View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: 'Ghost In the Machine'

July 9th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s5/505.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">GHOST IN THE MACHINE</A></FONT>
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The city of Atlantis becomes host to the minds of disembodied Replicators, led by someone very close to the team.

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<FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, san-serif"><FONT SIZE="4"><B>GATEWORLD FAN REVIEWS</B></FONT>

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August 16th, 2008, 06:16 PM
First of all, I want to take a few seconds to mention that Im a french canadian. =) So forgive me if the overall structure of words I use is "simple" and very basic. =)

I watched Ghost in the Machine, about 90 minutes ago. Im a big fan of Dr Weir/torri Higginson. We had "Elizabeth Weir" there, but it wasnt Torri.

If we but that episode back within original context, assuming Torri was to be Dr Weir, Im pretty sure it wouldve been a total different impact. Writers had Torri in mind, she turned down the offer, then the dance begins.

Someone else to fill her shoes. Change texts and overall script to adjust to that Dr Weir who doesnt look like/sound like the Weir we know. Need to fill this time cause we are on a time table right? So might as well do it.

So we end up with Elizabeth stuck in the computers, building herself a body of her own. That right there was the first thing that went wrong. Dr Weir was a negociator, patient person and willing to let time show she was someone you can trust. Not someone who would put you up the wall and force others to get her own way.

Then we have the other Replicators coming in. Sinking the city to get what they want. Elizabeth would allow that? We learn later on that SHE told them to come. Shes very nice to Teyla and saves John. For the looks in the end Im affraid.

I think that if we look at it in a general view, considering what it was supposed to be and what it ended up to, we have a "not so bad" episode. I think Michelle Morgan did a really nice job with what she had to deal with. No matter who you put in place there, people want to see Torri Higginson as Dr Weir, she IS Dr Weir.

The initial idea with the episode was okay in my opinion. It would keep the fans of Weir happy to see her some. Doing the episode without Torri felt like...well, a waste. We are back to what it was, we lost Elizabeth, AGAIN
(assuming it was really her of course), replicators arent totally eleminated and we are still out of material to keep our little SGA crew going. I know they had to fill this episode and there is always some things coming in the way that we have to adjust to. I think they did well considering the initial idea of Ghost in the Machine. From a fans standpoint though, I would have simply dropped it, the whole idea.

Either kill it, or dont touch it. If we are to see Torri again, bring her back (and I really mean BRING HER BACK, FULL time). Pulling a character on and off , killing her, put her in "suspension", flagging her "unknown status" or whatever isn't making it any good sadly. =(

I dont think its a "bad" episode. But it was very dissapointing for me, as a Dr Weir (TORRI!!!) fan. An episode to bring things back exactly where they were. =(

August 17th, 2008, 03:05 AM
Stargate Atlantis returns to the Dr. Elizabeth Weir story arc which was left dramaticly in the fourth season. The fans now know she was "alive". The new question was, is she still with us? Perhaps the answer was given too quickly.

In writing it is generally understood that every story has already been told. If that's true then what keeps us coming back for more? Stargate has one of the most impressive reveals of any sci-fi series. We watch as more layers are peeled back giving us a glimpse at what this entire series rest on. The Elizabeth Weir Story certainly has that potential, (The replicators and their connection with the Ancients) but it did not bear fruit here. We are unceromoniously thrust back into limbo, cold storage, where so many characters now await revival; Becket, Ford and now Weir. It appears Atlantis may be suffering from Attention Deficit Syndrome. If furthering the Atlantis plot was not the objective then this should have been a powerful character driven story.

The mysterious disembodied consciousness in the computer is a recognizable story motiff. Our intrest lies in how our characters discover and resolve the situation. This had a great amount of potential because we knew something had happend to Weir, but we weren't sure what. Her allegiances seemed to be attracted by a different compass and I for one was eagar to discover what would keep such a strong willed mother like character from her brood. She definitely changed but we never found out why. That was disappointing.

How did we get here? Was this written just to satiate the fans? I hope not. I need more than just a filler story. As usual the writing and dialogue were right on. The only lacking was the story's meandering on the fate and course of Elizabeth Weir and we really needed so much more. I can't help but feel like our mother abandoned us. She comes back into our lives with no explanation for why she's done what she's done. Why did she stay gone for so long and why does it appear that she's taking advantage of us? She's changed I for one am dying for a meaningful explanation.

