Long before this script was outlined or we had even sat down to spin this story, I had two scenes in mind for Beckett’s return to Stargate Atlantis. The first, was the final scene of part one. The second, was the final scene of part two. Aside from those two scenes, I had know idea how the events leading up to this episode would dovetail and pay off. I knew we wanted to bring Carson back (The groundwork had been subtly laid way back in Season 3’s Vengeance in which, after some discussion with Carl and Martin, it was decided to go back and layer in a clue pointing to Michael’s involvement in the seeming resurrection. Isn’t it funny how Michael’s made so much progress with the retrovirus? It’s like he’s taken our research and made it his own.). We wanted to solve the mystery of the missing Athosians. And we wanted to bring back the Michael and pay off all of his nefarious planning with a big, galaxy-wide scheme. Sure, there were other elements that we wanted to set up/include/pay-off, but those were the big goals. Goals, clearly, too big for only one episode. So we spun both stories and I took part one, while Alan headed off with part two. What follows are my (now hazy) recollections of the writing of Kindred I –
Poor Kanaan. We hardly new ya. In fact, this opening scene of the tease was very different from the one that appeared in my first draft. In the original version, there is no funeral, simply a run-of-the-mill trudge back to the gate from an off-world mission that takes on a very bizarre twist:
EXT. FOREST — DAY
The team makes its way through a heavily forested area.
SHEPPARD: Gotta say – it’s great to have you back.
TEYLA: Back? I don’t recall ever having left.
SHEPPARD: Well you know what I mean. Back on the team.
TEYLA: I assumed I was always part of the team.
SHEPPARD: (sighs) I mean –
Teyla gives a little smile.
TEYLA: I know what you mean – and thank you. It’s nice to be off-world again, with all of you.
RONON: Yeah, well don’t get too comfortable. First sign of trouble and you head straight for the gate.
MCKAY: Don’t worry. We will.
Off Ronon’s look –
MCKAY: What? There’s no point in all of us staying behind to lay down cover fire. Besides, she may need help. What if she falls down and can’t get up?
TEYLA: Rodney, I’m pregnant, not incapacitated.
TEYLA: Athosian women are known for their fortitude in battle as well as pregnancy. My own grandmother was reputed to have given birth to my father while in the midst of an off-world trade negotiation. She returned to Athos the next day carrying her newborn, a sealed agreement, and two bushels of eldarran musk root. Her people were so impressed that…
She glances back –
There’s no one behind her. The rest of the team is gone.
She glances about, panic rising. The surrounding area is deserted.
She heads back the way she came, frantically scanning the area for any sign of her teammates.
TEYLA: Rodney?! Where are you?!
She stops. A shadowed figure moves in the trees behind her, in and out of sight. Somehow sensing it, she turns –
Too late. It’s gone. Beat. Another shadowed movement, again behind her, darting quickly in and out of hiding. Again, sensing something, she whirls around – Again, too late. Nothing there.
Wide-eyed and frightened, she starts to back away when suddenly her radio comes alive, a whispered voice fighting the static –
The figure moves behind her again and we see it more clearly now. An Athosian – KANAAN – staring back at her as he moves, ghostlike, from one tree to the next. She turns again, and this time, just catches sight of him. She starts toward him.
She draws her weapon, circles around the tree – But finds no one there. Again, her radio comes alive. The static fades and the whispered voice becomes clearer –
KANAAN: …us…help us…help us…
Teyla, totally freaked out by this point, quickly turns to flee – And runs right into the arms of Kanaan who is suddenly behind her. He appeals to her –
KANAAN: Help us. Please. Help us!
Beat. And, suddenly, he is yanked away by some unseen force, beyond the trees and away – VFX.
At which point she wakes up. Yeah, I know. Very different. I’ve always enjoyed writing scenes in which the team members good-naturedly poke fun at one another, and this was a great opportunity to do a little of this. Ultimately, however, it was decided that we had already covered the issue of Teyla’s pregnancy as potential off-world problem, so we went with the funeral sequence instead. As many of you noticed, I seemingly let slip the concept drawing of Kanaan’s funeral pyre, drawing the wrath of one poster who was incensed I’d unwittingly reveal such a major spoiler. Heh heh. Some of you weren’t fooled at all. Still others adopted a cautious wait and see approach. Yes, I did it to throw you off. But I also did it so that the next time I do unwittingly release a picture containing a spoiler, you’ll all hopefully be less inclined to buy it.
