Uh, I think somebody dropped something...
Uh, I think somebody dropped something...
Mark Dacascos ready for action!
Mark Dacascos ready for action!
Prepping the wraith
Prepping the wraith
Tyre's sword that Jason absolutely fell in love with and has since been incorporated into Ronon's ass-kicking ensemble.
Tyre's sword that Jason absolutely fell in love with and has since been incorporated into Ronon's ass-kicking ensemble.
Broken Ties - concept art
Broken Ties - concept art

I’d like to thank John Picacio for an entertaining and very informative guest entry. As someone who possesses the drawing and design skills of a six year old, I am in awe of John’s talent. I’ll be ordering myself a copy of Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio (containing over 180 images of John’s award-winning work) and, while I’m at it, I’ll also be ordering up copies for NarellefromAus and Terry who were the winners of the last BOTMC contest. Every month, I select two random winners from the list of those taking part in our book of the month club discussions, so if you’d like a shot at winning books, magazine subscriptions, or signed Stargate scripts and swag, start reading. We have some terrific literary guests lined up on the BOTMC front:

Cordelia’s Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold
Discussion the week of August 11th, with author Lois McMaster Bujold.

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden, Catherynne M. Valente
Discussion the week of August 18th, with author Catherynne M. Valente.

The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
Discussion the week of August 25th, with author Stephen Dobyns.

It was also great to see former guest-blogger and author Jeffrey Ford drop by the comments section to say hello. While I initially started the Book of the Month Club as a way of introducing fans of scifi television to writers in the fields of SF, fantasy, and horror, it’s actually been a pleasantly enlightening experience for me as well. If not for our little club, I may have never checked out the works of Jeffrey Ford – which would have been a huge loss since I now consider it him one of my top 5 authors writing today. For those of you who missed out on Jeffrey’s visit(s), go here: http://josephmallozzi.com/2008/04/21/april-21-2008-author-jeffrey-ford-drops-by-to-say-hello-and-get-your-opinion-on-a-work-in-progress/ 

Also, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of his superb The Empire of Ice Cream. And for those of you who’ve already read the collection and are looking for your next Ford fix, circle November 4th on your calendars because that’s when his third collection, The Drowned Life, hits bookstores. For an early review, go here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6573428.html?industryid=47159

For any of you interested in submitting a question for actor Mark Dacascos (aka Tyre from season four’s Reunion and season 5’s Broken Ties), you have until midnight tomorrow to get them in.

Tanja in the production office asked me to tells fans about a very special auction. Tanja writes: “I have just posted the last of the two North Face Duffle Bags we had autographed during the filming of ‘Continuum’ on ebay. We auctioned the first of the bags in September ’07 and raised almost $1000 for Ryan’s (camera) son’s charity. Ryan’s son, Trey, has a disease called Hunter’s Syndrome. This disease is part of the Mucopolysaccharide (MPS) family and causes damage to the cellular functions of the body resulting in damage to organs and mental development. It also affects the bones, skin, tendons and cartilage resulting in deformation.

I would like to ask you to help me promote this auction and to help me raise money for this charity.

The bag also includes Don Davis’ signature which makes it even more special.

The link to the ebay posting is: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&item=220261015138 

Well, I guess that’s it for today’s entry. Thanks for stopping by…

No, wait! There was something else I was supposed to mention…What was it…?

Oh, yeah. Broken Ties aired last night and you’re all no doubt wondering “What the hell was he thinking?” Well…

I knew I was going to write this story as far back as last season. From the moment I made the decision to have Tyre escape at the end of Reunion, I knew there had to be re-match. And what better slot than episode #3, one that has played host to Ronon stories in four of the last five seasons. I pitched out the bare bones idea to the room (Tyre captured Ronon and offers him up to the wraith who attempt to turn him) and we spent a morning spinning it. It was Paul who suggested we needed to see Ronon turn which dovetailed nicely with actor Jason Momoa’s off-season request for his character to go darkside. So I sat down and beat out an outline, working with main goals: 1) Ronon had to go darkside and 2) I wanted these former Satedans to have a re-match but this time their role would be reversed and Tyre would be on our side. As I was working on the outline, I mentioned the script to our stunt coordinator Bam Bam and he expressed an interest in choreographing a sword fight, something we had yet to do on the show…

There were a number of elements I wanted to balance in the script. Of course, there was the A story charting Ronon’s capture, torturous treatment at the hands of the wraith, his turn, his rescue, and his equally torturous detox, but I felt it was important to juxtapose the big man’s descent and restoration with Tyre’s ascent and redemption. There was also the matter of Teyla and the difficult decision she faced as a new mother, essentially having to choose between being a stay at home mom or continuing her dangerous job as an off-world explorer. And then there was Woolsey whose by-the-book priggishness belies a warmth, compassion, and vulnerability that I wanted to hint at if not glimpse. In addition to the aforementioned, I wanted to service the other characters by demonstrating their affection for Ronon (John’s resolve in the jail cell, Rodney’s inability to sleep) as well as their determination to get their friend back. In the end, I think it came together pretty well. This was certainly the most character-driven episode I wrote this season and I’m pleased that the character moments were what most of the fans took away from the viewing.

On to specifics:

THE TEASE

EXT. FOREST – DAY: The Ronon/Teyla walk and talk. Ronon is captured.

A slightly different opening in the script:

Ronon and Teyla are carrying baskets laden with fruit and vegetables back to the gate.
TEYLA: …at three weeks, the infant is officially welcomed into the community in a ceremony attended by all Athosians. Then, two months later, we observe the Rite of Parkii in which the child receives the blessings of our ancestors and is gifted with a stone of fortune that will remain with him until he comes of age and is finally ready to forge his own destiny.
Off Ronon’s look –
TEYLA: At six months, a feast is held in the child’s honor commemorating the Athosian spirit as embodied in the warriors of tomorrow. Then, we have another feast three months after that.
RONON: And what’s the occasion there?
TEYLA: The fact that it will be three long months before the next celebration.
Ronon nods. Makes perfect sense.

RONON: Well, sounds like you’re going to have your hands full…

 
The chitchat was cut for time, making this one of our shortest teases. One of the moments that stands out for me is Jason’s delivery of the line “Ah, you’re no fun.” Something about the way he says it tells us so much about the friendship between these two characters.

ACT I

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – ATLANTIS — DAY: Ronon is missing. The team decide to check in with a former Satedan.

I really liked the character of Solen Sincha when he was introduced way back in the episode Trinity, but I couldn’t think of a way to bring him back – until this episode. I contacted our casting director who made the call to Sean Campbell’s rep, checking on the actor’s availability. The response from Sean’s agent was almost immediate: Sean would love to come back and do the show.

For those of you complaining about Woolsey’s lack of tact in giving Carter her bad news in the middle of the SGC gate room, how about him unwittingly putting Teyla on the spot here by asking her about her decision vis-à-vis her standing with Sheppard’s team. Poor optimistic Shep gets the rugged pulled out from underneath him by Teyla’s uncertain response – which feeds into the confrontation later in the script.

Finally, the conference room doors. How do they open and close? I imagine that they have built in motion detectors and will pretty much open for anyone but, like certain mechanisms, may require a “pause period” before they can activate again. Poor Woolsey. In my producer’s cut, I actually had him wave, then attempt to peek through the slats and offer a plaintive: “Hellooo?” but Carl and Martin thought it was too much. In retrospect, I regret not going with it in the final version.

INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — NIGHT: Ronon and Tyre discuss. 
In the original script, the importance of Sarif Sur, Tyre’s hideout and the place where Ronon once saved his life, is bolstered by flashbacks to that ill-fated Satedan op. Like Reunion, the scripted flashbacks never made it to camera. This scene offered the first opportunity for a flashback after Tyre’s: “I‘m…not well. But I’ve been in worse. You remember Sarif Sur, don’t you?”

Off Ronon –

FLASHBACK TO:
QUICK FLASHES OF:
A) EXT. FOREST — DAY
A wraith dart screams overhead.
B) EXT. FOREST — DAY
Ronon and Tyre on the run.

C) EXT. FOREST — DAY

Wraith warriors charge through the thicket.

 

 

FLASHFORWARD TO:
INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — NIGHT
Back to Ronon.
RONON: We nearly died on that run. 
Also, in the script, the symbolic import of Tyre’s necklace is hit a lot harder. In this scene, Tyre removes the necklace and places it around Ronon’s neck. Later, when the two face off in the wraith facility, Ronon tears it off and tosses it away. In the first draft of the script, it is the necklace, not Tyre’s sword, that Sheppard returns as a remembrance of Ronon’s old friend.
INT. TAVERN — NIGHT: The team pay a visit to Solen Sincha.
A little business off the top that didn’t make the cut:
The tavern-keeper points Sheppard, McKay, and Teyla in the direction of -Solen Sincha, rough-and-tumble Satedan, sits alone at a table, eyes closed, seemingly asleep. A low-life at the next table quietly reaches out and grabs the bottle sitting in front of Solen.
Suddenly, Solen’s blaster is out and aimed at the low-life who freezes – and carefully sets the bottle back down on the table before slinking away. Solen holsters his blaster and shuts his eyes.
Sheppard, McKay and Teyla approach.
Besides laying the groundwork for the tip-off Lorne receives later in the script, the purpose of this scene is to set up the Satedan hatred of wraith worshipers, a hatred that echoes Ronon’s feelings upon learning the truth about his former friends in Reunion. Solen spells it out: Tyre had a choice. He chose to be weak. And that’s what Ronon assumes. But the twist, he soon learns, is that the weak-willed are less likely to become wraith worshipers. Instead, it is the strong who succumb because they are, physically and mentally, in a better position to survive the process.
INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — NIGHT: Tyre sells Ronon out.
 
Mark Dacascos does a terrific job in this episode but this scene stood out for me in particular. What Tyre has done (and is about to do) is reprehensible and yet one can’t help but feel some sympathy for the guy. He’s no longer thinking straight, a junkie in need of a fix and willing to do anything to get it. Despite his predicament, Ronon clearly feels for his old friend and offers him help – but Tyre has already made other plans…

Note: In this scene, eagle-eyed observers will not that Ronon now sports Tyre’s pendant.

ACT II

INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — NIGHT: The wraith arrive.

In an effort to vary our wraith looks, we hired a few new actors to portray the Pegasus baddies. Tyler McClendon, who plays the wraith in this episode, offers a distinct interpretation of the wraith commander. One of the things we like about Chris Heyerdahl who plays Todd is his ability to infuse the character with a unique personality – and Tyler does a nice job of it here.

INT. WOOLSEY’S OFFICE — NIGHT: Teyla pays Woolsey a visit.

Given that Woolsey kicked off his command of Atlantis by potentially alienating Teyla through his brusque attitude toward Kanaan in The Seed, I felt it was important to see a little understanding between these two characters. Woolsey is, of course, socially awkward and yet despite this he is both sympathetic to and understanding of Teyla’s situation. I love Teyla’s reaction to Woolsey’s “I never got a chance to say goodbye.”, a line that was improvised by Bob on the day that I thought was just brilliant. Can you get any sadder than that?

INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — NIGHT: The process begins.

Ronon defies the wraith. Like Marik and Hemi before him, he will die before he submits. But the wraith is aware of Ronon’s strength and informs him “No. You won’t.” What seems like a throwaway line is actually a hint to what lies in store for our hero.

INT. CAFETERIA — DAY: Sheppard and McKay are tipped off.

I’ve often found that I come up with my best ideas when I’m not forcing the issue. I’ll hit a roadblock in a script and spend days trying to solve it and then, suddenly, the answer will come to me when I’m shaving or out to dinner or driving to work. So I thought it would be fun to have McKay adopt this strategy, modeled after the success of Archimedes’ bathtub revelation. In the first draft, at Rodney’s mention of the ancient Greek mathematician, Sheppard says: “You mean that Greek geologist who used to have a crush on Teyla?” But the other writers bumped on geologist for some reason, so I changed the line to “You mean that Greek microbiologist who used to have a crush on Teyla?” Yes, infinitely funnier. For some reason, on the day, Joe changed the line to “You mean the Greek dude who used to have a crush on Teyla?”.

Also, this little exchange didn’t survive the first draft either:

SHEPPARD: Okay, but I’m not getting in a bath with you.
MCKAY: I’m both relieved and slightly disappointed. Now, let’s review.      

Too bad. I thought it was kind of funny and played to McKay’s ego. Sorry, McSheppers.

Finally, their going over the information actually paid off in the first draft:

SHEPPARD: Narrow it down to the uninhabited planets Tyre would be familiar with.
MCKAY: How would I know what uninhabited planets he could be familiar with?
SHEPPARD: I can think of one. A planet with a connection to both him and Ronon.
McKay realizes –
MCKAY: They’re on Sateda! 
And that’s where they find an unconscious Tyre. But Paul objected to this bit of detective work, arguing Sateda would have probably been the first place they’d checked. So, instead, we pay off the visit to Solen by having him tip us off that they’re on Sarif Sur.

INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — DAY: The wraith take Ronon.

In the first draft, a flashback segued into this scene…

EXT. FOREST — DAYFOLLOWING a battered and bloodied Ronon as he stumbles through the brush then, at the sound of an O.S. wraith dart, seeks cover. The O.S. dart passes and Ronon continues, breaking through the foliage and hunkering down beside –
A badly injured Tyre.
RONON: Okay. I’ve cleared us a path. We’re going to make a run for the gate.
He goes to grab Tyre who winces in pain.
TYRE: No. I can barely move. You’ll have a better chance without me.
RONON: I’m not abandoning you.
TYRE: Listen to me. Get to the gate. Go back to Sateda and get reinforcements. You can come back for me.

Ronon pulls Tyre up to this feet.

 

 

RONON: No. We’re getting out of here together.
TYRE: We’ll never make it. Leave me. Go! (beat) Ronon. Go.
FLASHFORWARD TO:
INT. ABANDONED HOUSE — DAY
Ronon, barely conscious, bound to the chair. We hear –
TYRE: Ronon. Let go.
REVEAL Tyre hunkered down beside him, appealing –
TYRE: Let go! 

