Meetings, meetings, meetings.  My head is spinning.  It’s a wonder I was able to get any work done today – but I did, completing a couple of new scenes for the horror script.  One more and I’m more or less done.

Up on tap tomorrow: yet another meeting, some document reviews, completing that last scene for the horror script, and coming up with some episode springboards for the new series I’m developing with the usual suspects.

RUNNER (203)

Exit Lieutenant Ford.  Enter Ronon Dex.  Although that wasn’t exactly the plan, that’s the way it turned out.  Yes, Ronon was intended to assume the newly vacated position on the away team, but the intention was to make Dark Ford a recurring character along the lines of a Todd or a Michael.  For various reasons, it didn’t work out.  However, what did work out was Jason Momoa as Ronon!  And as much as I can’t imagine anyone else in the role, the casting process was a hell of a challenge.  As I said in a previous entry, the more people involved, the more choices, the slower the process.  And, whenever casting is up for discussion, EVERYONE has an opinion.

From the get-go, Robert Cooper envisioned Ronon as a rough-and-tumble outdoorsman/warrior.  His template was the affable mountain man, Rupert, who’d enjoyed, if not success, then certainly popularity as a contestant on two seasons of Survivor.  Ronon had to be brash, colorful, and larger than life. Unfortunately, some of the contenders put forth by…err…other parties…were all wrong.  I’m talking skinny, soft-spoken soap opera actor wrong.  And then, one day, we got Jason Momoa’s casting tape.  Rob took one look at him and declared we had found our Ronon.  Then, it was simply a matter of convincing everyone else of the fact.

Anyway, loved the introduction of the character in this episode, and also loved his interactions with Dark Ford.

If there is one question that almost always comes up after this episode airs, it’s “Why did the wraith stop feeding on Ronon?”.  In the flashback, we see the wraith place its feeding hand on a defiant Ronon, then suddenly pause and draw back.  It LOOKS like something has prevented it from feeding.  In fact, it is merely pausing, amazed by Ronon’s defiance in the face of certain death.  Its internal monologue isn’t “Why the hell can’t I feed on this guy?” but rather “This guy’s got balls.  He’d make a simply splendid runner!”.

DUET (204)

This episode is one of my top ten Atlantis favorites, a wonderful McKay episode with echoes of All of Me compliments of the hilarious Martin Gero who is firing on all cylinders here.  We get jellied mice, Dr. Fumbles McStupid and, i I’m not mistaken, the first guy on guy kiss in science fiction history.  We’re also introduced to a couple of new characters (Laura Cadman, played by Jamie Ray Newman who would go on to headline ABC’s Eastwick, and Katie Brown, played by Brenda James, who would develop into a surprising love-interest for our awkward Rodney), and treated to some glimpses of a fish-out-of-water Ronon adjusting to life on Atlantis.  It’s a lot of fun and was, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable episodes to shoot.

I thought the aforementioned episodes were a couple of season 2’s best.  Agree?  Disagree?  Present your case.

27 thoughts on “June 27, 2012: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Runner! Duet!

  1. Both outstanding episodes. Jamie Ray Newman was also on Mental and Eureka. Also, we got to see Kavan in Runner. And the future Tesla on Sanctuary (my favorite vampire, and I don’t like vampires normally other than him and maybe Barnabus Collins from the old Dark Shadows–I’m sure Johnny Depp is awesome, but haven’t seen the movie yet). The kiss was a riot. David got Jamie’s inflections and movements down. It sort of reminds me of the communication stones. In SG-1, we had Vala change places with Daniel and she roams through the mens’ locker room admiring the view, but as Daniel’s body. Here, you actually have Cadman actually kissing Katie if you are talking brain activity for Rodney because Rodney wasn’t going to do it. Then Cadman later is kissing Carson. So one could argue that the brain is the one that was controlling things, even if it was man-on-man physical body kiss, Rodney was not really doing the kissing, which then makes it a girl-to-girl kiss. But it’s complicated, isn’t it. I can’t imagine how hot those suits were in Runner, either (the ones Rodney wore to protect himself from the UV).

