Stargate Atlantis: Season Five: Ghost in the Machine

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normal_505_ghostinthemachine_05In brief:

Decent, yet confusing.

In detail:

The absence of Tori Higginson (Elizabeth Weir) certainly screwed over the Replicator story line they had set up for her.  “Ghost in the Machine” is a valiant attempt to continue that story without her.  And, for the most part, it does a good job.

Michelle Morgan, who plays the consciousness of Weir in Fran’s body, does a reasonably good job of imitating the mannerisms and vocal expressions that Higginson brought to Weir’s character.  Her performance is strong, and in the quieter scenes with Teyla/Sheppard/Fran I found myself truly believing this was still Weir.  That’s an achievement of performance on Morgan’s part.

Robert Picardo’s performances continue to better themselves.  Wooley’s developing into a strong leader, and it’s all helped by strong acting from Picardo.

Two stand-out scenes are definitely Weir’s first communication with Atlantis via the computer system.  The gibberish developing into more advanced English is a tantalising reveal, and it works well. 

The other is the final scene, with Weir/Fran and the Replicators drifting into deep space.  It’s a suckerpunch; I definitely didn’t see it coming.  Yet, it adds new perspective on the scenes preceding it, and its an excellent ending.

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The episode was hurt, however, from over-complication.  Atlantis juggles a lot of storylines, what with the Wraith, Michael, Teyla, Carson, and the Replicators all providing a long-running arc.  The main problem with these is that they can jump back into focus after months if not longer in the background.  As a casual viewer, I find it difficult to follow events that happened sometimes   more than a season ago. 

This problem is compounded when suddenly they switch actors due to behind the scenes disputes.  The episode had to be made to finish the storyline, I’ll admit that.  And they did do it sooner rather than later.  But it was a constant challenge trying to remember what happened in previous shows without re-watching the episodes.  This is all very well for hardcore fans, but for the more casual viewer, it’s pretty hard to follow. 

Grade: 62% (C+)

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