 
I think that Jason gives his strongest performance to date in this episode, a performance comprised of both big and small choices. A moment that always amazes me whenever I watch it is tremulous “You’re not the guy I risked my life for back then. You’re a traitor to the memory of our people. You have no honor.” It’s fraught with emotion and demonstrates incredible maturity on Jason’s part, allowing his tough guy character to show vulnerability in the face of a shattering betrayal.

 

INT. GATE ROOM — DAY: Sheppard and co. head through the gate.
 
I love this exchange:
SHEPPARD: We’ll get him back.
WOOLSEY: See that you do, Colonel.    

It’s the first time I really feel that Woolsey is onside and one with the team rather than apart from Sheppard and co. He is just as determined to get Ronon back as his fellow teammates.

EXT. VILLAGE — NIGHT: Sheppard and co. discover Tyre.

This scene was initially scripted to be shot all interiors, but director Ken Girotti felt the wormhole transition wasn’t enough. He wanted to start with an exterior shot. So James Robbins and co. did a brilliant job of redressing a section of the village set for the scene and it worked beautifully.

ACT III

INT. INFIRMARY — DAY: Tyre starts to go through withdrawal.

Fairly straightforward. Mark does a terrific job showing just how far Tyre has fallen – and foreshadowing Ronon’s equally difficult return.

INT. CORRIDOR – ATLANTIS — DAY: John and Teyla have it out. 

Whew! In the first draft, Sheppard was not quite so restrained:

Sheppard: You’re the one having second thoughts about rejoining the team. What the hell am I supposed to do? Give you the option every time we’re going off-world? I can’t do that. If I’m heading into action, I need to know that every member of my team is committed to being on the team – today, tomorrow, a year from now.Beat. Teyla nods, reprimanded – which causes Sheppard to feel bad.

SHEPPARD: (sighs) Look, I’m sorry –      

Robert felt that Sheppard was coming off as little too insensitive, so I softened him a bit in the next draft. Still, the conversation remained more or less as initially scripted and there were a few takes in which Sheppard did come across a lot harsher.

INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAY: Ronon in the clutches of the wraith.
 
In the first draft of the script, I described Ronon bound to a chair. But our production designer James Robbins pointed out that beside the occasional wraith bench, we had yet to see any chairs in a wraith facility. We tossed around the idea of Ronon being tied to a bench (which didn’t really work), then considered having his wrists bound behind his back by wraith tendrils in a more painful-looking scenario but, in the end, decided to go with what you saw – Ronon up against the wall, bound by wraith tendrils.

INT. OBSERVATION DECK — DAY/MONTAGE: Tyre recovers/Ronon is turned.

This episode has a record three montage sequences and this is the first, juxtaposing the pain and terror both men face as they go in different directions. Pretty much as scripted, but kudos to editor Brad Rhines for building such a memorably visual sequence with the various cross-dissolves, ending with Tyre staring up at the ghostly wraith image that fades as the montage ends.

INT. TEYLA’S QUARTERS — NIGHT: Teyla confides in Kanaan. 
  
Contrary to the expectations of certain fans, we killed off neither Kanaan nor Teyla’s baby. We made a conscious decision to give Teyla a happy ending of sorts, allowing her to be a mother and head off-world, safe in the knowledge that her son is in good hands.

INT. CORRIDOR – ATLANTIS — NIGHT: A recovered Tyre offers to help.

In the first draft, Tyre informs Sheppard that he knows where Ronon is being held. End scene. The other writers felt that the scene would play better if Sheppard actually considered Tyre’s offer. And so, rather than simply offer the information, Tyre makes a desperate pitch to join the rescue mission, demonstrating his desire to make amends.

INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAY: Ronon has turned.

At the end of last season, Jason asked us permission to lose the dreads. Weighing in at approximately six pounds, they were becoming incredibly uncomfortable for him. Jason’s health trumped any creative issues and we agreed he could cut his hair provided we could maintain continuity at the start of season 5. So, Jason lost the dreads and had them reattached for Search and Rescue. But they proved just as uncomfortable and so, after S&R, I wrote a dark scene in which Ronon shaves his head in a symbolic change of allegiance. In the end, the network wanted to keep the dreads so we compromised. Jason lost the dreads but his character kept them in the form of a wig. And Ronon didn’t end up shaving his head after all. Because the episode was timing long, we ended up having to cut deeply into this scene. But this was the way it was originally scripted:

INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAYCLOSE ON the wraith and FOLLOWING him as he paces, hands behind his back.

WRAITH: Many have resisted our advancement, sought to curb our progress. All have failed. Whole civilizations destroyed.
The wraith stops and glances down. PAN DOWN to reveal he is standing amidst some fallen dreadlocks. He steps on them and continues his pacing –
WRAITH: Like those you refer to as the Ancients – formidable opponents possessed of superior technology and yet, no match for my kind. They too succumbed – to superior numbers, relentless pursuit –
He stops beside a focused Ronon who is in the process of shaving off what remains of his hair with a knife.
WRAITH: And a willingness to take whatever means necessary to ensure victory.(beat)No retreat in the face of battle. No sympathy for the fallen.
Ronon is finished cutting his hair. He examines himself in the mirror.

WRAITH: No mercy to our enemies.

 

 

Ronon turns to face the wraith, then drops to one knee and bows his head, raising the knife as an offering.
RONON: No retreat in the face of battle. No sympathy for the fallen. No mercy to your enemies.
The wraith takes the knife in one hand and examines it.
WRAITH: OUR enemies. Atlantis.
The wraith lowers the knife with one hand, then brings his other hand out from behind his back. It is holding Ronon’s sword. He lays the sword back in Ronon’s hands and
Ronon rises.
The wraith turns from him and gives a little smile.
WRAITH: No mercy.
And leaves him.

OFF a fiercely determined Ronon… 

 

INT. ATLANTIS CORRIDOR — DAY: John pitches Tyre’s involvement to Woolsey.

To be honest, this was one of the most frustrating scenes in the episode simply because it seemed so surreal to have the two of them talking in a deserted corridor. Where the hell is everybody? We tried to fix the problem in post by adding a bit of crowd noise in the background but it still felt a little weird.

A glimpse into Sheppard’s psyche here as he makes subtle allusion to his past, specifically his willingness to put all on the line to save a friend in combat.

Rachel bumped on the idea of Teyla handing her baby off to Woolsey so that she can head off-world, so I added Teyla‘s “I was about to meet Kanaan in the cafeteria. If you could explain the situation to him…” Loved Bob’s panicked reaction to the crying baby. Again, it’s the little moments…

INT. WRAITH FACILITY — DAY: The team is captured.

Jason was very involved with this episode at the script stage which I thought was great. He came up to my office and asked me if Ronon could punch Sheppard. Hell, yeah! Given Jason’s penchant for improvisation (ie. The slap he delivers to Rakai in Reunion was unscripted and came as a total surprise to actor Aleks Paunovic), I thought this would have been a perfect opportunity to surprise Joe Flanigan. But ultimately decided against it.

INT. WRAITH CELL — DAY: The team members cool their heels.
Some McKay dialogue lost after the first draft:
MCKAY: Sure. All we have to do is escape from this cell, get past all of the armed wraith guarding this facility, make it back to the jumper which is probably being disassembled as we speak and, oh yeah, rescue Ronon who, I’m not sure if you happened to notice, is playing for the bad guys now and, by the way, when I say bad guys I’m not referring to the Oakland Raiders.  
 
Yeah, I’m a Raiders fan.

INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAY: Ronon and Tyre make a pitch to keep the team alive.

A bit of Tyre’s dialogue trimmed in editing room –

TYRE: Teyla is well-respected on many worlds. McKay’s knowledge of Ancient technology is unmatched. And Sheppard’s military background makes him the ideal candidate to lead a future attack on Atlantis – if that’s what you’re planning. (beat) They’re much more useful to you alive – and cooperative.

INT. WRAITH CELL — DAY: McKay plots.

In the first draft, his plan was a little more detailed…

MCKAY: Alright. I’ve got it. What we do is we tell them we have some vital information we’d be willing to give up, but we’ll only share it with Ronon. So they send Ronon and when he shows up, we appeal to him – you know, that part of him that’s still him.SHEPPARD: Okay, so far I can think of three things wrong with that plan. But go on.

MCKAY: He hasn’t been brainwashed as long as Tyre so it makes sense that he might be more susceptible to our influence. We convince him to let us out and lead us out of here or, let’s say worst case scenario, he’s not entirely convinced –
SHEPPARD: That’s your worst case scenario?
MCKAY: So you take advantage of his moment of uncertainty and take him out.
SHEPPARD: Take him out. 

MCKAY: Knock him unconscious. You know, give him one of these to the back of the head -Mimes a karate chop –
 
 

 

MCKAY: Mannix used to do it all the time. You knock him out and then we fight our way out. No, that’s not going to work. We need our weapons. We convince him to let us out, bring us our weapons, and THEN you knock him out –
SHEPPARD: Should I be writing any of this down?
Suddenly, all eyes on the door as –
Tyre walks in, backed by two wraith drones.
TYRE: Sheppard, you’ve been summoned.
MCKAY: Do you want to go over the plan one more time?

SHEPPARD: I think I’m good, thanks. 

Strangely, the other writers objected to the use of Mannix, arguing no one would know who the hell I was referring to. So I replaced a 60’s detective with a one from the early 80’s and changed the dialogue accordingly:
 
SHEPPARD: Take him out?MCKAY: Knock him unconscious. You know, give him one of these to the back of the head –

 

Mimes a karate chop –
MCKAY: Barnaby Jones used to do it all the time.
SHEPPARD: Barnaby Jones was like ninety years old. He could barely lift his arms –
MCKAY: (carrying on -)You knock him out and then we fight our way out. No, that’s not going to work. We need our weapons. We convince him to let us out, bring us our weapons, and THEN you knock him out –

Alas, it was all for naught as Barnaby failed to make the final cut.
 
 

 

INT. CORRIDOR – WRAITH FACILITY — DAY: Tyre suggests a quick detour.

This scene was in case any fan (or network exec) wondered when the hell Sheppard could have picked up his guns.

INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAY: The wraith about to feed on Sheppard.

Sheppard: “Hey, you know what’d be creepy and unexpected? If you knelt instead.” Truer words were never spoken.

Sheppard: “Okay, I’ll try and make it work.” Entertainment industry in-joke alert. Ask an actor.

ACT V
INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAY: All hell breaks loose!    

Yes, it’s Tyre that cuts off the wraith’s feeding hand. It was even more confusing in the director’s cut because we go from Ronon straight to the hand being cut off. Normally, I would just call for a pick-up – get the actor (in this case Mark) in to get a simple shot of him drawing his sword so that we could tie it into the sequence. Unfortunately, Mark was on a tight schedule and unavailable – and, unfortunately, we didn’t get the shot. So we ended up doing a pick-up with a double drawing the sword. Still confusing I see.

My description of Sheppard in this sequence:

Sheppard draws the two guns hidden behind his back and comes up shooting, catching the startled wraith in the mid-section and dropping him, then smoothly turning and expertly dispatching the wraith guards in the room.Then, he advances to the first entrance and fires at the startled wraith hurrying down the corridor toward them, dispatching them John Woo-style.
 
Love the shoot-out.

INT. ANOTHER WRAITH CELL — DAY: McKay and Teyla rescue Lorne’s team.

This quick scene was scripted as follows:

McKay and Teyla rush into the room.LORNE: Teyla! McKay! Where’s Colonel Sheppard?

They are freed, their weapons returned.
MCKAY: Waiting for us. Let’s go.
They follow McKay out.
 

But in order to clarify what happened, I ended up writing alternate dialogue that was ADR’d later. Something along the lines of – 
 
 

 

LORNE: How’d you get out?

MCKAY: Tyre freed us. Let’s go.

INT. ND WRAITH CHAMBER — DAY: The team is surrounded/Tyre’s sacrifice.
Tyre makes the ultimate sacrifice and redeems himself in the end. When he hands off his sword to Sheppard, he’s as good as telling him that he won’t be joining them.

I ended up ADR’ing Sheppard’s “We’re clear!” to indicate the team is well on their way.

Someone (won’t say who) suggested we ADR the wraith screaming “NOOOOOOO!“ over Tyre hitting the remote and the subsequent explosion. Shades of Jim Rome.

INT. OBSERVATION DECK — DAY: Ronon recovers.
Love the scene were Sheppard goes down to isolation room to confront his friend.

Love Jason’s “You kill me or set me free! Sheppard!”

Love Teyla and McKay’s pained expressions from the observation deck as they watch their friend’s struggle.

Jason is incredible in the ensuing shots as he fights the effects of the enzyme.

The second montage sequence of the episode.

INT. ISOLATION ROOM — DAY: Ronon is back.

A little call-back to early, early Rodney McKay. Remember back in SG-1’s Redemption II when he admits to Carter that he always wanted to be pianist…?

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM — NIGHT: The wrap-up.

Fairly straightforward. Another nice little touch added by Bob Picardo is his uncertain look at the conference room doors.

INT. WOOLSEY’S QUARTERS — NIGHT

This gag in which we find Woolsey back in his quarters, having slipped into something “more comfortable” was one of the first ideas Bob pitched out after signing on. I thought it was hilarious and worked it into the script. Every time we watched this particular scene in the room, Paul would matter-of-factly inform us: “Our base commander is insane.”

THE FINAL MONTAGE: Teyla’s family/Bathtub McKay/Sheppard and Ronon.
The third and final montage sequence of the episode. I gave Joel Goldsmith the choice of either finding an appropriate classical piece for this sequence or scoring it himself. To no one’s surprise, he composed a beautiful piece to compliment the montage.

123 thoughts on “July 26, 2008: The Broken Ties Breakdown

  1. I really wished you would have left in the McKay/Sheppard bit about the bath! But the knowledge that you even wrote something hinting at McShep fills me with joy 🙂

    On that note I think season six (if it gets a go ahead) should include some form of McShep undertones in it, maybe you could incorporate a kiss into it? Like Rodney and Carson in Duet? I think that would work… no? That’s just me then.

    So I was wondering, are there going to be any more Australian’s on SGA? Ones with lots of speaking perhaps?

