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GateWorld
January 11th, 2008, 12:59 PM
<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/s4/413.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/graphics/413.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/s4/413.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">QUARANTINE</A></FONT>
<FONT SIZE="1">EPISODE NUMBER - 413</FONT>
<IMG SRC="/images/clear.gif" WIDTH="1" HEIGHT="10" ALT="">
An automated lockdown traps Atlantis personnel in various parts of the city, each of them hoping the others will come to their rescue.

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Wynd Ryder
January 21st, 2008, 11:04 AM
Quarantine is character driven with lots of scenes and dialogue to develop relationships and fill-out individuals.

Obviously, the weak plot was just a means to reveal more about individual characters or relationships, and that's fine for a stand alone episode with such a vast cast.

For the most part the writing was excellent with lots of humorous and personality revealing moments through dialogue or actors' nonverbal communications. However, there were two things with which I intensely take issue.

First, because this episode predictably ends one romance and begins another unlikely to succeed, I will again express how old, wearisome, and unbelievable this story line is that has carried over from SGC. Carter has had so many she's known as chimera and currently has a picture of Jack on his wedding day in an alternate reality on her desk (see her office scene in Be All My Sins Remember'd). How about creativity in another direction; namely, a relationship that begins and lasts in this time, reality, dimension, and in all the Stargates to come. May they be many.

Secondly, I don't buy McKay being that neurotic and still able to function excellently in a top secret government facility and advanced to lead scientist in another galaxy. I accepted it until this episode, but the writers have continued to increase his neuroses to the point of unbelievable. Katie said. "A mindset like that and a person would be in a constant state of worry and fear." Rodney answered. "You forgot despair." This is too much to swallow. Plus, Rodney is suppose to have this hugh ego that John and he mention in this episode. No one that gloomy is going to have a huge ego or even leave his house. The writers push it even further with Rodney's attitude of what difference does it make when Katie asks if he wants to hear her answer. Evidently, this was too much for her also and she cleverly called off their relationship. Kudos to the writers for that, but another promising relationship predictably fails.

How long will Ronon and Keller last? Their time together was fun and we gained more information on naive Keller. It was a creative idea having the two work together to blow the doors open, then fail. The developing friendship was played nicely, but a little too soon to start the romance.

There was nice interaction between John and Rodney to start the story. I wasn't aware that Rodney was such a skinflint. Why didn't he ask for that 1/8 carat back?

John was very funny trying to keep Teyla comfortable and very supportive in assuring her the baby has a family. The dialogue about Rodney's password was interesting, especially with the reference of #42 from A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Carter and Zelenka apparently have no relationship before they're stranded in the transporter since she refers to him as Dr. and nearly every civilian on base is a doctor. It was nice to find out more about him personally and to see Carter behaving as a leader, not an equal. She showed patience, not sarcasm; defended Rodney; didn't yell at Zelenka for frying the laptop, and tried to connect with him by referencing his pigeons. He, on the other hand, was laugh out loud funny with his literal or offbeat renderings of dialogue. For instance, "They're (his pigeons) not for eating." These two also do a good job of not letting the other know what they are really thinking. For example, Radek's reaction in close quarters when Sam takes off her jacket, and the couple of times she hides her incredulity of his unwitting responses.

I didn't realize how little faith most people had in Radek until Sam received strange looks from Lorne and John when she expressed confidence he would get the power turned off. Her confidence came across as sincere even after her encounter with him in the transporter. For me it was a sign of her leadership abilities and experiences of working with a huge number of individuals.

Graphics were done well, especially on the climb up the tower and the night scene of Atlantis.

Some things didn't seem to add up. Where did John find a chair to throw through the window from outside? Why not have him knock and Lorne break it. Also, it makes more sense for the auto-destruct to begin because he turned off the beacon than because he broke a second window. Of course, the whole auto-destruct was weird. The city's auto-destruct didn't shutdown all the computers when activated in earlier episodes. At least the writers didn't make us suffer through a countdown to one second. That never makes sense to me. Saving the day with a minute left provides enough suspense and gives time to explain events possibly occurring in future story lines.

Switching scenes, from one set of characters with remarkable dialogue, credible histories, and portrayed foibles to another set, allowed this story to work well with very little action.

solarscreen
January 22nd, 2008, 07:18 AM
On a new planet and still not quite aware of all the intricacies of the system that runs their home, our friends on Atlantis find themselves trapped by the city itself and searching for a way to get out. This incident has also put them together in pairs that allow them to flesh out more details of their relationship to each other.

