Did up a rambling review of DOPPELGANGER (SGA #404), plus collected a bunch of links to other fan reviews and many, many screencaps (so, I didn't do any as so many others did a fantastic job of capping this episode).
A review of sorts
I know there’s a LOT of squeeing from fans on this episode, but while I overall enjoyed it, I think it could have been better.
The plot isn’t a new exciting one, in that hey, we’ve seen it before in a variety of scifi shows and movies. Some folks have compared it to the crystal entity in the SG1 episode (“Cold Lazarus”) written by Jeff King and the touching crystal stuff is similar, but then people also warn you not to stick your fingers in light sockets too. Basically, touching things in the Pegasus Galaxy is dangerous. And most plots get retreaded (the SG writers excel at that, regrettably) but it’s how it’s done that counts. If it’s done really well, you can sorta excuse it. If…. So, I have sorta mixed feelings on the episode.
The initial scene, slogging through the jungle (wow, guess they got a bulk deal on palm tree plants) with the team just bantering about ‘office’ stuff, more or less.
Sheppard’s answer of ‘42’ to the gate address question (obviously, he’s watched Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Sheppard: Looks one of the toys you played with as a kid.
Rodney: Commodore 64?
Ronon: Triple barreled shotgun?
Sheppard: (exasperated) A kaleidoscope.
Ronon literally dragging McKay back to the gate. Gee, reminds me of my dog… having to drag him back off the road.
The nightmares. All were well done. Cinematography was good
Teyla’s was great!… back on Athos, incorporating her team members but also her father, the people who were closest to her. I didn’t see Ronon’s remark about her and Sheppard as being too off-base as in the beginning of the series, Teyla did seem interested in Sheppard and who knows, maybe she daydreams about him once in a while? And Sheppard-the-bug-man was great! And evil-Shep digging into issues of trust which Teyla surely must have had, and had again, especially after “Submersion” where she did the Queen Wraith’s bidding. And the way she bolted up in bed. That hand action of trying to rip off a wraith hand that wasn’t there! The one thing I noticed for some odd reason is that when Buggy Shep came into the tent, he blinked. All I could think of was damned contacts must hurt.
Keller – Every physician’s nightmare. Screwing up and killing a patient. Sheppard was downright creepy in that scene. I almost expected to go “isn’t this cool!” when the bug burst out of poor Teyla. It was very “Alien,” of course, but another part of me just snarked “Buggy Shep and Teyla’s love child!” (hey, I was tired, long day<G>)
Ronon – fear of abandonment, and worse, going back to being a runner. Not sure where the buried alive thing came from but it is a recognized fear. Maybe something happened back on Sateda about being buried alive, or he’s seen that happen to someone. I gotta admit as soon as Shep came into frame after Ronon got knocked down, I went, oh, this is going downhill fast as nobody has their hands behind their back with a smile like unless they’re up to no good. And even though it creeped him out, nightmares don’t bother him. He’s probably had much worse during his time as a runner and I’m sure he’d grin and agree at the adage of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
Kate – the fear of falling nightmare. Done well as in those kinds of dreams, no matter how much you want to step off the ledge back to safety, you can’t (since dreams aren’t logical). The thing is, did Kate really die of fright? I mean, cardiac arrest? Aneurysm??
Rodney – Ripped from the pages of Moby Dick.J Whale, boat, ocean. Rowing away and getting nowhere fast, which for Rodney must be liking watching someone do calculations on their fingers instead of using a computer. The clown thing seemed more like a Shep thing (as he mentioned them a season ago or so) but I was busy watching Shep’s hair stuck up in the rain, but when he turned to look at the clown, it went totally flat, and then it went back up again when he was facing forward. Continuity error. ;) It seems odd that Rodney would have nightmares with whales as he seemed to handle them fine in “Echoes” (well, as long as they weren’t blowing out his eardrums). Liked that this whale was particularly long in the tooth (bad pun).
Sheppard – Talk about beating yourself up (literally, in this case). Probably his worst nightmare as he’s lived through it- failing (in his mind) his friends and having them die. Like Holland. And watching him wandering in that deliberate, fogged state through the corridors looking soooo morose was very sad but also very well done. And then all his team, etc. surround him to drive the nail in the coffin (some friend you are! It’s your fault! etc etc.). Now I’d have to guess that TPTB know zip about CPR, or didn’t bother to instruct the actress, but that was a cringeworthy cardiac compression scene. Ouch! Even Sheppard knows how to do that so maybe that should have been a good indication to him that something was way off, or else (going into deeply hidden meaning out of nothing stuff), he has doubts as to whether Keller is an effective doctor or not. ;) Although he said he didn’t really fight back evil Shep as that’s what evil Shep wanted, we can also go wild with theories that he might think he deserves it.
Back to the plot, rambling…
Sheppard and Ronon sparring in the middle of the night? Guess it’s better than reading War and Peace ;) And Ronon does seem keen on pairing up folk – wondering about Shep and Teyla (“Sunday”) and of course, well, hard not to suggest the idea of Shep being available since Keller watched him rather keenly as he left.
