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DVD Review

Stargate: Atlantis
Volume 15
(Season 3 - Vol 5)


Starring: Joe Flanigan, Torri Higginson, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa, Paul McGillion and David Hewlett
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 15 January 2008

With almost every member of the Atlantis expedition taking the day off, all hell breaks loose when the city is jolted by an explosion. While examining what caused the accident the team discover that two more accidents are imminent and the race is on to hunt down and isolate two members of the Atlantis team who may unwittingly been in serious danger...

Sunday is not only my favourite episode of Season Three of Atlantis, but I'd also say that it's one of my favourite Stargate (Atlantis or SG-1) episodes produced to date. There's so much in this episode that makes it essential viewing that it's hard to know where to start.

I loved the way that, stylistically, this episode plays out a little like Memento in that we start off with the explosion and then travel back in time a short while and then the events lead up to the explosion again, travel back a little further and again follow events up to the explosion. Each time we learn a little more about what happened to cause the accident. Also, each time we get to see what one of the regular cast was doing up until the point of the explosion.

But, it's the closing third of this episode that really kicks fans in the teeth and at the same time provides one of the most moving episodes in the show's history.

Martin Gero (producer/writer) and William Waring (director) provide the audio commentary for this episode. While it's interesting, they don't really go into why a certain character was killed off in this episode. Gero says he doesn't want to go into it and that you can find numerous interviews with him about it on the Internet. If I'd got all day I could maybe discover this, but after spending 20 minutes searching I was still no clearer to the producers original reason - other than needing to shake the show up a bit.

I also enjoyed Gero's humorous observations about Paul McGillion performing the World's worst fishing mime, and it was interesting to learn that the final scene with Beckett and McKay wasn't in the original script.


When the team explores alternate power sources beneath the surface of the ocean they discover, and inadvertently awaken, a Wraith Queen who has been dormant for thousands of years...

Submersion is a pretty average episode. It's not that it's terrible, just not overly noteworthy.

The crew head down to the bottom of the sea to examine a drilling platform that they think might provide some sort of power (although in reality it was probably introduced to get them out of a sticky situation in the season's final episode). They awaken a Wraith Queen and then need to escape and head back to the city - and that's about your lot.

Sure, there are a few twists and turns along the way, but it's fairly much a paint by numbers affair.

Brenton Spencer (director) and Mark Savela (VFX supervisor) provide a pretty dry commentary. Sadly, the only interesting fact that's worth reprinting here is that Jason Momoa had his face covered in cling-film to provide the force field effect.


Colonel Sheppard and his team search for a group of missing villagers they helped relocate, but in the process they stumble onto a Wraith experiment designed to create Iratus superbugs...

Vengeance is basically Atlantis ripping off (or paying homage, if you like) Aliens. Just about everything in this episode has been "borrowed" from Aliens. There's the little bug that wraps itself around your face and places an egg in you; the cocoons that humans are placed in to become human/alien hybrids; the fact that the large alien looks like a H.R. Giger clone; the Atlantis team wandering around claustrophobic corridors; McKay's tracker looks a lot like the one used by the marines in Aliens; the alien moves around the ventilation shafts and springs out of nowhere, while everyone sprays bullets everywhere... I could go on and on and on...

For me, the fact that so much of this episode was "borrowed" really spoilt the fact that Michael returns. It was almost as though the writers couldn't even be bothered to come up with something original - that they were running out of ideas. Now, for a series that is panicking and getting rid of its cast members left, right and centre because it's fearful of being cancelled. I would have thought that reusing someone else's material in such large chunks was an almost guaranteed way to send a message to the Network that you are running out of ideas.

And, while Sheppard references the movie Alien in this episode, that doesn't excuse the writers for taking someone else's idea and spinning an entire episode out of it. Not even sticking the character Michael saves this episode.

Andy Mikita (director) and Todd Masters (creative effects designer) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include the revelation that Jason Momoa owns a vintage pink Cadillac; that Connor Trinneer almost couldn't appear in this episode due to the fact his wife had just given birth; some of the effects people were also moonlighting on AVP2; and that Masters challenged the AVP2 FX guys to an alien fight to see which monster would win.


The Apollo, Earth's newest ship, is sent out to perform a preemptive first strike against the Replicators in order to stop them making an imminent attack on Earth. When the mission fails, however, Atlantis comes under a heavy attack from their old enemy...

First Strike is a great way to conclude the show's third season. There is action at every turn, real jeopardy and the introduction of new main cast member (Jewel Staite) and another colonel (played by Michael Beach) who will hopefully appear in more episodes next season.

The problems that the team have to overcome in this episode are incredibly well conceived, and the cliff-hanger will have you thumping the arm of your sofa in frustration.

Martin Gero (producer/writer), Martin Wood (director/supervising producer) and Mark Savela (VFX supervisor) provide the final audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that Michael Beach only agreed to appear on the show because his mum was a huge fan; and Gero (who spoiled the twist on Sunday way back on one of the earlier DVDs) almost lets slip about what they are planning to do with another character in Season Four.


Extras on this DVD include the four previously mentioned audio commentaries; Mission Directive: First Strike - Featuring Martin Wood (12 min look behind the scenes on First Strike. The highlight for me was the stunt from the end of the episode); Stargate Atlantis: A Look Back on Season 3 with Martin Gero (20 min look back at not just this season, but also an examination on how the show has grown. There's also a brief interview with Paul McGillion); Stills Gallery and Production Design Gallery. The Stills Gallery
is worth watching just to see the two pictures of Momoa's face covered in cling-film and the two photos of Rachel Luttrell showing off a mini Teyla figure.

It's a shame that sandwiched between two great episodes are two very average ones. Otherwise, this is a pretty satisfying conclusion to the show's third season.

Pete Boomer

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