  2. Just a question that came to my mind. If MGM wish to continue SGU, or any other show, do they need hire your team, or they could choose to hire a complete new team. I hope not, because I really like what your team did. I really wish that they take the opportunity that SGU crew is in stasis for 3 (+) years to continue the series, now that they are back on their feet .

  3. I’ll match your “..meetings, meetings..head-spinning” and raise you with “BRIDE-ZILLA”-Dress-Shopping with my Niece!

  4. Agreed. Definitely two of the best Atlantis eps. I love Jamie Ray Newman and her chemistry with Rodney was fantastic. Not many can keep up with the rapid snarky banter with him but she was perfect. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see much more of her later. I also enjoyed the Cadman as Rodney interplay with the good doctor. So much fun and excellent performances all round.

    It’s always a great opportunity for actors to step beyond the characters they play on a regular basis. You get used to seeing them week after week and forgot they are acting and think it’s them. I remember the Marchello episode in SG-1 with the body swapping. It was the first time I appreciated what a controlled performance Christopher Judge gave as Teal’c and the amount of nuance involved. When you see him as someone else (or indeed as himself – no pun intended), that’s when you appreciate the skills.

    So yes, lots of fun to watch David Hewlett step beyond the role he was born to play, even just for a little while.

  5. Yes, loved these episodes. I thought Ronan was sort of animalistic at first, but from all he had been through, understandable. The gun shooting scene with him and Sheppard was awesome. Loved Ronan’s spirit that Jason played so well. Heard Gero say in the commentary that he was thinking about how much could he torture McKay, to which Hewlett replied, Yes, and David too. It seemed that Gero could write the scripts to bring out the best performances in Hewlett. Duet is my one of my fav episodes. anytime I feel down, it brings a smile to my face.

  6. I agree that these are two of the best episodes of SGA. Runner is in my Top 5, and Duet is probably my favorite “fun” episode. In fact, I may just spend the afternoon watching these episodes since might hit 100 degrees today and that’s WAAY too hot to do anything else. Yep, ice cream and SGA–my afternoon plans are now finalized!

  7. G’day Joe

    Yes two great episodes. Runner is one of of the best in Atlantis history. Even though I despise McKay I do love Duet, David was awesome in the episode.

  8. definitely two strong episodes. Ronan’s physicality is amply demonstrated in this episode, and a suprising amount of detail to his background conveyed in a compact manner. More Rodney jokes, Lorne’s dry humor comes out, and the Wraith continue to show their nasty side(now we’re not just cattle to them, but fighting animals for their amusement).
    Duet was also a delight. Hewlett certainly took hold of the role and ran with it, and while the emphasis was on the comedic aspects, the life threatening aspects of the story did a good job of maintaining some tension. And the kiss….love the way that references to this episode pop up later on.
    Very glad to hear you are both busy and productive. It will be fun when we can see some of the finished products of your labor available to us, your admiring public.

  9. @Dasndanger: Didn’t get the chance to reply yesterday … I agree the expedition should have remained isolated. It added a different dimension to the show; it’s probably why Season 1 is my favourite.

    It would’ve placed them in a position where they wouldn’t have any choice except to find new ways to cope and survive without depending on assistance from Earth. It became too easy for everyone to rely on the Daedalus as a means of escape.

    I would like to have seen them explore and utilize the city in a whole new way – perhaps leading to technological and biological discoveries!


    Runner & Duet:

    I liked Ronon from the start – a strong, intelligent warrior who led a lonely existence running from the Wraith. Having him join the team was a smart move … unfortunately, I always felt like the character never truly fulfilled his potential! Ronon’s intelligence almost seemed to be brushed to one side in order to have him become the hired gun, the person who sniffed out the bad guys and always needed everything explained. I dunno if anyone else agrees?

    Sateda is the exception – it allowed Jason Momoa to play Ronon in the same way we originally saw in Runner. Nevertheless, he never lost his hatred for the Wraith which I liked because it showed great character consistency.


    What can I say about Duet that hasn’t already been said countless times? Always happy to see – in my eyes – a Beckett centric episode!