Rodney and Katie see each other in a more uncomfortable light. Trapped without any of the tools of his trade which give him his confidence and comfort, Rodney quickly succumbs to his fears and doubts. This time though he seems more crippled than ever. Katie knows that the real Rodney is just below the surface and has tried to draw him out. She has brought him to the point where rather than just looking through the window at the outside world of an emotionally mature and stable self, he is now standing at the door. Paralyzed by his isolation, Rodney retreats from that decision and the pain of that reaction is very evident in Katie's eyes. The swing of joy to loss in her expressions makes for a heart rending scene and yet we know the two are better for their realizations. Rodney has still not dealt with his emotions over the loss of his friend and I think we are headed toward a personal crisis in Rodney's life.

We know about Ronon the runner. We know so little about Ronon the man. Trapped in medical with Dr. Keller, we learn a little bit more about that unknown side of Ronon. There is still much dislike for the young upstart who has replaced the beloved Carson Beckett and many are not ready to give her their approval. Keller most assuredly would rather be told to go home than try to fill Beckett's shoes. It would be so much easier to go away than try to find a way to convince everyone to trust her when she can't even trust herself. Hardened from years of running and living as a sole survivor, Ronon may finally feel secure enough to allow his heart to feel and his life to continue again. Dr. Keller may yet endear herself in giving us the ability to know who Ronon was, who he can be again.

In the two other pairings we see John learn more about his role as friend and leader as he is confronted more personally with Teyla's pregnancy and we also see Teyla begin to realize how her responsibility to her people must change her own priorities. Then, we see clearly how intimidated Radek is of Sam Carter. We see as he deals with his fears that he finds in himself a way to validate his worth to Atlantis and and to the colonel. Zelenka brings the biggest laughs and the biggest cheers in this episode and possibly in the season to this point.

Like a rainy day, Quarantine traps you inside and makes you to change your plans; to do a little introspection. It's not what you wanted, but in the end you find that there was more to like than you first suspected and a few things you didn't know have now come to light. Not only does it isolate us, Quarantine also forces us to focus a little more deeply on the characters we know and love and get to know who they really are.

entil2001
January 22nd, 2008, 05:59 PM
After a few huge episodes, presumably with a large price tag attached to each, the writers switch to a “bottle show” format. As always, the purpose of a “bottle show” is to isolate characters in a stressful situation, pushing them to the psychological brink. Not every “bottle show” delivers on that promise; in fact, some examples for “Stargate: Atlantis” have faltered in the past.

This time, however, the writers focus on four key interactions, and all of them manage to advance character arcs in a meaningful way. An unexpected crisis, precipitated by the characteristics of the planet itself, traps the crew in quarantine. McKay is locked in with his girlfriend Katie, on the brink of proposing. Sheppard is locked in with Teyla, who looks like her pregnancy advanced months in a single episode. Ronon is locked in with Dr. Keller, and Carter is locked in a transport tube with Zalenka.

McKay is a character full of flaws, and quite often, the writers dwell on them for laughs, granting him success to keep him viable. In this situation, the writers place him in the classic “bottle show” scenario. He literally has no solution to the problem and no resources to work on such a solution. As a result, his pessimism and anxiety simply boil over, clashing with Katie’s more measured response in the process. The tragedy is that McKay’s hope for engagement is undermined by his overwhelming negativity; it’s a rare moment of defeat for the character, and one of the better plot threads in the episode.

In contrast to the setback in the McKay/Katie relationship, Ronon and Dr. Keller start out at odds and find themselves attracted to one another. It’s hard to tell if this is just a momentary acknowledgment of physical attraction, brought on my circumstance, but it was certainly unexpected. Ronon has little respect for psychological or emotional weakness, and Dr. Keller has little patience for mindless violence. I’m not sure if this is a relationship that would work in the long run, but it’s far less predictable than a Ronon/Teyla romance would have been. (Then again, who in their right mind would resist Jewel Staite?)

Speaking of Teyla, her pregnancy seems to have progressed quite a bit in this episode, perhaps owing to the wardrobe choice, and the discussion with Sheppard over her role on Team Atlantis comes to a momentary head. Whatever his thoughts might have been previous to her recent revelation, he is in full-on protective mode with her now. For her own part, Teyla is accepting that her role must change, even if those changes are hard to quantify at this point.