Keller discusses the plague
It’s always fun to be able to back-reference an element from the show’s past. In this case, I thought – Well, since Michael has Beckett, he has access to all of Beckett’s research. What’s something he could use as part of that master plan? And the idea of his using the Hoffan virus to taint the wraith’s food supply seemed too obvious and deliciously evil an opportunity to pass up. Of course, the suggestion is that through Beckett’s help, Michael has managed to refine the process, lowering the death toll of those infected from 50% down to 30%.
McKay presents Teyla with a pre-baby gift
We got to see everyone but Rodney’s reaction to Teyla’s pregnancy, so I thought it might be nice to do this little scene. Awkward, but still hopelessly egocentric, he presents Teyla with a present that is trademark McKay. This scene remained more or less as it was in the original, except that Paul had the brilliant idea of seguing into the next scene with Rodney’s…
Sheppard and McKay discuss Teyla
“I doubt very seriously it was a vision.” Brilliant. In the original version, Sheppard and McKay’s roles were reversed. Sheppard was the dubious one while McKay, coming off the preceding conversation with Teyla, was the one willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. But after some thought, it was decided that this version made more sense given that McKay is the man of science and, in the end, Sheppard will make the call to head off-world and follow up on Teyla’s presumed vision.
Teyla second dream-vision
More or less as scripted. We went back and forth on some visual effects ideas, at one point pitching out the possibility that we see the leaves whip up and into a mini-whirlwind that collapses to reveal Kanaan. In the end, we decided the scene didn’t need it.
Sheppard’s discussion with Carter – the walk to the gate
In the first draft, this was just one very different scene –
Sheppard leads McKay and Ronon down the corridor toward the gate room.
Teyla, dressed for an excursion herself, turns into the corridor in front of them. The guys hold up.
TEYLA: Where are you going?
SHEPPARD: I was about to ask you the same thing.
TEYLA: You first.
SHEPPARD: Well, we’re about to follow up on your lead and check out that planet you told us about.
TEYLA: Then to answer your question – I am going with you.
He throws a look to McKay and Ronon.
MCKAY: We’ll, uh, wait for you at the gate.
McKay and Ronon press on, leaving Sheppard and Teyla to have their chat.
SHEPPARD: Do we really have to have this conversation? Again?
TEYLA: My people are missing. They may be in danger.
SHEPPARD: Then that’s reason enough for you not to come with. Let us handle it.
TEYLA: I have visited this village countless times in the past. There is nothing for us to fear there.
SHEPPARD: I’d rather not take that chance. Not with you.
Teyla steps up to him, resolute –
TEYLA: My fellow Athosians need me and so long as I am capable, I will do everything within my power to ensure their safe return to New Athos. And nothing will keep me from doing so.
Beat. Sheppard throws up his hands.
SHEPPARD: Well, guess we’ve got us a stalemate then.
Teyla stares back at him, resolute.
Which of course segues into the scene where they’re off-world, including Teyla, headed for Croya. I love sassy Teyla and this was a fun scene to write but, like the conversation in the Tease, it was felt that we had already covered the subject in previous episodes.
Off-world walk and talk
This scene remained pretty much unchanged. The one interesting thing about it, from a behind the scenes perspective, is that it was very nearly cut for time. The episode was running long and losing the scene wouldn’t have hurt the story. But it did have that fun Rodney-Ronon exchange, so we kept it and made up the time through some dialogue trims in other scenes.
Croya – Teyla comes up empty
This was not scripted to be the end of Act I. The scene in which Keller makes the connection to the Hoffan drug and reveals its victims were intentionally exposed was supposed to be the final scene of the first act – but we ended up shifting the act breaks and decided to end it with the revelation that Teyla’s quest had come to a seeming dead end (literally!).
Talk about coincidences. I was at my local fish shop this afternoon, picking up some scallops for dinner, when I spotted the actress who plays the merchant Teyla speaks to. I introduced myself and thanked her for doing the show, told her she’d done a great job. Unfortunately, I don’t have her name handy (help me out fans), but she auditioned for me last year and just missed out on the part. She was great, however, and I made a mental note to bring her back. Second time was the charm.
Keller makes the connection to the Hoffan drug
Pretty much unchanged except for the fact that it is no longer the act break moment.
