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    FAN REVIEWS: Echoes

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    The inhabitants of Atlantis begin to suffer ill effects when the planet's whale population begins migrating to the island city, bringing an unexpected harbinger of doom.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 6, 2021, 09:28 PM.

    After the exciting action of The Return II, SGA slows the pace with its next offering, Echoes. Relying on the mystery of the apparitions and the intrigue of the circling whale-like creatures to keep the audience’s attention, Echoes provides some lovely warm character moments, gentle humour and a long, slow slide to the actual threat to Atlantis. Perhaps the pacing is a little off and certainly the health issues caused by the whales create some health issues with the plot but overall this is an easy to watch and enjoyable slice of SGA requiring very little from its audience.

    The episode is as languid as the ocean surrounding Atlantis and it washes over the viewer rather than drawing them in and sweeping them up in the action. Indeed, there is very little action until the last act when it becomes imperative to address the threat. What little there is with McKay and Sheppard’s jumper jaunt in the second act isn’t enough to disturb the meandering pace as scenes of discussion about both the whales and the apparitions take precedence with theories batted back and forth.

    The mystery of the apparitions is well done. The theories put forth ranging from Teyla’s mental health to ghosts of the recently murdered Ancients on Atlantis trapped between planes are plausible enough to keep things interesting before the thread neatly intersects with the whale one and the truth is revealed. The story thread is enhanced by the special effects of the Ancients passing through people and appearing/disappearing and the make-up of the burns on the pilot which are realistic enough without sliding into the horror genre. Teyla as the character first able to see the ‘ghosts’ is also a good choice. The character definitely comes across as the most spiritual and her latent telepathic abilities provide a reason why she is the first to be affected. She is also the most balanced and least neurotic of Team Atlantis though and the audience is always aware that the suggestion Teyla is tired and seeing things while plausible is not likely.

    Rachel Luttrell puts in a class performance as Teyla and it is a joy to see her get some front-and-centre screen-time, not least because of her ability to hint at the mischievous, fun and constantly thinking woman underneath Teyla’s calm exterior. Her scenes with Jason Momoa are particularly enjoyable from the meditation scene at the beginning, Teyla’s work-out with Ronan, his visit of her in the infirmary to the meditation scene at the end. These two have great chemistry as do Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett.

    Sheppard and McKay drive the other thread of the episode involving the whales and two actors provide some laugh-out-loud moments between their characters; the scene in the infirmary is very funny as Sheppard derides all things Canadian before calling McKay by his actual name of Meredith as McKay is deaf to it but so too are the smaller moments; on the balcony with McKay pointing out the whale to Sheppard, the discussion about calling the whale Sam, their trying to sneak out of the infirmary together. The actors have built a seamless rhythm into their character’s back and forth that is wonderfully realistic and a lot of fun to watch.

    It’s also great to see the other two regular characters not being forgotten. Weir and Beckett both have roles within the story and while neither is taxed with the material, Paul McGillon and Torri Higginson do a good job with what they are given and both of their reactions as they start to see the apparitions deserve a mention for being well-executed and believable.

    If they are believable, unfortunately the plot device of the link between the whales and the deteriorating health of the humans is not. Allowing for a tremendous amount of artistic licence taken with recovery times for perforated ear drums, the proximity of so many of the creatures to Atlantis should have been fatal for most of the expedition given how badly Sheppard and McKay were affected in the jumper when they got close to a few. And given that they were, both characters remain surprisingly unaffected when the rest of the whales converge on the city. It also begs the question why they weren’t similarly affected by the whale during the Grace Under Pressure adventure but that’s a question for another day. The whales themselves are very much a danger to the humans yet once the main threat of the sun-flare is revealed, this seems to get quietly forgotten about in terms of the plot although it is used as a device to galvanise Sheppard into action.

