLPADDING="7"><TR><TD><DIV ALIGN="left"><FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, san-serif" SIZE="2" COLOR="#000000"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s4/409.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/graphics/409.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 FOUR</FONT>
<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s4/409.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">MILLER'S CROSSING</A></FONT>
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Rodney McKay goes in search of his sister on Earth after she is kidnapped by the head of a powerful corporation.

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December 4th, 2007, 02:38 PM
Some of the best stories are ones that are not afraid to stir up controversy and ask the audience to examine the morality of the decisions made by the characters. Miller’s Crossing does this in spades and the result is a first class drama of the highest quality that makes demands of the cast and crew with excellent results and only a few small areas for improvement.

The heart of Miller's Crossing is a moral dilemma and one that is not easy to resolve; to what lengths would you go to save someone you love? Could you kidnap someone who might be able to save them? Could you harm someone in order to force them into helping you? Could you sacrifice your own life? Could you talk someone into offering themselves as lunch to a Wraith? How far would you go? That is the question at the heart of the episode, and married to its examination of McKay and his character – and in the final stages, Sheppard, it is compelling viewing.

The story has a few flaws; it’s a little cliché – tycoon with dying daughter wants to save her and will go to any lengths. It’s far too easy it seems for said tycoon to spy on someone’s computer (which presumably has something more than Norton Antivirus protecting it); it’s a little pat that McKay ends up kidnapped alongside his sister; it’s a little bemusing and convenient that the Wraith comes to Earth rather than being forced to work on it back on Atlantis. But this is a story which definitely transcends the clichés because of the gravitas with which it’s told.

Jeannie’s original kidnapping is truly scary; her husband’s fears and blaming of McKay realistic. While there is some inherent humour in the sibling banter, the tone is totally serious. Jeannie might be teasing McKay about Katie but she is doing so to forget she has little tiny robots running around her that might kill her; they may banter about getting lost in a mall when they were children but their desperation shows their need to escape. McKay’s attempt to get into the lab would be humorous but for the knowledge of what he is attempting to do.

In fact, the story is so serious that one attempt at obvious humour with Walter and Ronon falls flat. I’m not a fan of making the recurring SG1 characters into comic relief. While the scene provided some additional continuity between universes, quite frankly it was unnecessary. Barrett had already provided that link as had his mention of Woolsey, NID and The Trust.

If anything rather than additional references to Earth based characters, the story lacked references to the missing Atlantis personnel in particular Carter and Teyla. It is becoming irritating that when characters are absent (in particular Carter) that any mention of them seems to be banned. SG1’s S10 was good in ensuring that when a character was absent such as Daniel in ‘Line in the Sand’ mention was made of him in passing. Atlantis could do with following that example. The episode didn’t need to show Carter and Teyla – indeed, there was no place for them in the story and in fact I was beginning to wonder what Ronon was doing there given his minimal role – but a mention would have been good.

That aside, the episode is excellent particularly at the character studies it portrays. For the most part, the story showcases McKay dealing with the consequences of his actions in asking Jeannie for help. The only thought McKay is consumed by is to save his sister; he’ll ask for help – beg for it; he’ll sacrifice his own life for hers. Here is the real McKay underneath the armour of his arrogance; the man who healed Ronon’s runner scars in Tao of Rodney, who sat by Katie’s bedside in Tabula Rasa: the emotionally insecure yet deeply compassionate and loyal man that is literally at the heart of the arrogant and socially inept genius. Hewlett excels at displaying this multi-faceted, complex McKay.

Joe Flanigan also brings depth to his portrayal of John Sheppard. For the majority of the story, Sheppard plays second fiddle – he is there to support his team-mate and friend; to rescue him when he’s lost. The final dilemma posed is one for Sheppard and his decision is the most controversial as he seemingly talks Wallace into becoming the Wraith’s lunch. Flanigan plays the scenes with Wallace and McKay to perfection; his body language shows Sheppard’s discomfort but also his determination. In the final scene, the idea that the only way Sheppard can live with it is to convince himself he simply presented the situation to Wallace is clearly evident in the dialogue and Flanigan’s delivery. Absolutely excellent performance.

Steven Culp also does a great job at bringing life to Henry Wallace. Here is a man who desperately wants to save his daughter; who is prepared to do anything to that goal. Wallace is not an outright villain; he is a sympathetic character to some degree who the audience can see is making the wrong choices. Wallace has to face the consequences of his actions; the death of his daughter, the likely death of Jeannie. In giving his life, does the audience call into question whether he really deserved that fate? Yes, and that is in part down to Culp’s great acting of the character and to the writing.

Miller’s Crossing is not without its flaws. There are niggles here and there but overall the strength and power of that story sweeps all minor issues aside. It is a powerful piece that poses a difficult question. In the end, that and the performances that deliver believable character responses to that question, are what linger. Kudos to all; an excellent and thought-provoking hour of entertainment.

