The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for "The Daedalus Variations," the fourth episodes of Season 5 of "Stargate: Atlantis."
"Easy, Chewie, those buttons are your friends. Just keep trying!" -- Sheppard
"I'm trying!" -- Ronon
An abandoned duplicate of the Daedalus appears in orbit. The team goes up to the ship to explore, only to be transported to an alternate reality.
The episode quickly turns into a race against time, as McKay has to figure out how to get them back before they get stranded in a random parallel universe.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team has to fight to keep the team alive as they jump (and back again) through four different realities: one reality that has no Atlantis, one that has Atlantis being attacked by a mysterious and deadly alien ship, one that has Atlantis swallowed up by a giant red sun and one where the planet has been turned into nothing but an asteroid field.
The fact that they find a dead duplicate Atlantis team doesn't exactly help them feel better about their odds. But even though they have to fight big bad aliens that invade the ship, the team manages to make it back home.
Overall, I would call this a fun filler episode, one that has the potential to be so much more than that, possibly even SGA's version of Star Trek: TNG's "Q Who?" by introducing a new big bad for the future. But it remains to be seen if that will happen.
I liked how everyone on the team got to do something. It was interesting seeing Teyla knowing the ships controls so well, while Ronon ... well, not so much. Which lead to the awesome Chewie reference. I like that they had Major Marks teach Teyla, but I probably feel that way because his name reminds me of my first name.
Sometimes Teyla and Ronon can seem almost too much like, both of them being tough alien warriors, but this episode spotlighted a major contrast between their personalities and skills.
I liked the scene where our Sheppard talked to an alternate version of Sheppard and they both kept complimenting themselves. Another interesting choice was the team learning that this version of the ship had a female commander named Col. Sobrol. I wonder if we will ever meet a version of her in the SGA's reality?
Also, the team finding dead versions of themselves was a nice touch to help ramp up the tension.
We also saw the many sides of McKay. Overly confident, freaking out and even a touching moment where he tries to comfort Teyla when he told her he would make sure this wasn't her last mission. Of course, the whole 'holding the baby' arc in the episode was classic McKay fun.
I hear that the VFX budget was pretty high for this episode, and I can believe it. That space battle was pretty cool. SGA has some of the best space battles on TV. Really, only "Battlestar Galactica" can top them.
The fact that the ship is still bouncing around universe leaves open an interesting possibility of someone finding their way back to SGA's universe. I wonder if they will do anything with that?
What Didn?t Work
Where the heck was Mr. Woolsey? Yes, I know he probably wasn't contracted for this episode and they probably wanted to save money by not giving him airtime when he wasn't really needed for the episode, but would it hurt to give us a one liner explaining where he is? This was done way too often with Carter. I was hoping the writers would have learned from it.
I really like the possibilities introduced with these aliens, but I haven't seen any hints that they will be back this season. But, then again I think the Borg didn't return to Star Trek until the season after they were introduced. Could the SGA writers have something similar planned? Still, it would have been nice to learn something more about these aliens.
I think humans are smart and all that. Heck, I'll even quote the almost unknown "The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" and say that "I believe in science!" But Stargate may be getting a little carried away with the technological leaps that the Stargate folks are coming up with. The fact that McKay was so easily able to learn how the drive worked, which apparently a duplicate of him may have created, and now apparently could duplicate it with ease (bad pun intended). It felt a little unlikely to me, but of course leaves open future episodes with alternate possibility wackiness.
Honestly, I liked the classic SG-1 where you had skilled humans from modern day Earth trying to figure out how these alien artifacts worked. I'm a little worried that Stargate is taking too much of that feel away and replacing it with Star Trek technobabble and quick fixes.
Oh, and is it just me or does SciFi Channel have a really bad habit of giving away major surprises for upcoming episodes in their previews?
Overall, this was very fast-paced and felt a little like a classic "Stargate SG-1" episode. I hope they do something in the future with the alien race, which would turn this from a filler to a "must watch."
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"The Daedalus Variations" was written by Alan McCullough and directed by Andy Mikita. "Stargate: Atlantis" airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. on the SciFi Channel. The show stars Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa, Jewel Staite and Robert Picardo.
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