View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: 'The Prodigal'

November 7th, 2008, 12:08 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/s5/514.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/graphics/514.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 FIVE</FONT>
<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s5/514.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">THE PRODIGAL</A></FONT>
<IMG SRC="/images/clear.gif" WIDTH="1" HEIGHT="10" ALT="">
The team fights to retake control of Atlantis when the control room is infiltrated by an old enemy.

<FONT SIZE="1" COLOR="#888888"><B><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s5/514.shtml">VISIT THE EPISODE GUIDE ></A></B>
<FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, san-serif"><FONT SIZE="4"><B>GATEWORLD FAN REVIEWS</B></FONT>

<I>Calling All Writers!</I> Tell the world what you think of the newest episodes of <I>Stargate Atlantis</I>! Rather than publishing a single review at GateWorld, we're letting <I>you</I> offer your thoughtful and well-reasoned evaluation of episodes. Some of our favorite reviews will be highlighted on GateWorld.net, exposing your writing to tens of thousands of readers! But we do have some guidelines, so please read carefully before submitting your review.

<B>This thread does not function like normal threads at GateWorld! Read this post carefully.</B>

Fan Review threads are not for conversation, even if it is discussing a member's review. For that, please use the official GateWorld episode discussion threads in this folder, or start a new thread. <B>All posts to this thread that are conversational will be immediately deleted.</B>

Fan Review threads are strictly reserved for formal reviews, which are deemed by the moderators to meet the following four guidelines:
<UL><B>(1) LENGTH.</B> Your review must be a <I>minimum of 400 words</I> and a <I>maximum of 1,000 words</I>.

<B>(2) FORMALITY.</B> Your review should be in a formal prose style (not informal and conversational, as regular forum posts are), following the Introduction - Body - Conclusion form. (The best reviews will include a single, encapsulated statement evaluating the overall episode that is stated in the introduction, defended in the body, and restated in the conclusion.)

<B>(3) EDITORIALIZING.</B> This piece is about <I>your opinion</I> of this specific episode. Do not summarize scenes or plot points, and generally avoid objective analysis of developments in story arcs, characters, etc. Assume that your readers have seen the episode you are discussing. Your review should give your opinion of various aspects of the episode (see below), not simply inform.

Beyond this, your ultimate goal is to challenge readers to think about the episode in a way they may not have when they first saw it. Avoid phrases like "I liked" and "I didn't like." Don't merely state what you thought -- defend it with examples.

Aspects of the episode that you might want to include in your review are (you do not need to cover every item on this list!):

Character use
Guest casting
Music / score
Visual effects
Costumes & makeup
Overall production value
Contribution to story arcs / overall series</UL>
<B>(4) FAIRNESS.</B> Very few episodes that you dislike are without a few saving graces, just as very few episodes that you love are completely without flaw. Avoid unqualified gushing on the one hand, or unbalanced negativism on the other. Personal attacks on the show's cast or crew are strictly forbidden.</UL>

By posting a reply to this thread, you are submitting a Fan Review for publication here on the forum! (Questions or concerns can be directed to the moderators via Private Message or the <A HREF="http://forum.gateworld.net/showthread.php?t=17629">"Ask the Moderators"</A> thread; do not post them here.) All reviews that are deemed to sufficiently meet the guidelines above will be approved and published in this thread, regardless of the author or the opinions contained. Reviews will not be edited for content. If your review is not approved within 48 hours, please consider rewriting it (and perhaps having someone beta read it for you) and submitting it again.

By submitting a review, you agree and grant permission for it to remain published here (nonexclusively). You also grant GateWorld nonexclusive rights to edit your review and republish it elsewhere on the site, with your byline intact (as provided in the body of your review, or if none, your GateWorld Forum username at the time of republishing). GateWorld's editors reserve the right to revise these guidelines in the future.


<DIV ALIGN="center"><I><B>All reviews are the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of GateWorld.net and its owner.</B></I></DIV></FONT>

November 10th, 2008, 05:15 PM
Despite my reaction to the season premiere, I’m not sure I was ever convinced that Michael was dead. I think it was more a reaction to the notion that he was being treated as dead again; I liked him better as an active villain. This episode demonstrates why Michael is such a potent adversary, especially in the wake of the previous episode.

One item that Team Atlantis could not defend themselves against during the Coalition “trial” was Michael’s creation and subsequent reign of terror. Michael never would have existed without the ill-advised experiments on Atlantis, after all, and while it’s hard to say that they dropped the ball on taking Michael down given their efforts, they bear some responsibility for his subsequent actions.