    The firing range scene between Sheppard and Ronon – great fun. Likewise, the conversation between Carson and Rodney in the infirmary (when he realises Laura’s trapped inside his head) is a pleasure to watch every damned time!

    Brilliant interaction between Beckett/Cadman/McKay. Laura’s a gal who knows what she wants and nothing is going to stop her from spending time with Beckett. Persuading Carson into attending the dinner between him and Katie … the entire dinner scene … the last minute kiss … it clearly worked because she gets her guy in the end. Outstanding Episode!


    Now, I’m gonna try to watch Wimbledon! Not the movie! Actual tennis! So damned busy yesterday I decided pause the Federer match, which meant I could pick up the match with a flapjack and a cup of tea a bit later.

    I finally felt relaxed, away from the keyboard and business related research. I sighed, I sipped, I watched the tennis god doing his thing on centre court; the sun shone outside and all was well until half an hour after I hit play, Sue Barker announced the match would be continuing on BBC1. I rapidly backed out of Sky, into TV guide and hoped I hadn’t missed too much.

    Oh, but that’s how fate likes to kick us in the … well, I’ll stick with saying teeth since this is a family friendly blog.

    The moment I hit BBC1, there was Federer wrapping up a post-match interview! Annoyed? Oh, yeah, in fact I used language that would make McEnroe blush. I know he won, in fact he won in terrific style, except I wanted to see it instead of having to glimpse a few highlights. I do love tennis! (I’ll just state on record that Federer is a tennis god – I’m hoping he will reclaim his crown and win at Wimbledon this year.)

    @Joe: Good luck with all your planned meetings! 🙂

    –Country Gal

  10. Duet has always been my favorite! I don’t know when I have laughed so much 🙂 Although I don’t feel that any Stargate episode was ever a “miss”

  11. Definitely outstanding episodes, though Trinity, Grace Under Pressure, and Inferno are also some stand-outs from Season 2. Each of them prominently feature Rodney but also have the rest of the team in absolutely essential roles to Rodney’s success and survival.

  12. I’d like to take back my criticism from the last entry of the way the Ford story turned out now that I know what the intentions were. Also I’ll add that I’m somewhat dissapointed it didn’t work out that way because it sounds rather interesting.

    And yes, these two episodes were quite good. In fact, I actually think season 2 was one of the best seasons of the Stargate franchise.

  13. Joe,
    You cannot forget all the funny scenes with McKay in Runner. Yes, Ronon was the focus of the episode and McKay was the comic relief and then some.

    Loved Duet. Especially the banter between McKay and Cadman. My favorite scene is when they play “rock, paper, scissors” to decide which direction they will go.

    Did you see that David Hewlett and Jewel Staite are in a new series called “State of Syn”? It hasn’t been broadcast yet but looks interesting.

    Also, have you watched “Falling Skies” with Colin Cunnigham?

  14. Joey, wish I wasn’t so pressed for time. 🙁

    I really liked both these episodes. Loved Runner and Ronon’s introduction – I think it was one of the better episodes of the series. I liked the glimpse into Wraith culture, as well. I have spent many hours trying to explain that the Wraith stopped feeding due to Ronon’s delectable defiance, and not because he was indigestible. Ronon was good sport. 🙂 (Also, I liked those Wraithy operating instruments they used in the ep…just wish we had a little more time to explore the rest of the hive’s operating facilities.)

    And Duet was a hoot!! 😆 However, there are two things I disapprove of in this episode – the murder of the Wraith, and of the tree. 😉

    (Joey, I think you misnumbered the episodes – shouldn’t they be 203 and 204, respectively?)


  15. I just got back from Destin, Fl. It was a fun trip and the bad weather went to the east of us. Very lucky for us but I felt so bad for the rest of the Florida/Alabama.

    I did get a big chuckle out of my friend’s hubby. We (the gals) were having a nice dinner and he texts: “House on fire, dogs bit neighbor, daughter’s pregnant…Have a good time” 😆

    Sea Urchins? I enjoyed reading about that culinary adventure. Chances are that I will never see one in person and probably would have never know how one is eaten. So thank you for that.

