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FAN REVIEWS: 'Remnants'

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    FAN REVIEWS: 'Remnants'

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    While being evaluated by the I.O.A. Richard Woolsey meets a beautiful scientist new to Atlantis, who is not what she appears. Sheppard is captured and tortured by an enemy he thought was dead.



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    Last edited by GateWorld; 04 February 2021, 12:38 AM.

    The previous episode was fairly intense, even as predictable as it was, so it’s a bit of a letdown to see the writers stray back into less interesting territory. Episodes like this make me wonder if the studio wasn’t right to put an end to “Atlantis” and option a new series with a broader premise. It’s getting harder and harder to tell stand-alone stories with genuine surprises. Much like the Star Trek franchise, it may be time to shake things up a bit.

    The most interesting element of the episode was Woolsey’s realization that he was sent to Team Atlantis as a puppet of the IOA, and they are not happy with his quick and responsive independence. Woolsey, despite the fears of the entire team (and most of the audience) has been a capable commander. He’s a bit naïve at times, but that only serves to make the character more endearing in the end.

    Frankly, I was expecting a lot more time to be spent this season on the struggles with the IOA and the general impression that Team Atlantis is a collective of loose cannons. Bringing it up this late in the season was therefore a bit of a shock, even if it was a welcome chance for Woolsey to defend himself and show loyalty to his people.

    Unfortunately, Sheppard’s apparent encounter with Kolya was only fun until the point where John lost a hand. At that point, it was clear that something else was going on, and that it was probably related to the artifact that Rodney and Radek had recovered. After all, once it was clear that something was unusual about Dr. Conrad, it didn’t take long for the pieces to fit together.

    The premise strayed into territory that would have been overly familiar in the Trek universe, so at this point, a lot of people in the audience have seen it all before. I wouldn’t say that it made the story entirely predictable, but it did mean that there were few surprises. I’m a sucker for the more thoughtful episodes in the “Stargate” franchise, but this one never went anywhere fresh.

    Which brings me back to where I started. I think that my growing dissatisfaction with this season is not simply a matter of wishing the series had ended on a higher note. I think it’s the feeling that the cancellation has placed the remaining episodes under a more critical eye, as I hope for a strong sendoff, and it’s not measuring up to expectations. If anything, I might even say there’s a hint of complacency in the material. With another season and all the time in the world, that might have been ignored, but now I fear it’s glaring. Perhaps shifting to a new series will give the franchise a fresh start and a chance to reshape our expectations.

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


      On the surface Remnants has everything it needed to be a spectacular success; the return of one of Atlantis’s best loved villains, Sheppard facing his demons and Woolsey’s command under review. Unfortunately, the mix of elements results in a schizophrenic mish-mash of threads which all come together in an unoriginal ending. The actors do their best, the direction and production quality is as good as ever but, in the end, the basic raw material – the story – is just not good enough.

      In his blog, Joe Mallozzi explained the genesis of the story began with the idea of a lonely Woolsey having a relationship with a woman only he could see leading to a bittersweet ending where she would leave him and he would return to his lonely existence. As the idea was considered to be insufficient to make a whole episode, it was combined with a previously shelved idea of Sheppard confronting Kolya on the mainland and ultimately changed. It’s always interesting to read the original concept behind a story and here, I think it explains why the story doesn’t work: two entirely different stories are squished together.

      The original idea ends up as the main thread – Woolsey meets an attractive woman (nicely played by Anna Galvin) who helps support him through a fraught meeting with fellow IOA representative Xiao Chen who is after his position. There is a lovely sense of romantic comedy running through the thread; Woolsey’s ‘and you can call me…Dick’ beautifully timed by Robert Picardo, the ‘you’ve poached my private spot,’ the comic moments as he tries to interact with his colleagues while talking with the AI who only he can see. It’s all very amusing and enjoyable with Picardo putting in a wonderful performance. Even here though the IOA review is nothing new. While the aim might have been to show Woolsey’s full transition from IOA lapdog to independent Atlantis leader and one of the gang, it might have been good to have attempted a different take.

      Woolsey’s characterisation also seems ‘off’ in his decision-making around the Sekkari device. The idea that Woolsey has softened to such a degree that he would be so easily influenced by the AI to ignore the technological value of the data doesn’t gel for me. The ending seems glib and idealised to fit with the story-line rather than with Woolsey as a character.

      The other main character in the story Sheppard does get something of a better outing in his confrontation with the AI on the mainland. The thread explores Sheppard’s personal demons as he effectively tortures himself. The thread is an uncomfortable contrast to the romcom antics of Woolsey’s although it’s a nice insight into the character and Flanigan does a wonderful job at showing Sheppard’s angst. The use of Kolya as the AI’s manifestation of Sheppard’s inner demon is a good one and in terms of the arc, Sheppard fearing old enemies coming back from the dead and trying to take over Atlantis is a nice nod back to the previous episode where that happened. Robert Davi always excels and here is no different. The chemistry between him and Joe Flanigan is great and the usual tension seeps from the screen. The spinning shot as Sheppard falls off the cliff is wonderful.

      Yet as engaging as this thread is, as wanted as it is, it does no more than skim the surface. There is not enough time to explore Sheppard's demons fully, or the dynamic and certainly no time at all to deal with the consequences. It feels like this could have been a fabulous stand alone story given a different approach and more tweaking. I’m reminded of Kolya’s last appearance in Irresponsible where Kolya’s showdown with Sheppard took sub-plot status to Lucius’s redemption story – here the redux takes sub-plot status to Woolsey’s. All in all, I do think it was great to revisit Kolya but again, it’s just such a shame that the aim wasn’t to fully shine the spotlight on the dynamic.