December 6th, 2007, 12:26 PM
4x09 Miller’s Crossing

Miller’s Crossing is by far the best of the McKay episodes. It is better because it is not so heavily focused on McKay as the others have been. It is better because this is a toned down version of McKay. It is better because, as it turns out, Sheppard steals the show. Sheppard owns this one. It is Sheppard’s actions at the end of this episode that will make it stand out among all the episodes of SGA. It is his actions that will make this episode unforgettable.

Clearly, this episode was written around the ending. The dilemma of how to feed a Wraith prisoner has existed since season 1. This episode brings that dilemma to the fore, but it does not solve it. The writers started with the idea of a human being fed to a Wraith and worked backwards to find a way of justifying it. The story is very carefully crafted so that Sheppard’s actions are justifiable while remaining morally ambiguous and distasteful. The writers have created a plausible and entertaining episode in the process. The events in the story are contrived and the timing is more than convenient, but that is not readily apparent during the initial viewing and can be overlooked, given the complexity of the tale, the time constraints and the impact of the ending.

The acting in Miller’s crossing was excellent. Kate Hewlett was fun as McKay’s sister. David Hewlett was convincing as a loving brother and moving as a McKay brought to the brink of despair. Steven Culp was excellent as Wallace. Initially a frightening kidnapper, Wallace changes into a sympathetic and desperate father and then into a remorseful man who finally grasps the implications of his actions on the people whose lives he has disrupted for his own end. Wallace is a powerful man that commits larger than life crimes, but he is motivated by love for his dying daughter. His tearful realization of what he has caused makes his willingness to offer up his own life to save Jeannie’s life credible.

Joe Flannigan is excellent. His portrayal of Sheppard struggling with his conscience and trying to navigate a path through horrendous choices is haunting. Bravo to the writers who were willing to take Sheppard into these morally murky waters.

Kate Hewlett as Jeannie prevents even kidnapping from feeling too serious once she and McKay are together. They banter back and forth. Shepard and Ronon play cop. Even when Wallace injects Jeannie with the same nanites that are killing his daughter, the banter continues. The feel is of an ordinary SGA episode; they run into a few scrapes, joke their way through it, overcome the difficulties or the bad guys and go home (although this season has fewer jokes and the difficulties seem more serious). Then the good guys come busting through a door, Jeannie is dying and McKay is asking Sheppard to let him die to save her.

Sheppard, even stunned, can’t say to McKay that he is his friend and he couldn’t bear to lose him, instead he says ‘You’re an invaluable member of my team and you report directly to me.’ This statement defines their relationship to the casual viewer, but it says so much more about Sheppard and his inability to deal directly with his feelings. He will not let McKay die.

Sheppard’s conversation with Wallace is an intentional attempt to make him feel guilty. What he actually says, though, is very low key. He sticks strictly to facts that Wallace should know about the situation. There is no embellishment, interpretation or accusation. The simplicity of the words and the delivery make this an extremely powerful scene. The conversation comes without warning leaving the viewer astonished by its implications.

Perhaps the most interesting scene is the one we never see. It is the one that is ending as the door to the lab opens in front of McKay. It is the scene where Sheppard escorts Wallace into the lab, tells the guards to stand down, and walks with Wallace up to the Wraith. Even though, he has to have SGC permission to do this, allowing anyone to be fed upon by a Wraith must be among the hardest things that Sheppard can imagine doing. That is his choice here, though his distress and revulsion have to be eating away at his resolve. Being the author of this atrocity must be killing him inside, but he has chosen McKay, Jeannie, and the hope of being able to save many human lives in Pegasus over the life of a man that in his own interest put national security and other people’s lives in jeopardy. This goes against all of Sheppard’s honorable protector instincts that we know so well, but the protector needs to be able to do what’s necessary. This time what was necessary was personally horrifying and morally wrong. The fact that the alternatives are even more unthinkable is all that makes it possible and justifiable. Being able to make the hard decisions, being willing to take the dark path is in Sheppard’s job description and is completely in his character as previously defined.

The last scene between Sheppard and McKay is unusual for SGA in that it directly addresses Sheppard’s actions. There is rarely any follow up to events no matter how significant. Clearly Sheppard is uncomfortable and doesn’t want to talk about it. McKay goes on anyway. Sheppard explains that he ‘presented a situation,’ Wallace ‘volunteered.’ McKay says ‘Still, you talked a man into killing himself.’ Sheppard’s guilt is palpable and McKay gets it. In the end they put away that painful reality and drop back into the familiar role of casual friends going off to eat together. The meaningless banter, the means to keep reality at bay.

Zelenka: I can't sit here waiting for you to have an epiphany. I’m losing the will to live.
Zelenka: However you need to sell it to yourself.
Ronon: When you find someone to point a gun at, let me know.
Ronon in Earth clothes and shoulder harness: I look dumb. I’m going to stand out no matter what you dress me in.
McKay trying to kick in a door. Entering, then asking for a gun.
McKay and Jeannie together, very natural brother/sister relationship.
McKay breaking out and not knowing where to go. Standing up to Wallace. Go McKay!
Jeannie asking McKay if he was going to ask Katie to marry him.
Sheppard playing cop. (JF should definitely play a cop in his next series.)
Sheppard at a desk. He has one on Atlantis, but we never see it or all the work he must do there.
‘You’re no John Sheppard.’ And ‘Who’s been lying to you.’

