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Case Number 16948

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Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season

MGM // 2004 // 873 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // August 3rd, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Cynthia Boris is dreading the eventual reality-infused franchise Stargate: Fallujah.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Second Season (published March 14th, 2007), Stargate: Atlantis: The Complete Third Season (published October 3rd, 2007), Stargate Atlantis: Rising (Pilot Episode) (published July 13th, 2005), and Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Series (published April 16th, 2010) are also available.

The Charge

The Thrilling Cosmic Adventures Live On

Opening Statement

The second series in the Stargate franchise, Stargate Atlantis carved out its own niche with a heavier emphasis on action, darker plot lines, and a whole new cast of characters to love and hate. They brought us on board for a terrific ride and with this season, that ride comes to an end. It's Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season—and final season.

Facts of the Case

Five seasons ago, Dr. Elizabeth Weir led an expedition through the Stargate to, what turned out to be, the not-so mythical city of Atlantis. There, Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) and his team began unlocking the secrets of the city while military leader John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan) fought off a deadly new enemy known as The Wraith.

As we roll into season five, the Atlantians have entered into a tentative truce with a Wraith they call Todd, as both races face extinction at the hands of Michael (Connor Trinneer), a human-Wraith hybrid who is building an army of his own. Also in this season, Richard Woolsey (Robert Picardo) takes command of the base, a romance develops between Dr. Jennifer Keller (Jewel Staite, Firefly) and McKay and Teyla (Rachel Luttrell) has a baby. Of course, there's also plenty of space battles, creepy creatures, witty banter, and one truly unusual episode that helps wrap up the series.

Disc One
• "Search and Rescue"
We pick up where we left off last season with McKay, Lorne, Ronon, and Sheppard buried in the rubble of a collapsed building and Teyla caught in Michael's clutches. Carter sends help on the Daedalus, but what happens if Michael gets there first? Top notch visual effects are the star here, otherwise, not a favorite.

• "The Seed"
A creepy, creeping vine takes over Atlantis using Dr. Keller as its host body, and that's bad news for the recently revived Beckett. A decent episode, but not one of the best.

• "Broken Ties"
Mark Dacascos returns as Tyre, and this time he's planning to turn his old friend Ronon over to the Wraith. Great episode for Jason Momoa fans but average for anyone else.

• "The Daedalus Variations"
Ronon, McKay, Sheppard, and new mommy Teyla go aboard a seemingly abandoned Daedalus only to find out that the ship is really a product of another reality. Once on board, the ship begins jumping randomly from one reality to another making escape impossible. The trick here is to find a way back to their own reality before their supplies run out. Since I prefer my team working together on a common problem, this was a favorite. It also feels like the inspiration behind the newest spin-off series Stargate Universe.

Disc Two
• "Ghost In The Machine"
This slow moving, complex episode has Elizabeth Weir returning as an entity inside Atlantis' computers. She's come to McKay in hopes of finding a new body to inhabit, because they couldn't get the original actress to come back. One of the worst episodes of the season.

• "The Shrine"
McKay contracts a fatal disease that begins with Alzheimer's like symptoms. Hopelessly lost inside himself, Teyla wants to bring him to an ancient shrine that will allow him to have one last day of peace. David Hewlett does such an amazing job in this episode I couldn't watch it beyond the first half-hour. Very sad, very poignant, and truly excellent if you can handle the depressing nature of the plot.

• "Whispers"
The Atlantis team finds one of Michael's abandoned labs and the horror movie begins. It's the Atlantis version of Dawn of the Dead, as the team fights off eyeless hybrids who hide in the thick fog. I love this unusually spooky episode, which features a female strike team led by Christina Cox (Blood Ties) instead of Ronon and Teyla.

• "The Queen"
Teyla must pretend to be Todd's hive queen in order to create an alliance with a more powerful hive but the charade gets out of hand and soon they're all in big trouble. What I find interesting about this episode is the continuing idea of administering a gene therapy to the Wraith that will curtail their need for human blood. Yet, when Michael messes with genetics in order to create his hybrids, he's considered a sadistic monster. Such a human response, isn't it? When we do it, it's a good thing but when you do it, it's bad?

Disc Three
• "Tracker"
Keller is kidnapped by a runner and it's up to McKay and Ronon to rescue her. This is another one of my least favorite episodes because it's basically the set up for the love triangle between the three of them. Ronon and McKay are such totally different people; I can't buy them both being interested in the shy doctor. If I wanted romantic antics, I'd watch Grey's Anatomy.

• "First Contact" (Part One)
• "The Lost Tribe" (Part Two)
Michael Shanks reprises his role as Dr. Daniel Jackson in this action-packed two-parter about contact with a new, advanced, alien race. It all begins when Daniel discovers a secret lab on Atlantis, but when he activates the device they find there, it alerts the aliens who come by and kidnap Daniel and McKay. The relationship and banter between the two of them makes this episode a real gem.

