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    FAN REVIEWS: The Ark

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    The team discovers the last of a civilization in suspended animation, whose survival is at risk when their station is critically damaged.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 6, 2021, 09:19 PM.

    This episode spent the hour on explosions, people opening and closing doors, and watching John fall to the planet in a disabled shuttle stuck inside a disintegrating "moon" that looked more like a glorified asteroid -- which all was quite entertaining enough -- only to drop the most intriguing question in the last minute and then fade away without taking any further look at it, complete with an attention-distracting "except McKay" joke at the end.

    That John will risk his life to save one of "his" people, this we knew already. And if the 1000 people stored in the data box had been reintegrated and running around the station when the moon's orbit started decaying, it's not hard to imagine every one of the team giving up their seats on the jumper in favor of clamming as many children as they could into the jumper, and the only reason the unnamed jumper pilot would keep his seat would be that someone had to pilot the jumper. Yet because the people were an abstraction, tidily stored away in the data box that oh so coincidentally resembled a coffin, and never seen onscreen even after they were safely reintegrated and setting up life on their long-abandoned planet -- we, the viewers, are supposed to nod and accept that John did it for Teyla, not for the 1000 abstract lives inside the box. That Jamus was correct in his view that only by taking one of *John's people* and holding that life hostage to his people's, could he make his people's situation real for John.

    That one person, standing before our eyes, is more real than a thousand, million, or billion people we hear or read about, on TV, in newspapers, in statistic reports -- this is a reality of human psychology. And John Sheppard and his team are only human. But I would have liked to see at least one reintegrated person from Jamus' storage box in the infirmary with Teyla. I want to know whether John has the courage to admit "that's not why I did it " in the presence of a no-longer-abstract life for whom he didn't risk his own. *That* would have been something new we could have learned about John Sheppard.

    In addition, this episode dropped the question of "killing the many to save the few," also without doing anything more than barely introducing the topic. What makes an episode real is the courage to explore the difficult questions. Common Ground did that. The Ark, unfortunately, settled for being an entertaining hour of TV.
    Keep Carson. Keep Elizabeth.
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      As Stargate fans, we have come to the reluctant acceptance that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I would be hard-pressed to say which one of those applies to Atlantis' most recent episode, "The Ark."

      While the overall predicament of the team's choice between thousands of abstract people or their own lives was certainly interesting, the episode ended up being more about McKay getting the station's doors open than it did about the man holding Teyla hostage to ensure his people's safety. The Jamus character was very well done (props to the actor, whoever he is), but Teyla's reaction to him was less than sincere; something that could be explained by the fact that Jamus is threatening to shoot her, but could also stem from a genuine lack of concern on her (and the team's) part. Sadly, we will never know.

      While I'm always glad to see Carson in an episode, Beckett's appearance here smacked of "he's a main cast member and we have to give him a part" undertones. Nevertheless his acting was, as usual, impecable. David Hewlett also had some shining moments. His genuine reaction to impending death (which held more genuine panic and less frantic babble than we're used to seeing) managed to be funny and appropriately disconcerting.

      The team interaction was quite good; it seems that season 3 has set aside a lot of time for character development, and I've never been more grateful to the writers for it. Shepphard and McKay's banter still feels fresh and fast, and their genuine concern for each other at the end of the episode was heartwarming.

      Sadly, that banter and team interaction was used to not only distract from, but to completely bull over the emotional punch of John putting Teyla's life before the rescue of an entire race. While the predicament of Jamus' people was technically the main story arc of the episode, it was treated without much respect or serious consideration. While I understand how time-limited the writers are, I was disappointed with the overall levity applied both to John's sacrifice (which, while being seriously cool to look at, didn't actually do much for our emotional wrapup) and the final conclusion of the episode, which focused on Teyla's rescue. The fact that an entire race of saved people barely got a mention was a bit saddening.

      All in all, The Ark gave us a good glut of team moments to chew on until next week, but if you were looking for serious story arcs and emotional impact, you might want to skip this episode and go watch one of the Returns.


        The dramatic opening of The Ark while capturing interest also serves an early warning that this will be a Sheppard-saves-the-day-with-a-crazy-idea episode…and so it is. Really the rest of the episode only serves to tell the audience why Sheppard ended up in a bad Apollo 13 moment and to showcase his character while pretty much making everyone else redundant and in the case of Teyla, ironically invisible. Despite this the episode is hugely watchable for the most part helped by the special effects and the intriguing idea of the team all cut off from each other in parts of the moon base.