    The revelation of the actual threat, the timing of it; ‘it’s already happening’ and the intense burst of activity to get the shields raised on the Daedalus in time all feel a little rushed given the slow, molasses-like pace that precedes them, and having taken sooo long to get to the point, it all feels over far too quickly as the viewer is swiftly returned to the activities of the team in meditation and whale-spotting. The word anti-climatic comes to mind. The pacing of the episode is definitely off: there is too much exposition and musing; too little drama and action.

    Having had a particularly tiring day at work and with the beginnings of a headache not caused by a whale, I was rather pleased at the opportunity to switch my brain off and simply watch the episode unfold. It required little from me and I was happy. A different day and a different mood and the word boring might apply to Echoes despite the fact that the character moments evoke a nice warm fuzziness, the humour the odd chuckle. While it may not be a stand-out episode, it was enjoyable and very easy to watch, and I look forward to curling up with a mug of cocoa and rewatching it on a rainy Sunday afternoon sometime in the future.
    Women of the Gate LJ Community.
    My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.


      Coming out of the hiatus, “SGA” was going strong, riding on a string of solid episodes and marked improvements over the second season. The key has been a renewed focus on character and stronger plot arcs. Even the stand-alone episodes, sometimes problematic in the second season, have been a touch better (though some have still missed the mark). The goal of this episode, then, is to keep up the momentum.

      Very quickly, the lingering questions about power, raised in “McKay and Mrs. Miller”, are answered in perfect detail. Questions about the recent Ancient and Asuran occupation of Atlantis are answered. This has been a problem in the past, so it’s a good sign that the writers are putting the pieces together in a more connective package.

      Teyla and Ronon continue to get closer, which continues to be a matter of minor annoyance. It seems too convenient for the two “primitives” to be progressing towards a relationship. The jury is still out on that, however. For now, it seems to tie into Teyla’s meditative practices (long established) or, indirectly, her Wraith-originated abilities. Either one is a good reason for her to experience the “ghosts” before everyone else.

      It doesn’t take long to figure out that the proximity of the “whales” and the “ghosts” are related in some way; the fun is watching the characters figure out the connections and peel back the layers of the planet’s past. It highlights the fact that Team Atlantis knows very little about the city and the planet. For that matter, there’s a massive Ancient history that is almost completely unknown. Touching on that history puts this episode within a fascinating perspective.

      The episode quickly becomes the usual race to find a technical problem to the whole “sunburst” problem. The solution itself is the usual technobabble mixed with Rodney’s trademark caustic wit, but it was a great excuse for some impressive special effects. It certainly looks as though the effects, money, and effort is going to “SGA” these days!

      It’s unlikely that anything from this episode will have lasting consequences, and beyond the relationship between Teyla and Ronon, very little in the way of character development takes place. But this does touch on a number of items lingering from earlier episodes, and on that basis alone, this was a successful stand-alone effort.


        “Echoes” is a light yet entertaining Stargate Atlantis episode that offers the viewer a good mystery while bringing in several story elements that are unique to the world of Atlantis.

        The story starts out as a simple mystery with malfunctioning navigation equipment on a jumper, an apparition appearing to Teyla and a whale coming to Atlantis. At first these events seem to have no connection but the mystery grows as more people begin to see the apparitions and then more whales come to visit. Little by little writer Carl Binder masterfully weaved these seemingly unrelated elements together till the different pieces connected and the true nature of the mystery was revealed and the real threat they were facing was realized.

        Thanks to Binder and Brad Wright for coming up with such an interesting and appealing story. It was gratifying to see a story that incorporated several elements that are unique to Atlantis such as:
        1) The return of ‘Rodney’s’ whale. This was particularly well done because this element expanded upon a previous storyline. In “Grace Under Pressure,” one wondered if there was an innate or acquired intelligence in the whale that it purposefully help Sheppard find the lost jumper or if it was all just a coincidence. “Echoes” would seem to provide the answer to that question.
        2) The experiments the Ancients were engaging in with the whales. The story reinforced what has been established in previous episodes; that the Ancients were engaged in many different types of scientific experiments in Atlantis and the true nature and/or implications of these experiments are not, at least on the surface, always recognized or understood.
        3) The cyclic flaring of the sun. An unforeseen peril of living on a different planet in a different galaxy which shows that mortal danger does not always arrive in a spaceship.
        4) The underwater jumper scenes. This season there has been more of a focus on the fact that Atlantis sits in the middle of an ocean and it is satisfying to see that aspect of the story utilized a bit more.

