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FAN REVIEWS: Submersion

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    FAN REVIEWS: Submersion

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    The team discovers an Ancient drilling station deep beneath the surface of the ocean, only to find that a Wraith queen is still alive there.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 6, 2021, 09:15 PM.

    With ‘girl power’ forming a theme for SG1’s episode, it is a nice to see a continuation in SGA’s, Submersion. Powerful women leaders are the name of the day as Teyla, Weir and a Wraith Queen are all given primary roles within the story yet somehow it is still Sheppard and McKay who seem to leave the more memorable impression.

    Teyla is a great character; a leader of her people, imbued with Wraith DNA that lends her a special ‘Buffy-esque’ quality, mischievous and funny, a warm, compassionate, friendly nature, stubborn and unyielding at times; a warrior with the strength of character to leave her people and join the fight against the Wraith as an integral part of Sheppard’s team. It is one of the mysteries of SGA that the writers have created such a complex and wonderful character and yet have failed to ever fully showcase her. The Gift and Echoes probably jointly hold the position as the episodes closest to portraying Teyla as a complete character, or even attempting to make Teyla a focus, and Submersion joins them.

    The episode provides Teyla with a good storyline; she takes on a Wraith Queen telepathically and wins. There are some great moments: Teyla’s certainty that she is sensing a Wraith, her beating of Ronan when under the influence of the Queen, her agitation with not being allowed to help find the Queen, and her eventual victory. Rachel Luttrell plays every scene to the hilt and puts in a very good performance. Her scenes with Torri Higginson are very well played especially coming on the back of Sunday and convey a wonderful caring friendship between the two women and a special empathy between them as leaders.

    Higginson’s character also does well within the story; it is Weir who leads the interrogation with the Queen, yet who cedes authority to Sheppard in exploring the drilling station, whose curiosity and desire for knowledge has her walking off with McKay, excited like kids in a candy store at the possibilities. If Teyla’s strength is written in large letters with a neon sign around it, Weir’s is much more subtly woven into the mix yet is just as effective – perhaps more so.

    Teyla’s ability to win is something of a question mark given the set-up of how strong the mind of the Wraith Queen is within the plot. The total possession of Teyla at the beginning, the inability of Sheppard to resist the Queen, the physical strength that has her lurching from the table to lunge at Weir, the strength of will to swim to the station from her ship and back again, her carelessly admitted ability to be able to crush Teyla mentally. It is very successful in drawing a formidable opponent who won’t be easily bested…and yet the plot asks us to believe that in the end she was easily fooled with a few sedatives and by a false memory that Teyla ‘reveals’ to her. It’s a little unbelievable and undermines Teyla’s part of the story.

    Maybe it is this that allows Sheppard and McKay to overshadow Teyla once again as they end up being integral to capturing the Queen and destroying her. Their banter and relationship as they walk across the ocean to the Wraith cruiser and once the Queen is vanquished is as enjoyable as ever. Both characters also get memorable moments; Sheppard in his failing battle to withstand the influence of the Queen’s mental abilities and McKay with his relationship with the ill-fated Graydon.

    McKay’s careless treatment of his subordinates feels a little too careless, a little too offhanded given the events of the previous episode and three seasons of character development. If I have one complaint about Ken Cuperus’s usually excellent characterisations, it is with McKay. He too often shows a McKay who would fit perfectly into early season one and who seems to ignore the events that have enriched and changed the character since. McKay noting despondently that of course they should run toward the gunfire, for instance, just doesn’t ring true for him anymore to me. The references to superheroes though, both the Bruce Wayne mention and the ‘spidey-sense’ reference are all brilliantly in character.

    It is difficult to understand why Sheppard and McKay do overshadow Teyla; maybe because their scenes are funnier or more dramatic or simply more memorable. Maybe because their characters are more familiar in all their quirks and flaws, and their relationship more developed on-screen than that of the Weir/Teyla dynamic shown in comparison. Whatever the reason, neither Sheppard nor McKay, nor the combination of the men, is minimised enough within the story to maximise Teyla as a character. It does beg the question why such mechanics seem necessary to prevent Teyla becoming a sub-player in a story meant to highlight her but unfortunately I think it is the result of the imbalance between the characters in the series that has evolved since it began.

    The issues with Teyla and the plot aside, the episode is accomplished; the set design is suitably Ancient yet dark and creepy; the lighting atmospheric, the specific effects of the ocean well done. The costume and the make-up of the Wraith Queen are dramatic and different; she looks as powerful as she acts. The music adds to the tension and never detracts. The moments of humour are all nicely done from the bickering in the puddle-jumper to the wonderful contrast of military and science at the end.

    Submersion is nicely directed, acted and produced, and ultimately, it is a solid and entertaining episode. It never reaches the quality execution of Common Ground or Sateda as a character episode but it does showcase Teyla even if it fails to fully give her the spotlight. I continue to eagerly await an episode that provides a successful showcase for the wonderful female character that has been created and I hope I don’t wait in vain.
    Women of the Gate LJ Community.
    My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.


      First, there was the “SGA” version of “Flowers for Algernon”. That was quickly followed by the “SGA” version of “Ender’s Game” meets “Civilization”. Now, we have this series’ version of “The Abyss”. Even Sheppard points that out early in the episode! Thankfully, that’s not an automatic negative, since the purpose of the episode is exploration of the Wraith. Or, at the very least, a reminder of how creepifying the Wraith can be, even after being sidelined for what seems like ages.