        Ignoring the teaser which rather gives the end-game away, the first half of the story is enormously intriguing; the moon base, the space shuttles, the Wraith Ark device. The set-up is very well done from the initial exploration, the reintegration of the grief-stricken Herik and the slow reveal of how the Ark device came to be and what happened to the planet. The suicide leading to the team trapped in parts of the base and destined to burn up in the atmosphere with the decaying moon provides a fantastic perilous situation while also showing a shocking, realistic moment of grief. Joris Jarsky’s performance is brief but powerful.

        Kenneth Welsh also does a good job as the other reintegrated man, Jamus. He treads the thin line between potential bad guy and a man simply desperate to save the last of his people and making increasingly difficult decisions. He comes across as intelligent and cunning, knowing that he has to make his peoples’ situation somehow real to Sheppard and using Teyla to do it. His scene with Teyla where he finally admits the horror of the planet’s final hours and his desperation to somehow make it worthwhile are very well done.

        The scene finally provides Rachel Luttrell with some meaty material as Teyla. Her impassioned plea that while they cannot save his people they could live on through him is fantastically done and shows just what a great actress Luttrell can be when given good material for her character. Teyla has often been overlooked or overshadowed in stories to date so it is somewhat ironic that finally having been given the opportunity to shine, the next moment sees the character disintegrated into the Ark device and made invisible.

        Unfortunately, from that point forward it is clear that all the other characters could equally have been made just as invisible for the contribution they then add to the story as it shifts gear and promotes Sheppard the Lone Hero. Sheppard’s decision to take the shuttle as it provides the only portable power source for the Ark device which contains Teyla is suitably self-sacrificing, crazy and completely within character. The material isn’t new but Joe Flanigan gives an excellent performance.

        The story does open up the intriguing morality question of why Sheppard is prepared to risk his life for a member of his team but not for the lives of one thousand strangers. It’s an intriguing note perhaps lost in amongst the ‘hero’ moment. The problem is not that he is showcased as a hero but that he is showcased as a lone hero as the other members of his team are relegated to bystanders along with the audience. There are two issues; one, it doesn’t promote a great feeling of team despite the fact that Sheppard is doing it for one of his members. This isn’t helped by the fact that neither Ronan nor McKay seem too bothered about Teyla’s fate and seem only concerned with Sheppard’s survival; out of sight, out of mind apparently. Secondly, quite frankly, Sheppard being the lone hero is a little boring. By my count this is the fourth episode this season where Sheppard ends up on his own trying to save the day in some way. It would be beneficial from a team-feel perspective, not to mention actually giving Ronan and Teyla bigger and better roles, if Sheppard could be shown being a hero as part of his team more.

        McKay gets the best deal of the other characters; his curiosity, insensitivity and pessimism about their situation when trapped is within character and yet McKay seems odd. Perhaps because this feels more like early McKay; a McKay who hasn’t had three years of experience working in the field with his team, who has to be reminded they don’t leave people behind, who isn’t used to coming up with plans to save the day. It is McKay but a regressed McKay and that is why he seems weirdly changed. Ronan, at least is wholly in character as are Weir and Beckett although all three get very little to actually do.

        However while Sheppard takes centre stage, the character’s heroics are clearly upstaged by the incredible special effects. These are fabulous throughout from the suicide blast, the debris shattering the control room window, the moon burning up and the re-entry of the shuttle…all evoke excitement and look incredibly realistic. Kudos also should go to the set design for the suitably claustrophobic and sterile moon base.

        There is little else to say; the story has good potential but ultimately chooses a route without originality and which does nothing to promote the team as a team. It’s still watchable with great quality demonstrated in the production but the ending is uninteresting and all the characters except Sheppard are underused. Final verdict? A good effort but must do better.
        Women of the Gate LJ Community.
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          “Stargate: Atlantis” is approaching an interesting crossroads. While the flagship “SG-1” is approaching the end of its run, “SGA” is coming to the end of its current incarnation. After this season, cast changes will take place as characters from “SG-1” are absorbed. So while the series is not ending this season, for many, the feeling is much the same. Any episode that seems extraneous or self-contained is an episode that doesn’t deal with the big picture as originally conceived with the current cast.

          Of course, the series is hardly a stranger to cast changes, and there’s no reason to think that the series will suddenly fall apart at the seams. It’s possible to enjoy the material on its own merits. Similarly, this episode can be enjoyed for what it is, warts and all. There are some flaws, and it lacks much connection to the current plot threads, but it’s still a competent stand-alone.