    Jessica

  2. I have to say I’ve grown to enjoy the Woosley character after his guest appearances on SGA but when I heard he was replacing Amanda I winced – the character wasn’t bad in spurts but as commander of Atlantis?!

    Watching “Broken Ties” last night I have to say bravo to you and to Mr. Picardo. How can you not love a man who gets locked in his own conference room, coos about his lost Yorkie and not only has horrible luck with babies but doesn’t quite have the way to the cafeteria memorized yet?

    Five stars and two thumbs up for Mr. Woosley as Commander of Atlantis!

  3. The episode was awesome. I even found myself a little teary-eyed when Ronon was recovering and his team members were at his side. Jason did a superb job in this episode.

  4. May I say you and all your people did a wonderful job with this episode. I loved it from beginning to end, and even though I liked Amanda Tapping as Carter, I am delighted that Woolsey is now in charge, just because he’s just a great character played by a very great actor.

    I’m glad Ronon kept the dreads, because even though I wouldn’t have minded shorter hair, I absolutely hate the shaved head look.

    Character moments indeed (to paraphrase a certain Jafaa). That closing shot with Sheppard giving Tyre’s sword to Ronon, and what he did with it… Best. Closing. Ever.

  5. Ah, I see now. I, too, was confused, thinking it was Ronon who cut off the hand. I couldn’t understand why Sheppard didn’t yell out to him to stop fighting Tyre, and why during his detox Ronon was still threatening Sheppard/Atlantis. Now that that has been clarified, I really love the ep – I just wish that scene had been clearer.

  6. Hey Joe.

    Thanks for the Broken ties breakdown! Although I have yet to see it because I’m in Canada, I’m sure it is a good episode!

    I was re-watching certain episodes in S4 today and wanted to know the following…

    1) Who designs the menus for the boxsets/DVD’s?

    2) How long does it take for the above to be completed?

    *On a different topic…

    3) Have you had a chance to try out Stargate Worlds yet? Any good?

    Thanks Joe.

  7. MCKAY: I’m both relieved and slightly disappointed. Now, let’s review.

    One of the best lines to never appear on television. I love it.

    Also: Barnaby Jones??? That’s genius!

  8. Oh, I feel stupid. I so totally did not catch that that was *Tyre’s* sword. XD Of course, it didn’t help that mom was dfistracting me during the swordfight ….

    Anyway, thanks for the breakdown — fascinating, as usual. 😀

    So about the doors — I noticed Woolsey giving them a long, funny look in “The Seed” as he sat down at the conference table, when they closed noisily — was that look/pause intentional? Will this be a running gag, then? Not complaining, mind, I think it’s hysterical — Woolsey vs The Doors! XD (And here I was thinking Atlantis herself that didn’t like him!)

    I was writing the following for my column, but it strikes me that I can ask you about it directly:

    “This whole sequence is a nice parallel to the beginning of ‘Reunion’, where they were similarly chatting and walking offworld together, and met Tyre and the other Satedans. Know what makes the parallel even more interesting? Last time, Ronon and Teyla were in a village full of people when they met a group of Ronons’ friends. This time they are alone. in the woods, and Tyre is alone. Of course, it serves the story for there to be no one else around, but it’s still nicely poetic — whether Mallozzi intended it or not.”

    So. The group/group, alone/alone thing: intentional parallel, or just cool happenstance? 🙂 Okay, maybe it’s a weird question, but that sort of thing fascinates me, the exploration of how a story comes together (especially when cool stuff like that happens accidentally, like the story is writing itself).

    Also, just want to say that I really appreciate that you put in an “aftermath” for the ep — I love it when the story doesn’t end abruptly after rhe day is saved, when we get a chance to see the fallout with our own eyes rather than just hear about it second-hand later. Even many of my favourites stories have had endings that seemed like the writer said, “okay, uh, I guess that’s enough” and just quit without really *finishing*, so it means a lot to me when I come across one that satisfies me. So thank you. 🙂

    Question for Mark: Did you know from the get-go what your character’s fate would be? Either way, how did you feel about it when you found out?

  9. Ooh, thanks for the breakdown! When Rodney mentioned the bath, I figured the tub that was created was going to show up, and it did. And thank you for keeping him in the water. (Yeah, kept going to ADB’s site, and hitting pause on the trailer, and it was *always* when David was standing up out of the bath. Oy) I loved Ronon’s detox scene. Very powerful. I hope the Woolsey humor moments keep popping up, because I loved the baby and conference room scenes. I said Teyla’s lines before she did when visiting him in his room.

  10. PS, I too am saddened by the loss of that wonderfully McSheppy line from McKay. But at least Sheppard’s own McSheppy line still made it in! And at least we know know that you *wrote* such a line. Thanks for thinking of we McSheppers, Joe! 😀 Hey, was that sweet little bit where Sheppard pats McKay’s arm as he leaves the cell scripted? I squeed at that as well …

  11. So much love for this episode! Woolsey having trouble with the doors was so funny. I actually expected him to call for help. Wish that had gotten left in. Sheppard making the jump in logic from Rodney relaxing in the bath to protesting that he’s not going to join him. 😉 Teyla was wonderful. She had some really good scenes agonizing over her dilemma. She and Woolsey were great in all of their scenes. Jason was brillllllliant! Wow! Can that guy act! I teared up a lot when Ronon was tortured and during his detox.

    The weird faces Sheppard made while drinking his coffee — was that scripted or was that all Joe? It was hilarious either way.

    Did I mention I loved this ep? Go you! Thanks for breaking down the script for us. Always insightful and intriguing.

  12. Thanks for posting this–I loved your commentary on “Reunion”, and this was awesome as well, seeing what made it in and what didn’t.

    This was an amazing team ep, but what I didn’t expect was that I was going to come out of it loving Woolsey. Kudos to you and Robert for making him seem human and sympathetic.

  13. An unexpected treat, on reading such a detailed breakdown of the evolution of the episode Broken Ties. I’m very happy both with the idea of the episode and its placement in the schedule; Ronon seems to “own” the third episode slot now. From the looks of it, the story was not hurt by the needed cuts, and you probably helped avoid multiple fatal heart attacks when McKay’s response to Sheppard was cut. There really can be too much of a good thing.
    At the risk of sounding like a brownnoser/sycophant, I’d like to say your stories are getting stronger with every outing. I hadn’t thought that you could reach the level you did with Kindred and Last Man, but I’m glad to be proven wrong. This makes the wait for Whispers even harder.
    A few questions for Mr. Dacascos, and I’ll call it a night.
    1) I’m curious as to how you came into the role of Chairman on Iron Chef America. Was that simply something that you auditioned for, or is there more to the story? 2) What projects other than IC-A are you currently considering or engaged on? 3) How much time do you devote every day or week to physical training, including but not limited to your martial arts skills? 4) What would be your “dream role”, whether TV, cinema, or live theater? 5) Any secrets you would like to share about Atlantis, or Mr. Mallozzi? Thank you very much for taking the time to participate here, and many thanks to Mr. M. for making it possible. And I do hope that whether its a miracle reappearance of Trye, or the creation of a differnt role, that we get to see Mr. D. on Stargate Atlantis in the future.

  14. Thank you Joe for the script break-down! Makes the episode even more wonderful. You are the best!

    Cheers
    Patricia Lee

  15. I loved this episode! Kudos to the last little montage—it’s scenes like these that separate SGA from SG-1, making it a communal and familial story, not a military exploration. And speaking of that, you didn’t kill Kanaan! I love how you’ve finally allowed a happy family situation onto Stargate, and I hope you keep that. It’s more realistic and more moving than a tragic ending IMO.

    Will we be seeing Kanaan again, or just hearing about him? What about Torren?

  16. Hey Joe!

    Bah! I was by my local Chapters the other day and didn’t have a list of the BOTMC books. I need to write them down or copy them down and get reading, I would love to participate. 🙂

    A question (two rather) for Mark Dacascos: As an Iron Chef America fan (and Iron Chef overall), I am curious if you ever get full in the middle of the judging segment? I always wonder if one could get full depending on the portioning. Also, a possibility of our own Joseph Mallozzi becoming a judge? The man has quite an appetite and always talks about his culinary adventures. 🙂

    Thanks as always, and great job with Broken Ties!

    – Enzo Aquarius

  17. Oh, Joe…thank YOU so much for your breakdown on ‘Broken Ties.’ You answered one of my top questions: the music in the final montage. That was so marvelous — both the music and the montage images. Well done.

    An excellent episode. Redemption has been one of the main themes of Stargate since the original movie. And you were right…Jason DID act his little heart out.

    I’ve introduced my neighbor to SGA, who was very upset at the loss of Carter this season. We watched the episode together last night, and several times during ‘Broken Ties,’ my neighbor kept saying, ‘okay, Woolsey’s growing on me!’ LOL!

    Best wishes.

  18. This was such a great episode! Everyone acted the hell out of every moment; Jason was incredible, and Robert Picardo actually has me liking Woolsey. Three weeks ago I would have sworn that was an impossible task.

    Most of all, I loved the the threads of friendship that wove through every scene in this episode – between Ronon and Tyre, between the whole Team, and even the telling absence of close friends in Woolsey’s life. And thank you for the fact that Teyla got to make her choice without anyone suggesting she was a bad mother or a lousy friend; Kanaan, changed back, was just a joy – it was great to catch a glimpse of why Teyla loves him.

    Wonderful job, all round!

  19. Thanks for the Broken Ties breakdown. It’s interesting to have seen the episode and then read the original intent.

    The McKay response, to Sheppard’s I’m not going to take a bath with you, would have been great. Would have been similar to the Defiant one response in the Jumper about why parents don’t like to

    Woolsey and the baby, great and then him having a hard time figuring out the correct direction to the cafeteria, awesome.

    Have to admit, the first viewing of the sword cutting off the hand did have me thinking it was Ronan doing it and thinking he came around, but there was still things that didn’t make since. So, I thought about it for a bit (until the midnight showing) and after the second viewing I figured it was actually Tyre.

    A surprise punch, ouch. I wonder if Joe F. would of been upset, not being able to prepare.

    As for Jeffrey Ford’s next book, November 4 is not hard to remember since it is my birthday, lol. I might just have to pick up the book and join this BOTM club (maybe). We’ll see, I am not an avid reader. I am a tV and movie fan. Who knows to win a signed script, it might be worth picking up one of your BOTM club books sooner. You sure do know how to bait a person.

    Thanks

  20. A great episode, and I got the Tyre sword was the one doing the cutting, what amazed me was Flanigan crouched under Tyre and Ronon as the swords came down. That could have been a major ouch if someone missed. Of course, maybe the angle made it look worse than it was. The sword fight was just awesome. Bam Bam needs an Emmy or three.

    Joe, we love you, and your McSheppy ways.

  21. Thanks for your breakdown of Broken Ties. Always interesting to read about the process and stuff that didn’t quite make it.

    Regarding Woolsey’s automatic door troubles: It reminds me of those automatic paper towel dispensers. My mom has the hardest time getting them to work–she has to wave her hand around in front of the sensor for a good 30 seconds before anything happens. Whereas I can walk within 10 feet and a paper towel shoots out. Poor Woolsey. 🙂 And I love a guy who loves a Yorkie…

  22. Broken Ties is a wonderful episode. Very powerful, very emotional, and very integral to strenghen, not only for the team but for the viewers/fans the ties that bind the team not only as a team but as friends.

    I always loved Robert Picardo from the days of China Beach to the present. This episode cements his relationship in Atlantis.

    The closing montage musical score seemed classical but nothing I was familiar. To now know that it is a Joel Goldsmith original creation makes it even more special. It was the perfect accompanyment to all montage scenese; and it seems to be “Woolsey” music – it seemed to define Woolsey. Much like Picard of ST Next Gen with his classics. I can’t wait to get the sound track.

    I do not know if I saw correctly, but on the third viewing, was there a pineapple in the fruit basket during the intro?

  23. As always I enjoyed the script breakdown. Great fun to know the behind the scenes on what makes it to the final script and what makes it to film and what makes it to the screen. Thanks for your time and effort. As I mentioned yesterday, it was a wonderful episode.

  24. oops, sorry, didn’t finish one of my comments on the sheppard/mckay sayings (in my defense it is late here and well I am working on 4 hours of sleep).

    What I was pointing out in my not so complete first comments is that the Mckay response to sheppard’s bathtub comment would have been great somewhat like McKay’s response in The Defiant One when sheppard says “this is why parents get someone else to teach their kids how to drive” and Mckay responds “I am both insulted and touched by that” I just loved that.

    Ok I am done now.

  25. hi Joe
    haven’t seen Broken Ties but a quick question anyway. Was that a younger wraith or an older one? If younger was that partly what turning Ronon was about, the wraith proving himself to the older ones?
    What is the extent of their regeneration abilities?
    bye

  26. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say. Thankyou.
    Also someone should of picked that hand up and said ” Need a hand? ” to someone hehe

  27. ” For some reason, on the day, Joe changed the line to “You mean the Greek dude who used to have a crush on Teyla?”.”

    Perhaps he has a hard time with long words? 🙂

  28. Joe,

    I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Broken Ties more but after reading about all the greatness that had to be cut, I believe that I do. The ending was more moving than I can say. The montage of the team members with that amazing music underneath it had me blinking back tears.

    Of course, Jason was fantastic; I don’t think he gets enough credit for his talent. And even though it was Ronon’s episode, there were so many great moments between the other characters – Sheppard and Teyla, Rodney and Sheppard, Teyla and her new family. I just can’t say enough.

    I only have two regrets. First, that the network didn’t allow the scene where Ronon cuts his hair. That would have been so powerful. And second, that the Barnaby Jones references got cut. That was hilarious!

    Congratulations on a fantastic job.

    Best,

    Rose

  29. You know I have been wondering this. In season 4 we see that Ronon did go back to Sateda for things such as what was in his quaters. So how come no one seemed to go into the Military Command and find a copy of Ronon’s military records? The IOA and the Goverment is into having lots of paperwork on their people, along with that IOA guy who didnt want Aliens on SG teams.

    Its explained that they were on a military mission there in the past. If they had the military records and looked for a possible planet to connect the two… one where Ronon went back to bring Tyre out alive would have jumped out like a red flag.

