"Ghost in the Machine": To the Great Path

“Many roads lead to the Great Path,” Oma Desala told Daniel Jackson about reaching ascension, the shedding of the physical body to live as a form of energy on a higher plane of existence. Tonight, the fifth episode of Season Five of Stargate Atlantis, “Ghost in the Machine”, explores the possibility that the rogue group of Asurans (Replicators) might have actually obtained their goal of reaching ascension just as their creators, the Ancients, had done. Is it possible for machines to ascend and obtain immortality? Was their process one of the “many roads” to which Oma referred?

Ghost in the Machine

The first eight minutes of this episode includes a notable VFX sequence by artist Alec McClymont from Atmosphere VFX, according to Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela in a Q&A in executive producer Joseph Mallozzi’s weblog last month. The story, told from Elizabeth Weir’s point of view, reveals that her small group of Replicators, introduced in Season Four’s “Be All My Sins Remember’d”, have developed a process that might very well allow them to achieve ascension.

“Ever since “Be All My Sins Remember’d”, when I saw and read the script, I was like ‘We have to … we can’t leave this hanging,'” writer Carl Binder told Gateworld in a recently-published interview. “We’ve got to figure this out. So it’s finding out what happened to Weir, and where we go from here. Originally, it involved bringing Torri [Higginson] back, but then she declined. So we had to step back and figure out a new way to tell the story, which—I don’t know who came up with the idea—but it was a great way to do it. So I’m really happy about that. … It’s a real tech-heavy episode. The good thing is that we get to find out what happened. What that last scene in “Be All My Sins Remember’d” was all about.”

Binder’s solution was to have Weir take on the form of the last Replicator template left in Atlantis: that of FRAN, the Friendly Replicator Android created by McKay to help destroy the Asurans. “The template, the ‘Fran’ template, is stored in the machine. Whenever we need a Replicator, whenever we need to create something… And you can alter it to whatever you need,” Binder explained.

In order to prepare for the part of Elizabeth Weir, actress Michelle Morgan, who played FRAN last season, studied Higginson’s performances. “I definitely went back and watched Weir,” Morgan recently told Gateworld. “I watched episodes with her, and studied the way that she was and the way that she spoke. But mostly I focused on the way that she thought, and the way that she approaches situations. Because she’s all about diplomacy. She’s very intelligent. She’s not a wimp in any way. So I really tried to grasp the way that she approached situations, and the way that she would talk to people in these high-stakes situations.”

Tune in tonight on the Sci Fi Channel in the United States at 10 pm ET/PT to see if the Replicators were successful in reaching ascension and if Elizabeth Weir lives on in a new form.

Preview Videos – Beware of Spoilers! –

Solutions Coverage –

[Episode still courtesy of Dryope at LJ.]