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FAN REVIEWS: 'Inquisition'

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    FAN REVIEWS: 'Inquisition'

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    A new coalition of human worlds puts the Atlantis team on trial for their alleged crimes against the Pegasus Galaxy.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; February 4, 2021, 12:35 AM.

    For quite some time, I’ve wondered whether or not the denizens of the Pegasus Galaxy found Team Atlantis to be a beneficial addition to the population, considering all that has happened since the SGC sent the mission to the Lost City in the first place. And I’ve always thought that it would have been a more interesting show if those in command of Atlantis (particularly Weir) had been forced to defend their decisions to others. For example, during roughly the same time in the Stargate continuity, SG-1 was defending themselves against the IOA.

    I think the idea of the various human communities in the Pegasus Galaxy coming together in a coalition is a very good one, and one that should be maintained over the course of the rest of the series and the impending TV-movies. In a way, it legitimizes the idea of calling out Team Atlantis on their decisions. Previously, there was no one else out there willing and able to take the unilateral actions necessary to fight the Wraith, the Asurans, and Michael. Now that time has passed and the human societies have come together, they have the right to ask Atlantis to play along and consult them.

    It also makes a lot of sense for them to question the decisions that have been made. They can’t argue the fact that they woke up the Wraith, and they definitely can’t argue the fact that they were directly responsible for creating Michael. They bear responsibility for those actions and dozens of others. The fact that they’ve saved millions after the fact doesn’t absolve them of the need to atone for those mistakes.

    So I was a little annoyed when the writers chose to have the coalition go so far as to put Team Atlantis on trial without due process and in the most questionable manner possible. Not only that, but ultimately two of the judges were corrupt. One had already decided that Team Atlantis was guilty, based on an irrational desire for revenge, and the other had been bribed by the Genii.

    The net effect is to render the points brought against Team Atlantis completely invalid, because they are framed as biased. This is despite the fact that Sheppard and Woolsey were unable to give strong and compelling arguments in defense of the expedition! Woolsey essentially has to match the Genii in terms of persuading one judge to vote in his favor. The bottom line is that the very real issues brought up by the coalition were never really addressed.

    This leaves Team Atlantis with a false sense of righteousness in their decisions and actions. It’s unlikely that they will change their thought process in any way as a result of the “inquisition”, and that means that the coalition will probably be seen as more of a nuisance and impediment than an example of a rising good for the Pegasus Galaxy. It’s pretty much typical of the Western view: indigenous populations don’t know what’s best for them, and they cannot function without the “enlightened” actions of those more knowledgeable.

    It might have been better if the coalition had been treated more like the Jaffa on “SG-1”. Generally speaking, the SGC stood for the rights of the free peoples of the galaxy against the System Lords because the free Jaffa weren’t ready to step up to the plate. Once they were, it was more of a partnership. This episode firmly places the moral superiority in the laps of the Atlantis expedition, and I think it would have been a lot more interesting if they were left with a little more doubt in the rightness of their actions.

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


      While “Inquisition” will likely not go on anyone’s top ten list, for a bottle episode that was essentially a clip show, it was well done. The underlying story, while lacking some drama was cohesive and interesting enough to give a solid rationale for the use of the chosen clips. In addition, performances by Joe Flanigan and especially Robert Picardo really gave the episode some much needed substance.

      A very important and intriguing fact about the state of the Pegasus Galaxy came to light in this episode; some of the races in the Pegasus Galaxy have formed a coalition. The fact that its residents were holding Atlantis responsible for and making them answer for and defend their actions since arriving in the Galaxy was good but over due. Considering this is season five it is about time that the writers and producers started giving the residents of the Pegasus Galaxy some recognition and more importantly a voice. The exciting thing is this opens a whole new chapter of stories, intrigue and possible plotlines – of course the only problem being that MGM and SciFi cancelled the series.