  30. This was a great episode-thank you again.

    And also please pass on to Mr. Goldsmith that the music he composed for the end of the episode was beautiful and I wonder if there is a way to get a copy of it.

    thank you

  31. Thank you for the breakdown. It’s fun to see how the story changes throughout the process. Jason did a fantastic job and I agree that it was one of, if not, the best performance to date. I love that actors can go so deeply into a character to give an outstanding performance. I just saw The Dark Knight for the first time tonight and I think Jason put his whole heart into the role of Ronan for Broken Ties just like Heath Ledger put his into the role of the Joker. Both men are (or rather were for Heath’s case) great actors and it’s performances like these that show off the compassion actors have for their jobs.

    I do wish the network would have let Ronan cut off his dreads because I think it would have helped define exactly how dark Ronan went simply for an addiction to a drug and how much Ronan would have to deal with later on with his decision to worship a Wraith. I understand how hard having long hair can be. I just cut mine off a month and a half ago and I have a ponytail that is 21 inches long, braided, to send to Lock of Love (I have before and after pictures here: http://caitlyanna.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/new-change-for-a-changing-body/ if you’re interested). When you have long hair and you let let it get to a certain length, you have to cut it off because you end up having constant head and neck pains. When I first heard that Jason had cut off his dreds, I knew why before even reading the full article on Gateworld.net. Even with the wig, I know there will come a point in which Jason’s not going to be able to do the stunt fighting and Ronan will have to cut off the dreds for Jason’s health.

    As far as the confusing aspect of Broken Ties, I didn’t find it confusing at all. I knew that it was Tyre that cut off the Wraith’s hand because you could see it in Jason’s eyes that Ronan had changed and that it was Tyre’s sword that Sheppard gave Ronan in the end. I watched the episode twice last night and enjoyed it from begining to end both times. It was a great episode and great performances by both Jason and Mark. I will post my questions for Mark tomorrow.

  32. Thanks for the script break-down. I love reading these!

    “Broken Ties” was a great episode. Jason did a phenominal job. An incredibly powerful performance on his part. Kudos! And I was glad to see Mark Dacascos back as Tyre. He did such a great job with that character.

    And Woolsey! He is so climbing the ranks as one of my favorites. The suit thing just sealed it for me. I knew I was going to like him and I knew it was going to be good, but it’s better than what I thought it would be.

    On behalf of my roommate Carrie, I’m supposed to thank you for brining Robert Picardo on the show and she says that she enjoys your scripts and your dialogue the most.

    And we’re both disappointed that neither the Mannix nor the Barnaby Jones references made it in. 😉

  33. Hi Joe,

    Do you want some help getting rid of the blue text in the post? There’s a lot of empty tags and blue font tags littered throughout. I can email you the fixed post if you like.

    Cheers, Chev

  34. Joe,

    Our Tivo wasn’t working so my husband and I missed the first 20 minutes of Broken Ties. We didn’t care and watched what we could. Love this episode. The end with Woolsey and the baby was just hilarious. We managed to watch the first half on the later time. Their is no disappointment for this season. I saw the taping of the Panel at Comic Con 2008 on the SciFi website and wished I could have been there because it looked like great fun. Will their be any love interests for Sheppard this season? If not then I volunteer my services to be his love interest…ha ha, just kidding. I’m not an actress and mostly would suck and then the show would be cancelled. Seriously, will Larrin be coming back in this season? I liked the Larrin/ Sheppard chemistry. I don’t know if anyone else asked this question or not. Great Job!

    Darlene

  35. Good eppy!!!

    I actually found the Woolsey locked in the conference room very funny. Just him standing there looking rather helpless said it all to me.

    I think if he’d started talking, the awkward moment would have been spoiled..

  36. Thank you so much for the episode breakdown, Joe. I really enjoy reading these after watching, and finding out what the hell you were thinking, and all the stuff that didn’t make the final cut. I wish we could have them for every episode, but I guess then I wouldn’t appreciate them as much. 😉

    First, I agree that both Mark Dacascos and Jason Momoa did an outstanding job in the episode. I was very impressed with both of them, especially in their portrayals of the withdrawal from the Wraith enzyme. I’d like to give kudos to your makeup department as well, because they did a great job helping Mark and Jason look totally wrecked. Great job to them too, for aging Jason so well. That effect looked awesome on screen.

    I loved the bit with Woolsey and the conference room doors. I assumed that it was Sheppard who did something to them on his way out, trapping Woolsey in there. I guess I figured Shep would be just a little bit petty that way over Woolsey making him ask permission to go off-world. Amusing either way, but I still like to think that there is a mental component to the gene-carriers’ connection to the city.

    Regarding the flashbacks, I’m just as glad they didn’t make it into the episode. I think Mark and Jason’s performances there gave us enough to know that this was a big deal for the characters. And on the Wraith, I love that you’re adding new actors to portray them. There’s really only so much you can do with makeup to make them distinctly different, so I agree, fresh blood is the way to go.

    You can add me to the growing list of people who are really enjoying Robert Picardo and Mr. Woolsey. I’m not at all surprised that I like Bob, since I have for a long time now, but I’m shocked that I like Woolsey so much here, since I didn’t care for the character in the past. Great job by both the writers, and Mr. Picardo. Hearing that he improvised the line about the dog makes me incredibly gleeful. It was an awesome line, and gave Rachel a great opportunity to play off of it.

    I am however, bitterly, bitterly disappointed that McKay’s comeback for Sheppard’s refusal to take a bath with him was cut. Bitterly. Disappointed. 🙁

    I also think it’s sad that the network made the call they did regarding Jason’s hair. I think they’re dead wrong in their assumptions about Ronon and the need for him to have the dreds, and I think it would have been an even better scene than it was if you could have done it with Jason shaving his head. Ronon is still Ronon, with or without hair, and I think it’s incredibly narrow-minded of them not to understand this.

    I may be in the minority here, but it never occurred to me that it was Ronon cutting off the Wraith’s hand. Maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention? The sword fight was awesome! From what I’ve read in interviews, Jason and Mark were pretty disappointed that they didn’t get to film some of the fight choreography on “Reunion” due to time issues. Hopefully the stuff they got to do here made up for that, because it looked like it was a ton of fun.

    I also enjoyed Shep’s John Woo moment, which was pretty damn sexy and kickass. I have to ask though, is it just me, or are the Wraith a lot easier to kill now than they were in the first few seasons? Used to be they’d need a barrage from a P-90 to go down, and now just a few shots from a handgun? My guess is over-breeding is making them weaker. 😀

  37. Sarif Sur

    That’s what it’s called. Because every time, I heard “Sarif Sewer”. I thought it was a place on a planet, so at first I thought it may have been Sateda, so when I realized it was a planet, I just thought, “Well, that’s kind of a dumb name for a planet.”

    Yeah, the “if you knelt instead” line is my second favorite. Very nice.

    I have to say, after reading what might have happened with Ronon’s dreads, I kinda wish that scene had happened. Because I didn’t really believe Ronon had really turned until he attacked Tyre after Tyre cut the wraith’s hand off. Thing is, we’ve seen this whole ‘good guy turning bad’ thing so many times, where it turns out that he’s really just acting, that I didn’t for a second really believe he’d turned until that point (heck, we even get that with Tyre in this ep, sort of). Because my understanding from the way they explained it was that people turned because they enjoyed the feeling of getting life returned, like with a drug, but at no point was there even a hint that Ronon started enjoying his torture. So it just didn’t make sense to me that he would turn, so it didn’t occur to me when it happened and I still don’t entirely buy it. But if he had shaved the dreads, it would have really signaled that this was real. I still may not have understood why/how, if he still hadn’t been enjoying it, but at least I would have believed right away that he’d turned.

    Oh, and I know a lot of people are saying they’re disappointed you cut McKay’s response to Shep’s bath comment, but personally, I think it would have taken that step past funny into silliness that doesn’t really fit. Would have seemed like you were making the joke just to please some fans and not because it really was what the character would naturally say. So at least in my own opinion, I’m glad it didn’t make it.

  38. Thank you, thank you for providing the script breakdown. First, I am fascinated by the process of the screenplay (I am one of those weird people who loves to read scripts…). Second, may be it’s the way my brain works–or doesn’t work–but somehow I don’t catch the subtle points at first viewing and such I end up with a ‘flat’ feeling.

    I am going to watch it again tonight, and all the details you gave will trully add enjoyment.

    I have to join the chorus of everyone who liked Wolsley. The idea of ‘getting in something comfortable’ like a suit and the way his rooms looked, it was fabulous. It truly brought dimension to him.

    I liked the personality Tyler brought to the Wraith–it was quite different from the others. More soft spoken and thus more sinister in his quiet demeanor and in some ways softness. And by the way, kudos to the make up people–it looked ‘real’, and not like an actor in make up. I liked how they achieved the translucence (spelling, darn it!) of the skin and the features looked natural. This is was a very impressive Wraith. I hope Tyler gets to play more Wraith, although this was quite unique.

    The hive looks quite claustrophobic and creepy. It’s got more color to it.

    Jason was also fantastic. I liked switch and back and forth between the dark side and the light one.

    I liked Shep’s reaction to Tey’la. She was being annoying and with a bit of a chip on her shoulder. Did you mean it that way? The reaction you gave Sheppard was spot on.

    But… I wish this had been a two part episode. There was so much in it; as your breakdown showed.

  39. Loved the past few episodes on Atlantis so far, but I got a few questions! 🙂

    1) Carter is a Lt. Colonel in the Continuum movie, was this because it was unsure when it was originally going to fit in, or did the person who did the credits screw up?

    2) Presumably, the events of Continuum take place between Search and Rescue and The Seed (otherwise she returned to earth a month before the extraction ceremony?), so why, in the time that Carter spent in the alternate timeline, was she not affected by the pathogen?

    3) The pathogen isn’t how the wraith grow ships, is it? Because it would be silly, if the Atlantis people could board a ship stab the wall and have it die…..

    Thanks! 🙂

  40. Tyre couldn’t have taken Ronon to Sateda because Sateda no longer has a Stargate. It was destroyed by the Wraith in the episode “Sateda”. Unless Tyre had a spaceship?

    Anne Teldy (who rang in her birthday by violently upchucking at midnight. I hope the rest of the day goes better.)

  41. You talked about how great Bob Picardo is with the little things, and I completely agree. The conference room doors was a great touch, but I also liked the bit where Teyla hands him the baby, he moves to go to the cafeteria, rushes off-screen, then doubles back because he still gets lost all the time on Atlantis!

    I absolutely love the Woolsey character, and look forward to more of Bob’s great acting. 🙂

  42. Yes, I definately agree Jason did a great job this episode. Just makes me enjoy the Ronon character even more. And the camera work/editing this episode-top notch! I admit at times the camera tracking (perhaps) seemed really fast moving (especially when everyone was racing out of the wraith facility). But not bothersome.

    I only disagree with one thing-the ending music. Joel does a GREAT job but the ending score reminded me too much of Christmas music. Hey, but one fan’s opinion here.

    Keep up the great work!

  43. Thankyou so much for this rundown Joe. There were so many things about this episode that I loved… I just wish it had been longer so we could have seen the Ronon going-to-the-dark-side sequence played out in full.

    Re the hand cutting… we’ve discussed it at length in our household where half thought it was Ronon, half realised it was Tyre – the conclusion that we came to is that the ambiguity is perfect! When we see the sword fall, that momentary assumption that it was Ronon is as much due to the expectation that he would do it as any visual cue. The realisation that it was Tyre actually works to reinforce both Tyre’s redemption and Ronon’s betrayal.

    A question for Mr Dacascos:

    It must be immensely satisfying as a guest star to have the opportunity to play such a complex character, to have a strong backstory to work from and a full arc to explore from bad guy to redemption. My question is, did you prefer playing dark-side Tyre or redeemed hero Tyre?

  44. Okay, I’ve just finished watching it again after last night, this time without interuptions, with headphones so that I could catch everything (I had it on low last night because I didn’t want to wake up the orcs…) and: It is a superb episode. Dialogue and action perfectly balanced, and the plot and its presentation is perfect. There was so much, every line with a meaning and a purpose, that it had to be watched a second time to catch everything. Like the spot where Tyre goes off ‘to get something,’ when he freed the others.

    I think this is going to be one of the top episodes in Season 5. Not the only one, I am sure. Loved the ending also and the music. I don’t think there was anything I didn’t love about it.

    Gushing away…

  45. Thank you for giving us the chance to see the process you go through in writing the episodes. It’s so fascinating to understand the choices you have to make.

    There were so many moments that were unique to the characters in this story. I too loved the tender way in which Jason said “Ah, you’re no fun” to Teyla in the forest, and Ronon’s expression of compassion towards Tyre when first captured by him, instead of his anger.

    And it’s a shame that the head shaving scene was nixed by the network. It was so powerfully written, and could have been a visual defining turning point for Ronon, as he would be constantly reminded that his great strength can also be turned into his greatness weakness.

    I also liked your much harsher exchange between Teyla and Sheppard in the corridor. The fact Sheppard felt bad about what he said to her proved he wasn’t insensitive towards her situation, but that he did have a very legitimate point to make.

    But what I don’t get is what the heck do the shows other writers have against geologists?!? Although I think that JF’s “dude” is hilarious, and it’s too bad it wasn’t used. I also laughed at Rodney’s disdain for the fresh fruit as he entered the cafeteria. And their bath banter was hysterical. Whoever X’ed that out needs to lighten up.

    Woolsey’s “say goodbye” comment was great, and reminded me of O’Neill in the sense that they both seem to miss their dogs more than people. Also, his feeling of being more comfortable dressed up in a suit makes the man totally and wonderfully unpredictable.

    The one thing I didn’t quite understand was Tyre’s underlying reason for saving Ronon. Ultimately, was it out of his guilt for what he had done to him, his honor as a fellow Satedan, or that he felt Ronon was truly a brother to him?

    All in all, just a fantastically written and acted story. Can’t wait for next week!

  46. Coucou Joseph=)

    waou!! Impatiente de voir cette épisode^^!!!

    Merci pour ces photo de tournage!!!

