Stargate Atlantis: A New Season, A New Direction

The Last Stargate Spinoff Standing Still Strong

Stargate Atlantis Sci Fi Channel’s Stargate Atlantis returns tonight at 10pm EST with “Adrift,” the first installment of a two-part fourth-season premiere that continues the cataclysmic plot from June’s third season-finale “First Strike” (tonight’s episode is technically the second of a three-part arc that began with last season’s finale and ends with next week’s “Lifeline”).

When we last saw the members of the Atlantis expedition, their ship was fleeing a deadly counterattack from the self-replicating Asuran nanobots, which Earth had initially attacked in response to the Asurans’ aggressive plan to launch a fleet against the planet. As a result of a hasty retreat, Atlantis’ overtaxed hyperdrive leaves the city without sufficient energy to make a clean escape, while Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) suffers extensive injuries that include six broken ribs and soon a rapidly swelling brain.

In “Adrift,” which I have seen after all of the special effects and extra details were added, viewers are immediately introduced to the two newest cast members whose additions were highly publicized over the summer: Stargate SG-1‘s Amanda Tapping, whose Colonel Samantha Carter is elevated from occasional appearances to regular role, and Firefly alum and previous Atlantis guest star Jewel Staite, who reprises her role as Dr. Jennifer Keller. Tapping is apparently taking up the slack arising from Higginson’s reduced presence on the show.

After successfully stabilizing a rapidly fading Weir at the beginning of “Adrift,” Keller is still eventually forced to perform dangerous surgery to cut away part of Weir’s skull in order to allow her swelling brain to expand. With no means of preventing Weir from ultimately dying, despite the operation’s temporary fix, Keller then informs Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) of Weir’s fatal condition.

McKay is preoccupied with his equally urgent attempts at devising a solution for Atlantis’ numerous technical problems, ranging from depleted power stores to an enormous asteroid belt, all of which are not only making it impossible for the city to escape to safety, but leaving it vulnerable to rapidly impending destruction. Nonetheless, McKay suggests a radical and potentially disastrous cure for Weir that immediately inflames Lt. Colonel John Sheppard’s (Joe Flanigan) vehement opposition.

The first part of the season premiere ends with a partial payoff for viewers: the outcome (at least for the short term) of only one of the episode’s two major stories—namely, the predicaments of Weir and Atlantis—is resolved, with the second left as a cliffhanger to continue unfolding in next Friday’s “Lifeline.” Regardless, the series opens Season Four in excellent form, and it seems fully capable of continuing the Stargate legacy on television with a fresh direction commenced with the increased presence of fan favorites Tapping and Staite.

Future episodes will explore encounters with several additional groups, such as the Satedans from Ronon’s (Jason Momoa) homeworld; tensions among old and new characters; and alien infections that attack crew members in insidious ways. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer, Stargate Atlantis‘ latest season is sure to keep you interested and entertained.

The Verdict: A

Related News: SCI FI Digital Press Tour: Stargate Atlantis

Stargate Atlantis currently airs Fridays on the Sci Fi Channel at 10pm EST

Stargate Atlantis photo courtesy of the Sci Fi Channel

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