To be honest, my favorite installments of Stargate are the ones that do something weird and different and occasionally make fun of the proceedings. “Window of Opportunity” and “The Other Guys” of course we’ve seen and loved. “200” and the magnificent final episode we’ll get to down the line. The all-action high-stakes stories are often good, and sometimes very good, but they don’t quite engage me the same way. That said, I certainly appreciate it when the situation gets so absurdly out of control that our heroes end up blowing up a sun.
But “The Siege” is absolutely as good as adventure television ever gets. This is a story where everything in season one builds effortlessly into the ugly situation that our heroes are in. There are natural callbacks to several previous episodes as they look for some way out of this. Three Wraith “hive ships” are on the way; they have no defense, no way to power the shield, and no way to evacuate. They get a reprieve at the beginning of part two and the situation gets worse. They get another reprieve at the beginning of part three and the situation gets worse still. Even watched over three nights, it’s still exhausting. It’s really great. I genuinely can’t imagine anybody working through the highs and lows of season one grumbling that this wasn’t a satisfying conclusion. And the kid was in heaven. He said all the occasional “fluffy” episodes were just fine because they did something huge and “not fluffy” as this.
Most interestingly, it establishes that Atlantis is going to forge a different path than SG-1 has done up to this point and seriously mess with the status quo and the cast every year. There will be times I’ll be really disappointed with this, but this story sees Rainbow Sun Francks leave the cast as his character becomes a rogue agent, and another recurring character, Peter Grodin, who’d been in half the episodes, killed off. Three new characters will join the cast for year two, and we meet the first of them, Colonel Steven Caldwell, in part three. He’s played by Mitch Pileggi, who had been rolling his eyes dealing with Mulder and Scully’s latest shenanigans on The X Files for many years.
So year one ends with Atlantis no longer lost, the shield ready to be raised, the Wraith lost a good chunk of their fleet, and a new way back and forth to Earth. I can’t help but slightly regret that it went this way; it felt a little more desperate when the expedition was completely cut off, but there are still many more great stories to come. But first we’ll check in on how SG-1 weathered its great big change to its status quo and cast…