        As always, Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett did an outstanding job with their portrayals of Sheppard and McKay. As actors, they play off of each other so well that it always makes it fun and interesting to see the interaction between their two characters. What makes the relationship of Sheppard and McKay so fun and interesting is that on the surface the two seem so diametrically opposed to the other, yet on other levels they have much in common. They are competitive and like to play a game of one-upmanship with each other, however in many situations they really do need to depend on each other’s strengths – though neither will admit it.

        This particular episode did a good job illustrating the many different aspects of their friendship, from the friendly kidding by Sheppard about the whales as evidenced by the first scene between Sheppard and McKay on the balcony and then the following scene between them and Weir, to the overt concern Sheppard showed when McKay became unconscious in the Puddlejumper, to the friendly banter/teasing in the infirmary, to the irritation and impatience on the Daedelus. At the end, the final scene between the two of them back on the balcony is quite telling. Just prior to that scene was one in the control room in which, after Zalenka states most of the whales left, Sheppard comments, “With not even a thank you.” Moments later out on the balcony Sheppard says to Rodney looking at the whale, “Let me guess, your buddy Sam,” and then adds, “….he saved your life, now you saved his, your even.” It seemed that Sheppard, by calling the whale “Sam”, (when earlier he had told McKay not to call the whale Sam because it was “creepy”) and by saying that the whale help saved Rodney’s life (when earlier he was quick to point out it was him and Zalenka) was, in his own way acknowledging and showing respect for the connection Rodney felt he had with the whale. It was a nice expression of friendship.

        A good dose of strong character moments were also seen between Teyla and Ronon. From the meditation scene where Ronon fell asleep to the scene when they are sparring clearly illustrates that these two characters are also quite opposite in many respects. However when Teyla nearly collapses after seeing the apparition and Ronon takes her to the infirmary, you can see the genuine friendship, concern and caring that has developed between the two. In the end, when Ronon returns to Teyla’s room to try meditation again, it seemed to be his way of showing her that he respects her beliefs, her values and most importantly, respects her as a friend.

        The scene in which the ship deflected the radiation wave from the suns corona blast was spectacular from a visual, CGI perspective, but was a little over the top in terms of believability. Also, it did not feel there was the right amount of tension in the scene; this could have been due to directing, editing, plot or simply the fact that one “knew” that the ship had to survive and therefore in no real danger. The scene would have been better served if the writers/director/editing staff could have done more to evoke a greater sense of drama and tension into the scene.

        All in all, “Echoes” is an entertaining, easy to watch episode that utilizes the uniqueness of Atlantis while offering a good mystery and strong character moments which in the end will leave the viewer satisfied.

        Rating 9/10



          SGA seems to do more episodes on ghosts then SG1, I'm surprised they don't name an episode "Ghosts" although to be fair they are trying to be different from the norm by coming up with other names for ghosts. So in the second ghost episode of the season, we get a situation where the crew start seeing images of Atlantians all while tons of whale-like creatures approach Atlantis and if that isn't enough, there's a third impending doom that lays across them.

