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FAN REVIEWS: 'Identity'

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    FAN REVIEWS: 'Identity'

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    Dr. Keller's body is taken over by a cunning thief, while Keller finds herself imprisoned with a death sentence on another planet.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 4, 2021, 01:42 AM.

    The infamous Keller-and-random-sexy-thief-switch-bodies-and-Rodney-gets-seduced episode. Oh, how I awaited this one with bated breath!

    You may think I'm kidding about that or, at the very least, off my rocker, but I kid you not. Think of all that it had going for it; 3rd to last episode of the series, semi-interesting, even if not new, science-finctiony premise, involvement from all SGA team members, and the return of clone!Carson. It also didn't hurt that I actually happen to actually enjoy the character of Dr. Jennifer Keller.

    So why was I left feeling...uninspired? Kind of blasé about the whole thing.

    Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. It just wasn't very good either and that's the problem.

    My prime reason for even expecting an alien-body-switching story to be beyond the average or norm for body-switching in science fiction is for the very reason I was expecting any story this last in the season to be excellent; it's the third to last episode. And while the show may not be gunning for renewal or looking to impress enough fans to ensure sound viewership in the next season, I would have hoped TPTB were keen on finishing with a bang not a whimper.

    All the parts were there; cool Ancient tech (even if borrowed from SG-1), a capable guest star, some great opportunities for tension and suspense, and the entire main cast with Dr. Beckett and the beloved Zelenka. Unfortunately, it's the manner in which these parts were assembled that ultimately left the episode feeling like it had missed the mark, like something, despite a valiant effort by Binder, was just off.

    I generally have no problems with linking up the flagship show with it's spin off, but this late in the game I'd hoped for something more ingenious from the writers than reusing an Ancient device from SG-1. I'd have liked something we hadn't seen before, something unique to Atlantis or the Pegasus galaxy. It wasn't a make or break element for me, but it detracted from the story in my opinion.

    Another detraction? One that really was a make or break element? The guest star. She wasn't bad, that's not my issue, but maybe someone needs to slip a memo under the door at MGM for TPTB to read for future reference in SGU, heavily hinting that when one nears the end of a series, it may not be the wisest of decision to focus a story so heavily on a character no one has ever seen before and will never see again. But maybe that's just me. To her credit, Dawn Olivieri didn't ruin the episode. And that may be damning with faint praise, but I'm not feeling generous.

    Tension and suspense? What tension? Despite certain rumours about a death, was anyone falling for the will-Keller-be-headless? ruse? Or was tricked into thinking Zelenka would die without a grand gesture of heroic hero-ness to befit his star status amongst the viewership? The only suspenseful scene I can recall, no I really can't recall sitting at the edge of my seat. I'd wager we were supposed to be worried about Keller getting her head chopped off, but that whole thing was timed too early on in the episode to really get my heart palpitating from worry.

    Was I supposed to chuckle at all the little digs at McKay and Keller's relationship? Was I supposed to be worried for Zelenka's health? Was that last scene supposed to amuse me with McKay's blatant disregard for Zelenka's health? I suppose all those answers would be affirmative, but I'd quite hoped TPTB had moved beyond juvenile views on relationships and had developed Rodney beyond the first season.

    All in all, it was entertaining fluff.

    A team episode with a guest star who had more lines that half the team (not that it's hard to beat Ronon in number of lines but I digress), a suspenseful storyline that was anything but suspenseful, and seduction. If that last part gets your attention, be wary. There was talk of "making love under the stars". :: shudder ::

    But not bad. Still damning with faint praise?


      After a handful of episodes devoted to resolution of various plot threads, this stand-alone installment is a bit jarring. Not because it is bad, per se, but because it’s not necessarily the best use of the time the show has left. Some have claimed that the past few episodes were evidence that the writers hadn’t quite finished out the season before the cancellation notice came down, but this episode suggests the opposite. (Someone, I’m sure, has the facts straight.)

      This is another Keller-centric episode, and that will inevitably annoy the fans who dislike her very presence. I would like to think that Dr. Beckett’s return would mitigate some of the negativity, but somehow I doubt it will be enough. I’m not sure that was the problem. Despite some nice (if confusing) ties to the overall Stargate continuity, the episode just didn’t offer very much (with the exception of Jewel Staite in leather, which is hard to complain about).

      Having Keller switch bodies with a hot young thief was somewhat clever, since it placed her in a dangerous situation, but I’m not sure it did much to advance the character. The experience didn’t inspire Keller to demonstrate some hidden depth or a dark side or any of the things that might have made the Freaky Friday situation a bit more interesting. In fact, with so much time spent on the guest star, there wasn’t time to push the envelope with Keller.