      Another intriguing plot point is that the Genii are still players – or at least they want to be players – and appear to be in a power grab for The Pegasus Galaxy. They made a play to gain control, or least a voice on the counsel that could affect the outcome to the trial. With Atlantis effectively put ‘out of business,” they seemingly hope to become the military might in the Pegasus Galaxy – and whoever controls the military usually holds the power. An interesting question is do the Genii truly plan to work hand in hand with the counsel to rid the Pegasus Galaxy of Wraith – or rather do the Genii plan to use the counsel and there own military might to advance their own position in the Pegasus Galaxy purely for their own benefit.

      The actual trial was okay – but it should have been more intense. It would have heightened the drama, something which the episode really needed. The three judges on the counsel represented three opposing viewpoints rather well – one focused on vengeance, one on power and the fair minded one. Actually if they had all been fair minded and completely democratic it would have been most unrealistic. When a new government/coalition forms there is usually a few if not all who are involved for their own personal agenda. If they were all purely altruistic, fair and without prejudice it would have been a bit of a stretch. So though they were a bit cliché and predictable, the writers did a good job portraying the judges and having them represent the diversity of opinions that are held within the Pegasus Galaxy about the Earth expedition on Atlantis.

      Sheppard tried to play the nonchalant defendant as he bided his time looking for an opportunity to escape. He was the typical soldier who was looking for a military strategy to get them out of the situation, but a military solution was not going to work. The conundrum was that even if they managed to escape, that would not have solved the problem – they just would have been essentially fugitives from the Pegasus coalition.

      At times Sheppard’s nonchalant attitude bordered on arrogant, but there were moments when one of the judges’ remarks would hit an emotional note and make an impact. Joe Flanigan did a great job of bringing out these moments with not only the pained look on Sheppard’s face but also with a change in vocal tone and shift in posture. Flanigan is great at portraying these slight character nuances that can make a moment or a scene so effective.

      Woolsey was great in the episode! Diplomat, lawyer, shrewd player – all those skills of his came in handy to outwit and outmaneuver the counsel. In the end his solution did resolve the situation, perhaps not in the most desirable way, but for better or worse it worked. And that’s what gave the outcome its appeal; it was not the perfect solution. It leaves some things unresolved, and thus the possibilities of some interesting stories for the future. Kudos to Robert Picardo for doing an outstanding job with the character.

      The scene at the end with Woolsey and Sheppard on the Atlantis balcony with the cigars and drinks was priceless! It was a nice little nod to “Boston Legal.”

      Though the episode lacked effective intensity and drama, for a bottle episode that was basically a clip show, “Inquisition” was for the most part well done. The underlying story as well as the effective use of clips kept the story interesting and cohesive. Overall, it was a good enough story for learning about some intriguing developments in the Pegasus Galaxy bringing some much needed attention and depth to its indigenous peoples.


        Clip shows are never a welcome surprise in my book. No matter how much pretty wrapping goes around the clips, no matter how many sparkles it’s dressed up in, at the end of the day, a clip show is a clip show is a clip show. Having said that, both the clips chosen and the wrapping do make a difference on whether it ends up being a bad clip show. With Inquisition, the jury is still out. Let’s take a look at the evidence…

        A bad clip show is charged on two counts: the first count being having a thin, flimsy story around the clips and the second having an unimaginative selection of clips that add nothing and have the barest relevance to the story.

        On the first charge, Inquisition is not a particularly imaginative take. Stargate SG1 often used the clip show as a way of introducing bureaucratic complications (Kinsey, the IOA, the new President) and an element of examination to the team’s successes and failures (Politics, Disclosure, and Inauguration). Inquisition really falls into the same category: the Atlantis team are placed on trial by a new coalition between human populations within the Pegasus Galaxy. They are faced with having to justify their previous actions within the episode itself, and no doubt the intention was for the coalition to start being used in future storylines as a way of complicating life in the Pegasus Galaxy for the Atlantis expedition.

