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  1. #1
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    Arrow2 FAN REVIEWS: 'Doppelganger'

    Visit the Episode GuideATLANTIS SEASON FOUR
    DOPPELGANGER
    EPISODE NUMBER - 404

    During an off-world mission Colonel Sheppard unknowingly becomes host to an alien entity, which infects others in Atlantis and afflicts them with terrifying nightmares.

    VISIT THE EPISODE GUIDE >
    SPOILERS! PHOTOS! AND MORE!



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  2. #2
    Mistress Organizer Rachel500's Avatar
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    Default Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Doppelganger'

    Sophisticated story-telling married with a smorgasbord of special effects makes ‘Doppelganger’ an entertaining outing for the SGA gang. The action and emotional angst are nicely balanced with the main jarring notes being the chemistry between the new cast that is still in its infancy, and that both problem and solution are pulled from the SG1 past.

    I have no issue in the reuse of story concepts or building on previous story ideas so long as it brings something fresh to the table. The idea of a crystalline entity, similar to that presented in SG1’s ‘Cold Lazarus’, is a good one and the twist of a malevolent entity taking on the persona of Sheppard only within the subconscious of each person it inhabits instead of a benign version taking on actual physical form does bring something new. This is a crystalline entity; it is pretending to be a member of the team; but there the similarities end and the differences begin.

    What is strange is that these differences between the two crystalline entities aren’t more explored within the story itself. Carter does makes reference to the incident in ‘Cold Lazarus’, yet once the comment is made, the dialogue moves on as though it was nothing more than an acknowledgement to the audience of the similarity in storyline rather than what would have been a natural and valid comparison for the character to make within the parameters of the story to deal with the problem.

    With the problem posed being rooted in the SG1 back catalogue, it is disappointing that the solution also came from another SG1 episode. It suggests a lack of imagination to truly make the story unique. An alternative solution to the technology first seen in ‘The Gamekeeper’ could have been imagined and here there is nothing really new or interesting in the reuse of the concept; one team-mate goes into the ‘virtual’ world of another to save them – this idea was already done in SG1’s very excellent ‘Avatar’.

    There does need to be a balance of how much ‘reuse’ there is within an Atlantis episode of SG1’s history. Too much reuse and it does begin to feel unoriginal and boring. Yet, too little and the connection to the wider Stargate universe is lost. In some ways, having Samantha Carter transplanted to Atlantis as a character does present a challenge for the writing team as it is only natural to assume the character would draw on her past experience yet if Atlantis as a story is to retain originality, the character needs to be presented with new challenges and to think up new solutions – and hence so do the writers. For me, both problem and solution coming from the SG1 annals just shades ‘Doppelganger’ on the unoriginal side in this respect.

    However, it is only just shaded and in most other respects shows a great deal of originality. The nightmare sequences are very well done and allow the special effects team – and the editing team – to demonstrate just how good they are. Teyla’s ‘Alien’ moment, Heightmeyer’s fall, the whale eating McKay, the fight sequence between the two John’s – all is very well done. The time-delayed effect of the final scene was fabulous and the editing of Ronon running through a deserted Atlantis only to open a door into a forest, fantastic.

    The nightmares also provide the opportunity for a glimpse into each of the characters; Teyla’s fears about being trusted; Ronon’s about being abandoned and betrayed; Keller’s about a worst case scenario encounter with alien life-forms, Sheppard’s fears about failing his team and causing their deaths. McKay’s heroics provide the insight into him (that when it comes down to saving his friend he finds his courage) rather than his nightmare which is played mostly for the humour, (loved the clown), with the shocking denouement of his apparent death.

    That was a twist that surprised and whilst the thought of ‘no, they wouldn’t really kill McKay; it has to be the entity’ quickly came to mind, the initial moment did have an ‘oh my God’ quality about it especially given the death of a recurring character within the story. The fact that it did even momentarily do that is down to the writing and direction from Robert Cooper and nice acting from Joe Flanigan who really ‘sold’ the moment as a distraught Sheppard.

    The acting of the cast was superb throughout but the refreshed cast is still finding its groove as an ensemble; the group scenes feel awkward. The best of the bunch was the table scene with Keller and the SGA team where she first expresses her idea that there might be a link to the nightmares; this scene did have a good rhythm between the characters but the scene in the office with Carter, Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon is the best example of where it didn’t work. It just didn’t feel right to me and I couldn’t help but compare with the early SG1 chemistry where it all just flowed. Still, given that the characters are finding their feet in a newly structured team perhaps there is an element of realism to that lack of flow within the scene even if it doesn’t make for comfortable viewing.