Not so good: The Ronon – Walter scene. A not-so-funny waste of time. Surly they could have found Ronon something to do, be surprised at, tinker with.

Question: The Wraith wouldn’t know where Earth is, but what could he have made of the Midway Station?

Miller’s Crossing contains the most memorable Sheppard scene and Sheppard and McKay scenes ever. The rest of the episode fades in comparison. This episode will remain for me unforgettable and thought provoking.

September 13th, 2012, 03:16 PM
Miller's Crossing

You all know Rodney and Junie from episode "McKay and Mrs. Miller" right? Well this episode manages to take that and makes it 10x better.

This episode is a bit darker then the last episode they were in as evident by the fact that there are kidnapping, police, a sense of desperation to save somebody and even some tension here and there; from the moment you witness this stuff, you'll realize that this will be an episode that will blow you back as evident by the fact that they pull no punches and make no awareness as to when it'll appear (except for a few cases). It spreads to the most casual of scenes to the action packed of scenes, you'll witness a sense of urgency as you see various police and government figures all around you in sort of a homage to Law & Order (which is furthered as Rodney is going to a place and found it to be a pretty nice take on the crime procedural genre) and you'll witness a sense of thrill as you witness McKay and Mrs. Miller in their own plot, trying to make due with what they're in and oddly enough, it works well for both McKay and Mrs. Miller who really show off a better bond then ever before; this situation gives them the opportunity to focus their banter, to show their emotions and to show off their individual personalities; what you see is what should of happened in their last episode, which is to say that we're getting what we're promised. McKay and Mrs. Miller.

McKay and Mrs. Miller, together again.

It is absolutely cute to see them together, even in times of danger. They have a certain way of communicating and showmanship, both claim to be better then each other and they even banter about meaningless issues at certain times; it somewhat like a rivalry between siblings, it's serious the way they do it but it's really sweet and charming, kind of like two baby tigers fighting and you should just see the way they emote together. It's clear that both of them cares and feels something for the other and the way they they show it, they really mean it; the chemistry between a brother and sister is simplistic yet complex, with many dimensions and many facets and nobody manages to prove that better then Rodney and Junie who just have a sort of natural chemistry with each other. This doesn't mean that their pairing doesn't result in every scene being incredible, much of the first half has then in somewhat of a middling state, a state where though they're doing their best (and even including some amazing moments), it just doesn't feel really engaging; that chances when we reach the second half where they pull out all of the stops and manages to show us what McKay and Mrs. Miller really mean, even showing a scene where he puts on a performance that showcases the raw pure emotion and soul that he has.

There are a lot of interesting things in this episode. The idea of using nanites to repair people and kidnapping people to fix the code is one of the things that provide many of the episode's moments; there is just tons of metaphorical thought and discussion that you can get from the nanites alone; whether it's right to do this to them, the nature of technology in itself, kind of makes you think beneath that exterior and the guest star helps to make their plot really compelling while also carving out a niche for himself (because of the desperation and emotion he so effortlessly shows.) though I can't help to feel that it's a bit too common and subdued. The appearance of a certain someone helps to provide the deeper moments, moments which help to grow both characters; you can just see the humanism on this certain someone as he works with Rodney to stop the nanites and though he doesn't appear much, his presence manages to play an essential part of the episode exploring trust issues which use commonness and rationalization in a unique way and the issue of risking your life to help another which is dark but doesn't have much of an impact since you have a feeling the guest star is going to sacrifice his life (it's obvious) instead of someone else.

Great character.

The other crew members do good though the scenes in which they appear in doesn't amount to much. (they mainly exist so that the audience knows what they're doing and so that progress is made on both fronts) I find Ronan's first appearance on Earth to be interesting and good you'll get a kick out of seeing him complaining about his clothes, being confused over Earth customs and just being funny but he doesn't get much time to be on Earth and it's mainly spent being around his crew; you would think that they would show more of Ronan being on Earth and his unfamiliar surroundings but I guess the episode didn't allow for much of that. Out of the people on the crew, I find Sheppard to be the best mainly because he shows that certain determination and focus that just adds to any scene; you can tell that he cares, that he's adamant in what he's doing and you can even get a jist for why he is doing it though it only shines when he appears in a scene which matters and those appear mainly in the second half.

This episode is obviously better then "McKay and Mrs. Miller"; it provides what viewers wants, it's dark themes really bring out the best in everyone and McKay and Miller are in tip-top shape but there's a divide between two parts. The second half of the episode is exceptional while the first half of the episode is not as exceptional but good overall, the stuff from the first half threaten to bring down the exceptional parts of the second half but despite that, it's still worth a watch or two but don't think that both halves will be good.