    Désoler, je doit y aller, mon réveille n’a pas sonnet et j’ai beaucoup de chose a faire !

    Bisou, je t’adore =)

  47. I just love it when you breakdown episodes. Great one too! Great story, great acting, great music, great everything.

    I really like the way Woolsey is developing. Kudos to you writers and the way Bob Picardo’s portraying him. I never thought I’d be so sympathetic to such a by the book administrator.

    I was disappointed however, that there wasn’t a reference to McKay’s experience with the Wraith enzyme (Lost Boys, The Hive). It seemed to me that Rodney was remembering his own withdrawal when he was looking down, watching Ronan, go through it too.

    BTW, I’m glad that the McKay response to Sheppard bath comment was cut. I’m not a slash fan and it doesn’t seem to me that it would be something McKay would say.

  48. Sheppard: “Hey, you know what’d be creepy and unexpected? If you knelt instead.” Truer words were never spoken.

    I think this may now have to be a serious contender for funniest sga line. You should print yourself out a certificate and hang it up on the office wall.

    I haven’t managed to see it yet but all reviews that I’ve seen is that it’s gone down really, really well. Lots of happy fans.

  49. I wish the writers had gone with the original draft for the John/Teyla scene. Teyla was totally out of line, as usual and it would have been nice to see Sheppard really tell her for once, instead of always being so nice. Her whole dilemma about going back to the team was dragged out way too much. I didn’t understand her problem, what would she have done if she had been with her people. Wouldn’t she and her son be under constant threat anyway and most likely would have to defend him. So would she had hidden away in her tent at the first sign of danger.

    It was always obvious that Teyla would go back to the team anyway, so all this soul searching by her just seemed out of character and not what she said in Season 4 about how the Athosians deal with pregnancy and children.

    I hope the baby stuff is put to rest now and we get the old Teyla back as the last year or so has caused me to completey lose interest in her character.

    I’m also glad you didn’t include the line with McKay about getting into the bath with Sheppard. LOL, I think stuff like this is better left in fanfic.

    Jason and Mark did a really awesome job here and I’m sad to see Mark go. The fight scene was spectactular and Shepppard shooting with both guns was great as well. All over a good episode for the men and next weeks episode looks like it’s gonna rock as well.

  50. Okay, so I’ve been a bit remiss the last few days due to long rambling explanation that basically boils down to a very minor bit of surgery on my nose to help me breathe better. At the moment I’m having difficulty breathing at all, of course, but it’s not been a week yet since it was done, so early days.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the pics and vids and interesting posts, and also to thank your guest bloggers as well. I may have been a bit quiet, but I have been reading your blog and enjoying it immensely. Thanks.

    I have a few questions that you may or may not be interested in answering – but I hope you will answer some, or at the very least, the first one, please:

    1) Can you confirm the spelling of Teyla’s baby’s name? Toran, Torran, Toren, Torren…?

    2) From the eps we have seen so far, it is clear that Kanaan was not the only hybrid rescued – were the others the ones left on the planet’s surface in Search & Rescue? Or have they been able to find and help others after Michael was sort of defeated?

    3) The hybrids were on the mainland – does this mean that the new planet, like Lantea, has one main continent? And if yes, is it possible that both planets have some very small islands as well as the large mainland? I’m not talking the size of the UK here, more like a few miles across.

    4) Kanaan is now on Atlantis, I’m presuming the other de-bugged hybrids are as well. What about Halling and the non-hybridised Athosians that were rescued in Kindred? Are they also on the city? Will we get to see them at any time this season?

    Well, I think that’s all the questions I have at the moment. I loved Broken Ties, and thank you for the breakdown on that as well. I love the team feeling to this episode and all those wonderful character moments. I love how you handled the whole Teyla’s decision thing, and I appreciated that you went to the trouble of addressing the issues involved – issues that women doing dangerous jobs have to face in the real world today and that, I have to admit, I had never really considered before this.

    The withdrawal scenes were heart-breaking and excellently acted by Jason.

    I’m glad you didn’t go with the Sateda bit as the gate was destroyed in the episode of the same name, so how would Tyre have been able to take Ronon there? (It actually took me several viewings of Sateda before I realised that what the Wraith blow up in the background after beaming Ronon down to the surface is the Sateda stargate!)

    Anyway, excellent episode. The more I see of Woolsey, the more I like. But then I did kinda like him in the last couple of seasons of SG1, and in Misbegotten and even, to my surprise, in The Seer…and reckoned there was more to him than just the officious overly-cautious beurocrat we all saw and loved/hated!! But then I’m a McKay fan – and look how far he has come since 48 Hours!!

    Just one complaint about the episode, though, did McKay really need ALL that much bubble bath?!! *wicked grin*

    Anne Teldy: Sorry to hear that you’re still not well. I truly hope that the antibiotics kill the MRSA and that you start to feel better very soon. I’ll get hubby to post a card this week…it may take a little while to travel the ‘small pond’ that lies between our two countries!!

    Leesa

  51. I read waaaaay to much into the Tyre necklace thing. Maybe it was just the way it was edited or what Tyre said to Ronon when he was putting it on him but I got the (ok completely misguided) impression that it was some sort of device that could transfer/share pain between one friend and another. You know like those friendship necklaces that split in two – you take one part your friend takes the other – except with ancienty powers 😉 I thought he was taking away part of Ronon’s pain – not that I didn’t completely believe Ronon was in pain – I guess I’m just someone who would like to believe in an ancienty powered necklace that meant you could take away/share some of a friends pain.

  52. I really enjoyed the episode. Jason’s acting was fabulous, but the thing I enjoyed the most were the B-stories in the episode. Woolsey is great. I like him much better than Carter. Good to see Kanan is still around, I was afraid he’d dived in the big black writing hole with only a couple of mentions of him now and then. Missed opportunity though, to do something more with Ronon. He could’ve become more aggressive and grumpier (than he usually is) for a couple of episodes, instead of having the dark side of him for one episode. Overall a very good episode though.

  53. And I presume the line for the spoiler poem referring to BT is ‘an old friend returns, loyalties are reversed’, no?

  54. What a great episode! I laughed, I cried, I watched it several times. I really like Woolsey, and I like that Sheppard is trying to do things his way. They’re more fun together than I was expecting. I also wasn’t expecting Sheppard’s ‘yuck, coffee’ face. Very cute.

    And I have a question for Mark Dacascos – with your extensive martial arts background, did you find it harder to prepare for the fight scenes or for the dramatic scenes (like Tyre’s withdrawal)? I thought both were really well done.

  55. Thank you for the breakdown.

    1) I wish that the dreadlock scene would have remained. I think it would have enforced the move to the darkside. It was a bit confusing. (I was one of the ones who thought Ronon had cut off the Wraith’s hand the first time I viewed it.) Such a radical action on Ronon’s part (the cutting of the dreads) may have made it clearer that he actually had turned and wasn’t just prending.

    2) Agreed that Jason Momoa was brilliant. I was also impressed with the Mark Damascos (sp?). I didn’t think “Iron Chef” once on the first time viewing “Broken Ties”. Honestly, in his first appearance, I couldn’t get past that. Not fair, I know, but that was my reaction to his earlier appearance.

    3) It appears to me that there is a subtle difference in Shepherd this season (or Flanigan’s portrayal of him).

    He still is the smart aleck in personal relations, but has a slightly changed demeanor in things official. When Woolsey cleared his throat, he paused for just a second and asked permission to go off-world. No argument about who’s decision it was to make or questioning of authority. Just do what has to be done.

    Later, when he argued with Woolsey in the corridor (the location of which didn’t even occur to me to be a problem, BTW) he argued forcefully for his position but again without “attitude”.

    I had previously had the sense that the character of Shepherd liked Elizabeth Weir a great deal, but lacked 100% respect for her in some circumstances. I also see him as feeling that he let her down because he was unable to protect her.

    Carter was a known entity to him and he was familiar with her military way of work.

    Woolsey, though, is a different entity. Shepherd had earlier participated in a plan (when the Replicators took over Atlantis) that depended on a weakness of Woolsey to work. No one likes to feel the fool and Woolsey must have felt a bit of that.

    Now, he is in charge and Shepherd must work with him.

    I never felt like the tension between Weir and Shepherd as to leadership issues in the first season was fully explored. It was raised, but then interupted.

    This season it seems like we are seeing that process being explored. Woolsey and Shepherd are working out the issues in front of the camera instead of suddenly becoming great friends. Both, however, have grown from their earlier meeting and it is showing up in how they are acclimating to one another.

    That aspect of character development has been fascinating in the last two episoded. (Or I am seeing something that isn’t there. :-))

    4) Loved the door issue with Woolsey.

  56. Thanks for the breakdown. I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed “Broken Ties”. Jason did a fantastic job and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Woolsey!!!!! Excellent episode, Joe.

    dff

  57. Joe said:

    The Art of John Picacio (containing over 180 images of John’s award-winning work) and, while I’m at it, I’ll also be ordering up copies for NarellefromAus and Terry who were the winners of the last BOTMC contest.</blockquote.

    In appreciation of all of the fellow Aussie commenters out there, that book is going straight to the pool room!

    You mentioned some of the other prizes of which happened to be signed, so do we get a gold star? elephant stamp? scratch and sniff sticker? comment from the teacher on the front page? Either way, I’m most appreciative, so Thank You.

    The book club combined with my new piece of reading technology now means I’ve quadrupled my reading and with the number of recommendations out there I can’t begin to explain how much I’m enjoying the time with my head in multiple books at one time.

  58. I would have known who mannix was as well as barnaby jones. My parents watched them both witch means i had too also. lol..
    I really loved this episode. I agree with travler 64 this could have been a really good two parter.

  59. Thanks a lot for the breakdown Mr M. Jason was fantastic he acted his socks off, literally! As we’ve said not just a pretty face, the man can act!!!!!

  60. Broken Ties is really a great episode. I love all the character moments. The scene between Shep and Teyla is well balanced. It has the right intonation for me.

    I was a little confused with the hand-cut-off-scene, too.

    Creepy, that the Wraith “gift of life” can also be such a torture.

    And the reason for Sheps coffee face? Being curious.

    The end scenes are amazing.

    Thanks for the script breakdown. Very interesting.

    I would have liked to see this Woolsey/door scene.

    SHEPPARD: Okay, but I’m not getting in a bath with you.
    MCKAY: I’m both relieved and slightly disappointed. Now, let’s review.

    – The day I’ll actually hear something like that in the show…I guess I’ll pass out 😉

    Woolsey is very likable. He has changed from the Woolsey we saw in the past. I’ve just wished we would have seen something from his character development (after his arrival in Atlantis). But maybe an unchanged Woolsey character wouldn’t have gone to Atlantis in the first place?

    anneteldy wrote: Actually, in the Season 2 episode “Instinct”, Ellia tried to feed on Sheppard’s forearm. With her left hand.

    I didn’t noticed that as feeding. Isn’t only the right hand the feeding-hand?

  61. I really enjoyed Broken Ties – Jason’s acting was so moving – thank you for NOT cutting the dreads – The fighting scenes were so fluid and realistic – I think I was actually holding my breath. Kudos for a great script and a chnce for Jason to expand his role. Going to the dark was really a surprise – I really was surprised when Ronon punched Sheppard in the nose. Great work to everyone!

  62. Hey Joe,

    Thanks for the breakdown of Broken Ties. I enjoyed the episode very much, and so far I think Season 5 is great – love all the character moments and Woolsey has added a new dimension to the cast. So will Ronon be carrying 2 swords now (his own and Tyre’s)?.

    I noticed the part in Broken Ties that you mentioned before – the transition between acts where you jump from one side of Ronon to the other. I can see how that would be jarring in the seamless DVD version. How do you handle the soundtrack for the seamless version? There is often a musical emphasis at the end of an act in the broadcast version – do you record a second soundtrack for the DVD?

    To Mark Dacascos – I thought you were great in this episode! Joe M has mentioned that Jason really likes Tyre’s sword – did you find it a nice weapon to use as well? Also, if I may ask a non-SGA question – I often drool at the culinary concoctions on Iron Chef America – as chairman, do you get to sample the dishes too? Have there ever been any duds?

    Thanks and kudos to all for another great episode!

    Jean

  63. Havent been round in a while but the last entry looked awesome with John Picacio.

    As for that hand? Entirely creepy. i swear at first i thought Ronon was the one who cut it off until we went back to watch it again.
    Thought Broken Ties was amazing.
    (and from the inages, im glad Ronon kept hair)

  64. Joe! Thanks so much for the Broken Ties script breakdown. Some of us are quite keen to read the flow, structure and scene directions as well as sharp dialog content.

    A very solid, character-strong eppy. Kudos to Jason for a stand-out performance.

    My favorite moments were:
    1) Teyla with Woolsey (int. his office) — Both characters reveal intimate, personal feelings. Teyla about her struggle to sort her priorities and Woolsey’s divorce costing him a beloved Yorkie and b) later, when Teyla announces her final decision and Woolsey seems genuinely relieved and content

    2) Teyla with Sheppard — Confrontation in corridor, where Sheppard makes clear in a no-nonsense, yet sympathetic way, her need to make a decision

    3) Jason with Tyre when he fully realizes his old friend has betrayed his people, his honor and his friendship. Ronon’s agony was palpable.

    3) The final montage with Joel’s incredible, beautiful score. I also wish more eps would end similarly. For me, it said here is the city of Atlantis holding within her microcosms of humanity, each special, all bound together by community and fierce loyalty. A safe in the womb feeling, eh?

    4) All the great continuous, long, steady-cam shots. I felt that choice added so much to this particular eppy.

    5) Each team member sitting with Ronon as he detoxed. Strong loyalty, compassion and solidarity there.

    I did worry when McKay reached for the tablet while in bathwater. Can we say electrocution?

    I have reviewed this ep now three times and look forward to many more viewings. A classic and a keeper Joe, thank you again for the concept and all your hard work to bring it to the screen for us!

    Kudos to the cast, crew and staff one and ALL! 😀

    Carol Z

  65. silver_comet wrote:

    anneteldy wrote: Actually, in the Season 2 episode “Instinct”, Ellia tried to feed on Sheppard’s forearm. With her left hand.