Michael manages to take over Atlantis (as so many others have) for the purpose of abducting Teyla’s child so he can continue his work. The plot doesn’t get much more complicated than that. Sheppard and McKay work to find a way to counter Michael’s control of Atlantis’ systems, Ronon attempts a more straightforward counterattack, and Teyla desperately tries to keep her conveniently quiet child out of Michael’s clutches.

In other words, the story is quite predictable. There’s even a moment where Teyla tries to hide from Michael, scrambles into the functional equivalent of a closet, and the baby makes the requisite cooing noises. And of course, it’s the only time the baby makes those noises in the entire episode! It couldn’t be more of a cliché, and that’s the problem with 90% of the episode.

Thankfully, there are some shining moments. Michael wants Teyla to understand his motivations, but he has serious drawbacks in his moral justifications. It’s fascinating to watch him struggle with the notion that Teyla doesn’t see that he’s the victim, and that he’s doing the right thing. And of course, he fails at every chance to show true compassion or mercy, which simply underscores the threat that he has become.

Which makes it that much better for Teyla to make the decision that Michael must die. Michael spoke to the fact that Teyla had been the most compassionate member of the team during his time with them, and it comes full circle when she makes the choice to kill him. It’s played as the brutal choice of a mother protecting her son, but this calls back to her initial role as the “warrior queen”. Teyla doesn’t wear the stylish leather bustiers for nothing.

So, surprisingly, the character aspects of the episode made up for the lack in the plot. I’m not sure Michael is dead this time either (he is resilient, after all), but if he is, perhaps it’s for the best if he is. With the end of the series swiftly approaching, there’s nothing wrong with tying up the loose ends. And, as Teyla mentioned in the episode, without Michael, there’s always someone else waiting in the wings.

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

November 19th, 2008, 01:46 PM
I loved it.

And while I guess I could leave the review at that, perhaps I should expand on my opening line. There are a few times in all TV shows where every aspect comes together and gels in such a way to produce a truly classic episode. One that automatically makes the top ten list of favourites and which stands multiple viewings that always reveal something new and interesting. The Prodigal makes that category of classics in a beautifully understated way, with a story filled with character moments, action and drama.

The story forms a fabulous foundation from the beginning with the Woolsey/Ronon clash of cultures and personalities, the car competition and Teyla walking her baby to the end and a redux of both. The middle with the incursion into Atlantis by Michael and the expedition’s efforts to retake the city just flows wonderfully. No scene is wasted. Carl Binder deserves huge applause for great writing.

It helps that this story is the story of Michael’s end. Michael has always been the best thing that came out of the horrendous retrovirus storyline in Season 2. The character is wonderfully realised: a victim of the expedition’s experimentation, reviled by his own kind and betrayed again by the team, Michael’s fight for survival and his anger at what happened to him, has produced this mad creature who is both sympathetic and horrifying. The make-up excels again as Michael here appears even closer to full human than ever before, and from a series perspective that visual commentary is a fascinating subtext – giving Michael human DNA may have created the monster in more ways than one.

The ending for the character – kicked off a tower ledge by Teyla – is also very fitting. Rachel Luttrell and Connor Trinneer have always had the most brilliant chemistry and the dynamic between their characters – that uneasy and unwilling connection has been portrayed very well by both actors. Here that connection is highlighted: Michael acknowledges her early compassion to him, he offers to take Teyla with him, he is angered by her rejection. Ultimately, Teyla’s deliberate action in kicking Michael’s hands away and causing him to fall is both shocking and understandable. He was responsible for kidnapping her people and his obsession with her son is too much of a threat to keep him alive. Teyla is wonderfully portrayed throughout the story as a mother protecting her son and as a kick-butt warrior queen. The shot of her as she looks down from the ledge, wind blowing her hair, in best superhero style is perfect.

All the characters get a great outing. Sheppard steps up and acts as the competent military leader he is as he retakes the city; Ronon’s heroics ensure Teyla’s escape; Woolsey leads and protects his people, McKay pull off an impossible fix and comes up with the solution; Zelenka and Lorne have great supporting roles…there is a wonderful balance with even Keller mentioned if missing from the screen. All the actors step up and give great performances.

The episode is also packed with character moments and moments between characters: the push and pull between Woolsey and Ronon over the mission reports, the respect Woolsey has for Ronon at the end, Sheppard and McKay racing cars, Teyla’s maternal chastisement of them both, Sheppard going to check on Lorne, McKay and Zelenka’s discussion on the ‘stun-bubble’, McKay and Sheppard’s discussion on suicide missions – it’s endless. There are some wonderfully comic moments seeded into the script. Here is what Stargate does so well: drama hand in hand with humour – intelligent, witty humour with no toilet gags in sight.