          In essence, this episode gets back to some of the earliest episodes, where the team would encounter the legacy of the Ancient-Wraith war on world after world. The incursions of the Wraith are always a matter of tragedy, and this episode’s situation is no exception. In fact, by the time Jamis gives his confession to Teyla, the level of sacrifice is staggering.

          For the most part, this is another Sheppard/McKay show, with a liberal dose of Ronon and Teyla tossed in for fun. It’s great to see Teyla get more screen time, even if her character continues to be relatively simple and a bit of a stereotype. Ronon, on the other hand, continues to be fun but offers nothing new. There are some good McKay moments (despite a seeming lack of change after the previous episode), and Sheppard is heroic, but this is not an episode devoted to character.

          For me, the episode was elevated by Kenneth Welsh, an actor that has been on my radar since his time on “Twin Peaks”. If nothing else, he’s demonstrated an ability to transcend some questionable writing with a committed performance. This time around, he’s given a fairly meaty role and he sells it.

          It’s not a perfect episode. There are few odd plot conveniences and logic problems. My favorite is the scene where Sheppard and Ronon struggle to seal the room they’re in as the moon base vents atmosphere. They struggle to close one door, and then struggle to close the other door in the opposite direction. That makes absolutely no sense at all, but despite those writing woes, I was quite entertained.


            The Ark

            “The Ark” is a stand alone, well paced episode that offers a good amount of excitement, great CGI and few twists along the way.

            In this episode, we are introduced to a race of people who have taken dramatic steps to avoid the Wraith and preserve their people, technology and culture. The true nature of how far a few went to insure this survival is not known until the last ten minutes. Leading up to that revelation is a series of fairly suspenseful scenes and a few surprising plot turns.

            In general the story seemed to teeter between a light space romp and a story that delved into more serious moral/ethical issues. There was a greater, philosophical question raised with Jamus’s, the leader of the race of people, actions to insure survival of his race. Does the survival of a few justify the death of the many? The Atlantis team is face with this same question when they have to make a decision on whether or not they can save the people in the Wraith device or insure their own escape. Sheppard is then forced to take a desperate and risky course of action to do just this, but only after Teyla is imprisoned in the same device. The story might have done better to touch a bit more upon some of those issues that were raised.

            Some of the more interesting stories in the Stargate Atlantis universe have been those that we have seen races make questionable moral and ethic choices to survive the Wraith. Examples include “Poisoning the Well,” “Condemned” and “Childhood’s End. In all these instances the routes that the race had chosen to insure survival presented a moral and ethical challenge to the Atlantis team, sometimes the consequences are portrayed well such as in “Poisoning the Well” and sometimes badly as in “Condemned.” In “The Ark,” the question is once again raised but never explored or really answered.

            The Atlantis team has also taken their own steps into moral ambiguity with the development of the Wraith vaccine and the experiments on Michael. And while they now have to deal with a consequence of their action, Michael, the true question of right or wrong is never dealt with as directly it seemingly should be. Looking at their own questionable moral and ethical decisions through the actions of some other races would be an interesting aspect of this for the Atlantis team to explore. An approach such as this might have added to the complexity and depth of this episode or even other recent episodes that have raised such moral and ethical concerns. However, while “The Ark” did not explore or really answer these questions, in all fairness, the episode was obviously meant to focus more on the action, the Team, the life and death situations they found themselves in and of course the heroic efforts of Sheppard. And there is always the restraint of time, but perhaps a future episode might touch upon this.

            Strong points to the episode included several good scenes with excellent character dialogue. One example would be when Ronon and Sheppard are trapped in the airlock compartment. It is a short but telling series of scenes that allows the viewer to see not only how different these two characters are but how differently they react and deal with this type of situation. The brief scene later where Ronon reminds Sheppard of his promise for a “fight to the death” was well done as a simple demonstration of the friendship and respect these two different characters have for each other. This episode gives one a good feel for how well these two fine actors play off of each other and really highlights the fact that more scenes and character development is needed between the two. Congratulations to Jason Momoa and Joe Flanigan for their excellent portrayals.

            Another series of noteworthy scenes are between Teyla and Jamus as he is holding her hostage. These scenes were not only a good opportunity to see the character of Teyla use some of her leadership/negotiation skills but a nice opportunity for the actress to shine, albeit all too briefly. Well done by Rachel Luttrell.

