View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: 'Infection'

December 5th, 2008, 06:57 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/s5/517.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/graphics/517.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/s5/517.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">INFECTION</A></FONT>
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After Todd's hive ship shows up over Atlantis transmitting a distress call, the team discovers that he and his crew have been stricken with a disease they helped create.

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December 8th, 2008, 04:44 PM
The writers may not have been aware that these would be the final episodes of the series, but they are turning out to be a reasonable (if temporary) end to ongoing plot threads. First there was the apparent resolution of Michael’s arc, and then the culmination of McKay’s relationship with Keller. Now it’s a return to Keller’s “Wraith cure” and Todd’s relationship with Team Atlantis, which was left ambiguous at best after the mid-season two-part epic.

Apparently, despite his misgivings earlier in the season regarding the genetic therapy and its potential side effects, Todd decided to proceed with the experiments without Dr. Keller to help ensure its success. Things went wrong, to say the least. The result was an episode that wasn’t quite what I was expecting from the initial setup.

The writers already went for a “Resident Evil”-esque episode earlier in the season, so another “zombie” installment felt like overkill. After the first act or so, I was resigned to the notion that the team would spend most of its time bemoaning the apparent failure of the gene therapy and fighting off zombie-Wraith. I’ve mentioned before that the zombie genre is more fun in theory than actuality for me, so I wasn’t thrilled.

By the end of the episode, however, it was more about Todd, his reaction to the loss of his people and his vessel, and his future. His conversations with Keller were enlightening, and it’s interesting to consider what might have happened if Sheppard hadn’t put Todd on the defensive. Not that Sheppard was wrong in confronting Todd about his past choices, but they certainly didn’t need the additional conflict at the time!

Although it wasn’t my favorite kind of storyline, I must give credit to the writers for making an effort to give Todd and his related plot threads a proper rest. I’m sure (or I can hope) all of that will come back in one of the telefilms next year.

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

December 11th, 2008, 10:54 AM
Good team episodes are hard to find but Infection falls into that category with a neat side dish of Sheppard and Todd interaction. Not only is the core team together (even if they are navigating yet another damaged ship), but the inclusion of Keller and Woolsey is appropriate and widens the ‘team’ zoom. The story itself is a solid continuation of the arc, provides some good additional back-story on the Wraith but occasionally slips into clichéd horror. Its real gem is the sub-plot between Sheppard and Todd as in some regards they come full circle.

It is a complete joy to see all the cast used within Infection and while Sheppard perhaps takes the lead in the story, the rest of the team are not pushed to the background and indeed the zoom is widened even further to encompass Woolsey, Keller and, in lesser roles, Lorne and Banks. It’s a good story for Woolsey which shows his growth as a leader very nicely; he makes the strategy calls, bending to the IOA wishes when it makes sense to do so but ploughing his own field in his decision to acquiesce to Sheppard’s request to release Todd. I particularly loved his acknowledgement that he had learned to be abundantly cautious where Todd was concerned and the concern Picardo manages to convey in the short scene where Atlantis sends rescue jumpers to the crashed ship. Here, more than in any previous episode of Atlantis, I got a real sense that the writing team had finally managed to recapture that magic of SG1’s General Hammond; tough but fair, the leader but one who cared for his team.

Keller also is used in her primary role as doctor and it’s nice to see a balanced view of her character; yes, she’s grown as her interaction with Todd demonstrates when she stands up for her viewpoint but here she’s also comfortable enough with new beau Rodney to express her self-doubts and inadequacies. It’s possibly the most balanced view of Keller written and shown within an episode as early episodes such as Missing made too much of the self-doubts and possibly later episodes such as The Lost Tribe have made too much of her newfound confidence.

The scene between Keller and McKay is a nice nod to their romantic arc without taking up much screen time and builds the sense that they are in a relationship without it getting too much. Otherwise, McKay is mainly left to fulfil his primary function of scientist and fix-it guy. I absolutely loved the moment with him and Todd where Todd snaps at him to stop complaining and find him more power, and the way McKay just instantly gets to it. It was a nicely humorous moment without being overdone as is the ‘someone got out of the wrong side of the pod this morning’ note.

Both Ronon and Teyla are also well used in their primary roles as warrior back-up to Sheppard and McKay. Teyla’s abilities in particular are highlighted; her Wraith spidey-sense and her attempt to control the ship. The two Pegasus natives demonstrate their different personalities in approach and dialogue very appropriately with Ronon happy to see all the Wraith dead and Teyla understanding the need to salvage the data so they may use it in future.

But the lead characters of Infection are really Sheppard and Todd, and specifically the nature of the relationship between them. For the most part Sheppard is also simply fulfilling his function as military leader. He calls the shots on the hive ship determining strategy for dealing with the hungry Wraith warriors and also cleverly suggests a pilot’s answer to crashing the ship. He’s decisive, acting with the best interests of his team and Atlantis at every turn.

In a strange way Sheppard’s primary concern is also Todd’s (another great performance by Christopher Heyerdahl); the Wraith is also primarily concerned with acting in the best interests of his crew. Here there are common motivations but no common ground. Given the arc, this is not surprising: Todd high-jacked the Daedalus and would have killed the crew of that ship without compunction to take out the Attero device, Sheppard doesn’t take kindly to being betrayed. Yet, this story also forces the two into another ‘deal’ which brings back their uneasy alliance. This thread is truly wonderful; the moment when Todd goes to attack Sheppard, the terse statements about Sheppard ‘owing’ Todd or not, the new deal, the ending with letting Todd go. It’s a great call back to Common Ground and Joe Flanigan excels in the scenes with Todd.

