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Stargate Atlantis – The Big Series Finale

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(Season 5, Episode 20 – “Enemy At The Gate” – Season/Series Finale)

TV shows come and go every year. That’s just how it works. Even with that in mind, it’s been a long time since I’ve been as disappointed to see a show go as I was with Atlantis. Season five has been a fun ride, and there are certainly more tales to tell for our friends in the Pegasus galaxy. Sure, we’ll get a bit of that with the planned movie(s), but it just won’t be the same as tuning in on Friday nights to watch the next chapter.

All of that is in the rear view now, and we have a series finale to talk about. Before I sat down to watch “Enemy At The Gate,” I was thinking about what would make for a great series finale. We’ll get to that list after the jump, but the good news is that the show delivered on just about everything I was looking for to wrap things up.

So, what do you look for in a series finale? I think the stakes have to be big. A Wraith hive ship, one that’s been totally pimped even, orbiting Earth certainly qualifies. There should also be a nice collection of old friends. Here, along with the usual suspects, we found Todd (Christopher Heyerdahl), Colonel Caldwell (Mitch Pileggi), Colonel Ellis (Michael Beach), Major Marks (Martin Christopher), Walter (Gary Jones), Colonel Carter (Amanda Tapping), Dr. Beckett (Paul McGillion), Kavanaugh (Ben Cotton), and Major Davis (Colin Cunningham). That’s a pretty solid list.

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Of course, being a finale, there should also be some closure. This one is complicated for Atlantis, because of the movies. We need an end to the story, but there has to be a little something to point us in that new direction. The complication was handled well. The Wraith were defeated, the good guys won, and now we have Atlantis parked off the coast of California, waiting for the movie. All things considered, it was about as good a finale as I could have hoped for.

Getting to the story, things got off to a great start when Todd popped up on the screen. That was one of those questions that needed to be answered, and I’m so happy with the answer we got. It’s good to know that Todd survived his walkabout, and will be available to cause more trouble when the movies start rolling in.  His scenes with Sheppard were great, as usual. My favorite bit of it was Sheppard’s threat. “If I find out you’re playing us … not gonna wait for authorization. There isn’t going to be any paper work. I’m just going to kill you.”

The more telling line though, might have been, “Every time we get involved with you, I feel like I’m walking around with a live grenade in my pocket.” It really sums up just what makes Todd such a great character. Over his run on the series, he’s been so many different things to the Atlantis crew that we find ourselves in the same boat as Sheppard. You really never know what he is going to do.

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Of course, Todd also laid the groundwork for what was the major part of the story, the superhive. Hive SS? Hive v.2? Whatever you want to call it, it was awesome. A ‘nearly impenetrable’ ship that was worthy of being at the center of the finale. The power of the ship was driven home quickly, as the Daedulus was swatted away almost as an afterthought. As unstoppable as the ship was though, the fact that this was the finale had me feeling pretty well assured that it wasn’t long for this reality.

The other side of the finale factor coin did come into play in another part of the episode though. With the movies already planned, I really couldn’t bring myself to believe that Sheppard would actually have to go through with the suicide mission. However, I didn’t believe that everyone was safe. There have been just enough shocking deaths on the show that when Ronon died, I bought in. Big stakes, no Ronon in the movies.

We now know that, as often happens in these situations, the death didn’t stick. So, we should have the full team back together when the movie rolls around. And with any luck, we’ll get to see them doing battle from on board the General Hammond. That little bit was a nice nod to Don S. Davis, who was as much a part of the Stargate universe as anyone.

Now, it wasn’t quite perfect. I had two small complaints about the episode. First, there really was enough story here to make this a two part finale. Things did feel a bit rushed on occasion, and given what this episode means for the series, a grander scope may have been warranted. And second, that bit at the end with Banks. That just didn’t seem right. They really haven’t put in the work with a Ronon/Banks relationship to necessitate any kind of wrap up there. And really, that scene works so much better if Teyla is coming to visit and she walks him out to the big send off.

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Granted, Sharon Taylor is a gorgeous girl, and I like the Banks character. But they kind of hit us with the Kennedy stick there. You remember Kennedy, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, right? Season seven, all of a sudden she was piping up at the big group meetings, taking screen time away from Xander, Willow, and Giles, without doing anything to warrant it. I’m still grinding that axe, and will probably be just a bit cross about the Banks bit for some time to come.

Those are rather minor gripes though, in what was by all other measures a great sendoff for Atlantis. I’m really sorry to see it go, but glad to see it doing so on a high note. Thanks to everyone for playing along, here and at the other site. Let’s get together this summer and see what Stargate: Universe has to offer.