    I didn’t noticed that as feeding.

    Here’s proof she was feeding straight from the horse’s mouth:

    From the Dialog Continuity script of “Instinct” (found here at the official site)

    RONON: You okay?
    SHEPPARD: Yeah. She tried feeding on me.

    From the Dialog Continuity script of “Conversion” (found here at the official site)

    BECKETT: Gone.
    SHEPPARD: What?
    BECKETT: The feeding mark. It’s completely healed.

    silver_comet also wrote:

    Isn’t only the right hand the feeding-hand?

    That’s why I emphasized the word left in my original post. I knew people had been speculating about “right hand only” and this scene — intended by the writers or not — shows that the Wraith can be lefties.

    Anne Teldy (Thanks to all for the well-wishes.)

  66. Rewatching it, I can clearly see that the arm that grabs the sword has a long-sleeve, and Ronon’s arms are bare, plus then we see Ronon grab his sword form the scabbard on his back. I think the speed of the edits and the shot of Ronon preceding the action confused me, but additionally I think there was also a little bit of the old “gun in the first act goes off in the third. ” When the Wraith hands Ronon the sword and has him swear allegiance, I think that set viewers up to believe that sword would play a role in the reversal of Ronon’s “breaking” under the influence of the Wraith. It was so heavily signifying an act, I think some of us less observants viewers just signified it with the wrong meaning, and missed what happened in the fight scene because of misplaced expectations.

  67. Okay watching Broken Ties again…… a few other great character things stuck out to me this time.

    In the Wraith cell….. when Sheppard is insistent that they WILL get Ronon back…. it strikes me that his will and his words are strongly determined, but his position of sitting on the floor in the dark like a child sulking was a huge symbol of the two things that make John Sheppard who he is. This few seconds show his internal struggle with “abandonment” and shows him as a vulnerable human being…. and showcases his strength of will and his vow of never leaving anyone behind.

    The John Woo-ish shoot out showed John’s serious nature as a military veteran.

    Thanks for giving him those outstanding moments.

  68. Add in my thanks for the breakdown on Broken Ties. Really adds another dimension to the enjoyment of the show. Not to mention it makes for enjoyable reading during breakfast. 🙂

    I’m with some of the others…I think the dreds should have gone, more so now that I’ve read the way it was intended to happen. There’s a lot more to the Ronon character than hair, Jason has shown us that much. Does the network think that without the dreds he’d somehow be unrecognizable, or mundane? Hah!

    To Joel Goldsmith — lovely piece of music. Very moving.

    For Mark Dacascos — Really enjoyed your work on Broken Ties. We’ve seen your involvement in Iron Chef, is that your primary interest right now? Do you have any other projects coming up where we might see you act?

  69. I’d also like to thank Kelly for her comments yesterday in support of the J/T shippers who did dedicate four years of hope on that pairing. It’s nice to know someone can relate to that disappointment. Although for now I still have the Sheppard and Ronon friendship to focus on now. Perhaps Ronon’s loyalty and openness will be better medicine for what ails Sheppard’s heart and soul…. especially after being “left behind” by yet another person he considered family… and yes I do see it that way. Can’t help it.

  70. ROFL I would have known who Mannix was!
    Glad you didn’t have Woolsey say “Hellooo” to the door — it WOULD have been too much..
    It’s really too bad the network wouldn’t go for shaving the dreads– I think that might have been the highlight of the episode (“Creepy and unexpected” LOL)

  71. Finally, I got to watch Broken Ties … very enjoyable. I’m lovin’ the Woolsey. Well Done and Most Excellent, everyone!

    Nice sword. Very nice.

    Random thought, while watching Dark Knight, the scene where the chase takes a short-cut through the mall/shops, did anyone else think “Disco Pants and Haircuts! This mall has everything!”? Come on now, that’s iconic!

    Newest yummy treat: Twinkies on a stick toasted over a bonfire. Crunchy sweet crispy outside, gooey melty sweet inside. Be careful, the hot cream filling goops out all over your clothes. And NEVER say “My Twinkie squirted hot cream on me!” to a tipsy audience. Never.

    Darling Anneteldy … that is no way to celebrate a birthday! Hope you feel better soon.

  72. Having seen the new steampunk Star Wars figures, I’d just like to say that I’d love to see a steam punk alt-universe Atlantis ep …. I can just picture Rodney with some crazy mad-scientist goggles on his head, a la the thing Ichabod Crane wore in Burton’s Sleepy Hollow ….

  73. Hi Joe — I thought “Broken Ties” was wonderful. And I WOULD have know who Mannix was…

  74. Hey Joe!

    I have to ask about the Shep drinking coffee scene in”BT”. Was that scripted……did the Flan Man do that on his own…….did the prop guys play a trick on JF and switch whatever was in his cup? How did that come about? That is one funny scene…..I almost spit out my drink while watching it.

    I am loving season 5 to bits! Thanks for all the great stuff.

    Man…..you brought back some memories with “Barnaby Jones” and “Mannix”. How about a Steve Austin reference sometime? “Steve Austin…..a man barely alive…….”

  75. Thanks Joe for the breakdown. You brought much needed insights for us.

    I think some of the changes should have been left in. It would have made the show better. To me, it was okay. Not as strong as Sateda. I believe not letting Ronon cut his dreads weakened the whole tone.

    During Ronon’s dark journey, it would have been more powerful if he had actually damaged Sheppard than to simply punch him. The consequences of that could have had some lingering aftershocks, which is always good.

    Anyway, just my two cents.

  76. I too concur with the many thorough encouragements of Jason’s performance and the spectacular writing and cinematography. I do however have a question for you Joe.

    I was struck with the similarity between Ford and Ronan’s storylines, both being inundated with Wraith enzyme against their will (at least initially). Both were strong enough to survive its effects and become addicted but only Ronan was strong enough to break the addiction. Was this intentional? Is this related to Sheppard’s dream in S&R? Is this foreshadowing?

    It occurs to me that in future episodes, when facing the implications of Ronan’s short jaunt to the dark side, the similarities between the situations might incline Sheppard to fight more strongly on Ronan’s behalf, perhaps to his detriment.

    Or I am reading WAAAAAAY to much into this. Always a possibility.

    I also had a question for Mark.

    Thanks for talking to us, we really appreciate it. Did you enjoy working with BamBam and Jason? How many times did you have to practice the sword fight before filming?

  77. 1)Do any of the team members display overly strong expressions of violence this year?

    2)Will we see any disturbing apparitions or unexplained phenomena during the course of the season?

  78. I am not hallucinating due to the heat but is the date at the top of this page 26th June 2008?

    A couple of question for Mark Dacascos.

    1/ I understand that actors try to get close to the characters they play, are you pleased that in the end Tyler cast off his traitor image to become the hero.

    2/ Characters that appear on SA have a habit of coming back from the dead, if Joe brought Tyler back would you be up for a rematch with the Wraith?

    The character of Woolsey has so much capacity for humour and pathos’s, always knew the man was right for the post of commander of Atlantis.

    The final montage sequence was really well done Teyla with her family. The woman has everything, kick ass job a baby and a good looking man.

    McKay in his bath still waiting for his eureka moment as he tries to work out the theory of everything.

    Then we have Shepard and Ronan both may have been able exorcised their demons. Lost and fallen comrades finally laid to rest, as they find an unspoken solace in each others redemption.

    Pauline

  79. Hey! I just wanted to say thanks muchly for this ep! It was spectacular and had a little bit of everything. Jason Momoa was brilliant in it, even though I freaked out that Ronon was tortured like that after everything he’d already been through in his life. Darn that Jason Momoa for wanting his character to go dark! *shakes fist*

    As always, love any and all John and Ronon interaction this season. Their friendship and chemistry together is awesome. 🙂

  80. I wanted to thank you for a really fantastic episode — and for taking the time to write up the plot breakdown and the snippets of cut scenes, as well! There are not many people in your position who take as much time and effort as you do to interact with the fans and offer these kinds of goodies, and I really did want to thank you for giving us these wonderful peeks behind the scenes.

    I was a little sad that the conversation at the start of the episode got cut down, but I can’t think where else you could have cut to make room for it — and I was delighted that you wrote it originally, even if it didn’t make it in; I’m always happy to see the Pegasus Galaxy cultures fleshed out a little bit more.

    Jason’s acting was wonderful in this one and it was a fantastic showcase episode for the whole team. Thank you for giving us those little character moments, even with the characters who aren’t featured in the episode.

    And one thing I wanted to say is how much I love how respectfully and realistically you’ve dealt with Teyla’s pregnancy and motherhood on the show. I admit that I was very nervous about how it would be handled, because sci-fi in general does not have a very good track record in that area. Instead of the “monster baby” or damsel-in-distress plot I was fearing, I was very delighted to find a believable story about a woman adjusting to her changing role in life — and I was totally thrilled by the “happy ending” in this episode, with Teyla returning to the team as a working mom. I am so glad that you dealt with her decision on-screen and let both Teyla and John work through their issues with Teyla’s new role as both mother and teammate/friend. And I was particularly delighted and impressed to see Kanaan staying home to care for the baby while Teyla goes back out to her day job of saving the galaxy. You have made one fan very, very happy.

  81. WOW thanks for so much detail, I love it!

    Broken Ties = The rift is mended! What a fab Fab FAB episode!! no offense to the workers but I really felt quite miserable after The Seed, it was sooo… meh… after such a great start with S&R… so yes, knowing the storyline, focus, guest and some visual peeking ahead of time I had pretty huge expectations for this episode and IT DELIVERED!! start to finish. Not much more gushing I can add to the tons I’m reading here, my focus areas are the character moments, dialog exchanges and action scenes and LOVED all of it in this episode. Thank you and everyone else for a super excellent job all around, from the write to the acting to the fight to the score!!! Just have to mention a few faves from my household- they asked, are we now supposed to like Woolsey? (answer is yes); they nailed McKay’s unseen retort to John’s bathtub quip, before I read it here; to us it sounded like “Sarif Sewer” not “Sur” (which we would pronounce as “Sir” like Big Sur) and Tom wants to know how you JM come up with these crazy names and why they were in the sewer! The sword fight was also a big hit, handing the sword to Shep was the tipoff for us that Tyre wasn’t survivng. Unless he didn’t want to lose it getting out the backdoor… Yes we made a ton of “Tire” jokes. I want to know, when did Atlantis contract to become a Hilton? Rodney’s jacuzzi with TV, and Woolsey’s room looked like a luxury suite 😉 I’m telling ya, we’ll be seeing condos for sale…

    My one disappointment, which had nothing to do with you guys, was that Ronon wasn’t allowed to lose the dreadlocks. I don’t like the wig at all.

    You set yourself up dude, I expect Whispers to be as good if not better!!
    DD

  82. So, I’ve got to admit something.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the first two episodes. No, well…wait a tick. I really enjoyed Search and Rescue. I thought it moved a bit quickly but ultimately it was a great episode.

    Seed. I thought there could have been something more explored. I don’t know what but I kept feeling as if it was missing something. I couldn’t explain it. If I could then trust me there’d be paragraphs more. Perhaps if I take a look at it one more time.

    This episode? Absolutely fantastic. The only bits that had any shakiness two them were the bits you mentioned: the “who the heck cut off wraith-man’s hand?” bit and the “wait…when did Tyre let them out? Oh…he let them out? Oh…”

    Some of the dialog cuts were really good. Teyla’s dialog with Ronon at the beginning and Tyre’s explanation of why it would be good to keep all of the team alive were great choices. I also liked the choice to make Sheppard a bit less harsh. At some point in the back of his mind he has to realize this is Teyla he’s talking to. She knows better, he’s just reminding her. I could have done with or without the rest. They didn’t add anything but it wouldn’t have hurt anything to keep them (except time).

    Jason Mamoa. Wow. …Wow.

    And this just reinforces my love of Robert (Bob?) Picardo’s acting. Though I do disagree that this was the first time we’ve seen Woolsey come in agreement with the team’s goal. As I seem to recall he was also all about saving Jennifer as well. He let Carson have discretion and even went along with McKay’s suggestion already having said that McKay had been compromised. I get the impression that he knows what the best is for the team and really is on their side.

    David Hewlett loosely compared Rodney to Woolsey but I’m finding myself seeing more of a separation as to how each character would act in the given situation. For instance, Rodney has absolutely no fear at giving his opinion and sticking to it for the sake of ego. Woolsey doesn’t seem to be playing on his ego but, rather, more by the rules, which he is in constant struggle with because he’s finally discovering his own common sense as apposed to the rules. They’ve both been antagonists to the SG1 and SGA series, but I don’t see much more comparison than that.

    Really superb acting in this episode as well. I still feel a little left missing something in Jennifer Keller which I’m very sad about as I really enjoy (and have enjoyed for a while) Jewel Staite. Is there going to be an episode where we uncover even more of Jennifer? It might be that Jewel is playing such a straight character compared to all the rest that I just don’t see her “warts” or her flaws or what fantastic characteristics that are overblown that make the character who they are and, thus, am having trouble seeing the character. I dunno. That’s the first time I’ve admitted that, though.

    Anyway. Superb job everyone. Claps all around.

  83. That was composed for the show? Can you put that up on iTunes? Honestly. I was hoping you’d tell us what the piece was. I found it to be so beautiful.

  84. P.S. I would have loved to have seen Ronon with his head shaved. And that scene would have been so great. Network execs can kiss my half-jewish arse with that one.

    I mean…thank you Network. I really do love you, otherwise. Just…Ronon with no hair…thumbs up in my little opinion-based island.

  85. >Also, this little exchange didn’t survive the first draft either:
    >SHEPPARD: Okay, but I’m not getting in a bath with you.
    >MCKAY: I’m both relieved and slightly disappointed. Now, >let’s review.
    >Too bad. I thought it was kind of funny and played to >McKay’s ego. Sorry, McSheppers.

    Aaarrggghhh! Thanks anyway Joe!