August 18th, 2008, 06:05 PM
The fate of Elizabeth Weir has been a matter of contention for the fans of “Stargate Atlantis”. Many consider Torri Higginson’s exit from the series to be a massive loss (not to mention poorly handled), and this episode feels like it was twisted and tortured to provide closure. From the published interviews and reports, that’s exactly what Higginson had wanted, but the producers were somewhat evasive regarding the future of the Weir sub-subplot. It’s charitable to say that the comments from producer Joe Mallozzi have been, typically, a bit hostile and contradictory.

What might have been a resurrection of Weir’s plot thread was ultimately turned into “damage control”. Was this the original direction intended for Weir’s subplot? The writers of the “Stargate” franchise often toss out cliffhangers with little or no plan for how to resolve them, so I doubt there was much mapped out for Weir’s future.

The result is an episode that feels a bit cobbled together. Covering for Higginson’s absence requires a mountain of exposition in the first half of the episode, including a segment where a computerized version of Weir dispenses a monotone lecture to bring the audience up to speed. It’s one of the most obvious violations of “show, don’t tell” storytelling in recent memory, and it definitely makes this episode feel like a bald attempt to repair self-inflicted wounds.

Bringing back Fran as Weir’s avatar was a clever notion. The actress is easy on the eyes, which softens the overall blow, and she manages to pull off a fair impression of Higginson’s line delivery. It sells the idea that Weir is stuck in a manufactured body, which is at least possible within established continuity. In fact, the writers do a capable job of pulling together a reasonable enough story, given the challenges involved in making sense of Weir’s return.

That said, it was clear from the tone of the episode that Weir was going to be written out or given the slimmest possibility of a return. It was equally obvious that she would sacrifice herself for the sake of Team Atlantis. The process of getting to the sacrificial act was the only real source of tension in the episode, beyond the odd (and convenient) shifts in ability to control the city. The conflict was well constructed under the circumstances.

I didn’t hate this episode by any means, but like much of the fifth season, I find myself less than enthusiastic. The only real surprise so far has been the excellent character development for Richard Woolsey, who has been a far better commander than I might have dreamed. The writers are staying very true to his origins, yet he’s showing a remarkable resilience. Hopefully the rest of the season will devote similar attention to the rest of the cast.

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

August 21st, 2008, 08:40 PM
In the category of character drama/emotion, te latest Stargate Atlantis episode “Ghost in the Machine” (GITM) would top the list.

GITM brings back the character of Elizabeth Weir, or at least the present reincarnation of her. It was a well constructed story adequately picking up on the remnants of when we last saw Weir and the replicators in “Be All My Sins Remembered.” The story focused on Weir’s efforts to find a way to create bodies for her and her replicator companions after an attempt to ascend had left them disembodied and floating through a hellish existence in subspace. What followed was a rollercoaster of emotions filled with trust, friendship, betrayal and loss.

A heart-wrenching part of the story dealt with repliWeir trying to reach out to the team; to reestablish those connections of friendship and humanness that she once had at Atlantis. This is particularly evident in the scene with Teyla. It was sweet yet heart breaking. Sweet because you can see a glimmer of the friendship the two had but heartbreaking because Teyla didn’t completely trust repliWeir.

It should be noted that Michelle Morgan as replicator Elizabeth Weir did a fantastic job. She was able to capture so many of Weir’s mannerisms and voice infections. While from a sentimental fan perspective it would have been nice to see Torri Higginson reprise the role, the writers came up with a viable premise as to why Weir “looked” different and since Morgan had the character down pat it all worked.

The writers are also doing a good job with developing the character of Woolsey. In this episode they struck a good balance of him as a leader willing to make tough decisions, yet still nervous and unsure about them. The scene where he would not capitulate to the Asurans and told them to sink the city is a good example of this contrast. Though he presented himself determined and confident when he turned away from Weir you knew he was bluffing. The nervous look on his face while he was waiting for the Asurans to back down and then the look of relief on his face when they stopped sinking the city was priceless.

