The past two episodes of Stargate Atlantis, "Outcast" and "Trio," were the weakest shows of season four so far. But, there’s a simple reason for it. Neither episode featured the whole cast. When the entire group is together, there is excellent cohesion and a spark of urgency. That spark was gone this time around.
This fourth season has been focused on character development. These two episodes were in the same vein. "Outcast" relayed some information about Sheppard’s family; "Trio" tried to make Keller useful to the team outside of her medical training. I really don’t know why McKay was in the show at all. Maybe just comic relief.
"Outcast" begins with Sheppard receiving news of his father’s death. Immediately, he packs up and is in the gate room headed for Earth. At first, he stands there alone; then as he gets ready to head through the gate, Ronon shows up. Sheppard asks him where he’s going and Ronon replies, "With you."
The two of them attend the wake for Sheppard’s father. We’re introduced to Sheppard’s brother, Dave. There is friction between the brothers, which comes as no surprise. Through their terse dialogue we also learn that Sheppard and his father had a falling out – and now that can never be resolved.
The story develops Ronon's character more than Sheppard's. Ronon has been pure warrior, which was needed as a runner from the Wraith. But his human side is starting to show through. For example, his unsolicited accompaniment of Sheppard to Earth denotes a close friendship with and respect for Sheppard. When Sheppard is standing at his father’s casket Ronon is seen just at the edge of view walking over to see his friend but he decides to quietly leave instead. Later on, he shows the same consideration when Sheppard’s ex-wife appears.
A side story in this episode involves a Replicator built by scientists on Earth. Yes, that’s right, the Stargate program has gone to great lengths to eradicate this threat – and it’s still not gone. This Replicator is fairly boring, though. It didn’t want to be shut down so it escaped. It’s "creator" of course doesn’t want it to be killed, so he joins the search. Predictably, he tries to save the beast and gets himself killed by it. This side story also allows us to be re-introduced to Bates, a character from the first season of Atlantis. His fate had been unknown; now we know he’s joined the I.O.A. He helps out in the Replicator search.
Leaving his father’s funeral puts more strain on Sheppard’s relations with his brother – and his ex-wife. She works at the White House and he implores her to get him some inside info on the secret program that produced the Replicator. At first, she refuses, telling Sheppard that she has no need to help or worry about him anymore. Of course, she eventually does help and relates how concerned she is for Sheppard, maybe paving the way for future romance again?
Sheppard and Ronon track down the Replicator and eliminate it and head back home, but not before Sheppard makes an attempt to rectify things with his brother. It was an entirely predictable episode.
"Trio" featured Carter, Keller, and McKay trapped in an old Genii mining facility. They fall in through the ceiling so now the exit is a good twenty-five feet away from them. All they have to escape with is what they find in the room. At first, they decide to wait until they miss their check-in time, hoping Atlantis will then send a rescue team. But after discovering that the little room they’re in is supported on steel stilts and is weakening due to their arrival and the regular tremors that the planet suffers from, they realize they need to leave quickly before it collapses.
There are a lot of old crates in the room. Keller suggests they stack these up and climb out. The rickety pyramid collapses, nearly injuring Carter. McKay then finds a grappling hook and Carter finds some rope so they figure that will help them out. While they prep for the climb, some children come by but refuse to help because they’d get in too much trouble since they aren’t supposed to be playing near the area. During the conversation, though, McKay tries to tell Carter it might help the boys decide to help if she would, well, reveal a couple of things to the adolescents. She refuses and crushes McKay's fantasy again.
The grappling hook idea doesn’t work so they try a third plan, also suggested by Keller. It's based on an old bar trick. It involves some planks balanced on one another in mid-air. All that does is end up injuring Carter; she breaks a leg in the fall. Of course, the fall destabilizes the room more and eventually it falls, blocking off their exit. Keller ends up dangling over an abyss at the end of the rope with only McKay holding her up. That’s when they find the other way out.
It was a boring episode, a time filler that didn’t reveal to us anything we didn’t already know about any of these characters. It seemed to be about Keller proving herself again, much as she had to do in an episode with Teyla earlier in the season.
I can’t tell if this coming Friday’s episode will have the whole crew together or not. Regardless, it looks like a killer show; Teal’c and Ronon will be going at each other and Wraith. Sounds cool.