Contains only mild spoilers!
Note: From now on regarding the blogs, what I will write about seasons or complete series, will be shorter, more compact. It will contain some small spoilers perhaps but not so that it will ruin your viewing pleasure. It will be an overview of the season(s) in question without giving away too much detail. Sorry it took me awhile to get there…it is a process, I guess!
Always a strange feeling when I start with the last season of Stargate Atlantis, because it felt like it had a few more years to go. At least one or two more seasons. Atlantis is one of my top 5 all-time favorite TV shows. With SG-1 I have favorite seasons, 4 and 7, but with Atlantis I really don’t have any idea what my favorite seasons are. For me there isn’t a notable difference in terms of quality story wise. There are a few decisions they made that I regret up to a point. Like bringing the Replicators to the Pegasus Galaxy. Also I thought Koyla did live an episode or two too long and also Michael has been brought back too many times. But that’s just my view of it. That being said, it’s still one of my all-time favorite shows, for a large part due to the fantastic cast.
Again we had another expedition leader. After first Elizabeth Weir had been replaced by Samantha Carter with season 4, whom did not enrich the story in my opinion. I still think Weir should have stayed there as leader. But after only one season Samantha Carter with only a few episodes where she really made an impact on the story, season 5 we got Woolsey, played by Robert Picardo. I don’t understand why they felt the need to replace the current leader 2 seasons in a row. At the end of season 4 we also saw the return of Carson Beckett and this season he also dropped by a few times as a clone of the original character. I was sad when he died in season 3, happy when the creators resurrected him at the end of season 4 but I feel he was underused in season 5 unfortunately. Why bring him back and use him occasionally.
Season 5 has some of its best stories and not all of them are story-arc related, a number of self-contained episodes are my favorites. First episode that comes to mind is The Shrine where Rodney McKay acquires a parasitic organism and over a period of a few weeks, degenerates into a child-like reverie. This is really an interesting and emotional episode, David Hewlett stretches his acting skills, very impressive and the episode really draws you in.
Another one I really like as a self-contained episode is the next episode after The Shrine, which was called Whispers. Whispers is a bit of a horror story with zombie like creatures. Guest stars are Nicole DeBoer (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Christina Cox (Defying Gravity, Blood Ties and much more), Janina Gavankar (Sleepy Hollow), who plays Sgt. ‘Dusty’ Mehra and does a wonderful job, she's pretty, cool and damned funny! And also Leela Savasta (Battlestar Galactica 2003). These four ladies are an SG team, when Sheppard and Beckett are surprised by a female only team, Major Anne Teldy (Christina Cox) explains, well I was asked to pick the best, can’t help they were all women! It is of course linked to Michael but the story itself is pretty contained.
Brainstorm is another fun self-contained story where McKay and Keller go to earth on an invitation from one of Rodney scientists friends. McKay is afraid he will be seen a wash-out because the last 5 years he was off the radar of course because his work for Stargate Command. His relationship with Dr. Keller brings this episode to another level. Vegas (episode 19) is with out a doubt one of my favorite episodes of the whole series! It also more or less is a standalone episode, although the ending suggests, that if there had been a season 6, this could have been touched upon a bit more. It is an alternate reality where Sheppard didn’t join the Stargate program but became a detective who is after a Wraith who is hiding out on earth.
There also were enough ongoing story-arc episodes which is a common thread through the series. Every season it opens with such an episode, usually as a continuation or as a closure episode of the season finale of the previous season. My favorite story-arc episodes: The season opener where Beckett has returned as a clone, Search and rescue. A Michael episode who has kidnapped the pregnant Teyla. Also the last episode where Carter leads the Atlantis expedition and also we see a very short scene of a former member of team Sheppard.
Episode 3 is also a favorite of mine, Broken Ties, where Ronon is captured by his former friend Tyre and Tyre wants back into the graces of the Wraith and he knows bringing Ronon with him will help his cause! Of course the 2-part episode First Contact and The Lost tribe (episodes 10+11) is also a favorite of mine, where SG-1 member Daniel Jackson arrives on Atlantis. He and McKay need to work together and both of them aren’t really looking forward to that. A lot of banter and a surprising Foe! Episode 14, The Prodigal is also an interesting episode, where Michael infiltrates Atlantis. He wants to take Teyla’s child with him but not only that, he also wants to kill everyone on Atlantis, a revenge thing because of what they have done to him.
What ultimately became the series finale, Enemy at the Gate, is also a very entertaining episode. First of all I really loved it that they acknowledged Don S. Davis’ passing, nicely done. Todd warns Atlantis about a Wraith who has found a way to make a ZPM work with the Wraith systems. Therefore his ship is almost unbeatable and they have the coordinates of Earth! It is a great finale and perhaps because it’s not really a cliff-hanger, it could well serve as series finale, but it certainly wasn’t meant to end Stargate Atlantis. At that point there were plans to continue SGA with "made for TV" movies, which ultimately did not happen because the economic crisis back in 2008-2009. It’s not bad as a finale, better this than a cliff-hanger, but what happened to Todd has never been revealed, at least not on TV.
There only is one weak episode if you ask me and that is Inquisition, it’s a clip show! Nothing more to add. I mean, okay, if you would never again watch SGA it perhaps would not be a problem. But SCI-FI fans tend to repeat viewings and so a clip show becomes very tiresome especially when you already watched SGA a number of times. I know it’s to save money but still, it’s a cheap-out.
Stargate Atlantis probably will forever be in my top 5 all time favorite TV shows. I really love this show with all it’s flaws and mistakes being made. For me it’s mainly because this fantastic cast. I mean, the SG-1 cast is amazing, but I believe I like this main cast even more. It’s always a bit sad to finish a rewatch, especially with shows like Stargate Atlantis, Babylon 5 or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but in a few years’ time, you know you will be rewatching it again, and SGA is a show you can keep rewatching till your old!
Screencaps taken from: GateWorld