This sub-text elevates the story and the rest of the story did need to be elevated. The nod back to The Daedalus Variations by Ronon might have been hanging a lantern but the crux of the story is remarkably reminiscent of the team wandering around that malfunctioning ship. Moreover, the foggy hive and the mutated Wraith warriors all hint a little too much at Whispers for me. There is a fine line between the nods to the arcs and duplication, and here I get the feeling the line was smudged a tad too far. As someone who hates horror I also have to say the elements of cliché horror films weren’t welcome – seriously, a lone soldier wandering down an empty corridor? Hmmm, let me ponder what will happen…it couldn’t have been communicated more loudly if he had been a blonde teenage girl in a prom dress.

Production wise I have to say I was a little disappointed with some things; the continuity with Teyla’s hair, for a start. The set design was also a little iffy when they first enter the hive and the CGI of the crash into the ocean was clearly ‘false’. The hive ship breaking apart was much better. However, the episode did benefit from good characterisation from Alan McCullough and great direction from Andy Mikita.

Overall, Infection was a solid outing for Stargate Atlantis. It is a team episode with a fabulous Sheppard and Todd subtext. It has too many minor errors for me to consider this a classic but, after the fluff of Brain Storm and the lack of team in that particular episode, this was a nice return to more substantial Stargate fare and I liked it.

October 25th, 2012, 02:25 PM

So we got a hive ship with no life signs near Atlantis, a disease that threatens to kill them all, mysterious beings waiting to kill, a relation to the gene treatment and Todd... Somehow it all sounds really boring.

Atlantis is no stranger to horror movies, in fact two of the series episodes "Vengeance" and "Submersion" have been influenced by them and what unfolds on screen could somewhat consist of a horror movie, with dark lighting, cramped environments, sudden jolts and mysterious guys; the wonder of "Vengeance" and "Submersion is that it manage to combine an interesting story and interesting creatures in order to get the viewer hooked and scared, what you felt for our heroes equally translated into the horror aspect of it, the action that occurred on screen, the thoughts that came from both the characters and the viewers, the occasional surprise here and there that wasn't even predictable... It showed a type of charm that those two episodes have, something this episode does not. Much of the episode is like this seasons "Whispers", boring predictable horror cliches ripped straight out of the pages of their favorite horror movie, I have to admit, they don't utilize a lot of horror cliches and placing it in a hive does make it somewhat unique but the fact remains. These characters are getting close to these things, shooting at them, getting captured by them, trying to create the feeling of this episode but they're not truly invested in the story; in fact they don't seem to be filled with life; nothing they do can make you excited or even care for them, you'll be just like the things on the show, brainless, groaning as 2 or so hours pass by, bored out of your mind. Hint: there's more to horror movies than just shocks and shooting, you gotta build on that; there's only so much you can do with things that eat people.


That's not to say this isn't entirely a horror episode but the other parts are equally boring; there are many attempts to make it interesting, the visual effects, the high-stakes but those things never get any substantial development and much of the episode consist of our heroes standing around in various places, they at least seem like themselves but they don't show much of a spark that makes their performances shine, nor do they even get a chance to deviate in the first place. McKay is constantly working on stuff, Sheppard looks tough, Keller works on the solution and Ronan and Teyla are out kicking butt... In fact it is safe to say that two get more action than anybody on the ship. There's more to a plot than just standing around, worrying about the situation of the ship and the various malfunctions that are going on. It's good if it builds up to something but it doesn't and so it leaves this episode feeling pretty lifeless. Todd appears here and even though he has become a joke at this point, his appearance helps to prevent the episode from collapsing on itself; the many times when he's helping out with the crew and explaining the situation at hand shows that type of charismatic and focused personality that we've come to know from Todd, the one that shows the commendable knowledge he holds, the experience that he so clearly has; it gives many points in the episode seriousness but the many times when he's conflicting with the crew, when he's trying to show his dominance, he shows the overly suspicious behavior from the seasons two-parter and the sinister personality that's contradictory to his wisdom that detracts from the episode; nobody wants to see forced tension you know.

They do try to include a moral discussion to make this deep and hopefully elevate this from the crop of SGA episodes out there but those are the same as before except slightly rearranged. There are many times where we've seen these types of arguments, from "Misbegotten" regarding the treatment of the Wraith who turned into humans, from "The Ark" regarding the sacrifice of Wraith and the subsequent coverup, from many episodes of Season 4 regarding the status of Todd as either a friend or a foe, from "Poisoning the Well" regarding the usage of the treatment itself and a lot of episodes regarding the risk of the actions of others; now there may not be an episode which contains a lot of this stuff together but I can't see anything in this episode that is even unique or thought provoking for Atlantis, the way the dialog is voiced makes it seem thought provoking but dialog alone isn't enough in making a provoking moral discussion, in fact it makes the producers seem like their spinning their wheels more than anything else. The moral discussion also gets in the way with the perception of Todd. It almost seems like they want him to be an enemy; treating him with a biased view, ignoring everything that has happened the past season but they realize that he could be a potential ally and well, of some help to them; it's understandable in the terms of the series but the conflict doesn't even warrant this kind of inconsistent behavior and this type of flip-flopping dilutes the quality of the episode because it suggests they couldn't find a "common ground" with the subject matter.

Ah... Belovable Todd...

Overall, there is nothing in this episode that could be considered substantial. Nothing pushes the bar, everything seems underutilized, and there are even some fatal contradictions here and there. The infection itself is an interesting concept but this could of been more than just rehashed concepts.