Carter’s subplot seemed to be designed to highlight her technical prowess, though I’m not sure it worked as intended. As a character, Carter has been adrift this season, filling in the relatively minor role of administrator when needed and staying out of the way when not. While I agree with the notion of keeping Carter out of the Super Genius role as much as possible, it would be nice to explore her reaction to the change in duties.

The best part of the episode, aside from McKay’s unfortunate breakdown, was Sheppard’s climb up the side of the tower. I imagine most of the budget for the episode came down to that one sequence, and it was worth the time and effort. It gave a character-driven episode a bit more kick, and in the end, made a good episode even better.


John Keegan
Reprinted with permission
Original source: c. Critical Myth, 2008
All rights reserved
Link: http://www.criticalmyth.com

BlueJello
January 23rd, 2008, 10:06 AM
I couldn't help but think of Noah's Ark in this episode, Quarantine. Atlantis is after all a flying space ship and here we have people inside trapped two by two and male and female for that matter (well, at least all the main characters that we do get to see). And it was a planetary anomaly, an ionospheric disturbance that caused the malfunction forcing everyone to be trapped. Not exactly 40 days and 40 nights of flooding but still a disturbance to the natural world where they currently are. Well, whether you agree with my stretching of this biblical connection, it still was a good stand alone episode focusing on developing the relationships among the characters despite a feeble attempt at a plot.

It was interesting to see which characters got paired up. First, there was Ronon and Keller. When I first saw the scene where Ronon walks into the infirmary after another sparring accident, I questioned whether the writers were setting up a possible relationship. It seemed the perfect excuse to keep coming to the infirmary to see the doctor. In fact, it was his third time that week! It is great to see Ronon open up about his past and the love he lost. His character has always been the fighter, the tough guy, the one who uses few words and if there was nothing to shoot at, there would be nothing for him to do as he has said before. But we see that he's been more than just someone the team fights along side with but a friend for whom they can rely on. (Take for example Ronon's response to knowledge of Teyla's pregnancy in a previous episode.) On a side note, I was disappointed to see the writers make another feeble attempt to explain Keller and why we should like her character. Fans have questioned her relatively young age as a doctor and here the writers attempted to explain that by saying she graduated from high school three years earlier than her peers. Still feels like we are continually being forced-fed Keller.

Then we have Sheppard and Teyla. There were some very nice moments here. Sheppard reassures Teyla that despite her people may be missing, she and her baby still have a family and home on Atlantis. However, we're left wondering what will happen after the baby is born. Will Teyla and the baby remain at Atlantis? Who will watch the baby if Teyla continues to go off world with the team and will she continue to go on missions? If she does not, what will her role be on Atlantis?

Carter and Zalenka get trapped together in the transporter. Here we have two characters that have never really worked together or met outside of Atlantis. It was good to see Carter interact with other members and to see her use her scientific knowledge and not running off ideas with McKay as we usually see. Zalenka has been a part of the cast since season 1 and we still know so little about him. Even a small, simple, almost insignificant fact such as raising pigeons gives history to a character and makes him real. My chuckle moment - Zalenka getting a little awkward when Carter decides to take her jacket off too when it was getting obviously too warm in that cramp little space. Um, no worries here about a romantic relationship developing.

And finally, we have Rodney and Katie in the botany lab. Was anyone else bored? Not only was McKay's character disappointing by failing to step up to the challenge of being stuck in a botany lab of all places, it's not like it was a Wraith hive ship, but he was disappointing to Katie. His character lacked depth in these scenes. Yes, his character has always been lacking depth but there was no laugh out loud moment, no "I can't believe he could be so arrogant, egotistical" moment, no superb McKay saves the day moment. I can't even remember a single funny line or a quotable McKayism from this episode. But I suppose that was okay because this episode belonged to one unlikely character.

What did I like most about this episode? That it was Radek Zalenka who finally gets to be the hero. And did you notice that even Chuck gets to leave the gateroom and go with Sheppard to turn off the self destruct. I think viewers would too quickly tire of constantly seeing McKay week after week come to the rescue at some climatic end under seemingly dire and inescapable circumstances.

Just one more mention about Noah's Ark. Still thinking I've stretched the theme? Just one word -- pigeons. After the flood, Noah sent out a dove to search for dry land. Pigeons -- dove -- get it? Okay, maybe not?