      It’s a pleasant enough episode, in the end, so it’s not going to offend too many people (other than, perhaps, Radek fans). It’s just not the most energetic or original episode, either. It’s fairly average. That wouldn’t be a problem if this were any other time of any other season, but this is the very end of the final stretch. The net result is that it will seem, to many, like a waste of potential.

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


        In all seasons there is usually that one episode which I dread; Harmony held that honour in Season Four and Identity holds that honour for Season Five. The brief synopsis that I saw before the episode ‘sexy thief changes places with Keller’ was enough that I sat down to watch Identity with low expectations but just as with Harmony, this actually surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. It is fair to say that Neeva is something of a cliché – far too reminiscent of Vala in Prometheus Unbound – but the concept of the story is intriguing, it has a good pace and tight writing. That said, tracking Keller on a forested planet has been done before this season…

        It is disturbing that this is so reminiscent of Tracker. While the story parameters are very different, both do have Keller missing, the team tracking her through the forest and the duplication within the same season is a little disconcerting. Even more disconcerting given that the previous episode of Infection, in the broadest sense of its story, also had the team stranded on a malfunctioning ship just as The Daedalus Variations did. From a production perspective, I would hope these duplications of themes are accidental and not intentional but either way, they constitute a production weakness to me. Each episode within a season – within a show – should be unique. If someone were to say to me ‘you know it’s the one where they’re running around a forest trying to find Keller’ I’d be hard pressed to make a distinction between Tracker and Identity.

        It’s a shame really because the rest of the story concept I thought was very imaginative. Taking the Ancient communication device previously used in SG1 but this time telling the story from the point of view of the displaced person was original. Showing Neeva in Atlantis while Keller appears in Neeva’s clothes in the jail cell does keep in line with the way previous stories with the device have been told before. It is also good for the device to be used accidentally and the confusion felt by both women who find themselves complete fish out of water in their swapped roles. Here there is no understanding of what has happened initially.

        Dawn Olivieti does a nice job conveying Neeva as an opportunistic, cold and ruthless criminal. Her stabbing of the much loved Zelenka sets the tone that she is definitely a villain as does her almost shooting of McKay. She demonstrates her talents further in escaping and through her accomplices’ view of her as the leader. For me though she is too reminiscent of Vala in Prometheus Unbound; a sexy, cunning, ruthless alien thief in leather. Maybe she’s shaded a tad colder and darker than Vala but the similarity is jarring and frankly cliché. The ending is obviously left open enough that had the series returned for a sixth season there was an opportunity to revive the character.

        With the focus on Neeva, the other characters are left primarily in support roles as they figure out what is going on – including Keller who gets the sub-plot of what has happened to her. McKay as Keller’s new guy gets the lion's share of the interaction. His early concern for her odd behaviour, the way he resists Neeva’s seduction because he knows something is wrong, and the end scene in the infirmary with Keller are all a nice insight into their growing relationship and continue the arc. But just as with Teyla’s baby where there was a moment I felt ‘Teyla has a baby, I get it, enough already’, that’s pretty much my feeling here about McKay and Keller; they’re together, I get it, enough already. And I’m pretty supportive of the idea of the characters as a couple.

        I equally wasn’t at all thrilled by what seemed to be a resurrection of the triangle nonsense of earlier with Ronon apparently dropping in to see Keller all concerned, McKay turning up and feeling jealous and Ronon determining Keller wasn’t Keller. He even saves the day at the end by shooting the communications device. On its own, I would be very happy that Ronon got to be the hero again and not Sheppard or McKay but he seemingly only wins the day when Keller is involved.

        All in all, I don’t think choosing Keller as the person Neeva was swapped with was the best choice. Teyla may have been a good option – or how about Neeva being swapped with Ronon? Really the only thing Keller did in her sub-plot was manage to run away from her various attackers; anyone could have fulfilled that function.

        All the rest of the cast of characters really don’t do much more than be their functions; Woolsey is worried leader, Sheppard is determined military soldier, Teyla is simply part of the team. Remarkably, Carson Beckett is also pretty much there for no other reason than to save Keller when she gets shot. It’s always a pleasure to see Paul McGillion return but here there really isn’t any good reason why Beckett is part of the story.

        The story otherwise is nicely paced and entertaining. It did keep my attention throughout particularly because of the ‘will they get Keller switched back before Neeva dies’ tease they had going. There is a good flow and Zelenka’s situation neatly bookends the episode.

        The major failing of Identity is its lack of a unique identity as an episode within this season of Atlantis. There is too much that is similar or reminiscent of something else. Moreover, given the series’ cancellation, it’s most unique take – telling the story from Neeva’s point of view - is probably not going to be welcomed by most fans at this moment when episodes that showcase beloved characters are the most sought after. Nevertheless this is a solid Stargate story, well told and it is an enjoyable hour of entertainment.
        Women of the Gate LJ Community.
        My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.