Photo Credit: MGM

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14 Responses to “Stargate Atlantis – The Big Series Finale”

January 10, 2009 at 1:20 AM

Fun episode considering it wasn’t meant to be the end. I wish they got a 6th season just to see how things would be.

January 10, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Really, though, the female character who pulled a Kennedy, love triangle and all, while sucking away Teyla’s screen time for the past season and a half hasn’t been Banks…

January 10, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Ryan, you couldn’t be more right. And thank you for helping to get the phrase “pulled a Kennedy” out there on the internet. Here’s hoping it grows.

January 11, 2009 at 5:47 AM

I could have added that I would have preferred the character “pulled an Anya/Wash” instead, but that would have been ungracious of me. ;)

January 11, 2009 at 6:58 AM

And, concerning Banks, I must add that it’s oddly appropriate that Ronon’s romantic storyline is as brief, finely honed, and to the point as his mission reports and dialogue.

January 10, 2009 at 8:46 PM

I will miss Atlantis greatly as a regular show but one thing I wont miss…all you damn whiners bitching about Keller.

Get over it all ready.

January 11, 2009 at 5:51 AM

Gee, I took pains not to mention the character by name so as not to be labeled a “shipper” or “whiner,” as I cared little for the characters she replaced, Beckett and Teyla.

I suppose I described her and her storylines accurately and appropriately enough for you to identify her, though. Kudos to you!

January 11, 2009 at 3:46 AM

Stargate Atlantis series finale is now my all time favorite, beating out my previous favorite, ST: TNG “All Good Things.”

I’ll miss having a new weekly Stargate Atlantis. Thank goodness for the SGA DVDs, and the promised SGA and SG1 movies in 2010. And Stargate: Universe in July ’09 on the SciFi Channel.

Most of all, thank you to everyone on Stargate Atlantis for all their hard work and for sharing their talents these five years — actors, staff and crew. Best wishes to everyone on their future endeavors.

January 11, 2009 at 8:23 AM

Sorry to see the series end.
The final episode was good, not great, but and OK episode.
Could have done without the McKeller bit at the end, would have rather seen Lorne, Chuck and Zelenka there on the balcony than Amelia, even though she is a nice character.

January 11, 2009 at 8:24 AM

Vegas was a much more brilliant episode, but this one was OK. Sad to see it go.

January 11, 2009 at 12:42 PM

I feel so much rage over how terrible this episode was, both in general and as the finale. Not worth ranting about it here though I guess. I feel as though my investment in this show was somehow betrayed by such a sloppy finish.

January 11, 2009 at 2:51 PM

I thought it was a fantastic episode. One of Atlantis’ best and made for a superb series finale. I can’t wait for the movie(s). The Ronan/Amelia bit was a bit jarring but it’s nice that Ronan got to end on a happy note. The guy has been through some hard times so it was nice to see him find some happiness.

Such a shame it had to end because it would have been a very interesting arc to see progress through season 6.

January 13, 2009 at 4:27 PM

I wish they had made this a two-parter and scrapped Identity, the body-switching episode. That episode really served no purpose and didn’t feel necessary at all, especially at the end of the final season. Also, we didn’t need another Keller episode at that point because the writers wrapped up the McKay-Keller story arc in Brain Storm, and it felt like time to move the series along to a strong conclusion.

While I thought the finale was good, I think there have been better episodes during Atlantis’ run. Unfortunately, as soon as they said, “No other Wraith ship detected the signal. We’re just dealing with the one superhive headed toward Earth,” most of the threat evaporated for me. Also, we all knew Sheppard wasn’t going to kill himself – there was no tension there. I think it might have been a good thing if they let Ronan really die (even if they somehow brought him back in the movie), because that would have packed some emotional punch.

What I did like about the finale is that it felt like everything was coming full circle. It felt like a culmination of the series – with Beckett back in the chair, for example, like he was in the pilot episode, except with far greater confidence. And Atlantis finally all powered up with ZPMs and flying through space with purpose, rather than fleeing from a Wraith attack.

January 13, 2009 at 4:34 PM

If I may add, think about the series finale of Farscape (a series that I watched for the first time last year). That was the most shocking series finale I’ve ever seen, and it leaves you begging for the movie. Obviously, Atlantis is a different animal, but it’s interesting to imagine how the Atlantis finale could have been a bit more shocking. Bringing Atlantis to Earth was a nice surprise (if a bit unbelievable that it wasn’t detected), but I think killing Ronan would have given the episode a little extra something.