  86. Okie dokie…read through this. Thank you for taking the time to give us all of that. My only complaint – as usual – is that you give no added insight into the Wraith character. I know it’s not a Wraith story, but in a way, it is. I just get the feeling that – in general – the odd Wraith here and there is just filler, and not worthy of any sort of development or even acknowledgement that they, too, have fans that are interested in details about the character. It’s not just you – it’s a problem on the DVD commentaries, as well, and in just about everything I ever read re: SGA. It’s all Sheppard this, or Ronon that – or whatever…and, ‘oh yeah, there was a wraith somewhere in the story, but who cares about him’.

    No love for the palid ones among the PTB, I suppose…although, I gotta give you credit for at least acknowledging that Wraith zipper dilemmas would be a fan-pleaser. 😉 Still, a little more insight into your thoughts about the Wraith that you create would be nice, instead of treating them as some sort of afterthought who no one is really interested in.

    Thanks, though, for the other stuff that I’m not really interestined in… 😆

    das

  87. Mr. M,

    I’m in partial agreement with Das. I do understand that in this particular episode the wraith played only enough a part to bring out the development of Ronon. I hope that Todd as a character in this season will give us a little more enlightenment as to what the Wraith are all about. I grow more and more curious as to the history behind them.

    I also understand that they are the major villain behind this show. And as such giving too much insight might garner a less villainesque reaction from them and it might not be at a point (or there might not be a point in the series) where this species is going to be anything more than a villain. The exception being, of course, Todd.

    But I’d love to see a point where we do find out more about everything on the Wraith and their society. And if it doesn’t come within the series I look forward to the plethora of fanfictions already out there devoted to exploring the history of the Wraith.

    I did think that it was interesting that…let’s call this episode’s Wraith Fred, that Fred’s mantra to Ronon was “No retreat in the face of battle. No sympathy for the fallen. No mercy to our enemies.” It’s very telling of the way the Wraith think as well as the perspective of the Wraith of what human’s care about.

    Wraith lovers can pick out any little hint of what their beloved species is now matter small ;).

    I also thought it was interesting that Fred told his drones verbally to let the team go freely. I’m assuming he did that for show as I was under the impression that Wraith had a telepathic sort of network for those sorts of orders. At the very least, a connection.

    Oh, and I really loved Fred. There’s not another Wraith called Fred is there? That’s not taken? What about Paco?

  88. PS:

    Sorry for being such an unappreciative whiner of late. 😛 It’ll pass.

    Broken Ties was an excellent episode, the humor was some of the best ever – maybe THE best ever – in a single episode. The story was strong, and all the acting spot on. It’s just that it left me feeling a tad empty because of my specific interest in the show. Also, I watched it right after watching Michael/NML/Misbegotten, so I had a really bad attitude towards the Lanteans going into this one, and heightened sympathy – perhaps even empathy – for the Wraith. So, my apologies for being so bitchy lately…it’s just a reflection of my frustration over the self-righteous Lanteans, with all their morality and goody-goodiness, being so cruel to the Wraith who are simply acting upon their nature. The Lanteans are hypocrites. The Wraith, on the other hand, are just what they are, no excuses. I think that’s what I like about them – they don’t hide behind a facade of morality while dishing out what they condemn others for doing. That is a human practice, not Wraith.

    Not sure you understand my viewpoint, but I thought it would help explain my poor attitude right now.

    das

  89. @ green – Fans at Gateworld named this Wraith ‘Rhys’. But you can call him Fred if you’d like – none of this is written in stone, afterall.

    I also realize the Wraith are the ‘bad guys’ – but, unfortunately, I just can’t see them that way. An enemy, yes…bad, no. No worse than the humans. That’s why – ultimately – I’d love to see a small faction find a way to live at peace with humans (or…in tolerance of each other – being neither friend nor foe). But I doubt that will happen. Maybe Todd will remain in the humans’ good graces, but I doubt that, too. And even if he does, that’s a hollow victory for a Wraith fan…in fact, it would be terribly sad. I hate ‘the last of its kind’ stories…they depress the hell out of me.

    Gonna shut up now and watch Foyle’s War on PBS’ Masterpiece/Mystery. I think it’s gonna be the last episode of that, too…which will probably end on a downer and depress me even more. 😛

    I REALLY need a field of daisies to run through right now, with Todd, Steve, ‘Rhys’, Bob…AND Prince Nuada…waiting for me with open arms at the other end. Oh, and Mr. Das can be there, too… 😉

    das

  90. Congratulations Joe on a fine episode. I loved seeing another side of Ronon (the bit where his voice wobbles when he’s telling Tyre he’s a traitor to the memory of his people really got me, excellent acting by Jason) and the Woolsey scenes broke up the drama nicely. I, like many an SGA fan, was very sceptical upon hearing of Woolsey’s new command position but after seeing this episode and the delights his character brings (often unintentionally) to the screen, I totally agree with the decision to bring him aboard. One of my favourite scenes in the episode was when Teyla hands him the baby and Woolsey talks to him, and then looks horrified when Toren (is that the correct spelling?) starts crying. I look forward to seeing him in the rest of the series.

    The montage at the end was wonderfully done, and I am now a huge fan of Kanaan. I hope he gets to stick around for a long time yet (even if I am a Sheppard/Teyla shipper) as Teyla deserves some happiness.

    Thanks also for adding in Major Lorne, it was great to see Kavan back on my screen again. I hope he gets to grace it more in future episodes.

    Also, congrats to whoever was involved in the camera work when Sheppard was shooting at the Wraith, I really enjoyed the action-feel of that scene.

    I can’t wait for the rest of the series!

    Philippa

    P.S. Will we be seeing any similar scenes to the Woolsey-baby scene with other characters? It would be great to see McKay bonding with the child he helped bring into the world, or someone like Sheppard or Lorne having to babysit.

  91. Joe: Thanks for the plug on The Drowned Life. Really enjoyed the Picacio and Bishop Q&A’s with the book club. Looking forward to the next.

  92. Great breakdown. Interesting to read about the things that never made it in, or were changed from the original; thanks so much for sharing. When Sheppard made the comment about not sharing a bath, I *knew* it had to have been written with McSheppers in mind. Nice to see confirmation of that. Bwahahaha.

    Also, book discussion! You have read the Vorksigan books! Lois Bujold is a lovely lady; I had the opportunity to meet and talk to her at a PNW convention a number of years ago. She is a most amazing writer and I look forward to discussion about Cordelia’s Honor.

    Thanks for the post, Joe!

  93. I feel that I need to point out something, because – being the nerd I am to remember this – it really ruined my enjoyment of this episode.

    Season 2, episode 3 “Runner”, Ronon stated “I was captured during a culling on my planet. I was taken to a ship. A Wraith started to feed on me. Something made him stop.” The scene accompanying this dialog was the wraith slapping his chest, and then proceeding to pull away, looking quizically at his hand before operating on him to implant the tracker. The impression I and others I’ve talked to about it got was that something about Ronon prevented the wraith from being able to feed on him.

    This episode however featured Ronon being fed on multiple times to break him, which confused the hell out of me, given the previous knowledge. Was this an error on the writing staff’s part, an error interpreting “Runner” on my part, or was it something you guys regretted, and chose to retcon?

  94. I noticed Jason’s dreads were starting to look a bit ratty, and how much better they looked in Broken Ties.

    Will we get to see a lot of cut material in the special features on the Season 5 DVD?

  95. Thanks so much for the excellent episode, Joe. Everything worked in this one.

    It’s great to see Woolsey coming along so nicely. I was sure Robert Picardo could do it if the writing was there for him and it certainly has been.

    The makeup people did a terrific job on Mark Dascascos. Making such a handsome and fit man look so sickly and haggard must be difficult to pull off convincingly, but they did it.

    I loved the laughs you layered into what was a very serious story. They relieved but never broke the tension. Rodney in his bubble bath was laugh out loud funny.

    Looking forward to the rest of this season.

  96. I had no doubt that Robert Picardo would do a good job taking on Woolsey full time. He was usually the best thing on screen when he was on “Voyager”. I just wasn’t sure how he could possibly go from IOA to leader of Atlantis. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how empathetic Woolsey has been and already he’s learned to be flexible in his decision-making. He’s really made him warm and human, but has maintained the characteristics that make him Woolsey and give Sheppard and his team pause.

    So, while I will miss Amanda Tapping as Carter, I kinda feel like Woolsey is actually a better fit in the job.

    If I wasn’t already a fan, I’d have been drawn to watch “Atlantis” as a self-professed Trekker and nerd-girl extrodinaire to see Bob Picardo, and I would not be (and am not) disappointed.

    Bravo!

  97. Hiya Joe
    Sorry this is late

    Wicked episode. i loved Broken Ties. Season 5 keeps getting better and better.

    hugs
    Wendy
    John Sheppard is my happy place

  98. Hi,
    I loved the BROKEN TIES episode.. I am a huge fan
    of Mark Dacascos… I would love to know if he
    had a chance for a part on the show would he take
    it?? . DIdn’t like how dark the scenery was though
    it made it hard to watch the wonderful sword fight..
    mary

  99. Hi Joe!

    Thanks so much for the breakdown of Broken Ties. Just watched it for the second time and OMGed(!) it is such a great episode!!

    One thing for people to note is Shep says, “Greek scientist,” not “Greek dude.” At least in my copy of the show! (Very funny line, BTW!)

    I think Broken Ties had it all – great character development, interesting stories, *wonderful* acting, funny lines and kickass fighting.

    Thanks for giving us Shep two-handed shootout. Brilliant and sexy!

    Pass along even more kudos to Jason for incredibly wonderful acting. I never felt like he was “acting,” he was so convincing. My hub and I almost physically pulled back when Shep went to see Ronon in the isolation room (the “kill me or set me free” scene). Ronon’s eyes were so wild, we felt certain if he were free, he’d have tried to kill Shep.

    Also, loved Shep’s asking permission of Woolsey to go offworld. Pulling on the chain – let me go! – wonderful!

    Although I would’ve loved to see Woolsey calling out “Helloooooo” through the closed conference door – heck, I would’ve in that situation – it was probably a little over the top and would’ve put him in a position of weakness.

    I loved all of the scenes between Woolsey and Teyla. Just great character scenes and there seems to be a comfortableness between those two that I never felt Teyla had with Weir or Carter.

    Woolsey must’ve done some great contract negotiations to get such nice stuff in his quarters, as well as the new conference table. I *love* the new conf. table, BTW. I liked the alien-ness of the original table, this one works much better. It’s warmer – wood versus metal and glass – and having a physical object between the characters, rather than a big hole, visually brings the people together. Ergonomics, eh? Or is it cinematography? LOL

    Stopping for now, but if there’s a way to make a ratings scale go to 11 for Broken Ties, do it! 🙂

    eddy

  100. Wow, thankyou for sharing this breakdown of “Broken Ties” with us Joe. It’s always interesting to learn how things have changed from script to screen. I particularly think the following is hilarious:

    “Also, this little exchange didn’t survive the first draft either:

    SHEPPARD: Okay, but I’m not getting in a bath with you.
    MCKAY: I’m both relieved and slightly disappointed. Now, let’s review. ”

    Cracks me up! 😆

    I look forward to watching this eppy when it hits our shores here in the UK. 🙂

  101. “…it’s just a reflection of my frustration over the self-righteous Lanteans, with all their morality and goody-goodiness, being so cruel to the Wraith who are simply acting upon their nature.”

    I agree. I think as victims the pegasus inhabitants have been nothing but cruel to the wraith, kicking and screaming as they do as they get dragged off to be killed – did they not think once that a kick or a punch might bruise, that screaming might damage delicate air drums, that pleading for their lives might get repeatively boring when you’ve heard it all thousands of times before? Can they not show a speck of empathy for the wraith who are just trying to eat a damn meal in peace?

    “Killing people is a bad everyone!”, they hypocritically preach as they try to kill the wraith who are trying to kill them. They might claim ‘self defence’, they might just say that they’re trying to protect themselves and their children, but really, what about the wraiths and their hungry, hungry wraithettes? What about them.

    If people cared, if people really gave a damn, they’d be out there getting to know the wraith, hugging it out and giving them dinner.

    God damn human beings.

  102. That should be ‘ear drums’ but if the wraith want to mime playing drums, it’s all good.

  103. @ Dovil – EXACTLY! I’m glad someone finally sees it my way… 😉

    In all seriousness…it is about hypocrisy. There is a tendency to portray the humans as ‘innocent’ in this show, when they are not. The Genii are not innocent – they’ve killed other humans. The Lanteans certainly are not innocent – they’ve killed other humans. We’ve seen other human-on-human violence throughout the show. But when the Wraith do it, suddenly it’s ‘oh nos!! The big bad Wraiths are upon us!’

    The show has established that the Wraith, like animals, kill because it’s their nature and the only way they can survive (they have no choice as of yet). Humans, on the other hand, kill out of wantonness…or jealously…or greed…or anger. Totally different motivations (excluding self-defense, which both engage in). Humans have a choice, the Wraith – at present – do not. The Wraith are also defending themselves from intruders from another galaxy. I’m constantly amazed that no one can see that. The Lanteans are an intruding enemy, one that shows as much ‘mercy’ as the Wraith do.

    For instance, we have what the Lanteans did to Michael. It was inexcusable – it WAS torture…and they totally justified themselves with the ‘it’s them or us’ defense. But a Wraith tortures Ronon and he’s condemned for it? Therein lies the hypocrisy. The humans preach one thing while doing another, but the Wraith are what they are…no excuses. I like that ‘honesty’ in them.

    Since this is fiction, I am able to see it from the Wraith POV. The more I watch, the more I dislike the human ‘heroes’. There’s like…five of us…who feel this way, so our feelings matter not. But if they want to get rid of us five, then the PTB will have to make the Wraith indefensible. The only way to do this is to give them an alternative food source so that the Wraith DO have a choice. Of course – they will all choose (like Michael) to continue to kill humans. This will eliminate all sympathy for the characters by making them genuinely ‘evil’. Then they can be exterminated without a second thought. I believe this is the direction the creators are going in, and why I get so cranky at times (yeah, I know, I know, I really need to find a new obsession).

    However, I really do hope that the creators decide to have some choose to be different. NOT warm and fuzzy my little pony Wraith, but just as they are, only more prone to cooperate with humans than to defy them. It would be an interesting twist (for a SG show). To see an independent Wraith faction/society (more than one hive) that is neither friend nor foe of the Lanteans but tolerant of their existence (and visa versa), and who is in conflict with others of their kind that still wish to hold total domination over the PG.