      At the end of the day, this is a “bottle show”, which means the order of the day should be psychological character exploration, brought out by the insanity of the situation. Previous “bottle shows” in the Stargate franchise have been hit or miss. This episode seems to fall somewhere in the middle. It gives the writers a chance to focus on Teyla for once, but in the end, there’s the unfortunate feeling that an opportunity has been wasted.

      Teyla ultimately gets to vanquish an enemy that is otherwise nearly impossible to beat, all based on her connection to the Wraith hivemind, granted to her in a first season episode by an infusion of Wraith DNA. The struggle of wills is the highlight of her plot thread, revealing her inner strength in a way that hasn’t been evident in quite some time. That makes the resolution of the episode too simple and pat in comparison; it also serves to put Sheppard and McKay in position, once again, to save the day.

      Speaking of McKay, after the previous episode, it’s hard to imagine him displaying his trademark sarcasm in quite the same way. This has become an ongoing concern, because it’s another sign that the writers struggle with the concept of letting characters grow and evolve. If the movements are too subtle, then they easily fall into the range of variation from writer to writer, and seem less like planned character evolution than planned stagnation.

      As entertaining as the episode is as an underwater struggle against the most powerful Wraith yet, it fails to deliver as a solid Teyla episode, which is what I had hoped it would be. The character has massive potential, but for it to be realized, she needs a strong and non-relationship-driven arc. Perhaps something that emphasizes her role as the leader of her people in contrast to her role with Team Atlantis, as a follow-up to her arc in the first season, would be the right direction.



        This episode looks to be interesting out the bunch; I mean an episode that focuses on Teyla? (according to the previously on...) we haven't got that since... "The Gift" and well, I was excited to see what would happen since Teyla is kind of an underutilized character in regards to her potential.

        Unfortunately, much of the Teyla stuff is limited to her communicating to the Wraith, which shows just how persistent she can be when helping people. I have to say, they portrayed her well during those scenes as they showed her as a person who has weaknesses yet is confident enough to go in; she's tough, she wants to help out her team despite the worries of the crew and even though it doesn't go as planed, she still finds the will to go on regardless. She even feels sympathy for letting such a Wraith control her in the first place and that really shows the care she has for her friends; she feels bad about the actions she did even though she can't remember them, the actions that could potentially put harm to her team, now that is Teyla right there. For the rest of the episode, it's sort of a pseudo-horror episode complete with muted lighting and unexpected surprises. The episode does a good job at making us fear the unexpected; the lights turning off, the force fields coming on, the unexpected noises that causes people to investigate, the casual conversations... It isn't over-the-top horror (though the Wraith does help) but it does help to create a claustrophobic and worrisome environment which directly helps Teyla's plot. Though the Wraith is revealed too quickly, these scenes are essential to the episode itself.

        Face to face...

        There's also some pretty decent scenes regarding action. I found it fun when Teyla kicked ass, even if it was Ronan's ass he was kicking and we can't forget about the scenes involving the Wraith; the scenes where Teyla communicates, the scenes where Sheppard is face to face with it, those provide the most entertaining scenes of the episode complete with some pretty decent CGI. It was an edge of your seat experience to watch as Ronan saved the day or even the moments where they shoot at it. It just provided that thrill which the episode really needed, one that really isn't shown that much in the episode. There are even some unique scenes where the cinematography is used to great effect, one of those scenes involving water which I think you'll find quite beautiful. The characters are good as usual; McKay and Zelenka show that worry and work-hard mentality well, Sheppard and Ronan are gruff as usual and the other characters do a good job in contributing to the environment; that conversation in the beginning for example, while it isn't one of Stargate's best conversations, it does help to establish that mentality that Stargate is known for and get situated in their world. It's nice to see Weir in a team-mentality state and I find her to be the best acted mainly because her leadership, worry and compassion plays a decent part in Teyla's scenes. McKay and Sheppard can banter all they want but nothing compares to Weir and the impact she has in Teyla's plot.

        It's a shame that this didn't focus on Teyla more because there could of been something to this plot; while what I suppose was shown was enough for her character, the previously on made it seem like we would be getting something revolutionary. You could remove the previously on and this would be seen as just another day in Atlantis without any expectations piled on. The pseudo-horror episode idea is a good one and they did do it well but I can't help feeling like they weren't exactly excited with the idea, with much of the episode feeling like one big blur with only a few stand-out pieces in between; they have a unique Wraith (one which tried to be somewhat different), they have tension, they even have a ship but somehow it just didn't exactly work out well for them. One could only imagine what'd happen if Teyla was included more; for most of the time she has been treated as wallpaper and it's a shame she's being treated as wallpaper because she's a character with good potential. She's not just muscle, she's a person with an intricate history and an intricate personality with those trading moments and her culture as shown in Seasons 1 & 2 as examples.


        Overall, this episode promises Teyla revelation but only delivers a standalone episode that could be in any SGA season. The concept they have is interesting and they do manage to deliver on the psuedo-horror aspect but none of it manages to be memorable, even though they include some pretty awesome moments that will have you on the edge of your seat. Teyla really deserved better then this (she does do good though), on to the next one I guess.

        Back from the grave.