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19 July 2007 @ 08:37 am
Ep review for Rising part 1 & 2  
There's been a few retroactive episode reviews for Rising and the begining of SGA in general lately, and I think its a great idea!  Last night I re-watched the pilot and so I'm here to contribute my own thoughts.

(I've been writing fanfic lately and having a helluva time trying to write in character - this seemed like a great way to get the know the characters all over again).

John:

The first thing that struck me watching this episode for the fourth (fifth??) time was that John is an asshole!  A real grade-A-jerk who is nevertheless a good man.  I really get now why fanon has a blast making up new and ever more traumatizing backstories for the man, and I've got to lay it all at Joe's feet -- he's a master of the Facial Expression.  I've always loved David Hewlett for this, but in this episode Joe did a great job.  We don't know much about his character, and he doesn't have a lot of lines (his introduction to Teyla pretty much tells us everything we every  know about the man - he likes college football, ferris wheels and anything that goes over 200 miles a hour ... which pretty much describes every man but 3 in the United States, and if you were to substitute 'hockey' for 'college football' you'd have a good chunk of Canada there, too) but those thirty-seconds where he's walking through the SGC and stops to chat for two minutes with Sumner?  Perfect.

He's not smiling, he's not smirking ... its like he's trying to laugh at the fact that he's here, but he can't quite do it -- maybe this is how he views all posts the first time he walks through them: its like he's laying bets on how long he'll last, how much his commanding officer will piss him off and vise versa.  So that when Sumner does have his 'little chat', John's all ready to smirk and drawl and generally be an ass.  He never gave Sumner a chance, and Sumner never gave him one, but I still get the sense that by the end of the episode they respect each other anyways (Sumner's smile in the Athosian camp seems to make that clear).  If Sumner had lived I can't help but think that these two men could have almost been friends.  Or at least would have learned to tolerate and learn from each other.  

In other words, John's reaction as he's walking through the SGC (and his sass at General O'Neill and his pushy-attitude towards Beckett at first) seems to sum up John-on-Earth.  Which is a great contrast to John-in-Atlantis: almost immediately he starts making nerdy jokes (to Jinto), demonstrating his math abilities (to Rodney) and seeming immediately more comfortable once he steps foot on Atlantis.  In fanon we could wonder if this is because he feels this great kinship to Atlantis and that its humming in his soul and making him looser than he's ever been on earth, or we could play it closer to canon and say its because he's left Earth and his black-mark behind him soon as he steps through that gate.  Or that he's really as much of a sci-fi geek as he seems and this is all suddenly Amazingly Cool.  Regardless, the contrast between John-on-Earth and John-on-Atlantis seems pretty clear.

Yet for all this he's still very much a soldier in this ep: he's all sneaky-walk on Athos (in comparison to his loose stroll in so many other eps with his team), he's ordering Rodney around (with a very sharp tone) and he's arguing with Elizabeth (and it seems different than it does when they argue later in the series).  The parts with Weir really struck me: it seems he respects her, because he's not mocking like we know he can be (to Sumner), but he's definately cutting.  The "negotiate, are you kidding?" and "our people are in the hands of the enemy, doctor, what do you think that means?" are very expressively said.  The behaviour seems explained in the jumper bay where John says to Weir "Doctor, this is why you brought me here".  This is John Doing His Job, this is John being what he thinks is a good solider - protecting his men, protecting the scientists.  We see this side of him again and again when the city is in danger, and it grows in strength as John seems to accept Atlantis as home (I'm thinking of the Storm and the season finale).

The end is interesting too - I found Joe really looks old here (in a surprising-good-looking way, of course.  Bastard).  I don't know if its the make-up people still finding their roles, or if John's supposed to look this tired.  He's military commander and he's doubting his previous decisions.  He's just woken the Wraith, for christsakes.  Not really the best first day.  But Weir's behind him and Teyla's beside him and he's got Atlantis, after all.  It's not all bad.

Still the 'I'm the one who has to live with it' is still very Soldier!John.  And again - its a good look, but I'm glad he relaxes into Atlantis soon.  As good as he looks with his back straight, he looks better slouching ;-)


Rodney

I need to do Rodney next, just because I love to contrast him with John, but I don't think there's as much to say about his character - the first time I watched this I had no idea he was already a partially-formed character on Stargate.  A little of the asshole we (and Sam) know him to be comes through here, but much more sarcastically then meanly ("the shield that's holding back the ocean?").  But now knowing how he was on SG-1, it's immediately obvious that Rodney has found a place where he can truly be an 'artist'.  He's got a genuine joy-of-discover grin the entire episode here: we can see that he loves Ancient technology, loves Altantis, and LOVES being in charge.  

The most interesting reactions with Rodney seem to involve Elizabeth - I really get a sense that there's a lot of mutual respect and friendship here - they argue but its always respectfully, debating their points without belitting the other person.  Rodney's nice to Elizabeth, and when the two of them are in the control room ("looks like we're not getting out of this!") we can really see how these two share that joy of discovery -- in many ways I think the Atlantis project is 'their' baby: they have loved it and wanted it and fought for it tooth-and-nail.  And now they've got it and they're sharing identical grins.