When Teyla saw Kate to talk about her nightmare, it was odd to see them both sitting away from the seat backs, rather ramrod straight. That seems to indicate neither were comfortable.
Does the team eat all meals together? I mean, we got breakfast, lunch and a midnight snack and would have had dinner I assume if the whole mess hadn’t happened.
Speaking of lunch… loved Ronon’s “I gotta see this movie” after hearing how horrible ALIENS was. And it’s nice that Mckay’s dream with carter wasn’t a ‘delusional male fantasy’ but it sounds like his obsession (former, one hopes) is well known.
Lorne sleepwalking in bare feet. J Boy, don’t give him any Ambien! (everybody knows of its bizarre side effects in some people, right??) Loved that Ronon saved the day by shooting him but then Ronon is, fortunately, more of a man of action than words.
The two brains, er, crystals back in the lab, complete with “Irwin Allen” blinky lights in the background. For those unaware, Irwin Allen was famous for shows like Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, etc. where the lab backgrounds had tons of blinky lights just blinking for no other good reason than to blink. It made me so much of old brain transplant scifi movies which probably only six people remember.
Sam and McKay discuss a science point - and no sexist remarks? There’s hope for a more mature relationship.
Zelenka not being happy about losing bet and having to harvest a live entity. However, guess we’re stuck with hazmat suits with lights inside that shine UP into the eyes. Great to see the actors’ faces but do they walk into each other?
Rodney took the whole padded room thing very well, especially since the entity inside him was capable of killing him. Did like that he wanted coffee, and it seemed really, only after McKay got affected, did Sheppard really kick into gear with worrying that hey, this is a serious situation.
Ah, well, my favorite scene was when McKay and Shep hooked up (as in with wires, get your mind out of the gutter<G>) and McKay remarking “I’m pretty screwed up,” but Shep’s still gonna do it, and once Shep is stuck alone with evil-Shep, Rodney boldly goes back in to save him. And loved the nearly Indiana Jones type music when Rodney appears to save the day and he’s just so damned smug about it too. I just adored that from a Sheppard-McKay friendship point of view. And the “Thought there’d be more hot girls’. Yeah, Rodney, that’s why it’s a nightmare. No hot girls! ;) (of course McSheppers will disagree * cough *) So anyway, Rodney has Moby Dick nightmares and Shep has nightmares about work…
Anybody else notice that during the Shep/Evil-Shep fight scene, Evil-Shep punched a hole through plasterboard? Who would have thought the Ancients would have used such a product ;)
The Sheppard/Teyla hug, which I saw as nothing more than a friend reaching out to a friend. Teyla’s having a rough time. First Beckett is blown up, then Weir is lost in space, and now Kate is dead. Even though death is more of a constant in the Pegasus Galaxy, the toll is racking up. While Sheppard isn’t always good with feelings, there was also the situation of his hand against her bare back. I mean, whenever you hug a coworker/friend, you usually encounter clothing…
Sheppard. By the time the episode ended, I sure wanted him dead – the bad Sheppard, that is. JoeF did a very good job of playing a sociopath. Wow, his woman-beater character on CSI Miami seems sorta likeable after seeing Evil-Shep! He was positively gleeful when Teyla croaked in Keller’s nightmare, not to mention the distinctly disturbed look on his face when burying Ronon.
Kate – I’m sort of ambivalent about her demise. I don’t know why, but I liked her more as a blonde. She just seemed to have more life. The red hair sorta makes me think she belongs on a scifi movie about corpses, or an Elizabethean period piece. I liked Kate, but since she was so sporadic on the show… and aiee, shallow though this may be, better Kate get tossed than Lorne or Zelenka. Wonder if they’ll get a replacement psychologist (she was not a psychiatrist – two different things) or just a guest one if the need should arise.
Oh, lovely golden night scenes of the city. Very pretty.
Continuity!: Sam’s gotta clean up the Canuck ‘sorry’. Hey, remember in “Mckay and Mrs Miller” she sorta laughed at how it was pronounced ;)
Repeat dialogue: Sheppard complains twice about not being responsible for other people’s dreams, and Keller twice references Sheppard appearing dreams as a negative influence. For some reason that was just irritating.
Costumes: Well, Carter’s. The same outfit looks somewhat okay on Keller, but on Carter, it just doesn’t look good, because, well, she’s larger, which is not an insult, just an observation. The form-fitting jacket on someone with that bust size isn’t all that flattering, not with the flared sleeves and the way they line along the hips. It’s just a bad design and geez, wasn’t it enough we had that crud in the 70s? It should not have been resurrected. And I know it’s just not me who has quibbles with the costume as I rewatched the episode with a friend who said “What are they doing to Carter? Trying to sex her up? It’s not working. Bring back the black t-shirt!” and then proceeded to gripe about the jacket.
Another character dies. If season 5 gets a go-ahead, someone should start betting pools on who the next one will be who dies. It will be like SG1… anybody created in season 1-4 all started dying when the new producers came in, so if season 5 happens, expect recurring characters from seasons 1-3 to start dropping like iratus bugs ;)
The very last scene. I felt the last scene should have been putting the crack crystals from hell back on the planet and that would be it. The team slowly showing up at the table seemed to be a tacked-on, last thought “oh, look they’ve all bonded, isn’t this great?” type thing that was jarring in some respects, particularly since we had 3 seasons already and rarely saw this, but now all of a sudden these people are constantly having meals together.