The question the episode leaves somewhat open to interpretation is whether or not this is the “real” Weir’s consciousness. While one could argue that Weir would never lie to or put Atlantis in danger it could be argued that her actions are in character for Weir who as a negotiator/diplomat often wanted to solve problems in a way that would benefit/work for all parties. Would the real Weir lie to her friends on Atlantis? Would the real Weir leave the other Asurans to remain out in subspace in their hellish existence? It is an interesting conundrum. She stated she did not think they would be a threat; she just wanted to help them. Her intentions were good, but the Asurans turned out to be untrustworthy, unpredictable and a threat.

The scene where John challenged her and told her that the real Elizabeth would never do what she had done obviously shook her. Then the Asuran attacked John and she killed the Asuran by placing her hand in his head. From the expression on their faces they were both a bit shocked - John likely because he saw Elizabeth kill, with no hesitation, in a 100% replicator manner and Elizabeth because she realized how far she had gone/changed. She knew she would always be part replicator, that she may never have compete control over that part of her and that others would always view her with suspicion. This realization leads to her statement, “... I thought that bringing the others here would be safe. I was wrong. I can no longer guarantee that there won’t be any more trouble from them or even myself,” and then into the final scene.

The ending was emotional and powerful. Having Weir lead the repilcators through the gate into open space was unexpected and more than a little jarring. Leaving them to float endlessly in space seems a bit of a harsh and cruel decision, but in light of Atlantis’s experiences with the replicators and Weir’s own assessment that they could not be trusted it was probably the safest one. And while Woolsey & company offered to let the replicators continue their work, it was Weir who chose their fate. It certainly was not a black or white choice and it nice when Star Gate stretches and enters these more grey areas.

In a way Weir’ fate came full circle. In “Lifeline” she did not have the choice if she wanted the nanites put in her, it was done to her and from that moment she lost control of her destiny. In “Ghost in the Machine” she finally made her own decision, she chose her fate. While on one hand you would want the team would to go against her wishes and rescue her, one could also argue it shows a greater respect for her to abide by her decision. They finally let her control her destiny. This was a fine tribute to the character. John’s expression to repliWeir as she went the gate was so sad, and the fact that he stood there, after the gate closed in heart wrenching disbelief spoke to how hard it was for all of them to let her make this decision. Exceptionally fine acting by Joe Flanigan in this scene and through out the episode.

It should be noted the opening sequence had both great CGI and team banter. The discussion on flying monkeys and planet OZ was classic Star Gate. The jumper slamming into the gate was a bit of a wow moment as were the special effects for the entire scene.

GITM had an intriguing story, great special effects and good characterization/character drama. The story presented a viable story that had both storyline and character continuity. While it did drag in a few spots, most notably in the exposition of backstory, overall it was a strong, well done episode.

September 20th, 2008, 07:15 AM
It is difficult to review Ghost in the Machine as a single episode given as it continues the arc of one of the series’ original regulars, Elizabeth Weir. Ghost in the Machine must be reviewed in both contexts in order for its success or failure as an episode to be truly established. The result; while the episode works as an intense story that plays with the concept of what really defines a person, for this viewer, as the potential last story in Elizabeth Weir’s arc it fails to provide a satisfying ending for the character.

The episode itself is accomplished. The opening with the puddle-jumper was fantastically well done; the realisation of remembered danger when the jumper’s pods will not retract, the clipping of the Stargate, McKay’s good news actually being bad news, the unexplained reactivation of the jumper. It’s a great sequence: well written (loved the flying monkey references), well acted, well lit and directed, nice effects with my only complaint being the overall scale of jumper to Stargate to planet looking odd.

The problems in the jumper being repeated with the city also work well; the bolts of energy, Woolsey getting stuck (lovely call back to the moment in Broken Ties where the doors don’t open for him)…it’s all a joy to watch as they try to work out what’s wrong, ending with the discovery of Elizabeth as an entity within the computer. Again, everything works from the writing to the lighting (wonderfully eerie darkness).

That whole section of realisation is very well done and the characterisation during this piece is outstanding; McKay’s quick acceptance that it’s Elizabeth contrasting sharply with Ronon’s distrust (nice echo of their original reactions to clone Beckett), Sheppard wanting it to be Elizabeth but unable to trust that it is, Woolsey’s distrust but hesitation and embarrassment to admit that he’s the new her…it’s very well acted.

