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.wordpress.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.

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Jessica
Jessica

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 smile

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

Cathain
Cathain

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!

wraithfodder

Wow, Mannix, Saturday nights at 10pm on CBS. Yeah, I remember that show! He was shot, concussed more times than Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke! wink

Katja
Katja

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.

RebeccaH
RebeccaH

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.

Susan
Susan

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.

Davidd
Davidd

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.

riley

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!

wolfenm

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. grin

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? smile 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. smile

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?

Karen MT
Karen MT

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.

wolfenm

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! grin Hey, was that sweet little bit where Sheppard pats McKay’s arm as he leaves the cell scripted? I squeed at that as well …

glowyzoey
glowyzoey

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. wink 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.

Darkrose
Darkrose

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.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

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.

Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee

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

Cheers
Patricia Lee

Merry
Merry

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?

Enzo Aquarius
Enzo Aquarius

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. smile

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. smile

Thanks as always, and great job with Broken Ties!

– Enzo Aquarius

Morjana

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.

Cate
Cate

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!

Linda Gagne
Linda Gagne

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

Karen WI
Karen WI

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.

Emily

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. smile And I love a guy who loves a Yorkie…

Sylvia
Sylvia

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?

Squeakiep
Squeakiep

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.

Linda Gagne
Linda Gagne

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.