    Das: I’m almost finished with Cold Vengeance. Pendergast is more human in this story. I can’t wait for the next one. In December, right?

    Catching up on your blog will be fun. I hope all is well with everyone out there. I loved all the pictures you posted, Mr. M. Lulu is so cute. Is it hot there? Here it’s around 100 and tomorrow is supposed to be 105F. Too hot for pugs!

  16. @Joe:

    These are two of my kids’ favorite episodes (and mine too); we just re-watched them last night. Jackie loved Runner, mostly due to Ronon, while my son David loved Duet, mostly because of the whole awkwardness of the situation, which David Hewlett portrayed so well.

    My son got to bring this up at a convention with David Hewlett. He (DH) had just finished a good-natured rant about how all the fans thought Duet was wonderful, but no one considered what acting skill and composure it took to kiss Paul McGillion and how personally repulsive (to Hewlett) it was.

    He then turns and asks my son what his favorite episode was…a pregnant pause ensues and then my son says “…Duet.” At which point David Hewlett starts another hilarious rant. Needless to say, my son loved it.

  17. I liked both of these eps too especially Duet. Wasn’t this the first episode where he was interested in someone besides Sam?

    Have a great afternoon!!!!

  18. I loved both episodes, and in addition to the reasons justified above, Runner also marks the Atlantis debut of Major Lorne.
    One thing I like about the Stargate Franchise is that the supporting characters have a real person feel to them. All too often, especially SF shows, supporting military characters have no real identity to them, and Lorne, Davis, Siler, Walter, Riley, etc. All feel like real people.

  19. Best episodes I would say were

    The Siege Part 3.

    2 Episodes done by Binder, 1 by Gero, these 3 were the best of a weaker season in my opinion anyway.

    Just feel out of the 5 Atlantis Seasons, Season 2 was by far the weakest in terms of story and quality of the episodes.

    There were 4 other seasons that by far in terms of story and quality outshine Season 2.

    Not saying Season 2 was bad or anything, just not as great as the other 4 🙂

  20. Season 2 was awesome! I was a Stargate watcher, but Runner turned me into a super fan. Runner, along with Sateda, are my two all time favorite episodes EVER! They are tied for number one on my awesome list. So you know I am loving Robert C Cooper. Thank you Mr Cooper for creating the character Ronon and getting the drop-dead-gorgeous Jason Momoa to play him. He was perfect! I did not know he was going to be a new character. I felt sorry for Ronon and fell in love with him and thought, can we keep him? He has no home. He can come home with me! I always thought the wraith stopped feeding because they recognized his strength and wanted to make him a runner. In googling “Jason Momoa” is how I came to your blog Joe. So blame Jason! (or Cooper!)

    Duet is one of my favorite episodes too! The comedy reminds me of Martin Gero’s Road to a Dream video he made. Both were hilarious! I was very shocked when Sheppard shot down the wraith dart knowing that Rodney was on board. And that shot of Beckett diving out of the way of the crashing dart was awesome! Rodney totally played his girl part right. I totally believed she was inside him. David was great. Loved Ronon in the cafeteria scene…”Try these. They work great.” How many takes did you have to do with Jason stuffing his face to get that scene shot? I bet he was sick after that. Loved Ronon practicing shooting guns, teaching the men to fight, and his little talk with Weir. And to top it all off . . . The Kiss. Oh my goodness!!! Hilarious!

    Two awesome episodes.

  21. I’m not really a fan of wraith playing sport with “runners”. I would have liked Ronon’s story to have unfolded different during season 2 though the concept of Wraith worshippers, Sateda and the whole backstory behind how Ronon aquired a gun from “the Travelers” has lot’s of potential and I’d have preferred to have play out differently.

    I think the cast over the entire multi-season run of a show like SGA should be more transient – I don’t like how Lt Ford leaves and straight away we get a Ronon as effectively a drop-in replacement. I think it would have been cool Weir decided Sgt Lourne should join Sheppard’s team and had Lourne’s character would get fleshed out.

    Ronon could have been introduced before Ford left – not joining the team straight away, but becoming a recurring character over time (leading to a culmination episode where he joins the team after something major).