          And yet, we can't help but to feel somewhat bored by it. They do manage to make these encounters truly creepy the first time around; the ghosts walking around, speaking weirdly enough, the reactions on the actor's faces, it's enough to make anybody jump off their seat. It helps that they don't manage to change the lighting that much for the scenes; it's subdued yes but it remains natural, that just enhances the scariness of the scenes because it gives no idea what is coming next, it makes the ghosts first appearances much more shocking and it allows for those ghosts to establish the mood for the episode. The characters who are placed in this situation also do well for themselves too; Teyla in particular as she manages to showcase a sense of fear and worry that only she can provide, the actor behind her really knows how to act and her state of mind really helps in the relationship they show with Ronan which really shows just how much he cares for her; I'm not one to pay much attention to these relationships but this is really the first time we've ever seen a full hint of the bond they possibly share, a potential friendship that could blossom into something more. Ronan may be a rebellious character but as her scenes with Teyla show, he has heart and the same could possibly be said for Teyla.

          Pure emotion.

          The scenes regarding the ghosts should work to provide an exciting episode where fear and uncertainty come out at every turn but it seems like it never gets there; instead the show draws out the scenes with conversations for a pretty long time, ruining much of the momentum that the episode tries to build up. These ghosts are scary, they provide a pretty engaging experience yet we're forced to focus on the conversation scenes that barely go anywhere; granted they do establish a sense of worry within the characters and they do help to establish a psychological aspect to the episode but they mostly serve to derail an episode at mostly every turn. With every scene regarding Weir talking you're just wishing they would go back to the ghosts and while I like Weir talking, don't we all like the ghosts a little bit better? The same could be said for the scenes involving Sheppard and McKay which while creating a sense of tensity, mostly have nothing engaging going on. It's just McKay and Sheppard doing their usual routine, all while scenes of peril and chaos help to make them somewhat exciting. To be fair the banter between them does break up the monotony, I found myself chuckling at some of the lines and being distracted from the overall flaw but the flaws still remain. Despite the humor between McKay and Sheppard, these scenes are a bore to go through.

          The moment where the episode stakes get raised should prove to be something exciting go; we got nosebleeds, earbleeds, a sense of chaos, shields, stuff on the line. It's unpredictable, no one knows what will happen next and while we're rushing to figure out what's going on, while they're rushing to figure out a plan, a person could collapse at any second. It gives those seen a sense of purpose that drives some of their performance in the episode and who can forget the lengths they go to save the day; doing a foolish plan that may or may not work, classic Stargate! Seeing people in the infirmary should engage viewers of any kind, especially the way they show it which appropriately showcases the chaos they're going through. It's morbid, these people suffering the intended consequences, people dieing all around; it's nice to know that SGA can still take an event seriously and those watching will agree and the technobabble they use in order to justify the stakes raised really seems like something that's scientifically sound. It really engages us in the believability aspect of it from the earlier elements of the episode to the aspects we're facing right now, it makes us focus on our heroes as they try to save the day rather then any inconsistencies in the plot or well, character flaws to say the least.

          [SIZE=1]Not feeling it.[SIZE]

          But it doesn't feel really engaging; which is odd since this is where the characters get going, where they get the chance to do heroic action stuff and where the stakes an odds are increased but it's what I felt when I watched the episode. There's a problem when you're watching McKay go along with a plan unwillingly, trying all that he can to make it work and hoping for the best and you don't feel much. Maybe there's a sense of lifelessness going on with the scripts, maybe everybody on the show isn't feeling the magic and wonder that made the last 2 seasons good and it shows in their work; no matter how hard they try, no matter how invested they're in, they can never luster up the sense that this is more then just an acting role for them. It was enjoyable to watch as they went through what they were going, as they bickered over the issue, as they saved themselves and as they saved the day; the sense of fun that SGA provides is still there and those devout fans and casual watchers will find something to enjoy in most of those scenes but we can't shake off the feeling that they're not into it as before, that the scenes where they're supposed to be engaging aren't really engaging.

          Regardless, this is a decent episode of SGA; one you can not regret spending 44 minutes with. If you can get past the fact that it's somewhat boring then yeah, it's an enjoyable episode but there's a feeling that nothing is really there and there are tons of moments which just drag. It's got a good concept, some good character moments, a sense of engagement and the Stargate feeling you've come to know and love so there's that but still, something's missing that really could of made it better.

          Back from the grave.