Rachel500
January 23rd, 2008, 04:18 PM
The basic premise of Quarantine is a good old-fashioned Stargate story; a new planet brings new challenges and the team have to find a way out of it, the twist of course being that the planet is the one the entire city is now based upon. The success of such stories is usually down to the team’s ability to come together and solve the crisis and Quarantine is successful in that. However, Quarantine is also a good old-fashioned ‘let’s trap the characters together and force them to interact’ story; a wonderfully classic fictional plot device for provoking character interaction. The success of these stories is in how engaging the character interaction is for the viewer and here Quarantine produces mixed results for me.

I love the core premise of the story; its heart is firmly in the Stargate tradition of a new planet, new problem with character development driven from the team coming together to resolve the situation. It’s a gentle story but it keeps momentum through the original thought of an outbreak, the realisation they are broadcasting a beacon and the self-destruct suddenly being triggered. At each turn, the danger escalates and there is a subtle tension built in because of that.

What is also lovely to see is the character development provided as the characters’ race to solve their predicament; the way everyone assumes McKay will fix it; Sheppard reaching out to reassure Teyla her child will always have a family; Zelenka proving himself a hero again as he climbs through vents; Teyla’s moment of realisation all on her own that she has to stay where she is; Keller stepping up to take action; Ronon confiding his personal life; McKay’s self-destructive behaviour.

So, as a Stargate story, it delivers everything required of it; good premise, fantastic special effects in Sheppard climbing the tower and some lovely acting – Rachel Luttrell’s portrayal of Teyla’s bemusement and incredulity at Sheppard’s explanation that 42 is the answer to the universe deserves a mention.

But – and there is a but – the forced character interaction provided by the plot device really serves up a mixed bag. The most successful is Teyla and Sheppard. Their interaction is a nice follow-on from previous episodes dealing with the ramifications of Teyla’s pregnancy where Sheppard finally makes the shift from commanding officer to friend. The gentle humour of worry that Teyla will go into labour like in the movies coupled with some sweet scenes both of Sheppard reassuring her and the baby kicking is great.

The ‘McKay and Katie’ scenario is also good in that it serves to graphically show the breakdown of a relationship as Katie’s disappointment in McKay’s fatalism and disinterest in her potential answer to the not-asked-proposal and his inability to comfort her in their predicament makes her visibly reassess everything. ‘It doesn’t take much for a good situation to turn ugly,’ McKay states and subsequently proves himself right as he goes from planning to propose to taking a rain-check on what seems to be the entire relationship at the end – the closed door providing a final symbolism.

Less successful is Carter and Zelenka. The pairing is simply not as interesting despite the being stuck in a lift predicament yet there are glimmers of magic. Tapping’s acting is great; the moment Zelenka just doesn’t get the pigeon reference, as a viewer I felt Sam’s aching wish to be with someone who actually got her in the way her old team did.

The pairing that doesn’t work all that well for me though is Keller and Ronon. While there may be similarities between Ronon’s past love back on Sateda and Keller, some twist in opposites attracting and, while I wouldn’t claim there is no chemistry, the brief flashes I can see still don’t completely sell this to me. The sections where there is implied romance – with Keller’s response to Ronon’s ‘what did you have in mind?’, the almost kisses and the personal confidences don’t work for me but the working together to find a solution with the tank – that interplay felt natural and came across well. I think some of the awkwardness is down to the direction in how the couple are placed but also the actors’ seem uncomfortable in delivering the lines.

My other only gripe with the entire episode is the occasional school-boy humour that is allowed to creep in with the Rodney plant and Zelenka copping an eyeful of Carter’s bosom. So unnecessary and for me so unwanted. The humour in Stargate has always worked best when it relies on wit, banter and the visual rather than crude innuendo.

These scenes aside, Carl Binder does a great job with this multi-layered story. As each pairing provides a contrast of approach consistent with characterisation; Teyla/Sheppard showing the considered strategist approach – gathering information before ultimately taking action; McKay/Katie shows McKay’s usual reaction of doom and gloom; Ronon resorts to using force and blowing things up; Carter/Zelenka immediately go into data gathering and fix-it mode as scientists.

Yet this is not the only sub-text; each pairing also seems to present a fandom fear or complaint before offering a reply although whether this was intentional or not, only the producers can know: Keller too weak and young? Let's tell you about her prodigy childhood; McKay and Katie’s relationship too sweet and wishy-washy to end up in marriage? Well, we're breaking them up. Worried Carter would just take over the science/tech and make others look stupid when she joined Atlantis? Well, she eventually steps back to let Zelenka be the hero. Why would Teyla continue fighting the Wraith after the baby? Well, here's a justification. If intended, it was very cleverly and subtly done.