            The ending, though visually exciting with terrific CGI, was over the top and highly unbelievable. Having the shuttle being unable to escape the asteroid, than explode out of it only to careen uncontrollably through the atmosphere to crash land on the planet, then have the pilot come away seemingly without a scratch is asking a lot of the viewer to accept. It unfortunately distracts from the entire episode as one can easily hear themselves saying, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

            The CGI team deserves special recognition for outstanding special effects, not only at the end as noted above but throughout the entire episode. The direction by Martin Wood was also exceptional. In particular the scenes where Sheppard and Ronon are trying to close the hatch and the one in the control room with Rodney when the debris hits the window are all very well done. In addition, scenes where the characters are moving or running through the corridors of the base were very well filmed. It must be very difficult to film in such a narrow and limited space and still present it in such a way to the viewer to appear so expansive and capture the essence of the scene so effectively.

            Overall, “The Ark” was an entertaining, exciting and enjoyable space adventure highlighted by some great CGI and though it touched upon some deeper moral and ethical issues it regrettably took the easy way out instead of avoiding a true confrontation of those issues.



              The Ark

              What happens when you combine Atlantis and a space station built inside of the moon plus add some moralistic issues and a sense of tensity? You get the best episode of Season 3 and one of the best episodes of Atlantis.

              The Atlantis crew has discovered some pretty interesting things in their lifetime; Ancient ships, Ancient outposts, Ancient satellites so to see them discover an old space station inside of a moon is pretty interesting. From the first sights of it, we can only imagine the purposes that it holds and the secrets that are laid inside; sure, it may look antiquated but there's always something beneath the surface and what we find beneath the surface perfectly sets up the basis of the episode. It's old 60's look looks both stark and depressing (in relation of the tone of the episode) and the way the station turns on, the first anomaly shows up and the sights we see of our characters perusing the place suggests that this isn't going to be your ordinary episode of SGA and it shows as the episode progresses, placing our characters in a massive load of situations that more then show off the characters and betrays the simplicity this place ever so shows.

              The conflict that they introduce along the race of people provides a sense of moralistic integrity that gives weight and depth to what could of been an average episode of SGA. Just imagine, thousands of people stored in one device; frightening stuff isn't it? The writers manage to paint a picture of both a society that was once prosperous and a war that caused tensions and desperation, a picture that draws you into the situation and one that makes the performances from the two people beamed out of the device compelling; watching the white haired guy, you will feel for him while also having conflicting thoughts of your own thanks to his performance which manages to combine sensibility with disturbingness. It's funny how one guy can care so much for his people and just do some pretty questionable stuff under the guise of a hard decision, really shows that sense of darkness that SGA used to have and it just makes you think... How far would you go just to ensure that your people would be safe, what is appreciable within that grey area?

              What would you do?

              Every one of our characters manages to act wonderfully here with a sense of drama that is appropriate for the episode at hand while still managing to add some lightness that they're known for. Sheppard really knows how to utilize his performance in order to fit the situation; the ruff, gruff vocals and stern personality work well for the situation at hand, he knows he's in trouble but he can't help to be heroic, even being light at times and McKay, well let's just say that he was determined this time around, almost dumping his annoying traits in order to be a helpful part of the team. His actions are admirable, his focus is tense and it's really something to see him try his best to help even if it isn't going anywhere; this is him being heroic, this is him knowing when to be friendly and light but knowing when to put the effort where needed. If anything, I say that episodes like this really bring out the best in his character and Teyla even gets a surprising chance to be sympathetic and even forthright demanding; the way that she communicates wit the white haired guy really brings out the best in her character and even shows us some stuff that we don't even know about. It's nice to see her not being utilized as wallpaper.

              It's such a tense experience to watch, the tensity that exists on the ship, the uncertainty of whether or not they'll survive, the moments with impressive visual effects; you'll be on the edge of your seat as you watch our heroes try to make it and you'll be both hoping and cheering at the end. It really engages you into the world of the episode, the hopes, the moments, the interactions with Atlantis, even the one-off guest stars who manage to play the role very well with helpful like southern dialog. The team may be separated, there may be some iffy moments but one thing remains consistent, the danger, the unpredictable and and the impressive visual effects. This is exactly what happens when Stargate writers find a winning formula and considering the quality of Season 3 so far, this is a winning formula; action, drama, tensity, some darkness, characters, it's all there. We don't know what happened to the society though, that's about the only major flaw with it.

              Truly heroic.

              So what else can I say, it's got everything, it uses it's characters well, it's dark with a bit of lightness in it and it's one of those things that just transcends into greatness. A must see!

              Back from the grave.