Blurb: Plagued by blackouts, painting strange pictures in his sleep, Major Evan Lorne begins to fear that he's losing his mind. Has the stress of life in the Pegasus galaxy pushed him over the edge? Then, when Atlantis itself begins to behave strangely, the Major wonders if something else entirely is going on. But with his behavior becoming increasingly erratic, who can he trust? And can the soldier convince his colleagues that the answer lies in his paintings?
Format: Limited cast audio drama recounting a story in the life of Major Evan Lorne. Published by Big Finish Productions and released June of 2009.
Setting: Atlantis, the Pegasus Galaxy.
Continuity: This story takes place between the television stories Lifeline and Doppelgänger.
Discussion: One of the advantages that the Stargate audios have over the series is that they were forced to use a small cast. They didn't need to write stories that included all of the major characters. That allowed for smaller, more personal stories that fleshed out the personalities of whoever they used. They also made sure to use a good number of the recurring characters in their stories, since those needed that background work more than the regulars. One such character is Major Lorne. He was a part of Atlantis for 4 seasons and even appeared once on SG-1, but in all that time he got little to develop his character. Impressions attempts to rectify that.
What's interesting about an audio story like Impressions is that it makes a wide use of visual imagery. That might seem like a mistake for a story performed on audio, but it's actually a very clever device. There'd be no way on television to create images that evoke the impressions that Lorne describes in the story. By describing it on audio, though, the listener's imagination creates the images. Each person will imagine something different, but that's ok because it's necessary that it provides the correct effect not that it has a particular look. The plot isn't spectacular. Shepherd says that this kind of thing happens all of the time, and on the face of it that's true. Yet, this is a story that thrives based on the way that it's framed and the ideas that it expresses. It takes what's known about Lorne and creates a story that only would work with his character. It tells an interesting story about art as a means of communication with something incomprehensible to our normal perceptions and thought processes. It also creates some wonderful tension between the framing segments and the story being told.
One aspect that's really well utilized by the framing segment is the music. This story has the best music to this point in the Stargate audios. Not only is it great for adding to the suspense, having a catchy beat that makes you want the story to move forward, but that's juxtaposed with pauses in the storytelling. The overall effect is one of nervous tension, and it's very effective in the story. It allows the listener to sympathize more fully with Lorne's own terror about his state of mind and what he's going to do about the situation.
The story has the usual Stargate sound effects that are performed with the usual Big Finish skill. Kavan Smith puts in an adequate performance. It doesn't seem as if he has any issue performing in audio, but there isn't anything special about it either. Nick Briggs plays Doctor Glennie, the psychologist assigned to evaluate Lorne. It doesn't seem to be intentional, but he comes off as a smug, jerk. He's also incredibly unprofessional, telling the major a rumor that a coworker has the "hots" for him. I'm not sure what author Scott Andrews was thinking with the character, but Dr Glennie is definitely the weak point of the story, and there's really no reason for him other than to give Lorne a reason for telling his story.
Final Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: A really great story, making effective use of imagination and music to tell a story that couldn't work in the same way with any other character or any other medium. It's philosophical and interesting and will give you more of a feeling for major Lorne. On the downside, the performances aren't particular great, and one of the two speaking roles is absolutely annoying. I still recommend listening to it.