    Done right, it could leave the Lanteans standing between the two Wraith societies. The ‘tolerant’ Wraith would do their slimy best to get the Lanteans to do all their dirty work, while the ‘world dominion’ Wraith could remain the shallow ‘grrrr! I’m going to eat you’ types who most don’t mind seeing killed off.

    Okay – I’m rambling…but…I just recalled something…

    Joe…today I saw ths thing about crows, and how they can be taught to do things that are to human advantage. Crows are considered pests in many places, their habitat the entire world except at the poles. The more people try to exterminate them, the stronger and more plentiful they become because they learn how to adapt (like roaches). It’s a shame that SGA did not go this direction with the Wraith. Instead the Wraith were wussed down right in S1 & 2 with how easily they were killed off and how easily hives were destroyed. That took away a lot of their menace and – perhaps – has made them more sympathetic overall.

    I know you’ve said that Michael and Todd are somewhat sympathetic characters, but I disagree – they are VERY sympathetic characters, and the Wraith somewhat sympathetic overall. Maybe it’s just different from where you are standing as one of the writers, but I know I’m not alone in how I feel, there are those other four I mentioned who feel the same way. 😉

    Anyway, the guy with the crows went on to say that he believes crows can be taught to do things that are mutually beneficial to both human and bird alike. This, he hopes, will change the human mindset towards crows from one of extermination to one of preservation.

    If real humans can seek out ways to save a bird, then why can’t fictional humans seek out a way to save a sentient, human-like species?

    I know, I know. Because it isn’t as cool as blowin’ ’em all to hell.

    Shutting up now. (oh, and Dovil started it! 😉 )

    das

  104. Perhaps I’m just special, but I wasn’t confused at all about Tyre cutting off the wraith’s hand. I really liked this episode! I was sad that Tyre killed himself, because I grew to like him by the end, but it also solidified his “good guy” image.

    Also, belated and unrelated to this post, but I think I missed the part in the last episode where the reasoning behind Sam’s getting replaced was given in more detail.

  105. Thank you for the break down – really enjoyed reading through that. I enjoyed the episode. It’s not till you mentioned the necklace that I realised I knew it was to repay the debt but only on a subconcious level so well done there.

    I think the episode’s should be extended so you can include all the bits you keep having to cut out. I love the Wolsley bits and I did catch ‘Be sure you do’ and also thought it was pivitol. It was great to see him becoming emotionally involved and the little parts of humor were good enough to laugh without making him out to be a fool. Love the doors and it made me wonder if Elizabeth ever left the room last?? Maybe she learnt the hard way too.

    I remember you saying that this was one of Jason’s best episodes (acting wise) and I agree. His return to the good side was amazing. The only thing I was saddened by was that there was no similarity made between Ronon and McKay as I think it would have been good for Sheppard to be reminded that McKay went through something similar for them. I would have liked to have seen Sheppard looking between McKay in the balcony and Ronon struggling on the bed in the isolation room and saying something.

    There was something else to mention that I thought was great but now it escapes me and I really should be at work anyways so thanks for another great episode.

    (Oh yeah! I think Leesa Perrie has a valid point about bubble bath – aren’t these things supposed to be rationed??!!)

    Mirth
    xx

  106. Scene: Wraith water cooler, Monday morning

    WraithBob: Hey, WraithJerry! How was the weekend?
    WraithJerry: Not bad, not bad. Took the Queen and larva out to that planet that looks like Vancouver. You know the one?
    WraithBob: Know it? Love it. How were the pickings?
    WraithJerry: Fan-tastic. Like you wouldn’t believe. Sucked down a couple of families and was so full afterwards that we just ended up stopping by an orphanage for snacks. Watching my waistline but couldn’t stop munching on the little suckers.
    WraithBob: *pats waistline* Haha, I know what you mean! Did they cry and plead for their lives? That just never gets old!
    WraithJerry: Did they ever! I even got to trot out the ‘You puny humans must die’ line. Made the parents of one family watch as I killed their kids. Wish you could have been there WraithBob. Good times.
    WraithBob: High five, man! High five!

    Scene: Typical office water cooler, Monday morning

    Bob: Hey, Jerry! How was the weekend?
    Jerry: Good, good. Went up to the lake house, kidnapped a couple of hikers, stabbed them with knives and then buried their still twitching bodies in the forest.
    Bob: … You’re, um, you’re kidding, right?
    Jerry: No, no, no, Bob! Not at all! There’s nothing like a trip out in the wilderness to kill innocent people and make them suffer as they slowly bleed to death.
    Bob: HELP! HELP! POLICE! OH MY GOD, YOU MONSTER! POLICE!

    WraithJerry got a hive five. Jerry got put in an insane asylum for life. And here ends the tale of WraithJerry and Jerry, two beings that exhibited the same behaviour, but with somewhat different reactions.

  107. … ah I remember now.

    I really liked when Tyre n Ronnon were talking moments before the Wraith entered and Tyre couldn’t be convinced that he was doing something wrong and that his motives were selfish.

    Even in his drugged state where he would do anything for more enzyme he still needed to lie to himself and tell himself that it was for Ronon’s best interest that he was being handed over to the wraith. The need to think he was doing good that pointed to the underlying character distorted by enzyme.

    Mirth
    xx

  108. Finally got to see Broken Ties last night (yay for the Movie Network showing SGA in eastern Canada!!) Excellent, excellent episode! Jason did an incredible job with Ronon’s journey to the darkside and back. Hope we get to see some repercussions from this over the season – even just small character moments.

    Loved the swordfight sequence, went back and watched it a couple of times, once even at 1/4 speed. The first time, I focussed on on the actual swordfight and then realized that Sheppard’s double-fisted gunfight was just as fantastic, the juxtaposition of the two make for a very exciting sequence.

    I must admit I’m a McShepper at heart and your mention of this exchange :

    SHEPPARD: Okay, but I’m not getting in a bath with you.
    MCKAY: I’m both relieved and slightly disappointed. Now, let’s review.

    made me squeee more than a bit. I’ll never be able to watch this episode without hearing that dialogue in my head!

    mairi.

    ps. did there have to be so many bubbles in the bathtub??? *pouts* LOL!

  109. @ Dovil…yes, funny. 🙂 But… the Wraith must kill in order to survive day-to-day, whereas the Lanteans have a choice – they can avoid the Wraith – they can go back home – they don’t have to take it upon themselves to be intergalactic Orkin Men. So, in a way, the scenarios are not the same. A human doesn’t have to go on a murderous rampage, but a Wraith must take a life in order to survive. You can’t put human morality on them because they are not human…they’re more like a tiger that preys on humans because there is no other food source available to it. You may not like a man-eating tiger roaming your backyard, but you can’t condemn it as ‘evil’ for acting upon its instinct.

    That’s the difference to me. A human can make a moral choice, but – as far as we know – a Wraith cannot. If they do have a morality, it is based on that of animals/insects, not on that of humans. They see nothing wrong in how they feed, just like my sweet li’l pussyycat sees nothing wrong in gobbling up a lovely songbird. It’s their nature, their instinct…one developed over tens of thousands of years and not likely to easily change.

    So, when a Wraith kills or hunts or tortures, he is not going against any established sense of morality, he is not ‘sinning’, as it were. Instead, like a big cat, he is simply acting upon the dictates of his instinct (which would naturally affect his concept of right and wrong), doing what is necessary for his daily survival.

    Humans, on the other hand, have morality – or at least they claim to have it. Thou shalt not kill. Torture and experimentation on individuals against their will is an abomination. Lies are the tools of deceivers, those without honor and principle. Shooting a defenseless prisoner to death in a cell is murder, a capital offense. By going against their own moral codes and doing all of these things, the Lanteans have proven themselves hypocrites.

    Oh god…I’m starting to sound just like Kavanagh… 😛

    das

  110. Wraith are a creation of the human imagination, like vampires, werewolves, Dick Cheney; they’ve been created to instil fear in us, but also to delve into the darker side of the human condition. Human beings are social animals, and by and large cooperative ones – we’ve largely got where we are today because of our adaptability, our ability to work together and our empathy. But flip the coin and strip out the compassion and leave the desire for power and what do you have – the villains that inhabit our stories. It’s the id vs. the super ego, the civilised vs. doing what we want with nothing to hold us back. This is why the bad guys in stories are often so fascinating – I mean how cool was Darth Vader before he sold out to sell yoghurt and feminine hygiene products in his retirement years.

    Is it wrong to enjoy the wraith as characters? Hell no! Fictional entertainment allows us to unpack the id and enjoy watching others running amuck with no real life consequences for anyone. But if you’re going to put forward an argument on moral grounds that essentially the id is superior to the super ego then we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

  111. @ Dovil – I don’t like absolute formulas. No one is purely evil, or purely good (except the God/Satan thing). Sometimes I do not mind such a stark contrast – like, in a two-hour movie. But when you are developing a new fictional alien race over the years, you can’t have them all black, while the humans remain all white. There’s no such animal in real life, and – fiction or no – portraying an entire race or species as totally good, or totally bad, seems a tad hokey. That’s the one thing that does annoy me here…to suggest that humans (as a rule) are All Good, and the Wraith – ALL of them – are evil devils that deserve to be exterminated is absurd to me. I know the Lantean’s mistakes and bad decisions have been shown, but they always seem to justify their actions in the end, whereas the Wraith are never justified. (For a while there – while catching up with S2 & 3 – I had hope that the humans would be forced to acknowledge how much like Wraith they really were – that both races are in a grey area – neither good or bad. However…I doubt that will happen now, and they will go back to their respective black or white corners)

    I would much rather see ‘evil’ emerge from among the human population (specifically among the Lanteans), and ‘good’ emerge from the Wraith population – ya know – just to throw a monkeywrench into things and make it all a bit less predictable. On an individual level, your best heroes are flawed (and acknowledge it), your best ‘villains’ are redeemable, even if they choose not to be. When you are dealing with an entire race, however…you almost have to show both the good and the bad within. Like I said, an entire race or species cannot be wholly bad. A percentage will do the right thing in the end.

    Well…in real life. Since this is fiction, I’m pretty sure the Wraith are totally screwed. 😛

    (Thanks for hearing me out, Dovil. And thanks, Joe…I appreciate you allowing this ‘discussion’…and sorry for the hijack. I’ll move onto other things now)

    das

  112. But when you are developing a new fictional alien race over the years, you can’t have them all black, while the humans remain all white.

    But the show HAS done that – the heroes have been shown as flawed and making bad judgement calls and paying for it, individual wraith have been shown as having a sense of humour or loving their human surrogate father – but as a whole the wraith kill people, not just for food but also to enjoy their suffering, and the wraith have killed societies showing any technological advancement to premptively wipe out any group of people that might be a threat and be anything more than docile cattle to be slaughtered.

    I eat meat. But when I eat a hamburger I don’t nip out to the paddocks beforehand and taunt the cows and poke them with sticks. Evolutionarily speaking I might be designed to be an omnivore but I have the free will to decide on whether I’m a pathological asshole or not.

    Within the structure of the show, and within the larger meta of storytelling, the wraith are the bad guys, albeit the bad guys in which we have seen some layers. And in storytelling individual monsters can and are redeemable – hell, Joss Whedon created a mini empire on that premise – but, you know, at the end of the day they kill, eat and torture human beings. I’ll be standing over here with the rest of the human race.

    Possibly cowering.

    (Disclaimer: it’s just make believe, yadda, yadda…)

  113. @ Dovil – “You are doomed — as are any humans that stand in our…erm…I mean…their way.” *shifty eyes*

    It’s been fun! I’m supposed to be working late – instead, I’m playing! AARRRGGHH!!! I’M doomed, too!!! 😛

    das

  114. Dear Joe,

    Thank you for the break-down of Broken Ties. I very much enjoyed reading it.

    I also loved watching the episode, although parts of it were very hard to watch (the ending where Ronon is in detox was so difficult for me to watch). Jason is a great actor. I’m glad you gave him a chance to showcase that he has a broader range.

    This is going to be an episode that I watch several times.

    Also, I want to say that I thought that it was Ronon who cut off the Wraith’s hand at the end, but my husband knew that Tyre did that. And when Shepherd handed Ronon a sword at the end, I thought Shep was giving Ronon his own sword back as a sign of trust that he wouldn’t be too violent again. My husband knew it was Tyre’s sword. I guess I’m just not as observant as he is.

    Thanks again for the write up and the episode.

  115. Hi! New to the blog, and trying to catch up. I love hearing about the creative process behind my favorite shows, so thank you for sharing so much with us! I am so hooked on SGA 🙂

    Great comments from everyone. Thought I’d chime in these last few hours before the next episode.

    I really liked the structure of Broken Ties and enjoyed the episode very much. I thought Jason Momoa gave a compelling performance, and that the Ronon/Tyre story was gripping. Loved Woolsey’s humanizing and humorous moments. I especially liked Tyre’s silent passing on of his sword to Sheppard.

    I guess my nitpick would be more with what wasn’t there than what was. I would’ve especially liked to see Teyla’s story richer in this episode or in a few more touches this season:

    a) I’d love to have some allusion to her surrogate SGA family helping her as best they can with the new baby (especially in Kanaan’s initial absence). The relationships between Teyla and Sheppard, McKay, and Ronon were shown so strongly in S&R, but have been absent since–doesn’t quite track for her to disappear into a mommy bubble alone.

    b) There’s been virtually nothing about the angst of Kanaan’s recovery and nothing at all about Teyla needing to acclimate to living with Kanaan– yes we know they grew close and cared for each other, but cohabbing is a whole new drama, esp. with a new baby in the mix–not addressed at all so far (not that I want the mini-soap opera–I’d just like it sketched in a little). I do like where Kanaan’s character is now (supportive, happy to be caregiver), but without seeing how they got there it’s a little hard to accept they are serious longterm lifemates. I do love Rachel Luttrell’s performance in the material she has had.

    My long-winded two cents 🙂
    Thanks for a great show, and for going above and beyond by doing this blog.

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