The layers of story-telling are well done and much to be admired but the core of the story – that simple Stargate story is why the episode is so successful. Perhaps it is not as action driven as some but it captures the interest, provides good drama and allows us to get to know the characters a little bit more. And really, what more could anyone want?

Zafuel
January 26th, 2008, 03:49 AM
In a television series, it is important to have a varied spread of different types of episodes. This means, that sometimes a more character driven episode is required to stop the series becoming a predictable and emotionless series of fight scenes. The success of a series can be measured on how well these episodes stand without reliance on expensive special effects and sets.
In terms of this, Quarantine is perhaps one of the most successful episodes of Atlantis to date this season.

Although the premise was hardly original, the various character pairings seem to come off well.
Teyla and Sheppard was perhaps the most obvious, considering the relationship between the two we’ve been seeing throughout Season 4. Once again, the episode is able to touch on the issue of her pregnancy without feeling like it’s swallowing up the rest of the episode, which is promising.

It is interesting to see how Rodney's character reacts to being in the position of being helpless and needing rescue rather than the other way round. It felt quite natural, fitting with what we have seen of him before, notably in Grace Under Pressure when he is unable to simply step back and let someone else solve the problem.
It is also good to see the McKay/Brown relationship actually going somewhere. The idea of actual relationships and even further, with Teyla, is something that Atlantis can really do well, as it was something that SG-1 never really explored. Most science fiction heroes tend to be perpetual adolescents; they don't get involved with family and find it different to settle down, so it is promising to see that Atlantis is prepared to explore this idea more.

Zelenka and Carter, I was less enthusiastic about. Although I found the dialogue interesting and fresh, I found the constant insistence that Carter could do the job much better than Zelenka rather irritating. If it had been just limited to the "secondary crystals" explosion, I probably wouldn't have minded; after all, everybody can make mistakes. However, it seemed like the script took every opportunity to show Carter's genius at the expense of Zelenka. Zelenka is supposed to be an Ancient technology expert, whilst Sam, despite being intelligent, is not. As far as I'm concerned, Carter hasn't yet quite fitted in with the Atlantis crew, and displays like this don't help.
This was somewhat redeemed when it was Zelenka who ultimately saved the day, but it is still annoying to see. That said, it was interesting to see Zelenka's different attitude when working with a scientist other than McKay, seeming a bit more out of his depth.

Ronon and Keller was an interesting choice for a pairing, but ultimately, it still feels like Keller hasn’t filled the void left by Carson’s death, and unfortunately, this episode rams that point home. It does seem like more recent scripts are trying to show us as much of Keller as possible, and maybe that’s the problem.
Nevertheless, I found the idea of a relationship between the two interesting, and another example of the new story territory Atlantis can now explore, as mentioned above.

There is another reason why I felt Quarantine was such a successful episode. The episode felt like a throwback to the days of the first series, when as oft as not, it was the city itself and not any external threat that was providing the conflict. By now, it has become more common to resolve a plot with a heavily armed battleship or two blowing up everything in the way, and it is good to know that older types of episodes still thrive.

This episode manages to stay focussed on its more character-driven basis without compromising too much on action. John’s climb of the tower is a well filmed sequence, the special effects merging near-seamlessly with the live action. This showcases the skill of the current special effects; it is one thing to create spaceships and explosions, but the real challenge is to simulate realism and to make it look convincing alongside real actors.

In conclusion, Quarantine is a strong episode, despite its seemingly modest budget and confinement to Atlantis only. The character-driven parts of the story sadly did throw up some issues about the cast changes that have happened, and how Keller and Carter really do fit in, but was otherwise an episode that lived up to Season 4’s high standard so far.

EdenSG
February 15th, 2008, 01:34 PM
“Quarantine” was undoubtedly a bottle episode, and as with most bottle episodes it was more character centered. If done well, these types of episodes can offer interesting insight and delve deeper into the psyches of the existing characters and even push them in unexpected directions. And for those who love revealing, character focused stories, “Quarantine” delivered.

“Quarantine” used a well known premise, trap your main characters together in a life threatening situation and see what happens. The theory is that the underlying drama will place the characters under “pressure”, thereby allowing the writers to have them react in unexpected ways, do or say things they ordinarily wouldn’t or make confessions that they usually regret later. “Quarantine” used this concept to the hilt. However, what made “Quarantine” unique and particularly interesting is that the characters whom were trapped together were different then what one might expect.