      There are enough hints thrown out in both threads to suggest something is astray and they neatly link with the third thread sandwiched between Woolsey’s and Sheppard’s which is McKay’s discovery of the device. The usual banter and competition between McKay and Zelenka is a delight and there is a nice was he AI or not mystery until the revelation in the final table scene. The table scenes do nicely bookend the episode although, again, I’m not keen on the Woolsey is now one of the gang note at the end.

      My final observation is that the underlying story of the device containing an ancient civilisation which needs to reseed and represented by an AI is very reminiscent of SG1’s Scorched Earth and the decision to help the Sekkari reseed, while the requisite happy ending, is very unoriginal. The final glimpse of the Sekkari is great – fabulous special effects – but it’s not enough to offset the ‘seen it all before’ nature of the ending.

      I think part of the problem I have with this episode – and why it’s taken me almost four days to construct a review – is that I really want to like it because I was so looking forward to it. Yet there is just enough wrong with the story that while the episode is an enjoyable and entertaining enough hour of television, it lacks substance. I find myself wishing Mallozzi had stuck with the original intent.

      My issue with the story is the usual one that I find with most of Mallozzi's and Mullie’s episodes; great concept but not enough depth to the story in execution. It’s a bit like getting a Christmas present with shiny, gorgeous wrapping only to discover a pair of socks inside. Unfortunately, Remnants is that pair of socks.
      Women of the Gate LJ Community.
      My Stargate Fanfiction. My LiveJournal.



        Guess who's back? Yes it's Koyla and he's returned with a vengeance and; wait, Woosley has got himself a new love interest, a girlfriend who... wait a minute, Rodney and Zelenka found a mysterious device in the middle of the ocean? I'm confused, what is this episode supposed to be?

        Well for one thing this does serve as somewhat of a show for the characters; Woosley's lifestyle has been of interest for some time, we know that he's a bureaucrat/leader who plays hard but what type of life does he lead? This plot gives the opportunity to show Woosley the type of romantic and social person he can be and t is absolutely charming to see him interact with a woman, an Australian woman in fact; he knows the type of inflictions to use, he knows the types of words to say and most of all, he doesn't resort to utilizing cheap pick-up lines or his role as leader of Atlantis. This is a person who's oddly confident in a social environment, after many episodes showing him as stern and/or awkward and his interaction is kind of a character growth in itself. Sheppard's aggressiveness/tolerance of pain is something that has been seen before but to see it up close and personal, with a sense of pain and torture that's almost stunning is just impressive; he's facing his captor in the eye, he's being given threat after threat after threat but he doesn't let down, in fact he keeps on going even though common sense would dictate otherwise, it's almost worrisome to see that and McKay's reaffirmation of his hard work. His near cunningness is a nice touch, more so coming from the words of Zelenka who appears to get more time and character than McKay ever does, it is quite interesting to see the working relationship of McKay and Zelenka, how Zelenka deals with him, how they have a bond even though they have some sort of a rivalry going on... It's almost perplexing in itself yet beneficial at the same time.

        Love is in the air.

        But the way the episode cuts back and forwarth between these scenes and treat it's plots as three separate strands is almost jarring in itself. I couldn't exactly build up what they were trying to do; were they trying to make an episode for action fans with Sheppard and Koyla, were they trying to make an episode featuring McKay and Zelenka at their best or were they trying to make an episode with Woosley at the helm? I'll admit, considering the theme of the episode it is somewhat clever, there are some indications that things aren't right and there are some common elements such as the mysterious device and the IOA adviser but these things are inconsequential in the investment. All three of these plots are fighting each other deferring any momentum they happen to build up, whenever one manages to get somewhere, the other bumps in with a different mood that just destroys anything built up and it may be excusable if there were considerable distance from the scenes but they're literally either minutes or seconds apart from each other, which leads to constant annoyance/confusion from the viewing audience. It doesn't help that much of these three plots are boring with neither of them actually going anywhere; Sheppard's plot is his usual run and gun as he attempts to save the day, McKay and Zelenka's plot is just the usual comedy routine but stretched out and Woosley's plot is (while the most interesting) just a generic romance plot infused with a plot that puts the character on the hot seat; while the initial details are interesting at first they quickly become generic and uninspired as nothing is done with those details especially in the case of Koyla, which is very surprising.

        It does switches it up in the middle when an AI is revealed and an alien civilization is on the line; the moral discussions about this are interesting, the wealth of information that is in this very device yet the life that is at stake by accessing this device; it's something that really reflects on the improvement of ourselves while disregarding other life but it ultimately proves to be another discussion ripped from the pages of sci-fi 101 as evident by the discussion where they sound almost robotic as they sprout out their requisite issues, unnecessarily optimistic as they speak from their own perspective. The AI does prove to justify the premise of the episode and add some unseen depth, the thoughts of what we create in our own human mind, the various perceptions they can make us see and how they can entrance that in the world... It can even lead to some entertaining scenes that don't really reflect something character wise but somehow, reflect it's own character. Ultimately, the whole hallucination thing and people being perceived as crazy and thinking that they weren't as been done before, and the whole human twist perception only serves to feed crumbs to an empty episode. (Sheppard in particular) The IOA advisory itself suffers the same thing as the AI, it's interesting to see Woosley being pressured, interesting to see what he'd do when faced with opposition but alas, she proves herself to be an empty shell who's only purpose is to doubt Woosley without any character whatsoever.

        Sheppard, handless.

        In short this is an episode with an interesting premise, and good character intentions but ultimately a confusing mess with boring plots and insubstantial content. There are some things which prove beneficial like Woosley's plot and Sheppard was somewhat cool but I can't see anything having a long lasting effect on the viewers or even the series as a whole. In fact you could consider this a paycheck for the crew, on to the next one I guess.

        Back from the grave.