    Past SG1 history hovers around the edges of ‘Doppelganger’ like an uninvited guest but the episode does shine regardless. The story is strong, well-paced and well-told; the acting superb and the special effects outstanding. Once again, the audience has been invited to get to know the characters a little better; for the characters’ emotions to play a significant role within the story, and once again, the episode provides an enjoyable hour of entertainment as a result; I enjoyed it.

  3. #3
    Captain ZRFTS's Avatar
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    Default Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Doppelganger'

    Doppelganger

    On the second day of Sam's command, we get an episode which puts our characters in a test of their psychiatric abilities, provides a threat that is really dangerous and proves to be significantly better then the last episode. Of course Sheppard is the one who's placed in danger but in the world of SGA, isn't that to be expected?

    The concept behind it is interesting; people having nightmares that are as scary as they are dangerous, the fact that one consistent person appears in it; it's not 100% unique per say but it does make people (and me) think about what these things are and how they operate. There's just something about it that adds an aura of mystery and tensity to it; maybe it's the fact that we don't know whether or not what they're dreaming is real or whether or not they'll make it out of that dream, maybe it's the fact that the source of the nightmares themselves is versatile and widespread; whatever the reason, the concept draws people to the episode and creates an environment which mostly benefits everyone in Atlantis. It's interesting to see what these characters dream about and what they possibly fear or have to go through; the randomness that appears in certain dreams helps to enhance the immersion and gain some insight on the various thoughts of the characters and the way they react in these dreams are definitely some insightful stuff, especially Keller who's dream I have to say really lets out a part of her character. However, much of this stuff reminds me of "Phantoms 2.0" especially in the way they're presented; the content of some of these characters are similar (Ronan's running for example, which was shown twice in Season 3) and the way the dreams are structured are also similar; it is nice to see some of our characters (including minor) in situations that are more dangerous, scary and revealing and the situations they're in are more varied but the stuff presented isn't much different from "Phantoms", except it is more varied per say.


    Phantoms 2.0.

    Our characters do well for themselves in Atlantis as go through the situation, starting off small but exploding to a full blown situation as time goes on. You can just see the fear, uncertainty, casualness and determination in many of the characters; Teyla who's role and situation really allows her to show off her acting skill and Keller who's dynamic is furthered by the situation she's in and even a minor character who's paranoia is nicely shown. When you see these people chatting it up, when you see them trying to understand the situation at hand, you're compelled to keep watching just to see where it would go and you know that these characters have done an exceptional job when you're compelled to keep watching. Of course, we can't forget about the others; Sheppard is oddly low-key in this episode (mainly sprouting out stuff related to questions asked) but he does a good job playing a really creepy version of himself, you can just sense the discord and melancholy in his performance as he acts in small but pivitol roles in many of the characters, it's almost as if he's playing another character; though there are times where he feels a bit flat but still, he manages to be great overall. McKay is another story however, his performance seems to be awkward, not knowing whether or not he should be the brave action hero, the cowardly scientist or even the comic relief; this leads to a disconnect between the actor and the character as he acts through the episode, trying to find a place for himself but failing. I will say that some of his banter is okay and helped to contribute to the naturalness in many scenes.

    Through all the lockdowns, through all of the uncertainty, we're engaged through it all; we're connected with Atlantis, thinking about whether or not it's going to go out okay but it doesn't seem as engaging as it should. I'm guessing much of it has to do with the fact that this is new commander Sam's first time under a lockdown and this entire situation seems to be designed to introduce her to the constant stresses of Atlantis, that would explain why much of it doesn't feel as unique as it could of been; don't get me wrong, it's still engaging but still... Sam does well as any leader would, managing the situation as best as she can but there isn't anything compelling or unique that's drawing me to her; I imagine she has some potential but the writers are just sitting on it, almost as if they can't see Sam as anything else but a Weir replacement, even though she's had quite a history behind her. I imagine I can get to know Sam if they included some elements of her SG1 personality but making Sam act like Weir is only going to make me think about Weir. One of the best moments of the episode has to be the end where everything comes to fruition and Sheppard faces himself in a battle to the death; it's a good battle which is both tense, well choreographed and makes us question Sheppard himself, which is rare in a battle scene like this. The amount of insigtfulness cannot be described in mere words alone, you just have to watch to get the jest of things. The only thing I disliked was McKay's dream which I preferred in spoken-word format; don't get me wrong, it's nice to see his dreams and the CGI in it was decent but it kind of ruins the small amount of wonder McKay's dreams had, otherwise it proves to be very satisfactory.


    Sheppard v. Sheppard.

    All in all, "Doppelganer" proves to be a very entertaining episode, the concept allows exploration into our characters while also providing a situation for which we can get engaged in. There is no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy the 44 minutes that this episode runs for but there are some things that could of been better and it does feel a bit familiar... No matter, it's better then the last episode and it at least proves that there is something out there in Season 4.

    7.5/10
    Back from the grave.

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