• "Outsiders"
Another good episode that deals with the age old dilemma of needs of the few versus the needs of the many when the Wraith threaten to destroy a village if the elders don't turn over the hand-full of Balarans that are hiding among them.

Disc Four
• "Inquisition"
Our heroes are (finally) put on trial by a space tribunal that wants them to pay for the crimes they've committed throughout the galaxy. It's a badly done clip show that proves might equals right.

• "The Prodigal"
Michael comes to Atlantis this time in search of Teyla's son. Not the best plot, but there are some nice moments between all of the major players.

• "Remnants"
Kolya (Robert Davi, Profiler) returns and this time it's personal! Great episode.

• "Brain Storm"
In a very unusual episode, McKay returns to Earth with Keller at his side to attend a presentation by a rival colleague. Unfortunately, something goes wrong and soon the world's top scientists are all in danger of being flash frozen! This comical episode with guests Bill Nye the Science Guy and Dave Foley would have played better earlier in the season. Here it just slows down the big run for the finish.

Disc Five
• "Infection"
We get a close look at a dying hive ship when Todd and his men contract a deadly disease thanks to their lowered immunity from Keller's gene therapy. Pretty cool episode, though I've grown weary of all the problems being caused by something she shouldn't have been messing with in the first place.

• "Identity"
Keller switches bodies with a thief and I switch to the next episode.

• "Vegas"
We're down to the final two and they're big ones. First up is the strangest episode they've ever done. It's set in Las Vegas and Sheppard is a police detective tracking a killer who happens to be a Wraith. Many, many people hated this episode but it's one of my all time favorites. The production team went all out to create a cross between CSI and a cool Quentin Tarantino film with a rock and roll sound track and scenes you never thought you'd see on Stargate Atlantis. I give it a standing ovation.

• "Enemy At The Gate"
And then there was one. Thanks to Todd, Stargate Command gets advance warning that a Wraith hive ship is headed for Earth. We get a massive space battle with Mitch Pileggi of The X-Files helming the Daedalus and a fleet of Wraith darts making a run at the Earth. Carter and Sheppard do their best to defend the planet but it's Atlantis that comes to the rescue when they literally drop the city into San Francisco bay.

Finale shows are always tough, but the producers did a very nice job of bringing in plenty of reminders of the past while tying up lots of loose ends. It was great to see Caldwell and Carter and there's even an homage to the late Don S. Davis who played General Hammond for many years. Kudos all around.

The Evidence

The fifth and final season of Stargate Atlantis had some thrilling, unusual episodes, but overall, it's one of the most uneven seasons to date. Much of this has to do with changes to the cast and characters. McKay and Sheppard are still riding shotgun over the herd, but Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping, Stargate SG-1) is ousted right off the bat as leader of the expedition and she's replaced with Woolsey (Robert Piccardo) whom we know, but doesn't really fit in.

Rachel Luttrell's real life pregnancy was written into the plot, which changed Teyla's position with the team, and the love triangle between Keller, McKay and Ronon (Jason Momoa) felt forced and ridiculous.

Having said that, there's a lot to love about this final season DVD. MGM has always done a fabulous job with the packaging, navigation, and special features on the Atlantis DVDs and this round is no exception. The best of the features are the Mission Directives. These behind the scenes featurettes artfully edit together techie graphics, show clips, interviews and production footage to give you a close look at what goes in to making an episode. Even more focused are the production featurettes such as "Building a Humanoid," "Submerging the Stargate," and "Showdown: Ronon vs. Tyre." Every one of these will leave you saying, "huh, so that's how they did that."

There are 16 commentary tracks, most of which are handled by executive producers Martin Gero and Joseph Mallozzi along with other members of the production team. Jason Momoa does his first (and last) commentary on "Broken Ties," and actor Tobias Slezak sits in on "Inquisition."

You'll also find photo and design galleries, deleted scenes, and a special featurette called "Stargate Atlantis Goes to Vegas."

Visually, this series is top notch and the Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound is perfect for the gorgeous, sweeping soundtrack that accompanies this series.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Other than the comments I've already made about the uneven nature of this season's episodes…I got nothing.

Closing Statement

If you haven't been following Stargate Atlantis all along, I wouldn't suggest jumping in on this last season. There are too many connected episodes and story threads from earlier seasons and you'll be lost right out of the gate. If you're even a casual fan, you have to pick up this season to finish the collection. With all of the great special features, it's worth the price.

The Verdict

This court knows that the Atlantians are guilty of myriad crimes in space, but since they meant well, we rule not guilty.

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Did we give Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season a fair trial? yes / no

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 97
Acting: 92
Story: 85
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 873 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Action
• Science Fiction
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Photo Galleries


• IMDb
• Official SyFy Site
• Gateworld

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Review content copyright © 2009 Cynthia Boris; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.