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FAN REVIEWS: 'Outcast'

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    John Sheppard has always been one of the main characters of Stargate Atlantis so to get an episode that focuses entirely on him seems promising; of course they've already had one done with "Epiphany" but that episode wasn't really promising, now this episode with Sheppard on Earth with Ronan in toe is 10x more promising.

    Having his father die is the best thing the writers have ever done for Sheppard's character as it allows him a possibly to feel more human and that is shown in the funeral that he attends which is just a cornucopia of character possibilities. The art of acting is taking whatever you've been given and making it seem convincing and exciting and through the times there have been various ways such as focusing on presence or focusing on drama, there are times where the art can be taken to a level where they don't even notice that cameras and stage lights are all around them, immersing themselves as their characters, actually becoming the characters; Sheppard understands the art well, throughout the first few minutes he is shown to converse with a few relatives relating to personal matters, matters relating to his father's death, his childhood and even his current position. In every moment he's in he utilizes the awkward pauses to the dead stares to even the empathy that he shows to 100% effectiveness also projecting a sense of emotion and awkwardness that suggests a really close and intimate bond that seems almost lifelike. It gives thought to the whole entertainment thing, are these people trying to create entertainment, or are they trying to create a sense of relatability? There's a comfort in seeing someone who manages to be just like you facing a situation that's different but similar; maybe it's the thought of knowing that there's someone just like him out there on Earth, someone who's possibly been through the same stuff Sheppard has, there's a certain relief in knowing that we're not alone but regardless of the reason, one thing is certain; Sheppard's performance here transcends realism.


    It's just a shame that after these first few minutes, the episode plot transitions to a replicator-hunt episode filled with all sorts of secrecy but taking place on Earth. Sheppard's character potential is quickly diminished as he transitions back to his usual self interrogating people, being a leader and well hunting something down; as I watched the episode, I tried to find something where his personality, his actions, even his words would somehow link back to his father and provide some sort of emotional transcendence but that never came... This will do well for the action fans though as it contains people with guns shooting at the replicator, Sheppard running and gunning, Ronan with his gun shooting things and it will do well for the sci-fi fans as it contains some moral ambiguity, twists and fantastical moments; everything here is well presented, Dr. Guest Star does a good job at playing a character that's sensible but wacky at the same time, the action has some good cinematography that gets across the action, and even the settings are cool but it didn't do well for me. I can't help feeling bored by what's going on on screen; there was nothing going on that was interesting or even unique, the replicators behavior was entirely motivated by one thing, "people are going to destroy them, he has to run away as far as possible but he doesn't want to kill anybody" and while it's understandable in a plot sense, it isn't suitable in both a sci-fi and an entertainment sense; the other factor (the ambiguous girl) does fare a bit better here as she is a bit more dynamic and a bit more moralistically questionable, the few scenes she appears in shows she has personality and what is revealed and what we see in those scenes make us think about how much do know about emotion. Unfortunately I can't help to dislike how they handled her in the end; placing her in a simulation similar to a episode of TNG.

    Though throughout all this, the episode hasn't forgotten about one thing; exploring Sheppard and that pops up from time to time throughout these scenes. The scenes with his ex-wife (who we finally get to see) are a delightful show of his character, His ex-wife's anger carries well into Sheppard's doubt and unwillingness showing a window into both feelings, we can see a person annoyed and angered with all the secrecy while also seeing a person who wants to tell her everything and those feelings transcend into something that drives the point through for both characters. Also of note is the scene where he stands there looking at his casket; it's just beautiful, lighting, music, camerawork, the look on Sheppard's face, it seems like he really felt something for him and though he may not say any words, it's an essential growth for his character. And we can't forget about Ronan, he gets more screen time then he does in "Miller's Crossing" and he uses well too interacting with Earth in the most oddest of ways; though he falls into the same trap that Sheppard does, it gives him a chance to comment about what's around him in the most minute of ways and his comments oddly reflect the situation at hand; he almost feels like a human observer when he does that, helping us to draw attention to the things around us, see them in a new perspective; he also draws comparisons to his own life, his surroundings, his life plans, you know the bit... These scenes are what this episode could of been; they grow him, they make him more real and if there were tons more scenes like that then it would be a success but alas, a fight between two replicators and a sequence where a replicator burns up in the atmosphere (all similar to "Terminator") won out in the end.


    I'll have to admit, this episode is better then "Epiphany" but this isn't really Sheppard's character revelation. The first few minutes (and a few scenes after that) are one of the best scenes Sheppard will ever grace but the rest of it is a sci-fi plot that is oddly safe and complacent, not even bothering to go where no man has gone before. There's a chance you will enjoy much of the episode but don't go into it expecting a tell all about Sheppard; you'll just be disappointed.