    I like the concept that major, full-time characters can have a period where they’re recurring guests before joining full time again for the sake of the long-term story of the show. The not-evil replicators (Weir’s group) could have had SOOOOOO much potential. I wish Torri Higginson stayed with the show.

    I was glad to see more strange and wonderful stuff in season 2 like the Wraith eating-food-with-mouths from Condemed (hilarious!) though a bit strange to me. It continues the tradition of Stargate having some superb and hilarious villians eg. Baal and the Goa’ulds (Heh sounds like a ’70s music group)

    Though I kind of wish we got more of a look at the social hierarchy of the Wraith. It seems to me a hybrid between medieval European aristocrats and honey bees/insects. Like insects they have Queens, Hives and Bland worker insects. …Then they do medieval fine dining and fox hunting!

    We got Todd, Michael and a few other personified villians, but it would have been cool too see where you could have went with it. I really wish the story from “Condemed” was fleshed out further (I think it never had a follow up episode, did it?).

    Like I said on the previous entry. LOOOOOOOOOOOVED Duet!!!

  22. I wondered how you all found Jason for the part of Ronon. IMO, it would have been a no-brainer. He was perfect for the part. I admit it took a little bit for the character to grow on me. I like a bit of vulnerability in my tough guys. I find it endearing. Jason showed his acting chops as the series went on and he meshed with the team extremely well. Duet is a definite favorite of mine as well. Rodney really showed what he was all about here and David inhabited that character so well. I really miss seeing Rodney…most especially with Shep. They are great together. This episode is a definite top 10 favorite and is exactly why I love SGA so much. You all really pulled a great show together. It was pure music.

  23. Hi Joe,
    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I have been re-watching SGA lately since it was added to Amazon Prime Instant Video. I happened to be caught up to Duet at the same time as I noticed you writing this article.

    It is a brilliant episode in terms of performance from David Hewlett, and the screenwriting is hilarious and engaging. And in no way am I a “hard sci-fi” fan. But I can’t help but ask myself a question that’s hard to overcome when I see this episode. I think the point would best be made in the sardonic voice of Cookie Monster: “Why able to restore both people individually? Where body of lady-soldier be stored when mind inside of Dr. Selfabsorbed? Why screen of computer flash ‘MATERIALIZING’ and ‘DEMATERIALIZING’ in big red letters alla de time? Dey write software to do dis for some reason while dey busy SAVING LIVES?” (as a software guy I have to ask that last question.)

    I know that the transporter-accident-personality-merging thing is a traveled trope of sci-fi. But still – as easily as I can accept the scientifically baseless concepts of artificial stable wormholes and mind-controlling symbiotes as enjoyable plot devices, the transporter accident thing still makes me roll my eyes a bit.

    (Despite that, it was still a very entertaining episode and a great McKay vehicle which I’m sure was the intent)

  24. Late comment:
    I liked Runner a great deal, it was an excellent introduction for Ronon who turned out to be a terrific character. I never thought he was immune to Wraith feeding and could never figure out why people got that idea.

    Duet was kind of cute, and i liked the Fumbles McStupid line, but McKay acting like a stereotypical female was a bit over the top for me. Cadman never minced and pranced around like that, she was a tough marine, for God’s sake. Not one I would re-watch often except for the kiss. That was fun.

  25. I agree duw to the ifsh-out-of-water Ronon stuff. It was actually nice and impressive to see someone kick Teyla’s butt for a change, and to see her shocked that someone did. With the establishment of Teyla as the really powerful and talented warrior throughout the first whole season of Atlantis, having someone finally be able to defeat (that isn’t a Wraith (i.e. Steve)) lends much more power and sheer raw warrior talent to Ronon without having to have him even go up against a Wraith. You pretty much already know this guy has the mojo just by watching him take down Teyla.

  26. I’m slowly catching up with your blog and fascinating insights into SGA. I thought I’d put you right on one point though. The Rodney/Carson kiss wasn’t the first guy on guy kiss in science fiction history. That honour went to Doctor Who in The Parting of the Ways, when Jack Harkness kisses the Doctor – broadcast 18th June 2005, two months before Duet.

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