Biggest nit: the SG1 references. Yes, yes, we all know the writers don’t want us to forget it, but let’s stop living in the past and create some new history for SGA, not drag out SG1’s old war chestnuts. I don’t mind it every once in a great while, but it’s like a drug; they could become dependent on it for most of what comes out of Carter’s mouth. Yes, we know she’s done EVERYTHING under the sun but the constant reminders are repetitive. I actually liked Carter in SG1 but she’s not all that appealing in SGA due to how they’re writing her. It’s like a co-worker going “well, at my last job we did this….” And it gets old fast. The scene of Carter doing the speech and then talking with Keller just seemed like filler of some sort. If Sheppard and Teyla are in their quarters, why is Keller hanging around the control room? It seemed odd. In fact, Sheppard did a lot of hanging around, and I’m willing to bet (sigh sigh) we’ll never see that neat fleece pullover top again (which I’m sure he wore only so we could figure out Shep from Evil-Shep at the end).
I think Keller is getting better (except for that horrid CPR scene – someone send her to a first aid class or at least give her an E.R. tape) and she’s got to more than competent to be on Atlantis. I think she’s got some good potential if they mature her and don’t have her squeeling at every shock (of course, she’ll be allowed to do that, like Zelenka did, on her first off-world visit which I’m sure will go horribly wrong). …but Carter, the jury’s still out. I’m not impressed with the constant SG1 reminders and I’d kill for alien moths to devour her uniform so she’d have to wear the BDUs of SG1 again. OR even the green flight suit from LIFELINE. And that falls mostly to the writers rehashing (sorry RCC) old SG1 stuff. When she did the speech, I longed for Weir to be there giving the speech as she had more passion or spark or something. Weir lived (and sorta died) for Atlantis.
Poor Sheppard. Is he ever gonna get a bed that fits him? Surely he’s got some spare time to ransack the base and find a new one somewhere…wait, wait, Kate doesn’t need hers anymore!
Teyla took time to change between coming back from the planet and being with Sheppard in the infirmary? Or did she wear that outfit to the planet? She had on her tac vest but it was too dark.
Why did the entity do what it did? Bored? Retaliation in reaction to a perceived attack? Was this just a ‘bad apple’ amongst the little dayglo crystals? Or are all of them just nasty little critters with too much time on their hands?
Doesn’t anybody ever smother to death or burn down their quarters with all the candles? I mean, it’s not like leaving on a non-flame nightlight is gonna jack up the electrical bill. It looks cool, but it’s impractical to sleep with candles all over the place. Obviously the writers miss all those horrid news stories of people dying from doing that.
Product Placement #101. Keller’s prescribing Ambien (the one that makes some people sleepwalk and eat buttered cigarettes and whatnot) and wow, could those Evian water bottles have been placed even more perfectly with the labels on both bottles facing the camera during the one meal scene?
While putting defibs to the abdomen won’t necessarily kill (but it could) it sure as hell would hurt. I thought Shep was just asleep, not in a coma!
How much time does Sam spending braiding her hair like that?
Is Rodney’s hair more… er, puffy?
Lead teams get weird new uniforms, military guys still have older gray, and lesser scientists are still in tan, so, they’re recycling their costumes well ;) So glad they couldn’t afford shoes for Lorne this episode * cough * ;)
During the Lorne sleepwalking/gun scene, there was a guard in the back (right before they went to commercial) who I remember seeing in season one!
And what? No one with super high definition TV has tried to enlarge the several photos Carter has on her desk (fans who have visited the set says one is of Daniel from a wedding dream sequence that never happened!) ;)
AH, A LITTLE MORE
RC Cooper wrote on Mallozzi’s blog tonight about this episode. You can find it here:
Anonymous #5 writes: "Thank you for a wonderful episode! This is my new favorite episode of all time! Season four is shaping up to be very exciting. Thank you also for the John and Teyla moments in this episode. They were beautiful. The hug was so touching. If it is not too much trouble, it would be great to hear RCC's thoughts on these moments."
RCC: Actually the “hug” scene continued and they went inside, sat down and talked a bit. Teyla tried to make Sheppard believe Heightmeyer’s death wasn’t his fault. I know you will hate me for cutting the scene now that I’ve told you it exists but sometimes a visual is enough. When you write a script you think the words are all that matters because you can’t see the pictures. When you see the pictures you realize there is nothing you can say that is more powerful so you might as well just shut-up. (I’m talking about me, the writer.)
I just sighed (the long kind of ‘oh darn, I could have had a V8’ type sigh) when I read this segment as I would have sooo much preferred this scene than the tacked-on pseudo-bonding stuff at the end. Or even the Carter-Keller pep talk ‘you did good’ stuff, which was, well, not all that fascinating.
Dug up the following links for everyone:
LORNE SCREENCAPS WITH COMMENTARY
I’m sure there’s more out there; just gotta find it.