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  • Rachel500
    In many ways Outcast doesn’t feel like an episode of Stargate Atlantis. With the action happening back on Earth and the absence of so many of the regular cast, the whole tone and pace is changed with the only Atlantis constants really being Sheppard and Ronon. As an Atlantis episode it sits uncomfortably in the mix yet viewed completely as a stand alone, there is a lot to appreciate.

    The plotting of the episode is well done. Despite the missing Replicator, the focus is on mystery, hidden emotions and agendas, which lends the episode a gentler pace than most. It would be easy to categorise the story as simply Sheppard and Ronon chasing a Replicator on Earth but this is to miss the fact that the chase is simply the device used to tell Ava’s story.

    From her introduction to her ending, Ava is a mysterious figure. Here is a Replicator built for social interaction; who has a conscience; who ultimately betrays her creator because he does not have the same morals that she displays. She worries that the missing Replicator will kill innocents and cannot allow it; she works to bring it to Sheppard’s attention, and helps capture it. She feels emotions; fear at being alone, regret that her ‘father’ died believing only that she had betrayed him. After years of seeing flawed human form Replicators, there is an implied suggestion that Ava could well be the first successful version (discounting FRAN who was created as a weapon to destroy the Replicators). For a long term viewer of the franchise, it is great to see this ‘what if’ explored and when the various options for her continued existence are discussed, there is a disappointment that she won’t be joining the SGC as suggested by Doctor Lee. The ending is a good compromise, and allows the Atlantis producers to revive Ava at a later date should they wish to reuse the character again.

    Ava’s story is painted against the backdrop of another character; Sheppard. Sheppard’s background has also always been something of a mystery; the hints in earlier seasons suggested that he was alone or that there had been some kind of estrangement. Here the latter is finally settled upon. The privileged upbringing reveals a completely different side to Sheppard yet here the whole picture – the dialogue, the setting, the interactions amongst Sheppard and his brother reveal the Sheppard we know; his characteristic rebelling against a future planned out for him, the very polite relationship that exists between the brothers – even when they are arguing, indicating an upbringing where handshakes were the norm and why Sheppard is so uneasy at accepting hugs.

    If the familial relationships all go to explaining Sheppard’s character, they also go toward the explanation of what happened to his marriage. His interaction with his ex-wife and their few scenes does much to suggest that it was Sheppard’s inability to emotionally open up alongside the demands of his job that killed the relationship. Yet there is also a suggestion of feelings and regret on both sides.

    Exploring this personal side to Sheppard imbues the whole episode with a sense of emotional fragility. The scenes between Sheppard and McKay and Sheppard and Ronon are all about their personal friendships rather than anything Atlantis related. The viewer feels Sheppard’s grief; from his shock at the news, the moment by the coffin, the revelation that his father regretted their estrangement: all is exceptionally well acted by Joe Flanigan. When Sheppard tells Poole that he’s running out of patience, the viewer understands why; at a time when he needs to be mourning he’s having to clean up Poole’s mess. Yet his grief allows Sheppard an important emotional connection between him and Ava that is expressed in the scene where Sheppard notes that it is not possible to tell what someone else is thinking. The ending when Sheppard goes back to talk with his brother allows the viewer to hope that the character will finally get his chance to deal with his loss.

    Against these emotional and character driven stories, the action pieces with the Replicator seem jarring but this also plays a part in connecting the audience with Sheppard’s emotions. Sheppard is grieving – the chase and fights might be necessary but they are an unwelcome and frustrating distraction; a jarring element in Sheppard’s usual life where he continues to excel as a soldier.

    The story is in the main told well and the only major plot hole is why Sheppard needs to ask his ex-wife to scare up the classified information when there are plenty of other sources that he could use such as Homeworld Security or NID. Still, overall it is a tightly executed piece.

    The main problem though is that it doesn’t feel like an Atlantis story. It feels like an episode of an entirely different show with even the musical underscore subtly different. The beginning on Atlantis contrasts sharply with the Earth action; Atlantis feels alien against the Earth reality. While it happily adds to the distance between Sheppard and his family, it also feels to the viewer that we are a long way from ‘home’. Even the use of the Replicators, Apollo, Bates and Doctor Lee seem to underscore this rather than bringing a feeling of familiarity (although while on the subject of Doctor Lee, it is good to see the character used effectively, actually providing solutions and being a contributing team member, not just as comic relief).

    While the story does suggest there is another show the production team could consider one day (an Earth based show with a team dealing with threats generated from the existence of the Stargate programme), this isn’t the expectation when tuning in for an episode of Atlantis. In the end, this is a good story and well told with a surprising depth of character development and emotional content but it isn’t the usual Atlantis story. Is that a good thing? For this viewer, yes.