        The execution of the story is not all that interesting either. The coalition seems to be pitched at just a level up from the medieval style villages the team usually visit and below the technological and military level of the Genii. Therefore the courtroom, the setting and the imprisonment all have usual medieval overtones. The question is at this level are the coalition really going to ever become a believable force to be reckoned in terms of ongoing story-telling? I fear not. More, it seems that the only reason why the coalition is at this level is because the resolution to the plot’s main issue – how the Atlantis team win the trial – is the bribe based on Atlantis’s own technological and military superiority being the better bet for the corrupt judge.

        It’s not a badly constructed story as it stands and certainly, Joe Flanigan and Robert Picardo who have to carry it to a great extent, do a good job. Picardo’s Woolsey actually gets a great outing demonstrating leadership both on Atlantis when searching for the missing team and in the prison, and utilising the character’s legal and oversight background to great effect with the tables turned: Woolsey having to defend the Atlantis record rather than be the one to scrutinise it.

        Yet the story never reaches its potential and this is the major disappointment. Although this type of story has been done in Stargate before, this is effectively it’s first outing in Atlantis. Certainly, the idea of the Atlantis team being called to account for their actions by the natives of Pegasus is a strong one (and more interesting than Earth based politics). It could have been used to have introduced some great new allies as part of the coalition, perhaps still at a lower technological level but maybe more equivalent to Sateda, the Travellers or the Genii.

        More had the charges been more explicit rather than wishy-washy (after two rounds of watching I’m still not completely clear what the charges were), had the coalition seemed more accurately informed (most of their comments seemed to be asking for information rather than charging Atlantis with an actual crime), had there been more of an actual trial with evidence put forward and witnesses being examined and cross-examined rather than a simple retelling of events, had the ending not settled for the scene of glib self-congratulations on the balcony a la Boston Legal and been more reflective of the expedition's innocence or guilt, then this might have had some real substance.

        The best moments in the whole episode are those which provide that substance; when Ronon and Teyla exchange a look at McKay’s statement, the female judge’s anger and grief at her loss that has resulted from the team’s actions even if only indirectly, the impassioned statement from the coalition representative that the expedition needs to be brought to account. If there had been more moments like these, the story could have been a classic. I know I would have found it incredibly interesting to hear a real prosecution and a real defence of the team’s actions since their arrival in Pegasus. But Inquisition doesn’t give this. In the end, it settles for the story being the framework around the clips rather than excelling as a story utilising clips in the telling.

        The clips themselves are mostly action packed: the first attack of the Wraith, the killing of the Queen, shooting up of various hive ships, destroying Michael’s cruiser, escaping from the Replicators, destroying the Replicators. It is a nice recap of events to date in many ways, relevant to the discussions where they are used and given the very fixed setting of the trial, they do provide some action and drama to offset the very talky court-scenes. However, for me, the best clips were around Michael. It was fascinating to revisit the beginning of what happened with Michael especially given the next episode in the series will return to the Michael arc.

        The overall verdict? On the first charge of story-telling, Inquisition is slightly more than a loose concept holding together a series of clips. The story is OK, elevated by the performances of the actors and there are moments that shine but it could have been so much more. On the second charge of selection of clips, it has a solid defence. Overall, well, in the eyes of this judge, Inquisition is not a bad clip show but perhaps it should plead guilty to the lesser charge of simply being average.
        Women of the Gate LJ Community.
        My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.



          Oh what's this, the gang gets put on trial by the people of the Pegasus Galaxy for everything that they've done; a bunch of people trying to go good only doing bad? That reminds me of a similar episode, one that's off the top of my tongue. Oh yeah, Seinfeld's "The Finale" where the entire cast is put on trial and every character minor or otherwise; this is also something you have not seen in a long while.