For all the story and dialogue, there is also plenty of action and effects. The fight sequences are amazingly choreographed. From the kickboxing technician to Ronon’s ragdoll fall from the upper level of the operations room to Sheppard’s ledge fight with Michael. All feel real, violent, edgy. Each blow looks like it hurts. The effects are just perfect too. The stun bubble is great but more so is the ledge fight with the terrifying drops. The scenes of the city in darkness and light are also inspiring. This is Atlantis and the focus throughout is on the city. I also have to say the sound effects, music and direction enhances at every turn.

There are a couple of minor plot hiccups: it is never really explained how Michael can fly and control the puddle-jumper – the audience just has to assume he has that ability, and more Michael takes a side trip before sealing off the control tower to get to Teyla but that’s never really shown or referred to in the flashback piece. But these are minor and quite honestly just don’t impede

This is an extremely accomplished episode. Everything works from sets to direction, acting to props. It’s just one of those times when everything is ‘A’ plus. While I am sorry to see Michael go, it is a fitting end which showcased his story, showcased the Atlantis team being a team and showcased Atlantis.

What more can I say?

I loved it.

November 23rd, 2008, 12:49 PM
Take a story that is well written, acted and directed, mix in a great balance of action, tension, humor and character moments, top it off with an ingenious use of sets, an outstanding musical score and exciting stunt/fight scenes and you have “The Prodigal.” This episode encompassed all the things that Stargate can do so well.

The episode was well paced and managed to maintain a good amount of tension throughout. This tension was successfully carried out on different levels- meaning it was present within the different plotlines. What really shined in this episode is that all the major characters, as well as many of the secondary characters, were involved in the story and contributed to the plotline. It felt like it was a true team effort.

Atlantis’ self made nemesis, Michael, returned for this episode. Michael has been a wonderful villain for SGA. He is a complicated character; ruthless, cruel, and vengeful yet at the same time he can evoke a certain degree of sympathy for his circumstances, as he was created as a result of an experiment by Atlantis team. As a creature of Atlantis’ own failed and some would say misguided experiments, he has vacillated between a vengeful, homicidal maniac and sympathetic victim who has been bent on extracting his revenge not just on Atlantis but on all the people’s in the Pegasus Galaxy. The relationship between him and Atlantis has been explored and sometimes it was been done well and sometimes not. In “The Prodigal,” it was done well.

In “The Prodigal,” Michael was brilliantly written by Carl Binder and again wonderfully portrayed by Connor Trinneer. The end to the Michael arc was brought to a satisfactory conclusion in this episode. Teyla was really the only one who ever truly showed any sympathy and compassion for Michael, he repaid her by turning around and capturing her people, experimenting on them and killing them, exterminating thousands of people in the Pegasus Galaxy, threatening her baby, threatening to kill her, her baby and her Atlantis friends. It was a poetic justice that she was the character that ended his life and his reign of terror. The choice of having her kick his hands off the ledge one by one made his death very personal for her and the viewer, upping the dramatic intensity of the scene. And considering the type of character Teyla is, and all Michael has put her through, it made a powerful impact.

In the midst of the all the drama and tension Binder still managed to find some really nice and poignant character moments. Teyla’s look of quiet desperation while hiding with her baby, , Zalenka and Rodney disagreeing on the term “stun bubble,” Woolsey and Ronon at odds in the beginning scene over mission reports to them connecting/understanding with each other a bit more at the end, and the car racing competition between Rodney and Sheppard. In particular the scene between Sheppard and Rodney in the jumper as Sheppard was getting ready to go off on his suicide mission was well done. The handshake between Rodney and Sheppard spoke silent volumes of the friendship and respect the two have developed for each other over the years. It was a great moment with great acting by both Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett. Bravo to Binder as he really zeroed in on all the little things that make the Stargate Atlantis characters and their relationships so unique and enduring.

This episode also showed the different persona’s of several of the lead characters. We saw John Sheppard as the competitive “little boy” having fun racing his cars and as the competent military leader and as the brave hero willing to sacrifice his life. As always Flanigan did a great job portraying him. Rachel Luttrell played Teyla perfectly as the protective mother. We saw two extremes of her character, the loving, tender mother and a mother who would go to any lengths, even kill, to protect her child. It was all well done.

One of the other things that contributed to make “The Prodigal” a great, even classic episode is it was about and took place entirely on Atlantis. It is a rare occurrence that the writers and producers utilize so much of the city and allow viewers the chance to see the city instead of just talking about it. From the underwater jumper bay, to the control room, the hallways, stairs, far edges of the city, the outside ledge and Teyla’s hiding spot in the corridor wall are not only unique to Atlantis but it really made the city part of the story. The directing was excellent as the sets, likely the same sets just redressed and shot from different angles, was very well done as you truly got a sense of the size and complexity of Atlantis.

