Stargate Atlantis

Season 3 Episode 9

Phantoms

2
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Sep 15, 2006 on Syfy
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Episode Fan Reviews (11)

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8.6
out of 10
Average
326 votes
  • Not terrible, but certainly not as good as recent episodes...

    6.0
    One has to imagine that this episode was developed with cost savings in mind. Most of the episode takes place in the middle of the woods near Vancouver, with very little in the way of sets or effects. One set of flashbacks is set in Afghanistan, but based on the appearance of the sand, it was filmed on a seaside location with little more than a mock-up helicopter. The point is simply this: the idea was to create a bottle show to save money.

    The thing with “bottle shows” is that the lack of funding for lots of locations, sets, or effects forces the writers to focus on character interaction and psychological drama. The stakes are a bit higher for the writers, then, and the cast needs to step up to the plate. I felt like the cast did everything possible with the material given, and the writers did a fairly good job with the effects of the Wraith device.

    It comes down to some of the minor details. In the previous episode, Team Atlantis wound up with a depleted ZPM and a serious threat to their long-term viability. Suddenly, from the first frame of this episode, the problem doesn’t even rate a line of dialogue. The team is still jumping through the gate and running equipment at full capacity. It is incredibly annoying to see such a promising plot development tossed aside for no good reason.

    Another small problem is the premise used to keep the away team on the planet and under the influence of the Wraith device. The idea is that the DHD was destroyed, trapping them on the planet. Why didn’t Weir send a puddlejumper through the gate, have them pick the away team, wipe out the device with a pod or two, and use the jumper DHD to leave? It’s one thing to create a scenario that forces the “bottle show” premise, and quite another to leave a massive plot hole open.

    I was also a little disappointed that the only character with a detailed flashback was Sheppard. It’s good to know that he has a past, and that it was relatively consistent with what has been revealed before, but why focus just on him? Issues of time and budget still come to mind, but how hard would it have been to work it out? McKay and Beckett’s hallucinations were done rather well, but it wasn’t nearly as extensive as Sheppard’s flashback. And the effect on Ronon was just plain silly.

    The main complaint is that the episode didn’t bring anything new to the table. The main characters were never in any real jeopardy, especially since there were red-shirts on the team, ready to be the cannon fodder when someone needed to die. More than that, the characters didn’t need to be that isolated under the premise, so it felt more contrived than necessary. Add to that the lack of continuity (a constant complaint), and this breaks the recent stretch of solid episodes.

    (As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Recent episodes cover the “Stargate: Atlantis”, so it might be something of interest. Go to http://entil2001.libsyn.com if you want to listen!)
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