A friendship strengthens - Already established is the fact Teyla and John are friends as she has been one of the few people he has opened up to and expressed his feelings to concerning the team, family and friendship. In this episode we see that bond strengthened and even taken to a new level with their discussion of Teyla’s pregnancy and John saying her child would always have a family. It was a touching moment and an aspect of Sheppard that is not often seen.

Other telling moments for John’s character; as the brave hero who often gives little thought to his own safety, he is a bit unnerved by the thought Teyla could go into labor. This was an interesting view into his more tender side and certainly telling of his vulnerabilities. John took the desperate and risky course of action of scaling the outside wall of the Atlantis tower only after Teyla got a dizzy. His actions serve to emphasis a primary driving force of the choices his character makes; he would do anything for his friends, including lay down his life if he had to.

Teyla climbing on the ledge was an interesting twist most likely meant to show she has conflict over her limitations and role now that she is pregnant. For a moment she seemed to consider making the climb – but then did think twice and came in off the ledge, likely signaling that her character is coming to terms with the fact she cannot take risks as she did before.

A relationship ends – While a bit surprising to see Rodney telling John that he plans to propose to Katie, it was nice continuity from Miller’s Crossing when Jeannie goaded him to take the next step with Katie. Being trapped in the botany lab with no radio, no computer, no team and only his imagination has got to be one of Rodney’s worst nightmares. It was reminiscent of Doppelganger when McKay’s worst nightmare was literally being trapped in a rowboat, no way to call for help having to rely only on his physical resources for survival. In his mind he always failed and died. McKay was much more fatalistic and complaining/whining in this episode than we have seen him for a long while, and while it was not easy to see this, in a way it worked. Rodney’s character has grown in the past 3 ˝ years, but a lot of his underlying fears and anxieties remain. The situation really played into all his fears, unknown deadly contagion, locked in a confined space, no access to communication or computer to help him solve/deal with the problem and being on his own. Katie was there, but she was unable to redirect his reaction. The scene is telling because it shows that Sheppard, Ronon and Teyla can bring out the best in him – they understand Rodney’s reactions, how to respond to him, push him and to act instead of react. Facing a life threatening situation without his team was too overwhelming for Rodney and he reverted, as many people do when under duress, to old, unproductive behaviors. He later recognized what he did and apologized for it. This shows great personal insight and character growth. However this does seem to have doomed his relationship with Katie.

A friendship is born - Ronon & Keller: It was an unexpected choice for the writers to bring these two together because they appear to be total opposites. However, they did discover there are things they share in common. When Keller shared her perspective of feeling like an outsider for most of her life it reminded one that Ronon also felt like an outsider when he first came to Atlantis. Another commonality, they both expressed feeling responsible for things out of their control. They are two opposites, who in a dangerous situation, realized they shared some common feelings/situations in their life, and for the moment, it created a bond between the two.

An appreciation between colleagues is recognized - Carter and Zalenka: This was an interesting pairing since we have not seen an opportunity for these two scientists to work together. Being trapped together, Zalenka and Carter together are “forced” to get to know each other and to work together to try to solve the problem. Ultimately it is Zalenka who saves the day by crawling through the vents and turning off the self destruct. Carter’s appreciation and recognition of his valiant efforts gave Zalenka much deserved credit and acknowledgement.

The one big CGI sequence, Sheppard climbing the tower was quite spectacular, as has been most of the CGI this season. The pull away shot of Sheppard on the tower was astounding.

One thing that could have been done better was to intensify the underlying tension from the lockdown situation. While plot devices were used to try to create the sense of imminent danger and doom, the tension felt uneven which lessened its impact. Perhaps because the story went from lock down, to potential contagion to turning off the beacon to self- destruct and in the end one knew that Atlantis was not going to explode so by that point the tension was gone. Not sure if this was an issue with writing, direction or editing or all three.

“Quarantine”, while a typical bottle episode that for the sci fi purist was lacking the grand space battle and storyline arcs, it did have many moments where it shined. This was an episode that was meant to explore the characters a little more deeply on a personnel level, and to that end it was pretty well done and enjoyable.