Sheppard scrubs the fact-finding mission to Croya
Pretty much unchanged. What I like about this scene is the conflict between Teyla’s desperation and Sheppard’s frustration, culminating in Teyla’s “#What is it you’re questioning, John? My interpretation of the vision, or the vision itself?”. While it’s easy to understand Teyla’s desire to do everything she can to find her people, it’s hard not to sympathize with John here who has extended himself by okaying this seemingly suspect mission in the first place.
Keller gives everyone the lowdown on the virus
Pretty much unchanged. But there’s a scripting oversight that just drives me nuts every time I hear it. Carter states: “The random nature of this drug’s distribution is clear and calculated…” Huh? If it’s random, it can’t be calculated, can it? No. This one’s on me. It should have read: “The seemingly random nature of this drug’s distribution is actually clear and calculated…” Most won’t notice, but I do. But then, I’m sensitive that way.
Another dream vision
Another scene that remained pretty much unchanged from the original version.
Teyla appeals to Carter
This sequence played out only slightly differently in the first draft. Originally, I opened the scene in the control room where Teyla is arguing with an clearly anxious Chuck who is refusing to dial the gate for her. Carter arrives on the scene, defusing the situation, and invites Teyla into her office where they chat. In the first draft, the first thing Carter does is contact Lorne – and then gets into the conversation with Teyla, a conversation that is a little more clipped and less understanding. After Teyla argues her point, Lorne arrives and Teyla assumes Carter is putting her under guard for fear that she will attempt to head through the gate. Instead, Carter instructs Lorne to escort Teyla off-world. The scene ends as shot, with the ladies on a first name basis.
Sheppard and McKay encounter the scavengers
Pretty much as is except that, as scripted, this scene ends Act II. To be honest, I went back and forth so many times that, at this point, I don’t even recall if it ended up as the second act break.
Teyla and Lorne back in Croya
I moved around a lot of scenes in this third act, but what follows is the order in which they were scripted. This scene survives pretty much in tact from the original. And to all the Lorne fans who’ve wondered where the heck he hails from – he’s a native of San Fran.
Sheppard and co. get word from Todd
Pretty much as is except for a funny little bit I had to lose. As scripted, Carter informs the other that they have been contacted by Todd:
CARTER: Wraith subspace tracking device. It’s our old friend.
RONON: Guess he wants to parlay.
McKay and Carter throw Ronon curious looks. Sheppard explains –
SHEPPARD: I let him watch my Pirates of the Caribbean DVD.
MCKAY: You’d think you would’ve learned your lesson after that Lord of the Rings fiasco.
A funny exchange, but the reason I had to lose it is that Jason delivered his line as Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. In every take. “It isn’t Ronon,”went the counter-argument, so I lost the bit – but look for it as part of the season four outtakes. And, yeah, Jason is a huge fan of the Pirates movies. Surprised?
Teyla takes down the trader
Even though that village looks mighty spacey it is, in reality, pretty cramped and the location didn’t exactly lend itself to the most dynamic of chase sequences. In the script, the trader is supposed to make a run for it, find one way cut off, find another way cut off, see Lorne coming and up-end a bunch of crates to block his progress, dart off – and get taken out by Teyla. After much tweaking and cutting and hair-pulling, the once thirty some second sequence was trimmed down to a much more acceptable ten seconds or so.
Sheppard and co. encounter Todd at the wraith lab
Pretty much unchanged although its placement changed. As an aside, one of the things I loved about this episode was the various elements coming together: Teyla’s pregnancy, the mystery of the missing Athosians, Michael, Todd, the Hoffan virus, Beckett. This two parter pays off a number of the balls we set in play earlier on in the season. If you thought part one was fun, just you wait until next week.
Lorne and Teyla question the trader
A fun scene in that we glimpse a side to both Lorne and Teyla that we barely get to see. This scene remained pretty much unchanged except that, in the first draft, Teyla’s contribution to the interrogation played out slightly differently.
TRADER: And if I don’t tell you? What are you going to do? Hurt me?
LORNE: No. I won’t hurt you.
Lorne backs off and throws a glance over to Teyla who unsheathes one of her bantos rods.
LORNE: But she may.