          Yup... This is a clip show. This would possibly be a good time for you to get some snacks and maybe even a live human to feed on if you were a Wraith

          There is an actual episode in this and as expected it involves the crew and a moderately decent budge. I have to admire them for trying to make a competent episode, they have the characters decently delivering their lines, a plot that makes some sense, stuff like Atlantis working to find the crew and a group of guest stars with some personality. It's as if they want this to be more than just a clipshow, make it feel like it's a league above it's own as they come up with some sort of risk, create some of situation that's natural for the crew and create some sort of memorability with the situation provided. Even Woosley provides an above average performance that shows his altruistic side as he states provides the big picture of Atlantis (as a leader) while keeping his true intentions a secret. I also admire the undermining analogies in them being put on trial for stuff they thought was good but ultimately harmed the Pegasus Galaxy; this is ultimately something that is a common thing, shown in many episodes where more enemies are made, more sabotage attempts are done and less advancements had already been made, just look at the number of potential partnerships that have been ruined by different moral standards, improper judgement and lack of faith. To see the crew's reactions, the verbalization of what they believe to be the greater good and the justification they use for their actions are a decent realization of the premise of this episode but even if you provide an amazing plot, this can't defeat the fact that this is a clipshow designed to remind people of it's past which includes the analogies itself.

          On trial.

          The clips they selected range from various episodes from good episodes like "Rising" to middling episodes like "Search and Rescue" and the clips do an appropriate job at reminding you of it's past. It also reminds you of something unintentional, that the show was better back then. From clip to clip you're reminded at how serious and depth filled the show used to be, from the Wraith who actually seamed menacing with their dark lighting and unstoppable deadly Asian nature to the argument of Michael who really hit hard on the question of sacrificing what makes you unique just to fit in and even the Genii who's an example of the twisted perception various civilizations of the Pegasus Galaxy have. (or used to have) It was those things that made Atlantis more than just a ripoff of SG1, the fact that these people were entering a civilization that was dominated more by fear, more by twistedness and dysfunctionalism than what they were used to and to see that contrasted with what SGA is now which is a light jokey affair that tries it's hardest to be serious but ends up failing with issues being shouted at rather than explored, implications that are never felt by the world or the characters and plots that end up being generic sci-fi with a Stargate twist. The clips showcasing the space battles seem more meaningless than anything else; it's like us watching a battle where visual effects seem to reign, there were only a small number of these scenes but the fact that barely anything plot related is shown (aside from this being a great moment for the crew) takes it's toll on the episode.

          Watching the clips of the past also makes you feel like something is missing, that what used to make the show special is gone. Atlantis has had 3 leaders over the years but the clips mainly show us Weir front and center, leading the team as if she was born to do so and those clips show that she was an essential part of the show, the way she put a certain liveliness into her performance, the way she provides herself to be a perfect fit for her crew, the way she was connected to Atlantis in determination and effection; even TPTB seem to feel that way because she appears more times than Woosley or even Sam who only gets one scene for herself. The long-gone Ford also gets some airtime and watching him just brought a tear to my eye; I was one of the few who thought he had some potential, that energetic spirit combined with immense skills that he had, even his Enzyme plot gave him a super important role in the range of things but alas, he got tossed out and forgotten and there's still so much of him we don't know about him. The same could be said for the thousands of other plots they had interests in, back then they had interesting ideas, they had something going on with the Asurans, they had an ultimate plan going on for Weir, they even had a thing going on regarding both Ronan and Teyla and their respective people but alas they blew them up, threw them into space or stopped exploring it altogether and that's just makes me sad because of the wasted potential.

          Locked up.

          In the end, they're declared not guilty and everything goes back to the way it was unlike that Seinfeld episode. This episode succeeds in what it's designed to do, which is to remind us how far we've come and how much this show has progressed but it also reminds us how things were better back then how much the show has fallen now, unintentionally creating a contrast between what's going on and what happened. It is above average for a clip show with a decent plot, decent budget and competent acting but the fact remains that it's still a clipshow, an episode designed to show previous clips and nothing more and additionally, a testament of the current state of the show. Unless you're new and you want to get caught up or want to refresh your memory but don't want to watch alot of episodes, there's no need for anybody to watch this episode.

          Back from the grave.