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  • EdenSG
    In a string of stand alone episodes, one finds “Outcast” to be a bit of a relief. While a stand alone episode too, in “Outcast” there is more continuity, or at least tie-ins to previous episodes and storylines, some long awaited background information on Lt Col John Sheppard and some good old hunt down and chase the bad guy action. The one thing missing from this episode was not seeing the core team together, which has been a noticeable, distressing and unfortunate element that many stand alone episodes in season 4 have in common.

    In “Outcast”, one of the continuity elements that worked well was seeing Bates again. As a character missing since season one it was good to see him alive and well. His reason for being there, part of a new IOA task force to deal with Earth threats was interesting and believable. It also leaves open the possibility of seeing him again. Also tying the plot/development of the repilcator into the events of “Miller’s Crossing”, while not a perfect scenario, did for the most part work and made the foundation of the story viable.

    The backstory on Sheppard hit the mark pretty well. The fact he came from a rich family seems to suit his character well. The apparent falling out he had with his father and brother explains many of his statements and even perhaps his character’s philosophy. While leaving a host of many other unanswered questions regarding his background and relationship with his family, it provided a pretty good balance of some information and yet more information left to be discovered – hopefully – in future episodes. In fact, one fault with the episode is that the information that was given on Sheppard’s background was so intriguing and so long in coming it felt like there should have been even more.

    Nancy, John’s ex-wife was perfectly written and well played by actress Kari Wuhrer. She was smart, pretty, caring - but not a push over. In many ways they seem perfectly suited for each other which serves to create additional layers and questions as to what went wrong in their relationship. She could have been written as mean, unintelligent or uncaring but this would have been so cliche’ and easy it would have been ineffectual and uninteresting. As she was written, it made the relationship between her and John more real, more intriguing and more poignant.

    Joe Flanigan did an outstanding job, as always, in his portrayal of Sheppard and this episode was a tour de force’ for Flanigan’s acting skills. The way he expresses emotions is remarkable. Notable scenes include, the look of shock when informed by Carter his father had died, hiding his emotions when talking with Rodney in the beginning, the look of anguish and regret as he stood next to his Dad’s coffin, the awkwardness when talking with his ex-wife, the restrained anger when his brother accused him of coming just to see if he was in the will and the look of anger/determination when interrogating Dr. Poole. These are all good examples of the range and abilities Joe Flanigan has an actor and the layers of interest and emotion he brings to the character of John Sheppard.

    Another element that worked well was Sheppard and Ronon. The pairing of these two characters together is becoming just as interesting and fun as McKay and Sheppard together, if not more so. The close friendship of Ronon and Sheppard is showing more and more and it helps that the two actors play off of each other so well. One does get the impression that the two actors are as good a friends off screen as their characters are on screen.

    Great script by Alan McCullough. He did an excellent job of tying the plot pieces together and as a whole making it all work. Loved how the episode did invoke a certain “Terminator” feel. One story piece that was a stretch to believe was Sheppard having to go to his ex-wife to get the intel. It was a bit contrived but in the long run necessary to the story and did provide the opportunity for more background information on their relationship.

    Also of note in this episode is the musical score, it was not the usual, it had an almost mechnical/robot type sound. It was different, it fit the story well, it worked.

    In a string of stand alone episodes “Outcast” stood out. While not a perfect episode it had a solid story that was interesting, exciting and enlightening. It provided some much needed and overdo background information on Sheppard while cleverly intertwining the replicator story and previous plotlines and characters to make an episode that worked.


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  • entil2001
    In a season marked by more character exploration, the second half of that effort has been hit or miss. Fans were divided over the previous two episodes, and this installment, focusing on John Sheppard, will probably fall into the same category. It’s an unusual episode, to say the least, because most of it takes place on Earth. It’s a break in format that gives the story an unusual scope.

    The plot is tied indirectly to “Miller’s Crossing”, where it was revealed that researchers on Earth had been working with Replicator-derived nanites for potential medical breakthroughs. It seems rather obvious that research would be conducted on creation of pseudo-Replicators with defined operational tasks. And given the luck humanity has had with the Replicators up to this point in the franchise, it was inevitable that the project would go horribly wrong.

    That’s a fairly thin plot, however, especially when the Replicator in question is programmed for military purposes and acts like Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2”. It amounts to Sheppard and Ronon teaming up with a McKay stand-in from “SG-1” and hunting down the bad guy. Two unusual twist give the episode more to work with, and the result is a much better episode than expected.

    First, there’s the reason why Sheppard is on Earth, and the reason why he becomes the best man for the job. His father has died, and he returns home for the funeral. His remaining family and ex-wife are somewhat remote with him, and it turns out he’s been the black sheep of the family in more ways than one. Not only did he choose a different path than his father would have liked, but it clearly led him down avenues of secrecy that damaged his marriage.

    That connection becomes important in the uncovering of the Replicator project, including the true nature of Ava Dixon (played by the gorgeous Emma Lahana). Ava turns out to be a Replicator herself, but one programmed to focus on emotion and empathy. This makes things a bit more complicated, especially at the very end. Her “survival”, such as it is, has all the hallmarks of a plot bunny, just waiting for some future episode to pick up the ball and run with it.