The pacing lags with the exposition; although the flashbacks of previous episodes with the original Elizabeth help give life to the flatter ones where only her point of view is shown, it’s not enough to keep the pace from faltering. The pacing only finds rhythm again in the section where the other Replicators invade and Atlantis is in danger of being submerged (Robert Picado doing an amazing job as Woolsey steps up even as his uncertainty and worry is evident on his face) otherwise the pacing is slow as they all repeatedly discuss what they should do next.

The twist of Elizabeth creating a Replicator body is not unexpected. Michelle Morgan returns and does a fantastic job of displaying RepliWeir. She has the inflections of Weir; certain facial mannerisms, tilts of the head to provide an echo of Torri Higginson’s portrayal. It isn’t an exact copy though but it’s not meant to be as the story helps to provide a reason for why RepliWeir may not be exactly like Weir as it starts to explore whether this consciousness that says it is Weir is actually her.

There are two brilliant scenes around this: the Weir/Teyla interaction where the two old friends ‘catch up’ only for Teyla to not fully trust Weir with the truth regarding her son is beautifully played by Rachel Luttrell. That moment in Teyla’s eyes when she realises that she cannot trust that this is Weir is just poignant. It also neatly shows in a very subtle way Teyla as a tigress defending her cub; her son’s safety is paramount and her maternal need to protect takes precedence.

The second scene is between Sheppard and Weir as the full story of Weir’s involvement in bringing the Replicators to Atlantis is revealed and Sheppard’s heart-wrenching assertion that she is not Weir because Elizabeth would never have done such a thing. Joe Flanigan is just outstanding. The final denouement of RepliWeir sacrificing her own life and walking her brethren through the Stargate into the depths of space provides a bittersweet ending – does this prove that ultimately she was Weir? As the credits roll, the question is put out there and interestingly, not answered.

The pacing aside therefore, the episode pretty much works as an episode; intriguing with a philosophical question at its heart that leaves the viewer free to decide for themselves. It is also clear that this question needed to be asked of a character that had emotional resonance with the rest of the characters and the audience so Elizabeth Weir works well as a choice.

But, in regards to the audience’s attachment to the character, while the choice of Elizabeth Weir works for this story, it also provides the very reason why perhaps it should have been left well alone. With any major character, the audience wants their ending to be significant and larger than life. Ghost in the Machine does not deliver this; there is ambiguity in whether this is truly Weir or not so the ending is not satisfying. If this is the last Weir story told and the thinking is that it was Weir then I think it’s a poor ending for the character; reduced to a pale Repli version which does make decisions a human Weir would not have made, and ultimately only ending her life to correct her own mistake. It’s hardly the selfless sacrifice of remaining behind to let her team escape told in Lifeline. And because of that, Ghost in the Machine leaves a bitter-sweet note.

In the end, the episode is executed well but fails to deliver a great Elizabeth Weir story and for that reason I’m not convinced the production team should have allowed this story to make it to the screen. While the story is interesting on a philosophical level, I personally would have preferred to have left the Weir story at the end of BAMSR with the possibilities still open rather than to have it finished in this manner. Thankfully, in some ways, the very question this story poses – was this the real Elizabeth Weir - allows me to do just that.

October 8th, 2012, 11:55 PM
Ghost in the Machine

Ever since Weir appeared in the final scenes of "Be All My Sins Remember'd", fans have been clamoring over her appearance and her ominous words, whether or not she was good or bad; additionally they've been clamoring for another episode featuring Weir and they've got one in the form of this episode. But hold on, there's something odd about this episode; oh yeah.

Weir's not in it.

Nope, she is.

Turns out Torri Higginson didn't appear due to disagreements regarding closure; there just wasn't enough of a definite wrapup to her story, only seeming to go on in an endless sea of uncertainty and open-endedness (http://forum.gateworld.net/threads/57699-Torri-Higginson-Ghost-in-the-Machine?p=8762152&viewfull=1#post8762152). Frankly I commend her for making the right decision, her character is as much her own work as is it the writers and she's the one who made it the way it is in the first place; however this is their character and as much as we hate it, we have to deal with what they presented (which is Fran playing Weir). I can just imagine the various buckets of popcorn and tomatoes being thrown at the screen right now.

