I’m past the halfway mark, reflecting back on SG-1’s tenth and final season…
THE QUEST II (1011)
My many years of playing Dungeons & Dragons finally paid off in this fantasy-themed two-parter. And mom and dad thought I was wasting my time! Again, loved the double dose of villainy in this one with the indefatigable Adria in dogged pursuit while our team of heroes is saddled with the ever-entertaining Baal. The production did a terrific job offering up various looks for various planets. My favorite was the snow planet. It was beautiful. And, in retrospect, a pain in the ass because the stuff they used for the falling snow ended up sticking to the bottom of my dress shoes and just wouldn’t come off despite my best attempts. In the end, I ended up having to throw the shoes away.
I recall that, in the first draft, it’s Mitchell who races out to take on the dragon with the C4. Exec. Producer Rob Cooper suggested giving the moment to Teal’c and the script was rewritten. However, on the day, the scene was first up that morning and actor Chris Judge was still feeling the effects of a late night celebration. Director Andy Mikita took great delight in running Chris through the sequence. Several times.
Writing for the Baal character was a lot of fun because he was such an insufferable ass. I remember writing his scenes with Carter and thinking that, if he’d copped that attitude with anyone else, they would have punched his lights out. And then I thought – Why the hell not? Carter slugging Baal was my second favorite beat in the script. My favorite? Baal yelling: “I’ll go get help!” and attempting to beat a hasty retreat before getting blasted.
LINE IN THE SAND (1012)
This episode stands out to me for the great one on one character sequences, Vala and Tomin, and Carter and Mitchell. In the original pitch, Mitchell was going to be the injured party and Carter would have had to see to him while scrambling to save the day. Ultimately, it was decided to switch things around since Mitchell had been injured at least twice in recent episodes. Again, we made effective use of the village set that had been used in previous episodes (Morpheus comes to mind) and would be used on both Stargate: Atlantis and, one last time, in Ark of Truth. That enormous set was eventually struck and the stage (VFX Stage, we called it) became the home of the wraith hive ship set as well various other Atlantis- related locations (ie. the cafeteria balcony looking out on the water).
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN (1013)
I love AU (alternate universe) stories. I love them so much that I had come up with an AU story late in the show’s tenth season. Titled Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, it saw the team jumping back and forth through time, influencing events and being influenced by past actions in a story both ambitious and, admittedly, fairly complex. So complex, in fact, that I took the time to produce a detailed, color-coded outline clearly delineating the different time periods and alternate worlds. Unfortunately, at about the same time I was working on my story, Robert and Alan had spun another AU story involving Carter. There wasn’t room for two AU stories in the back half of season ten but I wasn’t about to give up my story without a fight. Ultimately, it was a conversation with Exec. Producer Carl Binder that put things in perspective for me. After I’d weighed the merits of both pitches, Carl threw me a look and said: “None of that matters. You just do the better story.” And, in hindsight, this episode was the better story.
One of the things I love about AU stories is that they allow us to use our pre-established characters in slightly different roles. Or, in some cases, in roles in which we aren’t accustomed to seeing them. This episode brought General Hammond and Major Lorne back to the SGC and offered up a more somber take on the Cam Mitchell character. In this reality, Rodney McKay is a millionaire but still a jerk – who ends up doing the right thing. And the President of the United States? Why, none other than Hank Landry. And in universe, fans of the franchise finally got what they’d been asking for: the existence of the Stargate program was finally made public. With predictable results! The decision to reveal the program to the public would have formed the core of the third SG-1 movie, Revolution. After beating out the story with Brad Wright, Carl Binder got as far as completing a first draft before the project was shelved.
And only seven more episodes to go…