As Teyla takes a threatening step forward, the Trader breaks –
I love the thought of a pregnant but pissed off Teyla advancing on someone, bantos rods in hand. But Paul thought it would be more fun (and certainly more visual) to have her give him a nudge and tip him back on his chair instead, leaving him with the news that they’ll let the villagers deal with him. THAT brings him around.
Todd requests our help
This scene was pretty much unchanged for the original draft. However, the following exchange was lost for time:
TODD: Our food supply has been so randomly tainted we have no way of knowing if our next meal will be our last.
MCKAY: It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know if you’re going to get the one with the mint filling.
Beat. They all throw him a look.
TODD: If by “mint filling” you mean a toxin so powerful its reward is a certain and very painful death, then yes, I agree with your analogy.
The dart nabs Teyla
As scripted. And, if you haven’t figured it out yet, this clue from the season 5 teaser poem: “An old enemy sweeps down and gains the upper hand.” refers to this sequence.
Todd and Sheppard strike a deal
Originally, there were three scenes, but I ended up marrying the last two in editing. Todd’s “There can be only one.” – Hello to you Highlander fans. The wraith are big fans.
The scripted end of act. Michael has come a long way since his introduction way back in season 2, and we loved the idea of his constantly tweaking his physiology. When we see him here, he is even more human looking than the last time we saw him.
Carter, Keller, Sheppard, and McKay discuss Todd’s offer – Lorne returns with bad news
The only real difference between this version and the original is that, in the original, Sheppard makes no mention of Michael. After some discussion, it was felt that, by process of elimination, Sheppard should have put two and two together by this point.
Michael reveals his plans to Teyla
Finally, after years of careful experimentation, Michael’s plans are seeing fruition. He has tainted the wraith food supply, perfected the hybrids, freed himself of the need to feed, and has manipulated the final piece of the puzzle into his hands. Damn, I knew he was smart, but how did he make so much progress so quickly? In the script, Michael informs Teyla: “I had help from a most unlikely source.” In the final cut, we figured “I had help.” was enough of a tip-off.
Sheppard and co. pay Todd a return visit
Pretty much as originally except that we added McKay’s “This tablet contains the address of an off-world relay station. If you leave us a message there, we’ll get it.” If we’re going to pursue any sort of alliance or partnership with Todd, it makes sense that we provide a much easier means of communicating.
Michael pays Teyla another visit
Holy crap! He wants the baby!!! A terrific scene between these two thanks to Rachel, Connor, and Paul who added the bit in which Michael suggests that, when it comes right down to it, he and Teyla are not all that different.
The Cafeteria – Sheppard and co. get word
In the original version, this scene takes place in Sheppard’s quarters:
Sheppard grabs a seat on his bed and grabs the book sitting on his night table: War and Peace. He eases back and flips to the page bookmarked – somewhere around chapter three – and resumes reading.
Beat. He sets the book aside, readjusts the pillows at his back, makes his comfortable, picks up the book and resumes reading.
Beat. He considers, sets the book aside, then picks up the latest issue of Popular Mechanics and starts flipping through it. He is interrupted by a knock.
He gets up and answers. Carter is there.
CARTER: Looks like Todd came through for you.
And she fills him in.
A not-so-happy family reunion
Finally, the real Kanaan revealed. And Teyla realizes she’s been played. Can it get anymore hopeless than this? Of course it can! We’re not even at the end of part one!
Sheppard and Caldwell onboard the Daedalus discuss the situation
We were long, so this scene didn’t make the cut – but part of the discussion related to the Midway station found its way into season 5’s Whispers. The short strokes – Caldwell is kind of bummed because with the Midway station gone, he’s back to being a glorified bus driver.
The Daedalus enters orbit, the retrieval team beams down
The retrieval team encounters some resistance, the Daedalus comes under fire
We lost a sequence in which the team comes upon a cell, open it up and find a couple of what appear to be prisoners inside. When Ronon approaches, the prisoners – who turn out to be hybirds – turn on them. Ronon takes them down – with McKay’s help. We ended up losing the sequence because: 1) The episode was running long, and 2) When Ronon first walks into the cell, the two prisoner look like they’re just awkwardly standing around, perhaps sharing a smoke.
“Finally! It’s about bloody time. What took you so long?”
Like I said – way back when, before we even sat down to spin this story, I knew how I wanted Part 1 to end. And if SciFi hadn’t spoiled it in their promo, it would have been perfect.