    While using the ex-wife as a source of classified information felt contrived, given Sheppard’s special brand of access, it fit within the context of the episode and kept much of the focus on Sheppard and his personal issues. Given the circumstances, his measured treatment of Ava was revealing. Not all character development requires a big, dramatic moment, and this episode did a capable job of proving that principle.

    John Keegan
    Reprinted with permission
    Original source: c. Critical Myth, 2008
    All rights reserved

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  • Wynd Ryder
    Outcast is an excellent episode in many of the usual Stargate aspects, but it has some glaring flaws that could have been avoided.

    The actor portraying Eva did an exceptional job. In her first scene, I recognized Eva was a replicator from her slightly stiff movements where she was alone. However, she was smooth enough with humans to not provoke suspicion among them.

    The writer(s) included other clues, like the look between replicators when their creator was frantically trying to shut down his lab. Also, Eva's expression after Sheppard told her the encrypted files were about to be opened. All three very subtle hints. played fairly for the audience to grasp or be surprised upon revelation, like any good mystery.

    John, Rodney, and Ronon did an excellent job of nonverbally portraying friendship in a difficult situation of sorrow. John continued to convey his sorrow nonverbally in the casket scene.

    Ronon continues to use good judgment on when to silently show up or disappear; i.e. shows up unexpectedly to accompany his friend to the funeral; disappears when ex-wife appears; knows not to follow when his friend is alone with the casket (this was directed well); and doesn't argue about returning alone to Atlantis. It was very good to have Ronon accompany John instead of McKay.

    There should have been a scene with Telya; possibly having her perform an Athosian ritual to honor John's father at his passing away.

    Such a scene would have better served the story than Sheppard asking his ex-wife to get him classified information. What a glaring flaw that whole subplot was. A U.S. Homeland Security director can get material on the sly that an off world agent can't obtain for the asking to protect Earth from a very real potential threat! Ridiculous. If more time was wanted with the ex-wife, let her discover the security breach of nano technology or be the one initially contacted by Eva or something that is plausible. Stargate personnel, IOC, and NID know about the replicator and no one can get all inclusive files on this secret project? I will be more explicitly redundant--very poor and disappointing.

    The story idea of an earth scientist stealing nano technology and creating two very different replicators was excellent. As was the funeral subplot to get John and Ronon to earth and give more background information on John. It was nice to see both brothers acting maturely, even in their disagreements.

    However, the strong story idea did not develop into a strong plot, largely due to the aforementioned flaw. But, it was also caused by a threat that was only potential as opposed to imminent. A potential threat would have been enough in an episode less marred by flaws. For example, our military characters allow their extremely reluctant prisoner to be an unrestrained member of a two member team and Bates has his back to this guy almost the whole time. Plus, they never figured out even a trace of a trail to the contact who was paying for the military minded replicator. Maybe they're saving it for another episode, but I didn't get that impression.

    It was good to have Bill Dow reprise the bumbling doctor role. As always he was funny, but this time the doctor solved the problems of finding the replicator and breaking the 48-bit encryption with algorithm without creating a mess along the way.

    The location shots effectively portrayed the various earth locations. It was the first time I saw a shot or representation of the top of the Washington Monument obscured by clouds. Nice touch. I enjoyed recognizing the Get in the Gate contest winner at the buffet table. Those were great graphics of the replicator in low earth orbit. The water jump was a fantastic stunt. These things, superb acting, good dialogue are all the usual aspects in which Stargate excels.

    One last flaw is the final fight scene with the replicators and John and Ronon. Except for the doctor who created him, the replicator lost no time in a frontal neck snap. Why take so much time with John whom he didn't know? Then we have Ronon attacking the replicator in a bare knuckles contest, get real with a gun or knife or pipe. For that matter, why not have John throw the knife with beacon transmitter into the replicator's back instead of coming within range of its limbs? Ronon was within physical contact of this warrior replicator twice and didn't end up in the infirmary. Maybe he just cuts himself on purpose at Atlantis so he can be close to Dr. Keller.

    The fight between replicators was interesting and believable. It was also believable to download Eva's consciousness into a virtual reality setting. This has future possibilities of using her for a resource of information. Maybe even an innovation for restoring Weir to full humanity.

    Despite the flaws, this was a very good episode with a fresh approach using an old enemy and has the potential for further references.

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  • GateWorld
    started a topic FAN REVIEWS: 'Outcast'

    FAN REVIEWS: 'Outcast'

    Visit the Episode Guide

    While on personal leave on Earth, Sheppard and Ronon learn that scientists have engineered a human-form Replicator -- who is now on the loose.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; 04 February 2021, 01:08 AM.