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Stargate 1.2 - A Necessary Evil



Blurb: When Sheppard’s team encounter a culture with phase shift technology that keeps their entire population invisible - and immaterial - to the outside world, it looks like Atlantis might have found the perfect protection from the Wraith. Eager to make a trade for the technology, Doctor Weir embarks on a diplomatic mission to negotiate with the people of Lannavulin. But once there, it becomes apparent that not everyone is happy with the planet’s status quo...

Format: Limited cast audio drama recounting a story in the life of Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Published by Big Finish Productions and released May of 2008.

Setting: The city of Lannavulin.

Continuity: This story takes place between the television stories The Ark and Sunday.

Discussion: I've never really cared for Dr. Weir, especially once she was played by Torri Higginson. Jessica Sheen played Weir with conviction. In some ways that made her extremely annoying, but you at least understood where the character came from. Higginson portrayed a watered down version of Weir. Perhaps, ironically for this review, it was a necessary evil to make the character work in the TV series, but Higginson's Weir seemed to exist only to give half-hearted lip service to pacifism as she sanctioned military activities and even experimentation on sentient beings. Ironically, writer Sharon Gosling, a self-avowed Weir fan, showcases this heavily in her story. It casts a spotlight not only on Weir's hypocrisy, but also on her ineffectiveness as a negotiator and a commander. She makes promises that she can't make good on, and even though this is narrated by the replicator Weir, we learn that she never even tried to do anything in the weeks between this story takes place and the death of the original.

The story isn't helped by either the plot or Higginson's performance, which is overwhelmingly flat. She reads a little faster when delivering McKay's lines to indicate his excitement, but otherwise there isn't a lot to differentiate the various characters. The plot is threadbare. Once Vilith explains the situation in the city, it's obvious how things are going to turn out. It would have been nice if there was something in there to provide a surprise, but it felt as if Gosling was just trying to get from the beginning to end with as little effort as possible.

Timothy Watson as Minister Vilith is the one shining ray of light in this production. Not only does he have a wonderful voice, it's clear that he's familiar with the audio medium. With slight changes of intonation he portrays feelings as varied as anger, sadness, humility, resignation, or regret. It's a shame that the material didn't really help him to showcase his talents better, although Vilith is certainly allowed far more nuance than that afforded to Weir.

Looking back at it, there remain some plot holes that troubled me. Why didn't anyone from Atlantis go back to negotiate even after Weir died? The tech was certainly attractive enough to want to try again. Also, why didn't the ruling class simply remove the rebels and place them back in phase? That would seem to be more effective than fighting them with traditional weapons.

Productionwise the story was fair, neither being strikingly bad or good. The music and sound effects were there, but none of them were really memorable. Still, Big Finish knows its craft and always strives for high quality, so there's nothing that really lets you down on that side of things.

Final Rating: 5/10

Recommendation: A story that was meant to showcase how awesome Elizabeth Weir is instead highlights why she was such a problematic character. Higginson struggles with the audiobook format or perhaps the material just doesn't give her anything to sink her teeth into. Timothy Watson tries to save it with a fantastic performance as Minister Vilith, but even he can't make a dull script interesting. This is one that you can definitely skip.
Tags: atlantis, elizabeth weir, necessary evil, stargate, torri higginson
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