Stargate Atlantis [Sci Fi Channel, Fridays 9/8C] closes up shop one week from tonight with its one hundredth episode – but before we get to that double milestone, there’s a small matter of a series of inexplicable murders in and around Las Vegas.
Subtly entitled Vegas, the show’s penultimate episode opens as a clever riff on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – but the murders under investigation are way beyond any normal cops and forensics units’ abilities. Fortunately, Detective John Sheppard [Joe Flanigan] is on the case – making it easier for Dr. Rodney McKay [David Hewlett] to trust him with a top secret tale of familiar dimensions. In an unusual and slightly unsettling way, Vegas sets the stage for the series finale.
Enemy at the Gate brings the battle with the Wraith to Earth in an unexpected manner. In the episode, sometime Wraith collaborator Todd [Christopher Heyerdahl] approaches Atlantis with news that an underling has taken over his hive ship – which is now equipped with a ZPM and being turned into an invulnerable dreadnought. In a twist foreshadowed in the previous episode, that bigger, better hive ship will cause a great deal of turmoil – not the least of which is the show’s second James Blish reference [that’s the only hint you get – look it up].
Atlantis’ final episodes do what the show has always done best – science fiction adventure with deft humor, intriguing characterization, and some show stopping effects [I suspect the SGA creative team may have cut a few corners to give the series a big finale and it definitely worked]. The writing is especially noteworthy for the way Robert Cooper [Vegas] and the team of Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie not only play with sci fi conventions, but the conventions of the series they’ve worked on for the last five seasons.
Cooper also directed Vegas and he definitely catches the essence of CSI before the ep moves back into a version of more familiar territory. Andy Mikita deserves commendation for taking the series home in Enemy at the Gate [which is another title that works on a couple of levels, as you’ll see in the ep’s final sequence].
Several old friends are on hand to give fans a last chance to enjoy series favorites like Amanda Tapping [Col. Samantha Carter], Paul McGillion [Dr. Carson Beckett], Mitch Pileggi [Col. Steven Caldwell], Colin Cunningham [Major Paul Davis], Matthew Glave [Col. Paul Emerson], Ben Cotton [Dr. Kavanaugh], and the inimitable Gary Jones [Sgt. Walter Harriman].
Stargate Atlantis ends on a high note. All we have to do is enjoy.
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Final Grade: A