          Atlantis has done an body inhabiting episode before, in the form of the episode "The Long Goodbye" and this episode is similar to this except it has an heir of mystery to it and it involves one of our most well known characters Dr. Keller. and it involves different looks as well...

          There is a serious dramatic mood that proliferates most of this episode and right off the bat you're given an example of that; a girl confused by her own looks, a stabbing that happens to one of our most prominent characters, camera angles that suggest a sense of tensity. It really suggests that this isn't going to be your ordinary SGA episode, that it's going to explore some places it hasn't before; just think, a possibility of a main character dieing, a person who's confused but not as she seems, it'll have the juices of worry flowing, just wondering if she'll make it alive, just being entranced by the woman at hand. Unfortunately, nothing much is done with this serious mood; in fact in some times it even feels gimmicky. Much of it reminds me of a lesser "Michael"; interesting at first to watch (with initial camera shots that established the mood) but ultimately becomes stale with a reflection of style and barely anything that provides a major impact; you have her see Atlantis, you have her stabbing someone but than again, who hasn't done that? Speaking of which, the stabbing barely gets reflected upon; through the emotions and tones of their dialog, they're trying to seem like it's a big deal but none of it really comes through, it's as if everybody is saying "Oh, he got stabbed, no big deal he'll make it.". The lack of empathy really dilutes what could of been a serious moment; and the various threats that both characters faced are diluted by the people who reside around them, their goofy accents, various jokes, and lighthearted moments while sticking by the serious mood serve to test the limits of how much the audience will believe in the plot and the darker aspects such as the character backstory and psychological analysis. I don't know who will believe in who but I do know that plots of this nature should take themselves seriously.

          Serious and shocking.

          This episode has some good intentions in showing both people in unfamiliar places and roles that are unlike their own. It is quite an interesting sight to see our mystery woman struggle with an operation, struggle to live the life of a woman she knows nothing about; to see Keller in the role as a person regarded for dirty deeds when she herself is a mostly wholesome woman of the "do no harm" variety but unfortunately the intentions suffer; this is mainly the fault of he two. Our mystery character does have attitude, some sort of emotion, and even skills but she doesn't have that spark; every bit of her dialog is just teeming with blandness, she tries to have fun and portray some sort of edge but she comes across as a CSI guest star rather than a Stargate guest star; she does prove competent as she roams along, getting along with the cast as she fulfills her role while trying to put her own spin on it but despite that, she remains oddly bland. Keller does fair a bit better, as she gets a taste of the world our mystery character is in, we get a small taste to the vastness of a character who is admittingly minor; accomplices of which one manages to stand out but are both forgettable, the criminal record that stands against her, it's a really nice touch and the various surprises, the various dark moments added a special touch to the episode, it's really one that brings wonders to her character but what really harms both is the sense of confusion they try to parlay. It just felt so pandering & obvious that I'm surprised that anybody didn't notice that they weren't themselves; sure, they make some hints but it just seemed like the people were ignorant just to make sure their disguise wasn't figured out, it also hurt some of the character traits like our mystery character "being a good liar". Her lying was so bad that I assumed she must of made it out with luck alone.

          There's a constant focus on Keller constantly being put at risk; decapitation, held up at gunpoint, even the mystery woman being shot and those scenes attempt to tug at the heartstrings. It's a somewhat interesting experiment, when a character with past history is put on her possible deathbed, will you feel bad or will you not care at all? In this episode though, it's a substitute for the lacking appeal and that is what provides the true test, would you be willing to forgo the subpar content of this episode just because one of our characters is on the brink of death? The plotting of it seemed natural with the appropriate buildups and payoffs and the serious moments were handled with a bit of sophistication, there wasn't a moment which derailed the momentum of the episode and there was even a bit of depth in the dialog itself but it's all contradicted by the fact that it has all been done before. It is interesting as to how they utilize the body swap in this, though it's common in Stargate lore the fact that it's being presented from the Atlantis side provides a new perspective to it, one which long time fans will admire but alas, nothing in the story provides that fresh paint that makes it truly acceptable, the characters do prove themselves to be capable with some of them serving the initial serious mood well; providing info, exploring the situation but they don't seem the least bit phased by the situation, it's as if they know what's going to happen forehand, especially Sheppard and McKay. For much of the episode, it's just them following the routine and oddly enough, standing there acting like props while the two take full and front center.

          Some interesting visuals...

          I'll admit; it is good to get a look of someone in a more vulnerable position and Keller in a dangerous position but it does not always make a good episode. There is a serious mood that elevates this slightly above the average SGA episode, one which really provides the episode with it's charm; moving from scene to scene, you can really see that they tried to make a good episode out of this but they do nothing with it, almost neglecting it at times and as a result, the story ends up bland and uninteresting... It's well produced though...

          Back from the grave.