Surprisingly, the episode doesn't end up a big disappointment. It does start off weak with a systems malfunction; there just wasn't much in the first few minutes that really provided a sense of danger to the crew, the various lights flickering on and off combined with the lightning seemed a bit cheesy and the crew themselves seemed almost stupid acting as if this is the first time they've been in a situation like this; (in both the jumper and the city itself.) but once Weir is revealed to the audience, that's where things get better. Every word that she speaks is classic Weir from the recapping of how she got to where she was to the various inner conversations she has with her crew herself; the compassion, caring and determination is still there after all these years and it helps to ease the transition, she shows that she definable cares for her crew, that she is concerned about the actions of everybody in there and she isn't willing to throw herself in harms way unwillingly, she's gotta be careful about it. Unfortunately, it seems like this Weir has been a bit weaker, as if she's lost some of that determination and hard-edgedness; it's so unlike her to act like an omnipresent god, speaking praise about the members and speaking out against her own crew. It didn't feel like I was watching Weir more like I was watching a generic replicator leader and that took me out of the episode when it happened; it's not a major complaint but still...

The reunion.

Weir does reintroduce something I thought was interesting is a bunch of machines desiring to ascend, to reach that next level despite the handicap they so hold and an aggressive nature that holds them back. That thing has never been fully explored among the time the Asurans were on Atlantis and it still isn't explored despite the destruction of the Asuran homeworld, we do get some scenes regarding meditation and there is a solution shown which allows for replicators to exist in subspace (which I admit is interesting and clever), questioning their technological nature but the very same issue serves as a hold for what is obviously the main issue, which is to get their replicator bodies back and escape the nightmare that is subspace and because of that, they also reintroduce the whole replicator treatment thing with such gems as "she's a replicator, replicators are too powerful" and "we don't know if it's Weir or not, but we could place her in a virtual reality"; the respective arguments continue the reflection of Earth's bias but it just doesn't seem engaging. Her replicator buddies do showcase the nature of robotics well and despite their lack of personalities, they manage to enthrall us in whatever they're doing... It's almost desperate what they're doing but you could understand why they're doing it (sinking the city in order to force Atlantis to bend to their whims) and what they feel for doing it in the first place and that gives them some sort of compellingness that allows us to get into them.

Of course, there's always one replicator with anterior motives who's (despite somewhat sound reasoning) only purpose is to provide some conflict but aside from that, they're good. It's just a shame they had to unceremoniously freeze them to death, I can understand why they had to do it but it just seems like a big screw you to the replicators, especially after the choice offered in the form of "stay in Atlantis or die". I'm surprised they didn't do the VR thing... It's still unviable but at least they could of done their research. The acting is consistently and surprisingly good; they know they have a weak script to deal with, one with questionable content and bad writing (especially in the lines Sheppard says) but they manage to put some amount of effort into it making their conversations convincing and their reactions natural; it somehow elevates the episode despite the odds stacked against it, the characters feeling like characters, the situation feeling as believable as it is, even McKay and Teyla manage to tap into their emotional wells with both showing a sense of humbleness and overwhelmingness. The entire cast here is an example of taking a bad thing and making it good and hey, Atlantis under siege with electrical sparks, the power going out and various systems malfunctioning; it's been a long time since it has been under siege in a unique way so to see Atlantis in that state is almost fun despite the weak situation.

The replicator pack.

So this manages to be a better than expected episode; despite the absence of Torri Higginson, her reappearance manages to be a pleasant one, she plays a nice part in the episode feeling almost true to her character and seeing her walk around Atlantis and converse with her crew is nice and as an added plus, her replicator buddies manage to be compelling as well. However, the Earth v. Replicator plot is almost tired, the possibilities of replicator ascension remain unexplored, Weir's fate is questionable and ultimately, Torri Higginson isn't playing Weir; sure, Fran does a good job at playing Weir but she's no substitute for the real thing. Still, the characters at least turn a bad thing to a good thing and it's a pretty good episode; it's just...