And yet its definately still a professional relationship - I think Rodney would even feel guilty jerking off thinking about Elizabeth.  She's his boss, and he respects her in a way I don't think he's really respect (any/many?) people before.  She's intelligent in a completely different way than him, and he's probably been through enough committee meetings with her to respect that.  Even when they banter ("this really bothers you, doesn't it?  This who gene thing?") I get the very definate sense that Elizabeth is in charge.  And Rodney - surprisingly - acknowledges and agrees to that.

He also seems to joke a little with Grodin, and I have to admit I spent half the episode growling about how stupid it was to kill of Peter.  I liked him, dammit!


Elizabeth

I probably said most of what I want to say about here in the Rodney peice - she's excited to be here, has probably been fighting to lead this expedition for years, and though she doesn't seem to *quite* feel the same immediate kinship with Atlantis that John and Rodney do (John because of his gene and the fact that he's now a whole galaxy away from earth, and Rodney for the technology and probably the same reason) we know that she's ready to fight tooth-and-nail for this city.  I would guess that she's heavily burdened by the 'being in charge' idea of it all - she might have been happier being a linguist for the expedition, but she's probably the one who kept interest on the Atlantis project from floundering - she probably had to agree to be in charge to make the expedition go forward (or at least to keep the military from taking over).  But right away she's upset at sending people out to find power sources, and she's worried about the guilt of letting John go out on a suicide mission.  She seems hyper-aware of that possibility, and I bet she's spent many a night wondering how many people she'll get killed (in her mind) in the first year.  She probably hoped for power and a chance to just explore the city for five years first, I don't think she was really prepared for the idea of meeting indigeous populations right away.  Because we know she doesn't handle that the best later on (I point to 'suspicions' for evidence of this).  

In other words, Elizabeth is smart and a diplomat, but she's built up the challenges she will face as a leader in her mind (sending people to die, being in charge of making mistakes) and when she faces these obstacles she's got to first face the walls she's created in her mind.  I'm willing to bet that the Athosians scare her - she's probably read/negotiated a lot in countries with the United Nations and seen the destruction of indigenous populations -- maybe she's even wrote thesis's on what should have been done to help people, or she's at least thought about what she would have done differently if she could -- but suddenly trapped in another galaxy with non-Earther's on her hands?  I bet that scares her.  I bet she knows exactly how much damage she can do to these people and that scares the hell out of her.  So instead of handing it well she handles it badly, and it takes her a few years to relax into the position of power that she suddenly has as govenor of Atlantis.


Teyla

I like Teyla - I really do.  At first I wasn't sure of her, but seeing her here: it was good.  And yet I don't have much to say about her what isn't obvious - she's the leader (we suppose) of her people, and she cares a lot for them, but I think she's a loner and a little afraid of her father's shadow.  The idea of Teyla as a young girl playing in the ruins where her people hid from the last great Culling, it paints a picture of a lonely girl who knows she'll be leader one day and is growing up at once too fast and too slow.  She might have been slightly cut off from her people her whole life, and though she has associates I have to wonder if she really has friends.  Maybe she's always wanted a little more out of life, at once more and less responsibility.  Perhaps that is why she becomes part of John's team so quickly - it might be to first learn more about these Earthers, but soon she finds herself part of a family in a way she's never been before - she's not in charge, for once.  And that might feel really good.  But she's still important, essential!, and she's still got the respect of her people.

Ford

Sigh, I like Ford.  Really.  He's cute.  But he's also kind of an ass.  The whole "I noticed you seem to have a problem with Major Sheppard" ... and then he seems to give John the cold shoulder.  It reminds me how young he is - and how I could see him having turned out very differently if Sumner hadn't been killed and John put in charge.  I wonder if he's really a nice person at heart: John's an ass, but he's a good guy, and I don't know if Ford is.  Maybe he's got a little of the 'bully' inside him, and perhaps this comes out when he's hooked on the enzyme later on.  Ah, hard to tell from one ep.  But that comment and the cold shoulder really struck me.  

Carson

Oh, Carson.  What an image we get of you this first episode!  Brilliant, obviously - you learn things from that single dead Wraith hand pretty quickly.  And you seem pretty comfortable with both Rodney and Elizabeth, so I hazzard that you've been working with them for a while -- but the term 'mama's boy' definately comes to mind.  The last scene of him on earth with his mother?  Cringe-worthy.  And I don't know why, because I'm a family person myself.  But it seems a little loser-ish: he's a good looking doctor with a quick sense of humour and yet he seems scared of women.  The scene were he's bragging of his little adventure with the drone to that scientist chick before John comes in?  Ouch.  No wonder you're not dating.  Perhaps I've been corrupted by fandom, but I get the sense that Carson really *would* bring girls home to be approved by mother before dating them seriously.  

But that sounds mean, and I like Carson - he's definately funny, and that accent is hot.  But maybe going to Atlantis is a great thing for him - he does need to "get out more", Rodney is right ;-)


... and that's all I'm going to write here for now: in other words, I loved the first ep, and I loved the team, and we definately get a sense that they 'belong' in the Pegasus Galaxy.  Even if they make mistakes and do little things like wake the wraith.  /lol