“The Prodigal” was a treat for Stargate fans who love a team episode that encompasses an interesting, dramatic, Atlantis focused story and is able to derive tension from that story on many levels and still showcases some poignant character moments. This is one of the better episodes of season five.

October 18th, 2012, 11:15 PM
The Prodigal

Through much of Season 5... We have not had many exceptional episodes; well maybe "The Shrine" but that's only one compared to the 20 that are out there. This may change with "The Prodigal".

There's just something to be said about the episodes initial moments; the city powering down, certain lights still being active, the confusion/chemistry of the team combined with the inquisition that is possibly happening. There's isn't any attempt to add the awkward humor of Season 5, everybody seems like themselves as they run around, questioning the situation while communicating back and forwarth the status of what's going on in Atlantis and just working on the situation as best as they can which brings the human/team feeling that was missing. When you see Zelenka utilizing all of his expertise and Sheppard wanting to know more about the situation, it brings a sort of uncertainty, naturalness and focus that made me feel like I was watching Atlantis. The same goes for the scenes when the enemy is in the room itself, our enemies seemed almost sinister in nature while having a dynamic feeling to them; walking around, taking control like it was almost nothing, it made it seem like it was a life and death situation and more importantly it made us care for the city. The lighting seemed almost natural at parts, barely resorting to gimmicky color correction, the plotting had the patented formula of gradually letting our team progress while they raised the stakes and gave the characters the moments to shine; it felt almost engaging to see the slow progress the team made combined with the payoff of their efforts and more importantly, it has the feeling of a Season 1 episode.

Good times.

However, there are some Season 5 feelings that creep into here and dilute the episode. Take for instance McKay and Sheppard, here they seem like children, bickering with each other, coming up with jokes, neglecting to do their chores and more importantly, racing remote control diecast cars in the hallways of Atlantis (which is pointless in the context of the plot). I have never seen them act like this in my lifetime; these are supposed to be professionals who have military/scientific experience and are the best of the best, McKay moaning about the stairs and Sheppard treating him like his best friend despite the situation at hand makes me think otherwise. Also of instance here is Michael who makes his expected return and he actually seems to be his sinister, dynamic self as he rationalizes his actions and tries to gain a sense of relatability; he provides a soul in his performance that makes him shine, reveals the depth that is shown deep down inside. However, there are many times where he just seems like generic Stargate villain #4080; sure, he seems sinister and clever (and he even loses his grip at times) but there is nothing that makes him stand out as he initiates the self-destruct and bends down to claim one final victory. Also of note is the supposed plot involving a doctor who wasn't as she seems, during the time when she's with her, I thought she was planted there by Michael; her convenience, her "skills", but alas it seems wasted when every ounce of potential is just thrown out the window, sheer logic being replaced by plot convenience as if the writers didn't know what to do with it.

Of course, this being an episode involving Teyla's son, it has to involve some focus on Teyla... the sense of fear that Teyla puts into her performance is effortless and as she holds that child, as she thinks about what to do, we can truly see the mother inside of her, the one who'd want to see no harm to her son... It seems like her motherhood side will be put to good use but unfortunately the entire episode consist of her carrying the baby and doing nothing else. Note to writers: holding a baby makes your character seem gimmicky. As expected, there is action and you've got crews exhibiting military action, you got Gateship usage which is pretty clever you've even got some butt kicking, all of those things remind us with Season 1 and Ronan showcases the best choreography of his character, pushing enemies up to walls, making sparks come out of devices and even facing off with Michael in an awesome way; it all builds up to a heavily cinematic VFX heavy fight scene where everybody involved put their best into it as anger and dramatic music runs wild but for most of the episode; it's just the crew working while Michael walks around doing almost nothing, sure there's some comedy and drama here and there but it's not substantial and only serve as distractions until you get to the action. Additionally the episode's progression didn't warrant the big moment at the end and while it is memorable, it feels undeserved; especially as Teyla finally drops the baby and ends Michael's life; it's something that both feels satisfying and disappointing, satisfying because he dies, disappointing because it's used as a weak attempt to add something to Teyla's character.

That's for making me carry a baby throughout the entire episode!

It's a shame Michael had to fall to the regime that is Season 5 and it's a shame that Michael had to go out like this because he was just a character with so much potential and dynamism. But his death isn't a waste as it brings us a rare good episode of Season 5. This episode has a Season 1 feeling that gives it it's charm and will bring it's viewers warm fuzzy feelings and it puts Teyla's motherhood to good use providing her with a focus that it's appreciated. However, Teyla barely gets to do anything besides carry the baby, several elements seem out of place and it just isn't as epic as it could of been; it's got decent presentation, decent plotting and some pretty good acting so if you're planning on watching this episode, you won't be disappointed.