8/10

ZRFTS
September 19th, 2012, 11:38 PM
Quarantine

Ever since Archie Bunker accidentally locked himself in the basement in 1973, the whole isolation with no idea of what's going on and no hope of easily getting out of it has been a popular concept for character exploration; if you wanted to get something out of a character then you'd just locked them up and watch the magic fly. "Quarantine" is Stargate Atlantis's version of the infamous Archie Bunker episode, you've got people isolated, you've got them assuming various things but what makes them different is that it focuses on 8 different people rather then any individual person and all of them are paired up to a degree.

All the people it does focus on should provide character exposition and the furthering of their character dynamics; you have Sheppard and Teyla locked up, you have McKay and his "love interest" locked up in a room, you have Keller and Ronan together in the infirmary and you also have Zelenka and Sam. To see these characters pared up like this is promising because each of their traits could work well in exploring the other. Teyla's worry, Ronan's toughness, Zelenka's knowledgeably; it should be a flabbergast of writing, plotting and characters and from most of what you see, it is. We learn stuff about characters we don't even know about, the lack of excitement and strength in Keller's life, the extent of McKay's worries, the small bits of Zelenka's life; these things are what makes characters who they are, the knowledge that they hold, the certain traits that defines them and what makes us want to dig further; they're like a window to their world, something in which we can gain a better of understanding of them and what we get from these plots helps to do that as well as make their lives more real and to enhance their world. You can clearly see how TPTB wanted to make this an episode where the characters would matter and the characters even do a good job themselves with each one acting as well as the other.


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Ronan and Keller in the basement.

Things do get rocky pretty early on though; throughout the 44 minute episode, there is oddly enough a lack of any real definitive dynamics within the plots; which is a problem since the episode is supposed to change the dynamics. Yes, you have Teyla talking to Sheppard about her pregnancy giving his opinion which is sensible and friendly. You have McKay trying to propose to his love interest, you even have Sam being herself but those are the only definitive dynamics that have any real impact of the characters, the rest is just tons of wasted potential. Through much of the episode, you'll be watching two groups worry and two groups knowing about the situation all while they show the resulting scenes where they wonder about what's happening, the people trying to save them, the possible outbreak that's out there and the minor discrepancies throughout and as you're watching, you'll be expecting the mindblowing character dynamics that never come. I'll admit, it is interesting to see these characters react in their own situation; McKay trying to propose, Zelenka being stressed out over a mistake but this episode isn't supposed to be about seeing 8 of our characters in their own situation, it's supposed to be about exploring the characters. The writers may have thought of this as clever but there is a difference between clever plot telling and actual execution.

In terms of the plots that are provided, I'd say Sheppard/Teyla's was the strongest and I say that because it at least has some engaging components like Sheppard remembering stuff and climbing up a tower to save the day; that moment is where the episode finally becomes entertaining and it's such a rush to see him climb the tower, it's like a show of his skills and his determination; plot wise, I thought it was nice for him trigger various other events that raise the stakes and further the tension for the other plots. Sheppard's scenes are the ones that will get the viewer hooked and engaged with what's going on, cheering for them as they attempt to save Atlantis. It's a shame that the other plots aren't as engaging since it's mostly worry/tension; we know people can worry when they're in situations, even McKay takes worrying to a new level so why do we need an episode where all they have one person tell us not to worry when the other is worrying? All it does is waste the characters while providing nothing for them growth-wise; Archie Bunker didn't waste his time complaining about worrying, heck, even "Thirty-Eight Minutes" had more going on then just worrying about the situation. Sam/Zelenka's plot is the worst because there is barely anything in the way of character exposition (especially Sam) to justify what they go through and the only time when they're plot really amounts to something is when Zelenka goes alone, allowing him to show his inner Czechian.


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Zelenka saves the day! Die Hard edition.

The episode isn't a waste though; progression is made in Rodney's love life. I can see they finally took steps into making him look like an awkward romantic plus his proposal thing was sweet even though it was mostly ruined by his constant worrying and strides are made in the characters of Ronan and Keller; who respectively gain a prospective view from the opposite side and form a possible relationship but it's certainly not an episode that's essential to the series as a whole. The promise of character insight similar to Archie's isn't exactly fulfilled as many of the scenes show us what we already know and the tantalizing scenes promising the revelations are far and few inbetween, while it's nice to see the characters in their own situation, you can't help feeling that this was supposed to explore the characters, not just be an episode featuring them. This episode ends up a disappointing stale affair that you'll end up watching once or twice and it's a shame, simple as that.

5.0/10